Reviews

Bekah Simms. Ghost Songs. On Ghost Songs, Toronto-based composer Bekah Simms has written music made of flying sparks and haunted echoes. The JUNO- and Gaudeamus Award-nominated composer often explores all-consuming atmospheres through visceral textures and nervous energy. Ghost Songs follows this trajectory, creating[...] Read more

Recordings Vanessa Ague Issue 142

Tess Roby. Ideas of Space. Montreal dream-pop composer and songwriter Tess Roby follows her promising 2018 debut with a perceptive self-produced LP, the first on her new label SSURROUNDSS. Ideas of Space is a pristine collection of songs about envelopment—by architecture, by colour, by emotion—that tempers[...] Read more

Recordings Brennan McCracken Issue 142

Kee Avil. Crease. The sounds on Kee Avil’s debut full-length album Crease seem surrounded by acres of space; it’s as if the instruments are played in a subterranean cavern where you encounter each one separately before they join together into a loose ensemble of voice, guitar, percussion, and[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie Issue 142

Joyfultalk. Familiar Science. Crousetown, Nova Scotia’s Jay Crocker revs up Joyfultalk for another kinetic record of rhythm and ooze. Whereas previous Joyfultalk outings have grown out of Crocker’s singular, often solitary practice of instrument-building (he calls his creations “compositional systems[...] Read more

Recordings Brennan McCracken Issue 142

Tanya Tagaq. Tongues. Anger is an energy, and it’s always been the fire that feeds Tanya Tagaq’s music. Even when she wordlessly roars or coos, shrieks, or wails, it’s impossible not to feel her incendiary rage vibrating in your gut and through you, along with all the pain and joy, fear, and love[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie

Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser, Alex Varty. Pacifica Koral Reef. Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith might be best known for his expansive celebrations of civil rights, Ten Freedom Summers and Rosa Parks: Pure Love; guitarist Henry Kaiser for his soundtracks for Werner Herzog films and underwater musical journeys to polar ice caps; and Alex Varty is[...] Read more

Recordings Stuart Broomer Issue 141

Allen Ravenstine. The Tyranny of Fiction. Allen Ravenstine is best known as the synth player of Cleveland proto-punk band Pere Ubu, yet his experimental work predates their 1975 debut single. When Pere Ubu pressed pause after its first two decades, Ravenstine stepped away from music to earn a pilot’s licence and focus on[...] Read more

Recordings Jesse Locke Issue 141

Jessica Pavone. Lull. Jessica Pavone’s new album is a close-range recording of her four-movement work Lull for string octet and soloists. Knowing only that Pavone is a violist and composer, I embarked unencumbered by preconceptions on a first listen to the work’s earnest, pulsing waves. The musicians[...] Read more

Recordings Jennifer Thiessen Issue 141

Christopher Otto. Rag’sma. Microtonal tuning systems have provided the underlying architecture for some of the most intriguing and sumptuous works of the past century; yet even among adventurous listeners, there is still some prejudice about these approaches. In the press release accompanying his debut release as a[...] Read more

Recordings Nick Storring Issue 141

Jessica Moss. Phosphenes. Phosphenes is composer-violinist Jessica Moss’s first release since Entanglement in 2018. Defined as the experience of seeing light and shapes while the eye is closed, Phosphenes is an apt title for an album made as the pandemic’s bleakness is starting to allow cracks of light[...] Read more

Recordings Chaka V. Grier Issue 141

Mas Aya. Máscaras. Mas Aya’s (Brandon Valdivia) bewitching Máscaras is a melding of disparate elements that add up to more than the sum of their parts. It’s the latest recording from this Nicaraguan-Canadian multi-instrumentalist who has produced or performed with Sandro Perri, U.S. Girls,[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie Issue 141

René Lussier, Érick d’Orion, Robbie Kuster, and Martin Tétreault. Printemps 2021. A notable blend of noise and nuance, this Québécois quartet soars through seven live improvisations without ever fraying the sonic thread that holds them together. Veterans in this context, René Lussier (guitar and daxophone) and Robbie Kuster (drums) add just enough[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 141