Nadja / Black Walls / thisquietarmy
Geary Lane, Toronto ON, December 20
Photo: Rick Clifford
Approaching Geary Lane, a new venue that shares a street with industrial buildings and wholesale exporters, one expects a warehouse show and all the cheerfully courted filth and discomfort that comes along with that. But the space itself is surprisingly lovely, with high ceilings and a massive, projection-friendly screen behind the stage space, lots of seating and plenty of room to move. So, a sophisticated warehouse space, which was eerily appropriate for a drone show that brilliantly balanced the visceral with the intellectual, the mechanical with the emotive.
Solo, experimental drone project thisquietarmy from Montreal, QC started the night off with a thoughtful, surprisingly moving set. The intensely prolific mastermind behind the project, Eric Quach, took the shivering textures of Cascadian black metal and smudged them, making the gentle, dappling effects somehow more harsh and hard-edged. The set seemed to throb and shift through the smoke hanging heavily in the air, striking and withdrawing, and the moment the set ended, an unexpected tension was released like a relieved sigh.
Black Walls, the solo project of singer Kenneth Reaume, performed a set that was less intense and muscular, but more vulnerable and raw. There was something beatific, almost sacred about the way the performing sang, eyes closed and face turned up as if in supplication, often performing on his knees.
Canadian ambient doom metal duo Nadja are enjoying the welcoming reaction their dark, noisy soundscapes receive these days now that the world has become much more receptive to repetitive dissonant riffs. Things weren’t so easy for them back in 2003, when Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff first started performing together.
“We don’t clear rooms as soon as we play a note any more,” Buckareff says, laughing. “That used to happen a lot at the beginning.”
“On Halloween this year, though, we played a metal festival in a small town in middle Germany, but it was completely the wrong billing and we cleared the room,” Baker recalls with a hint of pride. “That was the first time that had happened in a few years.”