Archive for May, 2009

Ghostly International’s 10 Year Anniversary Bash

May 29, 2009


Line-up: Lusine, Tycho, Michna w/Raw Paw, Milosh and SV4

Ann Arbor, Michigan’s GHOSTLY label turns ten this year and to celebrate they are playing a string of shows across the globe. I caught the show in Toronto at the Drake Underground on May 27th, 2009 and thought it was fantastic.

Lusine (Jeff McIlwain) opened the night with an amazing set that meshed his various styles together beautifully. Although he seemed a bit upset to be playing so early, he delivered a bass heavy, Audion-esque set that had that Detroit snap and pop to it. I was very impressed and so was the crowd. Surprising that this was his first show in Toronto.

Michna w/ Raw Paw played next and delivered a quirky and emotional set of jazzy and dark indietronic pop. The trio played a multitude of instruments: keys, tenor sax, trombone, drums, synths, and DEEP ass bass, and brought fun and energy to the show. I had never heard of them but just picked up the new album “Magic Monday” and am totally digging it.

Tycho played next and the room filled for his set. Hate to harp, but his set didn’t differ much from the one he played last year when he visited the Drake. And obviously he wears his Boards of Canada heart on his sleeve. To be honest, I think Tycho should have opened the night and Lusine should have played third, but alas … no one danced either, they just stood there, swaying drunk and scratching their chin prickles.

Toronto native Mike Milosh closed the night and although the guy has an absolutely amazing voice, the music was not the right vibe for the party. It was too slow and quiet for a night that was supposed to be full of dancing and delusions. Unfortunately, the Toronto crowd was just too hip and shoe-gazey that night.

SV4 spun in between sets and played hit after hit after hit. Props to him. I had a great night and am now feeling a bit pissy that I decided to choose money over mutek this weekend. Shizer. Anyway, Ghostly is a quality label putting out some of the best shit you wanna stuff in your ears. Check it and love it. I’m out.

Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

May 21, 2009


Thrill Jockey stalwarts Tortoise will release their sixth full-length album on 22 June 2009. It’s been 5 years since “It’s All Around You” was released, so expectations are high and the band does not disappoint. Sounding like the proper follow up to 2001’s “Standards”, “Beacons” is truly a prog album. It is dirty and crisp, simultaneously sounding like it was recorded underwater and in an air-tight studio. And as always, their sound is undefinable – dub, post-rock, lo-fi, electronica, dance, spaghetti western, jazz, classic rock, punk, it’s all there – kinda sounds like the album Trans Am wanted to make after “Future World”.

Tortoise and I have a long, torrid history together. I have been with them since the beginning. Have seen them play live 6 or 7 times. I saw them at The Magic Stick in Detroit for their “Millions Now Living” tour way back when, where they showed up on stage silent with little headlamps and played “Djed” in its entirety. Jeff Parker wasn’t even with them yet. Last I saw them was just a few months back at The Mod Club in Toronto, where they had the drums set up in front of the stage and they reminded me why I loved them in the first place. They are professional musicians that love what they do, and it’s completely evident on stage, when they’re all grooving and smiling, and rocking out a fabulously tight set. 

Johnny Mac still proves to be one on the best sound engineers working in the business today, and I feel this album has much more resonance than “It’s All Around You”, it sounds more urgent and dynamic. Whereas with “It’s All Around You” the band seemed to be rehashing and falling back on familiar patterns and styles, “Beacons” sounds fresh, it sounds new, but still very much like the Tortoise you know and love.  

The title of the album is fitting too. Tortoise helped create and develop the indie rock/indietronic scene we all shoegaze, get baked, and rock out to. Their musical influence really knows no bounds. Buy this album as soon as it hits the stores and if you’ve never seen them play live go see their show. Like Boomkat would say: Very highly recommended.

Marc Houle – Minimal masturbator

May 16, 2009


Minus Records artist and uber-nerd Marc Houle composes music for broken Atari’s and landfill Moogs, while still making us humans want to shake various parts of our anatomy in lewd and exciting ways. Marc knows how to control the ebb and flow of a dance floor. He knows how to keep the bodies on the floor.

It’s difficult to describe, but Marc’s music has a sort of dark wackiness to it. Yes, it’s minimal, yes it occasionally has that old-skoool Detroit feel, yes it is playful and fun, but there is a grey shadow hovering just above it all. It’s a solid juxtaposition of real emotion in a supposedly emotionless genre of techno. 

Check this track from his “Sixty-Four Week 3” release for a perfect example of what I mean:

Lovely ain’t it? My friend Mat calls this track a “burner”, and I think the term’s fitting.

Over the last few years, Marc has been working very hard on his live show and seeing him play at Footwork in Toronto a few months back, it was clear he is both a superstar in the studio as well as in front of a crowd of sweaty 4/4 loving freaks. The question remains as to why he is not playing at MUTEK this year?

Be Marc’s friend! Go see his show. Buy his records. Kiss him on the cheek.

Fab Collab from Burial & Four Tet

May 6, 2009



Yes. I have it. Yes. I can’t stop listening to it. This two track EP is called “Moth/Wolf Cub” and it merges the musical stylings of leftfield producer Kieran Hebden with dubstep pundit Will Bevam. For electronic music nerds like myself, there really hasn’t been a more exciting release this year. Burial blasted my listening palette wide the fuck open two years ago when I first heard “Untrue”. The beats so simple, the vocals so strange, the bass so deeeep. That whole album makes me feel like I’m in the bathroom of a club, hiding in a stall, mashed on pills and hearing the throb of the music through the bathroom wall. Lucid, yet muddled. Digital yet organic. God I hate using adjectives to describe music.

The opening track “Moth” is a piece of pure 4/4 beauty. Reminiscent of warm Detroit minimalism and Boards of Canada, yet still sounding exactly how you’d imagine Burial and Four Tet would sound if slapped together. It has the feel of a classic techno track, one with warmth, soul and that steady 4/4 beat. The flipside is a bit more abstract, the beats more chaotic, but it reveals a tight meshing of both artists distinct styles and sounds.

I fucking love this.

“Moth” may be my fave track of the year so far. If you can find it, check it!!