Here’s a beautiful new track from one of my all-time favorite artists, Portland-based ambient/classical paragon Eluvium, who I’ve written about many times — both live reviews and recordings — on this blog.
“Don’t Get Any Closer” is the first thing we’ve heard from his upcoming double album “Nightmare Ending,” due out May 14 on the amazing Temporary Residence Ltd. record label. If this song is any indication, the new album is destined for a spot near the top of my list of the best records of 2013.
(Thanks to a busy schedule, it’s been a month since MusicfestNW took over Portland and I still haven’t published daily recaps of my experience. My bad. Still, I think seeing 20 of the coolest bands going over three days is worth documenting, even belatedly. So below, you’ll find Day 3. Day 1 is here and Day 2 is here. And if you’d like to read my overview of the festival’s highlights that ran in print, click here.)
One of the great things about events like Portland’s MusicfestNW is the shoulder-to-shoulder variety. You can see a funk legend and then a futuristic electro-pop duo and then a throwback ’90s indie rock band like I did on Day 1 of this year’s festival. Or you can see a local pop-rock band followed by a white-hot hip-hop artist followed by a quiet, heart-wringing female singer-songwriter like I did on Day 2. (And that’s without venturing out to the venues that focused on electronic, metal, jazz and country!)
Or you can do what I did on Saturday night of MusicfestNW 2011 and see seven bands that all fall somewhere on the post/punk/psych/rock/metal/drone spectrum.
The part of me that digs that particular musical spectrum has been growing over the past few years; after a lifetime of pop-rock, twang and hip-hop, I have found myself increasingly attracted to the sludgy, spacey, squealy sounds of good ol’ psychedelic rock bands. So I was excited for Saturday’s lineup.
An oasis of calm in the madness of MusicfestNW.
That excitement was tempered, perhaps, by two things. 1) I was tired. By Saturday afternoon, I’d grown cranky and indecisive; I skipped a bunch of sweet day parties with free music and food in favor of shopping for records and sitting, quietly, in a Big Town Hero with a Diet Coke and an alt-weekly in an effort to chill. I am not proud. And 2) That night’s headliner at the Doug Fir, the fine British pop band The Vaccines, canceled just days before the festival because of health issues. There are a lot of great acts at MusicfestNW, but that cancellation took out one of the bands I was most excited to see.
Anyway, Saturday began at 4 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square, “Portland’s living room,” as it’s known, in the middle of downtown. There, one of my favorite artists ever — Matthew Cooper, aka Eluvium — had the unenviable task of playing ambient music for a mid-afternoon crowd on what might have been the hottest day of the year. I loved every second of it, but I can certainly understand how passers-by (and even many folks who showed up early to get a good spot for the evening’s headliner, Explosions in the Sky) might’ve thought, “What the hell is this noise?” Well, that noise is some of the most mind-bendingly beautiful music being made these days by one of the most inventive musicians of the past decade. Here’s a long sample; please note that all I did for most of the time was hang the camera from my wrist while filming. Whatever you see here was the intent.
(Each of the last three years, I’ve traveled over to Portland for MusicfestNW, a multi-day, multi-venue music festival that features some of the best bands from around the world. With a roster nearly 200 acts deep, MFNW 2009′s schedule included rock, punk, metal, hip-hop, jazz, Americana, electronica, and who knows what else. One thing’s for sure: You can’t get to every show. But I saw my share of them, and here’s my report on the first night, Thursday. My Friday and Saturday reports will come in the next couple days.)
Festivals are supposed to build from no-name acts to those you anticipate the most.
But the 2009 version of MusicfestNW didn’t work that way for me. I started out with the anticipation, and ended with a whimper, quite frankly.
When we left Bend around noon on Thursday, Sept. 17, the show I was most excited about seeing was that night. It was the second show we – that’s me and the lovely Mrs. Feedback – would see all weekend.
It was the pairing at the Crystal Ballroom of Portland-based, one-man ambient noisemaker Eluvium and Texas post-rock kingpins Explosions In The Sky (aka the “Friday Night Lights” film score band).