Podcast: Experimental Portland Radio #007

C – 217

Temple Maps – Live at Volt Divers

Electric Circus – Rise

xtal – opticks for isaac [from realpolitik]

Mark Fell – Sections 1 – 7 [from n-Dimensional Analysis]
performing at Yale Union on 2/27

Deja Reve – Brigata Undici [from Dreams Are What We Wake Up From]

Marcus Fischer – Shape To Shore [from Monocoastal]
performing on 2/28 as part of Untoward: A Benefit for the Creative Music Guild

Julian Lage & Nels Cline – Blues, Too [from ROOM]
Lage performs on 2/27 at Lewis & Clark’s Evans Auditorium as part of the PDX Jazz Festival


Music: Marcus Fischer – Cycles + Hum

A few years ago, musician and artist Marcus Fischer had a simple, but highly admirable goal: to do create something every day of the year. That could be anything from one of his beautifully rendered photographs to a short piece of music. Whatever it may be, he had to make something happen. And he kept it up for a full year and a little while after that, before the wind went out of his sails a bit in 2013 and he poured his energies into other endeavors.

With the new year, Fischer has decided to resurrect this project and the blog – Dust Breeding – that houses all of his efforts. The results are absolutely lovely and very inspiring, particularly his musical output, which includes this track: a short bit of guitar and OP-1, looped and processed via his Octatrack performance sampler. It’s delicate, pastoral stuff that perfectly suits the cold, drizzly air around us and the look of his ghostly photographs on the site.

Music: Marcus Fischer + The OO-Ray – Tulong

Amazing music for an important cause. Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (aka The OO-Ray), two experimental musicians of Filipino descent, are releasing Tulong, a two-track digital single to help aid Humanitarian Response Philippines, a non-profit helping residents of the island nation rebuild their homes after the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

It’s a mere $5—though they and I encourage you to drop a little extra cash in the donation jar—for two gorgeous tracks, one recorded live in 2012 at Beacon Sound Records and another recorded late last year at Fischer’s home studio.

Music: Sun Hammer – Silent Ballot

Here’s how I know that the world is better off with me writing about music than creating it: On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a Future Sequence Records showcase, and caught some incredible performances by label head Radere, Marcus Fischer and Widesky (collaborating in an all-improvisational fashion), and Sun Hammer aka Jay Bodley.

I spoke with Bodley after his set to get some sense of how he pieced it together and he spoke of using the individual pieces/tracks from his most recent album, but reconfiguring them and adding effects; in essence, creating an entirely new album every time he plays a live set. I marveled at this, telling him that I just do not have the mental acuity to pull something like that off. I could never remember which piece was which and would tend to fall back on my punk/rock training and want to repeat it exactly as I recorded it.

Listening to this piece from Bodley — his contribution to Disquiet’s Silent Ballot project wherein a number artists took on the assignment to “investigate a recording of the voting process for its ‘sonic fingerprint.’ — that conversation came back to me. Particularly when I read the description Bodley wrote of it for his SoundCloud upload:

First, the original recording was cut into nine pieces of equal length. These were each looped, and triggered to start playing at their original order and time. They ended in the same order, resulting in a tapestry of 9 loops of equal length beginning and ending at different points in time. These were then treated with some light equalization effects and linked to the volume of the original recording, which had been stretched to the full length of the piece, and silenced in the final mix. Two additional copies of this were used, one tuned down an octave and the other up an octave, both of which were also processed with light delay and EQ effects, as well as gating linked to the stretched version of the original.

I understand it all, but am still boggled by how someone conceives of something like that. And it makes me even happier that artists like Bodley, or all the performers that I saw on Saturday, or all the other musicians who were with me in the basement of Townsend’s Tea for the show are out in the world creating this confounding and amazing sounds for us plebeians to enjoy and pontificate on. Keep up the good work, lads and lasses.

Music: Marcus Fischer – Breaking + Broken

Marcus Fischer is one of those figures that stays so busy and does so much amazing stuff that you can be completely inspired by or who makes you want to throw up your hands and admit defeat. Let’s run this down as quickly as we can: he has released two amazing collaborative albums this year, helped bring Loscil and Nils Frahm to town to perform at a pair of intimate venues, and has been performing stunning sets of ambient beauty all over the city.

If that weren’t enough, Fischer keeps dropping new soft bombs on us via his SoundCloud page, including this most recent creation “breaking + broken”. Recorded in his practice space/studio, the song has a gorgeous wind swept buzz throughout, as if he were trying to approximate the sound of the trees outside his home swaying calmly in the breeze. If that is the case, mission accomplished, Marcus. This is a song that makes me want to lay back on a park bench and watch nature swirl around overhead.


News: Robert Henke @ PNCA

One of the more exciting events that will be happening within the borders of Portland is also one that has gone, for the most part, unnoticed by most folks. Robert Henke, the sound designer and musician who performs/records as Monolake, will be visiting PNCA this coming weekend for a pair of events that require your attendance.

On Sunday the 23rd, Henke will be performing on the main campus as part of an ongoing series of concerts known as SIX. For this, all the musicians involved will have access to a six-speaker surround sound system that is perfect for complete sonic immersion. And Henke won’t be alone either as the bill is packed with local talent: Strategy performing with Jetfinger, Marcus Fischer, Solenoid, Dweomer, and Mike Jedlicka with wndfrm.

The next day (technically not the weekend, but…suspend your disbelief for a few, eh?), Henke will return to the PNCA campus to present a lecture entitled Sound, Structures, and Machines. I’ll let the press release re: this event do the talking…

Berlin-based artist Robert Henke provides an insight into his sonic and audiovisual works, both from an artistic and technical perspective. Most of his works are created by building his own software based machines that provide some sort of output by themselves, using algorithmic and stochastic methods. Henke then refines these systems or further processes the results in order to achieve the desired artistic output. This way of working blurs the boundaries between composition, performance, and installation and allows for an intuitive and spontaneous interaction with the material. Robert Henke will explain his working method using examples from previous and upcoming installations and concert setups. Henke’s tools of choice include MaxMSP and Ableton Live, therefor some basic knowledge of these programs is helpful, but not a necessary prerequisite to follow the lecture. The lecture will end with a discussion if desired.

News: Local Label News

Today as we steel ourselves for the aural onslaught of tonight’s Pure Harsh Noise Worship Festival, let us look to the world of the Portland labels to bring you up to date on their comings and goings.

— The great tape label Field Hymns just announced their next slate of releases for fall 2012, and an exciting lineup it is: Italian stereophonic noise monger Nodolby, free jazz synth maestro Jonathan James Carr, our lovely locals Regular Music, and the low slinging drones of Andreas Brandal are just a few of the names they are bandying about. If that weren’t enough, apparently the good people of Japan are going to have a better chance at snagging some of these releases thanks to a deal FH reached with distributor S.O.L. Sound. So, even more people to compete with for these short run cassettes.

Optic Echo has opened up the pre-orders for their next release – Tessellations, a collaboration between  The OO-Ray and Marcus Fischer. We bring this to your attention as only 250 copies of the 12″ are going to be released, and because we find the music on it to be positively hypnotizing. It is the perfect electro-acoustic ideal, wending the wood and wires with the circuit and cable to bring about lush, ethereal vistas.

—  If you hadn’t heard already, Soleilmoon is gearing up to release a couple of (and we mean this in the most excited way possible) ridiculous new works by a couple of experimental luminaries. The quite literally biggest one comes from the mighty Merzbow who is re-releasing his Merzbient box set on vinyl. That adds up to 18 LPs, 15 of which carry the material from the original 10 CD set, with the other three being material exclusive to this collection. Too, the label is reissuing Lustmord‘s 1990 dark ambient classic Heresy in what is billed as as “Sixtystone Edition.” That is a two-CD set featuring a newly remastered edition of the album with a second disc of early versions and alternate mixes packaged in a “carved soapstone box containing seven printed inserts.” Enough to make one physically agog, eh?

Music: The OO-Ray – Duet for Mellotron and Strings

According to his website, Ted Laderas, the musician known as The OO-Ray, spends his days working as a “scientist of biologic systems.” I hesitate to even guess what that could involve, but I can only imagine is meticulous, serious work that is perfect for a certain kind of organized mind.

That kind of thinking befits someone who makes music this intricate and exact. This particular track was recorded live as part of The Big Busk, a street performers’ festival that went on last month in downtown Portland. Here’s what Laderas had to say about the track when I pressed him for more details via e-mail:

It’s an improvised piece that starts with a single Mellotron loop and builds from there, adding layers of cello as I see fit with my live looper. It took a lot of practice sessions to find what works with the loop and what doesn’t, and each performance of it turns out differently. I think performing should have a large element of risk to it, which is why I try to keep everything loose and undefined up to the moment of performance. That way, I can pull the piece together in a way that makes sense for where I am performing. 

The exactness is there in as he is able to keep track of varying numbers of loops, intertwining them together with ease and precision. But I like to hear that he uses his art to allow himself to jump without a net in ways that I’m sure his day job doesn’t allow. It will be exciting to hear how this plays out in full when he releases the whole set from that street side performance via his online label Waveguide Audio, as well as to hear him in collaboration with another artist as his next release will be a 12″ single recorded with Marcus Fischer, out in August on Optic Echo.

Music: Marcus Fischer – 7.30.12 at Arbor Suite

After I stumbled across this recording on his Soundcloud page, I sent a message to Marcus Fischer via Twitter to find out what this “Arbor Suite” was. The best guess I could come up with via Googling was that he had spent some time in a hotel room to do a recording. I was way off. Fischer replied that “it’s my studio! It is up above my garage, next to a big ~100 year old walnut tree.”

I can think of no better place to create a piece of pastoral wonder as this delicate improvisation. I love that you can hear ambient noises popping up in the mix: the click of effects pedals getting triggered, voices off in the distance (or are those samples? or is that a cat?), the buzz of an amplifier. Those little intrusions take nothing away from what he’s created here. They are the ballast, keeping you rooted to the ground as he takes you floating into his self-made ether.

Music: Unrecognizable Now – Two Rooms

As with a lot of the best experimental fare, the story of how the new album by Unrecognizable Now, the duo project of Marcus Fischer and Matt Jones, was recorded is as important as the sounds they created.

The title Two Rooms (out now on the UK label Kesh) is a reference to the fact that the pair set up shop in the basement of an office building downtown. The musicians then put microphones at either end of a concrete hallway, then took their instruments and amps into another and started playing. The music they captured as a result sounds as you would imagine: ghostly and ethereal, warm and delicate. You can almost feel it around you, as if you were in another room or the floor above in the same building being lulled to blissful slumber by the music.