via Tommy E at the Free Music Archive
It's time for another heaping offering of mp3s from WFMU's Free Music Archive! This time, we're going to Portland, OR. A few things I've learned about the city: Portlanders have appropriated the PDX airport code to signify anything related to Portland, which seems like a pretty rare regional culture phenomenon. It is the only large city in the U.S. that is still run by a commission-based government. The term "rad" is still heavily used. The city isn't too large, and most musicians there have either collaborated at some point or know each other. This last new nugget of information is especially rad because it not only leads to some interesting collaborative projects, but also keeps everyone on their toes, constantly creating in a joint effort to make Portland one vibrant and bountiful music city. This post samples some our favorite PDX artists to have joined the FMA so far. MP3s from Ilyas Ahmed, Jake Anderson's Tape Mountain label, Argumentix / James Squeaky's Below PDX label, Au, Black Elk, Dragging an Ox Through Water, Explode Into Colors, Glass Candy, Grouper, Here Comes a Big Black Cloud!!, Pulse Emitter, and more after the jump!
Ilyas Ahmed was born in Pakistan. He grew up in Jersey, and then spent some time in Seattle and Minnesota before settling in Portland. The man’s music is as eclectic as his many hometowns. Citing Captain Beefheart, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Ravi Shankar, Sandy Bull, Fred McDowell, and Ghost as teenage influences, Ilyas creates experimental psych-folk infused with instrumental drones, thoughtful and wandering acoustic guitar musings, and vocal howlings. The Digitalis label released remastered editions of Ilyas' first two self-released CD-Rs earlier this year as a double CD package (quick! these are available in limited pressings of 50 copies). Here, we've got some tracks from his Time-Lag releases, Century of Moonlight and The Vertigo of Dawn: Softly Tomorrow (mp3) Your One Mind (mp3) The Gathering (mp3) Phantom Sky (mp3) Moon Falling (mp3) Unveiled Nightmare (mp3)
Head of the DIY Tape Mountain CD-R label, the only constant member of Celesteville, and contributor to about 20 other music projects in and around Portland, Jake Anderson is an inspiringly ambitious fellow. He has been recording and releasing his own music since the sixth-grade, and clearly still loves his 4-track. And he's pretty funny. Check out his website for entertaining project descriptions and unbridled self-critique, along with well over 100 free mp3s of all things Tape Mountain-related.
- Celesteville is Jake’s ultra lo-fi solo project as of late. According to him, Celesteville has elements of “indie-pop, ethnoforgery-folk, skronk-noise, delay-pedal-workout-drone, universal-rock, language-master-abuse, suburban-garage-punk, four-track-manipulation, etc.” From Birdlike Movements: Cloud Light (mp3) Magnolias Milan (mp3) I Can't Hear the Birds Sing (mp3) A Wren's Heart (mp3). From Kohoutek: Council Bluffs (mp3) Avoid (mp3) Appear to Be (mp3). From Lingua Ignota: Asterism (mp3) Narcotic Effect on Bees (mp3). From Sing Like Birds w/ Luv(sic): A River Frozen In Place (mp3) I Have Not Spoken All Day (mp3). From Spirit Duplicator: Spirit Duplicator (mp3) Winged Ear (mp3)
And here is a sampling of other Tape Mountain releases:
- Gang Wizard - OK so GW is not strictly a Portland outfit. They have a rotating cast of West Coast noise-ologists that stretch from Cali up to Oregon. Along with these live samples, you can check out another Gang Wizard track that Jen posted in her L.A. showcase. Gang Wizard Live in the Men's and Women's Restroom - Men's Restroom (mp3)
- Minmae - Sean Brooks' massive repository of moody and slanted Americana-influenced Northwest rock couldn't be fully realized in his former band, Thee Psychotic Hearts, so he moved on to form Minmae. Here are a few tracks from Sean's 2001 Tape Mountain release, Since Before Intertia: I Won't Hold It Against You (mp3) Beginning with Dissuader (mp3) In Abstracted Fashion (mp3) Since Before Inertia (mp3)
- The Minor Thirds - Chris Piuma, Charlotte Wells, Chris Calvert, and Jake construct mini-narrative tunes fraught with story arcs, recurring characters, and vivid settings as the Minor Thirds. Below is a track from their 2003 concept EP, Saskatchewan, that "tells the fever dream of a Bostonian who dreams of escaping to Saskatchewan, a place he knows very little about." Taxonomy (mp3)
- Speechless Brothers - Borrowing their name from a term the Aymara Indians of Lake Titicaca have for llamas, this is a guitar and drum duo showcasing Eastern-tinged primal psych improv. Featuring Aaron Reyna of Yuma Nora (see below) and Jake. Ecclesiastes 5-3 (mp3) Kay Llamawan Runa Kani (mp3)
- Yuma Nora - "the unstoppable hermetic sounds of radiant fervor" from Aaron Reyna, Amy Vecchione, and Mr. Anderson. Live at Pixel Palace - track 3 (mp3)
Below PDX is a noise label headed by James Squeaky, the man who is also behind the vocal-noise experimentation of Argumentix. A former member of Alarmist, Sex With Girls, and Space Hawk, James ditched these bands to explore what could be described as a type of musical deconstructionism. Argumentix uses found sound, damaged tapes, field recordings, drum beats, and some aching, wailing vocals to create uniquely emotional noise productions. Senator's Stance (mp3) Petty Hate Machine (mp3) Ready to Die (mp3) I Can't Stand You Up-right (mp3) Snapped Today (mp3) Step Up to Legends (mp3)
Here is a track from a collaboration between Argumentix and Portland-based author/musician Adam Gnade. Adam is a featured artist on CASHMusic.org, which I posted about a few weeks ago. You can go to CASH to download monthly installments of Adam's new novel-in-progress, Hymn California. Robby & Lauren & the Silver Sunrise (mp3)
And here are a few more tracks from the Below PDX label:
Au is the project name for the musical creations of Luke Wyland. And these truly are creations, intricate aural experiments that combine elements of folk, classical, avant, psych, and pop. Swells of free noise writhe next to extended plains of delicate control. Luke has been to our studios a couple of times, once as a solo artist on Irene Trudel's show, and most recently on Liz's show with drummer Dana Vlatka. Both sets are streamable from the 'FMU Archives, and you can help yourself to some mp3s below!
From Au's self-titled release on Aagoo Records: Boute (mp3). Luke released a solo album under the name luc in '06 entitled peaofthesea: ...like bacon sundays (mp3). Live on Liz Berg's show as Au: All Myself (mp3) Summerheat (mp3)
Black Elk's teeth-gnashing blend recalls the metallic grunge/hardcore-sludge/aggro-punk of NW groups like Karp and the Melvins. Vocalist Tom Glose (of Lopez) flies from death-metal screams to Ozzy-squak. Guitarist Erik Trammell and bassist Don Capuano developed their interwoven approach by playing together in the instrumental 3-piece Wadsworth. Drummer Jeff Watson (ex-The Icarus Line) stepped up to the drum throne earlier this year after founding drummer Matt Latorre's amicable departure. This October, Black Elk follows up on their 2006 self-titled debut with another album on Crucial Blast: Always a Six, Never a Nine. From their s/t debut on Crucial Blast: Toggle (mp3) My Lil' (mp3) Eyebone (mp3)
Brian Mumford grew up throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Plains as a kid, where he developed an early love for classic A.M. country. His teenage years brought on the allure of punk and industrial. Now settled in Portland and performing under the name Dragging an Ox Through Water, he "marries the lyrical twang of country and folk to the broken textures of feedback, drones, tape hiss, and the howl of homemade oscillators." Visit Brian's blog for ordering information. Aces (mp3) Bowl of Salt (mp3) Snowbank Treatment (mp3) Dragging an Ox Through Water w/ Argumentix - A Dorsal Account (the roof didn't stand a chance) (mp3) Dragging an Ox Through Water w/ Dana Dart Maclean - Plaisir D'Amour (mp3)
Including members of Kickball and Tender Forever and a former member of Hornet Leg and Japanther, the female trio of Claudia Meza, Heather Treadway, and Lisa Schonberg create some hypnotic freak funk as Explode Into Colors. Besides creating gritty dance-punk tracks that sound like the late-night love child of Fela Kuti and ESG, these ladies have a whole slew of other stuff going on. Heather designs clothes for her Paperdoll Fashion line, Lisa pens instructional drum books, and Claudia composes avant-garde cello pieces (a forthcoming collaboration with Derek M. Johnson on Aphonia Recordings). They're currently curating a multi-media art show with Sengalese artist Modou Dieng entitled "Tag Team!" 2 for Jazz (mp3) Sharpen the Knife (mp3)
Producer Johnny Jewel and vocalist Ida No are currently a duo churning out lush, elegant electro-pop that manages to maintain a DIY aesthetic. And it's DAMN fun to dance to. They still find ways to incorporate some elements of their earlier days as Glass Candy & the Shattered Theater, a crunchy, noisy, glam-rock disco outfit. These days, however, the distorted no wave guitar is replaced by layered synth leads and a booming bass. Head over to Troubleman Unlimited, where you can find the latest from Johnny Jewel's and Mike Simonetti's Italians Do It Better label (including a limited vinyl issue of their celebrated After Dark comp and some releases by Johnny's Chromatics project). Here is a nice sampling of earlier Glass Candy. Love Love Love (mp3) Brittle Woman (mp3) Nite Nurses (mp3) Sugar & Whitebread (mp3) Crystal Migraine (mp3) B-Girls (mp3) Labrea Tar Pit (mp3)
Liz Harris' songs contain the stillness of a deep Northwestern forest and the rushing drone of a river all at once. The tracks below are from Grouper's 3" He Knows CD-R (released on Jyrk). Here, she layers minimalist guitar and vocal tracks, all drenched in echo and reverb, to build a presence that is unexpected and mesmerizing. Her latest full-length, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (Type Records), loses some of the cloudy effects but none of the ambitious vision that defines her work. He Knows - track 1 (mp3) track 2 (mp3) track 3 (mp3)
There is no mistaking the evil rock explosion that this 5-piece churns out. A little bit the Cramps, a little bit Davie Allan & the Arrows, their sound is reminiscent of '60s surf rock thrown into a pool of thick, black acid. Be prepared for live shows that include elaboratively goofy costumes, toxic waste battles, go-go dancers, and enough raw energy to keep you smiling while you willingly dance toward the apocalypse. Be sure to pick up their latest 12" EP on Recorded Records, which includes Death March (mp3) Grave Robbin' (mp3) and The Fly Part II (mp3). Here are a few more HCBBC tracks: Black Mold (mp3) Psychic Violence (mp3) Scrilla (mp3)
Daryl Groetsch is arguably the master of Portland's synth-noise scene. Part mad-scientist, part composition guru, he aurally builds noise-scapes that thematically reference glitches, twitches, blips, bellows, and sighs. Daryl is sharing two edited versions of tracks that were released this year, both of which he performed on some homemade modular synth monsters. Nakamichi - Void (edit) (mp3) Unearthly Side 1 (edit)
Some Portland-related things to check out:
Portland-based Pampelmoose LLC, a music and media blog run by Dave Allen of Gang of Four.
PeopleWhoDoNoise.com gives information about a full-length documentary on the Portland noise scene. The DVD features performances by artists in this showcase including Argumentix, Soup Purse, Redglaer, and Pulse Emitter.
PDX Pop Now is an annual music festival and CD comp release that "is dedicated to stimulating and expanding participation in Portland music."
That'll do it for now! Big thanks to all of the artists and labels who are sharing their music. Posts like this would be impossible without their generosity, so be sure to share the love and buy their albums. And remember to keep your eyes on FreeMusicArchive.org for more free mp3s in the future and the launch of the official website this fall!
all audio in this post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. This post was conceived and compiled by Tommy E of the Free Music Archive