In honour of the Year of the Water Snake and the festival's ninth year running, Symbiosis Gathering 2013 took us to the stunning isolation of Woodward Reservoir in Oakdale, CA to lose ourselves in an unbeatable line-up, and to then find ourselves in poetry, trees, healing domes, sacred fires and endless dives into the lake (for which we are all grateful). With an emphasis on the magic of transformation, Symbiosis provided an enchanted space of bio-psycho-spiritual healing, environmental and sociocultural conscious learning, and a unique source of musical inspiration. Among the many loved and soon-to-be loved artists was the powerful voice of Lynx, the free-flowing explorations of Mount Kimbie, and the ever-passionate words of The Coup.
Photography by Setareh Vatan

Lynx

Out of the untamed medley of transcendental ritual and primal movement that coloured the ether emerged, like a wild cat to the stage, Lynx: a woman whose roar resonated with deep earthy sounds that, like any shamanic heartbeat, carried the audience into a trance. Lynx's style marries folk, electronica, and traces of indie pop with her own beat-boxing, into a highly satisfying cross-genre hybrid, arousing overwhelming appreciation from a crowd immersed in continuous proclamations of love. With her first album, October 2010's On The Horizon, this Bay Area-brewed artist has been charming the world with her strong vocals for some time, and yet my first taste of her at Symbiosis was certainly a highlight of the festival for me, as it no doubt was for many others. Lynx creates a raw, sensual atmosphere throughout songs that swing from downtempo to upbeat rhythms. Her lyrics evoke archetypal imagery of a profound feminine power. On The Horizon presents a magical copulation of the inner unconscious in a poetic dance with a surreal surface world, as Lynx sings of existential ruminations amid romantic sentiments in a lyrical journey that hints at a negotiation of the self. At a festival focused on the partnership between two states of being, Lynx reaches symbiotic perfection through both technical eclectic success and a smooth voice that seduces the audience into watery world balanced between the emotive and the physical, leaving the crowd soaked in enjoyment and hungry for more. Luckily for all of Lynx's pre-existing fans and the new ones she created at Symbiosis (such as myself), her new album, Light Up Your Lantern, will be released on October 22nd.
A review of the Pickathon Music Festival, located on Pendarvis Farm just a short bike ride away from Portland, Oregon, is a tough thing to approach. An honest review will be one of the most favorable things you will read, because Pickathon is one of the most well-put together, intentional, everything-that-is-right-with-America musical festivals there is. It is a bit difficult to be objective and maintain credibility while oozing and gushing over every aspect of the three-day indie roots festival as though it's a schoolyard crush... but let's give it the ol' college try anyway!
"Since day one, the idea behind Pickathon has always been pretty simple: what does it take to be the best weekend festival of the year for music lovers? This question has driven us to highly refine an experience that is truly unique. Innovation has always been at the center of this process and through the years many important elements have come together; collaborating widely on yearly diverse lineups that are built on the idea of great music being the sole criteria; refining six unique performance venues designed to create juxtaposing alternate realities; trusting important decisions can be discussed and made with our online community such as maintaining a low crowd density; becoming the only large music festival to eliminate plastic and minimize single use items; recruiting the finest food and drink purveyors in the land; focusing constantly on eliminating "normal" festival hassles; enabling families to thrive; working with the Pendarvis Family to create a highly designed paradise of a festival grounds, and the list goes on." - Pickathon Festival

 

Oakland's Lumerians are releasing The High Frontier this month, and its first single is the surprisingly female-narrated "Life Without Skin". The track shows Lumerians at their finest, full of subdued control; they roll through different sonic moves and structural movements with ease, without leaving behind the swirling qualities they are so well-known for. Visuals have always been important for Lumerians -- who have a projector setup in tow at most of their shows -- and this music video, directed by long-time band friend and filmmaking collaborator Waylon Bacon, follows "Life Without Skin" as it moves with quickening pace. Quivering and shuddering, th videoe explores Los Angeles' Skid Row late at night, as buildings mutate and mysterious ghouls roam the dingy streets.

 

Fox & Woman - This Side Dawn Album ReviewFox & Woman This Side Dawn Name Drop Swamp Records On their debut LP, This Side Dawn, eclectic pop-folk-jazz-rock band Fox & Woman gives us an exciting window into their developing hybridized sound. Throughout the album, satisfying pop-inspired moments catch our ear while sporadic bursts of musical potential demand our attention. Though hindered somewhat by its unfocused instrumentation, This Side Dawn suggests the artistic honesty and commitment necessary for the band to ultimately hone in on their unique sound.

 

The lingering spectre of Bohemia is alive and well on this Thursday evening, cloistered in a mysterious pocket of SE Portland. This show is an invite-only occasion in a tiny house venue, lit up and resplendent in candle flame and shadow. Four stellar acts, firmly underground but rising rapidly, quickly and firmly destroy any lingering retrophilia, that destructive nostalgia that leaves cultural explorers feeling hopeless and defeated. The feeling that everything has been done before, done better, by our parents, our older siblings, our neighbors and bosses. Can it be that there are actually GIANTS among us, living saints and martyrs, sacrificing all in living rooms and kosher delis the world over? Every act that plays this cozy living room show is distinctive, with something passionate and personal to transmit.
July 18th, 2013 @ Dream's Outer Space in Portland, Oregon

Wizard Apprentice

First up is Wizard Apprentice (formerly known as Fat Transfer), from Oakland, CA. My friends and I come in during the tail end of her performance, lulled, hypnotized, and mesmerized by her loop-oriented, disembodied soul music. She plays with backing tapes, vaguely karaoke style, with layers and loops of her own voice, making a spectral chorus out of thin air. Talk about "an army of me"! She unknowingly answers a few questions I'd been having regarding arrangements and structure, and my mind is whizzing with new ideas by the time she extinguishes her wicks. She's got a new album out on Bandcamp, seems to be a formidable talent with a distinctive vision to communicate, so you'd be advised to get in on the ground floor, and check out this newcomer.  
Date Palms The Dusted Sessions Thrill Jockey Records On The Dusted Sessions, Date Palms trace a fertile crescent from Nile Delta to Mojave Desert; soaring you though the stratosphere, then plummeting for a McCarthy slow crawl through the dust. Thrill Jockey have been killing it lately with their evocations of '70s kosmic soul jazz. Date Palms, however, have not created a love song to a record collection; rather, they employ the traditional associations of eclectic visionary instruments to take you on a journey through interesting interior landscapes.

 

!!! Thri!!!er Warp Records !!! are by definition FUN. Once you move past the confusion of how you pronounce their band name (it's "Chk Chk Chk"), you realize that it just adds an extra emphasis on maximum excitement. Their musical goal in life is to get you pumped, get your body moving, and maybe even get you dancing. And this they have achieved, with every one of their previous records; they've been shaking booties since 2001, and they don't plan on stopping now. Their fifth full-length, Thr!!!er, definitely has a dance rock element similar to the band's previous releases, but there seems to be a unexpected pop music emphasis to this album. The opening track, "Even When the Water is Cold," is an odd choice for a start. It sounds off-kilter for !!!, who always struck me as a band who didn't really care what you think (hell, they don't care if you can't figure out their band name) -- but now seem to be heading into more mainstream territory. This is a new realm for the band: making normal pop songs, with no synthy dance tangents, or spaced out surreal moments of zen.

 

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

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS is a recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This post highlights some reliable folks in the psychedelic rock community, including Portland's Eternal Tapestry and their Thrill Jockey labelmates Barn Owl, along with a new track from Woodsman.
SEE ALSO: FULL POST + ALL SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS POSTS + ALL COLUMNS

Eternal Tapestry

Eternal Tapestry's records are known for their epic instrumental ebbs and flows -- a sound that comes partly from their creative process. On their latest record, A World Out Of Time, Eternal Tapestry broke their usual mold of culling material from hours worth of jam sessions and instead recorded the album at once, in its entirety. The music video for their latest single, "Apocalypse Troll", was directed by guitarist Nick Bindeman and combines live video footage shot by Anton Long with vintage geometric and extreme sport (?!) imagery. Despite a duration of only 2:23, the abstract footage and the track's memorable leading guitar riffs propel it forward in a blissfully anthemic way. The remainder of the record wiggles itself all over the psychedelic rock universe like nobody but Eternal Tapestry's business. A World Out Of Time will be released November 13th via Thrill Jockey Records, and you can pre-order it HERE. The band has two upcoming Portland shows: tomorrow with Midday Veil at The East End in Portland, alongside Grapefruit and Hot Victory, and November 9th at 7:30pm, as a part of Thrill Jockey Records' 20th Anniversary Show. That insane lineup also includes locals like Golden Retriever, Mike Scheidt, and Jason Urick, as well as out-of-towners like Liturgy, Barn Owl, and Trans Am. See the full post for the A World Out Of Time tracklisting and to hear an edit of the notably more spastic track "When Gravity Falls".

 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Here's a cheerful post with Sub Pop Records' Still Corners, Born Gold's Teenage Sweater, and UK musician Chad Valley, of Jonquil, featuring Glasser's Cameron Mesirow. SEE ALSO +++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Chad Valley

Glasser's Cameron Mesirow turns everything to gold with her New Age delicacy, and Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. churns out fanatic fans like none other. So it is that both musicians take the '80s pop-inspired tracks of Hugo Manuel (aka Chad Valley) to the next level. The comparison to "'80s pop" is not used lightly here; Chad Valley pretty much epitomizes the genre, complete with the most straight-forward pop vocals you've probably heard in a while. "Fall 4 U" and "I Owe You This" come from Young Hunger, out on Cascine, and the whole record boasts additional contributions from similarly-minded guest stars include El Perro Del Mar, Active Child, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Full tracklisting to follow, along with an upbeat remix by Lissvik. Chad Valley Ft. Twin Shadow - "I Owe You This" Chad Valley Ft. Glasser - "Fall 4 U" (Original)

 

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's installment goes industrial! Einstürzende Neubauten's Alexander Hacke works his magic on San Francisco's Tussle, U.K. post-industrial outfit Factory Floor turn Australia's My Disco into a hardly recognizable form, and the post ends with a throwback to the brutality of Einstürzende Neubauten themselves, as remixed by Adrian Sherwood.
++ SEE ALL: REMIX CITY POSTS OR MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Tussle

San Francisco's groovy electronic act Tussle will be releasing their fourth album, Tempest, on September 25th via Smalltown Supersound! "Eye Context" is the first single from the album, now followed by a remix of "Yume No Mori" by Einstürzende Neubauten's Alexander Hacke, who did a fantastic job working far out electronics in with brutal percussion and funky basslines.

 

This post is long overdue, but it is a recap of our SXSW 2012 party, which you can read more about HERE. REDEFINE's second annual SXSW party was once again thrown with Gina Altamura of Portland nightclub Holocene and Marjorie Owens of Dallas blog Clumsy N Shy, who collaborated on an evening of acts that entranced your mind and made your body move. Beyond that basic premise, the bands that really held the crowd's attention and turned it from a 21-room college co-op into a home for all were those who really exemplified the ideal of the entire party, as captured by the Alan Watts quote below. They were the bands that provided in comfort to concertgoers, by providing a balance for all to see, hear, and feel -- and often with fantastic visual aids to boot. This quick recap, consisting primarily of videos, highlights some of our favorite acts of the day. Hope you can join us next year.

 

"The only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets -- is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together." -- Alan Watts

 

Midday Veil

Midday Veil - "The Current" > Filmed and Edited by Lymay Iwasaki