starlight - EP
For the three members of nêhiyawak (neh-HEE-oh-wuk), home is the Treaty 6 Territory city of amiskwaciy—the part of Canada more commonly referred to as Edmonton, Alberta. And that desire to reassert a Cree cultural heritage that was all but erased by European-settler culture forms the conceptual basis of their striking debut release. With the starlight EP, nêhiyawak use the aesthetic language of contemporary indie rock to explore their people’s past: On the title track, an incessant drum thump serves as the beating-heart connection to their ancestors, as singer/guitarist Kris Harper eulogizes the victims of colonialism and summons their spirits with a spine-tingling chorus cry. The churning “page” charts an alternate course from rupture to rapture, casting its spoken-word intro against a scorched-earth landscape of discordant guitars, before gradually fortifying into a synth-washed psychedelic groove. But on the closing “open window,” nêhiyawak exercise their healing powers, bringing this restless EP to a peaceful conclusion with a dreamy dose of chillwaved soul.