Decoder Ring Name Check on Indie Rock Reviews


Aussie post-rock outfit Decoder Ring are launching their first effort since 2006’s Sommersault, on September 1st. Chris posted the video for the album’s opening track, Beat The Twilight, last month, and gave me the opportunity to subsequently review the full album.

Listening to They Blind The Stars, and The Wild Team is a venture not taken lightly, though despite the gravity of the music, it remains all the more uplifting. Plumbing depths and reaching highs, it is quite easy to imagine these songs working as the audio backdrop to imagery from scenes in your favourite dramatic enterprise. The sonic landscape described on the double album is both awesome and bombastic… but the tunes will caress your ears at the same time.

The album’s title track features a solid build that reminded me of the feeling one has cresting the top of a large mountain to view a lush and verdant valley below. The efforts of Scott Colburn (Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Yeasayer) from a production standpoint are much appreciated.

Happy Place was another tune that appealed, as it candidly described the sentiment of its namesake. Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom is the third of my favourites. Its pace was a bit more varied but there was never really a point in the track that let me down.

Those of you who recall the sounds of Godspeed You Black Emperor! or who enjoy listening to Mono or Mogwai will be quite content to ride along with the Wild Team as they ride you towards the land of Decoder Ring’s exultant soundscape.

Cross- Pollinated

An article about my solo music project does a good job of covering the music, but also releases more info about my producer roles.

Dark ambient avant-garde disco comedian. MS. JAYE.D

Data Breaker

Jabon’s Chillingly Funny Dark-Ambient Ditties


A jester-masked, berobed figure stands behind an imposing bank of keyboards before a stylish, boho crowd at the Hideout bar. There he generates unsettling waves of electronic horror—but it’s subtle Lovecraftian horror rather than blatant shock tactics. The haunting, sometimes-antic miasma created by this audio wizard seems absurdly incongruous in this chic setting, but one feels privileged to catch a rare appearance by Jabon, aka studio engineer Scott Colburn.

A longtime key figure in Seattle’s underground-music scene, Colburn is best known for producing albums by Arcade FireAnimal CollectiveSun City Girls, and Mudhoney, among many others. But since 1985, Colburn’s been recording solo pieces on the sly. This year, he’s decided to take his special, rarely heard music to the live realm (many Jabon tracks and concerts can be heard at

Black Flag–saluting punk in the ’80s, Colburn had an epiphany while listening to the Residents‘ Mark of the Mole. A music-appreciation course at Indiana University hipped him to StockhausenCharles Ives, and Morton Subotnick, and immersion in mid-’80s tape-trading culture led to him discovering subversives like Controlled BleedingNegativland, and Whitehouse. “I figured I could do that kind of music, too. Fortunately, I had access to a studio in which to do tape-loop experiments. Very quickly after that, the convergence of instrumental Black Flag (and [Greg] Ginn’s instrumental trio Gone) and Chrome started to take hold. So from there on out, my tapes were made of ‘rock’ trio improvisation, weird Residents-esque pop songs, intercut comedy, and general madness.”

Jabon flourished from 1985 to 1995, but then Colburn moved to Seattle and put the project on hiatus for about 14 years in order to focus on recording with Climax Golden TwinsWizard Prison, and Sun City Girls guitarist Sir Richard Bishop, while also burgeoning as a producer working out of his Gravelvoice Studios.

Colburn disagrees with my “unsettling” adjective above, but he admits, “I think [my tracks] might be challenging in the mood department. I can’t make happy music, but I can make funny music, so I think you need to approach it with a sense of humor and it will make more sense. I like to call my project Dark Ambient Avant Garde Disco Comedy. On any night, there’s gonna be someone who is stoned out of their mind and will get into the drone. There will also be someone else who had a bad day and will appreciate the darkness. Someone else will just enjoy the wacky pop ditties and laugh. I’m trying to appeal to the full range of human emotions.”

The Residents’ multimedia concerts inspired Jabon to follow suit. “In Wizard Prison, I didn’t want to play a show unless it would be an event,” Colburn says. “We wanted to put something together that was unlike anything anyone had seen before. So we got a 9-foot-high and 12-foot-wide aluminum cage draped with a white scrim. We made Brakhage-like avant-garde films to project behind us so we were in silhouette. And we’re wizards, see… in prison! And the music is the alchemy that allows our escape.

“For Jabon, I can play with or without films, with or without special effects, with any multitude of masks and disguises. The best shows will be the ones where I can pull off the carnival. The Hideout was close to that. If you watch the video from that show, several people just walked right up to me and took pictures with their cell phones. Probably to send to their friends to say, ‘Look at this shit I saw tonight!'”

As for the upcoming Cal Anderson gig, Jabon’s music seems like the antithesis of Saturday-afternoon-in-the-park entertainment. “I like the idea that it’s gonna be sunny and hot out there, and I’m going to get onstage in a wizard costume and make some sort of freak sounds,” Colburn says. “It just doesn’t make any sense, and that’s a good thing.

“The first set will concentrate on all my goofy pop numbers, the second set will concentrate on ambient improv. So in a way, the sunny day in the park is the perfect wrong venue. I think it would be fun to play a Laundromat, a parking garage, a beach, a forest, or the light rail!” recommended

Sounds Outside: Jabon, Figeater, Syncopated Taint Horn Quartet, and others perform Sat Aug 15, Cal Anderson Park, 1–8 pm, free, all ages. Jabon performs at 2 and 3:30 pm.