Departures Revisited

By Aaron Levin

Weird Canada
Weird Canada

Departures was a radio program hosted by Marcel Dion on CJSR FM 88.5 in Edmonton, Alberta between 1978 and 1991. The program, highly inspired by the legendary Alien Soundtracks program on Vancouver’s Co-op Radio, contained a diverse mix of vintage and new-at-the-time left-field and fringe music and was the first and only of its kind in Alberta. On top of curating a weekly program, Dion helped found the Borealis Electroacoustic Music Society (BEAMS) and released one or two compilations of avant-garde music in Alberta. Departures Revisited is a column we are syndicating from the Weird Canada website, which is inspired and dedicated to Dion’s early efforts at establishing Alberta and Canada’s weird musics. Thank you, Marcel! You can find the original entries of these reviews, complete with streams of the recordings discussed, at

Fraser & Debolt
Fraser & Debolt with Ian Guenther
(Columbia) // ??, ON // Originally Released: 1972

For an unassuming pair of country-folk dreamers, Allan Fraser and Daisy Debolt’s debut resonates with a “wyld” collection of weirdos: hard-core psych-folk collectors, county-fair folk-fest burn-outs, cowboy junkers and record store braggarts alike. For years I’ve marveled over the LP and its audience without resolution. It could be the innocently tuneless harmonies, the dissonant acoustic jangle or their harrowing explorations into freak-folk. But it’s the songwriting that gets me every time; dualic weaves of fringe rurality; a surrealist vision of Canada rooted in the warm waters of Ontario; and a haunting, minor-key acoustic delirium irrigated with country ballads and freak-folk shreddery. You’ll never understand it, but eventually it’ll happen. I’ve never been wrong with this one. Top 10 dead or alive LP. They do a devastating cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” with an alternate take on the American promo 45. Surprisingly not very rare in Western Canada.

The Ugly Ducklings
Nothin’ b/w I Can Tell
(Yorktown Records) // Toronto, ON // Originally Released: 1966

Thee quintessential garage-punk single. Much has already been written about this snarly five-piece from the centre of the world, so I’ll let the wild guitar tones and hurling vocals do the screaming. Aspiring youngsters: take note. The black-label, silver-letter variant [redrawn] above is the first pressing. The Classic Yorktown colour-label indicates a second pressing. Their LP Somewhere Outside is also highly recommended. It really doesn’t get better than this.