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When Particles Collide return with challenging Ecotone'

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When Particles Collide return with challenging Ecotone' (Photo by Cait Bourgault)

When Particles Collide has been called the hardest working rock duo in New England' and there is certainly evidence to back that claim. The pair has returned with their seventh disc in five years and a packed summer tour schedule to support it.

Since 2012, When Particles Collide has built a fan-base the old-fashioned way: By (almost literally) working their butts off.

WPC is Sasha Alcott (guitars, bass, lead vocals) and Chris Viner (drums, vocals), a duo committed to doing whatever it takes to expand their territory and reach as many fans as possible, as evidenced by the number of shows locked in for their eleven week summer tour.

'Ecotone' is the duo's new release on their label, Unstoppable Rock Records. Billed as a 'unique collaborative album' in the album's press release, Alcott and Viner presented themselves with a unique challenge: Ask four friends and band leaders across the country to each tackle a new WPC track and work directly with the duo on the song from the demo stage to the finished recording.

As respected friends wore producer shoes for the new songs, When Particles Collide say they were pushed into new and sometimes uncomfortable territory. For the first time, they forced themselves into giving up some of the creative control over their music.

The recorded results are impressive. Each of the four new (and very different) songs offers further proof that When Particles Collide is not content to be pigeonholed in terms of style, content or identity.

On 'Fight' - WPC is joined by collaborators and guest producers Jende la Osa and Henry Beguristain from Boston-based band Aloud. The song begins with an infectious groove and backing vocals reminiscent of the early to mid-60s Girl Group' sound before it rocks wide open.

For the second track 'Burn' - WPC collaborates with Ringo Jones from Cincinnati-based Mad Anthony. Guitars define the rhythm, melody and character of the song as Viner's drums stitch it together and Alcott's vocals fly overhead. The song also features a welcome surprise: strings! A classical string quartet adds color and texture to the track without suggesting anything syrupy. I would love to hear more examples of WPC working with strings or other instruments and players outside of their comfort zone.

Alcott and Viner have never been afraid to try something new. The third new track on 'Ecotone' is 'Give Up Enough,' a collaboration with Isaac vander Schuur from Lansing, MI-based The Hat Madder. The song is almost a 3 minute 37 second rock and roll fugue, with multiple sections intertwined.

The fourth and final new song on 'Ecotone' is 'You're My Home,' and it could be the best track WPC has laid down to date. Chris and Sasha collaborated with Nathan Zoob of Pittsburgh-based bands Wreck Loose and Zoob on this electrifying five minutes of tension and release.

In support of 'Ecotone,' When Particles Collide have booked a summer of shows in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina and Toronto, Ontario. New shows are added regularly at

WPC met their self-imposed challenge for 'Ecotone' head on. It should be seen as a template for other bands to similarly commission themselves into pushing their music to a new place.

'Ecotone' is available for streaming and download, on CD as a double release with their sold-out 2015 Bangor-themed EP 'This Town' and on vinyl (also as a double release).

('The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth) and WAEI AM 910.)


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