chris portka – ‘trash music’ (vinyl release)


Bay Area-based artist Chris Portka produces an array of inventive, gripping soundscapes throughout his new album trash music. The album presents a beautifully eclectic sound, spanning from the minimalist folk of “the sky is blue in hell” and fuzzy throwback rock of “dream factory” to gripping experiments in sound, like the beautifully chaotic “wildlife” and fuzzed-out “your music is trash.” The riveting listening experience is accompanied by a vinyl release on October 1st.

The album’s reaches from avant-garde noise to raucously invigorating rock and contemplative folk makes for a ceaselessly engaging listening experience. Themes of striving for self-acceptance mesh with these inventive textures, a trademark of works from Portka, who is known as djpants.eth in the NFT music community. trash music is an ideal dose of fresh air for those numbed by the glossily-manufactured commercial pop and rock music of today.

trash music opens with intrigue, naturally, as “to burn him up, is it too much to bear?” swells into whirring vocal effects and frenzied textural buzzing. The submerged vocals and queasy distortion will perk listeners up, preparing them for the riveting audible journey ahead. “wildlife” follows with some more clarity, as thumping percussion and squealing guitars tout a punk-friendly presence alongside an impassioned vocal submergence. The album’s initial one-two punch showcases Portka’s more delectably raucous side.

The tender folk stylings of “the sky is blue in hell” plays in brilliant successive form, like a come-down from the preceding track’s frantic chaos. “I am the sky,” the vocals let out during warming acoustical pulses, with the nature-friendly imagery and stirring vocals sending chills. “bojeum” returns to a more anxious vein, though embracing a more electronic-minded spectrum rather than a rock guitar onslaught; the result is engrossing, yet again, as murmuring vocals and experimental guitar spurts intertwine.

trash music never lets up with its inventiveness. “women are hot” struts a psychedelic feverishness in its subdued vocals amongst creaking guitars, with its unpredictability excelling into effervescent key additions. Closing the album is “let’s go play today,” conjuring an electro-folk feeling as vocals lament a flooding city and heavy rains. trash music is a powerful, creative showing from Chris Portka.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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