Lurking around the edges of the Salem music scene lies “devilsclub”, a project by longtime local musician, “horridus oplopanax”, who has anonymously been producing experimental electronic soundscapes right here in the Mid-Valley. It hasn’t always been in this form, though. At age five Horridus began learning to play on a candy apple red 1957 Fender Duo-Sonic guitar, taking lessons from a jazz player, and accumulating other instruments as he got older. “I ended up a bass guitar player for about 21 years. I played sessions and recorded records and toured in that capacity for a while,” horridus said, and between performing and working behind the scenes at Northwest gigs, he was fairly established in the “rock” world. But a series of accidents and personal tragedies in the 2010s left him unable to play guitar after years in the business. “I had a bum left hand, and guitar became too painful to play. I decided to find a new path and started looking into synths.” And devilsclub was born, in 2012.
In many ways, the music horridus makes now is the polar opposite of his first 20+ years in music. Synths rather than guitars, digital self-releases vs. record deals and endless tours. This new direction was intentional. Rather than dealing with a band that may be mostly hired guns, playing songs someone else probably wrote, “I could start a one man orchestra that could live in headphones and on the internet,” he said, as if the power of that statement is still hitting him, four years later.
To that end, there are hours of recorded material available at soundcloud.com/devilsclub, the online place for anonymous artists working in musical forms that defy genre. Listening to his work, the sounds he coaxes out of his Blippoo boxes is almost therapeutic, as audio vistas unfold, percolate, and wallow in dense and fleeting moments that are wholly divorced from the device creating these tones. Watching horridus play at The Space in November was like watching a genuine lab project take shape, as cables were plugged in and arranged, each responding the way a Theremin does as he waved his hands. “The performance itself feels like deeply personal ritual,” he said. “I think I use them as exorcisms. The same way people take medicines, and for the same reasons.” Watching devilsclub perform is no less dramatic or compelling than a rock band, and certainly as gratifying.
They just finished recording a full album this year—“Concentrator”—which has been mastered and is just waiting for the finishing touches,“how it will be released, by whom, and in what form,” he’s told me a few times. It will be available March 9th. His most recent project is titled, “Blipps Along the Oregon Trail,” where he performed live to no one at various stops along the path settlers once traveled, years ago. The project is certainly starting to get some traction, and if you’re looking for a musical experience that is as much meditation as it is performance, devilsclub is certainly the audio herb for you.