A Stare Ajar
To capture this feverish sound on their debut LP, A Stare Ajar, WHIMM tapped producer Dean Tzenos, mastermind of abrasive industrial punks Odonis Odonis. The album’s 9 tracks were obsessively refined over several months both onstage and in their garage rehearsal space, yet the band purposefully limited recording sessions to two rapid-fire days with engineer Ian Gomes at Toronto’s Union Sound (Fucked Up, METZ, Greys).
While bottling the band’s frantic energy, A Stare Ajar adds new dimensions to WHIMM’s musical landscape, expanding their instrumental palette with violin, piano, and cello from members of Toronto groups HSY, Scott Hardware, and visual artist Olenka Syzmonski. The album draws on influences ranging from Southern Gothic country, as heard on cinematic opener “Ember in the Wheat”, to the uncompromising experimentation of late period Scott Walker.
Lyrically, A Stare Ajar is refracted through multiple fields of vision, gazing at a splintered world through the eyes of the displaced. Perspectives range from an immigrant office worker forced to assimilate to their environment ("Ushers") to the H.P. Lovecraft-ian title track's haunted soul struck and captured by horrific apparitions. Chami penned these character studies while pulling from the stories of his family and his own experiences as a Palestinian living in Canada, wrestling with internal conflicts.
“I think about being part of a diaspora constantly,” says Chami. “Between the home where I’ve been raised and what that demands, and what society and my friendships demand, where do I fit in? How do I stop feeling strange in these environments? I exist in both of them but I don’t really understand how.”