Reviews

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

Aiyun Huang. Resonances. On Resonances, Toronto-based percussionist Aiyun Huang showcases an eclectic range of musical ideas. The seven-track album is out on the Chicago label Sideband, which was founded in 2020 to present a wide spectrum of new-music records. Resonances features works by an assortment of[...] Read more

Recordings Vanessa Ague Issue 141

Robin Hatch. T.O.N.T.O. When Toronto keyboardist and composer Robin Hatch became an artist in residence at the National Music Centre in Calgary, she was given rare access to a wondrous resource in the centre’s collection of antique instruments: The Original New Timbral Orchestra (TONTO), a mammoth machine that[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie Issue 141

Gordon Grdina and Jim Black. Martian Kitties. Canadian Gordon Grdina and American Jim Black cannily invest this album’s thirteen tracks with multiple textures from two instruments each: Grdina playing guitar and oud, and Black using drums and electronics. The augmentation doesn’t follow the expected course though, with the[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 141

Jessica Ackerley and Daniel Carter. Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel. Alberta-born, New York-based guitarist Jessica Ackerley combines elements rarely heard together, compounding them into an improvisatory language that includes American primitive (the school of John Fahey and Robbie Basho that stretches from folk idioms to ragtime and raga) and the clear,[...] Read more

Recordings Stuart Broomer Issue 141

Absolutely Free. Aftertouch. A centrepiece track of Absolutely Free’s Aftertouch is “Remaining Light,” a sly nod to the title of Talking Heads’ fourth LP, Remain in Light. But that’s a bit of a ruse, as neither the song nor the album pick up that 1980 masterwork’s seminal thread[...] Read more

Recordings Jonathan Bunce Issue 141

Silla and Rise. Silarjuaq. In 2017, the trio Silla and Rise released a self-titled debut that merged Inuit throat-singing duo Silla (Charlotte Qamaniq and Cynthia Pitsiulak) and the electronic beats of DJ Rise Ashen. They sounded like nobody else. In 2019, Galactic Gala proved that the innovative trio was crafting an[...] Read more

Recordings Chaka V. Grier

Pamela Z. A Secret Code. Characterized by the transformation of mundane experience into something beautiful and poignant, A Secret Code includes works from across Pamela Z’s repertoire—pieces written for dance, excerpts from larger works, and works from live-sampled concerts. Pamela Z uses extended vocal[...] Read more

Recordings Kathryn Knowles Issue 140

Maurice Louca. Saet El-Hazz (The Luck Hour) Some of the most mind-bending and genre-blending music is emerging from the fertile underground scene of Cairo, Egypt. Maurice Louca is a founding member of the Dwarfs of East Agouza trio with Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls fame and Montreal’s Sam Shalabi, as well as other Cairo-based[...] Read more

Recordings Lawrence Joseph Issue 140