James Blake Overgrown (2013) Universal Republic Few artists are as conscious of their position in the music industry as James Blake. Seemingly spawned from the hype of music blogs and the irresistible "Limit To Your Love" cover which made him famous, Blake knows how volatile and fickle the wicked cycle of fame can be. But such awareness is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is what has driven him to be successful even when the situation was unfair. At the time of his debut album -- a record which he was pressured to piece together by his record label -- Blake felt cheated out of the ability to craft an album he could truly call his own. On Overgrown, however, Blake has crafted a world all his own. And it's as beautiful as anything he has ever created before. In setting the scene, it's important to note the kind of relationship(s) Blake has been in since his bedroom producer days. Much has already been made of his long term relationship with Warpaint guitarist Theresa Wayman, but it's an important development that even Blake has admitted to be an influence on Overgrown. In a recent Guardian interview, when asked about being in love and if it affected his process, Blake responded, "Yeah, it did. And the uncertainty also did. The uncertainty of the nature of the relationship. The uncertainty of touring. The uncertainty of the music industry, and the uncertainty of my position in it." It's an important shift in lifestyle that bears its weight on the whole of Overgrown, a record more grounded in soulful, downtempo electronica than the booming stretch of dubstep EPs he began his career making. Be it the sound itself or the record's lyrical content, Overgrown is the natural evolution of a brilliant artist in his early twenties.

 

CASCINE: The Sound of Escape Now

This mixtape is an ode to the tender elegance and unbridled wanderlust of every springtime renewal. It's our way of saying: goodbye endless winter, hello brand new sunshine. Music for floating overseas through seasons of change, following the cyan expanses, or just heading out to the open sky. This is the sound of innocence won back. Take a deep breath, and jump right in. Curation and descriptions by Sandra Croft, Cascine's publicist.

www.cascine.us

 

Cyclopean Cyclopean Mute Records / Spoon Records (2013) Named after an ancient construction style involving stacks of irregularly-shaped rocks, Cyclopean is an instrumental quartet comprised of Burnt Friedman, Jono Podmore, and two founding members of Can, Jaki Liebezeit and Irmin Schmidt. In line with their namesake, Cyclopean piece together disjointed building blocks to form sonic megaliths, as if to stress not just the importance of an impressive final form, but of minute attention to detail as well. Repetition and minimalism go hand-in-hand on Cyclopean; finely-tuned percussive components and well-placed electronic drones, noises, and theremin textures comprise the foundation of the record. Though the EP initially weighs heavy, it grows increasingly airy as it progresses. By its end, it has been loosened from its restrictive ground tethers, ready to float off like a castle in the sky.

 

Upon first seeing the trailer for Botanica, I thought: here it is, a performance that might actually make use of the exciting psychedelic potentials that movement has to offer! Botanica breathes like a nature painting come to life, rooted in hypercolored projected imagery and manipulation of the human body through the use of unusual costumes and props. But powerful as it is when captured via still images, Botanica is a mixed bag when displayed as movement art; it delivers brilliantly in some regards but falls short in others.
Botanica by MOMIX is currently showing in Portland through March 2nd, 2013. * PURCHASE TICKETS *

 

Barn Owl's 2011 release, Lost In The Glare, was an instant love for me and earned a deep place in my heart with hardly any effort at all. I had been longing to see the Northern California duo since, and during the wait, my expectations had been growing higher. In early November, Thrill Jockey Records threw one of four 20th Anniversary shows at Mississippi Studios in Portland. It boasted a seven act lineup of Trans Am, Liturgy, Eternal Tapestry, Barn Owl, Golden Retriever, Mike Scheidt, and Jason Urick, and finally put my expectations for Barn Owl to the test. They certainly passed, by putting on one of the best performances I've ever seen at Mississippi Studios. With a largely improvised set -- I presume -- Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras showed off their electronic-leaning new sound, and wonderfully blew out of proportion what is perhaps most compelling about their music: their ability to engage contradiction by transforming gnarly, noisy sonics into the most heartwarming sounds possible, and their ability to effortlessly send one reeling through time and landscapes eternal.
November 9th, 2012 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon

 

Dead Oceans' Sun Airway, comprised of Philadelphia's Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marsceill, is are not only indie pop extraordinaires, but are musicians with an understanding of aural-visual relationships. The choices they make in selecting collaborators result in visuals richly sympathetic to their musical output and evoke the same sense of wonder and romance that their music does. The album cover for Sun Airway's 2012 release, Soft Fall, is adorned with a beautiful woman caught beneath a stringed web of falling flowers, porcelain china, and fine silver. It was painstakingly crafted by Japanese art collective NAM. In the bi-lingual Japanese and English interview and feature below, Barthmus and NAM's art director and designer Takayuki Nakazawa offer their perspectives on the creative process, as we further explore the work of both parties.
JAPANESE TO ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY MORGAN HARKNESS Takayuki Nakazawa (NAM): Our aim was to perfectly match the world of Sun Airway's music and take that world of sound and enlarge its image visually. I believe that the music and the cover visuals that go with the creation of an album have an extremely intimate relationship. Music and visuals have the power to overcome country and language to convey a message. Creating something so intimate between the US and Japan was an incredible experience, and most of all it was fun! We would like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to Jon Barthmus for inviting us to this wonderful project. 私達が今回目指したのはSun Airwayの音楽の世界と完全にマッチし、さらに音の世界をビジュアルによってイメージの視覚的拡大をする事でした。アルバム制作における音楽とカバービジュアルは本来とても密接な関係性をもっているものだと思います。音楽やビジュアルは言語や国境を超えて伝達していく力があり、今回、日本とアメリカの間で密な相互関係をもって制作が行われた事は、私達にとって大変良い経験で、なによりも楽しかった!このような素敵なプロジェクトに私達を誘ってくれたJon Barthmusさんに、この場をお借りして感謝をしたいと思います。

 

MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s-t+l-l)icks. Today, Aperiodic bring chaotic free jazz noise, and we pay slight homage to past sounds via Finland's haunting Paavoharju and post-hardcore classics The Jesus Lizard.
++ SEE: FULL POST + MADNESS POSTS or MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Aperiodic

Aperiodic's Future Feedback begins with "New West", a slow growth of jingling bells and static that bumps found sounds up against R2D2-type electronic beeping. Banging, off-tempo jazz drums and distorted guitar all grow in intensity throughout the duration of the 4-minute track, and one could suspect that the remainder of Future Fedback will be comprised of hardly palatable instrumental wankery. In a sense, one would suspect right, but this type of music always took a special musical ear to appreciate. Elements of musique concrète, free jazz, and noise are at the forefront of Future Feedback, which champions improvisation's most chaotic possibilities with a natural erratic twitch. Aperiodic have described themselves as "The Jesus Lizard disfigured beyond recognition", and it is the spirit of the post-hardcore band that shines through, not actual music parallels. The disfiguration comes in Aperiodic's cramming of heavier noise elements into a free jazz framework in absolute madness. Only on one track, "Amalia's Regret", does the band slow down to explore their more minimal side via creepy breathing and classic piano. You can rest assured, though; structure hardly plays a more significant role even then. The entire album is now available via Phratry Records, and you can stream its digital noise stylings via the Bandcamp embed below. Prepare yourself for all of the guitar distortion, manipulated samples, and pummeling drums you can imagine. And while you're at it, see the full post for a stream of The Jesus Lizard's full-length from 1991, Goat.

 

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.

 

Remix City Sifting through mountains of remix trash so you don't have to, in an attempt to find the ones that contribute to their originals. Cat Power and Nicolas Jaar create a truly repeatable duet between remix and original, and Alice Cohen makes music perfect for the summer.

 

When two artists REDEFINE writers are excited about -- Cat Power and Nicolas Jaar -- get together, the results are sure to be nothing but spectacular. In the original for "Cherokee", Cat Power calls attractively for upwards post-mortem levitation and submission, the track's uptempo rhythm feeling more celebratory than pained the entire way. More heart-wrenching liberties are taken with Jaar's ballad-like rendition, which feels as though the sky is opening, shining down rainbow light like stained glass refractions in a cathedral. This remix and its original are truly complementary pairs. Cat Power's Sun comes out September 3rd on Matador. You can download and listen to the album's first single, "Ruin", HERE.

 

Portland's Golden Retriever opened their record release show for Occupied with the Unspoken not with a performance, but with the music video for their latest single, "Canopy". Directed by Jeff Guay and shot throughout the Pacific Northwest, the music video is a slow-paced meditation on man in nature. As trees blew in light wind, water rippled black, and most strikingly, a pink-blue cloud very lightly floated its way across the projected sky, a roomful of strangers was forced to take a slow moment, a collective breath, in reverence to nature.

 

August 1st, 2012 @ Holocene, Portland