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FIMAV 33 - Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville - May 18th - 21st, 2017

Considering that I have been attending the New Music Festival in Victoriaville every year since 1988, this, the 33rd edition seemed somehow different. Ever since the unfortunate election of our fake president, there has been an ongoing vibe of denial: fear, frustration, confusion, anger and a disorienting feeling that we are living in a nightmare that will not end anytime soon. There are too many folks staring at their phones, computers and TV screens, trying to make some sense out of the incomprehensible.

I always look forward to the Victo Fest since it is a vacation from daily life and its ongoing anxieties, but this year those feelings pervaded some of the music and discussions in between the concerts. As has become our ritual, we (Jason Roth, Bob Nirkind & myself) , drove up on Wednesday, May 17th in our rented minivan. We stopped in Albany for a nice seafood brunch and then a long trek up to Montreal. We always head to L’Oblique, a old record store on Rivard run by my old friend Luc. Luc’s store is in an institution (like DMG) which has been around for more than 30 years, longer then my store. We hooked up with our friends Don White (from Texas) and Charles & Cathy (Charles works at Academy Records in NYC). We all had a lovely dinner at La Casa Rosa and then headed up Victoriaville, a small town 2 hours from Montreal, arriving around 2am.

Thursday, the first day of FIMAV, was unseasonably warm (around 80), which no one was ready for considering how cold & overcast the winter had been for us and the folks of Quebec. After brunch at Pomme Vert, we made our way to Productions Plateform, the office for the festival to pick up our passes, by CDs, t-shirts and talk with Michel Levasseur, festival founder, concert MC and old friend. We went for dinner at Mykonos, our favorite restaurant, which some of go to every night. The first concert took place at Le Carre 150, which used to be an old cinema and is now an arts complex with several theaters. The first concert featured Gordon Monahan on electronic sounds & samples and performance artist Bill Coleman. The piece was entitled, “Dollhouse” and was supposed to be a reflection of the clutter of the worlds/spaces in which we live. I know Quebecois composer Gordon Monahan from a few records he made many years ago plus a performance of his at New Music America in Montreal nearly 30 years ago. The stage was filled (cluttered) with broken plastic objects, a large table for Mr. Monahan’s electronic equipment, several thin fake trees with spinning tops and a large metal frame suspended in the center of the stage. Mr. Coleman, stood center stage staring at the audience in silence, watching and waiting. Slowly Coleman began contorting himself, with the sounds of crackling and popping going under his clothes. This went on for a long time while Monahan slowly added quietly disturbing electronic sounds. Coleman continued to move slowly, twisting himself as the sounds became more uncomfortable. Eventually Mr. Coleman took off some clothes and then slipped on a jacket which was filled with arrows going through it. Coleman continues to twist his body in strange shapes, lying on the floor at times while the electronics got stranger still. Eventually, water gushed out of parts of the hanging metal frame, with Mr. Coleman lying underneath the water and getting very wet. The overall vibe of the piece was disturbing and it took some patience to get through it. As Mr. Coleman slipped and occasionally fell on broken plastic bits, it reminded me of the way life has been going. Sometimes treacherous but often just disorienting and rather sad. I t that having this piece as the opening for this fest was an odd choice but… it also makes sense since the precariousness of life is hard to avoid at times. This is the situation we find ourselves in currently.

The second set took place at Colosseum A, the big room and featured saxist Colin Stetson. The concert began with an unexpected solo bass sax performance by Stetson which is something that Mr. Stetson has mastered over many years. A baritone sax is rather heavy to carry around but a bass sax is even heavier and older sax players usually keep it in a stand and wheel it around. No doubt Mr. Stetson must work out since he does carry it around and move quickly when he is playing. First he straps a mic to his throat so that the sounds of his throat are amplified along with the sounds coming from his sax. Starting off with a low-end, grumbling drone, he slowly increases the intensity and density. Layers of growling, throbbing, resonating drones increase and erupt not unlike the sound of Godzilla screaming. The rhythmic patterns of keys on his sax are also amplified and have a hypnotic, tribal sound. The overall effect is completely riveting.

The next part of this set was a rendition of Henryk Gorecki’s “Symphony # 3” for Stetson’s eleven piece ensemble. I had heard several friends mention how much they dug Stetson’s version, so I eagerly awaited this set. In the past, I have heard just a few CD’s by Gorecki, but none of them seemed interesting to me. I found this piece to be too long, the wheezing accordion, droning reeds, strings and electric keyboards, just kept building yet never reached a place that touched me. It seems overly melodramatic, like the soundtrack of a popular movie that I have no interest in seeing. I must admit that some of my friends dug this set very much so there was something stirring going on for most of the crowd who gave this set a rousing applause.

The midnight concert featured electronic music by BJ Nilsen with films by Karl Lemieux. The films were mostly of large buildings from an aerial view, many of which looked abandoned or under construction. Although, the views didn’t appear to change much, Mr. Lemieux added different patterns or filters to keep things more interesting. The main problem was that I got tired of watching these buildings very quickly and the images just continued over and over and over. Over the past few years, what has changed in my immediate environment is that they keep on building more & more overpriced apartments, many of which look the same, all along the train route to New York City that I take practically every day. It is depressing for me to see this numbing sameness increasing as time marches on. Watching this film reminded me of that and after 30 minutes, I couldn’t watch any more. The electronic music that accompanied the films was also overwhelming at times as well, however it did fit with the film. The theme of technology taking over and people being addicted to their phones and computers is something that has been bothering me more and more so instead of escaping these things, I was reminded of them often throughout this fest.

The second day began with a concert at a new location for this fest, a large church on the outskirts of Victoriaville. I have to admit that I have rarely felt comfortable in a church, since I am Jewish, plus I find that the seats are always hard and most uncomfortable, making it hard for me to concentrate on the music. This concert featured an acoustic string trio: Tristan Honsinger on cello & voice, Joshua Zubot on violin and Nicolas Caloia on bass. I was most fortunate to have this trio play at DMG last year when they did a short tour. The problem with this concert and church was that the trio played unamplified. Although I was lucky to find a seat up front, it was not so easy to hear all that they were doing. It did force everyone in attendance to listen closely and keep completely quiet. This is a marvelous trio: from quick buzzing strings to partially written to intense free sections. Longtime ICP cellist, Tristan Honsinger, does a great job of adding unexpected vocal bits, sung and spoken, in odd places. The cello and violin have a great of bending their strings in similar ways, creating their own world. There was one song that sounded vaguely familiar, rather Ellingtonian or perhaps traditional, which was a treat. I urge you to go see this trio if you do get the chance and/or purchase their new CD on Relative Pitch, called “In the Sea”. It is a gem well worth checking out.

The next set on Day 2 was by Kasper Toeplitz with a woman named Myriam Gourfink. I know that Mr. Toeplitz has been around a long while and that I have a CD of his buried somewhere in my collection. The music began with a loud, slowly resonating, electronic sounds that Toeplitz coaxes from his laptop and other devices. Meanwhile Ms. Gourfink moved very slowly looking as if she is falling through space. The music took its time to gradually slow down and become less oppressive, ending with a series of more restrained drones. It certainly ended on a much less ominous sound than it started with. It seems as if I am getting tired of some/much electronic music, at least a few of the sets this year made me feel alienated. Is it just me or are other attendees feeling this as well?

After a much needed dinner with friends, we made our way back to Le Carre for a highly anticipated set featuring vocalist Linda Sharrock, Mia Zabelka on violin and Mario Rechtern on saxes, homemades & electronics. Free/jazz music aficionados/freaks should no doubt recall Linda Sharrock from her time (late sixties/early seventies) when she sang with her then husband, the late guitar legend Sonny Sharrock. Sonny was the longtime guitarist for the popular jazz flutist Herbie Mann as well as with working with Pharaoh Sanders. A recent reissue has Linda also sitting in with Herbie Mann’s band. Linda and Sonny Sharrock went onto to record three albums in the early seventies, two of which (‘Black Woman’ & ‘Monkey-Pockey Boo’) remain classics off free/jazz insanity. Originally a jazz vocalist, Ms. Sharrock does quite a bit of screaming and extreme singing on these records, putting her in a class of her own. Eventually the couple broke up and Ms. Sharrock moved to Europe, recording a handful of hard-to-find records and using her voice in less extreme ways. Ms. Sharrock eventually disappeared from the music scene and sadly suffered a stroke in 2009. Always a survivor by nature, Ms. Sharrock returned to recording and performing live in 2012, working with a number of sympathetic European and American musicians in Paris. One of the musicians that has helped her return to the limelight is saxist Mario Rechtern, once a member of the Boston underground jazz scene. Ms. Sharrock hadn’t performed in North America in some perhaps more than forty years, so many of us were wondering how she might sound now. Ms. Sharrock and Mr. Rechtern were joined by Berlin-based violinist Mia Zabelka, who has worked with Lydia Lunch and played here at DMG earlier this year. I believe that choosing there two musicians were a wise choice since both loved to experiment with their sound. Rechtern played bari sax with a bow attached and also had some weird-looking device that he played his sax through to give it a more electronic edge at times. Ms. Sharrock is now confined to a wheelchair and was helped out onstage by Mr. Rechtern, looking rather frail. Once placed in a chair center stage, the concert began with the sax and violin erupting and blending lines all over the place. Although Ms. Sharrock has always been a gifted vocal improviser, her vocal range is more limited now to just a handful of sounds. So she concentrates on what she can work with and provides a haunting presence with her eerie vocal sounds. Both Rechtern and Zabelka are strong, intense improvisers who were often pushing the limits of what they could do. Rechtern both let out a number of brutal sax sounds as well as altering his sax with some weird homemade devices. For a long-stretch midway in the set, Ms. Sharrock kept repeating the word “Why?” over and over and over. Rechtern also played soprano sax and a double reed (shenia?), altering his sound and providing a stream of bent notes which worked with Ms. Sharrock equally impressive but limited voice. I really dug this set since I felt that Ms. Sharrock does work wonders with a limited range. Some folks I spoke with were not so impressed but I felt that Mr. Levasseur chose this trio well, giving them an opportunity to shine and rise above our expectations.

The next set was the most talked about set of the festival, since very few folks had heard of Senyawa from Indonesia before this night. I was fortunate that I had heard of them previously (on record) since they once collaborated with Japanese guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa and have a great disc that I reviewed a while back. The duo featured Rully Shabara on vocals and Wukir Suryadi on bambuwukir, which included a few instruments he made himself. Mr. Shabara is fit looking and sings in with a scary, deep growl. He uses two mic’s, one with some effects added, his voice powerful and well-utilized. Mr. Suryadi switched between a couple of unique looking instruments, One was made from bamboo and has a layer of strings on the outside which could be plucked, bowed and altered with sundry devices, At times, Mr. Suryadi would play hypnotic folk/rock/psych sounds on his homemade stringed thing. He also played some cosmic slide on a could his pieces. The music blended tribal grooves with Gong-like space waves, often taking us along with them on a journey to the stars. This duo was often mind-blowing and created their own weird world which didn’t quite sound like anything else any of us had heard before. These seemed like kindred spirits to Acid Mothers Temple, perhaps they should collaborate.

Another disappointment for me was Ex Eye featuring Colin Stetson on bass sax, Shahzad Ismaily on synth, Toby Summerfeld on el. guitar and Greg Fox on drums. I had heard that this was supposed to be Colin Stetson’s metal band, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. The music a blend of a blend of sludge rock with Philip Glass-like patterns. Sometimes it sped up like hardcore (punk from the mid-80’s) but there wasn’t wasn’t enough going on to hold my interest. One of my few complaints about FIMAV is that they like to use smoke machines at the Colosseum, which I find to be unnecessary. Once again, I was the odd man out as some of my friends liked this set.

The next day, we were back to the big church on the outskirts of town with Battle Trance, a sax quartet from New York. Most sax quartets features different saxes like: soprano, alto, tenor & bari, but Battle Trance has four tenor saxes. I’ve heard this quartet live and I own and enjoy both of their two CDs. Since I heard them live last year, they’ve added saxist Anna Webber (as a sub), someone I quite admire on her own. What is interesting about Battle Trance is that their music is always evolving and no two sets or discs sounds similar. I think their written material is limited to sketches that they develop over time. I also think that their sound changes due to the space or environment that they find them selves in. Their sets started with a series of drone-like chords which sounds like an organ at times. I heard the sounds of whales or foghorns or other ocean vessels within their unique sound. The music was by turns majestic, pulsating, jubilant, contemplative, warm, wooly, tranquil and haunting. Sort of like a wheeling accordion slowing down and speeding up. Eventually turning into a frenzy of waves, spiraling, broken patterns, sometimes soulful, other times somber. The combinations of players kept shifting from duos to trios to quartets. When it finally ended it was as if we had been through some sort of battle which ended in a trance.

Downtown trumpeter and composer, Nate Wooley’s piece ‘Seven Story Mountain’ is an evolving work-in-progress which has been recorded several times so far, with the ensemble getting larger with each performance or disc. I’ve seen the piece done live on several occasions and have reviewed the different discs as well. For this performance, entitled’ V’, the ensemble has expanded to nineteen members, with most of the instruments doubled and a brass octet. The structure of the piece seems simple from the outside with a number of repeating patterns being played over and over and building as they go. It began with just the Tilt Brass Octet playing in a most majestic way, a kind of fanfare. Slowly other instruments come in one or two at a time, a tape of industrial sounds in the distance, calm at times, slowly expanding and thickening as other instruments are added. Eventually sailing into an ecstatic, eruption, which is over-the-top and often exhilarating. Some folks I spoke with were disappointed since they thought that the way the piece evolved was too obvious and some of the musicians were under-utilized. We did have to give and go along for the long ride on what became a tidal wave. I was impressed since I feel we need some ecstatic music to help lift our spirits out of our usual woes.

Another mostly well-received set was an combination of two improvisers from Germany Gunda Gottschalk on violin and Ute Volker on accordion with three female vocalists (and sisters) from Mongolia. I’ve known of Gunda Gottschalk for many years since she was introduced by to us by a fellow Wupppertal musician, the late Peter Kowald. Ms. Gottschalk once was a solo set at DMG in our early days and I\ve caught her in a duo and trio with Xu Fengxia and Joe Fonda. Ute Volker has worked with Ms. Gottschalk for many years. What was odd about this collaboration was that it featured three Mongolian sister singers with whom the duo met on tour in there homeland a few years back. Both Ms. Gottshalk and Ms. Volker are gifted improvisers and work well together. Adding the Mongolian sisters was something else entirely, especially since they performed in exquisite. lovely, colorful traditional outfits. It was especially nice to hear an all acoustic ensemble except for the vocals which were modestly amplified. Each piece featured different combinations of players, solos, duo, trios, etc. There was something quite charming about the way the singers looked and sang. A couple of my friends felt that performances by the singers was a bit too slick or obvious but I was glad to hear some positive vibes for a change of pace. Later that evening, I had an opportunity to hang out at length with the three singers at the hotel bar. They were extremely silly and fun to be with and even sang to me a few songs which did made my day even better. Getting somewhat drunk with them and my other buddies was a great way to end our day.

Another highly anticipated set was by composer/keyboardist Terry Riley and his son guitarist Gyan Riley. I had caught this duo once at the Skirball Center at NYU a few years back and was much impressed then. I am a longtime Terry Riley fanatic, especially since by his classic albums in the late sixties, ‘Rainbow in Curved Air’ and ‘In C’. I’ve heard Gyan Riley play on several occasions in a duo with guitarist Julian Lage, playing the music of John Zorn and have been knocked out by that duo. For this set Mr. Riley played piano, melodica and sang a bit while Gyan played electric guitar. Starting out quietly with Terry singing in a charming Indian-like style, while Gyan plays soft electric guitar. Terry’s voice was warm, rich-hued, sad, lovely and completely enchanting. Terry played a blues-like riff on his melodica which turned into a raga-like things afterwards. Gyan played a haunting, Jerry Garcia-like melodic, way way guitar solo on one song. The set seemed partially improvised which turned out is was. I spoke with Gyan after the show and he said that theme of this set was the “Sad Anthems of America” and they even quoted the “Star Spangled Banner” rather obliquely. It was great to hear this unique ensemble for a second time. It was hard to tell what was improvised from what was written and everything flowed together in a most charming way.

The final set of the day featured a Slovenian-born, Vienna-based singer known as Maja Osojnik and her sextet. I didn’t know any of the members of her sextet except for the former Baltimore-based cellist/vocalist Audrey Chen, whom I hadn’t heard from in many years since she moved Europe. What was interesting is that Ms. Osojnik sang mainly in English and her ensemble had that dark brooding Nick Cave-like sound. The band moved effortlessly moved between sly drones, spaciousness and Patti Smith-like rocking. I was especially glad to see Ms. Chen again after so many years. since I used to hear her improvise with Susan Alcorn, Joe McPhee and Tatsuya Nakatani back in the day and she is always amazing live. While Mr. Osojnik sang in a more serious, restrained voice, Ms. Chen added her bent, intense vocalese here and there for good measure. There was one political song that stood out and rang true which ended with the refrain, “We own you”, something which seemed to fit the vibe of our current nightmarish administration. I had the good opportunity to hang out with Maja, Audrey and the members of her band later that night which was indeed a good deal of fun. Ms. Osojnik left me a few copies of her solo album I have been listening to and digging.

I am a longtime fan of Canadian guitarist & composer Tim Brady, whose several performances at previous Victo Fests are always compelling in one way or another. For this concert Mr Brady played with and conducted the Grand Ensemble, a 13-piece ensemble with the addition of two opera-like vocalists, a male and female singer. Mr. Brady is a fine electric guitarist and was the featured soloist on the first of two long compositions. The first piece was entitled, “Concerto for Electric Guitar and Ensemble” and Brady soloed at length, his playing at the center of the large ensemble. The band played tight Philip Glass-like spiraling lines with with Brady’s prog-like sustained tone leading the way. The second piece, “Eight Songs About; Symphony No.7”, featured two opera-like vocalists who singing was modest and never overdone the way some opera singers do. The lyrics described the siege on Leningrad during World War II, often bleak yet true to the spirit of what went on there and then. During the struggle for survival, a tattered orchestra did their best to play Shostakovich’s “3rd Symphony”, which was supposed to rouse people’s spirits. The woman vocalist sang the part of a saddened prostitute. The music featured some Steve Reich-like repeating patterns. The overall vibe was often troubling yet the inner spirit was somehow transcendent. In the dark times that we now find ourselves in, this music seemed most appropriate. I hope to hear this piece again on record since I believe there is a lot more going on than my initial listening.

In the ongoing series of concerts which featured disturbing electronic music and films, a trio called Rdeca Raketa, continued with this theme. This trio featured Ms. Maja Osojnik, the singer from the night before, this time doing inexpensive electronics along with Matija Schellander on synth and Micahel Grill on video. The music was mostly low-tech electronics, similar to what the Swiss noise duo Voice Crack does. The music started off quietly and got louder and more dense throughout the set. I later listened to the album by Rdeca Raketa, which includes some spoken word parts by Ms. Osojnik, I found the music disorienting yet most effective. There seemed to be more going on with the images projected than the music itself. The music grew louder and more disturbing throughout the set and I felt relieved when it ended and I was able to go outside and get some sun and breeze and fresh air.

The next two sets were perhaps the most anticipated ones of the fest and were indeed both quite extraordinary. The first of these two was the Canadian debut of the new Nels Cline Quartet. It featured Nels Cline and Julian Lage on guitars, Scott Colley on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. Nels Cline and Julian Lage have been playing together as a duo for a number of years, their first public performance was at a DMG anniversary party a few years ago. Both Nels and Julian are incredible guitarists and enjoy challenging each other. Bassist Scott Colley is a current member of the Julian Lage Trio, while NY drum wiz Tom Rainey was once a member of a trio with Nels and Andrea Parkins. Right form the opening salvo, we could tell that Nels had put a lot of thought into the writing, arranging and choosing of select cover tunes. The first piece was by Carla Bley and it was a challenging opener, a great way to kick off the set. The intricate interlocking guitar lines were pretty astonishing as was the wonderful mallet-work by Mr. Rainey and superb bass solo from Mr. Colley kept things focused. Even when this band lays back, the playing is consistently exquisite, which included a modest yet riveting jazz/rock guitar solo from Nels. The third piece consisted of a Jimmy Giuffre Trio-like chamber jazz work, which might’ve been influenced by Jim Hall who was an integral member of the Giuffre Trio from the late fifties. Even better was a piece called “Swing Ghost ’59’ which reminded me of the Attilla Zoller/Don Friedman Quartet from the late 1960’s, another one of the great jazz units that were completely overlooked at the time. Although Nels Cline and Julian Lage are around thirty years apart in age, they work immensely well together. The music is balanced between soft and dreamy with tight intricate ensemble playing detouring to occasional bits of psych, prog or fusion’s best moments. Another strong cover was an early song by the legendary drummer Paul Motian, called “Conception Vessel. The song featured one duo: Nels and Rainey followed by another duo of Julian and Scott, the flow remaining well connected throughout. This set was incredible throughout and will be remembered as one of the bests sets of the year! Can’t wait until this quartet records!

You might not think that the following set could nearly as great as Nels Cline’s spectacular quartet but it was equally amazing and exceptionally rare. Visionary saxist, composer and multi-bandleader, Anthony Braxton has played and recorded more often that any one artist (nine times???) at the Victo Festival, yet has never played a solo set here before now. Mr. Braxton recently retired from teaching at Wesleyan University so he could concentrate on composing and doing the occasional tour or series of gigs, mostly in Europe. Word is that festival founder, Michel Levasseur, asked Mr. Braxton to do something special, so a solo alto sax set was the answer. As a longtime Braxton fan-addict myself, I have collected as many of his few hundred releases as possible, seeing him live many times, reading many articles and books about him, reading interviews, even getting a chance to meet and speak with on a few occasions, mostly doing my best to get a better understanding of his complex, ever-evolving music and vision. In the forty plus years since I bought my first Braxton album, .New York, Fall 1974’, I have only heard play solo on a couple of occasions. The last time was in New York in 2002, 15 years ago, so my fellow Braxtonians and myself were indeed eager to be at this historic event. What surprised me was that he started with a lovely, lyrical ballad with a tone similar to Paul Desmond, one of his self-proclaimed influences. It was a beautiful way to open this set considering that Mr. Braxton has long been one the leading avant-garde sax pioneers. Soon enough Braxton moved into his distinctive, bent-note, tongue-slapping, modernist tone, which has been working on for more than fifty years, commencing his early recording career in 1968 with a then controversial solo sax 2 LP set called, ‘For Alto’, which still sounds challenging to listeners today. Mr. Braxton his continued to explore and master a variety of extended sax techniques which he worked his way through throughout the set. Circular-breathing, criss-crossing several lines simultaneously, talking through his sax, pushing himself and still challenging serious listeners. I felt exhausted and exhilarated by turns, marveling at his unquenchable thirst to come up with something new. Midway through the set, he surprised us with another superb, bitter-sweet ballad, done in its entirety. “Falling in Love Again” I believe is what it was and many of us were moved by this immensely haunting, heartfelt rendition. The balance between the inside and the outside playing I found to be perfect. The set ended with a portion of “Body and Soul”, one of the very first jazz standards , made famous by Coleman Hawkins in 1939. The set was nearly an hour long, longer than the 45 minutes that was first anticipated. The next morning as we were leaving the hotel to drive to Montreal, I bumped into Mr. Braxton in the lobby. I thanked him for his wonderful performance and gave him a hug. I told him that those ballads really helped us all in these troubling times. He smiled and said that this is what music is all about, bringing us together and sharing in something special.

If this were the last set, the festival would’ve ended with a perfect climax. But this was not the case as there was one more set to go. The last set of FIMAV 33 was the Rene Lussier Quintette. I am a longtime fan of Rene Lussier, one of the best electric guitarists to come from Quebec. Ever since hearing Mr. Lussier play guitar in a duo called Les Granueles with Jean Derome in the early days of FIMAV, as well as with Fred Frith’s Keep the Dog and Frith’s Electric Guitar Quartet, I have collected all of Lussier’s discs that I could get. One of the odd things about this set was that it was one of few that wasn’t introduced by promoter Michael Levasseur. This seemed odd to me. The Lussier quintet had unique instrumentation: Rene on guitar, Luzio Altobelli on accordion, Julie Houle on tuba and two drummers - Robbie Kuster & Marton Maderspoch, all new names for me. The music was an odd blend of quiet sections with progressive / Downtown fractures in equal measure. Rene’s guitar switched from loud, biting scrunch guitar to Zappa-like complex lines. Lussier always has a twisted sense of humor which was in fine form here. Both Julie on tuba and Luzio on accordion, got some chances to play strong solos and work their way through Lussier’s diverse and challenging music. The set itself was pretty strong but went on for too long. By the time it ended it felt rather anti-clamatic, If I had my way, I would’ve had this set in the middle of the day, cut it to 45 minutes and to keep it more consistent. The music didn’t quite sound like anything else at this fest or anything I had heard from Mr. Lussier in the past. It did have some compelling moments and would’ve been better to hear again recorded and listened to more closely. It did seem like an odd way to bring this fest to a close.

I have been thinking about how much FIMAV has changed throughout the nearly three decades that I’ve been attending every year. From the early days, when the festival took place in October (at the beginning of the winter in Quebec) and lasted five full days, nearly all of the sets were well worth checking out. The mix of mostly progressive bands, Euro avant jazz and Downtown’s finest made it a fest of great importance and not to be missed by those with adventurous tastes year after year. The fest eventually moved to May and later slimmed down to four days instead of five. Mr. Levasseur has long had his finger on the pulse of diverse creative musics from around the planet but I don’t think his choices have been as consistent or interesting as they used to be in recent years. As has always been the case, he has continued to surprise us many unexpected delights that practically no one else has thought of: Julie Tippetts, Jack Dupon, Trondheim Orchestra, the Music of Robert Wyatt and the Art Bears Revisited could only have taken place in Victoriaville! This year did have a number of great sets: Anthony Braxton, Nels Cline Four, Senyawa, Battle Trance and In the Sea. One of the things I do look forward to is seeing certain folks I see only that one week per year, hanging out, drinking at the hotel bar and discussing music and the weird world we all live in but try to forget about while we are up there. Thanks once again to Michel Levasseur and his crew for the great job of organizing everything to run smoothly and have great sound at each performance. See you all next year, no matter what! -

Here’s a short list of recommendations for a future FIMAV:

1.ANGLES 8 or 9 or 10 (5 Clean Feed CDs, all great!, very Brotherhood of Breath-like!)


3.ICP ORCHESTRA (They have never been there and they certainly deserve to)

4.NICOLE MITCHELL’ & BLACK EARTH ENSEMBLE or ARTIFACTS (Nicole Mitchell/Tomeka Reid/Mike Reed)







- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG, June 14, 2017