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Dream a little Dreamsphere 

Aqua Alta’s new album comes straight from a futuristic undersea world.

click to enlarge SCOTT MUNN

"It sounds like if in 2000 years, somebody found some weird jukebox at the bottom of the ocean," says Charles Austin of Dreamsphere, the debut full-length from Halifax super-group Aqua Alta. With Jenn Grant and Graeme Campbell, Aqua Alta is a collaborative project that weaves Campbell and Austin's hip-hop and electronic production with Grant's hypnotic vocals and emotive lyricism: "It's like if Patsy Cline was abducted by a UFO or forced to jam with Kraftwerk," he says.

Dreamsphere offers 11 incredibly textured songs that originated from Campbell's production with Buck 65, and which meet Austin's interests in guitar rock. "It's no exaggeration that for about eight years, Graeme and I have been trying to figure out how to combine melodies and choruses with hip-hop stuff [in a way] that doesn't sound cheesy. It usually sounds super-imposed. But after Jenn sang on Buck's song, 'Paper Airplanes,' while me and Graeme were working on it, we realized that Jenn has a way of singing over sample-based music that doesn't sound forced. She has a really unique take on it," he says.

Aqua Alta happened naturally by combining Campbell's talent as a drum and bass DJ ("He's literally a genius," Austin says) with psychedelic inspirations and Grant's lyrical songwriting. "We're three people from very different places. That's the way I see it. We're not all into the same stuff; we're different ages with really different musical histories," he says. Like the seas and oceans by which they're inspired, Aqua Alta is an indivisible blending of elements that is a playful but powerful force.

"The criterion for us is always 'weird,'" says Austin. He's excited that Dreamsphere is out on vinyl via Star House Collective. "As I get older, I appreciate that it can take a long time to make a good record."

Aqua Alta album release
Sunday, March 8
The Company House, 2202 Gottingen St


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