Equipped with a “spy microphone” (presumably placed in the crowd), Otomo Yoshihide’s guitar and turntable, René Lussier’s guitar and Martin Tétreault’s turntables, this trio etches out a compelling, unedited tableau, a recording taken from their performance at last year’s 25th Victoriaville Festival of Musique Actuelle — a document that answers one delighted journalist’s plea, “This was a most magical set that will hopefully be released in the future.”
With heads, hands and souls buried deep into their instruments, the trio creates a series of meditative-to-blistering-hot swells, bursts and monitored repose, forging the works with juxtaposed styles, disparate ideals, specialized brilliance and recondite processes; at times, you might greedily lament the lack of visual cue if just to witness how they’re pulling this off, but the aural portion is still enough to enjoy the wildly unique and continually entertaining display from these experimental pioneers.
Beginning with barely perceptible hum, jangling, percussive, pointillistic strums and a meandering jazz progression, the group progresses Boum from slinking, gently fed-back tones to ripping distortion, mulched pseudo-Raga and punctuating crackles, eventually pulling the plug and ending with a stylus drug across wood (?) After the squelching Bam, a nervously fey Bim gives you reason to believe you pressed pause: the trio now focuses on simple mechanical detritus such as vinyl friction, the same sound you made when bumping into the decks at that party (boum, bam, bim, indeed), in-need-of-oil platter revolutions and sub-frequency thumps, all working toward a dark, sonically engrossing, strangely soothing cannonade. On Badaboum, Lussier (positioned center in the mix) earns his keep with frantic, technically-sound Middle-East meets Celtic flavored riffing; Yoshihide supports this din with dense, chordal grandstanding, leaving Tétreault the option of sink or swim (he elects to thoroughly scour his records into pulp).
Concerning “good performers”, Andy Warhol once observed “…they’ve seen the scene before somewhere and they’re shelved it away. So they know what the lines should be and the way the lines should come out of them.” Despite juggling an improvisatory framework, a labyrinthine ensemble, an ongoing perseverance of all parties to avoid imitation (others, themselves) and Yoshihide’s multi-polar “I’m a turntablist, no a guitarist, no a percussionist, no…”, Elektrik Toboggan is a stunning example of this wisdom.