Monday, March 30, 2020

Concert Listings Roundup #347

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.


Special note:

For the past six-and-a-half years, I've faithfully been cranking out these listings every Monday. Because of the unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in, this week's listings remain blank. Stay safe and sheltered.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Recording: The Holy Oak Family Singers

Artist: The Holy Oak Family Singers

Songs: That's What Makes You Strong [Jesse Winchester cover; Thom Gill vox] + Dear Darling [Mary Margaret O'Hara cover; Ivy Mairi vox] + I Don't Know [Kate and Anna McGarrigle cover; Alex Samaras vox] + Thirty [The Weather Station cover; Thom Gill vox] + Runs in the Family [The Roches cover; Robin Dann, Felicity Williams, Alex Samaras vox]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), February 20, 2020.

The Holy Oak Family Singers - That's What Makes You Strong

The Holy Oak Family Singers - Dear Darling

The Holy Oak Family Singers - I Don't Know

The Holy Oak Family Singers - Thirty

The Holy Oak Family Singers - Runs in the Family

A really wonderful night, once more bringing together this loose aggregation of immensely-talented musicians that once congregated at the much-missed Holy Oak. The special occasion this time was a milestone birthday for Luke Kuplowsky, who got to pick the setlist, populating it with some of his mournful/joyful favourites. As always, the crew ranged through the songbooks of the artists they'd paid tribute to in the past (Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Arthur Russell in addition to the ones posted above) and a few special one-offs, like the especially-relevant Weather Station tune. And as always, there were a series of friends rotating in and out of the backing band and vocalists' chairs. Truly a really special time, and worth remembering these days as to why we used to gather together (and hope to someday again).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Concert Listings Roundup #346

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.


Special note:

For the past six-and-a-half years, I've faithfully been cranking out these listings every Monday. Because of the unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in, I am choosing once again to leave this week's listings blank. Even if separation and the suspension of regular life are starting to grate, this is a vital week for everyone in Toronto to maintain social distancing discipline. The numbers are going to keep getting worse for a while yet, but foregoing social norms now will make a difference. Listen to music, go for a walk, take care of your own self.


Bandcamp corner:

At the very least, I've had more time to spend with the music of friends and people in my community that I respect so much. Here's some of the things I've been digging: why not support these — or an artist that's important to you — by buying their music on bandcamp?

  • Fiver moved the release of You Wanted Country? Vol. 1 up last week, unleashing a pretty spectacular EP. Pivoting from the investigations of the Audible Songs From Rockwood project, this is the first recorded evidence of Simone Schmidt's collaborations with Nick Dourado, Jeremy Costello and Bianca Palmer, who are here dubbed The Atlantic School Of Spontaneous Composition. (Although, to be sure, there's been some live manifestations of this powerful union.)
  • Ian McPhedran's oeuvre — from his work in seminal local unit Ostrich Tuning and onward — has carefully balanced popcraft with drone and occasional disruptive noisebursts. It wouldn't be quite right to say that this new album smooths out the edges, but the tunefulness here feels a bit less veiled than in might have been in the past.
  • Overleaf (the all-star improvising electroacoustic trio of Heidi Chan, Kayla Milmine and Mira Martin-Gray) return with their second album, once more mixing modular synth, soprano sax and no-input mixer noise into playful and wide-ranging sonic investigations. There's an increased feeling of freedom on this album, a sense of self-assuredness where the group can step out of their zones and play with new sounds and methods of presentation — as the avant-groovy remix of "Magic Spelling Bee" that closes things out proves.
  • Del Stephen's recordings include elegant ambient atmospheres as well as gentle group improvisations, but his new Folk Music mixes his poetry with "instrumental collage pieces". Take this one out for company on your daily isolation stroll.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Recording: Autotectonic

Artist: Autotectonic

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge (Appetite for Deconstruction #1), February 27, 2020.

Autotectonic - [excerpt]

Another new electronic improvised music series, this one hosted by synthesist and sound designer Mike Barber. His concept, as implied by the series' title, was to record the sets by the evening's guests and use that as the source material for his own set. Cayce Fischer brought a different vibe to this set than what I had heard before, largely through the use of guitar as the sound-source in her modular rig, turning frozen rumbles into layers of white noise and granular fragments — creating a butterfly effect where small flutters would cascade into spiralling vertices of sound.

[Stay tuned, once the need for social distancing has eased, for word of the continuation of this series!]

Recording: Jakob Rehlinger

Artist: Jakob Rehlinger

Song: [excerpt from first section]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge (Appetite for Deconstruction #1), February 27, 2020.

Jakob Rehlinger - [excerpt from first section]

Another new electronic improvised music series, this one hosted by synthesist and sound designer Mike Barber. His concept, as implied by the series' title, was to record the sets by the evening's guests and use that as the source material for his own set. Jakob Rehlinger lead things off with a BABEL-esque set, with the synth noodles heard here later giving way to some guitar treatments, including tapped-string percussive knocks and ebow slidesounds.

[Stay tuned, once the need for social distancing has eased, for word of the continuation of this series!]

Friday, March 20, 2020

Recording: Scott M2 + Raphael Roter

Artist: Scott M2 + Raphael Roter

Song: [improvisation]

Recorded at Hirut Restaurant (Exit Points #1), February 26, 2020.

Scott M2 + Raphael Roter - [improvisation]

This new series is an initiative by the collaboratively-minded Michael Palumbo, bringing some electronic experimentation to the east end. It was also a bit of a social experiment and a step "out"-ward for host Hirut Restaurant, but, at least for this initial outing, a successful one, drawing a nice crowd. A sign of the series' community orientation was given in the final set, which was treated as an open and informal jam, allowing musicians who played in the first two sets to recombine, along with any audience members who brought along something to play. Or, in this case, Scott McGregor Moore was enlisted to take a spin on Michael Palumbo's modular synth in this brief encounter with percussionist Raphael Roter, which resulted in some rather tasty accidental acid jazz.

[As with all things in these extraordinary times, upcoming shows are suspended in the exercise of social distancing. Keep an eye out on the series' FB page for news of its reappearance.]

Recording: Roter/Maheras/Cruickshank

Artist: Raphael Roter/Hryso Maheras/Rob Cruickshank

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at Hirut Restaurant (Exit Points #1), February 26, 2020.

Raphael Roter/Hryso Maheras/Rob Cruickshank - [excerpt from first piece]

This new series is an initiative by the collaboratively-minded Michael Palumbo, bringing some electronic experimentation to the east end. It was also a bit of a social experiment and a step "out"-ward for host Hirut Restaurant, but, at least for this initial outing, a successful one, drawing a nice crowd. The night's second set looked like a particularly cool day at the shortwave club, with Rob Cruickshank attending to knobs, dials and joysticks while Hryso Maheras adjusted parameters on SuperCollider. Raphael Roter added a beat underneath to keep things moving forward.

[As with all things in these extraordinary times, upcoming shows are suspended in the exercise of social distancing. Keep an eye out on the series' FB page for news of its reappearance.]

Recording: Hall/Whitaker/Palumbo

Artist: Glen Hall/Curtis Whitaker/Michael Palumbo

Song: [second piece, edit]

Recorded at Hirut Restaurant (Exit Points #1), February 26, 2020.

Glen Hall/Curtis Whitaker/Michael Palumbo - [second piece, edit]

This new series is an initiative by the collaboratively-minded Michael Palumbo, bringing some electronic experimentation to the east end. It was also a bit of a social experiment and a step "out"-ward for host Hirut Restaurant, but, at least for this initial outing, a successful one, drawing a nice crowd. Palumbo, with his modular synth, participated in the first set, alongside Glen Hall (soprano sax + processing) and Curtis Whitaker (percussion). Random singalongs notwithstanding, there were some pleasing zones explored here.

[As with all things in these extraordinary times, upcoming shows are suspended in the exercise of social distancing. Keep an eye out on the series' FB page for news of its reappearance.]

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Recording: Cameron/Liu/Swankey

Artist: Allison Cameron/Germaine Liu/Laura Swankey

Song: [edited excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Octopus Presents), February 19, 2020.

Allison Cameron/Germaine Liu/Laura Swankey - [edited excerpt from first piece]

This instalment in the regular third-Wednesday-of-the-month Octopus Presents series saw Allison Cameron playing with two different trios. The second grouping saw her joined by vocalist Laura Swankey and percussionist Germaine Liu, the latter also making a rare synth outing. The output situated them as an off-kilter electro-pop combo, dream-drifting along before getting sidetracked by sputtering warbles.

Recording: Cameron/Martin-Gray/Zurawinski

Artist: Allison Cameron/Mira Martin-Gray/Mark Zurawinski

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Octopus Presents), February 19, 2020.

Allison Cameron/Mira Martin-Gray/Mark Zurawinski - [excerpt from first piece]

This instalment in the regular third-Wednesday-of-the-month Octopus Presents series saw Allison Cameron playing with two different trios. The first set saw her joined by Mira Martin-Grey and Mark Zurawinski for some quiet amplified sounds, mixing weird glitchy pirps and modest bleepbloops with the background buzz-layers.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Concert Listings Roundup #345

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.


Special note:

For the past six-and-a-half years, I've faithfully been cranking out these listings every Monday. Because of the unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in, I am choosing to leave this week's listings blank. Even if a show you were thinking about attending in this vital week isn't already formally cancelled, I would urge you to practice social distancing and stay away. If you haven't already had your fill of graphs and curves showing why this is important, I'd urge you to spend some time with a reputable news source.

Going to shows is (surprise!) important to me, and I have found it valuable for my mental and physical well-being. And the worries I feel for the spaces I love and the people that work there — many perched on the edge of precariousness that characterizes our socioeconomic moment — are certainly real. But normality is suspended, and for the time being, it's time for venues to be closed, and crowds to be dispersed.

In the coming days, there will be more people using the technology that we have as a positive force, and when I hear of any livestreams or other virtual gatherings, I will try and use this space to spread the word so that we can still feel the spark of togetherness and community. In the meantime, stay well, and find whatever mellowness you can.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Recording: ADO + BUDi + Special Costello

Artist: ADO + BUDi + Special Costello

Songs: Structured Improvisation + [excerpt from second piece]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge, February 18, 2020.

ADO + BUDi + Special Costello - Structured Improvisation

ADO + BUDi + Special Costello - [excerpt from second piece]

Covering Karen Ng's regular night in her absence, Jeremy Costello + co. put together this evening of improvised sounds, playing first separately and then as a trio. Together, they explored a lot of terrain, starting with the first piece here which was based around a backing track prepared by drummer Nathan Doucet and previously unheard by the others. Sounding like some debased M-Base (or maybe Prime Time going for a ride on Sun Ra's spaceship) this turned into some fiery outsider funk, with Nick Dourado spraying soprano sax notes around. He'd move up to his bigger horn for the second selection here, leaning into some Coltrane riffs.

Recording: ADO

Artist: ADO

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge, February 18, 2020.

ADO - [excerpt]

Covering Karen Ng's regular night in her absence, Jeremy Costello + co. put together this evening of improvised sounds, playing first separately and then as a trio. ADO is drummer Nathan Doucet's solo bandonym, and here he triggered some samples before getting to work on the kit.

Recording: BUDi

Artist: BUDi

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge, February 18, 2020.

BUDi - [excerpt]

Covering Karen Ng's regular night in her absence, Jeremy Costello + co. put together this evening of improvised sounds, playing first separately and then as a trio. Nick Dourado would later play sax during the trio segment of the night but started things off on piano, unfurling some more of the infinite music that seems to flow effortlessly from his mind and fingertips.

Recording: Special Costello

Artist: Special Costello

Song: [excerpt]*

Recorded at Wenona Lodge, February 18, 2020.

Special Costello - [excerpt]

Covering Karen Ng's regular night in her absence, Jeremy Costello + co. put together this evening of improvised sounds, playing first separately and then as a trio. Jeremy Costello lead off with this extended song-piece, layering beats and then vocals over ambient keyboard sounds.

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