ABSOLUTELY FREE with CARL DIDUR at Electric Theatre (299 Augusta), Saturday (January 12), 7 pm and midnight; and, in between, with LICE at Double Double Land (209 Augusta) at 9:30 pm. $10 for all three events. RT, SS. See listing.
Absolutely Free are resisting the urge to burst out of the gate.
That's easier said than done. After all, the new band's four members were in DD/MM/YYYY, Toronto's road-warrior math-punk art-spaz heroes known for playing hundreds of shows every year in parks, pizzerias and half-pipes.
Absolutely Free is a more refined beast, and so the former energy balls have vowed to exercise heretofore unexplored restraint.
"We always have the urge to go overboard, but we're really trying to be concentrated in our efforts instead of just going nuts," says Jordan Holmes over pints at Ronnie's in Kensington Market. "DD/MM/YYYY became such a busy, active band by the end that it's been hard to slow down."
DD/MM/YYYY broke up abruptly in 2011, leaving behind a handful of demos and unreleased tracks (recently unloaded name-your-price-style on Bandcamp). Absolutely Free, formed almost immediately, were a silver lining for fans. In an exit interview with NOW at the time, Moshe Rozenberg teased that they already had a fully formed aesthetic ("a Krautrock version of DD/MM/YYYY, but played by Martians") and enough new songs to fill both an album and an EP "right fucking now."
"We actually did record eight songs," Rozenberg laughs, reflecting on that conversation. "But we decided it's better to pay as much attention to each individual song instead. We used to be like a factory, pumping out music like a German-made conveyor belt. Now it's more like building a ship in a bottle."
Absolutely Free's first release is surprisingly modest: a 12-inch called UFO/Glass Tassel, recorded for Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk's One Big Silence label. More trippy and psychedelic than DD/MM/YYYY, it showcases a patient, groove-based sound.
But they haven't totally lost their maximalist impulse. Their release show is three events on the same night. They join up with Carl Didur (Slim Twig, Zacht Automaat) at Electric Theatre to improvise a live score to the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, travel down the street to Double Double Land for a traditional performance and then return to Electric Theatre for a UFO video premiere/Much Video Dance-style party.
They're teasing the video with four clips (meant to be watched simultaneously) of the same alien encounter from four different perspectives. You can watch them exclusively at nowtoronto.com.
"We've still always got to have that epic vibe," says Rozenberg.