November 2008

Christian Weber
Jesse Kudler + Chandan Narayan
Black Soul + Christian Weber
Joda Clement + Steve McFarland
November 11, 2008 Loft Toronto
Collective Vitality of Sound
Annotated and photographed by Tom Sekowski
I’ve no idea what the name of the loft was. Besides Joda Clement and Christian Weber, I had no exposure to the music made by any of the other musicians on the bill that night. Isn’t that what the best concert-going experience is supposed to be all about? Discovery tastes best when one can’t predict the shape of the flavour. With that in mind, following the three-hour performance from the artists on the bill that night, I was left speechless. Over the years, with the exception of a Masters Musicians of Joujouka performance during the mid 90’s, I’ve always found some way to combine words to describe the music that I heard ... until tonight. This is exactly why I chose to present this review in the form of pictures accompanied by snippets of text. In this manner, I am hoping the visuals will give off some sense of what this night was all about. Even if the whole story can’t be properly told, the pictures will at the very least serve as a glimpse of the moment that passed.

Whether as a member of Mersault, Day & Taxi, Signal Quintet, or dozens of trio groupings, Swiss bassist Christian Weber truly stands out in the solo department. It’s when those around him shut the hell up that the listeners are able to get the best feel for what he’s attempting to convey.
[Picture 1]

First, he stroked the whole frame of his bass.
[Picture 2]

He caressed its contours and tapped the wooden floor beneath him.
[Picture 3]

Until he was able to come up with the most perfect arco-induced sound imaginable.
[Picture 4]

The sound of the room reverberating under the auspices of his plucking revealed the close affinity the musician felt for his beloved instrument.
[Picture 5]

Then after merely an ideal half-an-hour run of no-gimmick musicianship, he took a humble bow in front of the most appreciative crowd.
[Picture 6]

Next up was a duo from Philadelphia. Actually, guitar-manipulator-computer-geek Jesse Kudler is from Philly, while auto-harpist Chandan Narayan is a recent transplant from there, who now resides in Toronto.

The table in from of Kudler was overtly crowded with pedals, synths, wires, electronics galore, while his musical partner Narayan went head-to-head with his extended autoharp. Gently caressing the string on the autoharp, Narayan came up with a sound that was mostly static. [Picture 7]

The sound was glistening throughout – as gentle as it was threatening, as diverse as it was circular. [Picture 8]

No more than forty minutes down the line, their mish-mash of underlying currents dove deep down under in the murky waters to come up with music that spoke of a quiet triumphed. Above and beyond and head and heels over anything I’ve heard over the last few months, the music kept me gasping for air.

Montreal-based duo Black Soul has been performing for the last few years. Keeping their music mostly under the surface, they invited Christian Weber to join them for the duration of their set. [Picture 9]

Percussionist Jonathan Boles kept a watchful ear on his simple percussive set-up. Producing a buzzing, clickety sound, his partner guitarist Christopher Stickland sat with his back to the audience… [Picture 10]

Weber brought an interesting element into the duo. While not exactly soothing, his playing nonetheless proved to be the gel that kept the duo from going down the road of recklessness. Inviting, full of methodology and spontaneous, Black Soul topped up with Weber were keen in opening themselves up to new avenues of ponderous exploration.

One of the reasons this night came together was due to the persistence and dedication of the musician who made up one half of the last duo. Joda Clement not only brought all of the musicians with him from Montreal, he also invited out-of-towner Christian Weber and Jesse Kudler. Together with turntable-manipulator Steve McFarland, Clement played a wildly enticing set of music on his electromagnetic harmonium along with a bunch of transducers. Though the mix of wildly enticing record-surface humming and whooshing dronescapes was plagued by a few initial technical shortcomings, the two musicians came out on top and showed off as more than capable at putting together a solid line of sound from scratch. [Picture 11]
I left exhausted by all the vital sounds, the innovative rigor and the openness for all that spells out new in music. This night is begging to be labeled one of the contenders for concert of the year.
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
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