The struggle isn’t finding a way into Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day, it’s finding your way out of its immersive richness.
Recently, my colleague Geoff Parent wrote about the difficulty critical writers sometimes have finding their way into a record. I know that struggle well. There’s a party going on and you’re not invited. Or, you are invited and are constantly bombarded with social media reminders that you’re invited, but when you get there, you can’t find the door and your friends keep texting asking where you are and when you’ll get there. My struggle with Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day, the sophomore long player from Toronto-based band Bart, is not finding a way in, but finding my way out.
Built over a two-year creative period, Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day is the epitome of an immersive record. It’s rich, layered, and in constant flux. Those familiar with Bart’s angular prog-rock/free-jazz vibe that kicked off 2016’s brilliantly named Holomew may be disarmed by the piano-and-sax intro to “Don’t Push”, a smouldering, slow-burning opening number (featuring Joseph Shabason). Or maybe such a sonic shift from Bart’s musical chameleons Christopher Shannon and Nathan Vanderwielen makes perfect sense; there’s always been a sense of ornateness looking for a way into Bart’s arrangements. Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day relaxes the rules. Rock music paradigms get the week off. Keys, synths, and acoustic strings get to do most of the album’s heavy lifting, in turn creating a lighter-than-air, all-enveloping sound. The slight single “Pink Symphony” floats like a dandelion seed on a summer breeze, buoyed by Shannon and Vanderwielen’s otherworldly harmonies. “Heritage Moment” plays out like a meticulously improvised psychedelic jam session, so precise in its diversions and shifts that you’d swear it was plotted out on a whiteboard.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten lost in Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day’s dozen songs over the past few weeks, lulled by its hallucinogenic tendencies. It unfolds like a sprawling epic of a record, a musical trip that you’d swear pushes passed an hour-long playing time. In reality, it’s thirty-two minutes long. Just further evidence that Bart has built Today, Tomorrow, & The Next Day like a hedge maze, with the intent that all who enter get lost in its left turns, dead-ends, and towering lushness. I could think of a worse way to spend thirty minutes, an hour, a day, a weekend, or eternity.