Tag: matthew blenkarn

New Canadiana :: The Yips / Organ Eyes – Split


Winter’s gone and colour’s returned. Bleary-eyed yet bushy-tailed, people snow-crushed souls wake from hibernation and stumble from basement apartments onto clear, sunny sidewalks. Children spout popcorn refrains from recent blockbusters, as radio melodies float from passing cars to rest in pedestrians’ ear canals. As bright days fade to humid nights, idle hooks from Centretown streets plants dreams of festivals and patio parties in residents’ slumbering subconscious.

L’hiver est parti, les couleurs reviennent. Les yeux bouffis, mais pleins d’énergie, les âmes des gens écrasées sous le poids de la neige sortent de l’hibernation des sous-sols et émergent sur les trottoirs dégagés et ensoleillés. Tandis que les chansons des radios des voitures qui passent se posent dans les canaux des oreilles des passants, les enfants chantent les refrains entraînants des récents succès. Alors que les journées illuminées se transforment en soirées humides, l’oisiveté s’accroche aux plantes du centre-ville qui rêvent de festivals et de partys sur le patio de résidents endormis béatement.

The Yips – Let Go

Organ Eyes – Expectations

Sanctum :: Pressed


Originally conceived as a “hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop,” Pressed quickly evolved into a hub for the Ottawa’s diverse arts community since opening in Nov. 2011. On any given night, you can expect to hear pummeling noise, tuneful folk and jazz and gleefully weird punk, psychedelia and more wafting from its windows at 750 Gladstone Ave. But you can’t just focus on music to get the breadth of Pressed. The restaurant hosts regular [poetry performances], and you’re just as likely to see a local literary event, zine party or craft fair as you are to see a band nestled in its organic wooden interior. We spoke to Pressed owner Jeff Stewart, as well as Lidija Rozitis, the venue’s booking manager (and a vocalist and guitarist in local bands Roberta Bondar and Blue Angel), to get a better understanding of this eclectic environment.


Pressed’s stage (photo by Yuko Inoue)


What do you feel Pressed’s appeal is? What makes it unique, and how do your acts contribute to that distinctiveness?

Lidija Rozitis: From a musical standpoint, I felt like there weren’t too many venues in Ottawa a few years ago. A lot of the shows I went to were at houses. In the last little while, however, I have seen a decline in house shows and more venues becoming established around the city (Gabba Hey, House of Targ, Mugshots, Cafe Alt). House shows are really nice though, and I think Pressed (sort of) imitates the cozy, intimate vibe of a house show … Bands are allowed to move furniture around to suit their musical set up, and there are couches and church pews to sit on. And the place smells like your grandma is making delicious smoked chicken! It’s small, and it’s cozy. It’s not a nightclub or fancy bar, but that’s what makes Pressed unique.


The restaurant during business hours (photo by Matthew Blenkarn)


What does Pressed offer the spoken word community? How do you help give them a space?

Jeff Stewart: I think in a number of ways. First of all, we have standing events here that are spoken word and poetry related. We have artistic showcases hosted by (Ottawa poet) Brandon Wint. We have a Words to Live By series and then a Railroad Poetry series. Those three events appeal to different types of audiences, so I think just having standing events like that creates an association between the place and spoken word. I think the layout of the place and having the right sound, light and size for those types of events just creates an inviting nest for people to come and have their events.


Zine editor and writer Lily Pepper at the launch party for the YOW zine (photo by Matthew Blenkarn)


You’ve also hosted a few Ottawa Zine-Offs and you have a zine rack. What about zine culture?

JS: I was open to the idea when (zine editor and writer Lily Pepper) approached me to have a zine rack here, and then I think, based on that, it became a bit of an anchor for zine culture. There were some people who wanted to have events here where they were creating zines and talking about zines and it seemed like a logical extension of that. I think that is something that has built a sort of community feeling. It’s sort of a grassroots feeling where you don’t always have a form of entertainment foisted on people as a developed, finished art form. It’s more people coming together and creating in a space in a more spontaneous, democratic kind of way.


Gloria Guns of Scary Bear Soundtrack performs at the YOW zine launch party (photo by Matthew Blenkarn)


Why have such an eclectic line-up?

LR: There are a lot of amazing music venues that have opened up in Ottawa recently, so it’s somewhat limiting to book four piece rock bands for an entire month. We do have many bands playing at Pressed, but with that said, I also have been trying to book more and more diverse musical acts every month. Pat Moore hosts a weekly Bluegrass night, Tariq Anwar hosts a monthly Open Mic night, Brandon Wint puts on a great monthly spoken word and musical showcase, and there are many jazz, classical, and experimental musicians performing at the space. Even then, music isn’t the only art form requiring performance space. Because of the portability of tables and furniture at Pressed, the space can serve as both a sit down or standing venue. I think this versatility appeals to all types of artists, because the space serves whatever need you want it to. I try to book as many diverse types of events so that the space doesn’t become pigeon-holed as the venue to do one certain type of artistic thing, but rather continually seen as a space to do whatever you want.


The awning that shades Pressed’s small outdoor seating area (photo by Matthew Blenkarn)


How would you like to see Pressed grow in the future?

JS: I think I’d just like to see us continue along the lines that we’re going along right now. I don’t want us to get too big or large-band oriented, because I like the community aspect of the things we do. I think we have a really nice balance right now of bands coming in from out of town, from promoters and local bands and acts, local spoken word and then grassroots types of events as well. I think I’d just like to continue to become more and more integrated with the community and be seen more and more as a community living room and play space, I think.

New Canadiana :: Tresilaze – Axial City


A satellite superimposes various stages of history onto an Ontario manufacturing town. Chimes from parochial parishes float over the hydraulic hum. Cold War broadcasts mingle with pounding pistons. Steel wheels grind beneath forgotten piano recitals. Streams burble through a forest as lost soldiers clash in ancient combat. Buildings still intact echo their eventual ruins. All is distilled into digital sound through a schizo transducer and beamed off into the far corners of space.

Un satellite superpose différentes époques de l’Histoire par-dessus une ville ouvrière de l’Ontario. Des carillons de clochers de paroisses flottent au-dessus de ronronnements hydrauliques. Les transmissions de la Guerre Froide se mélangent aux puissants pistons. Des roues d’acier grincent sous des récitals de piano oubliés. Des ruisseaux ruisselant au travers d’une forêt pendant que des soldats s’affrontent dans un combat ancien. Des bâtiments encore intacts font échos de leurs éventuelles ruines. Tout est distillé en son numérique par un transducteur schizo et envoyé vers les plus lointains recoins de l’espace.

Tresilaze – The Dead Run

Tresilaze – Race Through the Last City/Skeleton Vapour

New Canadiana :: Herons Wake – Phantom


From the naturally magnetic mind of Matthew Blenkarn: Strap a magnet to a man and see what he draws in. Will his currents strike the earth’s natural fields, ringing out like a climactic shot from a Spaghetti western? Or will the attraction be more subtle and fleeting, like wafting mist over a lake? If he interacts with electromagnets, will the alternating currents shimmer like a mirage? What’s certain is that the sound will pull you through landscapes and waterways, seeking out its source.

Attache un aimant après un homme pour voir ce qu’il va rapporter. Est-ce que son courant va heurter les champs naturels de la Terre, résonnant comme le moment culminant d’un western spaghetti? Ou l’attraction sera-t-elle plus subtile et fugace, comme la brume flottant sur un lac? S’il entre en contact avec des électroaimants, est-ce que les courants alternatifs vont chatoyer comme un mirage? Ce qui est sûr, c’est que le son va te guider, à travers paysages et cours d’eau, en quête de sa source.

Herons Wake – Hudson

Herons Wake – Phantom

New Canadiana :: Powder Blue – II


Saskatoon psychshoegazers Powder Blue patch listeners into a cryogenic dreamscape. Drums undergird shifting sonics with steady patterns that evoke a comforting stasis. Repeated lyrics and melodies float with found sound. Old memories slowly soak through your subconscious. Neurons fire again, as if awakening after a long coma. Powder Blue’s second release feels like a lucid dream, but certainly won’t induce sleep.

De la vie éveillée de Matthew Blenkarn: Le groupe psychshoegaze Powder Blue de Saskatoon plonge les auditeurs et auditrices dans un paysage onirique cryogénique. Les ondes sonores éphémères sont soutenues par le rythme stable et régulier de la batterie, évoquant ainsi un état d’inertie réconfortant. Des paroles et mélodies répétées flottent avec un son néanmoins solide. De vieux souvenirs traversent le tissu de ton subconscient. Des neurones se libèrent de nouveau, comme en s’éveillant d’un long coma. Le deuxième album de Powder Blue a l’air d’un rêve lucide, mais il ne vous fera certainement pas dormir.

Powder Blue – Sunfire Drug Haus

Powder Blue – Your Eyes

Video :: The Yips – “Point Dume”


Slow, long shots of a protagonist marching, waiting, and grasping are interrupted by rapid, stuttery cuts to primal images. Fire, spiders, smoke and more highlight the dynamic and energetic music behind them. A forest can be a quiet contemplative space, but in this video that’s not so.

Des plans longs et lents d’un protagoniste qui marche, qui attend et qui saisit sont interrompus par des coupures stroboscopiques et rapides pour aller à des images primordiales. Du feu, des araignées, de la fumée et autres choses, mettent l’accent sur la musique dynamique et énergique qui joue en fond. Une forêt peut être un moine calme, mais dans ce clip, ce n’est pas le cas.

New Canadiana :: The Gutter Rocks – Very Serious


You awaken in darkness to the sound of rats squealing. Confined within a hundred paces, their noises slice and pummel you, marrying both pit and pendulum. They swirl around you in an “undimensioned rainbow of cryptic poison” rising in the dank air of your cell. Fusing the Gun Club’s swagger and the spiraling guitar lines of Billy Duffy in a noxious cauldron, the Gutter Rocks’ sound is something out of Erich Zann’s wettest dreams.

Un son te réveille dans l’obscurité : le grincement des rats. Confinés dans une pièce d’une centaine de pas, leurs bruits t’entaillent et te frappent, mariant le puit et le pendule. Ils tourbillonnent autour de toi en un « arc-en-ciel de poison secret, étranger et sans dimension » qui s’élève dans l’air humide de ta cellule. Fusionnant la fanfaronnade de Gun Club et les lignes spiralées de guitare de Billy Duffy dans un chaudron toxique, le son de Gutter Rocks semble tout droit sorti d’un des fantasmes d’Erich Zann.

The Gutter Rocks – Dig In Bleed Out

The Gutter Rocks – Successpool


New Canadiana :: Catholic Girls – Sheila Joined a Cult

Catholic Girls - Sheila Joined a Cult

Catholic Girls’ Sheila Joined A Cult evokes a late-night TV binge from another era. The piercing synths and mechanical beats on ”Daddy Hunting” bring to mind old science-fiction creature features, cutting through your consciousness like some forbidden signal on cathode ray tubes. The eight-bit throb on “Beast” sounds like a blinking spaceship console made of Christmas lights and tin foil. “American Scream” and closer “Hysteria” are all reckless charge and giddy thrills. Like the best fright-night marathons, Sheila Joined A Cult carries a foreboding allure and enough fun to keep you going all night long.

L’EP Sheila Joined A Cult rappelle un gavage télévisuel d’une autre époque. Les synthétiseurs perçants et les rythmes mécaniques de « Daddy Hunting»  font penser aux vieilles créatures de science-fiction traversant votre conscience comme un signal interdit sur des tubes cathodiques. Le battement 8 bits de « Beast » sonne comme la console clignotante d’un vaisseau spatial fait de papier d’aluminium et de lumières de Noël. « American Scream » et « Hysteria » ne sont que sensations vertigineuses et charges furieuses. Comme les meilleurs marathons de Fright Night, Sheila Joined A Cult a un charme inquiétant et est assez amusant pour vous tenir en haleine toute la nuit.

Catholic Girls – Beast

Catholic Girls – Daddy Hunting

New Canadiana :: Roberta Bondar – Caustic

Roberta Bondar - Caustic

Two EPs in, Roberta Bondar have already fused nimble noise-rock with an experimental edge. Their latest, Caustic, grinds alt-rock and shoegaze into a sludgy pulp. “Children” opens with a string section that makes Bernard Hermann sound as serene as Brian Eno and features a repeated, mantra-like chorus. “Palm Bay” skids to a near-halt before rising from the dead midway through. The title track feels like a midnight trip through the Greenbelt on peyote. Caustic may slow down Roberta Bondar’s sound, but damn if it won’t stop your heart as well.

À peine deux albums de faits, et Roberta Bondar ont déjà fusionné le noise rock vif et la marge expérimentale. Leur plus récente sortie, Caustic, réduit du rock alternatif et du shoegaze en un amas boueux. Les cordes du premier morceau « Children » donnent à Bernard Hermann une apparence aussi sereine que Brian Eno; sans parler du refrain répété comme un mantra. « Palm Bay » dérape jusqu’à un arrêt presque complet, puis revient d’entre les morts à mi-chemin. La chanson « Caustic » est comme une excursion nocturne dans la ceinture verte sous l’influence de peyotl. Cet album ralentit peut-être le son de Roberta Bondar, mais il va clairement ralentir votre cœur aussi.

Roberta Bondar – Children

Roberta Bondar – Caustic