Listening recommendations from the past, present, Portland and the periphery.
Egg has one of the most distinctive sounds in ’70s British rock, which is saying a lot. A largely guitarless three-piece built around the massive sound of the Lowrey organ, Egg’s music suggests massive cathedrals and hanging curtains—it’s amazing when you’re coming down from acid. They made only three albums, all of them good, but first among equals is The Polite Force, which sounds like floating in a room full of chandeliers for 43 minutes.
Spanish producer Agustin Mena is one of the most prolific and engaging creators of ambient-ambient—not chill-out music, not weird textures that challenge the ears, but the stuff you can sink into like a blanket. He usually records as Warmth, but SVLBRD is his colder, more Arctic-enamored side project, and Hvit (Live), a mix-cum-live album newly released on Bandcamp, takes us on a guided tour of the frostier realms of his discography.
Local synthwave whiz Amie Waters describes her new Nakazora as a “prequel” to last year’s Cosmos of the Soul, and while it doesn’t aim to capture the same feeling of interplanetary adventure that album did, it offers something deeper and more resonant: songs on the themes of “sorrow” and “exhaustion,” delivered at the volume of a protracted sigh. The sense of fatigue is immediately obvious, but the endless synth pads seem to offer a place to rest, or a shoulder to cry on.
Philip Jeck uses pedals and electronics to distort the sounds of old vinyl records, zeroing in on the vinyl crackles that makes crate-digger rap so interesting while dispensing with rhythm altogether. An Ark for the Listener is his most user-friendly, while 7 is the thorniest and most Jeckian (which also means it’s one of his best). Between the two is Stoke, whose mournful, pitch-shifted voices and suspended samples make it a precursor to what we now call vaporwave.