New music and art by DMLH, plus other good tunes for all tomorrow's leaders.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Album from The Height of 63 - "A Thousand Swords & The Flooded Cave"

The Height of 63 is Michael Griffith, aka Griff who slays keyboards in Archers. A Thousand Swords & The Flooded Cave is a long awaited collection of songs that have been growing for the past 8 years. In that time Griff has lived in SoCal, Geneva and Portland, all the while crafting a space for himself in the world he hears.

The album opens with the classic pop refrain "ah" repeating into spaciousness, and settles into oscillating 8bit frequencies. Griff follows this with "Clouds Burst", acoustic guitar and organs that build from a subtle strum into a heavy wash of emotion, over a sparse electronic beat. I dont feel as through I am well versed enough to talk properly about The Height of 63. There are so many layers of sound and tone, and Griff moves through them all with a timeless, seamless feeling. Sometimes this album sounds like waking up after a shipwreck, washed ashore in the seafoam.

A Thousand Swords and the Flooded Cave is an immersive listening experience from start to finish, and you can hear it all and download at The Height of 63 on Bandcamp. DO IT.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Show Review: Eddie Valiant, Mt. Tabor Theater, Portland, OR 2.13.11

A few weeks ago, while hundreds of fans lined up around the block at Portland’s Mt Tabor Theater to see Del The Funky Homosapien, I was fortunate enough to be inside to catch the opening act, Portland locals Eddie Valiant. The house was already filling up by the time DJ Zone began to warm up the stage with some choice cuts. He was joined by a drummer and three vocalists, and it looked like we were in for a typical underground rap act.

Eddie Valiant is anything but typical. Max Graves (a rapper), David Mann (a singer), and Scotty Del (a vocalist who does both), belt out personal anthems and pop harmonies, while DJ Zone lays down beats that blur the lines between indie rock and hip hop, and Chase Pingree’s drums never stop carrying the momentum.

Graves’ rap voice speaks in stacatto bursts of confident poetry, like the hard truth smashing though the mundane. His stage presence is strength personified, power in the flux of restraint and release. David Mann’s vocals sing from the other side of the spectrum, reaching deep for emotive tones that ride the melody like a trip down the rabbit hole. He illustrates his lyrics with his actions, and comments on their meaning with his eyes. Scotty balances the combination, with a raw flow and singing voice that belie the truth in verses of everyday struggle for personal growth. From his words to his actions on stage its clear that this is not a front, this is his heart laid out in unapolagetic terms.

The production moves from hardcore hip hop to melodic indie rock and even into alt-pop territory. Bolstered by the live drums it had a huge portion of the crowd dancing by the end of their set, no small feat for an unknown opener in a huge, cold room. Every member of the group contributes parts to the music, so their mashup of sounds is a true reflection of the identities of the group.

I got a copy of their new EP from David, and bumped it on my ride home. It held the same huge energy of their set, and had me nodding to the shifting dynamic between the members of the group. It just came out this month on Taxidermy Records, and has already garnered a good bit of interest. With a mixtape download coming out in June, and a bunch of shows coming up over the next few months, he said the group is looking forward to a summer full of more awesome times, and I am stoked to see where it takes them.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Writing On The Wall - DMLH and Joe Cyrus Live at Launch Pad Gallery

Last September I was fortunate enough to be invited to partake in a live installation project at the Launch Pad Gallery in Portland. The idea behind the project was to create a space for words to flow freely, where people could interact with each other, the space, and the words that were created. It was an honor to be a part of this moment, and a great chance to introduce some Portland Hip Hop to a lot of new listeners.

The event was promoted with index-card sized flyers, and on the back they were blank, except for a tiny bit of text: "your word here". On the night of the event more cards were supplied, along with pens and markers, thumbtacks and yarn for connecting strands of thought. A 30 foot wall was offered to the crowd as a space to begin self organizing their words and those they came in contact with.

After this had gone on for some time we cranked up some beats and ran around with wireless mics, freestyling literally off the wall. It was one of the most enjoyable nights of my year, and really of my entire career as a performance artist. We went on like this for an hour, mixing in our songs with the freestyle, feeding off the vibe, even rapping according to words handed to us by the crowd.

Thanks to Ben Pink and Launch Pad Gallery for making it happen, Portland Hip Hop heads Joe Cyrus, Kable Roc and Dagda Sun for rockin the mics with me, Shermstixx for DJ'ing and Wellis the Taoist Fool for making the document that exists above.

Just more Honest Hip Hop Art from my Indie Rap Adventure