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A compilation of album covers from music produced during the 2021 RPM challenge in Peterborough.

RPM Challenge: the 2021 Listening Listicle

Written by
Spencer Wells
and
March 11, 2021
RPM Challenge: the 2021 Listening Listicle
A compilation of album covers from music produced during the 2021 RPM challenge in Peterborough.

The RPM Challenge is officially finished for the year, and with it a great musical journey has led to a pot of musical gold. To produce music in the midst of a pandemic (and even a few lockdowns) is an incredible feat in itself, and the songs circulating around the Peterborough playlists is certainly indicative of the hard work and dedication to the craft. The region produced one of the highest number of records (and song content) in Ontario this year. 

Speaking from my experience, it was a miracle I was able to finish my project within the month. It was a tough ordeal to find creativity in some instances, and even more so drive to complete the songs (especially during midterm season, with readings and assignments galore). Though I also believe that’s what makes the challenge special, this year in particular. With all the barriers imposed by the pandemic and current state of affairs around the world and in our own backyard, it is incredibly relieving to be able to sit back and take a breath after a month’s hard work. I couldn’t wait to hear what the rest of Peterborough was working on. Lo and behold, there is much to listen to from this great artistic city.

Here are some great releases from the Peterborough/Kawartha Lakes region:

{AN}EeL - Dynamic Postures and Instant Regrets

  • An experimental, noise and field recording album with some very unique vocal characters. A fine example of how sounds can create a disoriented illusion. Highly recommend using a good pair of over-ear headphones to capture the different angles of sounds.

Borek Patty - Uncentredton

  • This album sounds like the soundtrack of a long journey across an open field - the backdrop of a folklore legend. It features a convergence of electric and acoustic guitar sounds, with a healthy dose of delay and reverb effects. Pay extra close attention to the different layers of strings as they pan across the stereo channels. 

Bryar Gray - Ode to Kitty Boy

  • A cat-themed experimental project featuring a diverse range of guitar and synth tracks, with occasional meows for extra effect. Each track stands out as a unique passage into some sort of exploration of audio. Definitely has a nostalgic feel, especially for the chiptone 8-bit synth tracks and gated (simulation?) reverb effects. 

Dhedbeats - Algonquin

  • A (soon to be hit) single with a jazzy lofi instrumental R&B beat. Dhedbeats seamlessly blends in easy-listening percussion with low-pass keys, which can easily persuade the listener to start swaying with the song. An ideal choice for relaxing on a beach once the permafrost in Ontario melts away in the summer.

Jill Staveley - From the Vault RPM 2021

  • A showcase of Jill’s performance-turned-to-studio tracks, with a heavy emphasis on folk and rock. The album speaks to solemn experiences, both from solo and Steelburner performances, with the “vault” being the memories of such. With a warm, vintage piano tone throughout, this is definitely the selection for a moment of reflection – good times past, and good times to come.

Morgellon - AM

  • A darker electronica-based album with some rock and metal influenced sounds incorporated seamlessly throughout. Makes its way through the industrial space age sounds of the future and the bleeps and boops of the analog instrument generation, all in the same room. Pairs well with LED neon lights and surround-sound speakers. 

Nick Procyshyn - Piano 1. Improvisations and Momentary Stories. (A Pawn)

  • The making of a modern classic that sets a definitive standard for excellent piano tunes. These are the songs you would expect to hear in the jazz clubs and auditoriums, with remarkable compositions reminiscent of Tchaikovsky and Debussy to name a few. With this album, there’s little doubt that Nick Procyshyn will become a household name for piano players everywhere.

Oliver Matthews-Hanna - Sliding Down the Street

  • Like the album title suggests, this collection calls for smooth moves as you make your way to the tune of easy-listening bops and feel-good ballads. The accentuation of the vocals – both solo and chorused – fair well with the theatrical themes of the instruments, ranging from piano to percussions. Perhaps in the future we can expect to see this album turn into a musical (*wink nudge*)

Rob Hailman - Shift Change in Zone Five

  • A collection of modular synthesizer (including a hand-built synthesizer) tracks, with a unique twist on spaced-out pop and post-punk electronic music. The choice soundtrack for an intergalactic spaceship adventure to the 80’s nightclub at the edge of the universe. If New Wave were to make a serious resurgence, Rob Hailman would be the synth guru leading the charge. 

Rock and Roll Princesses - Sisters

  • Charlie and Meara Watson prove themselves to be virtuosos of several different instruments on this album. Incorporating folk elements with the fiddle and ukulele and experimenting with electronic, funky jams. All while telling true their combined talents in their vocals, making an exceptional record. 

Shahrazi - she​/​they​/​zameen

  • A beautiful collection of poetry, accompanied with ambient percussions, strings, keyboards and airy choruses. Each of the vocal tracks are mixed differently, which impresses upon the unique quality of the poems and album’s narrative. The spoken word interludes mix miraculously well with the minute field recording overlays, which embodies a certain nature aesthetic like a call out to the universe. 

STATIC EYE RAZOR BOOGER - Thujone TV

  • An assemblage of psycho-metal, full power volume-turned-up-to-11 songs with an unmistakable flair for distortion and noise. Designed to be straight up and to the point, many of the songs appear as stylizations of field recordings. Combined with different volume controls and recording overlays, this makes for some otherworldly sound experiences. 
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