Saturday, August 1, 2015

Recording: Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang

Artist: Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang

Song: Her Sword

Recorded at Jam Factory ("The Music Gallery's Departures Series"), July 22, 2015.

Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang - Her Sword

A return of the Music Gallery's offsite "Departures" series headed across the Don Valley to Jam Factory, home of co-curator Tad Michalak's Feast in The East series. The brick-and-beam loft was a perfectly casual environment to settle in for some serene sounds. The night was put together to provide a rare local show for Seattle-based explorers Jessika Kenney (vocals) and Eyvind Kang (viola). Their hour-long set showed several of their different approaches to their idiosyncratic mix of Persian mysticism and gamelan percolations. Kang's plucked strings and Kenney's vocals were at the heart of all the music — for one extended selection they left the stage and played while pacing in circles around the audiences, creating a uniquely-spacialized experience. The selection presented here saw Kenney add some subtly-psychdelic effects to her vocals, shifting this 12th century Persian poem from the gamelan-abetted version heard on her beautiful ATRIA album and into a "pop" realm not too far removed from, say, Jerusalem in My Heart's recent excursions with Suuns. The set ended with the pair being joined by Andrew Timar and Bill Parsons for a couple numbers, including a re-arrangement of James Tenney's "August Harp".

Recording: Andrew Timar & Bill Parsons

Artist: Andrew Timar & Bill Parsons

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Jam Factory ("The Music Gallery's Departures Series"), July 22, 2015.

Andrew Timar & Bill Parsons - unknown

A return of the Music Gallery's offsite "Departures" series headed across the Don Valley to Jam Factory, home of co-curator Tad Michalak's Feast in The East series. The brick-and-beam loft was a perfectly casual environment to settle in for some serene sounds and this pair of local gamelan experts provided some wonderfully minimal musical relaxation. Playing kacapi and suling (along with some subtle laptop manipulations) the pieces invoked both New Age spareness and Zen parables on the illusion of movement. Absolutely sublime.

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

Recording: Manticore

Artist: Manticore

Song: Trophic Cascades

Recorded at Jam Factory ("The Music Gallery's Departures Series"), July 22, 2015.

Manticore - Trophic Cascades

A return of the Music Gallery's offsite "Departures" series headed across the Don Valley to Jam Factory, home of co-curator Tad Michalak's Feast in The East series. The brick-and-beam loft was a perfectly casual environment to settle in for some serene sounds. Zoë Alexis-Abrams and David Jones led off the night, presenting a quartet of songs from their Manticore project. The music sounds a bit like a soul single being played back at 16 RPM — or maybe like what the choir soloist in a forest cathedral of some prelinguistic nature cult might be singing. Brush aside the ferns, wipe the sweat from your brow, and sink into the loamy mystic — the ecosystem has been waiting for you.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Recording: Brass Knuckle Sandwich

Artist: Brass Knuckle Sandwich

Songs: [second piece, in three parts]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Slow Burning Torch Series"), July 21, 2015.

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 1]

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 2]

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 3]

This occasional series from Somewhere There gives younger musicians a chance to share their work while sharing the stage with longstanding members of the community, creating opportunities for interaction and inspiration. Marilyn Lerner (piano) and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet) made a favourable impression when they teamed up earlier this year at the Somewhere There Festival. But with Lerner playing on Array's grand piano (instead of the Tranzac's console model) there were entirely new soundworlds opened up, including whole continents of subtle reverberations and opportunities for extended technique interventions. This recording is hardly adequate to capture the nuances of this quieter piece, but I'm presenting it here regardless as it was one of my favourite improvisations I've heard in the past while.

Recording: Broken Consort

Artist: Broken Consort

Songs: The Sylph/Great Dane [edit]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Slow Burning Torch Series"), July 21, 2015.

Broken Consort - The Sylph/Great Dane [edit]

This occasional series from Somewhere There gives younger musicians a chance to share their work while sharing the stage with longstanding members of the community, creating opportunities for interaction and inspiration. At this show, the emerging forces were represented by guitarist Mike McCormick's Broken Consort ensemble. Joined by Anthony Argatoff (alto sax), Robert Diack (drums), Andrew Furlong (bass), Morgan Gardner (trumpet) and Laura Swankey (vox), the crew tackled a series of McCormick's compositions. The material ranged over a lot of terrain, showing off a range of McCormick's stylistic preoccupations, many garnered from a term spent abroad in Europe. Special mention should be made of Swankey's wordless vocalizations, bringing to mind local favourite Felicity Williams, giving the songs a little extra elevation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Recording: Alaniaris

Artist: Alaniaris

Song: Cantabella

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), July 19, 2015.

Alaniaris - Cantabella

Michael Kaler, Ken Aldcroft, and Mark Zurawinski continue their ongoing monthly residency (on the third Sunday of every month), bringing their improvisor-sharpened skills to the surf-like grooves of Greek rebetiko. Intricate and punchy, it's hard not to punctuate the ends of the songs with a cheered exclamation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Recording: Monomyth

Artist: Monomyth

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Monomyth - unknown

After maintaining the rigourous understated grooves as rhythm section of opener Nap Eyes, guitarist/vocalists Seamus Dalton and Joshua Salter of Halifax's Monomyth were in full-on end-of-tour goofin' around mode. Mixing tunes from last year's Saturnalia Regalia! with newer ones, there were plenty of in-jokes and goofy outros to go around. Lotsa good tunes, too, and a wider musical palette on offer than the pared-down psych-tinged pop on the album.

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

Recording: Nap Eyes

Artist: Nap Eyes

Songs: The Night Of The First Show + No Fear Of Hellfire

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Nap Eyes - The Night Of The First Show

Nap Eyes - No Fear Of Hellfire

Haligonian Nigel Chapman delivers songs with a dry, understated delivery, matching that with unfussy guitar and backed by a rhythm section composed of Monomyth's Seamus Dalton and Joshua Salter, who contribute a similarly straightforward foundation for the songs. That rigourous arrangement still leaves room for a lot of variation, and when they really into a groove, like set-closer (and album centrepiece) "No Fear Of Hellfire", there's a gorgeous Galaxie 500-ish bobbing undertow here. The very tasty full-length Whine Of The Mystic has just been re-issued by You've Changed, a pretty solid recommendation and vote of confidence right there.

Recording: Joyboy

Artist: Joyboy

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Joyboy - unknown

"We've been a band for a week-and-a-half. Thanks for having us." With that disclaimer, this quartet made their debut with a quick set to open a night of visiting Halifax bands. I can't say much about 'em besides that, although they do have a tune up on bandcamp. Crunchy guitars and plenty effects on the vocals, I've definitely heard less interesting sets from longer-established bands. Keep an eye out for further developments.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recording: Hooded Fang

Artist: Hooded Fang

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Hooded Fang - unknown

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Hooded Fang's latest batch of songs depend on an intricately speedy rhythmic attack while their live presentation tempers that with a certain indeterminacy. Which is to say that if in a sweaty-hot room the band was bit of a hot mess, it was the sort of hot mess that you'd want to take you home. Word on the street is that the band's new album is mostly done, so we'll see when it emerges — and who can fill the shoes of drummer D. Alex Meeks, heading off on educational leave.

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

Recording: Darlene Shrugg

Artist: Darlene Shrugg

Songs: Some Weird Sin [Iggy Pop cover] + National Security*

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Darlene Shrugg - Some Weird Sin

Darlene Shrugg - National Security

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Fresh out of the recording studio cutting some tracks with Ben Cook, Darlene Shrugg were already preparing for their appearance at next year's Polaris gala. Rocking a set of heavy glam gems (single "Freedom Comes In A Plastic Card" was even aired twice to start and end the set) with swaggering confidence, this many-headed beast was working with focused determination. Besides the Iggy Pop title essayed here by Max "Slim Twig" Turnbull and Meg "U.S. Girls" Remy, the latter song comes with lead vox from Ice Cream's Amanda Crist. The sound on this recording's a little ragged, given the venue's limitations, and Carlyn Bezic breaks a guitar string during the Iggy tune, but driven on by Simone T-B's drums, these feel pretty satisfactory.

* This title is an educated guess and subject to confirmation.

Recording: Heaters

Artist: Heaters

Songs: two unknown songs*

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Heaters - unknown #1

Heaters - unknown #2

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Having dug this Grand Rapids garage-punk trio in some backyard action not too long ago, I was looking forward to more of their psychotic reactions and Nuggets-y blasts. Leading off the evening, they brought a lot of energy to a room that felt far fuller and sweatier than it was when they started.

* Does anyone know the titles to these ones? Please leave a comment!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recording: Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira

Artist: Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

The night ended with this electronic exploration, with Mirrors bandmates Grant (vocal manipulations) and Clark (laptop) joined by Ferreira (laptop) for some oozing digital drift, sounding a bit like Blind Willie Johnson getting lost in cyberspace.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Recording: Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier

Artist: Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier

Song: [edited excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier - [edited excerpt from first piece]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

Perhaps the most "standard" of the night's sets, this saw Sirois' virtuosic violin playing set against Yue's piano explorations and Fournier's extended techniques for double bass.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Recording: Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin

Artist: Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

This set might be the figurative "poster child" for the too-weird-to-curate virtues of this series. This mix of sousaphone, flutes and modular synth might not have been an intuitive combination, but there were some nifty results, with Brady performing some realtime manipulations on Chan's flutes while Dolgin added low end — and even some tapped percussion.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]