Tag Archives: hamilton

[Review: No Shoes & One Sock, ‘This is Our Raga’]

Ambient music works best when it creates a mood and becomes the perfect backdrop to one’s surroundings. This allows for the music to serve, depending on the listener’s mood,  as either a perfect compliment to whatever else is going on in the foreground or to offer an avenue into intense introspection directed by the music. This Is Our Raga, the latest cassette from Hamilton, ON’s No Shoes & One Sock, manages to pull this dual feat off perfectly.

Primarily the project of Jamie Ryan Downey, but also including Drew and Reg (last names unknown), the project is described as “Indian primitive,” with the raga title reference also indicating as much. India Currents magazine states that “a raga is a scale which is played one way going up (arohi) and another way going down (avarohi). There are also two heavily emphasized notes, usually a fourth apart called the vadi and samvadi (usually translated as the ‘king’ and ‘prime minister notes.’” As with traditional Indian ragas, No Shoes & One Sock’s piece mostly consists of the same scale, but played in interestingly evolving ways. The upfront, but not in your face, presence of the sitar also adds to the classical Indian vibe.

What sets This Is Our Raga apart from other generic cross-blends of Eastern and ambient, however, is the inherent eeriness present throughout the piece’s duration. From the omnipresent howling heard in the background throughout to the 1950s scifi film-like noises that emerge at unpredictable moments, there is a subtle darkness to this raga that takes it from being a simple ode to classical Indian music to a truly unique experience.

With this simple, but perfect blending of traditional Indian raga and ambient/drone techniques (which of course trace their origins back to Indian music) This is Our Raga is truly one of those refreshing pieces of music that can be played on an endless loop and listened to all day with every listen yielding a different experience.


Review by KiRee Robinson

[Review: Magic Shadows, ‘Sunburned Mind’]

Sunburned Mind, the debut physical release from Hamilton’s Magic Shadows, revels in a vintage sound, melding the musical stylings of the last three decades by fusing elements of droney shoegaze with the balls-to-the-wall attitude of garage and DIY punk. Considering the band’s name comes from the classic Canadian television series of the same name, it’s not surprising that the Sunburned Mind 7″ takes on the feel of an acid trip gone wrong as it patiently plays with various tones and timbres allowing for a wide range of sound to emerge from repetitive progressions.

The title track opens the 7” with a subtly eerie progression, perfectly setting the tone for the listener. Starting with a chord progression on a clean channel, the riff is picked up in unison by the bass and a heavily distorted second guitar, creating a dissonance that carries through to the end of the song. The vocals shine through, not so much in volume but more so in melody, invoking the likes of early Ramones or other proto-punk vocals. The presence of various overdrive effects gives the song a very full-bodied sound, which of course has always been a staple of shoegaze music dating back to My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.

Though there is a lead guitar riff on the title track, it is somewhat drowned out by the wall of sound created by the backing instruments. This is not a negative, however, as it too adds depth to the track, accentuating the vocals, especially during the wailing chorus. Overall it is a “catchy” song, if in somewhat of an atypical fashion. No one instrument stands out above the rest, but the song as a whole is presented in a well-crafted manner.

The side B track, “Under the Stairs,” truly shows off the punk inspiration, opening with a viscous riff that sounds like the incessant growl of heavy machinery. Quickly breaking off from the onslaught of sound the verse has a call and answer feel to it, each stanza interrupted by the band’s “Ahs.” A lead guitar pierces the monotony of the droning rhythm section, though not a technically proficient lick it fits perfectly with the rebellious attitude of the piece. The power of the vocalist Rich Oddie is very evident on this track, as he is almost required to shout over the instrumentation, yet he remains in key, a feat few are able to perform.

Oddie, of course, is better known as one half of the dark rythmic noise/industrial techno duo Orphx, which has garnered international acclaim from both DJs and producers for their blending of modular and analog synthesizers, feedback circuits, location recordings and homemade instruments to create a uniquely dark and electronic body-resonating sound. Oddie said in an interview that despite his previous work in electronic sounds, he’s “been a fan of blues and rock for many years, and especially more psychedelic forms of rock like shoegaze, ‘60s psych, krautrock, etc.” Magic Shadows is his attempt to “get back to singing and playing guitar live.”

Along for the ride are bassist Tyler Cooke, who also plays in garage rock band Mystics, and guitarist Mike Long, who has made a name in Hamilton working in videoGreg Voisin rounds out the group on drums.

A 7” such as this tends to only offer a teasing glimpse of the band as a whole. Though they come across as a solid outfit, the true power of their music can probably only be felt at a live performance. The music comes across very heavy, which unfortunately tends to be toned down due to mastering, resulting in a loss of general energy. The DIY feel of the album is a definite selling point to those who demand music with a raw feeling, which does make up for any lack of energy mentioned above. Though the 7” is not very clean in execution, the few flaws that are evident only add to the overall sound.



Review by Brendan O’Malley

* Catch Magic Shadows TONIGHT in Hamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood

[Free Music Friday: No Shoes & One Sock, ‘Raise the Djed’]

Tonight No Shoes & One Sock will perform a blend of Eastern-tinged drone in Hamilton as part of the New Harbour Music Series, which takes place in the Christ Church Cathedral on James Street right in the middle of Hamilton’s Art Crawl.

Also on the bill is Guelph artist M. Mucci. Cover is pay what you can – all donations go directly to the performing artists.

[Mixed Up Monday: Orphx, Live @ Mutek]

Here is a mix from Hamilton duo Orphx that was recorded at Montreal’s Mutek festival in 2010. On the surface, Orphx’s music and mixes (which generally consist of primarily their own songs) might sound like a darker more industrial take on  traditional techno. Their inclusion in the Mutek festival though should clue you in to what those familiar with this duo already know–there is a lot more going on in their mixes then what you will hear in most other “electronic dance music” mixes.

Check their description from their soundcloud site below:

Since the mid-1990s, Rich Oddie and Christina Sealey have been creating a unique fusion of techno, industrial, and electro-acoustic music. Using modular and analog synthesizers, software, feedback circuits, location recordings and homemade instruments, Oddie and Sealey draw upon the darker tendencies of techno, electro, and dub, and combine these elements with the experimental aesthetics of early industrial music. Orphx has gained an international following as one of the pioneering acts within the European “rhythmic noise” scene. They have performed in numerous countries around the world, appearing alongside artists such as Alva Noto, Laurie Anderson, Monolake, Pan Sonic and many others. Oddie and Sealey have also collaborated on audio / visual projects and exhibitions related to their musical work. Orphx have released nine full length albums and numerous singles on vinyl, cd and cassette. Their most recent work further develops a dark hybrid of techno, dub and industrial that has garnered critical acclaim from many of techno’s leading DJs.