Friday, July 25, 2014

Recording: Zoo Owl

Artist: Zoo Owl

Song: Break Out

Recorded at Canton Chilli ("Silent Shout: The Heat and the Pulse, Day 1"), July 17, 2014.

Zoo Owl - Break Out

Full review to follow. Enlisting the assistance of the Silent Shout crew, Bryan Sutherland launched the first album from his Zoo Owl project from the floor of a Chinatown restaurant. That meant not only was there a buffet dinner available for the crowd, but also the chance to incorporate a live crab from the restaurant's tank into his always-innovative visual presentation. That was enough of a coup that a couple minor glitches (like a balky fog machine) didn't matter at all in making this a unique night.

Recording: Sexy Merlin

Artist: Sexy Merlin

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Canton Chilli ("Silent Shout: The Heat and the Pulse, Day 1"), July 17, 2014.

Sexy Merlin - unknown

Full review to follow. Even playing with a stripped-down setup in an unconventional setting (the floor of a Chinatown restaurant with a buffet available to early-arriving patrons), Sean Dunal still managed to (ahem) set the table for Zoo Owl's album release celebration.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recording: Man Forever & So Percussion

Artist: Man Forever & So Percussion

Song: Ryonen [Part II]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Man Forever & So Percussion - Ryonen [Part II]

Full review to follow. So, this is the sort of thing I like: a concert that mixes weird electronics, composed "new music" and an avant-garde percussion group. This is stuff that too often gets siloed off and dished out to different crowds, so kudos to Burn Down the Capital's Tad Michalak for putting this one together. The headlining set combined the forces of NYC quartet So Percussion with Man Forever, the percussion project of John Colpitts aka Kid Millions. (And if that weren't enough drummers, locals Brandon Valvidia and Colin Fisher also pitched in as well.)

They performed both pieces off their recent collaborative album, with the title track (excerpted here) giving echos of Steve Reich while "The Clear Realization" was rooted a bit more in rockband dynamics. They weren't too far apart for all that, and both pulsed with vibrant, reinvigorating energy. Quite wonderful.

[Kid Millions will be back in town in his capacity as drummer for Oneida, playing Lee's Palace on August 1st with U.S. Girls opening. Mark your calendars!]

Recording: Music in the Barns

Artist: Music in the Barns

Song: Schoolhouse Étude [from Hitchcock Études – composer Nicole Lizée]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Music in the Barns - Schoolhouse Étude

Full review to follow. If there were a "star system" for composers in this country, Nicole Lizée would probably be a household name by how. Combining compositional chops, a forward-thinking approach to new ways of making music and a pop-culture referencing ability to tap into the zeitgeist, her works are "serious music" that are still easily accessible outside the cloisters of the "new music" community.

Her Hitchcock Études were originally composed for "piano, glitch and film", and are here essayed by the Music in the Barns ensemble, in a string quartet plus vibes formation. The music feeds off the manipulations of the source material, enfolding little lurches and hiccups in a tribute to the composer's memories of rewatching Hitchcock movies on slowly-wearing-out videotapes. [The original piano version is embedded below for comparison, and should serve to show how the visual element works here. You can check out a couple more clips on her videos page.]

Recording: Gordon Monahan

Artist: Gordon Monahan

Song: Sauerkraut Synthesizer [excerpt]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Gordon Monahan - Sauerkraut Synthesizer [excerpt]

Full review to follow. The title here is purely descriptive, for the music was generated through Monahan's custom synth setup, with various fruits, vegetable and a jar of sauerkraut acting as voltage gates to control various sound elements. Although it is, at one level, a bit of a gimmick, the music was, ahem, rather tasty. Plus there was a cool visual element, as well, with Monahan providing both a live close-up video feed of his hands-on manipulations, but also a live readout showing which items were contributing to the soundscape.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recording: Zacht Automaat

Artist: Zacht Automaat

Song: Zacht Automaat - [two unknown songs]* ("Carl's card trick") + A Whiter Shade of Pale [Procol Harum cover]

Recorded at Double Double Land, July 11, 2014.

Zacht Automaat - Carl's card trick

Zacht Automaat - A Whiter Shade of Pale

Full review to follow. To some extent, ZA keyboardist Carl Didur cultivates the image of a slightly-distant mad-scientist, more concerned with twiddling knobs than pandering to a crowd. But there's also evidence of a wry sense of humour and a bit of showmanship, too — if the sequined cape didn't tip you off to that, then the way he pulled off a mid-song card trick just might.

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

Recording: Prince Nifty

Artist: Prince Nifty

Song: Body Irony

Recorded at Double Double Land, July 11, 2014.

Prince Nifty - Body Irony

Full review to follow. Matt Smith's dancefloor-oriented work does a, um, nifty job of subverting the too-obvious tropes the genre can fall into, sometimes bursting out of the gate before you can catch up to it, and sometimes — as in the case of a brand new piece debuted at the end of the set — surging suggestively without dropping into the straighahead 4/4 zone you're expecting. But you don't have to get uptight about it. "I'll spare you all the details of what I'm thinking today," Smith told the crowd as he got started, "and just ask that you guys can dance. If you can't dance, just flail." I did my best.

[You can catch Nifty in a different sort of environment at Sunday's highly-anticipated Backyard Afternoon at Tibet Kitchen.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recording: Rob's Collision

Artist: Rob's Collision

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Imperial Pub, July 10, 2014.

Rob's Collision - unknown

Full review to follow. This group, convened by flautist Rob Piilonen to explore his compositions, is quite well named, given how he would, at some points, point out pairs of musicians to play duos before moving back into the more structured portions of the pieces. But even more striking were the different musical textures rubbing up against each other, with the gentler tones of flute, Mitchell Yolevsky's clarinet and Cheryl Ockrant's cello rubbing up against Andy Yue's analog synth and clattering percussion from Germaine Liu and Mark Zurawinski. And the real secret weapon was Matthew Miller, manipulating all of the above in realtime on his laptop. It all adds up to a sort of avant-smooth with occasional chunky digressions.

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

Recording: Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro

Artist: Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at The Imperial Pub, July 10, 2014.

Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro - [excerpt from first piece]

Full review to follow. Drummer Mike Gennaro has been running a series of low-key gigs in the Imperial's back room for several months now, spurring a series of duo and trio partners into an improvising frenzy with his entertainingly committed percussion style. His foil on this night was Ken Aldcroft, as always one of the craftiest guitar players in town, building up from some nimbly-picked licks up to more abstract string-stretching noises.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #54

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:

Backyard Afternoon (feat. HVYWTR / Heather Segger & Doug Tielli / Isla Craig / Prince Nifty) / Tibet Kitchen 2014-07-27 (Sunday – Matineé! PWYC!) [FB event]

The gorgeous back patio vibes at Parkdale's Tibet Kitchen were a delightful surprise at Healing Power's first afternoon show there last summer. Sheltered under mature trees and colourful banners, the space radiates tranquility. Add in some cool music and this is a can't-miss proposition. PWYC and all ages.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Ken Aldcroft/Scott Thomson / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-22 (Tuesday)

Tequila House Band (TJ Borden / Clarinet Panic) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-23 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Secretary City (Keratoid / Spoils / Fitness) / Handlebar 2014-07-24 (Thursday) [FB event]

Simeon Abbott/Rob Clutton/Jeremy Strachan/Scott Thomson / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-24 (Thursday)

Wavelength 607 (feat. Nat Baldwin / Black Walls / Kira May) / Monarch Tavern 2014-07-24 (Thursday) [FB event]

Field Trip Discovery Series III (feat. Grounders / Fresh Snow / Programm / Dirty Frigs) / The Garrison 2014-07-24 (Thursday – free with RSVP!) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-25 (Friday)

Paul Dutton/John Kamevaar (Simeon Abbott/Mike Gennaro) / Musideum 2014-07-25 (Friday) [more info]

I Have Eaten The City [tape release! First official show at Ratio!] (Khôra / Fake Humans [Carl Didur/ Colin Fisher]) / Ratio 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Ought (Freelove Fenner) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Advance Base [formerly Casiotone For The Painfully Alone] (Omhouse / Our Founders) / Rancho Relaxo 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Jay Arner (Brave Radar / Jeans / Ketamines) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Construction Vol 6 (feat. Beliefs / Elsa / You'll Never Get To Heaven) / Double Double Land 2014-07-25 (Friday – all ages!) [FB event]

Man Finds Fire Presents: Summer Sesh @ Geary Lane (feat. Bile Sister / Mimico / A K U A + art installations + "surprise pop up performances") / Geary Lane 2014-07-26 (Saturday – afternoon event!) [FB event]

Quartet Best [Jay Hay/Nicole Rampersaud/Simeon Abbott/Mike Gennaro] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-26 (Saturday)

HIT IT (feat. Doldrums / Tonstartssbandht / Cellphone / Steve Jr) / The Comfort Zone 2014-07-26 (Saturday) [FB event]

B-17 (Twist / Seraphic Lights) / Junction City Music Hall 2014-07-26 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crocodiles (Jaill / Pow Wows) / The Garrison 2014-07-27 (Sunday) [FB event]

Add these to your calendar:

Thom Gill/Justin Haynes/Germaine Liu/Brodie West (Organballoon [Justin Haynes/Ryan Driver] / Felicity Williams) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-29 (Tuesday) [more info]

Moon King (San Marina) / Smiling Buddha 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Swing Low (feat. Old Haunt / Hazy Montagne Mystique & YlangYlang / Babel / Zones [ambient set!]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-08 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

SummerWorks: One Night, Two Brendans (feat. Brendan Canning) / The Theatre Centre Mainspace 2014-08-08 (Friday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Failure Fest (feat. Army Girls) / Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement 2014-08-09 (Saturday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Weaves Through Time (feat. Weaves) / Lower Ossington Theatre 2014-08-10 (Sunday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #21 (feat. Neil Wienrik/Michael Lynn / Dominque Banoun/Eel/Ben Bennet / Aisha Sasha John/Michael Kaler/David Grollman / Chris Adriaanse/Michael Foster / Ben Bennet/David Grollman/Michael Foster) / Array Space 2014-08-12 (Tuesday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: The Secret Garden of Lido Pimienta (feat. Lido Pimienta) / Lower Ossington Theatre Mainspace 2014-08-13 (Wednesday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Do I Have To Do Everything My Fucking Self (feat. Light Fires) / Lower Ossington Theatre Cabaret 2014-08-14–16 (Thursday–Saturday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Young Drones (feat. The Bicycles) / Lower Ossington Theatre Mainspace 2014-08-14‐17 (Thursday–Sunday) [FB event]

Shonen Knife (Habibi / Mexican Slang / BB Guns) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-09-20 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recording: Aurochs

Artist: Aurochs

Song: Dwindling Doors

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), July 8, 2014.

Aurochs - Dwindling Doors

Full review to follow. A slightly unusual night for this instalment of Aurochs' monthly residency. With bassist Pete Johnston out out town, Mike Smith was drafted to sit in alongside Ali Berkok (piano) and Jake Oelrichs (percussion). Given that all three have played with each other in various other projects, it was no surprise that there was an easy, free-flowing familiarity here. Just as in their regular lineup, Aurochs is very much a three-headed beast (as opposed to, say, a "piano trio"), where anyone is liable to take hold of a piece and shift things in a new direction. The band can be found playing an early show on the second Tuesday of every month at The Tranzac, and their Rational Animals album is recommended.

Bonus! You can find the band's recording of this full show on soundcloud.

Extra bonus! So, Mr. New Phone over here realized that he can capture moving pictures with the thing. Are some short clips a useful addition to the audio recordings? The sound isn't going to be great, but it adds something else, maybe. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Recording: Army Girls

Artist: Army Girls

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("Girls' Art League fundraiser"), July 4, 2014.

Army Girls - unknown

Full review to follow. The smashing success of DIANA kept Carmen Elle away from this other project for a while, but as of this spring, Army Girls shows started popping up around town again. Through sheer bad luck I missed 'em all, do I was doubly happy to be able to make this one — not only to catch up with what Carmen Elle and Andy Smith's rough-hewn pop treats, but also to help in a good cause. This gig was put together to raise funds (and awareness) for Girls' Art League, and they put together a really stacked night, with supporting sets from Dilly Dally and New Fries.

Army Girls, meanwhile, will be celebrating their failures at their just-announced SummerWorks show, coming up in August. This will be an interdisciplinary show with "performative disruptions" by artist Cara Spooner as well as special guests joining the band.

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

Recording: Dilly Dally

Artist: Dilly Dally

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("Girls' Art League fundraiser"), July 4, 2014.

Dilly Dally - unknown

Full review to follow. Dilly Dally's rep continues to grow, but thankfully they're not doing it by smoothing out the rough edges either in Katie Monks' slurring/mumbling vox or Liz Ball's diamond-tipped guitar slashing. We're still waiting to hear when their EP will be coming out, but for the moment that makes 'em a band that you have to get out and see to hear most of their songs.

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recording: Bombino

Artist: Bombino

Song: two unknown songs*

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage), June 30, 2014.

Bombino - unknown

Bombino - unknown

Full review to follow. One might have been worried to hear that Omara "Bombino" Moctar's first album aimed at the North American market was going to be produced by a mainstream rock musician not known for his subtlety, but credit is due to The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach for not messing it up. On Nomad, he mostly stays out out of way and lets Moctar and his incredible guitar skills loose without softening things up, throwing in guest performers, etc etc. Live, the band's sound is largely the same — besides a couple brief harmonica parts, there's not too many sops to the "desert blues" marketing angle. Instead we get a series of stretched-out jams, where chord changes are few and incendiary solos drift over infinitely danceable grooves. After a series of under-promoted gigs in small clubs, it was fantastic to see Moctar up on the big Harbourfront stage — he's not a chatty or demonstrative frontman, but this was a festival-sized set throughout.

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recording: The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble

Artist: The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble

Songs: Brussels + Clomp

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), June 29, 2014.

The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble - Brussels

The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble - Clomp

Full review to follow. Maybe I oughtta be more jaded about it by now, but it still really blows my mind that y'can wander in off the street and — in the most relaxed and casual environment imaginable — watch a superbly-talented group of musicians work on their craft. To give some more textures to his compositions, Kyle Brenders has drafted a formidable chamber ensemble, each of whom I'd be happy to go see play in their other projects. Alongside Brenders' reeds, the group included Ilana Waniuk (violin), Cory Latkovich (cello), Rob Clutton (double bass), Mark Segger (percussion), Heather Segger (trombone), and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet). The first set essayed a series of shorter pieces (from which we draw a couple contrasting samples here), while the second was given over to a suite entitled "Group Dynamics".