Music: RON – “Of The Happening”

What I love about this piece from local duo RON is how much it moves and flows and evolves over its nearly 19-minute running time. While I’m all for a little stagnation and repetition in music, it’s obvious that Carl Laukkanen and Sam Wenc put a lot of care into making sure this work had some momentum to it, letting it move from a quaintly minimalist guitar/synth beginning into more glitchier territory. And it all wraps up in a triumphant symphony of drones. I feel energized and excited by this brilliant work. Just what I need to help get me through the long stretch before Election Day. Snap up a copy for yourself (digital or cassette) here: https://ronisron.bandcamp.com/releases

Interview: EMS

I’m very excited to welcome a new contributor to the EXPDX fold: Matt Palenske, the artist known as Consumer. He’s going to be helping keep fresh content on the blog since my work and other projects are preventing me from keeping things updated here as regularly as I would like. He’s kicking off his contributions with a bang, too. Here are his thoughts on the new cassette by EMS, and an audio interview with the artist herself.

Vern Avola has made herself a support beam in the synth based experimental electronic scene in Portland. Participating in a wide roster of projects including Elrond, Big Nasty Bill & the Deans, and offering live assistance for Tig Bitty among many others, she has an apt name for her project in which she is the sole decider…Eat My Shit (EMS). Her October 2016 release, through An Out Recordings, Liebe Fur Alle contains two takes on a live moment recorded by Daniel Menche at the High Water Mark Lounge.

The A side is the raw room track, literally beginning with a natural crossfade of the crowd’s chatter and EMS’s establishing drone. The second breath into the strobing hum is from a new atmosphere, an unfamiliar air that signals that the visions have already taken effect. The sound trudges through a colossal canopy that veils the rapid descent into increasingly wider views of a fantastic journey akin to The Neverending Story. The excitement and mystery of adventure are presented at face value. Dread and serenity are inner-twined so vividly that the idea of arrival is abandoned, volunteering to ride a sonic conveyer belt. Whether or not somebody has a similar visual reaction, the point is that this album rewards the listener’s full immersion.

The B side is a shift in perspective of the same journey. After experiencing the smell and touch of the adventure, the B side studies the experience from inside an apparatus. Remixed by Menche, the elements are intensified to a blinding level as if he’d shrunk down to the size of a red blood cell, charting the raw journey from hyper-specific beacons, relentlessly stretching either time or space to arrive at an understanding. By the end, the results of the study aren’t shared. The mystery remains.

Purchase the cassette and/or download as well as stream the album at http://emsnoise.bandcamp.com

Music: Skin Lies – “Proto-Threnody In Dub”

Where Dustin Krcatovich’s last release as Skin Lies, the marvelous cassette Stimulus Regression, had an air of doom to it, Troubled For Life, his latest missive (at least the one track from it that we’ve been gifted), is far lighter in spirit…to a point. While this kicks off with some frosty synth lines glinting from the speakers, things slowly, methodically get a little warped and dark. By the end, you’re not sure what direction the song is going to turn, either skidding into some sonic murk or easing up on the throttle and coasting to a soft landing. Either way, I’m definitely ready to go along for the ride.

Music: Adaptive Machines Vol. 1

Scott Worley is no stranger to the site. His work with Jatun, and his live performances have always been welcome here. That same courtesy is now being extended to his latest endeavor under the name Adaptive Machines. My man has long been a circuit bender and a constructor of all manner of electronic noisemaking toys and gadgets. As he says in the notes for this new release:

“It takes me anywhere from a day to two weeks to finish a patch on the modular. At the moment of finishing the patch it’s pretty typical of me to hang out for many hours in a meditative trance, listening to the ebb & flow of interactive modules at play. It’s really nice to step back and admire all the work put into what essentially is a temporary piece of art.”

Now we are graced with the fruits of his decision to not just let these patches and sounds simply slip away into the ether. He has recorded—directly to cassette or reel-to-reel—three long spacious jams that wend and wind like a UFO on a drunken joyride through our atmosphere and trying to communicate with gentle messages or frantic pleas.

Music: U SCO – Tuskflower

The latest release by post-everything trio U SCO was an exercise in spontaneity and directness. According to the notes accompanying this new cassette/digital album, it was recorded quickly over the course of four days and “all the ideas were felt and confirmed in the moment instead of being corrupted by overthinking.”

A dangerous road to travel for most any musician, but these confident and talented lads were very much up to the task. What came out of their fevered brains are six tracks of drone, noise, agit rock, proto-metal, and a little bit of jazz for good measure.

If these sounds are pleasing to your ears, visit Turn Turn Turn tonight where the trio will be celebrating the release of this new album alongside Norwegian visitors Bushman’s Revenge.

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!