Toronto post-punk trio WHIMM have announced that they’ve signed to Pleasence Records. To celebrate their addition to the label’s roster, they shared the feverish first song from their upcoming debut album. Listen to Town Hall via Soundcloud below.
With contributions from producer Dean Tzenos of Odonis Odonis, Anna Mayberry of HSY / Anamai, and electronic artist Scott Hardware, WHIMM’s debut LP joins Pleasence Records’ dense and diverse discography that includes acclaimed releases from Slim Twig, Aidan Baker, Traitrs and Young Guv.
WHIMM singer/guitarist Mounir Chami provides a cryptic statement on the song: “I think about discussion and question if I’m physical enough. I switch from being passive to active, between different ways and beliefs. Try listening to both sides’ needs.”
For the past three years, Toronto’s WHIMM have brought the searing intensity of their live performances to stages across North America, honed through touring and shows with likeminded artists like Ice Age, Merchandise and Frigs. Singer/guitarist Mounir Chami, bassist Andrew Matthews, and drummer Jonathan Pappo create ominous, emotionally charged avant-rock fusing spellbinding melodies with an urgency akin to 1980s anarcho-punk.
To capture this feverish sound on their debut LP, WHIMM tapped producer Dean Tzenos, mastermind of abrasive industrial punks Odonis Odonis. The album’s 9 tracks were obsessively refined over several months both onstage and in their garage rehearsal space, yet the band purposefully limited recording sessions to two rapid-fire days with engineer Ian Gomes at Toronto’s Union Sound (Fucked Up, METZ, Greys).
While bottling the band’s frantic energy, these recordings also add new dimensions to WHIMM’s musical landscape, expanding their instrumental palette with violin, piano, and cello from members of Toronto groups HSY, Scott Hardware, and visual artist Olenka Syzmonski. The album draws on influences ranging from Southern Gothic country, as heard on cinematic opener “Ember in the Wheat”, to the uncompromising experimentation of late period Scott Walker.
Lyrically, the record is refracted through multiple fields of vision, gazing at a splintered world through the eyes of the displaced. Perspectives range from an immigrant office worker forced to assimilate to their environment (“Ushers”) to an H.P. Lovecraft-ian haunted soul struck and captured by horrific apparitions (“A Stare Ajar”). Chami penned these character studies while pulling from the stories of his family and his own experiences as a Palestinian living in Canada, wrestling with internal conflicts while feeling trapped between worlds.
“I think about being part of a diaspora constantly,” says Chami. “Between the home where I’ve been raised and what that demands, and what society and my friendships demand, where do I fit in? How do I stop feeling strange in these environments? I exist in both of them but I don’t really understand how.”
WHIMM’s members also exist between musical worlds – with Chami adding heavenly piano keys to Scott Hardware’s ecstatic house, Pappo playing drums for hyperactive indie-rockers Hooded Fang, andMatthews working with his own minimal techno project HOST. Rejecting genre boundaries while synthesizing various sonic strategies, the trio finds a kinship in catharsis.
“Instead of musical influences, I think about the relationships of instruments and people coming together,” says Pappo. “We talk a lot about frustration and emotional release. But even though the music sounds aggressive, there’s always an emotional tenderness or reaching out at its core. It’s not just pointless frustration; there’s a trajectory.”