X Avant music festival

X Avant welcomes the unlistenable

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the annual X Avant Festival, which was kicked off with a pre-party this past Saturday by Chilean/Swiss techno artists Junction SM. The experimental music showcase (at the city's greatest church-turned-venue, The Music Gallery) aims to explore the possiblities of vanguard sounds. Helmed by Wavelength founder Jonny Dovercourt, this year's festival explores the tenous connections between sound and scene and offers a smattering of experimental music from across the globe.

The biggest draw is arguably a performance from Canadian-born Sonic Youth member Lee Renaldo (this Friday, doors at 5 PM, $30) who is teaming up with Canadian visual artist Laura Singer to perform their piece Contre Jour. The work was first performed in Belgium last month and features Renaldo playing the guitar while it swings hypnotically in the air.

Not to be bested is a promising showcase later that evening (doors at 7 PM, $30), featuring the fusion funk of Toronto's Global Cities Ensemble, Berlin computer glitch artist Marcus and Montreal noise guru Tim Hecker, who will perform a distorted set on St. George The Martyr's Church's pipe organ. Prepare for Hecker to shred.

For fans of guitars, Tim Brady concocts a 20-guitar ensemble, testing the boundaries of the instrument this Thursday (doors at 7 pm, $30). Saturday night is devoted to the improvisation of bands on woodwind, percussion and ukelele, as Montreal solo artist Lori Freedman, New York duo Buke + Gass and New York sextet Mantra set out to play with polyrhythms and warped pop.

After a performance of Michael Gordon's Trance by Contact Contemporary Music, the festival concludes with a reunion of the world's very "first" noise band, The Nihilist Spasm Band of London, Ontario who are known for playing instruments of their own concoctions.

For more information on X Avant, or to find out when Michael Gordon, Markus Popp and Tim Brady will be delivering lectures on their careers, check out the Music Gallery website. An all-access pass to the festival can be yours for a mere $85. What would John Cale do?

Photo of Buke + Gass via the Kaufmann Centre on Flickr


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