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Touched Fables Bid A Thousand Goodbyes To The Lost

The Ontario darkwave duo conjure the ’80s on their deeply personal debut album.

Touched Fables commune with the ghosts of their personal and musical pasts on their deeply intense, nostalgic and haunting debut A Thousand Goodbyes — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Expertly and confidently fusing ’80s synth-pop, new wave, goth, techno and post-punk into their own gorgeously grim darkwave hybrid, the Ontario duo’s 10-track release — which deliberately clocks in at 39:37, the exact length of British art-rock icon David Sylvian’s game-changing 1984 solo debut Brilliant Trees — was catalyzed by a series of profound events and personal traumas in the lives of co-founders Paul Anthony and Jim Roditis.

The two have been friends for years, and talk almost daily despite being separated by a four hour-plus drive. Both are seasoned producers who have released electronic music on international labels. They have collaborated with each other as well as shared several bills over the years. But more recently, they shared something more personal. “We both lost a parent in the last year,” says Anthony. “But once things settled down and Jim moved to Ottawa, it wasn’t long before we started talking about working together on something new. Any time you lose someone you love, you tend to pause and re-examine where you are in life. It felt natural to try something different.”

Working outside their comfort zones, Roditis was tasked with writing synth lines, drum patterns and playing guitar; meamwhile, Anthony provided synths and drum machine patterns while writing lyrics and picking up a microphone for the first time. “It was daunting at first,” says Anthony, who even concealed the project from his wife until it was complete. “But we both quickly settled into our new roles and tracks were completed at a ridiculous pace. It was scary how fast and how well everything fell into place. We knew we were on to something, so going full speed ahead kept us from getting bogged down second guessing ourselves. I think it benefitted the album in the end.”

A Thousand Goodbyes evokes cold sepia tones, brooding loss, and is steeped in nostalgia, both half-remembered and unforgettable. “We all have a teenage memory of a time and place when we were dealing with traumatic personal issues, while simultaneously being conscious of our own insignificance in the world,” Anthony says. Roditis elaborates: “We quickly came upon the idea of writing an album we wish we could have made as teenagers, but obviously had no means to create. Tapping into those awkward years where you attempted to navigated new relationships, and often had your soul crushed.”

To reflect that, simple drum machines, minimal synths, spectral guitars and the ghosts of early 1980s home-studio productions were conjured as the blueprint across the disc. This is a record with one foot unashamedly planted in the past. The album references Lords Of The New Church, Ultravox, Portishead, Talk Talk, The Fixx, Gary Numan, and the first album Anthony ever bought, Split Enz’s Time and Tide. “It was important to me to return to the absolute literal starting point of my love for music,” says the musician, who was reading Martyn Ware’s memoir Electronically Yours Vol. 1 while composing the record.

“With this album, we hope to instil a sense of community within the minds of the listener,” Anthony says. “It boils down to letting people know they are not alone in their past experiences and memories. Learning of shared experiences can often bring closure for those who have been carrying things around for years. It’s up to the listener to choose to seek anything out of it, or to simply enjoy it as something to dance to. I know I personally worked through a lot of issues writing this album.”

The duo were also mindful while producing the record to allow for the opportunity to take these songs to the stage. “From Day 1, we made sure to simplify, document, and be wary of the pitfalls of playing this material live versus just having an album made from studio trickery. It would have been easy to cheat and use the latest technology to fine tune every millisecond of audio, but we chose the more difficult path. When we play these tracks for an audience, they will hear a wonderfully accurate representation of what you will find on the album. We’re proud of that,” says Roditis.

“Jim and I were very careful and deliberate while making this album, refining the artwork and multitude of references that are embedded within. It’s no easy task while tackling about such weighty subjects. We obviously want the material to resonate with a sense of purity and authenticity, while avoiding having it feeling contrived or maudlin. I think we achieved that,” says Anthony. Indeed, the single backlit window on the cover is a metaphor for the people the band have lost, with a funeral bouquet on the reverse. The liner notes also include photographs of both producers at age 17, as well as a high school yearbook photo of Anthony’s then-girlfriend, who was killed along with her new boyfriend in a traffic accident in 1993.

Listen to A Thousand Goodbyes below, watch the video for Only You Could Know above, and say hello to them on their website.