Innovative experiments

Modern Fuel hosts new three-act concert series, Vapours

Raissa Simone performing.
Raissa Simone performing.
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As a first-time attendee of Modern Fuel’s Vapours Experimental Music concert series, I expected the unexpected.

Last Saturday, in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts, Modern Fuel’s latest instalment of the five-year series featured Raissa Simone, IC/JC/VC and Mas Aya, all of whom are represented under Toronto’s Healing Power Records.

The concert wasn’t one concert of similar genre-based artists, but three distinct acts that gave meaning to Healing Power Records’ work with new and innovative experimentation of music artistry.

At the Tett Centre’s Rehearsal Hall, there was nothing but intimacy between the 15 or so concert-goers and the artists performing.

Multicoloured purple and green spotlights filled what was an otherwise dimly-lit room, and with each performance I could feel myself delving deeper into the electrifying beats and sounds.

Kingston-based artist Raissa Simone started off the night right with her romantic singing and songwriting skills.

The combination of her voice and slow guitar strums intermixed with drone music, soundscapes, audio voice recordings and a looping pedal allowed the audience to grasp a better sense of these experimental sounds that would soon be the key point towards understanding the latter two performers.

Simone’s songs, including “Remind Me” and “He Likes To”, evoked a sense of understanding and connectivity with the audience.

Jessie Conley, ArtSci ’16, described musicians IC/JC/VC as other-worldly.

“Their music is like an ethereal, girly haunted forest,” Conley said.

The group performed unconventionally. While IC and VC sat on opposite ends, predominantly controlling the instruments and sounds being formed, middle member JC was overshadowed by the velvet hood eclipsing her face, with a single microphone acting as her mouthpiece.

The 30-minute track featured sounds such as amplifying synthesizers, chiming bells, accordion-type instruments and group chants.

Isla Craig — IC — encouraged the crowd to actively experience the music.

“Get to know your bodies and explore yourselves,” Craig said. “These group chants embody vocalization and exploratory soundscapes.” It’s as if I was living in the rabbit hole of Alice in Wonderland fame and I couldn’t leave no matter how hard I tried. It was in listening to IC/JC/VC that I was able to do just what they’d asked of me.

Mas Aya, also known as Brandon Valdivia, took the stage last, going straight into performance mode so as to keep the audience intrigued and on their toes just as he was with his music.

His inspiration seemingly came from the African continent, taking advantage of a series of instruments coming from the mbira — the thumb piano — family.

Mas Aya’s lyrics fuelled an emphasis on the hierarchical levels of society: “Those who give the freedom, they can take that away / Those who give the rights, they can take that away.” The musician explored globally vibrant sounds that mainstream music hasn’t made its way towards yet.

The artists’ support of innovative sound came through in a passionate display of experimental music that deeply connected with audiences at Modern Fuel.

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