"I love minimalism. Not only in music but also in art, decor, film, literature and fashion," says Matthew Samways, electronic musician and head of Electric Voice Records. "I believe there is something powerful in conveying a multitude of emotion or intent that is framed by restrictions and limitations."
On Friday at Plan B, Electric Voice will present a collection of local sound artists who experiment with ideas of restraint in our current age of excess, musical or otherwise. As a young label, Electric Voice is guided by industrialism, minimalism, post-punk and experimental electronic, reflected by the showcase.
The night will feature the intense electronica of Sackville/Halifax's JFM, a set by DJ BW (Brett Wagg), the industrial junk of Halifax's Catbag, collaboration between Samways and saxophonist Dave Ewenson, the disorienting floor-style of Torso (Sandy Saunders) and a visual art installation by Daniel Joyce. "Each act offers a visceral experience that will progress throughout the evening," says Samways.
Usually performing solo, with an all-analog configuration set-up of synthesizers, drum machines and other electronics, Samways and Ewenson will play together to heighten the live aural experience.
"Dave is extremely intuitive and open to all kinds of music, and has a natural ability to accent my music accordingly," explains Samways. "He'll be accentuating my set of analogue electronics with various acoustic instruments." The outcome will prefigure the debut album that Samways has been working on with Italian/German label Mannequin Records, while highlighting Ewenson's versatility as a performer.
The style of Electric Voice, with its appeal to outsider forms of art, has set the label against mainstream outfits while also bringing well-known acts like Dirty Beaches to the fold. There's a tendency for industrial and experimental forms of music to alienate listeners, which Samways hopes to change. "Within the origins of a lot of industrial music and transgressive art, there were multiple ideas that were enforcing this alienation," he says. "I fantasize about creating a community where the principles of genre do not have to exist, eliminating trend and focusing on aesthetics, innovation of sound and craft and---more predominately--- commitment. We are all progressing with these ideas in praxis."
Due to an increasing lack of art gallery space in Halifax, Samways wanted to provide a visual arts component to the event as well, inviting Joyce, the current director of the Khyber Centre for the Arts. "The Khyber was the greatest avenue for showing work," says Samways, who housed the Electric Voice headquarters at the Khyber and helped plan similar events in the now-empty art space. "I feel like all of Dan's hard work and efforts running the Khyber building diminished the recognition of his artistic talents." As Joyce plans to leave Halifax this year, take the chance to see him in action while you can.
And same for Samways: while Halifax has been a great place to establish his label, he sees Montreal as the next step in its development. He plans to move himself and Electric Voice in September. "I find myself more and more disenchanted with contemporary art and music, and I am not so interested in recycling historical music trends," says Samways about the throwback style of minimalism, for instance. "Yet we are thriving to create and contribute to the progressions within these niches."
Torso, Matthew Samways, JFM, Catbag, DJ BW
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