As I enter Montreal’s boutique vinyl bar, Le Bleury, I am greeted with a hanging haze of sound. The place is dark mostly, with visualizations projected against the wall above one of the couches. People are scattered around the venue, some sitting and talking, others standing, and still others lingering in front of the DJ booth waiting for their next opportunity to dance. This is Montreal’s experimental music series, Artefact. And it’s exactly where I want to be.
Almost a year old now, the Artefact events have been hosted at both Le Bleury as well as Cabaret Underworld. The evenings are put on by a group of passionate drum & bass composers, visual artists and promoters that keep quite busy with this music. Residents DJ Code and DAAT both run vinyl labels, known as Subtle Audio and DTND Transmissions (pronounced Detuned), respectively. DTND Transmissions is currently anticipating their third vinyl release, which will include well-respected names from the United Kingdom. Subtle Audio have established themselves too, with almost a decade of releases now behind them, including works from Bop and Breakage.
There is momentum building in these artists’ independent work as well. DAAT’s latest 12″ single, “Fridge,” was named “Tune of the Month” by international DJ magazine Mixmag. It received airplay on high-profile radio stations, such as BBC Radio 6 and London’s Rinse FM. And Montreal has also taken notice: CKUT 90.3 FM, McGill’s campus and community radio station, listed the duo’s album as the number one new electronic release for the first half of August.
When I first found myself in the dimly lit bar, I was surprised at what I had discovered. In a city dominated by house and techno, it’s not always easy to find electronic music when going out to dance isn’t quite what you’re feeling. With their sophisticated and mature rendition of breakbeat dance music genres, Artefact residents DAAT, Code and Traffic all satisfy this desire for something different.
Music lovers of experimental and beat-based music should get Artefact on their radar. With past guest acts such as Corey K (Montreal) and Godfather Sage (Baltimore), there is certainly a tradition of drum & bass that exists here. But even if breakbeats are not your cup of tea, keep your ears open. You may lose yourself, swirling in the expertly recorded, dystopian soundscapes emanating from Montreal artists like DAAT.
For more information on the Artefact music series, visit them on Facebook.
Michael Dean is a Montréal-based composer and electronic musician. He holds an MA in Music Technology from the University of Limerick, Ireland.