Friday, December 21, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - December 19/07

I'd have blogged about this weeks ago, but I was hoping a better quality image would turn up. As it is, the rough and rugged colour photocopy on my CDR copy is somehow appropriate to the music within.

I'm a latecomer to this thrilling and deranged band. Those deeper (and darker and more united) into the scene formerly known as Torontopia have already lionized Alex Lukashevsky's band as one of the truly unique sounds of this city. How fitting that Rat Drifting - home to so many strange visions in songcraft - should be releasing this. This marvellous live album has pop songs at its core, complete with catchy rhymes, whose basic progressions are exploded by the improv-minded band. The balance between songs and freakouts gets perilous at times but is always maintained.

It doesn't hurt that the band contains a few of my favourite musicians in Toronto. Ryan Driver is someone I've written about before at length, and here he sticks largely to synthesizer (though also chiming in on flute and ruler-bass). Nonetheless, between his synth tones, Brodie West's sympathetic sax squawks and Tania Gill's keyboard sounds, there's a great din happening at around 1K Hz in all these songs. It's difficult to tell who's doing what, and we like it that way - Lukashevsky's guitar tones (which sounds - probably just a coincidence - like main Rat Drifter Eric Chenaux) play the Ornette role in this music, corralling the musicians into changes, stating and modifying the main themes as he goes. Speaking of Ornette, I'd call this music harmolodic, although rooted in pop, not jazz. 'Harmolodic' is a term that I probably use too frequently, but it's a good description of the give and take between the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic (and textural) elements within these songs.

Can't write about this disc without a tip of the hat to Nick Fraser, who is the funkiest drummer in Toronto not playing funk.

This was my final show of the year, rounding up some of my favourites from 2007. It was by no means systematic or ranking-oriented (one might say I have "ranking dread") - I had to leave one or two of my faves at home simply because I couldn't track down the damn paper sleeves. Do I go more digital next year? Consulting my magic '08 ball, all I get is: "reply hazy, try again"...

Hour 1 Podcast
Hour 2 Podcast

izdiucz - thilges (staubgold)
downstairs - nublu orchestra (nublu)
kirui - co streiff sextet (intakt)
rug boy - claudia quintet (cuneiform)
the alien - ananda shankar (fallout)
mera nam hai shabnam - asha bhosle/r.d. burman (bombay connection)
are you tired of me already? - thongmark leacha (sublime frequencies)
feso jaiye - the sahara all stars of jos (soundway)
imidiwan winakalin - tinariwen (harmonia mundi)
ma hine cocore - vieux farka toure remix by yossi fine (modiba)
cachaca - juba dance (audio 8)
elsa - los destellos (barbes)
masterpiece - deep city band (numero)
thunder - lord thunder (vampisoul)
family tree - sandro perri (constellation)
blues for a bright day - drumheller (rat drifting)
sweet misery - tony wilson/peggy lee/jon bentley (drip audio)
was - michel f cote (ambiances magnetiques)
i saved a junky once - deep dark united (rat drifting)
light of day - lal (PTR)
casa diamante - maracatu nunca antes (no label)
evolution - treson & burna (canadian reggae world)
favi rock - abassi all stars (universal egg)
version galore - love trio and u roy (nublu)
nine years - ticklah (easy star)
cumbia del leon - the lions (ubiquity)
peace version - brentford disco set (soul jazz)
how can i leave you/one love - heptones (heartbeat)

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