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Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

Experimental excellence at Sled Island Day Two

By Ansharah Shakil, Nazeefa Ahmed, June 23 2024—

On Day Two of Sled Island, the festival sprung into motion with shows beginning late in the afternoon and well into the night. One standout was the CJSW-presented experimental music showcase at Central United Church, full of festival attendees to see the collection of three of the finest artists Sled Island had to offer this year: NPNP Trio, Malcolm Mooney & The Eleventh Planet and Irreversible Entanglements


Avant-garde group NPNP Trio combines genres of jazz, musique concrète and electronic music to create harmonies and cacophonies that made the audience uncomfortable in the best way. Listening to their music feels like strolling through an abandoned forest, with hints of melody to guide you through the uncertain terrain. 

Jackson Darby, on modular synth, wants audiences to feel strongly towards the music his group produces.  

“I don’t come with a specific intention in mind,” said Darby. “I hope that people feel something, Hopefully something strong — if they hate it or love it or feel angry or sad. I like to attempt to evoke some type of intensity, not one emotion in particular.” 

Their performance was unapologetically experimental and the audience was captivated by the tracks from their album Isolated Plastic Bag. The trio brings a fresh perspective into what enjoying good music looks like, straying far enough from the traditional to be interesting, but still staying true to the genres they take inspiration from.  

Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

Malcolm Mooney & The Eleventh Planet

Malcolm Mooney & The Eleventh Planet brought vibrant vocals, tantalizing beats and jazzy New Orleans melodies that left the audience enraptured by the talented group. The power in Malcolm Mooney’s spoken word was complemented by Ava Mendoza on the guitar and Devin Brahja Waldman on saxophone — the focus on rhythm and melody created a cohesive performance with lyrical melodies that demanded reflection. Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley on drums and Daniel Moreno on percussion created a strong foundation that the rest of the group built on top of to create a layered soundscape that enveloped the audience completely. Lastly, Alexis Marcelo’s melody on the keyboard was the cherry on top, tying all the elements together. 

Overall, the performance delivered the excellence that audiences have grown to expect from Malcolm Mooney and all that he works with over the years. 

Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

Irreversible Entanglements 

Free-jazz quintet Irreversible Entanglements are the epitome of collaboration. Each member — poet and vocalist Camae Ayewa, bassist Luke Stewart, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, saxophonist Keir Neuringer and drummer Tcheser Holmes — has a different background and strength to bring to the group. Their work belongs to the experimental genre at its best: curiously alive and open to engaging in anything that could elevate their sound. Their set at Central United Church opened with a quiet gravity before dissolving into a cacophony of ethereal instruments all tangled together. You couldn’t think of anything else, the music working to flood your senses completely: sounds reminiscent of cicadas and rustling water alongside the haunting instruments. Irreversible Entanglements’ spoken word was something to behold: Ayewa’s vocals shook with emotion in the intimate atmosphere of the church, and you felt every part of it. The reason why is not only that each individual part of the quintet works, but that each part combined is even stronger together.  

Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

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