Music: Antecessor – Olympus Mons

The same day that Antecessor brought their magical electronic sounds to the PDX Pop Now festival, the duo released a new collection of tunes recorded between 2013 and 2015 to delight any of the folks who were unable to make it to the weekend event.

Listening to this new album, I couldn’t help but feel that if you were looking for a way to fill up the hole left behind by the death of Tangerine Dream leader Edgar Froese, these two gents have you covered. These six tracks are a pure delight, crackling with energy and forward momentum and a smart use of melody. Unlike a fair amount of synth-based music I run into, it is obvious how much care these two put into the tracks. They could just make a lot of fun noise with the many fun toys they have, but these dudes are writing actual songs. And what wonderful songs they are.

News: Creative Music Guild Announces New Artistic Director

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After nearly a decade of hard work, Ben Kates has decided to step down as Artistic Director of Creative Music Guild, the organization that has been responsible for expanding minds and the musical culture of our fair city for the past 25 years.

It’s sad news but not terribly shocking as he surely deserves a break. Under his guiding hand, CMG has increased the number of events they’ve curated from around eight to around 30. His support for the local scene is without peer and his willingness to bring high caliber artists from around the globe to Portland has done wonders for putting this town on the worldwide cultural map.

I wouldn’t be worried about anyone that they would place in his chair considering the level of support he’s received over the years, but I’m especially glad to hear that Mike Gamble is going to be taking over. Besides being a fantastic musician, he also has his fingers on the pulse of the national and international experimental music scenes. And considering his deep Rolodex of artists that he has had a chance to collaborate with on his own, like Nels Cline and Todd Sickafoose, this can only mean great things for the future of the CMG.

Music: Panting – untitled

I’ve talked up the work of Evan Spacht as his many projects on here before because, well, when you’re good, you’re good. So that’s why I’m highlighting another release by this fantastic local artist: the new digital EP by his project Panting. A collaboration between Spacht and his buddy Davis Hooker, this work has been described by the artist like this…

Our sound is achieved through an intuitive process of transfers between acoustic instrument, to recorder, to tape, often played back and then recorded in another space, at another time, and interspersed with other recordings from other spaces at other times. Our collaboration became very much like a glass bead game, taking turns with the others thumb drive, and the materials therein.

A year’s worth of work resulted in these charmingly soupy tracks. I keep going back to “s” and its introduction and quick removal of a lumbering drum loop and its fine use of drone and atmospheric sounds sent through a puzzling and alluring wormhole.

While I would encourage you to follow the Bandcamp link above and toss some money to the artists, if you’re skint, you can also pick up a digital version of this EP through deepwhitesound.

Music: Burke Jam – Chrysalis

Artist Burke Jam has spent a lot of time studying the sounds of the world around us, sussing out how the noises we willingly and unwillingly interact with affect our day-to-day lives and our minds/bodies. And he’s explored how people and the environment co-exist in these tenuous times.

It’s bold, heady work that has resulted in some incredible sound art as you’ll hear with this recently released digital collection Chrysalis. These compositions reside in the world of drone as mixed with field recordings that Jam has collected over the years. And the combination of the natural and unnatural sounds is almost dizzyingly wonderful.

There doesn’t feel like there are positive messages embedded in these tracks. Instead these works ask for your attention for a brief period, hoping that you’ll consider where these tones originated from and what his manipulation of them means. Your final answer almost completely depends on the kind of person you are, leaving them up to a vast array of interpretation.

Music: dwoemer – Kaleidoscape

Listening to this new collection of tunes by dwoemer, I’m kicking myself even harder for having to miss out on his performance last night at Atlantis Lounge. Kaleidoscape appears out of the ether like a beautiful homage to artists like Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre, the pioneers of synth-based beauty. In that respect, it’s much more direct and accessible than some of dwoemer’s previous work, but no less emotionally impactful. If anything, it might help draw in some folks who might have otherwise avoided this artist’s work up until now. Let this be the gateway to the wonderful discography of dwoemer, bringing new fans into the fold and giving us old guard folks more to cheer about!

Music: Pulse Emitter Live at the Chapel

We’ve talked up Pulse Emitter plenty on this site over the years, but can you blame us? Daryl Groetsch is a synth artist who is constantly pushing and challenging himself to reach greater spiritual and creative heights. And it’s only made more impressive when you meet him and learn how beautifully humble he is. The Zen-like quality of his being feels like it’s being informed by the work he does in the studio and on stage and vice versa.

Just this past May, he brought all of that and his impressive batch of musical toys to Seattle for a performance at the ever-wonderful Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center, a bastion of forward-thinking music and ideas. And what he did over the course of 32 minutes was something close to a slow baptism, a gentle and measured immersion in the cool waters of sonic salvation and an equally calm pull back into reality. Lucky us, he captured a recording of the performance and has shared it with the world.

Listen to it here and then head to his Bandcamp page if you want to download it for future devotional delights.

Music: Dead Puppy – Violence

Boy, I just do not like the name of this group. Even after getting multiple emails today about the band Goblin Cock…that seems more palatable than this. Yet, I can’t stop listening to their little digital release released today.

Dropped into the world through local imprint Feel Bad Beats, this droning, scrabbling little gem seems to have been created using guitars and a whole mess of loop and effects pedals. Which isn’t the most original of set ups but they make it work for them with deceptive ease, letting each track on here breathe and unfurl and gently slip into your brainpan before you know what just wrapped around your amygdala.

Music: Chefkirk – .LI​\​;​-​O8Y​/​P​]​.

Something that has always fascinated me is how folks try to soundtrack fireworks displays, meshing up the big triumphal moments of pop and rock songs with the fizzle and electric blasts of sparks going off in the sky. Seems a fool’s errand to this guy, but if I was going to take on such a project, I think I’d prefer something that is equally unhinged and hard to pin down. Something like this new release from Chefkirk.

That might be the coincidence of the fact that he released this new work on July 4th talking, but I could definitely hear these digital squelches, toe-tingling rumbles, and sand blasts of static going along very well with the kind of blowsy fireworks display that gets trucked out every goddamn year sending our small animals scurrying for safe ground and our veterans breaking out into a cold sweat. This kind of neck tightening noise might be just the ticket to help them get through the night.

Music: Manabu Shimuda – Pieces for Her No. 5

Sounds et al is a new local label that just recently slithered out of the primordial ooze that is the current music world, and they’re carrying with them some very exciting sounds from manabu shimuda, a composer and artist fromJapan. His first release for this new imprint is called pieces for her and while there’s no indication of who the “her” in this scenario is, she should be very impressed with what he has created in her honor.

As the notes for the LP say: “The album is a showcase of his creative work whilst living in Europe. Inhabiting a space between classical and experimental, the album has a strict rule within composition – to use only four organic sound sources to structure the simple melody lines and calculated rhythmic patterns: Piano, White Noise, Sine Waves and Field Recorded Noise.” 

It’s beautiful, minimalist stuff that, no matter how many times I listen to it, always seems to be changing in some small way. Instinctively, I know that’s not the case, but I’m constantly surprised by the music with each pass I take through it.

The album is set to be released on the 15th of this month. Pre-order it here, or pick a copy up at Beacon Sound.

Music: Carlson/Stirling/Theriault & Cloud City Cars

As we look toward the weekend, and hopefully a couple of days of respite before getting back into the working world once more, the universe bestowed upon us two fantastic new releases to ease us into a mood of contemplation and relaxation.

A little while back, I was lucky enough to catch a live performance that featured guitarist Doug Theriault, synth wizard Matt Carlson, and vocalist Michael Stirling improvising together in the sanctuary of a local church. Their combined expressions were devastatingly beautiful and spiritually uplifting. I left the space feeling like I had been stretched out to about six inches taller than when I arrived. The three men have captured this same feeling on a new recording for Root Strata and I have been spending much of the day lost in its warm glow.

What time and mental space I’ve had left over has been taken up by the new album from Cloud City Cars. Ryan McGreer, the hirsute gent behind the project has been through the emotional wringer over the past year or so. But instead of letting it flatten him, he has found new inspiration within those tough moments. And what has come out of him is a blissfully broken collection of songs that refuse to stay on one trajectory. The freeform style of these off-kilter sequences and dying electronics is a carefree, drunken stumble through the streets with flickering LED advertisements and neon colors lighting your every step.