((( send + receive ))) ticks on

The year marches mercilessly on and it’s already time for my favourite festival in Winnipeg, send + receive, an exploration of experimental music, sound, and media. This year’s acts and installations revolve around the ideas of Noise & Disruption–and since Noise is any undesirable sound, I know it’s difficult to fathom not only one night of reveling in it, but half a week’s worth. Regardless, the noise music scene here (albeit small) is thriving and revolves around s + r, and this year is a good showcase of  a few of them.

Continue reading “((( send + receive ))) ticks on”

Frenchies? Swooooooooooooooooooooooooooon

Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Victoria King

As if there weren’t already loads of benefits to knowing French, (eg: a decent-paying government job, an upper hand in travelling abroad and a couple nifty pick-up lines to whip out once and a while) now there’s Karkwa.

I really shouldn’t say ‘now’ though. The guys in Karkwa have been playing and recording together for 14 years, with their most popular and recent album of being 2011’s Le Chemins de Verre which earned the band the Polaris Prize. And FYI, that year’s nominees included favourites like Tegan & Sara, The Sadies and Broken Social Scene. Before I’d listened to their latest album earlier that day, I really wasn’t too sure of what to expect and was only looking forward to the opener of the show, Aidan Knight. Not a big deal, but I sorta fell in love with LCDV not long after hitting play.
Continue reading “Frenchies? Swooooooooooooooooooooooooooon”

Besnard Lakes // 09-30-11 // WECC

Photo by Andrew Vineberg.

This past week, two huge previous Polaris nominees stormed through the West End Cultural Centre–The Besnard Lakes who, as you can tell from above, played with their purple haze of their smoke machine and bright lights and Malajube who played with their mystique Français and proggy catchy numbers. After the jump are some photos of those bands and The Soft Province (who, in case you’re as confused as I was, features Jace from Besnard Lakes as well) as taken by Andrew Vineberg and stay tuned for a review. Continue reading “Besnard Lakes // 09-30-11 // WECC”

First Class Riot; Nuit Blanche 2011

Photo by Jordan Janisse // Jellyfish Installation

Since I had felt quite underdressed the night previous at The Drugs’ Festival Psychedelique at Negative Space, for Nuit Blanche I dolled myself up with eyeliner, some pearls of Elise’s, and a blazer of mine that I pretty much never wear. Indeed, I felt like putting myself out there for a night I hoped to be a little more out-there than Winnipeg’s first stab at Nuit Blanche the previous year.

First up was the drawing competition happening at the Edge Gallery hosted by the Places for Peanuts drawing club. Having been friends with some of the Peanuts—who are mostly Art City employees/volunteers—but never having attended their drawing club, I was keen to get drawing, and started making scribbling after scribbling of shit and drawings of people shitting as soon as Janessa handed out the paper pads and pens. (A pad which I later passed on to Kelly Ruth that night.) Soon enough, Chesterfieldians Elise, Scott, Ryan, and I got to playing a game of visual Telephone to warm ourselves up for Drawball(?) taking the name of Team Ottoman[sp?]. Drawball, which is pretty much Pictionary on speed, felt like some sort of “bring it bring it” b-boy/b-girl battle, with the practiced Peanuts definitely strutting their stuff ’n’ scribbles, and taking home their Cracker Jack prizes. But fuck, how can someone draw “Deal with it”?! Continue reading “First Class Riot; Nuit Blanche 2011”

nine meditations on the new space)doxa season

photo by David Levasseur

By Philia

In this artycle, Philia leads us through nine ponderings on space)doxa, a concert series that has seen many seasons in the Graffiti Gallery, and is about to begin anew. If you’d like more information on the out-there series as we collectively hurtle through time, simply search for the space)doxa Facebook group. Tomorrow night is Midori Recordsshowcase as a part of the series, featuring Stylus & Weird Canada favourite Fletcher Pratt.

Meditation One
Season nine of space)doxa started on Sunday, August 14, 2011 with a tour stop by Twin and their Assiniboine River Music Armada, followed on September 24, 2011 with a Midori Records showcase featuring Philia, Fletcher Pratt, Dusth and more! August 2003 was the debut performance of the series. Steve Wilson, Graffiti Art Programming Inc. executive director, was looking for a performance art series, and recruited me (Greg Hanec – Philia), Dave Dalgliesh, Nicole Shimonek, and Victoria Prince to each do one event per year. Dalgliesh utilized techno and dazzling video feedback, filling the walls with moving images. Hanec filled in with film loops galore. Shinonek’s event saw her trying to smash a coconut on the floor, but as my friend Michael said… “Her girl’s throw almost took off the head of the guy in the front row!”

Meditation Two
Rob Menard of the Absent Sound puts on three amazing events called 20 Guitar Circular Wall Of Angelic Sound. Twenty plus guitarists on the floor and catwalks surrounding the audience in the middle. Graffiti Art Programming’s Steve Wilson would never be the same.

Meditation Three
Fantastic heavenly reverb in in the main space necessitates an event called eclectACOUSTIC.
This of course is a totally unplugged evening and has seen the likes of Timber Timbre, Doug and Jess (bluegrass), Ghost Bees, Dan Frechette, Twin, Nikki  Komaksiutiksak (throat singer), Philia, Jeff Presslaff, Natalia Zielinski (solo classical violin), Suture (experimental freeform), the Flaming Trolley Marching Band (all 15 of them!), and more perform. Six annuals so far.

Meditation Four
NOISE. Lea Cummings (UK). NOISE. Ahna (BC). NOISE. RDC and Bomber (Calgary). NOISE. White Dog (Wpg). NOISE. Sigmund (Wpg). NOISE. This Camera is Red (Wpg). NOISE. NOISE. NOISE. NOISE. NOISE.

Meditation Five
This Camera is Red does a fifty minute noise set that I thought would shred the PA due to incredible volume levels. I had earlier asked him “Why Noise bands need so much volume?”
He said he’d… “probably just play ten minutes…”

Meditation Six
The audience sits mostly on the many couches strewn around the space. It feels like the world’s largest rec room. By far, the most attentive audiences in the city. Beautiful.

Meditation Seven
“A Pit: Epiphenomena”… “Paper”… “Amphiboly”… “Intervals”… Andrew Milne, Freya Olafson, DJ Brace, Sarah Otsuji, Philia, 6, Doreen Girard, Scott Ellenberger. Large scale performance art pieces, featuring the blending of many arts all at once, or in sequence.

Meditation Eight
Wide-eyed. Jaw-dropped. Dazed. Exulted.Silently sitting and slowly shaking their heads. This is the reaction of 90% of the musicians that play their first shows at the space.Touring bands will tell me it was the best show of the tour. This is neat. We only have ten people in the audience who paid admission, and the members of the other acts. Sixty people in the audience seems immense. Everyone sets up all at once, so no change-overs. Just play.

Meditation Nine
Originally called the Ideas and Methods Series… Next called the artIfactSERIES… Now called space)doxa… To  discuss opinions on audio/visual/bodily art, using audio/visual/bodily art AND conversation = doxa. The lone parenthesis leaning toward the “space” means this is the “place” to do it in. This is neat.

Cinematters: The Perverts of Astron-6

By David Nowacki
Astron-6 are deviants. Astron-6 are pagan goat-worshippers. Astron-6 sacrifice small mammals for no reason but for their own fetishistic delights. Astron-6 are rotted barnacles on the hull of Hollywood. Astron-6 are sadomasochistic pain farmers. Astron-6 would cause the Marquis de Sade to dry heave. Astron-6 is like Chernobyl, if Chernobyl made films. Since 2007, Astron-6 has been spreading their vile trash through the Internet (a common home for most garbage). Ostensibly from Winnipeg, but more likely churned out from a vomitous carcass pit, Astron-6 consists of five filmmakers (Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) who revel in the filth, surrealism and violence of ’80s genre flicks. They recently were noticed by the industry’s premier purveyor of pulp, Troma Entertainment, who opted to produce their first feature-length film, Father’s Day. I managed to lure Conor Sweeney, the pervert, into my interview dungeon, and here’s what he had to say for himself:

Stylus: What is it about this genre of film that attracts you?
Conor Sweeney:
They’re basically the movies you were MOST restricted from seeing as a kid. Sex comedies and Reagan Era action movies were as well, but exploitation movies had everything from all genres that were off-limits. And they had the coolest covers. That’s what drew us to them as kids. As filmmakers, it’s basically a genre that you can do anything in and get away with. You can be visually and thematically very surreal and still have a movie that people take seriously.
Stylus: What are your hopes for Astron-6, what is the group’s plan for the future?
Chronologically: Father’s Day gets released, it gets rave reviews, after opening overseas peace is realized in the Middle East, followup film offers roll in, Roger Ebert teaches himself how to speak without a lower jaw in order to rave about us, we’re able to support ourselves with our art, suicide pact comes to fruition, little boy in the future makes an Astron-6 tribute on Virtual-YouTube that gets a few hundred hits.
Stylus: Why the renewed attention and interest in grindhouse/exploitation pictures (i.e. Hobo With A Shotgun, Grindhouse, Machete, etc.)?
I think it’s really a nostalgia thing. It reminds a huge group of people of being young and thrilled by the taboo of the horror section at the VHS rental store, or sleazy grindhouse theatres that used to line 42nd street in Manhattan. Exploitation is like the middle sibling of the genre family, it’s the weirdo, and that’s exciting. Not to say middle children are exciting, they’re the worst, but I’m just trying to make the point that it’s a genre that excites people, and the fun aspect of it was abandoned for a long time. These movies bring that back. They don’t take themselves seriously, but they still have balls and that’s what pulls people in.
Stylus: Does Winnipeg have a movie scene that’s receptive to this genre?
Not at all, unfortunately. We’ve hit nothing but brick walls and animosity when we’ve tried to get any funding from within the city. We made movies here for years, and tried to get funding for years and were continually rejected. It’s fine if Winnipeg is trying to present itself a certain way, but the Canadian film industry is so at risk of becoming completely irrelevant for that reason: very few people give edgy or truly ambitious movies a chance. For all those reasons, we had to take our idea to the states, so Father’s Day is an American release. We tried very hard to get funding to make a Canadian feature over the years to no avail. Having said that, there are great people in Winnipeg that have helped us more than we can say. Guy Maddin was nothing but helpful to us completely out of goodwill. John Kozak was the same way. If it wasn’t for guys like that we wouldn’t have been able to make the movie at all.
Stylus: Does everybody get a chance to be responsible for different aspects of the film-making, or do you have set jobs?
Jer does the music and titles and some after-effects, Steve does miniature work and some After Effects, Matt and I write, direct and act, and Adam has had his hand in basically every pot for Father’s Day. When it comes to onset stuff we’re all doing the same thing together. The Communist Manifesto influenced us a lot. Steve is partial to Mein Kampf.
Stylus: Will Father’s Day be playing in any theatres in Winnipeg at any point?
Yes, but I can’t say where until Troma books the theatre. But I promise that there will be a premiere here. If it doesn’t happen I give you permission to personally take it up with them.
Stylus: How important has the Internet been to Astron-6?
It’s where we started, and we wouldn’t have half of the recognition we have now (which isn’t really anything) without it.
Stylus: For fans of your films, any recommended films/places to find similar films?
They Call Her One Eye, Evil Dead, Suspiria, Wet Hot American Summer, My Left Foot, Sophie’s Choice, Fast Five. Movie Village in Osborne is great for obscure and foreign movies with a pretty good variety of pornography.


Free film screening tonight from our friendly UWSA!

The University of Winnipeg Politics Students Society, along with the UWSA, Gallery 1C03, and Cinema Politica PRESENT
Is democracy a universal value that suits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation? Please Vote for Me is a portrait of a society and a town in through a school, its children and its families. Wuhan is a city about the size of London located in central China. It is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A Grade 3 class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with democracy by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year-olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents. Elections in China take place only within the Communist Party, but recently millions of Chinese voted in their version of Pop Idol. The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how democracy would be received if it came to China. PLEASE VOTE FOR ME is one of ten selected as part of the Why Democracy? project, which saw interpretations of democracy by 10 film makers from around the world broadcast on 42 television networks in October, 2007, to audiences of more than 300 million people in nearly every country in the world.

Fear of Music: The Price of Art

By Devin King

It’s said that someone suggested to Winston Churchill that he should cut funding to the arts in order to pay for the war effort. Churchill then replied, “Then what would we be fighting for?” Even though there’s not much proof that conversation ever happened, it’s still a good sentiment. This quotation illustrates that one of the hallmarks of a great society – indeed, maybe even humankind – is respect and appreciation for the arts. We are lucky then, to have the Polaris Music Prize as a means to recognize talented Canadian artists. This recognition is problematic though, on a few levels.
The first problem revolves around the criteria for winning the Polaris Prize. The criteria listed quite obtuse, with nominations going to acts who are “creative” and “diverse” as well as those which feature the “highest artistic integrity.”
Imagine taking all of your CDs and ranking them in order of creativity. It might be easy to separate the extremes—say, Len’s You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush on one end and Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot it in People on the other. But even then, it’s problematic because there is no set universal criteria for great music. One of the problems of “great” music is that the definition of great is largely created by the critics who are not necessarily the audience. (Elijiah Wald discusses this in his book How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ’n’ Roll.) So while Len might not have the artistic integrity required to be a Polaris Prize winner, a lot of people once seemed to think their music was pretty good.
The Junos or Grammys are often heavily influenced by sales success, so awards given have a certain mathematical definition to them, even if people don’t agree with the outcome. But in the case of Polaris, the parameters are more are less “artisticness.” Maybe separating Len and Broken Social Scene is easy, but how do we decide if The Weeknd is more artistic than Neil Young?
The second problem involves receiving a financial prize. As a teacher, I believe that if someone does something wrong, then the consequence should match the mistake. So if you are caught spray painting a car, it would make more sense for you to hold a free car wash as a consequence than be made to write lines. I think the same might be true of positive actions as well.
This year, the big prize is $30,000, which is $10,000 more than last year. Additionally, every artist or band nominated for the short list will receive $2,000. It’s a lot of money that can provide lots of opportunities for bands. You can record a charity single like 2009 winners Fucked Up, support other bands financially like 2006 winner Owen Pallett or fade into utter obscurity like Patrick Watson in 2007.
$30,000 is a lot of free money to give away. Granted, winners have shown how they can use that money to support their communities, both in the musical and non-musical realms, but I don’t see the connection that means that great music deserves increased wealth. It certainly would allow for the further creation of great art, but offering up the cheque seems like a philosophical disconnect between why we make art and how we reward art.
It seems like a prize more in line with the parameters of a great artist outlined by Polaris would simply be recognition. And sure, recognition will probably lend itself to money. Perhaps there is another prize more reflective of artistic integrity. Maybe the prize should just be the title itself.
Regardless, when the arts are supported, it’s a good thing for society. But how, why and who we reward it are also important factors to consider in order to truly understand how our society perceives art.

The War On Drugs – Buzz Band Gone Wrong

photo by Graham Tolbert

By Kyra Leib
The War on Drugs, formed in 2005, was a project created by Kurt Vile of Kurt Vile and the Violators and Adam Granduciel. Now The War on Drugs has bloomed into something special. Their commendable ability to seamlessly blend American with euphoric instrumental elements reminiscent of Phil Spector’s wall of sound delivers something like the joy of experiencing your first Springsteen record.
Granduciel, who describes his Philadelphia neighbourhood as “semi-depressed,” tells me how his environment influences him. He muses that his neighborhood – where some people have been living for eight to 20 years – has a “backwoods city vibe”, but hasn’t yet been gentrified. “Some neighbourhoods are getting knocked down for new, beautiful houses and my section is still run-down,” he muses.
I imagine their music is a testament to city life. The energy inherent in The War on Drugs’ music is the same energy you’d encounter biking or walking in urban areas. That is why this band’s music is so universal. The timeless facet of their music is comparable to the neighborhood that Granduciel tells me about, this “backwoods city.” The physical and social environment that inspired the golden age of American songwriters is still present. The War on Drugs have been affected by these environments just like Bob Dylan was inspired by the American landscape or Springsteen was influenced by American politics and his Jersey roots.
The War on Drugs are often compared to Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the like. This band plays punchy, adrenaline-filled highway rock ’n’ roll and does it well. Yet they never lose sight of their own identity. Granduciel explained to me that singing like Dylan is not something he ever strained for. That’s just the way his voice has always been. It is for this reason that the group is able to blend genres so well. They aren’t straining to emulate anything, it’s all them. Continue reading “The War On Drugs – Buzz Band Gone Wrong”

Thus Far and Thenceforth

Week Thus Far goes further with Season Two
By Lara Violet

If you are still channel surfing, you may have caught wave of local Shaw TV comedy Week Thus Far, styled after late night talk shows with the host/guest/live band paradigm, but enjoying the zany liberties allotted to public access programming. If you have decided to take your television viewing habits into your own double-clicking hands online, you may be missing out on the bizarre beauty of local DIY TV.

Development of Week Thus Far began when producer Craig Ward got the job of “Master Controller” at Shaw, and approached future WTF host Dan Huen about starting a talk show. With various burgeoning ambitions to start a sketch comedy group, rounding up hilarious talent was almost instantaneous, even though the vision was uncertain. “Nobody knew what this was or was going to be, we knew we wanted jokes, a guest and a band. Beyond that we had nothing pre-conceived. The meetings began to be about whether or not we could actually provide the content,” writer/producer Tim Gray explained. Continue reading “Thus Far and Thenceforth”