Upon arrival in Edmonton, I vowed to jump into the city’s music life, and the experimental/sound art scene in particular. I’d contacted my earlier acquaintances in the area, Shawn Pinchbeck and Gary James Joynes, to let them know I was here for any future happenings. So when I found out about SONAR, at the University of Alberta Museums Enterprise Square Galleries, it was a sonic treat I couldn’t refuse. The exhibition featured sound projects through recordings, interactive environments, and installations referencing noise, electroacoustic, experimental and minimalist sound art practices. And Shawn, Gary and Scott Smallwood were performing as Trio Latitude for the opening! I brought my camera and took some pics and video of the show. I didn’t get much time to view the artwork on display, but it did fuel some excitement for what kinds of inspired projects are being made – like cassette tape work from Parker Thiessen and accordions in various environs by Raylene Campbell. Afterwards, I went for celebratory beer and food with Trio Latitude and I spun a few Newfoundland tales. They all said they were glad to see me in Edmonton, and I couldn’t agree more.
Every two years in St. John’s, there’s a week-long summer event that sounds like bliss to my ears and gives meaning to the music I craft — Sound Symposium. If I’m not participating as an official artist on the program, I usually make a point of attending some featured performances and ASSUREDLY get to The Ship Pub for the featured Night Music events. This was the case for my immersion into Sound Symposium XVII, and it began with a scorching free show at Harbourside Park by fusion trio Big Space, with a repeat engagement for the evening’s Night Music. Anyone unfamiliar with the later bar show should know it opens with a set by the featured act, then follows with improvised jams including other musicians in attendance. This is where I like to include myself, and where I switch up my choice of instrument I select to bring each night. Circuit-bent Sound Machine, Spider-Man Voice Changer, Mattel Calliope, Roland sampler and Thingamagoop 2 were the choice standouts for certain! The Symposium is the only way for me to hear anything — sound poetry mulcher Chris Tonelli and Leatherback, jazz versions of Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” (and nods to Barney Miller) by Curtis Andrews and Friends Like These, the exotic sounds of Boujou Badialy Cissoko‘s kora or Bart Hopkin‘s fascinatingly-built experimental instruments — and still get to freely chat and share company with those taking part in it. The Friday, July 11th Night Music was the tops with local sax quartet Ouroboros with special guest Jessica Lurie, and fuelled a frenzy of jamming afterwards, mostly with prepared guitar mangler Bill Horist. What a spirited (hic!) time had by all, and some friendly music-making made!
Another installment of the MssngMrblz recurring event, Prototype 6, was just in time for our yearly summer sun! The hype was big for this one, including vinyl stickers, retro shades, t-shirts, hula hoops, silly string, the regular flashy lights and screens, and certainly stellar electronic music from all the performers rockin’ the stage. Yours truly was there with a last-minute opening performance, then followed by Georgie & JoMo, Elling Lien, MssngMrblz, PotemTole, DJ Alligator (of Rockafellers) and Worker. Click those names above to link up with some hot local music made here in St. John’s, and continue below for some photos of the Prototype 6 action. Until the next one, keep listening!
So now I’ve composed some “new music”. New, as in recent AND in genre. Musicworks magazine has this annual contest for Electronic Music compositions, and I decided to give it a shot. I’ve always enjoyed piecing together found sounds into music, so why not toss one of my monsters into the arena?
RPM Challenge 2014 has got to be some of the most prolific work I’ve crafted thus far, but has it been challenging? I did get an early start in February working with Ableton Live and the Launchpad Mini/LaunchControl in set preparation for Prototype 5, which I deemed productive idea creation for the album. There was, however, plenty of downtime for birthdays, family visits, nights out to party, watching the tube, etc. Instead of being stressed about being behind in the recording process, I took time out on a couple of weekdays (mostly in the last week) to finish up some working projects and polish the mixes. I also managed to record a Robot Scout session for RPM submission, too. Does it mean I like to procrastinate until the final possible minute? No, but it does seem to end up close to the wire most of the time. It’s always challenging to create under a deadline, but these days I’ve streamlined the process to make it easier to operate quickly and efficiently. Hence, I can afford to take my time with some things or choose to break from it with the knowledge that it’s simple to come back to. I’ve done the RPM Challenge for a number of years now, and likely would have made yearly records anyway, even if no challenge existed. We make our own challenges, and I consider this one to be more of a necessity. I make art, and that doesn’t change. The challenge is making art you’re happy with. And even though I endorse a certain amount of improvisation in much of my work, it’s satisfying when it sounds composed.