Wednesday, February 21, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Alma

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from ALMA (a.k.a. Allie Blumas).

[Ed. note: This is tentatively the last one of these lists being shared, and I picked this one to go out on for the wonderful way it reinterprets the exercise, sharing something new-to-me instead of digging theough the catacombs. There's still a lot of music out there to explore.]


I picked these tracks because they all express my love of new agey, spa, meditation music as well as my love of experimentation, improv and avante garde music. All of these songs were made in one sitting during the years 2020-2021. During these years I wanted to explore the process of making music from a less performative place. All of these songs were recorded in a moment of need to release an emotion or expression. Because of this I wanted to share them with the world in the exact way they had come out of me. None of these expressions have been edited, mixed, masterd or altered in any way. These explorations exist in their original and singular forms to best convey the moment and headspace that I was in when they arrived. These explorations exist as a kind of meditative practice on presence and impermanence.


As well as being a musician I am also a dancer and death doula. I recently made a Death, Dying & Grief Workbook that included a guided meditation on impermanence. I wanted to include this meditation because It dances around themes expressed in the other 4 tracks, but is also something that requires a different kind of listening and engagement.


Congrats to Joe on 15 amazing years of MFS. I've had the pleasure of participating at TCB a few times, once with a group and once as a solo. We are incredibly lucky to have Joe doing this amazing and important work of documenting the experimental music scene and through that documenting the history of something that means so much to so many people. I feel honoured to be included and so lucky to have connected with Joe and so grateful to all the work that he's been doing with MFS. Here's to 15 more years!
Happy 15th Anniversary.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Jason Doell

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Jason Doell.

[Ed. note: Well, this is a slightly strange experience. Most of these are the literary equivalent of "dance like no one is looking", but besides some snark, I guess I more or less can stand by the things younger Joe wrote.]


"I pondered whether my grand mal seizure would be an awkward bringing-people-together moment..."

Seemingly unable to follow instructions, I haven't collected a playlist of music; instead, in the spirit of celebration, I give you a reading assignment.

Collected in the links below are some of the lengthier blog entries from the early days of MFS.

I love MFS for many reasons. Today, reading through some posts, feeling a tinge of nostalgia, I loved being reminded of what is gone - bands, venues, dear friends. But moreover, I loved hearing Joe's voice in my head. While Joe has chronicled and catalogued cultural events in the city on MFS for the last fifteen years, the more significant project, in my opinion, is how much he has also told us about himself.

Hear Joe here:
2009 In Review: Concert Reflections
Essay: Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)
Art Event: MFA Party
NXNE 2013: Moments of Transcendence
Recording: Russ Strutt


Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Monday, February 19, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Del Stephen

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Del Stephen.

i'm very glad to be participating in this 15-year anniversary celebration of a real good thing: talking about mechanical forest sound (MFS). i've said it many times before, to various people who enjoy music, as well as joe strutt himself, and still i worry that it hasn't been said enough just how immensely valuable MFS is. as a fellow sound recording archivist, i have to believe that the kind of (life's!) work that joe has been doing all these years with MFS is the kind that will drastically increase in value as time goes on, just like so many of the recordings/posts on the site already have, i would say. honestly, i'd even be willing to say that it's thanks to archives like MFS that certain events will eventually become what we consider to be positively 'historic' (and i've touched on this a little bit in 1 of my selections). so here i am wondering aloud and inviting joe to respond when it suits him: let us know what we can do to help ensure MFS continues to serves the community (+ extended community) for years to come. thank you joe strutt for your continued devotion and for being my friend.
see below for some long-winded (as per usual) scribbled notes on 5 selections from the archives. the common thread is that i happened to deeply enjoy being at each of them. next birthday party i'll pick a few that i did not attend (there are so many that i've experienced solely through joe's recorded excerpts).


Zacht Automaat - Lay Lady Lay

Recorded at Matt Durant Studio (Feast In The East 64), September 23, 2017.

this was the best! matt durant's studio is/was quite far away from the apartment i lived at the time; i recall deciding to take the long way there to properly charge up for this show (a straight queen street car from 1 end of the line to the other...all the way to the depot, wow!). it was a packed house for feast in the east. and yummy food- maybe there was a samosa or 2 left by the time i arrived (late, but just in time for this set by 1 of my favourites). listening back today, i'm still bobbing my head in every direction! i love when music makes me laugh because of how good it is, especially at a show, and i definitely laughed a lot at this 1. colin fisher blew a hole in the ceiling with his saxophone and grasshopper was all over the place with his camcorder. 'lay lady lay' to end the set made me feel happy; it was a sweet interpretation of the tune and a wonderful time. i remember 1 of the first things i noticed upon arriving was seeing what i presumed to be a couple of joe's recorders positioned up on a fireplace mantle(?) or some sort of shelf on a wall opposite the stage. it was a real good and safe spot, and i was glad to prop my own portable tape recorder right up there too. thank you zacht automaat for always leaving everything out there on the court and for defending your championships approximately once a year.

Karen Ng - [excerpt]

Recorded at a house party, November 2, 2019.

this was up around dufferin/davenport in the basement of andrew finlay stewart's, a great friend and creative partner of mine. it was a party and then there'd be music. a lot of people huddled up in this tiny living room (or at least it felt tiny for the amount of people that had filled it), without being able to make such a choice, i happened to be sat right in front of karen ng's decided 'stage' and there was nowhere for me to run. so i sat there and enjoyed this set very much, no choice (and no choice necessary) but to welcome the warm sonic embrace/blast/whispers of her saxophone. i remember there were a lot of friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends in attendance. the next time that i witnessed karen playing a solo set was the complete opposite: alone on the couch in the kitchen area of arrayspace while her and the rest of the audience sat on the other side of the closed door. a story for another time. thank you karen ng for every note and for always being real.

Off World - unknown

Recorded at Ratio (Off World LP 1 Release Weekend – Night 3), October 23, 2016.

i went to this show by myself and didn't know anybody that was there, at least not personally, as i knew a bunch of local artists in attendance but they surely didn't know who i was. i recognized joe though, which indicated that i was indeed in the right place at the right time. just a few minutes into the off world set, i fell asleep on the floor (or on some cushion) and ended up drifting in and out of sleep multiple times throughout the show. i have a funny memory of joe chuckling as he noticed me waking up in a somewhat startled state at 1 point before passing out again. and unless i have it mixed up with the only other time i attended a show at ratio, i also have a vivid memory of seeing mike smith in the kitchen, who i also hadn't formally met at that time, but who offered me a friendly smile. thank you sandro perri and lorenz peter for the off world dreaming and for every song (if you noticed me sleeping during your set i hope i did not offend).

Orechin/Fraser - unknown

Recorded at Wenona Lodge (Track Could Bend #52), July 2, 2019.

i just loved this set by alexei orechin and nick fraser at track could bend so much- i guess enough to still remember it 5 years later. it was hot in that basement, and probably thunderstormed earlier in the day as i noticed it always did (Without fail) every 1st tuesday of the month for a long time. i was really blissing out in my seat and remember having 1 of those moments where i was moving/swaying in body and mind. seriously hard to believe the piece was only 12 or 13 minutes - felt like a lifetime. this was also back when 241 pizza at bloor/havelock had 2 slices + a pop for $1.75 and a big window banner so the whole neighbourhood knew what was up. people would travel from other parts of the city just for the deal. and listening back now, that perfect splash when nick fraser enters the fold is like opening the can of pop and taking that first sip (i'm not really a pop drinker, but it was more expensive if you just bought the 2 slices on its own). thank you alexei orechin and nick fraser for this particularly good time and for often playing well with others.

Nicole Rampersaud - [excerpt]

Recorded at The Baby G (Track Could Bend #39), June 5, 2018.

i can't tell you how many times i've brought up this set in conversation since it happened. i recall there only being a handful of us in attendance, though i could be wrong, and it should be stated that this (obviously) has nothing to do with the incredible music that nicole rampersaud offered us on this date. that being said, i bring up this (possible) fact because over the years i've come to realize that some of my favourite concerts are ones where at some point during the set, while listening to the music, i catch myself looking around the room, noticing each individual audience member, then drawing my visual attention back to the artist, and thinking something like "hah, this is wild, we are the lucky ones!" - i wonder if you do this too? of course there are a ton of shows that come to mind where this has happened, and it seems to me that whether these gigs are recorded/archived or not truly makes no difference to the fact that in another world or in front of another audience or at a different time in history they might be considered 'legendary'. anyway, i'm rambling! thank you nicole rampersaud for all your music and for your kindness.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Monday Roundup #162

Concert announcements:

Rob Clutton Trio / The Emmet Ray 2024-02-28 (Wednesday)

Cosmic Ship [Andrew Kay/Chris Pruden/Tyler Emond/Mack Longpre] / Drom Taberna 2024-02-29 (Thursday – 6:30 p.m.) [FB event]

Tommy Tone (Esther Splett / Erin Corbett) / No-No Room 2024-03-01 (Friday). $10, 19+.

Track Could Bend #89 (feat. mutepack / Piers Oolvai) / Wenona Lodge 2022-03-05 (Tuesday). $pwyc. [FB event]

Equinox and Solstice Residency (feat. Ghostlight) / The Tranzac (Living Room) 2024-03-06 (Wednesday). $10 suggested. [FB event]

Otterville [Andrew Downing/Michael Davidson/Nick Fraser/Tara Davidson/Paul Mathew/Christine Bougie] / The Rex 2024-03-06–09 (Wednesday–Saturday) [FB event]

Audiopollination (feat. Uuxe/Collette Andrea/Nirvana Sagar / Connor Crone/ Bicyclops/ Raymond Carruthers / Bill Gilliam/Andrew Finlay Stewart/Émilie Fortin / Jenna Geen/Abby Silvera/Mickle32) / Array Space 2024-03-08 (Friday). $10 or PWYC. [FB event]

Ayal Senior & Friends (feat. Ayal Senior/Kurt Newman/Blake Howard/Andrew Furlong / Eye-Duh Kho / Jonathan Adjemian / Nick Flanagan) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2024-03-10 (Sunday – 2:30 p.m.) [FB event]

Maria Chávez (Debashis Sinha) / The Music Gallery 2024-03-14 (Thursday). $10 MG members, $10-$20 pay what you can afford. [more info]

Escote (Ex Corpse / Liz Lima / Brian Fog) / Bar Orwell 2024-03-28 (Thursday). $15 / pwyc / notaflof. [FB event]

Small World Music Series & The Music Gallery present (feat. Nadah El Shazly & Sarah Pagé / Khôra / Honeypaw) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2024-04-02 (Tuesday). $15 advance, $20 door, $10 MG members, low income, arts workers. [more info]

Is your show missing from this list? Submit it via this form!


Shows this week:

Music Hosted by Karen Ng (feat. Lina Allemano/Mateos Labbe-Phelan/Kieran Maraj/Karen Ng / McGill Chamber Jazz Ensemble) / Wenona Lodge 2022-02-20 (Tuesday)

Triio [Tom Fleming/Stefan Hegerat/Bea Labikova/Alex Fournier/Michael Davidson/Naomi McCarroll-Butler] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2024-02-20 (Tuesday) [more info]

Dave Clark / Sellers & Newel 2024-02-22 (Thursday). $15 Minimum donation. [more info]

CCMC [Al Mattes/Casey Sokol/Paul Dutton/John Oswald/John Kamevaar with guest Pierre Mongeon] / Array Space 2024-02-22 (Thursday). $free, livestream available

Karen Ng Presents (feat. Chris Banks [solo synth & electronics, debut performance!] / The Adjacence [Lina Allemano/Ryan Driver/Nick Fraser/Karen Ng]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2024-02-22 (Thursday) [more info]

All-Set! Presents (feat. Molehill) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2024-02-23 (Friday – early)

Dave Bidini / Sellers & Newel 2024-02-23 (Friday). $20 Minimum donation. [more info]

Experimental Link (feat. Niloufar Shiri / Caleb Klager) / Small World Centre 2024-02-23 (Friday). $19.56. [FB event]

Exit Points 46: 4th anniversary concert (feat. Marz/Prince/Robbie Ahmed/Kasey Pocius/Paul Stillwell / R. Flex/Saba Zameni/Maneli Jamal/Gabrielle Couillard/Michael Palumbo / Switchemups!) / Array Space 2024-02-23 (Friday). $20 at the door, cash/card/mobile. [FB event]

Fortunato Durutti Marinetti (Picastro) / Burdock Music Hall 2024-02-23 (Friday). $15. [more info]

WQW Throwback House Party (feat. Carlin Nicholson & Mike O'Brien / Brendan Canning + David French / Amy Millan / Andrew Whiteman / Ariel Engel / controller.controller / Gentleman Reg / Begonia) / The Drake Hotel 2024-02-23 (Friday). $25. [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2024-02-23 (Friday). $pwyw. [FB event]

Batuki Music Society presents (feat. Alpha Yaya Diallo and Bafing) / Spadina Theatre @ Alliance Française 2024-02-24 (Saturday). $20.50. [FB event]

coexisDance #101 (feat. Saysa/Kel Mansaray/Steph Hark/Tania Gill/Apple/Chantelle Mostacho/Y Josephine/Estella Heansel/Patrick O'Reilly/Marie-Elena LeBlanc Bellissimo/Heather Saumer) / Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre 2024-02-24 (Saturday). $15 Sliding Scale. [FB event]


It happened this week...

  • ... ten years ago, on February 21-23, 2014 at The Tranzac's Main Hall (The Second Annual Somewhere There Creative Music Festival).

The Kyle Brenders Quartet - Noir

Alaniaris - unknown

Stuart Broomer/Arthur Bull/Bob Vespaziani/David Lee/Eric Stach - [excerpt from an improvization]

Hat & Beard - Jackie-ing

King Weather - [first piece]

[Do remember that you can click on the tags below to go back and find the original posts (and often, more stuff) from these artists.]

Sunday, February 18, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Ian McPhedran

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Ian McPhedran.

Fifteen years is an unfathomable milestone for most endeavours and yet here we are. Joe’s tireless effort to build and preserve this archive is no small feat, and still he makes it look easy. While searching the archive to prepare the list, I was surprised at times to find that recordings I assumed would be there were not, mainly because it has always felt like he was at every single show ever (I really wanted to find the recording of DAS RAD at the Silver Dollar when Bo shouted “The power of Christ compels you!” and then cut his hand with a razor blade and blood ran all over the stage resulting in a later hospital trip, but does that even exist?). The collection is a testament to the fantastic and diverse body of work created by the city’s music communities since 2009. That it is freely searchable and accessible is a gift and an opportunity that we should all take advantage of. As with your curation work and your own musical endeavours, it captures a spirit of openness, inclusivity, and support that encourages exploration and risk-taking, which are vital for fostering new projects and ideas. Thank you Joe.

Doing a deep-dive in the archive reminded me how strongly music is tied to memory, so I have organized my list around shows that had a significant impact on me as “footnotes” for the collection.


Easy Targets - Secret Door

Recorded at The Silver Dollar (Canadian Music Week), March 13, 2010.

The Targets were always great, but I’m glad Joe recorded this one. There was always something menacing just lurking under the surface with the band, and it really explored that territory that night, which I think translates into the recording. Playing CMW or NXNE is always a somewhat frustrating endeavour for bands and that night was no exception, and this in part fueled the energy and the overall vibe in the room, which the Targets picked up on. The one downside to Nick Kervin being such an incredible drummer is that his great skills as a songwriter and guitar player are sometimes forgotten. The crucible of this project directly led to some other great projects that also produced stellar work, namely, Mimico, B-17s, Cellphone (and pretty much everything else Colin has done), and of course Scott Hardware.

The Hoa Hoa's - Going Out With Her

Recorded at The Boat, April 29, 2011.

Going out with Her is an underappreciated song from one of the finest groups this city has ever produced. Performed on the first night of their weekend of final shows, there is something about the quality of Richie’s voice that always gets me, and that night, made me teary. It really punctuated the bittersweet feeling of the evening.

Nidus - the gauzy meshwork of an invisible thought [excerpt]

Recorded at Cedarvale Ravine, September 11, 2021.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and sometimes yield the most exciting results. As a safety-workaround during Covid, Nidus brought a generator and an impressive amount of gear into a cavernous section of Cedarvale Ravine and proceeded to blow minds. The mosquitos were terrible and the police showed up to end the evening at the behest of the owners of the multi-million dollar homes that line the ravine (although some of their children seemed to enjoy what was going on). You can’t make this stuff up. It also features the contributions of my absolute favorite Toronto composer Jason Doell.

Beard Closet - Compassionate Fascism

Recorded at Holy Oak Café (Taking drugs to play music for kittens to take drugs to – Chi Chi Fundraiser), September 30, 2012.

I wanted to include one of Phil Hamilton’s projects and my first choice, the Samesex performance at the Holy Oak on September 26, 2014 was MIA (I swear this was posted at one point). [Ed note: possibly this one? From a time when project names were in flux.]
This is vintage Dissolving Parliament era Beard Closet that still makes my skin crawl in the best possible way. The fact that Phil played a benefit for a cat despite clearly being a “dog person” demonstrates all of the warmth, love and generosity of spirit lurking beneath that rough exterior. The recording captures Beard Closet’s fearless sense of experimentation that made the evening so much fun.

Cosmic Homeostasis XV - Blah, Blah, Blah [excerpt 1]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), May 29, 2022.

I tried to avoid picking any recordings I played on, but as both a frequent participant and as an observer, I think Cosmic Homeostasis is one of the most fascinating gatherings in the city. It presents a real challenge to the conventional privileging of the role of the performer in live music since the listeners and participants both play an equal role and intermingle throughout the room. Every ambient sound captured as a treasured part of the piece. This one was special because it was the first show I played with my son Sterling and he got to name the songs. I was nervous, but everyone was very patient playing alongside a four-year-old.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Matthew Fava

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Matthew Fava.

Happy anniversary, Mechanical Forest Sound, and resounding thanks to Joe Strutt! I set out to compile 5 or 6 recordings from the site, but have instead prepared links and reflections for 4. This activity was a challenge for me because Joe has become increasingly central to my creative network, and the cultural/historiographic role of the site is that much more meaningful/inarguable, so there is quite a lot to say.

And on that note, brevity eludes me at the best of times, and here we are at the apex of a months-long moment when I have talked openly and frequently with friends about moments of hopelessness. I have grown increasingly dependent on external factors to transfuse some hopefulness as I attempt to reset or reconsider emotional patterns.

Writing these thoughts down for Mechanical Forest Sound was a helpful exercise. I got to revisit the last 10 years of my life and inevitably travel further in time as I chased each enfolded memory.

So let’s start with the hard one.


The Woodshed Brass Band - Love Letter To New Orleans

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Tribute to the Life of Ken Aldcroft), October 7, 2016.

I remember where I was when I learned that Ken Aldcroft had passed. Jeremy Strachan, David Dacks, and I were set up at the CMC for an early installment in the Music Gallery’s History series (which invites various local figures to reflect on periods, places, and people that have been central to experimental music making in the city). Jeremy was the guest speaker. One of the attendees arrived early and let us know that Ken passed. We were shocked. We had a quick huddle and expressed disbelief, sadness. We ended up sharing the news at the start of Jeremy’s talk for the folks who assembled. I remember the gasps.

David shared a lovely reflection (with his unique penchant for the reverential and indexical-historical); Jeremy improvised a section of his lecture and reminisced about catching one of Ken’s performances in the Southern Cross at the Tranzac. We parted ways after the event, fully expecting to gather again to honour Ken.

Several days later, one of my oldest friends, Joseph Calarco, wanted to meet up. He was in the city visiting family. He had moved to San Francisco, and extended visits to Toronto were rare. He met up with me and another old friend, Rick, for dumplings. We had this lovely meal together, and we walked together along College Street. Rick parted ways when we got to U of T, and I said goodbye to Joseph a few blocks later. He hopped on the subway at Queen’s Park, and I continued on back to work at the CMC.

A few days later, Rick and I received an email from Joseph’s brother. Joseph had passed away suddenly when he had gotten back to his home in San Francisco.

A few days later, Rick and I said goodbye to Joseph again, sitting amongst many mutual friends from our past. I had never grieved the loss of a close friend. It proved overwhelming.

The day after Joseph Calarco’s funeral, I showed up at work solely because Allison Cameron was performing (October 6, 2016). Allison was being interviewed by Kristel Jax, and was going to improvise a set with Joe Strutt. In my mind, after a weekend prostrating on my floor, and two days of emotional prostration in a funeral home, I had a desperate need to regain my footing in the world. Joe Strutt arrived at the CMC early. Once he saw me, he came right over and gave me a massive hug. I needed it. I cry thinking about it. I needed to see my friends.

The day after Allison’s performance, I showed up at the Main Hall in the Tranzac for the Toronto celebration of life of Ken Aldcroft (October 7, 2016). Ken and I had only interacted a few times (when I would go up to him after a show to buy an album, when he played an open rehearsal at the CMC earlier in 2016). Feeling that proximity to and admiration for his music and organizing, knowing that my heart was struggling to heal from compounding loss, wanting to honour the artistic constellation in which Ken burned brightly, I went.

His family, close friends, and collaborators organized a moving event with touching stories and mesmerizing performances. The night started with the Woodshed Brass Band, captured in these recordings by Joe Strutt. The band and all the event attendees marched along Brunswick, marched through the alleys, marched along Bloor, sounding joyous songs. Songs for Ken. It is a Toronto memory I cherish.

I collapsed into the arms of many friends that night at the Tranzac. Folks were grappling with a deep loss, and many made room for me to share my grief about my friend Joseph Calarco as well.

When we lose our friends we lose access to a particular part of ourselves, too. The part that our friends saw vividly and lovingly, the part they could share back to us when we forget.

When I think about my friend Joe Strutt I think about the fact that he has worked so hard to let us know how he cares about us, to take what might otherwise be a fragile memory and celebrate it, document it, photograph it. To help us remember ourselves.

little window - Feel it all at once

Recorded at The Tranzac (Living Room), September 30, 2023.

Luca Capone and I have this long history together. Our grandparents came from the same mountain village in Italy—we used to see each other at the festas at Mary Lake that marked the end of every summer growing up. I was in the same grade as Luca’s brother Geremy, and would sometimes show up at the Capone household (including during Italy’s run at the ‘94 world cup when we made signs and celebrated a victory at the end of the Capone driveway, trying to get cars to honk at us).

Our paths converged again at CHRY on York University campus. We both developed an abiding love for community radio, which Luca has actively maintained through his programming of the Night Shift. If I recall correctly (I sometimes do), we were hanging out in the offices at CHRY in late 2008 early 2009 and got onto the topic of playing music together. So we had a casual jam with my brother Joseph (yes there is another Joseph in my ramblings). I picked up bass guitar since Joseph was on guitar and Luca was on drums. It was the first time I played bass guitar.

That evening marked the beginning of the longest creative/artistic collaboration of my life. Luca and I have played music together in several configurations over the past 15 years. Luca is especially good at tempering my impatience as a musician, while also being willing to engage in a kind of rapid prototypical playing as we continually inject some variant rhythm, articulation, tone. It is fun to make music with Luca.

It is also safe to say that 90% of my musical output and performance history is the result of Luca inviting me to tag along after he establishes a connection with kindred musicians.

Several months ago Luca began working with Eli Howey, and was passing notes to let me know how excited he was about Eli’s music. Their project, Little Window, played a show back in September at the Tranzac. I missed it, but Joe Strutt did not!

To my delight, and in keeping with the pattern mentioned above, Luca asked me to tag along during a recording session with Little Window in January. I have not played in a band that plays songs in a long time, but I was available and would never decline a chance to leap into it (music) with Luca. It reminded me of our early days together. Learning Eli’s music was immense fun, and this recording captures that rough-hewn, ethereal, and transfixing quality in their writing/playing, complete with that propulsive drumwork from the “grizzled veteran” Luca—Joe’s description!

M. Mucci/Khôra/Totenbaum Träger - [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space (Remembering Arachnidiscs), January 19, 2020.

While I was working at CHRY in the music department, I was responsible for receiving mailers from labels, distributors, and artists. I would give them a partial listen (there were a lot of submissions), enter them into the database, deface/label the cover, and then update the studio playbox and library. It was a rewarding job in many ways.

On one occasion we received an album from Michael Mucci in Guelph. I was not familiar with his prior work, but quickly fell into a lengthy listen. I wrote him a short email to confirm that we received the album, and to let him know how much I enjoyed it. He responded with appreciation.

A few years later I was listening through the catalogue of Arachnidiscs records, and purchased what was then a new album from Michael, Secret Midnights. This album was a favourite of mine from the 2010s, and I still listen to it several times a year.

Our story leaps into January 2020. Jakob Rehlinger decided to wrap up operations of Arachnidiscs Records, and organized a funereal gathering at Arrayspace to mark the occasion (if I am not mistaken, a certain Joe Strutt insisted that such an event take place through some self-described “moderate prodding” lol).

Several Arachnidiscs alumni, myself included, got to join in the performances that night. I ended up playing in a live realization of Jakob’s BABEL ensemble alongside Michael Mucci, Dominic Marion and Kayla Milmine, which was humbling and lovely.

As part of a separate set, Dominic (Totenbaum Träger) proposed a live re-imagining of Michael’s Secret Midnights album, and performed a set with Michael and Matthew Ramolo (AKA Khôra). Dominic opened the set with the signature sparse + icy guitar phrasing that welcomes listeners to the original album. The set unfolded with a placid mysticism, a sonic undertow, the kind that pulls you into unexpected spaces.

Once more time, space, history, and memory converged.

Heather Saumer - Shenandoah

Recorded at Dundas Video (Track Could Bend #21), December 6, 2016.

There has been an inescapable change in my (our?) relationship to Mechanical Forest Sound since the last time I contributed a playlist to the site—during the celebration of the 6th anniversary. In particular, Joe has been far more active as a curator, organizer, and artist, and the contents of the site take on an entirely new quality in response.

As Octavia tells us, all that you touch you change, and all that you change changes you. Joe continues to change, and be changed by, the musical tributaries that define Toronto.

So I had to include a recording from Track Could Bend (TCB).

TCB, Joe’s ongoing series, was a part of my monthly routine for a time, especially during the Dundas Video Days. I would shift my hours at work, and make an appearance at shows before heading home. And yes I would play Blades of Steel, and Mario Kart, and TMNTII (NES) between sets, but I wasn’t a complete misanthrope. Joe would often do the thing he is so good at: he would say “Matthew, you should meet [insert name here]”; “Matthew, can I introduce you to [insert name here]”; or “Matthew, you and [insert name here] are both into [insert obscure musical thing here], you should talk.” So yeah, I didn’t ONLY play video games between sets, and Joe was the consummate event host.

TCB artists were/are always a draw. That the contents remained unknowable until the set began was key to the appeal. Joe made artists feel safe taking risks, doing something new, sharing something that was potentially error-prone in front of people. And these experiments would often generate seismic soundings. One such earth-altering performance featured Heather Saumer.

As a former trombone player (who never took it to the streets) it has always been inspiring to see+hear Heather give voice to the instrument in novel ways. During this performance at TCB I was spell-bound by the inventive manipulation of water with the mouthpiece of the trombone, and the nostalgia-stirrings brought on by the use of the overhead project (the shallow pool of water was rested on its glass platen) which brought the rippling tides of the sonic textures to life in the space. There is a wonder to the sound. I thank Joe continually for making space for the sonic incantation, and I thank Heather for the magic.

Ending.

I had an additional 6 recordings that I picked out after my preliminary brainstorm for this piece… but it might take me to the next anniversary to tell you why each one matters to me. Perhaps it is sufficient to say that Joe matters to me; that his ongoing choice to show up for us in every way he can is inspiring to me.

Thanks for being a friend to so many of us, Joe.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Friday, February 16, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Chris Trotter

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Chris Trotter.

Thank you for all the wonderful and good work that you put into this project!
It's astounding and amazing.
Here's some selections for the playlist.


David Jones + APA - [excerpt]

Recorded at Dundas Video (Track Could Bend #13), April 5, 2016.

wonderful space and sonic entanglement

Within - Balkan Song

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, July 2, 2015.

such a joy to have this moment captured

Cosmic Homeostasis XI - Out Among the Reeds [excerpt]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge, June 30, 2019.

amazingly delicate work by so much interplay

iderdown + abigail trotsky - unknown

Recorded at The Steady Café (Track Could Bend #31), October 3, 2017.

Greatful for the archive of such a fun night!

Cares - [excerpt]

Recorded at 1161 Dundas St W. (Endless City: Invoking The Spirit), January 31, 2016.

carried off on a dark fractal


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

#mfs15 playlist: Luca Capone

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Luca Capone.

Hello there!
Luca Capone here, producer and host of The Night Shift, a weird and warm community radio program that airs across different cities in Canada and the US.
I had the great privilege of participating in celebrating the 6th anniversary of Mechanical Forest Sound back in 2015, and so, when Joe demanded that I participate in celebrating the 15th anniversary, I was overjoyed, but a little worried.
There's such an infinite amount of great music and musicians that Joe has supported over the years, and my mind was struggling to sift through all the possibilities.
Who would I choose? WHO!?!?? SO MUCH PRESSURE ARGGHHHHSDHASDH MY KNEES!!!!!!!!!!!!
This past Sunday, in a state of confusion, hunger and my mind still muddled as fuck, I doused a plate of my father's bbq ribs with a large amount of his friend Frank Carnevale's Mom's special chili powder, a substance that is said to possess intense psychedelic properties.
I was hoping this experience would unfog my mind, however, I was not prepared for the consequences... The combination of chili powder, plus the Italian mountain-troll crafted digestif that I had dranken previously sent me on a cosmic voyage into another dimension...... THE ALTERNATE WOODBRIDGE-X3 REALM.
It was an environment extremely similar to our own, except for slight differences.
It was there I met my alternate version, Dante Pietrangelo, who in that world, actually shared a work space with Joe Strutt's alternate: John Stratt.
They ran a communal barber shop/greasy spoon called Fiorentina Turner's.
Kind of like a combination of Vesta Lunch and Joseph's Hairstyling For Men, where musicians and artists could eat and get their hair cut for free (though, not at the same time; nobody wants clumps of their own hair in their curry rice. I know I don't!)
I explained my quandary to Dante, and invited them to peruse the Mechanical Forest Sound website (My phone still was connecting with info from my dimension).
They went way back, and coincidentally, landed on classic performances from musicians near and dear to my heart.
Even across alternate dimensions, I guess musical tastes still hit the same, and phenomenal community music archives are still essential.
I applaud Joe with everything I have, and I wish him and MFS all the best for the future.


The Owle Bird - Jewelled Beasts

Recorded at the Silver Dollar Room, June 30, 2009.

Bruce Peninsula - Steamroller

Recorded at the eye Weekly Music Tent, Word on the Street Festival, September 27, 2009.

Ohbijou - Cliff Jumps

Recorded at Third Floor Session, December 5, 2009.

Ostrich Tuning - Gender Trouble (Bodies That Matter)

Recorded at The Garrison, April 10, 2010.

Witch Prophet - Funeral For a Killer

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room (Long Winter 4.5 – Night 2), March 18, 2016.

Eiyn Sof - Heavy Low

Recorded at The Tranzac (Main Hall), June 24, 2018.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: styrofoamNosebleedPrincess

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from styrofoamNosebleedPrincess.

For the past decade and a half, one of Toronto’s most devoted music fans has been extremely busy organising and documenting more than a few metric fucktonnes of concerts. It is in this latter capacity that we now celebrate the hard work of the one and only Joe Strutt. It was after his recording a performance of Alison Cameron playing solo at a Quiet Bedrooms show that I first met Joe. Before long, I’d see him at many more concerts. From freak folk to modern composition to chimurenga, Joe’s taste in music is highly eclectic. Since I also enjoy a wide range of musical styles, Joe’s always been an interesting person to talk with about music, to attend concerts curated by, and to use as a yardstick. To wit, if you’re at a concert and you see him there, you know you’re in for a treat. Meeting people at a Joe-show is also often a good time in its own right. So here are five recordings from Mechanical Forest Sound which stand out to me. Keeping it down to so few was no simple challenge, with the abundant wealth of his collection.


Spires That In The Sunset Rise - unknown

Recorded at The White House (Burn Down the Capital presents), April 25, 2013.

Craig Dunsmuir and Dun-Dun Band - Untitled (12→13→14→15→16→12→21)

Recorded at The Great Hall (Long Winter 4.4), February 19, 2016.

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited - Nhamo

Recorded at Afrofest (Queen's Park), July 10, 2011.

Brodie West/Naomi McCarroll-Butler/Patrick O'Reilly - unknown

Recorded at Humber Loop (A More Beautiful Journey Launch Event), September 1, 2022.

Sarah Hennies & Germaine Liu - Sisters [excerpt]

Recorded at Sheppard West Station (Intersection Day 1: Music For Subways), August 29, 2019.


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

#mfs15 playlist: core

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from core.

please accept this quiet drifting ode to the incomparable JOE STRUTT - citizen, writer, listener, maker, musician, fan, devotee and enthusiast, group drone organizer, promoter of improvised offshoots, and possibly the nicest most generous inclusive person in the whole modern tkaronto/toronto music scene. also, in the running for best name award.


Scott M2-kat estacio-Heraclitus Akimbo - [excerpt]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Cosmic Homeostasis & Audiopollination: Pre-NYE gathering + celebration), December 30, 2023.

a recent show by some local favourites that i missed but was delighted to listen to safely from home

Germaine Liu/Mira Martin-Gray/Karen Ng - [first piece, part 3]

Recorded at Wenona Lodge (Music Hosted by Karen Ng), September 17, 2019.

playful dynamic experimentations on full display

Cosmic Homeostasis - She Sells Moondust Down by The Sea of Tranquility [excerpt]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Cosmic Homeostasis VIII), September 30, 2018.

shout out to the cosmic homeostasis crew, this afternoon was memorable for the guest appearance of my friends' kids, wolfgang and annika whose improvised vocal contributions can be heard in the mix xo

Abigail Trotsky/Chris Trotter/Mike Spears - [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space (Audiopollination #53.1), April 8, 2017.

a rare and treasured collaboration with my longtime partner and our longtime friend xo

Brigitte Bardon't + SlowPitchSound - Sylvia Anne Virginia [forest noise scene redux] [excerpt]

Recorded at Double Double Land (NASA – Noise Against Sexual Assault), July 10, 2016.

with thanks for creating a soundtrack to safer spaces through solidarity and digital noise forests

thanks for everything,
corinne aka core aka abigail trotsky aka lane/louise


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

#mfs15 playlist: Nick Fraser

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Nick Fraser.

Thanks for all you do, Joe! 🙂


Drumheller - Nguyen Ngoc Loan

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), January 28, 2014.

Oh Boy. A piece that I ended up feeling was unsuitable for Drumheller, but that survives somehow. Also, this piece never turned out to feel more suitable for anything else.

Nick Fraser/Bryan Qu/Alex Fournier - Jupiter

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), August 16, 2016.

You know, I just entered names in to the Mechanical Forest Sound search bar, and when I entered my own, things came up. I had forgotten that some of these had ever happened. But I like it all!

You know... when I started thinking about it (and searching), it seemed (seems) to me that all of the MFS recordings are worth sharing. So here are some of "mine." (searches of "nick fraser")

And here are searches for "drumheller"

[Ed. note: you can also click the tags for "Nick Fraser" and "Drumheller"!]


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

#mfs15 playlist: Mira Martin-Gray

MFS has turned fifteen! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks from the MFS community to help me celebrate by picking some selections from the archives, and possibly sharing some thoughts or stories.

Today's list is from Mira Martin-Gray.

I met the blogger behind this venerable operation in October 2017 at a show at the gone-but-not-forgotten Dupe Shop. But I first saw Joe about ten years earlier, at one rock club or another. Rancho Relaxo? Silver Dollar Room? Surely not The Reverb? I was an underage indie rocker sporting skinny jeans and oversized glasses gigging with my high school band, and often as not, that guy was in the crowd again, messenger bag in tow. Ah, 2007. Somehow all these years later Joe and I have found ourselves in the same-but-different music scene, and again, at least as often as not, we find ourselves at the same concerts – now friends and peers.

What a pleasure to dig through the Mechanical Forest Sound archive, a delicious mixture of nostalgia and discovery. I’ve chosen to focus on older stuff. Some of my selections represent cherished memories, and some offer glimpses of moments I wish I could have witnessed.


Laura Barrett - Sorting Hat

Recorded at Rolly's Garage (Daps All-Ages & No Shame Afternoon Extravaganza), June 20, 2009.

It was June 2009, the Ossington strip was newly "happenin," and I was a couple months shy of 19. Hooded Fang’s Dan and April ran a much needed series of weekend afternoon all-ages shows, often showcasing young bands and cheap eats. I came to this particular gig to hear percussive powerhouse Pick a Piper, with whom I’d shared a bill at the PWYC Pitter Patter Festival the year before (with DAPS side project HUT, IIRC). I was also happy to hear surprise guests Spiral Beach, the ultimate art rock teen idols. But the performance that I remember most fondly was Laura Barrett’s, and it seems she was the highlight for Joe as well. Barrett’s songs were quirky, feminine, complex – just what I needed to hear as an androgynous wannabe-intellectual indie kid. Soon after, I went out and bought a kalimba at African Drums and Arts Crafts in Kensington Market, and carried it around in my messenger bag.

Weaves - unknown

Recorded at Clinton's Tavern, September 12, 2012.

I started working at the same restaurant as Jasmyn Burke about a year after this sparkling clip was recorded. She was so cool, I wasn’t, and we talked music in the dish pit. Sadly I never saw her perform as Weaves in solo project form, but later went on to catch the full band incarnation at Wavelength a few times, and proudly wore their T-shirt and pinback button. I even wrote a little blurb about their record for the dearly departed Weird Canada. Damn, they were good. They made rock cool again. But 2012 was very much the peak era of the solo loop pedal artist, and this version of Weaves is a shining example. Jasmyn’s voice just does things to you.

Les Mouches - Winter = Dead Time

Another one to file under local indie hero whose career skirts the weirder edge of things. I recently gushed about Owen’s first solo album on a podcast. Pallett’s music has been close to my heart since high school, but I hadn’t heard of this sui generis post-rock outfit until Orchid Tapes reissued their old Blocks Recording Club album. Sadly I didn’t hear about this show at the time, but based on the blog entry, it was an under the radar affair. Luckily the man with the recorder whom we all know and love was in attendance!

c_RL - [fourth piece]

Recorded at Ratio, May 8, 2015.

This is not the same c_RL show in my memory bank, but it’s close enough in the space-time continuum to stand in for it. It's a vivid memory because it was the first time I had ever seen free improv. In 2012 I was playing loop pedal-core in a guitar-drums duo. We had a gig at the Tranzac in the late slot and as we were loading in, I was lucky enough to witness Germaine Liu doing unspeakable things to a snare, shaking it like she was rousing the drum from a dream. It was almost certainly upside down at one point. I had no idea what was happening and it was wonderful. It took me several more years to rediscover the door to Narnia that is our local experimental music scene, but that was my first peek into another world.

Kyle Brenders Ensemble - Grasslands [4th mvt]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 3), February 27, 2016.

I wanted to choose a recording that reveals what I was missing out on before fully cluing in to the scene. This blog affords the rare opportunity to dig into ongoing history. Some of the players in this large group are now well-known to me, others I have only heard of, and a few names are totally unfamiliar. Calling to mind Otomo Yoshihide’s New Jazz Orchestra, I love this style of electroacoustical comprovisational big band music. It would be great to hear more of this kind of thing, but goodness knows it’s not always easy to get so many talented people in one place. It takes a special combination of creative vision and organizational skills, traits that don’t always arise as a pair. Thank goodness we now have Women From Space’s Big Bang to fill the void!


You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been five or so songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.