Chills and skills
The somber sound of Wow & Flutter goes for mood over melody
Portland's Wow & Flutter would be the ideal group to score the soundtrack for a documentary about the melting of the polar ice caps. The band's sound is immense and suggests great dormant power, but it's also rather cold and remote.
With their antennae tuned to the likes of Tortoise, Sea and Cake, Sonic Youth and even Pink Floyd (by way of Built to Spill or Flaming Lips), the Wows embrace texture over tempo and the meticulous construction of mood over the pasting together of zippy melodies.
Their latest album, 'Names,' (Jealous Butcher Records) is another gestation of somber sound and drifting dynamics. The opening cut, 'Amber,' guided by slight drumming and distant bolts of synthesizer, moves along with the languid grace of an enormous sea creature.
From here on in, Amy Turner's stately cello and Cord Amato's guitar jags begin to generate some heat, though only in tiny increments. Every sound Wow & Flutter creates is part of a gradual process, always testing the listener's patience with the lightest brush strokes imaginable.
'Modern Primitives' brings all the instruments to a turbulent flash point, creating a sort of Mexican standoff before de-escalating the tension back into a nervous crawl. By the time we arrive at the final two songs, 'Bluer Than' and 'Jophia,' there is a definite sense that the tone is getting more insistent: The guitars finally seem to be bridging a gulf, away from self-imposed exile.
Isolation and the furtive steps toward establishing contact make up the prevailing conceptual arc of 'Names.' As with any worthwhile trip, it's not how soon we arrive but the marvels we encounter along the way that count.
Wow & Flutter plays during its CD release party at 9 p.m. at the New Space, 1632 S.E. 10th Ave., 503-963-1935, $5.
Unrest and activism continue to bloom in the Rose City, this time heralded by a fierce punk rock flourish. The Police Accountability Campaign is getting a publicity boost from a benefit show at Berbati's Pan.
'Our aim is to keep awareness of the campaign alive in people's minds,' says PAC spokeswoman Adrienne Ratner. The money raised by the benefit will go to 'publicizing the issues as they happen and mobilizing people to action' in the face of what the group considers police misconduct.
Outspoken gadfly rocker Adam Sherburne and his band Consolidated will headline the show, supported by Sumerland, Riot Cop and Oneiric.
'We've done benefits in the past, but these artists are more overtly political than those we've worked with before,' Ratner says. 'They knew about the campaign and wanted to bring something meaningful to it.
'Some of the artists have experienced police brutality themselves,' she adds. 'And they'll talk about those experiences at the event.'
The benefit for the Police Accountability Campaign begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Berbati's Pan, 231 S.W. Ankeny St., 503-248-4579, $6-$10 at the door or through Fastixx (503-224-8499), subject to service charges.