Adam Forkner a.k.a White Rainbow is taking back new age music from the taste-challenged realm of pseudo-spiritual yuppies and your step-mom’s cassette collection.
Fortunately for us, Forkner has taken all the experimental, meditative, boundary pushing goodness that the new age ethos was grounded in and cut out all the sanitized, pompous, white guy in a dashiki crap it has become hated for, to cook up some truly next level vibes.
Forkner fuses elements of ambient minimalism and psychedelic soundscapes together, with layers upon layers of synth loops, distorted guitars, tablas, phasers, filters, and whatever else he can get his hands on to make you expand your consciousness and occasionally shake your booty.
“It’s like doing a colour field painting,” he explained. “I pour different colours in the sound, and when it gets static I pour more in.”
Forkner’s interest in new age music is more than just an ironic novelty, as can be seen in his blog (www.crystalvibrations.blogspot.com) dedicated solely to obscure new age related artists and musicians from the 60s to the 80s.
“The turn from electronic head music to proto new age is a big fascination point lately,” claimed Forkner.
This interest can also be seen in the creation of what he calls “full spectrum vibrational healing centres” or “vibe huts,” which are essentially audio/visual installations that he has created over the past few years.
The vibe huts consist of ambient drones, trippy video projections, and soft cushions, set up inside a large tent. “I was just trying to make cool environments where the type of music I make can survive better than in, say, a rock club,” explained Forkner.
“So sort of taking control of the whole environment and thinking about what the perfect experience would be from the floor to the ceiling with all six senses, and trying to create that.”
Hailing from Portland, Forkner has been involved in the burgeoning city’s underground experimental music and arts scene since the 90s, playing in several bands and starting Yarnlazer, his own record label.
Though when it comes to assessing the development of his hometown, Forkner was somewhat ambivalent.
“It has in some way captured the imagination of the nation as being like some utopian place. The reality is that people move here with those visions and make the city more like what they have in their head.”
“Whether that is cool or not depends on who you are. The city is moving towards commercial sustainability, trying really hard to make this town profitable, which in some ways hurts the people, taking advantage of the cheap depressed economy such as the weirdo non-commercial artists and musicians living a relatively easy lifestyle free of huge financial worries,” explained Forkner.
“Thankfully there are still tons of kids making the crunk sh–. F— the mainstream, keep Portland weird and all that.”
Yani couldn’t have said it better.
White Rainbow plays with Atlas Sound & Valet at Casa del Popolo, Wednesday, Feb. 27.