International Festival Musique Actuelle: Victoriaville

Whether you call it improv, avant-rock or noise, Québec has a music festival dedicated to it

Where: Victoriaville, Québec, Canada

When: 19th to 22 May 2011

What: Michel Levasseur, artistic director and founder of FIMAV: “We did not coin the term, but in those days Musique Actuelle was more clearly defined by what it was not … It wasn’t commercial radio music, nor was it institutionalised contemporary music. In 1981, I had returned home from a seven-year stay in Scotland, where I had discovered guitarist Derek Bailey and his Company, as well as the group Henry Cow. The three main elements that would shape Musique Actuelle can be found in their music: improvisation, jazz and avant-garde rock. For us the main thing was to get away from the all-too-restrictive Jazz Festival.” (from

History: December 1983 – First FIMAV, $40,000 budget. Lineup includes Naná Vasconcelos. October 1984-1993 – Nine consecutive editions over Thanksgiving weekend. May 1994-2010 – The FIMAV board raises new finances in collaboration with the Town of Victoriaville and moves the festival to the Victoria’s day weekend. May 2011 – FIMAV celebrates its 27th edition. Other lineups have included John Zorn, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Fripp, Charlemagne Palestine, Otomo Yoshihide, Cecil Taylor, and The Boredoms.

Remit: “The mission of Productions Plateforme Inc., a non-profit organization, is to promote and spread new experimental and improvised musics whether its origins are Quebecois and Canadian or international”.

The 2011 lineup includes:
01 The Ex + Brass Unbound:
Swedish saxophonist and Chicago-based Ken Vandermark join the Dutch experimental outfit for dense post-punk with honking accompaniment. Free the jazz!

02 Koichi Makigami: Indescribable performance vocalist and sometime John Zorn collaborator from Japan. Jim Carrey playing Hugo Ball?

03 Kid Koala: Canada’s very own Ninja Tune artiste performs some of his incredible live deck work. Very mellow skills.

04 Richard Pinhas / Merzbow / Wolf Eyes: Now this is some kind of highlight. The ‘father of French electronic music’ (allegedly) meets Detroit’s noise bastards and Masami ‘Merzbow’ Akita a one-man music industry. God only knows.

05 Anthony Braxton: Grumpy American jazz composer keeps pushing the boundaries with ‘Echo Echo Mirror House’, where the musicians are able to layer Braxton’s discography into the music via amplified iPods.

Further Reading:
FiMAV Official Website
Warren Ellis on Anthony Braxton

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