Flicker EP

Waterslide

Wampus Multimedia, 2019

http://wampus.com/waterslide

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/15/2019

Waterslide—Mark Doyon’s musical moniker when he’s not inhabiting the guise of Arms Of Kismet—takes AOK’s quirky, penetrating power-pop and sprinkles an extra half-cup of powdered sugar on top.

Waterslide’s latest confection, the Flicker EP, clocks in at a spare five songs and 19 minutes, making it more of an appetizer than a meal—and yet despite its brevity, it still gives Doyon enough space to sketch an entire world populated with characters straining to arrive at that breakthrough moment that delivers a flash of meaning to their lives. If that sounds a tad high-brow for rock and roll, it’s all part of singer-songwriter-multinstrumentalist-producer-novelist-designer Doyon’s creative aesthetic, matching supple melodies and insistent beats with lyrics that poke and prod at both conscience and subconscious.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Opener “Skyglow (Hey Lucky Star)” offers a fantasia of postmodern pop, introduced by a pulsing piano backbeat before it billows out into an airy verse decorated with dreamy synth washes and slide. As Doyon considers the vagaries of chance, Mitch Renault’s drums keep pushing things along insistently while layers of synths and background vocals and burbling ambient noise fill out every corner of this broad-spectrum aural universe.

“Grand Mal” initially feels more grounded, settling down to keening slide guitar (from guest Adam “Ditch” Kurtz), electric piano, acoustic guitar, and drums. Then Doyon begins to sing and, as is often the case, you’re struck by the contrast between his sunny, rather playful delivery and the seriousness of the lyric, in this case about a damaged soldier returning home.

The ominous overtones of the former’s narrative finally feel reflected in the music once “Brownout” arrives, riding a steady-picked, repeating guitar figure counter-pointed by guest Dan Hochhalter’s echo-drenched fiddle, a surreal nightmare that Doyon punctuates with a wonderfully crunchy surgical-strike guitar solo.

“Scar In Place” features Doyon and harmony vocalist Audrey Karrasch narrating a mental breakdown, an eerie sing-songy tune that zeroes in at the end on “the way the sun blots out the moon / and flickers in the late afternoon.” Closer “When They Make The Movie” strikes a suitably elegiac note with stately acoustic guitar chords lifted up by bright, echoey electric notes. The lyric finds Doyon imagining a happy ending for his damaged protagonist that feels like pure fantasy, yet never falters, even as the drums pick up the charge and the melody takes over for a stirring finish.

Throughout this compact radio play, Doyon draws on images of light flickering, fading, and returning, while exploring the dispassionate whims of fate. By turns subversive, charming, off-kilter and right on the melodic mark, the Flicker EP packs a cinemascope vision into a 19-minute package like a magician pulling a five-bedroom house out of his hat. It’s a hell of a trick and Waterslide’s Mark Doyon is just the top-hatted rogue to pull it off.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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