Connecting Free Jazz and Post-Rock: Underground music record labels in Montreal

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This paper provides a preliminary analysis of the Ambiances Magnétiques and Constellation Records music labels as points of convergence within the respectively Francophone and Anglophone underground music scenes in Montreal. Ambiances Magnétiques is associated with Musique actuelle, a Québec-specific musical movement blending ‘bruitism’, electronic sounds, free improvisation, jazz, rock and folk. Constellation Records has been associated with post-rock and experimental popular music. This paper examines
the ways in which specific underground music labels operate in tensions, partial cohabitation and occasional transversalism. Both labels operate primarily on a local level and favor a do-it-yourself approach to recording, distributing, releasing and promoting their
releases. Through specific overlaps involving scene actors (musicians, concert promoters, etc.), objects such as musical instruments and discourses circulating through their respective communities and scenes, both labels have contributed to the city’s international reputation as an underground culture hub. Taking musicians Colin Stetson and Jason Sharp, their creative practice of the saxophone, and their involvement with specific projects connected to Constellation Records and Ambiance Magnétiques records as specific
points of connection, I argue that through processes of circulation, seemingly disjointed and volatile underground music scenes coalesce, and at times stabilize, as networks of experimental music practices constitutive of Montreal’s contemporary cultural identity. In so doing, this paper begins to analyze the centripetal and centrifugal movement of ‘forces’ – such as languages, audiences, and infrastructures – that crystalize with record labels and that pull the elements that make up the underground landscape of the city, both separately and together.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
EventKeep It Simple, Make It Fast! International Conference, KISMIF 2014 - University of Porto, Portugal
Duration: 8 Jul 201411 Jul 2014


ConferenceKeep It Simple, Make It Fast! International Conference, KISMIF 2014
Internet address


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