Toronto has always had a vibrant underground music scene that has only become stronger in recent years and I feel that it sits on the international independent arts map with its own unique identity and a fleet of recognizable artists we’ve been following for years, including acts like FUCKED UP, FOXMOULDER, CAREER SUICIDE, THE WET BANDITS, SIXTEEN SCNADALS, DRAGGEN IN, RESPIRE, CRAZY BONES, WHIMM, THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES, LIFERUINER, DEADWALK, CENTURY PALM, GREYS, DIGEST, BRUTAL YOUTH, and loads more! Today, we’re expanding our knowledge of Toronto alt / experimental DIY scene thanks to a multi-layered, multi-style compilation from the amazing label Art of the Uncarved Block!
Art of the Uncarved Block is run by twin brothers Peter and Rob Johnson, who play together as the hardcore duo LOW SUN. The “Winter Compilation 2018” provides a really cool survey of the current Toronto scene, with new songs ranging from the lo-fi indie-rock of TRIPLES (featuring Eva Link from PONY) to the pulverizing post-hardcore of HUMANITIES, the screamo of STRESSER, and the twangy slowcore of CHRIS. There are bands from outside of Toronto too, like Boston avant-folk group DUST FROM 1000 YRS. and Winnipeg post-punks 1971, who tragically lost a member last year.
We have teamed up with Peter and Rob to give you a track by track commentary for the compilation, but thankfully they decided to do something a little bit different and more interpretive and poetic. Here’s what we’ve got.
Art and music is the path we have chosen in life; it is our direction and purpose. Whatever happens to catch our eye along this path we pick up and bring to you. The art we share is an extension of the uncarved block and we are an extension of them. In carrying this mentality we hope to not just build a roster of artists to work with but instead form a community in which we can all be a witness to. More than anything, we will work to protect and preserve art in it’s most intuitive and honest form and not give in to the easy trappings of money, hype, or celebrity that are so easily accepted within the artistic community today. We look to share and create art that is made for the mere purpose of survival. Art for the sake of art.
Fool – Forgive Me
An earnest and unrestrained apology flowers into a canopy of sound. Brittle strings colour in a blank canvas.
A bell rings, signalling the promise of a never-ending expanse.
The palate is cleansed for a new beginning.
Stresser – Socialize
A sneering growl erupts from a sleepy chorus of warm guitars.
The song is both entropic and steady, confidently unveiling a new blend of hardcore to it’s listener.
1971 – The Manipulator
You at once feel as if you’re peering sleepily through a fast-moving windshield, into a blanket of unrelenting snow, or into some unlit highway road. Achingly hopeful, this song is sure to keep you awake until you make it safely home.
Triples – Nice
Light and free as a summer breeze throwing a mess of hair into your eyes. These sisters go whichever way they like.
As they meander and stroll, they always seem to end up in the right place.
Low Sun – I have Yet To See
An immense canyon can sometimes emerge, separating you from your core after experiencing a spiritual injury.
A leap of faith is often required once you wish to return to what you truly believe.
Tang – Super Happy
Sounds just like steam looks, as it rises from a hot cup on a cold night. Playful, dreary, cathartic.
This is as close as you get to someone that you have never even uttered a word to.
Dust From 1000 Yrs – Magic
Dust continues their lo-fi crusade, a downer troubadour struggling to appeal to a world eager to bury it’s head in the sand.
Well, there is certainly something to see here.
Chris – Under The Weight
Softly lulling us into the world of Chris, they weave a sonic tapestry fit for royalty. Guitars bend as a voice swoons, both cool and calm, while tumbling cymbals are carried into to our ears.
There is pressure, an unbearable weight even, but there is also beauty.
Humanities – First Things Thirst
This is a crash-course in post-hardcore; a gem hidden amongst the fallow rituals of our current tame impersonators.
This is one of those songs you listen to while you’re heading out the door and preparing to face the day.
Joucous – Yurtamin Ull
A deliberate and careful experiment, yet it does not long for results. Contemporary art imitating the ancients, patched together into a powerfully flowing river of music.
Take nothing from it or take it all.