This Hisses inspired by David Lynch and medical textbooks
Posted by Jen Zoratti, SCENE Writer | Tuesday February 5, 2013
This Hisses to perform at Winnipeg Fringe Festival (Travis Cole)
It's a poetic usage of the word Anhedonia, which is a psychological term for people who don't find pleasure in activities most people find pleasurable
—Julia Ryckman, singer
This Hisses is a band that knows what it wants, a fact underscored on the operatic post-punk trio's sophomore album, Anhedonia.
"When we sat down, we were discussing making a more cinematic yet still decidedly rock 'n' roll record," says vocalist Julia Ryckman over coffee in her cozy West End dining room.
Check and check. Anhedonia has an affecting emotional gravitas often reserved for movie scores, thanks to Ryckman's ethereal, classical pipes and bandmates Patrick Short and JP Perron's inky black-velvet soundcapes. And the record rocks too, some songs rattle and roll like The Stooges -- if The Stooges were fronted by an opera singer, that is.
The band communicated their vision through screen references -- like, say, "this song needs to sound more like The Black Lodge in Twin Peaks." Those hyper-specific nods to film and TV are certainly reflected in the record's evocative, cinematic swells; Anhedonia definitely has a distinct David Lynch sensibility.
Anhedonia album cover (Transistor 66)
The members of This Hisses joke they talk a lot. But, as Short says, "as a musician, you have so much more autonomy when you know how you want to sound and you know how to communicate that."
"The other thing that we wanted to articulate was that we wanted it every which way," Ryckman adds, referring to the record's stark contrasts: light and dark, wistfully nostalgic and austere. The title track, in particular, is an achievement when it comes to capturing those moments. "It seemed like the epitome of what we were trying to do."
As for the title's medical-text roots, "it's a poetic usage of the word Anhedonia, which is a psychological term for people who don't find pleasure in activities most people find pleasurable," Ryckman explains. "That song is more about an unsuccessful relationship with desire. What if you could cut yourself off from desire and pleasure and feel peace?"
It's evident from the new record that This Hisses has grown as a band since its punky 2011 surf-rock debut, Surf Noir. Anhedonia is a bona fide studio album produced by Royal Canoe's Matt Peters.
And while This Hisses is a blistering force live, "it's pretty magical to be in the studio, even if it's for five days," Ryckman says. "Being in the studio has to feel good. It has to be magical, because that's where our dreams live." This Hisses unleashes Anhedonia at the West End Cultural Centre on Saturday, February 9.