A merciful breeze is blowing across the upstairs patio of the Central, and the dark eyed beauties of the many nations of Toronto promenade amongst the blaring horns and waving flags of another meaningless national victory.
I am ordering a steam whistle and waiting for Patrick Power to perform his opening set here tonight. First I spot Uggy (always on point) and then I hear Pat starting up a spooky ghost-folk rendition of 'she moves through the air.' But i more eagerly awaiting the conversation we are about to have on the subject of Valued Customer's new album HugeCup, to be released on July 12th into an over saturated and indifferent marketplace. Please forgive my pessimistic tone. Summer in the city can take a grim toll on mood.
It's been a few years since the inception of the group, and I have been following the talented lads downtown gigs and lakeshore sessions, one official album (kalpa), a brilliant collection of b sides (byugecup, 2015), and to this month's release of the illuminated, resonant hugecup itself. Patrick tells me that these two recent releases were written at Bathurst and Quenn, over a month long session or ritual in which 30 tracks were tested and tried. Downtown lifestyles, bohemian bravado, and a healthy smirking transcendence are the energetic auras of these works.
We chose 8 tracks for Byugecup, and 8 for Hugecup, to re-record for the releases, Patrick tells me while I interrupt him to name drop as many celebrities as I can.
On Byugecup, he continues, we presented them as they were, crazy and spontaneous. I interrupt him again to describe hugecup, having still only heard it once or twice.
Uggy and me stroll through the korean business district to the Pour Boy. Pat joins us after taking his gear home. The boys order a pitcher and I prompt them to say witty things about their upcoming release, their extant discography, and hot cyphers arouand town.
Look at hugecup as a more polished version of what these schooled mages are channeling. While not as discursive in its form as Byugecup, (which should be relished in a similar setting as Return to the 36 chambers) this music is often in itself discursive:
by turns funky and jazzy, slamming and soaring. Trumpeter Dave Baldry and drummer Mark Ballyk keep the guitarists tied to reality, as the valued customers weave avant garde ballardry, shimmering reflections on love, space-time, passive aggressive behaviours , and the true feeling of fly.
Track seven, Electron cloud, grinds the hardest basslines on the album. A touch of beats and studio savvy is also worked into their live sets, and their gear is cursed. Let them who steal it suffer. Bullies boils.
in a single track, several genres, or rather sounds are in effect simultaneously presented, a well synthesized take on all kinds of music history; slack-rap musings one minute, tripping screams of ego death over a heavy trap beat that transitions smoothly into jazz trumpet and proggy guitar solos the next. welcome to the future. Or is it the past? either way, scared weak,, boring shit is gonna lose. Life is interesting. So is this album.
like a medieval tapestry of drifting sound, anchored to a funk rhythm section, hear the joyful 'yer bud world',
#track5 And see what is woven of masterful riffage and boldly beautiful, dreamy and streamy song.
Culottes, track two, is a typically dreamy pat power composition... until Uggy and mark amp it up and shards of boomboxes and lasers begin to join in the stomp:
im trapped up everyday in a fractal laid flat back on a mattress
steady sippin coconut cashews and cactus
the beat went tacet
my mind meditatin like a metronome between the melody I'm makin and the madness
modulatin many moods just to set a tone no cell phones in a meadowfull of microphone misfit
munchin many edibles
lil miss caught a whiff of this citrus piff in her headphones I got her lifted like a cheerleader isssss
it so wrong if I take you home for the night?
you're lookin just fine and I'm kinda alright I guess
The boys have been paying attention to the mechanics and form of both jazz and hip hop. This is not the middling funk of old new wave. What is it?
Awesome tapes, track six, begins in a drumless jazz rap arrangement, which allows for the outward spirals of Uggy s many incantations to crescendo effectively.
The layers and loops of electronic soundscapes colour much of their orchestrations, and this music is often rather perplexing.
It's encouraging that Zappa's children are also in this case Bird's children. Out of Ottawa, this is the brainy, ballsy tantrum of the 21st century's academy.
Don't sleep on this Thursday at the Piston with boom-bapper Delorean Clarke, hardcore act STRESSER, and Other Families, 7$, 12$ with CD.