The Wilderness of Manitoba prefers to characterize itself as an evolving entity. The band’s newest album, Between Colours, is as far-reaching as anything in its catalogue. They feel that it speaks to what an album means to them: that it’s between the one previous and the next one along, and that each album has its own colour. “When a band isn’t changing, it’s not growing,” says guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Will Whitwham. From the band’s inception, it has redefined itself with every album, from Hymns of Love and Spirits through When You Left The Fire, Island of Echoes and The Leslieville Sessions. The evolution of their sound has run the gamut from four part harmonies and chamber folk to their current more cinematic arrangements.
The Wilderness of Manitoba’s upcoming release, Between Colours, showcases an explosion of strength with Whitwham and vocalist/guitarist/violinist Amanda Balsys trading and sharing lead vocals, and with a more rhythmic bottom end led by bassist Wes McClintock. Recorded at Revolution Recording in Toronto with producer Joe Dunphy, the album fully embraces all the studio has to offer. To address the wider range of dynamics in the songs, drummers Tom Bona, Marito Marques and Howie Beck were brought into the sessions. Other guests included Michael Phillip Wojewoda on theremin and Alex Lifeson with a signature guitar solo. The expanding instrumentation and layered guitar and synth effects combine to create one-listen pop hooks and adventurous sonic exploration.
In its five year existence, the band’s ongoing transitions come as a direct result of the wealth of traveling the band has done; playing several festivals and touring in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA and Canada. “The live show,” says Whitwham, “is a constantly evolving portrait of the band and its efforts.” Those efforts were recognized this year with the Wilderness of Manitoba being nominated for a JUNO. Balsys and McClintock are now fully integrated into the band and, along with founding member Whitwham, have taken a collaborative approach to its music and future. Summing things up, Whitwham says, “There is no lacking in the quantity of ideas.”