Peter Lang revives a career that ranks with the avant-folk greats.
In 1974, avant-garde guitar god John Fahey's Takoma Records released a compilation,
. The comp looked to capitalize on Kottke's major-label folk success and build a following for the style of playing Fahey called American Primitive, a rootsy-yet-spacy union of traditional technique and wide-eyed experimentalism.
Fahey and Kottke went on to secure legendary status among fans of out-there folk guitar--but who the hell is Peter Lang?
Peter Lang came to Takoma in the early '70s, "saved," he says, "from a career in public health" by Fahey's interest in his fresh fingerpicking style. Thirty years later, Lang's once again been rescued from a non-musical career, this time in the far more creative field of animation. After quitting music to raise a family, Lang found himself spurred back into the studio by a friend's observation that he might "wake up in a ditch on the freeway with one eye sticking out of the muck, and think, 'Gee, I wish I'd made that record.'"
Voila! A new album, Dharma Blues, whose title neatly encapsulates the musical/spiritual leanings of the Primitives and brings the style confidently into the new millennium. These days, Lang has cut his practice regimen in half, soaks his fingers in hot water and uses padding to keep his guitar from digging into his arms. But if the album is any indication, the musical career move just might stick this time. Jeff Rosenberg
Peter Lang plays Thursday, June 27, at St. Johns Pub, 8203 N Ivanhoe St., 283-8520. 8 pm. $13 advance, $15 door. 21+.
The Weird Triplets
Three bands buck indie-rock conformity.
For a subculture that fancies itself a sanctuary for all sorts of bohemian weirdness, independent music relies on a depressingly narrow selection of types. Straight from Central Casting to a stand-offish bar near you: tattooed rocker boy, all skin, bones and urgent emotions; his girlfriend, armed with cat-eye glasses, a smattering of gender theory and three chords she taught herself with no help from the Patriarchy; the hella-deep underground MC, inspired by The Illuminatus Trilogy and the latest High Times; the pallid whiz kid eager to destroy Western music (or at least listeners' patience) with his PowerBook.
Fortunately, there are a few bands willing to walk the stranger territories. This week you can see three, in fact--two imports, one local, all very different and daring in their refined oddity. For a break from life in the box, check out:
Silverlake, Calif., seems an unlikely breeding ground for smoldering music of creepy, orchid-like gorgeousness, which may explain why Silverlake's Devics relocated to Italy. Pianos, guitars, perilous cellos, cavernous drums and drunk-sailor accordions reel in the band's decadent melodramas. Someone, for some reason, compared incandescent singer Sara Lov to Sylvia Plath; the desperate beauty is there, all right, but Lov's too tough to be mistaken for a world-weary poetess. One of the Bertolucci clan tapped Devics for film soundtrack work, and the band has an undeniable cinematic quality. This is music from a movie world where elegant monsters conduct doomed love affairs and whores, gangsters and spies abound.
The Get Hustle
"There's rumors of war...," Valentine, the Get Hustle's singer, sighed in her bourbon-husky voice to begin the Portland band's show at Disjecta late one May night. At the time, when India and Pakistan were casually swapping doomsday scenarios over barbed wire in Kashmir, Valentine's breathy pronouncement seemed a little too eerie. Not that the Get Hustle is ever soothing. The four-piece band sets ominous organ and piercing electric piano against each other over drumbeats so rhythmically devious, they could short-circuit a pacemaker. Sometimes the musical scrum degenerates into sludge with no momentum. When the Get Hustle hits its pell-mell stride around Valentine's hellacious torch-singing and galvanic stage moves, though, the band is a thrillingly disturbing spectacle. The only danger: that the transplanted L.A. band's cover of hoodoo blues classic "Who Do You Love?" will wake up every graveyard in the city.
Lift To Experience
Like Devics, Lift To Experience makes its home on Bella Union, a label run by Simone Raymond of the Cocteau Twins. The two bands are touring together. Otherwise, Lift To Experience's dense guitar-noise sound has little in common with Devics' Weimar Roadhouse aesthetic. The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, the Lone Star State trio's hour-plus-long debut album, is an ethereal rock opera documenting the scruffy trio's own unique forecast for the End Times, wherein a battalion of heavily armed Texan patriots digs in to fight the Last Battle against the forces of darkness and guitars glimmer in gauzy halos of amplifier fuzz. Melodic singing delivers shards of Shiner Bock-soaked prophecy as "One by one the states will know/ as they crumble like Jericho/ from Canada to Mexico/ that Texas is the rock." Never before have art-rock, the Book of Revelations and the National Rifle Association teamed up to produce such glory. Zach Dundas
Devics and Lift to Experience play Wednesday, June 26, at Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. 9 pm. $8. 21+.
The Get Hustle opens for The Gossip Friday, June 28 at Meow Meow, 527 SE Pine St., 230-2111. 9 pm. $8. All ages.
MUSIC NEWS & GOSSIP
HISS and VINEGAR
A NAT HEMA PULLS THE PLUG ON MUSICAL FRANKENSTEIN
Without A nat Hema, where would Portland music that is...for lack of better words...just plain goddamn odd be? When James Boring and Tim Scarrott began their campaign to wreak havoc on the city's entire stock of used Casios, Portland's music scene was awash in worn-out rock clichés. A few years later, their demise finds the city...awash in worn-out rock clichés, but, hey, at least the experimental scene A nat Hema helped nurture provides a vibrant alternative to the legion of guitar bands. After a year of near-silence, the group's going out in style with a show this Saturday night in the decayed tiki environs of Jasmine Tree (401 SW Harrison St., 223-7956). Scarrott is determined to concentrate on his local acting career, while Boring is bound for Hollywood to ply the obscure trade of special-effects makeup artist.
WHY THAT'S JUST...DANDY!
If there is one iron-hard rule governing the universe, it is: What David Bowie wants, David Bowie damn well gets. And for his performance at London's Meltdown Festival on June 29, he wants Portland's own fop'n'roll stars The Dandy Warhols! The festival, which Bowie sorta "curated," includes such luminaries as Coldplay, Gorillaz, Suede, Supergrass (hey, they're not dead!) and the mystifying Badly Drawn Boy. None of those chumps, however, will be performing "White Light/White Heat" alongside the Thin White Duke himself, however, which the Dandies apparently will. They've come a long way from CalSport!
EVIL EMPIRE CONQUERS AUDIOGALAXY
There was a profound ripple in the force known as Internet file sharing last Monday, when the Austin-based music-sharing website Audiogalaxy effectively pulled the plug on its service. The action came as Audiogalaxy settled a lawsuit brought by the Recording Industry Association of America, an industry group also known by the less formal name "Amalgamated Forces of Everlasting Darkness and Unconquerable Rapacious Evil, Unlimited." The out-of-court agreement requires Audiogalaxy to block user access to all content to which the site has not secured explicit rights. At the time of this writing, the site is still accessible and users can download a handful of songs by "featured artists," but the song-search feature--through which users previously could find songs and download a literal galaxy of music--now shows all results as "prohibited." Yes, even material that's in the public domain. It remains to be seen if the company will attempt the monumental task of clearing material or if it will just call it quits. On the bright side, the RIAA wants you to know that CDs manufactured by the handful of multinational corporations it includes are still only $17 or so apiece.
Billy Joel, age 53, just checked himself into rehab. How old will do these old rockers think they can get before they have to start acting their age? Will we really be subjected to the spectacle of 75-year-old onetime hitmakers trooping to Betty Ford to wrestle with "personal demons"?...Why should Banana Joe's, the Old Town meatmarket, be afraid of the $3,465 fine the Oregon Liquor Control Commission just slapped it with for "stacking drinks"? The tropically themed moron-athon probably makes that much in five minutes on the weekend...Does emo rock need affirmative action? By gawd, everyone in that scene seems to be white. But, then, do we really need to see the emo contagion spread? Forget we said anything.
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