Music and nighttime go hand-in-hand.
Under the cover of darkness, bodies move, songs blare, dreams unfurl, passions flare, and hearts race. Alphacub bridles that nocturnal spirit on his full-length debut—the aptly titled Night Heart [Culvert Music]. The vision of Toronto-based and Nova Scotia-raised aural auteur Marc-Antoine Robertson, the record balances shimmering eighties synths, dancefloor-ready beats, stadium-size energy, and grunge attitude (as if M83 and Billy Corgan teamed up to score an Atomic Blonde sequel).
Equally inspired by science fiction like Blade Runner and Black Mirror as well as an eclectic sonic palette, the album feels tailormade for eternal midnights…
“Basically, everybody is someone different when it gets dark out,” explains Robertson. “You turn into another person after the sun goes down. You’re on the prowl and looking for a thrill—whatever it is to you. That’s the concept.”
Originally hailing from Canada’s east coast, Robertson cut his teeth in the successful local indie outfit Soho Ghetto. Following the group’s 2014 split, he quietly recorded what would become Alphacub’s self-titled EP. Catching the attention of Culvert, he inked a deal during 2015 and continues to build a profile throughout his home country.
As he relocated to Toronto around the same time, the city offered an endless source of inspiration to the writing process.
“Everything was born in Toronto,” he admits. “Coming here was like a total a rebirth for me. I sold virtually all my possessions, gave up my job, picked up, and really just left. There’s something about the city. It’s like a muse to me now.”
Joining forces with producer Gavin Whelehan, Robertson tracked Night Heart over the course of 2017. Mixed by GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer and producer Ken Lewis, Alphacub’s sound formally takes shape powered by “big drums and synthesizers” and Alphacub’s dynamic and daring vocal performances. The title track “Night Heart” cycles between a simmering strut, glitchy echoes, bright guitar, and an orchestra of electronics as he croons, “I’ll find a way. Turn it on. Turn it on, your light for me.”
“People tend to be social when they’re out after dark,” he goes on. “They liven up. You find your own ‘Night Heart’, so to speak, in yourself. You want to be around likeminded individuals when you’re scouring the streets for fun. That’s what it’s about.”
Elsewhere, “Last Chance Romance” climaxes on a wild saxophone break befitting of its sexy swing and airy vocal transmissions, while EP standout “Friends” adds delicate emotionality to the full-length. A personal favorite, “James Dean” recounts a lonely episode over towering bass and a resounding admission.
“Where I’m from, this old theater was showing Rebel Without a Cause one night,” recalls Robertson. “I asked four girls to go see it with me, but nobody was down. Coupled with this feeling of rejection, I wrote ‘James Dean’ alone like some lonely rebel. It chronicles that whole experience in blunt honesty.”
In the end, Alphacub’s music will surely soundtrack many evenings to come.
“I want this album to fulfill desires,” he leaves off. “Whether you want pop, rock, electronic , or just somebody to speak to you lyrically and make you feel better, I hope that it connects. You should walk away feeling satisfied, like a great evening.”
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