Up the stairs and out of the rain, a swarm of young music lovers and art enthusiasts congregate in order to celebrate Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars’ vinyl release party. It is part of a longstanding tradition that is held by the China Cloud collective that has attracted some of Vancouver’s brightest and most unique songwriters. As the audience settles in and the warmth of the room rises, Malcolm Jack places his electric guitar over his shoulder, checks levels on his equipment, looks out at the audience, and dum dum dip dum dum shimmies out of his drum machine and into our ears.
Malcolm Jack, known for his membership in bands such as Capitol 6 and rock’n’roll quartet Sun Wizard, graces the stage tonight as a solo act. His electric guitar drones alongside his accompanying organ-style drumbeat as a well-balanced craft of psych-rock songwriting makes it difficult to engage in any meaningful conversation. All one can do is engage.
Jack sings out “I get up! When did I become a dream”? Words from Jack’s debut solo record I’m My Own Bewitchment continue to resonate.
As is customary, the China Cloud audience, which is normally quite respectful of the art that is performed on its stage, listens intently. While it may seem trivial, it is something that is to be applauded at a time when low attention spans frequent most spectators.
After a break, Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars begin. Cowan speaks into his microphone and abstract effects embrace the steady groove played by the band. Organ, bass, drums, and guitar fill the room. Cowan’s project contains elements of psych-rock mixed with an experimental side to song form that keeps one guessing along the way.
Cowan’s sound is stated as having branched off from the many other bands he has worked with like Dan Mangan, Analog Bell Service, Chris Kelly, Vows, White Knite, Tishomingo String Band, Rob Butterfield, Jenn Bojm, Malcom Jack, and Tariq Hussain. While there are elements of many of these bands in the sound, Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars hold their own unique place.
Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars are a force to be reckoned with and a must-see for all looking for an innovative musical experience. If you can catch him at a venue as special as The China Cloud, all the better.