tim westcott

‘Extradition’ review: difficult on purpose

Creative Music Guild concert embraces experimental, aleatoric, multiphonic, ritualistic, electronic and ultimately rewarding sounds

Story, photos and video by MATTHEW ANDREWS

Below you’ll find an extended video recap of some highlights of this show. Read this before watching the video, or afterwards, or both, or at the same time, or not at all. In case of confusion, consult the I Ching, the Tarot, a sack of runes, or your pineal gland—whichever is closer at hand.

When John Cage is the most mainstream composer on the program, you know you’re in for something out of the ordinary. When Creative Music Guild is putting on the show, you know it’s really going to be something you haven’t heard before. And when it’s Portland percussionist and experimental music impresario Matt Hannafin’s Extradition Series doing their quarterly show, then it’s time to put away all your expectations, get comfortable, take whatever drugs or do whatever meditation exercises you need to, and open your ears for the most exigent listening experience you’re likely to have this season.

Last time I covered an Extradition concert, Hannafin and his crew ended a two and a half hour concert with rocks in their hands, rubbing and clacking them periodically with sine tone and pink noise accompaniment over the course of something like 30 minutes (Michael Pisaro’s Six Stones)… and this was the conclusion of a concert already overflowing with very slow, sparse music. It was mesmerizing, and haunting, and to be honest it was a little hard to sit through (or stand through, in my case, since I was filming). Ultimately, though, it was totally worth it.

Extradition’s April 22 concert was just as demanding and even more rewarding, as the community of CMG regulars and guest artists worked their way through experimental works by Cage, Alvin Lucier (the second-most “mainstream” name on the bill), G. Douglas Barrett, and two Japanese composers: Takehisa Kosugi and Toshi Ichiyanagi.

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Extradition Series: Listening differently

Creative Music Guild's ambient, improvised electroacoustic music concerts provide a different kind of listening experience

Story and photos by MATTHEW ANDREWS

The music started before the doors were even open. As the audience filtered in to Leaven Center and got seated, we could hear the sounds of forests, rivers, trains, windy canyons, and the complex sounds of the Oregon coast. Sound artist Tim Westcott’s recent quadrophonic piece A Land of Falling Waters emerged from four speakers positioned throughout the sanctuary.

Westcott’s was the first of many examples at this late October Creative Music Guild concert of how the ambient, improvised electroacoustic music presented at this and other CMG shows requires a different kind of listening than a typical concert.

Doug Theriault is a stalwart of Creative Music Guild happenings.

Doug Theriault is a stalwart of Creative Music Guild happenings.

There is the exotic technology; the extreme repetition; the use of drones, sparse textures, and long stretches of silence; indeed, there is often very little that is recognizably musical (i.e., distinct rhythms or hummable melodies). Some CMG performers even shun the ‘musician’ label altogether, preferring terms like “sound artist” as better descriptors of their craft. None of that should scare anyone away from CMG and its scene. Here’s a newcomer’s guide.

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