Marching to Victoriaville

Ten or fifteen years ago I began to get brochures in the mail from the Festival Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville (somewhere between Montreal and Quebec City); they must have profiled me as a likely attendee. It’s the wrong time of the year for a Huge School art teacher, so I hope the affair continues after I retire (like that’s gonna happen). Still, I know many of you would be interested in this annual festival of experimental and improvised music, which often includes jazz, so here are some highlights from this year’s schedule:

One hundred electronic Nabaztag bunnies in choir formation, lighting up, wiggling their ears, and playing back music following a sophisticated score inspired by Cage, Reich, Ligeti, and Nancarrow.

Montreal guitarist Sam Shalabi goes back to his Egyptian roots. Land of Kush is the large ensemble project where he rethinks Egyptian pop music in terms of experimental groove. Five singers and twenty musicians or so, with a blend of rock and Arab instruments.

Lydia Lunch, the queen of no-wave… sings/reads her sordid tales backed by the noise music of Strings of Consciousness’s Philippe Petit, who works with prepared sounds and turntable mistreatments.

Les Momies de Palerme, two young and mysterious ladies playing ghostly and ungraspable music – a blend of Gothic drone and ethereal songs.

Three Norwegians and a Frenchman… a gamelan-like soundworld.

Tanya Tagaq has reinvented traditional Inuit throat singing, turning it into something modern, experimental, and incredibly sensual… she delivers a performance where song meets improvisation, past meets present, and rock showmanship meets bold creativity.

Erick D’Orion: Six pianos from different eras are reacting to the impulses of unbalanced motors attached to their structures. The pianos transform into vibrating surfaces.

Composer and choirmaster Andre Pappathomas has enlisted the participation of local choirs to create a virtual choir of voices from Victoriaville. He met several singers and recorded them individually. These tracks have been assembled and orchestrated to compose “La vie mode d’emploi,” a never-heard-before sound installation set out right onto the bicycle trail, near the bandstand, where passers-by will be able to stroll around and, in some cases, recognize their own voices.

American free jazz legend Bill Dixon presents, for the first time ever on stage, his “Tapestries for Small Orchestra” project, an all-out exploration of the sonic capabilities of the trumpet. Music that is composed yet improvised, strictly laid out yet free, filled with people yet strangely open and roomy. (Includes Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek.)

Happy 96th, McKinley Morganfield!

W. o’ W.: Jaoquin Torres-Garcia


“Man believes that he evolves advancing toward intelligence.

I believe the opposite.

Man finds his place by moving toward consciousness.”