Marlowe has spent the last 2 years at an undisclosed island location, while
miniature cat robots carefully constructed their forthcoming album "He is there and he's funny" using space age technology. The results of this experimental process are now available for public appraisal at cleverly-stocked music outlets across the nation, as well as through more ethereal, digital means.
Marlowe is built around the songwriting partnership of Joseph Donovan (guitar et al) and Alex Olsen (vocals & keyboards). The group started back in 1996 when Alex joined Joseph’s already assembled group of friends; Jason Thomas, George Donoso (currently with the Dears) and Eric Fares (currently with Sam Roberts). The group as such recorded their first full-length Galax-sea in 1998, and released it on a small Montreal-based label.
The album was hailed as “ambitious and sophisticated” (Mirror), and described by CMJ as “beautifully affected hi-fi mood pop…music to touch yourself to”. It was greeted warmly by the Montreal music scene and beyond. It also garnered comparisons to Spiritualized, the Cocteau Twins and early albums by the Verve. It rocketed to #32 on the top 50 college charts; holding the #1 position at CISM in Montreal for three consecutive weeks. The single “Starry-Eyed Sugar” was also greeted with much fervour by visitors of MP3.com; holding down the #1 position on the Shoegazer charts for 6 months, as well as hitting #13 of the top alternative songs. By the time the song was removed from the site, Marlowe had received a total of over 80, 000 plays.
Much to their dismay, the momentum of Marlowe’s album was cut short by member changes and stilted through lack of label support. Counting their losses, Donovan and Olsen rebuilt the group and continued to support the album through live shows; performing at NXNE, the Burlington Music Conference, and also playing a show with members of their patron saint bands My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab. They were also featured on CHOM FM’s Made in Canada showcase. Drawing on their own resources and the talents of their friends, they also shot a video for the single “Starry-Eyed Sugar” which received play on both Much Music and Music Plus.
After the experience gained from recording first album, Donovan and Olsen decided that their particular brand of mellow-strange pop required a more hands-on, personal approach to the recording process. Shortly thereafter, they broke with their label and began charting a course on their own terms, writing new material and making plans for their next recording. It was at this time that Donovan also began building what would soon become Stock Market Audio; a professional-level recording studio co-owned with ex-Tricky Woo member Adrian Popavich. This studio would later be the birthplace of albums by the Dears, Soft Canyon and Marlowe’s sophomore album “He’s there & he is funny”, amongst others.
The genesis of “He’s there & he is funny” took place over a two-year time period which saw a lot of behind-the-scenes action for Marlowe. Olsen completed her MA in Educational Technology and nursed her bi-weekly DJ residence at Roy Bar – accosting patrons with psychedelic sounds under the alter-ego Polly Six. Donovan continued recording projects at the studio, also eventually taking up duties as the tour manager and guitarist for old friends the Dears. Meanwhile, the current line-up for the band was finalized, including long-time bassist Howard Martin, drummer Kevin Laing (formerly of janefondorb) and keyboardist/computer wizard Nicolas Côte.
The newly re-formed band made its debut in September 2002 at the Montreal Pop Festival on a double bill with the Broken Social Scene. Since that time they have made numerous forays back into the live scene, including showcases at NXNE, CMW and the Horseshoe Tavern’s Indie Tuesdays in Toronto; as well as various opening slots for the Dears, the Stars and Tindersticks in Montreal, Toronto and Quebec City.
The Summer of 2003 was marked by the final mastering of the album, the launch of the band’s official website (designed by Côté and Olsen), and the addition of a new song “Roman Empire” which is to be the album’s lead-off track. Plans for the Fall include the completion of the first video and the initial promotional rounds for the official album launch in January 2004.
(by Alex Olsen)