Listening recommendations from the past, present, Portland and the periphery.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Julian Lynch had started composing 2010′s Mare by jotting down a list of all the sounds that work most primally on the stoned brain: wah-wah guitars, dewy pearls of bass, bongos, bells that glitter like gems. This is an indica dream, balmy and humid, best enjoyed while sedentary, occasionally noisy but mostly slow and hypnotic, and always full of fascinating little details in the margins. Few albums sound so alive while lulling you to sleep at the same time.
If your image of DRAM isn’t the joyful prankster of “Cha-Cha” and “Broccoli” but of a man standing rapturously in front of a Tiny Desk Concert band, beaming and treading water with his hands, Shelley FKA DRAM is for you. Now using his birth name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith devotes his second and best album to smooth, romantic, slightly goofy funk soul guided by drums as slow and impassive as the ones Questlove used to steer D’Angelo’s Voodoo down the Styx.
Alien Boy has signed with Get Better Records and released “Stuck (Radio Mix),” their first single in almost three years. Halfway between the fiery sentimentality of Team Dresch and the skewed pop-romantic sensibilities of Kiss Me-era Cure, “Stuck” could be the theme song for the grodiest, most punk-rock sitcom on Portland television. We’ll have to wait to see whether the “Radio Edit” qualifier is ironic or not, but at just under three minutes, “Stuck” doesn’t stay stuck in one place for long.
Geir Jenssen’s love of ambient music is matched only by his love of mountaineering. So while ascending the Himalayan peak of Cho Oyu, what could he do but bring some recording equipment along? Cho Oyu 8201m—Field Recordings From Tibet is an audio journey up the peak, alternating between snatches of music and the unadorned sound of the environment, the altitude increasing as it goes on until it ends with two minutes of eerie stillness called “Summit.”