The Olympic Symphonium
Beauty in the Tension

by Jim Di Gioia

February 7, 2018

The Olympic Symphonium harness their individual strengths to craft Beauty in the Tension’s unmistakable sound.


The last time New Brunswickers the Olympic Symphonium released an album was 2014, the same year as the Sochi Winter Olympics. Their latest, Beauty in the Tension, arrives on the same day that the PyeongChang Winter Games open. Coincidence or conscious decision? I have to wonder, given the parallels between the band’s four songwriters (Nick Cobham, Kyle Cunjak, Dennis Goodwin, and Graeme Walker) and the world’s greatest quadrennial athletic competition.

Not ones to sit around and rest on their laurels, the four members have all been flexing their artistic muscles in the last four years with numerous other pursuits and projects (like curating a music festival and running their own record label). Dedicated to their craft, the Olympic Symphonium honed in on this latest batch of songs, playing them live so that when it came time to record, they were able to lay down the ten-song album over the course of a marathon six-day session in Riverport, Nova Scotia’s Old Confidence Lodge studio.

Opener “Coat of Arms” instantly reminds me of all that I love about the Olympic Symphonium: full, rich arrangements, endearing harmonies, and a palpable dramatic tension. “Glory of Love”, teased late last year, playfully sends up Peter Cetera’s 1986 single of the same name, but is anything but MOR. The band’s trademark harmonies are buoyed by a golden-haze folk melody that’s kissed with sweet country soul.

It takes time, practice, and patience to become attuned to one another the way Cobham, Cunjak, Goodwin, and Walker have. You feel their vibes in the chill “Choral Voices” sends down your spine; you sense the ease with which they play off one another on “Comedy” and “In With the Camera”. Like a well-oiled bobsleigh team, the members of the Olympic Symphonium harness their individual strengths to come together as one, seamlessly crafting Beauty in the Tension’s unique and unmistakable sound.

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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