thursday, may 17
UK free-improv sax player John Butcher performed with Toronto's Mike Gennaro and Kurt Newman in an intimate set of passionate, chaotic avant-garde jazz at the Music Gallery's temporary home, the strangely appropriate St. George-the-Martyr Church in Grange Park. Dynamic and engaging, they covered the quiet, squeaky and scratchy stuff well and weren't afraid to show their jazz influences.
Good to see the Music Gallery overcoming its homelessness and managing to get some younger people out for difficult music. Swiss electronic quartet Poire_Z followed, playing throbbing, buzzing lo-fi electroacoustic and using bike lights to disrupt their tables of gear.
Promising local latin house band the Audiophiles played a relaxed, competent set at Fez Batik later that night. Their looser, more jazz-influenced songs are more effective than their awkward covers of garage house anthems. They're playing more original material these days and finding their own sound, somewhere between 70s fusion funk and current club music.
Spinning before and after was DJ Fase, whose hiphop single with MC Abs was hot in the European rare groove scene over the past year. He says there's a new EP ready to go. We just have to finish mixing it, so look for it this summer.
Friday, May 18
The Wabi presentation of minimal German techno producer T. Raumschiere and local bleep man Jacob Fairley kicked off the sked. Wabi throws very tasteful, low-key, dubby techno events and sets a great mood with projections on hanging screens. Fans of brainy techno should check Fairley out he's a bit more dance-floor-oriented than his European counterparts and has a refreshing humour about intelligent dance music. He's on dumb-unit locally, as well as recording for traum and sender in Germany.
In a warehouse on Fraser, Play Records hosted a CD release party for Marc De Breyne's Electropical album. Large inflatable shapes hung from the ceiling. There were lots of fairly sophisticated projections, a big open garage door for air and consistently good deep house.
It's been a while since I've come across a warehouse party this good, and it made me feel nostalgic. When parties like this moved into the clubs, we gained stability and respectability but lost the sense of adventure and unpredictability. DJ Rob Nice's set featured a lot of good, emotional deep-vocal house and was less restrained than usual. It was a friendly, wholesome night that Play Records owner Peter Jarvis should feel proud of.
Saturday, May 19
Headed to Element to hear Chicago's Gene Farris but ended up staying upstairs for local residents Angel and Cullen. First-rate, with the usual R&B-influenced garage house hits, bits of gospel and percussion breaks mixed respectfully they stay close to the roots of this music and keep it uplifting and spiritual. They do a Thursday-night thing at Element, too, so check it out. How about fewer big hits and more surprises? But it was Saturday night, after all.
I gave Farris a chance, but he was playing a pumped-up version of Janet Jackson's current hit, All For You, followed by some repetitive hard house, and I was still singing the last song I'd heard upstairs 20 minutes before. So goodbye, packed, steamy basement, and hello, laid-back lounge upstairs.