Monday, March 30, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #90

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.


Gig of the week:

Feast in the East 47 (feat. Picastro / Charles Spearin's Roadside Silhouettes / Isla Craig / A. Minster) / Jam Factory 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

Not so much of a rager at this month's mellower feast, but you can expect to see a tour-sharpened Picastro, a new improvising ensemble from Charlie Spearin, as well as some new tunes from Isla Craig.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Gord Mowat's Skeleton Crew / The Emmet Ray 2015-04-30 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Doug Tielli and special guests / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-31 (Tuesday – early!)

Wolfshirt Presents (feat. Personal Data / Hallowed Bells / Spookyfish / Know Itself) / Magpie Taproom 2015-03-31 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Just a Shot Away: Optical Sounds Benefit Show for War Child Canada (feat. B-17 / The Auras / Prince Ness) / The Garrison 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Do Make Say Think [20th anniversary show!] (Darlene Shrugg) / Lee's Palace 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Mystic Triangle (Holiday Rambler / We Are Not Who We Are) / Saving Gigi 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Shawn William Clarke (Jos Fortin / Matthew Oomen) / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Clara Engel (A. Minster) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wand (Heaters / The Saffron Sect) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-03 (Friday) [FB event]

Praises [solo project of Beliefs co-founder Jesse Crowe] (Dumb Angel / The Skeletones Four) / Smiling Buddha 2015-04-03 (Friday) [FB event]

Little Spoon (Couples Counseling / Dohn Valley / Blunt Chunks) / 8-Eleven 2015-04-03 (Friday) [FB event]

Pleine Lune Afternoon (Sasha Chapin / Blunt Chunks / Allie Babiak) / Nowhere Gallery 2015-04-04 (Saturday – afternoon show! PWYC!) [FB event]

Doomsquad (Phèdre / Tenderness) / Double Double Land 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

Alpha Strategy (New Horizzzons / Badminton Raquet / Connoisseurs Of Porn / Zack Kouns) / Smiling Buddha 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

No Angels Dancing / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-05 (Sunday – afternoon show! 1 to 3 p.m.!)

Nite Comfort 20 (feat. I Am Robot And Proud / dreamSTATE) / Handlebar 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

Crofts/Adams/Pearse/Hemingway / The Rex 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

Boogie Blobs 3: Electric Easter Egg Hunt (feat. Matthew Miller/Matt McLaren/Joseph Shabason/Mike Smith) / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. Advertising / Tofu Stravinsky / AC) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

sLAB [Mike Daley/Dean Drouillard/Russell Gray/Nick Ilic – "quadrophonic electric guitar drones"] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-07 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Ok Vancouver Ok (KMVP / Village / Different Skeletons) / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-10 (Friday) [FB event]

Saint Dirt Elementary School (Dr. Realist's Comeback / The Woodshed Orchestra) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-10 (Friday – early + late!) [FB event]

The Big Sound / The Mod Club 2015-04-10 (Friday) [FB event]

Somewhere There Presents: The Second Sunday of April (feat. Amy Brandon / FASTER) / Array Space 2015-04-12 (Sunday) [FB event]

Steam Whistle Unsigned (feat. Dilly Dally / Teenanger / Most People) / Steam Whistle Brewing 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (Not Of [record release!] / Nice Head) / Magpie Taproom 2015-04-18 (Saturday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #29.2 (feat. John Oswald/John Kamevaar/Germaine Liu / Michael Snow/Paul Dutton/Glen Hall/Mani Mazinani / CCMC) / Array Space 2015-04-19 (Sunday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. I Smell Blood / Whoop-Szo / Pants and Tie / Pubefloral) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Elsa [EP Release!] (Darlene Shrugg / Wish / Sahara) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2015-04-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Golden Dogs (Wax Atlantic / Television Rd.) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crosswires (feat. Purple Hill / Baa / Snacks / Jim Storie Juniors) / Handlebar 2015-04-26 (Sunday) [FB event]

Föllakzoid (Doomsquad) / Smiling Buddha 2015-05-15 (Friday) [FB event]

21C Music Festival: Illusions (feat. Gryphon Trio / Ensemble contemporain de Montréal) ["an epic multimedia work... comprised of three new pieces by Canadian composers Nicole Lizée, Gabriel Dharmoo, and Simon Martin, interspersed with one of the great 20th century trios by Charles Ives"] / Koerner Hall 2015-05-22 (Friday) [more info]

21C Music Festival: Cinq à Sept (feat. The Visit) / Conservatory Theatre 2015-05-23 (Saturday &nsash; early! 5 p.m.) [more info]

21C Music Festival: Spin Cycle (feat. Afiara Quartet / Skratch Bastid) [four new quartets, remixes and responses] / Mazzoleni Concert Hall 2015-05-23 (Saturday) [more info]

King Sunny Adé / Lee's Palace 2015-06-29 (Monday) [FB event]

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Recording: The Queer Songbook Orchestra

Artist: The Queer Songbook Orchestra

Songs: Telstar [The Tornados cover, arrangement by Ford Pier] + Don't You Pay Them No Mind (feat. Georgie Gordon) [Nina Simone cover, arrangement by Christian Overton]

Recorded at Church of the Holy Trinity ("Songs of Resilience"), March 26, 2015.

The Queer Songbook Orchestra - Telstar

The Queer Songbook Orchestra - Don't You Pay Them No Mind

Although it contains a number of fabulous musicians1, the Queer Songbook Orchestra is more than just a band — it's as much an archival project and a community resource, "taking a look back at the history of popular music with the queer lens intact, and revealing the backstories and personal narratives behind much of the last century's popular songs". The songs are often presented with stories — stories of composers and musicians who had to encode their true meanings and stories of listeners who found empowerment through music.

The two songs here (from a phenomenal night filled with them) hint at both of those: "Telstar" shifts the song from poppy ebullience to a lament for composer/producer Joe Meek, whose queerness intensified his isolation in postwar Britain, while Geordie Gordon (of Guelph disco-rockers The Magic) sang a Nina Simone song that gave him strength. These two songs also showcase the band's musical ambition, as they've commissioned forward-looking arrangements for the songs that eschew good-time karaoke-style covers.

There's a lot of praise due to Shaun Brodie (known for his work in The Hidden Camera, Evening Hymns, plus heaps of live + session work with many Can-indie luminaries), who shepherded this project, and mention has to be made of Sean Frey and Amy Siegel, whose live projections added even more emotional heft to the music. Keep an eye out for the QSO's next presentation (June 21st at Buddies in Bad Times), which will celebrate the life and work of Duke Ellington sideman and great composer Billy Strayhorn.


1 On this night the band was: Sienna Dahlen (vocals), Alex Samaras (vocals), Simone Schmidt (vocals), Gary Beals (vocals), Geordie Gordon (vocals), Jennifer Burford (violin), Evan Lamberton (cello), Lief Mosbaugh (oboe/english horn/vocals), Mara Pellerin (french horn), Shaun Brodie (trumpet/flugelhorn), Ghislain Aucoin (piano/vocals), Jordan Howard (guitar), Andrew Downing (double bass), Stefan Schneider (drums).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Recording: Pendrith Trio

Artist: Pendrith Trio

Songs: Mem + Leaht

Recorded at The Emmet Ray, March 23, 2015.

Pendrith Trio - Mem

Pendrith Trio - Leaht

The early Monday slot at The Emmet Ray offers frequent rewards those willing to head out at the start of the week. This night saw drummer Noah Sherman in action with a trio that included Christian Brown (sax) and Dave Haskett (double bass). They mostly tackled a variety of standards over two sets, but this pair of Sherman's originals were perhaps the most interesting sounds on offer. Originally composed for his avant-klezmer Fortet, there's a pleasingly slinky groove at play here. [you can hear "Mem" and a couple others on a tasty recording on Sherman's bandcamp.]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Recording: Jonathan Adjemian

Artist: Jonathan Adjemian

Song: Dry Reciprocity [excerpt]

Recorded at The Music Gallery ("Emergents III"), March 19, 2015.

Jonathan Adjemian - Dry Reciprocity [excerpt]

The opening half of this Christopher Willes-curated "Emergents" night once again saw the idea of traditional composition being pushed against with Geoff Mullen's site-specific work hovering over the borderlands between composition and sound art. Footsteps on the creaky floor and distorted, ghostly music one room away gave the audience an opportunity to confront sound in a different way within the sanctuary (although there was no break for snacks this time 'round).

In the night's second half, Jonathan Adjemian brought what might be his most formally rigourous work to date with "Dry Reciprocity", a forty-minute piece arranged for drones and human breath. The latter was provided by narration, singing voice and wind instruments by Bojana Stancic, Isla Craig, Heather Segger and Kyle Brenders. There was definite room for improvisation by the performers, but situated in a framework of dronepulse and narration for them to work within. With the performers gathered to face each other in a small circle in front of the audience, the piece felt like a pulse generator of some half-hidden message, hope being broadcast in the sinewaves' subcarrier frequency.

Recording: University of Toronto Undergraduate Horn Blow Ensemble

Artist: University of Toronto Undergraduate Horn Blow Ensemble

Song: [edited excerpt]

Recorded on King's College Circle, outside the office of the University of Toronto Vice-President & Provost's office, March 19, 2015.

University of Toronto Undergraduate Horn Blow Ensemble - [edited excerpt]

Over the past couple decades, our society has been slowly transforming into something less fair and equal than the image of it we hold in our minds. Wealth has been redistributed upwards by small increments, and in the short term it never has to look as if the powers-that-be are aligning themselves with mounting inequality. This process has been unfolding in Canada's universities since the 90's, with a steady progression of tuition increases accompanying a shift in the structure of the teaching corps that has seen full-time, tenured faculty increasingly replaced by short-term contract teachers. This season's near-simultaneous strikes at York and University of Toronto arise not only out of specific grievances on how money is allocated, but as a cry of "enough" at a system that is now fundamentally unfair and nearly at its breaking point.

Strikes have come and gone, but there was a sense that this year's reached people outside the academy in a different way. Perhaps it's just that precarious employment has diffused through the broader workforce to such an extent that the members of CUPE 3902 and 3903 seem more like insecurity-surfing fellow-travellers and less like ivory-tower bellyachers. In any case, I was glad to have been put in touch with this group of U of T music undergrads who decided to show their support for striking grad students in their faculty with some good-old grassroots action.

Instruments in hand, they congregated outside the office of the Vice-President & Provost and held a "horn blow", disrupting the status quo with some joyful gusting blasts. It sounded somewhere between a drunken marching band and someone (who'd only heard of it in a disparaging comment in an old Down Beat magazine) attempting to recreate Ayler's "Spirits Rejoice". Which is to say, a bit of a sonic jumble, but actually a surprisingly pleasing one. But more powerful than the musical effect was the feeling of voices being raised together. Congratulations to these polite sonic revolutionaries — I hope they felt a little freer afterwards, with a sense that it's not so hard to make some noise for a good cause once you take that first step. With the way things are going, we're going to need the likes of them finding their voices to speak up a lot more yet.

[As of this writing, CUPE 3902, Unit I voted to accept an offer of binding mediation to end the strike. Like this music, their jumbled voices managed to find and hold a ragged note of solidarity.]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recording: Cole/Fisher/Valdivia

Artist: Josh Cole/Colin Fisher/Brandon Valdivia

Song: [set 1, first piece, in three parts]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), March 18, 2015.

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part I]

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part II]

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part III]

Although it seems like an obvious combination of talents — and they certainly have come partially together in other contexts — this was actually the first time that these three musicians had played together as a trio. As heard here at the outset, Josh Cole's double bass acted as a bit of a grounding beacon for Not The Wind, Not The Flag's high-flying sorties, rendering their work as something closer to straight-ahead jazz then you would normally hear from them. Further exploration took things further afield, however, especially in the second set which saw Colin Fisher switching over to guitar. A pretty remarkable outing — tough to believe this was a first-time thing, unthinkable to consider it could be the last.

Recording: Isla Craig

Artist: Isla Craig

Song: Follow Your Heart

Recorded at The Tranzac – Southern Cross Lounge ("Piano Party 2"), March 18, 2015.

Isla Craig - Follow Your Heart

This "piano party", put together by Jonathan Adjemian, saw two musicians with very different approaches take to the Southern Cross' upright. Isla Craig — who's lately been unveiling some new songs written on guitar — treated her piano set as a casual exercise, similar to the way that friends might have gathered 'round in a parlour a century ago to belt out familiar old chestnuts. After a couple more studied takes through songs from her "vocal" phase, things became increasingly relaxed, Craig tackling tunes as they popped into her mind, including some older songs of her own (both from her Continential Drift days, as well as her "Flute Song") plus a series of covers that included Chantal Kreviazuk, PJ Harvey, and a rousingly-heartfelt/gleefully-fragmented set-closing Tori Amos medley.

Recording: Ali Berkok

Artist: Ali Berkok

Song: Improvisation on Ligeti's "Cordes à vide"

Recorded at The Tranzac – Southern Cross Lounge ("Piano Party 2"), March 18, 2015.

Ali Berkok - Improvisation on Ligeti's "Cordes à vide"

This "piano party", put together by Jonathan Adjemian, saw two musicians with very different approaches take to the Southern Cross' upright. Ali Berkok (also of Aurochs and many other projects) led off, showing off his versatility with a series of improvisations and prepared pieces that ranged from Cole Porter riffs to this Satie-esque meditation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Recording: Aalborg Group

Artist: Aalborg Group / John Gregg & Tiina Kiik / Maxwell Boecker & William Davison

Songs: [excerpts from improved sets]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 28.3"), March 16, 2014.

Aalborg Group - [excerpt]

John Gregg & Tiina Kiik - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Maxwell Boecker & William Davison - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Aalborg Group (the Atlanta duo of drummer John Gregg and bassist Maxwell Boecker) look like they'd be right at home in a basement punk show, so it was interesting to see them arrive in Toronto to play an improvised music series. The duo play with a certain heaviness that their setup would imply, but without the power sauce or grind, there's room for them to explore in those grey areas between rock'n'roll jamming and free improvisation. (You can check out their tape on their bandcamp.)

In proper Audiopollination fashion, after they played a short set together, the pair were split up for sets with some local guests, with drummer Gregg playing with accordionist Tiina Kiik while bassist Boecker was matched with noise-generationist William Davison. Both of the guests ended up playing a bit of follow-the-leader with their experienced partners, but pulled off fully-satisfactory performances. Kudos to the band for letting themselves being tossed in the deep end in such a manner — I'd love to see more exploratory "rock" bands dare to take this sort of plunge. Kudos also to Audiopollination's Mike Lynn for curating a evening that was a bit outside the series' usual zone — caught between the cracks of scenes and genres, this gig deserved a bigger audience than it got.

[As is always the case, you can hear a full recording of the night's music in the Audiopollination archives.]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recording: Digits

Artist: Digits

Song: Where Do You Belong?

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Digits - Where Do You Belong?

The last act of the night was a late addition, with Digits playing a surprise tune-up gig before heading across to London for a prestige slot supporting Gary Numan. Of course, one suspects that the Royal Festival Hall would have a more elaborate sound system than Handlebar, with its crowdsourced sound-mixing. But performance-wise, it was a solid set from Alt Altman and Dan Miller. With nearly a year gone by since the release of the Day You Fight Back EP, the setlist was filled with reliable, time-tested material, so perhaps Altman's game plan here was to be ready to put his best forward forward at the big gig.

Recording: Kurt Marble

Artist: Kurt Marble

Songs: Replacement + So Long*

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Kurt Marble - Replacement

Kurt Marble - So Long

The six songs on the new tape being celebrated at this release show occupy a very tasty slice of '90's alt-rock nostalgia — but live, the band opened things up into big-league guitar anthems. Thanks there go to Most People's Paul McEachern, who got to tear and shred in a way that Most People's template doesn't usually allow. Add to that the eponymous frontman's shaggy charm and million-watt smile and this was a superior Rock Excursion.

[Kurt Marble will be playing alongside Champion Lover, The Two Koreas and Several Futures at The Magpie Taproom on Friday April 17th.]

* Thanks to Kurt for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: Germaphobes

Artist: Germaphobes

Song: Everybody Else

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Germaphobes - Everybody Else

This post-Gay project fronted by Neil Rankin and Paul Erlichman strips away some of that band's party-on-stage chaos vibe in favour of a more streamlined New Wave sound, but the no-time-for-tuning urgency is still joyfully intact.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #89

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.


Gig of the week:

Queer Songbook Orchestra Play Songs of Resilience / Church of the Holy Trinity 2015-03-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Just on the merit of the performers in this ten-piece pop orchestra (including Alex Samaras, Lief Mosbaugh, Shaun Brodie, Ghislain Aucoin, Dan Fortin and more) this would be worth seeing — and all the more with guest vocalists like Simone Schmidt and Geordie Gordon. But tapping into the group's mandate ("a living archive of songs that shape community") gives it even more power. A sort of musical equivalent to the Celluloid Closet, this performance is billed as "taking a look back at this history with the queer lens intact, revealing little known backstories and personal narratives". And add to that the august surroundings in the Church of the Holy Trinity, and this is simply not to be missed.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Pendrith Trio / The Emmet Ray 2015-03-23 (Monday) [more info]

Killer BOB (Processor / Lice) / Double Double Land 2015-03-24 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Etiquette [record release show!] (Programm / Year of Glad) / The Drake Underground 2015-03-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

HPR presents (feat. Mas Aya & New Chance) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Wavelength 653 (feat. Brian Borcherdt / Sean Paul / Slime / Toblerone Boys) / Ratio 2015-03-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Prince Nifty & friends / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-27 (Friday) [more info]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-27 (Friday)

Angela Lansbury: a jazz tribute (feat. Bobby Hsu and Alex Samaras) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-28 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Mexican Slang [single release show!] (The Ukiah Drag / Moss Lime) / S.H.I.B.G.B.'s 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Featurette (Deciduous / Tasha & The Sweet Talkers) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Tranz Defonce (White Van / Onfiilm / Rocket Parade) / Handlebar 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Milk Lines (PANIC) / 3030 2015-03-28 (Saturday – free!) [FB event]

LIDS [Telephone Explosion 7" release show!] (MIMICO / Fake Palms) / Double Double Land 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Gates (Hashed Out / Good People / IRN) / Soybomb 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

LOOM (Mekele / Beard Closet) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crosswires (feat. Paul-Julien Tanti / Faiyaz & the Wasted Chances / Ugly School / The Jim Storie Juniors / Handlebar 2015-03-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

King Weather / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-29 (Sunday)


Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

Wolfshirt Presents (feat. Personal Data / Hallowed Bells / Spookyfish / Know Itself) / Magpie Taproom 2015-03-31 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Shawn William Clarke (Jos Fortin / Matthew Oomen) / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Clara Engel (A. Minster) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wand (Heaters / The Saffron Sect) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-03 (Friday) [FB event]

Alpha Strategy (New Horizzzons / Badminton Raquet / Connoisseurs Of Porn / Zack Kouns) / Smiling Buddha 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crofts/Adams/Pearse/Hemingway / The Rex 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. Advertising / Tofu Stravinsky / AC) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

Track Could Bend #1 (feat. Allison Cameron / Michael Lynn & Michael Keith / Jesse James Laderoute) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-07 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Bernice (Omhouse) / Burdock Music Hall 2015-04-07 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-10 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Jon McKiel & Aaron Mangle (Stella Ella Ola / Marine Dreams / Joyful Talk) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-11 (Saturday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #29.1 (feat. Heidi Chan/Jamie Thompson / Brian Abbot/James Bailey / Kayla Milmine-Abbot/Conrad Gale / Tomasz Krakowiak/Holger Schoorl) / Array Space 2015-04-14 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-17 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Champion Lover (Several Futures / The Two Koreas / Kurt Marble) / Magpie Taproom 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Holy Oak's 6th Anniversary (feat. April Snow & The Musicologists [Thom Gill/Johnny Spence/Bram Gielen/Kieran Adams] / "secret guest performance") / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-24 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wavelength #656 (feat. Peers / Daniel Isaiah / Mannerisms / Caylie Staples) / Monarch Tavern 2015-04-24 (Friday) [FB event]

DIΛNETICS IV (feat. Knurl / Ceramic TL / The Good Children / Broken Doll Factory) / 8-Eleven 2015-04-24 (Friday) [FB event]

C.R.E.A.M. Afternoon All Ages (feat. Ken Park / NOIA / Pantayo / Petra Glynt / Tonkapuma / VCR) / Double Double Land 2015-06-20 (Saturday – PWYC!) [FB event]

C.R.E.A.M. Afternoon All Ages (feat. DOOMSQUAD / HATAW / Hooded Fang / Ice Cream / Lido Pimienta / Moss Lime) / Double Double Land 2015-06-21 (Sunday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Wavelength 669 (feat. The Ex / Brodie West & Fleshtone Aura) / Hard Luck 2015-06-23 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recording: The Thing Is + GREX

Artist: The Thing Is + GREX (feat. Jane Bunnett)

Song: Borders of One*

Recorded at The Music Gallery, March 14, 2015.

The Thing Is + GREX - Borders of One

As the artist designation above implies, this performance was a collaborative affair, put together to present Tova Kardonne's "Lanka Suite", a set of compositions reflecting on her outsider's observations of a trip to Sri Lanka. The music has evolved for a while now (a streamlined version was workshopped a year ago), but this full-on presentation united two of Kardonne's projects, including The Thing is, her the large-format jazz ensemble as well as Alex Samaras' avant-vocal group GREX. The night also included some atmospheric, abstract visuals from Nilan Perera that evoked a sense of travel and elsewhereness. The net effect was to create a form of musical tourism that isn't reliant on mere appropriation — a reflection of Kardonne's experiences without a usurpation of Sri Lankan tropes.

* Thanks to Ali for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: Khôra

Artist: Khôra

Song: [excerpt]*

Recorded at The Music Gallery, March 14, 2015.

Khôra - [excerpt]

It was a fairly intense and enveloping experience to get to hear Matthew Ramolo's music in the Music Gallery's sanctuary. His word-melting visuals were a nice addition, but this was a good set to just close one's eyes and listen. Paying close attention also allowed a few interesting variations to come to the fore, including a percussive element, where Ramolo looped and processed some tapping on the body of his acoustic guitar until it appeared in the mix sounding almost like a tabla. A high synthesizer tone recalling a shehnai on top of that gave this one segment a faint taste of raga, and in this extract, a little bird-like chirp emerges from the sonic field to act as a bit of a guidepost.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recording: Vag Halen

Artist: Vag Halen

Song: Ace of Spades [Motörhead cover]

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Vag Halen - Ace of Spades

The feminist rawk re-appropriators in Vag Halen were the night's headliners, bringing the figurative thunder to shove away the last vestiges of winter. Fresh off a couple nights of Pixies covers, their setlist showed a bit of a slide towards more recent/less purely classic rock tunage (including Nirvana and Jane's Addiction), but to close things out, they still brought the big guns, ending with singer Vanessa Dunn leading a chant of "Fuck C-36!" before dropping the mic and leaving the stage. Next: spring.

Recording: Hank

Artist: Hank

Song: You Never Really Let Go Of The Past

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Hank - You Never Really Let Go Of The Past

One of the big non-musical attractions at this LW was a retrospective installation from storied record label/workers' collective Blocks, which has been winding down its affairs over the past few months. As a tie-in to that, Cab Williamson's croon/groove collective (who released a trio of albums on Blocks) took the main stage for a rare Toronto show. This new song from the group's forthcoming album perhaps best captured the mood of the Blocks celebration.

Recording: Not Of

Artist: Not Of

Song: Until It Stops

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Not Of - Until It Stops

This new-ish band's two members have a few songs up on their soundcloud, where they identify themselves as John Ex and Jason Seance. Savvy observers might connect the dots on seeing FAWN still stencilled on the amp cases and realize the guitarist is John Crossingham, formerly of Raising The Fawn and a one-time Broken Social Scenester. This project is a much more straightahead rock proposition, noisy guitar jams hinting that growing older sometimes means getting louder and sounding a little more pissed off.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Recording: Dirty Frigs

Artist: Dirty Frigs

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Dirty Frigs - unknown

The Conversation room was packed and throbbing by the time Dirty Frigs closed things out. This one feels a bit like Elastica being reinterpreted by a scuzzy bar band.

[You can catch Dirty Frigs next at The Silver Dollar on Friday, April 17th, co-headling with Montréal's Birds of Paradise plus Sunshine & The Blue Moon and Katelyn Molgard.]

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Several Futures

Artist: Several Futures

Song: Before You Forget*

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Several Futures - Before You Forget

This post-punk trio is pushing past the songs on their debut tape, with co-vocalists Jonny Dovercourt and Matt Nish-Lapidus working off each other in some more elaborate ways. This older crew (dare one say "grizzled veterans"?) also managed to hold the attention of the young crowd of the room, even in the spaces before the kinetic collisions where their songs simmer with patient potential energy.

[Several Futures will be playing alongside Champion Lover, The Two Koreas and Kurt Marble at The Magpie Taproom on Friday April 17th.]

* Thanks to Jonny for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: Pretty Boys

Artist: Pretty Boys

Song: Magic 8 Ball

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Pretty Boys - Magic 8 Ball

The bouncy hardcore quartet was new to me, but they got the night started with some buzzsaw energy. The vocalist (listed on their bandcamp solely as "Coach") waded into the crowd, catalyzing the crowd into some moshing action. With no let-up in the set, this was a rather impressive start to the night.

Recording: Alexis-Abrams/Yue/Fisher/Jones

Artist: Zoë Alexis-Abrams/Andy Yue/Colin Fisher/David Jones

Song: Underground Lake [musical excerpt]

Recorded at The Great Hall's Apartment ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Alexis-Abrams + Yue + Fisher + Jones - Underground Lake [musical excerpt]

I get so busy at Long Winter running from one stage to the other that I don't have nearly enough time to catch all the installations and other art, but I was determined to make at least a little time to head to the top floor apartment to catch Zoë Alexis-Abrams' "Underground Lake". The piece transformed the room (with Natalie Logan's installation work) for a work incorporating video projections and voice to create a re-telling of the myth of Persephone and Hekate journeying to Hades. There was also music provided by Andy Yue (keyb), Colin Fisher (sax), and David Jones (electronics) and this short sample gives a taste of the droney soundscapes they generated to soundtrack Persephone's quest.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Recording: Parmela Attariwala

Artist: Parmela Attariwala & Adele Armin / Parmela Attariwala/Branko Dzinovic/Robert Aitken / Parmela Attariwala/Jeff Burke/Casey Sokol / Parmela Attariwala + Shahriyar Jamshidi

Songs: [excerpts from improvisations]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 28.2"), March 10, 2015.

Parmela Attariwala & Adele Armin - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Attariwala-Dzinovic-Aitken - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Attariwala-Burke-Sokol - [edited excerpt from an improvisation]

Parmela Attariwala + Shahriyar Jamshidi - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This Audiopollination kept Parmela Attariwala busy all night long in four sets that saw her pitted against a variety of different sounds. A quiet duet with Adele Armin (violin) hinted at classical austerity, and a trio alongside Branko Dzinovic (accordion) and Robert Aitken (flute) felt like formalized fragments from a folksong, here being subverted by Attariwala skrtching at her strings with a block of styrofoam. Another trio with Casel Sokol (piano and prepared piano) and Jeff Burke (bassoon, theremin) took things on an abstract rocketship ride. A closing duet with Audiopollination favourite Shahriyar Jamshidi (kamanche) was a satisfying close to the night. Kudos once more to Audiopollination for putting such a wide range of sounds together.

[These field recordings, especially the first couple, are a little on the lo-fi side. You'll get a nicer sound if you check out the full recordings over at Audiopollination's bandcamp page.]

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Recording: Continuum Contemporary Music

Artist: Continuum Contemporary Music

Song: Red Ensign [excerpt]

Recorded at The Music Gallery ("30 More!"), March 8, 2015.

Continuum Contemporary Music - Red Ensign [excerpt]

Congratulations are due to local new music ensemble Continuum, celebrating their 30th anniversary at this concert. Befitting their mandate, it was a forward-looking affair, mixing pieces from Richard Ayres and Joe Cutler with young Turkish composer Mithatcan Öcal. But best of all, its centrepiece was works from Jason Doell and Anna Höstman, two celebrated "emerging" local composers.

From Höstman there was a re-working of her Lattice for violin and piano — a piece that was commissioned by Thin Edge Music Collective making a return to the stage in reworked form. Doell's piece was a première commissioned by Continuum, featuring delicate textures rubbing up against each other in slow bursts separated by pregnant pauses. It's a noteworthy accomplishment even if the composer has tried to distract from the work with his subversively pseudo-grandiose program notes — "these sounds aren't echoes and they certainly do not wave in the wind, not in one manner nor another." (It's also recommended to anyone who liked, say, Daniel Brandes' "Intimations of Melody" off the Bespoken tape. In fact, you can play both at once to quite pleasant effect.)

[N.B.: you can hear a much nicer recording of the piece over at Doell's soundcloud.]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recording: Sounds of Saba

Artist: Sounds of Saba

Songs: Zelesegna (feat. Fantahun Shewankochew) / Yells Doju (feat. Netsanet Mellesse)

Recorded at Alliance Française, March 7, 2015.

Sounds of Saba feat. Fantahun Shewankochew - Zelesegna

Sounds of Saba feat. Netsanet Mellesse - Yells Doju

Some of Batuki Music's efforts have involved fostering pan-African sonic links and exploring the range of Ethiopian music, but this new band — formed of veterans of the city's jazz and afrobeat scenes1 — was largely convened to accompany Fantahun Shewankochew. Shewankochew released a number of albums and worked as the music department coordinator of the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa before coming to Toronto — which is to say he's definitely a top-tier talent as a singer, krar player and bandleader. Word is that he's working on a new album with this band, showing off several of these songs at this show.

The night also featured the phenomenal vocalist Netsanet Mellesse, who rose to fame in Ethiopia as a singer with The Wallias Band (which was founded by Mulatu Astatke). She has released albums both in Ethiopia and internationally (and even toured with the great Aster Aweke), but isn't very well known in what is now her home town. That's too bad — hopefully Toronto will get more chances to hear her in performance. In fact, while I was quite pleased at the chance to take in this show from one of the comfy chairs in the cozy theatre at the Alliance Française, I also realized this would be just about perfect outside on a summer night where everyone could dance to the ample grooves. Stay tuned — hopefully such a chance will be coming up and you won't want to miss this a second time.


1 The band was composed of Daniel Barnes (drums), Tom Juhas (guitar), Simeon Abbott (keybs), Tyler Emond (bass), John Maclean (saxophone), Steve Dyte (trumpet), and Paul Turosov (trombone)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Allison Cameron

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate. Thought we were done? Not quite yet!

Today's list is from Allison Cameron — composer, improviser and sound-maker with "small amplified objects". She is the ringleader of "No Angels Dancing", one my favourite monthly shows. Come hang out at the Tranzac 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month.


When Joe Strutt asked me to contribute to the six-packs I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. I mean choosing only six. There could be six hundred! Joe's blog is an incredible testament to Toronto's creative music scene. Thank you Joe for MFS! Hope you have sixty more years... ;)

Nick Kuepfer - unknown [excerpt]

Nick is a super good musician/composer probably a bit too under the radar at the moment. This Wavelength performance is one of the best live compositions period. Features some awesome work with old fashioned reel to reel tape players. Kudos to Joe for picking this one up (I had to miss the show unfortunately).

Thin Edge New Music Collective - Doors

Also couldn't make this one but what a nice collaboration with lots of good young musician-composers involved, including Nick Storring who curated it.

Doug Tielli - Riversea

This live in-store was great. I love Doug's singing and gnarly guitar solos. One of the great singer-songwriters we are lucky to have in Toronto. Great band too with Ryan Driver, Nick Fraser and Scott Peterson.

A Ryan Driver Quintet - I Never Knew

And speaking of Ryan Driver here is the exceptional RD xtet with the music of Toronto's one and only Stephen Parkinson (who also contributed to the evening with swooning wah-wah melodica solos). Lots of fave musicians in this band: Brodie West and Martin Arnold (not present this night), Michael Davison, Rob Clutton, and Blake Howard.

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [excerpt from first piece]

Holy smokes this was a good duo! Brilliant idea from the folks at the Somewhere There Festival to put together Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet) and Marilyn Lerner (piano) for a wonderful improvised music set. Great musicians! Great Festival!

Cluttertones - Webbed

Can't say enough about the recent music of Rob Clutton! Excellent compositions for the Cluttertones and more recently with Randi Helmers (Rob's partner) giving us some stunning new songs for soprano and banjo. (I hope these will get posted!) Webbed is a slightly more ethereal tune from Rob in this offering also featuring the talents of Lina Allemano, Tim Postgate and Ryan Driver a.k.a. Cluttertones.

plus bonus baseball cap and glove:

THOMAS - unknown

Joe was right on about this one - a nice chance to see (and hear) Thom flashing his guitar skills!

No Angels Dancing - [excerpt from start of second set]

Crazy No Angels Dancing surrogate band with Germaine Liu, Chris Banks and Stephen Parkinson!


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Concert Listings Roundup #88

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.


Gig of the week:

Emergents III [curated by Christopher Willes] (feat. Geoff Mullen + Jonathan Adjemian) / The Music Gallery 2015-03-19 (Thursday) [more info]

I realize I recommend the Music Gallery's Emergents gigs on the regular, but I'm truly particularly excited for this one. A sort of conceptual sequel to last year's instalment that saw Chris Willes scatter the pews and distribute musicians throughout the sanctuary, this show sees Willes return as curator, bringing a couple projects that take on the physical space in a different manner.

Jonathan Adjemian is debuting "Dry Reciprocity", a piece for sine wave, voice and wind instruments, while Mullen is bringing a new site-specific spacialized work to the Music Gallery. What exactly that entails is still a bit of a mystery ("a diffuse performance environment that invites the audience to move freely, choosing between a variety of different sonic experiences or situations") but it sounds like the sort of thing I dig.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Audiopollination 28.3 (feat. Aalborggroup / John Gregg/Tiina Kiik / Faster / William Davison and Maxwell Boecker) / Array Space 2015-03-16 (Monday) [FB event]

The Music of Cole Porter (feat. Alex Samaras & friends) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-17 (Tuesday) [more info]

38th Annual Martian Awareness Ball (feat. Mary Margaret O’Hara + Guests) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2015-03-17 (Tuesday) [more info]

Piano Party 2 (feat. Isla Craig / Ali Berkok) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-18 (Wednesday – early!) [FB event]

Josh Cole/Brandon Valdivia/Colin Fisher / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-18 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Casual Drones 9 (feat. Jay McCarol / Steve Castellano / Mike Duffield & Ben Oginz / Christopher Sandes / Jason Haberman & Mike O'Brien) / Milk Glass 2015-03-19 (Thursday) [FB event]

Dust: The Quietest Big Band in the Known World / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-20 (Friday – early!)

Girls Rock Camp Toronto March Break Showcase Concert / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2015-03-20 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Father Murphy (Alpha Strategy) / The Cave 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

Bizzarh (VOTIIV / Over [Ex-Ten Kens, first show!]) / The Smiling Buddha 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. B.A. Johnston [Shit Sucks record release] / First Base / Spruce Invaders) / Johnny Jackson 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

TWM/iM (feat. Fort York / Beams / KUMONgA / Last of the Bandits) / Gladstone Hotel 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

Monk Marathon (feat. Évidence / Hat & Beard / Michael Davidson) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-21 (Saturday – 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.! drop in for a spell!) [FB event]

Hands, Fists, Arms (feat. Stephanie Chua) / The Music Gallery 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [more info]

SXSoWhat (feat. Cellphone / Blonde Elvis / DAS RAD / Zena / Wearenotwhoweare / Greasy G) / Soybomb HQ 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Holy Gasp [album release!] (Ronley Teper & The Lipliners / Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Faster Presents (feat. The Lone Bone / Father Zinger / FASTER / Cares) / Handlebar 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

HPR presents (feat. Mas Aya & New Chance) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

LIDS [Telephone Explosion 7" release show!] (MIMICO / Fake Palms) / Double Double Land 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Just a Shot Away: Optical Sounds Benefit Show for War Child Canada (feat. B-17 / The Auras / Prince Ness) / The Garrison 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Mystic Triangle (Holiday Rambler / We Are Not Who We Are) / Saving Gigi 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Feast in the East 47 (feat. Picastro / Charles Spearin's Roadside Silhouettes / Isla Craig / A. Minster) / Jam Factory 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. Fist City / Tough Age / Wrong Hole / Apeshit Simians) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-08 (Wednesday) [FB event]

L CON (The Lonely Parade / Nick Ferrio) / Junction City Music Hall 2015-04-09 (Thursday) [FB event]

Homeshake (Michael Rault / Bart) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-09 (Thursday) [FB event]

Dirty Frigs (Birds of Paradise / Sunshine & The Blue Moon / Katelyn Molgard) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Swervedriver (SIANspheric) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2015-05-06 (Wednesday) [FB event]

An Exceptional evening with Kamancheh (feat. Shahriyar Jamshidi) / Canadian Music Center 2015-05-08 (Friday) [FB event]

Michael Feuerstack [The Forgettable Truth album release!] (Overnight) / Burdock 2015-05-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Spectrum Music: Your Wish is Our Concert / Alliance Française de Toronto 2015-05-29 (Friday) [FB event]

J Mascis (MV & EE) / Lee's Palace 2015-06-03 (Wednesday) [more info]

Colin Stetson (Sarah Neufeld) / The Great Hall 2015-06-09 (Tuesday) [more info]

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Lee's Palace 2015-06-10 (Wednesday) [more info]

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Recording: TorQ Percussion Quartet

Artist: TorQ Percussion Quartet feat. Greg Oh and Wesley Shen

Song: Workers Union [excerpt] [composer: Louis Andriessen]

Recorded at The Music Gallery, March 6, 2015.

TorQ Percussion Quartet - Workers Union [excerpt]

One of my favourite parts about this 1975 Louis Andriessen "symphonic movement for any loud sounding of instruments" is the instructions contained in its score. Besides setting the mood ("make the piece sound dissonant, chromatic and often: aggressive") is this instruction, which ties its title into a concrete political statement: "only in the case of every player playing with such an intention that their part is an essential one, the work will succeed; just as in the political work."

The members of TorQ brought the right even-handed sense of solidarity to the piece, alongside Greg Oh and Wesley Shen, their evening's collaborators joining in on duelling grand pianos. Tackled by Thin Edge at their recent gig, it was a somewhat unusual scheduling quirk that saw two different groups present the Andriessen piece at the Music Gallery within weeks of each other — a rare chance to compare and contrast the differing approaches each ensemble brought. A new-found familiarity might have helped, but I found TorQ's take to be a bit more engaging.

Meanwhile, the remainder of this gig was equally interesting. The first half was given over to Steve Reich's large-scale "Sextet", which was quite captivating for most of its length; "Urban Wildlife", a new piece from TorQ's Jamie Drake, was also a success with its sounds evoking bird feeder-sabotaging squirrels, sunbeam-seeking cats and garbage-bin conquering raccoons.