Montreal shoe-gazer Miracle Fortress shifts to electro-pop sound on new LP, 'Was I the Wave?'

If ever there were evidence that musical vision translate across sounds and styles, it’s the new collection from Montreal’s Miracle Fortress.

A project of producer Graham Van Pelt, the first Miracle Fortress album, 2007’s “Five Roses,” was a collection of shoe-gazey pop built around atmospheric guitars and echo-soaked vocals. Van Pelt evokes a similar feel with different instrumentation on the follow-up, “Was I the Wave?” (Secret City Records). It’s a deeply layered album, full of synthesizers and electronic sounds that seep with great subtlety around the edge of your consciousness.

He sings a dreamy, distant melody over a nimble mechanical beat and drifting clouds of synthesizer on “Spectre,” and dials in a busy computerized bassline topped with swells of white noise and bright synth fills as he intones the lyrics on “Tracers.” Not every track works as well: the disparate elements on “Raw Spectacle” never quite coalesce into a coherent whole, and “Immanent Domain” (no, that’s not a misspelling) mostly feels like a technological exercise.

Maybe those tracks were just warm-ups on the way to “Miscalculations,” a perfect blend of chiming guitars from the first album and the gauzy electro sound of this one. Van Pelt pushes his airy voice into falsetto on a melody that spirals upward and then floats back down. “I was always steps behind,” he muses at the start, but that’s silly: “Was I the Wave?” sounds more like he’s at the forefront.

— Eric R. Danton

Miscalculations mp3

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