by Dave Segal

Droning, oscillating, and twanging since 2000, Portland label Strange Attractors Audio House has become a major force on the global psychedelia scene. Small indies are invariably run by true believers on shoestring budgets with more passion than funds, and zealous SAAH honcho Chris Scofield is no exception.

SAAH grew out of Scofield's seven-year stint at KAOS Olympia Community Radio. "The station educated me on the political economy of music and the ghastly industry that propels it," he says. "Supporting independent and challenging music became an insatiable thirst of mine, and I began to scheme how I could apply my excitement for new music to my own outlet of documentation."

The label's moniker, Scofield explains, "is the name of a pattern that erupts from chaos--order from disorder. I'm turned on by bands and artists that experiment with sound, but with a directness and purity. But I champion all forms of music that tweak the sonic landscape. "

SAAH's phantasmagorical sounds have snared enough fanatics to keep operations humming (2003 was the imprint's biggest year yet, and '04 looks to be just as busy). "Psychedelia is alive and well," Scofield enthuses, "and I hear it burbling incessantly out of the avant-rock scene, the experimental electronic scene, folk, jazz; to me it feels like reinvention is rampant."

With releases from Acid Mothers Temple offshoot Tsurubami, SubArachnoid Space, Kinski, Vocokesh, and Cul De Sac in its catalog, SAAH has become a potent source of freewheeling space rock. But the label's expansive enough to also champion Steffen Basho-Junghans and Harris Newman's transcendent drones and folkadelia. So who's buying SAAH releases? "My audience is spread about, many people from Europe and the East Coast, for whatever reason. These are people with a strong appreciation for unorthodox, challenging, trippy music, people who are bored with the norm, who like music to be a little strange, and to alter their perceptions. I can relate to my audience. I'm a slathering, hapless music fanatic/collector fascinated by ethereal, unusual sounds as well."