Despite Kadazia Allen-Perry's youth, her cystic fibrosis has forced her to confront her own mortality. In her autobiographical documentary, Chronic Means Forever, the African-American first-time filmmaker provides an intimate exploration into the feelings of alienation and frustration which accompany her life-long diagnosis. Allen-Perry is faced daily...

The Tribe Plemya Film ReviewCalling to mind controversial films like Gaspar Noé's Irreversible (2002) or Harmony Korine's Gummo (1997) and Kids (1995), The Tribe can be construed by some as a film of senseless depravity. Over the course of two hours, it is unrelenting as it bleakly follows the lives of an isolated group of deaf-mute schoolchildren that perpetuate a hierarchical system of bullying, violence, and prostitution within the confines of their school and its adjacent living quarters. The film boasts proudly that no spoken words and no subtitles are necessary to convey its themes of love and hate -- and in this regard, The Tribe is, from the get-go, unlike any other. Bold and polarizing, it wordlessly pulls one deep into its trenches, fictionalizing teenage depravity in the cold, rough climate of post-Soviet Ukraine.
This film was seen as a part of Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) 2015

 

Swami & The Blind Shake Album ReviewInstrumental surf music has achieved a place in modern culture that seems to be at odds with its origins. The roaring breakers, the blue sky and the bright Californian sun suggest a music that should be joyous; however, within the lexicon of this genre there is an ever present dark undertow. It is this contradictory presence -- this sense of danger and even evil, that has, since it's emergence into the mainstream around 1961, given this music its enduring appeal. Bands like The Fireballs, The Spotnicks, The Ramrods and The Surfaris pioneered this unhinged, amped (oh yes, I am using original '60s surf slang here) celebration of the wipeout and the quasimoto. Their West Coast and Hawaiian sound, washing up as far away as the shores of the UK in the form of the Shadows, was popular throughout the world in 1960s and 1970s. The modern reinvigoration of surf rock is accredited by many to the use by Quentin Tarantino of "Bullwinkle Pt II" by the Centurions and "Surf Rider" by The Lively Ones in Pulp Fiction (1994). However, this peculiar and hyperactive music, that seems to go so well with murderous and terrifying imagery, influenced a good many bands much earlier, including the B-52s and the Cramps in 1980s. One thing is, however, certain: since Pulp Fiction this music has been overused in a great many media campaigns. Over the last twenty years, it has surfaced in adverts for everything from toothpaste to banks and, because of this, there was a distinct danger that this evocative music might just become a part of our culture's aural wallpaper and be stripped of any potency. Which brings us to the new album, Modern Surf Classics, by Swami & The Blind Shake. Both authentic and imaginative in its approach this album captures the spirit of the original music, whilst successfully recasting it for the 21st century. The combination of the propulsive and bombastic energy of Minneapolis' own psych punk combo, The Blind Shake, along with John Reis' instrumental brilliance, has produced an album that carries the listener forward on a groundswell of pure and brilliant energy.

 

Natasha Kmeto
A couple years ago, I asked Decibel's founder Sean Horton how he manages to make an appearance at every single one (or almost every one) of the showcases during Decibel Festival. His advice was simple: "Don't drink, don't do drugs, don't eat, DON'T STOP!" While this may indeed work for Sean (is he a robot?!), I am but a mere human and had to abandon at least one of his key tenets (I'll let you use your imagination as to which ones). Overall, I felt like my Decibel Festival 2014 experience was less cohesive than in past years, but that may have just been due to my own headspace; I had a hard time settling for just one showcase each night, so ended up show-hopping far more than I ever have at Decibel. Here are a few of the performances & showcases that stood out. Natasha Kmeto @ EMP Sky Church for the Opening Gala; Photography by +Russ
See all Decibel Festival Coverage

There are hardly any electronic instruments on Punish, Honey. Instead, Vessel's Sebastian Gainsborough built an arsenal of homemade instruments, including flutes made out of bike frames, sheets of metal, and "harmonic guitars". Punish, Honey is an industrialized suite: clanking, stomping, sparking, twitching, pounding. But instead of the giving the sensation of a migraine -- which is sometimes produced from hyperfrenetic digital constructions, as with some of the recent work from James Ferraro -- Punish, Honey is like walking through a factory full of mechanized automata, like a textile mill animated by Jan Svankmajer. Like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, if he had brought jackhammers and bellows to life, rather than broomsticks.
Vessel - Punish, Honey Album Review

Kevin Martin has been at the forefront -- and the margins -- of extreme electronic music and bass culture for over two decades. He's worked in genres as diverse as jazzcore, industrial, grime, dub, and dubstep, while staying rooted in the punk/post-punk ethos, making some of the most adventurous and aggressive music across a staggering array of monikers, pseudonyms, and collaborations.The Bug - Kevin Martin Musician InterviewWith this year's Angels & Devils, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2008's London Zoo, Kevin Martin has resurrected one of his most beloved and influential projects, The Bug. London Zoo employed an arsenal of extreme bass weight, grime-y urban vocals, and abstract sci-fi electronic to reflect the paranoid, claustrophobic world of CCTV London, and the album caught the attention of the wider world at a time when the simulacrum of the internet and social media was really building a head of steam. This brought Kevin Martin's dystopian worldview to a wider audience than ever before, right in the midst of the dubstep explosion. While the rest of the world was busy subverting dubstep's militaristic potential into a formulaic commodity, The Bug sounded fresh, distinctive, weird, warped, and wonderful. As electronic music has become increasingly codified and quantifiable in the mainstream, this placed Kevin Martin in a precarious position and raised the question: just how would he build the follow-up to London Zoo?

 

Pickathon Festival started out as a much more roots, folk and bluegrass-oriented festival. As those genres were gobbled up by eager indie-whatever kids looking to break into a new style, Pickathon adapted with the change. Although bands like Nickel Creek, The Barr Brothers, Shakey Graves and Della Mae hearkened back to the festival's old style, a surprisingly rock-heavy lineup was the face of the 2014 version of Pickathon Festival. Bands like The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco and Brownout/Brown Sabbath were the big draws -- but looking back at it, you couldn't really tell much of a difference in the end. The 2014 version of Pickathon was still the excellently curated, family-friendly (and even more adult friendly) affair that the 2013 Pickathon, and every year before that, was. Pickathon Festival 2014The reason for that is that in this day and age where festivals are hardly differentiated by anything except for stage names, Pickathon sets itself apart from the rest of the musical wasteland by removing its wasteful tendencies. Everything happens at Pickathon for a reason. The end result means that the random stages set up throughout Pendarvis Farm are stellar and sound issues are rarely a problem. Many of the shows are recorded and broadcast live courtesy of a horde of volunteers, which also creates a massive musical archive in the process. Beer, medical attention, phone chargers and general information are all handed out by bright-eyed and cheerful volunteers who are as excited to be there as anyone else. The devil is in the details at Pickathon, stretching from wall art in the portable bathrooms to showers set up within earshot of a stage. For one weekend a year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, becomes the happiest place on Earth for a few thousand people smart enough to know one of the best festivals in the country is happening on someone's backyard. There is every reason to trek down the dusty roads to any of the stages at Pickathon, and no reason to leave.
Pickathon Festival 2014

 

"Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.” Jordan Smith, of Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet

This year, it seemed like the Pickathon lineup was for the boys and girls of rock and roll. No band epitomized that approach like a double billing of the six-piece Diarrhea Planet. The band has four guitarists all shredding a pop sensibility through the power of metal and punk, and in the grand scheme of things, their music sounds like their name -- explosive and relentless. A band of this magnitude of rock can sometimes be a bit off-putting, but a smart time slot and the jovial approach the band takes live makes it seem like you are watching your best friend's band play its first real show. Pickathon Festival 2014 Their first set of the weekend began at 1 a.m. on the first night, with an apology to Gavin, the sound guy in the Galaxy Barn, for helping four guitarists and four vocalists close out the night. Once apologies were dispensed, Diarrhea Planet proceeded to relentlessly shred through their material, and despite the oppressive temperature inside the barn, the crowd responded accordingly. A new song devoted to the lost art of crowdsurfing had Pickathon attendees leaping on top of each other as the sweating, seething mosh pit took over the whole barn. When all was said and done, a hundred-plus people made the long walk back to their tents covered in a variety of different sweats, only to do it all again the next day. Diarrhea Planet’s second set at the famed Woods Stage Saturday afternoon was just as raucous. Although the cry for crowdsurfing fell on deaf ears, perhaps due to the gentle nature of the stage setup, the six-piece had no issue picking up the slack. Amplifiers were climbed on top of, crowd members were thrown on top of band member's shoulders mid-guitar solo, and outside of the fact that the sun was still up, it was hard to distinguish any less enthusiasm from the drunken barn burner less than 24 hours previous. At the end of it all, it could all be summed up in guitarist/vocalist Jordan Smith's approach to the afternoon, as he said, “We are playing in the woods. Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.”

 

"What appeals to me is the potency in the image -- the object itself, or the mysterious atmosphere it holds. A truly beautiful image has the power open up this whole inner world; it's like a visual "key" that unlocks and fires up your imagination."...

Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video
There's much that is stereotypically psychedelic about director Johnny Maroney's music video for "No One by Jeffertitti's Nile, but as with the band itself, there's much more than meets the eye. As the music video explodes from its geometric black and white beginnings into more colorful chaotic realms, every triangular prism that first catches a viewer's attention becomes supplemented by increasingly more fascinating subleties. Amidst the swirling chaos, a shamanic figure symbolically sends frontman Jeff Ramuno to his death as he levitates -- and when the madness breaks into blue-skied clarity, former band member Alyson Kennon's shadow turns from her own into that of a ballerina, recalling Disney's Salvador Dali-inspired animation, Destino. In the compare and contrast Q&A session below, director Johnny Maroney and frontman Jeff Ramuno discuss how life is surrealism, the ways in which existence flows in and out of itself eternally, and their history of psychic collaboration. They're so artistically close they even swap spit on the physical plane.Jeffertitti's Nile - No One Music VideoJeffertitti's Nile - No One Music Video