Here’s a release that slipped under my eyesight during the end of 2014: a collection of tracks by Doug Theriault conceived of as accompaniment to a dance performance by Linda Austin. The list of collaborators on here is a murderer’s row of local talent to boot: Creative Music Guild leader Benjamin Kates, The Late Now host Leo Daedalus, amazing jazz artists Catherine Lee and John Savage, among them. And the music…oh the music…an electro-acoustic collage with smatterings of dialogue and the chatter of digital detritus and stray percussion clangs that are continually scrabbling around one another, intercut with some squawking woodwinds and glassy drones. It’s a gloriously unsettled ride through a haunted house/fun house filled with abstract art and metal sculptures.
I love Doug Theriault‘s live performances because you can see firsthand how he extracts so much sound from so little. This video captured at KPSU where he was playing live for Ricardo Wang’s radio show is a great example of that, with him using an iPhone and a laptop to screw up the sound of his guitar in ways both beautiful and harsh. Make sure you have headphones on when listening to it as well to fully enjoy the way he plays with the stereo field as the performance moves forward.
From the artist: “Had an amazing experience in the sensory deprivation float at Portland’s Float On. Having all your senses blocked from the real world and open to your mind feels so good! This track was performed live after I got back; the visuals are feedback created with a 8mm vhs camcorder running into an archer video enhancer filming the monitor. While I was in the tank at Float On I experienced similar visuals that came and went.”
I don’t know what has charmed me more: the matter-of-fact title of this little collection or the fact that its creator Evan Spacht goes by the name Grizzle-E on SoundCloud. I find both things rather adorable…even while I’m finding the music on here challenging and perfectly abrasive. The titles of the tracks set you up for what’s in store. As advertised, one track is simply drums, melodica, and trombone, with the “cables” being what sounds like open patch cables feedback when physically handled. My favorite track, though, is simply called “noise_ppooll,” and it’s a magnificent six-minute exploration of little snippets of feedback, hums, shortwave radio static, and deeply felt rumbles. Here’s hoping we’ll be privy to some more of Spacht’s experiments before the year is out.
Music doesn’t get much prettier than this. Apparently recorded using primarily the sounds of a Baldwin Overture organ, Jef Drawbaugh aimed at capturing the feeling of watching the sun move through the sky over Iceland. And boy did he ever succeed. The gentle pulse of the sunrise, the haze of midday, the calm of sunset…they are all here, brought to glowing life by his simple melodies and bits of electronic processing. Intentional or not, Drawbaugh has also created the perfect soundtrack for short, crisp fall days. I can’t wait to go kicking through the leaves on a nice long early afternoon walk with this thrumming through the ol’ earbuds.
For some reason, I’ve missed out on the fact that 11 days from now, the St. Johns No.Fest is going to be happening in my fair neighborhood. In case you’ve missed out on this or are unfamiliar, this all day event brings together music of all stripes, with an emphasis on experimental fare, to the little region of North Portland for live performances. This varies from a big stage in the heart of the main square to a tiny stage next to a pizza parlor to the various bars/coffee shops that line N Lombard. The lineup is a corker, chock full of friends of Experimental Portland: ALTO!, ABSV, Stochastic Mettle Union, Consumer., Party Killer, RLLRBLL, and much much more. I’m going to embed the schedule for the event below, or you can check out the full St. Johns No.Fest site here. I’ll hopefully see you there.
One of the people I connected with early on with this blog was Jason Morales, the amazing musician and sound warrior who once made music under the name Abusive Consumer, but is now known as ABSV. He’s been a huge supporter of the cause of this site and our (hopefully soon-to-be returning) series of shows. One hand washing the other and all…I’m happy to share a new track that Jason has dropped on SoundCloud, a taster of an upcoming cassette release he is doing on SaDoDamascus Records. It’s a lovely little jam, with lots of potentially overwhelming bass and what appears to be the sound of creaking gears coming to life in the background. Or maybe this is what Jason imagines is happening inside of an actual FM radio once he kicks the power on and tunes it to a station playing some deep reggae. Or maybe that’s my imagination running wild once again under the influence of this sweet, sweet music.
I’ve talked up David Owen Tevlin on this site once before, discussing his fine work under the D$ guise. This month saw the release of another album by this unique artist, this time unfurled under the David/Owen banner. Ostensibly created to take up the two sides of a C-20 cassette release, the two tracks out under the name LongYellowForm are flat out beautiful utilizing long expressive drones and what I’m guessing are deeply lost guitar loops. Tevlin lists it under the tag “devotional,” which makes perfect sense as this would provide an ideal soundtrack to transcendental meditation sessions or some other kind of long night of the soul.
Remember me? I’m the one who posted and posted on this site and then took a break because the strain of trying to keep up with this on top of my actual day job and my family concerns got to be too much to handle. My thinking was that I’d be done for good, trying to update the calendar when I had a few extra minutes and shaking my head at all the shows and music I was likely missing.
Well, my itch for the music and people that I’ve met via this blog and the shows that I’ve curated has become far too regular to ignore. So I’m going to to try – try, mind you – to do more work here on the blog and in the scene. I’ve got nothing to lose but that last bit of my sanity and a few hours of my time each week. Bear with me because I know it’s going to be difficult to get my legs under me at the start.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s going on in Eugene where a noise/experimental scene is boiling over to a degree that rivals what we have here at home. And one of the folks that is helping stoke these fires is Andrew Quitter and his “anxiety electronics” project Regosphere.
I’ve likely talked him up on this site before because he’s just that good, but I’ve been especially inspired by his most recent cassette release Insomnia. It has all the markings of its titular condition or a good acid trip with a pair of extended cuts that will make you feel like the walls are undulating around you and shadows are leaking into your peripheral vision. And that’s before his processed, death metal vocals come into the mix. To muddle a phrase from Timothy Leary, tune in, get turned on, and drop off the grid for about a half hour with this as your soundtrack.
I hate to offer up excuses for my failure to keep the calendar updated, but life got right in the way of me taking care of that business. But it is done now. Did I miss anything? Shoot me an email to experimentalportland – at – gmail.com and let me know.