Second Wednesday

If you’re in Portland on the second Wednesday of the month, and you like new music, you might want to visit Jáce Gáce on SE Belmont around 8 o’clock in the evening for the monthly offering of the Portland New Music Society. As Jáce Gáce is also an art gallery and a waffle house, you can enjoy new paintings and sculpture there, too, along with the beer and the waffles.

Abusive DelayThe concerts of the Portland New Music Society are often quite an eclectic mix, and the August 13 concert was exceptionally so, with live electronics (Abusive Delay), a first time collaboration (Sean Ongley, synth, and Arrington de Dionyso, bass clarinet), and a composed piece for acoustic instruments (by Tyler Wilcox). I had heard Abusive Delay play before, and I had listened to some of his recordings, and I have liked it all pretty much. But his set, which opened the concert, surpassed my expectations. From the opening test jolts to the set itself—variously subtle and savage—this was very satisfying music all on its own. But there was more than just the skillful and visceral performance; there was also the clatter of dishes and cutlery from the kitchen and the traffic noises from Belmont street. Not every piece would be hospitable to these sounds. Abusive Delay’s set fortunately was.

sean ongley and arrington de dionysoThe next set was the first time collaboration between Sean Ongley and Arrington de Dionyso. First time collaborators could easily expend a lot of energy in responding to each other, making sure they were clearly playing off each other’s patterns and gestures. Sean and Arrington, however, started off simply ignoring each other, Sean playing some smooth and fairly quiet stuff on the synth and Arrington playing extremely loud and aggressive stuff on the clarinet. And then, just as one had gotten used to listening to two unrelated musics together, they started responding to each other. And so it went, back and forth between attending and ignoring, toying with our listening expectations.

Tyler Wilcox and the Willamette Valley Chamber PlayersLast were the Willamette Valley Chamber Players in a composed piece for soprano sax (composer Tyler Wilcox), tenor sax (Kelvin Pittman), bass clarinet (Jonathan Sielaff), and double bass (Bob Jones), an inspired combination, with enough contrast of voice for when you need it, but mostly with various combinations of similarities—perfect for music of individual sounds and gestures in a pool of silence. Silence as Cage found it to be, of course, with sometimes the shush of tires on the road outside only distinct from the shush of Tyler breathing into his sax by coming from farther away.

Music making and musical situation, synchronous.

[Note: the chamber players were joined in another set by drummer Mark Kaylor, which I unfortunately had to miss.]

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