Inventions Band Interview
Having culminated in a house on the Oregon coast, Inventions' self-titled debut may not be a psychedelic record in any traditional sense, but set and setting seemed to have definitely had an effect on the outcome. The endless shimmering slate, the breeze-tussled grass, the stoic stone behemoths wading in the tide: against this backdrop, Matthew Cooper of Eluvium and Mark T. Smith of Explosions in the Sky coalesced their energies into eight songs that bring something unexpected out of each of their established sensibilities. Invigorated by a vibe of spontaneity, Inventions unveils subtle surprises over time. Floating and fluttering amid the vapor trails of keyboard and guitar are intriguing sounds and tics not tethered to either Cooper or Smith's main projects. Unique to the album as well are the dominant beats on "Peaceable Child" and "Recipient", neither resembling the cacophonous live drumming of Explosions nor the pulse-tapping undercurrent of Eluvium. Where both of those bands' work can often present like complete statements, Inventions also sets itself apart in how open-ended it feels; a breathing, growing, glowing thing. A natural thing. So natural feeling, in fact, that it's almost surprising how long it took Cooper and Smith to decide to work together...

Folklorists like to romanticize blues music as being a pure expression of culture, but recorded blues music was carefully marketed to its intended audience from its very beginning. As early as the 1920s, music aimed at African-Americans was labeled as "race music", and the best way to advertise it was in the pages of African-American newspapers. These newspapers had a wide circulation among urban African-Americans and even in parts of the South, where they were treated as contraband and discretely shared. While living in Arkansas, the singer Big Bill Broonzy recalled furtively reading the most famous of these newspapers, The Chicago Defender, and he made the move to Chicago in part because of what he had learned in the newspaper. Broonzy said that Black readers of the Defender were seen as brave, as it was a newspaper that promoted Black migration to the North, criticized racism in the South, and pushed for social change.1

The "blind bluesman" is perhaps the dominant image of the genre, and one that evokes a number of associations. As noted by scholar Joesph Witek, the idea of the "blind genius" dates at least as far back as Homer. Given that many of these musicians were extraordinarily talented, their blindness might have fed popular interest in their music. However, blindness was almpso a debilitating condition for many of these men, especially in the rural South, so that the blind musician occupied a place of pity in the public mentality. Economic necessity is probably the most compelling argument for the relatively large number of blind blues musicians. Most African-Americans living in the South had few other possible careers outside of manual labor, and playing music was one of the few options left to a blind man. Even the schools for the blind offered musical education as part of their curriculum, and several musicians got their start in schools. Record companies were quick to play up the fact that their musicians were blind and the suffering that their condition brought them. Paramount Records' Book of the Blues, in its biography for Blind Lemon Jefferson, wrote "Can anyone imagine a more horrible fate than to find that one is blind?" But as writer Luigi Monge also points out, blindness also gave these musicians a certain degree of musical freedom. Cultural taboos barred most musicians from mixing gospel songs with secular songs. Blind musicians could skirt this barrier by virtue of their handicap; because they were playing music to make ends meet and had no other recourse, they could operate with relative immunity. As blind musicians often acted as mentors to young musicians, this fed the diffusion of the two genres into popular music.
See all Forgotten Gems & Dusty Classics Posts

Blind Gary Davis

Blind Gary DavisBlind Gary Davis, also known as the Reverend Gary Davis, is one musician who captures the sacred aspect of the blues. Born in 1896 in South Carolina, he was one of eight children and became blind as an infant. He moved to Durham, North Carolina in the 1920s and became a street musician in what a burgeoning center of black culture in the South. In those years, record store owners often doubled as talent scouts, and Davis was discovered by a now-famous scout named J.B. Long in 1935. Gary Davis played in what is known as the Piedmont Style, which was a heavily syncopated fingerpicking that sounds akin to ragtime. In 1937, Gary Davis found religion and was ordained as a Baptist minister. From then on, the music he played was predominantly gospel, though he sometimes revisited his secular songs for white audiences. In 1940, Davis moved to Harlem, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he never stopped making music, though his audience was now largely middle-class and white. He was renowned as one of the best guitar teachers in Harlem, offering advice to several future rock and folk stars, including Dave Bromberg, Taj Mahal and Jorma Kaukonen. Davis was a phenomenal guitar player with a powerful voice, and there are numerous tracks of his music worth checking out. "If I Had My Way" is one of those blues songs that was adopted by folkies and then rock musicians, and listening to Davis, one can understand why: Davis' shouts and hollers combine well with his nimble fingerpicking. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is a darker song but still showcases so much of what made Davis memorable. Finally, "Cocaine Blues" is one of his most famous secular songs.1 Blind Gary Davis - "If I Had My Way" [audio:/mp3/Reverend-Gary-Davis_If-I-Had-My-Way.mp3|titles=Blind Gary Davis - If I Had My Way] Blind Gary Davis - "Death Don't Have No Mercy" [audio:/mp3/Reverend-Gary-Davis_Death-Dont-Have-No-Mercy.mp3|titles=Blind Gary Davis - Death Don't Have No Mercy] Blind Gary Davis - "Cocaine Blue" [audio:/mp3/Reverend-Gary-Davis_Cocaine-Blues.mp3|titles=Blind Gary Davis - Cocaine Blues]

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

 

The Octopus Project have always been lofty with their artistic vision, as we learned when they first told us about their 8-projector, surround-sound performances. It's no wonder, then, that the often overly hoaky art of stop-motion animation finds good articulation in their hands. Indeed, they actually created the music video themselves -- "a product of the The Octopus Project's collective consciousness", according to Peekaboo Records. Thanks to clever editing tricks galore, adorable geometric shapes float across indoor and outdoor environments, tickling the eyeballs with their ever-throbbing movements. According to the record label: "Created, shot and directed by the band, the stop-motion extravaganza was crafted entirely using die-cut colored card stock. Band members meticulously designed each shape in Photoshop then used a cutting machine generally reserved for scrapbooking to cut them out before photographing them in real world settings. The final video consists of over 4,000 separate images." In the full post, The Octopus Project's Josh Lambert answers a few questions about their artistic practice.
 

Dear reader, We are Rachel, Vivian, and Gina, three close friends who like to call our friend-force "the Trifecta". In 2011, we commemorated a collectively cathartic year with a zine entitled We Will Outlive Our Current Concerns., filled with highlight reels from our very womanly Google chats. That year and the chats themselves were largely centered around astrology, metaphysical thoughts, pop culture, and relationships -- but for 2013, we're bringing SXSW coverage into our personal lives. Rather than writing up simple show reviews, we hope to present to you an uncensored portrait of our exceptional 3-way mind-meld, as we navigate through the chaos that is SXSW in our own manic, sarcastic, and profound ways. Mostly, we talk about food, document idiosyncrasies, review music... and bring it all home with more talk about food. xoxo, Rachel, Vivian, and Gina
Rachel: People in Austin are so nice! I’d almost forgotten from living in New York for so long. Gina: Portland’s spoiled us; I don’t think I can live anywhere where people aren’t nice. Vivian: I don’t think people in New York are that bad... Gina: Yeah, we’ve had some good convos there. Vivian: It’s just all kinds.

MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s-t+l-l)icks. Today, Aperiodic bring chaotic free jazz noise, and we pay slight homage to past sounds via Finland's haunting Paavoharju and post-hardcore classics The Jesus Lizard.
++ SEE: FULL POST + MADNESS POSTS or MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Aperiodic

Aperiodic's Future Feedback begins with "New West", a slow growth of jingling bells and static that bumps found sounds up against R2D2-type electronic beeping. Banging, off-tempo jazz drums and distorted guitar all grow in intensity throughout the duration of the 4-minute track, and one could suspect that the remainder of Future Fedback will be comprised of hardly palatable instrumental wankery. In a sense, one would suspect right, but this type of music always took a special musical ear to appreciate. Elements of musique concrète, free jazz, and noise are at the forefront of Future Feedback, which champions improvisation's most chaotic possibilities with a natural erratic twitch. Aperiodic have described themselves as "The Jesus Lizard disfigured beyond recognition", and it is the spirit of the post-hardcore band that shines through, not actual music parallels. The disfiguration comes in Aperiodic's cramming of heavier noise elements into a free jazz framework in absolute madness. Only on one track, "Amalia's Regret", does the band slow down to explore their more minimal side via creepy breathing and classic piano. You can rest assured, though; structure hardly plays a more significant role even then. The entire album is now available via Phratry Records, and you can stream its digital noise stylings via the Bandcamp embed below. Prepare yourself for all of the guitar distortion, manipulated samples, and pummeling drums you can imagine. And while you're at it, see the full post for a stream of The Jesus Lizard's full-length from 1991, Goat.

 

At first look, anything that is described as minimal, whether it be architecture, music, art, or even a way of living, is often also characterized as simple. However, a deeper examination can actually reveal a more complicated and challenging story, which proves that minimal does not always have a direct relation to simplicity, and that minimal can mean different things to different people. Such is the case for Austin duo Deep Time, who on their Facebook page describes themselves as "minimal weirdo pop."
When the two members of the band, Adam Jones and Jennifer Moore, talk about being "minimal," they refer more to the literal meaning of using limited resources, as opposed to the more known term of "minimalist music," which is defined by the use of repetition, ambiance, and often, electronics. Unlike the latter, Deep Time's music is considered minimal because they play the game of figuring out how to give life to their complex ideas knowing that they are limited to what they can do between two members.

 

Sunday night shows can be hard to drag yourself to if you work a pretty standard Monday to Friday shift. But no band is better than Fang Island at creating an atmosphere of fun that you can be asleep and dropped off at the show, and Fang Island will energize you into waking. At a semi-sweltering Crocodile on an uncharacteristically warm Seattle Sunday, Fang Island sweated their way into the part of the brain that triggers unbridled joy.

 

Fang Island + Zechs Marquise Live Show Review August 5th, 2012 @ Crocodile Cafe, Seattle