It seems almost fated that You Are My Symphonic’s love-letter to Montreal would be usurped by his previous stomping-ground but that’s what happened when, during a Toronto stay in 2008, Vishal Kassie’s laptop was stolen. For fans well aware of how location often shapes this songwriter’s muse, the symbolism was particularly treacherous; that the near-finished recordings – which chronicled the forward-thinking changes in Kassie’s Montreal life – managed to evaporate mere hours after he’d stepped foot onto Toronto concrete suggested he’d never left, or grown, at all.
A complete do-over, then, but one Kassie doesn’t lament for a second. In fact, the robbery set the gears in motion for a better album. “It took that moment to shake my guard and help me write some of those lyrics that I truly love now,” Kassie writes from his in-home studio. With the support of his friends and family already tied into the record’s narrative, I Found Your Faces Of Montreal suddenly swelled with new purpose. The record jumped from six songs to eight, while its title track – originally an instrumental – transformed into a lyrical centerpiece. “The aftermath of that whole experience was when I put down the lyrics to the title song,” Kassie remembers. It would be but the first of countless revisions, with each alteration adapting to the promise that one can never truly go back.
Re-recorded over a three-year span, I Found Your Faces Of Montreal also recounts a gradual shift from the electronic apex of 2009’s stopgap release Afternoon Birds Of Arima back to the folky CD-Rs Kassie began handing out nearly a decade ago. Organic instrumentation provides an anchor to You Are My Symphonic’s romantic sensibilities, allowing the lilt of an acoustic guitar (on ‘Meet Me In Trinity’) or a grizzled harmonica (‘My Father And His Sister’) to share space with Kassie’s now trademarked beds of ambience. Driving many of these compositions beyond their electro-acoustic loveliness are Kassie’s vocals, which convey yearning in a way that sharpens the album’s melodious veneer.
By romancing both the city (‘Autumn Will Fall In Love’) and, occasionally, its citizens (‘Rooftop’), these instances act as intersections to the rich, emotional geography of I Found Your Faces Of Montreal. Bracing our nomadic steps with wide-eyed meditations on love, ancestry and distance, You Are My Symphonic has inadvertently written the ideal companion disc for traveling alone. “As painful as it was to restart I Found Your Faces Of Montreal, I wouldn’t trade this new version for anything,” Kassie states, “It sounds right.” And as someone who has worked so hard at rediscovering his sound, it’s befitting that You Are My Symphonic also found home in the process.
- Folk Electronic