The same day that Antecessor brought their magical electronic sounds to the PDX Pop Now festival, the duo released a new collection of tunes recorded between 2013 and 2015 to delight any of the folks who were unable to make it to the weekend event.
Listening to this new album, I couldn’t help but feel that if you were looking for a way to fill up the hole left behind by the death of Tangerine Dream leader Edgar Froese, these two gents have you covered. These six tracks are a pure delight, crackling with energy and forward momentum and a smart use of melody. Unlike a fair amount of synth-based music I run into, it is obvious how much care these two put into the tracks. They could just make a lot of fun noise with the many fun toys they have, but these dudes are writing actual songs. And what wonderful songs they are.
Something that has always fascinated me is how folks try to soundtrack fireworks displays, meshing up the big triumphal moments of pop and rock songs with the fizzle and electric blasts of sparks going off in the sky. Seems a fool’s errand to this guy, but if I was going to take on such a project, I think I’d prefer something that is equally unhinged and hard to pin down. Something like this new release from Chefkirk.
That might be the coincidence of the fact that he released this new work on July 4th talking, but I could definitely hear these digital squelches, toe-tingling rumbles, and sand blasts of static going along very well with the kind of blowsy fireworks display that gets trucked out every goddamn year sending our small animals scurrying for safe ground and our veterans breaking out into a cold sweat. This kind of neck tightening noise might be just the ticket to help them get through the night.
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 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.
I love the instrument list for this latest release from local artist Mike Gamble: electric guitar/EFX/children’s drum kit. Only three things but he uses them all so very well. Gamble layers some shimmering guitar melodies over odd squelching little noises and the clatter of percussion that sounds like its going to fall apart at any second. And somehow it makes sense that he recorded it while snowed in at a cabin in a town near the Marys River. I’d love to mirror the experience by listening to these challenging and stirring compositions while snowbound in the woods to see what effect that might have on me.
Nothing sounds finer on a warm, sunny fall day than a touch of unbridled, fucked electronic agony straight from our friends at Sonic Debris Multimedia. This new cassette from Body Shame is seeing release as part of Cassette Store Day on October 17th and will certainly sound great blasting out of the PA at Valentines on the 20th of the month when he will be performing material from this live, alongside SDM friends ALTO! and Consumer. My skin is already tingling at the thought of it.
Can I be forgiven for getting a little personal for a moment? It’s been difficult to maintain things on this blog. Even though it’s been alive for a number of years now (4? 6? 50?), I’ve had to let it lapse and collect some dust for a while with life getting in the way. And this summer has been particularly “in the way.”
I started an actual job, managing a website. The family and I bought a house. I wrote a book. And I’ve been trying to juggle all of that with my freelance work. So, things went a little stale here for a while. But, two things happened recently that had me looking to redouble my efforts with EXPDX in the coming months/years/millennia.
I had a long chat with Gordon Ashworth for another publication and we were both despairing at how experimental music is starting to float further to the margins in our hometown thanks to the skyrocketing cost of rent and a seeming disinterest in a lot of venues to take a chance on unusual sounds unless bigger blogs say it’s okay to like them. With that in mind, now is not the time to let things wither here on the site, but rather to push even harder to bring attention to the amazing music being made in our city.
Then a former Portlander, and someone who played an Experimental Portland Presents… showcase during one of the more challenging times of my life and who I count as a dear friend, Beaunoise, just released some new music. No, he’s not technically a resident of the city as he has since moved to Oakland to continue his amazing career as a producer/mixer/mastering engineer, but his music never ceases to inspire me. And listening to this new collection of work that was made with a wonderfully failing Eventide H3000, I was jarred awake and back to reality like nothing before.
So, listen to this terrifying and beautiful piece of music a few times today, and maybe go drop the $10 to get the whole album. And bear with me as I try to dust off this site, and try to fit regular posting into my already swelling schedule of activity. Thanks for sticking with me and checking out the site on the regular.
I’ve been hearing rumors and discussion about this collaboration between Scott Worley (aka Jatun) and Tim Gray (aka Ethernet) for a long while now. A two-person exploration of modular synth and digital software improvisation brought into the world by two of the smartest players in the experimental electronic game.
The pair are finally making good on their promise with the upcoming release of a cassette/digital album under the name High Light. The three tracks that are available to stream (or to download if you pre-order) are just what a heart needs after the passing of Tangerine Dream leader Edgar Froese. These two locals are carrying the flame of mind-bending swirls of melody and cinematic drones and burbles. The added beauty of this collaboration is that it’s obvious how much the two are listening to each other and growing this sound as a unit. They put their individual musical identities aside for the sake of the whole project.
Here’s a great bit of news to wake up to on the first day of 2015: the good people at Lifelike Family Records are letting you pay what you want for their digital releases via Bandcamp. For a limited time, of course.
Full disclosure: I am friends with the dudes behind this label and have booked them for EXPDX Presents… shows, etc. But like anyone I highlight on the blog, I would support them even if I didn’t know who they were. The three albums they’ve released thus far have been full of surprisingly melodic and textural turns. And for the past few months, Andrew Weathers’ Sacred Harp-inspired One Day We’ll Find The Valley has been in regular rotation on my home stereo. It’s the perfect spiritual uplift that we need in these troubled times.
The pay-what-you-want option, of course, allows you to pick this stuff up for free. But if you can afford to, drop this label and their artists a couple of bucks for their hard work. The devaluing of music is something we can put a stop to with small efforts like that.
The title of this new cassette release by Desert of Hiatus is as perfect as perfect can be. As the band says on the Bandcamp page for these new songs:
This album was originally inspired by Anne Carson’s literary criticism, Eros: the Bittersweet. However, after much deliberation on the topic that is Love, there yielded no conclusive data. It happened to me, the bastard Eros had actually shot me, the triangulation began and after a couple of tattoos and flutterings in my chest I felt responsible to worship what is glukupikron – sweet bitter. The contrapasso that is Love. As it aims to be both sweet and bitter simultaneously, living on the same plane.
You’ll hear that sweet bitter and those flutterings in these two long, sensuous tracks. As the music swells and rises, don’t be surprised if you can feel any hardness that may be surrounding your person peeling away layer by layer until you’re bathing in its softly lit glow.