Saturday, December 16, 2017

Recording: The Andrew Downing Ensemble

Artist: The Andrew Downing Ensemble

Songs: All Alone on the Mountain + I'm No Good Without You

Recorded at the Canadian Music Centre, November 9, 2017.

The Andrew Downing Ensemble - All Alone on the Mountain

The Andrew Downing Ensemble - I'm No Good Without You

The living room-sized performance space at Chalmers House was an ideal spot to sit back and listen to the tunes from Andrew Downing's Otterville recording. Enhanced by video projections by graphic designer Yesim Tosuner and storytelling from John Southworth, the group (featuring Andrew Downing, Michael Davidson, Tara Davidson, Nick Fraser, Aline Homzy, and Paul Mathew) explored the nostalgic lushness of Downing's compositions, inspired by the almost-too-good-to-be-a-real-town-name of Otterville. Like a lot of Canadian small towns, there's a lot of niceness and well-organized politeness on the surface, but manifold layers underneath. The music was oft at its best when it drifted into lullaby dreamworlds and Ellingtonian reveries.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Recording: Sandy Ewen with Brandon Valdivia

Artist: Sandy Ewen with Brandon Valdivia

Song: [last section]

Recorded at 918 Bathurst (OPEN: an evening of sound interactions), November 8, 2017.

Sandy Ewen with Brandon Valdivia - [last section]

This pleasing night out, curated by Nick Storring's Riparian Acoustics, was a fundraiser for Musicworks Magazine. On the cusp of celebrating its 40th anniversary, MW has been pretty on-point lately, written about (and by!) some MFS faves, with spot-on examinations of weird sounds in the here-and-now plus savvy historical excavations. In the face of a last-minute cancellation, the organizers brought in Sandy Ewen (who had played a solo set the night before) to join forces with Brandon Valdivia (who was on hand for another collaborative set with Pursuit Grooves). Working from behind the drumkit, his roiling undercurrent provided some propulsion to nudge Ewen into a noisier zone than she'd explored on her own. This turned out to be an improvised addition to the night that really paid off.

Recording: Pursuit Grooves with Mas Aya

Artist: Pursuit Grooves with Mas Aya

Song: unknown*

Recorded at 918 Bathurst (OPEN: an evening of sound interactions), November 8, 2017.

Pursuit Grooves with Mas Aya - unknown

This pleasing night out, curated by Nick Storring's Riparian Acoustics, was a fundraiser for Musicworks Magazine. On the cusp of celebrating its 40th anniversary, MW has been pretty on-point lately, written about (and by!) some MFS faves, with spot-on examinations of weird sounds in the here-and-now plus savvy historical excavations. After some solo piano from Thin Edge's Cheryl Duvall, things got grrovy with this collaborative set, augmenting Pursuit Grooves' space funk productions with percussion and other embellishments from Brandon Valdivia.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Recording: Will Austin & Brandon Lim

Artist: Will Austin & Brandon Lim

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Belljar Café (Track Could Bend #32), November 7, 2017.

Will Austin & Brandon Lim - [excerpt]

This month saw TCB moving to a new home — where, auspiciously, the streetcar tracks bend right outside the front door. I first saw Will Austin performing with his solo peace project this summer at Nite Comfort, and since then he's been holding down his own nights of improvised experimentation 'round town — some with fellow movie buff Brandon Lim (known for his work holding down the bottom end in Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, HSY, Toronto Homicide Squad, and a heap of other bands). This set saw him acting as the anchor to Austin's pitch-bending infiltrations, lumbering in and out of a few sonic zones, shuffling the furniture around, and then heading off to the next room. (A diligent documenter, you can check out Austin's full recording of the set over at the Free Music Archive.)

[Start your new year off the best way — the next Track Could Bend is on Tuesday, January 2nd and will feature sets from Bachelard, LUKA, and tendencyitis.]

Recording: Sandy Ewen

Artist: Sandy Ewen

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at Belljar Café (Track Could Bend #32), November 7, 2017.

Sandy Ewen - [excerpt from first piece]

This month saw TCB moving to a new home — where, auspiciously, the streetcar tracks bend right outside the front door. Being pretty locally focused, it's also an auspicious treat to be able to offer a stage to a visiting musician — although NYC-via-Austin guitarist Sandy Ewen does indeed have some local roots. Armed with only a stereo pan pedal to two amps, Ewen used an arsenal of extended techniques to wrangle creaky sound-sculptures from her strings.

[Start your new year off the best way — the next Track Could Bend is on Tuesday, January 2nd and will feature sets from Bachelard, LUKA, and tendencyitis.]

Recording: Kat Estacio & beard closet

Artist: Kat Estacio & beard closet

Song: [last section]

Recorded at Belljar Café (Track Could Bend #32), November 7, 2017.

Kat Estacio & beard closet - [last section]

This month saw Track Could Bend moving to a new home — where, auspiciously, the streetcar tracks bend right outside the front door. One of the best things about participating in a something like TCB is in offering a space where community members can come up with cooler ideas than I would have. Phil Hamilton (who performs solo as beard closet and previously played the series as half of Determinist?) proposed this set after seeing Kat Estacio playing at Parkdale Library. Mixing her gongs and laptop manipulations with his guitar treatments, this gelled in a really tasty way, offering more mid-volume rumbles than noisy chicanery.

[Start your new year off the best way — the next Track Could Bend is on Tuesday, January 2nd and will feature sets from Bachelard, LUKA, and tendencyitis.]

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Recording: Kalte

Artist: Kalte

Song: unknown [edited excerpt]*

Recorded at Handlebar (Nite Comfort 50), November 5, 2017.

Kalte - unknown [edited excerpt]

It's a real achievement for a monthly experimental music series to reach its fiftieth instalment, so huge props to Aaron Dawson and everyone else who has brought Nite Comfort to life. The event was celebrated with contrasting sets of ambient drift and chilldown beats. The former was provided by Deane Hughes and Rik MacLean, who offered some bugscratches and glacierscrapes in the vein of their Bailey Sessions recording.

[Start off your 2018 right with Nite Comfort at Handlebar on Sunday, January 7th. Details coming soon!]

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Recording: Odonis Odonis

Artist: Odonis Odonis

Song: Nasty Boy

Recorded at The Garrison, November 3, 2017.

Odonis Odonis - Nasty Boy

Celebrating new releases from two local groups, this night tempered the rock'n'roll with plenty electronic textures, as well as Romar Johnson's stadium-worthy lighting rig. Despite what that title might make you think, this track is definitely more Broken than Control. Given the way things were heading with last year's Post Plague album, OO's rapid industrialization plan should hardly come as a surprise — the Nitzer Ebb cover they were closing out shows with before taking a break to launch No Pop was hardly necessary to get the hint that this group was going EBM, abandoning their guitars for a full-on harsh-edged electronic sound. Heavy and saturated, there wan't much of a let-up during this set — the more textured comedown pieces that make up the back half of the album were left behind for a non-stop pummelling.

Recording: Beliefs

Artist: Beliefs

Song: Faulty

Recorded at The Garrison, November 3, 2017.

Beliefs - Faulty

Celebrating new releases from two local groups, this night tempered the rock'n'roll with plenty electronic textures, as well as Romar Johnson's stadium-worthy lighting rig. The new Habitat album pushes Beliefs further away from their shoegaze/dreampop origins and further into the electronic realm. Somewhat to my surprise, as they continue to exchange guitar shimmer for beats and as Jesse Crowe takes more and more of the leads the closest point of comparison in my mind for the band's trajectory is Young Galaxy. Whether that means they'll keep moving to ditch their guitars and embrace their electronic selves altogether remains to be seen — for now, there's still a satisfyingly loud rock'n'roll roar underlying things.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Concert Listings Roundup #228

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 Cluttertones (John Millard / Germaine Liu) / Burdock Music Hall 2017-12-13 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Rob Clutton's excellent chamber pop ensemble is reprising their first Burdock appearance from two years back, right down to the same openers offering contrasting (storytelling/experimental) threads shared with the headliners. Expect to hear some new ornate pieces from Clutton, Lina Allemano, Ryan Driver and Tim Posgate.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Garden Party [Aline Homzy/Allison Au/Phill Albert/Alex Fournier/Mark Ballyk] / The Emmet Ray 2017-12-11 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Andrew² [Andrew Miller/Andrew Downing/Harrison Argatoff] / The Emmet Ray 2017-12-11 (Monday) [FB event]

Ornate Ornette (feat. Nico Dann/Phil Albert/Ted Crosby) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-12-12 (Tuesday – early!) [FB event]

LHD [Jeff LaRochelle/Aline Homzy/Michael Davidson] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-12-12 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Bitchin Bajas (ZONES / SlowPitchSound) / Smiling Buddha 2017-12-12 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Brodie West Quintet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-12-13 (Wednesday – early!) [FB event]

If:Iff - works for chamber orchestra and electronics (feat. New Music Ensemble of the Royal Conservatory) / Temerty Theatre 2017-12-14 (Thursday – free with RSVP!) [FB event]

Austra (Devon Welsh / Ela Minus / Nyssa) / Velvet Underground 2017-12-14 (Thursday) [FB event]

Corpusse Christmas / Sellers & Newel Speakeasy 2017-12-14 (Thursday) [more info]

Mannerisms with special guest Jay Hay (Body Butter [Neil Rankin/Chris Evans]) / Handlebar 2017-12-14 (Thursday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Explorer (The Hollow Earth / The Mean) / The Piston 2017-12-14 (Thursday) [FB event]

Faith Healer (Cecil Frena / Tough Age / Ducks Unlimited) / The Baby G 2017-12-15 (Friday) [FB event]

Moon King (Doomsquad / New Chance) / Smiling Buddha 2017-12-16 (Saturday) [FB event]

Honey Harper (Scott Hardware / Komodo) / Monarch Tavern 2017-12-16 (Saturday) [FB event]

10th Annual Wassail (feat. kith&kin) / 918 Bathurst 2017-12-17 (Sunday) [FB event]

MAW: A Community Celebration of the Vocal Arts (feat. Anne Bourne / Leslie Predy / Alex Lukshevsky / Kirsten White and Marc Bourgon / Renee The Voice / Scott Peterson / Game Shout Match / The Jumblies/Making Room Community Choir / Shodekeh and Max Bent) / Burdock Music Hall 2017-12-17 (Sunday – all ages + kid-friendly!) [FB event]

Somewhere There Presents (feat. Miropolis) / The Emmet Ray 2017-12-17 (Sunday) [FB event]

Hamilton Trading Co (Traplines / Jupiterspin) / The Gaslight 2017-12-17 (Sunday – PWYC!) [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!

Karen Ng/Alex Fournier/Stefan Hegerat/Marilyn Lerner/Ryan Brouwer / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-12-20 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Nick Flanagan's Home for the Holidays [comedy + musical performances] (feat. Andre Ethier / WLMRT) / Burdock Music Hall 2017-12-22 (Friday) [FB event]

Daniel Nebiat (Tiruedel Zenebe) / Habesha Sports Bar 2017-12-22–2017-12-25 (Friday–Monday) [more info]

Tranzac New Year's Eve (feat. Ice Cream / Phèdre / Houndstooth / Lauren Barnett / Zoo Owl / The Brodie West Quintet) / The Tranzac 2017-12-31 (Sunday) [FB event]

Track Could Bend #34 (feat. Bachelard / LUKA / tendencyitis) / Belljar Café 2018-01-02 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Sahara (Nyssa / Kiwi Jr.) / Monarch Tavern 2018-01-13 (Saturday) [FB event]

Andre Ethier [Under Grape Leaves Telephone Explosion release party!] / The Baby G 2017-01-19 (Friday) [FB event]

Wavelength Winter Festival 18 (feat. TBA) / venues TBA 2018-02-16–2018-02-18 (Friday–Sunday – save the dates!) [FB event]


Community corner:

  • Kristel Jax, whose explorations into drone therapy have included youtube videos, performances and this list of mental health resources, is now launching a podcast. Read more about about it here, and check out the first episode now. For anyone needing to slow down and find a better place while dealing with mental health issues (and/or the trauma of accessing the broken mental health system) this is a place for you.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Recording: Bea Labikova + Raphael Roter

Artist: Bea Labikova + Raphael Roter

Song: [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space (Audiopollination Halloween Special), October 31, 2017.

Bea Labikova + Raphael Roter - [excerpt]

Celebrating the season with costumes and a horror flick, Audiopollination brought together three sets of improvised sounds for a night of Halloween fun. In their alter egos of wizard and radioactive sludge mutant, Bea Labikova and Raphael Roter presented an excellent set of duo explorations. With the former on sax and fujara and the latter on percussion, the pair played sitting face to face riding several waves of beautiful quiet and clamour.

Recording: The Birth of Troubling Forms

Artist: The Birth of Troubling Forms

Song: Genuine [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space (Audiopollination Halloween Special), October 31, 2017.

The Birth of Troubling Forms - Genuine [excerpt]

Celebrating the season with costumes and a horror flick, Audiopollination brought together three sets of improvised sounds for a night of Halloween fun. This group of improvised soundtrack-makers was playing behind an abridged version of Robert Wiene's 1921 silent horror flick Genuine. The group this time 'round featured Alan Bloor (amplified metal), Ambrose Pottie (percussion), Michael Lynn (bass + clarinet) and Tina Kiik (accordion) and they vibed off the eye-popping expressionist sets (probably more than the famously elusive plot, which was all the more scattered in a short version of a short version of the film) with quite darkly-tasty results.

Recording: The Cereal Killers/Lilly and the Jellybean Machine

Artists: The Cereal Killers + Lilly and the Jellybean Machine

Songs: What's Your Thing?/We Are Girls + [first piece]

Recorded at Array Space (Audiopollination Halloween Special), October 31, 2017.

The Cereal Killers - What's Your Thing? + We Are Girls

Lilly and the Jellybean Machine - [first piece]

Celebrating the season with costumes and a horror flick, Audiopollination brought together three sets of improvised sounds for a night of Halloween fun. A night of costumes felt appropriate as an opportunity to reunite The Cereal Killers, which features improvised punkrock outbursts behind recitations of 90's era toy and cereal commercials from Andy Dolgin (who was rockin' the Ace Ventura look this time 'round). The set also included this pair of classic YTV PSA's from the league of Concerned Children's Advertisers.

The backing band — with Mike Lynn (fuzzy bear/bass) Gord Fynes (Morty/drums) Brian Abbot (cheerleader/guitar) and Kayla Milmine (owl/alto sax) — included new addition Elizabeth Lima (catwoman/clarinet), and once Dolgin had run out of jingles, Lima swapped frontperson spots with him to transform the group into Lilly and the Jellybean Machine, self-proclaimed as "Toronto's primary maybe-wave band", for a second half of freewheeling prowls.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Recording: Cosmic Homeostasis V

Artist: Cosmic Homeostasis V

Song: Dammit, all the shrapnels exhaled all at once [excerpt]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), October 29, 2017.

Cosmic Homeostasis V - Dammit, all the shrapnels exhaled all at once [excerpt]

Another fifth-Sunday-of-the-month gathering brought together eleven musicians to listen to whispers from space and collectively compose some slowly-moving sounds. The sound palette was a bit more buzzingly electronic this time, finding a humming field for the players to tap into. Some gong-sounds shook that up in the second set, but didn't interrupt the pleasing drift. The performers this time 'round were {AN} EeL, Rob Cruickshank, Kristina Guison, Mira Martin-Gray, Ronnie Blake, Kat Estacio, Syd Ortega, Sarah Peebles, Mehrnaz Rohbakhsh, Johan Seaton, and Joe Strutt.

You can listen to the whole session over at bandcamp:

[Cosmic Homeostasis will reconvene at the end of April, once recent return messages from recent space transmissions are received.]

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Recording: U.S. Girls

Artist: U.S. Girls

Songs: 28 Days + Mad As Hell

Recorded at The Tranzac (Main Hall), October 27, 2017.

U.S. Girls - 28 Days

U.S. Girls - Mad As Hell

This astounding set teasing new material from the newly-expanded U.S. Girls featured a band composed mostly of Doc Dunn's Cosmic Range (as well as The Sulks' Chris Bezant on guit and backing vocalists Kassie Richardson and Basia Bulat) who offered an astoundingly full "studio" sound. Besides opening and closing with some of the tracks they played on from the forthcoming In a Poem Unlimited album they also reinterpreted a series of older songs. Meg Remy balanced the lushness of the ten-piece backing band with sample montages that hearkened back to the project's origins as well as hinting at the seething anger underneath the songs. But it's too easy to just label this as feminist rage (a word that's right there in the title of the Fiver song covered on the new album) — there's a consideration of things that justly evoke anger, but there's also joy in the music as well, from the reggae-ish lilt the band accorded to "28 Days" as well as the ebullient disco of "Mad As Hell".

Remy was in full command throughout — no banter or asides were on offer in the tightly-constructed set, and instead of an encore, all she gave the crowd was a hand-on-hip "didn't I just do that?" glare before leaving the stage. With the release of the album now confirmed for February, this was a tantalizing glimpse of an artist operating at a high level — and expanding their ambitions to ever-higher plateaus.