April 2008

Musicworks 30th Anniversary & 100th Issue Launch Party
Paul Dutton and Michael SnowI Have Eaten The CityFeuermusikSandro Perri
April 26, 2008 The Tranzac Toronto
Maybe Music Will Make It After All
by Alex Tait with photos by Roger Humbert
On the evening of Saturday, April 26th 2008, I had the privilege of attending the Musicworks 100th issue/30th anniversary party at the Transac in the Annex. I was unfamiliar with the musicians on the bill prior to that night, and I was pleasantly surprised by all four acts. Musicworks is a magazine that focuses on music that is a little left of centre. They do not limit the styles that they write about, they focus on music that might not typically get exposure.

The first set of the night was performed by Michael Snow on piano and Paul Dutton on vocals. They are both members of a group called CCMC (the Canadian Creative Music Collective) that also includes a third member, John Oswald. Their music was completely free improvisation, which they explained to me is not associated with any pre-conceived narrative or musical direction. Their sound is very textural and lush. They experimented with a wide variety of musical timbres and each moment had freshness to it. Snow used an analogue CAT synthesizer and a piano (open in the front for accessing the strings with mallets). Dutton used his voice in extreme ways as well as a harmonica. He had three microphones set up. He explained that there was one for each nostril and one for his mouth. Some of his incredible vocal techniques included parabucles (sounds produced in the back of the mouth that sound like daffy duck), cooing, multi-phonic singing (more than one sound simultaneously), and many other atmospheric effects. This set was very enjoyable for me, but it is not the most accessible music for those seeking compositional style, or music with a specific direction. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who enjoys improvisation.

The second set was a band called I Have Eaten The City. Its members include Colin Fisher on guitar, percussion, saxophone, vocals, and electronics, Nick Storring on cello, electronics, vocals and percussion and a third member who was not in attendance, Brandon Valdivia, on drums and percussion. Their music was still very experimental and improvisational, but it had more of a groove-based approach than Snow and Dutton. They constructed beautiful layers of sound, and it even escalated into a very danceable beat. They created an interesting mix of organic sounds from their instruments and electronic effects. Their set was one continuous piece with several peaks and valleys. It was musically interesting and accessible enough to have some broad appeal.

Paul Dutton

Colin Fisher
The third act of the evening was an ensemble called Feuermusik. This band took a direction compatible with but different than the first two groups. Its members include Gus Weinkauf on bucket percussion (large buckets upside-down hit with drum sticks) and kit drums, Jeremy Strachan on tenor sax, Jay Hay on bass clarinet, Mark Laver on alto sax and Nick Bulligan on trumpet. The pieces they performed were all songs in the traditional sense. They had forms and had clearly been thought out and rehearsed to some extent. However, they did add an improvisational take to these compositions. The audience was very receptive to Feuermusik, cheering boisterously. Feuemusik was entertaining to watch, especially the bucket percussionist. They struck me as music school alumni (we can spot our own), mostly because they were young, very talented and organized. They even had some sheet music and stands. I was very impressed with Strachan’s multi-phonics on the tenor sax, Bulligan’s extended trumpet techniques and his use of the microphone to create different panning sounds.

The last set of the night was a solo artist, Sandro Perri. He was very fitting as a closer for the evening. His songs had an indefinable style with many influences. He sang and played a hollow-body guitar, both with a warm and clear tone. He also played a kick drum at times to accompany his original songs and he used a synth (very subtly) as well as some guitar effects. While I want to avoid labeling him too much, I will say that his songs have a very comforting, dream-like vibe to them. He does not describe himself as a storyteller, but I think he is. His lyrics were very thoughtful and clever. One of the best lines that I caught was, “when dreams are soup, we are two spoons”. He talked very little between songs, but when he did, he was very welcoming to the late-night crowd. He made sure to thank Musicworks, recalling that he struggled to get through their articles in high school. Paul Dutton (still in the audience) yelled, “articles of clothing?,” and Sandro replied, “Well I still struggle with that”. Sandro’s set was probably the most relaxing of the evening, and really soothing at the end of an evening of challenging listening.

The evening as a whole was great. I am so excited whenever I see so much unique talent in this city; Toronto is one of the most amazing melting pots of culture and art. As a musician, it comforts me in the face of a declining record industry and impoverished artists, that there are publications like Musicworks and LMR who support us in all of our crazy endeavours.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Alex Tait
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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