One of the greatest things about music is that there is always something new to be discovered. Out of nowhere you will come across an unfamiliar band, and from there your world will forever be changed. The band that has most recently captured my full attention is Until the Ribbon Breaks, a trio from Cardiff, Wales, featuring front man Pete Lawrie Winfield (lead vocals, synthesizers, trumpet, electric guitar, programming, and electronic percussion), Elliot Wall (drums), and James Gordon (backing vocals, keys, percussion, and programming). Just over a month ago, along with my good friend Anna, I got to see them open for electro-pop powerhouse London Grammar at the Olympia Theatre in downtown Montreal. About fifteen seconds into their set, I knew I needed to know more about this band.
Until the Ribbon Breaks, originally a solo endeavour, was initiated in 2012 by Winfield during his time at university where he studied film. As an experimental project, Winfield set out to write new musical scores for existing films. The element of film and the importance of its connection to the music has been maintained by Winfield throughout the history and evolution of Until the Ribbon Breaks, and it is now an integral part of their live show.
Eventually, in 2013, Winfield set out to record an album of music inspired by film. Once Wall and Gordon were on board with the project, the guys entered the studio, immersing themselves into the creative process with only a film projector, a microphone, an electronic drum machine, and a piano. Winfield would project films on the wall during this time and with the sound turned off, he would compose music to the visuals from the movies.
While working to complete their debut album, the band released numerous “reimaginations” of popular songs such as “Royals” by Lorde, “Nirvana” by Sam Smith, and “Sights” by London Grammar. Their work “caused frenzy amongst the blogosphere,” even catching the attention of organizations such as the BBC and NPR. The band even participated in a number of sold out tours, opening for the likes of Lorde, Phantogram, and Delorean.
On the 20th of January, 2015, Until the Ribbon Breaks released their debut full-length album – A Lesson Unlearnt. Having had this album on repeat since the day after the London Grammar gig, I can say that it is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. I was hoping that the magic of their live show and the energy displayed the night of the 23rd of January could be found again in listening to the album, and I was not disappointed. The complexity of the songwriting, the haunting nature of the lyrics, and the twists and turns in each song make them completely unpredictable. I am getting chills just thinking about it, and that’s not because I am slightly feverish and feeling a bit under the weather. According to the band’s biography on their Facebook page, the album is comprised of songs that fall under the categories of “mesmeric, dark apocalyptic pop” mixed with “infectious ‘avant RnB’.” While the genre of the band’s music may be hard to put into words, it is perhaps best described like this: it is simply Until the Ribbon Breaks.
Given the momentum the band has had since its inception in 2012 and the positive feedback from concert-goers and reviewers of the album alike, it is clear that Until the Ribbon Breaks is headed in the right direction. 2015 could very well be their year, and this isn’t the last we will be hearing from them.
Written by Victoria Rae
Photos Courtesy of Jesse DeFlorio