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Artist Profiles

[iks]: The Iksperience, Alive and Well

By Published: November 16, 2010
The band spent three days in a recording studio in August ('10) and at last, they will be releasing an album in mid-April, 2011. "We don't have a name for it yet, but the launch is scheduled to coincide with our 15th anniversary," Pohu tells me.

At the time I spoke with him, he was working on getting the tracks ready for mixing. When asked what the theme of the album was, if any, Pohu simply offered, "I don't know; I'm still working on it... The way we work, the theme always seems to emerge rather than being preplanned... but the album does have an ambient feel to it that's not present on the other discs."

The Supersilent

project having come up in a few conversations, I asked whether this album paralleled them in any way. "I'm really drawn towards the Supersilent aesthetic and it's what I had in mind when we started recording, but I'm just one guy in the band," Pohu replied. "Everybody brings their part... and well, if everyone else isn't in the same place I am... So yeah, the new album won't have any elements of the Supersilent sound. Maybe the next one will incorporate more of their approach. We never know; we'll see."

So, not much info to offer on the new album, but it will feature entirely new compositions, mostly by Pohu, as well as a composition or collaboration from each of the other members. They've been trying out the compositions since last winter, performing them live. However, "composition" in the [iks] vernacular means "framework," and plenty of that "carpe diem" attitude.

Brault, whose studio the group used for the recording, was entirely responsible for shaping and engineering the album's sound, his proven talents filling the gap for Tremblay's in this respect as well as in the role of bassist.

The line up features: Sylvain Pohu: guitar and laptop; Philippe Brault: bass and laptop; Nicolas Boucher: piano; Sébastien Arcand-Tourigny: sax; Joao Catalao: drums.

The New/Current Face of [iks]

Guitarist/composer Sylvain Pohu is now at the helm, though he scarcely likes to use the word "leader," preferring director or organiser since he gives the musicians free range within the artistic directions he sets, allowing each to take full control over their particular domain/role. Pohu, who is completing doctorate studies in electroacoustic composition at the Université de Montréal, now provides the bulk of compositional material—he already has a few awards and several collaboration credits under his belt—and continues to bring his own very personal chordal textures, spatial rhythms, distinctly coloured leads, and his quick fire reflexes, agility, and ingenuity on guitar. Pohu is active with the Ligue d'improvisation musicale de Montréal (Montreal Musical Improvisation League) where he hones his improvisational skills; he's also a founding member of Point d'écoute, a musical collective seeking to promote the evolution of electroacoustic music in Quebec.

Here's a brief anecdote that's very revealing of Pohu's unpretentiousness, and plain honesty, both in regards to his musical approach and personal attitude: after one of their concerts, I was besotted by Pohu's complex and overflowing pedal board and asked the obvious question, "ever get confused?"

"Uh... yeah," Pohu had replied with an embarrassed smirk. "It happens, I mean, there's so many of them, sometimes in the heat of things, I do press the wrong one." Laughter. "Now that's real improv, no? But you can't stop and act surprised, you gotta go with it."

Montreal free jazz pianist Nicolas Boucher has been a mainstay with the band since 1998, appearing on all except the first [iks] album. Through his work with Les Impromptistes, an electroacoustic improvisation group, Boucher had experimented heavily with real-time processing, an aspect he brought with him to [iks]; he is primarily responsible for the group's continued exploration of real-time processing of acoustic instruments, what has now become a distinguishing characteristic of the band since 2000, and also the focus of their fifth album abstr cncr (Ora, 2003), pronounced "abstract concrete."
Boucher finds inspiration in the full range of chord voicings, mixing from various traditions as he nimbly lays the syncopated landscape and textural dimensions. Active in several projects, he also regularly appears in percussionist Guillaume Coutu Dumonts' Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts electro-funk project. It should be noted that Dumonts appeared on two [iks] albums: Une Heure Vole au Temps (Ora, 1999), and Le journal de sable (Ora, 2002).

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