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September 3rd, 2003 MARK BAUMGARTEN | Music Stories
 

Musicfest Top Pick: Aesthetics

Aesthetics Records arrives fully formed and ready to sooth ya. Aurally.

     
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Ken Dyber was making his way out to Portland from New Hampshire six years ago. He just had to stop in Chicago and pick a few things up.

"I moved there for five years as a sort of long-term temporary move to work within the Chicago music community and learn more about running a label and network with everyone there being creative," says Dyber.

He came out of that pit stop with business know-how, an ear for a broad swath of sweet and subtle indie rock, hip-hop and electronic music, and a label called Aesthetics.

Now Dyber and his label call Portland home. And Thursday night at the Fez Ballroom, Stumptowners will have a chance to reap what he sowed in Chi-town. At the request of MusicfestNW curator and former Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen, Dyber has rallied his roster and put together a show that highlights both his label's diversity and its beauty.

The night will include Dyber's DJ persona Kenneth James, Miami hip-hoppers Algorithm, New York DJ Daniel Givens and Aesthetics' franchise artists Pulseprogramming.

While Aesthetics' artists jump around stylistically, they are all connected by a sound that's at once complex and light-fingered. All the music is based on Dyber's own personal taste. He contends that the sounds are a bit inaccessible, but the soft touches and lack of aggression let the music take up residency in listeners' heads.

Pulseprogramming embrace this approach, creating a sort of audio diorama. The duo weaves rhythmic static and hummy instrumentation, underlying a gentle flow of breathy male vocals. Robotic and feminine voices sit somewhere outside these structures looking in on the contemplative pulse programmer, echoing his sentiments or wrapping his message in great layers of warm harmonics.

It's the kind of sound that inspires visions. And, thanks to Ken Dyber, those visions can now be ours.

Pulseprogramming, DJ Daniel Givens, Algorithm, Kenneth James, E*rock and Nudge play Musicfest NW Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Fez Ballroom, 316 SW 11th Ave, 221-7262 ext. 41. MFNW wristband $20, individual $8. 9 pm. 21+.

 
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