What do you get if you take a background in early 2000’s screamo music and filter it through ever-growing musical expertise, the sounds of instruments like trumpets and trombones, and years of at times grueling life experiences? The product of that combination is the Canadian band Respire, whose album Dénouement is out now.
Musically speaking, the band wants to stay unique, the multi-talented Rohan Lilauwala explains.
“One of the things we try to do is have our own sound. We don’t really want to sound like other bands. We want to be recognizable as Respire. We want people to be able to listen to something and know it’s us and not some other band,” he explains. He adds that the band also wants to “push the boundaries of heavy and aggressive music and include nontraditional elements and use those nontraditional elements in ways that people might not think is possible and might not work and try and make it work.”
The nontraditional elements include instruments like the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, cello, violin, and singing saw. All of those instruments — in addition to others — make an appearance on Dénouement, which features heavy emotional music with an absolutely glimmering texture.
Those involved in the band treat Respire as a sort of musical collective, Lilauwala explains, thus facilitating musicians playing a wide variety of instruments having a part. A core group of people guides the project while others have parts incorporated into the finished work. One such collaborator is Toronto musician Jordaan Mason, who “brought a different sensibility to the record,” Lilauwala quips.
Life experiences have provided their own support for the uniqueness that Respire is aiming for. Dénouement has that human element so often found in music that really sticks with people, which Lilauwala says the band is conscious about guiding.
He explains: “Respire is an opportunity to confront our demons and confront the challenges we face together. We’re pretty much all best friends at this point, so it’s an opportunity to confront the challenges we face, confront our demons as friends and to move forward.”
“We try and treat our music as sort of a window into our minds and our souls,” he adds. “We air or broadcast the challenges we’re facing and our tribulations and offer the listeners a chance to feel what we’re feeling and offer them a chance to heal and atone along with us. If they’re feeling what we’re feeling, the odds are that the listener can maybe channel what they’re going through and their struggles and heal along with us.”
The band has absolutely been successful in these aims, according to Lilauwala, getting approached by fans online and in person who have been affected by their work.
Respire’s aims to be unique and make a human impression on listeners are supported by their musical prowess; they’ve got tangible musical originality backing them up. Others at times seek to incorporate nontraditional textures into heavy music, but few if any go far in the way Respire does. Others also seek to incorporate a human touch into their music, but few if any back it up with music like that found on Dénouement. The unique music supports the band’s aims to use their work as an exploration of the human experience as much as anything sung on the album does; the parts work together.
The band had a tour in Europe in early 2018, and come 2019, they might make it into the United States for some shows but only time will tell. In the meantime, their music continues to transcend the boundaries of geography and is available for listening below.
In a world full of copies and attempts at copies, Respire sticks out.