Based out of Montreal, Cedric Noel has been sharing his music with the world for over a decade, yet listening to how fresh his latest record sounds you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Cedric’s latest album, Hang Time, was written back in 2017-18, during a period he describes as, “an intense period of self-reflection”. Much of this reflection focuses on ideas of identity and place. Throughout the record, Cedric explores both his background, as a Niger-born adopted son of Canadian and Mozambican/Belgian parents, and his place within the predominantly white-music scenes of Fredericton and Ottawa, which left him feeling, “both seen and unseen in complicated ways”. Cedric’s first album on his new label homes of Forward Music Group and Joyful Noise, Hang Time will be released this Friday.
Much of Hang Time was written not in Montreal, but in Cedric’s family home in Ottawa, which perhaps inspired the soul searching that is such a constant thread throughout the album. The record opens on Comuu, a song about, “friendship, allyship and ancestry”, which also serves as a perfect example of the increasing musical ambition Cedric displays throughout the album, here layering a vast array of percussion parts, to create an intense march, which serves as a back-drop for a tumble of thoughts that seem to intermingle and entwine in a fabulously complex fashion. Elsewhere, Headspace is resplendent with both crushing noisy guitars and contrastingly tender vocals, reminiscent of the likes of Low or John Murry, while the title track, Hang Time, builds from a delightfully twanging opening guitar line, before taking a turn for the epic as soaring vocals, meet huge synths and pounding drum rhythms. The record is lifted throughout by some wonderful guest appearances, whether it’s Ella Williams, aka Squirrel Flower, who adds an uneasy quality to the brilliantly lullaby-like Bass Song or Common Holly’s Brigitte Naggar, who duets on the majestic, Dove. While it’s a record of so many wonderful highs, it’s hard to look past Cedric’s recent single, Allies, as a standout, a song that reflects on those who offer support and whether that is as genuine as it first appears. The song builds around a bombastic guitar-line as Cedric repeats the songs most telling line, “are you on my side”, before a snippet of a Malcolm X speech emerges, adorned with static and sound, before the noise resolves to the spoken-word conclusion, “we must understand the politics of our community”. The sense of action and tenderness is a constant theme through Hang Time, a record that seeks to ask the difficult questions, not shy away from them; it can be painful to open old wounds, yet sometimes it’s the only route forward, and that’s what Hang Time is, a giant leap forward for one of the planet’s most exciting musical voices.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Cedric Noel?
I’m a musician, collaborator, producer and bassist. I was born in Niger and am Belgian/Canadian and have lived in numerous places around the world but currently call Tio’tiá:ke/Montréal, Canada home.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I think my first real show was at the beginning of my first year of university in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The bands were Two Hours Traffic and Sleepless Nights. I remember picking up a couple of free CD samplers from Forward Music Group at the merch table. Those CDs introduced me to a ton of great music from Atlantic Canada. Eleven years later Forward Music Group is one of my labels, ha!
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I make music because it’s fun! Also because I am constantly hearing it in my head so writing songs and instrumental pieces feels necessary to me. That being said, I also think up movie scenes and comedic bits in my head so maybe I’ll start making different kinds of art too. 🙂
FTR: What can people expect from the Cedric Noel live show?
Each show is different, I rarely play the same set twice, a song the same or have the same setup. I usually like to play some songs with words, some instrumental pieces and leave a good amount of room for improvisation. I hope people can expect to feel a sense of closeness and community with those around them. I always think of shows as a place for ultimate comfort, intimacy and understanding. For me that tends to foster a better sense of honesty from both the performer and the audience. Musically my live show has changed in the past couple years so I’m sure that will shift the vibe too. We’ll have to see, I’m still learning and adjusting, lots to get acquainted with I suppose.
FTR: What’s next for Cedric Noel?
I’m releasing a new album ‘Hang Time‘ in November. After that I hope to tour as much as is possible. I’ll also be playing guitar in my friend’s band Le Ren and I’m sure I’ll get roped into some other collaborations as well. 🙂 Otherwise, I’m spending the fall putting the final touches on the follow-up to ‘Hang Time’ and figuring out what to take on next after that.
They Listen To…
Thanya Iyer – I Forget To Drink Water (Balance)
Martina Lussi – Care
Haru Nemuri – Trust Nothing But Love
BIG|BRAVE – Half Breed
SUUNS – Third Stream
Hang Time is out November 12th via Forward Music Group / Joyful Noise Recordings. For more information on Cedric Noel visit https://cedricnoel.tumblr.com/.