Music

Word to the Ninja

Local Ninjas Chop Up Electronic Improv

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by Aaron Miles

4th Rail Showcase

Fri Sept 12

Fez Ballroom

Portland's Surrounded By Ninjas--keyboardist and live producer Asher Fulero and disc jockeying sound affecter Joel Barber--drop atmospheric, soulful downtempo improvisations. They represent a burgeoning instrumentalist-driven electronic music scene--what happens when producer/DJ-driven electronic musicians team up with live instrumentation.

Fulero says the idea behind this collision is not about "people making electronic music and incorporating instruments." Instead, he says, it's "about instrumentalists who understand the language of electronic music and want to improvise with it." As a music composition grad who knows way too much about music and plays in a million projects, the Ninjas are an ideal outlet for Fulero. "I always wanted to find a way to improvise in a way that sounded like I wasn't improvising. When we started playing, I figured it was a good time to put that to the test."

The Ninjas are anal about not being anal--none of their music can be pre-planned or produced. As a result, they stealthily surround themselves by many jazz and rock bands that combine an appreciation for electronics and improvisation. At this show, the Ninjas will perform a short solo set, as well as longer "cross-pollinating" with members of the other two, larger groups on the bill: Eugene's Eleven Eyes, who usually rock the funky acid-jazz tip, and Portland jam rockers Nimbus.

The hybridization these bands embrace was born not only out of musical curiosity but practicality. Fulero concedes, "All of the instrumentalists knew that a DJ or producer could very realistically put us out of a job."

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