No Museums
It All Begins to Feel

by Jim Di Gioia

February 9, 2018

There’s no moss growing on Edmonton’s No Museums.


I’d say you could set your clocks to the arrival of a new No Museums album, but that would undermine the effort and artistry of Alberta’s best kept independent musical secret. Whether as No Museums or under his previous aliases, Twin Library and The Public Library, Michael Betmanis has released a steady flow of high-grade, homemade anti-rock. Acoustic and electric guitars wrestle for prominence in the mix to create what’s become No Museums’ signature sound: a blissed out, blown-out, super fuzzy folk/rock/pop hybrid.

Though sound-wise, things stay consistent on It All Begins To Feel, there’s no moss growing on No Museums. The seven-track album is an exercise in brevity, clocking in at a lightning fast 12 minutes yet still brimming with melodies and hooks. There’s always a risk that songs clocking in under two minutes will sound half-finished, but even at 1:36, there’s such a beautiful and fully realized arc to songs like “Old Projectors” and “Burnt Photographs”. Nothing on It All Begins To Feel sounds rushed.

Even lyrically, Betmanis is able to draw complex illustrations, in gray shades of winter. Images of frozen rivers, the low sun on a forest path, knives, and burning books pepper his poetic verses, coalescing most evocatively around “The Twin Tone Market”. It’s the one song where Betmanis veers from his formula, using a steady retro-synth drum pattern and pronounced dynamics to lift the veil of feedback. The words may be purposefully obtuse, but the emotional resonance comes through loud and clear in the delivery: No Museums is all feeling.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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