“With AUM, MINOTAURS remind us how political empowerment and a deep sense of personal joy are not mutually exclusive. The stirring beats, horns, textures, and wordplay here aim for hearts and minds but also laser beams for the feet to get our bodies hopping to the rhythms of possibility. AUM rallies anyone with high definition vision to keep their eyes sharp in a low resolution world.” – Vish Khanna
Released May 26, 2017
Produced and edited by Nathan Lawr. Additional production by Stuart Bogie.
Recorded by Chris Stringer at Union Sound Company, Toronto.
Additional recording by Nathan Lawr and Dustin Seabrook at Arthur North and Bry’s Garage, Guelph, Ontario; by Stuart Bogie in New Haven, Connecticut; and Zane Whitfield at North of Princess, Kingston, Ontario.
Mixed by Jeff McMurrich at 6 Nassau, Toronto.
Mastered by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Channel.
Artwork and layout by Gregory Pepper.
Performed by MINOTAURS:
Nathan Lawr: percussion, vocals, synths
AJ Johnson: drums, vocals
Dustin Seabrook: guitar, baritone guitar
Greg Smith: bass, vocals
Thomas Hammerton: keyboards, vocals
Dan Gooch: trumpet, vocals, horn arrangements on Hipswinger and All Hail
Jay Hay: baritone sax, flute, chorale arrangement on Hipswinger
Steve Ward: trombone
Stuart Bogie: tenor sax
Steph Yates and Alanna Gurr: vocals on Don’t Turn Away, All Hail, and Wildered and Witched.
Sarah Harmer: vocals on I’ll Keep Your Shit With Mine
MINOTAURS’ wild and wonderful Weird Waves, an album described by its architect as an “apocalyptic-psychedelic afro-folk epic” —probably the only one you’re likely to hear in 2015. When main Minotaur Nathan Lawr first transitioned from folkie singer/songwriter to rhythmic bandleader on 2010’s The Thing, it was, in some ways, an extension of his work with innovative dub/punk/electronic band King Cobb Steelie in the late ’90s, with whom he toured when he was just out of high school. Here, however, Lawr dives off the deep end and surfaces with the most accomplished, experimental, and rewarding album of his career.
The 1970s afro-rock influence that was initially MINOTAURS’ raison d’etre is still strong, but Lawr was also listening to a lot of psychedelic soul legend Curtis Mayfield, German mind-expanders Neu, and the sonic fuckery of Sun Araw (not to be confused with interstellar electronic jazz pioneer Sun Ra, though he’s undoubtedly in the mix somewhere as well). Weird Waves was constructed from studio jams with his killer live band, and then tinkered with at home, where Lawr added keyboard, drones and random sounds. “That way, I can just follow my instincts and not explain anything to anybody. It can be slightly peculiar: things entering and leaving at odd times. That’s really interesting to me as a listener. There’s a lot more room, it’s more relaxed.” What could have been an insular, claustrophobic record is far from it: the energy of the live MINOTAURS is solidly at the core, while Lawr’s inescapable melodic gifts are still in full force—even if they’re just one texture among many heard here.
Nathan Lawr grew up outside Guelph, Ontario, where he still lives now. He was a pivotal player in the explosion of Canadian music in the early 2000s, being a key member of Royal City and having played with the Constantines, Jim Guthrie, Fembots and King Cobb Steelie. He was last heard on Bry Webb and the Providers’ 2014 release, Live At Massey Hall. Weird Waves is his seventh album, and third as Minotaurs. Lawr’s status as a musical MVP easily draws others into his vision: Minotaurs is, by design, a big band that has included, at various points, guest vocalists Sarah Harmer, Tamara Lindeman (Weather Station) and Ruth Minnikin; drummer Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith); bassist Kevin Lynn (King Cobb Steelie); Paul Aucoin (Hylozoists); saxophonist Jeremy Strachan (Feuermusik) and trombonist Steve Ward (Caribou).
Off-stage, Lawr created the Canadian Artists for Civil Liberties, and his political concerns bleed into his work—not through sloganeering, but through thoughtful self-examination: “Am I just the oil in a cheap machine?” he sings. Of course, music and dance are therapeutic antidotes to an existential crisis. MINOTAURS want you to surf these Weird Waves to a place of peace, a calm amidst all storms, an island of sanity in a world that needs some—badly.
Released March 11, 2016
Recorded by Andy Magoffin at the House of Miracles, Preston, Ontario and Jeff McMurrich at 6 Nassau, Toronto, Ontario. Additional recording by Nathan Lawr, Dustin Seabrook, and AJ Johnson in Guelph, Ontario
Produced and Edited by Nathan Lawr
Mixed by Jeff McMurrich with Nathan at 6 Nassau
Mastered by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Channel
Drums, keyboards, percussion, vocals: Nathan Lawr
Bass: Kevin Lynn, guitar on Gold Rush Lady
Guitar: Dustin Seabrook
Additional guitar: JJ Ipsen, bass on Weird Waves
Piano, keyboards: Thomas Hammerton
Baritone Saxophone: Jay Hay, flute on Underground Age
Trombone: Steve Ward
Trumpet: Dan Gooch
Congas: Amadea Ventura
AJ Johnson: drums on Gold Rush Lady
Tamara Lindeman: vocals on Underground Age and Gold Rush Lady
Ruth Minnikin: vocals on Echoes
Lisa Conway: vocals on Weird Waves
Jonas Bonnetta: mellotron, drone, vocals on Blind Luck
Jeremy Strachan: horn arrangement on Gold Rush Lady
Anna Ruddick: bass on Gold Rush Lady
Bang on the silver tray that hangs in the garden. That should get their attention. Play it like a drum! Boop-too-doo and sqwee-bah-dang the earth as it is in the leaven. And they said we could still eat bread (just barely).
Eyelids flicker at that heart full of beating drums, the timid first rum-tum-tums of a mind just waking up. We hear it from a distance but feel it in our bones!
Now the rabbles have been roughly roused! Not by the infamous stool pigeons. Not by the rank and tumble messages of “switch it off” and “cut it out.” The nimble millions have been knocked from the gaze-less stupor by their dwindling pool of relevance! Behold the shocking contraction of meaning! Like a vacuum, sucking the sis-boom-bah from the daily waking circus of purpose! “But!” we cry, “no more!”
The cymbal crash and hounded pots are symbols of a feeling! Not ever seen between the teeth that gnash! Where will the multitude go when the salty effluvium throws itself upon their good graces? When the majestic chilly behemoths come to their senses and brush us off like a dry flake on a shoulder?
Oh! When those slimy sitters, who’ve only just now awoke to their sit-sores, finally open their dust covered eye-lids and exclaim! “Who has left these messy foot-prints in the mud of status quo!?”
“YOUSE!” said them. “US!” said us. It was to be a long yet beautiful morning.
Released January 22, 2013
Produced by Paul Aucoin with Nathan Lawr
Recorded by Andy Magoffin at the House of Miracles, Andrew McPherson at Monastereo, and Jeff McMurrich at 6 Nassau.
Mixed by Howie Beck.
Mastered by Andy Magoffin.
Artwork and layout by Dallas Wehrle.
Printing and layout assistance by Alex Durlak at Standard Form.
All songs written by Nathan Lawr. All horn arrangements by Jeremy Strachan.
Jay Anderson: percussion
Dee Archer: vocals
Paul Aucoin: vibraphone, organ, snyth, percussion
Bryden Baird: trumpet on New Believers, Sharper Knife, and Flashbulb
Nicolas Buligan: trumpet
Ryan Carley: piano on Flashbulb
Dave Clark: drums on Sharper Knife and additional drums on Flashbulb
Sarah Harmer: vocals on Open the Doors
Jay Hay: baritone saxophone
Edwin Huizinga: violin on Flashbulb
Nathan Lawr: drums, piano, percussion, vocals, keys
Dan Levecque: guitar
Ryan Levecque: guitar
Shaw-Han Liem: piano
Kevin Lynn: bass
Casey Mecija: vocals on Strange Fire
Jeremy Strachan: tenor saxophone
Steve Ward: trombone
FINK PLOYD: THE THING REMIXED
Reimagined tracks from 2010’s THE THING.
Released June 30, 2011
Mastered by Andy Magoffin at The House of Miracles.
Cover photo by Dallas Wherle, lettering and layout by Nick Craine.
The 2010 debut release.