Foxes in Fiction — Trillium Killer (Oct. 18, 2019)
★ The project of Orchid Tapes founder Warren Hildebrand inhabits dreamy soundscapes and gentle, shoegaze~informed songs.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Album release: October 18, 2019
Record Label: Orchid Tapes
01 Ontario Sunshine 2:46
02 A Softer World 4:11
03 Extinguisher 4:32
04 Rush to Spark 4:58
05 Say Yes to Violence 6:06
06 Ontario Sunshine, Pt. 2 2:55
07 Antibody 3:20
08 Summer of the Gun 7:17
09 Trillium Killer 4:49
10 Second Chances/Vantablack 4:27
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas; Score: ★★★★½
• With the slowly evolving Foxes in Fiction project, Orchid Tapes founder Warren Hildebrand moved from the realm of ambient sound collages into increasingly structured and blissfully atmospheric dream pop. With third album Trillium Killer, Foxes in Fiction takes its highest form so far, Hildebrand’s subtle and glowing songwriting exhibits their deepest emotional complexity and most involved arrangements yet.
• The project was born in 2005 when Hildebrand was still a high school student, and albums came slowly over the next few years, each one a direct reflection of the phase of Hildebrand’s life that it was made in. Written and recorded following a move from Toronto to New York, Trillium Killer dives deep into the feelings of self~reflection, exhaustion, and overstimulation that kind of geographical transition can bring. These expressions are delivered through inventive arrangement choices and a surprisingly effective use of vocal manipulation.
• “Say Yes to Violence” is a prime example of the album’s unique approach. Reverb~bathed guitar tones contrast minimal drum machine rhythms and processed electronics. Hildebrand’s vocals first appear as high, somber verses but they’re answered by digitally processed choruses and pitched~up harmonies as the song goes on. Vocal manipulation like this is used throughout the album to excellent effect, with Hildebrand’s different vocal affectations becoming separate characters in the shifting narratives of the songs. Subtle electro~acoustic touches also define the production. Organic string sounds mesh with synth melodies and everything is buried in layers of ambient haze. When more clearly rendered songs emerge from this haze, they snap the listener back from the edge of dreams. Trillium Killer ebbs and flows like this for its entirety, with the gentle Stereolab~esque lope of “Rush to Spark” following the hissy clouds that end “Extinguisher,” and the straightforward indie rock push of “Antibody” switching gears abruptly from a lengthy interlude of processed piano.
Hildebrand tempers their gifts for songwriting with risky production choices and arrangements. Easily the best work from Foxes in Fiction yet, Trillium Killer also ranks among the best albums to bear the dream pop tag, expanding on the lushness of Sigur Rós, the isolated melancholy of Grouper, and the distant pop perfection of Atlas Sound.