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Album Review: Mountain Moves – Deerhoof

As the reigning avante-garde veterans with a career spanning 24 years, it’s not surprising that Deerhoof have taken it upon themselves to gift us with the most intelligent punk protest of 2017. Make no mistake, Mountain Moves is definitely a protest album, with most of the lyrics critiquing the outcome of the U.S. election in one way or another. But Deerhoof expertly rise above the labels cast upon most protest albums, choosing instead to outwit their enemies by crooning barbed insults set in poetry instead of screaming out a list of injustices (which, at this point, would take much longer than the 40-minute album allows).

Deerhoof have always incorporated a variety of different musical genres and styles into their thirteen previous studio albums, and on Mountain Moves it appears that they are ready to up the ante. Each track is slightly different than the rest, keeping the listener on their toes; the fifteen tracks speed by in no time at all, with originals broken up at pivotal moments by interesting covers. Mountain Moves also proves the old adage that strength lies in numbers, employing numerous collaborators such as Juana Molina, Xenia Rubinos, and Awkwafina. Deerhoof creates a colorful tapestry of sound, the diverse textures noticeable but working together to achieve a common goal.

As the opener for Mountain Moves, “Slow Motion Detonation” signifies a return to the stage for Deerhoof. It smolders and simmers, a slow burn of a track that proves to be an interesting tactical choice; but then again, Deerhoof has never had a penchant for the ordinary or expected. “I Will Spite Survive” is the pop punk album that we’ve been looking for since January 2017, a highly accessible track that features Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. Her smoky mezzo-soprano blends very well with lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s reedier soprano as they alternate singing the chorus: “Sleep at night/If you can stay alive/Stay alive/If you can sleep at night.”

“Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You” easily serves as the most musically diverse track, a powerhouse that showcases classic punk guitar riffs while Awkwafina spits fiery rhymes. At one point, there is an abrupt shift in mood before returning to sizzling pop melody; the track moves effortlessly between hip hop, punk, and dream pop, a stunning reflection of existential angst and confusion. “Ay That’s Me” digs deeper into this theme, with esoteric lyrics provided by drummer Greg Saunier and lush, atmospheric instrumentals. The track slowly builds to a crescendo before a fleeting burst of strings catalyzes its decomposition; mysterious and haunting from start to finish.

The title track, “Mountain Moves,” is a truly bizarre and experimental track; but again, is anyone surprised? Matsuzaki alternates between spoken-word English and Japanese lyrics, an interesting use of her vocal talents and a chance for her to sing in her native language. However, it is Matana Roberts who makes the track come alive with her spectacular trumpet skills. Deerhoof includes three cover tracks on Mountain Moves, all different and relevant in their own right. “Gracias a la Vida” (Vioeta Parra) provides a beautiful, haunting segue in the first third of the album, the sorbet to Mountain Moves’ multi-course meal. Matsuzaki adds her interpretation of the Staples Singers’ “Freedom March,” morphing it into a rockabilly protest anthem.

The album finishes with “Small Axe” (Bob Marley), putting the perfect finishing touch – voila! – on such a cleverly-masked protest album. Deerhoof chooses to take a completely different approach with this track, stripping the song of any instrumentals save a few piano chords. This newfound intimacy allows the listener to internalize the band’s final fighting words: “If you are the big tree/We are the small axe/Ready to cut you down/To cut you down.”

Album released: September 8, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: October 17, 2017

Hello everyone,

I’m back from a whirlwind trip out of town to celebrate the marriage of two amazing friends — it was such a nice (albeit quick) getaway before the zaniness of the funding drive fully kicks off. We are now T-2 days until the drive begins, and everyone around here is super pumped for what’s in store! Check out the note below for more details, and keep an eye on our websiteFacebook, and twitter pages for updates as they come. It’s gonna be a big one!

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Funding drive is what’s up, obviously. You already knew that. But let us make it extra-easy by giving you a special guide to follow along with… We recommend you start by coming out to Art Lounge tomorrow for a very special night with some of Montreal’s finest beatmakers courtesy of the excellent Lo Signal crew. Reading this from afar? Not to worry — we’ll be streaming that event live on ckut.ca from 8pm – midnight EST, so you can enjoy these fine electronic jammers no matter where you are. On Friday, we’re back at it with our official funding drive kickoff party at Le Ritz with TamayugéDominique Alexander MoskosStrangerfamiliarthe XX Files, and the Jazz Amnesty Sound System. This stacked lineup spans everything from the most ear-bending experimental sounds to expertly crafted pop tunes to dancefloor-friendly grooves so regardless of your personal taste, we’ve got you covered. Help us kick off the funding drive in style AND celebrate our 30th birthday on the FM dial at this fine gig — and don’t forget to donate online to help ensure CKUT keeps pushing the boundaries of radio for many years to come.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – october 17, 2017

1. pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time – bonsound CC *
2. cold specks – fool’s paradise – arts & crafts CC
3. the pink noise – freddie prinze – freeer records CC *
4. blue hawaii – tenderness – arbutus CC *
5. chicago afrobeat project ft. tony allen – what goes up – self-released Continue reading

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: October 10, 2017

Hi folks,

It was a grey, rainy long weekend here but that made for a good excuse to stay in, cook a ton of food, and catch up on some good books and films. As a west coast expat, I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for dreary overcast weather — even if it makes it a bit tougher to get outside and enjoy the changing leaves that are at long last beginning to hit Montreal.

We’re also counting down the days until our annual funding drive begins… stay ahead of the curve and check the full scoop on it here. I’ll be including plenty more info on the drive in next week’s charts, so keep an eye out for even more hot updates then.

xo
joni
:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
C.C.C. (Catherine Colas) will be hosting If You Got Ears for the month of October. This edition of IYGE will be dedicated to the balance & dark introspections of the libra & scorpio season. Delivering an intricate and heavily curated sonic collage of emotional landscapes, dejected compost particles, slowed down garburation, retina scanners, the tricklings of disengagement, tarot misreadings,majora in full bloom, sharpening of the interior design, the stems of many cells, and soft ripples. Wednesdays 12pm – 2pm, throughout October.
:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – october 10, 2017

1. deerhoof – mountain moves – joyful noise
2. golden retriever – rotations – thrill jockey
3. blue hawaii – tenderness – arbutus CC *
4. pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the
beginning of time – bonsound CC *
5. christian carrière – field of containment – funktionslust CC * Continue reading

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Concert Review: DF EP Launch @ Art Lounge

Montreal-based audiovisual duo DF released their new EP abcdf this past week, marking the occasion with an evening of stellar local music at Art Lounge that featured sets from Justin Lazarus (Look Vibrant) and Joni Void, as well as DF themselves.

I was fifteen minutes late to the soirée; by the time I arrived the huddled audience was already seeped in the wooze of Lazarus’s characteristically idiosyncratic, adventurous songwriting. Lazarus and his two accompanists had a stripped down set up of vocals, sampler, bass and keys that glowed with analog warmth. He took the crowd to chord school, teaching us to celebrate mixing disparate colours in the same song. Whatever emotional arc Lazarus’s songs demanded, he always chose the sounds that were right for them. His set coupled this free-spirited vision with earnestness and vocal abilities bent to his will, making for an unfailingly exciting live experience.

Following Lazarus was Joni Void, who performed found-sound electronic music, backed by projections. For the most part, he kept a filter over the projector’s lens, lightly distorting the visuals so the audience had to recall them from memory. Void began his set with a dusky lullaby of a rarity from his side project, Boy With a Red Cap. Its serene sine blips were spare but not reaching for anything more, twinkling enough that the crowd could lock into Void’s vision. The set’s highlight was a song based on an ambulance siren that flashed before the audience, running to and from opposite ends of the stereo image. During this song, Void showed us video clips of city life, but never the ambulance itself. The siren passed again and again, suspending me in a daily moment I rarely otherwise think about. Off-kilter harmonies formed around the visuals and a discernable beat took me into a bizarre trance, where the sound and visuals of daytime were bent to rhythms typical of nightlife. Joni Void uses an impressively sparse set of sounds to command of the listener’s mind, and in this set he had me captivated.

Headliners DF performed next in front of their own massive light fixture, an array of panels that visual artist Dan Freder puppeteers in pulses and patterns, responding to Dustin Finer’s saxophone. Throughout the set, Freder hopped from dimension to dimension, switching between altering the patterns on the light fixture and projecting various visual mapping schemes against the venue walls. Prior to this show, I had only seen the duo’s music video for “She’s Great and All…,” which superimposes 3D animations against real life footage. When the two played the song live, Freder opted for alternate imagery, casting ripples on a set of delighted dots. Through innovations such as this, DF made sure the night didn’t feel like a playthrough of the EP, and Freder demonstrated versatile imaginations that paired well with his partner’s music.

On the music end of the set, Finer ditched the potential baggage of the solo-instrument-loop-pedal performance by making sure to get the most out of his tenor sax. Digging deep in the sax’s sound, he reached Hammond-organ-like bass tones and created mechanical glitchy percussion by tapping his horn’s keys. Finer had a family of hearty, triumphant tunes ready for the communal vibe, but he also made time to rip freeform solos through a yummy stacked-4ths harmonizer.

My personal favorite piece of the night was the manic “Hobgoblin,” where Finer squealed through his horn as Freder shook a piece of foil against a beam of light. The fact that “Hobgoblin” lasts only one second is further testament to its reckless creativity, and the duo’s broad, promising conception of art. The nature of AV shows demands they be experienced live, so DF are a group you should see for yourselves – and there will definitely be many more opportunities, as this duo’s future has plenty in store.

– review by Rian Adamian

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: October 3, 2017

Hello radio,

Well, the heatwave has finally broken and fall is here at last; with the change of seasons, I’m always inclined to tune my ears to heavier jams. Summery jangle pop has been replaced by loud, harsh sounds in my personal playlist and so naturally I was extra pumped for the Big|Brave album launch (pictured above) over the weekend. They’ve been one of my fave local bands for a good while but their new record is truly next level… I ran into Omar from CJLO at the show and we were similarly blown away. Definitely recommended for those craving a good eardrum pummelling.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Join Strangerfamiliar for the month of October as she hosts the Montreal Sessions every Tuesday from 3-5pm. This edition will explore the eclectic range of influences from this Chilean-born, Canadian-raised visual and cry-pop artist. This residency will be delving into everything from hip-swaying, blood-pumping Island sounds that bid farewell to summer to introspective, emotional ambient tracks to welcome fall. The songs and interviews through out the month are an exploration into the healing power of music overall. And it’s a timely feature, too: coming fresh off the incredible Polaris win by Colombia’s own Lido Pimienta, expect to hear a mix of New Latin Wave, witchy electropop vibes, afrobeat, soulful hits, chillwave synth jams and plenty more!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – october 3, 2017

1. pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time – bonsound CC *
2. the pink noise – freddie prinze – freeer records CC *
3. colleen – a flame my love, a frequency – thrill jockey
4. souljazz orchestra – under burning skies – strut CC
5. respectfulchild – 在找 : :searching : : – coax records CC Continue reading

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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: September 26, 2017

Hi folks,

We’re in the midst of an unseasonable heatwave in Montreal; it’s super bizarre having 30-degree temperatures outside while the leaves are starting the change colour and drop to the ground. Very disorienting… I probably shouldn’t complain because it’s made for some excellent park hangs and bike adventures over the past week, but truthfully I am getting a little impatient for sweater weather. C’mon autumn, you got this… right?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Our annual funding drive is just around the corner! Mark your calendars for October 19th – 29th and check out this sneak peek of our rad new merch and prizes in the meantime. We’ve also got plenty of events coming up over the next while, including this essential talk with Montreal hip hop legend Rickey D and a Venus Radio remote broadcast from beloved McGill PWYC food service Midnight Kitchen. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for updates on where to find us around town over the next couple weeks… things are only gonna pick up as we approach funding drive, so it pays to keep yourself in the loop!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – september 26, 2017

1. julia holter – in the same room – domino
2. sontag shogun – patterns for resonant space – youngbloods
3. pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time – bonsound CC *
4. naomi punk – yellow – captured tracks
5. zola jesus – okovi – sacred bones Continue reading

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Album Review: MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time – Pierre Kwenders

Pierre Kwenders may have broken the bank in terms of long titles, but for an album as expansive as MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time, it’s more than well-deserving. Kwenders (née José Louis Modabi) is of Congolese descent but moved with his family to Quebec at sixteen; he has since become a darling of the Montreal underground dance scene as co-creator of the clandestine dance collective, Moonshine. Fluent in French, English, Lingala, and Tshibula, Kwenders employs his vast linguistic and musical acumen to weave a contemporary “Pan-African sound.”

MAKANDA is Kwenders’ sophomore full-length release, and it strays from the more experimental electronic Le Dernier Empereur Bantou by leaning into the classic rumba of his homeland and incorporating the diverse music styles he grew up with: classic Québécois hip hop, Afropop, and influences from his days as a Congolese-Catholic choir boy. Additionally, Kwenders travelled across the continent to Seattle, pairing up with Shabazz Palaces’ Tendai Maraire and many others to perfect this all-inclusive album; collaborations on various tracks involve Kae Sun, Tanyaradzwa, Ishmael Butler (Ish aka Palaceer Lazaro), and Hussein Kalonji. 

The album centers around three universal themes. First and foremost is strength: “Makanda” is Tshibuli for strength, and here Kwenders is specifically paying tribute to the strength he has derived from the women in his life, notably his mother, aunt, and sister. The other two themes center around the all-powerful, encompassing feeling of love, and the ability to share it and celebrate life with love through music. MAKANDA breathes these universal themes to life with a vibrant energy that incorporates Afrocentric melodies, the hip hop of his youth, and the creative dance beats that are currently taking Montreal by storm; it is, quite literally, an album that spans the globe.

“Woods of Solitude” was purportedly the first track Kwenders and Malaire produced together for MAKANDA, and their combined creativity shines in this lush, complex track. Kwenders’ husky vocals ground the billowing instrumentals, and his use of syncopation amidst the swirl of brassy synth drum, guitar, and heavy bass helps to keep things from flying out of control. “La La Love” has a more contemporary pop sound, but still retains the rumba beat accompanied by a lilting, delicate guitar melody. Tanyaradzwa and Kae Sun are notable features.

“Makanda” brings a solemn musical theme to the surface with its complex tonal nature. The mbira lends a more haunting, foreboding sound this time around, and vocal contributions from Palazeer Lazaro and SassyBlack serve to strengthen the track. “Sexus Plexus Nexus” is a sensuous, layered romp of a track that harks back to disco and soul while maintaining that classic, syncopated rumba rhythm. The saxophone is featured here at the forefront of a colorful musical tapestry, aided by synth, guitar, and a relaxed dance beat. It is easily the most celebrated and celebratory track on the album.

When listening to MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time, it is impossible not to be transported out of whatever universe in which you currently reside (for me, it would be the sweltering heat wave in Montreal) and into an all-inclusive, worldwide dance party. Kwenders is sending out a call for everyone to get up and do exactly what the otherwise-inane “LIVE LAUGH LOVE” signs implore. It’s a call to stand up and dance in spite of the cloud of hopelessness that seems to have enveloped the world, and I am here for it. Would you like to dance with me?

Album released: September 8, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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Album Review: Yoo Doo Right – EP2

The new release from locals Yoo Doo Right is a colourful EP that sees them swerving in and out of frenetic jams. Running below 20 minutes, EP2 is awe-inspiring and fun, hitting an eerie fever pitch while compelling you to dance.

The four piece have a standard rock instrumentation. Bass and drums work hard to hold down a constantly burrowing pocket, complementing the distorted, yet still pleasantly bright and reverb-wet guitars. Additional keyboard and synth lines are simple and tasty. The marriage of these parts results in the band’s dark and mesmerizing soundscape, which lets you choose whether you want to groove on the ground or space out in the sky. Yoo Doo Right presents the best of both worlds stylistically, never sounding like they stretch themselves thin.

This is evident right from opening track “Whilst You Save Your Skins,” a fine instrumental piece. The song begins, and you’re in Yoo Doo Right’s world, face to face with their wall of sound. Awesome bass work defines this track – from the power chords (!!!) to the bounding groove. The song sees the EP’s most serene moment when it breaks for an introspective glow, and the band comes back in from the top down like a feather floating in the air.

“Marches Des Squelettes,” too, sucks the listener in right from the start, getting you happily lost in its repetitions. The bass line collapses into itself again and again; Yoo Doo Right milk this rhythm to optimally introduce spoken vocals. The song breathes heavily between its main vamp and a “tu et moi” chant, culminating in a turnaround that only takes you home to the bass line again. They could go on longer, but instead opt for succinct knot at the end.

These tracks set up EP2’s centrepiece, the trilogy “Apatride.” “Part 1” of the trilogy sees about a minute of ambient wailing before bringing the EP’s tempo to a slow grind. The band shreds its hardest here, taking on the difficult but necessary task of putting pure musical energy to recording, showing an ethos that would merit their participation in a Boredoms’ Boadrum installation. The peak in energy makes “Part 1” a great midpoint for the EP and an appropriate initiation for the remainder of “Apatride.”

“Part 2” finds the snare drum taking lead on the band’s driving, followed closely by a bassline that just wants to have fun. Vocals, sounding almost passive-aggressive, return like a pulse to push the song into excellence. The band comes together to throw two new, vivid chords into the mix, the snare still rollicking underneath. In “Part 2”’s climax, the song grows steeper and steeper, suggesting that the listener might get to finally cut through the guitars’ hazy reverb and reach the place they call from.

Instead, Yoo Doo Right spit you out on a mouthwatering chord change that begins “Part 3.” You may think the ride is over, but you’ve only just arrived at the party. The song instantly becomes a refreshing showcase for cheeky surf guitar. It reaches ecstasy as a verbed-out keyboard line falls from the ceiling, and soon thereafter crashes and fades. The EP ends on a high note, leaving you wanting more.

This ending just reinforces what the rest of the EP has already demonstrated: Yoo Doo Right are magicians of momentum who know how and when to play their cards. As heavy as the sound gets, they pace the EP such that you never need a break. None of the five songs disappoint or lack function, each having something interesting or wild up its sleeve that comes out organically. Yoo Doo Right are fit proponents of classic psychedelic jamming, with a distinct soundscape they can always dive back into. I definitely hope they’ll be diving in again soon.

– review by Rian Adamian

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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: September 19, 2017

Hi friends,

I’m recovering from another great – but very busy – edition of POP Montreal. It was great to hang with many out-of-town visitors, meet some amazing new friends, and catch up with local pals… it was a bit of a whirlwind, but overall a great time. A few highlights include the CKUT birthday party with reggae legends The Mighty Diamonds (obviously I am biased, but this was truly a hell of a show), William Basinski, Royal Trux, Montreal expats Steve Jr, and a totally packed panel discussion about gentrification & music communities (above), but there’s so much more that I’m spacing on because honestly I’m still recovering and getting my brain back in order over here…

Thank you for being patient while I catch up on tracking, emails, etc.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’re hiring! Music-savvy McGill students take note and come join the best office on campus – we want you!!! Check out the full details here and hit me up if you have any questions about the job.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – september 19, 2017

1. sound of the mountain – amplified clarinet & trumpet – mystery and wonder CC *
2. pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time – bonsound CC *
3. walter tv – carpe diem – sinderlyn CC
4. christof migone – greatest hits – squint fucker press CC
5. foonyap – apropos – self-released CC Continue reading

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POP Past The Poster: What To See This Week

POP Montreal is finally here, folks. Montreal’s most massive music festival (say that five times fast) has descended upon the city, promising a week of stellar shows, panels, films and more. But POP’s best feature is also its most intimidating: there’s just so much good stuff. The festival has literally hundreds of amazing artists worth seeing this week, which is both very exciting and very overwhelming. With so many bands, the smaller shows at POP can sometimes be easily overlooked. That’s why we’ve put together a schedule of the less-publicized POP shows – none of the artists below are featured on the POP poster. So, in between Austra and Weyes Blood, maybe I’ll see you at one of these sweet gems this week:

Wednesday Evening:
Naomi Punk // Phern // Mundy’s Bay @ La Vitrola

Start your POP off right with the experimental art rock of Naomi Punk, whose new album Yellow is a jerky, jolting masterclass in breaking down your expectations of punk. Opening up are locals Mundy’s Bay and Phern, whose gazey post-punk and off-kilter smart pop definitely warrant arriving early.

Thursday Afternoon:
Joni Void // Sea Oleena // Desert Bloom // Best Fern // Ohara @ Phonopolis

This lineup (curated by CKUT’s own Underground Sounds) brings together some of the best ambient and electronic artists in the city for what is sure to be an entirely enveloping afternoon. From the calming ethereal pop of Best Fern to the eerie experimental music of Joni Void, this is a lineup to immerse in and drift away on.

Continue reading