Montreal's Thanya Iyer calls her music "future folk." It's an apt categorization, not least because the future is, by definition, full of endless possibilities. Iyer—a vocalist, composer, producer, and bandleader—crafts music that is fanciful and roaming, incorporating bits of soul, jazz, electronica, and pop to build her own version of the future.
Formally, her band includes friends Daniel Gélinas and Alex Kasirer-Smibert, but the trio recruit plenty of contributors to complete their ambitiously lush sound. The experimental group will put anything at their disposal in an effort to enhance the textures in their music; on Iyer's debut album, Do You Dream?, released two years ago, Gélinas is credited for playing "dried clementine peels," but the percussionist can also be seen in a live video using two bowls of water for instruments.
Now, in a cassette mixtape put together for Topshelf Records, the band has revisited their album with fresh minds and fresh appetites for ever more exploration. The result includes three thoughtfully reimagined tracks and two new ones that dial back Iyer's orchestral tendencies in favor of something more intimate in character. Aided by the "Mawmz" choir (Brigitte Naggar, Shelby Cohen, Sarah Rossy), the tracks here have an especially dreamlike, ethereal quality when compared to their original album versions, but Iyer’s vocals remain the anchor to the constantly expanding and evolving landscape of sounds.
"Daydreaming" gains a full minute of gauzy, sleepy rumination, while "Bridges" becomes an after-hours jam, the hushed vocals, atmospheric hums, and heartbeat-like drumming blending together like muted, watercolor tones on a creamy canvas. “Not Warm / Not Cold” jumps between choral a cappella sections and noisy maximalist ones before nestling into a warm nook, where Iyer’s honeyed, soulful vocals sit atop a bed of gently played keys and hi-hats. Finally, the two new tracks, "Water" and "Solace," round out the collection, the former full of inviting intrigue and mystery, and the latter a space-age lullaby.
With the tracks all bleeding into one another, they feel more like vignettes than fully formed songs per se, which means the mixtape is best enjoyed uninterrupted. But who would want to interrupt this all too short and tender ride through Thanya Iyer's imagination anyway?