I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I never really appreciated noise music (loosely defined as the contemporary avant-garde mobilization of atonality and dissonance for listening pleasure) until I caught Lief Hall’s performance at a small event at the Western Front this past summer. A friend of mine, a talented local drummer and noise aficionado, invited me to the event with the hope of cracking open my dormant noise chakras. In any event, I showed up, exhausted and sceptical, just as Hall was starting her set. She stood in front of the mic and emitted what I can only characterize as otherworldly creaks, crackles and shrieks that simultaneously made my skin crawl and pushed all the noise pleasure buttons I didn’t know I had. I immediately recognized that she was accessing and amplifying something that a broad spectrum of music lovers unconsciously crave—pure timbre, the unadulterated grain of the voice. But she divested it of all of its unnecessary packaging, like meaningful lyrics and comfortable harmonies. No, this was the raw cacophonous feed and it made me tingle all over.
So when I heard that one of her other projects, Myths, was going to be playing at the Astoria, I was eager to check them out. I was pleased to discover that the two-girl band, consisting of Hall and Quinne Rodgers, channels the dissonant timbric richness I encountered at the Western Front show through melodic, occasionally lyrical, poppy-punk synth tunes that you can actually dance to. And a lot of folks were doing just that. “Deadlights” was a particularly catchy crowd favourite.
Unfortunately, Myths’s set was really short (half an hour, tops). I would assume from their mini-CD, which has only four songs, that this is because they’re still working on a corpus of material. Here’s hoping that they keep on producing because it’s such a breath of fresh air to encounter inspired local acts that aren’t just blandly mimicking the trends radiating out of more cosmopolitan urban centres. These guys are doing totally singular sonorous work that flirts with the thresholds between sense and disorder. Some of their tunes come off like sonic epilepsy and others are more like shrill siren calls from another dimension. This is the kind of musical dynamism Vancouver needs much more of. But I fear that genuinely talented acts like Myths will be drowned out by a sea of schlocky Nickelback clones, some of which will go on to win multiple Junos.