portastatic with ken vandermark and tim mulvenna – the perfect little door

sorry john, i’m still not sure i get it. or maybe this isn’t the right place to start.

portastatic and superchunk were two related bands that did not seem to enter my consciousness at any point. could i blame australian radio for not playing it? or rage for not showing videos? or just myself for not knowing?

what we have here is a quite unusual collaboration between post-rock god in mac mccaughan, experimental woodwind from ken vandermark and unsettling percussion from tim mulvenna. it includes singing (perhaps the high pitch is what always does me in); and a real angular and somewhat inflammatory approach to making music as a combo. i have to say now that i love ken’s clarinet better than his sax.

the first song, had, carries some fairly traditional rock at the beginning and descends into headache-inducing chaos. as parts, they don’t combine well. there are two very different songs in one, with very little holding them together. it doesn’t work as an exercise in juxtaposition; in complementarity; in art.

hey salty actually makes a hell of a lot more sense. it’s quiet for its entirety with an ideal blend of the instrumental elements above but not their tone. even mac’s almost female voice implores to be admired, and is so. maybe here i start to understand? it’s one great song.

in a slightly less convincing manner, late night wait around, which is a re-work of a ken vandermark song with lyrics added, manages a similar intriguing unification of those disparate sounds and styles.

but as often as perhaps it might seem to work, i’m equally likely to be in a mind-frame that results in a kind of toxic shock reaction to listening to a set of songs such as these.

perhaps that is the aim of music – one way or another, to make you feel something; even if you don’t actually love the emotion. if you can see and hear more in it than just the bodily rejection, it has done it’s job.


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