I am as pleased as anyone when the staff of a venue likes the shows that I book enough that they ask me back to do either the occasional booking, or a regular series of shows. Pleased and surprised. Those feelings are trebled when it comes to the Ash St. Saloon, one of the city’s least-heralded venues. It’s a great space that got an unfair reputation heaped upon it due to its former reliance on rock and metal shows (something I put on the person who used to handle the booking there). If anyone was able to make it to ALTO!’s vinyl release show with Million Brazilians a little while back, you would have seen firsthand what the place has to offer: a big, open performance area with a powerful sound system.
All this is to emphasize how thrilled I am that the Ash Street has extended an offer to let me curate a monthly showcase of experimental music, the first of which is tonight. Usually these things will go down on the third Tuesday of every month, but as we’re just getting rolling, this one landed on a Thursday. No matter when it happens, though, this is going to be a firecracker of a show. On tap tonight:
Stochastic Mettle Union
The cost of admission is a mere $5, and the whole megillah gets underway at 9pm. If you’re one of those tech-heavy types who likes to let the world know that you’re going somewhere via your chosen social network, here’s the Facebook event page.
Whether on her own or as a part of Million Brazilians, Suzanne Stone is a live artist you can’t take your eyes off of. The shows of hers that I have seen lead me to believe that that’s just the way she wants it. She has no fear of wandering offstage and staring her audience down, usually carrying two swords that she clangs together dramatically. Stone is going deeper into her musical/theatrical exploration of the tarot tonight. You’d do well to follow her on her journey.
These two Seattle noisemongers are, if I’m not mistaken, finishing up a West Coast tour that already saw the bands tear at the minds of an audience last Thursday at Ash Street Saloon. On their way home, they have decided to stop by once again to make sure they finish the job of carpet bombing our fair city, with what is sure to be a loud and raucous house show in deep NE.
Coco Madrid has slapped together another incredible conflagration of downtempo and ambient sounds for her series at Tube. Tonight, she welcomes Reflective Surfaces (Cody Brant and Mike Erwin’s Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze-type synth + guitar delicacies), Temple Maps, and another sure-to-be amazing performance by Tim Gray’s project Ethernet, which is still in the sway of a second life-affirming 2013 release Virtual Reality.
The chintzy visuals and flowering sounds celebrated on the bi-weekly public access program Experimental Half Hour are being brought in person to the confines of Mississippi Studios tonight. Headlining is the synth/voice dreamwave duo Light House. They are joined by a one-off collaboration between Golden Retriever synth master Matt Carlson and Greek sound artist Ilan Manouach, and the broken calliope antics of Cloaks.
Portland’s most internationally beloved prodigal son Pete Swanson makes another triumphal return home still under the heady sway of his debilitating techno exploration Punk Authority. That EP is as danceable as it is dirty, dirty, dirty. Show up on time for once in your life to marvel at the all drums/triggered synth/percussion activated Wonder Twins known collectively as Hot Victory.
If you missed out on Saturday’s celebratory show at Habesha (like I did), which brought into the world another amazing compilation of music from the folks at Sonic Debris Multimedia, we only hope that it was for good reason and not a depressive episode (like mine). No matter what, here’s a little piece of the action to help make the bitter regret go down a little easier. An Elysium dance party banger that lets the writhing bodies move up front while the ray gun battles go off in the background.
The best album I heard last year was Spirit of the Sun, a glowing bit of guitar and vocal treacle born from the heart of The Slaves, a duo comprised of Barbara Kinzle and Birch Cooper. It’s still a record that returns to my turntable on the regular. But as has been my m.o. for years, it has led me deeper down the wormhole into the work that Cooper and Kinzle have done outside their collaborative fold. That includes Cooper’s symbiotic art/music transformer MSHR, and Threads, a new project from Kinzle and bassist Aaron Davis. The sound of Threads feels like an expansion of the ghostly sounds Kinzle brought forth with The Slaves, but with a slightly more traditionalist bent. It brought to mind images of The Jesus & Mary Chain ca. Psychocandy and the buzzing frequencies of some of Sonic Boom’s post Spacemen 3 efforts. The above video captures Threads’ first ever performance, which happened this past weekend at Disjecta. If you like what you see/hear, be sure to come to the 9/17 edition of Experimental Portland Presents… at Ash St. Saloon, where the duo will be performing.
[Due to the vagaries of Bandcamp’s embed codes, I can’t get just the single track to show up all by its lonesome. So, click play above and “Subtle Afterthoughts,” by Expo 70, followed by the new Plankton Wat jam.]
Dewey Mahood‘s departure from Eternal Tapestry was a lamentable, but understandable decision. You play with a band as long as Dewey did with ET, and after a while, you start to wonder what’s possible outside the fold. And it’s a great time for him to do so considering the praise he soaked up following the release of his Thrill Jockey LP Spirits.
Dewey has another TJ disc coming out very soon, but to get a small taste of what Plankton Wat sounds like these days, a good place to start is this new split LP being released next week on Debacle Records. The track we’re featuring today is a gorgeous splay of limbs being cooked ever so gently in the summer sun.
Going on right now is the second day of the Battery Powered Orchestra’s workshop on circuit-bending, sampling, and making electronic music of a certain modular bent. Today, they will be featuring performances by Jeph Nor, Maps to The Stars, and BPO, as well as a keynote address from digital artist Jeremy Rotsztain. Also, click on the Cymaspace link above, and you catch videos from the first day of the BPOW.
One of the country’s greatest independent publications celebrates the release of its 35th issue tonight at the Waypost, with a performance by an artist written about in a huge feature in the new edition: Michael Hurley. If you’re unfamiliar with either the magazine or Mr. Hurley, you are disconnected by some of the most exploratory and mind-bending work of our modern age.
I have loved all the Experimental Portland Presents… shows that I’ve put on to date, but the one that offered me the most surprises was when White Gourd performed at Habesha a few months back. Her set was one of the most theatrical and expressive I’ve ever seen. Suzanne Stone stalked the room, clanging swords together and daring onlookers to blink. On stage, she read processed voice poetry and sang fluttering anthems to a tarot card (her chosen muse for this set escapes me right now). I was pleased then when I booked Million Brazilians at a recent show that she has combined forces with that group, and that she was selling a new White Gourd LP, of which this track is a small piece. The inspiration behind this recording is The Moon card, which Stone sings of (on this piece, anyway) over a sun-dappled run of piano notes. Her voice stands firm over the flickering melodies, a lunar salutation of unusual power.
Here’s what I wrote about this bill for today’s Willamette Week: Dreamboat, the collaboration between Golden Retriever’s Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff and guitarist Ilyas Ahmed, made its debut at the Old Church during last year’s MusicfestNW, and it was the perfect environment to fully absorb the gorgeous interplay between Carlson’s modular synth, Sielaff’s processed bass clarinet and Ahmed’s hushed vocals and guitar melodies. Combined, the elements create the kind of deep body-mind high familiar to both weed fanatics and distance runners. Opening act Concern adds to the heady quality of the night with long, expressive, droning, loop-based compositions built from acoustic instruments.
Dead Channel is a new collaboration between musician Cody Brandt and vocalist Jack Gilbert, which just released a cassette on the venerable Night People label. Their music has some weird Goth leanings to it, but keeps from sinking into that genre’s self-important mire by maintaining an audible sense of humor that reminds me at least of early Ween material.
The CMG’s regular series of events, held in the delightful and tempting Revival Drum Shop on N. Prescott, tonight invites two of the city’s finest percussionists to perform (I’m guessing) solo sets. Schonberg is perhaps the more better known of the two having worked with the much beloved post-punk trio Explode Into Colors and for her all percussion ensemble the Secret Drum Band, but LKN (or Lauren K. Newman) has some equally impressive credits to her name having backed up sci-fi rockers SubArachnoid Space, as well as Castanets.
Charlie Salas-Humara just doesn’t know when to quit, does he? And for that we should praise whatever deity we can find. It’s been exciting enough to see him lose himself in the frantic polyrhythms of Sun Angle and get really really spacey as a member of Regular Music. But for me, his solo work as Grapefruit reveals the most creative parts of his person. This latest cassette (released just this week on Constellation Tatsu) unfurls long synth bleats and wandering guitar lines that upends the usual nostalgia factor that can strangle similar borderline New Age efforts. If you like what you hear, be sure to hit the Experimental Portland Presents… event happening on September 11th, where Grapefruit will be performing at Rotture alongside Midday Veil and ALTO!.