The endearing appeal of fall is the way it’s easily the freakiest season of the year.
Winter is a time for enjoying the snow-dusted majesty of the North Shore mountains, artisanal toques from Main Street, and cocooning to The Thing, A Simple Plan, and Wind River. Spring’s all about rebirth and renewal—Vancouver’s fabled parks coming alive with tulips and snowdrops after lying dormant for months. And sun-soaked summer is when no one seems to work—who wants to sit in an office when you’ve got the beach, lakeside cottages, or the outdoor patios of East Vancouver?
Then there’s the fall. Endless grey-black weeks of West Coast rain, rotting leaves choking the gutters, and everything seemingly dying overnight. And it’s goddamn beautiful, especially if you’re one of those folks who listens to nothing but Dead Can Dance and Joy Division and dresses exclusively in clothes the colour of none more black.
Based on his debut full-length Mild Fantasy Violence, Dwi would seem to be a man who appreciates the dark beauty of fall.
If you follow the Vancouver music indie scene at all, you might know the multi-instrumentalist better for his day job, playing bass for the Zolas under the name Dwight Abell. Mild Fantasy Violence finds him stepping away from thinking person’s power-pop and embracing the reality that life sometimes isn’t rainbow-coloured unicorns and all-day lollipops.
Dwi describes the album as a snapshot of feeling disconnected from the normalities of relationships and society. And, in case that’s not clear enough, he adds, “It’s about using extremes of both escapism and deep self-reflection to come to terms with everyday life”.
In other words, if you’ve had trouble coping over the past 17 months or so, Dwi understands your struggle.
That doesn’t, however, make Mild Fantasy Violence soundtrack music for lying in bed all day under the covers from October until the spring of 2022.
The nine-track release kicks off on a wide-eyed and ebullient note with “Intuitive”, where ice-castle synths and distortion-swirl guitars act as a clever counterpunch to lines like “You said you brought the good shit but I can’t taste the difference no more”.
From there Dwi dabbles in styles ranging from paisley-laced trip-pop (“Reverse Engineering”) to shimmering roots-rock (“Good Friend”) to double-codeined chillwave (“On the Weekend”).
But the reason we’re here for On Our Radar is the decidedly trippy video for “Freak N Out”. The song starts out exotic and woozy—think a Technicolor-jazz sunrise in 1930s Bombay—then finds a dream-hazed groove that’s somehow thoroughly modern but undeniably retro.
Visually, “Freak N Out” is all overcast-Sunday skies, rolling dry ice, rain-soaked grass fields, and a completely magnificent owl, which may or may not be the real thing. And let’s not forget the Inland Empire furry pushing a bass-wielding Dwi around in a plastic shopping cart somewhere south of midnight.
The best thing about the clip is that, while released in the summer it looks like fall—which is to say freaky in the most fabulous of ways. Enjoy the death, dark, and decay in the months ahead, because powder-white winter will be here soon enough.
You can check out Mild Fantasy Violence here.