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March 5th, 2008 Erik Bader | Music Stories
 

Valet, Naked Acid (Kranky)

     
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Stirring Her Brew: Valet mixes up a welcome pysch-noise potion ripe with the sounds of Spring
IMAGE: rhys balmer

[AMBIENT PSYCH] Certain albums just seem to have a knack for dropping during the right season. Take the Sea and Cake’s records, for example: They’re always sure to come out just in time for mellow backyard barbecues. (I mean, where else does one hear the Sea and Cake?)

This previous winter was kept on ice thanks to ultra-cold records by Burial and the Wu-Tang Clan, to name a few. Here in Portland, pre-spring is most definitely being ushered in by Valet’s latest long-player, Naked Acid. Valet, a.k.a. Honey Owens—most notably of Jackie-O Motherfucker’s interchangeable cast, as well as Nudge and Dark Yoga, among others—crafts tunes that are much like fierce saplings struggling to break through layers of brittle frost. Icy keyboards and jittery electronics spray out across the soundscape, only to be penetrated and softened by some of the most melted-down fuzzed-out guitar either side of the Willamette.

Likewise, Owens’ dripping vocals wow and flutter throughout, illuminating everything like an unexpected flame inside a chilly, abandoned goldmine. On “Kehaar,” she sings unintelligibly of oceans and the future, bringing to mind the ethereal hushed crooning of early Slowdive, as well as more recent psych-blues outfit Brightblack Morning Light. It’s all clearly the work of one quite strange and totally free mind, as Owens plays near-everything on the record and recorded it in her own home. But there are other fingerprints to be found here: Local folk-weirdo Adrian Orange (Thanksgiving) lends his warbled vocals to galactic duet/space-jam “We Went There” (and believe me, they did), while Silentist drummer Mark Evan Burden contributes muffled beats that hack their way through the record’s most tangled psych-forests.

In fact, everything about Naked Acid makes for one strange (and strong) local brew, including cover art by Maria Dixon. If you tire of closing your eyes and being transported to somewhere distant and totally freaky, Dixon’s painting—complete with rock formations and a Siamese cat—provides apt drift-the-fuck-off material. People are always saying “keep Portland weird,” but let’s be clear—if the whole town got this weird, it’s doubtful any of us would make it to work tomorrow, or the next day, or ever again.


SEE IT: Valet celebrates the release of Naked Acid Friday, March 7, with Atlas Sound and White Rainbow at Holocene. 9 pm. $7. 21+.
 
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