The French third

Ambient, instrument-packed trio Torngat escapes the Montreal hype for a Friday gig in Halifax. Shannon Webb-Campbell joins the parade.

Montréal's Torngat are lugging their armloads of instruments into town to create ambient, experimental and instrumental sounds at Gus' Pub on April 7.

"The concept of the album *La Rouge* reflects our live show," says Mathieu Charbonneau. "The songs are like structured improv; although, we play a lot of other material which is free-change improv and is quite different from the album."

*La Rouge* is Torngat's third release, following a self-titled disc and 2004's *Live at the Bread Factory*. Torngat id a multi-instrumental triplet comprised of Charbonneau, Pietro Amato (who also plays in Bell Orchestre and occasionally with The Arcade Fire) and Julien Poissant. The visionaries met during their formative years at Concordia University while studying music and have been creating unstructured soundscapes for over four years.

"I was studying jazz piano, Julien was studying composition," says Charbonneau. "Pietro was studying the French horn and we met while he was wandering around the department knocking on every door, trying to listen in on everything."

By combining french horn with percussion, wurlitzer, trumpet, xylophones, melodion and a synthesizer, Torngat explores and scores its artful instrumental musical terrain.

"Torngat is a chain of mountains near Labrador," he says. "They are really big and really wild, and they don't have any predetermined terrain. Some Aboriginal people do live there. When we first started 75 percent of what we were playing was improvisational. These mountains are so big and wild, they don't have a path and that seemed to relate to the music that was happening between us."

While creating their consciously impulsive sounds, Torngat collectively relies heavily on the members’ acute sense of intuition. Their big orchestration is fuelled solely on energy, as they feed off one another and the crowd of listeners.

"Energy is most important," he says. "When people feel really connected, we can bring them into our bubble and take them to a different world."

Torngat's instrumental landscape may be lacking vocals, yet their inventive melodies lead your mind through deep dark woods, to the horizon and beyond.

"The beauty of the french horn is that it can really sing," Charbonneau says. "When Pietro plays he's really thinking about phrases. Because we don't have vocals you can really build your own story in your mind. And it's never the same story."

When formulating these songs, usually one band member brings a composition to the table, the sound idea is further developed into a concept and eventually made into a song. Majority of the arrangements are worked out as a trio, yet nothing is ever composed on sheet music.

"We always trust our ears. We want people to forget that we don't have lyrics," he says. "With all of the instruments we use there is a visual aspect to the show. But when we are writing there is always a strong emphasis on melodies."

By combining their unique vision and being based in one of the most musically rich cities in the country, Torngat's future certainly appears to be auspicious.

"We're not just here for the Montréal hype," he says. "But it's pretty amazing to be a part of as we've had this circle of friend we've known for five or six years and because of their worldwide success other bands are receiving a lot more attention. It's never really felt competitive, as our music is so different."

Currently Torngat is in the process of writing a new LP. August will be devoted to recording, in addition to playing a few festivals throughout the summer months.

"We're going to go out to the country for a month,” says Charbonneau. “It's basically the same amount of money to record in the city for a week. We're planning to release this album with a label, as we've done our time as an independent band. We're not quite sure of which label, but it would be nice to be able to reach a few more people with our music."

Torngat w/SS Cardiacs and Yellow Jacket Avenger, April 7 at Gus’ Pub, 2607 Agricola, $6, 423-7786

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