Decades in the making, the musical duo Matmos have built upon their noisy and experimental past to create increasingly conceptual albums that collide together many worlds of thought and style. On their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel have properly outdone themselves, this time basing their project on a concept so well-crafted that its exact specifications shall never be known by anyone save for the band members themselves. At the heart of these vagaries are experiments in extrasensory projections -- that's right, ESP -- though be not fooled: Matmos are skeptical in their own way. Daniel is quick to drop the fun fact that belief in ESP is still considered a symptom of schizophrenia, so outlandish it seems to scientific professionals -- but all that hardly matters in the context of Matmos' project, for they aren't looking to shift any scientific paradigms. No, they are looking to shift their own musical paradigm, and five years of conducting artistic ESP research and synthesizing its results have led to what may perhaps be the band's most exciting record yet. What's more, Matmos have proven that growing with age and experience have not made them any tamer. Their apparently unyielding desire to explore the strange and experimental is as strong as ever, even if it is taking on many different shapes along the way.

 

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 *

 

Multi-faceted artist Saya Woolfalk is burning hallucinatory fires up and down both coasts the beginning of 2013, with dual shows in NYC and Portland. Three-dimensional or two-dimensional, still structure or moving image, Woolfalk navigates it all like a Play-Doh wizard gone haywire or a visionary artist on acid. Her latest solo show, Chimera, is a full-bodied, multi-disciplinary exploration of Woolfalk's fictional species of Empathics, who are genetic chimeras comprised of two or more genetically-distinct tissues. The series is sci-fi-inspired, with an underlying commentary about the transformation of identities through biological hybridization. Though these issues may seem foreign and otherwordly -- especially when tackled in the visually-striking way that Woolfalk has -- they may indeed have increasing relevance in our world in the face of scientific progress. Stay tuned for Woolfalk's in-depth interview with REDEFINE this upcoming month, and view the full post for more information on Woolfalk's shows and the Empathics.
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Now in its tenth year, Seattle's Decibel Festival has grown from a tiny electronic celebration to a world-renowned music festival without sacrificing attention to detail along the way. From fabric wristbands to the notable lack of corporate sponsors -- save for ones that directly affect the electronic music scene in some way -- Decibel has retained a number of the charming qualities which usually become lost to larger festivals. Its continued stress on the audio-visual merging of music and motion art continue to push the festival forward as well, as Seattle's best venues were sometimes upgraded with video equipment and makeshift spaces were sometimes transformed into festival-worthy ones. This review highlights some notable shows from Decibel 2012, ranging from excellent to quite mediocre, and includes write-ups of Andy Stott, Jimmy Edgar, Clark, Demdike Stare, and Orbital. SEE FULL FESTIVAL RECAP AND PHOTO GALLERY

Jimmy Edgar

The Decibel Festival guide claimed that the Warp Records showcase on Wednesday evening would be for fans of Prince, which led to some confusion for me. Would that be in reference to main headliner and mad music scientist Clark? Certainly not. Then who? The winner of the prestigious association -- and pleasant surprise for the festival -- turned out to be 1983-baby and astrology-enthusiast Jimmy Edgar. Edgar, a most handsome and dapper fellow, rose to the stage behind a stripped-down version of the LED light rig he usually travels with, ready to perform his 2012 Hotflush release, Majenta. No hitches here, it seemed... until the projections behind Edgar began to fill the screen. The generic and low-quality visuals, which were more suitable for Windows 95 screensavers than for Edgar's clean productions, seemed like a stock offer from Decibel rather than Edgar's own choice. They became a painfully glaring and vibe-dampening reminder that the newfound "necessity" of supplying electronic shows with accompanying visuals can sometimes go awry when the visuals are tasteless, or of a different taste than the musician's music. They were distracting, to say the least, and it was unfortunate that habit dictated that they received much more attention than they warranted. (Apologies, I suppose, if they are indeed Edgar's creation, though I doubt it, and the criticism remains.) Unfortunate visuals aside, Edgar queued up quite a dance party by passionately embracing every type of electronic music that might even be tangentially related to Prince -- from C&C Music Factory-type club jams and dirty '80s breaks to breathy R&B-influenced slow jams. Soul was at the heart of all of Edgar’s music, and its presence in his body was also clear, from his intense concentration to his spontaneously fabulous uses of vocoder. Such sensory vibage was not lost upon the audience, either. Never have I seen a grouping of men so stoked about the performance of another man, as man after ecstatic man screamed, "Jimmaaaay!!!!!" as though they were going to tear their shirts off in support of Edgar at any given minute. Twas one of the best shows I saw at Decibel, and most certainly one that made a lasting impression.

 

Now in its tenth year, Seattle's Decibel Festival has grown from a tiny electronic celebration to a world-renowned music festival without sacrificing attention to detail along the way. From fabric wristbands to the notable lack of corporate sponsors -- save for ones that directly affect the electronic music scene in some way -- Decibel has retained a number of the charming qualities which usually become lost to larger festivals. Its continued stress on the audio-visual merging of music and motion art continue to push the festival forward as well, as Seattle's best venues were sometimes upgraded with video equipment and makeshift spaces were sometimes transformed into festival-worthy ones. Decibel's continued Optical series is the festival's low-key element, which focuses on mixed media programming that combines ambient, modern classical and experimental sound art with live video, films and installations. This review highlights some of Optical 2012's best moments, in our eyes, with reviews of performances by Robert Henke, Biosphere, and The Sight Below. SEE FULL SHOW REVIEW

Robert Henke

Optical 1: Ghosts In The Shadows -- September 26th, 2012 @ The Triple Door, Seattle, WA Written by VIVIAN HUA With the pounding of chaotic weather against manmade walls, Robert Henke introduced the crowd at The Triple Door to six channels of surround sound. The stage itself stood dark and empty, with the maestro nowhere to be seen. Rain in one ear morphed into train tracks rattling by; howling winds in the other transformed into vehicles and airplanes soaring past. Henke's sounds were so convincing of reality and so unseeming that the audience at The Triple Door carried on with conversation well into the opening minutes of the performance. But as the light rain increased into a torrential downpour, it gave way to machine-like sputtering and alien crackling, and those who hadn't been paying attention finally began to do so. SHOW REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Brooklyn sister duo Prince Rama return with one of their boldest and most well-formulated conceptual spins on their own music yet with their latest record, Top Ten Hits Of The End Of The World. This post samples some tracks and goes into details about the bands and backstories they've invented, their Kickstarter-funded DIY film, their "So Destroyed" dance contest, and a shared recording with Sun Araw. SEE: FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Top Ten Hits For The End Of The World Tracks & Backstories

Prince Rama have long been about chasing the conceptual with their multimedia-encompassing theatrics, but their latest idea, Top Ten Hits For The End Of The World, takes our collective 2012 fascination with the apocalypse and turns it into a most playful collection of pop hits. In my opinion, this record, which is comprised of ten tracks from ten fictional bands -- all of which have extensive back stories crafted by the girls themselves -- is the duo's strongest to date. With Ariel Pink lo-fi vibes but with collation of genres both fictional and invented ("cosmic disco", "motorcycle rock", and "ghost-modern glam", to name a few), the model of Top Ten Hits... frees the girls from the binds of expectation and allows the to run free on all fronts. Rage Peace - "So Destroyed" (as channeled by Prince Rama) For the album's first single, Prince Rama took on the nihilistic protest band Rage Peace's violent-turned-pop songs. According to the press release, "Rage Peace formed as a small protest band in the early 90s and before they knew it they were the Bob Dylans of a whole generation of angry youth. They became founding members of the Rage Peace movement, based on the principle of nihilism as the only true order, and wrote songs with violent messages placed in seemingly saccharine pop structures. The band was notorious for staging organized acts of violence and destruction, burning cars and sometimes buildings in the name of chaos. When the end came, their bodies were found locked inside a limousine they had set on fire. The license plate read 'HEY U'."

 

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.

 

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

 

Imagine the possibilities of world revolution – an upheaval of design, and distribution of resources lighting the path to global peace and (relative) happiness. The largesse of this task is daunting, and has throughout history been commandeered by a few ambitious individuals. Thoughts like these swirled about in a small man with coke-bottle glasses: the inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller. Inventor, engineer, architect, theorist, orator, among many other things, Fuller was first and foremost a futurist – an optimistic man bent on improving his social, political, psychic and physical world with radical thought. His unique life and lifestyle have created an altogether compelling character of sizeable proportion, comprised of all the quirks, hiccups, and gemstone moments worthy of a Wes Anderson-inspired montage. And certainly, director Sam Green’s treatment of Fuller and his life work is admirable in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live documentary collaboration with indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo.
SEE FULL REVIEW