Peering into the Bug Incision

How to describe Bug Incision? It’s like having to draw a distinction between improvisation and composition “rehearsing” and “playing” — the interest the frame of reference is clearly different than seeing most bands. It can be serious or seriously silly. The flattening of high and low forms of music: saxophone mastery pitted with modular synthesizer pots ’n’ pans percussion boutique and junkyard electronics hooked up to a contact mic’d pop can. The average Bug Incision bill is a challenge more into exploratory sounds than genre organization — one might see a “rock” band but it’ll never be a rock night. “Noise” is reductive but not an impossibility. One night the jazz skews traditional another it skronks aside and asks what was music?

Bug Incision starts with Chris Dadge one of the busiest musicians in Calgary. Perhaps you’ve seen him on the stage with Lab Coast or Samantha Savage Smith. Maybe you’ve heard some of his countless improvisation and session gigs or music scored for other performances. Dadge started Bug Incision as a label in 2005 before presenting concerts under the name in 2006 — a “response to a lack of sympathetic performance space possibilities.”

Shows have occurred in a number of spaces with relative frequency from the intimate quarters of Weeds Café and Hot Wax to the bunker chamber of Emmedia and occasionally moonlighting at the performance hall of NMC. One locale the concert series has rarely seen however is a bar — and on Sunday February 1 for the first time we’ll get to see how the Broken City crowd reacts to free jazz before late-night karaoke starts up.

Kicking off the night is Burro a free-rock trio that has been crushing performances for years with an appealingly straightforward modus operandi: play as hard as possible for as long as possible. Rather than descending into formless chaos Burro hones in on the groove and rides it for all it’s worth barrelling further and further into the infinite like Calgary’s own Acid Mothers Temple.

After the exuberant blast of Burro we get the conversely insular tones of Beneath These Idle Tides the long-running solo guitar project of Myke Atkinson. Atkinson’s performances are sparse in both the musical sense and in the frequency of his shows — dude’s busy being a father not to mention CJSW’s station manager but he still finds time to bring out his ambient tones every so often wringing the soothing/crushing divide with nuance and grace — deep glacially paced room-fillers that fans of Stars of the Lid or Kyle Bobby Dunn should be able to stew on.

From Toronto the Kyle Brenders Quartet rounds off the bill. A student of Anthony Braxton and Alvin Lucier Brenders synthesizes compositional and improvisational techniques across genre touching on contemporary jazz and minimalism. The quartet’s CD traverses the boisterous and open skilfully making turns and shifts across a wide landscape of contemporary forms — a surprisingly playful sound though not without darker moments.

Bug Incision also carries a hefty discography of recordings for those willing to drink deep. Featured heavily in the label’s newest batch of releases is Scott “Monty” Munro (of Viet Cong as well as Chad VanGaalen’s touring band and about a billion other projects). One of the more frequently seen players in the Bug Incision world Munro appears three times in this newest batch of releases: on his own presenting a fantastic solo baritone guitar set as Monty; alongside Dadge and Cody Oliver’s “amplified acoustic” duo Midnighties (on the appropriately titled With Monty); and once more with Dadge in the Bent Spoon Duo joined by Toronto guitarist Nilan Perera. Also new is Torso and Legs a clattering combination of Sweden’s Christian Munthe and Johan Arrias — one of several international entries into the Bug Incision catalogue. In each recording one catches a glimpse of something unique — it may or may not be obvious you may or may not “get it” but in each one: a world of sound.