By C. Kathleen Zhao
Music album Out of It was released on September 5th by Uncle Lift Off, a Hamilton group of artists and siblings: Olivia Brown, Ian Aisling, and ELINOR. For the most part the album is upbeat, a trend established as early as its playful first song, “Airport Security.” As its title indicates, airplanes comprise most of the song’s imagery; the theme of planes taking flight not only lends the group the “Lift Off” in its name, but also introduces the album with a fitting metaphor for the launching of artistic creativity.
“All of Your Love” continues the shiningly sunny, energetic atmosphere of “Airport Security” with a chorus catchy enough to get stuck in one’s head within two listens. However, the album also includes some slower, lower energy songs such as “Show My Love” and “Slow Motion Pigeons.” “Show My Love” stands out in particular for the undercurrent of longing and bittersweetness present in its lyrics and their delivery, and for the way its instruments combine to create a song that sounds—for lack of a better description—like water flowing and flowers blooming. A somewhat similar effect also arises in the well-spirited “I Left the Bar,” in which the piano sounds like fresh rain.
The album excels in igniting the visual imagination. For example, “Out of It” (which shares its name with the album) is a song suited to endlessly shifting colours, transitions between flickering images, and kaleidoscopes. It has a dreamlike quality to it—not in the way of the quiet, soothing peace of sleep but in the way of the shifting, vivid energy of dreams. Meanwhile, “Extinction Level Event” uses an upbeat, beach-esque vibe and the sounds of sea birds to take you back to another place and time: a humid, lush, tree-filled age of dinosaurs of the verge of decimation-by-meteor. The song strikes a charming balance between its morbid topic and its peppy, light-hearted, almost celebratory delivery. In the second half, the beat builds and intensifies, creating a sense of anticipation that doubles as a countdown to disaster.
My personal favourite from the album is “Canned” for the way it moves so naturally and seamlessly between a variety of remarkably different sounds, all lively but no two “sections” atmospherically identical. The song feels like three different songs that have been cut apart and interlocked with one another, and somehow it sounds amazing. It’s not that I didn’t get whiplash, but rather, that the whiplash when it happened was welcome, a surprise that impressed instead of perplexed. My favourite sections are those with the violin warmly playing, as they abruptly threw me into a field of British farmland under the purple gold of a setting sky. I can almost reach out and touch the white wool of the sheep catching the colours of the sinking sunlight.
Also of note is “Dragon Blessings,” the 8-bit beginning of which immediately evokes video games, and indeed, the whole song could be easily set to an animated music video where an RPG group of adventurers led by a knight chubby in his pixel armour wander through different lands, solving puzzles and navigating dungeons on their way to the final boss: a fat grass-green dragon with a ridged yellow belly, short arms, stubby horns, and smoke trailing from its oversized snout.
“Get Up,” the album’s final song, has similar electronic tones, though less of a narrative—not necessarily to its detriment, as its focus on showcasing a particular kind of sound serves well as a sort of auditory palate cleanser that helps clear the head and wraps up the album nicely. Out of It can be listened to on the following platforms: Bandcamp, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, and YouTube Music. The album comprises twelve songs: “Airport Security,” “All of Your Love,” “Show My Love,” “Canned,” “I Left the Bar,” “Nobody,” “Zone,” “Dragon Blessings,” “Extinction Level Event,” “Slow Motion Pigeons,” “Out of It,” and “Get Up.”