On February 15, music blog/arts non-profit Weird Canada launched Wyrd Distro, describing it as a “massive, loosely curated consignment store” for Canadian DIY artists, or a “central repository for emerging music on a physical and digital format.”
It’s a milestone for the self-styled lizard army of underground musicians and music enthusiasts. What began in 2009 as the enthusiastic musings of one Aaron Levin is now, in Weird Canada’s words, a community “dedicated to encouraging, documenting, and connecting creative expression across Canada” — and the Distro definitely fits that description. It’s one of many initiatives Weird Canada hopes to put into place after spending a year as an official non-profit organization.
To mark the occasion, Weird Canada volunteers threw afternoon parties across the country. Playing host to the Vancouver launch party was Neptoon Records, which despite the typically gloomy weather saw a steady stream of people dropping off recordings for Wyrd Distro’s warehouse, catching the musical performances, or just picking up free Weird Canada swag.
Given Weird Canada’s predilection for the experimental, the lineup at Neptoon was a fitting one, with two of Vancouver’s more notable members of its noise and ambient scenes playing. Nic Hughes (as N.213) played a set, followed by Luka Rogers (as Sisters of Seance).
Hughes started N.213’s set quickly, thudding yet colourful beats issuing from his loop pedals. Outside, the burgeoning rainstorm finally picked up, becoming a slashing downpour. Inside, Hughes pranced about the storefront — alone-in-the-bedroom jamming, with claustrophobically reverberating vocals, the whole thing taking on a vaguely industrial tinge. (Hughes later described one of the songs in his set as “a little Lost Highway,” referencing the Trent Reznor-produced soundtrack of the David Lynch thriller.)
Rogers’ project, Sisters of Seance, was named for the Fox sisters, 19th-century mediums who, in the aftermath of a family feud, exposed themselves as frauds. But Rogers freely admits he chose the name because it sounded “spooky” and “cool.” “I like the idea of tricking people,” he said.
It’s certainly a spectacle of sorts, even in the tiny space in front of the Neptoon Records storefront, Rogers tending to his gear just-so. Like Rogers’s band Basketball, Sisters of Seance played with Middle Eastern themes and digital synths — and kaleidoscopic and cinematic imagery to go with the alternately organic and synthetic soundscapes conjured by Rogers.
More than anything, Rogers’s audio-visual set evoked a journey with mesmerizing synchronicity: through cities, through flames (a conflagration of some kind?), through vast expanses both calm and stormy. The set ended with a supercut of helicopter accidents at airshows playing on the wall. This much can be said: it could have gone on for ages.