The Black Auks, Instruments of Happiness, James O’Callaghan, Patrick Boyle and Casey Sokol

Concert: Sound Symposium XVIII, July 9, 2016 – LSPU Hall

soundsymposium-2016-3642-michellelacoureSound Symposium’s first LSPU Hall concert for Saturday evening was a great way for the uninitiated to get an idea of what can be explored in the creation of sound. The room began in darkness, with sounds of doors opening, running on gravel, voices, locations…noises coming from varied parts of the room yet in entirely different spaces in your mind. It was the desired effect, being a section of a 3D surround piece presented by Fernando Lopez-Lezcano designed to reflect how the blind dream. From that audio picture we are introduced to the first act of the night, the city’s veteran improvising group, The Black Auks, who provided the audience with their customary chaotic noodling complete with free form honks from toys and all manner of dissonant themes. Wallace, Neil, Mack and Craig have never followed any ‘rules’ with what I know of their music-making, which is really a lovely thing. Following this was the guitar quartet, Instruments of Happiness, beginning with an atmospheric solo piece by Tim Brady, who utilized a multitude of pedal effects for looping phrases, distorting passages and firing dark swells. He was then joined by Antoine Berthiuame, Michel Héroux and Gary Schwartz for a couple of compositions which layered harmonized chords and interwoven melodies, swapping leads between them and evoking moods that most certainly were joyous and happy.

After a short break, the second half began with James O’Callaghan’s acousmatic work, Bodies-Soundings, which made use of a toy piano on stage and an acoustic guitar seated in the middle of the audience. Both were source material in the piece and used as additional resounding loudspeakers for playback. The whirs, clicks, creaks and hollow resonant feedback was fascinating, coming from all sides of the room. The concert finished with a pair of the country’s finest improvisers, Newfoundland’s own Patrick Boyle on trumpet, and the steadfast improv educator from York University, Casey Sokol, on piano. They came out conversational, playful and charming, each riffing with a surprise object of the other’s choosing and together on a piece by Oliver Schroer adapted for piano. It was a loose and fun end to the show, and morphed into the next section outside the LSPU, where everyone huddled in the foggy chill to witness AE Bridger on accordion with a full horn section play solemn dirges from his new CD, Museum. The band led everyone in a traffic-stopping processional across Duckworth Street to The Ship for a seamless transition to Night Music, with a packed house, flashy lighting and spirited jams afterward. I ducked out while the Auks’ Craig and Mack were thumping out a cool psychedelic rock vibe with Bridger and Patrick Canning on guitars. Always a trip, and one I would continue the next morning with a workshop from James O’Callaghan and more rehearsal preparation for Tim Brady’s 20 Guitars performance scheduled for Monday night. Sound Symposium XVIII keeps me busy, interested and always entertained.