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.
So lowkey that you probably missed it, Eugene, OR’s ever impressive home for noise/experimental music Dumpsterscore Recordings has been quietly unleashing droves of small run CD-Rs and cassettes that sell out with the quickness. Luckily, the Internet is here to … Continue reading
If anyone doubts that the local experimental scene is a friendly one, let a project like this lay your worries to rest. Just a few days ago, the electronic artists Antecessor, EMS, and Grand Arbiter played a collaborative set together at Killingsworth Dynasty as part of a party celebrating the career and life of Thrones. One gent in attendance was the ever-prolific Daniel Menche, who captured their squirrelly and beautiful set on his digital recorder and, with some remixing, turned it into this beautiful hour long melt. Listening to it, I feel like I’m either being slowly swallowed up by a warm blob or, at the very least, gawking at the last half-hour of 2001 after a few sips of psilocybin tea.
The inspiring, politically-motivated multimedia arts group Environmental Impact Statement sent an email around yesterday to let people know that, as part of a new project concerning the potential logging of a timber site near Mt. Hood, they are accepting project proposals from artists. I’m really excited to see what comes out of this, and encourage any interested parties to , but for now, here’s what the EIS had to say:
The collective Environmental Impact Statement invites artists in all disciplines & locations to submit project proposals for work that could not happen if the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale on Mt. Hood is logged. All proposals will be submitted as part of the public record for this sale in response to the Forest Service’s analysis of the potential impacts from commercial logging on public land.
All disciplines are encouraged to apply. Project proposals need not be limited by funding or even possibility. Proposals will be collected in a forthcoming publication; one proposal will be awarded a modest honorarium.
The nearly 3,000 acres of forests in the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale that would be lost contain unlogged forest, and the many miles of new logging roads will cause untold impacts for decades to come. More information about the proposed logging project is provided online by the watchdogs for Mt. Hood National Forest, Bark.
PLEASE SUBMIT PROPOSALS THROUGH THIS SIMPLE WEBFORM.
The Forest Service is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to undergo a thorough evaluation of the environmental impacts from a logging project such as Polallie Cooper, inform the public of these potential impacts, and collect comments on whether the public agrees that the harm is worth the benefit. In their assessment, the Forest Service uses a metric called Visual Quality Objectives set out in their management plan to anticipate impacts on the way the forest looks after the logging. We are submitting these projects as standing ideas that would not be possible should the logging take place in this forest. These creative projects will be included with the many other environmental concerns that the people will submit during the public comment period.
Ideas cannot be destroyed, but forests can be.
deepwhitesound has, for over a decade now, been a go to source for fascinating experimental music from around the world. The Portland-based label curates a wide selection of sounds and then offers up them up for free download through their lovely website.
Towards the end of last month, deepwhitesound sent around an e-mail announcing their Winter 2015 slate of releases, and it is a fine bunch that deserves your attention.
Among them is a new recording from Memory Metal, the local duo made up of Cody Brandt and Shane McDonell that places contact mics on pieces of metal and records the noises they make when beaten, scraped and otherwise abused. Their 24 minute piece 2 is a small challenge to your eardrums but one that will reveal some delicious overtones and strange rhythms that can be surprisingly comforting.
I’m also very fond of the work of Glaswegian sound artist Louise Harris, which is part of this new bundle. Her work primarily uses visuals timed to react to the scratchy, droning sounds that she cooks up, but as an aural-only experience, the noisy delights are still quite thrilling.
In a world where artists as renowned as Björk and Grimes have to justify themselves to idiot male sound engineers and producers who somehow refuse to believe that a woman could be in charge of her own art, a group like Women’s Beat League is sorely, sadly needed.
This new project is a four-week workshop to, as the Facebook event page tells us, “will introduce beginners to the process of creating an electronic based dance track. Students will gain insight into computer-based music production through the use of Ableton Live. Students will learn the basic principles behind synthesis, looping, sampling, and more. At the end of the 4 part series, participants will have gained the skills necessary to feel comfortable composing music in Ableton, and will leave the workshop having created their own song. SciFiSol (Christina Broussard) has been working in Ableton Live and Apple Logic for over 8 years producing complex song arrangements and live performance sets with attention to detail and sound design.”
Hell yeah fucking right.
The caveat to all this is that the set of classes that kicks off tonight at S1 is all booked up. When you only have 12 open spots, that’s gonna happen quickly. But wait…there’s more: the WBL have another event on the way, happening on January 17th at S1. Called “Decolonizing Sound,” this all ages workshop puts the spotlight on Oakland-based sound artist Beast Nest and will “attempt to teach mindfulness, listening, resistance, and improvisation as sides of the same die.”
Here, though, is the true mission statement: “Most importantly, we will shed light on ways in which improvisation and playing music can help marginalized people reclaim and create new identities and languages despite the distortion of and violence upon our cultures, work, and genders that have historically oppressed us.”
If you’re a female or female-identifying musician, I hope you are already signed up for the first workshop, are planning on attending the second workshop, or will at least keep WBL in your sights in the future. I know I will.
One of the coolest events to go down here in Portland of late has been Jeph Nor’s Volt Divers series. Happening on a monthly basis as Lovecraft Bar, the performances highlight the many artists here that utilize hardware synths. A gaggle of them stop by the dark confines of this venue, perform a quick improvised set and get out of the way. The results vary in quality, to be sure, but they often provide real inspiration.
The VD crew has their next event scheduled for January 9th @ 7pm and they welcome in Dweomer, Ras Mix, S.H.E., Joy Through Noise, and this duo of Pailo and Jeph Nor. Let their glitchy and delightful performance from last month’s event serve as your guide.
2016 is off to a mighty fine start, thanks to the appearance of a new album by the Corvallis trio The Van Meyers. I’m fond of the entirety of The Persistence of Now, but have especial love for the title track. It’s just over 21 minutes long, and brings out the influence of William Basinski on these jazz players. The long drones and spacious washes of sound that lap over their sonic jetty go very well with the icy wasteland that is slowly dissipating right outside my window.