In a three-part performance full of bizarre gestures and circular wording, a Japanese theatre troupe examines office politics in an off-the-cuff way. Performed completely in Japanese, everything in Cheltfisch is translated via a series of projected subtitles, allowing the subtle social dynamics of Japan to really shine through.
Part One: Hot Pepper
Three office temps sit around the table. Cue music -- and it is revealed that these three office temps are in charge of organizing a coworker Erika's farewell party. These three workers are organizing Erika's farewell party. As they discuss organizing Erika's farewell party in a roundabout fashion, they are offering very little information as they are speaking in circles. They are hardly saying anything at all despite spewing out many words, and while they speak, they are moving around the stage with exceptionally awkward gestures and positions. Their movements are completely erratic and unpredictable, quite unlike the words they are saying, which are constantly repeating the same themes in every short segment. Every few minutes is punctuated by awkward movements and repetitive text which says nothing but is humorous in its ability to say almost nothing despite their extended duration. Though the office workers spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about the same things ad nauseum, they entertain the audience with their body movements, which are much more erratic. Everything about their movements is stiff and intense, governed by no rhyme or reason, and all of the words they say harp on the same topic. Myriads of words are exchanged but little is said, just like in this paragraph. Everything about part one of Cheltfisch is about form and format and less about content. Movements follow a pattern of stilted spontaneity and words beat horses to pulpy, bruised death. Discussions about farewell parties, free monthly magazines called Hot Pepper, and motsu hot pot ("Motsunabe (もつ鍋?) is a type of nabemono in Japanese cuisine, which is made from beef or pork offal.", according to Wikipedia, which the performance itself in fact cites), offer little information, but somehow, part one never seems to stop being interesting. SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

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Bleep is a column focusing on varying degrees of electronic music news, videos and MP3s. In this post, '80s sci-fi influences electronics are given their due as Majeure and Chrome Canyon churn out analog synth-layered landscapes like nobody's business.
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Chrome Canyon

We begin with the well-reputed New York-based musician Chrome Canyon, whose latest record, Elemental Themes, will come out on Stones Throw on October 9th. This music video for "Branches", directed by the solo artist Morgan Z himself, was inspired by the visually-stunning Koyaanisqatsi, for which you can view a trailer below. Unlike Majeure, to follow, the sounds of Chrome Canyon occasionally has more terrestrial grounding to tie it back to earth as we know it. This comes in the form of chopped vocal samples, straight-forward drums, live bass and guitar, and occasional Bach-like compositions of madness. Not to mention the elusive sounds of the Theremin. Elemental Themes tracklisting to follow after the jump. CHROME CANYON - "BRANCHES" KOYAANISQATSI TRAILER

 

Adorable husband and wife duo The Last Names, consisting of Justin Rice of Bishop Allen and his wife Darbie, have now released Wilderness, a 12-track indie pop record that floats through dual-vocaled harmonies with the peacefulness of a '60s haze. To bring their intimately self-recorded and self-mixed project to life, the couple decided to go one step further, by incorporating a one-of-a-kind hand-woven LP cover. Inspired by German education theorist Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of "kindergarten" and is credited with laying the foundation for one system of modern education, the 15 x 15 grid which graces the cover of Wilderness offers a pattern-based playground of visual satisfaction to anyone with a latent curiosity and child-like love of play. Read on as they explain how the album artwork came to fruition, how patterns influence The Last Names' music and vice versa, and more.
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." -- Friedrich Froebel

 

During the 1960s, a flood of immigration brought thousands of Turks from their homeland to Germany, with promises of well-paying career opportunities. Without cultural context, one might find such a German and Turkish association to be bizarre -- but when given historical context, which the heartwarming and humorous Almanya -- Willkommen in Deutschland provides, one begins to understand the fascinating culture surrounding that population, which has now spent decades in a foreign country. Almanya documents the story of a Turkish family, headed by a grandpa who has seen his children grow to father more children in Germany. Each member of the large family seems to hold a different opinion about his or her Turkish-German upbringing and personal degree of assimilation -- so when grandpa declares over dinner that he has purchased a home in Turkey and would like to take a family trip for everyone to see it, he is met with much resistance. Even his wife of many years is surprised and disappointed by the news. To this, he sternly questions, "Have I ever asked anything of you?" and the family falls silent, only to eventually acquiesce to grandpa's will. From there, the film flies through timelines and decades, recapping the family's immigration from Turkey to Germany with all of the pomp and romanticism that all who dream of a new opportunities no doubt have. But while the film humorously spotlights the excitement of grandpa's past, it also expresses, on the behalf of both the grandparents and their Turkish-born children, a sense of nostalgia for a motherland that lies as a gateway between Europe and Asia. SEE FULL FILM REVIEW AND TRAILER

 

Early Fall is apparently the time in Portland for experimental and ambient listening events galore. These exciting weeks begin on Sunday, September 23rd with a FREE six-channel installation at PNCA featuring Robert Henke (Monolake), Marcus Fischer, and many more local musicians. It continues on September 26th and September 28th with two sessions from New Age guru IASOS, and goes even further on September 30th with a REDEFINE-sponsored event with modern classical composer Nils Frahm. Frahm, Henke, and collaborators from Nueva Forma will also be playing at Seattle's all-encompassing electronic music festival, Decibel, from September 26th through 30th. Expect two more similar events next week, centered around Deep Listening and John Cage.

An Intimate Evening w/ Nils Frahm

Presented by Adso Ink, REDEFINE magazine, and Classic Pianos
In a live setting, contemporary composer Nils Frahm is known for working with whatever keys come his way, to improvise a new composition every time. The video below showcases his ability to stretch this out in a way that suits not only his personal style, but his immediate surroundings as well. Sunday, September 30th, 2012 @ Classic Pianos (3003 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR) $15 Advance | $20 Day of Show | All Ages

 

Pre-sale tickets FACEBOOK EVENT FULL DETAILS Frahm has rightly caught the attention of Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Kieran Hebden of Four Tet with his unconventional approach to modern piano. He will no doubt bring his playful and humble attitude to Portland, for an intimate evening at the beautiful showrooms of Classic Pianos. Portland-based sound artist Marcus Fischer will open the event. Please join us.

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Two female-fronted records from Taken By Trees and Southern Shores offer their unique spins on tropical-influenced experimental pop and release their records on the same day (October 2) via Secretly Canadian and Cascine, respectively. SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Taken By Trees

Victoria Bergsman, former frontwoman of The Concretes and the female voice on Peter Bjorn And John's "Young Folks", is now stepping into a new light with her newest project, Taken By Trees. Her debut record, Other Worlds, will be released on Secretly Canadian on October 2nd and highlights a sunshine-filled period in Bergsman's life, when the Hawaiian Islands and falling in love played a crucial role in changing her artistic trajectory. Two singles have been thus far released for the album -- the stereotypically dream pop "Dreams", with a music video you can see HERE, and the dubbed out dance jam, "Large", which you can hear below. On Other Worlds, Taken By Trees is innovative at times and derivative at times, but "Large" is a hint of Bergsman's better tendencies. Simply drawing from tropical influences is often not quite enough -- especially in this current tropical pop-saturated atmosphere -- but when tropicalia is slathered in manipulations and unexpected tendencies, that's when it really shines, and Bergsman does so well here. Taken By Trees will soon be on tour with Jens Lekman, whose latest you can hear HERE. See full tour dates at the bottom of this post, and expect our full review of the record soon.

 

Decibel Festival Showcase & Musician Picks

We've done the dirty work of flying through the expansive Decibel Festival 2012 schedule to select emerging and established acts which we think are most worthy of your valuable time. Sometimes this manifests as us gushing over complete all-night showcases or focusing on the Optical series, which merges visual art and music; other times, we dish out praise for solitary wheelers and dealers. Hear audio clips, read summaries, and more in this massive festival preview guide.

Decibel Festival Conferences

Music pioneers, experts, and newbies alike take heed! Decibel Festival's 2012 Conferences are a glimpse of what it's like to go to school for a degree in electronic music wizardry. Featuring collaborations with some fine and forward-thinking folks of the electronic world, these conferences run the gamut, giving those who want to get hands-on and technical the opportunities to do so, as well as offering more relaxed lectures for the bashful yet curious. Our choices for the 2012 Conference events focus heavily on the cross-disciplinary, emerging technologies, and panels which directly involve audience participation.

Decibel Festival After-Hours Parties

Those who: a) want to squeeze every last bit of glorious music-watching opportunity out of Decibel but are frustrated by the very human quality of being limited by time; and b) don't want to pay for a Decibel Festival pass but want to witness the international and national touring acts that will be in Seattle; will find some alleviation in Decibel Festival's After-Hours events. There are seven total, presented by Resident Advisor, Red Bull, and more.

Decibel Festival Boat Parties

Of all the Seattle experiences one can have, there's nothing quite like a sunny afternoon floating atop the waters of Lake Washington and Lake Union with skyscrapers, houseboats, nature, and sunshine in sight. Decibel Festival has expanded their annual boat parties from two days to four this year, in an effort to provide more intimate experiences for all showgoers.

Decibel Festival Lineup 2012

 

What some of us might call the Pacific Northwest's best music festival -- and maybe the next and more relaxed SXSW -- is Musicfest NW, a multi-day spread across Portland's best venues. Featuring diverse and exceptional booking, we've split our coverage this year between indie staples, unconventional dance acts, and heavy riffers. Over the course of four days, we gush about everyone from Hot Snakes to The Helio Sequence, Mean Jeans to Omar Souleyman, John Maus to Pure Bathing Culture... and many more, including Swans, Beirut, and Chelsea Wolfe, to name a few. TEXT BY VIVIAN HUA & ERIK BURG; PHOTOGRAPHY BY LYMAY IWASAKI & NATHAN WATTERS SEE FULL FESTIVAL RECAP & PHOTO GALLERY
Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Red Fang

When Red Fang’s beardy, Pabst-swilling selves took the stage at Roseland Theater, the crowd thundered with a hand-clapping, foot-stomping welcome as driving as the band’s opening notes. In a bill consisting of them, Hungry Ghost, and Hot Snakes, Red Fang were easily the crowd favorites of the night. They built off of the unintentionally playful sonics of Hungry Ghost by one-upping similar rhythms and stylistic shifts into much gnarlier and more interesting territory. With every seemingly mediocre or white bread songwriting move came the crust of a more delicious lick; their beastly instrumental slaughtering led to their carving out juicy hunks of musical turkey, next to what had previously been cold and bland deli meat. Red Fang have gained an extensive following locally and beyond in recent years, and the ease with which they toe the line between accessibility and unpredictable manipulation is one main reason. Even those who can’t stand their brand of rock can appreciate that they do what they do with a high caliber of professionalism and an impressive display of confidence. - VIVIAN HUA SEE ALSO: CHARITABLE MUSICIANS: RED FANG BENEFIT PORTLAND ARTS EDUCATION (W/ INTERVIEW)

 

Remix City sifts through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals.
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Matthew Dear + Michna

Michna's 4-track Moving Mountains EP comes out early next week on Ghostly International, and has remixed a track from labelmate Matthew Dear. "Earthforms" upholds Matthew Dear's dubbed-out vocal treatments while entering frequently into drum n' bass territory. Moving Mountains EP is the first release fom the New York producer in nearly four years, since 2008's debut record, Magic Monday. His single "Through The City On The Edge Of Forever" can be heard on Ghostly International's Soundcloud. Pacific Northwest folks can see him live tonight at Barboza in Sattle or tomorrow at Rotture in Portland. Both dates are with Breton. Full tour dates below, along with the original of "Earthforms".
Matthew Dear - "Earthforms" (Michna Remix) [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Matthew-Dear_Earthforms_Michna-Remix.mp3|titles=Matthew Dear - Earthforms (Michna Remix)]

 

Looking Through The Glass
When I first wrote about the work of Sydney, Australia's Mark Whalen years ago, I was fascinated by his use of bright pinks and blues in angular ways that can't possibly exist in "real life". Now, in 2012, Whalen has taken those same tendencies and brought them into a Homer Simpson-meets-3D-world level of trippiness, as parabolic three-dimensional grids cross with graph paper lines and shapes in various stages of dimension transformation. Lankier versions of the same characters Whalen used before traverse his far out illustrated environments in varying chaotic states. Some are being swallowed up by giant golden chess pieces; some engaging in ritualistic sacrifices; others falling down stairs and holding up basketballs on royal pedastals. More on Whalen soon. For now, enjoy these works, for a modern M.C. Escher-esque take on pattern and space, as swabbed in bright colors, humor, perversions, and rituals.
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