August 1st, 2012 @ Holocene, Portland
As anyone who has seen Golden Retriever will tell you, their music is made for a live setting. Matt Carlson’s analog modular synth and Jonathan Sielaff’s bass clarinet, when combined, emanate a soothing and fulfilling quality that satisfies the deepest reaches of one’s soul. Perhaps it was Guay’s nature footage at work in my subconscious, but at the set’s largest swell — complete with a shockingly introduced electronic beat — Golden Retriever’s music majestically dominated the cavernous reaches of Holocene’s main entrance. For a moment, the high-ceilinged room felt transformed into the glowing belly of a whale, as the music was itself Moby Dick, cresting through the ocean’s surface. The moment was nothing short of sublime — so powerful that, in all honesty, it seemed to dissolve a stagnant energy I had been meditatively working on throughout their entire set. My friend, likewise, said that though he failed to see Golden Retriever as much as he liked, every time he saw them he realized the balance that he had lost during the lapse — and regained again with their musical assistance.
Hence it is no surprise that by the end of the night, the roomful of strangers at Holocene felt more like a roomful of neighbors who had shared not only an auditory experience, but a vibrational sphere. Such is not an exaggeration, as Golden Retriever’s singular ability to give showgoers a washing, romantic feeling of surrender is definitely unrivaled by any band in town. I’ve seen them more than a handful of times, and it never gets old, even though I could hardly tell you what they do differently from show to show, or what it is exactly that makes them so compelling. Those aren’t the important parts. Though this was their record release show and Golden Retriever no doubt want to promote their new record, Occupied with the Unspoken, the really important part is this: you need to see and feel this band live, any and every chance you get.