Last Updated on 23. July 2021 by Oliver
Alex Henry Foster – until a year and a half ago I was completely unaware of this name. Then his first solo album pulled me completely under its spell for several weeks. Now the Canadian musician is releasing a live album. And the successor is also something very special.
Canada seems to be the epicenter of creativity right now. No wonder, the land of rock geniuses like Rush has always been known for unusual and independent musicians who followed their own path without looking straight away for the quick chart success. Just recently I discussed the excellent debut of the alternative prog rocker Trope and praised it with the highest tones. Then there is Spiritbox – a metal band, also with a charismatic front woman who can even do nasty growls. Plus, another metal group, Hillward, has just delivered a fantastic third album.
Suction effect through “spoken words” and soundscapes
Alex Henry Foster is an exception among the artists mentioned here, because you really can’t put the 31-year-old from Montréal in the prog rock or prog metal drawer. As a band founder of Your Favorite Enemies as well as a solo artist, he is clearly part of the independent scene. But still, what he delivers in the studio and on stage is progressive in the best sense of the word.
After all, you have to have the courage to record an album that consists largely of spoken vocals. But the experiment on “Windows In The Sky” was a complete success last year. At the beginning of 2020, I could not escape the fascination that arises from the contrast between spoken words passages and atmospheric soundscapes. The work is raised to a completely different level of emotions if you know the background and the story of how it came about. In it, Foster processes his father’s cancer death.
Hard to beat in terms of intensity in the studio and on stage
As I had to accept a serious personal loss myself shortly before – my uncle had died completely unexpectedly after a short, serious illness – the album was like a lifeline in hard times for me. It almost felt like a physical experience while listening and developed an irresistible pull. Pieces like the 14-minute “The Hunter” hit sore points in my soul in a way that very few other records can. A comparable one is “In the Passing Light of Day” by Pain Of Salvation from 1997, which is also so intense that I can often not hear the entire disc in one go.
Today I have overcome my grief phase and dealt with the loss – now I can really enjoy and not just absorb the songs of Alex Henry Forster in their sprawling versions on “Standing Under Bright Lights”. The Canadian would have been unfaithful to himself had he simply played them live in their original form. But luckily that’s not the case.
Instead, the already overly long songs are stretched by Foster and his eleven-piece band even further through textual and musical improvisation. This approach makes the 31-year-old’s first live album extremely exciting. Sometimes you even think you’re hearing completely new songs. And there is actually one: the eight-minute “Son of Hannah”, which appropriately marks the beginning of the concert. The songs were recorded on July 5, 2019 at the Festival International de Jazz in his hometown of Montréal.
Alex Henry Foster has other projects planned
Foster was able to present his first solo record on stage in some European countries in early 2020, including Germany. But then Corona broke further tour plans – as with so many other musicians and bands.
Meanwhile, the Canadian is already working on “many other projects”, as he told me in a chat on Instagram. I’m hoping for an interview in the near future in which he will tell more about them. In any case, it will be interesting to see where his journey is going this time. But one thing should be certain: it won’t get boring.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (9 out of 12 points)
Album: Alex Henry Foster – Standing Under Bright Lights (Live from Festival International De Jazz De Montréal
Laufzeit: 91:00 Min.
Label: Hopeful Tragedy Records
Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl
- The Son of Hannah 8:41
- The Pain That Bonds (The Beginning is the End) 8:49
- Winter is Coming in 11:19
- Shadows of Our Evening Tides 19:25
- The Hunter (By the Seaside Window) 21:18
- Snowflakes in July 14:31
- Summertime Departures 12:55
- Lavender Sky 6:24
- The Love That Moves (The End is Beginning) 8:27