Us Portlanders are quite lucky to live in a city that boasts a thriving classical music scene. Not just the Portland Symphony and their regular large scale events, but small chamber ensembles, free weekly noon time concerts at the Old Church, daring groups like Classical Revolution PDX, and the gent behind March Music Moderne.
The third edition of this freewheeling event is ready to get underway on March 7th, and the schedule leaves me speechless with anticipation. There’s a multi-evening run through all of Shostakovich’s string quartets, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the premier of The Rites of Spring, new works by NW composers, and the debut of some of the finalists from Classical Revolution’s composer contest. As well, for broke folk like myself, many of the events are free or have an inexpensive ticket option.
I’m hoping to get a sit down with Bob Priest, the man behind these events for an interview to be published here or as part of my Willamette Week column, so stay tuned for that. But until then, check out the schedule below and start marking up your calendars as you see fit.
Word came down from party central today that the all-volunteer organizing committee behind the PDX Pop Now! festival — the three day, all ages, and all free celebration of the local music scene — is ready to start listening to some music with the intention of maybe…just maybe…including it on their 2013 compilation CD.
Why should this concern you, the experimental musician or label owner? Well, of course, the two CD collection is going to lean heavy on the Portland indie rock/pop/folk scene, but I think enough of y’all are doing work that could sneak on to the new comp without anyone raising an eyebrow. And if they do hem and haw, even better.
So, if you want to send them a track or two for consideration, visit this site and do what you gotta do to make it happen. Then check out the cool artwork cooked up for this year’s fest posters/compilation artwork/etc. below.
I hope some of you were lucky enough to catch ALTO!‘s incredible performance at the last Experimental Portland Presents… show. It was an experience unlike any other being able to see a band truly coming into their own in real time. I still thrum inside when I think about it.
Well, the trio is adding extra fuel to my fire with two great pieces of news:
1) They will be warming up the crowd at an incredible show happening at Star Theater on February 26th that also features Rangda and Earth on the bill. My head is already spinning in anticipation of that triple hit to the solar plexus.
2) They just released the first batch of remixes done by some friends and admirers of the song “Piece 5 (H.F.F.L.),” which came out on the group’s debut album last year. The folks in question did as all good remixers do and used the bits and pieces of the original for their own ends. In the case of this reconstruction by the mysterious Al Mu’Tasim, you can hear the skeleton of the ALTO! version poking through the dub skin stretched tightly over it all. You can cop the five tracks released so far here and, should you feel so inspired to make your own mix, ALTO! majordomo Derek Moneypeny insists that you follow the instructions on the Bandcamp page and DO IT!
“Track 1.2” is such a dull title for a dynamic song like this. I imagine that’s just a bit of “Title TK” filler for Antecessor as they work out the details of their “next couple of releases” (that according to Keith Foster from the group). But this lengthy gem deserves a title as grand as the music itself. It’s too early in the morning, and I’m too tired to offer up some suggestions apart from imploring you to press play on this track and let your tired/awake/stoned/unstable minds get pinballed around by it.
The mighty duo of Jonathan Sielaff and Matt Carlson, together known as Golden Retriever, spent some time on the East Coast very recently. And thanks to the wonders of technology, we can now enjoy some of their visit via the good people at East Village Radio. The pair played a live set at the Internet radio studio for the program Just Music. Click here to check out that set.
Speaking of Internet radio endeavors, Boomarm Nation, one of Portland’s finest labels, have been sneaking out a monthly podcast wherein they let a favorite artist hold sway for a full hour of tunes. The most recent one, featuring a noisy, dubby set by Strategy was just unleashed this week. Cop that here, and then spend some time with December’s edition which is a live recording of Ethernet reinterpreting the music from his 2012 release Into The Woods.
On an entirely other tip, the classical music enthusiasts known as Classical Revolution PDX just announced the details behind this year’s Composer Project and String Quartet Competition. The program allows new composers a chance to have their work critiqued by a jury of their peers, with one winning piece getting a live debut, as well as being recorded and broadcast on the radio. If you feel daring enough to try and submit, something you can find all the information you need about entering the contest by clicking on this link.
Hidden away in a post from last October was the news that Field Hymns, one of the city’s finest purveyors of cassette goodness, had two amazing releases ready to roll for the early part of 2013. The post in question was a celebration of new tunes from Regular Music, and makes mention of the fact that they will be sharing a cassette with The Cat’s Orchestra, an equally amazing synth and tones creation led by Nicholay Syrov, he of Dumpster Diving Lab and Nisha infamy. Here, for you, is a small sampling of Syrov’s cassette side, a airy bit of keyboard honks and winks.
Also on tap is a 40 minute cassette of new work by Nodolby, the erstwhile noise artist from Italy better known as Michele Scariot. Here, Scariot goes full on melodic, blinging and blooping all over the stereo field, sending deep vibrations into the stratosphere and far into the core of the planet. This new album would have sounded strange if it came out on Scariot’s uncompromisingly noisy Dokuro imprint but the playful tone and bright colors it sparks up fit in so well with the Field Hymns aesthetic.
The 20 minute video collage nightmared up by Tim Lower Creative is by no means a nice little diversion. Layer upon layer of images are overlaid, with the mouths of terrifying sea creatures and bug-eating plants giving way to natural disasters, wars, and other unpleasantries of the world. But for all the creepiness and discomfort it instilled, I couldn’t bring myself to look away. For that I give a hunk of credit to the music of Dispiria that is soundtracking the clip.
Improvised by Tim Lower and Marios Kerpen, the duo’s music fulfills the promise of proto-industrial/goth wanderers like Throbbing Gristle and its various offshoots. Like the video, the two pile on drones, terrifying processed samples that are just audible enough to be effective, electronic noise that sounds like sunlight reflecting off chrome, and plenty of squiggles and squeaks to leave you feeling rubbery and tingly all over.
We’re all friends here, right? So, we can be honest with each other. Let’s just say when I was sent an e-mail by a group calling themselves Viberary, I wasn’t expecting much of anything. A little fusion jazz ensemble perhaps? Jam band wankery that fancies itself experimental?
Gratefully to my ears and well-being, this duo is none of that. Ben Dahmes and his musical partner whose name I only know as Steph right now take the title of their recently released cassette Meditations very seriously. Each side is a low rumble of a electronic pulses and wow sounds from the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Screw Pink Floyd; this is the stuff that should be used as an alternate soundtrack to the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Let the colors and images fly by with these electrostatic jams tickling your eardrums and giving your synapses a massage while Kubrick sends them into overload.
It pleases me to no end that more artists are realizing that great music often deserves great visual representation. And considering how easy it is to put together a great video, it’s a wonder that more artists aren’t taking advantage of this.
Ethereal and the Queer Show are one of the few acts that have embraced the audio-visual connection working with Logan Owlbeemoth of Os Ovni on this fairly stunning piece of degenerated, knocked out video wonder. The clip was apparently made using Owlbeemoth’s custom made video synthesizers that allows him to bring in various images that look as if they’ve been saved on 15th generation VHS dubs. It really brings out the heady thrill of EATQS’s synth pop banger. You can almost feel the denatured colors and keyboard blasts surrounding you when you pop this up to fullscreen mode.
And if you cotton to what EATQS are doing on this fine track, don’t hesitate to get it for your very own by visiting Pour Le Coups Records’ Bandcamp page and ordering up a digital or cassette version of the duo’s Cosmotopia album.
The title of the post says “compilation”, but the folks behind the imprint and collective known as SadoDaMascus Records would really like to call it a “copulation.” A slight pun, sure, but a strangely fitting description for listening to their upcoming CD. I was lucky enough to be handed a copy of it over the weekend, and was immediately sent spiraling with joy at what I heard.
The disc feels more like a DJ set than it does a pieced together collection of random tunes. There’s a distinct flow and mood to the whole production that is so rare to achieve with one band, let alone a baker’s dozen. Why does calling it a “copulation” fit so well then? Because it feels like the soundtrack to a long slow love making session, the kind where every touch feels amplified by a thousand and you just want to linger in every moment until eternity crashes around you both. Whew. Getting spent just thinking about it.
If you want to get a sense of some of the music involved, visit the Sonic Debris Media SoundCloud page. Or if you want to dive in deeper – and get a copy of the CD for yourself – stop by Record Room on the 23rd of February. SadoDaMascus will be holding an extended release party that boasts two stages of music, with a lineup of bands who are all featured on the latest copulation. Take a gander at the poster for the event below and, if you so desire, adjust your February calendar accordingly.