Maartin Bayliss’ Wolf Thief EP is an album that challenges both alternative and electro expectations to create a sound that is entirely new.

Bayliss, who is from Nanaimo, has been involved in many different musical groups, and has pursued several different genres in his musical career—he played in Nanaimo-based punk band The 80th Action, recorded electro-albums under various names, and released a solo album titled The Things I Could’ve Said in Apr. 2012. Wolf Thief EP is his first, self-titled release under the title of his latest electronic endeavour.

Citing influences such as Radiohead, Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, and Battles, Bayliss’ Wolf Thief EP works to combine and contrast keyboard, guitar, vocals, and electronic beat to develop a unique and variant sound. The three-track album begins with “Harps,” a keyboard-heavy track that begins by looping layered sequences of notes with Bayliss’ deep and steady vocals. The tempo builds with the introduction of an electronic beat, and this pace is maintained, strengthened and then softened with the shift into a melodic, dreamy piano sequence. The track exits on a gentle note, with the fading of Bayliss’ vocals and a shimmery electro-beat.

The second track on the EP, “Paper Stains,” begins with ringing, concise beats, along with clear, sharp notes on the keyboard, creating an impression that is reminiscent of the push-button sound of The Postal Service. The build-up of these alternating sounds is accompanied by Bayliss’ vocals, at first subtle, and then increasingly harsh and grating against the upbeat electro, a shift that is suited to his lyrics (“I should do so many things but I can’t do any of them/ I can’t choose one of them”). The piano builds with the intensity of the track, and a guitar riff is introduced at the climax before the tension is cut and soft piano and vocals guide the track through a thoughtful sequence, to close with layers of electronic and guitar beats.

The final song on Wolf Thief EP, “Sound Tower,” is perhaps the most turbulent. The track begins with curious and inquisitive electronic pacing that sounds like bubbles. They keyboard comes in once again to join the electro with a deep, resonating sequence. Once this pairing has been established, the pace shifts into a steady, scratchy electro tempo, and, together with Bayliss’ steady vocals and the original introductory pacing, “Sound Tower” creates what the title suggests—a build and balance of a variation of sound.

Wolf Thief EP is not an album for easy listening, but rather a collection of songs that should be approached with insight as well as willingness to experience carefully crafted and imaginative music. It is an artistic and experimental collaboration of musical influence and presentation—in each track, Bayliss explores instrumental boundaries and pairings, and succeeds in making an individualistic comment on the possibilities of tempo, repetition, and mood. The three songs Wolf Thief EP work together to offer listeners a journey outside the borders of conventional musical expectations and into the depths of Bayliss’ creative mind.

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