2014 was an amazing time for music, and this year, rather than asking the Gina Altamura and Van Pham of the interdisciplinary Portland venue and nightclub Holocene to list their favorite up-and-coming Portland musicians, we decided to give them the opportunity to highlight their favorite shows of 2014, both local and international. The dynamic result is not exclusively Holocene-centric, and definitely gives ample nods to Portland's experimental music scene.
PHOTO: SZA @ Holocene, Courtesy of Red Bull Sound Select SEE ALL POSTS RELATED TO: PORTLAND MUSICIANS + HOLOCENE PORTLAND  
Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.
Philosophy and spirituality intertwine in this amazing three-part narrative for How To Dress Well's latest record, What Is This Heart?. Directed by Johannes Greve Muskat, this three-part trilogy for "Repeat Pleasure", "Face Again", and Childhood Faith In Love" touch upon dramatic themes of "how to live and love and die right, in a world that makes these things so difficult." Read on for a compare and contrast interview between How To Dress Well's Tom Krell and Muskat, as they speak about the videos themes, symbolism, and more. REDEFINE will be co-presenting a night with How To Dress Well at Portland's Holocene on August 25th, 2014. Click the poster at right for details!

How To Dress Well - "Repeat Pleasure" Music Video (Part 1 of 3 of What Is This Heart? Trilogy)

You have an extensive scholarly background in Philosophy. This intellectual pursuit might at first glance seem incongruous with the deep mysticism of a shamanic figure like the one you play in “Face Again". How do you reflect on and make peace with your own relationship between the mystic and the intellectual, the cerebral and the spiritual?
“Whoa this is like 100% right on; I've always been interested in how to navigate these two modes, mystical-musical and the controlled-rational-philosophical. Not sure I have a full-blown answer yet. I think they are on the one hand incongruous modes and then on the other hand, I think they can contribute to each other obliquely." - Tom Krell, How To Dress Well

How To Dress Well - "Face Again" Music Video (Part 2 of 3 of What Is This Heart? Trilogy)

Speaking of Philosophy, your video for "Childhood Faith in Love" seems to point to an understanding of the child almost more akin to that "child" of Nietzsche's in Thus Spoke Zarathustra -- the Child as the final stage in a number of metamorphoses, as an advanced state of self-legislation and freedom that is only attained after a good deal of hardship and deep inner searching. Are we on the right track here? If so, why is this theme to be important to touch upon at this point in your life?
"I love you, you just so totally get me :) I've spoken before about a 'second naivete' as well -- something along precisely these lines." - Tom Krell, How To Dress Well

How To Dress Well - "Childhood Faith In Love" Music Video (Part 3 of 3 of What Is This Heart? Trilogy)

 
Although Asheville, NC certainly has a diverse music scene, the city sitting in the hills of Blue Ridge Mountains is probably more well known for its pickers and strummers than it is for its turntablists and synth wizards. That is, except for once a year, when Moogfest comes to town and celebrates the art of the electronic in honor of synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog, whose foundation and burial site are both located in the artsy mountain town. Moogfest took a break this year in order to regroup, change promoters and pick itself up out of the brisk air of autumn and move itself to the promising days of spring (it will be held April 25-27 in 2014). Into its silent void flowed Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit , a three-day electronicaganza (promoted by Bonaroo-bringers, AC Entertainment) that delivered a variety of both big-name acts and up-and-comers. The gigs were held in various venues throughout the city, which helped create different pools of mood you could dive into and out of throughout the weekend, from the stadium-like Exploreasheville.com Arena (formerly the Civic Center) and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium (both of which comprise the US Cellular Center—confused yet?) to the intimate and indie-feeling Asheville Music Hall. Acts overlapped each night, so decisions had to be made, but for the most part, it was possible to groove to a broad mix of sounds from about six to past midnight each night. Here's my extensive recap of the entire experience over the three days.
 
FRIDAY

Jacques Greene

For me, the festival got off to a bit of an unpleasant bass-blasting start. I began with a bit of Jacques Greene at the Orange Peel before getting pretty much "bassed out" of the venue. Greene is a 21-year-old house producer from Montreal who manned the decks on stage. His tracks definitely grooved, but the bass was so severely accentuated that it was hard to take in any of the other sounds he was unleashing. You definitely felt the music, but actually hearing it was another story.  

Purity Ring

So I chalked things up to the sound engineer possibly being more comfortable with larger spaces and trotted across town to largest venue in the mix, the ExploreAsheville.com Arena to catch Purity Ring. This Canadian duo has been turning heads since the July 24 release of their first album, Shrines, and features Corin Roddick on the decks and Megan James on vocals. Roddick's arrangements are deep and icy, full of cycled vocal samples and echoey deep-space synth. Above this, tethered by a thick cord of bass, James' sweeter-than-Bjork voice floated. Again, there were times when that low-end tether was a little too thick, smothering the lyrics and turning James' sweet and sometimes spooky voice into just another component in the wash of sound. But it's hard to tell if that was intentional or just another case of bad mixing. On Purity Ring's recorded work, the vocals are often smeared deeply into the music, so the lyrics don't always pop. What did pop on stage were the pod-like lanterns that the duo both played with drum sticks, getting a satisfying percussive boom from each.  

Deltron 3030

Next up, in the same venue, was Deltron 3030. As opposed to the Purity Ring duo who looked a little dwarfed on the big stage, Deltron staffed the scene with a full string section, a horn section, guitars and four back-up singers lending support to the stars of the supergroup: Del the Funky Homo Homosapien and Dan the Automator (both of who've been part of Gorillaz), as well as DJ Kid Koala. The squadrons of sound they constructed moved the audience and my whole body: the guitar hooks worked my hips; Kid's scratches jiggled my head from side to side; the horns got my shoulders shrugging; and the drum beats took care of the rest. Del's lyrics tickled my brain too. I say tickled because — you guessed it — most of them were buried beneath not just the bass, but by the weight of all that sound. One of the clearest vocal moments came when Dan the Automator, dressed in tails and conducting the band with a baton, taught the audience the verse: "Deltron is our hero; if he can't do it nobody can." It was our part to play as they told their futuristic rock opera staring Deltron Zero. But I suppose at this point in the night words were becoming meaningless anyway, and you really didn't need any instructions to enjoy the Deltron ride.
I will say that the bass overload from the night did cause me to miss Bassnectar who manned the stage after Detron. The beams and batting in the ceiling out by the concession stands were already vibrating in an ugly way from the night's festivities; I didn't really want to stick around to see what might happen when the ace of bass let lose. From what I heard, the set was hot and the building held up.

September 22nd officially marks the end of summer 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere — and to celebrate the passing of time, we’ve decided to create a timeline to forever remember the songs currently trending on our site, as well as take a look back on the music that has colored...

In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 
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. Today, modern Cambodian rock band The Cambodian Space Project get some love from David Gunn, and the single from How To Dress Well's upcoming record, Total Loss, gets remixed by UK producer Koreless.
++ SEE ALL: REMIX CITY POSTS - MUSIC COLUMNS - FULL POST

 

How To Dress Well + Koreless

How To Dress Well just premiered a new track today via NPR, entitled "& It Was U". This post is not about that, though you can listen to that sparse track HERE. Instead, this post is fixated on the remix of "Cold Nites" that UK producer Koreless did, which is like a tinkering melody emanating from an opened jewel box. This track is from HTDW's upcoming record, Total Loss, which comes out on September 17th on Weird World and Acephale. The original, in true Tom Krell fashion, is much more dramatic, somber, and R&B-oriented. Pre-order the record HERE or HERE. Limited editions available; full tracklisting below. How To Dress Well - "Cold Nites" (Koreless Remix) How To Dress Well - "Cold Nites" (Original)

 

"He's like an ambient R. Kelly," describes one girl to her friend. Both are waiting outside of Portland's Holocene for How To Dress Well, the project of solo musician Tom Krell, to take the stage. As simultaneously flattering and unflattering any comparisons to R. Kelly might be, they are, in this case, not entirely appropriate or accurate. Tom Krell of How To Dress Well is not R. Kelly though he may have a cadence that is similar. Nor are the differences found in both musicians' adoration of '90s R&B, which in Krell's case, was evidenced by slyly inserted homages to songs like INOJ's "Love You Down" and R. Kelly's "I Wish". Obvious fact of race aside, what separates Krell from a musician like R. Kelly is stage presence. Whereas one might expect R. Kelly to sloppily fall on his knees and babble when seized by the power and might of soul music, watching Krell is arresting in a completely different way. Krell is certainly brimming with passion, but in a much more reserved sense, coming off sometimes more as a choir boy than a soul singer. One almost wishes at times that he would throw more caution into the wind, to not only sing words with conviction, but to get a little less controlled, more possessed, and more anything goes in his entire being.
Portland, OR @ Holocene - June 14th, 2012

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. Orcas - Orcas Two Pacific Northwest musicians -- electronic-minded singer-songwriter Benoit Pioulard and minimal composer Rafael Anton Irisarri (of The Sight Below) -- have gotten together for the aptly-named Orcas. Their upcoming self-titled...

cmj music marathon picks for tuesday, october 19th das racist This hip-hop duo took the internet by force and drilled their single, “Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell,” into thousands (perhaps millions) of heads repeatedly, and deservedly so. Not for a long time has hip-hop sounded...