In this scribe's view, Edmonton-based singer/songwriter Mark Davis is one of our most under-rated artists. True, he did make the Polaris longlist in 2012 with Eliminate The Toxins, but his previous darkly poetic solo albums (including gems Don't You Think We Should Be Closer and Mistakes I Meant To Make) and work with roots-rockers Old Reliable should have received far more attention.
I'm pleased to see he's returning to the fray, but in radically reinvented fashion. Davis has teamed with keyboardist Missmannered to form the duo Concealer, and they're set to put out a debut release, fêted:fetid, on September 4 on Coax Records (a new label created by fellow sonic adventurer Rae Spoon).
Fuelling interest in the record is the just-released video for one of its tracks, "Place To Hide". The minimal black and white clip (directed by Alice Kos) features the pair seated in a stark setting that could be a jail cell or a bathroom. Davis stars impassively at the camera during the fuzzy guitar breaks, then mouths the vocal parts. His partner smokes a cigarette, applies makeup and gets drenched by water, and the pair at one point don masks. All rather disturbing, yet artful and compelling.
In a press release, Davis explains that the video works to reveal the very nature of the duo’s partnership. “It’s an accurate reflection of Concealer's bare bones, stark, aesthetic, and the fact that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We hope that it communicates the sparring between stoicism and flamboyance that takes place in our duo. The frightening yet playful homemade masks play on the notion of concealment."
Musically, Concealer's sound inhabits a different universe than Davis' solo work. Shaped over the past five years, it is described in the release as "smashing together sleazy rock and proto-punk", and cited reference points include The Jesus and Mary Chain and Suicide. Can't wait to hear Concealer reveal more music (some other album cuts are now up on BandCamp.).
Concealer will take to the road in Western Canada with Rae Spoon this September and extended fall performances across Canada will be announced shortly. Check their site for details.