David Tevlin does as so many musicians and artists should: he follows wherever his internal muse takes him. Sometimes that is in the guise of David/Owen, a guitar loop-centric solo project that skirts the line of normality; other times it’s as part of Language, his trio that specializes in denatured electro-pop. I like him best when he’s doing weird shit under the name D $, releasing these strange little missives from deepest space via his SoundCloud page. Like this comet burst of sputtering muted trumpets and fusion tension filtered through a dyspeptic robot’s spleen.
The point of this blog, as its name tells you, is to focus on the Portland experimental community, but we do not live in a bubble. And considering how poorly things are going economically for everyone in the creative world, it would behoove us to look out for those around us as well. Hence this little call to arms:
The folks behind the amazing Substrata Festival in Seattle are looking for a little financial boost to help put together another event this year. Launched in 2011, the fest has brought a wealth of experimental and ambient sounds to the Emerald City, including last year’s appearance by Tim Hecker, Scanner, Loscil, and Daniel Menche. Organizers also set up lectures, discussions, and a field trip for budding musicians to listen and do field recordings.
The dates have already been set aside for version 1.3 – July 18 – 21 – and the fest needs that little bit of help to bring in a couple of international artists that will give the weekend a likely boost in ticket sales, and a little bit of prestige as well.
Like all campaigns of this kind (this one is being supported by Indiegogo), there’s benefits to donating like free mixes, signed vinyl, and other treats, but the biggest bonus is supporting an event that takes no corporate sponsorship and whose organizer draws no financial benefit from it. Click here or on any of the links above to toss a little money their way. Or don’t. I ain’t forcing anyone’s hand here.
If you live here in Portland and are a fan of experimental sounds, you’ve likely bumped into the name Ethan Rose. He’s been a fixture of the local scene for years now, making sound sculpture and crafting albums like Oaks, which took the sounds of the massive pipe organ at Oaks Park Skating Rink and turned them into long waves of ambient sound. Whenever Rose mentions something he’s working on, I sit up and pay attention.
Rose recently sent an e-mail around talking about his latest project Half Open, a sound/video installation filmed and recorded at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie that will be screening at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
As well, he’s bringing back Transference, a collaborative piece he created with Andy Palko that uses glass bowls, water, and friction to create a symphony of gorgeous receding sound. The sound clip posted above is just a small sample of the piece, and a unique expression of the installation. Because of the randomized aspects of it, the sounds change and evolve with every spin of the glass. If you want to see and hear this in person, it will be installed at the Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland from May 16th through September 21st.
For many of us, Tuesday night isn’t the most ideal night to venture out into the frigid April air to attend a small concert in NE Portland. But whatever I can do to encourage you to make it out to tonight’s installment of Experimental Portland Presents… I will do.
The most I can do at the moment is let you know about the amazing music that will be on tap at Habesha on 801 NE Broadway tonight, starting at 9pm. As you glean from the sound clips below, this is going to be a noisy one, probably the noisiest show I’ve done yet. And that thrills me to no end. Bring some earplugs and an open mind.
Daughter Talk (her first ever live performance)
The good people at Silber Media have come up with another ingenious idea to get people listening to their impressive roster of artists: offer up short five song digital EPs that don’t run longer than five minutes in length. And sell them for the bargain basement price of $1. Check out the full run of them here, but then pay especial attention to local freak faced groove merchants RLLRBLL. The lead track “Speechless” holds a steady jazz-funk swing but the rest of the short tracks – like “Dinker”, the one featured above – are sputters of gooey electronic grease.
I tend to joke about the fact that whenever I see someone skateboarding, there’s usually a buddy of his/her nearby wielding a camcorder, trying to catch that perfect trick for posterity. I must now repent of my snarky humor by admitting that here is a case when someone is using skate footage for good reasons. In this case, the skater is one Dewey Mahood, of Eternal Tapestry/Plankton Wat infamy and he’s riding on behalf of his former band Edibles. This was a dubbed out/Can jam outfit featuring ladyshapes member John Rau that captured some hyperreal moments in our dimension before dissolving completely a couple of years back. This track was for an intended album that sounds like the group is considering finishing up and finally releasing. At least I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that eventuality.
The mighty Adderall Canyonly is never one to rest quietly for too long. The sound artist and musician is slipping back into the conscious world with a pair of cassette releases on Rubber City Media and Tranquility Tapes. It is the tape coming out on the latter label that has captured my attention the most. Like this sample track from it here, I was reminded of the love Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois collaboration Apollo as it has that same feel of floating in the darkest reaches of space, with only a few shoddy controls at your disposal. This track especially keeps expanding and expanding like a multi-colored supernova that eventually spills apart and flickers away.
As much as I find the whole “steampunk” thing a lot ridiculous, I am however disappointed that I missed out on whatever children’s theater staged an adaptation of one of my all-time favorite yarns James & The Giant Peach, with, yes, a steampunk theme. Especially now that I know that the music for it was created by Elias Foley. The electronic artist has just released the music from this show on Bandcamp under the name Fuzzy Logic and the whole eight song cycle is a delight of gently unfurling beats and huge sloppy kisses of reverb-heavy melody.
Labels come and labels go, and goodness knows we have a glut of them in this musical universe of ours. But the fact that Ju Suk Reet Meate, of the West Coast collective collectively known as Smegma, is bringing Pigface Records back to life is welcome news indeed.
Mr. Reet Meate has been a part of the area’s experimental scene since the ’70s and has a great ear for music that’s mind-expanding, cockles warming, and hunger satisfying. The label was part of this world from its first release in 1978 – the Pigface Chant cassette by Smegma – and through other great vinyl and cassette missives like the ’82 compilation Flies Like Holidays and EPs from Rancid Vat and the Hellcows. But since the late ’90s, the label has been on the shelf, collecting dust and racking up collector’s prices on Discogs and eBay.
With Mr. Reet Meate and Oblivia making all kinds of waves with their band The Tenses, it seems the perfect time to bring this imprint back to life. And he is wasting no time with five cassette releases already on offer.
There’s two Tenses releases – one a collaborative effort with Giggles and the other a split with fellow art splatter joyriders MSHR, a collection of Reet Meate’s solo works, and two cassettes of material by the late great Lee Rockey.
As far as I can see, the only way to nab these bad boys here in town is to hit up the good people at Clinton Street Record and Stereo, but hopefully they will expand their reach or even offer them up via mail order in the very near future.
When last we heard from composer Nat Evans, he was in Portland taking people on a collective listening experience at Mt. Tabor Park. Ever exploratory and forward moving, Evans will be returning to our fair city this coming Thursday for a performance of Space Weather Listening Booth, a “northern lights inspired sound installation,” according to the man himself.
Details on where the event is taking place are scarce, as Evans asks you to e-mail him directly for directions (firstname.lastname@example.org). But you can read below all about the piece, which by all rights sounds absolutely mind-altering. Then check out the piece “In A Shifting Landscape” further down, a composition Evans wrote for viola, cello, and electronics.
Space Weather Listening Booth is an immersive acoustic and electronic performance piece based on the aurora borealis, by Seattle composers Nat Evans and John Teske. Listeners hear the collision of the different space weather events that cause the aurora borealis, realized through an electronic track in surround sound and live performers encircling the audience. Premiered as a sound installation with miniature private performances at Seattle’s ONN/OF Festival, Space Weather Listening Booth has since been adapted for live performance.
Teske and Evans used geomagnetic data, information about solar wind and other phenomenon, and interpreted this data through a series of sounds that interact and slowly change over time. Additionally, to represent the auroral band that rotates around the poles of the earth, the composers plotted a course for the sound to migrate and turn slowly around the listeners. Combined with live performers, Space Weather Listening Booth is a unique sound experience that allows one to hear and feel the movement of these great forces, and experience time and physical space through a new lens.