Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Recording: Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet

Artist: Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet

Songs: Mobile [composer: Susanna Hood] + Fork [edit] [composer: Logan Mills] + 4 for 8 [version 2] [composer: Scott Thomson] + Untitled [composer: Doug Tielli]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 4), February 25, 2018.

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Mobile

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Fork [edit]

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - 4 for 8 [version 2]

Somewhere There Festival Trombone Quartet - Untitled

Building on the tradition established with last year's saxophone quartet, the Somewhere There Festival once more showed its commitment to new music with a call for compositions — this time for trombone quartet. And once more the ensemble — consisting of Tom Richards, Heather Saumer, Doug Tielli and Nebyu Yohannes — preceded a concert of the commissioned works with an open rehearsal, giving non-players a window into the process of how a group and composer navigate the mutual discovery of how a new piece "works".

Of the three pieces chosen, Logan Mills' "Fork" was the most conventionally scored, although there was a lot of mathematically-intricate trickiness in a piece based on harmonic interrelationships he had been musing upon while working as a piano tuner. Susanna Hood's "Mobile", on the other hand, offered a procedurally-intricate text-based score that had the players spacialized (and spinning around) like the parts of a wind-tossed mobile. Scott Thomson's "4 for 8" was even more open ended with two sets of variables on a numbered line leading to a "rehearsal" that was as more of a negotiation over how to interpret the piece than a musical struggle. (Thomson, who was present, saw no need to impose any authorial wisdom on the players, who ultimately decided to play the piece following two separate rule-sets, leading to two rather different results.) The concert was closed out by this untitled miniature from Doug Tielli, which sounded not unlike street-corner Salavation Army band lullaby.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Concert Listings Roundup #247

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 Music Gallery presents (feat. Not The Music [Éric Normand/Philippe Lauzier] w/ Joe McPhee / Mercury [Lori Freedman/Nicolas Caloia]) / 918 Bathurst 2018-04-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

This night features long-time innovators continuing to push in new directions, beginning with Lori Freedman (clarinet) and Nicolas Caloia (double bass) playing new "open form" compositions — including one from Martin Arnold. Then, Éric Normand and Philippe Lauzier join forces with the legendary Joe McPhee for some free-range explorations.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Burn Down the Capital presents (feat. Wei Zhongle / Luge / Lice II) / Handlebar 2018-04-23 (Monday) [FB event]

Composers' Toolbox ["interactive presentation"] (feat. Christine Duncan) / Canadian Music Centre 2018-04-24 (Tuesday – free with registration!) [FB event]

Riverrun / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-24 (Tuesday)

Dany Laj and the Looks / The Dakota Tavern 2018-04-25 (Wednesday — early show, 7 to 9 p.m.!) [FB event]

Rosetta (USA Out of Vietnam / Sovereign / Uxvae) / Coalition 2018-04-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Ivy Mairi (Mamalia) / Burdock Warehouse 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Joanne Pollock (Sages / Leucrocuta / Anna Modo) / Handlebar 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Daniel Barnes/Girma Woldemichael Ethio-Jazz Quartet / Hirut Café 2018-04-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Josh Cole Quintet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-26 (Thursday)

Clamps (Alpha Strategy / WLMRT / Outer Rooms) / CineCycle 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Biblical (Völur / Retired) / The Garrison 2018-04-27 (Friday – note new date + venue!) [FB event]

Togetherness! [Ellwood Epps/Erik Hove/Scott Thomson/Stéphane Diamantakiou/Ivan Bamford] / Burdock Music Hall 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Beds (Rapport / Bobbypin / Chloe's World) / Owl's Club 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Aurochs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-27 (Friday – early!)

Gordon Grdina/Nicole Rampersaud/Brodie West/Mark Zurawinski / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Ronley Teper's Lipliners [last Saturday of the month residency!] / The Baby G 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

No Age (Behavior / Protruders) / The Rec Room 2018-04-28 (Saturday – all ages!) [FB event]

Silent Shout (feat. Castle If / Persons / Tigerwing / Gabe Knox) / Handlebar 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Faster Presents (feat. DUST [Michelangelo Iaffaldano/Chris Adriaanse/Nicolas Buligan/Cory Latkovich/Lina Allemano/Paul Newman/D.A. Meeks/Mike Smith/Kayla Milmine/Brian Abbott]) / Gerrard Art Space 2018-04-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Togetherness! [Ellwood Epps/Erik Hove/Scott Thomson/Stéphane Diamantakiou/Ivan Bamford] / The Tranzac (Tiki Room) 2018-04-28 (Saturday)

Mary Margaret O'Hara/Larry Potter/John Oswald/Bryan Toner/Aidan Closs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-28 (Saturday)

Cosmic Homeostasis VI (feat. Paul Newman/Ronnie Blake/Syd Ortega/Laura Swankey/Joe Strutt/more TBA!) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-29 (Sunday – afternoon show, 3 to 5 p.m.! PWYC!) [FB event]

Synaptic Circus Sundays (feat. Ilana Waniuk ["new work for solo violin and electronics"] / Blunt Chunks) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-04-29 (Sunday) [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!

Track Could Bend #38 (feat. Jen Wardle/John Mark Sherlock / David Sait / Hank Powell [Karen Ng/D. Alex Meeks]) / venue TBA 2018-05-01 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-06 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Royal Mountain Records Showcase (feat. Dusted / Common Holly / jo passed / Mythless / Everett Bird) / The Garrison 2018-05-12 (Saturday) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-13 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Regina Gently (boyBITCH with Precious Jewel / Loji / AIDA) / Handlebar 2018-05-19 (Saturday) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-20 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

QB8: QueerNOISE (*shhh) pre-Drone Day (feat. Xiao Xuan / tendencyitis / Esther Splett / Twin Masks / Harper Bizarre) / The Arcade 2018-05-20 (Sunday) [FB event]

Ace of Wands (Ron Hawkins) / Burdock Music Hall 2018-05-23 (Wednesday) [more info]

SIANspheric (Tijuana Taxi / Yi / The Spiracles) / Rivoli 2018-05-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Batuki Music Society presents Griot Traditions of Mali (feat. Djely Tapa Diarra) / Alliance Française de Toronto 2018-05-26 (Saturday – all ages! under 18 free!) [FB event]

8th annual residency (feat. Eucalyptus) / Hirut Café 2018-05-27 (Sunday – early show @ 7 p.m.! All ages + family-friendly! Good eats available!) [FB event]

Bonjay (Too Attached) / The Drake Underground 2018-05-28 (Monday) [FB event]

Labyrinth Musical Workshop Ontario (feat. Tzvetanka Varimezova / Bassam Bishara) / Eastminster United Church 2018-06-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wooden Shjips (Holy Wave) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2018-06-05 (Tuesday) [FB event]

H.W.G. Showcase (feat. Tata Chris / Jim Benbow / {AN} EeL) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2018-07-14 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Neko Case (Thao) / The Danforth Music Hall 2018-09-24 (Monday) [more info]

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Recording: Aurochs

Artist: Aurochs

Songs: [two excerpts]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 3 late-night afterparty), February 24, 2018.

Aurochs - [excerpt from Set 1, first piece]

Aurochs - [excerpt from Set 2, first piece]

A "typical" night from the Aurochs, doing nothing more than letting their dazzlingly-inventive musical vocabulary unveil itself in slow-motion.

[Aurochs will be taking their regular turn in the Southern Cross this Friday (April 27th).]

Recording: Circuits Bending Frames Ensembles

Artists: Circuits Bending Frames Ensembles (Christine Duncan/Paul Dutton/Laura Swankey + Jonathan Adjemian/Ryan Driver/Tiina Kiik/Laura Swankey + Christine Duncan/John Oswald/SlowPitchSound + Paul Dutton/Tiina Kiik/Wes Neal + Ryan Driver/Jonathan Adjemian/Mani Mazinani/Tiina Kiik/John Oswald)

Songs: [various improvisations]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 3: Circuits Bending Frames), February 24, 2018.

Christine Duncan/Paul Dutton/Laura Swankey - [improvisation]

Jonathan Adjemian/Ryan Driver/Tiina Kiik/Laura Swankey - [improvisation]

Christine Duncan/John Oswald/SlowPitchSound - [improvisation]

Paul Dutton/Tiina Kiik/Wes Neal - [improvisation]

Ryan Driver/Jonathan Adjemian/Mani Mazinani/Tiina Kiik/John Oswald - [improvisation]

The Somewhere There Festival's Saturday night show was an ambitious multimedia undertaking, with live performances responding to the films of Laurie Kwasnik. Kwasnik is a familiar face at improvised music shows, especially anything in the orbit of Michael Snow (she's been collecting footage for her documentary Fields of Snow for many years now). It was a treat to get a glimpse into her archives, especially to see some of her artfully-arranged works responding to the music with their own visual improvisations. In between filmed snippets (and some visual mashups mixing together music from a wide range of performances) a group of improvisers recombined into a series of small ensembles for miniature performances.

The second half turned to cymatic visualisations, driven by a trio of synth players (Jonathan Adjemian, Ryan Driver, and Mani Mazinani), whose oscillations set pans of water and salt wiggling — which was then live-mixed on the big screen. There were a few technical difficulties along the way, but it was on the whole a pleasing and unique evening.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Recording: Composing for Improvisors Ensemble

Artist: Composing for Improvisors Ensemble

Songs: In Sensorium [two excerpts] [composer: Bea Labikova] + Soundpainting [2nd piece] [composer/conductor: Brian Abbott] + I Ching Study No. 1: How Do We Save the Bees? [composer: Zach Clark]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 2), February 24, 2018.

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - In Sensorium [excerpt 1]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - In Sensorium [excerpt 2]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - Soundpainting [2nd piece]

Composing for Improvisors Ensemble - I Ching Study No. 1: How Do We Save the Bees?

This relaxed afternoon set turned out to be one of the festival's highlights, putting together an ad hoc ensemble of notable locals improvisers to tackle three different approaches to the question of "how can a composer create works for an ensemble of improvisers?"

Bea Labikova went first, and if the plastic sheeting under the players wasn't enough of a sign this wasn't going to be business as usual, then the blindfolds probably drove the point home. The goal of the piece was to get the players to react to sensual stimuli, but shifted the terrain to the realm of smell and taste, which are less-often used as musical guides. Along with assistant Raphael Roter, Labikova "conducted" the group by giving them a morsel to taste (chocolate and hot sauce both made appearances) or odours to sniff (ranging from pleasant herbs to the astringency of a struck match) and having the players react. There was an interesting exchange of vulnerability and trust here, and it was rather a delight for the audience to watch the visceral reactions to some of the sensory experiences. (A couple drops of ice water of the back of the neck provoked some of the most immediate reactions.) The piece made a clear and obvious connection between sensory input and musical output — this could be used as a primer to expose people to the idea of musical improvisation.

Brian Abbott then lead the ensemble in a session of Soundpainting, a "multidisciplinary live composing sign language" devised by Walter Thompson. The system can get as deep and complicated as required — there are over 1500 formally-defined gestures in use — though the group here stuck to a more basic vocabulary. Large ensemble improvisation can lead to great bouts of full-on squonk-honking (and indeed, one of the pieces essayed here kinda became an accidental version of Powerhouse) so it was most instructive here to see some more subtle interplay, especially in this piece (that also incorporated some scored elements for the musicians) that established a rather pleasing dronefield.

Last up, Zach Clark combined ancient prognostication and modern improvisation in a couple versions of a piece that deployed the I Ching. A question for the oracle was obtained from the audience, and once the coins were tossed to derive the responding hexagram, the musicians interpreted that with the aid of a score that gave several musical cells that could be played for each of the trigrams. Changing lines in the hexagram also imposed musical transitions on the players, though like the oracle's gnomic responses, there was plenty of room for interpretation.

The full ensemble consisted of:

  • Brian Abbott (guitar)
  • Zach Clark (bass, electronics, harmonium)
  • Bea Labikova (alto saxophone)
  • Kayla Milmine (soprano saxophone)
  • Cheryl O (cello)
  • Heather Saumer (trombone)
  • Joe Sorbara (drums, percussion)
  • Kristen Theriault (harp)
  • Laura Swankey (voice)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Recording: The Ryan Driver Quintet

Artist: The Ryan Driver Quintet

Songs: The Seasons The Months and The Days + I Don't Want to Cry Any More [composer: Victor Schertzinger]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 1 late-night afterparty), February 23, 2018.

The Ryan Driver Quintet - The Seasons The Months and The Days

The Ryan Driver Quintet - I Don't Want to Cry Any More

Ryan Driver's sextet was playing without guitarist Martin Arnold on this night, and though it's not unusual for the numbers on stage to fluctuate from show to show, it was interesting to see how the members used that bit of additional space in the songs. This time out, it was vibraphonist Michael Davidson going on a bit of an adventure, getting unexpectedly noisy as he rattled and dropped a bow across his keys. Another surprise came in the form of a mini-set of songs from Driver's excellent recent Careless Thoughts album, as this project works almost-exclusively in the realm of covers. Driver himself would probably be too modest to say so, but it has to be pointed out that his own songs absolutely deserve to be in the company of the standards the group usually essays.

Recording: So Long Seven

Artist: So Long Seven

Song: Mad Nomad

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 1), February 23, 2018.

So Long Seven - Mad Nomad

Tim Posgate (of Cluttertones and many other groups) was perhaps this group's most familiar face in the Somewhere There context. So Long Seven (which, it should be noted, is in fact a quartet) is an interesting mash-up of cultures and generations that with its somewhat idiosyncratic mix of instruments (guitar, banjo, violin and tabla) dares to flaunt the fusion flag. (A cover of Shakti's "Danse du Bonheur" was a sure signpost in that regard.) Dazzlingly proficient, there's an effortlessness in the group's execution that could render things a bit too cut-and-dried were it not for their corresponding unassuming off-the-cuff casualness about it all.

Recording: Divergence Trio

Artist: Divergence Trio

Song: Applications [last section] [composer: Scott Thomson]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Main Hall (Somewhere There Creative Music Festival – Show 1), February 23, 2018.

Divergence Trio - Applications [last section]

This new suite was written by Scott Thomson for the Convergence Ensemble. But given that the group is currently spread across three provinces, logistics and geography lead to this stripped-down presentation from the group's Montréal-based faction. Based on Robert Hass' poem "Applications of the Doctrine", the piece was composed for a collaboration with Susanna Hood, who added vocals and movement to the trombone and trumpet that were dancing around the music.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recording: Johan Seaton

Artist: Johan Seaton

Song: [tracks 3 + 4]

Recorded at The Baby G, February 22, 2018.

Johan Seaton - [tracks 3 + 4]

This cozy night at The Baby G featured mostly leftfield electronic experimentation, closing out with some laptop deconstruction from Johan Seaton. Eschewing the audio-visual wizardry he often engages in, he chose to dwell on the darkened stage this time 'round, exploring some equally dark musical moods, ranging from nightmare triphop beats to granularized ice-drifts.

Recording: New Tendencies

Artist: New Tendencies

Song: [third section]

Recorded at The Baby G, February 22, 2018.

New Tendencies - [third section]

This cozy night at The Baby G featured mostly leftfield electronic experimentation, including a series of buzzes and drones from Matt Nish-Lapidus (who also wrangled this night together), wringing admirably-disreputable sounds from his modular synth setup.

Recording: Uxvae

Artist: Uxvae

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Baby G, February 22, 2018.

Uxvae - unknown

This cozy night at The Baby G featured mostly leftfield electronic experimentation, and though this duo qualifies for that description at its broadest reach, they were up to something a bit different than the night's other acts. Song-based (in the sense that their songs are each their own sprawling sound-worlds), this duo of vocalist Marty Adem and guitarist Bryan Bray (also of Gates, Cetacea, etc.) explores some forest hollows, revealing goth-y druid secrets hidden deep in the misty gloaming. The pair have been quite busy working out their sound on stage, and have recently issued their first release, already sold out in a limited cassette run.

[Uxvae will be opening for Rosetta and USA Out of Vietnam at Coalition next week (Wednesday, April 25th).]

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

Recording: Bachelard

Artist: Bachelard

Song: [middle section]

Recorded at The Baby G, February 22, 2018.

Bachelard - [middle section]

This cozy night at The Baby G featured mostly leftfield electronic experimentation, lead off by Heidi Chan's always-expanding event horizon. Ranging from explorations of the musical possibilities of dialtones and busy signals to vox humana blips, her realtime patchscapes remained too restless to ever fall into lazy patterns.

[Bachelard has recently dropped a pair of "short studies with looping pedals, modular synthesizer, Casio keyboard, and bamboo flutes" over at her bandcamp that is well-worth investigating. You can aldo check out her full recording of this set on her soundcloud.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recording: Buke and Gase

Artist: Buke and Gase

Song: Typo

Recorded at The Garrison (Wavelength Winter Festival 18 – Night 3), February 18, 2018.

Buke and Gase - Typo

This year's Wavelength birthday celebration was more restrained than usual, sticking to one venue for three nights and having no extra daytime activities. That left the work of transforming the events to something more than just a "regular" night at a show to scene-setters like General Chaos and Roxanne Ignatius. The festival's final night was the most musically eclectic, the acts connected by an exploratory thread.

Like You'll Never Get To Heaven, who performed earlier in the night, Buke and Gase have changed their onstage energy since I last saw 'em onstage at a Wavelength festival several years ago. But their vibe-change was in the opposite direction — going from a sitting down energy to a standing up one — and it has made a huge difference, especially for Arone Dyer who was quite magnetic projecting the aura of some sort of techno-pagan high priestess. Now, instead of just being purveyors of mysterious homemade instruments, they were putting on a show — it might have felt like jumping blind into the third episode of a Robert Ashley electro-opera, but this was so entertaining it was worth staying on for the ride.

[The next Wavelength Festival is already on the distant horizon, with Camp Wavelength once more contained to the mainland and landing at Garrison Common on August 18th and 19th. Meanwhile, the next few monthly shows, co-productions (as well as a cool Toronto Post-Punk in the Early '80s Music Talk) are all announced.]

Recording: Omhouse

Artist: Omhouse

Songs: Aurock + No Words

Recorded at The Garrison (Wavelength Winter Festival 18 – Night 3), February 18, 2018.

Omhouse - Aurock

Omhouse - No Words

This year's Wavelength birthday celebration was more restrained than usual, sticking to one venue for three nights and having no extra daytime activities. That left the work of transforming the events to something more than just a "regular" night at a show to scene-setters like General Chaos and Roxanne Ignatius. The festival's final night was the most musically eclectic, the acts connected by an exploratory thread.

Although still celebrating the release of their debut long-player, Steven Foster's Omhouse project has been at it for several years now. There's an aesthetic at work here — and one that's matured over the time the band's been active — where the songs don't feel like hooky l'il rockers so much as pieces from a rather "quirky" musical, filled with complicated chords and flute solos (the latter courtesy of keyboardist Anh Phung). Those signifiers might explain why the group is getting tagged with hyphenated prog labels, but on stage this is still a rock'n'roll band, laughing at itself with astonishment as it careens through the changes.

[Omhouse will be playing at Feast in the East's 7-year anniversary celebration (at Jam Factory on Saturday, May 5th) alongside Gary Wilson, Bernice and Cindy Lee. The next Wavelength Festival is already on the distant horizon, with Camp Wavelength once more contained to the mainland and landing at Garrison Common on August 18th and 19th. Meanwhile, the next few monthly shows, co-productions (as well as a cool Toronto Post-Punk in the Early '80s Music Talk) are all announced.]

Recording: Fusilier

Artist: Fusilier

Song: Upstream*

Recorded at The Garrison (Wavelength Winter Festival 18 – Night 3), February 18, 2018.

Fusilier - Upstream

This year's Wavelength birthday celebration was more restrained than usual, sticking to one venue for three nights and having no extra daytime activities. That left the work of transforming the events to something more than just a "regular" night at a show to scene-setters like General Chaos and Roxanne Ignatius. The festival's final night was the most musically eclectic, the acts connected by an exploratory thread.

The night's most unknown quantity came courtesy of co-presenters Brassland, giving the Wavelength crowd a chance to preview material from this Brooklyn-via-Atlanta force while he still only has a couple singles to his name. Accompanying himself on vocal loops and melodic bass, he moved from funky one-man-band constructions to mellower meditations like this — holding a room that had mostly never heard him before with notable charisma.

* Thanks to Fusilier for passing along the title to this one!

[The next Wavelength Festival is already on the distant horizon, with Camp Wavelength once more contained to the mainland and landing at Garrison Common on August 18th and 19th. Meanwhile, the next few monthly shows, co-productions (as well as a cool Toronto Post-Punk in the Early ‘80s Music Talk) are all announced.]