While it may seem incongruous with the Ghislain Poirier who made his impact on Montreal nightlife in the mid-aughts with legendary parties like Bounce le Gros and the Bridge Burners, it is a little known fact that at the start of his career, he was making electronic music of the ambient variety.
In fact, his performance at the second edition of the MUTEK festival way back in 2002, around the time of his earliest recordings, showcased the ambient techno vibe he is now returning to with his latest album.
In early April, Poirier released a self-titled LP under the moniker Boundary. Gone are the tropical dancehall rhythms and guest vocalists that featured heavily in the numerous remixes, EPs and albums he released between 2005 and 2010. In its place is something that contains the DNA strands of the bass-heavy beats and ambient melodies found in his previous works, but also makes inroads to straight-up techno territory with songs like “Long Story Short” and “You Tell Me.”
I recently reached him over the phone, ahead of his Friday evening performance at the SAT as part of MUTEK’s nightly Nocturne series.
Michael Sallot: So is this your first performance under the Boundary name?
Ghislain Poirier: It’s the world premiere. I’ve never had a Boundary gig before.
MS: Sonically speaking, the new album seems like it’s exploring similar territory to the kind of stuff you were doing at the very start of your career. Where did the inspiration to go back to that come from?
GP: It was a long process, but it was kinda logical. After my album on Ninja Tune [2010’s Running High], I was asked to do music for two documentaries. While I did that, I went back to my archives. When you make music for images, it’s ambient and it’s a bit less in your face. So when those two documentaries were done, I was already on that wave, and I thought, I want to make something that is not for the dancefloor but is something that I can listen to. I felt it was a good point right now to bring out a new alias.
MS: How do you make an album at home, in solitude, and then take those instrumental tracks and transfer them to the live stage?
GP: We’ve been working to figure that out for a few months. We’ve decided to have a live drummer on stage with me. We rearranged some tracks, so it doesn’t quite follow what is on the CD. It’s a mix of an electronic drum and an acoustic drum, with samples from the album. It’s a good mix, and at some points you won’t even know what’s coming from the computer and what’s coming from the drummer.
It’s really a performance, and the focus is the music. There was a two-month period between the release of the album and this premiere, so I think it gave people time to discover this project and gave them time to listen to it. The album is definitely a long-runner. It’s not something you listen to a little bit and then go, “Ok — what’s next?” It’s more like, “Let’s see what’s out there.” The performance is in accordance with that. I wouldn’t even mind if people sit down to listen to the performance.
MS: You are known for putting on dance parties in Montreal. How do you feel about presenting these new sounds to the public? Do you ever get nervous thinking about how the audience might react?
GP: I’m not concerned if people want to dance or not. I’m concerned with providing a good music experience. If some people want to dance, they are welcome, but the show and the music wasn’t composed with that primary intention. It’s all good, though. There are still beats on this album — it just has a really ambient melody on top of it.
MS: You have said that Boundary is not a one-off, but will you continue to be involved with bass music, soca and dancehall?
GP: I’ve been very inspired by the Boundary project. It’s like a new book. On one side I’ll have Boundary, and the other side I’ll still have Poirier. I’m excited to write more chapters, but at the same time I almost have to contain myself because I have started to create new stuff. But it’s not really useful to record new material right now. I need to perform, but there will be more Boundary material in the future, and I’m still doing Poirier stuff. I just did a remix for the new Booty Bakery compilation, and it’s a super-hardcore dance remix I did as Poirier. As for a new Poirier album, I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I can say there are remixes, songs and EPs, and I am still motivated and inspired to do that project. ■
Boundary performs as part of MUTEK, alongside Vlooper, Lukid, Onra and Gaze at SAT (1201 St-Laurent) tonight, Friday, May 31, 10 p.m., $40