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.
As you may have already noticed, I have stopped posting on the regular here at Experimental Portland. Not for a lack of trying…just for a lack of spare time to really commit to the blog the way I wanted to. So, rather than beat myself up about not getting something new up every day, I’m going to put a halt to regular posts.
BUT I’m not shutting down the site completely. I’m going to maintain the Event Calendar as I do think there should be a place for experimental fans both in the city and those getting ready to visit Portland to find interesting events and shows to attend. You should still let me know about those events if I don’t have them on the calendar at experimentalportland – at- gmail.com or via Twitter @experimentalpdx.
Thank you for visiting here regularly for the last two years to sample new material and read my blathering about music of all shapes and sizes. I’ll still be working hard to highlight your efforts in my local and national outlets. I can’t promise miracles, but what I can do, I will do.
Radio has always been very important to me. It was where I got my first musical education as a very impressionable pre-teen living in Massachusetts, imbibing the sounds from the various college radio stations my plastic radio could pick up. When I moved to the West Coast, it was both the public radio station in Astoria – KMUN – and picking up the broadcast of CBC’s Brave New Waves that kept me sane during those long dark nights of the tortured teenage soul.
By the time I was out on my own, I kept myself locked into the terrestrial waves, particularly a show that used to be broadcast on Saturday and Sunday nights on OPB Radio. Host Steven Cantor would spend three solid hours challenging my preconceptions of jazz, classical, electronic, and pop. And he had a radio voice to die for. I didn’t know until later that he was someone who had spent a long time in the jazz world, helping produce records by Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny, close with Jaco Pastorius. All I knew is that he was making amazing connections between sonic worlds that spoke to my feverish musical interests.
Cantor has been bounced around quite a bit since OPB decided to get deeply into the music game. His show was at first shuttled over to KMHD but after a few months was cut loose, leaving it without a terrestrial home for the first time in at least 15 years. Fast forward to late last year when I was hanging uncomfortably at a party meant to announce the lineup for the PDX Jazz Festival (and to catch trumpeter Dave Douglas perform) and a nice bearded gent made his way across the room to me, saying, “You look like you don’t belong here. What’s your name?” It took me about 45 seconds to key in on the voice: Steven Cantor, in the flesh.
Through the course of the conversation we had that night, I learned that Steven had done like all industrious sorts do and ported his musical endeavors over to the web, posting regular mixes and shows on Mixcloud for all to stream and enjoy. And boy have I ever been enjoying them. Which is why I’m kicking myself for not drawing your attention to them sooner.
The theme of each installment is the same: a playful bounce around the musical map, making quick stops in varying worlds of melody and mood. The episode featured here starts off with the familiar pulse of Miles Davis before moving along to some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a touch of Messiaen, and a closing set that wends in Boards of Canada and Matthew Herbert. Beats + Pieces In The Cloud never ceases to leave me reeling a little bit with each edition. I can only hope it does a little bit of the same for you.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve adored the compilations that Sonic Debris Multimedia have been unleashing on an unsuspecting public every four to six months. But I’ve been very curious to hear what some of their affiliate artists would do when left to their own devices for the course of a full album. Lucky me – and all of us really – SDM have dropped their first two non-comp releases and they are spectacular. First up (above) is the new album by one man electro-freak Ras Mix. His album Adventures in Clown Town keeps to the playful spirit of that title, utilizing well-placed brushstrokes of oddball synthesized sound and beats that sneak into the bloodstream like a virus. You might recognize some of his antics as being dub-influenced, but only inasmuch as you could imagine Large Professor on a huge molly binge, trying to capture the sound of his cells exploding in real time.
Sister Mamie Foreskin’s sound plays a little closer to your usual pop song structure. It just takes its sweet time resolving what might be considered a verse or a chorus. As they wander, they devolve into a teeming mass of ideas that call to mind the finer hours of Mr. Bungle or the smash-and-grab aesthetic of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. It’s a modernist group as well, squiggling their collective way through laptop composition and bending circuits in an almost telekinetic fashion. Once a proper instrument cuts through the chaos, it’s like shot of adrenalin to the heart.
The lineup and dates for the 2014 Debacle Fest in Seattle have been announced, and this year’s installment is featuring a bevy of wonderful talent from here in Portland. Don’t just take my word for it; here is a cut/paste of the press release I was sent a week or so ago.
Let’s fucking celebrate our community: For Debacle Fest 2014, May 30th and 31st, we’re showcasing what the festival is all about — our amazing family of artists, all our supportive fans turned friends, and some favorite local hangouts.
Opening ceremonies commence Friday May 30th at Capitol Hill boutique gallery Cairo with a small line up of intimate performances and hotdog vendor Quack Dogs on location. Then a big whirlwind of a Saturday, May 31st, descends upon Eastlake and Republican, giving fans a Choose Your Own Adventure-style evening across LoFi Performance Gallery, Black Lodge, and the Victory Lounge. Attendees will be able to choose between concurrent performances on all three stages. To up the party atmosphere, local food truck Napkin Friends will be on site and Victory Lounge will offer food specials to fill bellies while projection artists satisfy the eyes.
The richness on tap here in the PNW flows through our lineup. Longtime Debacle family like Dull Knife, Brain Fruit, Black Hat, Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, and L.A. Lungs bring consistently top-notch performances, while Threads, Slow Drips, and Chris Davis make Fest debuts. Talent from up and down the best coast are on hand as well, with Danny Paul Grody, Secret Pyramid, Golden Retriever, Sutekh Hexen, Common Eider King Eider, and more.
And the party isn’t just stuck in night mode: Saturday afternoon, the wealth of Seattle experimental labels is to be had as we host a Record Label Fair, sharing the limelight with our fellow purveyors of underground sounds. From Noon to Five at the Black Lodge eager music seekers can pick up wares from the likes of Medical Records, Translinguistic Other, Eiderdown, and Hanged Man, to name but a few, with DJs and a live performance.
Stage schedules and band bio’s forthcoming.
Debacle Fest 2014 Line-Up:
Gabriel Mindel Saloman (ex-Yellow Swans)
Spectrum Control (Dewey Mahood of Plankton Wat/Eternal Tapestry)
Gordon Ashworth (ex-Concern, Oscillating Innards)
Garek Druss (Story of Rats, Dull Knife)
LIMITS (Jason Anderson of Draft/Gift Tapes)
Timm Mason (Mood Organ, Midday Veil)
Chris Davis (Brain Fruit)
Gordon Ashworth has spent the better part of his musical career making sounds that feel like they could liquefy your lower intestines if the volume was just so, either by himself as Concern or as a member of groups like Knelt Rote or Vile Horrendous Aerial Bombardment. For his latest trick, he is re-releasing his limited run cassette s.t.l.a. on vinyl and digitally via Chicago label Orindal. The music on it is, in some ways, his most terrifying work yet, stretching out piano chords and long drones to their breaking point and wrapping in recordings captured during his day job as a taxi driver. This track is an equally creepy ode to American Primitive guitar stylings, with steely melodies ratcheted up in volume until the become almost unbearably fuzzy, each one drunkenly stumbling over the other and fighting for dominance.
The oddball, rarely-used keyboard key title of this EP should give you Autechre/Aphex Twin fans an idea of what’s in store with its three tracks. The jitterbugging beats and slushy electronics that Sun Hammer trucks feel positively life-giving, sort of like Ed Harris breathing liquid in The Abyss. Just heavy enough to feel strange upon your first inhalation, but then it becomes so much easier to let sink into the bronchi. Okay, it’s a strange metaphor, but that’s exactly what I envisioned when spinning these tracks the first couple of times. Give it a listen and tell me what images it dredges up in your mind.
Another PDX Jazz Festival has come and gone, and just as it is most every year, it left me both elated and deflated. The big ticket concerts that I was able to see as part of my day job were, for the most part, just good enough with moments of brilliance sparking up among a lot of lukewarm expressions. With a lot of festivals of this kind, the real moments of inspiration were found in the small shows sprinkled throughout the event – like this stunning avant jazz set by the duo of Elliot Ross and Scott Cutshall. This all improvised performance was captured for posterity at the unusual venue of a hotel bar in SW. See if you can hear the audience getting restless as this pair creates dark tapestries of often-Middle Eastern-inspired guitar, electronics, and marimba.
Here’s a nice treat I tracked down just yesterday – a collection of tunes that sound like the broken remnants of a pop song trying to reassemble itself before getting stomped back into pieces. It’s the creation of a gent named Peter Falkson, about whom I know absolutely nothing. And as a longtime fan of Jandek, I’m very much okay with being in the dark on this. Especially when the music is this good.