Half Shadow is the ever-evolving song-writing and performance project of Portland’s Jesse Carsten. Inspired by the intimate, DIY ethos of songwriters like Diane Cluck and Mount Eerie, Carsten began releasing CD-R’s and homemade tapes of his music as Half Shadow in 2013. Incorporating spoken word, dream recitation, q & a sessions as well as other performative aspects to his shows, Carsten became known as an enigmatic and moving local performer. The Portland Mercury has called Half Shadow’s shows, “invariably powerful, full of wonder, and unlike anything else.” Yet Half Shadow’s songs remain humble – a blend of bluesy minimalism and poetic dream storytelling. Key to Carsten’s approach to song are the mythic, and the psychic – creating space for the unconscious aspects of life to appear and alter consciousness. Listeners are ushered into a world of earthy mysticism, synchronicities, heart felt trips down ferny paths of mind, and percolating piscean visions. Having been compared to artists as sonically diverse as Karl Blau, Brigitte Fontaine, The Dead Science’s Sam Mikens, Jonathan Richman, and Portland’s own Marisa Anderson, Half Shadow’s songs range in scope: from abstract finger picked poems to heart-tugged acapella treaties and repetitive art rock incantations. Carsten aims to reach audiences and inspire listeners while embracing experimentalism, creating music that transcends and transforms the ordinary.
Half Shadow’s first EP “5 New Songs of Light” was released by way of Portland’s legendary tape label Eggy Records in 2013. Containing several of Carsten’s best-loved songs, “Safety” and “Spectral Flower Meditation” the EP quickly travelled, finding fans internationally. A string of tours followed, sharing bills with Porches, Frankie Cosmos, Mega Bog, Black Belt Eagle Scout, the Ghost Ease and others, after which Carsten’s first full length LP “Wind Water Passion Daughter” was released in 2015. Carsten returned in 2019 with Half Shadow’s strongest album to date: “Dream Weather Its Electric Song” released via their own Illusion Florist imprint. An incantatory record of midnight blue folk songs, alchemical rock and roll, and oceanic spoken word, “Dream Weather” resonates as a dream swelling into daylight vision, wrapping listeners in dark, sparkling hues and mossy undergrowth. The record has been called, by Antiquated Future, “a carefully thought-out work (dare we say masterpiece?) of poetic devotionals to the natural world, the subconscious, other realms,” and Tome to the Weather Machine has remarked that “it is refreshing to hear this concentrated thoughtfulness and tenderness in a stark folk package.” For Queen City Sounds, “Dream Weather” deconstructs “familiar songwriting styles, bringing the logical mind into alternate pathways of operating,” while Slow Breathing Circuit has championed the record as a poetic exploration, submitting that Dream Weather feels “as much like poetry as it does music, with the lyrics taking center stage.” Already in process on the third Half Shadow LP slated for a late 2020 release, Carsten intends to spread Half Shadow’s transformative music indefinitely, in this cosmos and beyond.
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