SUBSTRATA: HIGH-ALTITUDE AMBIENT MUSIC
Seattle guitarist/laptop musician Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka the Sight Below) launches his latest large-scale brainchild, Substrata Festival, with two nights of expertly curated experimental, minimalist music. Friday's highlights include former Seattle guitarist/keyboardist Eluvium and Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi. The latter musician excels at wringing a dazzling array of tones and textures from his instrument within an infinitesimal sound environment. The prolific Ambarchi coaxes a ravishing galaxy of static, tintinnabulation, insectoid mandibular friction, and machinelike timbres with diamond-cutting exactitude. His music fluctuates between supreme calm and unbearable tension, often within the same composition. Expect severe virtuosity from this lefty.
On Saturday, Substrata peaks with Biosphere (aka Norway's Geir Jenssen). For nearly the last two decades, Biosphere has reigned as one of the world's most accomplished ambient-music producers; it's no coincidence that his 1997 Substrata CD provides the handle for Irisarri's event. Biosphere's 1994 album, Patashnik, remains one of the greatest ambient-house full-lengths ever, but he is now best known for his field-recording-enhanced works for the esteemed Touch label. Over 12 albums, Biosphere has created gorgeous, tundral soundscapes that evoke his arctic home base of Tromsø with a profound poignancy. His latest magnum opus, N-Plants, which was finished in February 2011 and inspired by the "architecture, design, and... potential radiation danger" of Japan's nuclear plants, has taken on an eerie aura after that nation's subsequent earthquake/tsunami catastrophe.
On Sunday, July 17, Biosphere leads a small group of attendees on a hike to the Cascade Mountains to harvest some field recordings while dispensing advice about same. Friday's bill also features Marcus Fischer and Crys Cole; Saturday's also features Benoît Pioulard, Nils Frahm, and I30. Chapel Performance Space, Fri at 7 pm/Sat at 6 pm, presale only at www.irisarri.org/substrata, $35/$55 two-day pass, all ages.
TRANCE-CENDENTAL, MAN: THE SHPONGLETRON EXPERIENCE
This Simon Posford bloke (aka Hallucinogen) is responsible for the Shpongletron Experience, which takes the old-school UK trance steez to today's burner masses with great, slobbering gobs of psychedelic effects. If YouTube footage is to be believed, Posford performs elevated from the crowd in a pagodalike structure equipped with garish, strobing, multihued lights. The effect is overwhelming—sensory overload in elastic 4/4 time. With Beats Antique and Random Rab. Paramount Theatre, 8 pm, $25 adv/$30 DOS, all ages.