I went to see Karkwa last night, continuing the tour behind their album Les tremblements s'immobilisent. The last time I saw the band was before Les tremblements came out, so it was interesting to see what two years (give or take) on the road have done.
Karkwa's always been a tight band, and they've only gotten tighter. Guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier is still coming out of a sonic school of guitar playing reminiscent of the Edge or Jonny Greenwood, but his voice - as a singer and a songwriter - has gotten stronger. Their first album, Le pensionnat des établis, owed as much to Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers as to Radiohead. Last night proved they're developing an original sound, and they've moved away from the funk-rock à la québecois (which they did admirably, I must say) and adopted an indie/post-rock vibe similar to their Montreal cohorts Patrick Watson, People for Audio and Pawa Up First (the latter counts Karkwa percussionist Julien Sagot as a member). Keyboardist François Lafontaine was impressive as always, adding to Cormier's textures and occasionally unleashing an actuelle-inspired rip or two.
Most of the music was drawn from Les tremblements, along with some new songs introduced and "Hold-Up" from Le pensionnat. I was impressed by their consistently creative harmonies and their willingness to extend their song forms. Both sets were introduced with soundscape creations (d)evolving into one of their tunes, and they tacked on an intriguing coda to "La marche."The penchant for odd meters has turned into an embrace of 3/4 or 6/8, and the genre-jumping of their first album has matured into a better synthesis of various influences. From the new songs they played last night, I look forward to Karkwa's future.