Neglect - Western Romance Novels


One thing I noticed whilst living in Portland (Oregon), is the ridiculous amount of talent, passion and enthusiasm for ambient music. The community is a fantastic crowd, and I was lucky to meet a few, even DJ alongside, and witness low-key gigs first-hand on many rainy mid-week evenings. I've been meaning to do a separate Portals feature on the city (which will come soon) as the scene is a haven for ambient music lovers, but until then, there's some great music emerging from my previous home which is too good not to share.

Lifelike Family are one of the collectives holding the community together through numerous local gigs and a consistent label presence. Both their shows and releases feature home-grown talent, focusing on some of the many ambient, drone, experimental artists that call Portland, or the greater PNW, home. The label has focused on digital and tape releases (yes, of course tapes are a thing in Portland) but in this case, the label suits the format. It's home grown, with releases in local stores and passed to friends, just like the good old days. And the music, for the most part is grainy, textured and immersive, perfect for the extra analog feels.

Their latest release comes from Neglect - local Portland artist Joseph Valentino. I was unfortunately unable to see Joseph perform during my time up there, and after being nudged in the direction of this release, I'm gutted I missed out.

Neglect's album, Western Romance Novels, seems to pull from a wide array of influences, forming some beautiful tones and textures. The entire album has the feel and patience of a Pop Ambient compilation, with gentle looping strings on tracks such as I Am At Home... opener, We All Want To Belong... and title track Western Romance Novels.

Expansive drones give the album some depth and measure, on The Presence Of Life and organic, evolving guitars liven up the journey on my favorite track of the bunch, Kayenta. Ocotillo Wells reminds me of Marsen Jules' finest pieces with its seductive Castilian guitar licks and ever-expanding delay. Ulf Lohmann or Klimek simplicity also comes to mind - both early Pop Ambient contributors, and you can even pair it with some Harold Budd or Brian Eno if you wanted a 35000ft view - the backgrounds have been perfected and the accentuating instruments subtle and poignant in nature. 

Comparing an entire album to a certain style or series, isn't a habit I want to keep - and you can argue any comparisons to Eno or Budd are pointless, but given Neglect will be new to many of us, I wanted to set the scene and make it a little more accessible to those willing to adventure. Put it this way, even if this album popped out of Wolfgang Voigt's Pop Ambient selections, I wouldn't have been surprised, which is some of the highest praise I can give for Neglect and his superb album, Western Romance Novels

I see how much hard work Lifelike and it's many artists and friends put into the label and shows, so supporting music like this is important. But when it's this good, they deserve every praise they can muster. So go like their Facebook page to catch an upcoming show, and chuck a few bucks their way on Bandcamp, either on this album or the many other greats that Jay + Ryan and the Lifelike crew are cultivating. 

Western Romance Novels is available on tape, or for name your own price via the Lifelike Family Bandcamp.


ASIP - Accent / Sustain


I’ve been in Portland for over a year now and have met some amazing people who are pushing forward a thriving ambient/electronic scene.On May 21st, I’ve been invited to DJ at what should be one of the biggest events to hit the Portland ambient/electronica calendar, a night organised by Sanctuary Sunday and Lifelike Family, at the infamous local haunt, Holocene. It’s a night focused on the more dubby/ambient/electronic sound – somewhat of a rarity it seems, but a sound that has been bubbling up around Portland more recently. I’ll be spinning vinyl only in-between three amazing local live acts including Apartment Fox, Sunhammer and Ethernet.

Here’s a little preview, including a mix, a few words with the event organizer and a spotlight on the artists playing on the night.

Ranging from expansive ambient, to melodic dub-techno and slightly more electronic stuff, this mix was pretty fun to put together and I was lucky enough to include a track from Gidge which doesn’t come out until September (keep your eyes out for that, it’s an amazing album). Lots of stuff on here which has been covered on ASIP so it should provide a nice refresher for those familiar with the site.




01. The Green Kingdom – Untitled [Dronarivm]
02. Markus Guentner – Ashes [Moodgadget]
03. Heathered Pearls – The Worship Bell (Foxes in Fiction Tape remix) [Ghostly]
04. Textural Being – Sept [Energostatic]
05. Martin Nonstatic – Subatomic [Dewtone]
06. Doyeq – Soundsphere [Subspiele]
07. Purl – Essence [Dewtone]
08. Yagya – Snowflake 6 [Force Inc]
09. Desolate – Endurance [Fauxpas]
10. Gidge – Huldra (Atomnation]
11. Borealis – Nightfall (Ben Lukas Boysen remix) [Origami Sound]
12. Norge – 165 minutes With You (Markus Guentner remix) [ASIP]

Coco Madrid: Event Organiser / local legend / winner of busiest party schedule

And lastly, I had the chance to ask the event organiser, Coco a few questions. As one of the biggest advocates for this type of music in Portland for many years now, it seems like everything she puts her name to is a great success in bringing the community together. I bump into her at every gig in Portland and i don’t think this lady sleeps…

What’s the idea behind the night and what can people expect?

“The idea came from the showcase I did with the Closer Festival, Tim Westcott, and Mike Jedlicka last year. One of the artists that will be playing at Accent//Sustain – Sunhammer, was pretty much the source for the inspiration. He caught us all off guard by doing a more beat oriented set where he normally would have done a sleepy drone vibe. He went a whole other direction that really stuck in the minds of myself and collaborator from Lifelike Family Jay No Parades. After months of gushing over the experience we decided that we needed to present a Dub Ambient/Submerged Techno night to the community.

You can expect a total Audio/Visual experience. The line up will consist of 3 Live PA artists and 3 DJs who will be playing vinyl only all night. We are also excited to present two analog visual artists that will be doing a TV installation and Video Synth setup. Come vibe, get a brain massage, and maybe do a little body movement”.

It’s a bigger venue than some of your other nights you put on – what pushed you to Holocene?

“Yes the Ambient/Experimental night that I organize (Sanctuary Sunday) has been in smaller venues. I really prefer an intimate setting for that particular event because of the listening only experience I wish to provide. However, I do many other larger monthly events that aren’t Ambient/Experimental that happen to be at Holocene. So of course Holocene was a natural choice. It’s my home club and whenever I can do something other than the two main nights there (SNAP! and Booty Bassment) I will always default to that venue”.

How would you describe the Portland ambient/electronic scene at the moment? What makes it different to other cities?

“I see the Portland Ambient/Experimental scene getting a revival of sorts. I used to do Ambient/Experimental events with PRA (Portland Radio Authority) and Mike Jedlicka 7 years ago. At that time many events were centered around the old Apotheke venue. With the closing of that venue I saw a downfall in Ambient events plus I took a hiatus to join the Dance Scene”

Coming back to the scene I have noticed the old heads are still working to keep things going (shouts to Daniel Menche), a bunch of young kids doing experimental basement shows that are blowing minds (shouts to Antecessor and Mike’s Basement), and then new promoters/artists (shouts to Lifelike Family) that wanna breath new life into the scene. So right now it’s still a bit disconnected but I think that it’s moving towards more intertwining of the these groups.

I do make an effort to invite all three of these groups to participate in Sanctuary Sunday. The intention is to get people from behind their computers and interact with each other IRL. It makes for am more dynamic experience and spawns more collaboration between people who wouldn’t normally meet.

As far as other cities, I can not speak to that. I have lived here for 20 years and while I have been to many Ambient/Experimental shows in other cities I really didn’t get a concrete impression of those cities scenes”.

What would you like to see change to help accelerate the amazing talent in Portland?

“Portland mostly needs more venues. The talent that is here is amazing but we just don’t have enough quality space to accommodate them all. Also more communication between Promoters/Crews in regards to scheduling events. I mean it’s going to happen but more active communication could help with cross promotion and less conflicting scheduling”.

And lastly, who are some local artists you’re excited about?

“Right now I am excited about the new releases from Lifelike Family. They will be releasing music from two people that I am very interested in, Temple Maps and Andrew Weathers. Each are completely different from each other: Temple Maps being 8-bit dungeon dub bass while Andrew Weathers explores songs from a specific old hymn book that will showcase minimal choral and guitar arrangements.

Another artist would be someone who is from the basement scene and previous Sanctuary Sunday guest, Misandrist. Dude presents a dreamy brain massage that’s best experienced in a semi dark smoke filled room and I need more of it!”