Its a Saturday night in Regina. Where do you go to have fun? O’Hanlon’s for a dance party? A sports bar? Out for a rip with the buds? How about a house show featuring electronic music, improvised analog visuals, and a crowd listening attentively?
I’ve already highlighted the melody-free soundscapes of Youth Trend Report, but the number of artists creating electronic music across Saskatchewan is much greater than our humble prairie people would have you believe – most of them dodging the blandly produced EDM anathema that plagues the bedroom electronic producer community.
On February 27th, a collection of six of the finest descended upon a house to present the listener with some music. The sounds were eclectic, experimental and intent on grabbing you with their pixelated hand. You should have been there.
Huge congratulations need to be given out to the promoters of the show for their involvement in making it a success. For every band, Colby Richardson supplied improvised visuals with a dizzying array of vintage video mixers and effects. Shifting in time with the sonic palette or bursting and bouncing to the beat, the various video screens set the mood and helped frame the night.
The focus of the night was exploration of sonic texture, whether it be vapour-hisses wafting through drum samples or throaty gurgling synths gasping for air around found percussion. Here is a quick sonic run-down of the performances that night.
Matt Carr was another of the house occupants and he opened up the night with eclectic sounds under his onomatopoeiac electronic title. It stands to reason that any electronic act would reflect that sound, but it’s particularly fitting for Carr’s collection of shuffling tunes where the PSSTSHH could be coming from either the affected snares or bit crushed hi-hats. He was joined by the ineffable Eric Hill whose electro ambient warbles acted as musical highways in-between Matt’s tracks.
The young Tristan Libke brought quite a crowd of people to the show, and for good reason. His spooktacular trap influenced music played with found natural sounds, repitched vocals and bubbling synths, making it feel like a ghostly alternate dimension party. Everyone in the house was invited.
Not a chiptune band. Waverace was not afraid of playing with dance music tropes and it made their music stand out. The four on the floor bass drum often featured laid a solid foundation for the wide ranging sweeps and sci-fi gun glitches that were flying through the air. House music a witch would listen to, not witch house as it’s labelled on iTunes.
1.Take vintage arpeggiators, captivating chord progressions, uptempo TR-909 drum machines and scittering melodic bells.
2. Add a pinch of samples and 80’s R&B syncopation.
3. Record to tape, then place in oven at 350F until tape is significantly and gloriously warped.
4. Place in walkman and enjoy the rest of your day.
The word ambient is really misued when you compare some of the rhythm laden works of “ambient” artists to VC Vibes work. A room generally triples in size as synths whirl around your head, the air around you heaves in time with the particularly noisy shimmering silence that has manifested around you until you realize that you surrounded and completely enveloped. How you react is up to you – close your eyes and relax or feel your heart race.
The number of uplifting melodies that are fit in a Debraska set are much higher than one should expect when they are combined with the sometimes severe sounds and chord progressions that also abound the work. It’s like Washed Out decided to stop singing and turned all his energy into the betterment of mankind through a hybrid bell-piano, but occasionally wants to see if the listener is awake. We’ll see how the whole mankind betterment thing works out but the audio results are killer.
Six distinct artist sounds, incredible visuals and a hell of a party happened on this Saturday. This is just SOME of the incredible artists that are bleeping and blooping in our rectangular province. If nothing else, this show made me proud of the artists that call Saskatchewan home, and dreaming of the music I’ve yet to hear. Think of all the future experimental sounds that await you…
- Jon Neher
P.S. – I mistakenly said Pulsewidth was performing in a future pupcast. He wasn’t, but he was in attendance! Check his music out as a token of my apologies.