Celilo previews 'Buoy Bell'

Celilo is a little-of-this-little-of-that sort of band.

The Portland five-piece band weaves acoustic and electric riffs, pedal steel twang and haunting lyrics into a sonic tapestry reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" era.

The group's guitarist and primary songwriter Sloan Martin bills the music as "indie-psyche-twang-pop."

"We like to play atmospherically," says Martin. "We have the core sounds, and then we really like the ambient sounds. We like to make it spacey and psychedelic."

Over the years, Celilo has seen several configurations, but the current lineup is Martin, lead guitarist Darin Joye, bassist Edwin Thanhouser, drummer Matt Cadenelli and pedal steel guitarist Tucker Jackson.

The band is touring in advance of its forthcoming album, "Buoy Bell," set for release Tuesday, Sept. 27. It is scheduled to perform at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. This particular show holds sentimental value to the band as Ashland was the home of its late drummer Kipp Crawford. Crawford was killed in 2009 after he was struck by two drunk drivers while riding his bike home late one night.

"We're coming down here and playing this record that he had started making with us," says Martin. "He raised the creative bar for all of us."

Crawford helped to write a handful of songs on the album and is featured on the track "Axis."

According to Martin, "Buoy Bell" is cinematic and sonically adventurous with poetic lyrics, full of ambiguity and imagery.

Straightforward is not this band's style, and several of their original songs have unexpected twists throughout. "Baroque Blues" starts out as a country song but with a funk chorus and spacey bridge. "Street Sweeper Suite" has a surf guitar line with an underlying disco beat and "Sunken Ships" combines a resonator guitar, electric guitar and ambient synthesizer to create a "George Harrison meets The Beatles' 'Love' " soundscape.

"We try to find hidden doorways in the music that we can enter into," says Martin.

Martin also has been experimenting with "unconscious" songwriting.

"Unconscious writing is where I sit at the table with a guitar, a glass of wine and a recorder," explains Martin. "I start out with a few chords and then literally just open my mouth and start singing ... It's allowing a song to be born on its own rather than sitting there trying to craft it."

"Baroque Blues" and "All Day Long" were the product of this method.

The cover to Celilo's show at Alex's is $5. Copies of "Buoy Bell" will be available at the show. See www.myspace.com/celilo or call 541-482-8818.

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