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Dealing out heart pounding climaxes

by Archives January 23, 2002

The New Deal hate having to repeat themselves. To make sure this never happens, they’ve decided to, well, make it up as they go along.
Since their conception in 1999, the three-piece out of Toronto (drummer Darren Shearer, keyboardist Jamie Shields, and bassist Dan Kurtz) have maintained that the best way to express themselves musically is through improvisations and jamming, using only a lax set of reference points as a ‘set list.’
And their vision has paid off.
Already, the band has had main-stage appearances at such festivals as Moby’s AREA:ONE last summer and have recently celebrated the release of their first self-titled full-length album on Jive Electro Records.
On Saturday night, The New Deal arrived in Montreal as part of their North American In Motion tour, bringing their jazz-infused brand of electronic music to Club Soda on St. Laurent.
A late show, starting at roughly 11:30 p.m., allowed the excited crowd enough time to fill up their intoxication tanks before the clean-cut fellows, in front of a packed house, took the stage.
Shearer, at times perhaps ‘sucking up’ to the crowd (i.e. announcing that “Montreal is still the epicenter of house music”), gave his word for a rockin’ night, something everyone, no doubt, wanted to hear.
The New Deal did their best not to disappoint, providing the buzzing audience with nearly three hours of entertainment.
Their set, like most electronic music, contained a series of sustained climaxes, highlighted by the entrancing rising action that maintained itself until its breaking point, exploding into the surging crowd, followed by hollers of satisfaction.
Occasionally keyboardist Jamie Shields would look over to Shearer, nodding his head or mouthing an indiscernible word.
Suddenly, but smoothly, the rhythm would shift and the music takes on a different form, once again moving towards another heart-pounding climax.
Most impressive of the night was drummer Shearer, throwing down some near-impossible break-beats that would be hard to reproduce on a drum machine. Showing mind-boggling talent and tireless athleticism as he pounded the skins at a hyper-speed rate, Shearer made the crowd on more than a couple occasions drop their jaws in disbelief.
The ability to bring electronic music into a live setting is where The New Deal deserve due credit.
While most electronic artists make their music through samplers and drum machines, relying heavily on technology and computer skills to craft their digitally produced sounds, The New Deal employ a combination of traditional instruments and their own imaginations to provide the same sound that would ordinarily come from a computer.
Added to this, it’s completely improvisational, transcending the band to an entirely unique level of electronic music. Watching the three members on stage is like watching a conversation through the instruments, each one feeding off the other and melting together to achieve their sound.
Redundancies did show up towards the end of the set, but the crowd, refusing to tire, took no notice as they continued to move to the pulsating beats of the bass drum.
In one particularly captivating moment, a young man bounced over to where I was standing, beer in hand. Leaning over, he slurred into my ear, “Yeah, all right, yeah motherfucker,” and continued to bounce to the music, waving his arms rhythmically in the air. Yeah, that about sums it up.

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