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.
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.
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.
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.