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  
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
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.

 

Music, just like any other art medium, beckons an emotional response. Sometimes when we get lost in beats, drum fills, guitar riffs, and lyrical dexterity, we don't realize it. But at Substrata Festival, all those elements go out the window, and showgoers are left with an isolated core of noise as it is being created, manipulated, and eventually destroyed by artists whose only goal is to expound upon the notion of presenting what is naturally occurring in a seemingly unnatural way. The ambient/experimental musical showcase takes place in a beautiful, giant brick building in the Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford, a sleepy zip code more known for its single family residential units and restaurants than anything else. The space is called The Chapel with good reason. High arches tower into the air in Renaissance-influenced glory and stained glass windows line both sides of the open room, suggesting more of a connection to a higher power than to a musical influence. The hardwood floors are lined with rows of chairs angled into two sections, after soaking it all in, you realize that what you are about to witness at Substrata Festival is not a show in traditional sense of the term; you are about to witness a performance.

 

See our interview with Substrata Festival's Founder and Curator, Rafael Anton Irisarri of The Sight Below & Orcas
“There is no 'now' with sound... the moment it hits you ear that moment is already gone.” – Lawrence English

 

 

SEE OUR REVIEW OF SUBSTRATA FESTIVAL 1.2
Anticipated Highlights from Substrata 1.2, 2012 Tim Hecker is about as acclaimed as they come in this musical realm. In 2011, he was named as one of NPR's Top 100 Composers Under 40. 2011's full-length release Ravedeath, 1972 was released to wide critical acclaim, including praises from this website, and was nominated for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize. Lawrence English is a prolific composer, multimedia artist and curator from Brisbane, Australia. He is one of the leaders in Australian sound art and experimental music and is about as intertwined as possible with the musical community there.
"Substrata is truly a community supported event... Interconnectivity... seems persistently ingrained in Substrata: everything flows and happens in a rather organic manner." -- Rafael Anton Irisarri

 

In just two years time, Seattle's tiny Substrata Festival has become one of the better curated festivals of the ambient and experimental electronic genres. Put on by Rafael Anton Irisarri, of The Sight Below and Orcas, Substrata seeks to entertain as much as it does to enlighten, as half of the experience is spent enjoying the music, while the other half is spent listening to the musicians describe how the music is created. Performances, lectures, discussions, and a field trip are all on the festival's itinerary, limited to a select and lucky few. Like last year's festival, Substrata Festival 1.2 is sold out (save for a remaining 20 tickets on Friday) -- and 1.3 will most likely be sold out as well. Held in The Chapel at Good Shepherd Center in Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood, showgoers will have the rare opportunity to bear witness to the beauty of the weird, bizarre, and challenging sounds of a global set of musicians and artists. In the Q&A below with Irisarri, he takes REDEFINE behind the scenes of the festival to offer insight into its goals and curatorial aspects, and what the grassroots efforts which set it apart from other festivals. This year's festival takes place from August 3rd through 5th, in Seattle.

Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud is a profilic British experimental artist. His first works involved found conversations on mobile phones and police scanners, creating heavily layered, yet incredibly twisted soundscapes that turned common communication on its head.

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. In today's post, we focus on drone and Europeans manipulating the shit out of genre in exceptionally creative ways. We will begin at the bottom of a deep, dark hole with...