City Paper is not for tourists
In D.C.’s rich and always growing experimental music scene, there aren’t many bands more accomplished or more befuddling than BLK w/BEAR, the drone and ambient outfit led by gay D.C. artist JS Adams. With the band, Adams mans a laptop while manipulating loops of altered vinyl and other materials; as a fine artist, he creates “ghost factories,” homespun assemblages that interpret “fogged memories, misfired remembrances, and half-waking dreams.” In both projects—see especially the most recent BLK w/BEAR record, The Final Mapping Of New Constellations—what first feels spooky or terror-strewn always gives way to something more meditative and cosmic. If mostly wordless drone compositions aren’t your thing, Adams’ music isn’t the most inviting, but he’s actually made his ostensibly impenetrable genre more welcoming by curating the annual Queering Sound festival for the last 14 years. Now hosted by local avant-garde big tent Sonic Circuits, the most recent Queering Sound featured BLK w/BEAR and other musical and visual firmament-shakers—LGBTQ and straight—making art somehow influenced by Walt Whitman. Put another way: It’s a space for queer people and their allies to make some very queer noise.