Monday, October 17, 2011

In-Between Sounds at The Only Cafe

Where were you on the night of the provincial election? Hunkered down in front the tv with fingers crossed, fearing the worse and hoping for the best? Watching the first NHL game of the season? A bit of both? I sat huddled with a small clutch of east-end noiseniks at the Only Cafe, listening to King Pillowtop and Avery Strok, Marc Cohen and Suzanne Farkas, weaving aural tapestries for the small but ardent gathering.

The evening started with King Pillowtop (Stephen Keeping) layering loops of spoken word over top of granular, textural sounds and pounding dance beats. Central to Pillowtop's performance was a cassette recording of a group prayer session that he had found in a tape deck at Value Village. The recording was made for a mysterious being named Riley. Who is Riley? Throughout the taped session, prayer participants switch back and forth between addressing Riley directly and petitioning the Lord on Riley's behalf. Speaker after speaker address Riley, through stream-of-consciousness prayer, as a "champion" or "champ". In the course of about ten minutes, he is referred to as a warrior or soldier about a hundred times. It's unclear whether Riley is a soldier heading off to war, a baby being baptized, or a dearly departed member of the congregation. There was something urgent and desperate in this strange ritual. And why didn't Riley keep the tape? Did he flee the congregation? Is he dead? Working on Bay Street? The piece moved somewhat toward resolution in it's last few minutes with some melodic flute (I think) mixed into the sonic stew.

After a short break, Avery Strok (who usually performs along with Richard Vainio as Lorde Awesome), accompanied by Marc Cohen on drums and Suzanne Farkas on flute and voice, took the stage (floor really). Using recordings from his earlier solo work as the base for the performance, Avery set the tone by layering synth drones over the recorded tracks. Marc provided minimalist percussive accents on his electronic drum kit, which was being run through a Boss digital delay pedal while Suzanne's ethereal sheets of echoing flute wove through the whole shimmering sonic tapestry and pulled it together like golden thread. The music was by turns; magical, dreamy, other-wordly, cosmic and ambient.

Avery Strok is the mastermind behind the In-Between Sounds series, which takes place the first Thursday of every month at the Only Cafe on Danforth Ave. Most months, Lorde Awesome holds down the fort with an experimental electronic jam session that often includes guests such as Cymbl (Richard Baker) and Rick Hicks. Each month a musical guest is invited to perform a set, then join Lorde Awesome in a collective jam.

Every month is different. Last month, Bonecreak Ulysses II (that's myself and Marc Cohen) played a set. Marc joined Lorde Awesome and Rick Hicks for an epic, non-stop, hour long marathon set that just kept getting louder and faster. I slipped in at the 30 minute mark. Just when I thought things were slowing down and getting ready to land, it just got wilder. As mountain bikers say, it was "epic". Lorde Awesome opens for Hans-Joachim Roedelius tonight at The Garrison.