Onuinu @ Holocene
Lavender Mirror and Pool of Winds
Tuesday nights in Portland can go one of two ways; either everyone hangs around until 11pm then heads to the closest neighbor 2000 hood dive just to say they went out, or they mob out to some reoccurring themed week night excursion like “Disco Tuesday” or something absurd like that.
This Tuesday the Holocene is both crammed with late night bar-goers and overenthusiastic youngsters stopping in to see a selection of Portland's hottest electro-rock fusion bands. Showing up a bit early, I would just like to say that the Holocene with the lights on is the most oddly domestic and inviting warehouses I've ever had the pleasure of sipping draft beer in.
The first set was provided by Bobby Smith of Sex Life performing under the moniker Pool of Winds. A super nice fellow, he came right up to me and chatted long enough for me to hear him list Kraftwerk and other early Euro-electro acts as influences. Utilizing keys, guitar, vocals, and a laptop he plays with an upbeat mistiness, causing me to imagine some new age church organist rocking out on the side of the beach on a cloudless afternoon. His music maintains a complexity which stems from its well informed interdisciplinary approach; guitar and vocals providing folk and rock tones while the synth effects heighten and space-out the music.
Then a delicate and special project followed Pool of Winds on one of the other two stages. Lavender Mirror, a duo of two glitter-clad (in a badass way) gals who rock a drum set and keyboard like a rocking chair. That is, steadily and easily. They exude a power and surety about their music, despite the relatively novel use of tuned electronic drums and synthesizer to achieve their sound. What's initially interesting about Lavender Mirror isn't the contagious smiles of the musicians, although that is certainly noticeable, it's the quality of the sound that astounds me. The linear thumps of tom drums, reverberating chanting, plinking wood block and other earthy and timeless audio effects lies somewhere between early 80's new wave techno and a tribal drum circle.
After much adieu Portland locals Onuinu (pronounced “ON-yu-in-you”) take the stage and proceed to rock in a thoroughly introspective fashion. One may ponder how the whole line-up has been symbolic of a convergent trend in music where current artists seamlessly blend traditional acoustic instruments and electronic ones. Or one may just think how nerdy yet cool they look buried behind piles of synths, drums, and guitars. But not discriminating allows Dorian Duvall, mastermind of Onuinu, to achieve a very stunning and cerebral live performance.
The music falls within the vein of what has been called chillwave, or glo-fi, which is a particularly fresh and likeable sound first popularized by bands like Washed Out and Neon Indian. Drawing heavily off of 80's new-wave and synth pop for melodies, chillwave artists then add a spaced out dance beat, serenade their audience with calm reverbed vocals, and a combination of shiny effects on gritty lo-fidelity synths and guitars. Onuinu utilizes the best of these elements, emphasizing the carefree dance music quality felt in the live drumming, as well as the echoing aetherial caverns of sound the walls from which the guitar and synth effects bounce jovially.
Live projections on the wall used a motion tracking camera created meditative geometric abstracts while blanketing the performers in warm yellows and cool blues.
Playing a full set and one encore song, Onuinu rocked a solid show that night. By the end of their performance the venue was filled up, which if their claim that its only their second show is true, then I wouldn't be the only one in thinking they have a hip and relevant, well-composed style. Stay tuned for more Onuniu shows on bePortland.com, because they may not be playing cheap Tuesday night shows much longer!