Manticore, Mind over Mirrors, Koen Holtkcamp @ Geary Lane debut show!

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Geary Lane is a brand new venue tucked away in the heart of the Bloor/Symington/Geary rehearsal space neighbourhood.  The space shows big promise as the future site of a number of experimental and avant-garde concerts in the Pitchfork vein of music being hosted by the Man Finds Fire crew.

Thursday night, talent shone brightly in the dark space as Manticore, Koen Holtkamp (of  experimental group Mountains) and Mind over Mirrors (both from Brooklyn and on the Thrill Jockey label) lit up the room with their wavering tones. The night was a huge success and I wish the promoters well in their future endeavours! Toronto is always hungry for new venue spaces and this one should do nicely. See my recap of the eve below!

While I missed the opener, Manticore (locals Zoe Alexis-Abrams & David Jones), their name inspires much awe, as the mythical beast with the head of a lion, the tail of a snake and wings of a dragon. In western speak, manticore is also an expression used to describe a mishmash or combination of various  parts all fitting together, and I can only imagine their performance was something of that nature.

Koen (pronounced keen) is “one-half of the post-kosmische duo Mountains. As a solo artist, Holtkamp crafted the most elaborate and varied record in the Mountains discography, 2008′s Field Rituals, which found him obfuscating field recordings though erosion and effects, then playing symphonic and folksy guitar and keyboard parts over them. He has a strong mastery of this dreamy kind of tuneful-meets-experimental ambient music, which makes it easy to recommend it. Just kill the lights, lay back, and float away. ”  His show was accompanied by engaging visuals of burning fireplaces and winter nature scenes that came in and out of focus while most of the audience took to laying down on the pleasantly carpeted parquet flooring and let their minds drift away, as catharses were released by his spectral loops and tones.

Here’s a pic of his mind boggling synth set up. So many wires!10252138_10154052286155296_8686199794615592518_n

 


Closing the night was Mind Over Mirrors.  I was very excited to see the use of an experimental harmonium but for some reason, it was out of sight, at least, in the dark, and I only saw a man behind a cluster of panels. Turns out it was there all along, but I’m used to seeing the hand operated style from my various yoga and meditation classes, and this was the pedal-operated style.

MIND OVER MIRRORS is the “solitary reeling of American harmoniumist/electronicist Jaime Fennelly. Utilizing an Indian pedal harmonium, oscillators, tape delays, and an assortment of synthesizing processors, Fennelly bends slowly-building, repetitive melodies into massive sonic mountains. What makes Fennelly’s work rise above homage is his use of Indian pedal harmonium, which cuts through his web of tape delays and synths and gives “Storing the Winter” a singular timbre.”

How To Drink Snake Blood in Vietnam And 101 Other Things Every Interesting Man Should Know

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Having grown up in Paris, traveled the Middle East a number of times, and even lived in Taipei for a year, I’d like to think that I’m a fairly well-rounded worldly person — an “interesting man” as the book title suggests.

While I haven’t absorbed a large mass of new information, I’m have been thoroughly entertained by the knowledge and illustrations, and and who doesn’t enjoy that extra validation, confirming that, yes, you are indeed “an interesting man”?

Not to say that I’m truly a know-it-all.  I absorbed a few new tidbits here and there thanks to the late-20something author, Gareth May.  I now know some of the worlds top nude beaches and resorts (Germany has always had a very liberal view towards nudity), how to make the most of a mile high club experience (and not get caught, or lines to use in case you do),  and enjoyed rough instructions on how to eat fatty camel hump. Probably the most interesting chapter to catch my attention is a four page instructional on Fijian kava rituals.  I’ve tried kava before but forgot that it was part of Pacific Islander tradition.

This is the perfect book to bring on a road trip, or a busy environment where you might be interrupted frequently like, the crapper, or working as an extra on film sets, if that’s your bag.  It’s easy to flip through pages and discover new information at every glance.

I love that there are still publishers out there like Ulysses Press printing these kinds of books.  Despite the overwhelming amount of information available online in endless listicles, the sad matter is that they don’t often enough see the eyes of a skilled editor, (or writer for that matter).

How to Drink Snake Blood in Vietnam: And 101 Other Things Every Interesting Man Should Know is essentially a travel guide chock filled with tasty tidbits of information that you will not get in the Lonely Planets books or any other.  If you’re planning an around the world tour and are still unsure on how to navigate certain regions of the globe or just love filling your brain with useful useless factoids then I highly recommend it.

Charenza – Shoes 4 Cats!

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Mo Kolours – Self Titled – Album Stream

You can tell that if an artist has been taken under the Gilles Peterson wing, then they are generally bound for success.  Mo Kolours who was recognized for what I’m calling a Pacific Islander Future Funk Tropicalia blend, is no exception.  With a Mauritanian Sega drum beat (Sega being the countries national music style, not to be confused with the video game company) as the subtext, Mo takes his production into very listenable lo-fi territories with some worldly aspects.

Mo Kolours is a half-Mauritian, half-English producer, singer and percussionist. On his self-titled debut album he displays dazzling inventiveness and joyous spirit – unsurprising for someone raised on the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Lee Perry and A Tribe Called Quest while remaining ever curious about his Indian Ocean roots. 

The album Mo Kolours follows a trilogy of EPs for One-Handed Music that mixed soul, dub, hip-hop, various electronic styles and the Sega music native to Mauritius. Recognising Mo’s singular voice Gilles Peterson invited him to Maida Vale Studios to record a live session for the BBC before his first EP had even hit the shelves. Now Mo counts the likes of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Friendly Fires’ Jack Savidge among his fans. 

There’s an exotic appeal to Mo Kolours and his music but there’s also something very British about this record. Mo Kolours follows in the footsteps of UK artists who have synthesised a variety of imported styles and added the indelible stamp of our rainy island, from The Specials and Cymande (who receive a tribute here in the form of Mike Black) to Massive Attack and Mala. His humour reveals an idiosyncratic Britishness too, as when he shouts out forgotten budget rides such as the Datsun Sunny on Play It Loud (In Your Car) or titles his ominous environmental warning Natural Disasters Wish List. 

There’s plenty of seriousness here though, from his reimagining of dance music on Afro Quarters to his remarkable rhythmic production prowess: witness the irresistible funk of Say Word or the nagging steel drum hook on lead single and live favourite Little Brown Dog. 

This album introduces a generous and endlessly creative talent to the world at large. And, as with his mesmerising live show, Mo Kolours doesn’t just give us a glimpse of the path less travelled but also offers us the fruits of his labours along the way.

 

 

Flim – Mind Control

 

 

Frenetic, psychedelic, and dark are just some of the ways to describe Flim’s dissonant anthem, Mind Control, the title track of this neuromancing 5-track EP.

Set over a rolling baseline and hard-hitting hi-hat, Flim’s fractured voice decries: “I am not a magic man”, in his native Thai, clashing beautifully with the otherworldly synth that sounds out across the track as it reaches into the dark recesses of the imagination.

Flim’s original is followed by four superb remixes led by Skymate, of Umek’s 1605 label, whose signature hardgroove techno style creates a dj friendly funk that will compel partiers hands to the air. Canadian producer, Benny Knox, uses a hard thundering kick to create a driving psychedelic experience that never stops pounding the brain. The EP also features the return of France’s HDRX to Maetta, who delivers a dark remix which combines droning pads with a deep bassline to create a digital world both pleasant and disturbing as it penetrates your skull. Similar things can be said for Von Pixel’s rendition, where he’s created a truly digitalized soundscape that forces neurons into a glitchy, Gibson-esque universe to exist in.

Flim might not be a magic man, but this dark and techy EP is magic enough.

Fire In Cairo – YYZ Living (print)

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Garden City Movement – Move On

Israeli direction! Mmmm.

Directed by well-known Israeli actor and rapper/musician Michael Moshonov and Lael Utnik, the video’s stunning cinematography captures a beautifully directed love story between two emotionally drawn, young females.  Romantic scenes of the girls on the beach at dusk fit perfectly against the song’s warm electronic and trip-hop melodies and ”hushed, intertwined vocals” as Pitchfork describes. 
 
Moshonov expresses, “The video was made with love. In today’s progressive world, it’s still hard for people to accept love between the same sex. This clip goes to show exactly that. It also shows that even if a heart is broken it was still worth feeling love even if it was too short.”
 
‘Move On’ is from GCM’s debut EP ‘Entertainment’, which was released on BLDG5 (download for free via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GardenCityMovement/app_220150904689418) . This Spring, Garden City Movement will be opening for Cults (April 6th in Tel-Aviv, Israel) and will be releasing a new EP.  

Monster Truck – The Lion

 

I’m featured in the new Monster Truck music video “The Lion”. The video had an exclusive release on BILLBOARD MAG! Hell yeah!!! Thanks so much to the crew at Collider Films for a great time on set. 

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Rising hard rockers Monster Truck roll on with a string of North American tour dates and a crunching new track, “The Lion.”

The Canadian newcomers are coming off a thundering start in their homeland, where they won breakthrough group of the year at the 2013 Juno Awards. They’ve since toured with the likes of Kid Rock, Slash, Guns ‘n Roses, Sevendust, and won the respect of many more. Alice In Chains’ Mike Inez is one confirmed fan, describing the outfit as “the real deal.”

Another U.S. live push is coming. But first, the group has pounced with the video for “The Lion,” a light-hearted look at a down-on-his-luck guitarist.

The band mates arrived at the idea of shooting a narrative video for “The Lion” while on tour. Marc Riccardelli, the director, came up with the story, which is full of guitar worship and has its odd, kinky moment.

“The redeeming moment is his getting a call to play a solo on the new Monster Truck song as featured in the clip,” bass player and lead vocalist Jon Harvey tells Billboard. “We liked the idea and suggested our good friend Paul Spence (FUBAR) to play the lead. We are all pleased with the end results.”

The song is the follow-up to “Sweet Mountain River,” lifted from the band’s Dine Alone Records release “Furiosity.” The album is in the hunt for rock album of the year at the Juno Awards, to be held March 30 in Winnipeg.

Monster Truck will support Alter Bridge for an 11-date tour run beginning April 14 in Dallas, followed by an arena trek with Alice In Chains starting May 6.

Monster Truck was formed in Ontario by Harvey, Jeremy Widerman (guitar, vocals), Brandon Bliss (organ, vocals) and Steve Kiely (drums, vocals). The group has also released two EPs, “Monster Truck” and “The Brown EP”.

The City of Toronto Forced the Foundry Festival to Relocate – THUMP

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News dropped last night that Mansion Productions’ much-hyped Foundry music festival (which THUMP has already called “Canada’s Most Interesting Underground Dance Series”) would not be held at the abandoned Tower Automotive building at 158 Sterling Road. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the 416/647, Sterling is a largely industrial strip of Toronto that’s long been contested as a potential spot for new condos—which has generated a collective groan from many people in the surrounding community. Currently, Sterling is full of independent art galleries and recording studios, and as an added bonus, the air smells like chocolate, thanks to the Nestle factory.

Anyway, in what came as unfortunate news for Mansion and electronic music fans alike, City of Toronto officials denied Mansion’s permit at the last minute, due to a zoning bylaw issue, despite months of talks with Building and Fire departments, along with thousands of dollars sank in for engineering consulting costs, and construction efforts (like the addition of new fire escape doors), to accommodate Mansion’s crowds.

It’s important to note that Foundry isn’t a last minute affair thrown together by inexperienced promoters. According to City Councilor Ana Bailao: “It’s really disappointing, the applicants worked really hard. I had a lot of meetings. I tried to help as much as possible. Nothing happens at the Tower Automotive, it would have been great to reuse the space for at least three weekends. They worked hard and spent a lot of energy to make sure that they had a plan.”

While the Sapporo sponsored series featuring talent like Four TetCarl CraigDJ Harvey, ShigetoBlue Hawaii, and many others, has been saved and relocated to the familiar space of 99 Sudbury. Plainly stated, it’s a huge bummer that the City stepped in to shut down Mansion’s plan to party in the abandoned venue, which would have made the party atmosphere even more exciting.

In light of Toronto’s new Music City: 4479 partnership with Austin, TX—which was supposedly forged to make throwing unique music events much more accessible, among other initiatives—one would think that the City would be more supportive of a three week long music series. Clearly, they have a lot more work to do when it comes to partnering with the promoters who make Toronto’s music scene so awesome.

In an official statement by Nancy Chen, Mansion’s co-founder, the promoters carefully expressed their disappointment regarding the City’s decision: “We, more than anyone, understand how incredibly excited everyone was to be able to experience the incredible line-up of forward-thinking artists at such a unique venue… We hope that one day in the near future, we will be allowed to take greater creative risks in a city that we love so much. For now, we hope that everyone will still support our cause by making this year’s Foundry one of the best dance series yet, and in the meantime move the city one step forward in the right direction for music lovers.”

Jeff Cohen, Chair of Toronto Music Advisory Council, and owner of Collective Concerts, wants to see more action from the city as well. “I’d like to see the city get a proper music office created with a working staff that could fast track music event applications. And tell event organizers perhaps before they ticket an event, if a space is likely to be suitable, not a week before an event is due to take place.” While Jeff’s comments do inspire some sort of confidence, in reality, Mansion found out about their cancelation two days before the festival was set to begin.

THUMP also spoke to Randy McLean, the Commissioner of Film, TV and Digital Media who is taking on an official leadership role with the music program, Music City. He’s currently in SXSW as the only official City delegate pushing Toronto’s music scene in Austin. He provided us with this general statement: “One of the first things they will be tasked is to look at various rules, regulations and permits, and the ways we conduct business to make the city more ‘music and musician friendly.’ Not everything changes that quickly with zoning rules and regulations, but Toronto city council is always behind a good initiative.”

With files from Slava Pastuk.

Jesse Ship is a freelance writer in Toronto and former Junos Juror. You can find him at @Jesse_Ship

Written by: Jesse Ship

Mar 13 2014

A Look at the Doi Chaang Coffee Company – ViewTheVibe

When the isolated Akha tribes people of Northern Thailand were ordered to trade in their opium crops for coffee beans by the Thai Royal Commission, they probably did not realize how fair a trade they were given. Until recently, Thailand was never thought of as a coffee nation, but due to a unique series of events and their partnership with the Vancouver-based Doi Chaang Coffee Co., they’ve been able to radically turn their lives around.

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What started with modest beginnings in the mid-80s has become a champion in the global coffee market thanks to unique mountain growing conditions and a lucky high grade Arabica bean. And then there was the help from the recently departed Wicha Promyong, a wealthy Thai philanthropist with monkish leanings. Promyong got to know the remote hill tribe, which was living in poverty, through his antique trading expeditions. He noticed that despite the excellent coffee beans they were growing, they were getting low-balled by local buyers who knew that they weren’t going to make the six-hour trek back to their village with their goods. Promyong encouraged them to form a co-op so they could have better bargaining power, and gave them other business tips.

Not surprisingly, he eventually became president of the organization in Thailand and partnered with John Darch of Vancouver, a former business exec looking for his next venture. John helped fund the company and together they helped create what has become a wildly successful chain of Thai coffee houses with over 200 shops in Thailand alone and plans for expansion across Asia. It also helps that the prestigious Coffee Review has ranked Doi Chaang Coffee over 91%; that’s a few percentile above some Starbucks roasts.

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The coolest part is that unlike many so called ‘fair trade’ coffee deals, the Akha tribe keeps 50% of their earnings which are re-invested into their once destitute village – which now even accommodates eco-tours so you can see the whole coffee plantation process, stay at a bed and breakfast, and have your motorcycle fixed, just in case that’s how you roll through the jungle.

Doi Chaang has recently expanded their serious coffee drinker Single Origin line (found in upmarket shops like Harrods UK and on Winners shelves if you’re lucky!), with a new series of colourful blends with fun names like Chillin’ and Espress-Yoself that have just launched at Ontario locations of FreshCo. Hopefully more fair trade coffee companies are willing to take the lead and give more to the growers who dedicate their lives to their crops.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for your last trip to Thailand, or just like a great story to go with your morning brew, then this is a great coffee for you!