Ahh, the mixtape. An entity for which I have so much nostalgia! Though really, mixtapes precede me: I was a creator and recipient of mix cds (what do the kids do today? I have a crush on you so I’ve made you a playlist, let me email it to you?). But for Warren Hildebrand, the man behind Foxes in Fiction, cassette tapes are where it’s at. He self-releases his work (and works of friends) under the label Orchid Tapes, available only online and in cassette form.
I love this not just because of my own fetish for the tape (don’t even get me started on vinyl), but because I think the nature of Hildebrand’s work is largely influenced by this old school, do-it-yourself style. He’s been making music since he was 15 based out of his Toronto apartment, motivated by experimentation and making use of various instruments, his voice, and electronic manipulations.
Foxes in Fiction’s latest release, Swung From The Branches, is an example of Hilderbrand’s varied musical interests and his own thematic tendencies. The album, which was recorded for cassette use (and can be downloaded for free via his website), plays like a mixtape. A Side plays, per Hilderbrand’s description, as “one long dreamlike hallucination song,” and makes use of the lulling, soothing qualities of ambient noise-pop.
While the songs are largely indistinguishable, tracks like “Coffee Cups That Won’t Break” embody a groove-like trance, while “Thank You Sunday Morning” acts as an ephemeral transport, carrying you from one song to the next.
B Side shows more of Hildebrand’s range. He maintains the dreamy, floaty quality of the first half of the album, but allows for vocals, evident instruments, and pressing lyrics. A more upbeat, pop-influenced theme emerges: “Snow Angels” plays like a fuzzy, 1960s slow jam, while “15 Ativan (Song for Erika)” builds from a repetitive riff to a bouncy, indie pop tune that plays like Beach House.
I keep hitting repeat when I get to “Memory Pools.” It is, quite simply, a jam of a track – intoxicating piano repetition, a bit of a tambourine, and a melody that is just asking to get stuck in your head.