Sunday, July 3, 2016

The films of Paul Clipson with live score by Grouper's Liz Harris at Northwest Film Forum & Washington Hall: Jul 29 - 30

Later this month the Northwest Film Forum and Elevator host two nights, in different arrangements, of experimental filmwork by Paul Clipson with sonic accompaniment from Portland's Liz Harris. Her most recent sequence of albums spanning the last decade as Grouper embrace early folk traditions as much as contemporary electronic and sound sculpting sequences involving controlled feedback, reverb and delay. One can see a line of progression and intermingling of themes and process through, "The Man Who Died in His Boat" a mirroring companion album to 2008's "Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill" and 2015's more explicitly folkish "Ruins", the latter assembled over a more protracted span of time during a residency in Portugal. The album's extended recording process, an attempt to escape the hectic rush of contemporary life and enter a slower slipstream, was realized during a stay at Lisbon’s Galeria Zé dos Bois. Which Harris details for FACT Mag, “Liz Harris: I Felt Incapable of Finding Love”; "Starting to process a relationship that had ended a couple years prior. Being alone and near the water started drawing some of it out. Emotions built up over years emerged. I felt incapable of being in a relationship, of finding love. Bad at taking care of people, no one taking care of me. Governments not taking care of their own people, world economy taking a nose-dive cause of shortcuts and greed.” In a more personal look, The Quietus enlisted Harris as our guide through her musical life, "Listening & Playing Alone: The Strange World Of Grouper", from the (literal) ghosts of her early years, being a party vagrant in Los Angeles, to years of relative isolation in the rural coastal expanses of the Pacific Northwest, finding music via the echoing of former industrial spaces, to risk-taking and sleep deprivation.

Their "Through The Looking Glass: An Interview With Grouper" also explores the concurrent underground pop project, Helen released on Harris' longtime home, Kranky Records who themselves recently relocated to Portland in the year following their 20th Anniversary festival in Chicago. Redirecting the energy of garage rock's distorted vein, Helen's "The Original Faces" with percussionist Jed Bindeman and Scott Simmons on bass and guitar, channels a decidedly more upbeat groove reminiscent of the classic New Zealand weirdo pop sound from the late 1980's/90's centered around Flying Run Records and the early more raw, fuzz-infused emanations from the Creation label roster. For her evening at Northwest Film Forum, Harris will be supplying accompaniment to the Super 8 and 16mm projection assemblies of film-art, experimental filmmaker, Paul Clipson. Clipson's previous performance in Seattle as counterpoint to Dan Abrams enveloping synthesis was one of the highlights of Substrata Festival's final Northwest installment. Clipson's real-time improvisational dialog with Abram's sound saw densely layered, in-camera edited studies of figurative and abstract environments woven into a richly entrancing chiaroscuro of image, pattern, color and light. Not the first of Clipson and Harris' collaborative works, the two previously produced a "Mesmerizing feature-length Work Exploring Themes of the American Landscape", by the title of Hypnosis Display, which they discuss for NPR. Along with the music of Grouper, the evening's program also features prerecorded soundtracks by an extended global cavalcade of abstract electronic music and sonic experimentation from Gregg Kowalsky, Tarantel's Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Tashi Wada, Room40 label maven Lawrence English, and Kevin Martin's King Midas Sound collaboration with Christian Fennesz.