Tag Archives: Montreal

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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99.9% – Kaytranada A Digested Album Review

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It’s been a month since Kaytranada’s first LP 99.9% came out and we’ve been listening to it non-stop. The hype for the album snowballed, especially in the DJ and producer’s hometown of Montreal, in anticipation for his homecoming concert that rocked the Metropolis on May 19th. And the attention around the album and Kaytranada doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon. After a month of listening to the album, whether dancing to its infectious rhythms while washing the dishes, or sinking back into the sweaty bus seat with its textured synths in our headphones, we’re sure it’s going to be playing around the city all summer long, even long after Kay comes back for his set at the Osheaga mainstage in July. Continue reading

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Concert Review: Wadada Leo Smith – Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival

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Wadada Leo Smith has lived and breathed the message of Suoni Per Il Popolo from the moment he began recording music.  His risk taking, forward thinking approach to composition has kept him fresh and new for decades and his ability to embed meaning within avant-garde sound is nearly unmatchable making him the ideal choice to open this year’s festival.  Seeing Wadada Leo Smith is stepping into a stream of consciousness.  From the moment the music begins to the end of the performance the room is fully under the control of Smith.  The musicians surrounding him avidly watch his hands flail around, directing the spirit of the music through the appropriate developments.  The crowd is blown away both by Smith’s unbelievable trumpet playing power and his stunning ability to play with tension in slower moving moments.  Smith’s spirit envelops all who bear witness, bringing them to specific events in his life and teaching lessons of perseverance and strength. Continue reading

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Album Review: Hold/Still – Suuns

suunsOn their new album, Hold/Still, Suuns take darkness as their muse, filtering their post-punk creations through a dimly-lit room with industrial electronics and distorted rock grooves delivering heavy punches on the listener.  The whole album finds uniqueness in its ability to combine dense production tactics with unpredictable songwriting.  Certain moments value building tension as synthesizers crackle with distortion highlighting the driving beats.  Rather than sending the subdued tension into the territory of raging, guitar-heavy choruses, the band seeks contrast in their ability to create visceral atmospheres for their lead singer’s enlightening falsetto.  The band effortlessly combines guitar-based rock music with sounds of Montreal’s underground resulting in one of the most interesting contemporary releases of the first half of the year.

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Smileswithteeth and Lillian King Join CKUT’s Montreal Sessions for May 2016

We’ve all been waiting for it, and it’s finally happening: the one and only Smileswithteeth will be blessing our studios for the May 2016 Montreal Sessions along with Lillian King! 

Screen shot 2016-05-02 at 1.37.39 PMSmileswithteeth, aka Gabriel Gutierrez, is an LA raised but Montreal based musician. He creates sounds that are emotive and ethereal, and (as we all know) is insanely talented. You can check out his bandcamp to see what he’s all about. With Lillian King providing some beautiful vocals, the two are partnering up this month to bring you all sorts of quality new music, performances, and some wholesome feel good times together. What could be better on a summer afternoon?

Tune in tomorrow and every Tuesday from 3-5pm to join the fun~~

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Album Review: Ras Moshe and Stefan Christoff- 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

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**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

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Montreal’s Synth Palace: The Sonic Exploratorium you’ve always dreamed of

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Peter Behind the ARP Odyssey

Last week I had the pleasure of conversing with Peter Venuto, artist, promoter and operator of
Montreal’s newly acquired Synth Palace. Despite being fully operational since November of last year, word has spread fast, dubbing Venuto’s vintage equipment rental resource, the city’s own “synth museum”. There is no hyperbole in this title. The synth palace boasts one of the largest collections of vintage and modern synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines in the world. As a synth enthusiast it is hard for me to articulate the sense of wonder the aluminum insulated interior of the Synth palace inspires, as one is confronted with this collection of equipment. The entire history of electronic music, stacked upon dozens of shelves, towered over whilst the timeless minimalism of Oppenheimer Analysis’ “New Mexico” played over the speakers. I asked the Toronto native about everything from Venuto’s very first encounter with a synthesizer as a child, to the launch of his very own “Synth Palace”: the new cultural fixture in Montreal’s predominantly Francophone, burgeoning synth underground.

DB: What was the earliest memory you have interacting with an analog synth?
PV: “I don’t know if I’d seen an analog synth since I’d encountered one when I was eight at the (Ontario) science center. I still have very vivid recollections, a glass room, a pair of headphones, a Juno-106 or something, that took me to paradise and back”

DB: Anymore synth interactions in your formative years?
PV:I was a teenager around the time the Yamaha DX-1 came out, and at that time there was this mad move to digital synths. So all the knobs and sliders were eviscerated, and there was just this svelte screen. I wasn’t exactly that thrilled…a lot of my friends were spending vast amounts of time going through menus, and it didn’t seem that much fun. It seemed like they were spending more time menu-diving than making stuff, so I had associated this limited encounter with synths at the time”

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A Fraction of the Synth Palace arsenal

DB: How did you stumble across your first analog synthesizer?
PV:Analog synth became a primary feature of what I was doing by strange accident. My brother at the time was renting out some rehearsal space in Cherry Beach. Some hair metal band skipped out on their rent, and my brother emerged from their rehearsal space with this Korg Sigma, this synth from 1975! It was completely unlike any modern synth, amazing from a design perspective. There are two 360 degree joysticks on it, which is amazing because it riffs on the 70’s, early 80’s video arcade paradigm, you’re immediately tricked into thinking that your synth is a game. There’s this element of fun that is endemic with those very design decisions. The first joystick on the left would control pitch blends…whenever you moved the joystick up it would squelch the sound in one way, when you’d push down it would squash and freak out the sound another way, so you have all these gradients between all of that to really mangle your sound. The joystick to the right was entirely for the filter.

DB: Did you use the Sigma for any creative endeavors?
PV:Around 20 years ago I was recording music in my bedroom, I’d just gotten a small record deal on this label called Grass records, operating under the name “Slurp”. I was coming up with songs, laying down drum machines, chord progressions, some fuzz guitar and vocals but the Sigma allowed me another melodic line that was not a lead guitar. I just fell in love with the strange quirks and electric inconsistencies that create the character of analog sounds. The ergonomic joystick configuration of the Sigma completely abetted the sounds that I would then include on the Slurp “Classic Rock” album. It became my signature sound to use analog synth for freaked out psychedelic indie music. If I wanted to replicate them with other synthesizers, analog or digital, it would be impossible.

Spookey RubenSpookey Ruben’s “Modes of Transportation Vol.1″ cover art

DB: When do you think the idea to open a rental space first emerged?
PV: I was finishing this Slurp “Classic Rock” album, and wanted it to be fancy in a couple of aspects. So I thought to myself I have this Korg Sigma and that’s all over the album, but in a couple of parts I’d really love something that sounds like cellos and piano. At the time that was totally out of range, it was like eating at a 5 star restaurant. My friend Spookey Ruben had just been making his record “Modes of Transportation vol.1”. He had a considerably larger record deal with TVT/Interscope and he had an Ensoniq ASR10 60 bit sampling keyboard. I thought “Oh my god that could do anything!” I asked if I could borrow it for the month, he let me. That was the third thing [following the science center encounter, and inheriting the Korg Sigma] that consolidated subconsciously the idea to open up the synth palace. I knew firsthand how much a big deal it is for someone who is working on their music to be able to have the practical means to execute that into reality. Spookey’s generosity made that divine interface happen and incepted this concept of opening this space where people would be able to get their hands on these synthesizers and analog equipment.

DB: What is the Synth Palace’s philosophy?
PV: I wanted to create a place where people would have access. What distinguishes me from your typical collector, is often you get collector-itus, you know? People get really anal and just want to hold on to the shit. The number one question people ask me is “Why are you doing that? People will
damage the equipment and it’ll be a big nightmare”. I have a general belief in humanity. If people in the situation know what’s up, they will understand that just like a library if you’re careful with the stuff and bring it back, it’s there for the community. Particularly in a city like Montreal, people are more community conscious than in larger cities. I encounter a certain respect here that goes beyond just being polite.

Rainbow PalaceVenuto’s performance space “Rainbow Palace” pictured above

DB: How was that transition to becoming a collector?
PV: The actual collecting, you never set out to do that consciously. It became conscious around 5 years ago, when I was operating my event space in Kensington Market in Toronto called “rainbow palace” and I was doing pretty good business. That was creating the flow to make that final leap, which was to try and get my hands on the pricier synths. The classic classics like the Jupiter 8, the PPG 2.2, the ARP 2600, the Buchla…I thought to myself these things are never going out of style, there will always be a demand to come face to face with the genuine article.

DB: Do you see a resurgence, this analog synth revival?
PV: I think that’s happening right now with Korg and Roland reissuing the Odyssey and making affordable versions, or even the modules, the Jupiter 8…this is proof positive to the fact that love for these sounds is never going to go away. What I have to offer is what a lot of people forget. More than half the joy is the actual user interface themselves. Like I was saying before “Let’s throw two 360 degree joysticks and see what people do with that!” These classic analog synths each have different user interfaces, each time you will have a different user experience, this informs the music that will be generated. We are haptic physical beings, computers create the illusion that we only exist from the neck up.

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Buchla 200e on full display

(On VSTs and artistic agency)
PV: You can get all those sounds off your computer with VST (Virtual studio technology) and I do celebrate that. For example John Maus’ “We must become the pitiless censors of ourselves” that was all done with VSTs of classic synths and I love that album to death, it’s a masterpiece. However when he’s asked if he would you like to get his hands on the real thing, of course he would! But to facilitate the fact that he’s a touring musician this allows him to continue to make music in hotel rooms or wherever he happens to be, couldn’t support that more. If you’re a good musician you’ll work with whatever you’ve got, but 99/100 would want to get their hands on the actual thing. The sound is better and you’re working within another haptic universe where you are not tethered by a mouse. It’s exciting to see what people are going to do with a synthesizer from the 80s but coming from a 21st century mindset, it never ceases to amaze me what new tricks or devices these machines will be put to.

DB: When did you become involved in Montreal’s minimal synth music community?
PV: While operating the “Rainbow palace” I was able to throw an event with a couple of friends Emad Dabiri and Jubal Brown, called “Shitfun”. The first one we did together was Martial Canterel doing an after-party. I was thrilled as a huge Xeno and Oaklander fan. That party was a catalyst for a more focused idea, which was to expose minimal synth music from Montreal to Toronto audiences. I saw Marie Davidson play at Pierre Guirineau’s space while visiting. I was just transfixed, this tremendously charismatic seemed to have a nervous breakdown on stage. It was the first time outside of maybe hearing Brigitte Fontaine that I heard something so perplexing, it was drawing you closer by creating a sense of distance. That same night I was looking to book her for “Cold Rainbow” one of the events I did. Marie Davidson and Essaie Pas did a double bill one night. Amazing dark luminary figures like Low Factor played as well.

Low Factor @ Rainbow Palace 2013Montreal’s Low Factor performing behind Venuto’s electric rainbow machine at the rainbow palace in 2013

DB: How did the switch from rainbow to synth palace here in Montreal occur?
PV: There were inherent problems in running an after-hours space, namely cops come by checking if there are illegal sales, even if there aren’t it just kills the buzz. I found there was no good way of circumventing that. I thought to myself I should really find something to segue into, and that’s whenever I was putting the final touches to the collection. The memory from the science center converged with this freak occurrence of getting this metal band’s analog synth, and I thought it might be a good idea to transfer to this synth palace idea.

DB: What is it about Montreal that fosters this return to analog synth?
PV: It was an interesting position for me as an Anglophone at the Marie Davidson show, it wasn’t important so much the content, but the delivery, the enunciation, the raw emotion attached to it. Coldwave, minimal synth is endemically in large parts a French phenomenon. The music came primarily from France, Belgium, it’s only fitting that Montreal is a prime location for its renaissance. It’s got Police des Moeurs, Essaie Pas, Low Factor, Litige, Xarah Dion, Violence and many others. When I go to Toronto, it’s not like I can go to a “casa”, or a “la vitrola” and see a coldwave act any given week. We’re really spoiled for choice here. It’s particularly interesting in a place like Quebec where there’s this cultural isolation, but all these things are eviscerated when you are watching or listening to this music, you can immediately lose track of where you are and when you are.

DB: How do you describe this retro-futuristic impulse to re-incorporate the original analog sound into contemporary music?
PV: Both time frames are having a discourse or dialogue, it may seem like we (the present) have the dominant position if you can talk about it in such terms, but it’s actually the other way around in this genre. I find it interesting that we have total command over the musical spectrum, and we can come up with anything that can be thought of, yet there’s something in us that we find tremendously aesthetically pleasing that we return to a perspective that was generated in the early 80’s. It’s that moment of time that persists and still has aesthetic inertia and power, 30 years later.

– Danilo Bulatovic

Visits to the synth palace are by appointment, contact Peter here

Danilo hosts Computer Sourire, a show about synth-driven music, every Tuesday at 4pm on CJLO 1690AM

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Album Review: Gesamtkunstwerk – Dead Obies

a0431750848_10“Gesamtkunstwerk” is a German compound noun that translates to “total work of art.” It is also the title of the latest release from local rap group Dead Obies, a wonderful Frankenstein of live tracks edited and enhanced in the studio. Gesamtkunstwerk is still a blend of hip hop, rap, and electronica, but the Dead Obies have shifted their focus from lyrics to production for this album, taking an almost exhibitionist approach to their craft. The process of creation is baldly displayed without compromising the integrity of the lyrics or production; what continues to set the Dead Obies apart from other Quebecois rap groups is their language choice, or rather a lack of one. Self-dubbed “Frenglish,” the members slip effortlessly between English and French with such speed and expertise that the two distinct languages blend into one poetic slurry.

Following the success of their 2013 release Montréal $ud, Dead Obies decided to make their next opus a gift to their loyal fanbase. Teaming up with music improv group Kalmunity, they played at the Phi Centre for three nights and sampled the live recordings, taking performances, the crowd’s applause, and individual audience interviews and mixing them in with recorded takes. This seamless patchwork of live and recorded takes was stitched together with surgical precision by the group-appointed producer, VNCE.

The album is intended to be heard as a whole work, and I would agree with this sentiment. Of course, there are a number of tracks that stand out among the fairly large list. Gesamtkunstwerk leads in with “GO 2 Get,” an explosive opener that serves as an immediate draw. Lamenting the everyday troubles in life to an undercurrent of cheering fans from one of the Phi Centre performances, the track provides an excellent introduction to the overall tone of the album. The six rappers who comprise Dead Obies take turns spitting out lyrics, effortlessly subbing in and out. “Waiting” is a celebration of concert life, lively trap music combining with a sensual bass beat. “Jelly” is more funky, with cooler synth laid over deep bass and remixed rhythmic vocals.

“Explosif” begins with a sample of distant fireworks, then continues with slow, smoldering instrumentals mixed in with varied odes to party and drug culture for an extensive eight minutes. The blend of French/English vocals is particularly noticeable in this track, adding to the mixed messages provided by individual members of the group. “Aweille!” is one of the singles released before the album, and is an aggressive dance track that includes a perfectly catchy chorus of “aweille” (a local phrase roughly equivalent to “come on!”), repeated and remixed. “Untitled” is a jazzy, smooth track that shows off the group’s more sensual side, and approaches something played on a late-night show for slow-wave funk. Towards the latter half of the track, the lyrics dissolve into a live recording, with the members taking turns talking in French to an instrumental vamp and a cheering crowd. “Outro,” the final track on Gesamtkunstwerk, is an instrumental electronic track that smoothly and quietly ties together Dead Obies’ “work of art,” ensuring the transformation from just another local rap album to something deserving of admiration and high praise; rap is just one form of artistic expression they utilize.

Gesamtkunstwerk ultimately serves as a big “thank you” to the Dead Obies’ fans; Phi Centre saw a big turnout for the fairly underground rap group, and allowed them to produce the album well. They gained, then lost, a Musicaction grant funding the production of the album; due to strict Quebec laws governing language, the group did not meet the 70% French lyric quota. However, even as they are continually rejected by mainstream media and their own province, Dead Obies still maintain a loyal (and growing!) fanbase and the quiet integrity of talented artists with a vision. They are dedicated to their craft and to creating the “total work of art” that they feel listeners deserve.

Album released: March 4, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

 

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Kyle Jukka Hosts If You’ve Got Ears

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.”

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Be sure to tune in every Wednesday from 12-2pm!