“I don’t see myself as a tyrant. Benevolent dictator is more like it.” That’s how Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras describes his role as the band’s leader and founder.

Since forming the band in 2001, Gibb has been known as a meticulous collaborator who’s had any number of artists and musicians add to his ornate musical tapestry.

The way he sees it, everyone he works with has a sense of what it takes to be a Hidden Camera. “I do have specific ideas about the production and proliferation of my music, but anyone involved knows and respects that,” adds Gibb. “There is no creative struggle with anyone in the band — except maybe myself. So when we come together people are happy and expecting some direction from me.”

On the fifth Hidden Cameras full-length album, Gibb and his current cast of contributors have shaken up the foundation of their trademark orchestral pop. While he says that the album wasn’t recorded “any differently than other albums,” Origin:Orphan marks a significant shift in the band’s sound beginning with the extended hum that opens first track Ratify the New.

“I think there is a diversity of tone and mood that has yet to appear on previous records,” Gibb explains. “There are some dark moments, some eastern flavour, the feeling of a journey. I wanted to let each song develop on their own.”

Gibb says this was a result of acting more on impulse instead of laying it all out in advance. “This record was a lot less premeditated then past records. I didn’t start at a certain point with a specific plan.”

This spontaneity allowed The Hidden Cameras to take chances with some of the creative decisions. Although the hooks and harmonies are still alive and well, the title track, for instance, has much in common with the brooding electronic rock of latter day Depeche Mode, and the synthesized Underage takes its cue from the trendy Afro-pop influence of Paul Simon’s Graceland.

For Gibb, it was all a matter of self-gratification. “The record simply reflects my tastes in music,” he says. “I love drones, I love fat horns, I love catchy guitar hooks, I love repetition and its subsequent variation, I love synths, I love guitar feedback. There is no struggle to balance anything.”

As for whether Origin:Orphan will resonate with those who aren’t already part of his flock, Gibb says he isn’t losing sleep over it. “I would love this record to find a new audience, but I certainly do not sit in the studio dreaming of how to do that,” he says. “The music needs to please me and appeal to my senses and be honest before I can think about anything else.”

The Hidden Cameras play

Goodhandy’s in Toronto tomorrow. The only way to get a ticket is to purchase a copy of the album at GalleryAC or at Rotate This, Soundscapes or Criminal Records.

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