Departures is four men and one woman by the names of Steve, Rob, Graeme, Nicholas, and Alannah.
They live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where they have been steadily building and subsequently destroying good will for the past two years.
Their sound is both dreamy and abrasive: walls of over-driven guitars and grinding bass are pushed forward by propulsive drumming, complimented by out of focus vocals that sit within the breadth of sound. The songs draw influence from the expansiveness of ambient music and the concise experimentation of post-punk.
For Departures, live performance is about more than just aural stimulation, but pressure. Departures solely seek to create this intense, palpable pressure within the room at every show.
Over two recording sessions — one in Winnipeg, one in Montreal — Departures tracked their debut album with Howard Bilerman to magnetic tape. The album was then mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.
Departures is the product of the unerring commitment of five people who have little interest in spectacle, but rather have a focus on expositing raw nervous energy while maintaining their principles together.
Departures has played with a wide array of bands including: Mac DeMarco, Women, Handsome Furs, Braids, Boats, and many more.
Mentions from Pitchfork, Exclaim, All Music, etc.:
Stephen Kesselman - Guitar
Graeme Wolfe - Bass
Nicholas Liang - Vocals, Guitar
Rob Gardiner - Drums
Alannah Walker - Guitar
Departures - Still and Moving Lines (2012)
Pitchfork Track Review
[+ Show ]
Departures are five musicians from Winnipeg, Manitoba whose album Still and Moving Lines is out Octo...Departures are five musicians from Winnipeg, Manitoba whose album Still and Moving Lines is out October 2. Album highlight "Pillars" has the band juxtaposing ambience with urgency, jangling guitars with jagged power chords. It pairs the angular melodicism and guitar layering of late 1990s indie rock with the vocal stoicism of early 1980s post-punk. Through the track's five minutes, they execute a successful slow build, sing in hushed tones, shout, elaborately layer guitars, and fundamentally alter the song's melody twice. For a band that's only one album in, it's impressive that they can seamlessly execute so many sonic shifts.
Stuart Berman Album Review
[+ Show ]
From Moncton’s Eric’s Trip to Calgary’s Women, geographic isolation and crap weather have historical...From Moncton’s Eric’s Trip to Calgary’s Women, geographic isolation and crap weather have historically contributed to producing some of this country’s most invigorating, emotionally resonant indie rock. And so the story goes for Winnipeg five-piece Departures. Their very name suggests a desire to escape, a notion underscored by calling-card track “Pillars,” which (following a brief ambient intro) sets their debut album in motion with a fidgety, frantic post-punk assault. But something jarring happens just as the song reaches its throat-shredding climax—it stops cold, before yielding to a surprisingly dreamy, mantra-like denouement that provides an instant snapshot of this band’s textural depth, while setting the sanguine tone for what follows. You settle into Still and Moving Lines just as you would an all-nighter at a friend’s apartment on a wind-chilled night, spilling wine on the pull-out sofa and blasting the collective discographies of Pavement and The Clean until the turntable breaks and you pass out on the rug before the morning sun and/or a dog sloppily licking your cheek wakes you up. Which is to say: for all their jet-set intimations, Departures make music for the comfortably familiar crash pads at which you want to arrive.
Stereogum Track Review
[+ Show ]
This fall, the Winnipeg band Departures will release their album Still And Moving Lines. The band’s ...This fall, the Winnipeg band Departures will release their album Still And Moving Lines. The band’s song “Pillars” uses a lot of the same sonic ingredients as prime Factory Records postpunk: Freaked-out yelps, locked-in rhythm sections, flinty guitar tapestries. But the band turns them into something warmer, layering them up like late-period Sonic Youth.
All Music Guide Album Review
[+ Show ]
Departures hail from the decidedly non-exotic city of Winnipeg, where the climate is sunny, windy, a...Departures hail from the decidedly non-exotic city of Winnipeg, where the climate is sunny, windy, and really cold in the winters. The band's debut album, Still and Moving Lines, certainly reflects the coldness of wintertime; Departures' cloistered, almost claustrophobic sound can only be the product of long nights spent huddled together for warmth boiling their songs down to the essentials, then building them back up in layers of muffled sound. Drawing inspiration from the chilly post-punk of bands that also hailed from cold northern cities (Joy Division) and the knotted, intensely coiled sound of '90s Midwestern indie rock (Nice Strong Arm, Slint), the quintet packs a lot of emotion and angst into its music. Built around a tangled mosaic of guitars (ranging from quiet jangle to all-out screech) and an understated but powerful rhythm section, the album has many dimensions (both sonically and emotionally) that can take a while to appreciate fully, but once you get past the icy exterior, there is a warmth underneath that is comforting to embrace. Much of this is down to Nicholas Liang's vocals. Usually buried in the mix and often not much more than a mumble, he conveys real emotion with his voice that contrasts nicely with the wall of guitars. The rampaging energy of the louder tracks, like the careening "Being There" (which features some guitar soloing J Mascis would be proud of) and hard-charging "Pillars," shows warmth to the point of burning up the speakers, and the pleasantly melodic and almost sweet-natured "Swimming" even lets in a few rays of sunshine, but most of the album is restrained and doles out its pleasures in less immediate fashion. It may take a little effort to get to the pleasures, or it may not if the idea of Bitch Magnet recording for Factory sounds like it hits your sweet spot, but it is definitely worth it because Still and Moving Lines is an impressively assured debut.
Exclaim! Live Review: Departures Ace Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB, October 13
[+ Show ]
Winnipeg's Departures may be one of the best kept secrets in the country right now, but with the rel...Winnipeg's Departures may be one of the best kept secrets in the country right now, but with the release of their fantastic debut album, Still and Moving Lines, that's all about to change.
Tucked onto a makeshift stage at the back of the Ace Art Gallery in downtown Winnipeg's Exchange District, the noisy post-rock five-piece, made up of close friends Nick Liang, Steve Kesselman, Graeme Wolfe, Rob Gardiner and Alannah Walker have a musical chemistry that can only come from the singular pursuit of creating engaging art, leaving the rest of the baggage of the music industry to work itself out.
Right from the opening number "Pillars," singer/guitarist Liang's presence commanded attention, while drummer Gardiner (Greg MacPherson's band) hammered away at a powerful foundation that would be the bedrock of the more aggressive elements of the night.
For a relatively young band, Departures seemed extremely comfortable shifting between drawn-out melodic moments and punctuated blasts of urgent, controlled noise, using those sonic bridges to tie a common thread through the ebbs and flows of the material on Still and Moving Lines.
Transitioning to the repetitive synth undercarriage of "Winter Friend," the band explored a more constrained groove, while toning down the dense guitar work to give the song space to breathe.
"Left You Here," featuring Walker's vocal and synth contributions, broke up the nearly hour-long set, with the Cannon Bros. member trading off singing duties with Liang throughout the song to add yet another layer to the band's sound. It's a shame that both Walker and Liang's vocals were blurry in the mix, making them difficult to understand at times.
Finishing the night off with the shaggy guitars of "Contempt" and distortion-driven workout of "Being There," it was easy to hear why Departures may be one of the best up-and-coming bands to come out of the province in the last couple years.
Album of the Week: Departures, Still and Moving Lines
[+ Show ]
From Winnipeg, Canada, the band Departures are perhaps one of the most understated new bands of 2012...From Winnipeg, Canada, the band Departures are perhaps one of the most understated new bands of 2012. The band’s constantly shifting post punk and indie rock influences are apparent in the tangle of angular melodies, layering of guitars, shadowy synths, understated rhythms, and vocals that range from hauntingly hushed to shouting, throughout their debut album, Still and Moving Lines, which has been earning the band the all-important ‘blogger buzz’ and increasingly, recognition from the more mainstream, established press.
“For a band that’s only one album in,” wrote Evan Minsker of Pitchfork, “it’s impressive that they can seamlessly execute so many sonic shifts.” Tim Sendra, who writes for the All Music Guide, gave the album 4.5 stars out of five, writing: “…most of the album is restrained and doles out its pleasures in less immediate fashion. It may take a little effort to get to the pleasures…but it is definitely worth it because Still and Moving Lines is an impressively assured debut.”
Still and Moving Lines is a ‘grower’ – generally, the more you listen to it, the more likely you’re bound to come to appreciate just how good it is. The song that stands out the most on the first spin is “Pillars.” The blazing, melodic guitar jamming countered with edgier power chords, frantic rhythms, crashing cymbals, and shouting vocals on “Pillars” makes it seemingly the most accessible tracks on the album.
The loudest, most energetic songs on the LP were wisely put back-to-back at the top of the track listing. But first, the opening track of the album is the haunting 72-second “At Rest, at Home,” followed by “Pillars” and “Being There,” the latter is a nearly five-minute onslaught of loud, distorted guitar layers grinding away, rapid-fire bass thumping, and furious drumming.
Departures takes the listener on adventurous, mysterious sonic journeys throughout the course of the 10-track LP, from melancholic electric experimentation, free form angular guitar jams and sluggish rhythms to full-on screeching, angst-driven walls of noise comprised of tangled, chaotic blasts of reverb and feedback. A couple of worthwhile examples include songs like “Cartwright, MB” and “Contempt.”
Another highlight (among many) on the album is the muffled “Winter Friend,” which conveys a sense of the frigid, isolating environment where nearly half of the year is spent indoors to stay warm. The song starts out with an erie, David Lynch meets X-Files sounding synth, and like other tracks on the album, it slowly builds momentum to a raucous climax. For the band members, the long days of darkness and confinement lend themselves to endless hours of practice, experimentation and honing their skills, which undoubtably facilitated the writing, recording and mixing of a superb album and one of the best debuts of 2012.
The standout song, “Being There,” provides total bliss for lovers of lo-fi post punk where fuzzy, noisy guitars are on a rampage, blazing away unabated. The track also has the best guitar solo of any other on the album. The rhythm section is an integral aspect throughout the album as “Being There” demonstrates – the rhythm is bold, energetic, and calculating, somehow exerting a controlled anarchy. Switching gears, the track “Sleepless” is one of the most upbeat songs on the album, with atmospheric synth riffs, bongo style drumming, some “ooohs and ahhhs” and the calming, hushed vocals of Nicholas Liang, who is often a backdrop to the near constant wall of sound found throughout the LP.
Of the instrumental tracks on the album, the most memorable and poignant is found within the sweet sounds of “Swimming,” a track that conjures up all kinds of relaxing, hazy summer day images, like floating on a raft on a peaceful river surrounded by orange walled canyons, and serving as a contrast to the icier recordings on the album. One of the best aspects of Still and Moving Lines, in addition to its overall brilliance, is that there is absolutely no pandering to appeal to a mass audience. After spinning the album a number of times, listeners may detect the warmth underneath what is often a cold, hard exterior, and possibly come to the conclusion that, in the final analysis, Departures are a jam band, and a very talented one at that. In addition to being one of the best debut albums of 2012, Still and Moving Lines has put Departures on our list for the breakout bands of the year.
Stylus Magazine Readers Poll Top Albums of 2012
Demencha Magazine Top Albums of 2012
[+ Show ]
Departures are a Canadian post-punk outfit from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Although their core sound owes m...Departures are a Canadian post-punk outfit from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Although their core sound owes much to common touchstones like Joy Division and Wire, their range of song writing and indie-rock palate seem just as reminiscent of more recent artists like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Broken Social Scene. First single “Pillars” is a blast of propulsive and ascending guitar melodies, low, gloomy vocals and controlled, choppy rhythms. Other songs like “After Today,” “Left You Here” and “Cartwright MB” are wholly ethereal and ambient. In total, Still and Moving Lines is lo-fi and earnest in a way that is unexpected and refreshing. Departures and their debut album sound simultaneously vintage and fresh; the best of their songs are strangely familiar but ultimately vital and relevant as a comment on the state of recorded music. Each track hums with the vibrancy of youth and inexperience; Departures are still rough around the edges and unpredictable. That’s not something that can easily be reproduced in an era of digital recording and that quality lends itself to a rewarding listening experience unmatched by many of the band’s influences and contemporaries.
Perfect Midnight World Track Review
[+ Show ]
Departures are a Winnipeg based band that uses 80’s post punk influences and jangly late 90’s indie ...Departures are a Winnipeg based band that uses 80’s post punk influences and jangly late 90’s indie rock influences to create something fresh and new, but warm and familiar. The album itself never quite settles into one particular vibe. One track might be a collection a somber, pulsing ambient sounds, while another will sound like a more loose Joy Division, and then yet again you’ll find something like “Swimming” that falls into a place that might as well be the birth of 90’s indie rock. It’s the collection of influences, each done so well, that reminded me immediately of The Wrens by way of Broken Social Scene. It’s a killer collection of tracks, and “Swimming” is a nice place to start - with it’s power chorus, jangly guitar rhythms, and it’s easy-to-love laid back looseness, it feels like Real Estate, had they been formed 10 years earlier. A wonderful collection of memories and new excitement. Highly recommended.
Uncharted: Departures Interview
[+ Show ]
Winnipeg, Winnipeg, snowy, sleepwalking Winnipeg. Listening to the layered post-punk of Winnipeg’s ...Winnipeg, Winnipeg, snowy, sleepwalking Winnipeg.
Listening to the layered post-punk of Winnipeg’s Departures conjures up a lot of cold images—frostbitten winters, somnambulistic ventures into pitch-black nights, drifting through creepy, creaking cities. Veering between crushing, claustrophobic crashes and delicate, open washes of noise, Departures are like peering through a foggy window and finding slivers of light making their way through. Like most, my first encounter with Departures was from their single “Pillars”, which I wrote was “a cavalcade of motoric drums, heart-clenching guitars, and raucous screams.” It kicks you in the gut in the first half, only to pick you up in the second. Which defines the band’s ever-unfolding sound, naturally finding momentous occasions of hope that feel earned in the midst of the more prominent darker passages.
Comprised of five friends—Nick, Steve, Rob, Graeme, Alannah—Departures spends most of their time together. Despite the darkness coursing throughout the music, the band seems to be more about enduring friendships. As lead singer Nick told me over the phone, “All of our practices are glorified hanging out, really. It’s just an excuse for us to do that.” Nick, joined by Graeme and Alannah, did most of the talking for the duration of interview, which was mostly because the other members have “crippling shyness.” Over the course of our discussion, we touched upon Guy Maddin, Winnipeg as home, the importance of friendship, death, music, and balancing jobs with art.
You can (and should) grab Departures’ debut album Still and Moving Lines on October 9 via Borana Records.
So, I must admit, my knowledge of Winnipeg really only comes from Guy Maddin’s film My Winnipeg, which is a rather surreal and sad take on the city, though still filled with hope…
I know Guy Maddin, actually. I took a class with him at one point, and we stayed in touch. Rob, who’s in our band too, also took a class with him. He’s a very nice guy. He has pretty fantastical names for his courses; they’re not standard by any means. And it’s very loose, in some regards. And obviously, it’s a film course. So, yeah. Sorry, what did you want to know about Winnipeg?
I was just wondering if you had your own interpretation of Winnipeg and what it was like growing up there?
Winnipeg, contextually for us… we don’t particularly find discussing our roots that stimulating. But, Winnipeg, we all definitely enjoy, well, I can’t speak for the other band mates, but for myself—Alannah likes Winnipeg. Graeme thinks it’s okay. There’s a reason why we stay in Winnipeg rather than move away like many people do. Winnipeg’s a pretty strong part of our foundation. I feel super strongly about where I come from. Not in a nationalist sense. It’s where we’ve been born and raised. It’s as fundamental as any hometown, I guess. But we also feel strongly about the generations of community here. And there’s a community here.
I ask, because I don’t know much about Winnipeg. I mean, I’ve driven through it once.
Some people’s perspective on Winnipeg is that it’s economically depressed or some parts of it. Which is true, some parts of it are. There are definitely some socio-economic problems, like many cities. But, there’s an allure to Winnipeg, some sort of intangible thing. I’ve known quite a few people who live abroad and then come to Winnipeg and say, “This is it. This is where I’m gonna live for the rest of my life.” And I’m sure there are people who feel completely differently. They have a superficial engagement with cities. And it’s easy to gloss over the good parts. Guy talks about that in My Winnipeg, this weird beating heart to Winnipeg—a siren call that draws people. The heart of the continent, as some people call it.
Let’s switch gears a little bit. Do you remember the circumstances that initiated your desire to play music? What were some of the momentous records or movies?
The germ of us playing music together is that we’re friends. That’s the most interesting part of us playing music. It sounds very fey, maybe, but the friendships we’ve fostered through playing music, not only do I hope, but I’m pretty confident will outlast any success we have playing music. I’m perfectly happy with that—actually, I’d prefer that. Because, I don’t think at the end of my days will I look back, “Oh, you were very successful playing music!” I’ll be thinking about the people I spent time doing that with, and the people I met. I’m a people person. We’re people, people.
All of our practices are glorified hanging out, really. It’s just an excuse for us to do that. We don’t have structured practices.
Can you tell me what brings you the most joy these days? What’s keeping you going?
The thing keeping us going, probably the fear of death [laughs]. No, our drive is… at every single point that we’re engaging with this… thing. You can call it an enterprise. Playing music with each other. We’d be perfectly find if it all went away and stopped. We’d be very happy with how everything went. I hope to continue on that course. We don’t have any regrets, certainly. We’re very confident. We’re not the kinds of people who are perfect, or consistent in the way that we approach things. But, we’re pretty happy with how we’ve behaved. We have very little aspirations or attitudes towards how things will be.
Not to say that we aren’t making concerted in our efforts to be organized. Our drive to do it? To engage with other communities of people. Working in unison, as well. Music is just a gateway for a different thing. Well, I’m seeing the quotations already and its bothering me, “Music is a gateway…” We developed friendships through this; these guys are my best friends now. It’s more substantial than anything. Friendship. Friendship is a great thing!
There were a few delays before Departures’ record Still and Moving Lines could finally be released. Could you tell me a bit about the recording process and what it means to you that the record is finally coming out?
That’s probably from an interview from three years ago from a local Winnipeg paper. From many, many moons ago. We don’t have any sort patron saints. We fund everything ourselves. It took us a long time to record this album because it was when money permitted and time permitted. We recorded initially with Howard Bilerman in Winnipeg. The first days, the tape machine didn’t work in the studio. So, we went on a tour last summer. And we finished recording in Montreal with Howard. We recorded there for two days. Then, we had to mix it through correspondence, which I don’t recommend to anyone. It just takes a long time when you have other commitments.
Is music part of a larger thing? Do you just enjoy creation? It sounds like this is not the be-all-end-all.
You could probably characterize everyone in the band as big fans of music, we’re nerds with music. Life is a continuum. I’m not one thing, or Alannah isn’t one thing, or Graeme. This is the product of many years of effort and time. It wasn’t work it was always enjoyable. I would never call anything we do as work, at all. I’ve done manual labor jobs and this is not work. It’s not to say that music’s frivolous or art’s frivolous. But, we don’t have some sort of quantifiable valuation system for things that we do. It’s just something we’re focusing on in this point in time. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t.
What are your plans for Departures besides the release of the record?
We’re touring. We’ll see how that goes. We might find ourselves, by happenstance or not, being able to tour a little more frequently. We enjoy doing it, but if it does not happen that way, that’s perfectly fine too. We’re fine going about leading our lives. We always have new material, but it’s very time consuming, in the sense that we have full time jobs and try to release a record. Releasing the record is an accomplishment itself. Beyond that, nothing. Maybe we’ll record again?
What are your full-time jobs?
I took some time off [from University] to make money for things that we want to do, or I want to do. So I took some time off from school. And I have a very uninteresting job—it’s a 9 to 5 job. I’ve worked many different jobs—manual labor jobs, office jobs, I’m at an office job right now.
Alannah and Graeme don’t have full time jobs. Pete works with mentally challenged adults. Steve was teaching tennis, even though he doesn’t know how to play tennis. The job I have, god forbid they read Chart Attack, but the job I have, I work very hard at my job so that I have the courtesy of consideration from them, so they allow me to take some time off, because they work me like a horse sometimes.
Agit Reader Album Review
[+ Show ]
With their debut, Still and Moving Lines, Winnipeg-based band Departures have captured the point at ...With their debut, Still and Moving Lines, Winnipeg-based band Departures have captured the point at which the restlessness of youth intersects with the wherewithal to do something more artful than just make a lot noise. Which isn’t too say the record isn’t noisy; “Being There” is marked by frayed ends of guitar noise that could have just as easily emanated from J Mascis’ amp. But it is the contrast of such instances with the record’s more pensive moments that make such outbursts more poignant.
Throughout the album, the five-piece band drifts between hushed atmospherics that recall Galaxie 500 (“After Today”) and taut, wiry explorations of different modes of expression. “Pillars” is imbued with a nervous energy that works well with the indignant, gang-shouted vocals. It recalls Mission of Burma to a certain extent (which seems appropriate since Bob Weston mastered the album), but seems more of this time than anything from the past. Similarly, “Contempt” has a fuzzy guitar sound that’s been passed down for ages, but Departures employ it to create their own sidebar in the indie rock pantheon. In other words, there’s something special definitely at work here, something unique, even if it’s hard to put one’s finger on it.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.