Saturday, March 31, 2012

Malaikat Dan Singa, Skrill Meadow, Free Weed, Rollerball; Ella Street Social Club, 3.30.12

I was running characteristically late; pounding pavement down Burnside, chucking over every aspect and nuance of society, of creativity, what to say and what not to say to Arrington De Dionyso. I had met him a few times over the summer, when i was staying in Olympia, knew a few of the same people, saw Malaikat Dan Singa play a few times, most suitably impressed with his no-wave trance mongolian transgressive rock. There was a moment at Helsing Junction Sleepover, when my head was full of cobwebs and mildew, and Arrington's mixture of chant, bass clarinet, spiky repetitive bass grooves and dancehall rhythms saved my soul.

I arrived early to interview him (more on that later), so was there pretty early, kicking around Ella Street's red interior with my notebook and pen; on assignment. The interview went surprisingly well, seeing as how i had not prepared AT ALL, other than mulling about in my head what i, and what other people, might like to know about this person. We talked about Indonesia, the void, trance, daniel higgs, the physical properties of sounds. About talking with spirits. I was struck, as i am often struck, by the ambiance of Ella Street, its like a Seance Parlor over there, the walls of time just seem thin. Old jazz on the stereo, antiqued hanging lamps. I fell into a lull, lapping up the light. Shooting a game of pool. A very receptive mood for Arrington, and what he had to show me.

A pleasant surprise of the evening was my friend Markley Morrison, who usually plays in Lake, but this evening was playing with Malaikat, as well as performing solo under the name Skrill Meadow. Mark's a good ol' boy from Southern California, he's from the same town as Captain Beefheart; Lancaster, Ca. They have a lot of fluoride in the water. He knows a lot of country songs. He's got a killer soul vinyl collection. Skrill Meadow played with a funky old keyboard, a set of roto-toms, a ghetto blaster, and two microphones; totally nailing a set of '80s plastic funk, echo-laden Motown b-sides, a New Romantic version of 'Nobody Wants To Play Rhythm Guitar Behind Jesus'. Lake did a tour with R. Stevie Moore this last fall, and the connection of their eccentric pop genius is evident, similar also to Ariel Pink. Perfect pop songs, 20 years too late, recorded on a ghetto blaster. But Mark really means it, he goes for it, so many intricacies and nuances and flair. Sweet drum machine fills, a roto-tom solo. A consummate performer.

I went for a walk, found some fruit on the ground, listened to the next band, Free Weed, through the wall, smoking cigarettes and writing in my notebook. Fell into a heavy make-out session in the back of a car, and was pulled away from the next two bands, got back in time for Malaikat Dan Singa. My endorphins were revved, and self-consciousness forsaken, Ella St. was particularly primal this evening, sloughing off its usual opium-den languor to get tropical and sweaty. I felt like a panther as my body began to sway and pulse to Nehemiah St. Danger's slinky bass, Arrington's jagged shards of guitar, like the angular thoughts in my brain, high and bright over the meat carnage of sinew, tendon, and bone. Arrington talked of igniting a spark, transmitting a message, taking people on a voyage, and Ella Street Social Club was the conduit for the current, last evening. It went off; 20 bodies slammed into a small dance floor, moving with abandon. Complete (forgive the pun) Dionysian abandon. They played a surprisingly short set, or maybe i just missed a bit of it, but it mainly consisted of trance-y rock grooves, almost kosmische in their repetition; two guitars, bass, drums, synth, voice. Arrington played his bass clarinet, but not a ton, focusing more on his Mongolian James Brown routine. Charismatic as always, total presence; this is like the fourth or fifth time i've seen them live, i'm just mesmerized every time. Quickly becoming a favourite, and a genuine and decent guy, to boot. Last night was the first night of a ten day tour down the west coast, so if you should get this in time, do. not. sleep. on. this. This tour's gonna rock socks! If you live in Portland, and didn't get to check out last night's show, you have another chance, next weekend, 4.8.12, with like minded cosmonauts, Million Brazillions.

Arrington gave me some links to some cool Indonesian music to check out. Check back on Chain Dlk over the next couple of days, to scope the full interview.

Photobucket Wukir & Rully - Senyawa

West Coast Tour Dates:
Saturday, March 31st, ARCATA, California- TBA! Probably at HSU at 8pm
in front of the Ceramics Lab? Maybe? Or we’ll crash a house party

at The Tarot Woman 3140 Martin Luther King Jr Way Berkeley, CA 94703

MONDAY April 2nd- San Francisco- at THE KNOCKOUT!
Dominique Leon!

Tuesday, April 3= San Luis Obispo-

Wednesday, April 4th, UC IRVINE- (8pm)

Thursday, April 5th SAN DIEGO- the Tin Can Alehouse!

Friday, April 6th LOS ANGELES- The Smell w/Amps For Christ, Let’s

Saturday, April 7th SACRAMENTO- Bows and Arrows Collective- w/San
Kazagaskar, more!

Sunday, April 8th PORTLAND- at THE TUBE! w/Million Brazilians

FRIDAY, April 13th SEATTLE- In Arts NW-

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rothko - 40 years to find a voice


Ugh, i started writing a straight piece here, and got cotton mouth and strep throat, as usual, trying to find something 'interesting' to say about this record, even though i have tons of interesting things to say about this record. Rothko were a British post-rock band that were active in the early 00s, mainly focusing around one Mark Beazley, and usually consisted of 3 bass guitars making fine, dreamy mood music; they were like a hybrid of Tortoise & The Chicago Underground Duo, the whole Thrill Jockey scene, and wicked shoegaze drone, like Windy & Carl or Labradford, or anyone else creating gigantic sprawling drifting opuses with guitars and stringed instruments. Using the bass as a drone source and as a melodic lead creates a really unique timber for this record; velvet rich and deeply sonorous, romantic and heartbroken. At times longing, at times plaintive, at times soothing and sweet. They dredged out the elements of what was going on around them, forged them together into something interesting.

I first got into Rothko around the time 40 Years To Find A Voice came out, when i was a slavish devotee to all things Post-Rock. I got this from Music Go Round on Belmont in Chicago, and listened to it in the evenings in my attic bedroom. I was like a ghost then, watching the light fade, Rothko's music creating some imaginary continent, and i would lose myself in its crags, stare at the sun. I hadn't pulled it out in a while, but i saw a super sweet Rothko exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art, spent the day in a daze from having played a show the night before, the city is blooming into fresh spring right now, the trees are blossoming with pink flowers, the light is soft as fur. People are tranquil, in a good mood, strolling - its like a hybrid of the American South and a Zen Temple here. I had chicken waffles for breakfast.

Rothko painted huge, colorful canvasses to create a mood, to express something, tone paintings, they are like poems in acrylic, and some of them are Really Fucking Big. To be in a whole room of them is an aesthetic over-load; you take it all in at once. Listening to 40 Years To Find A Voice is kind of like hanging out in one of those Rothko rooms; you can just BE in there, drift around and appreciate the subtleties.

Mark Beazley didn't seek to re-invent the wheel; he sought to filigree it. Polish it and put it on display. Forty Years To Find A Voice is a pleasant soundtrack to open windows and late afternoons. Worth a listen.


The Rothko exhibit is up at the Portland Museum of Art until 5.27, along pieces by Joseph Beuys and John Frame, and is free every 4th Friday, from 5 to 8. I highly recommend you see it, while its there!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exotic Pylon

Johnny Mugwump, head of Exotic Pylon Records and long-time DJ on resonance fm, responsible for 2 seasons of the excellent Weird Tales For Winter series - which took classic tales of weirdness from the likes of William Hope Hodgson, Nigel Kneale, and Thomas Ligotti - and set them to music and soundscapes by fellow esoterrorists Advisory Circle, Moon Wiring Club, Vindicatrix, etc.

He's been hosting a monthly event at The Vortex
, but he's decided to hang it up, in order to focus on the record label, which is good news and bad: good news if you want more and better records, bad news if you live in the UK. But he's decided to go out with a bang and a whimper, throwing a 4 day blow out at the vortex, one last hurrah. Last night was the first night, but there's still three left! If you happen to be on that side of the pond, sell yr watch and go! I'd give a gallon of my neighbor's blood to be there; i like to imagine drinking espresso with k-punk and johnny trunk, watching Cut Hands freak out the squares, but i'll just have to settle for the Oregon rain.

The Exotic Pylon posse - Johnny and Dolly Dolly and the head technician of Pye Corner Audio - run in the same shadowy circles as some of the more well-known hauntologists - Leyland James Kirby, aka The Caretaker, and Jim Jupp, evil genius behind Ghost Box and The Belbury Poly. They frequent sites like the Found Objects and argue about fonts. They collect mouldering scraps and scratchy vinyl. They have turned me on to more good weird horror movies than you can imagine.

To commemorate the Pylon's last hurrah at The Vortex, i have cobbled together a mix of my favorite cuts from all 6 Exotic Pylon releases so far, including a special treat - a surreal sound edit featuring some sounds from the upcoming Gentleforce
ep, out on 3.26, stitched together with some sounds from Ronny Juzzle's sounds from the Spaz-tec National Diploma in Horseriding 3" cd. I've titled it why are you so far away?
, i tried to stay true to the concrète punk of Ronny Juzzle's track, with Gentleforce's cosmic optimism. The end result sounds like some bad happenings on the Solaris spaceship. The mix really illustrates Exotic Pylon's eccentricity - garage psychedelia from Misty Roses, mournful Wicker Man folk from legendary weirdos Band of Holy Joy, radiophonic hip-hop from The Lord, and the missing link between grime and dubstep, from Infinite Livez.

I've also written a small essay, in a PDF, extolling the virtues of Mugwump, and of all the smoldering British weirdos.

You may have already missed Black To Comm, but you can still see Andy Stott, Cut Hands (William Bennett from Whitehouse with musicians from Haiti, the Congo, and Ghana!!!), Cindy Talk, Infinite Livez, and others.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Atomic Island Re - Order

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i submit, for yr consideration, an audio oddity - a postcard from a place that no longer exists.

Atomic Island Re - Order is the first in a series of guest mixes and recommendations, coming at ya from my buddy Nathan Dorsett. On the Atomic Island, Nathan tries to convey the feeling of wanting to go home, but yr home has been annihilated by nuclear weapons, forcing you to acclimate to the main-land where you've become stranded, becoming ever more feral, going underground, a stranger in a strange land.

Exploring the hypothetical hinterlands where Beck covering Leonard Cohen borders Oppenheimer Analysis, Nathan has created a unique and dreamy landscape on this record, alternatively warm and cold, slogging through downbeat Hip Hop, college rock, dub House, Dancehall Reggae. Going more for mood than a straight-ahead narrative, Atomic Island Re - Order is at turns tribal, at times sleek and futuristic, there is an omnipresent emotional undercurrent, a hidden intent, nameless and spontaneous. It only goes to show how adept Nathan is at making mixes, it is interesting to observe his track sequencing, how he draws musical correspondences that no one else would ever see.

The tracks on Atomic Island Re - Order are predominantly unlabelled, giving the sense of a bizarre radio program in the middle of the night; a tropical transmission drifting on a radioactive wind. Listen out for an unlikely Wilco song - an unexpected delight! AIR creates a realistic simulation of what it is like to actually hang out with Nathan, obscure sounds at unexpected times. I first heard this mix as i lulled off to sleep on a massage table.

I'm opening up the gates of j's heaven. I never intended to be an authority, to corner any markets. I'm surrounded by people with exquisite tastes, each with their own history, their own philosophy, their own values. It is staggering, no matter how much time one spends culture-trawling, every music junkie that i meet has an entirely different musical collection than my own. I have stopped competing, and i sure as fuck can't keep up! So any requests, recommendations, guest mixes, post 'em up! Leave me a comment, or send an e-mail to the address found in the upper right. I'd like to know what yr favorite records are. I'd like to know what makes you tick.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Y'all - They Say We're Only Dreaming

Here's a nice little noise-blast that i received in my inbox; 15 minutes of frenetic spazz from Austin's Y'all, the duo of Travis Franklin on gtr. and Andy Richardson on drums. They Say We're Only Dreaming is almost frighteningly similar to Lightning Bolt's Wonderful Rainbow, i get that same sense of adrenaline, testosterone, adventure; rushing towards the future, not pausing for breath. This is what it sounds like to be a young man, gotta prove yrself, gotta be tough, gotta fight! Hardcore 3.7, the sound of cliff-jumping and lion wrestling.

The guitars sound like a barbed wire fence made of cathode rays and the drums are like a kitchen shelf falling on yr head, if that shelf had 10000 pots on it. An unending onslaught. Other reviewers have made this out to be "charmingly lo-fi" and it made me realize how utterly warped my hearing and consciousness have become, because this sounds sparklingly clean to me. I mean, its not Sum 41 or nothing, but you can hear the guitar notes and the individual drums, you can tell the specific origins of each acoustic phenomenon.

These guys got it going on, they are a tight and dedicated band, worthy of yr support and attention. The only mis-step is the emo squawk vocals of 'Gum' - i wish you wouldn't do that.

Half of the world's listening populace is in Austin, Tx for SXSW, so while yr down there you should check 'em out. Y'all is exactly the kind of thing i love to support, here at J's Heaven. Thanks to Travis for getting in touch!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chris Brokaw - I Ace Sociopath King (Already Dead, 2012)

Chris Brokaw is a busy man: his list of collaborators includes The Willard Grant Conspiracy, Pullman, Consonant, The Empty House Co-operative. He used to play in seminal indie rock bands Codeine and Come. He has played on recordings by Cobra Verde, Manta Ray, Rosa Chantswell, Karate, Via Tanie; and as an accompanist to recordings and performances by Steve Wynn, Evan Dando, Thalia Zedek, Alan Licht, Tara Jane O' Neill, crime writer George Pelecanos, and Rhys Chatham. He has written scores for theater and film. He has performed and recorded solo, over an impressive array of CDs, cassettes and LPs (one of which i discussed over here.

With this in mind, it is somewhat bewildering that he is not better known than he is. Sure, Codeine gets some love among the shoegaze faithful, and Come played with Johnny Depp on Kicks Joy Darkness, a tribute record to Jack Kerouac (a great record, btw, which i highly recommend.), but he has not attracted the same amount of adulation heaped on a Dean Wareham or an Adam Franklin. Its probably because his music is so non-assuming, steady and constant, like an unending tarmac highway, weaving its way through valleys, cornfields, and mist.

I've been appreciating the subtle, heartfelt beauty of his work for several years, so i was almost shocked and awed when i saw that my buddy Sean Hartman, co-founder of Already Dead Tapes out of Kalamazoo, Mi. had put out a cassette with Brokaw. I Ace Sociopathic King is a live document, recorded in Chicago, Il., and is split between two hemispheres; one electric, one acoustic. This is what Sean had to say, about the pairing:

"Chris Brokaw is a master performer. His music has a depth I've rarely seen matched and witnessing him live is a profoundly captivating experience. We're honored to have Chris join the family.
His first release with us is a live c40 recorded in 2011. Sides are divided between electric and acoustic tracks. If you've never heard Chris's music before, this is a perfect starting point. He's been around the block and the songs have only improved with age."

The most notable diversion from Brokaw's other flood of releases and collaborations is the presence of vocals, he sings a lot more on this record than previous works that i have heard. What we are presented with is one voice, one guitar; sparse but not thin, just not hiding anything. He's shining, out in the open, no obfuscating gauze of hiss and trickery. Clear and plain-spoken, Chris Brokaw's shimmering songs stand up well in the foot-lights. He shows himself to be romantic, thoughtful, weary at times, hopeful. This is my favorite kind of music right now, to be honest, warm as a dying fire, as late afternoon. Not flashy and ego-driven, it is subtle and graceful and humble. The guitars tremble and purr on I Ace Sociopath King; the electric side has a classy, classic surf-twang to it, the acoustic side is dry and biting. The vocals are clear and comprehensible, showing that his lyrics are inspired as well.

Jesus, i'm blown away!

The whole package sounds fucking great on the cassette format, and Already Dead always have a keen design sense; this is a necessary addition to yr library. This label just keeps getting better and better! They only made 200 of these, so don't wait and have to find it on eBay.
For first-time listeners and long-standing devotees alike, I Ace Sociopath King is a necessary addition to Chris Brokaw's canon.

Codeine is reforming for a select few dates, starting in April, and Chris will also be playing in a new duo with Stephen O' Malley, of Sunn O))) and Khanate fame, so scope his page to keep tabs on yr new favorite artist.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sharon Van Etten - Because I Was In Love

[edit: i'm amending this post, slightly, if anyone has already read this]

This is the first fully produced record by Sharon Van Etten, an American Singer/Songwriter from Brooklyn. Folksy, but not revisionist; it seems to me that this woman sings the songs from her heart; heartfelt. On Because i was in love, it seems that Sharon Van Etten is getting over some complicated relationship, or perhaps in the midst of one - its the sound on one woman coping.

Because i was in love is a stripped-down affair, but not sparse, the sonic pallet is full, her jazz-like acoustic guitar and weathered voice fleshed out with subtle organs, tambourines, multi-tracked vocals; all the best bits of a solitary singer-songwriter working in the post- Elliot Smith landscape. She reminds me most clearly of early Cat Power, but Sharon Van Etten seems less broken, less neurotic; more mature, more confident.

I've been nursing a tattered heart for the last 6 months or so, reborn into the infinite now every moment of the day, holding on for dear life. Every day is so rich and conflicted, there is so much joy and beauty and sorrow and melancholy. It can't be fit into a particular genre or stereotype, i mean sure i'll put on my brave face and pull out my Mayhem records and pretend to be brutal as fuck for an hour, but i just can't get much steam on that level of posturing. The music that most closely matches my inner world is conflicted and confusing, romantic and sorrowful; full of blurred lines and collapsing boundaries.

I've just recently discovered Sharon Van Etten, digging around for quality down-tempo music, and Because I Was In Love, has been my favorite so far. I think the sparse production and arrangement suits her emotionally bare material better than the saturated production of Epic, her most recent, where every inch of the canvas is filled. Her voice sounds like an old fencepost, weathered but still warm from the sun. Her guitar is simple and deadly effective, jazzy and blue-sy. There are very little frills on this record, it is solid as a granite mountain range. It sucked me in and cast a spell on me.

'For You', the single from this record, has been my jam of the month, catchy as bubonic plague, i've listened to it obsessively. It works well in the morning, while having yr first cup of coffee, or in the afternoon, if you need to excuse yrself from the hyper manic pace of the present. Highly recommended, as is the rest of this album.

Left to my own devices, i will spend default to listening to sad introspective folk music, listening to my breath my heartbeat while finger-picked guitars send prismatic goose-flesh up and down my arms; the soundtrack to washing dishes and staring out the window, twisting my Heidegger beard, going crazy and having wild epiphanies, over and over. The soundtrack to coping, to getting by, to combating ennui and the complex gymnastics of a hyper aware nervous system, dealing with emotions and eternity and the Self. Because I Was In Love is rich and layered, a perfect antidote to heartbreak and confusion. It just makes me feel better. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Madrigals @ Lincoln Recital Hall, PSU; 3.7.12

Madrigals are a form of Renaissance music, small ensembles of 3 to 8 voices, often singing adaptations of popular poems. I became familiar with the style first through the old, great goth band Miranda Sex Garden, and i deepened my knowledge and understanding with my surreal anglophiliac tendencies.

This evening's performance, at the lovely Lincoln Recital Hall, in the basement of the luxurious Lincoln Performance building, all gilded Corinthian columns and polished wood. One thing you can say for classical performances, even if you don't care much for the music, is you can usually count on the acoustics. The Lincoln Recital Hall did not disappoint in this regard - an intimate room that seats about 100. Most of the attendees were either performers or their families, making it a casual, non-imposing atmosphere, and anybody who knows anything knows that this is the setting in which inspired art can commence, in which song may take flight.


The song was fully mid-wing as my friend and i entered the room; the Madrigal Choir began with a rare duo of sacred choral pieces, Ave Verum Corpus and O Bone Jesus that sounded like Arvo Part and had my whole body in a cold sweat and shivers, before launching into the more familiar street numbers, odes to love and tobacco, a sonnet by Shakespeare given voice. There were songs for only the women, and one just for the men; the line-up switched constantly which shook things up and kept it invigorating, and the variety and combination of voices conjured filmy orchestras in my mind's eye, silken bassoons and golden flutes, automatic harp and a fox hunt, all played out on a dusty celluloid stage, beneath the ghost light.

The University Choir were up next, a full 80 voices! Extraordinary, the fullness and richness, and captured and set loose in such a warm, inviting room. The University Choir is open to full-time music students and hobbyists alike, they have a severe work ethic while practicing but clearly enjoy themselves. The melting-pot of styles and motivations, not to mention the genders and age differences of the choir members, made for such a richly textured music. Some were clearly bored and looking for that easy credit, but some were burning with the holy spirit! They committed several of what i usually consider mortal musical sins.
  1. The Choral Rendition of a Pop Tune (And So It Goes, Billy Joel)
  2. Predominantly white choir doing ethnic music (Balia di Sehu, Aruba)
  3. Parading through the aisles, to exit the auditorium

The Billy Joel number was actually my second favorite of the evening, behind the holy choral music mentioned earlier. It tells a story of a person opening up the secret room of their heart, gifting the treasure of their heart to someone, to break as they see fit. The soloist Ariel Young clearly knew what she was talking about, singing in a smooth silky alto: pure, emotional, sincere - a rare gift when interpreting someone else's song. It left me raw and misty, dreading the coming Spring thaw and all its resultant loneliness, but the joy and purity of the evening's music would not allow cynicism to flourish in my chest, i left full of hope and possibility.

The Madrigal & University Choir's whetted my appetite for classical music, and reminded me of how much rich culture there is to be had out there, for those with discerning Eustachian canals.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sundaze, Magic Fades, Sucker for Lights @ Kelley's Olympian 3.2.12

kelley's blur

I came across Sundaze in a very random manner - i was looking for info on the recent Left Banke re-issues on the sweet archival label Sundazed Records. The first thing i noticed was that we shared a common enthusiasm for early, excellent shoegaze bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and A Place To Bury Strangers. I always get excited when i discover a new 'gaze band, especially when they're still active. Delving further, i noticed that we knew A LOT of the same people, and that they seemed to be acquainted with a number of the venues around Portland. Turns out they were playing in a couple of days at Kelley's Olympian, and they were nice enough to put me on the guest list.

Kelley's is a red neon glare in SW Portland. The southwesterly quadrant was bristling with early spring energy, everybody was out. I was quite adrenalized as i walked into Kelley's warmth, and to my pleasant surprise, ran into my friend Made as soon as i set foot in the door. Its always fun to have a conspirator; i love to pick people's brains, to see how they react to bands. She tends to be kind of close-minded, i was interested to see how she would react to the bands of the evening - she mostly prefers old school thrash metal. Sundaze were playing when i arrived, although it took me forever to figure that out. Two guys and a girl; two Fender guitars, a synth, and a drum machine, kicking out a cross between Spacemen 3's garage psychedelia, with their repetitive hypnotic synth organ lines and Oneida's pillowy wall of gravel and mist, toppling down on yr head. They'll make yr eyes roll up back in yr head, they'll make you see silver stars. Made observed they reminded her of The Cramps, which i found to be an interesting observation, but i could perceive the ghost of Lux Interior in Sundaze's quiksilver twang. They have the wistful romantic etherealness of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game, but without the melodrama and cocaine shimmer. This music is bruised, bleeding from the mouth, heart-rippingly passionate, fierce, and damaged. When they finished, i was disappointed; i wanted them to go all night. The tone was fucking out of this cosmos, truly some beautiful guitar wrangling happening, on this Friday evening, and the antiquated drum samples had just the right amount of grit, that beautiful analog CRUNCH! These guys live here, and have a whole bunch of live dates coming up, the next one on Thurs., 3.8.12, at Backspace, so check out their webpage for live dates, and go check 'em out. Its a pleasant surprise to find an excellent shoegaze band in the neighborhood, one that should not be taken for granted. They told me they were about to send the finished tracks for a new EP to be mastered, due out soon, so expect to hear more about Sundaze in the coming months.

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Magic Fades, i wasn't too impressed with; two white boys kickin' out some slick 80s club funk. Drum machine, bass synth, guitar, sweet vocals - all the elements were there, just weren't doing it for me. Probably had something to do with Made exhuding brooding contempt for these poor bastards. When she hates something, she really hates it. For me, the mood was too consistent, this same sex on the dancefloor r&b bravada, over and over. Too polished, too consistent, too easily ignored. In all fairness, i had spent all evening writing a review of the new Nite Jewel disc that's about to drop, and i think the 80s funk receptors in my brain had burnt out. I'd totally give them another chance.

I liked Sucker for Lights much better, a little bit of strychnine, to spike the sweet. Seemed like singer/keyboardist/beatsmith Olivia Voss seemed a little nervous at first, a little tense, she was like one of those Andy Goldsworthy icicle spheres, but quickly thawed beneath the stage-lights, revealing herself to be grandiose, cinematic, the heart of a lion. She reminded me of a Debbie Harry, a Kate Bush; a proper front-woman, while Bryan Brunt played the hell out of his guitar. There's some legit fucking guitar players in this town, so many beautiful instruments, so much thick luxurious tone. Brunt's reminded me of Will Sargeant from Echo and the Bunnymen, with a digital sheen, a prismatic shimmer. He scored some major solo points, throughout the course of their set. I would dare to call him a 'hotshot', even though he stared at his shoes with his hair in his face and spoke not one word. He is a man of gesture, showing rather than telling, and that is a fine quality in an instrumentalist. They've got a new EP out, that's available for download on their bandcamp, and they were giving away free copies at the show last night, so again, expect to hear more from this band, and go check 'em out if you go get a chance, if you like Blondie, Siouxsie, Soft Cell, Prince, Zola Jesus, Billy Idol, Madonna.


Thanks again to John from Sundaze for corresponding with me, giving me an EP, getting me on the guest list. I am a fan.

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Thursday; @Various Galleries, 3.1.12

One of my roommates tagged me for this one, at the last minute; it was my first First Thursday, where all the galleries Downtown, China-town hang new pretties on the walls and (momentarily) fling open their doors, enticing people with free pizza, booze, live music, and all for free. At times, living in Portland, wandering around in the Pearl District feels like living in an Art Museum that is open all night - its an aesthetic town.

The reason we went was to see Anthropormorphism, the opening for artist Dawn Yanagihara, which mainly consisted of gracefully faded chimeras: bird people, deer people, lion-headed people. The effect was consistently antiqued, not necessarily a step backwards in time, but sideways, into a world that never was. Little nuances like an e mail sign up sheet that was a little league list from a Texas town in the 50s, the spell was complete and thorough. More graphic design than fine art, i didn't feel like this was art for the ages, although it was tasteful and would look nice on yr walls. She was selling post-cards and prints, (in old-fashioned manila envelopes), and looked like she had people lining up to give her money; people must've liked it. I would like to see what this artist does, when no is looking, her execution is impeccable and her attention to nuance, detail, and mood, to create an emotional experience, is impressive, and appealing to mine eyes. Anthropormorphism is a figure of the times.

The band My Body provided the soundtrack for the evening, furthering the anachronism with a blend of accordion, electric guitar, glockenspiel, BOSS SP-505 Drum Machine. They created a somniative drift, consistently dreamy and mellow, excellent tone was had by all. Jordan Bagnall's got a lovely voice and presence, and the reedy drone of her accordion was rich and trance-y, like a harmonium, a wooden trellis for the simple-yet-effective electric guitar lines, all snaky middle-eastern Faith-era Cure sounding, to weave around. Not a saccharine sugar ride, but more amniotic and soothing, seducing you into the warmth of the SoHitEk Gallery.

My favorite exhibit of the evening was by Vilem, a conjoined show with artist Kristina Koenig, titled “We can blame the Eskimos…They don’t have an army…”. Vilem's pieces were large, messy affairs, that reminded me of works by Basquait or Anselm Kiefer. One of the pieces featured the pink pegasus created by Basquait and Warhol for Exxon, flying over a serialist field of xeroxed oil wells; Vilem's not trying to reinvent the wheel, obviously, he is pondering and perfecting. A number of the pieces photo transfers from his own photography, glazed with homemade chemicals (don't tell Homeland Security), they sketchy dirty possibly fucked up, full of hidden imagery, layers buried in the fog. He was hanging around the gallery, talking about his various pieces, espousing on art, meaning, creativity, irish men and the origin of China Town. He didn't seem like he was trying to sell me some post-criticism, he's just doing his thing, making art that is trying to say something. Many of his pieces were LARGE and textured, they looked great hanging all together, creating a vibe in the room, you could get lost for hours. He said the exhibit was going to be up for at least another month at the fotoeffect gallery, 625 NW Everett St, #107. The pictures on the internet can't hold a candle to the objects themselves.

Many more interesting things were seen and heard, and i was bowled over for gratitude, yet again, to live in this town in 2012; my friends and i launched into all manner of speculation, heated discussion, agreement and argument, and all of our shores were slightly broadened.