Baltimore isn't the only town with gifted weirdos. There's some sort of secret channel between the absurder sides of Wham City and the far-flung tangents of one Rob Walmart, denizen of Portland. It might have something to do with a nuclear-powered submarine and a giant seaworm.
Whatever the wavelength, Rob Walmart is an enigmatic performer/group with countless collaborators within the Portland music continuum, including Tom Blood, Adam Forkner (White Rainbow), Curtis Knapp (Marriage Records co-founder), and Adrian Orange (Marriage co-founder, Thanksgiving). He's been releasing material since 2000, mainly on Marriage Records, since that label formed in 2002. (Is Marriage the Carpark of the West Coast?)
Perhaps the most novel aspect of the project is The Cube, a van out of which Rob Walmart sometimes perform. (They also refer to it as the “vanue”. Ha. Ha.) It's an amazingly simple yet novel approach to performance, and it's highly flexible: sometimes when Rob Walmart perform from The Cube, they'll send live audio and video inside the venue where they're ostensibly performing. (For those who caught Rob Walmart on their east coast jaunt during CMJ, the ice truck they were using was only a borrowed vehicle, not the van in question.)
But peruse the oddities yourself.
01. An ode to Lionel Richie, in which Mr. Walmart and the 80s soft R&B icon go way back: “I remember being in that retirement center, that insane asylum, whatever they called it and you and me kinda killed the hallways in our scooters… just wearing our bath robes, nothin' else, remember that Lionel?”
02. There's some early techno in here (the project's fake bio begins with “in 1997 Rob Walmart was found wandering the streets of Düsseldorf, no parents, no paperwork”), which adds a layer of weight to the some of his more outlandish mashups of spy thriller novels and family vacations: “As a squad we were invisible, we entered without detection, the security there could not detect us on our waterskis, Canadian security is known to be faulty.”
03. While the off-landish texts that sometimes overtake these tracks might be what distinguish Rob Walmart from other electro-based projects, that early techno, as the song title “What Rob Does Mainly” suggests, is perhaps what provides both consistency and quality to the project.
You can amuse yourself with excerpts from his obfuscating biography, too: