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Jean-Michel Jarre @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (Toronto, ON) on May 9, 2017 [Photos & Show Review]

Canada finally got a chance to see iconic French composer and electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre live in concert for the first time ever this past Tuesday night when he played Toronto’s Sony Centre.

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Canada finally got a chance to see iconic French composer and electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre live in concert for the first time ever this past Tuesday night in Toronto. Actually, it was the first show ever in North America and the Sony Centre patrons packed the house accordingly.

Jarre, who’s been making electronic music for the past 40 years, long before the Electronic Dance Music craze that spawned countless festivals every year, tours extensively in other parts of the world, and is also known for his one-off large scale concert extravaganzas, sometimes with attendance in the million plus range. The Sony centre offered a perfect acoustic space to showcase Jarre’s trademark otherworldly soundscapes but still small enough to feel somewhat intimate. Hats off to the sound engineer who put the show together as well. The experience went from seat shaking and thundering bass to tinkling bells and whispering strings, and back again, with perfectly exquisite accuracy.

Jarre also brought along his extensive stage lighting show which was spectacular to witness. Large video grids moved on tracks throughout the night, sometimes covering the whole band and showed everything from Edward Snowden speaking about some of the world’s issues, to live video transmitted from a camera mounted to Jarre’s eyeglasses, and various other cameras mounted on Jarre’s “kitchen” of electronic gear. He referred to himself as a chef, in his kitchen, cooking up the ingredients that make his masterpieces.

His touring band is made up of two Canadian multi-instrumentalists; Both of them expertly added their touch of percussion and lush sounding keyboards to Jarre’s recipes. Jarre, a multi-instrumentalist himself, came out from behind his centre stage cockpit to play the keytar on “Brick England” and “Zoolookologie”, and a starburst Les Paul guitar on “Conquistador”. Crowd favourites included the epic hit “Oxygène 2” and “4” as well as “Zero Gravity” which was a visual explosion of light, laser and video harkening back to the monster stage shows from Pink Floyd.

The main set ended with Jarre playing “The Time Machine” on his Laser Harp at the edge of the stage front. The setlist for the 110-minute show was 23 songs long including a 3 song encore and went by in an instant. The show was nothing short of mesmerising and hopefully Jarre doesn’t wait so long to return to the area. This tour is not to be missed for anyone who craves old school electronic sounds, played by virtuoso musicians. But act fast, because the tour is short, with only 9 shows in Canada and the US.

Setlist:
The Heart of Noise, Part 1
The Heart of Noise, Part 2
Automatic, Pt. 2
Oxygène 2
Circus
Web Spinner
Exit
Équinoxe 7
Conquistador
Oxygène 8
Zero Gravity
Souvenir de Chine
Immortals
Oxygène 19
Brick England
The Architect
Herbalizer
Oxygène 17
Équinoxe 4
Glory
The Time Machine
Encore:
Oxygène 4
Zoolookologie
Stardust

Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Dance/Electronic

Mieko Shimizu Premieres Music Video for “Unworldy” Single “My Tentacles”

Get stoked, cause radical multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu premieres the video for the reworked single “My Tentacles.”

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Mieko Shimizu, photo by Ruta Zemmere
Mieko Shimizu, photo by Ruta Zemmere

Radical, nonconformist Japanese singer and multi-instrumentalist Mieko Shimizu recently re-released her offbeat, unworldly single “My Tentacles.”

The single is the offbeat, unworldly title track of Mieko’s soon-to-be-released album. It is be-thronged by chimeric fusions, dysfunctional beats and startling mutations. The single is unaccompanied by an equally radical video created by diz_qo.

Speaking about the track, Mieko tells us:

“‘Emergence,’ the book by Steve Johnson, fascinated me; a colony of ants, a sprawling metropolis, and human brain cells, are all features of the unknown science of self-organisation. I wanted to cut down into society and sing a simple song about people as single cells.”

The multi-instrumentalist explains further:

“They interconnect with the multitude and conjure up a whole that is wiser together than we are individually. When my tentacles reach out and touch you, communicate with you then we become something else, something more than just an individual.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mieko has played at Sonar alongside Kraftwerk, as well as support for Goldfrapp and Massive Attack at their Melt Down Festival. She is currently an artist in residence for Wonky Plonky Electronk, an experimental, electronic live event which is touring the UK throughout 2024, the next show being on 28th March at The Cinema Room at All Is Joy in London.

Mieko has worked with an extensive range of artists, including Japan’s Mick Karn, Nitin Sawhney, Riz MC, David Cunningham, Robert Lippok and has also remixed the likes of Coldcut and Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra.

For more information on diz_qo, check him out online here. To check out more of Mieko’s work or to pre-order the upcoming album, click here.

Mieko Shimizu ‘My Tentacles’ Album Artwork

Mieko Shimizu ‘My Tentacles’ Album Artwork

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Folk

Morning Bear Reveals Latest Single “A Simple Understanding”

John Runnels unveils the revival of his indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of new single, “A Simple Understanding”.

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Morning Bear

Denver raised and now Copenhagen based singer/songwriter John Runnels unveils the revival of his orchestral indie folk project, Morning Bear, with the release of a deeply personal and emotionally charged single, “A Simple Understanding.” Marking the band’s return after a six-year hiatus, Morning Bear’s latest offering provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of its creator, navigating through the profound challenges of loss, resilience, and self-discovery.

Characterised by highly dynamic compositions, Morning Bear’s music weaves together the calm and delicate stylings reminiscent of artists like Bon Iver and Jose Gonzalez, while embracing the complexity and depth akin to the Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens. Featuring soaring vocals and unconventional arrangements, including cello, violin, piano, and more, Morning Bear crafts a textured landscape behind pop-influenced hooks.

The catalyst for Morning Bear’s resurgence lies in the transformative journey of band leader John Runnels, who, after facing a series of devastating events and losses, found solace and inspiration amid the chaos. The global pandemic, the loss of three close friends in separate tragedies, a severe injury, and battles with anxiety and depression marked a period of uncertainty for Runnels, but he emerged stronger and more resilient.

“A Simple Understanding”, a continuation of the first releases from Morning Bear after a long hiatus, showcases Runnels in an intimate and vulnerable performance, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. Released at the time of year where it is most difficult for mental health, John recorded this in a single, live take during a rainstorm in a small garage in a village outside of Andover, UK, and the song captures the raw emotion of Runnels’ struggles and experiences. The lyrics delve into themes of self-loathing and finding hope in the darkest moments of life.

He says “People are often their own worst critic. ‘A Simple Understanding’ speaks to the self-loathing you feel when you have hit rock bottom. How do we find something to hold onto when we’re in the darkest points of our lives?

Morning Bear invites audiences to join them, to embrace vulnerability and share the power of music to heal and connect. With echoes of early Bon Iver in its acoustic performance, ‘A Simple Understanding’ is a brutally honest and delicately executed piece of songwriting that is sure to resonate with listeners, John Runnels bears all in this captivating and emotionally charged offering that sticks.

Morning Bear "A Simple Understanding" single artwork

Morning Bear “A Simple Understanding” single artwork

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