"'Psychedelic' is a mentality, not a genre," states David Golightly, half of the Translinguistic Other record label with Emily Pothast. "It bridges or eliminates any bullshit 'mind-body' duality, so we're looking for philosophy with a visceral punch, out-of-body trance states that show you the inner workings of your intestines, sounds that keep you rooted on earth while taking your dome into the cosmos. Damnation, poisoned with rainbows, as it were."
Welcome to the heady, hedonistic world of Translinguistic Other, the Northwest's latest and most potent force for sounds and sights geared to trigger higher consciousness. With its prolific, progressive release schedule and promotion of upper-echelon live shows (including Cave, Sun Araw, and Pontiak), TLO is fostering Seattle's psychedelic underground with canny curatorial prowess.
Pothast and Golightly—who both play in the psych-rock group Midday Veil and the cosmic-synth duo Hair and Space Museum—established their scene-nurturing roles with Aubrey Nehring's Portable Shrines collective and on its popular Escalator Fest, but a shift in Nehring's priorities led to a parting of ways. He's getting married this fall and is now focusing more on installations, visual art, and T-shirt designing than music, although he's playing guitar in the high-flying drone-rock trio Stenskogen along with Golightly and Garek Druss.
Explaining his rationale for leaving the concert- and festival-hosting game, Nehring says, "The gap that seemed to exist in Seattle's music scene a few years ago now seems almost full to bursting. I don't really feel the need to book shows for people when there are already more going on than I can keep up with!"
"I don't think Aubrey ever had any intention of making Escalator Fest into something that would last forever," Pothast says. "So for me, it's more of a natural drift away from one thing and into another."
While it's sad that Escalator may be history, TLO is ensuring that heads won't be lacking for aural stimulation. With a back catalog including releases by mystical-folk troupe Geist & the Sacred Ensemble and doomy transcendentalists Fungal Abyss, TLO is poised to issue new offerings by Portland tribal-goth cult Swahili, turbulent Seattle post-rockers Scriptures, and Midday Veil, whose fantastically deep and disorienting improv excursion INTEGRATRON was recorded in "an acoustically perfect wooden dome situated on a geomagnetic vortex in the California desert." Whoa, bro.
Both Pothast (in Texas) and Golightly (in Kentucky) emerged from backgrounds where conservative politics and fundamentalist Christianity exerted strong influences. Both found escape and illumination in hallucinogens—among other things. For Pothast, the tragic car-accident deaths of her parents in 2005 further propelled her on a path of multidisciplinary artistic exploration, particularly, she says, on music as "a ritualistic, performative medium." She also teaches screen-printing at Cairo and runs her own art blog (also called Translinguistic Other) and gallery, TaRLA Transdimensional Art Portal, which is located in the couple's Capitol Hill home.
When TLO started in 2010 with the release of Midday Veil's earliest recordings, Seattle was experiencing a resurgence of psychedelic action, as Portable Shrines filled the calendar with exciting multimedia-enhanced shows. Now in 2012, the Northwest continues to be a hub of third-ear-massaging music: Seemingly half of the great Thrill Jockey label hails from Portland and, as Pothast notes, TLO's efforts have been augmented by Seattle crews like Debacle, Bad for Jazz, and Hollow Earth Radio, which have been smartly boosting experimental sonic activities on a consistent basis via recordings, festivals, off-the-grid shows, and webcasts.
"I think some things are always being born, while something else is dying," Pothast says about the local scene. "Unfortunately, we recently lost Jason E. Anderson (Gift Tapes/Draft) and Pearson Wallace-Hoyt (Seattle Occultural Music Festival) to Olympia. There might not ever be another Escalator Fest, but something else will happen. If not us, someone else will do something."
But, most likely, that something will be done by TLO. On the horizon are an LP due out this summer by Druss's A Story of Rats project titled Vastness and the Inverse and multi-city events organized in conjunction with Portland's Redefine magazine. More immediately, Hair and Space Museum will be enacting a "performative response" to Gary Hill's glossodelic attractors exhibition at Henry Art Gallery on July 26—which is an archetypal TLO move, requiring sound created in response to LSD-inspired art installations in spontaneous situations.
But what is the Translinguistic Other, really? "I guess it's something that you encounter that can't easily be encoded into words," Pothast says. "It slips away from you the moment you try to define it. You hit a certain point where language and meaning are separated and words become useless."
With irrefutable logic, Golightly adds, "We're all just a cosmic soup of energized quarks teeming with life at every level, and since our knowledge of the outside world is our experience, how we choose to shape our experience in turn shapes the world outside."