Can I be forgiven for getting a little personal for a moment? It’s been difficult to maintain things on this blog. Even though it’s been alive for a number of years now (4? 6? 50?), I’ve had to let it lapse and collect some dust for a while with life getting in the way. And this summer has been particularly “in the way.”
I started an actual job, managing a website. The family and I bought a house. I wrote a book. And I’ve been trying to juggle all of that with my freelance work. So, things went a little stale here for a while. But, two things happened recently that had me looking to redouble my efforts with EXPDX in the coming months/years/millennia.
I had a long chat with Gordon Ashworth for another publication and we were both despairing at how experimental music is starting to float further to the margins in our hometown thanks to the skyrocketing cost of rent and a seeming disinterest in a lot of venues to take a chance on unusual sounds unless bigger blogs say it’s okay to like them. With that in mind, now is not the time to let things wither here on the site, but rather to push even harder to bring attention to the amazing music being made in our city.
Then a former Portlander, and someone who played an Experimental Portland Presents… showcase during one of the more challenging times of my life and who I count as a dear friend, Beaunoise, just released some new music. No, he’s not technically a resident of the city as he has since moved to Oakland to continue his amazing career as a producer/mixer/mastering engineer, but his music never ceases to inspire me. And listening to this new collection of work that was made with a wonderfully failing Eventide H3000, I was jarred awake and back to reality like nothing before.
So, listen to this terrifying and beautiful piece of music a few times today, and maybe go drop the $10 to get the whole album. And bear with me as I try to dust off this site, and try to fit regular posting into my already swelling schedule of activity. Thanks for sticking with me and checking out the site on the regular.
One of my few disappointments about this week’s Experimental Portland Radio was that I had to hurry to get the thing finished and out into the world without a track from the new album by Moongriffin. With apologies to Elliott Ross, I knew if I dragged my feet any longer on getting the new episode into the world, it might never have gotten done.
Regardless, your kind attention should be be paid to Glimpse of Future. It’s a marvelously modern jazz record, driven by the sonic playfulness of Ross and his oft-processed guitar and post-production trickery. And he’s joined in the fun by a slew of great players, with an especial nod to Nate Lepine, whose sax and flute work throughout is smartly angular and the scrabbling beats of drummer Charles Rumback. This doesn’t feel like a glimpse at the future, but rather a long, unbroken look that allows you to drink in every detail and rejoice in what’s to come.
And if you like what you hear here, be sure to drop by The Waypost this coming Saturday, where Moongriffin will be celebrating the release of this album and the new label Cartilage Osseux Records with a live performance featuring Tim DuRoche on drums, Andre St. James on bass, and Mike Gamble on guitar.
I’ve been hearing rumors and discussion about this collaboration between Scott Worley (aka Jatun) and Tim Gray (aka Ethernet) for a long while now. A two-person exploration of modular synth and digital software improvisation brought into the world by two of the smartest players in the experimental electronic game.
The pair are finally making good on their promise with the upcoming release of a cassette/digital album under the name High Light. The three tracks that are available to stream (or to download if you pre-order) are just what a heart needs after the passing of Tangerine Dream leader Edgar Froese. These two locals are carrying the flame of mind-bending swirls of melody and cinematic drones and burbles. The added beauty of this collaboration is that it’s obvious how much the two are listening to each other and growing this sound as a unit. They put their individual musical identities aside for the sake of the whole project.
Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if that noisy refrigerator of yours decided to start making experimental music? I believe AHAFAS has come up with the answer that question. This is your icebox unleashing all of its internal angst for having to put up with your rotting vegetables, cans of cheap beer, and that jar of pickled vegetables you just can’t seem to get rid of. Do the right thing, and listen up…and switch out the box of baking soda every once in a while, you heathen.
I know zero about this recording. Less than that actually. This could be a someone playing a recording of a Cecil Taylor LP through their MacBook microphone for all I know.
What I do know for sure is that I love it. 12 minutes of desiccated jazz being held together by pure intestinal fortitude? Yes, yes, and yes again. I’ve sent them a message through their Bandcamp page to either learn more or to be made fun of for not recognizing the source material they used. Either way, I’m wholly satisfied.
At the last EXPDX Presents… show, after No Parades had played a glorious set of lush, intricate ambience, a friend who just happened to venture down to Valentine’s to drink gin and tonics pulled me aside and (without knowing that I was the person responsible for booking the show) asked me, “Can you explain to me why that was any good?” I was so dumbfounded by his question that I couldn’t cobble together the words to explain properly. But listening to this new two-track collection by Okha, one of the city’s best noise artists, I think I’ve hit upon something.
The sounds of Okha and No Parades couldn’t be more different, but what they share to my ears is an immersive quality. They wrap you up completely in these blankets of sound until you can’t see or hear anything but what they are pumping out of their pedals and noisemakers. And I love that about them. While the rest of the music world tries passive-aggressively to get my attention, here are artists that lay it all out and, with No Parades, try to intoxicate me, and with Okha, dare me to stare into the abyss without blinking. That’s probably the same feeling this friend gets when listening to an emo band that he loves or some aggro bit of art rock. This is the only music that really, really gets me excited these days. And I’m lucky as all hell to live in a city where it’s being made on the regular.