April 2009

Mountains / Matthew “Doc” Dunn
Ayal Senior’s Spacechurch / Climbing the peaks
April 28, 2009 The Music Gallery Toronto
A report by Tom Sekowski
When you attend a concert without the baggage of a record you may have heard or the words others have written about the bands, you’ve no expectations of what a live gig will hold. Your mind is fresh, clean and uncluttered by all the stuff you believe the music to be and what it will be for the finite concert ahead. The glowing expletives of reviews from records have no bearing on your virgin mind. You are here simply for the music, ready to give yourself over to the here and now. No surprise then that on this particular Tuesday night, every one of the three acts presented music that was fresh, bursting with adventure and felt new.

Those who’ve kept up on their music will probably recognize Ayal Senior as one half of the Three Day Band — who produced an impromptu motel recording with the late guitar-guru John Fahey. The Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist (guitarist first) has also collaborated with the likes of Matthew “Doc” Dunn (who followed his set) as part of Crystal Finger, local Toronto guitar whiz Nilan Perera and with Colin Fisher as part of Glass Tomb. During his half-hour set, he explored the possibilities of his electric guitar. Multi-tasking through a slew of pedals and effects, he played with reverb and feedback and put the guitar’s potential to good use. Working through the paces, the sound was barren, while expounding its rich, harsh palette. Riffs kept coming and passing, while the fury of the sound kept leaping to new heights. At near breakneck speed, Senior’s set ended, then started back up again with a mis-fired encore. Perhaps realizing he had limited time, Senior gave up a minute into his encore, which is a shame. Who can tell what unearthed sound possibilities may have been uncovered?

Guitarist Matthew “Doc” Dunn was up next. Joined by a couple of Korg manipulators, for roughly 40 minutes, he formed the most jangled, eerie guitar sounds I’ve heard in years. His two back-up sound gurus constantly threw in rough backing tracks for him to revel in. Instead of going along with what the other guys were processing on the analog synths, Dunn decided to stand out and play against the grain. Riffs he produced were steeped in melodies, brewing with nostalgia and full of blues. I kept imagining tumbleweeds blowing wildly in the New Mexico desert as Dunn gently caressed the strings on his slide guitar. The music was coarse and sullen, yet it was alive because of Dunn’s graceful guitar wizardry. The more one listened, the more details kept popping up. Country-twang, blues-fused psychedelia with a healthy dose of electronic goodness, the music of Matthew “Doc” Dunn in a live setting is something I’m dying to experience again and again.

Mountains – Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp
Originating from Chicago, Mountains are a duo comprised of multi-instrumentalists Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp. With three albums to their credit, they’ve been able to peruse the music of instrumental cacophony, dronescapes and semi-ambient textures. Their performance started off in humble fashion as both men stroked the strings of their guitars with drumsticks. As the cascading sounds of the strings were processed on their laptops, they moved to other instruments — electric piano, synth, and harmonica. As each new layer was added, the effect quickly turned hypnotic. Layers of instruments felt as if a full orchestra was playing alongside the duo. The rich cacophony was full of melodic potential, though there was an element of coarseness and grit. It’s interesting that I detected a generous amount of field recordings being woven into the sound spectrum during the performance. This is something that’s been a mainstay of the duo’s recorded output. Trickling, speckled, jagged but mostly obesely packed to the brim, Mountains kept the hour-long show rolling along. The last ten minutes or so were so crammed with copious amounts of sampled instruments that volume levels burst at the seams. Cacophony ruled, while the music retained its melodic base. Textures were rich, but never glistened with useless trickery. Nothing was played to prove overt showmanship. Moments of grandeur emerged. The air was full of realized promise. Anderegg and Holtkamp were a true team, playing off each other. Never did one or the other take off in a flight of fancy craftsmanship. Never did either tear the music in opposite directions. True teamwork was in plain sight which was richly reflected in the music that went from peak to peak. At the end of the night, I felt that I had climbed a mountain…. and didn’t want to climb down.
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
• • • • • •
The Live Music Report
• •

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2009