8.11.08

ACRE -Portland's Tone Purist Provides a Lesson in Hypnosis

It's always great to see a musician use unconventional instruments to create music; vacuums, hair dryers, cutlery, belt buckles, random pieces of scrap metal, toothbrushes, and staplers are all a great example of this, and it's equally as great to see a musician use a conventional instrument in unconventional ways. Unfortunately, more often than not I'll come across some obscure noise or "freak folk" release or hear about a local noise show only to be left disappointed by the lack of concept. Sure it's great every once in a while to diddle your guitar strings with a Phillips screw driver, but after a while it begins to look like an ape trying to use a graphing calculator. All do respect to those bands like Sunburned Hand and NNCK and to most of the fonal projects for honing their skills and developing a fan base, but if you break it down, the kitchen folk sound can only be re-hashed for so long until the whole genre just feels, well, re-hashed.

As much as I dig the good neo-freak-bedroom-whatever-folk, that's not really what this stuff is about. Acre is, however, about using conventional instruments in unconventional ways and utilizing whatever electronic detritus he can get his hands on; broken tape decks, samplers, mixers and a fist full of pedals. But instead of creating folk, Portland's Aaron Davis is conjuring up some powerful walls of oceanic drone that are so layered and perpetual that they are guaranteed to set your mind a drift while simultaneously nailing you to the floorboards. Take a look at these past and current set-ups.

past

current

Look at all that stuff, seriously. I wish this guy came to fake jazz a while back like he was supposed to. I think there were border problems but I never really did confirm that. Equally impressive to his live set-up is the amount of music this guys been producing over the past 10 months. He probably has over a dozen releases thus far, mostly consisting of tapes and 7 inches. Most of it is really limited and sells out fast. Here is the stuff I've been able to get my hands on.

Monolith. LP, Arbor 72.

Two side long behemoths that churn a distorted undulating molasses, the A side stopping on a dime and the B is a gradual fade. Davis has an impressive way of making his compositions incredibly simple yet dynamic in their undertones. Nice thick vinyl and vivid print. The first and only 12' thus far. More large format wax to come I'm sure.


A Shield of Air/Born of Light 7"
Eolian 04.


A - A fragmented drone that sounds like it could fall apart at any second but manages to keep shape over the duration. This is what I imagine a silent tape loop turned up to full volume and patched through 12 distortion pedals would sound like.
B -One of my favourite tracks. A muted scree that's too gauzy to be lumped with skullflower and the likes, yet really abrasive and mechanical at the same time. A ripping chain saw tackling the largest tree on Earth. warrants a million listens.
300 copies

Acre/Mongst/Default Jamerson 3 x 3" cd
Isolated Now Waves #150


Let me start by saying that this is some of the most creative packaging I've ever seen. Three spray painted 3" cds attached to some random 7" with those foam hubs that keep them in place. Screen printed hands on the reverse and a nice accompanying insert. The Acre stuff is solid as usual. A thick pulse. I listened to this on headphones and I recommend it, you can really pin point all the subtle shifts as the piece builds to a semi-climax then abruptly cuts off and you're left stunned. Nice to see his stuff on a local label.
100 copies

1/2 Alive C24
Soundholes #012



Now onto the tapes. Davis has put out a slew of tapes on all sorts of small labels out of the Northwest and around the world. This one is on Scottish label Soundholes who have this really nice thin lettering DIY punk aesthetic, black and white photo copies that reveal detailed textures. The A side is a bit toned down (pun intended) for Davis but it suites him really well. In fact, I always prefer my drones sloooower. It's great, supper layered and thick, just put it on and lean back. The B is much more intense, huge waves crashing around you from every direction, a distorted wind swept pummeling. Is it just me or is the mirrored cover tempting you to perform some cunnilingus? intentional? check out the third pic. Oh, and No Synths!
81 copies.

Volcanic Legacy C40
Bone Tooth Horn #28


My favourite of the Acre Tapes. The A is a slooow build. Starts off as a rumbling low end and climaxes as an endlessly layered beast of a track. This is what the Acre sound is all about for me, so long and so good. The B treads a similar path but has a bit more of an electronic feel. Sounds like a synth cord set to stun and tremolo creeping beneath the surface, that is, if he actually used synths.
Limited, probably 100 copies.

Bleeding
I Just Live Here #?


A little different approach to this one. Hard to tell which is the A and which is the B side but I guess it really doesn't matter all that much. One side starts off with the usual Acre-esque wall of sound. But at about the 3 minute mark it suddenly cuts to a high pitched muted scree that is eventually washed out by an arsenal of low tones. Really good and much more conceptual than past releases. According to the myspace, this cassette was recorded shortly after the new set-up of equipment, which, I guess accounts for the new direction in sound. The B side is also pretty dynamic, cutting and introducing tonal variations throughout. Well done.

Other releases by Acre

candyflipping cdr
painless cdr
17:34 cdr
Artifact cass c34
physicality cass
split acre/pulse emitter cass c30
split acre/haunted castle cdr mini
split acre/honed bastion cass c32

Links
Myspace

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