Chamber Music Northwest The Old Church Strings Portland Oregon

Now Hear This: February edition

Now Hear This scours Bandcamp for new work from local artists. This time around: Quadraphonnes and quarantined overdubs, delicate synths and deconstructed metal, moody rap and all-ages kids music.


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 Quadraphonnes and quarantined overdubs, delicate synths and deconstructed metal, moody rap and all-ages kids music, and plenty more–just in time for Bandcamp’s first Fee Free First Friday of 2021.

Omni Gardens, Divine Mother

Steve Rosborough, the man behind Moon Glyph Records, starts off the new year with a glistening shower of delicate synth waves and quietly blooming guitar work. The backdrop to your next half-hour break for meditation, self-reflection, or staring into space when you’re feeling berserk.  

YoungShirtMayne, Luke EP

Fulfilling the promise of “Bounce”–last year’s J Hixson-produced grinder, featuring a fierce guest turn from KayelaJ–rapper YoungShirtMayne offers up a sampler platter of heaters that spotlights his ability to meet the mood of whatever beat he’s working with. Over SxLxMxN’s splashy psych out, Mayne is all swagger and jazz. With the adult contemporary funk laid down by Plivbeats on “Summer Love,” he brings contemplation and longing.

Quadraphonnes + Andrew Durkin, Five-Pointed Star

Composer-musician-author Andrew Durkin has been in love with local saxophone quartet Quadraphonnes for some time now, and has expressed that devotion through several compositions and arrangements for their unique instrumentation. The record label arm of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble shared the love by recording a batch of these tunes—a wonderfully motley collection that includes the boppish bounce of “Antenna Town,” the floating waves of “Yoos,” and a faithful arrangement of Faith No More’s “From Out Of Nowhere.”

Typhoon, Sympathetic Magic

Kyle Morton, leader of indie ensemble Typhoon, refused to sit still during the lockdown. Instead, he finished a batch of incomplete tunes and invited his bandmates and friends to bring them to life by recording their parts at home or safely working in his basement studio. The resulting album is a mix of lo-fi and hi-fi, with the raw hum of the original demos still audible under glossy overdubs. 

Katy Hartman, Pedals The Bear

Former Kentucky resident Katy Hartman says she recorded this small bunch of tunes for kids. But as with the children’s music of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, there’s plenty of melodic, singsong-y joy for the grown ups of the world to enjoy. Music the whole home office can agree on! 

Esme Kenna, The Desire To Be At Home Vol. 4: A Nostalgic Youth

The music Esme Kenna has released in her Desire series began as maximalist black metal. But with each volume, she stripped away elements of the tracks. With this final installment, these four songs are down to their studs with bare guitar chords and lumbering drum beats exposed to the elements. Deconstructivist heavy rock in the manner of John Zorn or Liturgy.

HULDER, Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry

Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon

Unlike Esme Kenna’s recent work, the new album from one-woman black metal project HULDER is the full meal. An unsettling and unforgiving assault on the senses that offers up pockets of air by way of slow building intros and small ambient interludes before the next wave of growling vocals and furiously strummed guitars. 

illmac, ATMN

Word around the campfire is that illmac has something big on the horizon. Which means if you want “you knew him when” bragging rights, you’d best get on board right away. Working from the foundation of producer Chase Moore’s soulful beats, illmac explores his troubled psyche and the growing inequalities within our city, with an amuse-bouche of braggadocio served between main courses. 

Carly Barton, Forage

Carly Barton’s beats sneak up on you. The idea isn’t to bludgeon with a 4/4 thump but to come at the rhythm from the strangest angle possible, whether that’s by constructing a wobbly Jenga tower of electronic flutters and fuzz or capturing laser blasts and tape hiss in a jar.

Essai, Celeb

Unpretentious, barely conscious shoegaze pop does a body good. This charming duo has the essential vitamins and minerals. And a savvy collective mind that demands that they name their poppiest song “The Pop Song” and that they write companion songs of the same exact running time named “Justin” and “Britney.”

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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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