Tag Archives: experimental


Album Review: A flame, my love, a frequency – Colleen

Call it a precursor to the winter blues, call it a product of my New England upbringing, call it a weird morbid streak: as soon as a chill hits the air, all I can think about is the cycle of nature. Walking around the streets of Montreal, with all the natural beauty it has to offer, it’s not hard to romanticize something as trivial as falling leaves. Enter Cécile Schott, the the French multi-instrumentalist behind Colleen, who released A flame, my love, a frequency just in time for some contemplative hibernation.

Schott has been on the music scene for almost two decades, quietly releasing EPs and full-length albums – this is her sixth studio album – that feature the Baroque-era trebel viola de gamba. While she only recently started including vocals into her music in 2013, Schott has always been fascinated by 1970’s Jamaican dub music, as well as loop pedals and synth. On A flame, she takes the opportunity to explore the latter; the viola de gamba is barely heard.

A flame, my love, a frequency uses highly produced instruments to create rich and detailed depictions of nature, all without much vocal assistance. Instead, the scant lyrics act as echoes for the instrumental landscapes, adding details to the conjured imagery. Schott, who is an avid bird watcher, describes various winged animals, and frequently uses layered arpeggios that mimic the flight patterns of birds. There is a return to simplicity on A flame, both in the presence of classical music structure and a focus on the absence of sound. Schott embodies the saying “Less is more,” choosing to use sustained notes and hypnotically repetitive sequences to create a vast soundscape.

The album is best heard listened in an uninterrupted sequence, because the tracks have a natural tendency to flow into one another, creating one long 45-minute track. However, a few tracks deserve noteworthy mentions: “Separating,” for example, is a seven-minute track that almost exclusively contains looped arpeggios that subtly move between keys, with timbre changes sprinkled here and there. The track appears as a rainstorm might: while initially only raindrops appear, the storm soon builds to a deluge before subsiding again. Schott employs vocal distortion techniques that transform her voice, briefly, into a beacon that pierces the instrumental fog.

“Summer night (Bat song)” features long, drawn-out synth tones that leave room for Schott’s breathy vocals, which describe the flight patterns of a bat in simple observational phrases; what seems like an uninteresting field journal entry is in actuality a transformative, hypnotic still life. “The stars vs creatures” captures the isolation and wonder of space while detailing a discussion between animals about the night sky. Schott expertly contrasts the yawning cosmos with the intimate delicacy of a conversation; low synth shifts as tectonic plates might, while arpeggios flutter about, seemingly suspended in air.

Album released: October 19, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 


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 


Album review: Andy Stott – Too Many Voices



A master of sound design and manipulation, Manchester-based Andy Stott graced the world with a new creation this year. Too Many Voices is as deceivingly minimal as it is complex – the all-familiar default claps and snares of 90s sound banks re-imagined in a manner of a contemporary artwork. You can definitely feel the impact of more modern underground electronic music styles like vaporwave and juke in this. It is at times strange, at times so soulful and soothing, dreamy yet gritty, melding glitchy Brit-pop and garage-influenced rhythms that captivate and pull you in, making you want to live through it again and again. Continue reading

Oonga hosts If You Got Ears June 2016

If you haven’t heard already, Montreal DJ/producer Oonga (aka Eli Levinson) is hosting the June edition of If You Got Ears! A creator of house/techno dubstep and tropical-influenced music, he has been transporting CKUT’s listeners far beyond their musical expectations and around the world.

Since If You Got Ears is CKUT’s exploration of sonic delights, Oonga has been experimenting with the music he is playing during his residency. He taps into unique sounds of the world to “get out of the [world music] narrative” and challenges listeners’ expectations by blending international music with electronic ideas. On his most recent show (June 15th), he played a phenomenal selection of tropical bass and featured fellow artists including global bass producer Munchi and trans-national bass music (Borneo bass!) producer Jet Airess.

Tuning into Oonga’s show is a trip far beyond Montreal’s city limits to destinations such as Haiti (think voodoo drums), Turtle Island (pow wow music), and Indonesia (minimalistic gamelan), as well as a chance to explore electronic from its roots (i.e. Brazilian funk, Angolan kuduro, South African Gqom, etc.)

Join Oonga on his journeys every Wednesday in June (12-14h EST), or listen to past episodes in the CKUT archives! & Also check out  his mixcloud (which has mixes uploaded from his shows) and his soundcloud!


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Jeremy Young Hosts If You Got Ears for May 2016

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For the month of May, Jeremy Young will be bringing us his work for If You Got Ears. Jeremy is a sonic artist, improviser and creative strategist based right here in Montreal. With a focus on the intersectionality between text and sound, he has explored the worlds of audio-literature through books and podcasts, as well as undertaken numerous artistic projects which you can read about on his site.

This month, he will be delivering each episode with a separate theme generated by the work of Gavin Bryars, Martha Reeves, Jason Molina and The Necks. His sounds will feature many loops and repetitions, taking the listeners on a dreamy and enlightening journey. It’s going to be a wild ride, so don’t miss it every Wednesday from 12-2pm~~


Album Review: Animal Collective – Painting With


If you’ve been keeping up with Animal Collective and their creative envelop pushing sound since the beginning of Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) and Avey Tare (David Portner) debut Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanish, then you were like me and many other AnCo fans alike, not entirely sure what to expect from their next project as a whole. The experimental psychedelic pop collective from Baltimore have recently released their tenth studio album Painting With which is the follow-up to their 2012 release Centipede Hz. After the release of Centipede Hz many fans and critics alike started to worry about the direction that AnCo would head. Luckily, there is no need to worry since they’ve completely ditched the cluttered instrumentation from their prior release and have heavily focused on more of a proper structure for their individual tracks. With this notable emphasis of structure on the new LP, Painting With has to be one of Animal Collective’s most accessible releases to date. With that said, however, it also pans out to be one of their more underwhelming ones as well.

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Ryan Alexander Diduck Hosts February’s IF YOU GOT EARS

Throughout the month of February, Ryan Alexander Diduck will be taking over as guest-host and curator of CKUT’s If You Got Ears. Diduck is a Montréal-based writer, producer and doctor of philosophy. And he has programmed four solid weeks of exciting radio for us, each show centered on a different theme. There will be exclusive in-studio performances, fascinating interviews, and some very special world premieres. Catch Diduck’s residency every Wednesday from noon-2 on CKUT 90.3, and online at CKUT.ca.

For the first episode of his If You Got Ears residency, Diduck dedicates the show to some of Montreal’s most interesting, important and beloved artists. Tune in to hear hot new music from Le Révélateur, and an exclusive in-studio performance by composer Kara-Lis Coverdale. Diduck will also air some classics that define the city’s soundscape, and unearth a few surprises that delve beneath the surface of Montreal’s musical scenes. Don’t miss this special Montreal edition of If You Got Ears, Wednesday February 3rd from 12-2pm on CKUT 90.3 and online at CKUT.ca.


Small Scale Music Wraps Up If You Got Ears


Throughout November Small Scale Music has graciously hosted If You Got Ears, and they’ve delivered quite the experience. Small Scale Music is based right here in Montreal and focuses mostly on improvisational and experimental music. It was this kind of sound that Raphael Foisy, the host of this month’s show, brought to the table. Raphael plays bass in the bands Brick Quartet, Bord à Bord, Ninja Simone and in different improvised music settings. He combined elements from all these unique musical experiences in each of his shows, each of which which you can catch on our archives.

Tune in to Sam Shalabi and Alex Moskos in our studios this December for the next instalment of If You Got Ears (which is going to be bananas). Every Wednesday from 12-2, listen in~~


November: If You Got Ears with Small Scale Music


For the month of November, we’ve got Small Scale Music repping If You Got Ears here at CKUT. Small Scale Music is the exciting record label that packs a big sound. Based right here in Montreal, their releases lie in the realm experimental music such as free jazz, free improvisation, and noise. Their extensive range of sounds combined with their policy of openness to new musicians and styles is what makes them such a valuable part of the MTL music scene, so we’re stoked to have them on board!

Tune in today and every Wednesday from 12-2pm to hear your host Raphael Foisy on the mic, and enjoy the show~~


If You Got Ears with Jen Reimer and Max Stein: October 14th 2015


Last Wednesday, Jen Reimer and Max Stein returned to If You Got Ears for a show focussing on the links between sound and architecture.

Last week’s guest, Dr. Gascia Ouzounian, a professor of musicology at Queen’s University Belfast and a graduate of violin performance and music technology at McGill University, first discussed an interesting genre of contemporary music called sleep music. Compositions that fall under this category are meant to be listened to as you are falling asleep, all the way until you wake up. When this music is performed, audiences are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing, bring blankets and pillows, etc. The music itself is generated by the brainwaves of “performers” who are attached to sensors as they sleep. The changes in their brainwaves create a drone that is continuously evolving, depending on their states of consciousness, and it is then projected as an 8 channel electroacoustic composition coupled with a visual projection similar to EEG signals. Listeners are essentially submersed into the “performer’s” dreams.

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