Robert Diack ‘Lost Villages’ (Private Press) 4/5

Robert Diack is a drummer and composer based in Toronto Canada. He studied music in Toronto, with over fifteen years of study in various institutions across the city. Composing for many years, he draws his influence from jazz, folk and traditional, to post-rock and pop music. As a drummer Robert has recorded and played all over Canada, and works with his own quartet and a musical collective called Luscar.

Robert has been leading his own quartet for a few years, comprised of members: Brandon Davis (bass), Patrick O’Reilly (guitars), and Jacob Thompson (piano). The group has been the main musical outlet for Robert’s compositions and this is the quartet that recorded his first album ‘Lost Villages’.

The Lost Villages is what I would call a concept album in as much as it is based on the story of The Lost Villages, which (taken from the sleeve notes), ‘were a collection of nine communities and townships in Southern Ontario. The people there were forcibly removed to make way for the St. Laurence Seaway, a 1950’s project which linked Southern Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean by a collection of waterways. The houses are submerged underwater, as the places where there once was human community there are now lakes.’

This happens all over the world and there are many communities which are displaced for all different reasons, but nevertheless we can feel the unsettling quiet of an abandoned town, village or home. This album is a courageous reflection of the human cost of displacement and dereliction but offers hope as well for new beginnings.

So on to the music:

1. Displace: Atmospheric and eerie, a good introduction to the story with a

repeating melody.

2. Bittered: Big guitars from Patrick O’Reilly, an automaton sounding piece.

3. Pluterperfect: Great guitars and pedals, shades of ’70’s prog and ’80’s rock

which collapses into an avant-garde free style.

4. Idyll: Nice piano from Jacob Thompson, modal jazz, drums bass and piano

with some interesting production sound effects and then it morphs into a moment of chaos then resolves to a quiet and still end.

5. Lacuna: More than a just a nod to Heartland Rock and blue collar America, we hear the bass of Brandon Davis properly on this track. Laid back, sitting on the porch gazing out at the big sky.

6. Reliquary: Musically eclectic, ambitious and thought-provoking. A genuine attempt at a stadium sound whilst narrowly avoiding the self-indulgent, leaving enough space so we can hear the melodies and instruments, all well-played with great production and musicianship. This one is definitely a contender.

7. Sap: Dark and malevolent, you can feel the angst and despair of dereliction as well as the hope of a new beginning.

8. Placed: The new beginning promised in the previous track. A good mirror to the first track ‘Displace’ . Nice bass melody, hopeful and melodic.

A great first album from Robert, intelligent but not intellectual, musically diverse and not easy to categorise. There is something for everyone here, but in a way that is it’s weakness. I want to hear more of all the styles on the album, I want to see more development in all areas – I want more basically – and that’s a good thing!

David Izen