The Wilderness of Manitoba - When You Left the Fire
Record Label: tinyOGRE Entertainment
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of 250,900 sq. miles, over 110,000 lakes and a largely continental climate because of its flat topography... According to Wikipedia at least. Now that you know just a hint more about America’s beloved neighbors, who is The Wilderness of Manitoba? Originating out of the urban wilderness of Toronto, TWOM is a quintet of friends who love music. When You Left the Fire is what we’re left with. From the first track “Orono Park” until the end, it is evident that rather than use instrumentation to set a backdrop for the vocals, the band relies on layered vocals to drive their sound in combination with guitars, harmonicas, banjos and a host of other acoustic instruments. There is nothing unique about this style however they do manage to pull it off with relative success. This fusion of harmonic resonance leaves the listener forced to take in the whole picture as opposed to centering on a single element and dismissing the rest as a sort of backdrop.
While listening to this album, one might feel that the sound was specifically designed to be listened to more passively. As if the artists created something more of a soundtrack than a standalone album. Multiple times during my first listening, I envisioned hiking along a lonely back trodden mountain path or taking a stroll through a forest in the peak of autumn’s color. This is the both the attraction of TWOM for some and its downfall for others. In its favor, the music seemed to encourage a sense of calm, almost a level of lethargy to the hustle and bustle of the world all around us. On the other hand, many of us are a part of the aforementioned “hustle and bustle” and while the phrase might carry negative connotations for some, it is simply the reality for others. We like something that is aesthetically pleasing, but with our limited time and limited attention spans, we want to be challenged. We want to be impressed. We want the best and TWOM does not deliver on any of those fronts. So while their predictability will serve as a comfort and pleasure for many fans, for others, there are simply other sounds we would prefer to dominate our hearing.
In the end, you get the sense that TWOM would be making music, regardless. We are simply fortunate that they decided to share their work with us and allow fans of their sound to enjoy what is offered.