Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Emma

Solange - "Mad (ft. Lil Wayne)"

A piece of paper, shining gold around the edges, dropped from the 20th floor, floating easy slow and lightly down into a bed of bright blue flowers, and then everything bursts into flame.

[buy A Seat At The Table]

by Mitz

NONI WO - "Specter" [Bandcamp]

I have so much work this week and drank so many arizona ice tea. I dont feel good. Feel like a ghost on energy drinks.

Take care of yourslaves. <--can't even spell right

by Emma

Chance the Rapper - "Blessings (Reprise)"

Alright. I've already written here about Chance the Rapper, but I saw him play a show this week and now I have to do it again. Coloring Book, his most recent mixtape, is almost certainly my favourite album of this year; I spent a lot of time this summer just walking around with it in my headphones, trying to absorb its radiant, complicated joy, just like how in 2013 I spent a lot of my time walking around listening to Acid Rap, feeling equal parts comforted and unsettled by its push and pull.

Chance the Rapper - "Cocoa Butter Kisses"

Acid Rap is both entirely different from and completely the same as Coloring Book. You can track down the stylistic threads of the newer album in the older one, if that's your thing - there's a choir, there's the constant lyrical cartwheeling - but the through line that interests me most is his playfulness, how it's used and to what end. Dude has energy; even when it's hidden in a thick cloud of smoke or strobing LSD-light instead of being bolstered by a gospel chorus, it's there and endless, driving everything. On Acid Rap his voice is all trebel and hyper, his cadence shifting compulsively between stoner-lag and speed-rush while he somersaults around doing those playground-bully "nah nah nah"s in the background or just plain YELPING when he can't hold himself back any longer.

On Coloring Book, most of that energy is meticulously arranged in a line that points straight up to God. But on Acid Rap, things were a lot more diffuse. Chance wrote the songs on that album when he was 20, after the death of a close friend, and the longer you listen to it the more their layers start to organize themselves into a feeling that's far more complex than the sum of its flourishes. Spend a couple of hours hanging out with this mixtape and you will come away feeling both bolstered and fucked up, like you've been hanging out inside the mind of a preternaturally gifted teen who's as talented as any of his older rap-game peers and knows it. Maybe a bit of a totally charming shit-disturber who knows how to use his own smartness. Maybe sensitive enough to need to pad his worldview with self-medication. Someone who is in the process of negotiating his own place in the world using a talent that's so new and expansive he can just sort of tumble around in it, looking for edges to push against.

Chance the Rapper - "Pusha Man/Paranoia"

Maybe all of this sounds like critic-y nothing-language, but listen to "Pusha Man/Paranoia" and you'll see what I mean: that part where he drawls "you a laaaaAAAAAAAME," rolling downhill into a verse so slyly, densely packed it almost sounds like he's playing an instrument instead of talking; this right next to the heart-cracking change, minutes later, in his voice when he goes "Me too." The singsongy, heart-shredding trail-off of everybody dies in the summer, plus how it's hard not to hear that line echoing through the halls of "Summer Friends" a few years later. (There are mirror-moments like this all over the place - the part in Cocoa Butter Kisses where he talks about how girls wanna fuck him until they get frustrated with him for being childish, the way songs like "Juke Jam" wander the line between kid- and adult-ness.) One of those songs sounds like a young person processing complex trauma in an unjust world, and the other sounds like the work of someone who has resolved to make something with the results of all that processing. Maybe if Coloring Book gets its energy from its proximity to a sense of higher power or purpose, then Acid Rap gets its own from its proximity to Chance's own inner life. Whatever it is, both of these albums feel extremely, achingly honest, in completely different ways.

Chance the Rapper - "Summer Friends"

This seems like as good a place as any to mention that there are nuances to all of this of which I am entirely ignorant, because while I can listen to these songs all day long, I'm still a middle-class white-girl atheist, not coming at any of this from the same direction Chance is. Earlier this week I was reminded of this while reading Doreen St. Felix's brilliant piece "On Carefree Black Boys," which I stared at on my phone while standing alone in a crowd on a weird man-made beach out at the edge of the city, waiting for the Chance show to start.

The concert was good, fine - I got contact-high off the blunt-smoking teens next to me and filled my Notes app with things like "DONNIE TRUMPET'S PLAYING FULFILLS THE SAME PURPOSE THAT THOSE 'NAH-NAH-NAH'S USED TO, EXCEPT BETTER BECAUSE MAJESTIC!!!!!!!!" - but something about it felt just a little bit off. The crowd was shy, quiet unless he riled us, and there was this whole narrative that involved a bunch of life-sized puppets leading him on a journey through his past toward the light that never quite connected. Childhood is a recurring theme in Coloring Book - maybe because Chance himself just had a kid, maybe because there is an electric charge that runs from your memories of the lessons you learned in your own childhood to the lessons that come to you when you are suddenly responsible for someone else's to the way it feels to do all these things in the light of a God you truly believe in, though here, again, I am just guessing - but what felt funny was that all the parts with the giant Sesame-street-looking puppets felt the least plugged in to the actual playfulness that sets Chance apart. The most heart-racing moments, the ones where the show really lifted off, were the moments where we got to watch him just go off, unencumbered by narrative or props. Generating his own momentum, caught up in it.

[get Acid Rap / Coloring Book]

by Mitz
(photo source)

Kikagaku Moyo - "Green Sugar" [Buy]

Here in Montreal, we had Pop Montreal festival last weekend. and we also have Redbull Music Academy this month.

I like festivals because I see many friends across Canada and US, I haven't seen for a long time. It's simply really nice to see them.

I also enjoy being alone and read books a lot. Now I had a great dose of socializing. I want to have an alone time.

So I logged to into my old myspace account. just to be alone.

by Sean

Kate Maki - "September Sun". A song like a closing eye, a stone rolling downhill, like the vanishing sun in September. Time is of the essence, Kate Maki has none to waste - go go go, roll roll roll, quick while you can, before it's dark. The guitar won't keep up with her voice, the drums won't keep up with the guitar, don't catch your breath just go on, while there's still light, while there's still light, until winter lands, like two hands, placed flat on the table. [buy]

Sinéad Harnett - "Say What You Mean". Her best glass, the most famous works, were made during earthquakes. She'd begin a piece during the first tremors, in spite of them - melting in the crucible, working the molten solid, blowing the glass into form. She worked through the wobbles; she didn't care; she could make the finest things even as the land leaped, as the ground leapt beneath her feet. [produced by Kaytranada / buy]

by Jeff

Rainbow over the Jauge at Casgrain and Bellechasse

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - "Storm"

Montreal is music.

This week two great music festivals are happening - A Varning from Montreal, the festival of international DIY punk rock at the Katacombes, and Pop Montreal all over the city. And Godspeed You! Black Emperor are playing a four-night residency at Théâtre Paradoxe in Ville-Émard. So so so much great music!

I moved here seventeen years ago this month and the first show I went to was skinhead bands at Jailhouse Rock. I wanted to see Daddy's Hands, but I got the date wrong. I should have noticed the haircuts and Fred Perrys before I paid the cover, but I stuck around and got my five bucks worth, shouting oi! oi! oi! with everyone else in the pit.

My second show was at the old Hotel 2 Tango, where one of Rob Crow's bands was playing. I biked north with Moskos and we missed the turn for Van Horne and went under the underpass. We had to ask directions from the gas station attendant at the Canadian Tire. The opening band was two guys with contact mics in their mouths, chewing pieces of paper. I took a break and walked down to St. Viateur to get bagels, magical and steamy.

My third show as a Montrealer was Godspeed You! Black Emperor at l'Olympia.

Since those first shows I've seen music everywhere in this town from Aux Vivres to Zoobizarre and dozens of parks, lofts, pools, and living rooms along the way. Montreal loves live music, when it's good we freak out, we lose our shit, we yell, we swivel our hips and get down. This week is going to be full of discovery, circle-pits, excitement, bum-shaking, and humming tunes on the way home.

[buy Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven]

(photo by Spike)

by Emma

Cinesphere at dusk

Yo La Tengo - The Fireside

These days I live with my friend Layne. Phrasing it like that kinda makes it sound like we were friends first, then lived together, but we didn't actually know each other at all until I moved into her house 2 years ago, sight-near-unseen, in a hasty decision made after a deep breakup that could have gone terribly awry. We barely knew each other then, but Layne still took me to IKEA when I moved in, and then helped me put together the bed I bought there once we got home. She's like that, equal parts capable and open - the kind of person who will drive you across the desert just because you thought it might be fun to go look at some art in Texas, and then while you are there, strike up a conversation with the local giving you a tour of the Judd sculptures, and then somehow next thing you know you will find yourselves at a party at the edge of town in an airstream trailer against the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen. I am not like this. I'm a shy person, a note-taker. I wait and see, stay quiet. When you're like I am, it's important to know people who are not like you. Who open doors and make things go.

For the past few months I have seen Layne less and less as she's spent more and more time putting together this big art festival, the most ambitious thing she's ever done. Before today, I knew a lot about it: that it was on the island that used to be Ontario Place, land of a thousand childhood daycare-field-trip memories; that it was full of site-specific art; that she was excited for it; that she was endlessly busy putting it together.

But today I actually went, and realized I hadn't really understood the magnitude of the whole project at all. Ontario Place, an amusement park on an island off Toronto's lakeshore, has been abandoned for 5 years. It feels a little grown-over, and now, thanks to this festival the whole island is covered in beautiful, weird art that feels both of the place and apart from it - just like all the buildings do against the landscape, just like the way nature and time have begun to encroach upon those same buildings at the edges. All through the park there are sculptures and sound pieces and videos, galleries built in abandoned pavilions, floating docks out on the water where artists perform, and somehow, all of it feels like it belongs to the place. A natural extension. I took a walk down the shoreline on the far edge of the island and saw an array of tiny sculptures scattered across the rocky beach, mixed in with the garbage that had accumulated there over time. I went to the Cinesphere and watched a movie made up of old IMAX footage, past and present leaning into each other. At one point, walking down a path, I glanced absentmindedly up at a man-made cliff and saw a single tree, spotlit, at the top of it. At first I thought it was just part of the landscape, but then - slowly, hilariously - it started to rotate, first one way and then the other. ("Confounding expectations of typical tree behaviour," said the wall text I found posted up on the side of the cave.)

If this were a review of the festival or an attempt at promoting it, I'd probably have to say that I knew its co-creator and then try to make that fact seem insignificant. But since we're here instead, I can tell you something else: having heard about all of this as it was coming together made the whole thing feel slightly, magically unreal - like Layne had conjured this whole place out of thin air, out of the stories she'd told me about it.

Plus, as I walked around, I started to realize that the pleasure of the whole experience was shot through with this other feeling - something less delightful and more uncanny. After I'd spent some time wandering through the forest alone in the dark at 10pm, using different light sculptures as beacons, I realized that walking around at this festival was maybe the first time in my life that I've felt truly, completely safe wandering around a place that felt off-limits. Otherworldly. As an adult human woman I've taught myself (and been taught, over and over and over again), to steer clear of shadows and mystery and darkness. But here, in this abandoned place that's been recovered but not stripped or worked out of its wildness, I felt safe exploring, and it felt like a gift. Like true play, the kind you only really get to glimpse in memories of being a kid, or dreams about it.

All that said, this is still a music blog, and I am still here to tell you about music. In/Future is a music festival too; there are performances by all kinds of bands, and they are good and interesting, and you should check them out. But also, the island makes its own music, and it's one of the best things about being there. All you have to do is walk a little down a path or along the shore, and suddenly you start to hear all these wind-borne duets: the sound of a guy down the beach playing the trumpet weaving in and out of the ambient drone of someone's far-off sound exhibit. A chorus of crickets in the woods alongside the lake, the traffic, someone gently DJing by the main gates. It's all strange, it's all wonderful, and I can't reproduce it here. You have to hear it for yourself.

[buy Popular Songs // go to in/future // photo is mine]