Since I try to make it a habit not to post on the weekends so I can, you know, have a bit of a life, I thought it would behoove me to get ahead of things a bit and talk about the continued return of the Experimental Portland Presents… concert series. We have two shows on tap for this month, starting with this amazing event going on January 12th at Valentines.
We’ll be bringing you a solo performance from clarinet master John McCowen. He is an incredibly versatile performer based out of Chicago who has played alongside the likes of Roscoe Mitchell, Wei Zhongle, Chris Corsano, and Tool. He’s stopping by Portland during his current NW tour and will surely blow some minds with his consciousness shifting improvisational skills.
Joining him are two of my favorite local acts: the sax-and-guitar/electronics duo Moongriffin & Bernstein…
…and the solo electronic stylings of No Parades, who assures me that he’s gonna be showing off some new gear at Monday’s performance.
The whole thing kicks off around 8pm or so and will set you back a small donation of between $3-5 all of which goes to the folks playing. I hope to see as many of you at Valentine’s as possible.
My hope with this blog, as ever, was to send out a clarion call to experimental musicians throughout the city and draw them into our orbit somehow. I’ve certainly been lucky in that regard with bands and artists coming out of the proverbial darkness to drop a cassette or a Bandcamp link in my lap. That’s where a lot of these recent posts have been coming from. And that’s most certainly where I stumbled into the world of Christopher Gavazza’s music.
The local guitarist pointed me to his SoundCloud page, which is spilling over with amazing work. Some of it falls into the dream-like category of guitar instrumentalists like Vini Reilly and William Tyler, but the pieces that have spoken to me most are the ones that go into even more formless arenas. Such as this positively hypnotizing seven minute piece that sounds as if it is a small looped bit of amp hum and feedback being sent out and reverberating around the void without end. As it goes along, it starts to take form, a kind of rhythmic pulse that starts to relax the muscles in the spine. Like a great Buddha Machine loop, I could listen to this for hours, and today, I might just do that. Eventually, I’ll get back around to his other lovely, more composed work, but for now, send me into the unknown for a good long while.
The name of this project evokes an acid house label from the early ’90s, but the music that Shannan Johnson creates under the moniker is about as far as you can get from happy bleep grooves and 4/4 drum beats. The opening track from this “sonic recreation of a day” features a sample of morning prayers sung by a Muslim cleric overlaid with harsh pinging industrial sounds. Things get a little more sequencer friendly on the next track “Journey,” but only in service of some patience testing tones and scattered rumblings from the robotic fragments collecting dust in the corner of the room.
Word around the campfire is that the expansive collective Sonic Debris Multimedia have another busy 2015 planned. Which should be exciting news to any of you folks out there who delight in the strange and esoteric sounds that they’ve vibrated our ear hairs with thus far. And to kick off this new year, they’ve graced us with a new album from Alien Parkinsons Project.
The 11 track album with the toothsome title Water Mechanisms For The Sun Goddess That Burns Your Karmatic Delusions finds the group again sending out tracks to various friends and fellow sonic travelers, and allowing those folks to do what they will with the source material. The resulting work varies as far and wide as you would hope for with Old Man Frost bleeding electronic fire over APP’s guitar freakout, Ras Mix exacting 8-bit dubplate damage, and Eaton Flowers joyously going all cut-and-paste guided only by a shuffling faded breakbeat. This is as shaggy and top-heavy and hard to handle as an album of this size should be.
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.
The great Adderall Canyonly continues his peerless run of solo synth wonderment with the upcoming Moss Archive release Beneath The Crystal Canyon A Spark Remains, which this lovely nine-minute jam is taken from. Like most of AC’s work, I want someone to re-score an ’80s sci-fi film with this fluttering, pulsing, lost in the digital forest delight. Be sure to sit through the whole track, though, as it changes sonic colors like a confused mood ring as it floats forward.
Here’s a great bit of news to wake up to on the first day of 2015: the good people at Lifelike Family Records are letting you pay what you want for their digital releases via Bandcamp. For a limited time, of course.
Full disclosure: I am friends with the dudes behind this label and have booked them for EXPDX Presents… shows, etc. But like anyone I highlight on the blog, I would support them even if I didn’t know who they were. The three albums they’ve released thus far have been full of surprisingly melodic and textural turns. And for the past few months, Andrew Weathers’ Sacred Harp-inspired One Day We’ll Find The Valley has been in regular rotation on my home stereo. It’s the perfect spiritual uplift that we need in these troubled times.
The pay-what-you-want option, of course, allows you to pick this stuff up for free. But if you can afford to, drop this label and their artists a couple of bucks for their hard work. The devaluing of music is something we can put a stop to with small efforts like that.
No, young friends, our man Oxfist is not paying tribute to the TV network, but rather the old player pianos that once dominated the parlors and bars of the world in the ’20s and ’30s. Or as he put it, the title was chosen “after the realization that melody line sounds like a player piano choking on a chunk of piano roll.” Well put.
The short swinging track comes from Eye of the Witholder, a recently compiled set of tunes that Oxfist put together during the heady days of the ’00s and under the influence of DOOM, Madlib, and J Dilla. And to celebrate it, Will Watts stitched together this amazing and hypnotic video. I’m going to find a way to loop these 48 seconds of video and sound, and spend the day starting straight into the LSD trailed abyss brought to life by these very active kids.
That’s right, friends…we are back in the show promotion business. And we couldn’t be more excited to get back into the mix with this collaborative show featuring some amazing electronic-based acts associated with the Lifelike Family crew:
Cloud City Cars
The whole thing is going down at Turn Turn Turn tomorrow night starting at 8pm. And it will cost you a mere $5 to get in (though if you have less than that, we will not turn turn turn you away). We hope to see you there.
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.