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.
The first proper “album” from the dark ambient duo Grey Columns came along quietly in the middle of last month. I put the scare quotes in because, well, it’s only about 19 minutes long, which society has led us to believe doesn’t fit the description of an album. But it does fit the description in that these four tracks can’t be separated from one another. You have to take it in one long, slow gulp rather than just in piecemeal form. There’s also a true sense of purpose in how this collection is constructed. They move us with ease between the four movements of this album, sliding us into one grumbling, scratching, echoing room before we realize we’ve left the room we were just in. It’s masterful, beautiful, and the right kind of unnerving.
Astoria resident Gregg Skloff has long provided mine ears with a variety of amazing out sound. Just recently, he unveiled a blood-thickening collaboration with Arrington de Dionyso, China Faith Star, and Ben Kapp called Multitudes Into Being, to which he added his dreamy bass throb and drone. And even more recently, he slid under our door this truly outstanding collection Casiotone MT-210 compositions. I’ve been listening to this for the past 24 hours and have yet to tire of its enveloping beauty and slightly terrifying undercurrents. It’s enough to make a man start taking acid.
If you’re a resident of Portland and hit up the many experimental and psychedelic rock shows happening in the city, you’ve at least seen Dewey Mahood around. Or if you’ve wandered into his wonderful record/instrument shop Mothership Music. If you’re lucky, you can call him a friend, as he is one of the most gregarious and gentle souls in the city. And I think that comes across very strongly in his music, particularly his releases under the name Spectrum Control. The fire in the belly of these songs is warming and lovely, rather than raging and dangerous, as it centers around simple drum machine patterns and understated runs on his guitar. It’s music for any weather, and like the man behind it, its presence in your life will be an enriching one.
Everybody and their goddamned grandmother are pissing their end of the year, best of lists into the wind this week. It can be a fun exercise, but it also completely neglects the music that will sneak under your radar or that gets dropped into the world during the last month of the year.
One such record that just snuck the fuck up on me is this new jawn by XFA, the new project by friend of the site, Boston Slevin. This devilish little collection – released digitally via Equilateral Records – sounds to these ears like an overloaded NES system trying to communicate something very important. The message gets completely garbled as the fate of mankind hangs in the balance.
I know I’ve talked about Temple Maps very recently on the blog, but this post is more about the circumstances surrounding this release.
Our friends at Sonic Debris Multimedia are kicking off a new series of shows at Valentine’s tonight called DEC15MBER. Every Tuesday this month, they’ll be inviting a few bands to perform, and will also be selling short run cassettes featuring music by each of the acts. We’re talking very short run cassettes, like editions of 15.
Again it all goes down starting tonight at Valentine’s with performances by Temple Maps, ABSV, and American Merkin. All the best music to keep you good and heated on these cold winter nights.
Tribal free jazz skronk always sounds so good on a late fall afternoon. That’s the rule in our house anyway. Thankfully Million Brazilians are back with a healthy slab of the aforementioned to send Tuesday off on the right foot. The group is releasing a new LP this Thursday Poderoso Monicato, from which this space freak jam was excerpted. Can’t wait to let the whole thing wash over me some night soon when my copy arrives in the post.
The latest release by Elias Foley’s ever-evolving Temple Maps project is the soundtrack to a sci-fi movie not yet made. An animated film in the style of René Laloux’s La Planete Sauvage or a pixelated Tron-like adventure where the protagonists are on a massive quest for enlightenment, freedom, or both. A few spins of this brilliantly conceived cassette will help you reach those glorious goals in your mind’s eye, so maybe we don’t need the fancy visuals, just our own vivid imaginations to guide us.
We sing the praises of Creative Music Guild within these e-pages on the regular, and for good reason. Their keen ear for local talent is unmatched as is the work that they do to bring artists from around the world to Portland for live performances. And the craziest thing is that the people who put all of their live shows and the Improvisation Summit and other events are doing it all as volunteers and with the financial support of institutions and individual donors.
I bring all this up for the simple reason that I encourage you to give the CMG your support in some small or large way. You can either attend one of their bi-monthly Outset Series events at Turn Turn Turn (check our calendar for the dates of the August performances). You can click on the Bandcamp link up above that will net you a digital or physical copy of their latest compilation album – featuring tracks recorded live at CMG events. Or, you can do what I’m about to do, which is to become a monthly supporter of the organization.
The group is looking for 25 new sustaining donors to kick off their 25th year of existence. As they say:
All of the money we collect goes directly to the artists and performers that present at CMG events, either to their fee for their artistry and talent, the venue we help host them in, or their travel expenses. Along with grants, individual donations -from someone like you- helps to fund our amazing programming.
Waste no more time, dear friends: send the CMG a little or a lot of money to help keep them alive and thriving for another quarter century.
A month or three ago, a nice gent from Chicago came by my apartment to interview me about one of my favorite local artists The OO-Ray for a documentary he was making on Ted Laderus and his amazing music. I nervously, haltingly, blunderingly stumbled my way through an on-camera interview and hopefully sounded like I had some idea of what I was talking about. I’m still not sure if any of my chatter made the cut, but I do know that the director, Hamid Bendaas, is getting close to a finished product as evidenced by this wonderful, short preview of the film that he just put online. Even if I’m not in it, I’m really looking forward to seeing the full documentary whenever it is wrapped up.