A side project of Ottawa art-rock outfit Pony Girl, Mal/Aimé opened Megaphono's Saturday afternoon constructing soundscapes at times strong and others serene. The trio of Yolande Laroche, Jeff Kingsbury and Julien Dussault take the experimental chamber elements of their aforementioned primary band and marry them to drone and ambient music, marked by unique tones and playing techniques.
Most intriguing was Laroche's use of her clarinet, to which she had attached a pickup near the instrument's mouthpiece. In addition to playing the woodwind traditionally, she would breathe and vocalize through it, at times clacking its keys to percussive effect with her own array of effects.
Dussault ran his electric guitar through an elaborate pedal board propped up at waist height, allowing him to make adjustments to his own tone, sustain, reverb and echo throughout each movement of their pieces. Kingsbury's synthesizers dominated the lower end, providing both bass and percussion as a one-man rhythm section.
All three players demonstrated a laser-like focus in building their dynamic layers, never hesitant to veer into instrumental cacophony with the promise of pleasing musical resolution on the other side.