Introducing: Consumer

Who: Matt Palenske (vocals, electronics)

Sounds like: What would be playing during a dance-party scene in a Philip K. Dick short story.

For fans of: The Residents, the Bomb Squad, Wolf Eyes, Death Grips, Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The ecstatic states evoked by "Bliss in Glossolalia," a 2½-minute track from his new tape, ARC, are what the entirety of Matt Palenske's Consumer project is predicated on. The musical outbursts rarely sound constrained by genre, and on this latest release, sound collage and strains of folktronica are slotted into a stream of sonorous—and occasionally danceable—dishevelment.

"That's the whole thing: getting onstage and blacking out," Palenske says. "Every time, something new happens. It's an explosion of energy, and sometimes it's nonsense. But it's easy to grab meaning out of it."

Whatever message might be extracted from ARC or Palenske's sundry earlier tapes, the project's intent revealed itself slowly even to its orchestrator. Started as a recording endeavor eight years ago in Chicago, Consumer only made its live debut a few years back when Palenske moved to Portland.

"I went through so many trials and way more errors," he says. "That's why it took five years for me to play live."

Whatever those errors were, they have either been smoothed away or exploited to the music's benefit. ARC creates an uninterrupted space for the concepts Palenske previously explored. The tape's opener, "Nah Dot," jukes through at least four distinct sections that might have just been edited down into individual tracks on other releases. Here, though, Consumer gets ecstatic, traversing "a Rorschach of things." It's bleeping beats one moment, looped disintegration the next, then a bit of guttural grunting.

But Consumer remains a project uniquely engaged with space. Palenske is trying to create a more engaging live show—he says bar gigs are getting stale. And figuring out how to offer up a proper spectacle occasionally involves his wearing a Rocky the Flying Squirrel mask.

“It’s only on special nights,” he says about donning the cartoon camouflage. “But I always have it.” 

SEE IT: Consumer plays Twilight Cafe & Bar, 1420 SE Powell Blvd., with Sad Horse, Tig Bitty and Tyrants, on Friday, Aug. 14.  9 pm. $5. 21kknd.

WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.