Music Review – The History of Gunpowder

Band: The History of Gunpowder
EP: Stained Glass, Rye and Wax

Released 6 May, Stained Glass, Rye and Wax is The History of Gunpowder’s third EP. Conceived in Kerala, South India, and then polished in Vancouver and Montreal, the EP features the musical talents of seventeen extraordinarily gifted musicians. Skillfully mixed and mastered by Chris Hollywood Holmes, the recording of Stained Glass, Rye and Wax was spread between Greenhouse Studios and The Farm Studios in Vancouver, and Freddy’s Studio in India.

The History of Gunpowder has experienced many changes over the years, with as many as twenty-five members since its founding. But, Alex James Morison, the band’s front man, has remained with the band since it was founded in Vancouver, and has recently moved the group to Montreal where they can be found playing live at many of the venues that the city offers. And with the release of Stained Glass, Rye and Wax, Morison and his bandmates are planning a busy summer festival season and fall tour.

Now it is said that gunpowder changed the world. Its discovery led to the successive advent of explosive weaponry that changed warfare forever. So with a band name like The History of Gunpowder, audiences may expect something equally revolutionary.

And what a musical revolution they are in for. Considered ?the fusion of sultry improvised jazz mayhem, swamp pirate rhythms, delectable funk grooves and growling blues vocals? ( the music on Stained Glass, Rye and Wax was given the ?anything goes? treatment. The combination of vocals, drums, guitar, upright bass, electric bass, synthesizer, keyboard, trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, tuba, percussion, violin, viola, and cello tends to create a cacophony of sound. Yet, from the mayhem, Morison has somehow managed to force a structure on the noise, resulting in music that pushes the boundaries of genre and musical composition.

However, audiences must pay attention to the songs to identify and appreciate the order amongst the chaos. There are even treats for those who listen closely. For example, as ?The Ditch? draws to a dramatic conclusion, the attention is briefly drawn to the spoken word track, which was ?retrieved by Quinn Dennehy in Montreal, speaker unknown? ( Attentive listeners may hear a gentlemen quoting a chorus line made famous by a Canadian singer/songwriter in 1974.

So for those who are looking for something a little different this summer, something a little unconventional created from traditional elements, why not take a chance on The History of Gunpowder’s Stained Glass, Rye and Wax. Though while it may not be suitable studying music, the songs on Stained Glass, Rye and Wax are guaranteed to have you thinking differently about music. And for a student, thinking out of the proverbial box is always a good thing.

Samantha currently uses her skills as a writer to promote independent musicians and raise awareness and support for many global, environmental, and humanitarian issues. Check out her website and blog at: