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Four Portland Ambient Bands You Should Check Out

Formerly of the L.A. group Soft Metals, Patricia Wolf is better known these days for her experimental and electronic solo forays.

Patricia Wolf

Formerly of the L.A. group Soft Metals, Patricia Wolf is better known these days for her experimental and electronic solo forays. In May of this year, she released Life on Smoking Mountain, a series of breathtaking field recordings of bird chirps and other gentle soundscapes taken on Mount St. Helens. Wolf probably won’t play birdsong at her upcoming Oct. 13 Holocene gig, but it would be pretty cool to see the crowd response if she did.

Visible Cloaks

Another longtime Portland group, Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile have always been more renowned in other cities and countries than their own. Since it began as a solo project for Doran to explore his fascination with Japanese ambient music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Visible Cloaks has always held a touch of that genre’s sensibilities as well.

Golden Retriever

Long-standing, gentle kings of Portland’s ambient and experimental music scene, the duo of Jonathan Seilaff on bass clarinet and Matt Carlson generally working a modular synth are prolific in their artistry and album releases. Just this past June, they dropped an expansive 20-minute track called “Sense of Place,” but if you’re listening for the first time, every good Portlander starts with the 2014 Seer’s “Petrichor.”

Daniel Lichtenberg

Also known as Saturn Finger, Daniel Lichtenberg is an ambient musician “hermit synth wizard” and classically trained pianist. At the start of the year, he released Swan Island Tapes, which our music columnist Daniel Bromfield said sounded “a little like if the organ on ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ was allowed to meander into post-acid life thoughts.”

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