Imagine you are asleep and in that sleep, you have a dream. The dream takes place most likely in space and it feels all jumbled, yet makes total sense in the same moment. This is what it feels like to listen to Quebec mastermind Guillaume Guilbault and his band Constance. Their latest EP One will leave you floating on a cloud in the land of space-like dreams, and you will never want to come down.
As I continue to replay the instrument-packed four-track EP over and over again, I realize that One puts its listeners in such a trance that it’s as if it is impossible to stop pressing repeat. The first song “Trinity, NL” opens into a mystic trance accomplished through space-like synthetic beats, acoustic guitar and the awe-inspiring hand saw. Harmonica adds another layer to the intro; after Guilbault’s voice enters, the piano quickly follows up. Soon enough, the cello and soft drums round out the instrumentation. “Trinity, NL” is clearly instrument-driven, allowing many of the instruments to shine with their own solos. Yet Guilbault uses his voice as yet another part of the instrumentation. His voice adds to the mystic feel via its calming effects, similar to the way Bon Iver uses his soothing voice. At the end of the track, many of the instruments drop off–only Guilbault’s voice, the cello, and hand-saw are left to gently close out the song.
“Chambre Noir” continues on with the dreamy feel, with the addition of French lyrics. Although less complex than the previous song, a driving percussive beat along with gentle guitar strumming and appearances from the hand-saw make up the meat of this track. What this track lacks in number of instruments, it makes up in beautiful French words. Although not every listener may understand the lyrics (myself included), they certainly add to the surreal nature of the EP. I mean, what woman doesn’t want a man singing french words to her on top of beautiful instrumentation? Only the stuff of dreams.
Continuing with the theme of surreal love, “Argentina” is an adorable love song with lyrics like, “I carry this feeling/I will never be near you enough/but to make our time truly matter to us/why don’t we go to Argentina?” The choice of primarily guitar and piano accompaniment add to the sweet feel of the song and allow Guilbault’s voice to stand out so that the lyrics are very audible. A harmonica solo serves as an echo of Guilbault’s voice and brings the song to a gentle close. What lingers the last few seconds is pure synth transition, entering smoothly into the fourth and final track.
“Lilac” begins with electronic plumes of relaxation. Gentle drums and soothing strings quickly enter into the instrumentation and continue on in calming repetition. One unique way that this track adds to the dream is through vocal echoing, making the listener feel as though voices are coming at you from all sides. You might think that this would make the track sound confusing and jumbled, but it is carried out in such a well-done way that it feels much more surreal than jumbled.
As One comes to a close, it reminds us that all dreams must end. But that doesn’t mean you can’t press replay and experience it all over again. Constance’s One is one that you will want to hold onto and never let go. Just press play, close your eyes, and enter into his alt-folk dream world. —Krisann Janowitz