Chris Portka - Trash Music - Album Review - Experimental Music from Oakland, California, USA

Chris Portka - Trash Music - Album Review - Experimental Music from Oakland, California, USA

Today, I delve into the chaotic world of an avant-garde artist, Chris Portka, hailing from Oakland, California, USA. His most recent release and fourth studio album, “Trash Music,” was my focus today, released on July 27, 2023.

Chris Portka, Let's Go Play Today

In truth, Chris Portka’s album, “Trash Music,” was one of the most interesting cases I’ve studied recently. In fact, this album made me consider it a case study, which is significant, given my many years in the music industry and writing about music. It’s a testament to Chris Portka’s work; he taught me something new.

First and foremost, the “Trash Music” album encapsulates unapologetically raw and unaestheticized takes from his projects, blandly incorporating electronic elements with acoustic and electric guitars. The album revolves around the concept of a person enduring long-term difficulties, interpreting his inner world unedited and unfiltered, akin to chaotic sounds in nightmares. Sonically, this concept paints a distressing journey, accompanied by dreamy, melodic, and tranquil acoustic guitars, ultimately concluding the story with a sense of hope.

While I don’t typically follow artists with a similar style to “Trash Music,” the album’s concept has reminded me of Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon” and “The Wall” in terms of its structure and storytelling. In Chris’ case, the distressing emotions and the unbalanced rhythm of his life, ebbing and flowing like waves, find expression through the use of loud electronic elements, keys, dreamy atmospheres, and chaos, all contributing to the album’s fundamental nature.

Moreover, the acoustic sections in the album stand out for their unprocessed nature. Chris captured these takes without the use of any professional tools, not even basic ones like a metronome. The album’s commitment to unfiltered expression becomes a foundational element of his concept, enabling the music to flow naturally, whether it takes on tension or melody, without being constrained by concerns about his vocal and guitar performances. This approach creates a sound that closely mirrors an unpolished reality.

Chris Portka, artist photoPhoto credit: Unknown

It isn’t always possible to set aside all emotions and approach a musical work objectively, although I strive to do so most of the time in my life. In fact, during my initial listen to the “Trash Music” album, I experienced a range of emotions and thoughts, sometimes finding hope and peace in its simplicity, and at other times, grappling with conflicting feelings. Objectively, this music isn’t suitable for everyone.

I found myself unable to ignore the album’s perceived flaws during my listening experience as I tried to uncover the answers to Chris’s questions on my own. From my perspective, my encounter with the music stirred up emotions that I’ve been battling within myself for a long time – discomfort, stress, and anxiety – all of which were sonically captured in “Trash Music.” I recognized some commonality between my own emotions and Chris’s narrative. Deep down, I know there are logical explanations for Chris’s artistic choices and the path he chose to follow in creating this album. However, I couldn’t help but contemplate the album’s overall listenability given his unapologetic approach. As a music enthusiast, I typically seek out music that allows me to escape from reality, which “Trash Music” did, but not necessarily in the direction I would have chosen.

Chris Portka, artist photoPhoto credit: Unknown

In the end, the album has left its mark in my memory with its manifesting nature. "Trash Music" album encapsulates unapologetically raw and unaestheticized takes of an avant-garde artist in a heavy concept of distress, that blends electronic elements and acoustic guitar music, closely mirroring an unpolished reality. Thank you for reading.

Chris Portka, Trash Music

released July 27, 2023

Vinyl Design by C.Miltimore
Artwork by Tuukzs
Mastered by Thomas Ryan of Ryan Records

Chris Portka on the Web


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