WL, Johanna Warren, Ilyas Ahmed + Jonathan Sielaff

WL, Johanna Warren, Ilyas Ahmed + Jonathan Sielaff Folder

(Wednesday) September 21, 2016 - 20:30

Holocene Portland - 1001 SE Morrison St (Map)

31 people attended

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21+, $7

WL Mercury Music Video Release
Johanna Warren Gemini I Album Release
Ilyas Ahmed + Jonathan Sielaff (of Golden Retriever / Dreamboat)
Dance by Kya Bliss


WL is a three piece exploratory rock band from Portland, OR. Misty Mary sings, plays keyboards and plays bass, Stevie Nistor plays drums and keyboards, and Michael Yun plays keyboards and guitar. They have been playing together since 2012.

The band's first single 'Impermanent' b/w 'No Escape' was released in the summer of 2012. It was recorded on a 1/4? Tascam 388 and released as a limited edition 7?. Impermanent is a meditation on the consequences of existing in a prolonged state of imbalance. No Escape was written during a sensory deprivation session, part of a series of sessions for which the band had traded an ambient piece. These visceral, yearning songs provided the band with an anchor to which they have tethered their shape shifting explorations.

Their first full length record 'Hold' expanded on the seed set by the Impermanent single. Hold's fraying, distorted guitar and thunderous, driving rhythms created droned out, satiating compositions while Misty Mary's airy vocals centered the listener. Hold was recorded on an Otari MX5050 1/2? tape machine and released on cassette in July of 2013. The band toured behind this record in 2013 and 2014 and have sold out of physical copies.

The lunar and oceanic music of their second full length record, Light Years, continues to see the band's sound develop. The textures are detailed and intimate, and the energy is focused. The album grows in large periodic swells characteristic of the elemental forces within nature and society that inspired the work. The album was written in one week and was originally composed for a live performance alongside the French surrealist animation, Gandahar by Rene Laloux. The band recorded the basic tracks at home and recorded vocals and overdubs in a small blue A-frame on the Oregon Coast.

After the recordings were completed the band still felt that the music's original relationship to the visual elements of the animation had added a critical dimension to the work. They reached out to local artists and began a two year long collaboration which has resulted in the visual album, Light Years. The videos for Light Years were each produced using unique methods highlighting the distinct character of each song. Stereoscopic photography, 16mm film, stop motion animation, digital collage, slow motion film, dance, and 3d point cloud scanning techniques were all employed for the movie.


The third full-length offering from singer-songwriter Johanna Warren (Portland, OR), Gemini I is the first of twin albums about the blessing and curse that is romantic love. Both albums document the joys and sorrows of the twin flame dynamic, and the essential human work we can only do in relationship to another person: reflecting back parts of our intimate partners they may never have noticed otherwise (both the beautiful and hideous), pointing out each other's blind spots, pushing each other’s buttons, dredging up past traumas... hopefully, all in the name of healing, finding compassion, and gaining understanding of ourselves and each other.

In structuring and conceptualizing the Gemini albums, songwriter Johanna Warren worked with two specific images from the Tarot–The Lovers, and The Devil–both of which illustrate two mortals in relationship triangulated by a third, divine presence presiding over them: in The Lovers, an angel extends its hands over the mortals, witnessing and blessing their union; in The Devil, the lovers are chained to the Devil's throne. These songs explore the heavens and hells we are capable of creating, and co-creating with our thoughts and actions.

Gemini I and II consist of 9 songs each, and every song has a corresponding twin on the other album (e.g. Track 3 on Gemini I is the twin of Track 3 on Gemini II) linked by lyrical/thematic content, musical motifs and/or production choices. Each album consists of three sets of three songs (reflecting the triangular dynamic illustrated in aforementioned cards, and because Gemini is the third sign in the zodiac) in which every three songs represent an Angel or a Devil and the attending mortal pair from which this third point of consciousness emerges.

Warren's third solo album, Gemini I was recorded at Dreamland, a beautiful old church nestled in the forest of Woodstock, NY, by her long-time collaborator/ engineer Bella Blasko. While her previous albums (numun, 2015 and Fates, 2014) were recorded in makeshift home studios with very limited resources, Dreamland afforded Warren and Blasko a surge of creative freedom in the form of an arsenal of gorgeous vintage audio gear and a playground of unique and unusual instruments, percussion, analog synths and electric guitars (which Warren and Blasko played almost entirely themselves). The resulting recordings are sonically exquisite, and more fully arranged than anything Warren has previously released while maintaining the intimacy and warmth of her past work.

Gemini I will be released September 16, 2016 on Warren's own newly minted label, Spirit House, whose focus is on elevating and empowering female/non-binary voices in a male-dominated industry.

One of “4 Singer-Songwriters You Need to Know in 2015” – Rolling Stone Magazine

One of the 50 Best New Bands of 2015 – Stereogum

“Like [Elliott] Smith, she’s interested in the depths of human relationships and the forces that can poison them unseen. She doesn’t lament the dissolution of romances and friendships, but attacks it like a puzzle.” –Consequence of Sound

“Rich in sensual language and meditative honesty” –Impose Magazine

(Wednesday) September 21, 2016

WL, Johanna Warren, Ilyas Ahmed + Jonathan Sielaff

Holocene Portland 1001 SE Morrison St Portland, OR United States

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