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.

TBA Festival 2014 is upon us, and over the course of its two-week course, Portlanders will be graced with a number of audio-visual treats, eats, and experiments. This year's lineup seems less dance-heavy than usual, but brings with it perhaps the festival's most exciting musical...

Brian Reitzell Retrospective Feature
Kraftwerk's 1974 album, Autobahn, was inspired by the feeling of traveling freely along the open German motorways it was named after. Forty years later, a different driving journey serves as a guiding force behind Brian Reitzell's debut album, Auto Music: Reitzell's commute to and from work in Los Angeles. Its motorik kinship with other Krautrock greats is keenly present on tracks like "Auto Music 1", echoing as it does Can's formative free-form instrumentation and the metronomic pulse of Neu!. In that sense, the song and album's influences feel expertly curated--which isn't surprising, given that Reitzell is the same man who is responsible for the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" playing over the closing scene in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation--as well as getting My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields to contribute to that film's soundtrack after a long spell out of the spotlight. As he explained recently in an interview with The New York Times Style Magazine, Brian Reitzell arrived at his current position of being a music supervisor and composer (or "music conceptualist", as he considers himself) by way of his previous stint serving as the drummer for long-running California rock band Redd Kross during the 1990s. It was during his time in the band that he met Sofia Coppola, who sought him out to help put together the soundtrack for her first full-length film, The Virgin Suicides. He ended up pulling double duty by working with Air to compose and perform the score for the film as well. Since then, he has been at the helm for the soundtracks to almost all of Coppola's films, among others, making a name for himself in very individualistic ways.

 

Every year, we interview a number of musicians and artists about the intimate details and philosophical underpinnings of their album cover artwork. It's an ever-massive undertaking, but we make sure to include every genre, from doom metal to disco, minimal electronic to mainstream pop, with the intention of highlighting the best visual art, regardless of why or who created it. You can see entries from previous years here, and browse 2013's entries by either scrolling down or selecting a category below. > Narrative & Mythological Album Covers > Photographic Album Covers > Illustrative Album Covers > Mixed Media & Collage-Based Album Covers

Out with the old, no matter how good it is! Here's our comprehensive list of Top Albums of the Year 2013, schizophrenic as always to reflect the diverse tastes of our staff, though there is some overlap. It's highly recommended you check out every release here, as each has its own creative strengths.
Matthew Carter - electronic, experimental, metal, pop, rock Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Troy Micheau - classical, electronic, experimental, instrumental Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Elizabeth Perry - indie, mainstream, pop, rock Peter Woodburn - classical, instrumental, metal XUA - electronic hip-hop, mainstream, pop Albums of the Year 2013

jpg" class="alignright" />Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven Warp Records (2013) It's been said that our generation would never have its Sgt. Pepper's -- that everything is too fragmented, irrevocably lost to postmodern meltdown. Still, it seems that everybody is listening to, and talking about, Oneohtrix Point Never's debut for Warp Records, R Plus Seven. For the moment, it seems that Daniel Lopatin is speaking for all of us. You've got to wonder; what's he trying to say? OPN has risen from a sea of anonymous downloads and esoteric electronics albums on limited edition cassettes. Watching his artistic evolution has been like watching a microcosm of an entire world of psychedelic bedroom producers, jamming their machines, drunk on information overload. Along with former member of The Skaters, James Ferraro, he's like the patron saint of vaporwave, the Socrates of the uncanny Valley. He's been screwing around and developing his own musical language, but he's quite adept at waxing eloquent as he does so. He's giving voice to unconscious drives and desires.

In this first installment of Music Art Trends, a column detailing stylistic commonalities across music media, we highlight electronic musicians Oneohtrix Point Never and Jimmy Edgar's respective collaborations with artists Takeshi Murata and Brez. In the music videos for "Problem Areas" and "Hot Inside", animated three-dimensional objects are the main focus (and in the case of Jimmy Edgar's "Hot Inside", one can also find another popular sub-theme often found in music art these days: that of finely-manicured female hands).

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS is a recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This post highlights the exciting new project from Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin and a track from Seattle's relatively unknown Stenskogen.
SEE ALSO: FULL POST + ALL SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS POSTS + ALL COLUMNS

Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin

Opening track "Instrumental Tourist" comes from Tim Hecker's collaboration with Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never for the ambient electronic collaboration of the year! It is the first project under SSTUDIOS (Software Studio Series), where Software Recording Co. will be inviting electronic musicians to collaborate with one another. In this case, most of the works were spontaneous creations with little forethought. Get ready to take a tour around, where analog and digital sounds are thrown into a confusing and inseparable mix. More details on the release in the full post, along with full tracklisting.

 

This in-depth feature highlights how well-executed album artwork can go beyond genre lines to expand into territories of philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance. Perhaps now more than ever, album cover artwork plays a vital role in music....