Listening recommendations from the past, the present, Portland and the periphery.
It's a little hard to believe that the songs on Buffy Sainte-Marie's I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again were written in the '60s, given how much they sound like country standards. This 1968 album is a genre experiment for the Canadian musician, but she throws herself into it with abandon, her always-at-100% voice telegraphing her delight at being able to pull off such a digression. It's cosplay, and she knows it, but the tailoring is impeccable, and she's not afraid to get her sleeves a little dirty either.
Sam Harris is the pianist for the Ambrose Akinmusire quartet, one of the hottest ensembles in modern jazz, but on his aptly named Solo he cools his playing down several degrees, taking inspiration from new age and ambient artists like Laraaji and Steven Halpern. His piano is the central architectural element of these seven pieces, but his eccentric little blue notes create curious kinks in the structure and make this work that much weirder and more exciting than your average chill-out music.
Indie-folk hero Phil Elverum briefly lived in Portland's beloved White Stag building in 2009, and his time in the Rose City yielded one of the strongest releases of his late-2000s wilderness period—named, aptly, White Stag. More spare and ambient than most of his work, the 20-minute release explores the layers of buried human and natural history beneath Portland's streets. It's a place-specific masterwork from a man who seems to be intimately connected with the living earth of the Northwest.
Do you like Boards of Canada but wish they were a little weirder? Opto Files is your answer. A collaboration between electronic artists Opiate and Alva Noto, the latter of whom you may remember from the soundtrack for The Revenant, this 2001 album boasts the classic, plaintive power-station sound of early BoC but seems composed of the errant, malignant bits of data that seemed to be everyone's concern in the Y2K era.