“Idaho” is make-believe. Commonly misattributed to the Shoshone or Nez Pearce, the word was the 1860 invention of a delegate of the Jefferson Territory, who proposed its use as the name of the state that eventually became known as Colorado. Instead, it was adopted as the name of a steamboat that transported the thousands of miners up the Columbia river and its tributaries to the gold mines that were springing up in the Clearwater area of what later became the state of Idaho. That Jefferson delegate intended the word to mean “gem of the mountains” — so its adoption by miners was fitting, and it’s probably also the reason Idaho is nicknamed the “Gem State.”
The state isn’t well known for its music, but the way Lucy Dacus of boygenius tells it, Idahoans don’t want to be known for much, for fear that word gets out about just how beautiful the state is. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel like there’s something bubbling up there. A few weeks ago I covered the immaculate dungeon synth of Boise’s Viscount and Brutus Greenshield, and that’s definitely the first time I’ve ever clocked any electronic music from the state, much less music so imaginative. So it feels like it can’t be a coincidence that I found another artist from the area releasing equally inventive ambient and experimental music.
nevereven is Dylan Seibert, from Star, ID—a 5000-pop suburb of Boise. He’s a young artist who’s recently self-released his debut LP Cautionary Tale (To Those Who Will Listen). To take a clumsy stab at categorization, I might say the record sits somewhere in the universes of hauntology, hypnogogic pop, and vaporwave, but none of that quite captures the starkness of most of its songs. Seibert admits an interest in plunderphonics, so references to 0PN or sunsetcorp wouldn’t be altogether inaccurate. Lopatin often shines in his insistence on recontextualizing the goofy and saccharine, but on songs with absurdist titles like “A Honeybee That Poops Out Dinosaurs” or “Stumbling Upon A Chasm That Leads To The Fourth Circle Of Hell”, Seibert’s outlook on fatuous subject matter seems decidedly darker—and the product feels immediately vulnerable as a result. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t wear some of his influences on his sleeve, but this music still feels sincerely exploratory.
Maybe adventure is what best captures the Idaho sound, if there is such a thing (I’m deciding there is, even if lacking any union). It’s probably reductive to say that 35 million beautiful acres of public land must inspire quests, even imaginary ones; or that little to no attention or scene-iness must reduce the pressure on artists to conform to a specific aesthetic. But I just can’t shake the sense that acts like nevereven are seeking out only what feels right and not presupposing the result. This spirit of exploration is almost literally captured by the foghorns and time-stretched accordions of the album’s closing track, “Voyager’s Lament”, but its implication is inescapable throughout the record.
Maybe it’s best to forget everything I’ve said about a nascent Idaho scene and let the Idahoans to themselves. Any way you cut it though, this record is a gem.
nevereven – “A Honeybee That Poops Out Dinosaurs” (bc)
nevereven – “Idle Soul and the Tale of the Crying Machine” (bc)
nevereven – “Stumbling Upon A Chasm That Leads to the Fourth Circle of Hell”
nevereven – “Voyager’s Lament” (bc)