Tonight of All Nights: Hunger. Truth. Power. Desire.
The worst and best nights of your life. These are Camouflage Nights.
Camouflage Nights is a sprawling, eclectic quasi-rock/semi-electro thing headed by multi-instrumentalists and producers Rob Benvie and Ian McGettigan. After a string of acclaimed limited releases and live performances, Camouflage Nights' much-anticipated debut LP will be released in early 2012 by Sonic Unyon Records.
Scant years past, Rob Benvie and Ian McGettigan were sprawled exhausted on a sun-washed beach in Morocco, gazing off into trembling waves. Weeks of reckless abandon had taken them from clubbing in London, debauchery in Amsterdam, and violence in Barcelona - leading to this moment of respite, considering pasts behind and possibilities ahead.
Friends since childhood in the suburbs of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Benvie and McGettigan have been lifelong collaborators - from forming their first rap duo at ten years old to tracking triumphant albums and destroying stages with acclaimed guitar rock band Thrush Hermit, together they have travelled many miles and weathered many storms. Since the breakup of Thrush Hermit, McGettigan has established his name as a much-sought producer/musical contributor (Joel Plaskett, Sloan, Matthew Barber, Peter Elkas), as well as audio engineer on a vast array of film projects, while Benvie has proven a well-regarded novelist and multi-instrumentalist with Montreal's The Dears and solo venture Tigre Benvie.
Yet at that moment on the sandy North African shore, they faced their future with shared hope for something new. Just as the Atlantic met the Mediterranean on the distant horizon, a crucial point of intersection became apparent in their shared fate. Joy and despair, hallmarks of simpler days, the icy truth of life's futility - it all posed some hazy ultimatum, and they vowed to dispel fears of the future by striving in brotherhood to create something truer, heavier, stranger. The only move ahead was to wage a war against complacency, to act with urgency, to flaunt destruction. "Heavy times indeed," Benvie now remembers.
Returning to Canada, recording sessions followed in Montreal apartments, Halifax studios, wooded Muskoka retreats, flooded Toronto living rooms. They bootlegged overnight hours at slick facilities and tracked field tapes during Gay Pride parades. "Many, many beers," McGettigan admits. Despite outside commitments and regular geographic obstacles, the two continued sporadic progress on this hazily defined endeavor, inspired by a shared love of thuggish beats, raucous sounds both synthetic and natural, and instantly gratifying hooks. "We'd send tracks back and forth of whatever we were hammering out solo, then whenever and wherever we could find time together, we'd mutate these raw ideas into songs," Benvie recalls. "There was no purpose, but yet there sort of was. We kept faith that the true purpose would reveal itself."
Along with Benvie and McGettigan assuming multi-instrumental and production roles, old friends and allies were recruited toward sculpting something glorious, yet defiantly unclassifiable. Notable contributors include Buck 65, Feist, Chris Murphy (Sloan), wanted felon/MC Dukey Denzel Snipes, and other cherished pals, hired guns, and weirdoes.
A loose concept gradually emerged, and eventually the dozens of tracks were whittled into a cohesive album. "In many ways, the album's about partying, and all facets of this overarching concept of partying," McGettigan reluctantly explains. "Socialization, romance, humiliation, melancholy...the fun stuff."
While most at home in the studio, Camouflage Nights has also occasionally reared its head in various live incarnations. Taking cues from the LP's vacillation between restraint and paroxysmal gush, the live show became a celebratory, multi-instrumental freakout with an ever-shifting lineup. "Camouflage Nights live is simultaneously a love-fest and an orgy of hate," Benvie says. Shows included stints at Toronto's legendary Santa Cruz party night (where C-Nights served as resident DJs), opening slots for such artists as Death From Above 1979, The Dears and VHS or Beta, plus festival appearances at Pop Montreal, North by Northeast and CMJ.
The band also self-produced raunchy and Satanic videos, co-directed by McGettigan and Michael LeBlanc, for the album's standout tracks "(It Could Be) Love" and "Five Five Minutes," immediately drawing international online notoriety. Beyond the album, Camouflage Nights has dabbled in weird remixes for such artists as Stars, Bonjay, Pony Da Look and Every Move a Picture; such contributions, though, have rarely adhered to preset remix formulae. "We get bored easily," McGettigan says. "The last thing we want to do is bore others."
Camouflage Nights' much-anticipated eponymous debut LP will finally be released April 24, 2012 through Sonic Unyon. The vision that struck the two friends seasons ago has now come to fruition. Now all will be revealed...in camouflage.
...as addictive and itchy as singles get. The aural equivalent of a booze-fuelled party that’s on the verge of tipping over into anarchy, it’s hopefully just the beginning of something very special indeed, as an album is due from these crazy cats any day now.
Camouflage Nights extract maximum atmosphere from a simple, damaged rhythmic groove, for this breezy new-wavish tune about that look across the room that feels like the onset of fever. –
Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail
..this woozy amalgam of rock, hip-hop and the kitchen sink is dying to be adopted as the official anthem of the stubbornly dissolute. –
John Sakamoto, Eye Weekly
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