For decades Portland, Oregon has been an unkempt swath of musical wilderness along the West Coast of the United States – fertile ground for all types of sonic experimentation and underground art. Until recently it was an off-the-map hideout where lone wolfs were free to tinker and tweak their projects, only stepping out into the sunlight (or spotlight) when absolutely necessary. Ash Black Bufflo typifies this type of ruminating, slow burning musical project. For the last ten years, Ash Black Bufflo tracks and scores have appeared in modern dance recitals and theater productions and on movie soundtracks around the world. No live shows or recordings have been accounted for until now. Finally, in the Winter of 2010, Knitting Factory Records in Brooklyn, New York will release a full length Ash Black Bufflo album called Andasol that documents this emerging voice in experimental music.
Andasol (translated “A Walk in the Sun” in Spanish) is a nearly un-classifiable, yet absolutely brilliant album. It plays like an eighteen song, hour-long mix-tape that hits on a staggering number of touchstones – looping Steve Reich-inspired sound collage, field recordings, Moondog styled street romps, drone, fuzzed-out spaghetti western gloom, foggy tape hiss ponderings, concise violin pieces, experimentation on treated piano, and more. If it sounds overly stuffy, rest assured, it’s not. The music is acutely emotional, deeply melodic, and always puts the listener in a specific place and mood. The tone and the arrangement of each track, and the album as a whole, sets a scene, creates a picture. Choose any track on Andasol, and the listener experiences the sensation of not only “Where am I?” but also, “What happens next?” Even instrumental music has a narrative and Ash Black Bufflo is a master storyteller track by track.
Throughout the past five years that Ash Black Bufflo worked on Andasol, there was also an ongoing collaboration with director Jeff Malmberg who was shooting the documentary Marwencol, about artist Mark Hogancamp. In 2010 the film went on to sweep the film festival circuit winning awards at South by Southwest in Austin, Seattle International Film Festival, Hot Docs in Toronto, Comic Con, Boston Independent Film Festival, and the Cleveland International Film Festival among many others. In the Fall of 2010 the film will see a theater release in both the United States and Canada. So finally, after years of anonymous toil in the studio, Ash Black Bufflo receives recognition with an album and movie release in the same year. The work continues though, and it requires patience and attention to detail on the listener’s behalf because this artist’s strong suit isn’t social media networking or publicity grabs—it’s the creation of astounding instrumental music. It’s like anything that’s truly of value. It’s worth seeking out and it’s definitely worth the wait.
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