Sing Leaf — Remote Motel

Jasper Willems
3 min readApr 9, 2024


The music of Sing Leaf — the project founded by Canadian artist David Como — often unfolds like fortuitous mementos sent by past selves. “I’ll usually write little ideas with nothing in particular in mind. And down the line, it’ll end up somewhere on a hard drive. Then when I find them maybe a year or two later, and they’ll suddenly mean something. So it’s almost as if I’m leaving notes for myself.” Having maintained a prolific recording output since the mid-to-late 2000s, Como’s work manifests like reverie-like apparitions of his deepest interests. The brilliant Shu Ra cherry-picked global and local sounds with quizzical melancholy, whereas Not Earth nosedived into the cosmic and otherworldly.

Unlike its predecessors, Sing Leaf’s new album Remote Motel — out August 18, 2023 via Tin Angel Records — takes Como to more grounded, earthbound places, capturing a rather drastic turn of events in his personal life. He moved from longtime base of operations Toronto to the sleepy community of Madoc, Ontario, into a 140 year old house. “The town lies at what’s called the Canadian Shield, where the bedrock is very close to the surface. So, you know, it’s like the innards of the earth poke out from the ground. They blast the solid rock with dynamite to put the roads through. So you’re essentially driving through these blown out bits of rock and it’s kind of swampy up there. It’s long outstretched nature and with these little pockets of humanity.. It’s a very cool place to live.”

“Out here like it’s all these towns around here were once gold towns. So when the goldrush hit, they were booming way back in the day in the 1800s. Everyone was here, they’re all there’s mines everywhere. They dug them up and then, as soon as the mines went dry, everybody left. So that’s when the towns died off. So because of that when you go driving you encounter old buildings, banks and stuff that have just been empty for like 150 years. Lots of open graveyards, big empty mines and things like that. So the weight of the 19th century kind of hangs over everything here. Which is really interesting.”

Though Como may not have been aware of it when recording Remote Motel, the music does aptly reconcile the extremes of his virgin surroundings: liminal spaces where everyone knows one each on a first name basis, but also immense canyons where lawlessness and mystery runs rife. Haunting ambient meditations such as “Highway Breath Control” and “Cold Peace Meditation” summon that daunting feeling of following a solitary path through the unruly wilderness and forgotten avenues. “There is a little menace underneath all that cuteness and quaintness of Small Town Living. But then as you get out into the woods, there is some weird creepiness and strangeness which as you say this implied sort of violence. Lots of hunting, and people disappearing.”

Though shapeless and structureless, the aforementioned “Cold Peace Meditation” suggests hints of human civilization, accentuated by Mika Posen’s warm violin flourishes. More ominous field recordings were made by William Cabana-Marshall near Nunavut, where an unkindness of ravens lurks near a frozen lake. Opening cut “Highway Breath Control” takes on more benevolent tonalities — including soft murmuring flute textures by Hannah Rahimi — capturing that strange daze the mind drifts into when accustomed to long drives through distant lands.

Between all these rocks and hard places, Como stumbles upon spare glints of glory and prosperity, small victories that parade within Remote Motel’s more conventionally-structured songs. Sounding like a battle-worn Chad Vangaalen, “Didn’t You, Didn’t I” recounts pocket-sized blessings and sweet illuminations amidst the misty trails, bookending a raw phone recording with a warm smattering of applause. The lurching space-age strummer “Blizzard Island” harnesses a memory from the childhood tv show of the same name. The warped juke joint jubilee of “Green Light Red” presents the album’s roll-of-the-credits moment; where inner anxiety gradually morphs into an exultant, stargazing levity.

Remote Motel snapshots the soul search of an artist who’s perpetually content with blindsiding himself, letting his pet idiosycrasies revitalise the more traditional influences — name dropping the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings. It’s lifeguard music, almost composed like a disappearing breadcrumb trail, expressing the barren unease and anxiety of the dark unknowns. And just as the eyes adjust, Sing Leaf ascertains those elusive, alleviating light sources all the same. Back home and back into the unknown.

  • Jasper Willems