Foxes in Fiction
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Foxes in Fiction

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"Pitchfork: The Playlist: Foxes in Fiction: Flashing Lights Have Ended Now"

If there's one thing to take away from Swung From the Branches, the newly reissued record from Toronto bedroom pop artist Warren Hildebrand, aka Foxes in Fiction, it's that he really likes Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox's work as Atlas Sound. The album is jam-packed with ambient meditations, 3/4-time melodies, and soft-focus vocals. These are stylistic tics that Cox certainly doesn't hold copyrights to, sure, but he did explore them in great depth on his 2008 debut Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, as well as the various free EPs given away on the Deerhunter blog. At first blush, Swung From the Branches bonus track "Flashing Lights Have Ended Now" sounds like a clearer-headed continuation of that (Atlas) sound-- a good thing, when it's fully realized and executed to perfection as it is here, from the song's chiming tones to its hazy, fluffy-clouded fade-out.

No doubt that Hildebrand's got this sound down, but to call him an imitator here would be off-base, as "Flashing Lights Have Ended Now" throbs with the kind of sonic optimism seldom seen in Cox's work, sounding like the aural equivalent of clouds clearing after a rainstorm. His voice glows against itself throughout, backed by a deceptively simple acoustic guitar figure and barely-there tones. Meanwhile, the lyrics (or, what can be parsed of them amongst the field of reverb) reveal that the titular flashing lights are those of cameras capturing memories: "Only found in photographs/ This feeling haunts the past/ The silence walks between us/ The silence seems to last." - Pitchfork Media


"Foxes in Fiction live at Tiger Bar"

Foxes In Fiction isn’t a fox, nor is it fiction, but rather the creative vehicle of Warren Hildebrand. Ambient electronica that focuses more on mood, meditative soundscapes and atmospheric effect, this one-man project mixes a brew of Stereolab rhythm-driven bliss, Boards Of Canada IDM, and a hint of sun-kissed psychedelia. Fronted by spacey vocals, underneath the chilled-out grooves are lush pop songs, cleverly disguised if you look hard enough. Artistic drive over commercial gain (Hildebrand freely shares his recordings and runs a cassette label) Foxes In Fiction is impossible not to like. - Lonely Vagabond


"Pitchfork: Album Review: Foxes in Fiction: Swung from The Branches"

While people were waiting anxiously for Merriweather Post Pavilion to leak at end of 2008, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound encouraged people to channel their anticipation into creativity. "My advice to those who are so desperate for AC's album to leak is to pick up instruments and make your own version of what you would want it to sound like," he said on his blog. I think Cox might find a kindred spirit in Toronto's Warren Hildebrand, who records as Foxes in Fiction. Not only was Swung From the Branches initially released only on cassette, but with its narcotized indie pop cast and song titles like "15 Ativan (Song for Erika)", "Operating Room", and "Visiting Hours", it almost seems like Hildebrand was making the follow-up to Logos he couldn't wait for.

If Hildebrand learned anything from Cox, it's that it's good to err on the side of generosity. His MySpace page gives an origin story for every track from Swung From the Branches, and the tape itself is a monster to get through-- 22 tracks, 71 minutes, and sequenced more like a hard drive dump than a cohesive first statement. In fact, for the first 20 minutes, you might think Foxes in Fiction were strictly a drone act. It's all pretty (if undistinguished) major-key swells broken up by crumbled drums redolent of Boards of Canada at their most downtempo ("Coffee Cups That Won't Break Down") and culminating in "8/29/91", a seven-minute backdrop for a rambling Bukowksi soliloquy that is somewhat at odds with what is otherwise an hour of almost exclusively serene sounds.

In a vacuum, the static-laced "Mialectric" wouldn't signify a noise-to-signal transition, but within the context of Branches, it's the first sign of the dreamy, lo-fi looped pop that subtly breaks Branches wide open. At first, the reverence in Hildebrand's more traditionally structured pieces can be tough to overlook-- amongst others, the downy prom nighter "Snow Angels" and "Jimi Bleachball" have near-exact DNA matches in certain Deerhunter and Atlas Sound songs. But while his loops have a certain sonic cohesion, ranging in timbre from hollowed synths to springy guitar, the difference lies in their scale and intent. Both "To Go Home" and "Memory Pools" trigger a hypnotic stasis, but the former feels borne of staring into the sun, the latter at a pinwheel. "New Panic Cure" and "15 Ativan (Song for Erika)" also work as two interpretations of the same idea: both find footing into two chords and Hildebrand's washed-out vocals, but the slow-motion arpeggios make "Cure"'s waltz sound of unsettling sedation, whereas the flickering African guitar figure in "15 Ativan" lends a strange optimism into a story of failed overdose.

But for all of Branches' compositional charms, its main draw is something that almost exists outside of the music. Some feel that information overload has robbed the music-making process of mystery, but do you want artists or magicians? Hildebrand is as transparent as it gets. As a lyricist, he prefers function over poetry, but you can find poetry on his Blogger page as well his own mixtapes filled with songs from the exact type of artists you'd expect (Bibio, Benoît Pioulard). And that's the greatest strength of Branches-- it short-circuits the feeling-out process you're used to from new artists and communicates its creator's view of the world directly. It's not always thrilling, but it's consistently absorbing, and for over an hour, you really do get an idea of what's going on in Hildebrand's head. I get the feeling we'll be hearing a lot more of it.
- Pitchfork Media


"Swung from The Branches by Foxes in Fiction"

Every person I’ve come in contact with over the past four years has had to endure at least one or two musically charged conversations with me. Topics usually range anywhere from the rebirth of the independent music scene to correlation between music and film. I initiate most of these conversations with a renowned and rhetorical left hook: I want to start a band. But oftentimes, I find it hard to explain exactly what music I would like to create. I salivate over a nice twee or shoegaze song, but I’ve always longed for a sort of indescribable Zen within my music.

“...this album brings to mind a dark winter night in a quiet city; the carless streets amplify each echo, the twinkling stars seem to cast a bit of shimmer all over everything, and...”

Enter Foxes in Fiction: Warren Hildebrand, master visual artist/musician, started a project that wonderfully describes exactly what words couldn’t. His songs are filled with dreamy textures, fluttering synthesizers, and the negative space that functions as something much deeper than any guitar could possibly hope to. Swung From The Branches, his latest release, is chock full of the very same aural splendor.

This is the kind of music that is, essentially, perfect. Every nuance from the soothing reverb to the soft vocal delivery to the sputtering tape edits and buzz helps contribute to this breathy and ethereal sound. In a way that’s hard to explain, this album brings to mind a dark winter night in a quiet city; the carless streets amplify each echo, the twinkling stars seem to cast a bit of shimmer all over everything, and the enormous skyscrapers pale in comparison to the emotions the music brings out. It seems almost intentional that one of the more robust compositions on the album is titled “Sleeping Building Unsuspecting.”

After years of frustration, I can finally describe the particular style of music that had eluded me. The next time a collaborator inquires about a musical style to explore, I will look no further for inspiration than Swung From The Branches.

4.5 / 5 - Groovemine


Discography

1. Swung From The Branches (LP, 2010, Moodgadger Records)
2. Teenage Dream (collab with Weed, Katy Perry cover, self released.)
3. Bathurst (Single, 2010, Orchid Tapes)

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Bio

Since he was 15 and residing in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Warren Hildebrand has been using the moniker Foxes in Fiction to represent the recordings he makes by himself. Now living in Toronto as a recent art-school dropout, the 21-year-old uses his apartment as his creative space and principle studio tool, crafting a unique style of deeply personal ambient-infused pop music using electronic and analog methods.

Hildebrand’s influences are diverse and far-reaching, including things like surrealist expressionism, suburban life, adolescence, Brian Eno recording techniques and the healing effect that Bradford Cox’s music had on him in the months following the death of his 16 year-old brother Drew in 2008 and the debilitating mental breakdown that followed.

In February of 2010, Hildebrand self-released his debut album, Swung From The Branches, on his self-run label Orchid Tapes to universal praise from fans and music critics alike. In the following months, he signed to Brooklyn’s Moodgadget Records, who physically re-released the album with three new songs, eventually earning accolades from many notable blogs including Pitchfork Media. The album itself is composed of sprawling atmospheric landscapes and acute loop-based hazy pop songs that reflect on the life experiences and day-to-day events of Hildebrand’s life.

The Foxes in Fiction live show is a striking and intimate experience in which Hildebrand, using his voice, guitar and electronics, replicates elements of his lush pop songs through tapestries of meditative soundscapes, looping techniques and highly humanized ambient electronica.

These days, Hildebrand is keeping himself busy by running Orchid Tapes, releasing several collections of Foxes in Fiction songs through his blogs and performing in New York City. One thing is certain - the future looks bright for Warren. Presently, he is working on several new EPs and another full-length Foxes in Fiction album, which will tentatively be released later this year.