Golden Retriever, Rotations (Thrill Jockey)
[AVANT-GARDE] With track titles like "Pelagic Tremor" and "Thirty-Six Stratagems," it's obvious from the get-go that Golden Retriever is operating on another plane entirely. The duo, composed of Matt Carlson on analog synth and Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet, is known widely in the Portland soundsphere thanks to past projects such as AU and Parenthetical Girls. As Golden Retriever, the form—just the two instruments played in an elongated, improvisational style—is as experimental as the functioning sound. On Rotations, Sielaff and Carlson have expanded into a full-chamber ensemble, but remain confined to similar structural parameters. The sound is richer, more textured and moodier, like the score to a dystopian film. Beyond its challenging nature and intense feeling, the album is deeply pressing. You can't help but tense up amid the skewed mathematical sounds of "Tessellation" or slip into a strange euphoria with the swell of the Old Church's pipe organ, which is featured prominently throughout the album. From a composition standpoint, the album is musicians' music, and it's a reminder that minimalism, when taken very seriously, can yield a maximum emotional response. This is not your head-bobbing summer mixtape. It's meant to trigger an intangible feeling most music doesn't.
SEE IT: Golden Retriever play Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Visible Cloaks, Dolphin Midwives, Ilyas Ahmed (DJ set), Danielle Ross and Chloe Alexandra, on Wednesday, August 9. 8:30 pm. $8. 21+.