Published Feb 13, 2016At most Wavelength outings, you can expect performances to be washed with the gelatinous, colour-outside-the-lines paint disc projections of General Chaos, but opening this year's festival at the Garrison, Montreal-based drone duo Organ Mood brought their own set of abstract visuals to compliment the nebulous sounds they used to ring in the festival.
With sheets draped in front of the stage, Mathieu Jacques used a fleet of projectors to send shapes and patterns across the room while Christophe Lamarche handled a bank of samplers, a laptop, and synthesizer equipment from the centre of the floor. The set-up shook up the venue's typical concert dynamic, and the audience quickly formed a tight ring around the perimeter to take in the projections as well as the pair's process. It also allowed for some genuinely curious audience participation.
Jacques started it all by wandering into the middle of the clearing and stripping off his shirt to pin a Doppler machine against his chest. Registering his heartbeat, the sound was amplified throughout the room, then sampled and processed by Lamarche, who used the flutters as a metronome for some warm, echoing synth notes that floated across the room, transforming the Garrison into a comfortable womb. They repeated the procedure a couple of times, inviting the audience to lend their own palpitations ("You don't have to undress like Mathieu did") to the chain, then played a loftier, more post-rock-influenced track on their own.
Organ Mood alternated between audience participation and their more structured works from song to song, but, merging organic processes with synthetic ones, it was the former that intrigued most. One of those tracks even had an audience member bow a homemade, erhu-like wooden staff fitted with a thin piece of balsa wood in place of strings ("The whole idea of the song is actually to compose a kind of a concerto that anyone could play, and I would actually be the backup band of that soloist," said Lamarche), while their closing number had an audience member distribute a crate of shakers amongst the crowd.
It was a set seemingly identical to the one Jacques and Lamarche played at this past year's Arboretum Music Festival, but left its own unique impression on the Toronto crowd.