Thursday, April 26, 2018

Recording: Man Made Hill

Artist: Man Made Hill

Songs: Rough Stuff + Midnight Nap + Dancing Secretly

Recorded at The Baby G, March 3, 2018.

Man Made Hill - Rough Stuff

Man Made Hill - Midnight Nap

Man Made Hill - Dancing Secretly

Celebrating the release of Fingertip on Pleasence records, Randy Gagne presented a high-energy cavalcade of hits to a packed-in sweaty and dancing crowd. Exchanging his laserdisc medallion for an atavistic return to a vest of streaming strands of videotape, this was all "go" all the way for a performer who is perhaps the stompingest Canrock icon since Stompin' Tom. Some of the album's collaborators, including producer Nyles Miszczyk and Zoë Alexis-Abrams (who had opened the night), joined in — though sadly a collaboration with saxophonist Brodie West had to be put off 'til another time. Exhausting enough all around that surely some of the crowd had to cut out afterwards for their own midnight naps.

[If you haven't had a dig through the MMH bandcamp lately, you should set aside some time to root through a whole lot of back catalogue that's appeared there lately. Man Made Hill will be kicking off a tour with Pink Noise at a totally stacked show that also features Bile Sister and Wolfcow at D D L on Thursday, May 17th.]

Recording: Corpusse

Artist: Corpusse

Song: Terror and Romance*

Recorded at The Baby G, March 3, 2018.

Corpusse - Terror and Romance

While the night's other openers played on the warped pop dynamics and fancy grooves found in the headliner's music, Corpusse quite certainly reflected the unbridled theatricality that's present in Man Made Hill's work. The dynamics are quite different — no matter how often he asks, "why don't you dance, dance baby?", Corpusse's goth-drone dirges probably aren't going to call up much booty-shaking. But as a can't-take-your-eyes-off-it spectacle, you could definitely see how this inspired the night's headliner.

* This title is an educated guess — please leave a comment if you can confirm/correct!

Recording: New Chance

Artist: New Chance

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Baby G, March 3, 2018.

New Chance - unknown

Looking poised and elegant (and a bit like someone who just wandered on stage from a Wendy & Lisa video), Vic Cheong was in top form here in a set that featured equal parts sophisticated pop and dance grooves.

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

Recording: ZOË

Artist: ZOË

Song: The Future

Recorded at The Baby G, March 3, 2018.

ZOË - The Future

Flanked by Kvesche Bijons-Ebacher (drum machine, effects) and Johnny Spence (synths), Zoë Alexis-Abrams looked as happy as I might have ever seen her on stage. The trio were honed into a distinct avant-pop zone, trailing off into abstraction before snapping back into structured form.

[You can hear a couple other songs from this show over on soundcloud. ZOË will be playing at the Burdock on Tuesday, May 8th with Montréal's Property// and Charise Aragoza.]

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Recording: Not The Wind, Not The Flag + Nilan Perera

Artist: Not The Wind, Not The Flag + Nilan Perera

Song: [second set]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 5), February 25, 2018.

Not The Wind, Not The Flag + Nilan Perera - [second set]

Brandon Valdivia and Colin Fisher's joint work as Not The Wind, Not the Flag is immensely open-ended and malleable, so it's no surprise that their occasional forays with bassists can pull them in rather different directions that reflect on their collaborators' soundworlds. That made it no surprise that this set had plenty of greasy blues, often acknowledged by Nilan Perera as the root of all his music. On bass he was a finger-shredding funk monster, giving a grounding for Fisher's guitar explorations. The one longer set and one shorter set was not enough to exhaust the possibilities here — call your MP, shaman, lover and/or connection and demand that they get to work to make sure that this collaboration happens again.

[This night was the first instalment of Synaptic Circus Sundays, a residency that will see Perera curating rather than playing in the Southern Cross on the last Sunday of the month. The series continues this Sunday (April 29th) with sets from Ilana Waniuk and Blunt Chunks.]

Recording: Holger Schoorl Ensemble

Artist: Holger Schoorl Ensemble

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 5), February 25, 2018.

Holger Schoorl Ensemble - unknown

My previous experience of Holger Schoorl was mostly in the context of seeing him playing some really quiet guitar, so it was quite a revelation to see him performing with a large brass ensemble. (The full group was: Jonnie Bakan, saxophone; Chantal Cornu, tuba; Emily Denison, trumpet; Bea Labikiova, soprano saxophone; Paul Newman, tenor saxophone; Patrick O'Reilly, guitar; Heather Saumer, trombone.) The set included a couple instrumentals, like this melancholy opener (complete with jaunty oompah coda), but the real heart of the set were School's darkly-comedic and disarmingly-witty lyrics — "mean-spirited" as he himself admitted. In the grips of a cold at this show and raspier than he wanted to be, I'm certainly waiting for another opportunity to hear that material.

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

Recording: Heraclitus Akimbo

Artist: Heraclitus Akimbo

Song: Worthless Recluse Revisited [Part 3]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 5), February 25, 2018.

Heraclitus Akimbo - Worthless Recluse Revisited [Part 3]

Full disclosure — this is your humble documenter up on stage here, so I can't say much objective about this. I can mention that it incorporates chunks of a spoken-word album by the notorious enigma known as Jandek, and from my end I felt like I executed my game plan to embroider some sounds underneath it respectably well.

[A "studio" rendition of this piece can be found on a new album over at the Heraclitus Akimbo bandcamp. Heraclitus Akimbo will be one of the participants in the group drone/listening exercise Cosmic Homeostatic, being held this Sunday afternoon, (April 29th) 3 to 5 p.m. at The Tranzac.]

Recording: Luan Phung Quintet

Artist: Luan Phung Quintet

Song: L.A. [composer: Luan Phung]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 5), February 25, 2018.

Luan Phung Quintet - L.A.

Guitarist Luan Phung lead his quintet (Matthew Chalmers, drums; James Hill, piano; Chris Rennie, sax; and able fill-in Mark Godfrey on bass) through a series of knotty pieces — his shout-outs to Schoenberg and titular nod to Louis Andriessen in this piece give some hints of where he's coming from. But the nimble trickery within the pieces (to say nothing of the bell chimes and dinosaur jokes) showed that there's ample playfulness at hand as well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Recording: Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet

Artist: Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet

Songs: Mobile [composer: Susanna Hood] + Fork [edit] [composer: Logan Mills] + 4 for 8 [version 2] [composer: Scott Thomson] + Untitled [composer: Doug Tielli]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 4), February 25, 2018.

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Mobile

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Fork [edit]

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - 4 for 8 [version 2]

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Untitled

Building on the tradition established with last year's saxophone quartet, the Somewhere There Festival once more showed its commitment to new music with a call for compositions — this time for trombone quartet. And once more the ensemble — consisting of Tom Richards, Heather Saumer, Doug Tielli and Nebyu Yohannes — preceded a concert of the commissioned works with an open rehearsal, giving non-players a window into the process of how a group and composer navigate the mutual discovery of how a new piece "works".

Of the three pieces chosen, Logan Mills' "Fork" was the most conventionally scored, although there was a lot of mathematically-intricate trickiness in a piece based on harmonic interrelationships he had been musing upon while working as a piano tuner. Susanna Hood's "Mobile", on the other hand, offered a procedurally-intricate text-based score that had the players spacialized (and spinning around) like the parts of a wind-tossed mobile. Scott Thomson's "4 for 8" was even more open ended with two sets of variables on a numbered line leading to a "rehearsal" that was as more of a negotiation over how to interpret the piece than a musical struggle. (Thomson, who was present, saw no need to impose any authorial wisdom on the players, who ultimately decided to play the piece following two separate rule-sets, leading to two rather different results.) The concert was closed out by this untitled miniature from Doug Tielli, which sounded not unlike street-corner Salavation Army band lullaby.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Concert Listings Roundup #247

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:

The Music Gallery presents (feat. Not The Music [Éric Normand/Philippe Lauzier] w/ Joe McPhee / Mercury [Lori Freedman/Nicolas Caloia]) / 918 Bathurst 2018-04-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

This night features long-time innovators continuing to push in new directions, beginning with Lori Freedman (clarinet) and Nicolas Caloia (double bass) playing new "open form" compositions — including one from Martin Arnold. Then, Éric Normand and Philippe Lauzier join forces with the legendary Joe McPhee for some free-range explorations.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Burn Down the Capital presents (feat. Wei Zhongle / Luge / Lice II) / Handlebar 2018-04-23 (Monday) [FB event]

Composers' Toolbox ["interactive presentation"] (feat. Christine Duncan) / Canadian Music Centre 2018-04-24 (Tuesday – free with registration!) [FB event]

Riverrun / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-24 (Tuesday)

Dany Laj and the Looks / The Dakota Tavern 2018-04-25 (Wednesday — early show, 7 to 9 p.m.!) [FB event]

Rosetta (USA Out of Vietnam / Sovereign / Uxvae) / Coalition 2018-04-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Ivy Mairi (Mamalia) / Burdock Warehouse 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Joanne Pollock (Sages / Leucrocuta / Anna Modo) / Handlebar 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Daniel Barnes/Girma Woldemichael Ethio-Jazz Quartet / Hirut Café 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Josh Cole Quintet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-26 (Thursday)

Clamps (Alpha Strategy / WLMRT / Outer Rooms) / CineCycle 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Biblical (Völur / Retired) / The Garrison 2018-04-27 (Friday – note new date + venue!) [FB event]

Togetherness! [Ellwood Epps/Erik Hove/Scott Thomson/Stéphane Diamantakiou/Ivan Bamford] / Burdock Music Hall 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Beds (Rapport / Bobbypin / Chloe's World) / Owl's Club 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Aurochs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-27 (Friday – early!)

Gordon Grdina/Nicole Rampersaud/Brodie West/Mark Zurawinski / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Ronley Teper's Lipliners [last Saturday of the month residency!] / The Baby G 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

No Age (Behavior / Protruders) / The Rec Room 2018-04-28 (Saturday – all ages!) [FB event]

Silent Shout (feat. Castle If / Persons / Tigerwing / Gabe Knox) / Handlebar 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Faster Presents (feat. DUST [Michelangelo Iaffaldano/Chris Adriaanse/Nicolas Buligan/Cory Latkovich/Lina Allemano/Paul Newman/D.A. Meeks/Mike Smith/Kayla Milmine/Brian Abbott]) / Gerrard Art Space 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Togetherness! [Ellwood Epps/Erik Hove/Scott Thomson/Stéphane Diamantakiou/Ivan Bamford] / The Tranzac (Tiki Room) 2018-04-28 (Saturday)

Mary Margaret O'Hara/Larry Potter/John Oswald/Bryan Toner/Aidan Closs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-28 (Saturday)

Cosmic Homeostasis VI (feat. Paul Newman/Ronnie Blake/Syd Ortega/Laura Swankey/Joe Strutt/more TBA!) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-29 (Sunday – afternoon show, 3 to 5 p.m.! PWYC!) [FB event]

Synaptic Circus Sundays (feat. Ilana Waniuk ["new work for solo violin and electronics"] / Blunt Chunks) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-29 (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!

Track Could Bend #38 (feat. Jen Wardle/John Mark Sherlock / David Sait / Hank Powell [Karen Ng/D. Alex Meeks]) / venue TBA 2018-05-01 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-06 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Royal Mountain Records Showcase (feat. Dusted / Common Holly / jo passed / Mythless / Everett Bird) / The Garrison 2018-05-12 (Saturday) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-13 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Regina Gently (boyBITCH with Precious Jewel / Loji / AIDA) / Handlebar 2018-05-19 (Saturday) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-20 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

QB8: QueerNOISE (*shhh) pre-Drone Day (feat. Xiao Xuan / tendencyitis / Esther Splett / Twin Masks / Harper Bizarre) / The Arcade 2018-05-20 (Sunday) [FB event]

Ace of Wands (Ron Hawkins) / Burdock Music Hall 2018-05-23 (Wednesday) [more info]

SIANspheric (Tijuana Taxi / Yi / The Spiracles) / Rivoli 2018-05-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Batuki Music Society presents Griot Traditions of Mali (feat. Djely Tapa Diarra) / Alliance Française de Toronto 2018-05-26 (Saturday – all ages! under 18 free!) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-27 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Bonjay (Too Attached) / The Drake Underground 2018-05-28 (Monday) [FB event]

Labyrinth Musical Workshop Ontario (feat. Tzvetanka Varimezova / Bassam Bishara) / Eastminster United Church 2018-06-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wooden Shjips (Holy Wave) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2018-06-05 (Tuesday) [FB event]

H.W.G. Showcase (feat. Tata Chris / Jim Benbow / {AN} EeL) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-07-14 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Neko Case (Thao) / The Danforth Music Hall 2018-09-24 (Monday) [more info]

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Recording: Aurochs

Artist: Aurochs

Songs: [two excerpts]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 3 late-night afterparty), February 24, 2018.

Aurochs - [excerpt from Set 1, first piece]

Aurochs - [excerpt from Set 2, first piece]

A "typical" night from the Aurochs, doing nothing more than letting their dazzlingly-inventive musical vocabulary unveil itself in slow-motion.

[Aurochs will be taking their regular turn in the Southern Cross this Friday (April 27th).]

Recording: Circuits Bending Frames Ensembles

Artists: Circuits Bending Frames Ensembles (Christine Duncan/Paul Dutton/Laura Swankey + Jonathan Adjemian/Ryan Driver/Tiina Kiik/Laura Swankey + Christine Duncan/John Oswald/SlowPitchSound + Paul Dutton/Tiina Kiik/Wes Neal + Ryan Driver/Jonathan Adjemian/Mani Mazinani/Tiina Kiik/John Oswald)

Songs: [various improvisations]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 3: Circuits Bending Frames), February 24, 2018.

Christine Duncan/Paul Dutton/Laura Swankey - [improvisation]

Jonathan Adjemian/Ryan Driver/Tiina Kiik/Laura Swankey - [improvisation]

Christine Duncan/John Oswald/SlowPitchSound - [improvisation]

Paul Dutton/Tiina Kiik/Wes Neal - [improvisation]

Ryan Driver/Jonathan Adjemian/Mani Mazinani/Tiina Kiik/John Oswald - [improvisation]

The Somewhere There Festival's Saturday night show was an ambitious multimedia undertaking, with live performances responding to the films of Laurie Kwasnik. Kwasnik is a familiar face at improvised music shows, especially anything in the orbit of Michael Snow (she's been collecting footage for her documentary Fields of Snow for many years now). It was a treat to get a glimpse into her archives, especially to see some of her artfully-arranged works responding to the music with their own visual improvisations. In between filmed snippets (and some visual mashups mixing together music from a wide range of performances) a group of improvisers recombined into a series of small ensembles for miniature performances.

The second half turned to cymatic visualisations, driven by a trio of synth players (Jonathan Adjemian, Ryan Driver, and Mani Mazinani), whose oscillations set pans of water and salt wiggling — which was then live-mixed on the big screen. There were a few technical difficulties along the way, but it was on the whole a pleasing and unique evening.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Recording: Composing for Improvisors Ensemble

Artist: Composing for Improvisors Ensemble

Songs: In Sensorium [two excerpts] [composer: Bea Labikova] + Soundpainting [2nd piece] [composer/conductor: Brian Abbott] + I Ching Study No. 1: How Do We Save the Bees? [composer: Zach Clark]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 2), February 24, 2018.

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - In Sensorium [excerpt 1]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - In Sensorium [excerpt 2]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - Soundpainting [2nd piece]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - I Ching Study No. 1: How Do We Save the Bees?

This relaxed afternoon set turned out to be one of the festival's highlights, putting together an ad hoc ensemble of notable locals improvisers to tackle three different approaches to the question of "how can a composer create works for an ensemble of improvisers?"

Bea Labikova went first, and if the plastic sheeting under the players wasn't enough of a sign this wasn't going to be business as usual, then the blindfolds probably drove the point home. The goal of the piece was to get the players to react to sensual stimuli, but shifted the terrain to the realm of smell and taste, which are less-often used as musical guides. Along with assistant Raphael Roter, Labikova "conducted" the group by giving them a morsel to taste (chocolate and hot sauce both made appearances) or odours to sniff (ranging from pleasant herbs to the astringency of a struck match) and having the players react. There was an interesting exchange of vulnerability and trust here, and it was rather a delight for the audience to watch the visceral reactions to some of the sensory experiences. (A couple drops of ice water of the back of the neck provoked some of the most immediate reactions.) The piece made a clear and obvious connection between sensory input and musical output — this could be used as a primer to expose people to the idea of musical improvisation.

Brian Abbott then lead the ensemble in a session of Soundpainting, a "multidisciplinary live composing sign language" devised by Walter Thompson. The system can get as deep and complicated as required — there are over 1500 formally-defined gestures in use — though the group here stuck to a more basic vocabulary. Large ensemble improvisation can lead to great bouts of full-on squonk-honking (and indeed, one of the pieces essayed here kinda became an accidental version of Powerhouse) so it was most instructive here to see some more subtle interplay, especially in this piece (that also incorporated some scored elements for the musicians) that established a rather pleasing dronefield.

Last up, Zach Clark combined ancient prognostication and modern improvisation in a couple versions of a piece that deployed the I Ching. A question for the oracle was obtained from the audience, and once the coins were tossed to derive the responding hexagram, the musicians interpreted that with the aid of a score that gave several musical cells that could be played for each of the trigrams. Changing lines in the hexagram also imposed musical transitions on the players, though like the oracle's gnomic responses, there was plenty of room for interpretation.

The full ensemble consisted of:

  • Brian Abbott (guitar)
  • Zach Clark (bass, electronics, harmonium)
  • Bea Labikova (alto saxophone)
  • Kayla Milmine (soprano saxophone)
  • Cheryl O (cello)
  • Heather Saumer (trombone)
  • Joe Sorbara (drums, percussion)
  • Kristen Theriault (harp)
  • Laura Swankey (voice)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Recording: The Ryan Driver Quintet

Artist: The Ryan Driver Quintet

Songs: The Seasons The Months and The Days + I Don't Want to Cry Any More [composer: Victor Schertzinger]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 1 late-night afterparty), February 23, 2018.

The Ryan Driver Quintet - The Seasons The Months and The Days

The Ryan Driver Quintet - I Don't Want to Cry Any More

Ryan Driver's sextet was playing without guitarist Martin Arnold on this night, and though it's not unusual for the numbers on stage to fluctuate from show to show, it was interesting to see how the members used that bit of additional space in the songs. This time out, it was vibraphonist Michael Davidson going on a bit of an adventure, getting unexpectedly noisy as he rattled and dropped a bow across his keys. Another surprise came in the form of a mini-set of songs from Driver's excellent recent Careless Thoughts album, as this project works almost-exclusively in the realm of covers. Driver himself would probably be too modest to say so, but it has to be pointed out that his own songs absolutely deserve to be in the company of the standards the group usually essays.

Recording: So Long Seven

Artist: So Long Seven

Song: Mad Nomad

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 1), February 23, 2018.

So Long Seven - Mad Nomad

Tim Posgate (of Cluttertones and many other groups) was perhaps this group's most familiar face in the Somewhere There context. So Long Seven (which, it should be noted, is in fact a quartet) is an interesting mash-up of cultures and generations that with its somewhat idiosyncratic mix of instruments (guitar, banjo, violin and tabla) dares to flaunt the fusion flag. (A cover of Shakti's "Danse du Bonheur" was a sure signpost in that regard.) Dazzlingly proficient, there's an effortlessness in the group's execution that could render things a bit too cut-and-dried were it not for their corresponding unassuming off-the-cuff casualness about it all.