Somewhere over the White Rainbow

Pub date September 11, 2007
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

Adam Forkner’s creativity is now almost entirely unfettered. Performing and recording as White Rainbow, the onetime Yume Bitsu member today experiences few blockages between said creativity and the musical end product, and as a result he’s "finally understanding how to make music that [he’s] proud of." It’s a rather surprising sentiment considering his bang-up musical pedigree: ((((VVRSSNN)))), Dirty Projectors, Jackie-O Motherfucker — none of which are even slightly inhibited in the invention department.

This newfound creative clarity, which Forkner describes over the phone from his home in Portland, Ore., is thankfully not confined to the depths of the White Rainbow DAT machine. His music — a droney assemblage of syncopated rhythms and looped, tripped, and delayed instrumental layers — humbly offers the vibes of its healing ambience to all listeners.

Inspired chiefly by Terry Riley’s delayed keyboard pieces, White Rainbow’s music is mostly flat-out improvised. Live, Forkner employs a guitar, a microphone, a hand drum, and various looping devices and effects pedals to shape wispy, winding riffs and layered rhythmic patterns into wholly organic, psychedelic drone grooves. Earlier recordings, most of which are collected on 2006’s five-CD, single DVD Box (Marriage), reflect this purely improvisatory approach. His upcoming album for Kranky, Prism of Eternal Now, was constructed in a different fashion than before, as Forkner found himself using computers, with which he "deeply went in, sculpted, and added parts" to provide a more precise shape for his pieces.

This week’s beneficiaries of White Rainbow’s sonic balm will unfortunately not be treated to Forkner’s White Rainbow Full Spectrum Vibrational Healing Center, an occasional long-form live format that he cherishes: beneath a canopy, lights and video accompany his live instrumentation over several hours, during which listeners are free to come and go. "The motivation is to create a calming environment for me to be able to explore sound with people," he explains.

Yet isn’t this "healing center" business a bit hippieish for someone so indie rock? Forkner admits to "exploring his place in the New Age continuum," but his affinity for playing in odd outdoor or tented spaces shouldn’t be misconstrued as the sign of an impending Yanni career move à la Live at the Acropolis — dude just feeds off environments other than rock clubs, dig? With its music so deftly constructed and brilliantly serene, White Rainbow’s space is a place many might want to drop in on. (Michael Harkin)


With Dirty Projectors, Yacht, and Sholi

Wed/12, 8 p.m., $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455