Hellothisisalex: Stump Act

Stump Act is a sweet 20-minute EP of electronic pop instrumentals by hellothisisalex ( Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador-based Mark Prier and Melissa Creasey). Each of the ten two-minute vignettes immediately segues into the next, making the ride seem as continuous as the 2004 summer road trip that inspired the release. The two drove the entire length of Ontario's Yonge Street (1,896 km from the shores of Lake Ontario at Toronto to Rainy River, not far from Manitoba) and put up twenty wooden signs depicting tree stumps along the way, effectively dividing the street into twenty sections (Yonge Street was originally a narrow, twisting trail dotted with ugly tree stumps and treacherous holes, which prompted the establishment of an 1800-era Stump Act that demanded that anyone found guilty of public drunkenness should be charged with removing a tree stump).

The music itself is jubilant instrumental synth-pop that might be likened to a Solvent-Isan fusion. The ten cuts are intricately layered, ultra-melodic vignettes dominated by bright synthesizer melodies and buzzing bass lines; even better, they're almost entirely free of ponderousness. Subtle differences in character and mood abound, from the lightly funky swing of “Haunt the Bear” and the slightly more aggressive “A Year of Eating Dangerously” to the rather melancholy “A Little Girl's Taxidermy” wherein a lonely melodica calls out over sparkling tinkles and a roving bass line. Apparently, hellothisisalex is working on a release titled The Other Coast which suggests that the duo will connect it in some thematic manner to British Columbia and Vancouver.

December 2006