Max Haiven, Jon Vaughn

Nothing can be farther from the canon of academic experimentation than No Type’s unique, often grassroots and utterly leftfield roster. e/i magazine, USA

… malstrom de fébriles triturations urbaines, de plages acoustiques, de musiques savantes, d’ambiance introspective… Revue & Corrigée, France

A 73-minute work separated in 33 tracks of arbitrary length, Front is not to be easily explained. At the frontier of conceptual art & listening music, obnoxious candy pop & extreme experimentalism, Front introduces a compositional approach which, according to the composers, may be dubbed “domestic.” The work unfolds as a string of events, whereby conceptual relationships between sounds & ideas paradoxically gives birth to musical content. The composers have integrated in thie work their own feelings & experiences towards the ambient cultural narrative & pop music in particular.

Unlike many similarly ambitious works which assume a linear, almost meditative attention from the listener, Front prefers to toy with the idea that the listener’s attention is a kind of data to be played with, much like tone or rhythm. Finally, Front seeks to explore the dangers of musical identity, & the concept of structure as a victim of interrogation. Without attempting to criticise one particular aesthetic or another, the work is nonetheless highly suspicious (almost antagonistic) towards the attitudes leading to an aesthetic choice. To shrug off Front as too “intellectual” misses the point of the real listening pleasure to be found throughout. Thanks to its highly peculiar form & its total integration of the CD medium, I wouldn’t hesitate to qualify Front as a completely unique gem in the world of electro-acoustic & electronic musics.

  • Canada Council for the Arts

CD (IMNT 0312)

  • Label: No Type
  • IMNT 0312
  • 2003
  • UCC 771028031221
  • Total duration: 73:30
  • OGpak
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
  • 55 g

On the web

Some recommended items
In the press

Territorial Imperatives: Canada’s boldest and brightest labels…

Tobias C van Veen, e/i magazine, no. 4, June 1, 2005

[…] Nothing can be farther from the canon of academic experimentation than No Type’s unique, often grassroots and utterly leftfield roster. While the label is well known for its online releases (including brilliant early work by Tomas Jirku), a slew of output as the label went to CD circa 2002 established its tenacity in the field of improvisation and composition. The admixture is found in Max Haiven and Jon Vaughn’s Front (2003), which is one of few forays in non-academic music to establish parameters of interpretation for the listener. This eruptive, somewhat spontaneous, rough, at times chaotic, other times meditabve disc is a disjointed narrative of the history of electronie music; or, the history of electronic music from the front of its cabal - its avant-garde. In live performance at Rien à voir in Montréal in 2003, Vaughn rolled down the stairs in a blanket and flashlight, then fied up an antique turntable with rope after playing slo-motion air guitar; meanwhile, Haiven scribbled on a script before the two did mixer-battle with noise and collage cut-ups, ending with an embarrassingly bad songwriter duet. It was, at once, both incredibly naïve and yet absolutely self-reflexively so. […]

Nothing can be farther from the canon of academic experimentation than No Type’s unique, often grassroots and utterly leftfield roster.

Decibel ascoltàti

Marco Altavilla, Exibart, March 31, 2004

L’etichetta canadese No Type conferma ancora la sua determinazione e lucida consapevolezza estetica pubblicando nei primi mesi del nuovo anno Front di Max Haiven/Jon Vaughn. 73 minuti durante i quali i due musicisti assemblano materiali sonori e che, in perfetta tradizione elettroacustica e concreta, mirano a risvegliare la dimensione dell’ascolto. L’interesse dei due compositori si rivolge ad una dimensione concettuale che, allo stesso tempo, non esime il suono dal trascurare la possibilità di narrare attraverso un sottile approccio pop. Più socialmente impegnato Rumors of War del progetto Metaxu (Maurizio Martusciello e Filippo Paolini). I due italiani percorrono le strade della sperimentazione elettroacustica ed elettronica evitando la retorica, pur rasentandola (per questioni di materia), grazie ad un rigoroso approccio compositivo. Con il suo quinto album Bleak 1999 il canadese Tomas Jirku spinge gli esiti della minimal techno oltre i cliché che sembrano contraddistinguere la maggior parte delle produzioni laptop oriented. Intercettazioni radio, beat vivisezionati ed evanescenti linee melodiche si incastrano alla perfezione dando vita a scuri paesaggi sonori. […]


Julien Jaffré, Revue & Corrigée, no. 59, March 1, 2004

Ce jeune duo, cette naissante collaboration trouve comme point de concordance le territoire de Saskatoon, lieu isolé de la province du Saskatchewan, îlot d’humanité perdu au milieu d’un océan de prairie, d’une mer de steppe à l’Ouest de Montréal, géo-référencé au centre du Canada.

De ce «handicap» géographique, les 2 protagonistes en auront tiré une force et une philosophie qui alimentent l’ensemble de leur œuvre. L’activisme forcené de ces musiciens, leur constance à construire et créer, malgré les problèmes d’éloignements semblent un effort pour abolir les distances et l’isolement.

En un sens, ils nous rappellent qu’il n’y a plus d’ailleurs, ni de nulle part, que la géographie, l’éloignement ne sont plus des couperets sociaux, mais qu’il existe, dans des coins reculés des centres d’actions multiples, de productions culturelles, sorte de TAZ à la sauce Achim Bay.

Dans le cas présent, 2 électroacousticiens, qui n’ont pas pris le parti unique d’une musique ambiante, à l’esthétique isolationniste mais d’un agrégat, malstrom de fébriles triturations urbaines, de plages acoustiques, de musiques savantes, d’ambiance introspective pour la majorité façon Kranky voire d’un morceau énergique et dansant façon Donna Summer sur l’intro. Un no man’s land musical où les vibrations ont des échos sonores de terres dénudés de leur enfance. Une symbiose avec leur environnement direct, qui paradoxalement, a énormément à dire et donne envie de partager en leur compagnie leur appétit d’isolement et de solitude, de vie, aussi.

Une démarche qui invoque la communication, le contact et l’échange. Un désir de combler l’espace par une pleine activité humaine… l’équilibre.

… malstrom de fébriles triturations urbaines, de plages acoustiques, de musiques savantes, d’ambiance introspective…


Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 411, February 18, 2004

These two are new sound manipulators to me. Jon Vaughn is an audio-visual artist, DJ, writer, and events programmer. Max Haiven is an audio/video artist. These two canadian students worked for a period of 3 years on Front. They presented their work at the Rien à voir festival in october 2003 in Montréal. And now No Type released this ‘tour de force’ on CD. If I’m rightly informed this is for both of them their first release of a greater work. Front is a radical and challenging work, a complex composition that consists of 33 pieces. These pieces differ a lot in sound and sound material used. Also they are very differently structured. So they put a lot of original ideas in this one. “The composers have integrated in the work their own feelings & experiences towards the ambient cultural narrative and pop music in particular.” No doubt about their love for experiment. In the end not all 73 minutes of it are worthwhile, but these guys surely deliver with Front an interesting visiting card.

No doubt about their love for experiment […] these guys surely deliver…


Walt Miller, Splendid E-Zine, February 2, 2004

Back in the day, I saw a group called Disc play live. Their members — including a young unknown going by the handle Kid606 — took a pocket knife to their CD pile and incorporated their scratched-up play into a mix of power electronics. Using methods that are almost passé by today’s standards, Disc floored me with blasts of The Spice Girls skipping at random over low frequency white noise and digital fuckery. It was dumb, goofy fun, surrounded by loose, highbrow concepts and gifted with enchanting results — pop culture, damaged and regurgitated into something new, exciting and, dare I say it, entertaining.

Max Haiven and Jon Vaughn, two student activist/artists, attempt to do something in the same ballpark — as humorless as it is — with Front, their first documented full-fledged release. Within the album’s 73 minutes and 33 nameless tracks, the duo explores the points at which attitudes intersect with aesthetic choices. Their distrust of the latter begs the question, “What is art? What is pop music?; they seem to believe that there’s not as much separation as you might think. To demonstrate, Haiven and Vaughn throw all sorts of folky instrumentation and skipping/looping pop recordings into a stark experimental stew of Difficult listening. And that’s Difficult with a capital “D”. Granulated drones and austere digital atmospherics provide a foundation for the occasional wisps of familiarity — an acoustic guitar, a snippet extracted untidily from the radio, a stray vocal — that snap us back into the real world. It’s a hard road for an ear to travel, and it shows that, however profound Haiven and Vaughn’s mission, it’s much easier to get a handle on their concept than on the music itself.

The duo’s actual approach is unknown, but a record like Front, without any discernible structure, would almost have to have some extemporaneous elements dropped in on the fly. In fact, the two are seasoned in the art of electroacoustic improv, having performed live together and with others at various musical events in Canada. Their sounds unfold organically, sometimes beautifully; the interruptions and incoherence of this long piece are its structure. There is a chunk in the middle of the album that is nothing more than an oscillating organ note, held down over the course of four tracks. Why these tracks were broken into lengths of 1’14”, 2’11”, 0’17” and 4’02” is unimportant. The arbitrary methods adopted by Haiven and Vaughn are about rejecting convention, and, while that’s hardly a costly stance in the context of experimental music, Front gets its point across in joyless fashion. Thing is, it’s an impossible thing to pull off, entirely — their glitchy loopage is not exactly a novelty — but the boys know this. Their talents as sound sculptors speak for themselves (check out track 24, an impressive percussive montage) and, in the end, the pair make an interesting racket that succeeds on its own merits, concepts aside. That said, gimme The Spice Girls enhanced by a pocket knife any day.

Their talents as sound sculptors speak for themselves…


François Couture, AllMusic, January 1, 2004

Front is rich, dense, multi-directional, and very challenging. But is it good? Honestly, this reviewer doesn’t know. Even after a handful of listens, its code remains unbroken, its meaning evasive, its structure oblique, its intentions obscure. A collaboration between Max Haiven (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Jon Vaughn (Saskatchewan, Canada), two conceptual electronica artists, Front is a continuous 73-minute collage work indexed in 33 arbitrary tracks. A sound art buffet, it includes harsh electronics, ambient textures, electroacoustic manipulations, sampling, fragments of guitar tunes, advertisements, pop attempts, and who knows what else. An LP skipping maniacally can lead to a lengthy episode of organ chords or a comical keyboard interlude or a fast-paced collage of harsh fragments. You never know what will come up next — but the problem is, at some point during these 73 minutes, you stop caring or trying to guess what could come up next. The flow of the piece is overwhelming. Its chaotic unfolding obviously hides a deeper structure — it is not gratuitous, you can feel it, it has to be following its own logic — but this structure is very well hidden. You don’t come out of Front with the impression of having wasted over an hour of your time, but you do get the feeling that you missed on something. And this impression only becomes stronger with every listen. This reviewer found himself questioning every shift, every turn, and being unable to find a single convincing answer. So if Front doesn’t provide an enjoyable listen, it sure provides a stimulating one.

… it sure provides a stimulating [listening].


Dionisio Capuano, Blow Up, no. 68, January 1, 2004

La No Type di David Turgeon — ingegno multiforme, grafico, programmatore in Perl, ironico agitatore delle nuove avanguardie scapigliate — è una delle ‘case’ più oltranziste nell’area sperimentale nordamericana. Tra le ultime uscite (nel recente passato vanno ricordati i Book On Tapes e il cd a firma A Dontigny — Diane Labrosse) si annoverano un ponderoso compact canadese ed una produzione di nostri connazionali. I giovanissimi Haiven e Vaughn la danno di cut up-fluxus in trentatré segmenti, scombinando e ricombinando materiali di varia indistinguibile provenienza. Si possono individuare tre approcci alla manipolazione sonora. Un ‘taglia-e-cuci’ veloce ed informale, simile per effetto allo scorrere veloce e ‘brutista’ della sintonia di una radio. Poi un dar di spatola noise in maniera più omogenea e quindi un segmento iperminimalista che ricorda la scuola statunitense anni ’70-’80. Non necessariamente in quest’ordine, né in rigida sequenza. Vi prospettiamo adesso una scelta critico-concettuale variabile che va dall’improperio ontologico e strutturato alia concorde e sorridente accettazione di giudizi già scritti: “Contrariamente a molti lavon contemporanei, Front è una, composizione di 73 minuti che determina niente meno che un confronto tra la vostra percezione del mondo e il mondo stesso! Qual è stata l’ultima volta che avete realmentefatto esperienza di arte?

… scombinando e ricombinando materiali di varia indistinguibile provenienza…


Time Off, January 1, 2004

Located in Saskatoon, Haiven and Vaughn are electroacoustic composers concerning themselves with a wide range of sound sources. Over the course of this 73-minute piece, the duo explores a range of complex textures, repetitiously shifting rhythm patterns and audio cut-ups. Drifting from sheer walls of intense feedback to quite sparse audio plains, this composition is a detailed and considered work that highlights the two composers’ developed sensibilities.

Musiques émergentes - Non conforme et fier de l’être

David Cantin, Le Devoir, August 23, 2003

De l’électronique au rock expérimental, un portrait des sorties importantes et attendues

Encore cet automne, les musiques émergentes retiennent l’attention. La scène indépendante québécoise se démarque et revendique plus que jamais sa différence face à l’industrie dominante. À quoi peut-on s’attendre au cours des prochains mois? Quels seront les artistes ainsi que les albums à surveiller? De l’électronique au rock expérimental, on dresse un portrait des sorties importantes et attendues.

Chez No Type, on ne peut tout simplement pas passer à côté du Bleak 1999 de Tomas Jirku dans le genre IDM sombre et minimal. On a aussi hâte d’entendre l’électronique délinquante de Books on Tape, de même que les recherches plus pointues du duo Front (Jon Vaughn et Max Haiven).

… on ne peut tout simplement pas passer à côté du Bleak 1999 de Tomas Jirku

More texts

  • ASB, De:Bug, April 1, 2004
  • Teodorowicz Slawomir, Echoes Online, February 25, 2004
  • Friday, December 12, 2003 / In concert

    Jon Vaughn invites everyone to a celebration around the CD Front, recently released on the No Type label. Many performnces are scheduled, amongst other an electroacoustic presentation by Steve Reed, dj sets by Holzkopf and … More

  • Tuesday, December 2, 2003 / General

    After a surprising performance in Montréal for the Rien à voir (14) concert series held October 2003, iconoclasts activists behind Front, Max Haiven (Halifax) and Jon Vaughn (Saskatoon), are now disseminating their irrevencial wor… More