Hush Collector: Flowby (Candy Cone, 2005)

by Brent

Hush Collector FlowbyOften when an artist achieves success in a certain band or project, it’s hard for that artist to shake the past in the eyes of the fans. Well-meaning fans clamour for the “good old days”, when their favourite artist was creating the kind of music that the fans enjoy in particular. This situation leaves the artist trapped in a certain subgenre or approach to music, if the artist listens only to fans. However, most artists with integrity find themselves wanting to venture out and try new kinds of music, and even form new bands. In the case of  Poppy Gonzalez, fans may marvel at the dizzying amount of disparate projects that this multi-instrumentalist/vocalist has contributed to over the years. Not only was Gonzalez involved in a highly respected band Dreamfield, as well as contributing to Sing-Sing’s debut CD, but she was also a member of Mojave 3 in the legendary group’s early days, and contributed to still other projects. It should come as no surprise, then, that Gonzalez has found her way into ANOTHER promising project. This time, along with guitarist Peter Simmons and multi-instrumentalist Katie Mummery, Gonzalez plays a slightly dark brand of acoustic-tinged slowcore that is rich in melody and texture. Dubbing themselves Hush Collector, this group of artists have just released a 4 song EP called Flowby. As one listens to the short EP, one can sense a poise (originating no doubt due to the group members’ past experience in music) that gives the music an ease that is pleasant to listen to.

Of course, this review is already unbalanced in focusing so squarely on Gonzalez, since the band members share the songwriting duties evenly throughout Flowby, and contribute their own signatures upon the music. With Simmons equally dirty and fluid guitar lines permeating the languid jams, and with Mummery’s wistful songwriting, all of the members of Hush Collector contribute to make Flowby a gorgeous musical statement. The title song of Flowby starts off the EP, with its slow pace, resolute lyrics, and tasteful arrangements. The song emanates just a hint of a pastoral vibe, without resorting to a twang (and without losing the band’s sophisticated sound). The lead female vocals are breathy at times, and generally expressive, perfect for the song. The short and haunting “Mountain Song”, with its atmospheric sounds backing up a very catchy and moody melody, follows. Duel female vocals intertwine through stark instrumentation to a gorgeous chorus. The song, lasting just over 2 ½ minutes, quickly gives way to the equally delicious “It Don’t Matter”. This song is a sumptuous exercise in restraint and emotion, with melancholy vocals hovering over a building base of music. Simmons’ guitar lines weave with dexterity through the music, while the rest of the music subtly builds throughout this longest song of Flowby. Finally, the EP ends with the sparse “I Go Blind”. Set around a structure and melody that is almost bluesy in mood, a lone acoustic guitar is picked over minimalist percussion while the female vocals expressively sing throughout the song. “I Go Blind” is the shortest song on the release, and after about 13 minutes total of music, the EP is done, leaving the listener begging for more.

In a nutshell, the Poppy Gonzalez can proclaim that she’s done it again. By surrounding herself with able musicians in Peter Simmons and Katie Mummery, Gonzalez has been able to create a compelling collection of songs that are both moody and pretty. Based on this very promising debut, Hush Collector has a very good future ahead of itself. That is, if the artists involved decide to stay with the current line-up and focus, which is a challenge for restless artists like Poppy Gonzalez and similar artists. Let’s hope this current incarnation remains with us for a while…

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