A Woodpigeon song is a container.
The container can be a thing of lustrous, exquisitely wrought ornate delicacy, like a sonic Fabergé egg, suggestively warm and heavy in the palm. Or it can be a container for spectacle, like a planetarium, the elemental and sweepingly dynamic bound by a dome for human contemplation. Or like the magic pouch of Urdu myth, a deceptively unassuming initial presence that suddenly becomes a transit to exotic dimensions. Or like Russian dolls, one handmade effigy holding another within it, until the diminutive figure at the heart of it all is revealed.
No matter the scale or mien, each of Woodpigeon’s containers holds a painstakingly created story. These stories were made for you, dear listener, and for us together: the baffled and querulous, the anxious and road-weary, the wonderers and wanderers and worriers, the desirers and pursuers, the frustrated and deliriously hopeful, the keepers of flame and seekers of peace; for those embarking on the perilous adventure of knowing another or – worse yet! – knowing oneself; for the neo-fogeys and eternal children sealed in ill-fitting grown-up carapaces. For those fording their way in a world that is continually remade into an unknown frontier every day, anew.
Woodpigeon is itself a container, less a band or project than a repository for multi-instrumentalist Mark Andrew Hamilton’s aural anthologies of modern reckonings. His stories strike at the difficult-to-parse moods and flights of fancy that struggle beneath our quotidian selves. We are better than we are, they sing.
Post-genre in an orchestral folk-pop context, Woodpigeon embellishes with echoes from other forms and eras: a swell of remorseful strings, the distant rousing call of horns, an urgent rhythmic skiffle of frustrated ardour, textural ripples of atmospheric noise. But oh, the melodies! Those are the soul of a Woodpigeon song, erudite lyrics borne by Hamilton’s spooky bittersweet vocals – like the ghost of a choirboy teetering on the cusp of manhood reincarnated into gently rustling autumn leaves. Yes, absolutely.
Woodpigeon can be counted among contemporary idiosyncratic songcrafters like Andrew Bird, Damien Jurado, Jens Lenkman, Laura Veirs, Jose Gonzalez, John Vanderslice, Iron & Wine, and Antony & the Johnsons, and alongside fellow mercurial Canadian artists like Arcade Fire, Chad vanGaalen, Chet, Great Lake Swimmers, The Acorn, Culture Reject, Christine Fellows, Human Highway, and Kathryn Calder.
Woodpigeon was coined in 2005 to shelter a revolving cast of Mark Hamilton’s musician comrades as they coalesced around his first songs. Since then, five full-length albums and at least a dozen other recordings have been released into the wild under the Woodpigeon banner. Hamilton, sometimes with guests but often alone, has toured Europe and North America alongside several artists (including Withered Hand, Jose Gonzalez, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene, and Calexico), and been on the bill at a few festivals (Sled Island, The End of the Road, Haldern Pop, Field Day, Pop Montreal). The Woodpigeon entity has been involved in theatrical, cinematic, and performance events and featured on productions by many purveyors of fine musical exposure (CBC Radio, BBC, Radio France, Le Blogotheque, Black Cab Sessions, Bandstand Busking, Southern Souls, XFM and more). In 2010, Woodpigeon completed its first residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. While all of this has been wonderful, Hamilton wishes with all his heart that Woodpigeon could have had a Peel Session. Alas.