From November 21st to 30th, 2016, Joshua Van Tassel and I had the immense pleasure of having an artists' residency at The National Music Centre in Calgary, AB. If you don't know anything about the National Music Centre, I high recommend that you check it out HERE. It's an incredible place - it holds a massive 2000+ instrument collection spanning over 450 years (and you can actually use a whole lot of them!). It has top notch facilities, is in both a beautiful new architectural marvel of a building as well as the historical King Edward Hotel, and houses some of the warmest, supportive and knowledgable humans that there could be.
Josh and I were there to create "Impossible Instruments" - taking existing instruments in the collection and combining them to create new sounds that couldn't exist anywhere or any time other than there and now. Combining a harpsichord with a Maestro Ring Modulator, or a Novatron with a pump organ and a Korg MS20 were all normal activities during our time in residency. We then recorded those new sounds as samples, and built 38 new instruments to be played and composed with in the future. A very exciting time, it was!
If you're a musician living in or passing through Calgary, or if you have an interest to any degree in the historical and contemporary happenings of music in Canada, it's worth checking out the National Music Centre. Whether it's a tour of the museum, or an extended stay to use their wealth of synths and sounds, it's worth the trip, no doubt!
And here are just a few pics below. There are also more to see under the hashtag "#impossibleinstruments" on the Twitter.
It's Saturday. If you're on the Internet today, you're probably looking for something worthwhile and meaningful to spend some time on. There's a lot out there! If you're looking for something worthwhile and meaningful in the world of theatre on this Saturday, I'd highly recommend that you go here to this website and check out what the Quote Unquote Collective is up to this week at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre : www.quoteunquotecollective.com And then go and check them out in real life and in the theatre. You'll be entertained. You'll be made to think. You'll be better off for it. So, just do it!
Here are some peoples' thoughts on the work, in case you should require more encouragement:
As of this weekend past, the band Ptarmigan has released their album "Ptarmigan" out into the world. It's a magical sounding affair, full of mythology and a sense of the surreal, while still keeping one foot firmly planted in the world of acoustic folk. It's a beautiful balance that Ptarmigan has managed to achieve, an equilibrium that is not often heard.
I had the pleasure of working with the band to help produce, develop and actualize their ideas, and it was a joy. To be a part of the sonic transformation of a band that is made up of such talented musicians and wonderful humans has been an incredible experience. It is an album that is worth checking out, whether for the mythical journey of "A Magician Of Sorts", the soaring flight that is "Stilts", or for the attack of the synths that comes in "O Zephyr". There is much to hear and experience and enjoy on this album and with this team - I am almost certain that you'll find at least one thing on it you haven't heard anywhere else.
Check it out here : ptarmiganmusic.bandcamp.com
And check out Ptarmigan here : www.ptarmiganband.com
This should be the next Netflix film that you watch. Vital, important, impactful, and an incredibly potent summary of the world we live in today.
Today, Latest Cry (a collaboration between myself and Martha Meredith of For Esmé) releases its debut EP called "Symptoms / Signs". It's been a while in the making, so to have it out into the Internet world today feels great. It is a collection of songs that contemplates what it means to be living in the age that we do; living with this illusion of connectivity that we constantly find ourselves immersed in; considering what we need to do to get out from under it.
You can give it a listen / purchase at our BANDCAMP page and it'll likely pop up in a stream or two in the next few days as well. Or, you can listen / purchase it below. Enjoy! - jB
The best art is polarizing, the best humans are not. - jB
It's been a long time coming, but the debut single from Latest Cry is out today. Premiering on the fantastic Silent Shout.ca, the new video for "Signs" (directed by the stellar Spencer Cathcart) is available for your view pleasure. And you can get the single from the Latest Cry Bandcamp page, too. Lovely!
Check out what Silent Shout has to type about it HERE.
And enjoy. - jB
Tonight at The Greenwin Theatre at Toronto Centre for the Arts, "The Model Apartment" opens. Directed by Tanja Jacobs, and starring Eric Peterson, Clare Coulter, Lisa Norton and Tony Ofori, "The Model Apartment" is a play written by Donald Margulies that is set in Florida in 1988. A summary of it reads:
"When Max and Lola, two Holocaust survivors from Brooklyn, uproot their lives to Florida, they find their new condo unfinished and are forced to spend the night in a 'model apartment' where things are not always as they seem. In this brilliant and bizarre Drama Desk-nominated black comedy, Max and Lola soon realize that if they ever want to truly escape they must first confront the demons of their past."
It runs from tonight until May 29th, so get your tickets while you can HERE. It's an important play, and a project that I feel very fortunate to have done the composition and sound design for. (Mika Posen performed some of the string arrangements - she's fantastic as always!) A group of incredibly talented people have worked to bring this show together, and in my opinion, it is a show worth seeing - and worth thinking about for long after the show itself is over. -jB
Today is the official release day for Donovan Woods' "Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled". It's a good day. And it's a great album! Donovan is known for his songwriting for good reason - he writes stellar songs. The recording of this album was about a couple of things : first, making sure that the songs didn't get lost in the recording process, and, second, making an album that sounded like one that we wanted to hear. For an artist like Donovan, one with the ability to exist in so many different realms of the music world, be it as a songwriter in Nashville, or an independent solo singer and acoustic guitar player, or a writer of pop songs, or as an alt-country artist, or a hilarious entity in the Twitter-shpere, it can be hard to know what exactly the genuine article is supposed to sound like. To Donovan's credit, he was clear that he wanted to make an album that just sounded like him - not worrying about where it all fell into as far as categorization once released and send out into the world. And to that end, i think we were successful. I hope that anyone who listens to the album can hear the sound of a genuinely talented artist and songwriter actualizing his songs in a way that he wants them to sound. And I hope that the sound of his honesty and intent is an enjoyable listen for all!
"Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled" is also full of incredible talent playing on it : Jon Hynes is responsible for the bass and electric guitar work, and has been the catalyst for making this album happen as it did. Robbie Grunwald covers the keyboarding duties, providing piano, organ and wurly parts that do just the right things. Aaron Goldstein does some fantastic pedal steel work, as he is known to do, and Miranda Mulholland gives us some heartbreaking violin lines. Robyn Dell'Unto shares some whispery and intimate backing vocals, and there is some fantastic string arranging by Drew Jurecka, performed by Drew, Rebekah Wolkstein, Kathleen Kajiloka and Amy Laing. And a good portion of the tracking was done by John Dinsmore at Lincoln County Social Club, which always sounds fantastic.
In any case, it's an album that I think is worth a listen. Check it out on iTunes by clicking THIS or clicking on the image below. Enjoy it, and look out for more to come from Donovan in the future. - jB
Today, on the day of her 35th birthday, Vivek Shraya releases "Girl It's Your Time" backed with "A Good Man". Both are accessible pop songs - easy to grab onto and sing in the shower - but they hold deeper meaning and more powerful ideas than the pop realm often encourages. It seems like the challenge of this age of music making and artistry is to take important, pertinent and often heavy ideas of self and society, and wrap them up in an accessible and engaging package, which for the listener are easy to swallow and digest. Vivek is one artist who continues to successfully use and develop this concept in her craft, and who makes music that is in equal parts catchy and thought provoking. You can listen to the songs below, and then purchase them - all proceeds from this release go to Supporting Our Youth's Trans_Fusion Crew program. Enjoy these songs - and look forward to what is still to come from Vivek in the future! -jB
As of today, you can pre-order Donovan Woods' upcoming album "Hard Settled, Ain't Troubled". It's going to officially be released into the world on February 26th, 2016, but if you pre-order it, you get two tracks off the album now. And that's just good news!
You can also check out the next single off of the album, called "The First Time", below. And there is a trailer video for the album below as well which is nice to watch, and also gives a hint of one of the other tracks on the album. Lovely! - jB
Today I've released a collection of sonic experiments entitled "Caesurae". I describe them this way :
"These tracks are the sound of spaces filled, of nothings turned into something, of the journeys becoming destinations in their own right."
They are sonic experiments in processing, in manipulation and in evolving sounds in new and interesting ways. They are designed to be listened to on headphones, but that's not vital. They aren't "songs" in the traditional sense, but they (hopefully) will elicit some emotion or emotions in the listener. And I believe that they are an enjoyable journey in their own unique way.
You can get "Caesurae" HERE, or listen and then purchase below. Enjoy! - jB
Back in the summer of 2013, I spent some time in Peterborough at Artspace Gallery. For a few days and nights, I worked there during the days, and slept there during the nights. I'd stop at Night Kitchen as many times as possible for delicious slices and espressos. What I was working on was an album by Jos. Fortin called Fairweather Walker, which as of yesterday, is out into the world (you can get it HERE).
Fairweather Walker is the 2nd album that Jos. and I worked on together, and it's a wonderful collection of songs. Jos. has a way of shaping melodies and lyrics that instantly sounds familiar, but takes the listener to places that they haven't already been. The arrangements on the album are stellar, as are all of the players (which include folks like Ehren McCracken, Dan Fortin, Mika Posen, Shaun Brodie, Aaron Hoffman, Sylvie Smith and Charlie Phillips). Fairweather Walker captures the intimacy of a man at home alone with his guitar, but also the sound of that man's expansive and boundless imagination. I'm definitely too close to the album to be unbiased, but I think it's worth checking out.
There are some really special moments on this album - I for one feel like the song "June" captures what it feels like to be in Peterborough, ON on a fall day better than any other song in existence. "When I Meet My Maker" takes the listener on a sonic journey that few singer-songwriters take us on these days. And there are many other moments of joy and beauty along the way that are worth taking the time to experience.
Jos. is releasing the album in a pay-what-you-want form up on his Bandcamp site - head on over a take a listen and, if you like what you hear, toss him some dough and take a download. And enjoy. - jB
Today's the day when we can do an amazing thing here in Canada, something that we often take for granted. We can vote. So, take advantage of that fact, and get out and vote today. It's fun - you get to spend time under the fluorescent lights of your local community centre for a few minutes, see who else is in your neighbourhood, shoot the shit about the shops opening up and the buildings being constructed on your street, and, most importantly, impact the change you want to see in your country.
I don't know who would come around saying that it's a perfect system - it's not. Not yet, at least. But perhaps part of changing that system is placing a vote for the party who you think will best lead the charge for change in the system. Non-participation isn't the answer - participation and action, even the simplest of actions which includes putting a ballot in a box, will lead to the change you want to see.
If you have any questions, check things out here : www.elections.ca
And if you're thinking of not voting because it doesn't matter, why not take a look at the following page, and scroll down to the bottom, and read about what each party thinks about that, and go out and vote today based on that? thethunderbird.ca/elxn42/millions-of-canadian-votes-dont-matter
Do it. Enjoy it. Savour it. Change it. It's going to be a great Monday!
This is an album that as been in the making for quite some time - from the initial ideas found in Martha's demos, to the development of those ideas and their structures and sounds with Dave, Nathan and Martha, to the recording of a boiling kettle, to long debates about whether songs sounded enough like the childhood memories they were based on, to Chris Isaak references, to neighbours appearing in the living room, to choirs of strong women, to as many cornetto con frittatas as is possible - it's been a fantastic journey! This is a collection of songs that I think can be enjoyed on the surface, with poppy beats, sounds and hooks to satisfy initial listens and the needs of a dance party. But if you choose to go deeper, there is much to explore. The lyric content is timely and relevant - these are the thoughts and words of someone struggling to comprehend and navigate a generation of humans who is yet to fully understand who they are and what they are capable of. As a result, the lyrics speak to both the endless potential for joy and hope, alongside the trappings of a world gone mad with narcissistic social announcements. The musicality is strong and innovative - there are melodies that you can grab onto and carry with you, performed with both precision and emotion, and thoughtful supporting parts and sounds that compliment what is in the sonic spotlight of each track. it's a wonderful balance, and one that makes for an interesting listen, whether your focus is in the center or periphery of the sonics.
These thoughts all come from a very biased place - I am indeed quite close to this album. But I think it's one that's worth checking out. And you can do so below, or from the For Esmé Bandcamp page.
And there's an album release TONIGHT AT THE DRAKE IN TORONTO if that's of interest - should be great!
In any case, have a great Friday. - jB
Tonight is SB Nuit Blanche in Toronto, and it's going to be a night filled with many things to see, hear, do and experience. One of those things is Anandam DanceTheatre's Glaciology which is taking place down on the Queen's Quay heading west towards Lower Simcoe Street. Glaciology's journey along the Queen's Quay will take 12 hours, and will be made by 50 performers in the form of one mass human glacial body, shifting and sliding its way along the city's shore boulevard. The Globe & Mail calls it one of Toronto's Sweet 16: What To See At Nuit Blanche This Year, and I think that they're right on the money.
I created the audio score for the piece, and it's available for streaming or download via Bandcamp or via Soundcloud. Check it out, and head on down to the Queen's Quay for the night. Or the morning. You can pick what works best for you, anytime between 7pm and 7am. That's the beauty of SB Nuit Blanche! Wonderful. - jB