A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Two mainstays of the Portland synth underground – EMS & Jeph Nor – explore the limits of modular synthesis on Live At Volt Divers, recorded on a freakishly nice Saturday evening in the gloomy occult interior of the Lovecraft Bar.
Portland, Or. is not necessarily known for its dark and brooding sounds, which is kind of ironic, as it’s dreary and overcast for nearly half the year. We’re a city of introverts and shut-ins; full of antiquarians, half-mad with the dust of mouldering books; pallid and gaunt, deprived of the sun.
There actually is a rather vibrant dark & experimental music scene here, which seems to be on the rise, as can be heard on this excellent collaboration from two mainstays of the rising Portland experimental synth scene, orbiting around the monthly synth night Volt Divers, at the Lovecraft Bar.
Modular synth lovers will find plenty to love on Live At Volt Divers, as classic phasing LFO sounds sweep through the low end like an underground neon sea, while burning, seared pads growl ominously in the distance, like the soundtrack to a breeding pit on some alien planet.
The sci-fi signifiers are familiar – almost comforting – but the presence of canned coldwave riddims gives LAVD a clanking, cantankerous industrial vibe. With the recent re-release of Brad Fiedel’s Terminator soundtrack on vinyl, many are likely to be rediscovering the joys of proto-industrial synths and beats, in the coming months. Here’s your chance to get ahead of the pack.
This is no mere sloppy improvisation or boring-ass drone record, either. The lengthy 18-minute jam is broken up into several discreet movements, that range from straight-up sound manipulation to complete songs, compiled on the fly.
EMS recently opened for Thrones and Oxbow, as part of a Thrones retrospective, followed up by a performance at the new Killingsworth Dynasty venue, which was recorded and remixed by noise legend Daniel Menche, hinting that EMS is a rising force in PDX’s underground noise scene (long may it reign). Jeph Nor, likewise, is the driving force behind Volt Divers. Between the two, what we have here is a microcosm of a new aspect of PDX experimental music.
In addition to the monthly Volt Divers night, Jeph Nor is also organizing a monthly synth jam at No Fun, the bar connected to Devil’s Dill on SE Hawthorne. I’m slotted to perform in one of the trios at the Inaugural Cult Of The Volt under my dessicant guise.
If yr a synthesist in PDX, looking to get involved w/ a rad crew of dedicated noiseniks, check out the Volt Players FB group.
Here’s to the rising dark! Let’s make a real underground scene, here in PDX, that we can all be proud of.
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For even more emanations from the Portland Underground, along with yr favorite post-industrial techno, horrorscores, crnchy hip-hop, field recordings, dream pop, shoegaze, and more, tune into Morningstar every Sunday Night/Monday Morning at 2-4am on Freeform Portland!