Saturday, October 31, 2009

Matthew Duffy and Ryan Kirk - To the Storm/Offering/Taurus/Awake

Two of my favorite people and respected peers Matthew Duffy and Ryan Kirk have began collaborating together and we are all are better for it. This is a very focused performance from a house show involving poetry, samples, loops, guitars, and references to Stockhausen. Here's what Ryan says on his blog about the performance,

We mostly exchanged rough cut recordings of vocal lines and poems over e-mail taking turns making transcriptions of parts of them and turning them into melodic heads that could be improvised on and around. Then we added in the melodic line of Taurus from the Karlheinz Stockhausen composition Zodiac. Both of us are Taurus', so it seemed appropriately cosmic.

The show took place in a loft in Halifax during a Halloween party and the musics very spooky indeed. Ryan's guitar playing is somewhat like Bill Frisell's at times but with a very anxious vibrato. The composition sort of reminds me of Marianne Faithfull's record Strange Weather, in which Frisell lends his talents. It's similar to that record in terms of vibe, something to listen too during strange weather perhaps, and in the production in terms of the space each of the players allows each other. Of course Kirk and Duffy are only a two piece and not a small chamber orchestra, but through the use of samples and the distance and patience that they each give each other, they achieve similar moments. This is a visceral performance but it is well thought out. Matthew Duffy's vocal delivery and performance is the best I have ever heard from him. His ideas and skills seem to be coming into fruition. He goes through a wide range of emotions throughout the performance, sometimes reciting bizarre poetry, to wide-vibrato-crooner-like singing, to desperate and tortured screaming. His Clarinet playing is the best I've heard as well, very sparse, which is perfect for this musical landscape, he carves out strange melodies and phrases to accompany the guitar.

Excellent performance, I only wish I was there. These two are known for very ritual inspired performances, and I'm sure with the visual and performance aspect of this piece, the work would only be stronger. If there are any pictures or videos please send them my way!

Here's Ryan's blog on the show!


Ryan Kirk

Matthew Duffy and friend

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Derek Bailey Documentary on Improvisation

Over the Edge is a four part documentary by guitarist Derek Bailey. Derek Bailey is an experimental musician that focused on freely improvised musics. Taking where free jazz left off, Bailey expanded the musical vocabulary even further beyond in the ideas of structure, rhythm, harmony, and sound. He further blurred the boundaries of genre and collaborated with many artists from wildly different backgrounds and training, trying to find a common thread or language, for an arena for which any person is able to engage and participate in a musical world.

This documentary explores improvisation as the common theme that ties all musical expression together; from the sacred to the secular, the popular to the classical, folk to experimental, Bailey focuses on radically diverse music from all over world, from all different times, and sows together a musical story in which improvisation is the muse for all music.

This documentary is a based on a book that he wrote on Improvisation, check it out!

I found this documentary on the wonderful Ubu website. A site dedicated to documenting all things avant-garde. Unfortunately however, they only have two of the episodes uploaded, one and three, so if you know where I can find two and four, please let me know! Thank you and I hope you enjoy the documentary as much as I do!


I: Passing it on
Broadcast 2 February 1992 this programme featured: Douglas Ewart at Haynes School in Chinatown, Chicago; improvisation in Mozart with Robert Levin, piano and the Acadamy of Ancient Music with Christopher Hogwood; John Zorn and Cobra; improvisation in religious and devotional music and communities with: Naji Hakim - organ improvisations in Paris; Gaelic psalm singing on the Scottish Isles of Harris and Lewis; and Indian singing with Pundit Hanuman Misra.

III: A liberating thing
Broadcast 16 February 1992, concentrating on jazz based and free improvisation. With Max Roach at the Harlam School of the Arts; Butch Morris conducting (with, among others, Shelley Hirsch); Sang-Won Park and Korean music; Max Eastley's sound sculptures; Derek Bailey (solo and fleetingly with Phil Wachsmann, Steve Noble and Alex Ward); Steve Noble and Alex Ward duo; Nashville musicians including Buddy Emmons; Eugene Chadbourne.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OM - A Concert Review

This band rules. When they came to Montreal a couple of weeks ago they totally melted my brain. I had the perfect glow going, a little weed and some beers, and when they launched into their set, the rumble of the bass rendered any ear plugs useless and committed your body to the drone of illumination.


Me and my friend Matt could not conceal our joy. We were totally ecstatic.

I woke up the next day, I felt like I had taken a really heavy drug. The sound was a powerful psychedelic. After their set the crowd stood in a daze, taking long seconds to realize what had happened.

Walls of bass fuzz, parallel motion, sparse drums, shaker.... so loud the sound moves over you like a wave of water and you're at the mercy of its awesome power... don't resist, relax and become it.

Om fucking slayed!

Check out their side of their split release with Current 93. Great intro to this awesome band. True psychedelic music, no gimmicks.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Omon Ra/Chris D'eon Split Reviewed in The Wire

I have been reading The Wire for the last few years. I remember picking it up and then having to pick up my brains off the floor. It quickly became a very important publication for me. I learned so much from this magazine and continue to do so, so it's a very big honor to be reviewed in the Wire, and by Byron Coley nonetheless!

P.S. Check out our good friends Husband and Knife's review as well! Also on Divorce Records.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Metaphysical Properities of Hair

Hair, it's a beautiful thing. It can make us attracted to one another, it can be the difference of getting that job or not, or in my case, keeping the job, it can help us identify with certain groups, partake in certain rituals, and in some cases even save your life.

Hair is a uniquely human thing, sort of an evolutionary anomaly, and with no real purpose anymore, given the fact that we have clothing to cover ourselves. What it acts now as, is a natural ritual, a way to signify coming of age. It also has a very mystical quality because of this ritual; it gives us individuality or joins us in a group, and it gives divine inspiration.

A Hasidic Jew, notice the long uncut sideburns know as "Payots."

Religions know the power of the hair. You don't have to look very deep into any of the major religion to see followers following sacred rites with regard to their hair-dos. Perhaps hair helps us get into a higher plane of thinking, it might help us get in touch with the "creator," or the muse. As Joseph Campbell states (I know, I am bringing him up a lot lately), elites, shamans, artists, are among the people said to have heard the scriptures. That the artists function in society is to mythologize the environment and the world. That they come from an "elite experience" because they are "particularly gifted," and "whose ears are open to the song of the universe." Or as Anthony Braxton says about music and improvisation, it puts us in direct contact with the creator.

Perhaps hair, helps us "hear" the song of the universe.

Sacred dreadlocks...

A few years ago I had long hair, it was a large commitment upon myself. You go through many bad stages or trials of faith, days where you hair looks horrible and miss-shaped, foolish dye-jobs, girls thinking you're weird, and unemployment. But through it all you're left with an amazing mop and when you're in the business of rock music, like I am, nothing feels better than to be rocking out with head full of long hair!

But in moment of weakness, I cut my hair, and I no longer wore the mark of a rocker, my clothes got more boring, my music got more boring and I had lower self confidence. I found when I was playing guitar on stage and had no idea what to do with myself, I felt naked and awkward; I was giving a bad performance. Thus I didn't perform. The ritual of performing rock music had changed for me, it was no longer as sacred.

About two years ago I vowed to grow my hair long again. I missed it, the feeling of it. I know it can be bothersome, getting hair stuck under the straps of your book-bag, it blowing in your face, its slimy feeling in the shower, taking forever to dry, knots! But I just didn't feel myself without it. When I vowed to grow my hair things turned up, I founded my band Omon Ra and I began writing music that I actually liked and people seemed interested. Was it the hair? Maybe, it's influence can't be denied.

Now thinking of all the famous musicians of the last 50 years, what would they have been if they didn't hair their hair? Elvis without his greaser haircut, how would you have approached him? Would his hips have had the same magical allure? The Beatles without their revolutionary mop? My parents said their hair styles were as revolutionary as the music. Hendrix without his beautiful fro? If he just had a crew cut his mystique would surely not be as magical, maybe you would have never even heard of him.

So the next time you get a hair cut (or tell me or someone to get a hair cut) think of this, it is not merely a $10, a little of the top, boring old nuisance, you are playing with a powerful metaphysical tool! Why do you get the haircut you do and what's it doing for you?

Hair it is a very important to me, it does a lot. I hope it becomes important to you!


Here is a collection of some awesome doos....

Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple looks very cool rocking out with long hair.

King Buzzo's famous Side-Show Bob-esq haircut. How does this hairstyle define his music?

Slash with signature hair and top hat - extension of the metaphysical tool.

As important as having a head full of lush hair is the absence of hair. What does this symbolically represent?

My friend Chris D'eon pictured with his beautiful long locks, he hasn't cut his hair in years. Ask him what hair does for him?

Phil Spector loves hair so much that he bought this amazing frizz-wig! Yes it's a wig, check out his mugshots!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Les Kapital Industrea #2 for Download

Here is the second edition of Les Kapital Industrea, the magazine operated and edited by Matthew Duffy. Hope you enjoy, lots of great articles by some very interesting people!



I sometimes do collages.... I call this one.. "Holy Trinity" or somethin....


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quasar Sax Playing Vivier

Gladly, people seem to have dug the Claude Vivier recordings I posted. Here is the Quasar Sax Quartet playing an arrangement of the composition Pulau Dewata. Quasar Sax are a saxophone quartet from Montreal, they are one of the premier saxophone quartets in the world along with The Rova Saxophone Quartet.


A Couple of Miles Davis Records

I haven't uploaded a record in a while and I was sort of struggling to figure out what to upload. I don't know why found it such a struggle but nothing sort of clicked. I wanted to get out of this funk, so, while perusing my itunes playlist and I came across an album that my friend Jacobo had shown me about five years ago. The album, Miles Davis's Agartha, had a particular effect on my guitar playing, the wailing, fuzzed out guitars of Pete Cosey really blew my mind. His playing really resonated with me, it was like, if you can imagine, an expressionist take on Hendrix, like if all of Hendrix's playing attributes were heightened, the tones and fuzz are more wild, more visceral, even less tamed. In fact the whole album is like this. The band weaves in and out of cosmic jungle jams; at times it's sloppy, it's crazy, but it's always trippy. It's no strange fact that Miles Davis was a huge Hendrix fan, he compared his improvisation skills to that of John Coltrane, and wanted his subsequent guitarists to emulate Jimi's playing style. The Miles Davis bands of the late 60's and early 70's might have sounded like the late Jimi Hendrix's bands had left the songs behind and proceeded to straight jam. It's a Hendrix band on amphetamines along with acid, double the rhythm section, and keep the break neck speeds and jamming going and going.

Miles Davis had a great number of psychedelic jazz-fusion records in the 1960's and 70's, including of course, Bitches Brew, Water Babies, On the Corner, and In a Silent Way. Another interesting album is before Miles went electric, Miles Smiles. This is when you can begin to hear the influence of rock and street music within Miles' music. The young band features Wayne Shorter on Sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, and the rhythm section of Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums, laying down some very funky grooves, at times it's almost four to the floor. These recordings are much tighter and focused than the later more visceral fusion recordings. This style of acoustic funky-jazz reached its apex with the album Filles de Kilimanjaro, before Miles dived full on into the age of electricity and never looked back.

I hope you enjoy these records as much as I have, they are an ever-constant flow of inspiration for me, and I can only hope you will begin to hear the genius of Miles Davis, easily one of the most important musicians of all time.


Friday, October 9, 2009


Today's ever changing musical environment finds an interesting pairing. I am just wondering what the target audience was? Perhaps it's a brave move or just stupid.
It certainly pushes the edges of taste.

PS. Nice shred-tar Lou.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hassan-I-Sabbah X at Casa Del Popolo

Video of Hassan-I-Sabbah X from the September 10th show with Nick Kuepfer and Elfin Saddle. Footage by Jennica Lounsbury.


Monday, October 5, 2009


Photo by China O'Brien

Thank you too those able to attend the Omon Ra show this past weekend as a part of the PopMontreal Festival. Dan was riding with Mr. James Klassen and their van broke down in Quebec city a day before the show. Seeming hopeless and the that the Spirit of Jerry Garcia had finally left, Daniel and James arrived with 20 minutes to spare before our set! And alas we played, our first show in months and it went off without a hitch!

Thanks to Andy March for putting us on the bill, Chris D'eon and Matt Wilson for playing with us, the Pop Winds for letting us use their space, to all the people that rocked out, and to JMZ for getting to the gig on time!!!

Thank you!