Evan J Cartwright

bit by bit (Idée Fixe)

Contact Patrick Tilley about Evan J Cartwright

Evan J Cartwright, Toronto’s go-to drummer/collaborator for acts such as The Weather Station, U.S. Girls, and Brodie West, shares the next single/video, “impossibly blue,” from his new album, bit by bit, out April 15th on Idée Fixe Records.

Throughout bit by bit Cartwright drops staggering revelations hiding in plain prose that often involve the contemplation of time. Nearing the album’s end he opens “impossibly blue” with the phrase “the impossible truth of time,” playfully inserting a pregnant pause before the word time. A drummer’s fixation, to be certain, the album’s recurring theme of time is eclipsed only by Cartwright’s contemplation of human relationships.


In the video for ‘impossibly blue,’ I wanted to visualize two radically different senses of time,” explains Cartwright. “The rope jumper experiences time in the physical, embodied sense, feeling it in equal intervals as movement – jumping, then landing. The montage of symbols presents an entire history’s worth of time instantaneously. The idea is that the viewer will experience more time per second when they look at the passing images than when they look at the rope jumper.”


Self-produced by Cartwright, bit by bit presents a highly singular songwriting vision that combines existential lyrics with masterful musicianship. Steeped in jazz melodicism, Cartwright’s trumpet-like phrasing mixed with contemporary composition presents an eclectic art song performed by an artist that could perhaps be best described as a post-modern Chet Baker. Deep poetic observations on love and time paint an affecting picture of an artist reflecting on life’s universal truths.


Visual in nature, bit by bit places its audience within a world of musical leitmotifs extracted from field recordings of bells and birdsong. Collected during years of touring, these sounds evoke extant spaces beyond that which the music inhabits. The use of this source material in its unaltered form evokes the feeling of a technicolor European film at one moment and then, as the extrapolated melodies are meticulously translated into electronic tone bank sequences, a modernist setting the next. There is seldom a clear demarcation of where one piece ends and another begins and when this does occur, it is done crudely, as if someone is flipping through a series of broadcasted channels. At times words are sliced right out of their lines and replaced by pure tones. This is both a comical interpretation of censorship and a reminder that there are things in life that will forever remain unseen and illegible. In fact, this statement lies at the center of the album and although hidden beauty does reveal itself through repeated listenings, bit by bit’s eccentric world remains just out of reach — an imaginary second story room viewed from a crowded city street.