Friday, September 12, 2014

THE SWINE LAKES "The Swine Lakes"



Labyrinthine nest of a work hatched in secrecy by Sophie and Milo.  

Sprawling, eerily beautiful, harp/guitar/voice/synth + tape fragments coalesced into faint emotional or physical place associations. 

And the room sounds!


an artifact of the new deep western mass:


- -Matt Robidoux


LUXURT ELITE/SAINT PEPSI SPLIT
"LATE NIGHT DELIGHT" +
PALM HAZE - "MIAMI VICE"



Sorry for the lack of reviews. Summer stayed around a little later than usual and I made a conscious effort to avoid what is known in the biz as responsibilities to catch the last few heatwave rays of sun at the skate park putting work into the verticals.

These two cassettes were my soundtrack; their titles express perfectly their sonic vibes. The first is Luxury Elite/Saint Pepsi - Late Night Delight. Luxury Elite is looping smooth jazz beats as is Saint Pepsi; the former is slightly more dance and the later slightly more for the mood of candlelight slow dance. Yet simultaneously these could work as the back beat to an MC rhythm. Think soothing saxophone solos, grand piano chords, vibrating mo-town sung love coos and funky bass lines.

The other cassette, Palm Haze's "Miami Vice" is slightly more synthetic in tone; Palm Haze can also get more abstract, hitting straight up ambient territory. In comparison to the Luxury Elite/Saint Pepsi release, they're drawing inspiration from a slightly later period in what is commonly referred to as Yacht Rock. Palm Haze is a little more accessible and common; some of these are straight up fashion runway soundtrack. But I can dig it, it's good.

Long story short, these two cassettes are minimal DJ loops that pay homage to the nostalgic memorizes of summers past. The leaves are beginning to change color kids so I hope you brought a camera to the beach to capture the moment. We're all gettin' older, our skins are getting tougher and it's harder to feel each day. Maybe these cassettes can bring a tear to your eye and remind you what happiness was/is. At the very least they'll make you move your feet.

LISTEN TO THE LUXURY ELITE/SAINT PEPSI SPLIT "LATE NIGHT DELIGHT" HERE:
http://illuminatedpaths.bandcamp.com/album/late-night-delight-remastered
LISTEN TO THE PALM HAZE - "MIAMI VICE" HERE:
http://illuminatedpaths.bandcamp.com/album/palm-haze

-- Jack Turnbull

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SAMUEL BOAT "Soda Pop Rock"



Catchy pop music with solid arranging from Sam Lisabeth of the Boston band Cult and Leper. I don't think those guys are a going concern anymore, as Sam has moved to New York and their bassist now does double duty with Guerilla Toss and Ryan Power.  Soda Pop Rock should appeal to fans of Blanche Blanche Blanche, Son of Salami and Steely Dan, naturally.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WILD ISLAND "Be Kind"

 
http://doubledotdash.bandcamp.com/album/be-kind

Guitar centered freak folk mind expansion played with a refreshing youthful sincerity. The guitarist's chops are not of the degree of buckethead, but there is a variety of genre that is impressive. The tone of the guitar goes from reverb drenched noise echo to quick release acoustic twang. The Dick Dale speed picking gets gnarly ala MY BLOODY VALENTINE special effect sonic blast as the structure remains pop, almost to the degree of twee. Television hiss snow accompanies distortion power chords and the vocals croon like Echo & the Bunnymen, but the overall attempt is far more spare and DIY. Great vocal harmonies and lots of force in the voice. A song like Ghost Town brings it down a knock, hitting Nick Drake territory, but slightly more droned, with perhaps an over reliance on chords.

A great end of the summer release ... eclectic and bittersweet played at the tempo of jaded determination. It's an intimate release and one that can be melancholy in tone, but its overall effect is one of satisfaction.

-- Jack Turnbull

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BRAVE RADAR "Message Centre"
(Fixture Records)


Brave Radar hails from Montreal. This brief, yet full-length cassette marks their first release in five years. I was not previous familiar with their work.

The band’s sound is best described as Bedroom/Dream-Pop. However, it does not quite fit the same bill as The Antlers, or Beach House. First of all, it is safe to listen to without being mistaken for someone who moved from Greenwich, CT to Brooklyn and after two months is already claiming to be “from” New York. (very important side note: having been to Connecticut, I empathize with their embarrassment but seriously…fuck those people).

What sets Brave Radar apart is that the “Bedroom” in their sound isn’t a bedroom like, say, someone from Connecticut grew up in. It is a pile of cardigan and ironic sweaters in the corner of a basement, separated from the rest a tapestry that has been traveling via duffel bag since it’s owner dropped out of college. Best case scenario, the auxiliary (liquor-wreaking) couch in a living room with a sleeping bag shoved behind it during waking hours.

The “Dream” isn’t a dream like Kurt Vile or Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV might express through effect-laden guitar leads. It is not a continuous, lucid and romantic dream world where the one-that-got-away shows up out of the blue, you turn menial events into vaguely sexual activities, possibly kill each others parents, use the insurance money to hire Tom Verlaine to play your wedding, have an episode of Law & Order based on your story, and after waking you have to spend all day reluctantly convincing yourself (through the tears) that it didn’t actually, and never will, happen. Not that kind of dream. Sorry. These Dreams are like the ones you usually have – fragmented, disassociated, almost humdrum but through a surreal lens like in a French film.

Teasers of melodies, near-surf guitar riffs, and wholeheartedly passive vocal stylings make this tape a pop-minimalist’s delight. The vocals (from dual, male/female vocalists) are perhaps the subtlest element of all. They are perfectly audible and clearly pronounced; yet melt so well into the music that you could conceivably miss them if you’re not paying attention. This is by no means a drawback, rather it is inline with the iconic Ferris Bueller quote…I think it goes “Life moves pretty fast sometimes, but if you rig up your room like a Rube Goldberg device your principal will break into your house and assault your sister” or something like that.

The songs themselves are just as restrained as the vocals, almost like they’re running through a set at a secret practice to see if they can get away without their lead guitarist. When the tempo picks up, they get catchier and almost sound like a punk band that had to resort to practicing in the uncool parent’s basement.

There is a definite bouncy element at play her as well. Not ‘bouncy’ like a pogo stick but more like a partially deflated kickball. Not great for throwing a runner out at home but still plenty good for kicking. Fans of Blanche Blanche Blanche, Chris Weisman, and those who long for a tamer version of Deerhoof or a less ambitious version of Low, are sure to get a kick out of this cassette.

http://braveradar.bandcamp.com/

-- Travis Long

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FANCY LAD - NEW HELL


Editorial by Jack Turnbull

Cassette Gods is reviewing a different type of cassette today; a VHS cassette, Fancy Lad Rollerboards presents “NEW HELL”. “New Hell” documents a Boston based skateboard crew with a style that has a lot of momentum within the skateboarding community in 2014; “creative skating”. While “New Hell” captures footage of daredevlish drop-ins, advance level rail grinds, bombing down scary steep hills, “physics be damned” switch wheelies and everything you’d expect from a skate video, what makes Fancy Lad’s “New Hell” unique is its ability to poetically illustrate the complexities of skateboarding in your late twenties when the glamor of the practice begins to fade. It’s an exhilarating video and the skateboarding captured on footage is impressive. “New Hell”’s crew perform skateboard tricks of exceptional difficulty. But these stunts are intermixed with the silliest of pulpy B grade exploitative films, camcorder late night tomfoolery and scenes of self deprecating humor. Balancing the sincerity that comes with genuinely needing to accomplish athletic undertakings with loosely thrown together Simpsons doodles and tacky kill scenes from old school horror movies makes for a compelling contradiction. It’s almost as if the Fancy Lad crew is unaware of their accomplishments. Or maybe the Fancy Lad crew is purposely attempting to downplay their accomplishments. Or maybe the Fancy Lad crew is fully aware of their accomplishments and are allowing humor to point out how little reward there is in skateboarding for the average border beyond the act of skateboarding itself.

The video editing in “New Hell” is sometimes random. Some of the found footage from movies (that range in source from “Brain Damage”, the worst B-grade 80ties creature feature you can find, “Apocalypse Now”, “Steven King’s Misery”, “Happiness”, 1990ties MTV News snipers, “The Simpsons”, footage from the Charles Bronson Death Wish series, etc.) does not always correspond with the footage of skateboarding, although sometimes it does to make delicious puns. The feel of the movie is therefore jarring, especially the movie’s final segment with skater Jesse James who skates like he's in the circus. James skates in clown shoes and at one point goes as far as to include a scene where someone is pooping off a ceiling (the footage is very short, so it’s over before you can figure out what’s happening. Like a subliminal message, you know you’ve been visually assaulted but due to the footage’s lack of screen time its shock is quickly forgotten as a new barrage of skate footage grabs your attention).

This is not to say the movie is anti-thematic or lacking structure, however. In fact, New Hell addresses an incredible amount of emotional range; from anxiety, to euphoria, to discouragement, to triumph.

There is a slam session (skateboard lingo for footage of crashes and failures) accompanied by sad trumpet jazz… it makes skateboarding appear isolating and painful. Later in the session, the editing superimposes footage upon itself. The effect gives off a melancholy film noir portrayal of time fading away. In the context of the rest of the video, which is very passionate, high octane and aggressive, it is introspective. This juxtaposition made me laugh, but again, sincerity shined through and the segment feels bleak to the point of almost feeling like a cry for help. A reprise of this “sad jazz song” theme is used in an equally painful looking segment later on in the movie. Vangelis’s “One more Kiss, Dear”, from the Blade Runner soundtrack, accompanies it. Again, the juxtaposition of tepid jazz with high speed crashing is ironically amusing, but more importantly introspective.

The skateboarders in “New Hell” are not glamorous. Their clothing suggestions a disheveled poverty. They are flawed but athletically ambitious men the audience roots and empathizes with due to their visual disappointment, injuries and failures. By not glorifying their practice of skateboarding, Fancy Lad’s “New Hell” ceases to be a cynical promotional device to glorify skateboard commodities and instead becomes art; an undiluted and raw expression of human determination, enthusiasm and creativity.

If one studies the history of the skateboarding film one will know that this isn’t anything new; Toy Machine’s “Welcome to Hell”, for example, has a cringe inducing smash reel that would make even the most seasoned of crash test dummies run for the nearest toilet or rubbish basket to puke. But New Hell isn’t just injury porn. It’s more complicated than that. New Hell exaggerates and expands on whats its like to have a burning passion for skateboarding, only to realize you’re not Tony Hawk, you’re never going to be Tony Hawk, you can’t join the ranks of respected financially stable society through your burning passion like Tony Hawk … and to decide to continue following that burning passion regardless. New Hell is not just physically ballsy, it is existentially ballsy and the crew deserves greater notoriety.

Therefore, I got in touch with Fancy Lad Skateboards CEO Nick “Big” Murray. The following questions were inducted via e-mail correspondence.
************************************************************



CG: Was there one particular cinematographer who filmed "New Hell" or does the Fancy Lad crew share the responsibilities?

FL: The entire crew shares the filming, whoever is out on the session, it’s referred to as “Buddy-Cam” in skateboarding. That’s why some of it sucks so much.

CG: Non-licensed Simpsons doodles are a recurring theme in “New Hell” and on your decks. Is Matt Groening an influence?

FL: Everybody loves the Simpsons earlier works, they taught us everything we need to know about life. Without it, I would have no childhood.

CG: Do you have a favorite Simpsons episode?

FL: Fiske likes when Homer goes to Clown College, or when the Family goes to Ned Flanders summer home with Milhouse, but my favorite might be “A Star is Burns” or better known as the film festival episode. Too many to name though, that’s just a few.

CG: White Boy the Average Rat Band's "Sector 387" is a highlight of “New Hell”s soundtrack. How did you stumble upon this obscure proto-metal band?

FL: We discovered that band thanks to file sharing with our friend Matt Haggerty, he used to have a blogspot called White Widow. The guy is a Genius; he has more music than anyone we know.

CG: What can you tell me about Ferderalz “Coming Soon”? It has a looping orchestral beat that sounds dated, like classic Wu-Tang Clan. The outdated VHS footage of the rappers in New Hell makes them appear from another era. Is Ferderalz a contemporary band?

That song was sampled from the Shorty’s Skateboard video “GUILTY” which was released in 2001. I searched for a long time, but could not find a download, so I had to rip the song from the VHS copy I have, which is why you can hear skate audio that doesn’t sync up. I assume they are from the San Diego area as well. Hopefully they are still around.

CG: New Hell has almost an anti-digital aesthetic. There is a lot of freehand typography, for example. Furthermore, some of your board designs are collaged and photographed by hand, not even in Photoshop. If someone were to watch the VHS “New Hell” it would be difficult to decipher its production date (could be anywhere between 1993 - today!). The soundtrack isn't very contemporary sounding, either. Are you nostalgic and is your lack of contemporary sources intentional?

FL: Just because we have the technology, does not mean we have to use it. It is intentional in the respect that it is a more bare-bones approach the skateboard video medium. I think it makes for a more honest result. It is looking backwards and forwards at the same time, as it strives to take what has come before into a new direction. Just like in music, you know you have done something special or with a certain merit if it sounds good without a slick production.

CG: The Fancy Lads are creative guys. Does anyone in the crew have other creative or artistic outlets/projects? If so, what are they?

FL: Everyone on the team is an artist, skateboarding is an art in itself, so that goes without saying, but there are other projects. There is a Fancy Lad art show in the works this autumn at “BASE”. Zacher, Yellow Nick, Legs, Abe, Ripquist, and myself all have attended art schools in MA for college. Everyone still practices the arts when we are not skating. Some even have jobs in the field.

Fiske has been writing poetry and working on his video collage for quite some time. Also, Fiske and Tony are both Techno geniuses. Everyone is creating in one way or another when the inspiration strikes.

CG: You work very, very hard. New Hell is evidence of this. However, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between hard work and financial benefit these days. You seem aware of this irony to the point you celebrate it, or at least point it out. For example, one of my favorite Fancy Lad skateboards is the “food stamps” deck. You’re literally advertising your own poverty. As a fan, this is incredibly frustrating because I know, right now, there is some lame ass lobbyist jerking off in a cubicle somewhere making six figures to look at the Facebook profile of some girl he had a crush on in high school. And here you are, bruises up and down your legs, literally busting your ass to make the world feel inspired and happy, literally for free because the Fancy Lad New Hell video is up on Youtube and therefore accessible to everyone, even the hypothetical lobbyist in the cubicle. How do you keep doing this? Is the act of skateboarding really a reward in and of itself? Do you genuinely believe this, or do you ever feel resentment?


FL: A friend told me that Elliott Smith used to refer to food stamps as “artist grants”. I think that sums up why we made the graphic best. It is just a product of the times we are living in. We are not ashamed of this. It is facing your own harsh reality and laughing at it. But when I think about it, genuinely, I don’t think anyone of us should complain, we all have it pretty good if we can work a dead end job and spend the majority of our time doing what we love; besides, you can’t take your money with you when you die.

CG: What’s next for Fancy Lad? I hear a new video is in the works.

FL: Yeah, that is what we have pretty much been working on for the past year. “FL3” is the title. There will also be pogs, trading cards, and action figures coming soon!

CG: Any music you are listening to right now that Cassette Gods should know about?

I say listen to more COIL. Other than that, Ancient Methods, Death Grips, Chrome, Flying Lotus, and make your own music. Make it fucked up. Also, the last castrato.

CG: Thanks for answering questions, Nick. Godspeed!

*************

Buy your copy of NEW HELL and other Fancy Lad Products HERE.

http://fancyladskateco.blogspot.com/

Finally, here is the track listing for New Hell. It isn't complete, but at the very least it should give you guys a happy music hunting session. As always, these tracks are free but we implore you to purchase physical copies of these samples because the musicians are mondo talented and should be supported.

1. Rites of Spring - End on End
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpla_3yq8Xs

2. White Boy and Average Rat Band - Sector 387 (see link above)

3. Chrome - Creature Eternal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cA9WZ4uOSs

4. Song from Creepshow soundtrack (youtube video N/A)

5. Federalz - Smolik (youtube video N/A)

6. Adaptation - Nicholas Cage monologue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Geq3wVvaNE

7. Anonymous VHS Porno

8. Altered Beast Theme Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq8G4tZbMmw

9. Fiske - Untitled (Youtube video N/A)

10. Bladerunner Soundtrack - One More Kiss, Dear
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzcHJAONSSo

11. Mystifier - ???
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vRqQ8Gd49Y

12. Piano - ???

13. Buckethead - Friday the 13th Part 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMudvpAdotE

14. Logic System - Talk Back
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXO5IIIhVy8

15. Dr Who Theme
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkcHgI_TIYQ

16. Benga - (???)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWsPOhUCgHM

17. Streets of Rage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nZVkilo52s

18. Sol - the Boxcar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV8JWQlUPlw

19. Jake Kaufman - Mango Tango
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcO4vU5M0Js

20. Todd Rundgren - Dumb and Dumber score
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crVKBDqGzns

21. Los Microwaves - Time to Get Up
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEX59Qd2GcA

22. Funny Man Theme (youtube link N/A)

23. Oingo Boingo - Forbidden Zone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxOnbpWVELU

24. Song from Caligula
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn24GND1aDc


http://fancyladskateco.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 24, 2014

DAVID B. GREENBERG
"You Are The Greatest"


Mr. Rogers got laid off from his day job because in the alternative universe where this cassette was created, Mitt Romney DID win the 2012 election and cut PBS budget. Also, Mr. Rogers is alive in this alternative reality. He is 86, but he doesn't sound like an old man due to his impeccable good health from years of eating his greens and avoiding stress by being extremely present and calm.

With his spare time, he listens to some Jonathan Richman, Townes Van Zandt, the Byrds and a little new wave, smokes a bowl, and decides to start a music project. He's bursting with energy because of the new door he's opened for himself creatively. He's wise and has a lot to say. He has the musical range to give each song's tone an appropriate acciomant to the lyric's subject matter.

This is a strong singer/songwriter release. Sometimes the lyrics get a little cooky, predictable and/or lazy like "I was sitting all alone/ I decided to call you on the phone/ the voice said leave a message at the tone/ and I'm wondering if you were really home". But then the song's variety of melody and its orchestral arrangements save its borderline corny lyrics; mr. rogers gets saved from the accompanying land of make believe.

I'd be a little hesitant to check this guy out in an acoustic setting, but the guy can arrange very well and make dynamic, technical songs that don't sound contrived. It's a quality release, put it in yo deck, son!

http://davidbgreenberg.info/
http://davidbgreenberg.bandcamp.com/album/you-are-the-greatest

David B. Greenberg
PO BOX 1921
Newark, NJ 07101

-- Jack Turnbull

Sunday, July 20, 2014

BEAN SNACK "II"
(Personal Archives)


Here's a curveball wackadoo winner! BEAN SNACK delivers! This cassette displays a vast education on the subject of "subversive radical easy rider anti-establishment acid trip dance beach bong hits”. There is an incredible variety of noises represented on this spectacular cassette from the harmonic to the rhythmic to the dissonant. Some songs feel improvised while others are coming more from a singer songwriter area. Other songs are deeply entrenched in dancehall low sub-warfer beats. Rhythmic instructional-aerobic synth twang loops mixed with deep space alien transmissions and fuzzzzzzed out bullshit guitars, or are they keyboards?! I don’t have a clue dude!

Some songs are minor in scale like the cassette’s opener. It’s got bass growls, harmonizing organ fruit loops, — twinkly deep sleep dream sequence, SMASH beats from far out slasher rage, piles and piles of piercing droned out casio keyboard fury, nonsensical mutilated tape loops almost random in poetry, calculated feedback hiss and an overall blissed out positive vibe. Think stoned happy hardcore at half the speed but with a same philosophical approach, and then a gnarly guitar solo over the top that’s tone is constantly fluxing about and little kids playing on the ceiling and gleefully laughing. You really have to listen to the whole cassette in this case because each song has a theme or personality, even though the cassette does not break in full length unity.

A high light is “The Umth Power”, which mixes poetry, pre recorded ragtime jazz from a victrola and fierce fuzz distortion guitar in the background. It’s liberating to hear multiple beats in one composition! Three separate sources at once, magically painting an abstract portrait of isolated significance, a technique assumed to only be attempted by the intoxicated or lethargic, but in the case of Bean Snacks these dissenting contradictions connect with interesting results.

This cassette I give five out of five stars and five bags of popcorn. It’s very brave, forward thinking and jazzy without loosing it’s improvisational vibe. A little heavy on the looping for me, but hey, that’s how rock and roll works. This is right up there on my list of best of 2014. http://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/bean-snack-2

-- Jack Turnbull

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NEW MOTHER NATURE "2"
(Sophomore Lounge)


I've stalled on sending in this review for New Mother Nature's "2" because it's very good and there's a lot to write about. New Mother Nature combine folk, whiskey drenched drunk dive bar blues, head nodding punk beats, delta blues, electric keyboards and what I'd call teamwork to make this fantastic, diverse release. There's no gimmicks. It's stripped down rock and roll, so stripped down some songs don't even rely on distortion pedals to sound bad ass. What is most impressive is they are able to represent or pay homage to just about EVERY TYPE of stripped down rock without it sounding contrived. The drums can drive like in post-punk (even at times diving into pop-punk swinging beats), but at the same time they're played behind harmonized vocals you'd hear from last waltzers "the Band". The vocals cathartically narrate bad times; abandoned children, being left out in the cold, broken arms, etc. The cassette has the melodrama of the best Bonnie Prince Billy bitter ballads. They also get so close to their roots the guitars start finger picking over simple tambourine melodies, emulating an old time delta blues rag. In the end I guess some dingus pitchfork reviewer would categorize this as a whole as "alt-rock"?

Ok, time out, I'm butchering this review. As an audience you must be confused... I've mentioned everything from pop-punk to delta blues rag, you must be saying what the crap is this guy talking about. I know! I know! Why is it so easy for me to write a bad review and so hard for me to write a good review?

Well, maybe I can help myself out by comparing it to bad music. SO. My significant other is managing and doing the finances for a warped tour act and as a result I got free tickets to the festival, backstage passes, beer, ribs, etc. It was just about the most rock star I've ever felt minus the huge fruit bowl of cocaine.

The bands playing there for the most part were casualties to our post-modern times. You'd hear about four measures of metalcore drop d dingus beats where every member of the band is treating their instrument like percussion, but then the genre would switch to eight majors of what can be categorized as radio rap. Then for 8 measures it sounded like Justin Timberlake. Then it went back to metalcore. While this is arguably a forward thinking approach to music, the music does not CONGEAL like a frittata or a soup. Rather, it is the equivalent of eating a jalapeno, followed by a donut followed by a grapefruit.

New Mother Nature is more like a frittata. Lots of ingredients are added to make something new. The sounds and influences CONVERGE; they aren't just lined up next to each other.

The result is very satisfying. the cassette is challenging while also remaining accessible. Sophomore Lounge, which is run out of Louisville, KY, is a record label to be on the lookout for and this cassette does not disappoint.

Check it out!
http://sophomoreloungerecords.com/2.html

-- Jack Turnbull

Monday, July 14, 2014

CARING BABIES / PLIABLE TONES split tape


This is a PYMPIN tape! I had never heard of these two artists before but DAMN, they both cool! It seems like they're both from the Lebanon NH/ White River Junction VT area and the vybes of that area definitely flow thru the recordings on this tape!

The first side, "Butter on the Trestle", is The Caring Babies, which is a homeboy who rocks strange/cool/catchy psychedelic pop songs along side OG tape collage and other stuff too! I really dig it! He's definitely got that Vermont pop feel to his muzak, but his shit is different too, and he performs live with a psychedelic gangsta named Redgei, who I'm not sure plays but chills on stage!

The other side is really cool! "The Lost Adventures of the Space Patrol" by Pliable Tones is incredible sci fi-ed out instrumental trippy pube poppin jams; very tasteful, beautiful, scary, and interesting! Holy synths, spiritual sound collage and all kinds of good and funky vybes! There's also some real freaky tracks toward the end that have live vocals! Really good muzak to blaze that cheese to!

Both sides of this gangsta shit be good for any occasion! Great background music and also really good solo-introspective (mental pud-pulling) listening too! HIGHLY HURRICANE RECOMMENDED!

You can stream these jams at http://thecaringbabies.bandcamp.com/album/butter-on-the-trestle and http://pliable-tones.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-adventures-of-the-space-patrollers !

And check out the labels website at http://rovsztbrecords.blogspot.com/

OFF DA CHAIN!

--Frank Hurricane

Friday, July 11, 2014

MORK AIA / GHOIR split tape
(Pikkalma)

This is a full-length split tape from Russian experimental sound ensembles Mork AiA and Ghoir. Lately, I’ve written a couple of reviews for tapes that I’m pretty unqualified to have an opinion about. So far those topics foreign to me have both had to do with metal and its subgenres. I am excited to announce that this cassette features not one, but TWO elements I no adequate background or motivated interest to write about.

Below you will find the sum of my knowledge regarding Russia:

1) Pussy Riot is a band/thing, though I don’t entirely understand what/which.
2) Contrary to popular wisdom, Marx was German, not Russian.
3) It’s too cold to grow corn there.

Here is the sum of my knowledge regarding experimental music:

1) You are not supposed to think of or refer to tracks as ‘songs’…the politically correct term is “pieces”. However, some ‘pieces’ or elements of ‘pieces’ can sound like songs, therefore they will sometimes be placed on a spectrum running from Not A Song to Songlike.

2) The closest I can get to the correct vocabulary to describe this music are the highly technical terms, ‘sounds cool’, ‘sounds boring’, and ‘just sounds’. I will attempt to invent some words to make up for this deficiency.

3) The Residents and Sun City Girls are pretty good. I learned about John Cage, Tony Conrad, and Lamont Young in college. I don’t know too much about them, though I often pretend to. Do Can or Psychic TV count?

Here is a philistinian breakdown of this cassette, piece-by-piece…brace yourself for many hyphens, fragmented sentences and inconsistent capitalization:

SIDE A: Mork AiA

1) Daggry – I very much hope this title is an attempt to coin the use of ‘dagger’ as an adjective. As for the music, it slowly builds from nothing-recognizable to nothing-slightly-recognizable.

2) Natt – Sounds like an extension of the first piece but with a heavier Enya influence…meditation music for robots

3) Fra Omrader – this piece is heavy on Songlike tendencies. It’s about two and a half minutes of pretty much the same thing; decently catchy beat, can’t tell if there’s one guitar riff involved or two seemingly melted together but whatever it is, it works.

4) Seeker Av – Probably my favorite on the A side of the cassette…sounds like the soundtracks to transmission from a cosmonaut-swamp…simple and overlapping twangy, echoing guitar (?) riffs with ambient sludge filing out the background…inaudible speaking engulfed in static…beeps and other space-sounds…this is the soundtrack to Apollo 13 as directed by (holy mountain guy)

5) Krov – we briefly find ourselves back in the Enya-gone-wrong universe that gave us the first two pieces, but jumps through different sounds and sensibilities in 15 second chunks like the turning of a radio dial…pretty cool stuff


SIDE B: Ghoir

1) Evina – spooky, possibly swamp-dwelling monks

2) Oscillate Me – So ‘songlike’ that it’s pretty much a song…driving drum machine rhythm…singing in English (probably)

3) Allove – Another piece that features singing even more probably in English..nearly pushing it off the charts relative to the Not-A-Song to Songlike spectrum…Rhythm sounds like bongos and castanets….

4) Video Satan – Spooky monks are back…or possible just one going solo

5) Noir – obviously a robot drowning…equal parts sad and awesome

6) Avada – a refreshing blast of bluegrass guitar, bucket-sounding percussion, featuring the ghost monk choir on vocals

7) Glass – Air Mattress Deflating/Reinflating Themed Dance Party featuring a classic note-bending, slightly off-kilter synth melody

8) Badadadabam – Exactly what it sounds like

9) Death of Unknown Tapdancer – Between two and five seals trying to kill a bee trapped in a room. They are unsuccessful and another bee enters towards the end.

Listen to it here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

SOFT EYES "Lazy Life"
(Under the Gun Records)


Soft Eyes (solo project of Lukas Goudreault, ex-Mmoss) almost slipped through my fingers, lost back into the cresting river of cassette salmon attempting to spawn upstream with my ears. Soft Eyes, not Bright Eyes or Wolf Eyes, are red and withered; they are unassuming. Soft Eyes isn't music howling for attention with theatrics, rapid shifts in melody, volume and tempo like James Brown or some mathcore cirque du soleil horseshit. The vocals reverberate and sound tonally blissful even though they are incomprehensible. The guitar rhythms repeat until they are transcendent. You gotta sit with the release for a second and let it develop. You're not going to like this album if you have ADD. Everything slowly bends towards the bright side, even the caveman beat rockers like "Lazy Shadow". Then, suddenly, a super gnarly 60ties guitar solo rips and shreds through a blues scale! The drums and percussion are mostly accompaniment, but they range from analog snares, toms to egg shakers and oddly timed frequency bleeps. The music gives off the illusion of being sleepy & tired as made evident in the title of the release, and while it's a "chill" release, it's a smart one too that is anything but lazy. Soft Eyes shows diversity of style and tone. They experiment with successful results. Its loose without feeling amature. It pays homage to psychedelic recording room nonsense, like hooking a microphone up to a phaser pedal to sound like a young, underwater Jerry Garcia dressed up like Neptune shaking hands with an octopus king. Tubular!

There is a nostalgia I feel when I listen to Soft Eyes. It's music from another era played and made with humble instruments and stock, vintage recording equipment. It's rocking while remaining modest. It's endearing without being cute. There is strength in the tried and true melodies of hippie cool dudes past that the cassette exploits without being redundant.

Somewhere between Spacemen 3, the Zombies, Beat Happening, Ty Segall and outer limits Velvet Underground lies the tripped out calm of Soft Eyes. This is an excellent lo-fi garage triumph to be played throughout the world and celebrated. The album has effortless shifts in mood and genre without the overflow of having the album feel heavy handed. You know how they tell you if you wanna get girls you gotta play it cool? Take a cue from the ancient turquoise mask on the cover of this cassette, he sure knows a thing or two! He'll tell you to listen to this cassette, just like me!

All that said, the next step for Soft Eyes is to get those lyrics of his audible. I love home recording cassettes like this (I am assuming it's a home recording) but a little more production and polish would have gone a long, long way on this release. But until then, good stuff here from Soft Eyes. Go Soft Eyes!

http://0softeyes0.bandcamp.com/releases
Buy the cassette here ---> http://underthegun.storenvy.com/collections/118509-utgr-releases/products/6276223-soft-eyes-lazy-life-cassette
PS - Soft Eyes made this sweet youtube mix for you at this website ... http://bdcwire.com/list/8-awesome-solo-records-selected-by-psych-pioneer-soft-eyes/ ... it's pretty sweet

--Jack Turnbull

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Severed+Said - "Crying In Dreams" (Popnihil)


  Another winner from Popnihil. Ultra-cinematic horror noir from the dark, dank corners of Florida. 
  
 Severed+Said has created a great set of Carpenter-esque creepers, respectively. A ghastly score for a film that doesn't actually exist, but for in the mind of the listener. Initially this reminded me of that amazing intro to The Fog, which is one my favorite film scores ever. Monstrous bass swells slither in and out of drifting analog synths, like a thick black liquid dripping through cracks in the floor. The arrangements are right and right, and all of the sound are mapped out to perfection.

  Side B bites straight out of the gate, with a heaving, wobbly bass, cyclic snares and hats, bringing a classic acid vibe into the mix and now things are picking up. Phased out synths take the lead and a haunting presence is near, and there's a deep sinking feeling that just I can't get enough of.

  S+S shifts moods often, he doesn't make a habit of lurking around any particular zone for too long, and the entire album flows smoothly in one direction. This kind of stuff often loses my attention pretty quick, but Crying In Dreams held it's own from front to back. If the Italo-horror scores are your bag, you'll want to pick this up for certain. Pro dubbed. Purple shell. 
Get it from www.popnihil.com
  

Friday, July 4, 2014

PINN'D "PINN'D EP"
(Vagueness Records)


This electronica album covers a lot of territory. Influences from various corners of the world are evident in the singer's vocals and in the backing computer compositions, but the major one present is the cassette's nod to downtroughten blues. Even when Pinn'd are at their most abstract, the vocals are hot, humid and soulfully down. The singer's voice is alto if not female tenor; it's low, sultry and seductive like the late Amy Winehouse. Occasionally the vocalist can be playful and borderline bratty like Kathleen Hanna which is fun and spices things up. At her most poetic, the vocalist channels her inner MacBeth witch. It's poetry but from across the pond somewhere and its rhythm is different from what we're used to here in the states. Behind the vocals it's all sequencers, keyboards, BOSS dr.beat percussion, etc. No brass sections, minimal backup vocals, no guitars through amps, it's just THX 1138, Windows 95 and Fruity Loops.


I feel like I've heard this dichotomy of very human vocals mixed with very synthetic computer music before. The Blow is one example. The Knife is another. It's effective and an interesting irony to exploit. But do I dare say I've heard enough of this particular musical arrangement? I literally just reviewed a similar tape, Little Spoon, which presented the exact same arrangement of music. Little Spoon barely broke formula because there were multiple vocal tracks that echoed, created octave harmonies and were sonically mutated with the assistance of electronic do-dads. That, and I couldn't tell if the vocals were done by a boy or a girl. I guess I should be more gender neutral with my accusations. Males are equally guilty of exploiting this musical irony to redundancy. Early Dan Deacon is an example. And in my younger and wilder years I myself must admit to dancing around a computer while singing shitty karaoke to a bunch of young, impressionable college art students once or twice.

I'd say from my perspective, which is starring at a big cardboard box of cassettes from around the world, the musical concept of parring a beautiful human voice with a computer is a little overdone at this point. In fact, I'd like to see a pendulum swing of musicians embracing analog instruments again. Sure, it involves more cooperation and balancing schedules with other human beings, but there is power in numbers. Machines always come off as cold, no matter how well they mimic humanity. Sorry Phillip K. Dick, there's no fooling the real thing when it comes to rock and/or roll.

From an economical standpoint, it also just makes a hell of a lot more sense to back up your songs with the computer equivalent to an orchestral arrangement. I'm well aware of that fact most vocalists can't hire an orchestra. But there's got to be more of a middle ground, even if it's just 1 voice, 1 guitar and THEN all the computer mumbojumbo.

But if you're into this type of thing and it's still new and fresh to you, this cassette is very delightful to listen to even if its validity to the avant garde is questionable. And while this reviewer has heard one too many drum machines, the electronic compositions that accompany the vocals are interesting and are not phoned in. The percussion clicks and klinks unexpectedly without overstimulating or drawing away attention from the vocals.

Overall, this is a good cassette. Its contemporary electronic moody pop music. Feels right. Give it a try.
http://vaguenessrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pinnd-ep

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Decades/Failures - "February 14th" (popnihil)

 
 Sturdy pair of icy downers from Decades/Failures, on Jacksonville's consistently surprising Popnihil label. 

 Side A jumps right into things with "February 14th", a brooding synthpopper full of sharp and layered sequencing, treated baritone vocals and swaggering drum machine. The hooks are infectious, yet lucid, and right now this reminds me of the last Blank Dogs record, or a few of those great coldwave artifacts that Dark Entries has been unearthing. 

  Side B is a bit more gliding and tranquil. A less assaultive approach altogether, with a staggered beat and crawling synths, it's somber vocal retreat creates a slight contrast to the sweatier vibe of the flipside, and now it's time to flip the tape again. Overall a great pair of well constructed songs. I would like to see them tackle a proper LP, and as a fellow Floridian, it's nice to see something like this is happening on your own turf. 

Pro dubbed, black on black tapes. Get one from popnihil.com now. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

EMACIATOR
"Finality and Contradiction"
(Imminent Frequencies)


This tape from late last year contains a pair of wonderfully subdued pieces from Jonathan Borges of the long-running Pedestrian Deposit project and Monorail Trespassing Label. Smooth textures of guitar and electronics revealing deep reflections like polished black marble, sliding from gentle morning glow to suffocated deep-night sorrow tones in languid motion. The building sense of foreboding and deceptively slow movements are very masterful, considering the "minimal" means and techniques. What seems like another "drone" tape is actually a gorgeous swarm of dynamics and intrigue. Perfect soundtrack to floating disembodied along a glacier seeking prey in the heartless hours. Another great release from Imminent Frequencies.

http://www.monorailtrespassing.com/
http://www.imminentfrequencies.com/

- - Will Mayo

Monday, June 30, 2014

Yamaoka - "Silent Bridge" c66 (Sacred Phrases)

 
  
  Beautiful album from Japanese electronic musician Kenichi Oka aka: Yamaoka, on the well fitting Sacred Phrases label. Mesmerising set of tracks that span over a decade's worth of electronic music styles, in just 66 minutes. Sharp, percussive synths are weaving tight micro-rhythms all at every turn, morphing at a relentless pace. Hints of early techno and drone tactics run throughout Oka's hallucinatory arrangements, with more than a hint of modern new age to fill them out nicely.
  It's easy to lose yourself in this at times, as the deep repitition takes hold of you near the end of side A, but that is a very good thing in my opinion. Side B is equally as intense, yet it remains playful and bright, reminding me of Steve Moore or even Tangerine Dream at times, respectively. As the last seconds roll on I realize that this one is a total winner front to back, and you should grab it quick. Limited to 100 with DL code. Get one here: www.sacredphrases.com
   

Friday, June 27, 2014

HARMONY MOLINA


Interesting singer songwriter who contacted me about trying to get a release on my label. I don't know if I'm going to go for it, but I figured it would be proper to share his very strange music with you. It has a kind of tuneless psychedelic quality to it that should be appealing to fans of outsider music. Check it out if you're looking for something from way back in left field. http://harmonymolina.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MATTHEW AKERS
"A History of Arson" C36
(Out of Body Records)


Good gravy and jumping jack rabbits, this is a phenomenal cassette. The cassette case had a strike anywhere match inside. For a split second I thought I potentially might have a Ted Kacznski Unibomber situation on my hands. The cassette's graphics resemble something that might be in one of Fox Mulder's filing cabinets. Fortunately, the cassette didn't explode when I put it in my walkman. Instead, it played a collection of incredible synthesizer and keyboard arrangements that equally play in the genres of smooth dance and dissonance drone.

Matthew Akers is a "Moog maestro"; his analog and digital synthesizers are at his masterly command. They pulse, drain, fade, increase, repeat melodies with mathematical perniciousness, flutter up and down through frequency envelope patterns, they hypnotize, they minimize with melodies over chords. you can't un-hear his jams like when you can't stop re-living that grief stricken day in your life.

The whole spectrum of what may be on just about the coolest Italian horror movie soundtrack is this cassette; the murder scene when the killer is right behind the protagonist is represented of course, but also the romance scene, the environmental pan over shot with a camera on a helicopter, the car chase action sequence, the blood on the dance floor scene, the work-out montage, the drone that accompanies when the villain reveals a plot twist through an over dramatic monologue, the walk out of the movie theater end credits. Imagine if Ray Lynch or Tangerine Dream collaborated with John Carpenter and produced the score for the Nightmare On Elm Street series.

Six jams, buy it here ---->
http://outofbodyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/matthew-akers-a-history-of-arson-c36

Amazing stuff from a Denton TX record label. throw 'um 4 clams (and tip these guys a 10) for the full analog experience and get the edition of 100 cassette, it's worth every penny.

--Jack Turnbull

Sunday, June 22, 2014

LITTLE SPOON
"Girlfriend Forever"
(MJMJ Records)


The cassette cover is of a slightly out of focus young woman with a dripping rainbow across her face (please note: the above photo was ripped from the artist's website ... the actual cassette cover is a close up of the above photo). It reminds me of local access children television programming, family friendly craft fairs or one of those discombobulating pink house wackos from "A Family Finds Entertainment". The girl is, please forgive me here, good looking, with subtle messy bangs, a calming expression and a flirtatious tilt of the head.

The music seems to match this visual well. It's appealing, stimulating yet calming dance music. It is gay in the old fashioned usage of the word, even when the music is bittersweet in temperament. I sense even a little of "the Cure" in the synth tone.

Little Spoons vocalists at times sound like a tenor young Prince (or as the artist formerly known as) but they can also make like native American tribal chanters. At other times their voices sound without gender. This androgyny is engaging the same way Ziggy Stardust era Bowie was engaging, although these are dreamy dance songs, not intergalactic ballads. A female voice emerges at the beginning of side B ... or maybe it's the same voice? I dunno... but it's got me listening, which is a very good sign of a good cassette.

I think one thing that makes this cassette work is the fact it is, once again, a utilitarian release. The beat, while dropping out at times to allow melody to take center stage, remain rather simple and repetitive four four drumbeats. This gets ones head nodding and then Little Spoon doesn't let up. This cassette has a mission to make you move. There is fun poetry here in the lyrics, interesting tonal experimentation, beautiful digital vocal harmonies, good transitions and enough song diversity to keep me interested ... but the glue that keeps it all together is a focus on the beat. Even on a song like "We are Both Adults", which is notably more serious and somber than the rest of the release, has a drumbeat that keeps your head nodding. It doesn't break your neck (it's not trying to) but it is consistent.

This music is best when the harmonies are really pushed to their fullest digital capabilities, like on the cassette finale, "There is Something Over That Hill". There's still a computer loop rhythm that sounds like MUM, but here the vocals delay, merge into chorus, loop and the whole song ends with the rest of the song elements dropping out as the vocals infinitely fade out chanting with divine glory.

This is a fine release and good for the summer season. Diverse, inviting, mellow without being lazy, dance inducing without being aggressive and with lush, stoned vocals. Check it out.
Listen to it here on their bandcamp:
http://littlespoon.bandcamp.com/album/girl-friend-forever

--Jack Turnbull