Portland Columbia Symphony Adelante

Now Hear This: December 2021 edition

Working class jazz, mountainous ambient, heavy electronica, psychedelic New Age, lo-fi Puntera, Sonic Meditations, molasses-slow hip-hop, delectable weird-angled pop

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Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes working class jazz, mountainous ambient, heavy electronica, psychedelic New Age, lo-fi Puntera, Sonic Meditations, molasses-slow hip-hop, and delectable weird-angled pop–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Rich Halley 4, Boomslang

Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley is one of the great working class jazz musicians in Portland. He happily takes gigs where he can get them, and calmly waits to build up enough material to record a new album that he self-funds and self-releases. The trappings of fame don’t seem to interest him. He just wants to do the work. His latest full-length is another entry into an enduring catalog. Halley’s compositions are perfectly agitated, with his rhythm section (Rich’s son Carson on drums and Clyde Reed on bass) stirring up the right amount of fizz and movement to counter the muscular tones of his saxophone and Dan Clucas’ cornet. 

Shifting Harbor, Cycle of Return

The latest from Eugene-based ambient project Shifting Harbor is, according to the artist, “based on the lifecycles of the Oregon Cascade mountain range.” To that end, the six tracks on this release evoke the sensations of a lush landscape bursting with life on the dynamic “Night, Above the Treeline” and the chilly expanse of a forest covered in snow and fallen needles on the foreboding album closer “Blue Pool.” 

Sponsor

Cascadia Composers May the Fourth

Liyv, Matriarch

There’s a heaviness at the heart of the second album by Portland electronic artist Liyv. As she explained on Instagram, Matriarch “is an examination of the ways mother figures have shaped me for better or worse and a resolute rebellion against the story I was handed in life.” This young artist bears that weight on her slender shoulders easily, with music almost created in spite of that burden. Her minimalist compositions shake and shudder with each drone and trilling vocal, bowing under the pressure of her lyrical expressions of desire, longing, and intimate confession. How it manages to stay aloft is a mystery best left unsolved.  

Daniel Crommie, Inner World

The list of instruments that the prolific artist Daniel Crommie used to create his latest album Inner World is impressively vast: concert flutes, an electric dulcimer, a Stylophone, bowed psaltery, and a piccolo, among them. Trying to imagine what manner of sounds he came up with using that musical menagerie likely won’t come close to the fascinating, sometimes cheeky instrumentals that either skirt the edge of lounge music or dig deep within psychedelic New Age territory. 

Ava Raiza, vulva display of power

Sponsor

PPH Passing Strange

The puntastic title of this album (a play on a Pantera record from the ’90s) is great. The music is so much better. With no information to go on, my assumption is that Ava Raiza made these hallucinatory pop tunes at home on faulty equipment that gave each song some exciting flaws and lo-fi texture. Ava doesn’t fight to be heard within the din of these janky drum machine rhythms and fuzzed out melodies, but instead hopes to become one with the sound. An artistic move that is equal parts sensual and sinister. 

Eugene Difficult Music Ensemble, (The Slowly Growing) Compleat Sonic Meditations Of Pauline Oliveros

The amorphous outfit known as the Eugene Difficult Music Ensemble has taken much inspiration from composer and deep listening advocate Pauline Oliveros, and they have been championing her work in their live performances and through a series of releases in which they will attempt to record all of the late artist’s Sonic Meditations. The first installment of this series came out in October, with the ensemble cracking, humming, whistling, and clanging through “Sonic Meditation IV” and finding the unanticipated music in tapping stones together in “Sonic Meditation VIIA.” 

Old Grape God, DA FENCE LESS [SLOWED AND MOWED]

Sponsor

CMNW Council

Last year, Old Grape God released nzaluosi, which was the entirety of his other release isoulazn played backward. This new joint from the Portland rapper/producer works a similar concept, taking all the music from his new full-length DA FENCE LESS and turning it into a molasses-slow crawl—the beats distended, the vocals a creepy rumble from the depths. Grape’s music already had a narcotized bent to it. This cranks up that feeling to levels not seen since Jordan Belfort took a handful of expired quaaludes and tried to drive home. 

Luke Hollywood, Wildfire Season

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You may remember Luke Hollywood from his tenure in the grandly shambolic indie outfit New Bad Things. Or you may just like the sound of his musical moniker on your tongue. Either way, you’d do well to enjoy this data dump of material from the singer/songwriter. Recorded entirely at home, this collection proves that Luke has maintained his arch approach to songcraft as each delectable pop tune has been conceived with all manner of weird angles, ripped seams, and cracked energy.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Robert Ham is a critic and journalist living in Portland, Oregon’s outer reaches. During his time in the Rose City, he has contributed to The OregonianWillamette WeekPortland Mercury, and Portland Monthly, while also amassing a healthy amount of clips for print and online publications including PitchforkDownBeatBandcamp, and Village Voice. In 2019, he was the recipient of the SPJ Award for Best Sports Feature. In addition, Robert produces and hosts Double Bummer, a radio show focusing on new and newly reissued experimental music from around the world that airs every Tuesday night at 11pm PT on XRAY-FM. To read more of his work, visit his portfolio site or follow him on Twitter at @roberthamwriter.

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