Off the International Radar
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Off the International Radar

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"TWELVE: The Wavelength 12th Anniversary Festival - Line-up Announced!!!"

Influential electronic drone collective prep for a Euro tour with Nadja. - Wavelength

"Best Bet: Off The International Radar"

Ignore the name, Off the International Radar is definitely on the must-hear map. And this is music you can also see: OTIR’s audiovisual live shows loop projected imagery over their Krautrock/punk/psychedelic cocktail. This week the former house-party heroes launch their Hot Lips EP, which includes an “epic collaboration” with Holy Fuck. - Eye Magazine

"Profile: Off The International Radar"

Our music PROFILE for March is this unconventional band that plays by their own rules and does what works for them. And it works for us! J.F. THIBAULT has the scoop, with photography by ISSHA MARIE. - Dead Sexy Magazine

"Hot Lips Review"

There’s a collision of sound and emotions on Hot Lips, the debut EP from Toronto’s Off The International Radar that make for an intriguing listen. Take the musical experimentation of Holy Fuck and Fuck Buttons (my that’s an expletive filled fragment!) and melt it down with the more emotive moments of The Acorn or the like, and stir vigorously and what you’ll get is is the strange brew of opening track “Hello and Wave”. It’s all a bit more avant garde than I would normally gravitate too, but for fans of Holy Fuck, you’ll be interested in their collaboration with Off The International Radar on the track “Holy Radar”. Holy Fuck sped up OTIR’s track “E Bowl of Iris” on a record player in studio, and then played along and added their own layers, effectively giving the vinyl version of the song two unique incarnations: play it at 45 RPM in the spirit of the remix or play it at 33 1/3 RPM in the spirit of the original recording, you decide. Of course, you can’t change the speed of a digital file (or can you?) but I’ll take “Holy Radar” just as it is, my favourite of the tracks on Hot Lips. - Quick Before It Melts

"Radar Love"


It's lunchtime and, over caffeine and sandwiches, two members of Off the International Radar are dishing out the art references. It's little wonder. Guitarist/Moogster Don Kennedy and keyboardist/programmer Aaron Dawson met while studying -- architecture and film respectively -- at Brock University in St. Catharines. Though OTIR didn't form until they and drummer, Farfisa player and fellow film student Henry Sansom moved to Toronto in 2001, the band's modus operandi -- artistic cross-pollination -- is heavily influenced by their school days.

"We want our music and ideas to be in the forefront, and what we learned permeated our thinking," says Kennedy. "Notions of film and architecture feed what we see in our minds as we make music."

"We never sit down and talk about music, musically," Dawson laughs. "It's always in relation to ideas and images, almost like building something. Henry usually comes up with the most elaborate images -- he's always got things like 'Somebody's on a horse with a spear and a flag charging across the desert.'"

Whatever their references, Off the International Radar create intense, atmospheric instrumentals that beautifully blur the lines between electronic and indie-rock. They recently caught my ear with a CD-R of their forthcoming debut album, but they've been captivating crowds for the past few years with a steady stream of live shows where visuals -- original videos projected onto walls and the band itself in place of lighting -- contribute as much to the experience as the music itself. This approach -- combined with OTIR's constantly morphing, heavily textured sound (now made even more so with the recent addition of bassist Stanton Warren) -- has earned them bookings at events such as Wavelength and the CNE's upcoming Ear to the Ground fest, where they'll play the electronic stage on Sept. 17.

"Which is funny because we don't consider ourselves to be an electronic band," comments Kennedy.

"But it makes sense because our music is instrumental and it's been influenced by listening to a lot of electronic music," Dawson adds quickly. "What's hilarious is that we've been billed as 'ambient techno,' 'art-rock,' 'post-this' and 'post-that.' We gave up trying to describe our music."

Instead, they've concentrated on making it more dynamic. Having now heard Off the International Radar's two earlier EPs -- released in 2002 and 2003 -- I'm impressed with their progress. Each release is more broad and rich with movement than the next. The inevitable comparisons to Constellation Records acts like Do Make Say Think and Polmo Polpo are beginning to sound warranted. In fact, Sandro Perri, a.k.a. Polmo Polpo, co-produced, engineered and mixed OTIR's new CD.

"Sandro definitely brought a lot of ideas to what we're doing, and helped with the cohesiveness of the album," says Kennedy. "It's really good to have an outside perspective in deciding things like which songs to keep and knowing when they're complete."

Dawson agrees: "With the first two EPs, we were just playing our live songs and recording them. This time, it wasn't enough to do that. Sandro taught us that something we could play live might not translate. We'd sit in the studio and listen, and he'd ask things like, 'Have you thought this out? Is it going somewhere?' We'd be like, 'Well, it was when we were playing it live!' Live, we use a lot of effects and they're obvious -- even simple things like delay can make a really big difference when it's live and really loud.

"Sandro really challenged us, especially about using effects. He'd say, 'Turn those effects down or off. Let's just try it, record it and see what happens,' so then we'd start with a stripped-down version of the song and build from there. Recording the album had a huge effect on how we write new material and play live now." - Eye Magazine - August 25, 2005.

"Off the International Radar Album Review"


Locals Off the International Radar have been quietly cranking out throbbing instrumental post-rock since 2001, but this is their first full-length album, following a couple of independently released EPs. For this excursion, they brought Sandro Perri (aka Polmo Polpo) on board as producer, and you can hear the progression from their earlier work. They rely less on otherworldly layers of effects; melodic and rhythmic elements are now creating that hypnotic, glistening throb. Ambient music made by live musicians -- if that appeals to you, you'll like this.

- NOW Magazine - April 20, 2006

"Off the International Radar Album Review"


It's a testament to Off the International Radar's expert soundscape-architecture abilities that the Toronto band can build their wordless compositions primarily with layman's tools like piano, acoustic guitars and drums, yet are routinely classified as an electronic act. OTIR's debut album (co-produced with Sandro Perri) speaks to their patient creative process: exemplary opener "E Bowl of Iris" casts a subliminal spell over six hypnotic minutes, swirling and swelling like prime Seefeel or Pure Phase-era Spiritualized. From there, the album becomes a balancing act between restraint and release, with equally fascinating and frustrating results. Standouts "Deploy the Plot Ending Device" and "Critical Mass" pulsate around bracing kick-drum builds, tantalizing us with powerful snare hits that hint at discotheque conquests before unexpectedly dissolving into ambient textures; but the jittery "Sans Ohmm" sadly cuts out just as its unsettling synth frequencies threaten to take over, while drifty piano-plinked closer "For Mary" feels anti-climactic following the epic, Do Make Say Think-worthy victory march "Outer Space Organization." But if OTIR occasionally meander, it's all part of their ceaseless, valiant pursuit for something greater lurking in rock's great unknown.
- EYE Magazine - April 20, 2006.

"Off The International Radar"

Performing in the dark, except for a backdrop projecting some abstract surfing images, Off The International Radar pieced together an elegant and often beautiful set. Given their ambient electronic experimentation, just close your eyes and enter a dream-like state of mind listening to their hypnotic score. ND

(from July 2, 2003 issue of Exclaim! magazine, review of NXNE 2003)
- Exclaim! magazine

"Radar Pinpoints Spacey Instro Trend"


OFF THE INTERNaTIONAL RADAR with QUADRACEPTOR, BLEEP, AUDIOSLEEP and QUADRA at Red Square (47 Duncan), Saturday (March 1). $10 or CMW wristband. 416-593-6660.

Is there such a thing as a Canadian sound? Every genre has a band from Canada doing a version of it, but few groups can lay claim to a uniquely Canuck sensibility.

That may be changing. A trend -- spacey atmospheric instrumental bands -- is emerging in various parts of the country. Their sound combines the formal ideas of techno with instrumentation borrowed from rock.

The bigger names, like Do Make Say Think and Godspeed You Black Emperor come to mind first, but dozens of lesser-known bands are starting to make a name for themselves inside these lines.

Toronto-based Off the International Radar is a prime example. They suggest the genre be called "electronic-eh," but they're just kidding.

"It's kind of exciting now how many bands are out there that HMV can't classify," drummer Henry Sansom observes over brunch.

"My hope is that eventually there will be so many types of music that it will become overloaded and the whole system will collapse, and people just give up on it," Aaron Dawson muses, still recovering from the Pixelate party the night before

As it is, OTIR's sound is miles away from the other instrumental bands they might get compared to. There's a cool, watery, ambient quality to many of their pieces, but glimpses of rock aggression, too. Even though they've only been playing live for a little more than a year and have yet to play outside Toronto, their first three-song CD has already sold out and they're in the process of wrapping up production on a sequel.

The band was born very organically, the result of the three members' moving together into a house they could practise in. Starting without preconceptions about what they wanted to sound like, both Dawson and Sansom ended up playing instruments they'd never touched before, bringing a naive experimental edge to their style. Using a mountain of gear, they and guitarist Don Kennedy conjure up a wall of sound so thick, it's hard to believe there are only three people onstage.

They've been classified for this particular show as electronic but are quick to note that techno is only one of many influences and reference points.

"We've played with hiphop groups, rock bands and at ambient nights," Dawson explains.

Either way, DJ styles have made a big impression.

"I find the way that DJs use dynamics and percussion to manipulate a crowd really inspiring," says Sansom. "When people are moving, they're listening to the drums. They might be swooning to the guitar, but they're moving to the drums."

Vol. 22 No. 26 Feb 27 - Mar 5, 2003
NOW magazine - NOW magazine

"Off The International Radar"

Purveyor of: The compelling drone

Off The International Radar have been together two years, having performed half a dozen shows since Hallowe'en 2001. The Blue Co-pilot honed in on their signal and returned with this email exchange...

How does the OTIR creative process work? (i.e. experimentation/improvisation/jamming vs. concrete structure.)

Our process generally incorporates all of these approaches. Songs are conceived through a series of jams where we record the entire session. We then review the recordings and choose moments/parts we like. From there, the song is structured and worked on until the idea is fully realized. It's a process of discovery through experimentation and we consider it a very organic way to write music.

Your songs carry a certain weight to them, a starkness that reminds me of Factory bands like Section 25. How do you successfully combine the cold with the warmth?

We never try to tailor our songs to one specific sound or mood. Rather, each song is allowed to take on a character of its own and materializes from its own potential. So, the feeling of a song relies largely on how each of us feels when it's conceived; sometimes warm and sometimes cold. Those differences translate through the instruments effectively because we use a combination of digital and analog instruments, tone generators and filters. Each produces very unique characteristics of both warm and cold tones.

A collage, if you will -- Can, The Soft Machine, Kraftwerk, Eno, Seefeel; Germany, England; "70s", "90s"......does this make any sense? Where/circa when do your excursions originate from?

A collage would be a good way to describe it, however, there's never a time when we make a conscious effort to sound like another band. The influences come through more as inspiration, not imitation. We listen to an obscene amount of music and naturally, it comes through us in various ways (we do listen to the bands you cited above). We also incorporate other methods of artistic thought, such as art and architectural theory, film, as well as social and political theory. These are all part of what we derive inspiration from.

Is this music for certain seasons or elements or is it just about "cycles"?

The seasons probably do affect our music in the same way they affect people's moods. Different seasons do affect mood and this would certainly come through in our music when we write it. We want to keep things subjective and allow the listener to have an experience that is personal and independent from others' experiences.

You seem to have a nice lock on combining beats/breaks with "ambient" soundscapes. Are you guys writing music for films? What did you think of the last Aphex Twin record?

We haven't had the chance to hear the new Aphex Twin record, although we are familiar with his other work. Writing music for films is something we would be interested in -- we are currently working to integrate film projection into our live performance.

(How) do you integrate sampling into your live performances? What sorts of interesting instruments/gadgets/etc. can I expect to see onstage?

Very little sampling is used in the music itself, but it has become beneficial to us between songs. Each song requires us to take time to reset our pedals and so we've created a bunch of short recordings to play while this is going on; it keeps things engaging and interesting. Our set-up is actually pretty simple... the main instruments are as follows: treated keyboards, treated rhythm machine, treated guitar, organ and drums.
- Wavelength magazine

"Madrid @ Drake Underground, Nov 28"

Sweeping synths, dreamy soundscapes and visuals reminiscent of summer nights warmed a cozy crowd of the curious, industry insiders and friends of the bands gathering inside the Drake Underground last night for Toronto-based duo Madrid’s showcase of their new EP First Message.

Setting the stage with their hypnotic, ambient textures were local pals of the band Off The International Radar, who opened with new unnamed work (the product of several recent months spent in New York studios) that extended their one-chord guitar drone style into a lo-fi swirling, epic introduction, which then morphed into their ambient-pop 2006 single “E Bowl of Iris.” Their likable live set progressed with increasing tempo and drum kicks from more untitled work, and raised the room’s energy with “Freedom Drones.” Paired with solarized visuals of carnival swings, it was at once like floating and hitting the ground. Until their new album gets its spring/summer release, OTIR will be missed in Toronto as they take to the road (where they’ll likely share the stage with Madrid once again).

A quick new wave interlude with the DJ playing Japan foreshadowed Madrid’s tendencies towards ‘80s electronica. Niagara Falls natives Duncan Christie and Adam Perry first screened their ‘70s themed skiing video for “Out to Sea” whose dreamy vibe and breathy, melodic vocals were worthy of soundtracking a Sofia Coppolla film.

Promptly moving into the energetic “Crystallic” and synth-heavy, head-bopping “Bam Bam Brother,” Madrid — comprised of drummer Eric Lightfoot, a drum machine, Roland, Moog and 12-string guitar — entertained the crowd with faster beats and psychedelic underwater video footage. The spacey “Stereostar” segued nicely into perhaps the EP’s strongest track, “Reply (to Everyone).” Vibrating with a heavy analog lead, catchy lyrics such as “Don’t turn / don’t walk / don’t look / don’t cross / don’t drink / don’t drop / don’t roll…” made the crowd groove just a touch more than they had been already.

Kraftwerk comes to mind as the rest of the set is steeped in alternating analog riffs and electro melodies, from the synth- and bass-heavy “BTA United,” to “Killing Time Blues” and their last song of the night, “Freeway,” whose psychedelic guitar recalls The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” upbeat fun (and got us excited for their full-length Original Message, due out mid-next year).

Finally, Vitaminsforyou’s Bryce Kushnier (who’s next album is also expected in mid-2008) showed off his DJ skills with high energy electro-house to a thinning Wednesday night crowd, some lingering to hear Kushnier bust out Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” before calling it a night with dreams of Madrid still swimming in their heads. - Eye Magazine


OTIR 001 - 1st EP (Spring 2002)
OTIR 002 - 2nd EP (Winter 2003)
OTIR 003 - LP/CD (April 25, 2006)
HOT LIPS - 3rd EP (September 15, 2009, Hand Drawn Dracula)



At a place in between post, kraut, psychedelic and punk rock; nestled in the hills and valleys of electronic, experimental and drone, is a space that is Off The International Radar. Formed by Henry Sansom, Don Kennedy and Aaron Dawson in the basement of the Toronto house they shared, OTIR has grown from parties crammed with projected images and sweaty minds to sharing stages with Holy Fuck, A Place to Bury Strangers, Polmo Polpo, Mahogany and Quintron. A vast record collection and a deep love of music combined to bring them together, taking their different influences and honing them down into a sound variously described as epic, hypnotic and throbbing.

Combined with stunning original visuals that juxtapose and enhance the weaving of signals and noise, Off The International Radar tailor the live sound for the show, whether it be aggressive low-fi in a basement, atmospheric for an art gallery, or epic clashes at an outdoor stadium.

In 2009, Off the International Radar released the Hot Lips EP, their third EP and first release on Hand DrawnDracula. This 4-song EP featured a collaboration with Holy Fuck (XL Recordings) titled: “Holy Radar” which was recently chosen by XL Recordings to be a bonus track on the Japanese release of Holy Fuck’s second full-length: “Latin”. OTIR is currently working on the material for their second full-length and first European tour with Nadja in March 2012.