PDX Scene Report: Live in the Depths 70

Live in the Depths 70 was anything but obvious, with artists favoring detailed, patient textures of big room beats.

Go to enough club nights and you’ll begin to anticipate the formula. You might get 16 bars of ambient intro to set the mood, to let the crowd know they’re in for some epic cinematic journey, then BOOM! Or more like ‘boom boom boom boom,’ as the beat will drop about 45 seconds in – and stay dropped, throughout, as the DJ or producer proceeds to jackhammer away for the duration, maybe pausing for 4 bars hear or there to approximate tension.

Not so at this month’s Live in the Depths. Gangster Computer God’s set started off conventionally enough, with the warm analog ambient pads found everywhere from techno to drum ‘n bass. Except the beat never came. Instead, longtime Live in the Depths sound engineer Kevin Fiske spent 30 of his 45 minutes blending, blurring, erasing, and eroding synthetic textures, like some sort of abstract expressionist canvas. He truly lived up to his eclectic musical roots, citing everyone from Venetian Snares to Claude Debussy as influences. The gamelan influence was evident, as well, as Gangster Computer God’s patient, detailed set made for the most delicious ambient hangout you could ever hope for. The patience and restraint just make things that much sweeter when the beat finally does drop…

Given the similarity of their setups and set length, you might expect Casual Decay to inhabit the same sonic stratosphere as Gangster Computer God. Not so, as Jon Nasrallah’s modular electronics sounded more like some early 80s proto-digitalism joined by Terry Riley mystical minimalism before getting swallowed by static and noise half-an-hour in.

The subtlety continued with an almost dark ambient set from Greystar, with an intoxicating mixture of destroyed and degraded post-dubstep bass, Waterford crystal feedback and ambient vocals, like Arthur Russell on an Emptyset track. A fast, pulverizing techno kick brought things to a boil, though, first sounding like some tasteful boutique techno before culminating in a hardcore blitz. Greystar’s set was both jaw-droppingly beautiful and deadly effective.

For those not fortunate enough to have been in the cozy, packed confines of the Atlantis Lounge last night, Greystar just added some cassette copies of their new ambient vocal album on their Bandcamp.

Live in the Depths is a monthly performance series focusing on live hardware electronics, taking place in the Atlantis Lounge, the backroom of the Mississippi Pizza Pub on Mississippi Avenue on the First Thursday of every month. The crowd is friendly, approachable, and welcoming and the music is always interesting, not to mention local. It’s a great scene and always a good time!

Many thanks to Dhug Dailey for all that he does, Matthew Rempes for live visuals, Ogo for DJing and Cyclop Toad for sharing video.

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