Friday, December 23, 2011

Selected Ambient Works vol. 2


People like to hate on christmas, venting about capitalism, christianity, family traumas, and other right-wing cacodemons. There is a lot to despise, and it is easy to get washed away in a grinch-green tidal wave of elitism and misanthropy.

Oddly enough, i have managed to dodge the bitterness bus this year; being far, far away from any kind of roots or history, being so far outside of mainstream society that i am just like a kid, agape in wonder at the window of some FAO Schwartz. I have been awash in sensuality, in aesthetics, marvelling at the christmas lights staining the misty evenings, watching hordes of drunken santa clauses take over the streets of SW Portland. Its been an oddly beautiful time, in my life.

This time of year always reminds me of another important, but weird, landmark in my evolution, that is far removed from families and egg-nogs; i started taking psychedelic drugs on christmas. I dropped acid for the first time on christmas, with a flickering candle-lit angel burning itself into my own private mythology. As we get into the opening stages of Capricorn, i feel the elegiac hum, a silent and timeless grace descend like a blanket of heavy Chicago snow, a feeling of REAL religiosity, that is weakly imitated by the hallmark holiday.

Around this time of year, my former wife and i would commemorate this anniversary, liked to hallucinate and trip out on the christmas lights. We had an abysmal daily grind, but loved each other tremendously while on these higher vibrations, and still do. One time, after going through a particularly rough spell, we dropped some acid and listened to Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works vol II', which has remained in steady rotation ever since, and decided that it was the best christmas music of all time. It was like we were able to see each other with fresh eyes, forget all the hurtful words and bullshit plastic holiday hustle and bustle, we were quiet, serene and timeless, whispering words that echo through lifetimes, through decades, and i hear them, even now. They remind me of the changing of the seasons, of timeless values like love and warmth and family, and i am child-like and in wonder, in my heart.

This music always reminds me to feel that way, far-away ghostly bells that are innocent but alien and eerie, at the same time. I had a friend get mad at me for lending him these disks, at one point, he had some sort of astral projection dream where he was whisked away to some alien airport, where he was being menaced. So if you like that kind of thing, i would recommend checking this out! These discs are some of the most gorgeous, emotional ambient minimalism i have ever heard. I have listened to them 150,000, and i never get tired of them. They plunged me into the deep end of ambient deep listening, an insatiable hunger for atmospheric sounds to stain the night air, to stain the shadows of my mind, until my dreams flicker and flame like a tree top angel.

Many of you have probably heard these before, but i would advise giving them a spin, beneath colored lights, perhaps with someone you love and trust. Have a quiet conversation, watch the spaces between the words. I will be playing both discs, on dec. 25th, to commemorate the occasion, and perhaps some of you can join me in the ritual, wherever you may be.

Friday, December 16, 2011

House Show @ House of Good Spirits


A two-fer today, as i've been seeing boatloads of amazing music, and i happen to have a computer in front of me.

Received a last minute message from Million Brazillions, wondering if we would be able to host a show over here at Goat's Head Manor. The notice was short, and we were not able to comply, but thankfully they got it together, and did it at their place instead, a magickal spot in NE Portland sometimes known as the House of Good Spirits (H.O.G.S.). The line-up was 3 moons (Jeffrey from Fake Hospital), Baronic Wall, Harsh Niar, and Smoke on the Water.

Jeffrey is a new friend of mine, and is totally kicking out some sweet music these days. Interesting ideas, interesting textures, messy and cheap, just the way i like it. Last night, he was playing a battered classical guitar, through a spaghetti array of effects; singing through a microphone that looked like a guitar pick-up, that gave a cool cracked transistor radio effect, slathered in delay and echo. For some reason, i kept thinking of Jandek, although this music was much more colorful. Sort of like the cover for Ready for the House, put on a paint spinner.

Baronic Wall up next, who was having a barrage of technical complications. I listened to his wall of guitar noise through the wall of the house, having a fascinating conversation with Suzanne from White Gourd (mentioned previously), about embodying the major tarot arcana.

Harsh Niar, is Sewn Leather playing with a guitar player. Sewn Leather makes a distinctive cassette stomp, gnarled and trashy in the best possible way, playing tape loops through a ghetto blaster that looks like he got it from Chris Carter off of Ebay, and doing vocals over top, also through a barrage of cheap FX. He has made trashy cheap homemade into an art-form, almost a dogma, an aesthetic, that is not replicable by digital processors. He is waving his freak flag high, and i truly get the sense that he DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK. I like that. I also like his sounds. The beats crunch in just the right way, blasting off the cassettes, and he looked and sounded tremendous in this funky living room, with a giant stuffed bear and python in the corner.

Finally, Smoke on the Water, where some dude sat on stage and let a Gibson guitar feedback while he took gravity bong rips from a Nancy's yogurt container, while he occasionally played the 7 notes from Smoke on the Water. It turned into a test of wills, as he played for 20-30 minutes, and the obstinate noise freak in me was activated. I can outlast ANY performance artist. I have listened to 24 hours of Throbbing Gristle. I looked through their stellar VHS collection. I listened to the feedback. I'm pretty sure i caught a contact high.

I am so tremendously excited to be living here, to be meeting adventurous musicians and artists and metaphysicians. Not only am i meeting so many inspiring people, they are friendly! There is a sense of inclusion, here, or maybe i've surpassed some test in myself, that has made my artistic aspiration go from being distant pipe dreams to a burning napalm core of every breath that i take.

Thanks to all the awesome bands, the awesome house, the awesome dog Ratchet. Thanks to my new friends. Thanks to the city of Portland, and the unexpected sunlight today.

Fever, Dead Ship Sailing; 12.14.11 Ella St. Social Club, Portland, Or.


Been getting into a good flow, making music and producing records during the day, hitting the streets at night, getting the chi moving, getting my head clear. Meeting other musicians, watching tons and tons of bands, a continual flow of new ideas, perspectives, approaches, and i return late in the night frothing at the mouth, ready to take on the next batch of challenges.

Arrived late at Ella St., (as usual), missed a set from Pale Tourist, which is unfortunate, as a few were raving, and it was apparently their last show, due to transpersonal conflict. The singer seemed assured that they would rise from the ashes.

Fever must've named themselves after the Nancy Sinatra song, they were a white hot blast of dripping southern heat in the spidery Northwestern chill. They sounded like Marc Ribot's solo on 'Jockey Full of Bourbon' dragged from the vinyl, and extended over 45 minutes. There was nothing mutant about their soul; they were just a tight, powerful five piece, festooned in black. Dare i say, classic? The Amy Winehouse comparisons are probably inevitable, with the shadowy tattoed presence of front-woman Natalie Valentine, but she seems less tattered; more Grace Slick than Janis Joplin. Her voice was clear, pure and strong, even if the lyrics were hard to understand, and it was perfectly ornamented by the impeccable mood and tone of the musicians; the barbed-wire surf twang of Timothy Valentine, the sexy bass-throb from Dhananjaya Zakheim, and even an organist in a pork-pie hat, as the icing on the fucking cake. Fever are straight up soul revival, not trying to re-invent the 45, and they had me swaying like Audrey Horn in the back of the room.

Last, but not least, Dead Ship Sailing, from Seattle. This was apparently their first show, ever, and i see interesting things for this band. They sort of sounded like Jesus and Mary Chain jamming with Suicide, two of them on guitars with an invisible drum machine clanking out vintage beats. Backlit by scathing white light, the pair cut a striking duo of silhouettes on-stage, becoming androgynous angels of rock 'n roll. Stream-lined, stripped down, sleek and barbituated; urbanity in its most guttural.

During their set, i was kicked back in the corner, reading James Joyce's 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man'. There was an endless rampage of infernal imagery, as a young Joyce fears and trembles for his mortal soul, after discovering the filthy joys of sex. Images of blackless caverns of never-ending despair, heaps of the damned, writhing in filth and flatulence, as i squinted in the dim light of Ella Street's antiquated light fixtures. That's one of the things i love most about this venue, is they can rock out, but you can also just chill, have a conversation, read a book. They play sweet music during set-breaks. The people are nice there. It doesn't tend to be too crowded, and the jukebox does not overpower conversation. It is a perfect spot for me to get out of the house, get some thinking and some writing done, and hear consistently fucking awesome music.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

French Quarter


A brief pause, from the recent barrage of reviews, to post something from my record collection. The input jack on my groundscored mp3 player went defunct, and i can no longer add any music, so i've got about 30 records that comprise most of my daily life. This is one of them. Its sort of a combination of a confidante, a security blanket, and a suit of armor.

I first became aware of Stephen Steinbrink, here recording under the name French Quarter, in Denver, where i saw him at the ever-funky Rhinocoperolis. My friend told me, 'he sings like an angel,'! He may have an angelic throat, but his heart burns with the fires of Tartarus. His veins flow with venom, but also honey.

These ten songs contain both innocence AND experience, romance AND hatred, and all the blurred margins in between. They convey the complexities of relationships, of living, which is very rarely black or white. The bitter really laces the sweet, a tangy and visceral listening experience, that has become my constant companion.

French Quarter addresses one of the most re-occurring questions in my listening habits: What seperates the wheat from the chaff? Why does one folksy singer/songwriter soar like icarus, while others fall like some embarrassing open mic mishap? Its all about taste and texture, on this record. Overdubbed guitars, sneaking in and out, at times sounding like slinky Ethiopiques out-takes, like on 'Debt', or the Arvo Part-like vocal chorales of 'Judgement', that sing like angels of the pit, of some of the most bitter and scathing lyrics i have ever heard. This one track, let alone the other 9 which are also brilliant, have helped me through some REALLY dark times, and there is hardly a day which passes without its gracing my headphones.

Being stuck with only 30 records to choose from, is forcing me to become intimate and familiar with them, and they really are becoming like friends, cheerleaders, philosophers. I am getting a chance to really delve and let myself become moved and influenced by this wonderful music, and this one is my particular favorite, which is why i posted it first. You can pretty much expect to see the rest of them here, in the near future, although you never can know what to expect, here at J's Heaven.

The Ghost Ease @ Ella St. Social Club; 12.12.11


Another fine evening at the Ella St. Social Club, confirming my suspicion that this hole in the wall ex-mortuary is my new home in Portland. Both shows i have seen there have been mesmerizing, and both times i have had friendly, cooperative conversations, like real human being status. There was even eye contact!

I have my buddy Jake for getting me to this one. I was on the ropes, reeling from my non-stop ambition, fatigued and road-burned, ready to give up the ghost and listen to Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips on Audio Book and pass out instead. Jake kept me honest, true to my samurai path of musical willpower and unflagging reserves of energy. I felt better as soon as we hit the streets.

Missed the first band, got there in time to catch The Ghost Ease from right here in Multinomah County; a fair skinned young woman, dressed in black, perched atop a tom-tom drum.

Inwardly, i groaned a bit: here was yet another solo delay pedal troubadour. I feel like i've seen about fifty of them in the last two weeks. I talked myself out of a tizzy, however, calling upon my credo of journalistic integrity to realize that judging someone cuz they are using a looper pedal, is sort of like judging someone cuz they're playing the guitar: you can do a lot of different things with the instrument. It seems samples and loopers are here to stay, and it is our job to figure out how to use this new tool, and some people are doing some incredible things, truly melding with their technology to do some interesting shit.

The Ghost Ease are doing some interesting shit. She has a lovely voice, and interesting lyrics, from what i could hear. She could effortlessly harmonize with herself, and would flow into birdlike trills, to make gorgeous and harmonically interesting choral symphonies, out of thin air. She also had a pile of noisemakers around her: tambourine, maracas,bottles, even a hammer dulcimer, which she used to construct her pyramids of sound. Lastly, but not leastly, a totally unshakeable stage presence. At one point, she lost her entire arragement from her pedal. She calmly asked if we minded if she began again. Cool as a cactus, but pleasant-like also. Totally glad that my friend got me out into the Dec. evening, and he was totally stoked on it as well. Did i mention this show was free?

The piece-meal layering of live looping lends itself to a swelling, hypnotic reverie. A Samuel Taylor Coleridge Mon. night on the town. The various sonics and textures lock up and intersect, forming clockwork gears in the imagination. I began to sway and weave in my candle-lit seat, losing myself, leaving my body behind, my cares, my worries. The music eroded my workaday manic consciousness, putting me in a pleasant theta wave trance, and in this lull, this woman directly plugged her emotions, her experiences, her interior, directly into my gaping soul. This is music for whispering, music for hiding beneath the covers, in the hope that everything will be all better, upon emerging. It is psychedelic and totally, bewitchingly ethereal, but there is a human, beating heart, at the center of its maelstrom.

The Ghost Ease have three albums available, on BandCamp. I totally dig her shit.

BandCamp
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*edit: i originally got the band name wrong, confusing The Ghosties, also from Portland, with The Ghost Ease. Necessary information has been amended, my feelings and observations on the music remain the same.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Concert Review: Barry Brusseau, Jin, Leah B, J and LIly, others; Goat's Head Manor; 12.10.11

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times


This was my second official house show, living at Goat's Head Manor, a house venue nestled in lovely south east Portland, Or. We only have one residential neighbor, and noise complaints are scarce, so we're able to get pretty primal.
This time, we were trying to steer in a new direction, bringing in quieter, listening music, as well as pandering to the party crowds, that usually come to our parties. The preparations were the most elaborate of any show, so far: we moved all the furniture in the living room, and made a sweet floor-sit space, hung up lovely fabric and lights, courtesy of GuildWorks (thanks Mar!) We worked really hard, tried to set up something special, to allow space for some exquisite music to take place.

My friend Lily and i kicked off the festivities, a short but very sweet and very rewarding set that people seemed to like. She used to live here, and for months we would sit on the front porch, drink endless cups of coffee, learn songs, talk about everything under the Milky Way. This set was a culmination of that phase, with her playing some nylon string guitar, and i played atmospheric gazey electric over top. We played mostly covers, with one original: we played songs by Mazzy Star, Sneaker Pimps, Sia, and The Delgados. I thought we sounded tremendous, especially considering the raw nature of the material and performance, being more spontaneous and less rehearsed. Its some of the best music i've been involved in, to date, and i'm totally stoked to finally be getting into thick, rich textural music, that i've been secretly nursing in my marrow for years.

me and lily


My good friend Leah Bodenhamer played next, successfully bridging the cosmic and the earthly, as only she can. One woman, one voice, one guitar, this was raw, intimate, and very real. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and she totally rose to the occasion, surpassing nerves, sound problems, and atmospheric disturbances to conjure something sublime. A bunch of her classmates from the School of Forest Medicine were in attendance, and Leah left the stage, to sit amongst the audience, and lead everbody in some plant songs, frequently relinquishing the lead role, to become a voice amongst many. There was clapping, homemade rattles and shakers, a bit of stomping. The atmosphere began to shimmy and shake, the air became electric, shaded with the holy spirit, and i had that blessed sense of fulfilling my person, to help facilitate these musickal magickal moments to go off. Rock 'n roll church, indeed!

Next, and best for me, was the impeccable Barry Brusseau, featured previously here at J's Heaven. Getting him to do his thing at our house was what made me think of doing an intimate acoustic show in the first place. As usual, his detail and finesse were in evidence, with a liquid light show playing against the dripping windows. The room looked lovely, and a bunch of people showed up to see his set, seated comfortable on pillows and cushions all over the floor. The sound could have been a little better, as i couldn't hear his vocals that well, but even muddied up i was impressed by how polished and pristine his songs are, singing through different mics at different times, to have different effects. His classical guitar (so many classical guitars, in one house at one time!) was running through a classy Marshall acoustic amplifier, his tone was dry and delectable, hardly amplified at all. It is his presentation is what always strikes me about this guy, tone mood texture nuance clarity control. I'd also like to give a shout to his drummer, who hits all the right notes at all the right times. He can mute a crash cymbal like a classical pianist! For all the trials and tribulations, it was worth it to see Barry Brusseau in my living room, watching from a couch where i used to sleep. Labor of love, indeed.

The house was getting pretty packed, at this point, and i began to recede to the margins, watching in awestruck fascination as the party vibes from the dj's in the basement began to take over while Jin, a solo act, played every instrument under the sun, looping himself tastefully as he played guitar fiddle trumpet and other things, a one man gypsy troupe. It was getting hard for me to pay attention, but i liked what i heard, and will listen further.

At this point, the faceless party masses pretty much took over, and the whole house was elbow to elbow. Pretty awesome techno took place in the basement, courtesy of my roommate Jonah Lee, with my new friend Ky taking a spin behind the decks for a while as well. There was a 9 piece bluegrass that played in the basement, but i didn't see any of them, too many damn people.

We have this problem, here at Goat's Head, when we throw a party, and try and do something awesome, it ends up overrun by people we don't know. It degenerates into pure drunken debauch. During the course of the evening, we lost a whole bunch of holy holies, including my tarot cards and medicine pouch, as well as a beautiful glass piece. Someone stole a jade buddha, from the upstairs bathroom. Someone broke a mirror. If anyone has any of these items, i would HIGHLY ADVISE you give them. You can even leave them on the front porch, no questions asked. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE FUCKING WITH.


You cannot steal magick, it must be earned.

For many many years, i toiled away in solitude, crying out with all my heart for a scene to be involved with, to meet other musicians, to go to awesome shows, to throw awesome shows of my own. I would read with yearning stories from New York, from Chicago, from places that seemed so inaccessible. Miracle of miracles, and i fell into this sweet spot in Portland, and there's so much good shit going on AT ALL TIMES! So many people who give their whole lives, their whole hearts, just to make some good art, something of worth, that speaks to the finer things, aspires to higher truths. People are going to extraordinary lengths, and often times JUST GIVING IT AWAY, or for dirt cheap (like Barry Brusseau's record for 10 bucks.) I mean, we made 7 bucks at this show. We are not capitalists.

And then you go into someone's home and fuck it all up, and steal their precious things. What the fuck is wrong with you?!? Its time to wake the fuck up. Like, now. Any society that operates outside the norm must be responsible for itself. We must be accountable for our own actions, if we are to survive. I have total sympathy, i've done a bunch of fucked up shit, in my own life, and i am no saint now, by any imagining. If you don't feel good about doing something, don't do it. If you are mindless, and not paying attention, wake up! If these venues shut down, there is no place for awesome music to happen, and we will be left with strip mall limbo. Trust me, i come from strip mall limbo, you DO NOT want that to happen.

But, all in all, i met a bunch of awesome people, and saw a bunch of awesome music, and participated in some sweet jams, later on! For me, those cards are just cardboard, and i will get more. For the person that would take such a thing, take a look at yr life. This is a wake up call.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cotton

Cotton are a twee-some threesome group of livingroom misanthropes from Portland, Or. They are currently J. Han, Abe Wallis, and Cait Olds. This eponymous record is their third.

You've probably heard music like Cotton before. You may have even heard people who were better at it. The question is: Why should i listen to Cotton?

There are a number of answers to this question. First off, if you are already partial to confessional lo-fi folk pop, this is right up yr alley, and will make yr weekend.

Next, perhaps you are partial to obscure, unknown acts, possibly from friends and neighbors. DIY or die, and all that; if that be the case, than Cotton will also make yr weekend, and probably the week following.

Lastly, if you are already fond of the sound of twangy, biting acoustic guitars; twangy, biting sarcastic lyrics; bleepy synths and arid drum machines; if you have EVER listened to Young Marble Giants, if reading Elvis Costello lyric sheets is yr idea of a nice evening, than this will make yr 'Best of 2011' list.

As to why i give a shit about this band; i discovered them at a house show where i encountered the remarkable Barry Brussea, discussed earlier. I missed their set, unfortunately, but J. Han was kind enough to slip me a classy looking white paper sleeve, containing 10 songs. I was already leaning towards writing about bands i've seen, people i meet; there's so many fucking bands in Portland, i could fill 5 blogs with that alone. I gave their music a fair shake, but i am under no sort of obligation to like everything that passes through my fingers, and to be fair, this is not really music i would listen to every day. But, for the sake of journalistic integrity, and as i have been putting this post together, i have found many jewels under the creamy bed clothes of this humble, homespun record. There are interesting lyrics, unexpected twists and turns, such as 'lately you've been coming around/now my cock's hard as a fist.' on 'Mental Halitosis'. Gotta be quick here, kids, gotta pay attention. This music is sharp... it jabs. It really does remind me of the scathing moments of Elvis Costello's early material, mainly in its burning sarcasm. But just little things, like the tasty origami-logo on the cover, or the dusty little reverb on the organ on 'Pop - Ciclz'. These are the things which perk up my ears, then the intelligent and revealing lyrics rope me in, and i'm done, fallen under the spell of sublime pop music, yet again.

And lastly, the album opener, 'The Ghost' is elegiac perfection; simply arpegiatted guitar chords and ringing baritone vocals, as bells (literally) and organs caress their ways in and out. Two thumbs up, and well worth the price of admission, alone.

This is talented music by real people. Not re-inventing the wheel, but using the spokes to great effect. Hope it ripped properly, i suck at the whole tagging thing.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some Love for the Streets



Its amazing how often this track gets me through my days, gets me off my ass, out into the gray streets and gray skies of Portland, Or. The original is sweet, Slugabed's gnarly atari remix is also sweet. This track can be found on the Ninja Tune XX box set, and big ups to the always excellent Electronic Explorations podcast, for turning a brother on.
Thanks for the memories, pal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Concert Review: Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Tenses, Fake Hospital, White Gourds; Ella St. Social Club, Portland, OR


Egads, this place was hard to find! Turns out there's a SW 20th Place as well as a Street, and its one block south of Burnside, for some reason. This mission turned from, 'i'm gonna put on my boots and go to the show,' to 'i'm gonna go wander around in the shadowy nether-regions of Portland, racking my brain, mentally calculating how many amplifiers i can run with my sundry delay pedals.' En route, i listened to Skullflower, Jim O' Rourke, Future Islands, and The Beastie Boys, as i trekked through the damp chill of the Nov. evening. I was in prime condition for a noise show.
Ella St. Social Club is an old mausoleum; the walls flat burgundy, classy antiquated light fixtures cast cream dimness across the ceiling. The neon wurlitzer was playing 'Where is my Mind,' by the Pixies, before segueing into Cab Calloway, and i realized that i had found my new home in Portland!
Arriving early, the only people milling about were the performers for the evening. Eavesdropping, i listened to people about to depart for Los Angeles or Australia; watching people loading in gongs and record players. I felt at home in this world, in that moment; thanked my lucky stars for being an underground music junkie. Four awesome bands for five bucks. The guy at the door felt bad for taking my last five dollars on earth, and i glowingly told him i would give my last five bucks for awesome music, every time.
Tenses (featuring members of Smegma) played first, manipulating tabletop guitar and turntable to manifest soupy birdcalls and crackling hymns from thin air. People say that Ella St. is haunted, that the black drapery behind the stage conceals an elevator used for transporting the bodies for viewings. I like to think the spirits were given voice this evening; spectral vocals over the PA, from long ago and far away.
There was a sense of respectability during this set, more art house than sweaty basement show, as Smegma have been peddling their free noise associations since 1971. Finesse and nuance were in full effect, the two improvisors paying close attention, playing off of one another, against the backdrop of random images projected onto a screen. In this kind of music, its all about the subtleties, like the guitarist occasionally putting down his ax to play a bit of muted trumpet or windchimes, to seperate the gold from the endless leaden onslaught of mediocre harsh noise. There is nothing like age and experience, and i vowed to take a couple of notes from my elders.
I returned from a hurried meal at the Fred Meyer's across the street (another badass venue near a Fred Meyer's! Is this a trend in Oregon...) to bells and the sultry sounds of alto saxophone, creeping across the night as i smoked cigarettes i found in the ashtray. Returning inside, i found a lone woman in a cloak, performing against a backdrop of Atu IX, The Hermit, as she solicited a series of tones and squeaks from a saxophone, wind chimes, bowed gong, before climaxing into a bloodcurdling banshee wail, and looping the sound of ceremonial swords, sharpening. A+ for presentation and mood, however her loops were a little choppy and in this saturated world of antisocial looper artists, you have to be REALLY fucking good at what you do, to pull it off. Trust me, i am a novice sampler myself, i can't pull it off yet, either. This young lady is potent, and i will be watching expectantly to see what comes next.
I knew i was in for a treat when the third band pulled out a Dream Machine! Fake Hospital, also from Portland pulled off a set of middle-eastern trance panic pandemonium; clarinet, bamboo flutes, delay pedals and pulsating loops woven masterfully and magickally to coalesce in an event horizon of moment, slo-motion movement, reality running backwards, like flickering celluloid, stained technicolor with a psychedelic light show. Brian Jones would have been utterly stoked, as these two fine fellows brought a hint of vines and the rustle of bird-calls to the damp chilly evening. I could practically feel the Jaguar's breath, on the back of my neck.
Last, but not least, Spencer Clark's Monopoly Child Star Searchers. Spencer's infamous in the glorious glo-fi underworld, hypnagogic hierophant of Skater's fame, i was definitely not gonna miss this, but truly and utterly did not know what to expect. I've listened to MCSS quite a bit (see here for previous analysis) and had been bewitched by his plasticine bedroom devotional newage. He ended up playing a set of Atari gamelans, swooning keyboards pads and taiko drum samples, cresting like waves while you sip some cliche tropical drink. Except that drink would be laced with ayahuasca, because escapist easy-listening xxxotica this is not. Its cheap and funky and inspired, a stoned teenager's astral journey over antiquated National Geographics. In a way, this music is even more potent and beautiful than that which it is emulating, stodgy dusty field recordings from distant lands, because it makes no attempt at being authentic. This is music of the imagination, and the imagination is a powerful thing.
* * *


As i faded away into the city streets, high on hope and possibilities, i reached the conclusion that this was one of the favorite performances i've seen so far. Just the perfect combination of ambiance, inspired music, obscurity, and the random nature of how i ended up there in the first place. The people were all super friendly and accessible, most artists and musicians in their own right, eager to exchange ideas and contact information. It was like a cool breeze after dealing with the infernal heat of spiky metalheads, and i melted into the shadows, to collect bottles and cans.

Ella St. Social Club is the fucking shit, a total gem, and they have music almost every night of the week, often times for free. Their jukebox fucking rules, and i'm told their drinks are reasonably priced, although that has no relevance in my world. If you live in Portland, you should go there all the time. You'll probably see me there!

Monopoly Child Star Searchers

Tenses

Fake Hospital

White Gourd

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Concert Review: Antikythera, Hungers, Sloths, Aerial Ruins @ Antikythera House & Megaton House, Portland, Or



Six awesome bands, split between two awesome houses, smack dab in the middle of bleak, strip-mall sprawl, way the fuck out there in Northeast Portland. I was totally stoked to be seeing some noisemetalpunk, after a summer of forests and faery lights.
I killed some time in the monolithic Fred Meyer's across the way, bringing some nice french bread and bananas as my suggested donation; a novel concept for metalheads, who usually subsist on hops barley and adrenaline. I arrived in time for the first act, in the basement of the Antikythera, a solo acoustic act called Aerial Ruins, the solo project of one Erik Moggridge. The basement was steeped in infernal ambience, dripping red light, deer skulls suspended from the ceiling. Moggridge cast a dark circle, initiating the evening; a lone voice, suspended in cough syrup, creaking like old wood; a single guitar, anchoring it to this world. Like a haunted barn, or a cermony in the middle of a pine forest. Ethereal, yet rustic, these are the sounds i am obsessed with; that defy easy categorization and comfortable labels. It demands attention, to belch forth its treasures. It makes people uncomfortable. Hipsters out for a good time, or looking for a quick fuck on a Sat. night, are not necessarily wanting to be swallowed up in an amniotic cocoon of steel and string and teeth and venom; but for the devotees, his music will transport you. The 45 minutes of his set almost uncannily echoed what was writhing in my soul, and allowed me to be present for the rest of the evening, with all my mental confusion and exhaustion i was experiencing. He was kind enough to slide me a copy of his album, for review, so expect to hear more of this fellow, here at jsheaven.
Next up were Hungers, who summoned a gelatinous wall of headbang, like a hurricane of sparks and light, with a fragrance of wet fur; gently slamming you to yr knees, perhaps in gratitude, perhaps in preparation for execution. I was so keyed up from having to actually SPEAK to HUMANS, prying words like splinters of tinsel from eyeballs, and it was hard to get lost in their sound. I liked their mood and their tone, and i think they're from around here, so i'll have to check them out some more, and give them my undivided attention.

Sliding over to the Megaton basement to catch Sloths, who brought the much needed death twitch spazz release, tight and intricate as a trap door spider's machinations.

Here's a recap:
2 headbutts;

1 elbow to larynx;

3/4 waltz;

Insect Warfare Backpatch;

Pretty girl in white dress, slamming into my ribcage;

pogo;

fall, get up;

sweat;


My vision was greying out, and my chest felt tight, but i felt entirely free from fear. My body could be damaged, but you can never touch ME. I was entirely free. The whole night, i was watching my personality squirm like a tequila worm on a hot-plate, dealing with insecurity and jealousy and anxiety and poor nutrition, but i was the eye of the hurricane, always observing. I heard someone say, 'i'll always get my ass kicked for metal,' and that pretty well sums it up. This music is not about being comfortable. Its about pushing yrself and being strong. This night was the real shit, the total underground. Wild and unhinged. Sloths pulled me out of my 'objective journalist' headspace, and cast me down into the pit, reminded me of my quintessence.

Back to the first house, arrived early and listened to Growing over the house PA, pleasantly silent and calm now. Waiting for Antikythera to play, watching them set up. Watching people being uncomfortable in the silence. Jesus Lizard coming on the stereo giving me a sense of what i was about to get into.

Antikythera are more than the sum of their influences, however. I can definitely tell the presence of Swans Jesu Godflesh Melvins Nadja in their collective record collections, but theirs was a distinctive aesthetic; their own voice. The presence of analog synth kicking out the low end, along with multiple signal paths from the guitar, going into a mountain of Orange amps the size of Giza, all held down to earth by leaden drums, there to beat down whatever hope may spring eternal.

The sound was fucking tremendous. I felt eternally grateful to be a devotee of the underground, even if i was wading through a river of psychic vomit for much of the evening. It was like walking in on a Bardo Pond gig, or Acid Mother's Temple, but paid for with bananas and you can get to know the bands a bit, afterwards. This is my life, and i will gladly give every ounce of sweat and blood for these sounds, these bands.

For a decade, i have been battling with mind-splitting passion for albums and concerts battling with jealousy bordering on hatred, wanting so badly to be making music of my own. I feel the personality striving to coalesce around a particularly image or idea or persona, hoping to alleviate this malaise of insecurity, caught in a catch 22 rat's nest of mediocre art, mediocre writing, and i am left, bashing my head bloody against the fucking wall. This constant devotion to shamanic house show sat. nights, has brought me eye to eye with unavoidable truths about myself, and i have no choice but to see, and to move forward.

All 4 bands i saw were top-notch, talented and hungry. The real shit. They're still unknown, and if yr in the Portland area, available to be seen frequently and probably cheaply. Both venues are also sweet, and well worth the venture on the Max, even if it seems a long ways away (its not that bad, they're like 2 blocks of the 99th/Gateway MAX stop. I didn't get to catch Megaton Leviathan or Drunk Dads, whom i'm sure were both stupendous, but i had to dip and catch a train. I'll make sure to catch 'em next time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nintechno


Finally got to attend my first Portland rave. Been a hot damn minute since i went out and danced to some bangin' techno. I've been to some introspective, gallery parties, as well as raves in the forest, but there is something primal in my heart that responds to hot and heavy warehouse parties. Its like its in my genetic, molecularly bonded from my adolescence. I love to watch a packed room sway and sweat.
I volunteered with Dancesafe, which was also a first. It was interesting to see a party from the other side of the table, to be there as a venerable elder, of sorts. Got a lot of love and appreciation. That was the main, discernable difference from my younger days of Jungle Warfare. Everybody very friendly, very open. Young people in neon and fur and body paint, meeting their friends. Sociable. People in Chicago would dress in black and go into their K Hole. I found that openness, that community very good for the music, for the scene, and i am very excited and grateful to hook into this community, as well as working further with DanceSafe. I think its a cool thing that they're doing. Information is power, and raves save people's souls. Free yr body. Free yr mind.
Musically, i found it interesting, watching the different permutations of dubstep, electro, and techno. Again, much brighter, happier, funner than what i'm used to, what i've seen in other parts of the country. There was a techno room and a dubstep room. The bleedthrough was a little disorienting, and at times it was like listening to 4 tracks at once. Between that, and people constantly flowing back and forth, it was a little hard to get into the zone. But hey, people in Portland are on the move, checkin' shit out! It was all for the good, all for the fun, and i walked out at 4 in the morning, glowing like 3 mile island. Walked home through industrial wasteland, past bag manufactures and people sleeping on the sidewalk. Walked by the Rose Quarter, walked by the Willamette River, and felt at home.
Thank you portland. Thank you gbe productions. Keep up the good work! I will be back.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Concert Review: Tune-Yards @ Wonder Ballroom; Portland, OR. 11.21.11


In all my years as a makeshift journalist, this was the first time i ever actually got into a show for free. I had been e-mailing with Arrington de Dionysio, who was opening for TuNe-YaRds and Pat Jordache, at the Wonder Ballroom. Ended up getting on the guest list, at the last moment, under the false moniker J Andrews.

Didn't make it in time to see Malikat Dan Singa, which i really regret, but my buddy and i were holed up in the belly of Goat's Head Manor, summoning EVP noise collage; sometimes, you can't stop the flow. Better late than never, i got to see Arrington before the show, apologize for my tardiness, thank him for the admission, bullshit about Indonesia and trance music. He told me enjoyed the article i'd written, and that i was a talented writer. Between the guest spot, the noise music, the compliment, and the hilarity with my friend on the way over, i was sittin' on top of the world!

TuNe-YaRdS managed to pack the Wonder Ballroom; which is a large, antiquated ballroom with swank lighting and decor, nice wooden floors. Sounds excellent. Classy. Pretty good for a rainy Portland Mon. evening. I was somewhat familiar with their work, with their reputation, but i had no idea they were such a big deal, had such a large following. They sold out the show, and totally rocked the joint.

Pat Jordache was the first band that i saw. They had two drummers, and stage names. They reminded me of when i used to see Death Cab for Cutie, back in the day, playing small clubs. Both young indie bands, hungry, focused, ready to bring it to the next level. These guys are going places!

TuNe-YaRdS brought the Kenyan by way of Merriweather Post Pavilion sun worship. Front-woman Merrill Garbus began the ritual with an accapella chant, recalling everything from Billie Holiday to Bjork to Beth Gibbons, before segueing into a chorale of disembodies vocal loops. She is one of the smoothest, most talented live loopers i've seen thus far, singing and playing drums, looping and accompanying herself, with a tight rock band behind her, and a pair of Ethiopiques saxophonists behind her, providing tasty, crunchy horn stabs in the cracks, even harmonizing with each other! The whole band was incredibly tight, well rehearsed; it was one of those magickal nights, with a band on the verge of global conquest, but still playing to the devotees. The cramped quarters, the hot hot heat, the sweat, the uplifting trance music... all congealed to create a shimmery technicolor invocation, and had me calling out to my ancestors in gratitude. I belong to the coolest church in the galaxy.

Over burritos, i had an interesting conversation with my friend, who was not quite as ecstatic as i was, although he appreciated aspects of the performance. I was drunk on possibilities; he was looking for connection. At this phase of technology and culture, so much is possible, and the humans are getting more adept and virtuosic with the technology; a mechanical ballet. Its saliva inducing, what is possible, and it is so thrilling to watch people explore, master, genuflect. It shall be interesting, the alchemical marriage of plastic shimmer meeting the intimacy of a string quartet, or an electroacoustic improv set. Bombast vs. subtlety? Alien vs. human? As we gain mastery over the tools at our disposal, super-human feats of seeming magick are becoming possible. It shall be interesting, to see where we go from here.

TuNe-YaRdS, Pat Jordache, and Malikat dan Singa will be playing some shows in France, in January. Anyone from France? Check it out!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Public Service Announcement



Got to invoke a long-standing ritual of mine; A Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs, first thing upon waking, Thanksgiving Morning; after a night of making truly epic noise with my roommate jake. First of all, this ritual works best when i actually live somewhere, so as to better access the audio. Secondly, i must have my digital media archive somewhere near me, so as to better access the audio. Sends my mind scrambling to Thanksgivings past, and the inevitable gratitude which follows.

First off, this is the most exciting time of my life, thus far. Shit's coming together, and getting real, real fast. Its all in the service of artmagickculture, and a general optimism and concern for the planet and the living organisms in it (and on other's, for that manner). Living here, at Goat's Head Manor, is giving me the necessary launching pad to blast off into alien climes. While i may not be headed off to a cozy candlelit turkey dinner, with family and friends, i have loads of food in the fridge, coffee to make, cigarettes to smoke, and i'm hunkered down here in the bunker: writing, making records. The tools of production are at my disposal.

I inevitably turn to the year's prior, and while i am pretty cozy up here in my new house, there is a fondness for years living in the van, squatting a warehouse, celebrating holidays by not eating. I appreciate the opportunities available, and i'm not sure i would have that perspective, without the years of privation. So, here's a shoutout to my BFF and soul-sister Angela, i couldn't have made it this far without her. I have become grateful for the years of soul-searing and brow-beating; she would not let me get complacent. She would not allow me to bullshit myself, to stick my head in the sand. She kept tolerating me, and stuffing kindling down my shirt, like a Joan of Arc effigy; until i was finally ready, and the TRUTH swallowed me whole.

Lastly, my internet is somewhat spotty these days, so i will be writing when i can; it will be sporadic and kind of all over the place. I've been mining the depths of my library, recently, and realized that i have a ton of shit that i have collated from the lower rungs of the internet, from over the years. Oddball, eccentric, brilliant, hard to find. I have a lot of stuff, that i spent a lot of time collating. I also have a lot to say, on a wide slew of topics, and due to circumstances, i won't be planning grand conceptual arcs. Its gonna be more like a Jackson Pollock painting! Expect miracles.

Happy thanksgiving, humans. I am grateful for you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Arrington de Dionyso in Indonesia


Arrington's such a badass. He's been bringing the tuvan fire jazz funk ritual reverie since 1995, when he started Old Time Relijun, moving to form the ritual troup malikat dan singa, which i always describe to people as, 'mongolian shamanism fronting a no wave band playing african music.' Now, this descriptor may not mean much to some, but to some of us it goes off like a badly grounded neon sign.

I've had the pleasure of interacting a bit with Arrington, over the summer, due to some mutual acquaintances, and found him to be very real, very accessible, very knowledgeable and passionate about his craft. At one point, i saw him do his thing at Helsing Junction Sleepover, and i had a head full of cobwebs and demons, and he strutted and gyrated and carressed like James Brown, singing lyrics in Indonesian in a throat singing style. I was lost in the movement, lost in the sweat, lost in the throng. He calls it body music. I had no cobwebs or shadows left, when he had finished.

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Arrington just got back from a tour of Indonesia, where he put together a scratch version of Malikat Dan Singa with local musicians, for a series of intense fire jazz gamelan panic attacks. Brian Jones would have been drooling, losing his shit! There are moments, when the musicians are hollering, clapping their hands; they are clearly feeling the spirit. He mostly plays his bass clarinet, over a backing gamelan, all cyclical hypnotic gongs and cymbals, tuned brass, building in freneticism, really getting in there, rising in pitch. It sounds like Albert Ayler jamming in a village square, against a curtain of chirping crickets.

Here's what he has to say about the project:
Hello friend! I am back from a month and a half in Java, Bali and
Lombok. I performed about ten concerts with a new version of Malaikat
dan Singa featuring local musicians, which was an amazing experience,
but perhaps even more incredible I was able to IMPROVISE with some
TRADITIONAL musicians. I've posted two "albums" to my bandcamp site
along with some notes.
"Lombok Island Improvisations" features Gombloh playing the preret, a
double reed instrument used in Sasak/Hindu temple ceremonies, and also
my first experience recording with a Sasak Village Gamelan.
"Trance Music of East Java" features some very raw and sweaty
recordings from two different concerts and a studio session with
"Jaran Kepang" groups, also known as "Kuda Lumping". This is an
incredibly rich and diverse tradition of TRANCE MUSIC involving wild
masks, dancers, and sometimes eye-popping spectacles such as the
eating of glass or live chickens, etc (I didn't actually see any of
that this time but there are plenty of youtube videos showing such
feats).
It goes without saying I feel incredibly honored and fortunate to
have been able to perform with these groups. These recordings
represent an attempt at true cross cultural collaboration, this is not
"objective" ethnomusicology, nor is it exactly "free" improvisation in
the usual sense of the term. Let's say it's the beginnings of what I
intend to be an ongoing engagement and experimentation with
re-imagining HUMAN music in the 21st Century.

All musicians were PAID for performances and recordings, thanks to my
kickstarter fund. I'm pretty damn close to broke upon my return, SO-
PLEASE- Listen, download, share, enjoy the music as much as you like,
consider making a donation of any size to help me continue doing work
like this through the bandcamp site, I'd love to hear any feedback or
questions!

thank you! Arrington de Dionyso
TWO NEW ALBUMS
http://arrington.bandcamp.com/album/lombok-island-improvisations
http://arrington.bandcamp.com/album/trance-music-of-east-java


Listening to these recordings reminds me of going to school in Chicago, first discovering Balinese music, reading about gamelan; trancing out in a corner of the library. I was becoming interested in how all these noisy/experimental electronic sounds i had been listening to were being influenced by traditional music; ethnographical recordings - deep dark mysterious corners of the world, murky field recordings that exploded my mind with visions; modern classical; electro-acoustic; improv free-jazz. I began to connect with so many different strains of humanity: African, Arabic, Chinese, Irish, Moroccan. I gained empathy. I wanted to know what it was like behind their eyesockets. I was falling, further and faster, down the rabbit-hole. I was (and remain) a wide-eyed musical zealot, drooling with appreciation and admiration. An initiate. A devotee.

All these years later, i remain in gratitude and humility, that so many amazing sounds pass through my ear canals, that my imagination is so richly fed.

Arrington has generously shared these records with everybody, for as much or as little as you care to share. This music will take you higher!

If you happen to be in the greater Portland vicinity, tomorrow, 11.21, Malikat dan Singa is opening for tune-yards at the Wonder Ballroom. Come see for yrself.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Esozone Portland 2011


EsoZone Portland is an annual event for mutants, occultniks and other weirdos. This year it’s taking the form of a hybrid conference/unconference.

What's an unconference, you might ask? Good question, i didn't know, either. The FAQ says it like this, 'An event with an agenda set on the fly by the participants. That isn’t to say there is no agenda and no schedule, only that it is created by the people who show up, when they show up, instead of by the conference organizers months in advance.
Sessions are proposed and scheduled by participants in real time, in real space. Sessions enable participants to find people interested in talking about or doing the things they want at Esozone.'


I became alerted to this eventuality it spacetime from a random and auspicious e-mail, lurking in my inbox this morning, from the editor of The Hermetic Library, to whom i had recently submitted an audio collage for inclusion on an occult themed compilation (more on that, real soon!). Totally stoked and immensely curious, i have never experienced a gathering of magickians, chaosites, psychonites, subgenii, discordians, or conceptual arts, even though i've been wandering around this lunatic fringe for over half my life now. It was even happening not far from where i'm staying, and it was free. Not a chance in Tartarus i would miss this!

I arrived a bit late for the lectures, but just in time for the music. Ran into my contact from The Hermetic Library, had an invigorating conversation about digital media, book fetishism, local resources, cohorts and allies, and such. Sucked a quick butt, eavesdropped on junkies and prostitues (no, i am not making this shit up!), arrived inside to the reverberations of the Duke of Uke.

To be honest, when i see a ukulele performance announced, i groan a little internally. I'm sure they're lovely people, and they have poetic, quaint souls, but its so fucking twee, so utterly saccharine, they make my teeth fall out (ha ha). Imagine my delight to encounter an older gentleman with a shaved head and black clothes, sweetly singing college rock staples of yore. The Duke of Uke shredded a set of classics by the likes of The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Iggy Pop, Alanis Morrissette, Amy Winehouse, Jane's Addiction, sung in a clear, unfaltering voice. He even remained unshaken when missing a chord change or flubbing a lyric. He had such a beatific presence, radiated such holy joy at singing and playing these songs that we knew and loved on a misty Portland Fri. night. This was folk music for kids with dyed hair and pierced ears. I felt like i was in the centre of the universe, and that everything is possible.

Reverend doktor dj princess starbright crystal initiatrix
closed out the evening with a seamless ableton mash up set, smoothly moving from Fantomas to frogs chirping, lounge exotica to sludge metal to disembodied vocals to sneaky flute music. He dropped the beat, and dropped me to my feet. I disengaged from the stodgy gallery atmosphere, and my social anxiety, and quietly did the robot in the back of the room. A lot of the time, i'm not a fan of mash-ups, or Patton-esque ADD genre fuck, but this was super smooth, innovative, and thought-provoking. Truly using pre-recorded sound as a pallette and an orchestra, iniatrix has mad skills. I'm totally going to like him on Facebook.

I got over my nerve, and scheduled an unconference for tomorrow (today) at 2:15 pm, in the library, where we will be discussing Music and Magick. If any of you are out there, are in the hood, come on by and drop yr four cents (seriously, i need 4 cents!). Curious to meet other fringe-dwellers interested in exploring consciousness, the powers available from the ritualistic use of sound, and interested in joining forces and minds and hearts and souls. The cosmic egg has split wide open, for me, since finding community of souls, tuned to a sympathetic harmonic, and that i no longer feel an island, operating in a sea of fog.

Esozone, and the Pacific Northwest in general, has got me slavering bloodthirsty excited thrilled inspired! I'll be lucky to get 90 minutes of sleep, this week! Hope to see you there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Tom Waits - Bad As Me


"All Aboard!" hollers the familiar rusty voice, on the caboose of "Chicago", the album opener of Bad As Me, and we are invited to climb on Mr. Waits first collection of original material since 2004's Real Gone. Over the span of 45 minutes and 13 songs, we are given a guided holiday through the unique landscape of Waitsian geography. Working with familiar collaborators such as Marc Ribot, Keith Richards, and his wife Kathleen Brennan, Bad as Me works more as a retrospective than a pioneering expedition, shoring up of a unique musical vision like the banks Lake Ponchartrain.

On "Hell Broke Luce," Tom Waits asks "How many ways can you polish up a turd," and that seems to be a question that he has been investigating for over 30 years. Bad As Me doesn't really break any new ground, like Bone Machine, Swordfishtrombones, or Mule Variations, and at times it seems like he has settled, gotten comfortable, sedantary; a self-caricature, a cliche. But even at the very least, a Tom Waits record is full of intricacies and nuances, gilded to perfection with sublime production, engineering, arrangement. This is not pop music, it is not disposable. It is not meant to be gleaned upon initial contact and quickly forgotten. Every Tom Waits record i have ever heard has become like an old friend, one that you've gotten to know over the span of years, decades even. Complex, deep, like a character in a Raymond Carver short story. As you let the 13 songs of Bad As Me wash over you like the waves of a crystaline pond, its merits unfolds, and it is shown that while Tom is not breaking new ground every 15 seconds, like some rampaging infinite shopping mall, he is a master of his craft. It raises the interesting question of innovation vs. mastery, in this internet day and age, it seems like something has to be totally unique to be worthwhile, even if the innovations are trite, superficial, and even a bad idea. As long as its new... Its like the worst aspects of capitalism. The cult of the new.

Tom Waits has become an old friend for me. I first became aware of his music when Phish would play Mule Variations during set breaks when i was touring with the summer of 1998. His music was the definition of ODDBALL, willfully eccentric, beatnik heir. I appreciated it, but i did not necessarily like it, nor did i listen to it much, in my daily life. It was not until i found myself living in New Orleans, where he has spent much time, when i saw his wise loser mystic beatnik bohemian messiah saints and junkie angels in complex 4D, and his music was blaring from tinny speakers out of every other doorway, when it became REAL. It became comfortable, familiar. I was now living in his universe. I had a jockey full of bourbon and confetti in my hair. I had slipped a rung further down the ladder of madness, and found many heart-stopping moments of poignant inspiration. This music is not for children, it has been around the block a few hundred times. It is like the stray cat in yr neighborhood, that is missing an eye and has kitty herpes, but is sweet as can be, regal and beautiful.

After several dozen considerations, i have decided that Tom Waits has not become a caricature of himself. He is like a grizzled sailor on the Crow's Nest, facing backwards, taking stock of the flat expanse of dark water that he has traversed and travailed. He is shoring up, taking stock, catching his breath, and hopefully blowing minds for another 3 decades.

For those in the greater Portland area, tonight at the LaurelThirst Public House is TOM WAITS for NO ONE, the third annual. A $10 suggested donation, and all proceeds go to The Jeremy Wilson Foundation Musicians Healthcare Fund. A few of my friends will be playing, and it should pretty much be hella rad.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/314578821901112/

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ectoplasm Girls - TxN




Ectoplasm Girls are Tanya & Nadine Byrne, two Swedish sisters who attempt to wake the dead with cassette recorders and sewer beats. Apparently used sound collage and experimental music to help cope with the death of their mother, you can practically SMELL the gelatinous green world that materializes in front of yr eyes while listening.

I've been listening to this relentlessly, all fall, after a favorable and intriguing review in The Wire a couple of months ago. Happened to fall into my playlist as my interest in all things esoteric was re-emerging, and this album has been the soundtrack to many late night somnambulations and cross-eyed seances, beneath the sickly green light of a party bulb. Sort of like a party, sort of like catharsis... these two sisters are really rocking something unique and special here. An intriguing aesthetic, similar to things which have come before, but distinctive, hypnotic, mesmerizing.

As the autumn has descended, getting chillier, darker, wetter, i have been reminded of my darkwave roots, all smoky black candle lit wonder, dark romance alive in my heart, as i wander the streets of this new city, dusty beats all up in my ears, pavement beneath combat boots, candescent phosphorescent street lights cast multiple shadows, as i catch glimpses from the corner of my eyes. Stumbled into a whole new world, a whole new sound, a whole new crop on new and innovative artists that i am entirely, ravenously enthusiastic about! I've been wholly immersed in making my own music, of late, not to mention dealing with some personal issues, so i have not had as much of a chance to post up here, but i've got a bunch of shit that i want to write about, so wait for it!

And apparently, if you purchase TxN from Ideal Recordings, it comes with a free poster, so as always, support good music!

TxN
Info/Order

Monday, October 10, 2011

While You Were Sleeping



Here's another somnambulent mix, for the late night confessionals.

Poetics aside, i'm really pleased with how these discs came out, some really lovely slo burners. A nice introduction to my early holy holies, Dead Can Dance and Cranes, mixed with more recent introductions to the canon like Michael Hurley and Vic Chesnutt. This is music that inspires and drives me, keeps me company while the rest of the world is sleeping. Peel back the curtain, and take a peek into my cellar...

A friend of mine was asleep on the couch, same locale as tender sweet enlightenment, a month before. I was thinking back on all that had gone before, love lost, love regained, love vanishing like some magician's cruel sense of humor. Kicking out the late night vibes, dreamy, mellow, lovely. My friend slept peacefully, breathing regularly. Together but alone.

And here's the real shit, the writing on the wall: what is love, anyway? Is it marriage and procreation? Is it physical? Is it practical? Does it make sense? I fell in love with a girl, doing my best to be bold and follow my instincts. It was timeless and revelatory. It cracked me open like Vesuvius. But the fact of the matter is that i never see this person, she is intensely tied up, living up to her destiny, and i have done my best to be respectful, low pressure, giving space where space is needed.

Then there's this other woman, my awesome soul sister. We drink coffee and smoke cigarettes in the morning, walk around town and make bizarre sound collages and talk about everything under the sun and the moon. Things in motion, unfurling like the banner of some dead empire; springing back to life, flowing with the dusty blood of poets, unfolding into mystery. Radiating in the inky blackness, glowing like a pierced heart, sparking like damaged telephone lines, dead voices reciting.
Undefinable, unknowable. Majestic. Mystical. Regal. Lovely. Something being born...

3 weeks ago, i was dead sure. I had LOVE pegged down, botanically classified. Put under glass. Now, i don't know my ass from a hole in the ground. Doing my best to do the next right thing, the thing in front of me. Right now, it is being honest and vulnerable, and spilling the soundtrack from a beautiful evening, so you can have a soulful night of yr own. From my brain, to yr living room.

Track Listing

1. Slowdive - Souvlaki Space Station
2. Cranes - Watersong
3. Dead Can Dance - The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove
4. Julee Cruise - Into the Night
5. Gregory Alan Isakov - The Stable Song
6. Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine
7. Cat Power - Say
8. Michael Hurley - Troubled Waters
9. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Feeling of Gaze
10. The American Analog Set - The Green Green Grass
11. Kronos Quartet - Psalom (Arvo Part)
12. Cocteau Twins - Oil of Angels
13. The New Year - Sinking Ship
14. Vic Chesnutt - ?

1. Hildur Gudnadottir - Overcast
2. Dreamer's Cloth - The Coconut Pearl B2
3. Flying Saucer Attack - My Dreaming Hill
4. Aerial M - Dazed and Awake
5. Colleen - Floating in the Clearest Night
6. Eluvium - New Animals from the Air
7. Dakota Suite - One Day Without Harming You
8. Thomas Brinkmann - LopLop
9. Hauschka - Weeks of Rain
10. Hauschka - Nadelwald
11. Fursaxa - Firefly Refrain



Friday, October 7, 2011

Somniative

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somniative is a maker of things whose raw materials are culled from places both near and far where the discarded and unused lie, awaiting the sacred return to the realm of human caring and love in celebration of life, beauty, freedom, and joy.

it is thru the merger of these materials and the magic they endure that trifling pieces of finery are created.

may these bring you joy.



Christopher Reitmaier makes beautiful things; installations, music, trifling pieces of finery. His is a unique alchemy; transforming rusty metal from the mojave desert into drool-worthy art, transforming discarded flowers into enormous devotional mandalas. His is an art of seeing, the fine art of living, living a good life, eyes wide open, heart wide open, to all the detritus around you at every moment. He reminds us all that we are constantly surrounded by gorgeous shit.

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Flots-OM Jets-OM is a colloborative show between Christopher Reitmaier and Alison Foshee, @ Scrap. Both artists are experts at re-purposing unremarkable urban bric-a-brac into staggering, oftentimes mind-blowing visions. Both artists have a similar aesthetic, a similar sensitivity. The show looks great in Scrap's gallery space. It is eye-opening and inspiring, to see all the different uses these two come up with, for trash you wouldn't think to look twice at.

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I met Christopher at Pickathon this summer. We instantly connected as human beings. This whole week, as i've been helping him put up this show, making music, hanging out; i've been reminded of being new to this town, of meeting all my new friends, and i've been so grateful to be a part of something so inspiring.

Flots - Om Jets - Om opens tonight, and will be up 'til Nov. Much of the art will be for sale, for a song.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Barry Brusseau - A Night Goes Through (Gorbie International 2011)

A Night Goes Through cover A Night Goes Through Back

Now the heart of this record is the music, but the soul of it is in the senses of sight and touch. It's really hard to achieve the same aesthetic in any other medium. I wanted to make the kind of record you put on your turntable, and then sit down and experience the package. It's that chance to fully express your imagination (both yours and mine). - Barry Brusseau

Portland Singer-Songwriter Barry Brusseau definitely accomplished his goal on his first solo release, A Night Goes Through, released earlier this year on Gorbie International. My friend and i went on a mission to Mississippi records to pick this up, my first day in Portland, and it was permanently situated on the record player, my first week in Portland, scoring many exciting and confusing mornings and evenings, lodged in my head as i explored the streets of the City of Roses.

The packaging of A Night Goes Through is the first thing that catches yr attention, and quite rightly. The record comes with 13 art postcards, one for each song, with a pictorial representation on the front, and the lyrics on the back; each printed on beautiful matte paper. Ghostly images of autumnal trees and childhood photographs creates a mood of longing and nostalgia, a sense of mystery, that perks up the curiosity like raspberries on the tongue, guiding one into the nooks and crannies, the secret heart of the album.

This attention to detail is captured in the music as well, flourishes and nuances, like the call-and-response cello of The Promise, trumpet fanfares on Autumn, or the sweet lead guitar on Thrift Store Buzz
. The talented and sensitive arrangements help Barry Brusseau stand apart from the legions of tepid, uninspired cafe-dwellers, with nothing of import to say. A Night Goes Through is a record that you can spend some time with, gazing at its beautiful artwork, getting to know the lyrics, and vicariously, getting to know Barry Brusseau.

In this day and age of ultimate media glut, it is difficult to seperate the wheat from the chaff, difficult to keep up with the deluge of inspired art that is pouring out every second of every day. Care, quality, and craftmanship are becoming increasingly essential, the bar has been raised, and some are rising to the challenge. I admire this devotion to the music, elevating the world and the people in it by creating something amazing. Barry Brusseau has created something amazing here, saving 50 bucks a week for over 2 years to put this sucker out. He's selling the record for 10 bucks a piece, which seems almost certifiable to me. If yr around town, i'd recommend picking it up at Mississippi Records or Millenium Music, or some other fine purveyor of underground tunage. If yr not from around these parts, pick it up online, tell yr friends, and stop by and visit some of the amazing talent that's going on in the rainy part of the country.

A Night Goes Through is an inspired first release, with potential of even greater things to come. Don't sleep on this one, he only made 300.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Earth @ What The Heck Fest?

I headed out to Anacortes, Wa. from the Rainbow Gathering this summer. I knew i was gonna be in Washington, where i had been longing to be for several years, so i thought to see what musicians were up to. I have been obsessed with Mt. Eerie for the past year and a half, so i thought i'd see what Phil and Friends were up to. Turns out that they were throwing the last What the Heck Fest? in misty, maritime Anacortes, Wa. It was only about 300 miles or so from Gifford Pinchot National Forest, so i figured i'd start there, and figure it out.

It was while volunteering at What the Heck Fest? that i got the notion to look into what other music festivals were happening, and put me on the path that has changed my life forever. All navigated by the North Stars of Earth, Mt. Eerie, Arington de Dionyso, and some other names i was familiar with.

Homeless in Olympia, Wa. Taking the busses through sheets of rain. Broke and hungry and begging in Anacortes. Walking around, reading tarot cards at street fairs, hanging out at public libraries... throughout all of this, i blasted Dylan Carlson's signature monolithic rock into my eardrums, listening to album after album, as i walked through the landscape that emanated the tunes. Logging roads, towering pine trees, blankets of ferns. Slugs and birds and berries. Fucking wild. Like un-civilized. Big, bigger than you and i.

Earth makes music to get lost in, to explore. Primordial world-builders, Dylan Carlson has been conjuring imaginary landscapes from dust, for people to get lost in and find themselves, for over 20 years. Evolving from mono-chromatic doom drone that sparked a genre and hordes of lackluster imitators, to spiritual spaghetti western soundtracks that could have scored the movie Dead Man, if Neil Young had been busy, at the 26 year mark, Earth sound tighter and more focused than ever before. Having come through the shadows of addiction and depression, the title of Earth's new album Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light is entirely appropriate. Earth make holy music, that is not afraid of the darkness.

The current line-up consists of long-time drummer Adrienne Davis, with Karl Blau on bass and Lori Goldston on cello, most infamous for her performance with Nirvana on the Mtv Unplugged performance. I can't honestly remember if Karl played bass on their set or not. I seem to remember the whole band being women, other than Dylan. This femininity is a refreshing contrast to the nominally bro-tastic world of drone/doom, allowed for a sensitivity and nuance and inspiration amongst all the players. Earth headlined the second, and my favorite, day of Heck Fest, playing at the Port Warehouse, which was a massive wooden building on the waterfront, with huge cargo doors open to the elements, spilling massive misty night-time air into the room, spilling cavernous guitars out to serenade the seals. 50 or so people huddled and shivered and listened to this legendary group, appreciatively silent and mesmerized. They played late at night, for a long long time. We were all sleepy and tranced out, and they played brilliantly! Like seeing yr favorite band in a friend's living room: intimate, nuanced, spellbinding. The communal aspect of the festival attendees mingled with the elemental air spilling off of Fidalgo Bay, was the perfect setting to see Earth live in, for the first time.

During the course of my homelessness, my drifting, my life has slowed down to a glacial pace. Things take time, when you don't have any money. When you have no place to go, anyplace is as good as anyplace else. As i was exploring the rusted-out decay of Washington for the first time, i repeatedly got lost in the many different incarnations of Dylan Carlson's vision, over the years. It is in this stillness, that Earth speaks, where they're coming from. This music is all about details. Listen to it loud, or forget about it. Because Earth 2 sounds shitty and ignorable through laptop speakers, but it will devour yr mind if you turn it up and let it dissolve you. This music is the soundtrack to my dissolution in the forest; getting lost amidst the stumps and the devil's club and the salmon berries. It is the soundtrack of being a stranger. Of watching, and being moved by the world around you; from the people in it to the clouds in the stratosphere to the lichen on the rocks.

It is this slowness, this gentility, that i was seeking when i hit the road, and what i hope to maintain, as i re-acclimate to society. It has been my goal to pay attention to life, to drink in the details and be moved. I love music so dearly, and was so fanatically driven to reproduce the sounds of my soul, that i had every motive to change and improve as a human, to invite Quality in, and live a Quality life. Living in my conceptions of reality, living in my head, rushing from one placebo to the next, quite assured that permanent mystical enlightenment lie over the next hill, under next dale. Living out doors, living without money, living without expectations, my life slowed down to near hallucinogenic attention, consumed by the passing moments.

Earth reminds us to slow down and pay attention. They advise us to get lost. They command us to open our eyes and ears, to never turn away; to stare unblinking into the void.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows (Six Shooter Records, 2008)

Elliott Brood describe themselves as 'death country'. A 3 piece from Toronto, they breathe new life and dimensions into the standard guitar/banjo/drums line-up. These guys storm like heat lightning. They rage like violent water. They bluster and blow like whitecapped winds. Like wolves from the great white north, they emerge from the forests dressed in black, head to toe in screaming guitars.

I saw these guys open for Bill Callahan at Pickathon this year, and i was expecting another old-timey, footstompin', hoedown band. Yawn yawn, very nice, i will buy yr homemade cork coasters. Elliott Brood, however, were not so pleasant, or ignorable. Dripping with attitude, headman Mark Sasso swaggers and sways, possibly a knife in his boot; these guys are dangerous! Casey LaForet, on guitar, drools out the fuzziest, heaviest slab of acoustic that you've ever heard. Like Dinosaur Jr. or the Melvins, in the middle of the forest.
Its not all hell country out here, either. They write catchy, memorable songs, that you'd like to learn, to pass around the next campfire. Sweet, heartfelt acoustic ballads merge with murderous ballads that stomp like Black Sabbath. These guys have it all, for just about any music fan under the sky.
Mountain Meadows, their sophomore album, was released in 2008 on Six Shooter Records, and it was nominated for a Juno award. Continuing with the aesthetic of recording in various locations, that mythical 'room sound', the 13 songs work as a unified whole, but has an organic homemade quality, that will leave you feeling like you know these three young men, like you had been sitting on a bale of hale in the middle of the forest together. They've got a new record out, Days into Years, that just dropped. Check it out!

This is another post in the series showcasing highlights of this summer's music festivals. I hope to spotlight tremendous bands that deserve exposure, and to do a more detailed analysis of some of my personal stories, and cultural trends, in the near-ish future.

Heading out for Decibel Festival tomorrow or Thurs. Last one for a while, unless its not. Will do as much writing as i can, in the interim.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mario Gonzalez - SueisFine (Already Dead Tapes)


Been meaning to write this one up for a little while now, over-complicating, worrying too much, waiting for something to be more perfect and accomplishing NOTHING, like the idealistic procrastinator that i am.

Sueisfine was sent to me as one of three of the newest batch of Already Dead Tapes, out of Kalamazoo, Mi. and discussed previously in an article on Forget the Times. To be honest, the other two records, a new one by Forget the Times, as well as new releases by Lasso and The Philly Crawlers, but the other records were in .aiff format, and i'm living on borrowed time and borrowed internet, so i ended up getting to spend more time with this Mario Gonzalez record, instead.

A lot of times, i'll think, 'o, here's another tape release. that's nice.' or expect to hear another blast of white noise and bowed cymbals, maybe some warbly pop music. There's a standard of low production, and somewhat low expectations, in cassette culture. Its like, yr a cool dude, i'm gonna buy yr tape, whatever it is.

So i was quite stoked to throw this one on, and have my head pleasantly massaged by fuzzy glitchcore, breakbeats for the late night walk. Ominous, kinda fucked up, and downright sexy, like on [snuff record]. The production, the talent, and the creativity are impressively high, and totally different from the other acts i've heard on Already Dead so far. Made me wonder what was going on in Kalamazoo. I was listening to this the night that they had their record release party, and i was out stalking the streets of Portland, Or. Thinking how rad it is that all these folks are getting together, getting their own things going on, sharing with one another. That there is a sense of an archipelago forming, like minded individuals. That there is a common thread. To watch genres and boundaries dissolve, and the huge flourishing of creativity that is resulting, is astonishing.

Sueisfine by Mario Gonzalez is a damn fine record. You should purchase it, in whatever format you most prefer. Its a dark electro late night urban jungle prowl. It is dangerous. It is sexy. It is fucked up. It is brilliant. It is inspiring. If you like things like Third Eye Foundation, or vintage Aphex Twin, you'll dig this. Seroma (xxx) gets my vote as my official Single of the Month (you didn't even know i had those, did you?), its spooked, grimy paranoia the soundtrack to feeling homeless in a new city, not knowing many people, where i was, or where i was going.
Soundtrack to dumpster diving.
'if i'm goin' down/its with my boots on.'

Expect more detailed reviews of the other records, as i get a chance.
I really love these folks and what they're doing, and highly encourage you to support them, and any and every rad ass scene going on somewhere.