BABY JESUS “S/T” (Ongakubaka Records)

Let’s address the elephant in the room…

Ongakubaka [Own-gah-koo-bah-kah]

1.noun Japanese origin, music fool/idiot.

2.noun Richmond, VA, USA origin, garage/psyche record label.

Baby Jesus has a dream every night. It’s the one at a party. Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Julie Newmar are all in attendance. Don’t forget Sun Ra blasting on the keys as tangerine joker-smoke rises from the ginger-ale and sherbet punchbowl.

The Nuggets, the Pebbles, the Granules (?) are filtered through silvery sieves stacked gingerly like canisters of bygone celluloid in Metro Goldwyn (Russ)Meyer’s utility closet.

The days are dark because it’s eternally night. Indeed the freaks do come out at night, folks. Take a deep dive Back from the Grave.

But seriously, Sexy Sadie, these Swedes had their own transcendental awakening on a tour of India. On return they merged to form Baby Jesus, an unlikely spiritual direction, spiritual all the same.

Song of note: “Haven’t seen the light” a Velveteen tribute in that BJ count their blessings, spared the white light, white heat.

What has become of these Fuzztoned fellows you ask?

A. The singer/Farfisa player’s skullcap was sawed open, now magic mushrooms grow from his brain.

B. The drummer? Turned into a snail. His eyes pop out as antennae.

C. The guitarist and bassist joined a nudist colony and recline on silly putty blobs.

Recommended for listeners of’s Fool’s Paradise, Teenage Wasteland, Three Chord Monty, and Music to Spazz By.


--Adam Padavano








SITKA “Tape Cuts” C20 (Taping Policies)

Belgium's esoteric, non-profit “Taping Policies” has collaborated with Disintegration Loops-disciple, Sitka, to bring us a withered 20 minute document of what it might have sounded like if William Basinski had opted to string a series of drone-guitar vignettes together, instead of piano passages. The exact same decay-as-centerpiece worship is at the fore throughout, with the only other accompaniment (besides said self-eating guitar swells & chordal crumblings) being a few coastal field recordings towards the end of side B, equally obliterating, in real time (of the recording).

For fans of drone-glitch, this’ll scratch all the itches, but with an added element of quasi-shock, as the abrupt transitions* between these Tape Cuts will feel relatively jarring.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*aka N/A

RYOKO AKAMA / ANNE F - JACQUES “Evaporation” C45 (Notice Recordings)

“Evaporation" is two 20+ min live collaborations between Ryoko Akama and Anne F-Jacques, two merciless, nuance-worshipping, psycho/electro-acousticians/sonic-sadists that probably hold your cilia and mental well being in possibly maybe likely less than the highest regard. 

Through their homemade, contact mic’d devices*, RA/AFJ explore** the merits of inducing temporary tinnitus-led panic attacks and bump-in-the-night scurryings and carvings with such a mix of patience and furious battering that it’s very much not recommended to listen to this within 4 hours of (attempting of) going to sleep, as the nervous system is gonna be rendered S-H-O-T by the end of track 1’s trebly terrorizings. 

Luckily, side B is (relatively) lower in pitch, attack, beatings-per-minute, & shrill feedback… but, in its place is buried a labored breath rendered by lungless reverberations that is just as deceptively discomfiting as anything else you've ever never wanted to hear coming from a closet in the middle of the night.

In short, this’d make for one HELLUVA Halloween*** soundtrack, despite having not having “Horror" anywhere on the agenda.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*some appearing to have voltage added for extra oomph/brutality. Check the enclosed snapshots of a few of them to get an idear!

**with much chemistry

***or April Fool’s joke/revenge

XUAN YE / CHIK WHITE “Breath Fractals” C27 (Notice Recordings)

The barebones intimacy that must have been involved in capturing the acoustically wrought elements of this collaboration between Xuan Ye and Chik White is only NOT viscerally palpable due to how close it sounds to goth/blackmetal vocalists, isolated, laying down the tracks of their final death throes, in a semi-anechoic chamber, that strikingly alien feel of sharp echoes (post-recording) adding another gripping hook to the table! Now, add to this mix a hefty serving of aggressive JAW HARP riffage and texture, and it’s become obvious that “Breath Fractals” is somewhere between concerted/enthralling breakdown and an other-wordly series of incantations.

Delightfully freakish, listen to on headphones FAR the fuck away from any other stimuli and/or obligation: This’ll take a while to come back down from.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

SIR BOBBY JUKEBOX “Friendship Gift” (Already Dead)

Somebody once called Sir Bobby Jukebox “the mad scientist of indie pop,” and, with the exception of Sir Benjamin Gibbard, I’m inclined to agree. Given that we’re talking about royalty here (that’s what you are when you’re knighted, right?), we have to tread carefully with our formalism. You don’t want to tick off the people whose land you can’t hunt on (if I recall my European history correctly).

Just kidding about the knighting stuff, but Sir Bobby is an actual knight, having gone into battle with various troupes (No Monster Club, Ginnels, Paddy Hanna and Grand Pocket Orchestra) and slaying the dragons and marauding invaders of boredom and ennui. Wielding catchy songs like a magical sword plucked from a lake, Sir Bobby mows down everything and anything that comes at him with swift and true strokes – as long as whatever it is is worthy of a caustic barb or two.

Sir Bobby ranges through a kaleidoscopic pop countryside trod by such fun-loving luminaries as Larry Wish and Attic Ted and, dare I say, David Byrne, jigging and jagging along melodies and shuffling under psychedelic moods. Are the tracks whimsical? Almost always. Are they delightfully cheeky? You bet. There’s not much to turn up your nose at, even if you’re some kind of stuck-up royal knight or something. Oh wait, the knighthood! Eeesh … (does the Johnny Carson collar tug). Let’s just say, they only thing we’re going to get around to dubbing anytime soon is this tape.

… And by “we” and “dubbing,” I mean Already Dead and their official duplication team. I’m not making bootlegs, honest!


FUTURESLUM “Pretty Flowers in the Garden” C28 (Already Dead)

Pretty Flowers in the Garden my ASS!

Let me back up a second.

What comes to mind when you think of “pretty flowers in the garden”? Bucolic scenes of freshness and life, right? Color and sunlight, cultivated beauty? Yeah, me too – I think about that and I’m shot full of whatever the relaxation equivalent of endorphins is. Nothing like sitting out on the porch in the shade of a late spring afternoon, listening to the bees buzz and watching the clouds drift.

But that’s not what I’m getting here with Pretty Flowers in the Garden by Futureslum.

Maybe I should have seen it coming – something called “Futureslum” almost certainly wouldn’t have a sunny disposition if you think about it. Probably leans more toward the urban decay end of the spectrum (and “urban decay” is an almost exact synonym in this case). OK, I definitely should have seen it coming. Futureslum plays the beat tape thing into the ground, like literally crushing the genre with all Futureslum’s weight until the whole thing sounds like it was discovered by a forensics team sifting through the wreckage of a blown-up bank vault. Insert “CSI” joke here (I can’t think of a good one).

Even the beats get sandblasted away after a while, and the tone is just thick and strewn with rubble. The two sides track the pace of weathering and neglect, until all we’re left with is a stretch of cracked asphalt studded with new shoots growing out of it. This is going to keep going folks – it’ll keep happening until the plants have reclaimed the city. And then there’ll be pretty flowers in a brand new garden.


BENJAMIN HINZ “Deep” C22 (Philip K. Discs)

Benjamin Hinz has put out a wealth of experimental/electronic/psych stuff over the years, and, ever the explorer here, he’s churned out a solo scaffold, “DEEP”, which rides an unending mid-90s midwestern hXc pre-breakdown that’s bookended with Venusian*, clean/reverb electric guitar patience and fairly lovely feedback & blowouts.

It’s a short jaunt into rockin’ out territory, and you’ll probably find yourself filling in some spaces on your own by hollering** as personally seen fit.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*aka, that space between Earth & Sunn o)))

**Small Brown Bike-style

GERMAN ARMY “Blending Landscapes” C50 (Soil)

I don’t think I’ve made it clear enough over time – German Army is here for us. Maybe now more than ever.

Because, you know – the pandemic. The racial injustice. The government. German Army is as fed up as we are. They always have been. Always will be.

So their release schedule is, shall we say, robust. And here is another in a long line, Blending Landscapes, which, if I’d have to venture a guess, was made with an ear toward interaction, inclusion, forgiveness. But not without a healthy dose of introspection and reconciliation. No Blending Landscapes without either of those.

That brings us to the “blending” itself – GeAr’s electro-smears are out in full force on Blending Landscapes, featuring darkwave pulsers, electro bangers, enveloping clouds of trance, and organic vaporwave, all feeding off each other, all bleeding through track limit distinctions in an inky river of curdled code. Or maybe it’s the black blood of our diseased culture. Either way, it’s gross, thick, liquid, and moving.

GeAr excels at finding the common denominator between people and cultures and highlighting and ridiculing the perceived differences, rendering them laughably ridiculous. Here they do us one better by peeling back the skin of our faces and revealing the bone-white skulls underneath. The common denominator is anatomy! We all have skulls.

And after all that, after all the written investigation, in the end it’s only proper to grab the nearest tape deck and zone out for a decently long time to this, letting Blending Landscapes infiltrate the pleasure centers of your brain. Also the thinking centers, and the empathy centers, and the disillusionment centers, and the dissatisfaction centers … you get the picture.


SWANSHIT “Remnant” C40 (Self-Released)

You like Harsh Noise and Grindcore? Well, tough shit. This ain’t it.

Per bandcamp: 

"Christopher ONeal is a failed drone musician. Screaming into the void since the mid 2000s”

…and likely the only thing keeping his rich ambient guitar arrangements and blown out white noise de(con)structions from achieving the greatest acclaim is that pesky PMRC boycotting him solely based on his potty-mouf’d nom-de-guerre. Perhaps CO simply does not want the responsibility that comes with popularity? Artists are so weird, right?

Anywhooo, “Remnant" is four long-form drone improvisations, two per side, each side with one sensitive, tonally ruminative venture…and one nervous, atonal slow-motion trainwreck of noisy carnage…but, like, in a removed, clinical fashion. It’s pretty goddamn great. Don’t let your Puritanical (non)sensibilities dissuade you from enjoying some well-detailed noise-augmented drone!

—Jacob An Kittenplan

SWANSHIT “Remnant” C40 (self-released)

According to Swanshit’s Bandcamp page, the artist aka Christopher O’Neal hasn’t surfaced with any new music since 2008. Now whether or not that’s actually true is a matter of debate (or maybe a quick email to O’Neal, but who has that kind of time?), but here we are in 2020, a massively long twelve years removed from 2008 and the onset of the “Great Recession,” and Remnant is here to remind us that certain things can come out of absolutely nowhere and make a huge impression on us. And of course, by that I mean Remnant is poised to make a huge impression. Not sure if that came through.

“But Ryan,” you say, “how can something called ‘Swanshit’ inhabiting the drone idiom make a huge impression on me?” Well, you gotta get into the right headspace, first and foremost, and at the very least. My advice would be to put on headphones, the big aviator ones your parents had for their stereo (unless your parents are millennials, then you’re stuck with cruddy earbuds). Then you can sit in your beanbag chair and close your eyes, letting Christopher O’Neal’s guitar manipulations and pedalboard tomfoolery filter through the headgear and sock up your system. You will have a dumb, euphoric smile on your face the whole time.

The four tracks that make up Remnant dig themselves beneath your surface. They churn, they ripple, they morph. The tones, the frequencies they confine themselves to feel constant, even though that constant is ever-shifting within itself. It’s all like a slow-burn acceleration through space and time where everything is moving at half speed and distance traveled is measured in light years. But there’s this enveloping thickness to it as well that almost passes for warmth. Almost.

Don’t let Swanshit pass you by this time, because the next twelve years might be brutal without it. Allow yourself to be impressed!


KEVIN MCKAY “Neutral Mind” C43 (Cudighi Records)

Kevin McKay’s four-piece creates an almost shoe-gazey thick wall of psychy, shimmering dreampop through heavily reverb/delay’d guitar pickerings and jangly chord progressions that almost get buried beneath contrapuntal, Of Montreal-esque bass grooves, magical synth blankets, understated drumming and an almost early Clientele-ish coo of pleasant AF vocal delivery. 

Fairly upbeat and infectious, this brand of indie rock makes for great driving music and early party mood-setting.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

WEAVING “S/T Tape” C23 (Self-Released)

Austin TX’s Weaving’s “S/T Tape” is a smorgasbord of varying instrumental ditties ranging from psyched out ragas* to Moondog homages** to spacerock jamz to trippy hip-hop beats to avant-classical clarinet lullabies, these all wrought via commanding use of electric guitar, keys, drum machine/hand percussion, and with an arresting employment of virtuosic reed playing sprinkled here & there for good measure. 

It all comes across like a diverse instrumental mixtape with a good-vibed spacing out in mind. If you listen to nothing else, be sure to catch “Martin Moondog” (side A: 4:33), cz it’s pretty fuckin’ rad!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*think Sir Richard Bishoop’s more spacey amblings

**replete with frog pond atmospherics!!!!

CHANNELERS “Depth of Rest” C42 (Inner Islands)

If Ashan’s (Sean Conrad/Inner Islands) recently released “Transfigurations" album embodied the centering breath and its power over one’s wayward consciousness, SC’s other primary altar* ego’s following release as Channelers, this “Depth of Rest”, acts more as a Yerba Mate-fueled, micro-dosed hiking meditation.

Pairing rich environmental field recordings with synth pads, dulcimer, and Irish low whistle(!), DoR excitedly wrangles our stirrups and tugs us along a spirited* trek through straight-up M-A-G-I-C-A-L arboreal ecosystems, leading us down shady, gentle streams, ducking under fallen redwoods, getting tickled by ginormous ferns…you get the idea. This is a glorious New Age pick-me-up with some mild psychedelic overtones** that’s well, well worth back to back listens while hitting your favorite woodland trails!


—Jacob An Kittenplan


**Riders on the Storm-style!

INNER TRAVELS “Nature Spirit” C40 (Inner Islands)

In just over a half-decades’s time, and over a dozen and a half releases, Wisconsin’s Inner Travels has trekked across many (if not all) of New Age’s sub-sub-strains, and, with “Nature Spirit”, out on Inner Islands, it may be safe to say that Steve Targo has dreamt up his most centering, beatific release to date.

Across three tracks, IT* calmly guides our mind’s ear through confidences of crisply executed field recordings** that stretch well into our subconscious as Halpernian anti-riff after eye-surrendering anti-riff of reverb-drenched glockenspiel/chime runs and sunshine-doused synth-pad washes each take turns un-hooking us from any semblance of movement or melody, untethering us from any likeness of compositional scaffold and expectation…and, ultimately, anxiety.

This is capital-H “HEALING” stuff, and is truly, absolutely perfect for unwinding after a very long day/life.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*the exact antonym for that scary clown, in fact!

**that would be well worth listening on their own!

ASHAN “Transfigurations” C44 (Inner Islands)

Sean Conrad, current head-honcho over at Inner Islands (AKA Ashan AKA Channelers AKA 1/2 of Orra AKA 1/2 of Skyminds, just to name a few) has been a stalwart well-spring of New Age and chill electronica in the SF Bay Area for over a decade now, but none of his releases have quite managed to transfigure the essence of deep, meditative breath and its relationship to staving off fleeting, errant thoughts quite like this latest release, “Transfigurations".


Across six spacious sections and with the patience and pace of tides, Ashan unfurls beatific drone-swells to rise and fall as concerted breath, a serenity of focus all but delivered straight unto our mind’s ear; yet with a catch…

Lying just below these troughs of the sonorous sines lies a celebrated glitch, a nervous energy, a delayed distraction competing for our attention. Ashan has managed to acknowledge/embody this Monkey Mind, to map and draw it out for the listener to experience, first-ear; it’s magnetism and engagement are revealed, reconciled, and then ushered off into the aether, all this performed again and again and again, with mindfulness and grace. Truly beautiful stuff!

In a world terrified of cheesiness and predictability, SC/II continuously provides a nervous system-centering anchor and non-chemical-based prescription for how to decompress and re-center ourselves. Thank you!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

JEF MERTENS “The Only Music I Ever Recorded” (Dadaist Tapes)

Lifted from the site:

"Dadaist Tapes is a tape project discouraging product sales by making each tape available for free in an edition of 25, funded by a monthly cycling allowance to work. free downloads."

Translation: When these limited run tapes are available, they’re free to order (though I can only assume shipping’ll cost ya?), so you’re gonna hafta check in constantly to see if you can grab one before they’re outta there.

This specific tape (already “non-sold out”) by Jef Mertens documents some simple, contemplative electric guitar strumming improvisations (and a passing chime or two) that sounds a whole helluva lot like late 90s instrumental emo bridges segueing between cathartic/melodramatic belting/hollerings. It’s a pleasant atmospheric jaunt, but nothing groundbreaking like what you’ll find on JM’s bandcamp page if you click to watch the video for “Nyack”*, though I’d strongly discourage this if you’re even mildly epileptic.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*doo iit!

V.VECKER ENSEMBLE “Coastal Depression” C40 (NoiseAgonyMayhem)

Kosmische never sounded so British Columbian.

Well wait, I guess that’s not totally true. Kosmische is kosmische, at home in a planetarium or black-lit dorm room from Vancouver to Vladivostok, or even, uh, Dar es Salaam. Point is, if you got that spacey kraut-inspired drone going on, you can be sure there’ll be a bunch of kooks ready to listen to it. Kooks who are more interested in stargazing and internal contemplation than anything else. Kooks that have enough time on their hands to really let this kind of tunage wash over them. Kooks like, well, me.

So why “British Columbian”? The ensemble, here a trio of V.Vecker, David Rogers, and Luke Rogers, hails from Vancouver, and Coastal Depression places the proceedings and the worldview firmly in that locale. “Suspended and caught between ocean, islands, mountain ranges and borders[, it] is a heavy place.” The ensemble therefore attempts to capture this “heaviness” through droning guitar, synthesizers, and saxophone, letting the weight of the notes and the length of their passing stand in for the at-times-odd and at-other-times-overwhelming sense of BC stasis. There’s nothing like a thick, syrupy synth stab to punctuate a weighty stasis.

What’s great about Coastal Depression is that it can stand in for that kind of stasis, that kind of hovering inert midpoint felt by anyone stuck anywhere. It pulses a universal kind of rippling energy, vast and spacious, enveloping easily or slowly making itself known until it’s all you know anymore. Actually, whether it’s subtle or direct, it’s going to grab your attention in one way or another until, sadly, it suddenly ends, and you realize what you’re missing.


CINDY “Free Advice” (Paisley Shirt Records)

Here’s some free advice for you, Cindy (or Paisley Shirt Records): if you leave such an obvious comparison as Galaxie 500’s On Fire mixed with Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session in your promo copy, you’ve already done my job for me. I don’t have to write anything else. Thanks for the assist!

Totally just kidding about leaving it there, because I’m a huge fan of dream pop, and Cindy perfectly encapsulates everything good about the genre. Most of the tracks are laid-back, stripped-down affairs that ripple languidly across time and space, hushed hymns to wind and streams. Sometimes a little guitar rocker enters the fray, and in those moments Free Advice takes on some Alvvays qualities (and I always love me some Alvvays). But in almost all instances Karina Gill’s murmured coo draws you closer, inviting you in to the private worlds she creates. They’re melancholy and safe all at once, like hunkering under a blanket fort on a rainy day.

What may be most surprising is that before 2016, Gill hadn’t even picked up a guitar or tried to sing! Now, four years later, her fully fleshed band is two releases in, and the results are wonderful. There’s always room for tunes like these on those rainy days – or even the sunny ones too. Yeah, all days.

[Plus, all proceeds go to the Movement for Black Lives, which should totally make you want to buy this even more, or just donate!]


GERMAN ARMY "Animals Remember Human" C45 (Crash Symbols)

Created as "an ode to critically endangered birds and their habitats," Animals Remember Human is certainly reminiscent of forests and other lifeforms, with its wide spectrum of soundscaping and almost alien beats and structures. The 18 brief tracks each end quickly, appropriately for an album about creators that may be ending quickly as well. This isn't exclusively enjoyable for fans of endangered birds, however. It's a powerhouse of a cassette, journeying through a uniquely green drone and techno.

SEWNSHUT “Sewnshut” C30 (self-released)

Did Norwegian one-dude post-rock artist Sewnshut listen to a lot of netlabel stuff back in the early internet MP3 boom years? I’m talking peak blog era, mid-2000s, when anybody could release anything digitally – and this was even before Bandcamp. Some of my favorites were Lost Children and Laridae, and there were others too, but I can’t think of their names. Sewnshut, aka Lasse Kausland, would have fit perfectly on Lost Children. Melancholy instrumental vibes, deep inner turmoil, release through euphony. Still the best way to get to the bottom of what ails you, if you ask me. These eight tunes are perfect for headphones and rainy days, micro-movements to catalog the details of your troubles to. But in tape form, not MP3s – what do you think this is, an iPod blog? (Well, the MP3s are available too, but think of them as an added bonus to the lovely physicality of the tape itself.)


OBSEQUIES / THE ELECTRIC NATURE “Obsequies / The Electric Nature” C20 (Lurker Bias)

Talk about polar opposites. Obsequies fill their half of this tape, “Blood on Metal,” with heavily echoed and mournful vocals, accompanied only by what sounds like a guitar pick scratching strings and other diffuse warbles. At times chanted, at times ethereal, “Blood on Metal” really does get past the epidermis and threatens to jar the whole body it’s connecting loose. Which, of course, is what the Electric Nature does on their side, “Lungrakes,” flipping that restraint on its head with a maelstrom of psych bombast. Staking its territory with a couple minutes of controlled march, Michael Potter’s outfit suddenly blooms like the offspring of Sleep and Tonstartssbandht, pummeling their instruments until the groove is ripping off that epidermis and the blood is spattering all over the metal, the heavy metal, ya know?

Two sides, one goal: total focus. You’ve got mine.


REPULSAR “Repulsar at Remer” C30 (Stucco)

“Bob Deified” begins Repulsar at Remer with a looped sample of The Arm saying “Wow, BOB, wow,” from Twin Peaks. It’s sampledelic chaos from there. Then there’s “No Devil God Knits War,” which is a backward rendition of the skunk-rock track “Raw Stink Dog Lived On.” It comes before “Raw Stink Dog Lived On,” so you’re disoriented FIRST, then treated to the forward motion of the tune. Perfect! “Deified Bob” is actually sort of jazzy in frontward alignment, The Arm’s intonation of “Wow, BOB, wow” virtually unchanged from “Bob Deified” (because, you know, palindromes).

Also because, this:

Though Sasquatch outnumber humans 500 to one, Bigfoot sightings are still a rare occurrence. Why? The elusive Sasquatch are multi-dimensional creatures with the ability to phase in and out of time. When one is spotted, they move backwards to a time before the encounter and hide to avoid detection. Repulsar has composed music for Sasquatch appealing to their ability to move back and forth in time.

Sasquatch feel safe when they hear backwards sounds. Thus, the music on Repulsar at Remer sounds the same backwards as it does forwards. This is a quasi-live album taken from a campfire concert at the Chippewa National Forest near Remer, MN… the self-proclaimed “Home of Bigfoot.”

Even though this sounds crazy, it ain’t half bad! I enjoyed it thoroughly, which, coupling the concept with the cover art, I was not expecting in the slightest.


VALERINNE “A Ghost Year” C52 (Amek Collective)

What’s with all these jokers getting right into my headspace about the year we’re having? Atmospheric Romanian trio Valerinne continue the trend, swirling the melancholy and droning post-rock of A Ghost Year at the periphery of reality, right at the spot you can’t quite pinpoint without catching it in the corner of your eye, forever keeping itself at an unfortunate distance. Hidden behind clouds of sweet, thick drone, A Ghost Year was the year we could have had, the one where we all hugged and everyone was healthy. That year is a total figment right now.

For a group billed as a noisy one, Valerinne really shows immense restraint, going full Eno in their cavernous, supernatural concoctions. Each of these five lengthy tracks descend like specters, obscuring reality and intent and infiltrating your mind, body, and soul. They warp your outlook until you’ve shifted focus to the Valerinne way of thinking, the dream of a different life through a different lens that seems so impossible a majority of the time these days. But don’t fool yourself into thinking A Ghost Year is the real year – we still have to keep our eyes ahead, because we’ve got a lot of work to do. But for a quick excursion to somewhere totally other, Valerinne has you totally covered with A Ghost Year.