Toro y Moi truly emits inner and outer peace


Toro y Moi takes me back to my years in high school: playing Tame Impala, MGMT and Toro y Moi in the yearbook room, lying on the grass with our heads in a circle, feeling whole with the world and one with my friends… yeah, I did that.

On Nov. 5 at Corona Theatre, Chaz Bear, aka Toro y Moi, aka Chazwick Bradley Bundick, brought this back.

Bear, who changed his name four years ago when he married Samantha Beardsley, feels fresh, composed and genuinely happy; he emits a gentleness. He sings, his eyes squint, a smile spreads across his face. Moving across the stage in a dance that feels characteristic of Childish Gambino.

Blissful. Real. Truly himself, in love with his music; a joy that rubbed off on the crowd.

His band members feel very Portland – I’ve never been to Portland, any Portland, but that’s the vibe – complete with long shaggy hair, blundstones, thick socks, button down shirts and reusable canteen bottles. Bear wore an Everlane-esque get-up, mod wide-leg blue pants (not jeans), a black jacket, and a black mock neck, which he kept on the entire time – a rarity on stage. Performers usually strip halfway into the third song.

Photo by Cecilia Piga

The stage glows with simple, pleasing colours: pinks and purples, blues and greens, yellows, oranges, peaches… the instruments highlighted with bits of fluorescent orange tape scrawled with “TORO E MWA,” a translucent drum set of the same colour. His crisp lyrics linger, echoing not only in the theatre, but mashed up in my mind days after the show. 

You saved my life, I don’t want to be alone, I want somebody, I don’t have time for this weather… Die for my love… For a second I forgot who I was, I thought I was over you … now I don’t know who I am … I feel weak, uhuh… 

On Oct. 29, Toro y Moi released “Soul Trash,” a 30-minute long art film by the same name of a mixed tape released in January of last year. The duo moves away from simple lo-fi musician status and into the world of pure artistry. Sixteen minutes in, the film pauses to watch Bear, wearing a bucket hat, eat chips.

“I see two of you, I see one of me,” he says, pointing to the viewer, a photographer taking pictures of his reflection, I imagine. The whole thing is pretty obscure.

As though Bear was given a paintbrush, needle and thread to collage together this masterpiece, his new album, Outer Peace, feels authentic, not as laboured or crafted as I felt in some of his older albums. Now the poster child of chillwave, his music crosses boundaries, feeling very 70s indie pop with a sprinkle of some classic T-Pain autotune.

Outer Peace speaks to finding satisfaction, oneness and peace out in the world, rather than just within. Whether in blending genres, dance, work or just being present in a social environment… there’s no one way to find that.


Photos by Cecilia Piga


PHOTO GALLERY: MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT)

MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT) on October 10, 2019

Photos by Guillaume Knobloch



Creating musical theatre in the moment

The Jazz Ands insert improv comedy into their performance for an hour of excitement

Winter’s deep freeze had just begun last Thursday, when the Jazz Ands performed the first of four upcoming monthly improvised musical theatre shows at Montreal Improv.

Nonetheless, a full room of eager audience members awaited the troupe when they hit the stage displaying the kind of enthusiasm people have come to expect from musical theatre types.

That particular brand of earnest passion can be summed up in a term we’re all familiar with now, “jazz hands,” and the troupe’s name is a actually a pun combining that term with the “Yes, and” rule from improv theatre.

They began by simply asking the audience to name a location where people might gather, and an object. The audience offered up a cabin in the woods and a vase. With that, the Jazz Ands set off to create an hour-long musical completely off the top of their heads. Pianist Marie Fatima Rudolf provided the musical accompaniment and vital music cues that helped keep the performers on track.

As you can imagine, the plot became increasingly absurd and convoluted, but that’s a large part of where the comedy comes from.

All the members of the Jazz Ands have been performing improv theatre in Montreal for many years. Adina Katz first met other troupe members Sandi Armstrong, Heidi Lynne Weeks and Mariana Vial about 10 years ago while performing improv at Théâtre Sainte-Catherine.

Katz would go on to leave Montreal for a while, studying musical improv at the Magnet Theater, an improv comedy theatre and school in New York City, as well as The Second City in Chicago. When she returned to Montreal, Katz was the driving force behind introducing more musical elements to the improv performed and taught at Montreal Improv.

“Witnessing the huge scene of musical improv in New York and Chicago,[…] I’m like ‘I want to come back to Montreal and this is one of the things I want to do, I want to teach, I want to have my own troupe,’” Katz said.

So when Katz returned to Montreal in 2017, she reached out to her old friends in the improv scene and convinced them to start the Jazz Ands, adding Coco Belliveau after seeing her sing during an improv performance at Théâtre Sainte-Catherine.

Despite the other members being a little nervous due to a lack of extensive musical theatre backgrounds, Katz knew their long history of improv performance would carry them through. That wealth of experience showed on stage. Notably, the musical they performed didn’t overly suffer from the pitfalls you might expect of unrehearsed performance, namely aimlessness and lack of narrative punch.

Sure, none of the songs they came up with are going to win a Tony Award anytime soon, and it had a slightly anarchic quality that comes from scriptless performance. Even so, there ended up being a defined narrative arch, vivid characters and a dramatic “shock” ending.

Katz does now teach musical improv at Montreal Improv. Happily, many of her students have gone on to form their own musical improv troupes, helping to grow this kind of performance in Montreal.

“It comes from just pure love and the fun of it, and it needs to be happening in Montreal. It’s so much fun to do and so much fun to watch,” Katz said.

The Jazz Ands will perform three more shows over the next three months. Each will be thematic, with February, of course, being romance-centric, and April being dedicated to spring. Katz encourages all fans of theatre to come out to a show, even those that may not have considered improv performance before.

“Even if you’ve never seen improv, but you like musical theatre, let’s say, come watch us goofballs improvise a show,” Katz said.

Feature photo by Kenneth Gibson


From beats to bars to boybands

The lowdown on shows at POP Montreal


Goodbye Honolulu

POP Montreal

By Ana Lucia Londono Flores, Contributor

Have you ever heard of Goodbye Honolulu?

It’s the boyband that will make your head nod all night long. That’s right, nothing better than

listening to rock music on a school night. The Toronto-based group composed of Fox Martindale, Jacob Switzer, Emmett Webb and Max Bornstein played at the back of Barfly, a small bar on St-Laurent Blvd. This was their first performance at POP Montreal. In the bar, the lights were low, creating a calm and chill ambiance. The people were ready to hear them, and so was I. As the band arrived on stage, I felt like they owned the place. Goodbye Honolulu made sure everybody was feeling the music. Frequent eye contact was their way of connecting with the crowd at Barfly. While the music was playing, I felt like the audience was attracted to the melodies. Even the smallest sound problems added to the band’s charm. In between songs, they conversed with the audience and made fun of each other. They were very comfortable and very friendly. Just the type of band you would want to see on a school night.


Lydia Képinski

POP Montreal

By Olivier Du Ruisseau, Contributor

The 25-year-old Montreal singer pulled off a remarkable performance and mise en scène at the notorious Cinéma L’Amour last Wednesday.

Toward the end of the night, when her sadistic-themed show had turned the movie theatre into a dance floor, Képinski said: “This is the kind of concert all your friends will be jealous they didn’t go to.” And she was right; it was quite an experience.

The venue itself was a big part of what made this opening show of POP Montreal so special. As the audience entered the theatre, a drunk clown was waiting to greet them with directions to the bar. Just before Képinski’s arrival, a medieval pornographic film was projected on the movie screen behind the stage. The screen was used throughout the concert, playing some of the singer’s creative video clips, custom-made for the show. She also added two musicians to her band, which allowed for a more rock experience and refined some of her songs.

Despite the one-hour delay, the mediocre sound quality and the singer’s voice cracking from time to time, Képinski still accomplished her most grandiose and extravagant performance yet, enjoyed by a mixed crowd of anglophones and francophones, proving that good music transcends language barriers.



POP Montreal

By Simon New, Music Editor

JPEGMAFIA, who affectionately refers to himself as Peggy, came out on stage at the Belmont like a lightning bolt striking an angry internet comment section, manifested in a man with top-notch rap skills. During the opening of his set on Thursday, Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks started a chant of “Fuck you Peggy,” which the crowd ravenously carried.

Having released his indie hit album, Veteran, about a year ago, it was easy to see the effect it had on the crowd. The album is a mix of the Baltimore street culture where Hendricks was born, and the internet culture in which he was raised. “This album is for the internet,” he said on Twitter prior to the release.

He holds nothing back in his lyrical tirades against everything from Morrissey to alt-right Twitter trolls, with bars as hilariously caustic as “AR built like Lena Dunham / When I shoot I don’t miss.” Fans at the Belmont yelled the lyrics like they were screaming about JPEGMAFIA for the first time outside of the comments, and it was glorious.

Hendricks fed on the crowd’s voltaic energy, throwing himself off the stage and rapping through the crowd, all without missing a line. The Belmont was buzzing that night, and the crowd caught a glimpse of the lightning rod that is JPEGMAFIA.


Main photo by Simon New


GoldLink live at L’Astral

Washington MC’s laid-back attitude counterbalanced his fast-paced flow

For those who do not know him, Goldlink, also known as D’anthony Carlos, is a rapper out of DMV, a district located in Washington, D.C. He made waves with his debut mixtape God Complex and has since been one of the freshest voices in music right now. Ecstatic, funky and charismatic, Goldlink is part of futuristic bounce, a genre that intertwines soul fusion, R&B and hip hop viscerally through the infectious energy of its fans.

April + Vista playing songs from their EP Note to self. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

The show started off with a performance by music duo, April and Vista, who delivered a soulful performance that resonated through the crowd. Defined as pioneers of the stresswave genre, they brought a sound that is both soothing and raw. April’s voice has a powerful and invigorating tone, and used this to her advantage. Before performing her last song, she asked the crowd an important question that sounded more like an affirmation:

“Do y’all know that you can do anything the fuck y’all want? If you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” she said.

April’s passionate persona shined through her performance that night, alongside Vista on the keyboards. Songs such as “Beasts” and “Daggers” were perfect for setting a chill and vibrant vibe for the night ahead.

Masego swaying the crowd with his smooth jazz house trap style. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

Masego made an appearance with his trusted saxophone named Sacha. Known for his unique blend of styles such as jazz, house and trap music, he performed his new singles, “Tadow” and “Navajo.” The crowd was pleased beyond measure, as he played songs from his own tracklist as well as classics such as “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. During his “Billie Jean” performance, as an hommage, Masego showed up with a similar red leather jacket from the late pop star. Spontaneous and versatile, Masego then created his own freestyle with a MIDI controller at the request of the crowd. The freestyle track garnered a positive reaction from the audience, as they sang along to Masego’s passionate refrain. Enthusiasm filled the room throughout his performance, leaving the crowd ready to welcome GoldLink.

GoldLink performing his hit track, “Crew” to his fans. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

The crowd’s energy peaked at it’s highest level as GoldLink took center stage. His laid-back and cool attitude provided a nice counterbalance to his rhythmic and fast-paced flow. The hip hop artist opened up his act with his track, “Some Girl,” which caught the undivided attention of all the ladies at the show. Fast-forwarding to GoldLink’s “Kakamoe Freestyle,” his performance made it obvious why the 24 year-old artist is becoming an imminent figure within the culture of hip hop. He had the audience in the palm of his hands, as they chanted his lyrics word by word. Afterwards, much to the crowd’s pleasure, Masego returned to the stage with GoldLink to perform a duet called “Late Night.”

Towards the end of the show, the experience became a thrilling one, with everyone in the room shouting for an encore and constantly making noise to show their love and support to the young rapper. GoldLink returned the appreciation by thanking his fans once again and performing his hit song, “Crew,” twice in a row.

Photos by Kirubel Mehari


Alt-J and Mikky Ekko: a newcomer and a new album

Rising star Mikky Ekko performs to match Alt-J’s electric show on a Wednesday at Metropolis

On Wednesday night I became acquainted with Mikky Ekko. It was a special night at the metropolis, with hundreds of people eagerly awaiting the sold out and much anticipated performance from Alt-J. I always love getting to shows a bit early because it gives me time to check out the opener who is normally eclipsed by the main act. This time I was surprised and blown away.

Most people might know Ekko, the Nashville based singer, from Rihanna’s hit single “Stay” or his performance at the 2013 Grammy’s. This new comer to the music scene is already making a big splash in the pond and asserting his own right as a fully-fledged musical artist. The audience wasn’t distracted by the glitz and glamour of the performance but was able to tune into his velvety rich vocals. Ekko took us on a journey of love and seduction with high crescendos and lots of hard drum lines. He got the crowd moving and I could feel a really great energy inside.  People were smiling and the young female tween audience was swooning. In just a short amount of time he was able to display his wide range of musical talent.

Sadly, we had to see Ekko go. However, the stage was set for Alt-J. As always, they gave a stellar performance, opening with “Hunger of the Pine” to the screams and cheers of the entire audience. In just a few years this band has skyrocketed—and for good reason. The lights gave the illusion that they were temporal, fading in and out of the smoke; voice and instrument enveloped us all. I was happy to see they played a good variety of both the new and old album. I have a very special place in my heart for An Awesome Wave, however their performance has quickly swayed my opinion in favor of the new album. The highlight of the show was probably “Blood Flood Pt. 2”. It had an incredible build up, which was in synch with the lights. The band came together as an entity and the energy was electric. It felt like it was too soon to see them go. I will miss their presence here in Montreal; that was one hell of a show.


Holy Sons play tunes for misfits

Frontman, Emil Amos, sang tunes suited to Bar le Ritz’ finest whiskey

You’re cruising down a deserted desert highway with the top down, harvest moon hanging low against the mountains on the horizon. You’re catching your warped reflection in the bottom of a whiskey glass as you reflect on past mistakes and shortcomings. You’re standing mere steps away from a pair of swinging saloon doors, hand quivering next to the pistol on your hip, caught in the middle of a veritable wild-west standoff. If it’s happening all at once, or at least it feels like it, you’re listening to Holy Sons.
On a damp and chilly Sunday night, Bar Le Ritz PDB, formerly known as Il Motore, hosted the Portland-grown project. Visible onstage through an assortment of jean jackets, autumn beards, leather bombers, and cotton beanies was Emil Amos – of OM, Grails, and Lilacs & Champagne fame – crooning with conviction to the intimate crowd. Equal parts introspective and diabolical, it is abundantly clear that both the lyrics and the music are Amos’ brainchild as they pour from his instruments. Delivered with passion and intensity, the artist’s music is a vehicle for relaying tales of both life experience and the analysis that follows, stripped bare to reveal harsh truths with every spirited howl and pluck of guitar strings.
Mixing psychedelica with a progressive attitude, between intricate rock riffs Holy Sons can conjure the image of a spice market in India or a curtained opium den without warning. Versatility and fluidity are strong points for Amos – while the overarching theme of self-examination lingers, it takes on many different forms and personalities. Regardless of the flavour of the minute, the crowd bobbed its collective head responsively to Holy Sons’ brand of ear candy, relishing its charming unpredictability and dark, devilish charm.


A groovy dance-pop night at Metropolis with Caribou

Caribou converted their booming electronic sounds into a gentle acoustic vibe on an unforgettable Monday night

Photo by Lan Thockchorn

As Jacki Liebezeit from Can said,“If there is no repetition, then there is no groove”. Such words must have had a huge impact on Caribou’s new material from his forthcoming album, Our Love, which is out in stores now. As expected from Metropolis, opener, Jessy Lanza, hits the stage perfectly on time and starts performing her tracks from her debut album, Pull my Hair Back, which sounded quite groovy, serene, ambient, and very nostalgic. There’s a sense that the sound comes from the 80’s, notably channeling sounds from other dance-pop and post-disco acts such as, Shannon, Q Lazzarus, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson and so on. Tracks like “Against the Wall”, “Kathy Lee” and “Keep Moving” had some really delicious electronic hooks that jived really nicely with her airy, atmospheric, and sassy soprano vocals. The samples and the loops in her music sounded so well produced and methodic. There is no doubt that she consecrated much of her time and effort into studying the production and exact sound of 80’s dance-pop music. All in all, it was a very solid opening act and definitely one of the best new artists of that genre to come out this year.

Finally, the act we’ve all been waiting for. Hailing from Dundas, Ontario, Caribou (also known as Manitoba and Daphni), along with three other musicians coming out on stage dressed in Mr. Clean outfits, Caribou kicks off the set with their eponymous track, “Our Love”. However, with the use of live and electronic instrumentation, they basically converted all the purely electronic sounds in their album into a more live and acoustic sound with the use of delayed guitars, bass guitars, and a drum set. These provided a more psychedelic pop sound with some elements of house music. That approach reminded me a lot of Caribou’s older material and sound.

Nevertheless, they performed tracks off of their latest album almost effortlessly and confidently, despite the strong presence of electronic instrumentation on the record that had to be translated into acoustic instruments. The music and the light-show got everyone in the crowd to really enjoy the punchier live sound– nearly everyone had very positive experience, and danced the whole way through. One other great thing about the show was that Caribou solely performed his latest material with the exception of some of his most popular tracks off of his previous records such as, “Odessa”, “Sun” and “Jamelia”. All in all, this show got me to purchase the two records at the merch table!


The Barr Brothers: A Homecoming

The band’s Metropolis show had the audience fall in love with their heart-wrenching songs all over again

It would be an understatement to simply call The Barr Brothers a folk-rock band. With an eclectic sound that utilizes xylophones, a harp, and an African string instrument known as the ngoni, not to mention the various musical influences fusing everything from blues to bluegrass, the band defies categorization.

The Montreal-based group consists of the brothers Barr (Andrew; guitar/lead vocals, Brad; drums, Sarah Pagé; harp, and Andres Vial;keyboards). Halfway through the show, Andrew Barr surveyed the sold-out crowd at the Metropolis, looking notably surprised but grateful by such a large turnout.

Photo by Steve Gerrard.

Opening the show was Bahamas, a Toronto-based band led by the talented guitar-wielding Afie Jurvanen. While they served a dose of hard rock that in line with the headliner of the night, their hour-long set dragged on nearing the end.

Although the Barr Brothers may be known for their beautiful folk arrangements such as “Beggar in the Morning”, this particular night served as a surprising tribute to their heavier tunes, complete with multiple solos (and yes, that includes a harp solo). Songs such as “Half Crazy”, with a blues riff which screams old school cool, was easily among the crowd favourites. However, as evidenced by “How The Heroine Dies”, sometimes the most intimate songs are the best way to energize the crowd. Huddled around a lone mic, with a single spotlight on Andrew Barr and co., the song encapsulated the band’s ‘heart on its sleeves’ sensibilities.

Speaking of lights, a word of advice to the person in charge of lighting effects at the Metropolis: please don’t try to upstage the wonderfully talented band on stage with your near seizure-inducing flashing lights that forced half the crowd to look away during the entirety of a song. Both the fans and the musicians deserve better.

The Barr Brothers’ latest album, Sleeping Operator (Secret City Records), is available in stores and on iTunes


An endless supply of Foxygen at Le National

Foxygen and newly assembled Star Power band put a modern spin on classic rock influences at their Oct. 12 show

Seven years removed from their 36-track space opera debut, Jurrassic Exxplosion Phillipic– recorded when principal members vocalist Sam France and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado were just 15–Foxygen still have an unrequited love for ostentatious quantities.
Bursting on stage with a minimum of warning, the nine members of the newly-gathered “Star Power” band roused the audience at Le National into a state of universal ecstasy; the irresistible throwback soul of the opener, “How Can You Really,” acting as the emotional blueprint for the whole evening.
Rado’s vibrant keys, the dual guitars of Jared Walker and Kevin Basko, a bombastic rhythm section composed of Shaun Fleming and Justin Nijssen, and the glitzily-garbed trio of backup vocalists, Jaclyn Cohen, Emily Panic, and Nina Joly, all appeared relatively sane and well-mannered compared to the frontispiece of the whole affair. Sporting only a five-sizes-too-small blazer, a pair of skinny jeans, and perhaps two fluid ounces of eye makeup, lead vocalist, Sam France, managed to convey the infectious energy of nearly six decades of extravagant music in just under an hour. He did this by leaping nimbly from monitor to monitor, wrapping mic cords around his neck, wrestling with audience members (the blazer a mere memory by this point) and decimating close to half a dozen mics in the process.

Photo by Sam Haughton.

All this stays true to the Foxygen sound, which attempts to bring a modern lo-fi approach to the history of rock music. The band was ridiculously tight considering the sheer number of stylistic changes that happen in the course of any given song. France’s vocals alone sounded like a Hunky Dory-era Bowie with a Lennon attitude and some Jaggery “awww yeah”s thrown in for good measure. The classic rock influences are close to infinite, and this was well-reflected by a distinct age gap in those attending: the crowd was made up of both people under the age of 25 and above the age of 40, and both categories seemed to enjoy the set equally, although with differing levels of mosh-pit participation.

The show as a whole was feverishly enjoyable, but left something to be desired in terms of emotional depth and cogency. Much like their albums, Foxygen did a lot of things very very well, but lacked a central “theme” to tie everything together besides sheer talent and bravado. After 20 or so relatively short and equally energetic songs there’s only so much sincere dancing you can do. All in all it was worth the price of admission, but didn’t reveal any dimensions of Foxygen’s music not present on their very fine records, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic and Take The Kids Off Broadway, and made me less inclined to tell my friends about the show than excited to hear the fruits of their new big-band labours, on the forthcoming album, …and Star Power, out Thursday, Oct. 13.

Finally, some words should be spent on opening band, Dub Thompson, who variously impressed and confused the crowd with a unique though as-yet fairly uncertain blend of Check Your Head-era Beastie Boys and synth-heavy dub, which at times managed to be more interesting, rhythmically speaking, than the headliners


All systems go for Café Racer’s Apollo EP launch

Press photo

With the temperature in room hovering just below the boiling point of water, Café Racer took to the stage accompanied by the screams and cheers of the formidable crowd. The show took off with “No Time,” the punchy, snare-and-riff-filled first track off their new EP, which was being released that night.

The band then followed that up with the second track from the EP, “Go,” a fun, upbeat song that turns into pure funk in the last third. The smoky, wavering voice of frontman Myles punctuated by a bouncing bass line from bassist Shawn Forbes and crisp cymbals from drummer Josh Grant.

The crowd, dancing and cheering along, matched the high energy set by the first two tunes. One guy even crowd surfed. All the while, the songs became progressively and seamlessly mellower towards the middle of their set, reaching the ‘low point’ with the start of “Molly Doesn’t Move Anymore,” a sensual, swaying tune with soothing vocals.

The performance picked up again a few songs later, with “In n’ Out,” a song “as dirty as it sounds,” according to Myles. Equal parts funk, rock and innuendo, the energy was soon as high as the sweltering temperature in the small venue, accompanied by the customary profuse sweating and removal of shirts by most of the band.

The show came to a head with “Baychimo.” The slow start and relatively tame tempo belied the sheer intensity of the ending, which involved a wailing guitar section, culminating in an ear-shattering climax. The spectacle closed with “Black & White Rainbows,” also the last song on the EP – a song which managed to be simultaneously uplifting and calming, cheerful while lulling the now-drained crowd into bliss.

Just when they seemed to have spent the last of their passion and energy, and with the crowd begging for more, the members exchanged the briefest of looks before retaking their positions for an encore and going out on one final, glorious blaze of sound.


Dragonette does no less than impress

Dragonette visited Montreal on Oct. 19. Press photo.


I first saw Dragonette on their fall 2010 tour at the Cabaret Mile End. I remember walking up the stairs to the club’s ticket booth with a friend and tugging at the sleeves of my blazer in anticipation of the show. It ended up being one of the best concert experiences of my life.

When Dragonette performed at the Corona Theatre last Friday night, standing next to that same friend two years later, I was reminded of how much fun can be had at a live show. The band opened with “I Get Around” from their debut album Galore and kept the tempo up for their one hour and 15 minute set. They could’ve played every song they’ve ever written and the crowd would have still have sung along to every word.

The band’s third album Bodyparts was released three weeks ago and songs like “Riot”, “Live in the City”, and “Let It Go” were performed, along with their Kaskade collaboration “Fire in Your New Shoes” and Martin Solveig’s “Hello”.

Lead singer Martina Sorbara’s energy was contagious as she moved across the stage, and the lighting was perfect for a crazy dance party. Before the night was over, Sorbara performed the Bodyparts bonus track “Cuckoo” a cappella, showing off her vocals and proving that Dragonette isn’t just some average dance-pop band.

Photo by Michelle Pucci.
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