Styrofoam opening for LALI PUNA with the Go Find at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (November 13). $15. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
It all began innocently enough with the appearance of a Codeine cover on a Styrofoam EP. Little did anyone realize at the time that it was just the first phase of Arne Van Petegem's diabolical plot to bring the worlds of sensitive indie rock, backpack hiphop and bedroom electronica crashing together.
And it's too late to try and stop the laptop-equipped Belgian sound scientist now. His potentially cataclysmic new album, Nothing's Lost (Morr Music), has already been recorded in collaboration with Ben Gibbard from the Postal Service, Anticon rapper Alias, the Notwist's Markus Acher and his Lali Puna bandmate Valerie Trebeljahr.
College radio will never be the same. Oh, the white-belted humanity!
"This wasn't really part of a plan," explains Van Petegem from his Antwerp hideaway. "When I began playing in bands, the main influences were Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and the Wedding Present. When I stopped, the music I produced on my own was mainly electronic, but once I became familiar with that way of working, I started to bring more of what I'd been listening to into my own music.
"The idea for Nothing's Lost came from my involvement with the 25th-anniversary celebration for Club Ancienne in Brussels, for which I was asked to do a show with guest collaborators.
"So I wrote some songs, each with a specific person in mind, then sent the track along with two or three others to choose from. It was amazing that everyone ended up selecting the song I'd composed for them."
Since Club AB is outfitted with its own swank recording studio, the decision to record an album of the collabos naturally followed. But because Andrew Kenny of slowcore faves American Analog Set couldn't make the gig, Van Petegem made use of the Internet to complete the dreamy Front To Back, with Kenny's crooning one of the album's unexpected delights.
"We did it all through iChat. I sent him some sound files, and he recorded his vocals, put them on his computer and sent them back to me the same evening while I was still online. I mixed it all down, added some other things and sent him back my mix to get his suggestions. It all came together very quickly."
Unfortunately, Kenny won't be making the trip up to Toronto to sing with Styrofoam, and Van Petegem doesn't feel comfortable enough with his falsetto to perform Front To Back live. On the upside, he'll be playing a Fender Rhodes this time around, accompanied by Dieter Sermeus of the Go Find and likely another guitarist. So hecklers take note, it won't be your typical Styrofoam laptop love-in.
"I got bored doing shows standing in front of a laptop. It's much more fun singing and playing electric piano with other musicians involved.
"At the first show I played in Toronto I was just using a laptop, and some guy kept yelling, 'I came here to see live music, and you're not doing anything! Do something live!' So I asked him to come up onstage so he could look over my shoulder and see I was actually doing something, but he just kept shouting at me.
"If that same person reads this article, hopefully he'll come to the show and be more satisfied with the performance this time."