Decoration Day

by Jim Di Gioia

July 4, 2017

Albert Hoang

I was walking around a carnival last night, my senses on overdrive. Lights flashed and streaked as amusement rides tilted and whirled. So much so that my eyes couldn’t focus on any one point for more than a few seconds. The smells were overwhelming: barbeques belching charred meats; sugary sweet cotton candy clouds wafting off of passersby; the industrial incense of generators and motors working away behind the scenes. The air was heavy with humidity left over from an afternoon rain burst, intensified by all the bodies jostling for positions in lines.

Amidst all this chaos and craziness, I tuned out the noise by replaying the haunting sounds of Toronto’s Decoration Day over and over in my mind. I had spent the afternoon listening to Blind Contour, the band’s recently released debut EP, and its sonic impression–its musical shadow–returned to me as I wandered. The lush music of “Until” took root in my mind. The subtlest hint of vibraphone and bass clarinet wrapped around my consciousness like tendrils on a vine, while vocalist Mara Nesrallah’s delicately sung words echoed in my thoughts, “If only I knew, if only I knew”.

Much like the activity and energy around me last night, “Until” is the kind of song that triggers all your senses at once. The six-piece band (Justin Orok, Tiffany Wu, Andrew Chung, Liam Cole, Ben McCarroll-Butler, and Nesrallah) allows space for every members’ contributions to find their way through, creating what they call “…a warm blanket of instruments” to wrap around the listener. And that’s just what it was: a comfort that insulated me from the cacophony; a sense memory returning at just the right time to create a moment of serenity in and amongst the garish spectacle of the carnival.

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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