The Modern Deep Left Quartet is the energetic showdown of four of Canada's best electronic musicians: Mathew Jonson,The Mole (Colin de la Plante), Tyger Dhula, and Danuel Tate.
Sporting a long history of jazz-influenced improvisation, the quartet plays with the added intimacy of longtime friends who are as familiar with each others' styles as they are with their distinctive personalities. The individual musicians' own projects all feed back into the whole: both Jonson and the Mole have experienced considerable success as solo artists and performers, while keyboardist Tate has released a pair of solo EPs. Of course, Jonson, Dhula and Tate are together best known as Cobblestone Jazz, !K7 signees, Wagon Repair's flagship act, and a powerhouse performing unit known for one of the most electrifying live shows in electronic dance music.
One important note: As of 2010, Cobblestone Jazz's studio lineup includes all four musicians from the Modern Deep Left Quartet, as signalled by the title of the band's second album, The Modern Deep Left Quartet. Cobblestone Jazz's touring lineup remains the trio of Jonson, Tate and Dhula, and the group reserves the Modern Deep Left Quartet moniker for billings including the Mole.
The Modern Deep Left Quartet uses early computers and analog instruments to create pared-down sounds that retain the quality of improvisational jazz within the parameters of a minimal, dance-floor aesthetic. Through a real-time exchange of musical form, language, and ideas, Tyger Dhula, Mathew Jonson, Danuel Tate and The Mole provide a continual sense of surprise and discovery for their listeners. Both on stage and in the studio, the spontaneity rules.
And while eight hands might seem like a lot, the Modern Deep Left Quartet never feels like there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Each member brings a specific set of overlapping talents to a studio that's laid out to ensure maximal elbow room, with the musicians staking out positions at favourite machines. Mathew Jonson is a demon tweaker of analogue synthesizers and drum machines, writing bass lines and re-tooling sequences on the fly. Tyger Dhula's deep history as a DJ and producer help inform the structural underpinnings of the group's music. Danuel Tate's jazz background guides the group's compositions, turning tracks into something approaching actual songs: his comping, solos and processed vocals provide much of Cobblestone Jazz's most distinctive flavour, but he also knows the power of restraint, holding back to let his friends' undulating sequences do the talking. De la Plante’s turntable dexterity and sampling prowess add a further sonic dimension to the band's already expansive sound.
The band's first recording, the 'Babyfoot' EP, surfaced on Wagon Repair in 2005, after which the Quartet focused more or less exclusively on live shows. But all four members came together in 2010 to record Cobblestone Jazz's bold, definitive album statement, The Modern Deep Left Quartet. In December 2013 came the MDLQ's latest, the brilliant 'Ditch Pig' 12" also on Wagon Repair. This year will see more recorded music released and a tour to Japan amongst other destinations, tantalising news for fans of this sometimes elusive act.