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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Ennui album release show at Space Gallery

Jim Doutrich has been recording enigmatic, synth-driven indie pop under the guise of Ennui for nearly a decade, quietly carving out one of the best back catalogs in the Pittsburgh music scene. His glitchy, restless 2008 album The Myth in Which We Live and his Italo disco-infused 2011 album Formation of Tides boast accomplished production, betraying the fact that Doutrich is a studio hound.

Three years ago, I briefly toured the recording space in Doutrich's Lawrenceville apartment ahead of the release of Formation of Tides as he outlined his work ethic with collaborator Sam McUmber.

For months, it was a nightly endeavor of songwriting, rehersals, recording, production tweaking, more rehersals, more recording, more production tweaking, new inspirations, new layers, and so on. It was obvious even then that Doutrich was unwavering in his commitment to his music on an almost monastic level, especially after spending the early parts of his career trying to court interest from record labels and the music press. 

Years ago, I spent half my time acting as band manager, worrying about what shows we were playing and what labels might be interested. That was energy ill-spent,” said Doutrich. “My main focus has to be making music and not sending out emails all day hoping someone will release my stuff. Even now, I get a little frustrated diverting my time to promotional stuff but it's part of the deal and I understand that. Regardless, you should make music because you want to make music and not because a label or website thinks it's good.”

Now, Doutrich readies the relase of his fourth proper album Telepathic Beat on Mush Records (Bibio, Aesop Rock, Daedelus), the groundwork of which, unknown to me at the time, was laid during that home studio visit in 2011. McUmber helped Doutrich to initially sketch out the album’s early demos, but eventually, he recorded Telepathic Beat by himself for nearly two years, constructing the album without the benefit of live band rehersals. As a result, Telepathic Beat is a purely studio record, full of chilly house music beats, cascades of synths, keyboards, and ambient noise that carries under it a sense of loneliness and nostalgia. As Doutrich explains, Telepathic Beat is about exploring the seemingly endless summers that ended long ago.  

“Well, I never want summer to end, but the album is more about the idea of the music taking you back to a summer setting once it has passed. More specifically, it's the idea of music transporting you to a previous place and time through nostalgia. Our favorite music leaves an imprint.” 

Tracks like "Summer of Love" -- riffing off Phil Collins' “Take Me Home” -- and the island-hopping pop of “Feel It” are anthemic, aiming to light up dance floors with day-glo bursts of drum machines and bottle rocket synths, but also hermetic: tightly sealed off and perfectly arranged. Understanding the solitary nature of Doutrich’s creative process brings the paradox of Telepathic Beat into stark relief.

“I had a lot of ideas of how I wanted the record to sound while I was recording it but by the end of the process, the music really took control of itself,” said Doutrich. “Oddly, I didn't want it to be as pop as the record ended up being but, again, the music sort of naturally went that way and I didn't fight it. I definitely was hoping this record would be more upbeat and cohesive than the last one and I think I at least achieved that.”

Doutrich as Ennui will be playing his record release show for Telepathic Beat along with collaborator Sam Hizer at 10 p.m. Friday at Space Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh. For more information, visit Space Gallery’s website at www.spacepittsburgh.org. (812 Liberty Avenue, Downtown, Space Gallery)

Young Playwrights Festival at The City Theatre

Sept. 30 - Oct. 10, 7:00 PM
One of the city’s most respected theater companies, The City Theatre, is investing in the next generation of Pittsburgh playwrights through their 15th Annual Young Playwrights Festival.

From Sept. 30 through Oct. 10, six one-act plays written by local aspiring Pinters, Becketts, and Mamets will be performed at the theater in the South Side. The plays were chosen from over 300 submissions and take on diverse genres such as science fiction, magical realism, contemporary drama, and metaficition.

And with The City Theatre’s crack creative team designing and assisting the festival winners with production of their plays, it should provide for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The middle-school work comes from Weston Custer (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12), Joseph Bornes (Sharpsville Area Middle School) and Michele Do (North Hills Middle School). The high-school playwrights are Casey Zadinski (South Fayette High School), Michael Kelly (Moon Area High School), and Drew Paskovich (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12).

In addition to performing the six plays, The City Theatre will also hold readings of three plays chosen as finalists in the competition. For ticket information and program notes, visit The City Theatre’s
website. (1300 Bingham Street, South Side, The City Theatre)

2014 Pittsburgh Zine Fair

The Pittsburgh Zine Fair returns for its fourth year at the Highland Park events space the Union Project. The celebration of non-commercial self-published zines runs from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, but other zine-centric events are scheduled before and after the event throughout the city. 

Against a backdrop of local DJs and food vendors, attendees can explore zine collections from The Mr. Roboto Project and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, in addition to vendors like Small Press Pittsburgh, Easy Street Publications, Wild Age Press, and many more.

Leading up to the fair, zine-centric programming is scheduled across Pittsburgh. Tonight, internationally renowned cartoonists Michael DeForge and Simon Hanselmann will be signing their works from 7 to 10 p.m. at Copacetic Comics Company in Polish Hill.

On Thursday, cartoonist John Porcellino brings his new release Hospital Suite along with the screening of the documentary Root Hog or Die, which covers his life and work, to the Harris Theater, Downtown. 

The Pittsburgh Zine Fair will host a zine mixer for vendors and the general public at Bunker Projects in Garfield on Saturday.

Finally, local comics makers are invited to the first of what will be weekly meet-ups hosted by Frank Santoro from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Lilli Cafe in Polish Hill.

 For more information about the programming and full list of vendors, visit Pittsburgh Zine Fair's website at www.pghzinefair.com. (801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park, The Union Project)

Penn Avenue Arts in Motion

What happens when an arts festival and a car cruise collide? Luckily, it's much more pleasing to the eye than the construction that's been snarling traffic in the East End lately.

On Saturday, Penn Ave Arts in Motion will team up with the Pittsburgh Art Car Festival to expand upon Unblurred, Garfield's monthly gallery crawl. This is the third year for the Penn Avenue Arts Corridor to host the event. 

Penn Ave Arts in Motion will feature music, food, and arts-related activities.
Sponsors include the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, Most Wanted Fine ART, Carl’s TV, Spak Brothers Pizza, Artisan and Craftsman Supply, and Boom Concepts.

Attendees can check out a live flameworking demo from the Pittsburgh Glass Center, a community art project in process from Artisan & Craftsman Supply, music from local hip-hop acts like Hubbs and Mars Jackson, live fiction and poetry readings from Karl Hendricks and Jason Baldinger. And don't miss what organizers call “the largest gathering of street legal art cars in Pittsburgh.”

For a full list of activities and performances, visit the
Facebook event page for Penn Avenue Arts in Motion. (Penn Avenue from the Mathilda to Negley Ave. intersections, Bloomfield/Garfield, Penn Ave Arts)
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Society for Contemporary Craft

2100 Smallman St