Arraymusic: A Not-So-Hidden Hub for Left-Field Sounds

One of our favourite things about putting together shows here at Wavelength is animating unconventional spaces. Rock clubs are fine and all, but we aim to make our events a special experience, and the venue is a big part of that. We hope you go home from our shows with a sense of discovery, not just from hearing new and exciting musical talent and enjoying the work of projection or installation artists, but from exploring new corners of the city and imagining how underused spaces can be repurposed to support culture.

One of our favourite unconventional spaces in Toronto is Arraymusic, where we’re hosting the latest installment of our Monthly Music Series tomorrow night (Sunday, May 19). Arraymusic is one of those hidden gems that even Toronto lifers have walked past a thousand times without realizing it’s under their noses. Located just steps from Trinity Bellwoods Park – on tiny Walnut Street, south of Queen and west of Niagara – Arraymusic is an intimate studio space on the second floor of a modest industrial building, complete with rusting water towers. When Jane Jacobs said “new ideas need old buildings,” this is what she was talking about.

The 900-square-foot Arraymusic studio – a.k.a. the Array Space or “creative music hub” – is a flexible, open-concept space with lovely hardwood floors and exposed brick. It has a cozy, welcoming feel, with stacks of vinyl records and concert posters, both current and archival, reflecting the venue’s deep history in Toronto’s new music scene.

By “new music” we don’t mean what you typically hear on the radio. We’re talking about contemporary classical music. Arraymusic was first founded back in 1972 by a collective of young Toronto composers looking to get their music heard – and hopefully get classical music caught up with the 20th century in the process. They established the Array ensemble in ‘76 and began performing an ever wider range of contemporary works. In 1991, Array took over a rehearsal studio at 60 Atlantic Avenue, in then-derelict Liberty Village, which would be the organization’s home base for the next two decades.

The Atlantic space was open to other groups to present concerts and it became a regular hub for Toronto’s free-jazz and improvising community, a tradition that continues at the current Arraymusic space, which they took over in 2012. The Array ensemble still presents an annual concert season – their 2018/19 programming took place at the Music Gallery as well as their own space – and an annual Young Composers Workshop. By providing an affordable space for rehearsals and performances, they play an important incubator role in the community. Experimental series like Audiopollination and Somewhere There take place there regularly, and along with the Music Gallery and the Tranzac, it’s one of the key nodes for left-field sounds in this city.

It’s supposed to be a nice summery day tomorrow, so once you’re done chilling in the park, wander down the street to Arraymusic for Wavelength. We have a stellar lineup, with special guests Mary Ocher + Your Government from Germany swinging through town to perform their “anti-capitalist multimedia art-pop” spectacle. There’s a strong local undercard, with next-gen indie-rockers Roach starting things off, followed by new ambient/experimental “supergroup” Lake Versions, featuring members of Beliefs, Fresh Snow, and Praises. The show is All Ages and licensed, with drinks priced more affordably than your average bar. Please bring I.D. and cash if you’re 19 and over. Doors open at 7 (Game of Thrones can wait).

Come out to support local music and local art spaces! See you tomorrow.

by Jonny Dovercourt