Autumn is officially here, which means it’s time to delve into some yearly existentialism. The question that will be on McGill students’ minds from October 21-26 is this: should CKUT 90.3 FM exist?
If you’re a McGill student and are scratching your head as to why this question is even being posed, here’s a little history lesson that might prove educational. While CKUT was formed as “Radio McGill” in the 1940s, it became a fully-licensed FM station in 1987. The following year, a successful referendum allowed CKUT to be funded by a student fee levy, which basically means that a small part of your tuition is helping us put out cool vibes to the McGill campus and city of Montreal every day, year-round. In 2007, McGill announced that all student fees had to have an “expiration date” every 5 years. The student fee dedicated to CKUT makes up 54% of our funding, and as a non-profit station we wouldno longer be able to exist should you decide to vote NO.
You, as a thrifty and intelligent McGill student, might also be wondering why in the world you would ever need CKUT’s services; after all, we’re just a radio station, right?
Well… not quite. Here are examples of the many other services that we provide at 3647 Rue University: journalism school (which, by the way, McGill University does not provide) for those interested in honing interview skills or writing for the radio, sound engineering and DJ tutorials, and access to our extensive music library of over 78,000 physical releases.
As a paying member of CKUT, you have the power to vote at our Annual General Meeting. Students who volunteer for CKUT are included in many, if not all, government and administrative decisions and are allowed to participate on our governing committees. CKUT bridges the McGill and Montreal communities by providing conferences, panels, and concerts for a wide variety of charitable and educational outreach opportunities. We have been voted #1 Radio Station for Cult MTL’s Best of Montreal poll. Our membership base consists of over 300 student and community volunteers helping to bring you the best of alternative and cultural radio on a 24/7 basis.
If you’re still undecided about us, see here for a more detailed explanation of why CKUT 90.3 FM matters to both McGill and Montreal. Voting is super convenient, too: if you have access to a computer and basic wifi, you can click the “YES” button to keep us in business. Existential crisis averted.
VOTE “YES” TO KEEP CKUT ALIVE BETWEEN OCTOBER 21-26!!!!!
Kyle Jukka, from the local Montreal avant-pop duo She-Devils will be hosting If You’ve Got Ears this April. Get ready for two hours of “music that [Jukka] feels has a strong transportive affect, impressionistic intention and sense of inventiveness. Music from different places and time periods that points towards the building of our relationship with our senses. From the mysteriously hypnotic rhythms of indigenous Tanzania to the sparkling flavors of Latin America to the popular music of the USA and UK, the focus will be on music that paints pictures of worlds and transports you into them.”
We’ve always known Tim Darcy had a way with words. Last year he stunned us with the line “I’m no longer afraid to die cause that is all that I have left” from the song “Beautiful Blue Sky” on Ought’sSun Coming Down. The band’s first album More than Any Other Dayalso had its brilliant lyrical moments; “today, more than any other day, I am prepared to make a decision between 2% and whole milk” said Darcy in a particularly ironic discussion of his grocery shopping. With the help of electronic musician AJ Cornell, Darcy’s lyrical talent and vocal delivery have been put in a vacuum. Gone are the erratic rhythms and bass lines he’s usually featured beside. Gone is Darcy’s guitar centered songwriting style and vocal hooks. Replacing the usual Ought set-up is AJ Cornell’s eerie avant-garde electronic backdrop, which has brought a whole new personality out of Darcy resulting in the album Too Significant To Ignore.Continue reading →
When one talks about music genres today, a discussion of the merits of such categorization schemes is never too far away. The terms that used to guide you through the aisles at your local HMV and informed your consumption of music: terms like pop, rock, metal, and electronic now seem hopelessly vague and clunky. If you’ve ever been asked to describe the sound or genre of an artist to a friend, you are well aware of how insufficient this language may feel in describing something as ephemeral and affective as music.
Logo for Vasicka’s New York based Minimal Wave labeled devoted to re-releasing lost synth driven music from the late 70’s to early 80’s
Alternatively, you may be overwhelmed by the endless distinctions made by audiophiles in claiming nuance between genres, where the suffixes –wave or –core are endlessly attached in a bid for cultural capital. Considering the slew of short-lived micro-genres of the past decade (witchhouse, seapunk, bubblegum-bass), it is not uncommon that claims to a new genre are often met with eyes rolling and music blogs immediately speculating, “is it here to stay?” Whereas these sub-genres emerged from the forefront of cultural trends, few genres are labeled 40 years after their sound developed with the purpose of reviving the work of artists from a subculture that was never properly singled out from under the broad umbrella of new wave music. Vasicka showcasing the 2011 Hidden Tapes compilation featuring rare, unreleased minimal wave tracks from around the world ’79-’85
Veronica Vasicka launched the Minimal Wave record label/web-based restoration project in 2005 for the purpose of re-releasing and re-mastering obscure, dark, and synth-driven music from the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s. Her original website, minimalwave.org, quickly garnered a cult following amongst synth enthusiasts as a platform where obscure recordings, scanned images, translated reviews, and transcribed interviews could be archived. The term “minimal wave” entered the lexicon of synthwave enthusiasts as a sub-genre that shared characteristics with coldwave (the French appendage of post-punk from the late ‘70s) and minimal synth (early, minimally-produced synth music).
Canadian minimal synth pioneer Ohama in his home studio circa ’83
The genre of music characterized by its use of drum machines, simple pre-MIDI synth instrumentation, and “themes of sincere, rather than ironic detachment”. These attributes are packaged with a DIY punk sensibility, often recorded in homes and basement studios. The self-released and limited distribution of these tapes and cassettes is as much a defining feature of the minimal wave aesthetic as its sonic characteristics. Minimal wave places the electronic hardware and sequencers commercially available during the early ‘80s at the foreground of the recording and embraces their novel, synthetic sounds: the mechanical beats and tinny melodies that some today may dismiss as ‘80s kitsch. This overtly synthetic instrumentation combined with themes of sincerity in the lyrics and vocal performances accounts for the genre’s idiosyncratic philosophy on the relationship between man and machine. It is no surprise that the late ‘70s popularity of science fiction and the avant-garde Constructivism and Futurism movements combined to influence the minimal wave’s distinct formula of the sincere and the synthetic.
Belgian group Linear Movement’s album artwork for their “On the Screen’ LP
Seminal synth duo Oppenheimer Analysis were the first to have their 1982 recordings re-mastered and re-issued into a full length LP by Vasicka’s New York-based Minimal Wave Label. Fittingly, Brighton’s Oppenheimer Analysis embodies the distinct minimal wave dynamic of man and machine. Beyond the group’s interrogation of humanity’s precarious relationship with scientific progress, it is interesting to note vocalist Andy Oppenheimer’s relation to father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer. Their 1982 hit song “Devils’ Dancers” proclaims “All the radon daughters / Wonder what they taught us / Making up our status / Doubts are only traitors.”
Oppenheimer Analysis’ 1982 hit song ‘The Devil’s Dancers’
Andy’s stoic delivery is not sufficient to quell the song’s palpable sense of unease over a radioactive future. The tracks’ driving, abruptly arpeggiated synth patterns and mechanical drums punctuate the song’s unmistakable sincerity over the cost of scientific progress. Far from being classically trained, Andy recalls in an interview with Panic Film the duo having been formed at a science fiction convention. This anecdote is a testament to the DIY spirit of the minimal wave subculture of the early ’80s, where the embrace of electronic hardware meant the bracketing of conventional forms of music training, production and distribution.
German bootleg label ‘Flexi-pop’ compiled many CD’s of obscure synth-driven music through the 90s
A lack of conventional music training may, however, be an asset for the musicians crafting minimal wave. The creative fervour where impulse overshadows one’s experience or skill level was essential in minimal wave’s bold exploration of unfamiliar synthetic soundscapes. Vasicka notes “the sounds that are heard [in minimal wave records]…actually resemble the machines used to create them.” Prioritising the electronic hardware as an autonomous instrument was a great departure from the synthesizer’s incorporation into more conventional musical arrangements where the machine was used to mimic familiar sound objects. This was seen in minimal wave’s commercially successful cousin synth pop. Minimal wave, far too dark and gritty to be considered synthpop yet too sincere for its sister genres Industrial/EBM and coldwave, found itself in an elusive category, destined for an obscure existence on bootleg compilation records. Broken English Club’s 2015 LP “Suburban Hunting” is the latest release from Cititrax
Since 2005, the Minimal Wave label has evaded all the clichés that stigmatise new sub-genres as fickle trends quickly get exacerbated by the internet hype machine. Minimal Wave also has a sister label, Cititrax, that is oriented towards newer synth-driven music, featuring artists such as Broken English Club, Further Reductions and Toronto’s Kontravoid. The legacy of Minimal Wave is embedded in the eclecticism of the Cititrax catalogue: the diverse membership acknowledges that the distinctions between techno, new wave, and industrial music are as permeable as ever.
Had a pretty big weekend over here: played some rad shows in Ottawa and Toronto, had a birthday, and zoomed back home on Sunday night just in time to see Big|Brave (above) and Sleep totally crush it in Montreal. Still kinda reeling! How was your week?
:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT::: Winds are howling, snow is falling, you probably have chunks of industrial salt in your boots… But fear not! We’ve got the perfect cure for your late January blues: hop on over to CKUT’s open mic Thursday January 28th @ ECOLEon the McGill campus as a part of our Thursdays (A)Live Series. Read your poetry, tell some jokes, bust out yr guitar and soak in all the talent that the McGill crew has to offer. The best part: this event is FREE, so regardless of whether you’re on a student budget or not you can come out and enjoy the night.
:::CHARTS::: ckut top 30 – january 26, 2016 1. sheer agony – masterpiece – plastic factory CC *
2. perils – s/t – desire path CC *
3. oneohtrix point never – garden of delete – warp
4. nap eyes – thought rock fish scale – you’ve changed CC
5. chairs – drawn into mazes – kinnta CC * Continue reading →
In its second year running, MRCY FEST really outdid itself this September with headlining acts like Local Natives and Alabama Shakes. Seeing LA-based psych folk/indie rock band Local Natives was definitely a highlight for me. They brought back a whole wave of nostalgia for the early 2010s and the clean-cut, geeky band aesthetic. Their sound embodies the pinnacle of the repopularisation of harmonic indie rock after the grunge and fanzine craze of the ’90s; in the words of Pitchfork, they’re “sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear.”
For their recent Montreal gig, they kicked off their set on a high note with the hit “Breakers” from their 2013 LP Hummingbird. Catchy three-part ‘ooouh-ouuuh’ harmonies and double-tempo drumming meshed well with the introspective lyrics. They also played tracks from their debut album Gorilla Manor, like “Wide Eyes”, “Airplanes” and “Camera Talk”, which stood out with its Afro-pop tinged guitar chords.
Local Natives also teased us with a couple songs of their upcoming album, riveting the crowd with their fun melodies and keeping us in anticipation of their official launch. Guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer’s melancholic vocals blend together exceptionally well, and this layered smoothness is probably one of the strongest aspects of their sound.
Their set was long but they maintained their high energy throughout the performance, which only confirmed my opinion of them as talented musicians and solid performers. MRCY FEST, bring them back in 2016?
First let it be said that we love you all, our listeners are the realest and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Throughout the 2015 funding drive, which was from October 22nd to November 1st, CKUT got some mad support from it’s followers. We had some exciting giveaways like free bike tune-ups and trips to New York or Toronto, accompanied with special programming from our hosts. If you tuned in you’ll know it was a busy and hectic-fun time! So if you donated, spread the word, or just demonstrated your support, thank you.
You can still donate by visiting ckut.ca/donate, or coming in person on weekdays from 11am-6pm and weekends 12pm-5pm. Every dollar counts, and we’re getting closer to our monetary goals as we speak, let’s do this~~
What are you doing this Friday? Oh you’re going to the Howl Arts Benefit Concert? Us too!
In conjunction with our annual funding drive, CKUT is teaming up with Howl! to bring you an amazing night full of great music and great humans. With a line up including dArk mAAt’r, Marika Tirolien, Rhythm and Hues, and All Da Way Live Radio, it’s a good thing you’re coming! But seriously, it’s going to be nuts, so swing by and bring your friends for a guaranteed good time.
CKUT needs loving too so do bring monetary hugs aka donations if you can (recommended amount is $8-$15). The gates to our sweet party open at 9pm, and everyone is invited. Check out our Facebook event for more info!
CKUT’s annual funding drive is under way! This year, we present to you Radio Unleashed: from October 22nd to November 1st, our airwaves will be filled with special programming from all your favourite shows and hosts. To kick it all off, tonight at 8pm we are hosting a party at Bar Le Ritz PDB, featuring a variety of Montreal artists, from music to dance and even spoken word!
Music will be provided by local bands Cheap Wig, a highly energetic feminist punk-rock group, Show of Bedlam, a dark experimental death rock group and Smileswithteeth, a feel-good electronic pop group. DJ Jef Barbara will also be spinning throughout the night so be ready to dance!
Beyond music, Ill Groove Garden Hip Hop Dance Crew will perform, as well as spoken word artist Kym Dominique-Ferguson. We’ve got something for everyone’s tastes!
Please bring a small donation ($10 suggested) to help keep our station running to its full ability!
Early this month, Montrealers filled Metropolis to see Brooklyn-based rocktronica duo Ratatat. I had never seen Metropolis so crowded. Seriously, in terms of mosh pit density, Ratatat outnumbered previous shows that I had seen there courtesy of Cat Power, the Barr Brothers, Xavier Rudd, and Tame Impala.
The first half of their set provided an enjoyable build up of a whole array of hits from their 10-year discography, climaxing with their crowdpleaser “Loud Pipes” from their 2006 LP Classics, immediately recognizable for its unique use of rudimentary drums and clean synth lines. Playing this track before the end of the set was a smart move on their part for the crowd to quickly experience that music high you get from hearing a song you’ve heard before and love.
Meanwhile, an intense light show of colored lasers and beams fixated the crowd even more on their mastery of live percussions and keyboards.
The second half of the set had a more “can’t stop moving your feet” kinda feel, leveraged by playing another Classics favorite, “Wildcat,” irresistibly playful with its repeated “roar” sounds, double tempo and high-pitched guitar riffs. “Seventeen Years” and “Gettysburg” were also fun throw backs.