Esmerine, Matana Roberts, Jerusalem In My Heart
Online presale starts Friday, August 9th at 6:00pm. and available through The Aeolian Box Office starting August 13th at noon.
Esmerine was co-founded in early 2000s by percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godpseed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland) soon after the two met while recording the first Set Fire To Flames record Signs Reign Rebuilder(2001) at the old brothel at 10 rue Ontario Est in Montreal. Esmerine released two critically-acclaimed albums of modern chamber music in the first half of that decade: If Only a Sweet Surrender to the Nights to Come Be True (2003) and Aurora (2005). These albums have have one foot in the new music/experimental terrain of contemporaries like Rachel's or Town And Country and the other in a more visceral and lyrical landscape populated by the likes of Dirty Three (and GY!BE themselves).
Beckie's activity with Thee Silver Mt. Zion increased through the mid-2000s and Bruce deepened his study and practice as an acupuncturist, but the duo continued stoking the Esmerine fires with occasional live performances and special events in Montreal in the latter half of the decade – often bringing in guest musicians to collaborate with the group on one show or another.
While Esmerine had made deft but sparing use of guest players on their first two albums, collaboration has become the new mantra for the duo as they returned to intensive writing, recording and touring in 2010. La Lechuza (2011) expanded the group to a quartet, with the addition of harp-player Sarah Pagé and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Barr (both of The Barr Brothers and the Lhasa de Sela band), who came together around their dearly departed mutual friend Lhasa de Sela during the period when Lhasa was working on her third and final record in Montreal in 2009-2010. La Lechuza was predominantly tracked by Patrick Watson at his Montreal loft, and Watson sings on two of the album's songs. Other musical guests include Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), Colin Stetson, Mishka Stein and Robbie Kuster. Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Unicorns) mixed the bulk of the album's tracks.
With Pagé and Barr increasingly occupied with Barr Brothers duties, Esmerine solidified its touring line-up as a quartet with Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) on drums/percussion and Brian Sanderson on various instruments. This quartet gelled around the Esmerine back catalogue through several dozen live performances and began writing new material in 2012, culminating in an artist residency and recording session in Istanbul at the end of that year. These sessions included four local Turkish musicians and yielded the bulk of the bed tracks for Esmerine's fourth album, Dalmak(2013), which the group completed in winter 2012-2013 with engineer Jace Lasek at Breakglass Studio in Montreal.
Esmerine frequently tours with live, manually-manipulated lightbox projection visuals by renowned artist, puppeteer and light designer Clea Minaker (Feist, Atom Egoyan).
Internationally documented, Chicago-born, New York City-based sound experimentalist Matana (m(a)-ta-na\) Roberts, works in many performance/sound mediums including improvisation, dance, poetry, and theater. A dynamic saxophonist, composer, improviser and mixed media sound conceptualist, she aims to expose the mystical roots and the intuitive spirit raising traditions of American creative expression in her music and art. Her innovative work has forged new conceptual approaches to considering narrativity, history, and political expression within improvisatory structures.
Roberts has played with and alongside Rob Mazurek, Myra Melford, Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, Greg Tate, Nicole Mitchell, Henry Grimes, Jayne Cortez, Seb Rochford, Fred Anderson, Latasha Diggs, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, David Berhman, Pauline Oliveros, Reg E. Gaines, Daniel Givens, Savion Glover, Anthony Braxton, Kid Lucky, Liberty Ellman, Amina Claudine Meyers, Jeff Parker, Handsome Furs, Robert Mitchell, Quest Love, Julius Hemphill Sextet, Merce Cunningham, Joe Maneri, Beans, Bill T Jones, Josh Abrams, Chad Taylor, Dave Douglas, John Herndon just to name a few. She has recorded as a side person w/ groups as diverse as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, TV On The Radio, Savath & Savalas, Thee Silver Mt Zion, and performance artists My Barbarian.
In February 2011, Roberts released Live in London on Barry Adamson's Central Control International, a follow up to her first release for the label, The Chicago Project (2008), a homage to her hometown.
Since 2006 Matana has worked and workshopped her multi-chapter, multi-media, conceptual composition and narration project COIN COIN with various groups of musicians, most notably a New York contingent (with whom she occasionally tours the project) and a Montreal contingent (the city in which she took up semi-residency at the end of the decade).
In summer 2010, at the invitation of Constellation, Matana recorded Chapter One of COIN COIN with her Montreal group. The album, COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres was released in May 2011 to widespread critical acclaim.
Of her work, Matana says the following (from her website):
“At my artistic core, I am firmly dedicated to creating a unique, and very personal, experiential body of sound work that speaks to, and reminds people of all walks of life to reach, stand up, give voice, regardless of difference, created from mere labels of intellectual classification. In my ideal world the idea of "difference", is an illusion designed only for the purpose of modern economic division and elitist intellectual hierarchy. Through my life's work, I stand creatively in defiance.”
Roberts, a self-taught mixed media composer, earned two advanced degrees in performance from a smattering of american institutions; received her main training from free arts programming in the American Public School System as well as past guidance from the historical collective, AACM: The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. She has been a Van Lier Fellow, a Brecht Forum Fellow, Copeland Fellow, A Jazz Makes Fellow, an ICASP fellow, and an Alpert Award In The Arts nominee 5 years running (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) She is a 2013 FCA fellow. She has been invited to teach, lecture, run workshops and/or take up artistic residencies in countless places under diverse conditions and communities over the past decade and is a past faculty member of the Banff Creative Music Workshop, School for Improvised Music, and Bard College MFA, where she was co-chair of the Music and Sound Department 2011-12. passes genres like dark metal, post-rock and contemporary electronics (i.e. Tim Hecker, Ben Frost - both of whom have mixed or remixed Stetson recordings).
JERUSALEM IN MY HEART
Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is a project of contemporary Arabic and electronic music interwoven with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space, exploring a relationship between music, visuals, projections and audience. With performances thus far occurring once or twice a year, no two JIMH events have ever been the same: configurations have ranged from solo to 35 participants, with varying degrees of stage theatrics alongside a film & visual component, using multiple projections to construct a space in constant flux. JIMH's vocals and purposefully blown-out sonic sensibility have been the consistent thread, but neither its music nor visual propositions have ever repeated themselves – one of the reasons why JIMH has resisted for eight years any official documentation or definitive recording of the project.
JIMH was formed in 2005 by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese national who has spent a large part of his adult life in Quebec and has been a fixture of the Montreal independent music community, from his early days in various notable 90s punk bands to his tireless activities over the last decade as a sound engineer, producer and co-owner of Montreal’s Hotel2Tango recording studio. Moumneh is also active in the Beirut experimental music scene, where he spends a few months every year. JIMH now consists of a core trio with French musician & producer Jérémie Regnier and Chilean visual artist & filmmaker Malena Szlam Salazar, whose two-year collaboration with Moumneh has resulted in the co-creation of JIMH’s debut album, Mo7it Al-Mo7it, to be released on Constellation in March 2013.
JIMH forges a modern experimental Arabic music by wedding melismatic singing in classic Arabic styles and electronic compositions with contemporary electronic production. Mo7it Al-Mo7it equally emphasizes the intimacy and narrative pace that focused, intentional studio recording allows. The result is a unique and profoundly emotive album of contemporary Arabic music, a stunningly subtle first record for a project that resisted documentation or any sort of fixity for so many years. Moumneh's voice has become a powerfully authentic instrument, and his production techniques applying distortion, tape echos and delays to varying degrees transmit a timeless intensity to the recording. Saturated synths and the overdriven signals of Moumneh's acoustic buzuk and zurna reinforce the reigning sensibility, providing a bracing counterpoint to the vocals and lovely, searching instrumental narratives in their own right. Szlam’s work was the source material for the album’s visual aesthetic. Szlam’s visual creation for the album derives from sequences that echo lunar notions and photographic intervals that reverberate and resonate, evoking the oscillation of time. Using frames from various hand-processed 16mm filmstrips, Szlam created a lunar sequence that constitutes the album cover artwork.
*Student price available in person or over the phone through The Aeolian box office.