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Blissfully Aware: Keith Canisius

7 November 2010

Keith Canisius makes a beautiful racket. The American-born Dane initially came to the attention of the bliss-pop/dream-wave community in 2007 with his band Rumskib, and their self-titled debut album, a collection of songs so deeply indebted to shoegazer luminaries as My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, and Chapterhouse that the sheer audacity of its indebtedness only added to its appeal.

And then, true to the fast-burning and quickly-disappearing nature of the genre, nothing happened. “We never really got our live band going the way we wanted, plus I was starting to develop new musical interests and evolve as a producer,” Canisius states, via email from his home in Copenhagen. Still, he says, “we had a lot of fun and played some cool places and got some great reviews, so it was never a waste of time.”

In 2008, he released Ferris Wheel Makeout, a record not unlike what he had done with Rumskib, but with less emphasis on loud guitars and more focus on a pop sensibility. His decision to pursue his muse under his name was an easy decision, partially due to Rumskib’s reception and reputation as a shoegazer tribute. “I wanted to move forward and progress my music rather than recreating a style that has been done.”

This year sees the release of his third solo album, This Time It’s Our High. Unlike last year’s Waves, which found him exploring quieter sounds not unlike his Darla Records label-mates Manual (whose leader, Jonas Munk, produced Rumskib), and Cocteau Twins‘s Robin Guthrie, Canisius’s muse is leading him towards more electronic sounds, mixing synth drums with guitar and his high-pitched voice, more in line with bands such as Ariel Pink and Animal Collective than with artists from decades past. “I wanted to create a tight, psychedelic, and dreamy pop album, one that sounded modern and fresh, as opposed to my previous albums, which were definitely aligned with older music.”

With a bright new record under his belt, though, Canisius says he’s ready to step back into the public spotlight. “Rumskib is retired,” he says, “I have no plans for starting it again. But I am working on a band. We’ve practiced a few times and are getting ready for playing shows next year.” If anything, This Time It’s Our High represents an artistic growth. “It can be hard going against old habits, but it’s very rewarding when it works out. You evolve.”