Patient Gardener: May 2023

The DOMINIONATED Newsletter is a monthly(ish) round-up of music and creativity from across the country, bringing reviews and recommendations from our writers right to your inbox. Enter your email address below to subscribe now.


Alexandra Streliski, Néo-Romance


Composer and pianist Alexandra Stréliski never ceases to leave me awed by her work. Néo-Romance is another emotionally deep and cinematic suite of piano compositions, gently played and expertly rendered. Stréliski brings a certain pop sensibility to classical music that allows pieces like “Ad libre,” “Rêveries,” and “the first kiss” to sit comfortably next to more contemporary tunes on your favourite sad song or Sunday mood music playlists. • Jim Di Gioia

Cabbaggage, Piano Homage To Gormenghast


Have you read Mervyn Peake’s 1946 fantasy series Gormenghast? Don’t worry, me neither. But even if you are not familiar with these books, you can enjoy Cabbaggage (Vancouver-based multi-genre composer Levi Kempster)’s sonic Coles Notes version of Titus Groan, the first novel in Peake’s series. Each of Piano Homage To Gormenghast‘s nine ghostly piano tracks is an analysis of a character from the novel. Using a measured piano melody, Kempster portrays “Lord Sepulchrave, The 76th Earl Of Groan” as regal and melancholic, by layering piano with an oscillating electronic noise, “Lady Fuchsia I” has many moods, and the brief sketch of “Dr. Prunesquallor,” makes clear that he has a mad-scientist vibe. It’s an engaging and immersive listen and if you’re in a reading funk, this may kickstart you to pick up a book. • Laura Stanley

L CON, SOUNDMILL improvisations


During the fall of 2021, an old mill ruin in Guelph was the site of a multi-channel sound and light installation by Lisa Conway aka L CON. Released in January, SOUNDMILL improvisations is a 16 track collection of sonic materials that accompanied the installation. Inspired by “the repetitive rhythmic patterns involved in the milling process” and mixing stereo reductions of solo synthesizer with grain and hydrophone recordings, SOUNDMILL improvisations is vertiginous and beautifully hypnotic. For more L CON, stay tuned for her forthcoming album The Isolator due out May 10th. • LS

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Matty Grace, The Breakdown of Progress


Press play on Matty Grace’s new EP The Breakdown of Progress and get ready to feel. With honest and heartfelt lyrics, the four acoustic tracks capture the pain and joy of longing and highlight the importance of holding onto your sense of self while everything around you changes. They say a person’s eyes are the windows to their soul but I would argue that it’s their voice because you can feel every single word that Matty sings deep in your soul. Whether you’re traveling from “YOW – YHZ – YOW”, YVR-YYT, or anywhere in between, turn up The Breakdown of Progress and allow all of the emotions to wash over you. • Em Moore

Matt Holubowski, Like Flowers on a Molten Lawn


Matt Holubowski seeded his new album Like Flowers on a Molten Lawn (which he co-produced with Pietro Amato) with inspiration from e.e. cummings’ “Spring is like a perhaps hand”, but its captivating and introspective blend of folk, blues, and indie-pop is all his handiwork. Like the patient gardener nurturing precious seeds in often volatile and harsh growing conditions, Holubowski slowly and steadily works his stories into the garden motif. On “Garden vs. Mowers,” he captures in a single line the fleeting nature of new love and hones in on the effort it takes to sustain it: “You came here to pick flowers / Now you’re mowing the lawn.” Though I’ve been listening since the record was first released this past March, Like Flowers on a Molten Lawn is blooming for me now, right on time for a spring awakening. • JD

Roach, “Drowning”


Do you make an annual “sad summer” playlist? No? Just me? Well anyway, Roach’s “Drowning” – a track from the Toronto band’s forthcoming debut album – will have a spot on mine. Under layers of guitars, this emo tune sounds as murky as a weedy swimming hole and sharply stings like a sunburn. It’s perfect for the unease that the summer humidity always seems to bring. • LS

In case you missed it

Time is an illusion and a lot of great music is always being released and so we gathered some standout releases from 2022 that deserve a little more attention.

Indoor Kid, Thanks, Courtney


Thanks, Courtney, the debut release from “transatlantic tweemo” band Indoor Kid, reminds me of quick-tempo conversations with good pals. The band rips through topics like generational wealth and depression, a recording of an interview with Courtney Barnett is heard, and the EP ends with a love song to a bud. Even though these five tracks wiz by, lead singer and songwriter Cailen Pygott – of another east coast emo band No, It’s Fine – does not skip over big, honest feelings which makes this exhilarating listen even more heady. Thanks, Indoor Kid! • LS

Maldita, Maldita


Toronto-based Maldita deliver wonderfully raw hardcore punk on their self-titled album. The Spanish sung songs are frenetic, furious, and will have you starting a mosh-pit in your room (until you can see them live, that is) within seconds of hearing the opening track, “Trabajo”. Maldita is pure energy from start to finish and solidifies the band as one of the most exciting hardcore bands out there. • EM



Montreal-based punk band UZU come out of the gates swinging on their debut self-titled album. The band takes hardcore punk to new levels as they infuse it with post-punk and gothic elements to create a sound that’s urgent and melodic as well as dark and brooding. The poetic lyrics are sung in Arabic (with an English translation available on their Bandcamp page) and their vocal delivery is reminiscent of Bauhaus at their best. • EM

Witch Prophet 
Gateway Experience 
Gordon Lightfoot 
Gord’s Gold