SOLD OUT: HELVETIA – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – December 29th, 2017


Mississippin' with Seattle experimental rock trio, playing the songs of influential band Duster


Deathlist, Floating Room

Fri, December 29, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm


This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seats 

Helvetia (pronounced “hel-vee-shuh") is the project of Jason Albertini, a previous member of UP Records band Duster and current bassist of Built To Spill. The band consists Samantha Stidham, Katherine Paul (of Black Belt Eagle Scout) and Jim Roth, also of Built To Spill. Having grown up in Basel, Switzerland, Albertini chose the name ‘Helvetia’ — the female personification of Switzerland — because of its lyrical and poetic sound. Between 2006 and 2011, Helvetia put out seven releases on The Static Cult Label, run by Duster’s Clay Parton, and toured with bands like Built To Spill and Meat Puppets. After running monitors and performing other roadie duties for Built To Spill for years, Albertini officially joined the band in 2012.

Known for recording most of Helvetia’s albums himself on a 4-track (except for 2008’s The Acrobats, recorded at the Seattle-based studio of Built To Spill’s Jim Roth), Albertini’s songs are raw, experimental, and psych-tinged. 2012’s Nothing In Rambling, the band’s first release for Joyful Noise Recordings, featured some of their most focused and inspired tracks to date. Shortly after its release, Albertini started recording new material that was deemed lost after a computer meltdown, but was eventually recovered and released as A Dot Running For the Dust - The Lost Sessions in early 2015. It will be followed by Helvetia’s new album, Dromomania, due out October 2nd on Joyful Noise.

“Dromomania” evokes the simplicity of ‘70s Kinks, combined with a good dose of Captain Beefheart and the randomness of The Residents. Third-wave hardcore influences meld with elements of Neu-like trance rock; Meat Puppets and Elevator to Hell come together on tracks like “Bermuda” and “Radio Shower.” Dromomania is a condition of wandering with no notice of intent nor memory of getting to where you’re going — just when you think you can get comfortable, you’re transported to a different place with a different set of ideals. Dromomania is a vague sense of feeling and dreams a-plenty.
"Deathlist is the solo recording project of Summer Cannibals bassist Jenny Logan. [Her] self-titled debut [is] six tracks of frenzied punk rock that riff wildly until they're caught in a buzzy entanglement of guitar-driven chaos. Standout track "Every Wish" plays like a slow-dance duet sung by these hyperactive electric guitar parts and Logan, who asks in a subdued tone, 'How do you know it ends tonight?'"
-Portland Mercury
Floating Room
Floating Room
Floating Room, False Baptism
The opening track of Floating Room’s sophomore album, False Baptism, is sung from two perspectives: that of a dog who longs for freedom, and that of its master, who fears losing control. “I don’t like how weak I am,” the dog laments, “when I’m with you.”

Despite all the talk about leashes and parks, “Dog” captures the very human experience of feeling limited by someone else. Led by Maya Stoner, Floating Room’s excellent 2016 debut, Sunless, sifted through the emotional wreckage of an abusive relationship. False Baptism does too, but with clearer eyes—processing trauma can take a lifetime, so obviously, it can also take multiple records.

Floating Room began as the bedroom recording project of Stoner and her partner Kyle Bates, who share vocal/guitar/synth duties, and has since expanded to include drummer Sonia Weber of goth rockers Alien Boy and an ensemble of collaborators and live members. Stoner has been an active member of Portland’s music community for the past 13 years, playing in bands (including Bates’ project Drowse, as well as the now-defunct groups Forest Park and Sabonis), booking shows, and co-running indie label Good Cheer Records.

“Playing music allows me to be both vulnerable and brave simultaneously,” she says. “I am the most honest when songwriting, perhaps even with myself. ‘Dog’ is an example of this—I actually wrote that song before starting Floating Room, while I was still in in an abusive relationship.”

False Baptism was recorded by Nicholas Wilbur at The Unknown, an old church-turned-recording studio in Anacortes, Washington, owned by Wilbur and Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie. Stoner says she vomited the whole drive up north to record the album, and again when the band returned there to mix.

“I thought it was a sign, that maybe writing these songs and putting them out might exorcise certain things out of me,” she says. “Since recording them I’ve realized that healing is not a cut and dry process. Each person I have been will always be a part of me—including the survivor, the psychonaut, and even the god-fearing child.”

Throughout False Baptism, Stoner ruminates on toxic love, god complexes, the claustrophobic softness expected of women, the desire to cover her body with tattoos of swords, and getting high on the belief that something—whether it’s drugs, religion, or love—can bring you salvation.

Standout track “Acid Queen” sample soundbites from “Getting High on Krystle,” a 2011 documentary about Krystle Cole, the former girlfriend of Gordon Todd Skinner, who once operated the world’s most productive LSD laboratory out of a decommissioned nuclear-missile silo in Kansas. They lived in the subterranean palace for years, tripping and losing touch with reality, but Skinner’s manipulation and brutal abuse eventually led to their breakup. “You thought it would be a baptism,” Stoner sings listlessly on “Acid Queen.” “You thought you would be saved/But he just held you under the water.”

“The term ‘false baptism’ is about mistaking what will bring you salvation,” she explains. “I was baptized as a kid, so maybe that’s why the imagery appeals to me. I’ve always felt it would be nice to wash away the past and become someone new; these songs themselves are an example of false baptism.”

The disorientation of resurfacing and starting life over is reflected with the band’s raw, gorgeous, and achingly intimate “gray pop,” a distinctly Pacific Northwestern strain of indie rock that draws from slowcore, lo-fi, dream, and noise pop. Where the home recorded Sunless sounded dazed, numb, and overcast, False Baptism rages like an angry ocean. It’s chaotic, but dynamic—Stoner and Bates’s guitar lines react and dissolve into each other with churning waves of distortion while farfisa, vibraphone and synths sparkle like reflected stars. Stoner sings with a newfound conviction, making songs like “Dog” and “Seashells” into full-blown indie rock anthems.

False Baptism is full of epiphanies: Maybe love shouldn’t make you weak. Maybe the bravest love doesn’t ask you to surrender your whole self. Learning to float is always more difficult than letting yourself fall, but—as Floating Room proves here—there’s tremendous power in doing so.