We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.
Pete Swanson‘s Discogs page is a treasure trove for the uninitiated. Project and project unveils itself, providing a glimpse into the Oregon native’s work at any particular time. We first came across Swanson via his seminal Man With Potential LP in 2011, likely the entry point for many who were either too young or missed his dramatic, brilliantly textured early work in the duo Yellow Swans. The half dozen or so other projects that litter Swanson’s discography paint a picture of a restless artist with a indefatigable pursuit of musical knowledge. Like us, many will work their way through that discography in a non-linear fashion, taking in his early, surprisingly serene, improvisational work as Sarin Smoke (with Tom Carter), more recent soaring black metal/noise hybrids as Violent Magic Orchestra, and the multitude of releases under his own name including personal favorite I Don’t Rock At All, three insular, blistered guitar landscapes recorded in an Oregon cabin at the end of 2010.
It’s a joy to piece through Swanson’s extended work, but more recently, the Los Angeles-based artist has turned his attention and talents more towards shining light on other people’s work. Freedom to Spend is the re-issue label Swanson co-runs with Little Axe Records’ Jed Bindeman and RVNG Intl.’s Matt Werth, hosting essential ephemera and lost gems from the likes of Richard Horowitz, Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Burns, and Rimarimba. The label is a peak into Swanson’s curatorial prowess and the depth of his record collection, the latter of which was unveiled in a brilliant Playing Favorites feature in Resident Advisor last year. For a glimpse into where Swanson’s focus in the moment is though, the best route is to listen to Pete Goes To Town, his monthly show on NTS Los Angeles. The hour long show shows only a glimpse of Swanson’s massive collection, but that glimpse is always a pleasure, sure to defy even the most jaded listener’s expectation. Truly experimental radio hours can often come off as self-indulgent, but Pete Goes To Town is as fun as it is deep, recently mining bizarro, ASRM-y vocal tracks, dub-y club music and biotic synth experiments.
It was after religiously listening in to Pete Goes To Town month after month that we asked Swanson to contribute to our Los Angeles-focused mix series. The result is a death defying combination of hardcore punk and hardcore rave with fits of organic synthesis and Jlin’s brilliant “Kyanite” slotted into the mix. Neither Swanson’s approach nor collection can be synthesized into an hour of music, but like Pete Goes To Town, his Astral Plane Mix plays the role of prism into the many dimensions that his approach offers. No track list available for this, but download your copy of the mix here.