Michael C. Duguay
The Winter of Our Discotheque (Reprise)
Michael C. Duguay made his triumphant return to music in September 2020, releasing the stunning The Winter of Our Discotheque, after a decade away from the limelight. Older, more experienced, but not bitter, nor jaded, it was a collection of beautiful songs, haunting vocals, and showed off his great talents as a songwriter.
Reprise is that album, remixed. Duguay worked with eight other artists, each of whom remixed, reinterpreted, his music. The results are more than a companion piece to the original album, but a document that can stand on its own. I reviewed the first single from the album, ‘Candy Store,’ remixed by Jeremy Parkin, a 23 year old producer from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse, YK. The story of how these two came together is kinda cool, as they have formed a musical partnership and are collaborating on a series of upcoming projects as well. Duguay reports
I met Jeremy backstage at a show in Whitehorse and was immediately struck by how everything about him radiated pure creativity. He was wearing an outfit he made himself, he was performing far-out instrumental electronic music for a folk show audience in a soft seat theatre. We immediately started discussing and sharing creative ideas at a conceptual level that it normally takes me years to get to with other artists…I think that Jeremy is one of the most exciting and important artists coming up in Canada.
In Parkin’s hands, ‘Candy Store’ became based in skull-crushing distorted beats, before it broke out in heavenly chorus over Duguay’s softly plucked guitar, all Edge-style. Each and every track on Reprise sees a different artist take Duguay’s original track, and then arranged, produced, and performed their own version. Or something like that. Parkin, for example, deconstructed ‘Candy Store’ and re-built it.
The second track, ‘Summer Fights (Silver Pools River Revision),’ is equally amazing, this glorious reconstruction of the song, based on Duguay’s guitar, all treble, and pretty, and continues in this vein, before a thudding bass drum and laid back beat arrives, and the layers of sound on top of that beat creates this gorgeous little song. I find myself, everytime I listen to this album, which is a lot, wishing this track was about 10 minutes longer than it’s 3m53s.
mal_aimé take on ‘This City is a Grid,’ remixing the track, deconstructing it, creating a syncopated synth under it, and then placing Duguay’s original vocals through a processor and placing it around the track, occasionally so distorted it’s close to impossible to pick out the words.
Then there’s ‘Tithes,’ which is a trans-Canadian collab between Duguay (who is based in Kingston, ON), Andrew MacKelvie in Halifax, and Jordy Walker of Whitehorse. This version of the track has MacKelvie’s sax sounding all scattershot over the sound of birds. The saxophone sounds disjointed, distorted, and slightly mad. And then the beat joins the party, and Duguay’s voice, filtered and processed within an inch of its life. The final effect is somewhat like vintage Air.
Altogether, Reprise is an incredible statement on the state of Canadian music in the second decade of the 21st century, and sees Duguay, shine a light on all this incredible talent. It is also a really brave move by Duguay, who was himself only back on the scene for a few months before this came out, his work all deconstructed.