Freeform Portland presents: 5 Questions!

In this installment, Swintronix interviews fellow Freeform Portland DJ zen_hound of the weekly show Whoa This Is Heavy.

How did you hear about Freeform Portland?

I first heard about Freeform through Jeff Simmons, a founder of XRAY FM, on twitter. XRAY was new but going strong, and I was doing some volunteering and digging the community nature of it. Then I hear Jeff’s working with people on ANOTHER community station, this one all music all day, and it only increased my excitement for how things were going musically in Portland. Listening to my friend Ben do his show Cities in Dust made me finally get off my butt and apply for a show.

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Songs For Trains

Trains are spiritual places for me. A sense of time slowing down while you move through the world at a standstill. I spend a good deal of my train rides listening to music whether I’m doing so while reading a book, gazing out the window, napping or writing a Freeform Portland blog post. So, I did some thinking on songs I strongly associate with trains. Many are literal “train songs,” but there are a number that use trains as a means of speaking to something less tangible.

Vashti Bunyan – “Train Song”

“Traveling north, traveling north to find you…”
Haunting. Best for routes that firstly, move northward, and secondly, are winding, remote and ideally immersed in fog. Don’t spend too much time getting attached to anyone you meet on these sorts of train rides.

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Led Zeppelin Ears

Led Zeppelin Ears

Led Zeppelin independent radio

When it comes to listening to music, the general populace has a serious case of Led Zeppelin ears.

This is condition brought about by an overexposure to or an overt affection for the band Led Zeppelin, specifically and classic rock radio in general.
It is a condition that manifests itself with great ease, and is years in the making. Sometimes a lifetime happens before it reaches maturity. A lifetime not spent on capitulation or apathy, no. A lifetime in which at some point you slip into acceptance.

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The Radiation Of Sands: Roselit Bone – Blister Steel

Roselit Bone Portland
Roselit Bone Portland album review
illustration: La Petite Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen… The desert is beautiful, ” the little prince added. And that was true. I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams… “What makes the desert beautiful, ” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well… ” I was astonished by a sudden understanding of that mysterious radiation of the sands.

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, La Petit Prince
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Freak Folk Faves! (Part 2)

Sibylle Baier never really made an album. The German model and occasional actress was more interested in raising her children than self promotion. And to any fan of underground music, talent over hype is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Baier can be seen in Wim Wenders’ 1973 “Alice In The Cities” and her music can be heard in several other Wender’s productions. But the handful of songs she recorded by herself were all but unheard and forgotten until her son had them published some thirty years later. We can thank Orange Twin Records for the reissue (or in this case, first pressing).

Even today Sibylle shuns the spotlight and thinks it silly that people would pay any attention to her quaint home recordings. Perhaps her aversion to fame has kept the magic quality of these recordings intact.

Her voice somber and soothing, her nylon stringed guitar warm and cozy- if you listen to this record alone and in a quiet place, you can have your own singular hidden treasure experience:


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A Band Never Found – The Disfigurines

Relying on the internet as often as we do, it is sometimes disconcerting when we come upon a subject for which there is little or no information.

Such is the band, The Disfigurines.

It is a band name I have encountered every now and again, spoken softly by some members of bands I’ve met. The first time was when I was walking on NW Couch street one morning. I met Mick Collins of The Gories and The Dirtbombs. He had just purchased a juice and was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes. I had seen the Dirtbombs perform a year or so prior to this chance encounter, at The Satyricon, and complimented him on the show and his band in general. The conversation drifted towards record collecting and he asked me if I had any recordings by the band, The Disfigurines. I could tell from the look on his face he really was hopeful I would reply in the affirmative, but I had never heard of the band. I shook my head, no. Sorry, never heard of them, I replied. Who are they? Just a band I might have heard of he replied, his head sinking a bit as he turned to walk away.

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Watch Opal & Ayler from Freeform Portland’s Weekend Family Music Hour

Weekend Family Music Hour (Alternating Saturdays from 8am to 10am) is co-hosted by DJs Opal and Ayler who are 10 & 8 yrs old. They are supervised by Mom (Karen) & play eclectic music which ranges from ethnic, Miami bass, soul, funk, rock, psych, hip hop, reggae, jazz & folk. In addition to tunes and birthday shout-outs, Opal and Ayler lead discussions on politics, magic and childhood subjects.
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DIY Boost / Overdrive / Distortion / Fuzz – Part 1

Ever consider building your own guitar pedal? It’s actually pretty simple, and with a few simple tools and a lot of patience, you can build a pedal of your very own.

Why Boost, Overdrive, Distortion or Fuzz?

Boost, overdrive, distortion and fuzz circuits are relatively simple and a great way to get introduced to the basic components used in guitar pedals. Some fuzz pedals and simple boosts can have as few as half a dozen components as compared to more complicated circuits like delay, chorus or tremolo. While this post won’t go step by step through a pedal build, it will point you in the right direction and offer some resources to help get you started.

To the uninitiated, here are the differences:

  • Boost – increases the volume to boost your signal with little clipping (distortion) or compression
  • Overdrive – softly clips your signal providing slight distortion and compression
  • Distortion – hard clips your signal giving a distorted sound with lots of compression
  • Fuzz – square wave clipping of your signal so the sound is fuzzy, buzzy and super compressed

See this YouTube Video for more.

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