DJ Garbage Body presents :: Deep YouTube Cruises

DJ Garbage Body is an accomplice of Bile Sister and the evil twin of DJ Breezes. These bitter rivals are continuously duelling in an immortal kombat: the battle of formats, the battle of pop culture present and future. Who will win? Only remnants and clues are dispersed, with traces left in tangible formats (the printed word, telephone booths, TV Guide). DJ Garbage Body doesn’t let others forget cultural artifacts. She is the one pop-up you can’t block. This inaugural batch of cruises were streamed from the depths of the ‘Tube, after sailing from Haiti to Australia and beyond…

Master DJI – “Sispann”

This incredible Haitian music is compiled and produced by the infamous Emmanuel V. If you sift through his thousands of videos, you’re sure to come across many gems, such as this one by Master DJI, or beauts like Carole Demesmin – “Tounen Lakay”, Tines Salvant – “Mare m La”, Claudette et Ti Pierre – “Zanmi Camarade” (1979), and not to forget Joe Jack.

Sugar Boys – “First Taape (Bike Ride Version)”

These dudes are from Montreal. One guy is also in the band Tired. From left to right: Jesse Hicks, Riley Fleck, Andy White. Digital video and analog audio recorded live by Jason Harvey (Jayce) and Andy White (respectively) at practice at la brique in Montreal on 29 March 2011. If you look up videos by ‘Jayce’, ‘Jason Harvey’, or ‘andycwhite’ you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t believe me, check out “Drudge”, yet another Jason Harvey weirdo video of delights. That was a bonus!

La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin (Full Album)

I found this one as the result of a search that started with a song called “Dead Sea” (1982) by Spray Pals. Psycho Tropical Berlin is a masterpiece. Listen to it in its entirety. This is a new band, and I believe this album came out in France in April 2013. My search ultimately lead to Aksak Maboul’s Un Peu De l’Âme Des Bandits (1980). Another bonus for this submission… I had to! This one is also mind blowing. You should also check out Aksak Maboul with Veronique Vincent, because that’s what I did. Scroll to the right panel of your youtube page and see what you find!

Andras Fox – “Soft Illusion”

Andras Fox is from Australia (I believe). He’s so hot! Huge crush on the guy. I found this link from a post that a friend put up on facebook. Forever grateful! The video is pretty cool. Editing and camerawork are by Becky Freeman, otherwise known as Sui Zhen.

Sui Zhen – “Midriffs”

Yep, this is where the last video lead me. Sui Zhen is cool. Through youtube creeping, I figured out her and Andras were (are?) dating (too bad!) and have several collabs. Start your perusing from there and see where it leads. Until next time…

Yours Truly,

DJ Garbage Body

‘Stay Tuned, stay Tubed!’

XO

Slummin’ in the Sled

Words: Jeremy Curry

sled island

It’s only a few weeks away! Sled Island, one of the biggest and most interesting music festivals in western Canada, is coming back at the tail end of June. There are over 200 bands this year, as well as comedians, visual art, and film. This can be a little overwhelming at times, and usually pretty hard to navigate. It’s tough to pick between multiple stellar acts playing in different venues at the same time. Sometimes, the one you want to see will have a massive line-up or be completely sold out. Sure, that’s a bummer, but there are always alternatives, and some of them can surprise you and become your favorite show of the whole damn festival. I have some recommendations, but you don’t have to listen to me! There are so many great acts playing, and this list doesn’t even scrape the surface.

Gold

Gold

Gold are a fantastic local band that come correct when it’s time to play some hazy, lazy, spaced-out pop gems. They’ll make you feel cozy and warm through all of the dark days. Remember when indie-rock bands were described as “tropical” a few years ago? Gold could have been thrown into that category, but they sound more like hot chocolate/warm blanket tunes to me. These jams are real head-nodders. Nod in approval, or just follow the grooves. You’ll get a decent neck exercise, and feel great afterwards! Positive musical therapy.

Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson has played sax in some popular bands like Bon Iver and Arcade Fire, but that’s far from what he honks out in his solo work. His circular breathing is truly a unique sound. Without any effects or pre-recorded loops, he blows insane grooves, drones and bizarre tones. His beautiful, wild compositions will have you scratching your head wondering how he created those sounds. His recent collaboration with fellow sax master Mats Gustafsson is one of the most brutal, insane, and amazing records of the year.

Superchunk

Superchunk

This is an easy pick because Superchunk is one of this year’s headliners, as well as one of the most popular acts. But if you don’t know about them, they’ve been kicking out the slacker jams for almost 25 years. Singer Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance even started Merge Records, which is a powerhouse of independent releases including albums by some band called Arcade Fire. The ‘Chunk have some of the catchiest, tightest, indie pop/rock jams around. Their songs will get stuck in your head, and you’ll want to keep them in there for a while.

Jay Arner

Jay Arner

Some friends tipped me off about this cool dude from Vancouver. As soon as I heard a single song, I was hooked. I played that song over and over on my computer until I decided that if I didn’t stop, I’d get sick of it. I turned it off and waited a month to play it again. The Jay Arner addiction is a tough one to beat, but I doubt it has any terrible side effects. This man is a pop-song wizard, and everybody should go and see him cast spells of wicked hooks and fuzzed-out guitar jams. It’ll be worth it.

Pete Swanson

Pete Swanson

Tim Hecker curated some of the acts at this year’s festival, and one of the artists he decided to bring along is Pete Swanson. This is an amazing choice. Swanson makes some of the harshest electronic music in the world. The beats are heavy and industrial, and computer bleeping tones can wobble in and out without any notice. It sounds like the destruction of a factory building Robocops, or a dusty dub album playing at the wrong speed, with a messed up needle skipping over grooves. The tones can get pretty brutal, but that’s all part of the fun.

Shearing Pinx

Shearing Pinx

Shearing Pinx are a spastic, noisy rock and roll trio. They’ve played Calgary numerous times, sometimes at more noise-centric shows. They have more of a punk vibe, and the fact that they’re hard to pin down genre-wise makes them even more interesting. The vocals are reminiscent of a guy yelling at you to get something done, while the guitars are akin to scribbling on the wall of your parents’ freshly painted house. Feedback squeals are not uncommon. I’ve heard the term “face-melter” describe a lot of rock music, but I think this band truly deserves the title.

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth

Going to see a DJ while a slew of bands with guitars and drums and stuff are playing doesn’t sound that appealing, but Ryan Hemsworth is a different breed. This kid mixes rap and R&B with old Super Nintendo music, and totally gets away with it. He does this Danny Brown x Donkey Kong remix that is better than most of the rap productions I’ve heard this year. He’s created a lot of great mixes for various music sites in the last couple of years, along with a recent free EP that sounds fantastic. This one’s going to make you exhausted from dancing like a complete maniac, so drink a lot of water.

Zachary Fairbrother :: Feedback treatise

Words: Jesse Locke // Photoshop: Peter Locke

Zachary Fairbrother

*This article also appears in the May 2013 issue of Offerings.

Zachary Fairbrother might be best known as the fretboard-shredding frontman of Lantern, but he’s got a whole other set of cards up his jean jacket sleeve. Prior to his time with the scorched proto-punk trio, Fairbrother cut his chops studying composition at Halifax’s Dalhousie University and as artist in residence artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. His multi-amp, multi-instrument pieces such as the “Buddha Box” series stretch the limits of feedback, drone and ambient loops to create a body-rattling behemoth of sound. Before he wakes the spirits with a series of performances at Wyrd IV, we caught up for a tête-à-tête.

JL: There’s another article where you said, and I quote, “When I was a teenager, in between wanks I would pull out my guitar and wank a little more.” How old were you when you first started playing?

ZF: I was 14, and in grade eight. I bought a guitar from my friend but didn’t really know how to play it, so I would pick it up and scrape a penny along the strings because I thought it sounded cool. I also had some issues of Guitar World magazines with tabs, and the one I picked to try out was Fear Factory’s cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars” because it looked the easiest. I think they may have used a seven-string, but I didn’t even know what that was at the time. The next Christmas my parents got me some lessons.

When did you decide to get serious and move into composition?

My guitar teacher was probably in his early 20s and studying at Dalhousie, where I ended up going. I came from a small town and didn’t really have any peers who were into the same music, so I thought he was the coolest. I don’t think I was even aware what a composer was, and probably just imagined it was something romantic. When I was done high school I wanted to play music all day, so I decided to study it at a higher level.

How was your experience at Dalhousie?

I didn’t like music school for the first three years. We started off with a foundation year and had to learn classical guitar, which I didn’t really connect with. It’s a steep learning curve and I had to perform with violinists who’d been playing since they were five, so I never felt comfortable. I later took courses in composition and orchestration where I learned to write for various instruments, but at the end of the day, I always came back to electric guitar.

I’ve also heard you talk about Cornelius Cardew’s graphic scores. What do you like about those?

Cardew’s Treatise is an interesting one. I’ve never performed it, but as I understand it there’s very little explanation of what the piece is. You’re literally just supposed to look at these objects that evoke an interpretation. When I’m composing, I’m not really interested in writing something in depth where you start at bar one and go to bar 200. A lot of my pieces come from improvisation so there’s no real need for a score, but I like the idea of adding a visual component after the fact to fit the sounds. It’s another way for the performer to think about it in more abstract concepts.

You first performed your “Buddha Box 2.0” piece at the OBEY Convention in 2010. Is that the same thing you’ll be playing here, or has it evolved?

It’s going to be slightly different. I’m trying to find a happy balance where I can scale it down a bit, and I’m going to change the arrangement plus add a new intro. It’s something I’ve jammed on at home but have never brought out live. I call them remixes, though they’re probably going to be indecipherable. It’s basically taking some of Beethoven’s later string quartets and slowing them down on my four-track with cassettes. They’re beautiful at their normal speed, but a lot more dramatic this way and almost an expressionistic take. Violinists always have crazy vibrato, so when you slow them down it creates these really huge warbles. It’s super dark and ambient, and from there we’ll bring in the drone. The most important thing is that it needs to be loud, because it’s as much of a physical body experience as listening.

Can you explain the Buddha Box concept?

“Buddha Box 1.0” is a solo piano piece that incorporates a Buddha Machine. The piano has speakers inside it, and when you put the pedal down, the ambient loops start to resonate. For the second piece I have Buddha Machines playing into guitar pick-ups. The different performers amplify these loops and then take them away, so they’re able to improvise on top of snippets of voice that cascade and drop out. Both pieces are meditative but also fairly monolithic. The piano piece works itself into a wash, and “Buddha Box 2.0” is supposed to be a bit scary. Buddha is a god, so that evokes awe but also fear.

Zachary Fairbrother performs at Wyrd IV in Montreal on Friday, May 10 (Casa del Popolo) and in Toronto on Saturday, May 11 (the Music Gallery). For more information, visit weirdcanada.com/wyrd.

Ashes to Ashes :: Dwelling in the uncanny valley of David Bowie

Words: Anthony Hansen

Never Let Me Down

“It was a large room. Full of people. All kinds.
And they had all arrived at the same building
at more or less the same time.
And they were all free. And they were all
asking themselves the same question:
What is behind that curtain?”
– Laurie Anderson

Itʼs been years since Iʼve written really earnestly about music. My recent writing, for the most part, has taken the form of diary entries, scrawled confessionals that help me try to make sense of my busy brain. There was a time when David Bowieʼs music served a similar purpose. In the past, he gave me something to hold on to: his fragmented, sometimes aggressively non-linear lyrical style sang my alienation back to me. There was also something weirdly relatable about an artist who saw music as a form of play-acting, expressing himself through bits of other peopleʼs discarded personas. As someone who could only understand the world when it was explained to me through books, movies, music and television, seeing someone who exuded that same detachment was weirdly comforting. Hell, the more outlandish he got, the more I liked him. Itʼs like someone somewhere had given him the permission to look, sound and act as weird as I felt. Never mind that Bowie and I would have virtually nothing in common if we met. He was famous, he was a grown-up, and he knew what he was talking about. Everything was going to be okay.

Still, as Iʼve been awkwardly stumbling into adulthood, even the music thatʼs given me my most solid foundation has come into question. The past year or two has seen me parting ways with a lot of my formative musical influences – sometimes cordially, sometimes not. I respectfully said goodbye to Frank Zappaʼs monotonous misanthropy while still retaining a friendly relationship with his more charming “throwaway” albums (hereʼs looking at you, Chungaʼs Revenge and Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch). I was saved from an abusive relationship with Lou Reedʼs solo career by an extended stay in John Caleʼs Heartbreak Hotel. I realized a lot of punk bands just plain sucked. David Sylvian really is kind of a jerk. And so on.

But through it all, Bowie remained untouchable. Yeah, his last few albums bored me a bit if I were to be totally honest, but heʼd still left behind an impressive body of work. I defended a good chunk of his ’90s output, listened indulgently to his ’80s misfires when no one was looking, danced around my room to Ziggy Stardust, and marveled at his output from 1976 to 1980, easily my favorite string of albums by any single artist.

Point is, I havenʼt enjoyed his music so much as lived in it. So it frustrates me to say that walking into The Next Day, his first album of new material in ten years, feels less like coming home than camping out in a museum decked out to look like a bedroom. So much effort has been put into making this place look comfortable and familiar that all I can notice is how creepily unnatural it is. The Next Day dwells in the uncanny valley of being so much like what one would expect a Bowie album to sound like that all I notice is the nagging sense that somethingʼs missing. All I hear are catchy choruses, calculated craftsmanship, politely perverse rock and roll. The acceptable face of subversion.

And yet, something keeps pulling me back into The Next Dayʼs undertow. If I were to guess, Iʼd say itʼs because, for the first time since before I was even born, Bowieʼs become mysterious again. The all-too-human missteps that defined his fall from grace in the ’80s and subsequent journey to artistic rehabilitation are now just a small part of the broader Bowie mythos, meaning that as long he keeps this no-contact-with-the-press routine going he can go back to being a total enigma. Itʼs a marked contrast with the “David Bowie, somewhat normal guy” persona heʼd adopted with his last few albums. At no point on this album does he give you anything to empathize with. Thereʼs no way in. Itʼs just a catalogue of obsessions. This is an album calculated to be intriguing, and you know what? On that level, it works. The only other Bowie album that has simultaneously fascinated and frustrated me this much is Tin Machine.

Iʼd like to think that – from the flippant cover on down – The Next Day is a reckoning, an exorcism, a final, definitive break with and deconstruction of the very concept of being “David Bowie”. If this proves to be true, the albumʼs last two tracks may be clues pointing the way forward. “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” is a puddle of spiteful invective disguised as a feel-good singalong, a nasty piece of character assassination that ends with the drumbeat that opened Ziggy Stardustʼs opening salvo, “Five Years”. I love how it plays out like a sick joke at the expense of everything he once stood for or, perhaps, the idea that he ever stood for anything at all.

Cue the Scott Walker-aping closer, “Heat”, with its refrains of “And I tell myself I donʼt know who I am” and “I am a seer and I am a liar”. Thereʼs a weirdly self-destructive tone to all of it, like David Bowie (the person) has gotten sick of being “David Bowie” (the icon). In fact, itʼs almost like those years of “David Bowie is dead” rumors roused the man into action. Oh no you donʼt, world. David Bowie isnʼt dead until David Bowie fucking says so. On this album, he doesnʼt just die, heʼs brutally murdered, his body “left to rot in a hollow tree” (to quote the driving title track, the albumʼs other major highlight). Itʼs not quite John Lennon singing “the dream is over”, but I guess itʼll have to do.

More than any other Bowie album, it reminds me of Never Let Me Down (Bowieʼs least favorite and probably yours too), an album of very dark, unsettling songs all but ruined by their overstuffed, Sports-Mascot-chipper arrangements. The difference for me is: 1) I heard Never Let Me Down when I was in grade school and 2) I had taken the time to read and be thoroughly creeped out by the lyrics before I even heard a single note of it. The fact that the album itself wasnʼt any good was irrelevant – at that time in my life and under those circumstances, it didnʼt have to be. I can still listen to that album today and hear it not for what it is but what I always wanted it to be. A tiny, embarrassing part of Bowieʼs history that I co-opted for my own purposes, it now exists in my psyche as a weird little lie I still tell myself to feel better about the way my handle on the world and on myself has changed.

This isnʼt a phenomenon exclusive to David Bowie, of course. There are plenty of objectively shitty albums Iʼve embraced because they happened to be just what I needed at the time. Granting yourself the right to occasionally have incredibly shitty taste in music is a small but weirdly satisfying victory, like looking at yourself naked in the mirror and successfully stifling the urge to flinch. But I digress. Sometimes life presents us with things that we recognize to be completely true, but more often than not weʼre just making shit up as we go along. Just as many have chosen to believe that this is the Bowie album theyʼve all been waiting for, I have to believe that the cold, empty feeling it leaves me with is deliberate, not only because thatʼs consistent with how I think of Bowieʼs role as an artist, but also because itʼs the only way I can finally make sense of this thing and move on with my life.

So here it is, The Next Day, Bowieʼs own “Glass Onion”, a monument to our misguided nostalgia, a comeback that exists only to shut us up once and for all. You either see it as the album you want, the album you need, or the album you deserve. Everybody wins.

Somewhere in the museum wing on my way out, I see a small note at my feet in what looks suspiciously like the artistʼs handwriting. Thinking it may provide some context for all Iʼve seen, I pick it up and, sure enough, there it is: “You Canʼt Go Home Again”.

“Or in other words, shy from the sky. No answer lies there. It cannot care, especially for what it no longer knows. Treat that place as a thing unto itself, independent of all else, and confront it on those terms. You alone must find the way. No one else can help you. Every way is different. And if you do lose yourself at least take solace in the absolute certainty that you will perish.”
– Mark Z. Danielewski