Dialoog’s New Stomping Grounds, October’s Wednesdays @ Café Nostalgica


Students and patrons of the arts should not miss what’s going down at Café Nostalgica every Wednesday this month. That’s tomorrow! Arguably the best music schools in North America, Juilliard & Berklee, have sent us a gift.  With local label Pop Drone as benefactor, Dutch artists Michael Powell & Yuri Bakker are the new unofficial artists-in-residency of Ottawa U. They going to devote their time here to the diffusion & creation of an electronic sound, a mash-up of dozens of genres, and we are lucky enough to get to watch. Are they here to set up a dialoog? Oho, yes indeed.

The two-man team played their first double set last Wednesday, with Yuri on keyboard & Michael on drums. It was a traditional arrangement, the only sound I couldn’t place was coming from a spiral trash that kept hitting the floor. The sound silenced the patrons and shooed away the third-years who were wondering why the country music on the intercom ended. I think the café is still looking for its new identity because what felt like a school cafeteria suddenly became a lounge.

Its doors reopened after almost two years, the Nostalg we once knew is gone. The uneven floors and old radiators where you’d place your mitts in the winter have been replaced by the three-storied headquarters of the GSAÉD. This has always been the base for Ottawa U’s grad association but now the facelift will actually inspire nostalgia in grads. Where once stood a public house with grime & charm now stands a postmodern block building. Perhaps those who will venture back to their old stomping grounds for the fall open house next week will see it and gasp, but if they’re there on a Wednesday they’ll witness the place’s potential.

In the past, artists-in-residency were young internationals offered a chance to explore new artistic communities and hone their craft in any level of privacy. Dialoog have opted for becoming a part of this community and exploring music on stage. As Michael described it for me: “The idea of Dialoog has always been to incorporate all musical styles we enjoy into one show. I quite like the idea of taking the rhythms, sounds and the “force” of electronic music (be it hip hop, dub step, or anything else) and mixing it with the improvised tradition of jazz music.”

I was expecting to hear something similar to “That’s Confusing” (my favourite of their online tracks) but I’ve since learned that live shows with Dialoog are much jazzier in creative improvisation. I’ve been assured no two shows this October will be the same. Alex Millaire of local band Moonfruits will be tweaking the stage throughout the month, as he did between the sets.  It will be worth it to see the evolution of the venue, just as it is to see the change from the first set to the second.

It was not in any way definable. A medley of musical styles thrown into a melting pot. My favourite live track was “Anything Else” from the end of Yuri’s Eusebius EP. There was enough drum & bass for soundman Alex to start dancing on the spot. His legs pumped with enthusiasm we all showed in nods. I heard the music described as yummy in English and lekker in Dutch. Both men stood for the second set and hunched over instruments that I won’t even see in dream. Odd and fanciful sounds came out of there, at one point I thought there was a swarm of cicadas in the room. It was a mad scene.

In recent months, Yuri released two EPs named Florestan (“Track 1b” is killer) & Eusebius with Michael’s help mixing and they plan to create an LP in 2014 with Pop Drone. There is still so much of their music to hear live! They’ll be playing all over Ontario throughout the month, as you can see on their schedule. From the 2nd to the 30th of October they will end their shows with an open jam that anyone can join. Many instruments will be made available to anyone who wants to leave some resonance in the new walls of Nostalg. There’s something to be said for independent music and those ready to unleash their creation on a ready city.

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