A photographic account of heavy music in Portland, Maine
And we’re back.
We survived our vacation into the heart of darkness — a distant land where few outsiders dare to venture; a valley where people eat organ meat and quietly revere Joe Paterno; a region of Pennsylvania that isn’t always sunny.
Let’s take our minds off things, shall we?
Tonight offers two options for transcendence. At Empire, Awaas plays a show with Altered Gee and Video Nasties (two acts that fall outside our purview but have nonetheless earned our stamp of approval). Elsewhere, an underground show erupts from a truly underground location: a residential basement on Cedar Street.
dBasement, which has hosted nearly a dozen donation-only shows over the past three years, throws open its bulkhead doors to four one-man acts — Scrotal Tear, Erroraeon, Rare Storms and D/A A/D — for an evening of experimental electronics.
The show is hosted by Portlanders J. Morse and Remy Brecht — the soundscape architects behind Erroraeon and Scrotal Tear, respectively. Each act on tonight’s roster performs with analog or analog-modeling synthesizers and projects video images that have been stitched together from a hodgepodge of sources like “found/web-appropriated clips, obscure foreign art-film selections (and) artist-captured VHS footage,” Morse said.
Headliner D/A A/D wins the award for greatest distance traveled. Nova Scotian Alex Pearson, the lone artist behind D/A A/D’s “analog doom/death industrial” sound, is making a brief layover in the Forest City on his way to Summer Scum III festival in Buffalo, New York.
Portland’s Patrick Carey will provide “abstract emotive noisescapes” under the moniker Rare Storms, while Scrotal Tear serves up “ritualistic dark ambient sounds” and Erroraeon (eh-ROAR-ee-ON) indulges in “pessimistic heavy electronics,” according to Morse.
The genre for tonight’s show is somewhat in the ear of the beholder. Drone, noise, ambient and experimental electronics are all fitting descriptors.
Whatever you call it, it does not pair well with short attention spans.
Morse said the “lack of rigid conceptual boundary or execution” is what appeals to practitioners of this style.
“Texture, timbre, velocity and volume have no master, other than the performer,” he said. “It is an arena without rules, no limits.”
Morse said he began tinkering with sound when other forms of heavy music began to leave him cold.
“I felt the need to be challenged — to force-feed myself an acquired taste,” he said. “This often leads to an inevitable internal reaction and transformation. A taste that, in turn, one can learn to expose and spread to others. Though it is only a matter of time, I firmly believe that this avenue is the last bastion of truly ‘underground’ music.”
Morse also takes a stand against the common belief that drone is best enjoyed with a chemical assist.
“If one feels so compelled to intoxicate in order to reap the maximum yield from a performance, the performer isn’t doing their job sufficiently,” he said.
8 p.m. tonight. 39 Cedar Street. Suggested donation: 5 bucks. BYOB.