Music Reviews

Live Act(s): Fake Hospital, Rene Hell + Mark Lewis, Dracula Lewis, Jaws, DJ Charles Berlitz (@)
Event Date: 21 February 2012
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Ella Street Social Club
Promoter/Organizer: Tiny Gloves
Rated: *****
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Ella Street Social club is a former mausoleum in SW Portland, right off of burnside. Its got mad mojo; antiqued light fixtures, red walls, a glowing wurlitzer. The lights are always dimmed, there's booths ringing the walls. The first time i set foot in there, they were spinning The Pixies, then quickly cut to Cab Calloway. There's a sense of time drift, at Ella Street, a place where auditory seances can occur; the veil is thin.

Fake Hospital played the first time i went to Ella Street, so there was a sense of time drift inside of me as well, a rewind. Fake Hospital are nominally Grant Corum and Jefferson Zurna, this evening joined by White Gourd (Suzanne Stone), adding additional ritual saxscapes. The outfit has a distinctive middle-eastern flair, occupying the Interzone, known to play with dream machine, this time they had projections of burning incense, a cloaked figure. Jefferson played clarinet with delay, suzanne sax and the same, with Grant Corum laying down a Marrakesh flea-market beat, crunchy distorted tape beats, like muslimgauze in his prime. They brought the root down stomp, swaying like cobra charmers. The room was as full as i'd ever seen it, everyone was mesmerized. The group consciousness rayed and sparked like Quicksilver spray, and i was reminded, with fresh eyes, what a special venue Ella Street is, and how amazing to get to hear such otherworldly music on a tues. for five bucks.

Rene Hell, a popular noise artist, was joined by Mark Lewis, of Eye Myths, to kick out some broken-circuit jams, the duo casting out rainbow iridescent digital shards, information overload, rumble crumble woofer crunch. The effect is similar to standing beneath a shorting-out neon sign; this was noise music, proper. Unforgiving. At times shrill, at times soothing, yr interior cavities resonating like Stradivarius', it puts you in yr body. It is frequencies cut loose; its not for everybody, but for the initiate, it is revelatory.

The last band that i saw was Dracula Lewis, from Italy, coaxing gnarly industrial beats from a broken mix, a tape-up mic in his back pocket, some other twiddly artifacts, to coax 45 minutes of trashy floor beats. The audience started to move, but the momentum proved to be too great. People were dancing on the inside; i was quietly head-banging in the corner.

The overall experience was one of home-made trance ritual; magick of the flea markets and street corners. Experimental, as in trial and error, as in trying; it sounds cheap and heart-felt. This is the magick of the streets, of the internet junkies. An exotic musical tapestry, embroidered in egyptian silk, but woven of wool. There are opportunities to see a lot of interesting musical experiments in Portland; many times for cheap or free. I give thanks for such opportunities.

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