Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

June 10, 2011 at 10:21am

Meet Squim

As Squim, Portland's Chris Phillips has released a wealth of material

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PART OF THIS WEEKEND'S OLY EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FEST >>>

When I interviewed Olympia Experimental Music Festival booker Nathan Markiewicz and performer Sam Melancon (Megabats) for my piece on this year's OEMF, there was one artist on the festival's line-up both were particularly excited to see. As Squim, Portland's Chris Phillips has released a wealth of material (much of it undocumented online), including two on Melancon's own Debacle Records. Notably, 2007's Zephyrus (the first in a planned trilogy that's now 2/3rds complete), was put out by esteemed underground label Olde English Spelling Bee.

Part of Squim's appeal lies in the methodical, intuited approach he takes to produce his enveloping electronic drones.

"I usually start with an idea then break things down and reassemble them. When I like what's happening with a recording and I have enough material I stop. Sometimes I gather a lot of source material beforehand. Other times I severely limit my palate of sounds," Phillips says.

"The process is more sculptural than musical to me. Building up and breaking down sound over and over until I get a frame to build on.  I like to think about what it would be like for a cave man to find a computer or synthesizer left behind by some pre-existing civilization and what he would do with it- what sounds would he make?"

There's something expressly scenic and cinematic about Squim's eerie soundscapes-his caveman scenario quite readily calls to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey-and Phillips, fittingly, hopes his music gives people "an emotional impression, some sense of a weird landscape." He elaborates, "If it makes them think 'What's making that sound?'- that's great. If it makes them have an out of body experience or fall asleep that's good too."

Clearly, he's not picky. When Phillips isn't tinkering with software and keyboards, he's scoring independent films and post-apocalyptic video games. For someone who cites both Carl Sagan and H.P. Lovecraft as influences, that makes a weird kind of sense.

Squim performs at the Northern as part of the Olympia Experimental Music Festival on Saturday, June 11, at 7 p.m.

17th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival

with Megabats, L.A. Lungs, Dead Air Fresheners, Squim and others
Friday, June 10-Sunday, June 12, 7 p.m., all ages
Northern, 321 Fourth Ave., Olympia
northernolympia.org

Filed under: Music, Arts, All ages, Olympia,
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