Swimming in Strange Waters, the title of The Wooden Sky’s fifth full-length album is an abridged quote from Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune: “Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.” It’s a phrase that seems especially apt in 2017, as many of us are still reeling from the previous year. For Gavin Gardiner, the frontman of the Toronto-based indie rock band, the way to understand and reconcile these unknowns — from oil pipelines and refugee crises to his own family’s personal history— is through songwriting.
The band (made up of Gardiner, multi-instrumentalists Simon Walker and Andrew Wyatt, violinist Edwin Huizinga and drummer Andrew Kekewich) started writing and recording demos in a small farmhouse in rural Quebec in January 2015, but then put them aside as they embarked on a year-long tour in support of their previous album, Let’s Be Ready.
The resulting album is a sonic maelstrom that sees the band exploring unchartered waters, where textural psychedelia inspired by the Paisley Underground movement melds into quiet, acoustic cyclical guitar melodies. While Let’s Be Ready found the Wooden Sky writing a pure “rock and roll” album, Swimming in Strange Waters sees the band experimenting once again.