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  • Matter and Emotion: Myriam Boucher’s Waves of Sound and Light

    • Miriam Boucher is an electroacoustics artist.  Courtesy Pierre-Luc Lecours

    It is possible to feel wind and water upon your skin in the stillness of a concert hall.

    And it is possible to ride such drifts up into the air, down into the earth, and through its crust to another world altogether — through the frame of sound art, that is.

    I have expressed my opinion about the subliminal potential of electroacoustics before in an article on Akousma. I am not outside myself, though, when immersed in the work of Myriam Boucher.

    Rather, I am very much within my body. I experience something intangible, yet so mesmerizing it feels real.

    I’d like to see the substances around me similarly: those fragments of ice outside my door, or those grey clouds about to release snow, that drop of water in the bottom of my glass —- but they do not exist as pixels or sound waves.

    Boucher, however, transforms natural and banal objects into fantastical, living phenomena. They shake your eardrums, make your skin tingle, and fill your heart with warmth. I had the opportunity to see her latest video-music piece, Nuées, at Akousma XIII in October. It delivered the textures and momentum of birds in flight.

    “Excerpt of Boucher’s “Nuées”

    Nuées (extraits) from Myriam Boucher on Vimeo.

    “We played a lot with timbre, instruments, effects and synthesizer guitar pedals,” Boucher said. “I told myself, “Wow! It’s really fun, to play with sound this way, more so with textures and effects.”

    Boucher began with classical piano, then jazz, and finally post-rock.That’s when she heard about electroacoustics. She began researching the field, listening to notable electroacoustic musicians like Louis Dufort and Hans Tutschku.

    Her interest only grew, leading her to pursue a BA in electroacoustics at Université de Montréal, studying video art creation through visual music courses. This caused Boucher to leave behind post-rock for a time.

    Boucher feels no ambivalence about fusing video with sound pieces.

    Creating video entailed the use of similar programs as those used in post-rock and electroacoustics. Boucher was able to approach video as she did musical composition, through a visual interface. She adopts the same approach today as when she began, fleshing out timelines concurrently, and by placing elements into digital frames side by side.

    Surprisingly, Boucher denies the title of cinematographer or visual artist. “It’s like matter for me,” she said.

    There is an enormous fluidity to Boucher’s work that is mesmerizing to the eyes. Elements within her pieces move in synchronisation with the waves of sound.

    “Excerpt of Boucher’s “Cités”

    Cités _excerpt from Myriam Boucher on Vimeo.

    Her work, evocative in its dynamism, brings its audience close to something akin to feeling multiple emotions all at once. Forms within her pieces will shift from solid to liquid, fragment to wave, their digital origins easily forgotten. They become organic, relatable.

    “What I want to do is to kind of evoke emotions,” says Boucher. “I’ll be drawn to a material, for instance last year with birds. I was really drawn by the sound of flapping wings and was observing birds a lot and altogether this evoked a lot of emotions for me.”

    Structure, form and matter are not limitations for Boucher, however. She uses what she needs until the path presents itself to her.

    “In electroacoustics, it always begins with a flash, a sound,” Boucher explained. “Something that I love or like that is truly evocative for me — and I begin from there.”

    Boucher said that she records sound and gathers video footage, not knowing what her end result will be. Her unpredictable process reveals its gems by the end, though.

    “Approaching visual and audio material is very experimental,” Boucher said. “It’s not planned out in advanced. Sometimes I film and strange things emerge and I tell myself, ‘This is really beautiful.’”

    Boucher reacts with us, prior to our experiences with her work. She takes in the world and brings aspects of it to the foreground of our mind.

    Dec. 8th // 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. // Tanna Schulich Hall, New Music Building // 527 Sherbrooke St. W.

  • A Not-So-Austere Crash Course in Anti-Austerity

    Music was pouring from the Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre space, bubbling out of the Morrice Hall on McTavish St.

    Alysa Touati, Summer Mahmud, and Sarah Mitchell—otherwise known as The Rosemary Disrupt—set the tone. Mitchell on bass and Touati on guitar harmonized together to the beat of Mahmud on the drums, making for some chill pre-show vibes.

    The Fishbowl Collective, comprised of Hannah Kaya and Connor Spencer, have joined forces with Tuesday Night Cafe for the first time. The two McGill students have been working on a theatrical adaptation of Caytee Lush’s “What the Fuck am I Doing Here—An Anti-Folk Opera” since September. On Nov. 16, their efforts finally came to fruition.

    Walking into the performance space, I felt like I had stumbled upon the beginnings of a Montreal protest. Along the walls were signs that read “À la rue MTL pour la gratuité scolaire,” and other phrases meant to invoke a rise to action.
    There were no chairs for us to sit on. Instead, there was carpeting and a number of pillows, giving the room a warm and safe atmosphere.

    In a previous interview with The Link, Spencer and Kaya explained that this was the kind of atmosphere they were aiming for. “We want to create a space where people can actively participate in the storytelling and feel safe,” Connor said of the cozy space.

    The performance itself served as a platform to inform its audience of the anti-austerity movement that has been active in Concordia and McGill since late 2014.

    Whether or not you’re versed in political jargon, the information that was shared during the performance was easy to comprehend. And in the form of music, it kept us intrigued.

    The play followed the story of a young woman getting involved in the 2012 student protests. The Rosemary Disrupt belted out songs such as “Part-Time Waitress, Part-Time Revolutionary” and “Betrayal.”

    Meanwhile, the performers coaxed participation from their audience, either by getting us to sing along to the choruses, or by standing up and playing the part of a student activist or a stuck up government worker.

    Taking us back to 2012—when the student movement began its largest-ever general strike against the spike in tuition—to present day, the show was a crash course in anti-austerity and why it’s important to know about it. Spencer aptly described it as “neoliberalism on steroids.”

    Not only was anti-austerity explained, but also what it means to be an anarchist and what actions one would take to achieve their goals. It’s not just about guns a-blazin’ and violent actions, but rather breaking things down and rebuilding it from the bottom up.

    At one point, the performers gave us a quick rundown on “cassarollin’”—a movement in which students and community members took to residential streets after being restricted from protests downtown. With pots and pans in hand, the protesters banged around with spoons in order to cause a ruckus.

    We were encouraged to pick up some of the pots and spoons that were scattered around the space, joining the performers in their chant with a noise of our own.

    Although I wasn’t a part of cassarollin’ when it actually happened, something resonated with me. I wanted to help the cause and bang my pots with the protesters.

    TNC’s “What the Fuck Am I Doing Here—An Anti-Folk Opera” was an informative and fun show. But most importantly, it reminds us that the fight isn’t over yet. We still have to rally together and make our voices heard.

    “We have power in our numbers, voices, and even in this room,” Touati exclaimed. “Things aren’t gonna stay rosy for us. We have to keep our eyes peeled and remain conscientious.”

    _What the Fuck Am I Doing Here? // Nov. 16-19 and 23-26 // Morrice Hall (3485 McTavish St.) Doors open at 7:45 p.m. // PWYC

  • Review: The Kills Heat Things Up at POP Montreal

    • Alison Mossheart being her usual rad self—just look at that messy rockstar hair! Photo courtesy Louis Longpre

    • The Kills rocking out on Wednesday at Metropolis. Photo courtesy Louis Longpre

    Hot and cold references aside, The Kills’ newest album, Ash & Ice, is anything but lukewarm.

    In fact, the band is alive and well and as vital as ever.

    Their showmanship at Metropolis on Wednesday night—an intricate, electrically charged fusion of playfulness, commitment, sincerity, and rocker nonchalance—was further proof that the band hasn’t reached a bump in the road.

    Over the course of their career, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have taken us for a ride through their home turf: musical graveyards. They’ve visited the headstones of 60’s and 70’s rock ‘n’ roll riffs, 80’s punk jams, and synthy 2000’s bass lines.

    It seems referencing the past is an integral part of how The Kills manage to cultivate their distinct sound. According to a 2009 interview for The Stranger, they even chose their name because it “sounded like a band that could exist in any decade.”

    The duo’s songs act as memento mori that showcase their widespread influences and illustrate the ephemerality of life. Their lyrics are studded with allusions to fleeting moments and impermanence, from “U.R.A Fever,” a Midnight Boom—a 2008 anthem with atypical rhythms that mimics the erratic nature of passing time—to “Doing it to Death,” Ash & Ice’s emblematic single, which evokes California decadence.

    The concert opener, “Heart of a Dog,” was a tune fresh off the new album that wants to be listened to as much as its subject, who wails: “I’m loyal, oh oh, I’m loyal.” The song immediately established a communion between The Kills and their singing fans. Symbolically, the melded voices incarnated what is, to date, a shared, 15-year musical journey.

    The setlist also called attention to the uncertainty, pain, and passion of life’s milestones, as well as to The Kills’ expert ability to guide us through the whirlwind towards calmer waters. After a devilish half-hour of pyrotechnical performance—mesmerizing strutting, slinking, and head banging, coupled with skillful guitar bravado—Mosshart returned to the stage, solo this time, for a raw, soul-bearing, acoustic encore performance of “That Love.” She was soon joined again by Hince to complete the haunting strains of “Siberian Nights” and “Last Day of Magic.”

    Even rock stars have to confront their mortality. The duo’s stream-of-consciousness stories are genuine, yet unspecific snapshots drawn from personal experience that leave sufficient room for individual interpretation and self-recognition. The artistry lies in the band’s ability to subtly reference relatable themes without resorting to clichés.

    Mosshart and Hince are clearly masters of the storm. On Wednesday night, they enveloped us in their tempest and demanded that we trust they would deliver us safely to our final destination.

    The climax of the show, “Fried My Little Brains,” seamlessly eased the transition from the concert hall to the real world, bringing us full circle, right back to where we began. Now what remains of the night is an elusive memory we tried to sear in our skulls—but in the end, isn’t that the point?

  • POEM: consent

    Transcribed from original:

    hey baby have i asked you to question me and you know that thing you assumed has been wasted for always you have drained me of my meaning and now i am the brick wall that you shout your voice at in hopes to hear an echo thru that broken threshold where hollow patrons sitting at the bar empty themselves into glasses, lost in reflections, ashtrays, booze, girls, etc in hopes that hate and anger will one day ask them how they feel and perhaps how things could be better going, but if we are not asking questions lets agree to raise our hands and ask consent to be a peaceful energy and you are you and i am me and i ask you why you’ve hurt me
    stolen from me

    the spontaneous prose store

  • POEM: Solidarity Will Suffice

    There is something in the way
    of solidarity
    In the way we continue to
    mold a patriarchy and in it
    present women objectively
    In the way we play god, using
    other life as “our” tools for
    rearing greed.

    Could these be similarities?
    A lack of spirituality?
    We value life instrumentally
    rather than intrinsically.
    And we will not have solidarity
    f we continue to act
    Towards nature’s vulnerability
    One species’ interest is not
    the sum of solidarity

    We must preserve these
    If we are to flourish in unity