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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
"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/
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!
The records available here are for evaluation purposes only. Please support any and all artists you discover here. Just tryin to spread a little love and broaden people's horizons. If any artist or label has a problem with something being posted, just get in touch and it will be removed. If you are a band and want yr material to be featured here at jsheaven, drop me a line and a .rared file. My review queue is slightly backed-up, but i will get to it. Thanks for stopping by! email@example.com