Saltland is a solo recording project for cellist/composer/vocalist Rebecca Foon. She’s been a mainstay in the Montréal music scene since 1996, but this project has only been a thing since 2010. She was a member of A Silver Mt. Zion (alternately known as “Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band with Choir” or “Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra”, or whatever they’re called now) and also of Set Fire to Flames. Those bands are both part of the Godspeed You Black Emperor extended family, but she was never in that band. She did, however, start a chamber music band called Esmerine with Godspeed member Bruce Cawdron.
A short while back, I was wandering around the Constellation Records website, and happened upon this song. She had me sold straight out of the gate with the multi-layered cello bit.
This is that song
“ICA” by Saltland
As much as I love the mournfulness of the cello, the endless layers of it make this all the more beautiful. Among the sea of cello, there’s some additional waves of violin swirled in there, and it’s certainly got me captivated. It’s spooky and haunting and beautiful all at the same time.
I’ve listened to the song a bunch of times, and I can’t decipher the lyrics. What’s important, though, is that she uses her voice as more than just a vehicle for the poetry. Her voice is almost like another stringed instrument to be plucked and bowed.
I Thought it Was Us… came out in the spring of 2013, but I didn’t know about it until this year. It’s a shame, because I think I would have parked that album somewhere in the top half of my year-end list. By the way, Jace Lasek of the magnificent Besnard Lakes did part of the mixing at his Breakglass Studio in Montréal.
Saltland is about to embark on a very short tour of the eastern US, playing eight dates in nine nights in support of Moonface. Apparently, it’s a regular thing for Saltland to play shows in support of Moonface. I’m lucky enough that one of the stops on that tour will be at the Cat’s Cradle Back Room, so there’s a good chance that I’ll be there on March 11.
For extra credit, check out the super-serene video for the song. Right side of the screen is some slow-motion video footage of Rebecca riding a NYC subway, while the left side of your screen is footage of snowy Montréal, shot from an airplane window.