Foreign Diplomats at Mile Ex End.

CKUT @ Mile Ex End: New Festival on the Block

The first edition of the Mile Ex End Festival took place Saturday, September 2nd and Sunday, September 3rd under Montreal’s Van Horne Viaduct. I was excited for the festival because the same space used to host some very fun block parties many years ago – a revival of the Van Horne Viaduct seemed to me like a great idea. As I walked into the festival site early Saturday afternoon, I noticed there were not many attendees there yet, just staff and media. There were three stages, one very large and two smaller ones, food trucks, an art gallery and a kid zone. The atmosphere was relaxed, family-friendly – it felt like an end of summer celebration.

Of the smaller bands playing the festival, local psych rock band Adam Strangler was a clear stand out. They started their set off with a very upbeat and friendly stage presence despite the small crowd on Saturday afternoon, the sound techs cheering them on. Before long, people started to pour in and joined in the applause. Adam Strangler played all the tracks off their great EP, Key West, as well as some hooky songs that were new to me, but very enjoyable to listen to in the Saturday sunshine. Later that day, the young members of Foreign Diplomats also gave a high energy performance, calling on the audience to sing and dance like no one was watching. Their catchy indie pop songs were punctuated with alternating synths and trombone melodies, accentuating the festive atmosphere.

Beyond these excellent openers, Mile Ex End also had some impressive headliners. The crowd was eager to see Cat Power perform Saturday night, filling up the space in front of the smaller Mile End stage long before her set time. A smoke machine (whether intentionally or by accident, I’m not sure) spewed out smoke continuously before her set, shrouding everyone in comforting fog. When Power took the stage – alone, except for her guitar and piano – all lights and eyes were on her. Her first notes caused goosebumps to quiver up and down my body, reminding me just how much her music affects me. The whole set was powerful and emotionally charged – her voice has only gotten more beautiful and husky with time.

Cloudy skies and a weaker lineup made Sunday less exciting than Mile Ex End’s first day. But that evening’s headliner, Montreal’s own Godspeed You! Black Emperor, were easily a festival highlight. They opened with “Hope Drone,” as their notoriously haunting visuals of abandoned buildings and train tracks looping in the background. I wish I could enumerate each song Godspeed played, but they fold so well one into the other that it sort of defeats the point to try and single them out – just being able to experience them in the moment is pure joy. They must have been playing songs off their not-yet-released new album Luciferian Towers, however, because there were definitely parts I did not recognize.

Though they played new tunes, Godspeed certainly haven’t steered away from their old political messages; judging by their frenzied crescendos and violent protest visuals (as well as the titles of their new singles – “Bosses Hang” and “Anthem For No State,”) they’re more enraged with the status quo than ever. After the band’s 2011 revival, it was nice to see that they are still going strong, creating new music and moving people with their uniquely haunting orchestral pieces.

Mile Ex End certainly provided a platform for some really lovely music, local and otherwise. Speaking to a few artists throughout the weekend, I also got the impression that they were very happy with the well-staffed and highly-organized festival. But the festival definitely has room to adjust going forward. The site felt too large for the number of attendees – two alternating stages would have sufficed. Indeed, while Godspeed performed I kept thinking back to when they used to play to cross-legged audiences in dumpy Montreal jam spaces in the nineties, a memory I only live vicariously through my older friends. I wondered what it would be like to experience them in a smaller, more intimate setting rather than on such a large stage amongst so many other humans.

The size of the site might not be such an issue in the future if the festival lowers its prices, which are currently inaccessible for lower-income people, and widens its scope – this edition of Mile Ex End showcased mostly white artists of mostly similar genres. I saw some fantastic rock at this festival, but, despite all the space, I left feeling like Mile Ex End’s first outing was, in some ways, just too narrow.

– review by Nadège Radioskid

The welcoming sign to Rouyn-Noranda, birthplace of FME

CKUT @ FME 2017: Post-Fest Field Journal

This past weekend I made the 9-hour trek to represent CKUT at Festival de musique émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME). I spent two nights in the pine-rimmed rural city of Rouyn-Noranda, hopping from venue to venue in an attempt to escape the unseasonal chill that descended on Quebec this Labour Day weekend. Despite the slightly disappointing “summer” weather, the festival-goers and locals alike came through on a collective promise to make the fifteenth FME a fête to remember.

While I was only able to experience half the festival – it ran from Thursday, August 31 to Sunday, August 3 – I was able to compile a comprehensive “field journal” of sorts for this truly unique festival experience. Hopefully, along with some visual aids, it will serve to successfully capture the essence of FME 2017. Bonne lecture! Continue reading

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: September 5, 2017

Hi everyone,

I’m playing catch-up in the office after a busy long weekend — keeping this short and sweet today. As always, hit me up for any of your CKUT needs!

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
For the month of September, our friends at POP Montreal take over our award-winning residency series The Montreal Sessions. Tune in each Tuesday from 3-5pmas we invite the brains behind this stellar festival into the studio and get them to talk firsthand about what they’re most psyched for as we approach the 2017 edition of POP. Expect staff picks, past festival highlights, artist interviews, live performances, and much more… today we’re even featuring a very special guest in the studio. Who will it be? Only one way to find out — stream it live starting at 3pm and expect the unexpected.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – september 5, 2017

1pierre kwenders – makanda at the end of space, the beginning of time – bonsound CC *
2. david nance – negative boogie – ba da bing!
3. sam shalabi & stefan christoff – s/t – small scale music CC *
4. margret – the most fun that two people can have together – egg paper factory CC *
5. we r dying 2 kill u – buy your city/pay the rent – self-released CC * Continue reading

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CKUT x MUTEK: An interview with Beatrice Dillon

As part of our ongoing MUTEK coverage, CKUT’s own Cyan (of Modular Systems) chatted with the London-based artist, producer, and NTS resident Beatrice Dillon. Read the full transcript below and get to know this prolific, boundary-pushing sound wiz.

C: Does your work as a DJ / radio host influence your own music production?

BD: It’s usually the other way round, I approach DJing as a musician so I search for music that connects with my own in some way – through production, attitude etc. Being on NTS gives me the chance to showcase all sorts of music and hopefully highlight some of the more unknown weirder stuff.

C: Are there any common musical themes/connections/processes that you draw on?

BD: I try to look beyond the 4/4 as that is covered really well by other DJs across NTS. I’m more interested in reduced ideas, unfamiliar time structures etc, I also like to balance newer and older music but to be honest it’s up to the listener..  I actually just play things I like!

C: What do you personally find interesting in a dj set as a listener?

BD: I’m always excited by twists and turns in DJ sets, moments where it could go wrong. I love watching DJs that enjoy the full capacity of a sound system – highs/lows etc..so the set becomes quite sculptural.

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C: One of the aims of Mutek is to showcase digital creativity. I was wondering how you would see your work in that context, or not?

BD: Well I use a computer and digital instruments all the time so it’s a huge part of what I do. Like a lot of people, I slightly obsess over technology and what might be possible for me but there’s always an interest in combining approaches. I’ve just produced a commission for a German artist, Jorinde Voigt, who makes beautiful large-format drawings which connect ideas across pattern language, diagramatic expression, algorithmic impulses, colour theory etc and I invited classically-trained cellist, Lucy Railton and Japanese percussionist, Kenichi Iwasa to perform with me as a contrast to the digital.

C: I wanted to know what motivates your collaborations – are you looking for particular types of collaborators, projects or ideas or does this just happen through personal friendships for example? How do your collaborative experiences influence your individual working practice?

BD: Usually through friendships. There’s always something to be gained from listening to someone else.

C: What are some of your upcoming artistic projects post-Mutek?

BD: I have a 12” on Hessle Audio which is a more club focused collaboration with Call Super and a remix for Ploy on the great Bristol label, Timedance. Then I’m focusing on a commission for a sound piece installed in a large cave in the north of England this autumn. Finishing a new solo record, a remix and continuing with some some new solo visual work. Plus, there are live and DJ sets booked too, so it’s a busy few months ahead, looking forward to it!

To learn more about Modular Systems and Traktion, check out Cyan’s website

 

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 29, 2017

Hi friends,

Princess Nokia rolled through Montreal last night and it was a doozy of a show — sold out room, crazy energy, and an all-around great performance. Forgive me, I’m still cobbling my brain and senses back together over here.

Other than that, we’re about to dive into frosh week and campus is abuzz with new students. Anyone else feeling especially old this time of year? Please reassure me that I’m not the only one.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Did you catch CKUT’s live broadcast from the Montreal International Reggae Festival? No? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered — check out the full archives of the two-day broadcast on our website. They’re chock full of interviews, live footage, and special guests that you won’t hear anywhere else… this is truly exceptional content reflective of the amazing community of reggae artists & supporters here in the 514. Stream or download the full audio here and crank it loud for max listening enjoyment.

PS!!! Reggae fans, take note of our upcoming 30th birthday party with the legendary Mighty Diamonds, presented alongside our friends at POP Montreal. Do not miss!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 29, 2017

1. sontag shogun – patterns for resonant space – youngbloods
2. markus floats – first album – self-released CC *
3. we r dying 2 kill u – buy your city/pay the rent – self-released CC *
4. sam shalabi & stefan christoff – s/t – small scale music CC *
5. david nance – negative boogie – ba da bing!  Continue reading

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Concert Review: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas @ Corona Theatre

The cacophony in Montreal’s old Corona Theatre rose steadily this past Wednesday, as the crowd eagerly waited for Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas to take the stage. This was going to be my third time seeing Cult Of Luna, but the first with Christmas, who was added as a featured member for the band’s new album, Mariner. This Montreal show was the third in a series of just five North American tour dates for Cult of Luna, where, with Christmas’ help, they’ve been performing Mariner in its entirety.

The group took the stage in almost complete darkness. Four spotlights were aimed into the crowd and then instantly replaced with heavy backlights, shrouding all the members in darkness and leaving only their silhouettes visible. In all the Cult of Luna shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen their faces – I wouldn’t be able to recognize them if I had to (but I’m sure they’re all beautiful; they are Swedish, after all).

They began with album-opener “A Greater Call,” starting off with steady post-rockish layers of keyboard, guitar, and drums, and then crescendoing alongside Johannes Persson’s unique growl. Julie Christmas responded to Persson with melodic lines that claimed “we are not conquerors/we float with the tide,” hypnotically repeating the phrases. Her ethereal voice was a welcome contrast to Persson’s, as was her eerie and magnificent presence on stage – Christmas pulled off pieces of her dress over the course of the set, twirling them as she howled before throwing them into the crowd. During “Chevron,” the heaviest song on the album, her demonic lyrics and entrancing headbanging captivated the crowd, Christmas’ hair becoming a rhythmic display against the backlit stage.

Christmas clearly established herself as a tough collaborator to match, but, as always, Cult of Luna did not disappoint. Their intense playing and visuals made the space-themed Mariner into a true journey. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” best evoked the other-worldly subject matter, with its ominous keyboards and sinister lyrics, ending with Christmas’s enchanting request to “put me down, where I can see you run.” During album-closer “Cygnus,” strobe lights pulsed to the beat of the snare like a high powered camera flash, momentarily disrupting the crowd’s optical receptors; every time my vision returned to normal, it was just as quickly jolted by the next hit, leaving me completely spellbound. This part of the record was heavily influenced by the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, an inspiration that certainly translated live: it felt like the whole theatre was crossing the outer-limits of the universe, about to finally progress into the darkness of the unknown cosmos and disappear, bringing the performance to a satisfying close.

The band exited the stage while Christmas stayed back, shaking hands with the whole front row, creating a connection with the audience that was very un-Cult Of Luna. Leaving the venue, I heard people express how mind-blown they were by the evening, particularly by Christmas’s incredible voice and immaculate stage performance. I had a hard time disagreeing. My only wish was that it had been even louder, but that might just be my ears fading from going to so many shows – a small price to pay for nights like this.

– review by Nadège Radioskid

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Free Samples Playlist

With last week’s article on DJ Khaled marking the end of Free Samples, here’s a playlist featuring some of the best tracks from the series. Thanks to everyone who followed this project throughout the summer!
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Spirit in the Dark” by Aretha Franklin
School Spirit” by Kanye West
Gold Digger” by Kanye West
I Got a Woman” by Ray Charles
Hotline Bling” by Drake
Cha Cha” by D.R.A.M.
Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz Remix)” by Kyla
Glow” by Drake feat. Kanye West
Devotion (Live)” by Earth, Wind & Fire
i” by Kendrick Lamar
That Lady” by The Isley Brothers
Loyalty” by Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna
24 Karat Magic” by Bruno Mars
Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” by Jay-Z
I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5
Maria Maria” by Carlos Santana feat. Wyclef Jean
Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

– Matthew Martino

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CKUT @ FME 2017: Preview Playlist!

The end of summer is nigh, but don’t shed your festival gear just yet: we are just a week away from the 15th edition of the Festival de musique émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME), held from August 31 to September 3 in southwestern Quebec. This year, close to 70 artists, most of them Canadian or Québecois, will descend on the sleepy city of Rouyn-Noranda and party all Labour Day weekend.

To prepare you for this unique festival experience, this author has prepared a curated Spotify playlist featuring artists who will be performing at FME 2017. Below are short descriptions of the tracks and artists for you to peruse at your leisure.

Look out for exclusive interviews with artists from the festival on TOTAL ECLIPSE in the coming weeks, as well as live coverage coming at you from my CKUT Twitter account, @jmvanamsterdam.

FME 2017 HOT PICKS

  1. Pierre Kwenders (“Woods of Solitude”): Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian rapper and musician who blends traditional African themes with dance music and hip-hop. He performs on August 31 at 9:15pm.
  2. Thus Owls (“Smoke Like Birds”): Thus Owls is a Swedish-Canadian husband-and-wife duo based in Montreal. Together they create a dark, layered indie pop sound. Thus Owls perform on August 31 at 8:00pm.
  3. Phillipe B (“Explosion”): Phillipe B is a Québecois singer-songwriter hailing from Rouyn-Noranda, though he is currently based in Montreal. He produces haunting, expansive music that incorporates acoustic guitar plucking and orchestral accents. Phillipe B performs on August 31 at 9:00pm.
  4. La Mverte (“The Inner Out”): La Mverte is a Parisian electronic artist whose music is reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “robot pop.” He performs on August 31 at 5:00pm.
  5. La Bronze (“Aimons-nous”): La Bronze is a band hailing from Quebec, blending a capella harmonies with alt-rock instrumentals. They perform on August 31 at 8:30pm.
  6. A Tribe Called Red (“R.E.D.”): A Tribe Called Red is a Canadian electro-hip-hop group based out of Ottawa. The trio is comprised of First Nations members, and they famously meld “powwow step” with hip-hop and dubstep to create powerful, contemporary powwow dancehall music. ATCR perform on August 31 at 10:15pm.
  7. Andy Shauf (“The Musician”): Andy Shauf is a Saskatchewanian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who creates highly-acclaimed indie pop, notable for its inclusion of the clarinet. He performs on August 31 at 10:15pm. Continue reading
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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: August 22, 2017

Hi folks,

Keeping this short today — I’m catching up from a whirlwind weekend trip to Toronto, a real nice gig with total sweethearts Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, and the usual back-to-school prep madness. MUTEK also kicks off today so it ain’t getting any quieter around here, either. Wanna stay in the loop about all this goodness and more? You know what to do.

xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – august 22, 2017

1. markus floats – first album – self-released CC *
2. faith healer – try 😉 – mint records CC
3. yoo doo right – ep2 – second best records CC *
4. sontag shogun – patterns for resonant space – youngbloods
5. slight – the hustle is a many splendoured thing – second best records C * Continue reading

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CKUT x MUTEK Present buffalo MRI’s Montreal Sessions

As part of our ongoing Montreal Sessions residency, CKUT and MUTEK are thrilled to be welcoming one of our favourite local sound-benders, Dominique Alexander, back into the studio. Familiarize yourself with her excellent work below and catch her live on the air from 3-5pm, streaming from your faithful source ckut.ca.

buffalo MRI is the solo project of Montréal-based experimental musician Dominique Alexander. Since 2013, Alexander has developed an approach focused on prepared tape, field recordings, sampler performance, and fluctuation between structure and improvisation. Her creative process employs a wide range of techniques and sound sources, from voyeuristic moments and spontaneous background noises caught on tape to plunderphonics-style sample work and everywhere in between. From a given handful of recordings, Alexander manages to extract minute details and reconfigure them, weaving unrelated sounds into new images in performance.

As well as having made solo appearances at numerous one-off events and festivals in Montreal, including POP and Suoni Per Il Popolo, Alexander has performed elsewhere in Québec, Ontario, and the United States, with further touring slated for this fall. Her work has also taken the form of collaboration both within music and across disciplines. She is currently one half of experimental duo Urlapse with Joshua Bastien, and in 2016 she worked with visual artists Chloe Lum and Yannick Desranleau and choreographer Sarah Wendt to compose and perform a live score for their work The Rules, debuted at Montréal’s OFFTA Festival.

Outside of music performance, Alexander has worked in curatorial and academic capacities, giving guest lectures at Concordia University on the history of musique concrète and tape music as well as on the representation and visibility of women in electronic and experimental music. For a one-month residency at McGill University’s CKUT radio station, she hosted the weekly experimental music program If You Got Ears and will continue to appear as a regular guest on the show for future editions. While working to prepare her MUTEK debut, Alexander is also crafting a future release that functions as a reimagining of the “DJ tools” format, her first released work as buffalo MRI in over two years.

You can hear her hosting CKUT’s MUTEK x Montreal Sessions on Tuesday, August 22nd from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.

Photo: Thomas Boucher