The vinyl version of Concern‘s last album Misfortune blew many a mind last year, and Gordon Ashworth wants to make that explosion linger even longer with its upcoming expanded CD release. This excerpt is from one additional track on it, which (according to Ashworth) was created using “15 string box-harp, piano, field recordings, tape manipulation, reverb, parking garages.” If that’s not a recipe for some deep listening on headphones to try and pick out the individual sounds, I don’t know what is. Or you could just take a few inhalations of the sacred herb and let the complete piece transport you to another astral plane.
The Olympia Experimental Music Festival is about to hold its 19th installment this coming June, which in and of itself, should be reason for your support and patronage. But, hellfire, get a load of the lineup they have cooked up for the weekend long todo.
Friday, June 28th
7-7:40: The Giant Worm
8-8:40: JD Helwig
9-9:40: Tone Dogs
10-10:40: The WA Trio
Saturday, June 29th
4-4:40pm: Eagles are F’N’ Crazy
5-5:40: Soup Purse
6-6:40: Dead Air Fresheners
7-7:40: Aural Resucitation Unit
8-8:40: 10,000 Tigers
9-9:40: Tempered Steel
10:00-11:00: Thinking Plague
Sunday, June 30th
5-5:40pm: Big Tom The Lithuanian
7-7:40: Wood Paneling
8-8:40: Derek M. Johnson
10-10:40: Knot Pine Box
Here’s where you come in: the organizers of OEMF have set up a Kickstarter campaign to help pay the out-of-town artists coming to play, offset the costs of printing flyers and programs, and paying to rent the space they are using for the festival. None of the people putting this together are taking a cent of the money. Push them well over the goal and they’ll save the money to put on an even better event next year. You like experimental music? Do the right thing and crack open your wallets.
I don’t know about you, but I could use a little calming ambient drone in my life right now. The week has been a crazy one and doesn’t look to settle down for another few days yet. So instead of curling up into a ball in a dark closet and wishing it will go away, I will take a few minutes to meditate on this gorgeous intertwining of delicately strung guitar melodies and deep synth chords, let it center my poor overworked brain, and then get back to the tasks at hand. That’s the power of music in a nutshell, folks. Don’t believe me? Close the blinds, crank this up, and see how you feel afterwards.
Noise Agency‘s name seems to me to be something of a challenge to listeners. I’m sure the band simply means that this is a group that makes noise of one variety or other, but I like the idea of giving some people the expectation that what they are about to hear is an aural maelstrom. Because what they get is nothing of the sort; this duo is psychedelic freedom spilling about in great heaves. On this track, that includes robotic voices dancing through synth and drum jams concocted from the guts of the titular personal computer.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around how Elias Foley, the man behind the great Tamarack Music label, was able to post a live ambient PA set from the future, but considering the results here, I’ll grant him the premise that he is reporting to us from…well, two days ahead. [Edit: He fixed the date on the SoundCloud page rendering my dumb joke null and void.] Well, beyond my poor attempts at humor, this is a great 27 minutes of sound. Flies buzz, sampled agitated voices agitate, and the music of industrial combines, modular synths, and lucid dreaming are all brought together into one head-splitting and brain massaging mix. Let this send you in the warm weather with a bit of a woozy feeling in your hippocampus.
The long closing track from Derek Monypeny’s recent solo venture How Can Be takes me right back to the early, early mornings I spent during my work visit to Afghanistan. I would sit out on the porch of the guest house where I was staying and listen as about seven mosques burst to life, the many staggered prayers echoing through the open space as they sung out through their cheap tannoys. I’m not a religious man by any stretch but those moments stuck with me and cheered my homesick heart. Monypeny captures that same essence by looping and overlapping similar prayer sessions into a 15 minute slow building burst of beauty and wonder. The rest of this album is just as captivating, with Monypeny showcasing his amazing abilities on guitar and oud, but this incredible sentiment is the perfect note of grace and stillness to close How Can Be out.
SoundCloud was an embarrassment of riches this past weekend, as I was able to find a trio of incredible new tracks to share with you, my loyal reader(s). Let’s start with this ghostly number by Gregg Skloff, which was recorded about three years ago, but given a new layer of weirdness thanks to someone named DJ G-gnome. The remix retains the harsh beauty of the original but sends it out into space to bounce among the junk and satellites.
asphaltocean’s modular techno is the response from those satellites as they try to make sense what just smacked them in the solar panels. “bangstreths” is an overdriven monster that could soundtrack a Rollerball-like fight to the death on roller skates or, when accompanied by a strobe light, give that black leather and lycra dance party you had planned an extra dose of dangerous sex appeal.
SunFalls brings us home with some communications captured on the other side of a Skype conversation with an old dial-up modem. The squelches and pings have been given shape and life, with the addition of a drum beat that never quite seems to catch up with the rest of the song. I’m going to be yelling this out as my request when SunFalls plays the next Experimental Portland Presents… show at Habesha on May 14th.
There are plenty of reasons that Portland should be proud to call Claudia Meza one of its own, but today, I’m excited about her work to spread the gospel of experimental music to the younger generation. The musician recently participated in a music production class that introduced a trio of students at Caldera Arts to the history of experimental sounds, and took them to the streets of Portland to capture some found sounds and turn those into music via iPad. The results are as varied the kids who took part in the class, but I was especially taken with this short fuzzed up jam entitled simply “Rocker.” Check out the post from the Caldera Arts blog to see pictures of the students and Meza in action, as well as sample of what the rest of the class came up with.
Ah for the pastoral beauty of a quietly unfolding bit of synth wonder. It’s been a great year for that actually, with new releases by icons like Qluster and Klaus Schulze, and dozens of other young players arriving with the modular synths in tow, ready to spread the gospel like pollen. One such musician is Nelson Bean, an artist from up in Seattle who is releasing his latest work as Black Hat on the local cassette label Field Hymns.
I like that someone on SoundCloud likened this track to The Ice Storm. I can see this playing under the scenes with Elijah Wood wandering through the glistening iced over landscape and getting lost in his own stoned thoughts. Makes me strangely wish that the weather outside were a lot more fall/winter-like.
Here’s an album that we have been anticipating for a while now. And thankfully the first (as far as I know) full-length from Swahili does not disappoint. This psychedelic collective hits all the sweet spots of Eastern-influenced rhythms and drones, while squeezing in healthy amounts of Western melodics and NW-borne strangeness. I suggest starting – appropriately enough – with this track, which features a lot of percussion, agonized vocals, and atmosphere for miles.