Tuesday, January 28, 2020Light Snow -5°C

Ambient jazz project Ismism to release debut EP at O Patro Vys show this Saturday

Posted by Greg / February 4, 2010

20100202ISMISM2.jpgThere are few things more gratifying for a music lover than watching a new band progress over time. This has especially been the case with Ismism - a group that has become more impressive each time I've checked in on them over the past couple years. Ismism was originally one guy named Matthew Daher, a drum performance major at McGill, who used it as a monicker for his lush ambient jazz experiments. For live performances, he added guitar, synth, bass, and vibraphone, and bam! - he had one of Montreal's best new instrumental outfits. After playing around Montreal for a while (and appearing on our podcast thrice), the band have finally completed an EP, which they will release at O Patro Vys on Saturday. I've been listening to it all week, and I gotta say, Ismism is worth your time and money. Their songs combine melodic and ambient qualities in a way that recalls KC Accidental (the late-90s band that became Broken Social Scene), Medeski Martin & Wood, and Bell Orchestre.

Below I chat with Matthew Daher about the EP, with detours into his favorite new music, accessibility in song writing, and his experience in McGill's music department.

You've had demos on your MySpace page for a while. What's on this EP?

The EP has five tracks, all new recordings of my previously (very roughly) self-recorded compositions. When we first started playing the tunes with the band, everyone's frame of reference was my original recordings-- at that point, our approach was that of approximation, to try and capture the aesthetic of those recordings as accurately as possible in a live setting. But once we got more comfortable and started to open things up a bit more, the band really transformed the tunes, infused them with a vitality that was lacking a bit in some of the original recordings. The tracks on this EP are those that have been the most invigorated by that transformation, all on the louder, more driving and groove oriented side of our sound. The originals haven't been totally left behind-- a lot of the electronic drum tracks, found-sounds, and other manipulated materials from the original recordings are on these tracks as well.

Is this still a solo project or is there more collaboration with the members of your live band?

This is not a solo project. All the tunes we play are still my compositions, and in some the performance is quite close to a literal interpretation of what I wrote. But in many of them my writing is more of a guideline, in which there's a pretty appreciable amount of breathing room for improvisation on everyone's part. Everyone in the band is on every track.

Who produced the album? Did you/the producer go for any particular production style? Any influences?

The EP was produced by myself and our Vibraphonist Harry Knazan. We were mostly trying to tend to the needs of each track, even each section of each track, while maintaining a coherent aesthetic. There were some sections in which we really wanted some drive from the drums and bass, some quieter sections that we wanted to shimmer and blend into one texture, some that were super chaotic in which we needed to separate certain elements to create some clarity. We weren't going for any large-scale emulations as far as the overall aesthetic goes-- mostly trying to capture the energy of the live sound, and make embellishments where they felt right.

How do you feel about making your music accessible? At what point does experimental become too unlistenable, and at what point does melodic become too poppy?

Very good question. For me, this dilemma comes down to honesty. I try not to make a conscious effort to make my music particularly more sugary or more obscure, because at that point, I'm not saying what I really want to say-- you can't express yourself fully when you're concerned with how someone is going to react. That's not to disregard the importance of your audience-- this is about communication after all. But I think when your creation is honest, regardless of where it falls in the spectrum of accessibility, it resonates with listeners on deeper level, and is probably going to resonate with a wider audience than it would have if you arrived at that sound by navigating that spectrum.

How did you end up at McGill? Are you sticking around after you finish (as you totally should)?

Came from Detroit to study in general-- I was actually in the science program before, switched into music after my second year. I'm now in my third year majoring in jazz performance on drumset (fifth year at McGill overall). I've still got one year left, after which I'm seriously considering sticking around Montreal-- mostly depends on what kind of momentum I've got going with Ismism and/or other projects I'm involved in when the time comes.

Are your band mates performance majors like yourself?

Two of my band mates-- Nicolas Godmaire (guitar) and Maude Locat (synth) are jazz performance majors at McGill. Alexandre LeBlanc (bass) was at UQAM for jazz studies for a couple years, didn't really dig it so he left to work and play music on his own. Harry Knazan (vibes) graduated from McGill last year, majored in cultural studies with a minor in music technology.

What are you listening to these days? Any cool shit you wanna mention to the world?

I can't stop listening to this album by swedish electronic trio Midaircondo called "Shopping for Images". There are a few songs that I can't even take seriously because the way they layer the one line of obscure and/or mundane lyrics that repeats over and over with really dramatic delivery just makes me laugh. And then out of nowhere comes the most beautiful, gentle, texture of electronic swells and woodwinds that makes my life flash before my eyes. So rare to hear an album that can both entertain me on such a superficial level and bring me to my knees. Its amazing. Also checking out Jim O'Rourke, and rediscovering my love for Tortoise, Boards of Canada, and Elliott Smith. Old favorites

Ismism is playing at O Patro Vys on Saturday night. Admission is $10 including an EP.
O Patro Vys is located at 356 Mont-Royal Est



Kyle / February 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm
Hatip / February 4, 2015 at 05:22 am
WokandSpoon: Thanks! I do enjoy living in Montreal but I coannt say I enjoy the winter all that much. I live for the spring, summer and autumn months of this beautiful province!
kanchipuramsarees / January 23, 2019 at 11:48 pm
Nice post
kanchipuramsarees / January 23, 2019 at 11:49 pm
Nice post
golu dolls / January 23, 2019 at 11:49 pm
Nice post
herbal powder / January 23, 2019 at 11:49 pm
Nice post

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Toronto