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Electric Independence

11 DAYS OF ELECTRONICAMention the words Montreal music Festival and most people think of standing around the (in)famous Jazz Fest with a bunch of middle age yuppies watching a half assed caricature of a once revolutionary music. Alain...
December 1, 2001, 12:00am





Mention the words Montreal music Festival and most people think of standing around the (in)famous Jazz Fest with a bunch of middle age yuppies watching a half assed caricature of a once revolutionary music. Alain Mongeau and the other programmers at the FCMM (Montreal’s New Cinema and New Media Festival) are trying to change all that. On a mission to bring something “surprising, unique and provocative” to the festival (now in its 30th year), it boasts 200 Titles, 41 countries over 11 days and is representin’ Montreal on a worldwide scale. With over 20 live shows and 50 bleeding-edge sound artists, the program guide to the music portion of the festival looked like a who’s who in minimal and experimental techno. International labels like Touch, Perlon, Force Inc., and Schematic were representin’ over the course of the festival, and local Montreal artists Stephen Beaupre, Deadbeat, Jetone and Akufen rocked their laptops like nobody’s business. The week started not so much with a bang but more with a break, as Dimensional Holofonic Sound cut up the beats in an A/V nerd stylee à la Coldcut and EBN. The next night saw a veritable IDM soundclash as Jetone’s drone-y granular ambience gave way to schizophonic wunderkind Kid 606, who mashed up the place with his hits of the 80s, 90s, and today meets Rotterdam Gabbercore in a dark alley on rohypnol. Don’t ask him why he’s throwing beer on the crowd, he’s too busy blowing up the spot! Next up came perhaps the most inspiring show of the whole festival. Hip hop future thinkers Anti-Pop Consortium brought it down a notch (after Kid 606, playing a jackhammer, would also be bringing it down a notch) and jammed through an hour’s worth of their tunes. Part improvisation, part analogue tomfoolery, but always in the pocket, their relaxed approach to music was more reminiscent of early Afrika Bambaataa and late Sun Ra than the crystal-clean production of a P Diddy or Jay-Z. Earlier that same evening I had the pleasure of witnessing Montreal’s The User make 20-dot matrix printers click and whirr like a remix of Thomas Brinkmann in their “Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers”. Two days later came perhaps the most entertaining show of the week, as German “devil in god’s clothes” Felix Kubin delivered a kitschy crack-head cabaret, complete with gold lamé spacesuit and Casio synthesizer. Between his witty banter and hilarious gay-ass choreography, Kubin rocked the Casio and Tiger organ in what can only be described as an hour and a half of Electronic Psycho Sci-Fi Pop. Hi-lights for the evening included a tribute to phonebashing ( and a creepy-ass German Existential rendition of “Hello” by Lionel Richie (Hello? Is it me I’m looking for…), as well as his latest single “Jet Lag Disco” (@musik) and his collaboration with Finnish Casio-core surf-rockers Aavikko (Diskono). After the next night of technical difficulties (Perlon’s Markus Nikolai’s sampler kept crashing, doh!) and two great nights NOT featuring Austrian master of texture Fennesz and Sweden’s “structured, intelligent, serious and funky” Hakan Lidbo (both chickened out about their flight over…double doh!) and a slightly m-e-h show by Rechenzentrum, the week rounded off with a banging San Fran/Force Inc. showcase. Twerk, Sutekh and the most excellent Safety Scissors (who’s New Wave minimal-tech/electro set got the crowd completely apeshit) wringed out what little energy the capacity crowd had left, rocking the party ‘til the breaka breaka. From bleeps to beats, chin-scratching to booty-shakin’, the FCMM had everything a techno junkie could wish for and was fully on point with the next next.

Speaking of the next next, new shit from Canadian analog purist Solvent (aka Jason Amm) on German imprint Morr Music. With playful melodies cascading over analog beats, Solvent City (Morr) plays out not as wannabe bandwagon retro kitsch, but as a genuine homage and extrapolation of 80’s synth pop. Who says New Wave robots don’t have feelings?

From “new wave” to “no wave,” the East Village scene in the early 80s may have been one of the most creative times in the history of New York music. The artists and riff-raff that gathered at the now-famous Mudd Club went on to become some of the most influential names in the avant garde art world. Brian Eno, Arto Lindsay, John Lurie, Jean Michel Basquiat and Jim Jarmusch where only a few that found a welcoming stage there. Anti NY (Gomma) is a new CD compiling some rare releases from that short-lived period. 7 original tracks, including the massive disco electro punk bomb “If I Gave You A Party” by Sexual Harrassment (eat your heart out Chicks On Speed), as well as Drum Mode from Basquiat’s band Gray (an instrumental prototype to the current Chicago sound) and tracks from Rammelzee (who had that future flow locked down way before Del and AntiPop) and Jim Jarmusch’s band The Del/Byzanteens. Also on the disc are 5 remixes of the tracks by the likes of German glitch hoppers Funkstorung, Paul Mogg and Munk. Seek it out.

New York isn’t the only city with a rich musical past. Chicago has given birth to it’s own brand of the blues, house, and jazz. Currently with it’s established avant rock scene Chicago is also experiencing a bit of a renaissance. One of the labels on the forefront of that movement is Kranky. With highly acclaimed releases by Labradford and Godspeed You Black Emperor! Kranky is constantly walking the line of experimental organic and electronic music. Their next release features Canadian Scott Morgan (aka Loscil), whose Triple Point album is an exercise in subtle, understated electronics. Based on the concepts of thermodynamics, the softly pounding melodies are at once both liquid and solid. Drawing on influences as varied as Henry Mancini and Gavin Bryars, Loscil’s work with film scoring and sense of the dramatic is evident. Keep your eye on this guy.

Send promos to Electric Independence c/o Raf + Vince, 264 Ste Catherine O. Montreal, Quebec Canada H2X 2A1