The music of Chairs spills forth from the mind of Ian Jarvis, a Montreal-based songwriter, musician, and producer. Drawing from an eclectic constellation of influences – including '70s pop, afro beat, electronic, master arranger Gil Evans, and strains of psych rock and dub – Jarvis spins a highly unique variety of quasi-chamber psych-pop, and while also known for work with acts such as Ghostkeeper, Samantha Savage Smith, EXPWY, and Galaxius Mons, Chairs is the purest distillation of his music.
Drawn Into Mazes, his third album, was largely recorded at home in his St. Henri apartment studio using a blend of analog and digital recording techniques, and the songs benefit from the countless hours of experimentation this setup allowed: the tunes glisten with a constantly shifting sonic environment made up of synthesizers, inventively-sourced samples, and sequencers alongside traditional instrumentation. Moments on Drawn Into Mazes recall an intriguing array of Jarvis' predecessors, including Arthur Russell's melodic and vocal sensibilities and the textural inventiveness of 90s sonic pioneers like The Folk Implosion and mid-period Beck. This shimmering album provides a snapshot of a highly individual pop stylist who also happens to be a compelling songwriter and a lyricist with a natural lack of pretence and a penchant for attractively oblique imagery.
While the recordings are largely solo flights (drumming is provided by Daniel Gelinas), Chairs onstage is brought to life by some of Canada's finest players; the Montreal-based version of the band includes Matt LeGroulx (Jarvis' partner in synth-pop duo Galaxius Mons) on guitar and keyboards, Gelinas (You, Yourself & I) on drums, and bassist Elliot Kerr (Manners). The west coast lineup is handled by Ryan Bourne (Chad VanGaalen & The Bleach Wipes, Ghostkeeper, Sleepkit), keyboardist Steve Fletcher, and drummer Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Chad VanGaalen & The Bleach Wipes, Samantha Savage Smith).
Drawn Into Mazes is out this November on Kinnta Records, available digitally and on compact disc. Chairs will join Ghostkeeper for a western Canadian tour in early November, with a spring tour of the eastern side of Canada to follow in 2016.