Toronto is lucky to have seen a resurgence in live performances and concerts this past year, all through the diligent work of people like Dentata Music & Batty von Bats. This artist collective strives to bring new and exciting acts to our stages, connecting performers, promoters and local venues.
I had the pleasure of attended their most recent event, MX1: Men of The Machine at the legendary Cherry Cola’s Concert Venue. Coupled with the prior MX1: Women of The Synth, it featured solo performances by international dark electronic artists.
MOTM brought our city the fledgling futurepop project Distorted Retrospect and industry icon Steven Archer aka Stoneburner, performing along side three homegrown talents in the guise of Eye Steal, the ever-entertaining Peter Turns Pirate and a unique solo from Undulation.
Undulation kicked off the evening with an entrancing guitar set. A newcomer to our stages, his music was the perfect melodic introduction to the festivities. His demo EP is on SoundCloud featuring eight masterful, atmospheric tracks, a soothing ambient that showcases his instrumental prowess.
After a brief reprise, we were delighted to have Peter Turns Pirate take to the stage. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this artist live on quite a few occasions now, including at the Aftermath festival in 2015 where he opened the show, and I have so much respect for his showmanship. I called him a prankster then and he lives up to that title more and more each time!
Neal plays for his crowd and with his crowd – he’s chockfull of theatrics and an extremely energetic stage show, a breath of fresh air among our habitual platoons of Men of the Machine who stand stiff at attention behind a battery of gear. Toronto alternative scene photographer and all-around aficionado Onsendesign Media captured his performance in a 360 video you can watch on his YouTube channel:
Once the (literal) debris of PTP’s performance was cleared away, we had the pleasure of the first Toronto appearance for Distorted Retrospect. Ex-Velvet Acid Christ member Krztov is not only a celebrated musician but a pillar of the alternative electronic music community and above all a really wonderful character. His new project is a perfect medley of futurepop and EBM songs that immediately captivated the audience.
With all his years of experience, Krztov knows exactly what our scene wants and this new project delivers soulful lyrics and bouncy danceable toons in a single breath. Distorted Retrospect sounds amazing live, and he’ll be on tour in almost 20 cities, so keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming date!
Toronto power duo Remi & Dani Blood know as Eye Steal took the stage next and wrenched our audience into a new aural space. After the ambient stylings of our opener and DR’s sunny futurepop, the doom electronica vibe of Eye Steal was like a sonic brick to the skull. Their music is an obscure keyhole vision into a disturbing world. Pairing slow, dark synth lines with a plaintive lyrical voice, they created an almost hysteric emotional current as menacing as it was captivating.
The height of the night, and not coincidentally the final act was none other than Stoneburner. We’re so very lucky to have hosted this artist for the second time, after his premier appearance along with hubby Ego Likeness at Aftermath. The prophesied debut album Mouse Shadow was every bit the glorious, indelibly geeky musical gem we anticipated, and I was so lucky to hear my absolute favourite song Lisan al Gaib performed live at MX1.
If you’re new to his body of work, take heed: Steven Archer is a certified techno-priest, published author, NASA collaborator, multimedia artist and philosopher king. His body of work is enormous, the man lives to produce cultural relics and he wields an unrivalled wealth of knowledge. This most recent performance was sublime: a celestial world-beat collage accompanied by syncopated chanting and obscure lyrics. Being familiar with the storyline of Herbert’s Dune surely adds layers of meaning to each song, but even in ignorance one can experience the narrative progression and shifting moods in Stoneburner’s music.