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.
David Tevlin does as so many musicians and artists should: he follows wherever his internal muse takes him. Sometimes that is in the guise of David/Owen, a guitar loop-centric solo project that skirts the line of normality; other times it’s as part of Language, his trio that specializes in denatured electro-pop. I like him best when he’s doing weird shit under the name D $, releasing these strange little missives from deepest space via his SoundCloud page. Like this comet burst of sputtering muted trumpets and fusion tension filtered through a dyspeptic robot’s spleen.
The point of this blog, as its name tells you, is to focus on the Portland experimental community, but we do not live in a bubble. And considering how poorly things are going economically for everyone in the creative world, it would behoove us to look out for those around us as well. Hence this little call to arms:
The folks behind the amazing Substrata Festival in Seattle are looking for a little financial boost to help put together another event this year. Launched in 2011, the fest has brought a wealth of experimental and ambient sounds to the Emerald City, including last year’s appearance by Tim Hecker, Scanner, Loscil, and Daniel Menche. Organizers also set up lectures, discussions, and a field trip for budding musicians to listen and do field recordings.
The dates have already been set aside for version 1.3 – July 18 – 21 – and the fest needs that little bit of help to bring in a couple of international artists that will give the weekend a likely boost in ticket sales, and a little bit of prestige as well.
Like all campaigns of this kind (this one is being supported by Indiegogo), there’s benefits to donating like free mixes, signed vinyl, and other treats, but the biggest bonus is supporting an event that takes no corporate sponsorship and whose organizer draws no financial benefit from it. Click here or on any of the links above to toss a little money their way. Or don’t. I ain’t forcing anyone’s hand here.
If you live here in Portland and are a fan of experimental sounds, you’ve likely bumped into the name Ethan Rose. He’s been a fixture of the local scene for years now, making sound sculpture and crafting albums like Oaks, which took the sounds of the massive pipe organ at Oaks Park Skating Rink and turned them into long waves of ambient sound. Whenever Rose mentions something he’s working on, I sit up and pay attention.
Rose recently sent an e-mail around talking about his latest project Half Open, a sound/video installation filmed and recorded at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie that will be screening at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
As well, he’s bringing back Transference, a collaborative piece he created with Andy Palko that uses glass bowls, water, and friction to create a symphony of gorgeous receding sound. The sound clip posted above is just a small sample of the piece, and a unique expression of the installation. Because of the randomized aspects of it, the sounds change and evolve with every spin of the glass. If you want to see and hear this in person, it will be installed at the Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland from May 16th through September 21st.
For many of us, Tuesday night isn’t the most ideal night to venture out into the frigid April air to attend a small concert in NE Portland. But whatever I can do to encourage you to make it out to tonight’s installment of Experimental Portland Presents… I will do.
The most I can do at the moment is let you know about the amazing music that will be on tap at Habesha on 801 NE Broadway tonight, starting at 9pm. As you glean from the sound clips below, this is going to be a noisy one, probably the noisiest show I’ve done yet. And that thrills me to no end. Bring some earplugs and an open mind.
Daughter Talk (her first ever live performance)
The good people at Silber Media have come up with another ingenious idea to get people listening to their impressive roster of artists: offer up short five song digital EPs that don’t run longer than five minutes in length. And sell them for the bargain basement price of $1. Check out the full run of them here, but then pay especial attention to local freak faced groove merchants RLLRBLL. The lead track “Speechless” holds a steady jazz-funk swing but the rest of the short tracks – like “Dinker”, the one featured above – are sputters of gooey electronic grease.