Sunday, 20 December 2009

Eye Weekly review of show with Nadja

Decent review of the show, I don't think he really got what Nick and I we're doing with some of the less palpable elements of our set ("unnecessary electro noise"?, "video game noises"??) but he enjoyed the rest at least.

Nadja @ the Tranzac Club, Dec. 17
With Adam Saikaley, Gardenia

By Chris Bilton December 18, 2009 14:12

Forget about all the talk of the death of physical formats in music. Nadja is single-handedly keeping both CDs and vinyl alive with their copious releases — somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 this year, including the just-released Pyramids collaboration. A quick scan of their merch table at Thursday night’s Tranzac show reveals five or six records and almost a dozen discs. But with bands like Sunn O))) and Boris as inspiration, the drone/doom scene has always been about limited editions and special pressings and, to a large extent, collectors’ items. Consequently, Nadja is the perfect band for noisenik hobbyists.

While opening act Adam Saikaley doesn’t have any discs to sell, he’s certainly fit for this scene. Playing his first Toronto gig, the Ottawa artist crafts a handful of overlapping tone pulses into hypnotic dronescapes that make your entire head resonate as if your skull is a perfectly designed echo chamber that Saikaley is piping his music into directly. Essentially, they're the kind of sounds you’d expect to hear in a mind-control experiment. Saikaley seems to produce this distinctive palette using three VCRs playing tapes which are then manipulated with slight knob-twiddling. It all sounds a bit like that nauseating, frequency freak-out track “How Will We Know? (Futuristic Crashendos)” on The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka, except, in a twisted way, more fun.

Bryan Walker’s set alongside Nick Storring — the latter of I Have Eaten the City and Picastro fame — starts off beautifully with swirling mix of guitar feedback and cello scraping noises that’s like the house music from inside an ice castle. Billed as Gardenia, the duo is ethereal and all-consuming, especially once Storring starts introducing snippets of cello melodies and the self-manipulating through various electronic loops. Things take a turn for the worse when industrial electronics filter in beneath video-game noises that sound straight out of Yar’s Revenge. This improves during a cello solo that’s treated with enough effects to make it impossibly breathy (almost like a pan flute), and then again we descend into more unnecessary electro noise.

Local (but often-on-tour) duo Nadja take the stage quickly in order to get their set in under the wire of the Tranzac’s 11pm curfew, which makes for a bit of a muddy start. But the brief blast of sub-par sound is worth enduring once we’re all blanketed in guitar tones as thick as a woolly mammoth’s hide. The second track — a cover of A-Ha’s “When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV” from Nadja’s covers record of the same name — is probably the catchiest thing you will ever hear them play. Which is not to say it’s not brutally heavy — or rather what Jayson Greene’s Pitchfork review likened to a chopped and screwed shoegaze record (“screw-gaze,” though I prefer doom-pop). Last up is a weighty slab of straight up doom-gaze, with Leah Buckareff playing bowed bass and Baker hashing out some hyper-fuzzed leads. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the set definitely leaves the audience hungry for more Nadja. Thankfully, the merch table is well stocked.


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