Published Oct 16, 2018Setting aside (for now) his indie rock project Miracle Fortress and simply going by his given name for this new endeavour, Toronto-based, Polaris Music Prize short-listed musician Graham Van Pelt has given us Time Travel, a likeable album of bedroom-style vintage house with a shrewd pop twist.
Expertly crafted with the limited but elegant palette of the Roland SH-101 synthesizer (a seminal but well-aged machine), the album has a warm, cohesive vibe best appreciated after multiple listens. As such, those looking for an instantly gratifying sugar rush may want to look elsewhere, but if unhurried, mid-tempo vocal house with an old-school twist sounds appealing, Van Pelt has you covered with Time Travel.
Things take a little while to get going, but those with patience will be well rewarded once they get on board with Van Pelt's particular brand of restraint. The vintage pads arriving to complement the bass and congas on second track "Release Yourself" is a breakthrough moment, for instance, and by the time following cut "Saving Grace" finishes with its hypnotic bass and quirky analogue lead, you should be fully acclimatized.
And there's frankly only more quality to come, as every track has something to offer, whether it's the nocturnal, vaguely acid-sounding bass and '90s electric keys of "Out of This World," or the extended melodic build of late-album gem "One Thing"—which wrings all the epic scope possible from that trusty Roland.
All of this is topped off with Van Pelt's fragile, plaintive vocal delivery. Perhaps unremarkable in a different context, it fits in well with the unpretentiousness of Time Travel as a whole, a straightforward album with an emphasis on tasteful, slow-building songcraft as opposed to performative programming. Van Pelt solidly hits what he's aiming for here, and those who find their way to the target won't regret it. (Arbutus)