Although active as a professional guitar player since the end of the 1970s, Canadian Rainer Wiens has constantly been falling through the cracks of the recording industry, leaving very little trace of his work and only since he moved to Montreal in the mid-'90s. Except for a couple of free improv records and participation on projects by members of the collective Ambiances Magnétiques, Wiens' music has been related to the stage (dance, theater, new opera) and thus largely remains undocumented.
Wiens studied guitar with John Becker, Allan Torak, and Tony Bradan. He also studied improvisation and jazz harmony with New York pianist and noted educator Barry Harris. This private instruction prepared him for every possible work in the jazz business and soon Wiens was working the Toronto club circuit as a sideman for a constellation of local names. In 1978, he formed the left-field jazz group Silk Stockings. It toured throughout the 1980s, making appearances at various jazz festivals in Canada, but also in England and Hungary. During that period, the guitarist forged himself a personal form of expression, abstract but with a lot of charm. He makes extensive use of the prepared guitar, often approaching the instrument more like a Gamelan ensemble than something with six strings.
Since the late '80s, his focus shifted toward a collaboration with artists from other fields. The 1990s saw him writing small-scale operas with librettist Victoria Ward (Homeless, Down Here on Earth), scoring music for films by Barbara Sternberg (C'est la Vie, 1997; Like a Dream That Vanishes, 1999), and collaborating with dancer Lucie Grégoire. He co-founded (with Jan Komarek) the Sound Image Theatre, where he supplied music for many productions.
In the mid-'90s, he moved to Montreal and hooked up with the musicians of Ambiances Magnétiques. His solo album, Bonunca Dream Music, self-released in 1995, was picked up for distribution by the collective's label. A trio session with longtime partners Malcolm Goldstein and John Heward (Chants Sacrés, 1999) helped bring some attention to his work. He co-founded the group NOMA with trombonist Tom Walsh and by 2002 was leading his own group Follow Follow.