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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
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Inhabitants @ Western Front

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Inhabitants @ The Cobalt

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Inhabitants @ Casa del Popolo

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Inhabitants is the brainchild of JP Carter, known for trumpet and electronics effects which he contributes to a variety of local bands, including Fond Of Tigers, the Tony Wilson 6Tet, and Carsick. The band’s third full-length on Jesse Zubot’s Drip Audio, A Vacant Lot, was recorded the same year as Inhabitants avant-rock–inflected 2007 release, The Furniture Moves Underneath. It creates a notably different mood, however, evoking dreams, undersea life, and, musically, perhaps, the more ethereal offerings of the German label ECM or the chilly, reflective electro-jazz of the Norwegian group Supersilent.

Standouts include the opener, bassist Pete Schmitt’s “Far Away in Old Words”, an effects-heavy bit of transcendentalism built around a meditative bass line, with subtle and crafty drumming from Skye Brooks. Just as impressive is Carter’s “Over It Begins,” a rather noisy nine-minute tour-de-force that brings the album closest to rock, with a near-punky bass and drums attack provoking the band leader and guitarist Dave Sikula into some of their most out-there playing on the disc.

Comparisons to Miles Davis, circa Bitches Brew, are inevitable, but a bit unwarranted; even at his most abstract, Miles was hot, physical and funky, while Inhabitants are a tad cerebral, and have more air and water in their playing than, say, fire and earth. They’re very “cool,” though, in more ways than one—and it’s cool that Vancouver has spawned a unit as notable as this.

-Allan MacInnis - The Georgia Straight

Inhabitants work a nice fragile/aggressive vein of fogbound prog-jazz, something like a cross between a Rob Mazurek project and Vancouver's Fond of Tigers collective (with whom the Inhabitants share a couple of members). Heavily FXed trumpet can be an irritatingly self-absorbed sound if it succumbs to those Narcissus pools of reverb, but JP Carter's work is amorphous in all the right ways: he builds entire sonic weather-systems out of cumulative electronic fuzz, plays the quieter bits with a kind of crayon-scrawl lyricism, and adds nifty distorted splatter to the louder bits. Really, it's a great album for sustain, all those billowing ribbons of sound trailing into the air – the glorious opener "Far Away in Old Words" sets the tone, with Pete Schmitt's voice-of-God bass guitar down below and guitarist Dave Sikula doing the searing ecstatic out-of-body stuff, while Carter and drummer Skye Brooks lay down a big pitiless seascape all around. I guess that's a guitar solo there, and there's a trumpet solo on "Whistling Pass" – a nice one, come to think of it, on the closest thing the album gets to "real" jazz, a morbid little waltz – but, really, it's not the kind of disc where individual statements stand out from the general texture. Fond of Tigers fans will love the multi-sectioned multi-metred onslaughts – "Threes" and "Over It Begins" – and "Journey of the Loach" just kills, from its slow-burn triplety rock groove (pt.1) to Sikula's tear-the-firmament-down finish in pt.2. (Yeah, there's a guitar solo.) Very satisfying.

-Nate Dorward - Paris Transatlantic

One way of describing this new release by this Vancouver quartet would be a ballads album for head-bangers. The first couple of tracks lull you into a real sense of security, but the restful state is not without its disturbing dreams, when the first of several nightmares kicks in at track three with "Over it Begins," as J.P. Carter's trumpet, trumpet and Dave Sikula's guitar share shredding duties over the ostinato bass and drums (Pete Schmitt and Skye Brooks) that spin a maelstrom of emotions before its lullaby ending tells us all's still well. As we dream on, we get more of the sturm und drang juxtaposed with tranquility and even a quixotic Kenny Wheeler-esque "What about the Water?"

Carter's distinct, at times sharp-edged, at times serene trumpet tone is one of the most engaging aspects of the group sound, but his concept grows out of the high-energy atmospherics his band mates put out. The most "normal" trumpet playing happens on "Whistling Pass," which sounds a lot like a jazz waltz where Carter builds some buttery modal jazz lines reminiscent of the Miles Davis school. This is followed by a full blast slap in the face with "Let Youth Be Served," which reminds us that, yes, this is another generation 60 years since Kind of Blue, and a lot has changed.

The most interesting aspect about Inhabitants is their eclecticism: even while the music sounds contemporary, with the swirl of styles — jazz, electronic, drums and bass, metal, noise — it comes out as post-modern improvisation with a poetic sense of its own. The tunes are lines upon which the quartet hang some very visceral and engaging musical painting, all ending with the clear fluid melody of the closer, "Pacific Center" bringing us full circle to a lulling melodicism that is disarming in its simplicity, and by that token, all the more powerful — but it's also a big rock ballad with a concise minor pentatonic melodic cell that ends the dream in a truly epic manner.
- Paul Serralheiro 2010-07-24 - Squid's Ear

Vancouver, BC's Inhabitants reside in that fuzzy sonic no man's land between rock and jazz music. The quartet may be pigeonholed as a post-rock group or a jazz combo by the rock kids, but the jazz fanatics will most certainly label them a rock band or fusion ensemble. Trumpeter JP Carter, guitarist Dave Sikula, bassist Pete Schmitt and drummer Skye Brooks almost certainly couldn't care less; their music stands on its own, and that's all that really matters. A Vacant Lot, the group's third album for the Drip Audio imprint, delivers an expressive, genre-smashing collection of tunes. Inhabitants craft a wicked brew, blending cathartic noise, solid rhythmic patterns and deft melodic passages. That this troupe share members with another unique Vancouver outfit (Fond of Tigers) is no surprise: there's a similarity in modus operandi as well. By ignoring genre and relying strictly on the music, Inhabitants manage to stand out while almost fitting in.

-Byron Hayes - Exclaim!

The jazz section in your local record store these days could really make due with just two sections: “Albums J.P. Carter Plays On”, and “Other”. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m a big fan of the Vancouver’s trumpet player’s deranged dialectic of slow, flowing beautiful jazz lines and unhinged, guitar pedal-driven skree. I’ve seen him charm supper club audiences with smooth bebop lines, and I’ve seen him melt faces off with a Proco Rat at illegal art galleries. While both are great on their own, it’s most interesting when he seamlessly blends the two seemingly contradictory sounds. That curiously perfect mix is in abundance on the Inhabitants latest Drip Audio disc, A Vacant Lot.

From a haunting down-tempo start with the first two tracks, the band slowly builds into “Over It Begin”: a hellishly noisy psychedelic nighmare that moves into lithe and punchy funk grooves, underneath trippy delayed trumpet weirdness. The album then takes another breather for some softer sounds before kicking it into overdrive again on “Let Youth Be Served”, finally bringing it back down to earth with the quiet and beautiful album-closer “Pacific Central”.

A kick ass album, possibly the best I’ve heard from Vancouver’s relentlessly superb free-improv scene. I picture Miles Davis in heaven talking to some sundry god or angel: “Motherfuckers can play.”.

-Gordon B. Isnor - Left Hip Magazine

Not that Inhabitants' 2005 self-titled debut was overly well-mannered, but the follow-up, The Furniture Moves Underneath, is also a whole other story. The Vancouver-based quartet (trumpeter Carter, guitarist Dave Sikula, bassist Pete Schmitt, drummer Brooks) dramatically extends its reach beyond jazz with a sonic adventurousness that pulls psychedelia, prog, and noise into its orbit. The band prefers to leave the labeling behind and approach its music sans genre preconceptions, and the material's open-ended integration of multiple forms bears this out. The opening piece, “Kurt's Dirt,” blazes out of the gate in a freeform meltdown of psychedelic guitar and flailing drums, leaving little doubt that the band is hunting different prey this time around. But the album's moods and styles are wide-ranging: “The Rancher” layers episodes of freeform noise from Carter and Sikula over a stuttering funk rhythm base, while the calm and tranquil ballad “A Part of You” shows the group can execute delicate jazz interplay as well as anyone. Inhabitants channels the sound and spirit of Bill Frisell's early quartet when Sikula and Brooks indulge in some trademark Frisell twang and Joey Baron freestyle during “Sad Friend” (even the song's theme is Frisell-like) and the atmospheric “Phototropism.” “Drop Descender” isn't quite a dirge though it is ponderous and ruminative in design, and the atmospheric restraint exhibited by the players makes for a strong album finish. The track isn't wholly subdued, though, as its slow-burn eventually culminates in a fiery climax before dropping to a whisper. In contrast to Pearls Before Swine, The Furniture Moves Underneath is a perfectly-timed forty-seven minutes—more than enough for the material to establish itself but not so much that it wears out its welcome. The smaller group configuration also works better, with the quartet format allowing each player room enough to freely maneuver without crowding one another; the interplay also proves more satisfying when each musician's contributions can be attended to.
January 2008

- Textura.Org

The Furniture Moves Underneath

Drip Audio, 2007

JP Carter is the most crazy-assed noisy bastard of a trumpet player you're ever gonna find anywhere. Half the time. The rest of the time he plays smooth as the bottom of baby born with a silver spoon in its mouth. Motherf***er would put Miles in sweats. What you're doubting me? Thinking the cat might be lightweight? I don't blame you I've been known to exaggerate and straight up tell lies. But not this time. This guy can play. Clearly you haven't been suffered permanent hearing loss at one of his loft party shows at Blim or 1067 I guess. Or heard him romance the crowd at RIme. The guy means business. Among his many projects is The Inhabitants. Carter's cohorts in this project - Dave Sikla, Pete Schmitt and first call drummer Skye Brooks - are all leaders of the next generation Vancouver jazz scene, and all members of a million and a half other projects.

Last and only time I had the pleasure of seeing them play was at a Turkish restaurant / skronk and free-improv bar - and yes, Vancouver's that cool - but they were pretty restrained at the time. It's no holds barred here on <em>The Furniture Moves Underneat</em>. From smooth and spacey jazz fusion that would sound at home on a Bill Frisell album to noise blasts like black metal's uglier meaner cousin - played on trumpet remember - and all points in between, the record is what jazz was supposed to become. This is not your mother's post-rock. I don't even want to sully the band by using the term. No, I prefer to think of The Inhabitants as straight up jazz circa 2007 done right.

Highlights include "A Part Of You" which is probably the prettiest jazz song since forever, "The Rancer" which is like if Bastro were a jazz group, and the smoky, late-night epic "Drop Descender" that closes the album in fine fashion.

If you hate post-rock this is the album that will change your mind. If you haven't heard proof that jazz is not beyond rescue in a thousand years this is album is proof. On <em>The Furniture Moves Underneath</em>, The Inhabitants do their fair share to contribute to Vancouver's status as the best city in Canada if not North America for jazz music in the 21st century. Beautiful.

Gordon B. Isnor - Left Hip Magazine

'The Furniture Moves Underneath' continues The Inhabitants' sophisticated balance between nonchalant experimental jazz and the edgy elements of noisy territorial rock.

The album's opening shot of adrenaline introduces the song's musical theme, and gives us an unforgettable impression of what this quartet can do with a jazz/rock instrumental. It starts with an explosion of infernal drumming and rambunctious guitar feedback. But the drums and bass quickly merge into a controlled upbeat rock rhythm. The rock groove is accented by squeaky, rhythmic horn blasts. It's a mix of the traditional upbeat rock rhythm-section with aggressive James-Brown orchestra horn-honks—a lot like The Nation of Ulysses on one of their "jazz funk" numbers. But the initial exhilaration dissipates into a smooth, slow, head-nodding groove with snare rim shots and some sit-down jazz guitar plucking. As the café-jazz coaxes your heartbeat back to its at-rest speed, you start to get your bearings and wonder what was that explosion of raucous aggression that opened the song? It dogs the refined jazz piece that follows it. It echoes just beneath the surface, and there are hints it will bubble aggressively up again. And in the end it does: the polite bass and guitar are called out by the teasing trumpet. The bass starts doing double-time, and guitar feedback and buoyant horns roar again to the forefront. It's the reprise we were expecting; the seed planted in the opening shot of hyperactivity has come back in a sustained and affecting full bloom.

The Furniture Moves Underneath offers a lot of musical variety. There's enough experimentation, sonic manipulation, and non-traditional noise to keep even the songs that start out with more traditional jazz structures ("The Rancher," or "Drop Descender") really fresh. But as if to sidestep the possibility of being pegged as irreverent anti-traditionalists, "A Part of You" has the warmth and familiarity of a Getz/Gilberto tune. The song, which should be found in the next generation's collection of venerated jazz standards, features a bittersweet trumpet melody straight from the soundtrack of a 1940s "down-and-out in the big city" film.

The Inhabitants' second full-length on Drip Audio evokes both fun and seriousness. In this way, and in many others (including a lot of the guitar and percussion textures) their sound is reminiscent of the post-rock of Tortoise. The subtext of explosive bombast threatening to erupt distinguishes The Furniture Moves Underneath. The songs are pleasantly unpredictable. But after repeated listenings, sounds, melodies, textures, and changes that initially seemed unorthodox become known and are anticipated with delight.

Joel Butler - Panpot

The Furniture Moves Underneath
Drip Audio


It’s the rare instrumental band working beyond recognizable genres that can sidle right up to the front, demand your attention and put on a circus. The Inhabitants don’t make inoffensive music to buffer you through tedious tasks that nevertheless require too much concentration for lyrics. The group’s sophomore album, The Furniture Moves Underneath, isn’t terribly jammy, only sparingly jazzy and absolutely not an atmospheric fog. Far from a soundtrack to anything, it’s the main event—somewhere between Miles Davis’s Bitches’ Brew, Do Make Say Think’s more noir-ish instrumentals and some serious prog and other retro freakouts. The Vancouver quartet has managed to cohere a backwards glancing, forward-moving orgy of effects and experimentation that isn’t overly self-indulgent.

- Vue Weekly (Edmonton)

Rock Plaza Central + Inhabitants @ The Music Gallery, Nov. 10

BY Chris Bilton
Editorial Rating:*****

The Music Gallery’s Pop Avant series is a ridiculously good idea. Musically, it’s like a mash up of Sneaky Dee’s and the front room at the Tranzac, but without the dank and/or dingy ambiance. Instead, the grandiose space of the St George the Martyr chapel, combined with an attentive audience and crystalline sound, makes for one of the most listener-friendly environments that $12-15 can buy, especially for a pairing like Vancouver’s jazz-prog instrumentalists Inhabitants and Toronto’s math-folk ensemble Rock Plaza Central.

The Music Gallery is also probably a bit of a step up from 1067 Granville, a little back-alley squatter’s nest of a free-jazz venue that Inhabitants frequent when they are on their home turf. But even that venue would be wroth the discomfort as it’s definitely a rare treat to get to see a band from Vancouver’s experimental Drip Audio label playing in Toronto.

Opening with the drop-D bass chords of “Drop Descender,” bassist Pete Schmidt led the band into a plodding groove that slowly built in volume and intensity to a thoroughly crashing conclusion that crackled the sonic stability of St George the Martyr’s foundations. Drawing almost exclusively from their newest album, The Furniture Moves Underneath, the Inhabitants navigated the mathematical complexity of “Photopropism” with its alternating 11 and 10 beat phrases and the explosive noise-bomb of “Kurt’s Dirt.” With “Sad Friend” they explored the most Bitches Brew-evoking territory of the evening as JP Carter’s effects-drenched trumpet squeaked out reverb-heavy high notes before melting the melody via some approximated unison lines with guitarist Dave Sikula.

Though many of their grooves nestle into a similar kind of Miles Davis-playing-over-Tool-riffs repetition, the set as a whole seemed to build towards the extended jam on finale “Happy Princess” from their self-titled debut. Easily the Rush-iest of their odd-time riffs, this tune also boasted an intricate trumpet and bass melody and some of their noisiest, most spirited soloing.

After what seemed like a ridiculously involved changeover, the expanded seven-member Rock Plaza Central finally had their vast collection of accordions, banjos, trombones (even a live Facebook graffiti artist) organized. But it was well worth the wait. By the second tune, a massive rendition of “I Am an Excellent Steel Horse,” RPC had successfully channelled whatever deity oversees the teetering ambitiousness of a full-on rock spectacle. With two trumpets and two trombones, not to mention the sheer weight of seven voices enthusiastically singing along to the chorus, this version of “Steel Horse” made the already excellent version on their Are We Not Horses album almost irrelevant. “Anthem for the Already Defeated” and “My Children, Be Joyful” were equally impressive, with leader Chris Eaton working himself into a continuous ecstasy over all things either equine and angelic.

But the whole evening came to a collaborative peak as the four Inhabitants joined the Rock Plaza on stage for their final few numbers. With 11 members scattered across the two-tiered stage, RPC made excellent use of the generous space at the Music Gallery. And though the extra instruments may have tested the capabilities of the Gallery’s sound system, whatever detail was lost in the mix was superseded by the sheer power of the delivery. By the end of the set-closer “When We Go, How We Go” the horn section was fully six-deep, backed by two basses and two drummers, with Eaton himself setting the guitar aside to lead a handful of the horns out into the crowd, marching his small parade between the church pews. If he had marched the whole band out into the night, I’m certain that the entire crowd would have gladly followed wherever he wanted to go.
- Eye Weekly (Toronto)

Robert Everett-Green

Print Edition 04/12/07

The Furniture Moves Underneath
Drip Audio

The Inhabitants are four guys (trumpeter JP Carter, guitarist Dave Sikula, bassist Pete Schmitt and drummer Skye Brooks) who live in Vancouver, where inhabiting any kind of shelter is a serious and expensive venture. For their second disc on Drip Audio, the band holds to no fixed address, moving freely along whatever groove feels right. Sometimes sweet (as in A Part of You), often epic (in the opening Kurt's Dirt), the flow of material is instinctive and convincing; you're always aware of the options available, as well as the structure that brought them into view. The means are borrowed pretty evenly from jazz and rock, though this absorbing record sounds like neither. One of the coolest discs of the year. - Globe and Mail

The Furniture
* * * *

It wouldn't be exactly right to say that Vancouver-based foursome Inhabitants straddle the border between jazz and rock. They have ignored that border completely, uniting the two factions under one flag and cross-breeding their citizens. While composed of four gifted soloists - trumpeter JP Carter, guitarist Dave Sikula, bassist Pete Schmitt and drummer Skye Brooks - this is truly a collective group, with a tight, cohesive attack. Just when you think you have the band pegged as a mathy post-rock unit, it shifts gears with a pungent jazz head, which then gets swallowed by a howl of feedback and electronic glitches and hums.
The group's sophomore CD kicks off with a big bang of swirling noise, which gradually gels into the crunching rock of "Kurt's Dirt", an homage to the late Nirvana frontman with sly references to the band's oeuvre tucked away inside. It's apt allegiance given their shared affinity for couching pretty melodies inside screeching noise assaults. Case in point: the sunny pop melancholy of Schmitt's "A Part Of You," which sounds like the sort of ballad that might result from a Burt Bacharach/ Tortoise collaboration.
Carter and Sikula canvass a wide spectrum of sonic territory on their respective instruments, equally deft at coaxing memorable melodies and startling shapes. Over the loping beat of "Sad Friend," Sikula begins a series of plangent Bill Frisell lines; Carter meets him with the same keening clarity from his horn. Schmitt and Brooks are an unfaltering rhythm section, whether hammering out intense prog-funk beats or exploding into clattering freedom. Hypnotic and dense, these Inhabitants occupy territory that will continue to yield riches with further exploration.
-Shaun Brady - Down Beat


"Inhabitants" (2005, Drip Audio)
"The Furniture Moves Underneath" (2007, Drip Audio)
"A Vacant Lot" (2010, Drip Audio)



Formed in 2004, Vancouver's Inhabitants have ascended to become one of Canada's most prominent creative music ensembles. In 2009, Inhabitants were nominated for a Juno Award for 'Instrumental Album of the Year', a National Jazz Award for 'Electric Group of the Year' and a Western Canadian Music Award for 'Instrumental Recording of the Year'. Their singular approach defies genre, melding jazz, rock, noise and free improvisation with new perspective. Trumpeter JP Carter, guitarist Dave Sikula, bassist Pete Schmitt and drummer Skye Brooks find a rare cohesiveness in Inhabitants, cultivated from years of musical collaboration in groups like Fond of Tigers, Copilots, Carsick, DarkBlueWorld, The NOW Orchestra, Tony Wilson's 6tet, and the Aeroplane Trio.

Inhabitants continue to push forward into new sonic territory with "A Vacant Lot", their third full-length on Drip Audio. Spacious and expressive, the new album explores the dynamic relationship between chaos and form through experimental sound, intuitive group interplay and instrumental composition. There is new diversity in the music; rich textured landscapes augmented by electronics and feedback are contrasted with moments of intimate acoustic minimalism. A reflective mood pervades the new landscape Inhabitants occupy on A Vacant Lot, their improvisations and compositions permeated with an uncommon, yet alluring lyricism.

In 2005, the Inhabitants released their self-titled debut (Drip Audio), an album Down Beat magazine described as "an aural introduction to a dream". also voiced approval, saying the band "strikes just the right balance between experimentation and structure". Later that year the group recieved the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award at the 2005 Vancouver International Jazz Festival. In 2006, the Inhabitants toured Europe, performing at the Moers Festival in Germany. They were billed as "the most exciting new band in Canada".

Inhabitants' second-full length,"The Furniture Moves Underneath", was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. Down Beat gave the album a four star review and The Globe and Mail called it "one of the coolest discs of the year". The Inhabitants also received three major Canadian music award nominations following the CD's release including a Juno nod for Instrumental Album of the Year, and the National Jazz Awards' Electric Group of the Year.

Awards and Achievements:

-2010 Western Canadian Music Award Nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year, "A Vacant Lot")
-2009 Juno Award Nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year, "The Furniture Moves Underneath")
-2009 National Jazz Award Nomination (Electric Group of the Year)
-2008 Western Canadian Music Award Nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year, "The Furniture Moves Underneath")
-Chosen for "Dig Your Roots-Creative Jazz" Compilation (2007)
-Galaxie Rising Star Award (2005 Vancouver International Jazz Festival)

"Hypnotic and dense, these Inhabitants occupy territory that will continue to yield riches with further exploration."
- Down Beat

" Sometimes sweet, often epic...instinctive and convincing.
- The Globe and Mail

" a league with very few others."

"Progressive, moodily ascending and impassioned..."
- Edmonton Sun

"...what jazz was supposed to become."
- Left Hip Magazine