Fond of Tigers's Continent & Western is a beautifully sprawling disc

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      Fond of Tigers
      Continent & Western (Drip Audio)

      Opener “Soheb” sets the tone quickly, with militantly stumbling drums from Skye Brooks and Dan Gaucher, blatting trumpet from JP Carter, and the ice-pick guitar of bandleader-composer Stephen Lyons.

      It seems obvious that this is going to be a claustrophobic mindfuck of an album, prog rock as reinvented for the gloomy urban canyons of post-Olympic Vancouver.

      And then, 96 seconds in, the music suddenly rockets forward like a Porsche on the Sea-to-Sky—until the band trips over its own feet, falls into a passage of psychedelic flailing, and ends with a repeat of the original theme, only this time scored for whistling dwarves.

      Hanging a ready tag on this music isn’t going to be easy.

      Cameos from Toronto singer Sandro Perri and Swedish saxophone titan Mats Gustafsson link Fond of Tigers to postrock experimentation and the improv underground, respectively.

      But pride of place goes to the extraordinary ensemble cohesion that Lyons and his local all-stars achieve—perhaps best summed up by the naive, evocative, and utterly lovely village chant that ends this beautifully sprawling disc.