There are musicians and there are musicians. It seems like the best kinds gravitate towards each other, like negative ions crowding around a gemstone. Take this six-person collective for example. They are Pascal Huot, Yolande Laroche, Julien Dussault, Greggory Clark, Isaac Vallentin & Jeff Kingsbury. This is Pony Girl. Their debut album Show Me Your Fears is collaborated on by no less than 13 other artists. Last night, the six shared the stage at La Petite Mort Gallery for the album release with three other musicians.
Melodies of guitar, synth & haunting voices were coupled with samples & electronic keys. I think Röyksopp & OSI had a baby that was raised by Sigur Rós & Little People. The filly grew up to be more than the sum of its parts and remained faithful to the places where it was nurtured. This is where you’ll find Pony Girl, in the galleries & studios of the world.
Last night was an intimate party for a group of friends playing together. All spectators quickly faded into the background. The slowly rising cymbals and sudden silence at the start of “Sun in the Morning” quieted the entire gallery. You could close your eyes and almost see the sounds. It’s not called art-rock for nothing. The brightest noises were the voice of lyricist Pascal, clarinet notes from a film noir, and at one point there were three sets of beating drums. Were there two guitars or 12? All tracks were matched with the guy-girl harmonies we were promised and the album’s iconic beam of vertical light was strapped to Yolande’s mic stand. Actually the light came on after a couple songs, I can’t remember when, but by then the clarinetist was already the focal point of the crowd’s eye.
The band’s DIY attitude is documented in their music videos, all done similarly but filmed in different studios around town, even at The Daily Grind. Here’s the writer’s favourite, an entirely instrumental track called “Guardian” recorded at the Gallery Recording Studio.
The symbiotic relationship between band and galleries doesn’t go unnoticed, dear local label Pop Drone. The Ottawa-based company has been around since 2010, promoting imagination & collaboration in one friendly swoop. In the last decade, every artist in their repertoire has collaborated at least once and last night was no different. Michael Powell, a.k.a. DJ Absoluut, one half of Dialoog, was handing out the pre-show tunes as well as beating auxiliary drums for Pony Girl. His counterpart Ryckholt, a.k.a. Yuri Bakker, added nostalgic keys to the mix, and with Cameron Hill on tenor sax these three made the group nine for the night.
Dialoog, originally from the Netherlands, just played their own album release event at La Petite Mort on Sept. 21st, as part of the Nuit Blanche festivities. They’ll be playing no less than seven gigs around town in October so if you like electro jazzhop & mad piano skills matched to hip hop beats, hang around Café Nostalgica a bit this coming month. Here’s a schedule of all Pop Drone concerts coming up.
Those who attended were promised a physical copy of the album but I’m not sure if the keycard-shaped USB drive counts. It certainly is slick but a vinyl (even one made from cardboard) was what I had my heart set on. The key had the full album & art with extra goodies for audiophiles and a “Thank You.pdf” that ends with, “a massIve and crIpplIng thank-you from pony gIrl (pascal, yolande, julIen, Isaac, gregg & jeff).”
I feel crippled and ionized all at once, probably a consequence of getting lost in soundscapes.