Listening recommendations from the past, the present, Portland and the periphery.
2011's 50 Words for Snow isn't often mentioned among the great Kate Bush albums, but it's one of her best, most ambitious and most beautiful efforts. Her voice is duskier than in her youth, and when "Snowflake" and "Lake Tahoe" begin with other singers, the surge of power once she finally enters is hair-raising. The 13-minute centerpiece is "Misty," which is infamously about having sex with a snowman. He melts three minutes in—but "it's still snowing," she cries, which in her universe means "magic is real."
Techno was invented in Detroit, and Theo Parrish is its stern dean, demanding you see it as a great American contribution to the arts as much as something to get down to. But he's so good that his music can't help but come across as playful and free-flowing. His new album, Wuddaji, is formidable in size and scope but ultimately comes across as a five-finger exercise, its bustling organs and electric pianos brushing up against spidery drums that splinter and snap all over the place.
Joel Shanahan gives his icy, regal vision of electronic music room to breathe on the double cassette Frozen Clock Hovering. The backbone of these tracks are squiggling sequencers that suggest the pulse of the club without quite forming a groove. But it's the gothic touches—cathedral organ on "Follow," bursting chords on "Stabilizer"—that give it such grandeur and scale. The opening track is called "Laurelhurst," and it's as imposing and inviting as that neighborhood's stone gates.
Nathan Salsburg is the curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, which has put out some fantastic folk compilations in the last decade. He’s also a guitarist, and on his new Landwerk series he engages in dialogue with his vast collection of old 78s, mostly of Jewish music. Landwerk does interesting things with sampled horns and organs, but it’s Landwerk No. 2 where he hits the sweet spot, letting his guitar melt in between the notes of those lonesome, endlessly looping records.