Doug Tielli
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Doug Tielli

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"Doug Tielli - Swan Sky Sea Squirrel"

Canadian Doug Tielli, a member of Silt known for their Beach Boys-meets-Palace Brothers sound, brings you his solo debut - 'Swan Sky Sea Squirrel”. Like many greats before him, the album is the result of furrowing away into the darkest depths, the vast dark, letting go and regifting the light to us. Having recorded his album via borrowed means using only instruments readily available from an artist retreat on Toronto Island; Tielli set up an old school portable to record his album, with no concept in mind, ‘Swan Sky Sea Squirrel’ comprises of intricate ballads that are intrinsic to the island. Painting an audio aesthetic for the listener the record encompasses drowsy folk rock similar to The Silt. Doug will be both tour support for Baby Dee on her upcoming European tour and wil feature in her accompanying band that includes Alex Nielson (Trembling Bells), Ryan Driver (The Silt) and Joe Carvell (DON’T MOVE!, Devon Sproule, Paul Curreri). - Various Distributors

"The Deepest End"

I can’t imagine what “a psychogeographic map of an invisible city” would actually look like, but I do have a pretty good idea of what it sounds like. The above cartographic encapsulation of Doug Tielli‘s new LP, Swan Sky Sea Squirrel, caught my eye when checking out Blocks Recording Club’s page about the new record.

What you have to know about Swan Sky Sea Squirrel is that it was recorded while Tielli imposed a 3 month solitary stay for himself on Toronto Island, where he wrote and recorded the disc. With nothing but the natural environment around him and the inner workings of his own mind for inspiration, Tielli ends up creating a remarkable document–almost a travelogue–of his journey to and from a world most of us are oblivious to.

It’s not all pretty and it’s never all pleasant, but what emerges from Tielli’s tales is the true experience of solitude: you discover more about your internal world while surveying the physical world around you. Album opener “Yes I Am Lonely” starts off sounding like one man’s attempt at filling the deafening vacuum of silence encountered when you first realize that you’re truly and utterly alone, but by it’s end the panic subsides, the pace begins to slow, and the other senses heighten. There’s wide-eyed wonder on “When The Sky Opens”, as Tielli sees a familiar firmament from a new perspective. His arrangements branch out into some unconventional textures, perhaps inspired by running his fingertips over bumpy bark or smoothed-over stone. By the time the album slips into it’s final movement, Tielli becomes more introspective, more reflective (see the haunting “Dear Gone One” and “Let Go Of The Vast Dark”), and begins to bring the journey full circle.

As I listened to Swan Sky Sea Squirrel, I kept coming back to the title of Stereophonics fourth LP, You Gotta Go There to Come Back, thinking how fitting a phrase it is to describe this impressive album. It’s clear Tielli’s experiences in solitude have left an indelible mark on his psyche and his soul. Listening to his record will be just as unforgettable an experience for you. - Quick Before It Melts

"Baby Dee & Doug Tielli"

The Canadian Doug Tielli is the kind of musician who on occassion of your everyday rock rally will most likely be confronted with jury reports that contain bromides like "certainly has potential, but the songs are not yet finalized" or "aren’t you overdoing it?". In the case of this Toronto-based singer-songwriter such reservations would really rather speak of the limitations of the reviewers than of the musician in question. Tielli’s songs are in fact little gems, each with tiny missing parts: sudden stops, small ditties which disturb the normal sequence, sparse vocals, unusual twists and - on stage - the modest but striking arrangements in which his songs are performed.

While multi-instrumentalist Tielli has basically recorded his album "Swan Sky Sea Squirrel' alone, during the first part of his set he was accompanied on stage by Ryan Driver, who switched from piano to synthesizer to flute. Tielli started on a Mexican 12-string baritone guitar, switched to electronic guitar later, after which he played the trombone.

With his warm, smooth baritone voice, that can go up to about falsetto height, he touched sensitive grounds. Echoes of roots rock, Johnny Cash and even ‘hotel background music’ floated through the songs, bringing them to the psychedelic edge, thanks to the varied instrumental accompaniment.

Especially the duets with Driver were of an estranging beauty. Everything seemed to work. In ‘Yes I Am Lonely’ Driver’s sparse piano enhanced the intimate nature of the song, but the NASA-like electronics and even the flute-guitar combination in ‘Deer’ (free from any hint of Thijs Van Leer or Berdien Stenberg) held their ground.

For the second part of the act, the arrival of bassist Joe Carvell and drummer Alex Neilson turned the duo into a quartet. The songs were of a slightly more conventional sound, but continued to lead a life of their own. Special touches like the stops in ‘RIVERSEA’ and the gentle and humble performance by Carvell and certainly Neilson ensured that the estranging lightness of the first part was preserved.

With Doug Tielli in quartet formation the wait was merely for the appearance of Baby Dee. as the foursome was not only the band of Tielli, but also formed the ‘Baby Dee Orchestra’. -


March 2012 Doug Tielli - Swan Sky Sea Squirrel - Tin Angel Records

Other recordings I have been a primary member on:

The Reveries - Matchmakers Volume 2: The music of Sade (2012) (Barnyard Records)
Drumheller - Glint (2010)
The Reveries – Matchmakers Volume 1: The music of Willie Nelson (2008)
The silt – Cat’s Peak (2007)
The Reveries – Live in Bologna (2006)
Drumheller – Wives (2006)
Drumheller – Drumheller (2005)
The silt – Earlier Ways to Wander (2004)
The Reveries – Blasé Kisses (2002)
The Silt – Red Whistle (2000)
The Draperies – L’histoire du Chapeau (2000)
People From Earth - Luvskull 1998 (DROG)
People From Earth - Growing Up From The Ground 1996 (DROG)



The brother of Martin (Rheostatics) and John (Metal Kites), I perform regularly on Toronto’s underground music scene in a variety of Canadian acts such as The Silt, Drumheller, and The Reveries; alongside musicians such as Ryan Driver and Eric Chenaux.

Recently signed to Tin Angel Records we will be releasing debut solo record 'Swan, Sky, Sea, Squirrel' in March 2012.

The album was written at an artist retreat on Toronto Island using borrowed instruments available there and an old school portable recording device over three months.

The writing process kept bringing me back to minimalist painter Agnes Martin’s ‘With My Back To The World’ - the compatibilities with the world, aka the City, behind me. The feeling of a huge energetic shadow of the big city right behind you, over your shoulder.

Having recently supported label mate Baby Dee (Antony & The Johnsons/Current 93) across England and Europe. I also accompanied her as a member of her band performing twice a night through Oct/Nov 2011. Whilst in England, I was also invited to open for Winchell Riots at the beautiful Jacqueline Du Pre Music Building in Oxford. Upon returning home I then performed a few dates in Canada and USA with label mate and acclaimed musician, Devon Sproule.

On supporting Dee:
"Tielli’s songs are in fact little gems, each with tiny missing parts: sudden stops, small ditties which disturb the normal sequence, sparse vocals, unusual twists and - on stage - the modest but striking arrangements in which his songs are performed." Koen van Meel,