Montreal express

Ghislain Poirier sweeps into Boston
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  March 4, 2008

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EVER MORE ECLECTIC No Ground Under adds to Poirier’s stylistic mix soca, dubstep, even Moroccan string motifs.

When Montreal DJ and producer Ghislain Poirier plays Beat Research at Enormous Room this Monday, he should feel right at home. By his reckoning, it will be his fourth appearance in as many years at the long-running weekly. “They’re my Boston family,” he says of Beat Research and its resident DJs, Flack and Wayneandwax. They’re all part of what Poirier sees as a close-knit network of DJs that includes DJ/rupture, Team Shadetek, and DJ C. Like all siblings, the group share traits. In this case, they all draw from a similarly broad range of musical styles: hip-hop, ragga, baile funk. If it’s got bass to spare, it’s grist for the mill.

Since the release of Breakupdown (Chocolate Industries) in 2005, Poirier has consolidated his reputation with a slew of remixes that includes a radically stripped-down version of “Ice, Ice, Baby.” On No Ground Under (Ninja Tune), his sixth full-length, he adds new elements to an already eclectic stylistic mix: the hyperventilated rhythms of soca, the wobbly bass of dubstep, even Moroccan string motifs. “With so many different styles, the real headache was figuring out the track order,” he admits over the phone from his home in Montreal. “The cool thing was that I didn’t know when I made the tracks whether they would fit together, but when I put ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ after ‘City Walking’ [the former jittery and frenetic, the latter as languid and chill as anything on the album], I realized that they responded very well to each other, even though it wasn’t something I planned.”

Most of the better tracks are collaborations with MCs from the Montreal underground; we get the idiosyncratic hip-hop of Omnikrom and the reggae-inflected Nik Myo and Face-T. But Poirier cautions that the album shouldn’t be seen as a portrait of what’s going on in Montreal — “It’s more a reflection of where I am right now.” No Ground Under is, however, in some measure a product of Bounce Le Gros, the influential monthly party that he ran until last summer in the city. (The name translates — loosely and affectionately, mind you — as “Bounce, Fatty.”) For Poirier, Bounce Le Gros formed the nucleus of the family of DJs and musicians that extends from Montreal to Boston to New York, Chicago and beyond. “Before Bounce Le Gros, there wasn’t a place in Montreal where people from the same scene, or with the same kind of musical curiosity, perhaps, could hang out.” Like Poirier’s music, the night was all about dancing, but it went beyond that, sparking numerous collaborations and projects and ultimately, as he says, “building a new philosophy for Montreal bands and musicians.”

With the new album just out in the US and a collection of No Ground Under remixes slated for release on Ninja Tune this spring, Poirier is kicking off a tour that will bring him to Austin for a Ninja Tune party at South by Southwest later this month. He’ll do a special live set that one can hope he’ll eventually bring to Boston, with drummer Christian Olsen adding explosive kick to Poirier’s already machine gun-like beats. “I call him my Kalashnikov drummer,” Poirier says with a laugh, “because the way he does the fills, they’re like gunshots to me. They’re so powerful.”

GHISLAIN POIRIER + DJ THICK | Enormous Room, 567 Mass Ave, Cambridge | March 10 | 617.491.5550

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