Deep Dark United Tranzac, Toronto ON April 27

It was criminally easy to score front and centre seating for Deep Dark United’s first of two performances in the front room of the Tranzac, both of which were recorded with intention of releasing a live album. Here is a group of musicians who can, perhaps, be as suitably described as true artists as any working their craft in any medium today. DDU casually warmed up on their instruments, and before it was clear they were finished tuning, the pulsing abstract groove of the first song of two stellar sets of what can only loosely be described as jazzy, experimental, progressive, folk-ish, world/pop, was well underway. This method of painting outside the traditional lines of set construction, blending songs and segues into one cohesive experience, seems an echo of the collective’s improvisational art aesthetic and smooth bucking of genre constraints. Casual creativity and masterful execution seem the only firm guidelines governing Deep Dark United’s composition and presentation. Employing multiple synths and piano, saxophone, flute, polyrhythmic drumming and Ryan Driver’s baffling little wooden box that sounds like an upright bass, the wildly talented bunch built intense layers of sonic beauty and dissonance around songwriter Alex Lukashevsky’s bold vocal and guitar framework, morphing and evolving the song arrangements of familiar pieces throughout the performance and delivering mesmerising new material. With microphones placed for recording, the live sound quality had excellent balance and clarity, though the guitar dipped low in the mix a few times. The room did fill up as the performance went on, but such a small response makes one hope DDU won’t have to wait until their creativity has crested — like alternative forefathers and comparable visionaries the Velvet Underground — to muster the appreciation their art merits.