Toca Loca

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Friday, February 27, 2009 @ 20:00
The Music Gallery

e1gh+¥ 31gh7 - Toca Loca's Simon Docking and Gregory Oh tackle Ordinateur v Typewriter, Say-Say=CC, live Aussie irony and straight talk from Stevie Harper. With Xin Wang and The Walter Haul: Nichol S. Robertson, banjo, Chris Willes, sax/elec, Bram Gielen, bass and Dean Pomeroy, drums.

Mayke NasDiGiT #2 (two players and a piano)
Mayke NasAnyone can do it (for six unprepared players)
Guus JanssenVeranderingen [Changes] for 2 pianos
Aaron GervaisSensational Revolution in Medicine (for soprano and speaking pianist), world premiere
Jérôme BlaisCon Stella (for piano and ensemble)
Chris SmalloochiPierogie State Fair (for piano, dildo, typewriter, office bell, voice, kazoo, and fascist cock-bag Prime Minister), world premiere
Laura BarrettRobot Ponies
Myra DaviesNo Time


Photo of Toca LocaSince their inception in 2001, Toca Loca has been furiously branding the cattle of the new music world, and has long been held up as the best argument against intelligent design. Sworn enemies of actuaries and slow-growth fund managers the world over, percussionist Aiyun Huang and pianists Simon Docking and Gregory Oh have introduced North American audiences to new works of Chris Paul Harman, Andrew Staniland, Hywel Davies, Inouk Demers, Heinz Holliger, Sofia Gubaidulina, Philippe Leroux, Toshio Hosokawa, Georges Aperghis and Valerio Sannicandro. Frequent contributors to the CBC's Two New Hours and ensemble-in-residence at Toronto's Music Gallery, they have recently been spotted at the Sound Symposium in St. John's, in Los Angeles as Provost Distinguished Visitors at USC and at the Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur in Montreal. They have appeared as part of the CBC's OnStage series at the Glenn Studio, and also in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Montreal and Halifax; other appearances have included Soundstreams' 2008 Cool Drummings festival, The Aperghis Project and Music for 6008 Spokes in June 2008, and a run of XXX Live Nude Girls, an opera for Barbie dolls by Jennifer Walshe; they have also played the underground in Toronto via the Wavelength Indie Music Series and the X-Avant Festival, and in NYC on the Wordless Music Series at the Lincoln Centre. They were once offered twenty dollars by a merchant's personal assistant to stop playing on the trendy corner of Queen and John in Toronto. They accepted.

Photo of Toca Loca LogoFor more information on Toca Loca please visit
For audio samples of Toca Loca please visit

Photo of Guus JanssenThe music of Guus Janssen (b. 1951) is difficult to categorize. It can be a composed improvisation (Brake for solo piano) or an improvised composition (parts from his Violin Concerto or his opera Noach). Music is like life itself – sometimes it asks for fast decisions and sometimes it needs to be thought over a lot. As a pianist and harpsichordist Janssen performed in various groupings with musicians from John Zorn to Gidon Kremer; since the early 1980's he has led his own ensembles, ranging from piano trios to an 11-piece band and opera orchestra. His compositions range from piano music and string quartet to symphonic work; they have been widely played by prominent Dutch and international orchestras and ensembles. Two of his operas have been premiered by the Dutch Opera.

Veranderingen [changes] (1990)

Veranderingen (1990) is the unusual Dutch translation of the uncommon German word Veränderungen used by Bach and Beethoven as the original titles for the Goldberg- and Diabelli-Variations. Where something changes, there is also something which remains the same. In Veranderingen a field of chords (vaguely related to the blues chord progression) is projected nine times, each time on a different "tonic". This results in nine variations on a theme which is itself not presented. In every variation a "tonic", a "subdominant" and a "dominant" moment occurs (like in the blues), but every time in a different perspective, caused by the changing of the tonic while the basic chords remain the same. One could compare the variations to people, each of them having a head, arms, legs etc. , but at the same time looking completely different. They can be serious (variation 2, 6 and 8), bombastic (3), capricious (4), funny (5) or cutting (7).

Photo of Mayke NasMayke Nas (The Netherlands, 1972) studied piano and composition in Amsterdam, Tilburg, The Hague and Melbourne. She received commissions from the Dutch Fund for the Creation of Music, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble, Ives Ensemble, Schönberg Ensemble and others. For her piece (w)here - written for the ASKO ensemble - she was awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize of Encouragement 2003. For La Chocolatière Brûlée - written for the Nieuw Ensemble - she received the Anjer Muziekprijs 2005. Theatre, video, text and choreography are often an integrated part of her compositions. In 2005 she adapted I Delayed People's Flights By Walking Slowly In Narrow Hallways from Peter Handke's play 'Self-Accusation' for four players, four chairs and four amplified chalkboards with live electronics in collaboration with Wouter Snoei, commissioned by Percussion Group The Hague. More recently, in 2006, she revived the concept of audience-participation in the fluxus-inspired performance piece Anyone can do it for six unprepared players not necessarily gifted with any musical talent.

DiGiT#2 (2002-2003)

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
Clap your hands and knee
Climb up the apple tree

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly's got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Anyone can do it (2006)

Anyone can do it is a simple, amusing, appearingly complex, intellectual, exclusive and indispensable performance-piece inspired by the Fluxus Manifest (1965) by Georges Maciunas:

"Fluxmanifesto on fluxamusement – vaudeville – art? To establish artist's nonprofessional, nonparasitic, nonelite status in society, he must demonstrate own dispensability, he must demonstrate selfsufficiency of the audience, he must demonstrate that anything can substitute art and anyone can do it. Therefore this substitute art-amusement must be simple, amusing, concerned with insignificances, have no commodity or institutional value. It must be unlimited, obtainable by all and eventually produced by all. The artist doing art meanwhile, to justify his income, must demonstrate that only he can do art, art therefore must appear to be complex, intellectual, exclusive, indispensable, inspired. To raise its commodity value it is made to be rare, limited in quantity and therefore accessible not to the masses but to the social elite."

For more information on Mayke Nas please visit

Photo of Aaron GervaisAaron Gervais was born in Edmonton and studied composition in Toronto, San Diego, and the Hague (Netherlands). Prior to studying composition, he studied jazz, rock, and Cuban music, including a summer of private study in Havana. Aaron's music has been performed across North America and Europe. He has worked such notable ensembles as the Nieuw Ensemble (NL), orkest de ereprijs (NL), the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal (CA), Tapestry New Opera Works (CA), Toca Loca (CA), Continuum Contemporary Music (CA), the Knights Orchestra (US), and the Arditti Quartet (UK). Long-term musical directions in Aaron's composing include a focus on rhythm and time, a preoccupation with the social and cultural factors that influence listening and taste, an interest in found materials, an exploration of what in fact constitutes creativity, and a fascination with the ways that social technologies are changing listening habits, to name a few.

Sensational Revolution in Medicine: for soprano and speaking pianist (2008)

The texts for the five pieces in this set are taken from spam email messages that I collected in 2006. I am attracted to the idea of using spam email texts because of what they represent. Since the purpose of commercial spam is always to trick someone into spending money, these texts are always targeted at our most deep-seated fears and vulnerabilities. This makes them a powerful source of subject matter.

Each of the five texts tries to exploit specific vulnerabilities, described below:

  1. Sensational Revolution in Medicine: Physical infirmity, failure of conventional treatments, lack of hope.
  2. The Most Important Work of Your Career: Job dissatisfaction, appeals to authority.
  3. One Hundred Seventy-Three Centimetres, Fifty-Three Kilograms: Loneliness, lack of social interaction, lack of romantic opportunity.
  4. Dear User. Why Don't You: Lack of self-confidence, problems with body image, lust.
  5. A Time of Resource: Greed, feelings of missing out, peer pressure.

After studying Music Theory at McGill University, Canadian composer Jérôme Blais pursued in 1995 a Master's degree in composition at the University of Montreal. In 2004, he completed his doctoral studies at the same institution, under the supervision of Michel Longtin and Reno De Stefano. His works have been performed by several professional ensembles, among which are the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Quasar Saxophone Quartet, the Bozzini String Quartet, Bradyworks, Array Music and Continuum Contemporary Music. He is now Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Con Stella (2001)

Con Stella will be forever "under construction". Every time it is played, the work has to be composed and recomposed in real time. Its duration is ad libitum, as well as its formal direction. The work is written for solo piano, but it can be performed with one or several other instruments of any types. Thanks to Toca Loca for putting their safety helmet and hard boots for this new version of the work!

Chris Smalloochi

Pierogie State Fair (2008)

A piece for piano, vibrator, typewriter, whoopee cushion, office bell, voice, kazoo and fascist cock-bag Prime Minister on video playback device. Dedicated to Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his sneakers at President George W. Bush...good anarchy is hard to find.

This world premiere performance is dedicated to the memory of Chris Smalloochi (1977-2008). May the hounds of heaven eternally bay your sweet refrain.

Melding the vibrant, effervescent tones of the kalimba (an African thumb-piano, literally translated as "little music") with her earnest and intimate voice, Laura Barrett has crafted a stunning debut EP – garnering both national radio airplay and critical acclaim. "Deception Island Optimists Club," a single from this EP, was a finalist for SOCAN ECHO songwriting prize, a prize known for identifying upcoming talent in independent music in Canada. Also known for playing and touring internationally as a member of The Hidden Cameras, Laura composes songs that run from the childlike to the funereal. She is known for engaging her audiences with oftentimes sci-fi lyrics that tease out unconventional themes like taxonomy or techno-babble. After beginning her career with a single cover performed at a playful Weird Al tribute night (also included on the EP), she has since found the time to contribute music to apocalyptic stage plays (The Rat King), nerd-core documentaries (Freeware Rebellion), and experimental multimedia extravaganzas (Worldwide Short Film Festival). Laura's new full-length album, Victory Garden, was issued by Paper Bag Records in September 2008.

Robot Ponies (2005)

Of course, it all ends badly. Or at least creepily. It's kind of a cyborg Velveteen Rabbit story. With swearing. (from Zoilus)

Canadian multi-disciplinary artist Myra Davies tells stories in sound and music, print, video and live performance and works frequently in Berlin. Releases in 2008 included The Girl Suite (4-trk EP) and Cities And Girls (10-trk CD) created with Berlin DJ and Electronica composer Gudrun Gut and guest composers Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten), Danielle de Picciotto (Space Cowboys) and Beate Barte (Liasons Dangereuse). Also in 2008, Davies created Responsibility for new music group Toca Loca. Davies' most recent video release is Alberta Ride of the Valkyrie (2007) made for Bravo!VideoFact with Vancouver film director David Hauka.  Previously, Davies and Gudrun Gut released a trilogy of CDs and toured extensively in Europe under the project name MIASMA.  Davies' label is Moabit Musik (Berlin) and her releases are on iTunes and other major download sites.

No Time (1992)

No Time is one the first three tracks Gudrun and I made together in Berlin in the spring of 1992.  Gudrun's music is a grinding industrial assault with very high bpm rate. Lydia Lunch did the first studio take. Later Paul Wong made a video using a fax machine and a frenetic hamster. We've all known workaholics.  Work obsession is right up there with drug and alcohol abuse as an addictive and destructive syndrome. Yet some people still consider it a virtue rather than a vice.