Album Review: Ras Moshe and Stefan Cristoff- Rêves Sonores à Alwan

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In the realm of contemporary music, free jazz and electronic sound art have run in similar directions.  The idea that an architect of sound can evoke a meaning that is rooted in traditional musical phrasing, yet free from the traditional systematic approach to organizing pitch and rhythm is the basis behind both art forms.  Despite the similarities in mentality and phrase structure, the contrasting sound aesthetics valued in each musical style provide for ideas that communicate without producing a sound leaning more towards one art form.  On Rêves Sonores à Alwan, the newest release from Montreal’s own Howl Arts Collective, Saxophone player Ras Moshe, Pianist Stefan Christoff, and producer Nick Schofield have joined forces resulting in a piece of music that explores the expressive possibilities of sound in both an electronic based community as well as a more jazz rooted conception. Continue reading

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: April 26, 2016

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Hi folks,
Everyone really dug the photo of the cute raccoon (whom CKUT staff have dubbed Paul Anka) in last week’s charts — but lest we forget what havoc these little trash pandas can wreak, here is evidence of another raccoon busting into the music office several years back. It was before my time at CKUT but my predecessor AJ Cornell attested that he made a heck of a mess. We learned the hard way the importance of closing the station windows at night!
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’re super thrilled to welcome longtime CKUT collaborators/buddies Smileswithteeth into the studio to host our May edition of the Montreal Sessions. Smileswithteeth is the dream pop project of Los Angeles born-and-bred, Montreal-based musician Gabriel Gutierrez. Blending propulsive drums and ethereal textures, he makes genuinely happy music that doesn’t pander or pretend. For the month of May he’ll be hosting the Montreal Sessions alongside vocalist Lillian King every Tuesday from 3-5pm, bringing you live performances, exclusive premieres from his forthcoming remix EP, and wholesome good times. Stream it live or download the archives via ckut.ca.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – april 26, 2016

1. aj cornell & tim darcy – too significant to ignore – nna tapes CC *
2. suuns – hold/still – secret city CC *
3. v/a – fixture records 4 – fixture records CC *
4. bombino – azel – partisan
5. essaie pas – demain est une autre nuit – dfa CC * Continue reading

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: April 19, 2016

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Hey friends,

It’s finally spring in Montreal, warm weather is upon us, and the critters are emerging from their winter hibernation — including this lil guy, who decided to pay the music office a visit yesterday and hung out on the windowsill keeping me company while I worked late into the evening. What should we name our new raccoon buddy?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’ve done some spring cleaning, and there’s a ton of stuff that we just don’t have space for around the office anymore. You know what that means: it’s time for another one of those infamous CKUT garage sales. Come on by do some digging — there will definitely be some gems up for grabs. We’ll be selling CDs, DVDs, LPs, ZINES, CKUT SWAG and much more… Everything is priced to sell (read: cheap!). It’s all happening on Thursday April 28th 1-5pm outside of CKUT, 3647 University St. in downtown Montreal. Even if you wanna stop by to get a tour of the station and say hi to our new raccoon mascot, we’d love to see you there!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – april 19, 2016

1. essaie pas – demain est une autre nuit – dfa CC *
2. bombino – azel – partisan
3. fatima al-qadiri – brute – hyperdub
4. sarah neufeld – the ridge – paper bag CC *
5. prince rama – extreme now – carpark Continue reading

**DOUBLE FEATURE** Album and Concert Review: Are You Serious – Andrew Bird

unnamedThe master has returned home. Andrew Bird, expert violinist and whistler-extraordinaire, released his latest LP Are You Serious into the music cosmos last week, his first full-length album since he took a break three years prior to focus on his family and thematic side projects. A simultaneous celebration of his newly-formed family and a refocusing of the spotlight from the sidelines, many tracks seek to explore the newfound longevity of relationships. Bird takes time to analyze the sacrifices and compromises that have to be made as two people get to know each other through the lens of love and commitment. The album serves both as an inward analysis of his personal life and as a clear-eyed celebration of musical creation in a way only Andrew Bird can accomplish.  Continue reading

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: April 12, 2016

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Hello radio,

These charts come to you from a haze of cold meds as I attempt to fight the end-of-semester bug that’s decimating campus right now. Coughs & sniffles aside, I’ve had a pretty nice week hanging with a former CKUT intern who’s visiting all the way from Germany and joining her in the usual sightseeing/record-shopping/etc that one does while vacationing in Montreal. How’s yr week going?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Okay, so this feels kinda like cheating, but rather than plug our programming or events this week we wanna encourage you to head over to Cult Mtl’s website and show a little love to CKUT in their annual Best of Montreal poll. We’ve hung onto the Best Radio Station and Best Radio Show titles for many a year now, but that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels and expect the votes to roll in on their own. On the contrary: this is where you come in! If you love high-quality freeform, DIY, boundary-pushing radio then how ‘bout you let the good people at Cult know? With our finger on the musical pulse everywhere from Montreal’s underground lofts to Primavera Sound, not to mention our award-winning news & cultural programming, we hope we’ve given you enough in the past year to merit a vote or two in favour of the ol’ CKUT. Make it happen, y’all!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – april 12, 2016

1. sarah neufeld – the ridge – paper bag CC *
2. essaie pas – demain est une autre nuit – dfa CC *
3. khraken – subliminal seduction – self-released CC
4. vijay iyer & wadada leo smith – a cosmic rhythm in every stroke – ecm
5. joane hetu – famille – ambiances magnétiques CC Continue reading

Album Review: Painting of a Panic Attack – Frightened Rabbit

frightened_rabbit_painting_trailer_1024_576It is always fascinating to watch a band undergo metamorphosis, to see how they progress as musicians and as people. In the case of Frightened Rabbit, there is no exception. Painting of A Panic Attack demonstrates the peculiar growth that comes with important life changes and artistic decisions. This album, the latest release from Frightened Rabbit since they announced a short hiatus after Pedestrian Verse (2013) dropped, was produced by the puppet-master himself, Aaron Dessner. With Dessner’s Midas touch and signature sounds that are best-heard through The National, Painting of A Panic Attack has shown a new angle of Frightened Rabbit, one that previously had not been explored.

The draw for many FR listeners has been frontman Scott Hutchinson’s raw/emotionally unstable/poetically blunt lyrics, but this album swivels the spotlight onto production and instrumental technique. With a powerhouse such as Dessner behind the scenes, it was an inevitable endpoint, and mostly a very successful one. While the reeling, reckless effect is dampened, the quintet’s sound has never been more unified. What started out in 2003 as a one-man show is now a relatively well-oiled band, where members get a say in the making of the songs; Hutchinson has pulled back for the time being to integrate with his bandmates, resulting in the subtle change in sound.

While at times the album starts to blend together in a small storm of moody meditation, there are definitely some tracks that deserve a special mention. “Death Dream,” the opener that includes the titular lyric “A still life is the last I will see of you/A painting of a panic attack,” demonstrates the band’s shift from the get-go. A quietly shimmering track, slow layering and crescendoes create an ethereal, dream-like scape on which Hutchinson bawls some of his darkest lyrics yet. It is quite a sobering opener, establishing both Frightened Rabbit’s status quo and signaling a definite maturity. “Get Out” follows next, a lighter and more upbeat track that flirts with synth and features some very nice drum work from Grant Hutchinson, brother of Scott.  Dessner’s influence is heavily felt in this track, which is one that utilizes electronica to a good extent.

“Woke Up Hurting” is a staccato, sleek backdrop for Hutchinson’s unique voice, reinforced with full harmonies from the rest of the band members. The familiar tambourine is featured among fuzzed guitars and a strong drumbeat, but that is just about all that remains from previous albums; the sound is very polished and well-rounded. “400 Bones” turns the spotlight onto the piano and Hutchinson’s heart-wrenching lyrics, but then morphs into a track fit for a National album; you almost expect Matt Berninger to lope onto the scene with his bass croon for a duet. “Lump Street” simmers with synth and reverb vocals, a vaguely sinister sound that is Pedestrian Verse-era FR with an indie pop twist. “Die Like a Rich Boy” begins with an acoustic guitar and Hutchinson’s sweet voice, and then continues with a melancholy piano melody; a slow, sad build that cuts right to the core.

Painting of A Panic Attack is bathed in a quiet intensity, with both the lyrics and accompaniment featuring a slightly more restrained aspect. Previous albums provided listeners with a hearty dose of Scottish miserabilia, highlighting rough instrumentals and equally raw vocals; now sleeker instrumentals lessen the blow of Hutchinson’s fatalistic lyrics. The album is patient, and brooding, a window into an introvert’s neuroses; it is Hutchinson’s inner monologue that comes through, rather than blustery poetry shouted to the sky. There is less raw, animalistic emotion in his lyrics; instead, listeners can hear its echo in the music.

The new shift in sound is also indicative of a détente for the band; Hutchinson (and by extension, the band) is in a more stable place in his personal life, and it is reflected through the album. The sound is no longer on the verge of collapsing in on itself; it is standing solidly on both legs, looking very much towards the future.  

Album released: April 8, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

Album Review: Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

Screen shot 2016-04-08 at 1.18.16 PMEver since the world discovered Miles Davis, he was always seen knocking at the doors of musical styles not yet known. Miles, who rose to fame from the popular uproar of bebop in New York City during the 1940’s, was never content with staying in the same lane. By the end of the 1940’s Davis had introduced ‘cool jazz’ to the world with his Birth of the Cool sessions, and barely a decade later, turned the jazz community on its side again by debuting his ‘modal jazz’ style, backed by his album Kind of Blue, the success and praise of which has gained the album musical immortality. By 1967, Miles remained one of the most prominent jazz icons. However, the 60’s were ‘brewing’ and there was a huge influx of new musical styles that Miles Davis was not ignorant of. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter is quoted saying that at this time Miles was “…looking for something with more traction.”  At this point Miles was already being influenced by the R&B sounds of the decade; in addition, his soon-to-be second wife, Betty Mabry, introduced Miles to even more new sounds and fashions of the time. Miles was inspired to discard his fitted suits for the technicolor garb of the decade, and play the records of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.  With his 1969 release of In a Silent Way, a divergent and experimental fusion album, Miles had now almost completely alienated the jazz realm with his off-beat musical reinvention. However, In a Silent Way was only a prequel to Davis’s new style. In 1970 Miles would take a huge step forward, releasing his monumental, avant-garde album Bitches BrewContinue reading

Concert Review: Orchestre National de Jazz Montréal

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For a long time Big Band stood as the highest compositional challenge in jazz music.  Artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Thad Jones drove the evolution of jazz from a small scale New Orleans operation to the more grandiose genre of swing.  The idea of expanding the size of the ensemble gave the composer a much wider pallet of sound.  Lead trumpets played notes louder and higher than ever before while super-sax sections played in perfect unison at blazing tempos.  This compositional medium continues today with the likes of Maria Schneider and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra incorporating more modern tonal structures into the big band idiom.  The Orchestre National de Jazz Montréal seeks to continue the long legacy of big band with their interpretation of classic Ellington suites as well as more modern works.  On tap for this weekend was an album release show for Montreal’s own Philippe Côté featuring New York sax player David Binney.  Côté’s new album Lungta was influenced heavily by Binney who produced the work and has also spent time mentoring Côté.  The epic event spanned roughly two and a half hours with Côté’s lavish compositions never letting up, continuously seeking the bigger and grander. Continue reading

Concert Review: Anna Webber

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In having the chance to talk to Anna Webber leading up to her performance at Café Resonance this past Monday, one of the things that struck out to me was her organized manner.  Each email sent leading up to the recording session of our interview was quickly followed by a reply from Webber and a question about the specificity of the interview.  In my experience with jazz musicians, systematically planning things out before they happen is not a common occurrence.  Perhaps the tendency for jazz musicians to haphazardly live out their lives is due to the improvisational nature of the music they play; however, the genre also leaves room for a more precise approach to songwriting.  Webber’s organizational approach to life is reflected in the meticulous way she composes her music.  From a purely visual viewpoint, Webber and her ensemble of Matt Mitchell and John Hollenbeck are bound to pages and pages of music throughout their performance.  This strategy allows the group to look at the big picture beforehand and cohesively transition from section to section truly exposing every possible combination of sound.  Continue reading

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: April 5, 2016

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Hi friends,
Hope you’re having a good week! We’ve dipped back into sub-zero temperatures here in Montreal, please keep yr fingers crossed for warmth and sunshine here in the 514. All I wanna do is cruise around on my bike and not have to wear five layers of clothing to not freeze. A girl can dream, right?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
In celebration of the annual Howl! Arts Festival, we’re psyched to have the Howl crew into our studios to curate the April edition of our beloved Montreal Sessions. Exploring intersections of art and activism, they embody a true DYI spirit and proudly showcase their politics through everything they do. Hear them on the airwaves every Tuesday in April from 3-5pm, and check the full event listings for the Howl! festival here.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – april 5, 2016

1. sarah neufeld – the ridge – paper bag CC *
2. essaie pas – demain est une autre nuit – dfa CC *
3. lantern – black highways and green garden roads – fixture records CC
4. glenn jones – fleeting – thrill jockey
5. ensemble supermusique – les accords intuitifs – ambiances magnétiques CC Continue reading