Sounds like: Walking around OMSI blitzed out of your mind while listening to Hawkwind.
For fans of: Tame Impala, Dungen, Gong, NOVA, planetariums.
Why you care: Ben Dorothy knows how hard it is to get a foot through the door in a crowded music scene like Portland’s. A year ago, with no leads on available local musicians, the drummer put an ad on Craigslist, offering his services while referencing a wide, nonspecific smattering of influences. “I wasn’t necessarily looking to play in a psychedelic band,” says Dorothy, 23. After sifting through a few dead-end responses—including would-be Mumford relatives hoping he had some unadvertised banjo skills—he got an email from Nori Lockhart, 27, a songwriter and guitarist looking to escape the small Wisconsin town he was living in. The first music they wrote together leaned toward the poppier end of the psych-rock spectrum. “We realized it wasn’t very good,” Dorothy says. “We had a couple parts of songs that were darker, heavier and more spaced out. We liked those, so we’re like, let’s expand on this sound.” Now, Cambrian Explosion authentically channels the prog and space-rock of the ’70s, its repetitive guitars, spiraling keyboards and expansive arrangements conjuring images of quasars and exploding nebulae. Since uploading music on Bandcamp in August, the band has received more attention than it anticipated, or aimed for: Shows have fallen in its lap, and a small label in the Netherlands requested to formally issue its EP, The Sun, on cassette. Still, Dorothy—who cleans high-rise windows for a living and is contemplating going back to school—remains modest about his ambitions: “I just want to have a good time, and not starve to death.”
SEE IT: Cambrian Explosion plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., with the Ghost Ease, on Sunday, Feb. 16. 9 pm. Free. 21+.