Portland's music community has always been an agile one, adapting easily to changes in technology and weathering the mercurial state of their personal and financial lives. So as difficult as it is to have every venue in town shuttered until at least the end of September and not being able to make some noise with friends and bandmates, plenty of artists have been using their abundance of free time in isolation to create new music.
We culled through recent releases by Portland artists on Bandcamp to pluck out some of the best sounds made during the pandemic (so far) that will hopefully make you feel a little less isolated.
Bryson The Alien - "Régine"
Rapper Bryson The Alien has been busy these days. In the past few weeks, he's recorded a handful of tunes with the Swedish production team Lucern Raze that will be part of the new album International Breakdown and he's dropped some tunes recorded with the LA synthwave duo Pioneer 11 on his Bandcamp page. My favorite is this low-slung boomer that plays like it's coming from a dark corner of the attic or somewhere deep below the Earth's crust.
Body Academics - I Can't Live Without My Friends
Jeffy and Tommy, two members of the queer multimedia collective Body Academics, have been keeping plenty busy with their recent Twitch performances, but their quarantine also allowed them the time to finish their new album: a eight-song collection of glitched-out tunes written using the theme (as voted on by their Instagram followers) of "shitty keyboard emo pop." Mission accomplished, boys.
Covid Collective - Breathtaker
Since the start of the lockdown, the Covid Collective has been releasing small compilations of collaborative tunes meant, as they wrote along with the first release Social Distancing "to keep my friends a little less bored during this shitstorm. If somehow this makes money, it's gonna go to helping the houseless community locally." The most recent batch, Breathtaker, dropped this past Wednesday and includes a warm a cappella rendition of Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren" by Lacrima Miles and a lovely guitar instrumental from Zeke Rogers.
Social Distancing Club - Social Distancing
On that same tip, the Social Distancing Club released a fantastic charity compilation in March with the hope of raising money for Family Meal, a Portland nonprofit providing financial relief to Oregon’s food service and agricultural workers in medical debt crises. The ever-growing tracklist features tracks created during isolation by artists like Bob Desaulniers of Lithics, Half Shadow, and Gabi Villaseñor.
Daniel Menche - Vestige
Experimental artist Daniel Menche has always been a prolific beast and he's not slowing down now. Just last week, his latest release Vestige appeared online and it's been haunting my waking life ever since. Recorded by Menche recently and continuing his exploration of string instruments, the 37-minute piece is like a tidal wave immersing a seaside town in slow, undulating motion.
Old Grape God - nzalousi
Sometime soon, hip-hop artist Old Grape God will release their latest album isoulazn, which is exciting news on its own. But to tide us over, they released a reversed and pitch-shifted version of that record that is an absolute trip to listen to. I've never felt more like my synapses were being rearranged in real time.