Canadian artist Ian William Craig creates haunting, otherworldly compositions that blend operatic vocals and neo-classical melodies with lo-fi production techniques more common to underground noise and experimental music. Utilizing analog synthesizer drones, piano improvisations, and his own stunning vocals, Craig creates his music from decaying loops played on damaged reel-to-reel tape decks. Evoking faded memories and feelings of loss and heartbreak, his emotionally charged works are utterly unique and inventive.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Craig was classically trained as a vocalist. He first became known as a printmaker, and worked for the fine arts department at the University of British Columbia. He began performing in 2010, and started digitally self-releasing his recordings in 2012. His early recordings were primarily based on piano improvisations and self-built or self-modified instruments, but gradually he incorporated more of his voice into the compositions.
His 2014 album, A Turn of Breath, was issued by Recital (the label run by experimental composer/engineer Sean McCann, who had mastered all of Craig's previous albums), and it received an enormous amount of critical praise, appearing on several year-end lists from publications including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Mojo. Cradle for the Wanting, Craig's second album for Recital, followed in 2015, and was also well-received. He released a limited cassette titled Zugzwang for Fostex on Patient Sounds Intl. in early 2016, and was then signed to Fat Cat Records' experimental imprint 130701. His first album for the label, Centres, was easily his most ambitious work yet, clocking in at 72 minutes and featuring a wide variety of instruments recorded in several locations throughout Vancouver, as well as Craig's most accessible songwriting to date. During the same year, the Belgian label Aguirre Records issued his 2012 Meaning Turns to Whispers album on vinyl. In 2017, Craig released a split single with labelmate Olivier Alary, with the two artists remixing each other's pieces. 130701 issued Slow Vessels, an EP containing stripped-down remakes of highlights from Centres. ~ Paul Simpson