Badge Époque Ensemble

Self Help

£23.99
  • Badge Époque Ensemble - Self Help
20th November 2020 / LP / Telephone Explosion Records

Badge Époque Ensemble

Self Help

£23.99

Exploratory and genre blurring second studio LP from Toronto’s Badge Époque Ensemble.

This release is listed for pre order, with a scheduled release date of 20th November 2020. It is also listed at a special discounted pre order price that will revert to full price during week of release. Please note, if you purchase any item that is a pre order, your order will ship once all of the items in that order are in stock. You can read more about our shipping policies here.
Recorded live in the months before lockdown, Self Help is an exploratory record that dances across time and genre, guided by fidgety miniatures and jazz inflected collage. While constructed from the inspiration of soul, funk and film music, BÉE mediate those influences having first digested them through the productions of Madlib & the RZA. Throughout, the band pool together their instrumental chops, moving from fluid and serpentine R&B to meditative, minimalistic piano, evoking a contrast of virtuosity and self-surrender. A sticker on the sleeve tells us Self Help “combines jazz-funk and mysticism,” a signpost to where its musical and spiritual concerns align. The jazz-funk component translates to arresting hooks in sideways song forms: echoes of Gainsbourg spooled through Azymuth-style Brazilian jazz and punctuated by the whip and snap of Steely Dan. “The Sound Where My Head Was,” the instrumental centrepiece, exemplifies present-wave jazz but also ancient sounds, giving off the mothballed air of a Hiroshi Yoshimura record in a library-music archive.

Self Help’s mysticism emerges in broad and specific ways, denoting not only a search beyond cliché and intellect but also an inquiry into the beat, the spirit, the one will. This isn’t new territory for them: Turnbull the artist formerly known as Slim Twig, who writes and performs with U.S. Girls and various other Toronto concerns named the group’s Nature, Man & Woman EP after the Alan Watts book. Building these songs from his drafts over three weekends at Toronto’s Palace Sound studio, the ensemble was free to tap out of the city and into some other place, taking up residence in a collective mind maze. The album produces, in equal measure, familiar surprises and the surprisingly familiar. Intoxicated jazz riffs swerve left at phantom intersections. Rhythms cut loose and tie you in knots. But wired in to each song is a sense of gentle accumulation, making every featherlight flourish weigh a ton.

U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy brings serenity to “Sing a Silent Gospel,” and wears its antic melodies lightly. The soul shimmer of “Unity (It’s Up to You)” lets the players pool their R&B chops into something fluid and serpentine while, on guest vocals, the musical performance artist James Baley issues urgent declaratives: “Water must pool, as a rule, before tasted/Or else the water is wasted.” The words throughout the record complement the ensemble music while riffing on the precarious nature of unity itself. Then, closer “Extinct Commune” finds Turnbull deserted at the piano, playing phrases of meditative minimalism taking after the composer Joanna Brouk. For all the record’s reach, it is these contrasting quiet moments that bring Self Help’s communal spirit into focus.

A note on personnel: Badge Époque Ensemble now has a seventh member in Karen Ng, the saxophonist and sometime collaborator of Do Make Say Think, Feist, and others. In BÉE, Ng joins Chris Bezant and Giosuè Rosati, her bandmates in the Andy Shauf live band, as well as U.S. Girls co-conspirators Turnbull and Ed Squires, and other Torontonian cross-pollinators listed below. Guest vocalists across Self Help include Meg Remy, who sings with Dorothea Paas on the opener, James Baley, and Toronto singer-songwriter Jennifer Castle on theremarkable “Just Space for Light.” 

1. Sing A Silent Gospel
2. Unity (It’s Up To You)
3. Cloud
4. The Sound Where My Head Was
5. Just Space For Light
6. Birds Fly Through Ancient Ruins
7. Extinct Commune
Format /LP
Released /20th November 2020
Catalogue / TER072LP
Barcode / 0844667051049
  • Preview
  • Shipping Info
  • About Drift
  • Playlist

In the UK we offer Royal Mail Tracked 24/48®, Click & Collect at the shop and Free Shipping on orders over £75.

Worldwide we ship with International Business Parcel Tracked and DHL.

+ Full information on our shipping options can be read here.
+ There is a shipping calculator in the basket to give you a clear guide of our rates and available services based on your location.

Shipping Partners

Drift is the award-winning independent record shop in Totnes, Devon. We have been gliding through life to the beat of our own drum since the mid-nineties and online since 2010. You can read all about us here. Come meet us, or have us ship you something in the post.

Nominated 'Best Independent Retailer' at the Music Week Awards in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.


Nominated "Indie Champions" at the 2015 AIM Awards.

Playlist: 10th July 2020

Plenty to get hyped on. This week's playlist features Laura Marling, Margo Price, The Beths, The Streets, NZCA LINES, Julianna Barwick, Paint, Surprise Chef, DMA's, Mr Ben & The Bens and more...