Noise at the Worksound

worksound imageWorksound is a new space in Portland for art and music. At the show on the 21st of October, which included one of Portland’s new acquisitions from New York (Matt Hannafin), art from gallery co-owner Modou Dieng and others was hanging from their opening show a couple of months ago. It’s an interesting space, and while that particular art may not be there any more, chances are what is there whenever you go will be good, too. I have my suspicions that these people know what’s good!
The evening’s music began with a set by Portland’s Eye Myths. This had some hard, thunky sounds of the type best experienced through one’s butt as well as through one’s ears. Ears are certainly the traditional organ for experiencing music, and very nice they are for that, to be sure, but for hard, low frequencies, the butt is also very nice. People at these shows usually stand, and so it was here. I was sitting, and I recommend it highly.

worksound imageEye Myths were very noisy, but my impression was that their music, at least that night, was transparent. Or perhaps clear-cut. Each line, each sound, was individual—clear, distinct, easily distinguishable from every other sound. Eye Myths will be playing on December 11 at Valentines. I will be there.

Next up was Vodka Soap (Spencer Clark from the Skaters). This was all drone, though not the steady state drone that changes when you listen to it, that changes because you’re listening to it. This was what could almost be called a melodic drone, a chord (of sorts), each voice of which gets moments of prominence. Of course, that could have just been the voices changing because I was listening.

This set went on for a satisfyingly long time, too. Things full of obvious variety, like the Eye Myths very satisfying set, can be short without making you feel cheated (though I don’t ever want them to stop), but drones have to go for quite a long time to be fully enjoyed.

Ju Suk Reet Meate from Smegma was next, with lots of really high, shrill, ear-ringing noise. Very nice! At one point, early in the set, an electronic babble of voices was matched, in volume, by the live babble of people still talking in the hall. That was good times. Or, to put it more eruditely, new music is full of such moments of unpredictable synchronicity. This set was the most various of the four, an ever-shifting collage of noise and voices and this and that.

Matt HannafinThe evening—so short—ended with the Donald Miller Trio, Donald Miller (from Borbetomagus) and Daniel Presnell and Matt Hannafin. Visually, this was an oddly disorienting set, as after an extremely loud roll on the gong, the drums were for the most part very much softer than anything Donald and Daniel were playing, yet Matt was throughout the most active performer. So one found that what one was watching was not matching what one was hearing…

…or was it? I found myself during this set learning how to listen to music—after some decades of pretty careful listening, it is a bit of a shock to find musicians who can lead one to question how one listens! Anyway, I found that as the set went on, and it went on long enough for me to feel I’d had a genuine insight, anyway, that the drums did not seem so much to be softer as farther away. That is, without being more than a couple of feet apart, Matt and his two colleagues managed to create a convincing illusion of distance. It was phenomenal. And they played around with that, too, letting Matt get closer, then farther away.

Of course, all this may have simply been three performers adjusting balances on the fly in an unfamiliar hall—but it sure didn’t come off that way. Besides, listeners are free to create whatever reality suits them. For me, it was a fascinating and satisfying experience. That’s my story….

Well, Worksound is a very nice space, and if their future acts are anywhere near what they presented at this concert, I know where I’ll be spending a good deal of my free time. The people there are pretty great, too. If you’re in Portland, you owe it to yourself to check this place out.

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