OFF THE INTERNaTIONAL RADAR with QUADRACEPTOR, BLEEP, AUDIOSLEEP and QUADRA at Red Square (47 Duncan), Saturday (March 1). $10 or CMW wristband. 416-593-6660.
Is there such a thing as a Canadian sound? Every genre has a band from Canada doing a version of it, but few groups can lay claim to a uniquely Canuck sensibility.
That may be changing. A trend -- spacey atmospheric instrumental bands -- is emerging in various parts of the country. Their sound combines the formal ideas of techno with instrumentation borrowed from rock.
The bigger names, like Do Make Say Think and Godspeed You Black Emperor come to mind first, but dozens of lesser-known bands are starting to make a name for themselves inside these lines.
Toronto-based Off the International Radar is a prime example. They suggest the genre be called "electronic-eh," but they're just kidding.
"It's kind of exciting now how many bands are out there that HMV can't classify," drummer Henry Sansom observes over brunch.
"My hope is that eventually there will be so many types of music that it will become overloaded and the whole system will collapse, and people just give up on it," Aaron Dawson muses, still recovering from the Pixelate party the night before
As it is, OTIR's sound is miles away from the other instrumental bands they might get compared to. There's a cool, watery, ambient quality to many of their pieces, but glimpses of rock aggression, too. Even though they've only been playing live for a little more than a year and have yet to play outside Toronto, their first three-song CD has already sold out and they're in the process of wrapping up production on a sequel.
The band was born very organically, the result of the three members' moving together into a house they could practise in. Starting without preconceptions about what they wanted to sound like, both Dawson and Sansom ended up playing instruments they'd never touched before, bringing a naive experimental edge to their style. Using a mountain of gear, they and guitarist Don Kennedy conjure up a wall of sound so thick, it's hard to believe there are only three people onstage.
They've been classified for this particular show as electronic but are quick to note that techno is only one of many influences and reference points.
"We've played with hiphop groups, rock bands and at ambient nights," Dawson explains.
Either way, DJ styles have made a big impression.
"I find the way that DJs use dynamics and percussion to manipulate a crowd really inspiring," says Sansom. "When people are moving, they're listening to the drums. They might be swooning to the guitar, but they're moving to the drums."