Before I telephoned Yann Novak, director of Dragon's Eye Recordings, I hastily scribbled the following list:
Anomalous, Palace of Lights, and/OAR, Partial, apraxia, PsychForm, MCMC, Unit Circle Rekkids, Abduction, Backwards NW, Endless, Present Sounds, Ventricle, Stentorian Tapes, Debacle, Soccer Mom Ebonics, Gravelvoice, RGI (which, if memory serves, is the unofficial abbreviation for Rabid God Inoculator).
With a tagline of "Minimal Electronics and Drones," Dragon's Eye Recordings also belongs on my list, a long and largely unknown lineage of Seattle labels devoted to adventurous music. Regrettably, fewer than half the labels on my assuredly incomplete roll call remain active.
Given the fiscal peril of running a label, my first question for Novak is simply "Why?" Novak agrees that running a label is a labor of love with scant chance of blockbuster profits, but quickly adds, "Dragon's Eye is about more than just releasing music. I wasn't connected to the scene here, so I wanted to build something that made connections to me and to those who make music I like. Now that we're entering our second year, I'm more excited with what we're doing."
Dragon's Eye also nourishes Novak's own work. "The artists on the label influence me and," he says, skipping a beat with a slight laugh, "sometimes intimidate me." Immediately, I know he's referring to label mainstay Son of Rose, who amplifies the interior of a grand piano with laptop processing. Son of Rose shines on "Grand Treatments," the concluding track of the Dragon's Eye second-anniversary compilation Cotton: There, pinging insectoid pulses and crackles ease into an orbit of gorgeously elongated drones.
Son of Rose, Corey Fuller, and the Manning/Novak Duo perform Sat Aug 25 at the Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding scale donation.
ARTS IN NATURE FESTIVAL
Does any other local festival, including Bumbershoot, boast a lineup so diverse in genre and geography? Nestled amid the various cabins, woods, and greenery of Camp Long, this two-day event features guitar saboteur Bill Horist, the Pixie Chicks (a "youth string quartet performing classical music and cowboy songs"), jazz pianist Victor Noriega, the Okinawan music of Munjuru, classical guitarist Cesar Medel, Chinese pop songs sung by Shanel Tsu, and much more. On Sunday, don't miss the Animist Orchestra, who make quiet, minimal music out of dried leaves, hollow gourds, reeds, and pine cones. Converted into a "Museum of Sound," the camp's cabins house installations by Kristin Tollefson, Martyn Stewart, Perri Lynch, Dave Knott, and others. Also Sun Aug 26 from 11 am to 6 pm. Visit www.naturec.org for a full schedule and directions. Camp Long, 5200 35th Ave SW, 11 am—9 pm, $5 suggested donation.
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
Seattle Opera's closing performance of this Wagner opera showcases two leads from the 2005 Ring cycle, Greer Grimsley and Jane Eaglen. Jason Collins, a highlight of last summer's International Wagner Competition, sings the role of the Steersman. See www.seattleopera.org for details. Sung in German with supertitles in English. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, 389-7676, 7:30 pm, $25—$130.
With each passing year, it seems more local avant musicians move to New York. Faced with Seattle's absurdly high housing costs, moving to the Big Apple makes sense. If you're going to pay steep rent and stand no chance of owning a home, you might as well pony up to live in a city where titans such as John Zorn, Butch Morris, Meredith Monk, and La Monte Young are just a subway ride away. Fortunately, a few of our expats return for a visit. Here, NYC-based saxophonist Gregory Reynolds, whose work mingles silence, space, and ecstatic sound, collaborates with poet Stacy Carlson and dancer Monica Mata Gilliam. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free but donations accepted.
JIM CUTLER JAZZ ORCHESTRA
This big band plays old chestnuts, new charts, and an experimental number or two. Watch closely and peer into the silent world of an orchestra: trumpeters in back whispering, inscrutable hand signals from the leader, and the appreciative looks from fellow musicians when someone unfurls a smokin' solo. Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, 8 pm—midnight, $5.
JAZZ: THE SECOND CENTURY
The final installment of this Earshot Jazz project closes with another double bill, the Ziggurat Ensemble and Reptet. A rowdy, rambunctious septet, Reptet stitch together honking asides, raggedly spirited tuttis, jazz-rock bashing, and dissonant countermelodies borrowed from Dixieland, Mingus, and 1960s free jazz. I'm also keen to hear the Ziggurat Ensemble, a quartet fronted by pianist Bill Anschell and saxophonist Eric Barber, who tore it up with Snapbite in early August. Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 547-6763, 7:30 pm, $8/$10.