OMBIIGIZI – pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY, meaning this is noisy – is a collaboration between Zoon (Daniel Monkman) and Status/Non Status (Adam Sturgeon), Anishnaabe artists who explore their cultural histories through sound. Their music together is a rumination on family, a celebration and holistic cleansing, with a strong sense of unity and loving support. An amalgam of their Indigenous heritages and personal musical architectures, Daniel and Adam imbue their lyrics with their families’ storytelling, revealing truths and finding common ground amidst their differences. The debut album, entitled Sewn Back Together, is a fusion of individuality – a reflection on Adam and Daniel’s commitment to each other as collaborators and distinct members of community.
The first single, “Residential Military,” is guttural and unadorned: swirling art rock a la Murray Street era Sonic Youth that ambles from brash, kinetic verses, to bursts of radiant liquid melody in the choruses. “Birch bark canoe paddles onto the freeway / No turn signal, how to switch lanes?” A story of Adam’s desire to connect traditions in a modern world, the song responds to Canada’s current reckoning with its history of military industrial and residential school systems by introducing a concept that Adam describes as Indigenous Futurisms – “finding the past to picture a future which is not always so easy here and now.” Summoning life and creation in place of anguish, “Residential Military” is a clash of catharsis, and a resonant image of personal reconciliation, interpreted live and in the moment.
Putting aside the tonal nuances of their previous work as Zoon and Status / Non Status (formerly known as WHOOP-Szo), OMBIIGIZI strips back the waves of distortion to reveal themselves, their voices, writing and improvising for the sake of the song. The family on Sewn Back Together includes Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene on production and The Bathouse Studio’s Nyles Spencer engineering. Recorded there in fast and intentional sessions during the summer of 2021, Drew and Spencer helped steer this collision of divergent artists into some glorious sonic territory steeped in shoegaze, dream pop, anthemic rock, Chicago post-rock, and 2nd wave emo. While not always getting to play and perform alongside other members of their community, OMBIIGIZI is a coming together – Sewn Back Together is a resounding statement shaped by healing and the guidance of culture.