Wednesday, January 25, 2012

White Rainbow, Charles Berlitz presents The Garnet Tucan, Caspar Sonnet, Rene Hell Wed, 1/25: Valentine's

Valentine's is a sweet, secluded spot next to Voodoo Donuts, in SW Portland. They have free live music every Sun., Mon., and Tues., and there's always interesting art on the walls. They apparently also serve Real Absinthe, for those that want to make like its Paris circa 1923.

I arrived typically late, to a surprisingly packed house, with the sounds of, (i'm assuming), Caspar Sonnet, already in full tilt. Two fellas, one playing unsteady electric guitar with the other on some ukulele like instrument and vocals. Their sound was akin to Math Rock, with a Jandek-ian vibe. They seemed to live in a world of their own, but their was a dream logic, an internal structure, and they were able to keep their mutant dirigible afloat, peeking in at verdant valleys previously unexplored. I admire people who do their own thing, doubly so in front of a crowd, and especially when they can PULL IT OFF.

My buddy Nate poked me in the back. He came out to see Rene Hell and White Rainbow, and i also ran into some friends from the House of Good Spirits, in Northeast Portland. It felt nice, a free weird show, a night on the town. Friendly faces.

Rene Hell up next, and it was not what i was expecting, AT ALL. I'd listened to his recordings quite a bit, and had been expected some dreamy, synthesizer scores; cyberpunk dystopianism, with a dash of nostalgic somnabulism, a la Emeralds or Oneohtrix Point Never. What i got, instead, were two dudes blasting out a furious smoothie of digital noise, like Squarepusher, but all the way broken, all the way down. The collective migraine of the information canals. Here, also, there was rhyme and reason, seasoned shamans of the digital id, this was a new jazz, albert ayler and sonny sharrock teleported to the end of the Mayan calendar. These guys were delicate listeners, and could pirouette like a ballerina, or a nascar driver at 117 mph. Quick. On their toes. The music ebbed and flowed, and occasionally rumbled into some broken machine funk, reminding me of Pole, but without the dub. My body began writhing and head-banging, involuntarily. A guy next to me nudged me, asked if i was actually DANCING to this music. I told him that i actually LIKED this music, that i thought it was good. He seemed satisfied, and after a thoughtful pause, added, 'its kind of refreshing.' We were friends, after that. Apparently Rene Hell are gonna be in Portland for the next month, so keep yr eyeballs peeled for future appearances. I highly recommend seeing these dudes live, and listening to their albums, as well.
(i read that Rene Hell was one person, but i swear there were two guys bringing the noise. I dunno what to tell you...)

Next up Charles Berlitz presented the Garnet Tucan, a daydream of an extra-terrestrial swamp, not a real extra-terrestrial swamp though. A daydream of a pixellated, technicolor extra-terrestrial swamp. This music was NOT trying to be genuinely ethnographic; again, two dudes, one guy blasting out crunchy, plastic African beats while the other played gamelan middle eastern scales on a cheap, destroyed keyboard, while a hazy image of a crescent moon and stars and night-time were projected on the wall, from an old overhead projector like you took notes off of, when you were in High School. The music was pleasantly evocative, rhythmic and trancy and made for some of the nicest furniture music i've heard in a minute, light conversations about the pictures behind our eyeballs. Beats the fucking movies any day of the week, if you ask me. (i like to go to the movies, too, don't get me wrong.)

Lastly, the Headliner, White Rainbow, infamous in Portland Town for 80s fetish sleazy funky dance parties. He was rocking an ableton set-up, with a swarm of controllers around, which he used to summon, and then mangle, disembodied bass lines, hip hop beats, and a VERY legitimate sounding 303 lead. All this to the good, but i was mostly struck by his stage presence, super real and down to earth, 'oh, adam, yr so good at making the ableton beat.', 'no, that one sucks.' cutting off jams midway, and then bringing the typhoon full-force. It seemed like a perfectly normal night on the town, DJing for yr friends, making beats in yr bedroom. In a word: pure, and in my world, that makes it good. I watched the fuckers dance for a while, swooning on a bar stool, not much into a dancing mood, too many heady visions coalescing in my synapses. Had a number of conversations with progressively drunker new friends, and thought for the millionth time, how glad i am that i don't drink anymore. Not that there's anything wrong with that, y'all do what thou wilt, but i will way that is much easier to not make an ass of thyself, when one doesn't drink, and the bartenders hate you a lot less.

Struck out into the streets or Portland with my friend Nate, who was pretty wasted at the time, and observed the bars vomitting out their revellers onto the streets, and the hustlers trying for one last score and one last taco before bedtime.


  1. this was real treat to read. i had so much fun that night. thanks for rolling away the tomb to my whiskey-buried memory.

  2. that's what i'm here for. the clear seeing recollection. memory in a bottle!