Les Momies de Palerme was formed in Montreal in Autumn 2006 by multi-instrumentalists Xarah Dion and Marie Davidson. Creating immersive, meditative arrangements of synthesizers, guitar, processed violin and vocals, and frequently incorporating video projections, props and costumes into their performances, Les Momies have become a fixture of the Montreal avant-garde music community, performing frequently in local independent venues and loft spaces (particularly La Brique, a collectively-run art space of which both Xarah and Marie are members), and sharing bills with such acts as Shalabi Effect, Alexandre St-Onge and the Murray Street Band.
During Fall 2007 they recorded their first collection of songs, L’amour sincere, self-released as a CD-R and which would soon top the music charts of CKUT radio at McGill University. Throughout 2008 and 2009 Les Momies continued to gather momentum locally, appearing on stages with Pas Chic Chic and Stars of the Lid, and playing such festivals as Suoni Per Il Popolo, CoolFest and Pop Montreal, Quebec City’s L’Off festival, and the world-renowned Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, in Victoriaville, QC.
In 2008 a lengthy recording process at The Pines studio with Dave Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) was undertaken, from which Brûlez ce coeur, their second album emerged. Hauntingly beautiful and strikingly unconventional in both structure and sonic palette, Brûlez ce coeur was eventually released in the Fall of 2010 as part of Constellation’s Musique Fragile Vol. 1 box set – a limited-edition and artwork-intensive three album collection. As of April 2012, Brûlez ce coeur will be available as a stand-alone album on CD, 180g LP and digital formats.
Les Momies de Palerme are currently at work on their next album, Marianna sous le nouveau zodiaque.
Okay, so it's May in Montreal! Admittedly the volume's been turned down a bit since last year, but the basics are all there: the water fountains are turning on, the Solidarity Across Borders Status For All march is this weekend and the Anarchist Bookfair the weekend after, you can still get arrested every damntime youleave thedamn house, because protest is basically illegal now... And of course, it also means that SUONI PER IL POPOLO, the best music festival in the world, is right around the corner! As usual, the festival will bring dozens of truly amazing acts to the city all through June, and as usual a whole bunch of local CST friends and allies will hit the stages at Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa. See below for a brief roundup, along with audio and video samples. Have a look, and then head over to the Suoni site to check out the full program.
NICK KUEPFER + LEE RANALDO w/ STEVE SHELLEY * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * June 6 • Sala Rossa • $17/20 • Info/tickets
This year Suoni will host two appearances of Nick Kuepfer, Montreal weirdo genius and master sculptor of rickety, immersive soundscapes built up from guitars and tape machines and piles of scavenged ephemera. On June 6 he'll open for Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley. You know those guys, right? They were in some bands? Anyways, this Ranaldo character is going to play some acoustic stuff of his own, accompanied by Mr. Shelley; should be nice.
His stunning New History Warfare trilogy concluded with the April 30 release of To See More Light, mind-bending saxophone juggernaut Colin Stetson will lend his formidable lungs to Oso Blanco, alongside three similarly virtuosic players on trumpet, drums and violin. Opening will be Hraïr Hratchian - multidisciplinary artist and performer, past Jerusalem In My Heart collaborator - leading a nine-musician ensemble in a performance of "Bardézoum vartér patsvadz" a 100-year old Armenian folk piece by composer Krikor Dalian.
PACHA + NOUVEAU ZODIAQUE + JOSHUA ABRAMS' NATURAL INFORMATION SOCIETY * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * June 11 • Sala Rossa • $10/12 • Info/Tickets
Pierre-Guy Blanchard spent years studying various percussion techniques and compositional modes of Turkish, Balkan and Middle Eastern musics. His project, Pacha, is a thrilling fusion of intense propulsive rhythms and gloriously fried synth lines. Affaires Étrangères, Pacha's debut, was released last year as part of Musique Fragile Vol. 3, and its live iteration is an explosive thing: heady and precise, while guaranteed to get sweaty. Nouveau Zodiaque is a shifting group of musicians rallied by Les Momies de Palerme's Xarah Dion, pulling on various threads of folk and world musics to form a gorgeous, cohesive and strangely danceable synthesis. Joshua Abrams - Chicago native, prolific musical experimentalist, co-founder of Town & Country and Sticks & Stones (with Matana Roberts) - has of late been leading ensembles on a unique trajectory of trance-like, slightly psychedelic exploration, pulling from North and West African traditions, minimalism and out jazz. Check out last year's totally killer Represencing to get an idea.
I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us, the debut album from Rebecca Foon's Saltland project - "captivating", "modern and mesmerizing", "alluring and intoxicating" - was released this week. For this official release show Foon will join her compositions for voice and cello to ornate, buoyant arrangements for electronics, percussion and contrebass courtesy of Jamie Thompson and Aaron Lumley, and it will be breathtaking. Eminent guitar handler and heart-rending balladeer Eric Chenaux will join forces with sound engineer, boxer, all-around CST go-to guy and Jerusalem In My Heart musical mastermind Radwan Moumneh for a performance certain to be as affecting and beautiful as it is indescribably abstract. Wormholes is an audio-visual project of Beirut-based improvisational musicians Mazen Kerbaj and Sharif Sehnaoui. Solo guitar manipulations meet light tables projections with live drawing. We're told by those in the know that this rare performance is unmissable.
ELFIN SADDLE IN MUSIC TEMPLE + HANGEDUP + NICK KUEPFER * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * June 18 • Sala Rossa • $12/14 • Info/tickets
Emi Honda and Jordan McKenzie have for years been crafting small DIY dystopias and rich, sparkling soundworlds with quiet reverence and humble anger. As Elfin Saddle they've produced three albums of urgent, ramshackle folk (the most recent, Devastates, released last year), a stop-motion film staged over several months in their backyard, and most recently "Music Temple": a multimedia installation at Montreal's MAI gallery involving automated musical instruments, film projections and live performance. An abridged version of the "Music Temple" installation will be brought to this one-of-a-kind performance. The mighty viola and percussion duo of Hangedup is rolling once again. Since ending a long hiatus in 2010, they've played a handfull of shows in Montreal, kicked our asses around Europe as part of our 15th anniversary celebrations, and released Transit of Venus, an epic, towering collaborative LP with minimalist legend Tony Conrad. Gen Heistek and Eric Craven deliver a clattering, cavernous racket with a soft, graceful touch. Nick Kuepfer, once again, is our hero (see above).
Having announced last week the release of the 3 albums comprising Musique Fragile Vol. 1 as stand-alone digital/vinyl releases, we're pleased to now let you know that Les Momies de Palerme'sBrûlez ce coeur will also be made available on CD, as of April 3. This breathtaking album, described by Fluid Radio as "a beautiful blend of vocals, processed violin, clarinet and drifting synths [which] immerse the listener in serene layers of gentle tones and flickering noise," will be presented in an equally stunning package - a custom gatefold jacket with 4-colour silkscreen print in metallic gold, flourescent pink, light blue and black inks, printed by Jacinthe Loranger and Jesse Purcell at Repetitive Press. More info, including streaming audio and images of the album artwork, can be found on our release page.
We're also thrilled to let out a new video from Les Momies, for non-album track "Printemps," filmed last winter in Montreal by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. Watch below:
For those in Montreal, we will be celebrating this release of Brûlez ce coeur on Saturday, March 31st at Casa del Popolo, with a special performance of Les Momies accompanied by film and video projections by Jessica Rainville, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, Simon Brown, Jean Bourbonnais, Jasper Baydasa, Guillaume Girard. More info on this show here (it's a facebook page).
Good citizens of Montreal: This Saturday, March 12, Les Momies de Palerme will celebrate the stand-alone CD/LP launch of Brûlez ce coeur, first released last year as part of the first volume of our Musique Fragile series. It'll start at 10pm at Casa del Popolo (4873 boul. St-Laurent), as part of the Festival Voix d'Amériques in partnership with the Under the Snow Festival, and it'll be breathtaking.
If you haven't already, check out our release page for audio samples from Musique Fragile, and check out the rest of the festival schedule here. See you there.
This Thursday, October 21, our friends at Venus on CKUT radio will host Les Momies de Palerme for a chat, and to share some music. Venus runs from 12pm-2pm every Thursday on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal - they're expecting les Momies between 12:30 and 1:30.
You can stream the show here, or download it as a podcast here.
Many thanks to the ladies at Venus!
Les Momies de Palerme's stunning LP, Brûlez ce coeur, is available November 1 as part of the first installment of the Musique Fragile series.