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Mckiel is slow and true 

Jon Mckiel’s Tonka War Cloud melts your icy heart at IDOW

If Tonka War Cloud sounds a little chilly, "it's because a good part of it was recorded at The Old Confidence Lodge in the dead of winter with no heat," says Jon Mckiel. "Maybe it's just my own recollection of how cold it was then, but I think you can feel it through the album."

Playing In the Dead of Winter on Saturday, Mckiel put Tonka together over time, with patience. It's a "miracle" that it was even released last year. From a label change to manufacturing, "everything that could have gone wrong in the making of this album went wrong," he says.

But his full-length follow-up to Confidence Lodge is a beautiful collection of haphazard precision. Experimenting with sound, Mckiel layers synthesizers, analog keyboards and delays atop ukuleles, violins and soft vocals. These distinct "sonic aspects" have been critically noticed, Mckiel says, "which is pretty cool because it's kind of what we were going for. It's what you hope for."

But the record is not a departure from the folkier sounds of 2008's The Nature of Things. As Tonka progresses, the ice melts. By taking advantage of the LP format, Mckiel balances upbeat, aggressive tracks with sparse, slow-moving melodies. He uses "Interlude," the first track on the B-side, to transition from the bleeps and bloops of the A-side of the quieter stuff, juxtaposing the technological heaviness of rock with the naturalist moods and themes of folk. "I like simplicity just as much," Mckiel says.

His third time at IDOW, Mckiel will play a minimalist set with his wife, Klarka Weinwurm. Folk, he finds, is a bit more personal. And IDOW is "the right time and place" to feature his folk side.

"It's hard to play folk ballads at a bar, like The Capital [in Fredericton], for example," he says, "because everybody is wasted, it's loud, you can hear the bass from the dance club upstairs, so it's really great to have the right context and audience for the folk songs." Mckiel will "finally" have the Tonka LP for sale at the show, and by order, to keep you warm on winter nights. --Adria Young

Jon Mckiel

w/These Hands, David Simar

Saturday, January 28, 8:30pm at 2053 Gottingen, $12

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