"Timid Seamstress"
(Humanhood Recordings)

Campbell James Kneale is an experimental musicians based out of Featherston New Zealand. He is probably best known from his work in "Birchville Cat Motel". Because, in 2011, The Guardian included Birchville Cat Motel in their 101 strangest records on Spotify article (see link below).
He music has a strong drone edge to it, the crackle and hiss from the polyester ferric works in tandem to give his art that certain aesthetic that a CDR just couldn't give.

So, whether you are smoking a cigarette while walking past St Teresa's School, or say, vomiting up your frogurt behind the Supervalue on Daniell, you will be happy to know that there is background music for your old TV looping video art installation that you are setting up in the local art loft.
Well, that is once you call your parents to remind them you haven't gotten the money you need for rent yet. Good news is that fathers day is close, so that's a good excuse to call them.
They wont even suspect a thing.

I am not being a dick here guys. Campbell himself states that his musical aim was to create something that is equal parts boredom and and ecstatic power.

I am told there is supposed to be snare drums on this album, but I dont hear them.
Features environmentally freindly Cardboard box and black pad printed cassette and sexy red leader tape.

-- Chuck

"Open Submission" C30
(Constellation Tatsu)

One of my favorite games to play while listening to Constellation Tatsu batches is “Which tapes pair best together?” and this Spring ’18, I’m pretty sure Lunaria and Alex Crispin are the sweet-and-savoriest team there is. For every viscous, sublime drone from Lunaria, Alex Crispin answers with airy, brooding minimalism. &while both albums celebrate the transportive nature of binaural swells and reverb, it is the latter’s narrative movements of grace and melancholy, evoked by clear chimes, Icelandic keys (think Múm’s earlier work), poignant tonewheel organ, sparse smooth-jazz guitar accents (shush- you know you eat this shit up when done right!), Basinskian textured backing loops (and, well, time, itself, really) that all come together to round out the former’s all-seeing/hearing bliss. This is not to say that “Open Submission” does not stand sturdily on its own, but that, like the title suggests, it is meta-versatile and deft in being open to any interpretation one’s consciousness chooses to submit.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Ascension Now" C40
(Constellation Tatsu)

Take a look at that title, again: “Ascension Now”; and the cloud-locked island-peak of solid rock that beckons us from the J-Card’s minimal façade. Once PLAY has been pressed, Spain’s Daniel Guillén pulls every trick in the New-Age-Old Handbook to hook us into his panned, reverb  + phaser-filled tractor beams, gently transporting us to this precipice/utopia/be-all-end-all-vantage-point.

Swell, natural field recordings and beatific swells of the major-chord variety foggily envelop us. Consonant arpeggios uncompromisingly dial the mood into “hey, there… yes… shit is so… so, so good”… and the myriad layers of seam-free drone? No, they do, not, stop… like, ever.

&while this album could easily be the perfect yoga soundtrack of the millennia (did I mention how expertly timed the phaser is, alongside deep breathing?), I’m more than willing to bet that your blaring it from the bedroom hi-fi will get them neighbors chill/relaxed/mindful enough to wait until at LEAST 9am, before mowing their lawns, from now on. Forever-ever.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

STREET RAT "Penance" C30 (Crass Lips Records)

Well introductions withstanding in the immediance that there is a stack of tapes before me looking all sad eyed puppy like so I'll dive right in. First blindly hooked cassette snagged is the no doubt greatly stood STREET RAT with an album titled PENANCE. Oh boy… all girl band? Yes I am with that. Dudes are lame. They destroy bands everywhere. Also non sequitur but worth mentioning is that I do not believe in commas. They are for fascists. Okay then. Shall we...

First I will describe this tangible delectable sent about a year ago ☻ and set before me now. Also do not worry tapeheads we will/are catching up fast. Mark those words if you have a highlighter and you shall see soon in the hue of neon boldness! Anyway back to applied 'aesthetics'... a word used often enough that it should actually be retired from the pantheon but I digress. The pretentious pontiffs would surely revolt in the temples. Whatever that is supposed to mean. F-O-C-U-S ▬ Ok... 'Norelco' style clear Sony reused case here. Still nice enough to pass most eyes by without ghastly shock if not for the damn branding logo. Sony the schadenfreude demands it's recognition. I personally do not care and actually like when someone uses what is thought unusable by them from balklands. So... very nice then. Praise be given to the DIY hands that craft. Beats the hell out of spending that hot cash on the  thin brittle modern equivalent. Also why pay someone else to have all the dub fun? Rhetorical... like your haircut. Don't dwell on it. Single sided print work on regular paper with a thin weight. Folded proper enough to be a fine J-card substitute. Cut a bit too small and creaseless after many months of hugging the tape to keep it from freezing  to death on those cold lonely nights as it waited for it's moment in the sun shine. Xeroxed artwork with hand scrawled track listings. A nod to the 80's norm. A bit of the buck toothed vampires or: scotch tape was left on the copier and thus making an appearance. Part of the cover now and forever immortalized. No doubt to the jelly belly chagrin of the remaining roll at home in it's dark claustrophobic cave of a drawer. Either way it looks very rad and I love it. All this so far amounts to what is a very knowledgeable lot. They have done their homework and/or had elder siblings or other lo-fi cultists to ape the ways correctly. Those that have served the squirrelly defiant empty pocketed upstart for decades now. My love tail is twitching. Top this with a beautiful near out of place brand spanking new cassette tape with sleek shiny clear shell with black guts and you got yourself a winner here in a nice collectable worthwhile artifact. Nice one! Top it all off with a handwritten STREET RAT logo streaked across the shell that really looked like  it was pad printed by a professional print shop until I got close enough to see the marker pen ink lines. Awe. A few faint traces of the culprits fingerprints left at the scene of this intended crime make it all the more special for me really. Joy... the pure kind. Altogether this is how the DIY is done folks. A strong 'Ⓐ' right out the gates and finally time to let the tape roll out it's audio warbles and get me dancing no doubt...

Droner punk with the  Anarcho lean here. Serious unhappy stuff. Their ethos I imagine at crawl in mind rise asking for my spare coinage. I give them slugs and they pretend not to notice as they play their murky lo-fi rumble of peace dove dub over my love nubs which I call my ears. Don’t get weird people.  I am immediately left wistful for my own mostly bygone youth (F U TIME!) filled days of patchwork black & white s-pants and proud as a baby burp stitched billboard of my fav bands which covered  the vest-ables so as the denim itself lived in darkness. Yep I was one of you and still am if you let me come hang out. ☻ Wow that even gave me a shiver! Scary stuff. Back to my vest! If the bands I carried over my skin would have sent me a quarter each for my daily advertising efforts... well I would probably of bought more patches honestly. Do they owe us a living? A horse is a horse of course. Yep I am immediately enamoured by these modern squat kids being from the same ranking ranks in past angst and scope. Think some ilk with spawned traits of  Bikini Kill if raised by a mother named the  Poison Girls with siblings named Eve and Joy as well as their cousins down the street the Lost Cherrees. With their sireing contributed by some Man Is The Bastard type deadbeat father whom they don’t see much but  are always reminded that they are acting just like when they get too chaotic. Thanks mum and good taste in the gene shopping! I mean that for my sake at least. ♥ I think that is a fair analogy if not a happy home for musical growth. By golly there imprint is even dubbed Crass Lips Records how neato is that. I love nods to the deserving ones of the before times. Not enough of that these days with so much pretentious self puffery and imagined greatness being touted about like they invented the damn noise wheel themselves. Damn stupid dummies. When the awesomely titled song Roaches On The Ceiling begins to play the little scamps themselves are drawn out from memori grave as the nostalgia stutters up. The plot’s soil being my own very first of dingy apartments in sketchy downtown city blocks dissected by living coughing alleyways ubiquitous with the creepers. As song continues some lo-fi noise through aleatoric experiment still using out of tune guitars and thinly skinned drums but drowned under the pedal boards I feel a bit dirty. Kinky stuff here. No I’m joking I just get the heebie jeebies thinking of the roach motel I used to run. (Good band too and from Florida as well) Quite a hissy venture and a stern reluctance on display here to conform to anything approaching pop music. Whoever listens to that lame leg of a genre. I just may rise to racket myself after signing this review off or get high and climb the ladder to sit on the roof and yell at joggers. Yes this is a drowning depressive wallowing of youth frustrations here. Swallowed up and digested in noise and damn it if it doesn’t make me happy.  I am even smiling. My face hurt immediately but I am still happy and enjoyed it all very much. I actually think STREET RAT may be DOA and kaput now sadly but I am not sure. Please let me know if you know in the comments or call me and leave a message if you send me a cell phone. Seems no new stuff has been uploaded for near a year while they waited on my ass to write this way too long of a review. I have problems that would curl your toenails children… ☻ But if they are no more what a pity. They had that spark. Get back at it Rats if you read this... if you have the love make time and hit record again. I will be ready for it. Sounds like I’m done huh? I like to end a few times before I end. We are going to have fun together you will see as you read...

STUPID ANDY FACT: Did you know rats dribble continuous piss as they walk? It's true. I see it more as a convenience or freedom than anything negative though. Ones that call it gross are just jelly dicks. I love rats. They make for great pets but they are heartbreakers be warned. As in the end they are not here very long and gone with your love in tiny little whiskered mouths a twitch before you even get to say all this I just said. (insert sad face) 

So PENANCE by STREET RAT from the Florida (which they can't help being from!) is highly and long windedly recommended from my decrepit disillusioned little heart ten fold and 20 ways into an origami swan raised up from an ugly duckling once sat afloat in a Florida swamp pond marsh pool lagoon puddle everglade lake dreaming of soaring the skyways. Claps your hands stomp your feet praise the Street Rat and buy them some hugs and bug spray unless you’re haphephobic or a Jainist or something. Amen. You are free to go.

-- Andy Tithesis

“Demonic Operators, Hear My Voice”
C32 (self-released)

Baltimore trip metal noiseniks Blood on the Mercy Seat drop a three-track self-released, self-recorded, self-designed tape that positively brims with raw intensity. Utilizing all kinds of terrible instruments (sax, percussion, samples, loops, whatever they can probably get their hands on), BOTMS conjure atmospheres that are almost certain to cause fits of rage, epileptic seizures, religious ecstasy, or prolonged scientific inquiry. Surely intended to raise malevolent spirits, “Demonic Operators, Hear My Voice” is a message broadcast into the darkness, into the black, into the metaphysical realms where such operators, ranging in power and influence, reside. Judging from the tingling response I’m getting in my extremities, along with the sudden appearance of blood spraying from all parts of my body, I feel like these “Demonic Operators” are listening. We should probably be careful from here on out.

Blood on the Mercy Seat


NNN Cook “Crease or Abyss” (Grownup Music)

This guy over here is going to rip a new one out of our own universe
As we sit around the table in prayer delivering the elephant
OUR universe, goddammit 
Do you know what that means for you and me? 
Things may get a little bigger, spread out
Shirts may not need to be folded or tucked in 
We can leave many of our shirts’ arms out across the bed
I stood there drinking tap water from a beer can 
Looking at the shirts’ arms 
This one pointing that way
That one pointing this way
Trying to figure out any one and true direction
But, as I said, I think this guy over here is going to rip a new one out of our own universe
Unless he already did
Looking at every shirt arm – fuck, you’re right, they’re called sleeves not arms – my brain getting tangled up in their different directions like somebody twirled the sign around on some country road. This way to the beach. This way to Eurasia. 
My little Lucerne 
My little luxury sedan
Cell phone blocks the hazards with a plastic platter of festering hoagies in the backseat. God, I wish I had asked them to hold the mayo. Now we’ve got those big old mean flies with teeth biting in the Summer and sleeping in our beds.
It’s been so hot that I almost forgot that those flies were biting my head last night as I stood out front of your house knocking on your door over and over again while you sat around the table in prayer.
And, I will mention, it’s been too long since your security door has been unlocked. Now the lock is rusted. I should’ve known better than to try and use the front door to reach you.

Anyway, open up the skies, why don’t you? Maybe that way the flies will have enough room to breath and go off somewhere else with their horse teeth and stop biting me tonight.   

-- Rick Weaver

“Cosmic Lifeforms” C54
(Circle Box Records)

Cosmic Lifeforms is a familiar science-fiction tale of human/machine hybrids which realize sentience and escape the planet on which they are enslaved. It opens with a beautiful time-lapse montage of baby stars and planets in the playpens of their galaxies. As we focus on one planet in particular, we hear life developing--slowly at first--progressing more rapidly, as the life formed by chance forms its own life by choice. Jenzeits use analog modular synths and an app to narrate this tone tale. There’s a definite narrative here, tension builds and breaks several times before the credits roll on “Twilight Nights”. Drawing from every decade since the 1960s (or perhaps the “beginning” of “time”) Jenzeits channel more artists than I care to name drop. There’s a lot of this cosmic voyager bedroom synth around, and this is streaming and available on the cheap as well. If that’s your jam, check this out.

--Ben Myers

"Music For Piano #7"

The latest effort from Max Eilbacher, titled "Music for Piano #7" and released on the Cleveland-based label Unifactor, is a straightforward yet effective exercise in chance and control. The album is composed of two long-form sound collages, though in a more linear style than is typical. A slew of samples, separated into section according to source, are thrown at the listener and are constantly manipulated by pre-determined software patching.

The name of the release is taken from a piece by Japanese avant-garde composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. According to the Unifactor release page, the score for Ichiyanagiís piece was used as a rubric for this release. "Instead of interpreting the score as a human player, I created a system on the computer that would perform the score. The system decides what sample to play, the position of playback, the order in which the samples are sequenced, the length of each sequence and how the sample's timbre is modulated. These decisions are based entirely on a Max/MSP patch's ëreadingí of Ichiyangi's score."

This play between chance and control has always been interesting to me personally, and Music For Piano #7 provides a solid experiment in this arena. Max/MSP's reading of the Ichiyanagi score simultaneously provides total control and total chance. The results are also a step above similar experiments in computer-based randomization and control, which may seem too cold or alien. Each side of the tape keeps a sense of movement which holds onto the listenerís attention until the end of the tape.

The sample material also provides a nice element of change as the album progresses. The A side is composed entirely of electronic sounds while the B side uses various field recording snippets. And just for fun, each segment is introduced by a voice saying what sample is used in the upcoming part, which makes the whole thing feel like it has episodes. All in all, a good listen and one to check out for fans of experimental music and computer music.

--James Searfoss

“Love Hotel”
(REC Records)

Some surprises reveal themselves to you gradually. Birds of Paradise, the duo of Roy Vucino and Hannah Lewis, move slowly, meticulously, deliberately on their REC Records EP “Love Hotel,” a dark jazz-inflected noir narrative that has much in common with Badalamenti, or at least the “Twin Peaks: The Return” soundtracks. They don’t so much play as conjure, compose as dust the air with their black magic. Along with André the Maji, the couple crafts tragic soundscapes and forlorn hymns, blown by the wind till they’re ghosts of memory.

“Love Hotel” begins with a ten-minute reimagining of Duke Ellington’s “Sentimental Mood,” here cast as a drone piece over which Lewis’s voice floats like a feather on a stream. The drone gradually cracks and falls apart into dissonance, but not before revealing a complete mastery of juxtaposition between beauty and tension. The next three tracks are all less than a minute long, but they all follow a similar experimental path, each angling for attention amid the longer “show” pieces. “Waterdrops” even poses as a mystical folk number, the Lewis-penned song’s brevity only serving to reinforce the confidence the band has in it.

“Autumn Done Come” anchors the tape, the penultimate track (right before the minute-long “Echolalia”), a torch song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nick Cave recording. It’s the closest Birds of Paradise come to traditional songcraft, but still, its unsettled attitude makes it the perfect kind of tune to show up at the Bang Bang Bar during one of “Twin Peaks’s” episode-ending performances. There I go again with a “Twin Peaks” reference, like I’ve got it on my brain or something. David Lynch and Dean Hurley missed an opportunity by not booking these guys, methinks.

Birds of Paradise


“Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light” C19
(Dead Definition)

These cello/electronics pieces by Garrett Johnson (+++) are divorced from the visuals of the dance duet Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light, composed of Britta Joy Peterson (direction/choreography/dance) and Juan Rodriguez (choreography/dance). As such, it is up to us to imagine the movement of the dancers, which, perhaps surprisingly and definitely “spectrally,” are captured by +++ in a squiggling array of active sound.

I highly recommend you read Johnson’s essay on the release’s Bandcamp page, which muses on everything from the role of technology in preserving art to happy/unhappy accidents affecting this very performance. But beyond the connection of these sounds to those (unseen by us tape holders) movements, “Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light” is a sonic treat, a passionate radiation of a time and a moment beyond the confines of the past. Everything is recorded these days, everything is preserved. Perspective is a tornado of possibilities.

Also, this marbled tape is absolutely gorgeous to behold. 


Dead Definition


CRAMMM “Crammm” C6 (self-released)

Fuzzy AmRep-style cassingle from a couple dorks from New York, New York. Some guy named Ryan gets credit for “Levels.” I gotta say, the actual levels for these two soundalike songs are pretty fucked. But what are you gonna do, sometimes there’s not a lot to eat in the kitchen, and you make a sandwich from leftovers and awkward condiments. That’s a metaphor, for you superstars who just scrunched up your faces in confusion.


--Somebody, not Lester Bangs though

“The White Album”
(Crash Symbols)

My colleague at Tabs Out, Scott Scholz, was quoted as saying about I am just a pupil that it’s “freaking my shit right out.” And look, Scott’s OK – he’s a little demented, but we let that slide. And actually, he’s not even that crazy when it comes to “The White Album,” as I’m having an equally hard time figuring out where the hell I even am while I’m listening to this. I am so jolted out of any sort of normality that it feels like I’m fighting an intense uphill battle to even get my footing. Solid ground eludes me. So I slip and I slide down the endless stream of samples and plunderphonics, an endless and frictionless transparent tube through a madhouse of other people’s opinions. It’s freaking my shit right out.

Oh! Scott was right! He was so right!

But this freakout is a wake-up call, a magic whistle to the dome where you’re transported to other people’s lives and are allowed to peek in through the drawn shades. But still, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS, whether it’s the political weirdness of Bush accusing Gorbechev of aggression against the automobile on “Patriot” or the platitudes of a prospective lover to her beau on “ASMR,” with promises of removing duct tape. I’ve found myself laughing out loud through the gritted teeth that I’m grinding to bloody nerve stumps as I’m tied to a chair MK Ultra style with my eyes pried open as I’m listening to “The White Album,” and it’s a virtual certainty that I’m undergoing some severe psychological upheaval. But probably subliminally!

I’m laughing a lot, but there’s a lot of icky stuff to get through here too. Still, it’s all pretty hilarious – I’m absolutely gonna have to come back to this and try to parse out my feelings. I have an inkling that I’m going to discover things about myself that are better left buried under the surface. Like – “Black Ops”? Scary. But “Hillary” is just too funny, with its cherry-picked quotes slathered against a backdrop of generic R&B for maximum madness. Oh, who’s to say what the proper response is, or if there even is a “proper” one. “The White Album” is endlessly relistenable, and you’ll be able to find kernels of truth among the absolute outrageousness of the project. It’s one of the best things I’ve listened to in a while.

One last question: why does Obama sound like Norm MacDonald on “Obama”? Really, that one’s nagging at me.

Still – hilarious. 

Crash Symbols


LA NEVE "American Sounds"
(Don Giovanni Records)

American Sounds sees Joey “Quits” DeFrancesco, guitarist for Sub Pop’s Downtown Boys, making a striking creative divergence into dream pop and dance music, all while cutting a figure in a dress.  La Neve’s deadpan vocal delivery is remarkably fun and the keyboard work and drum beats are deft and complex, filled with deliberate counterpoint hooks. The songwriting is playful yet adamantine in its groovy danceability and the timbres are bright and surprising. There are some serious Italo-disco moments throughout.  Just about every cut on this tape is fresh but my favorite is the title track.

Definitely one for the Psychic Television fans!

-- “Jamband” Josh Brown

(Lily Tapes & Discs)

Cla-ras spends the majority of its nineteen-minute half of this split tape in deep introspection, meditatively allowing the gently played guitar to warm the room with its rich tones. I stole some of that language from Lily Tapes & Discs, because it’s an easy entry point to Cla-ras, the Providence-based musician whose music is here released on cassette for the first time. And indeed, “I Could Taste Iodine in the Drinking Water” feels like it’s right next to you on the couch, warm fire crackling, snow drifting beyond the window, a knowing and comfortable companion. Even as spoken word snippets appear here and there, these adapted from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the spell remains unbroken. Here’s hoping for more from the Cla-ras camp in the near future.

Lung Cycles is no stranger to Lily Tapes & Discs, but these three tracks on side B mark the first output since 2015. As always, the ambient acoustic folk Lung Cycles has perfected sounds like a transmission from a time long past. Sidling into the room and sitting down on the couch next to Cla-ras, Lung Cycles continues the deep winter living room rumination, remaining in quiet reflection throughout the entirety of his while looping in unobtrusive samples and allowing the environment itself to lend accompaniment.

This tape was released in January, so its very existence makes SO MUCH SENSE. The vibe of chilly isolation is its strongest selling point, tied as it is to a distinct time and mood.

Also, the packaging itself just looks gorgeous.


Lung Cycles

Lily Tapes & Discs


FIRE-TOOLZ “Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” (Suite 309)

Haha, we thought Angel Marcloid’s Fire-Toolz project was crazy enough WITHOUT any help, right? Well listen to this!

[holds up phone in direction of stage from which an insane racket emanates; stunned 1955 teenagers watch in silence]

I’ll save you the googling. That was a reference to the film “Back to the Future.”

“Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” is even more outlandish than “Interbeing,” Marcloid’s 2017 release on Bedlam Tapes, which also had a COMPACT DISC release somehow??? Aren’t those just like beer coasters anymore? I don’t fucking buy CDs.

Anyway, “Interbeing Remix” takes “Interbeing” and runs it through a meat grinder. Everything’s a total clusterfuck, with tracks run through an industrial magnet or maybe just stretched to drone length and allowed to sit there until you know it’s doing it on purpose just to spite you. There’s some crazy pop, some gabber, digital hardcore, hardvapor, mutant disco – dude, you name it, it’s on here. Even the repeat songs sound completely different in one remixer’s hands than another.

And oh – some of my faves cut these tracks to ribbons: More Eaze, Nmesh, Tiger Village … eat a butt, Paul Oakenfold!

All of this is to say that “Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” is not just a perfect companion piece to “Interbeing,” it might actually blow “Interbeing” itself out of the water! Well, OK, I won’t get too hasty here – let’s just say they’re perfect companion pieces to each other, and you should spend IRL money (or bitcoins) to add both tapes to your collection.

Notice I didn’t say “CDs.”


Alright, I’m outta here. I’ve got a date with a clock tower and a weather experiment.

Suite 309


CAVE CURSE “Future Dust” (Rare Plant)

Oh my – these eardrums have responded admirably to a wider array of sonic shrapnel than perhaps the average person, but Cave Curse is putting them to the test. Every instrument and element of the band is distorted and redlined to such a degree that I fear a shutdown to complete static mode is imminent. I am overwhelmed.

To my intense delight.

Yeah, it’s easy to draw comparisons to another “Cave” band with a similar darkwave/synthpunk strategy, one with a little more Eisold and a little less Hussy, but the amount of Hussy in Cave Curse is the thing that differentiates it from the average doom-and-gloom goth rock outfit. Or maybe the Hussy’s the blast of animated vigor that sends Cave Curse so far over the top that it’s impossible to avert your attention.

I’m talking of course of Bobby Hussy.

Haven’t heard of him? You will. Especially if you live in Kansas. Or Madison, Wisconsin. He played in The Hussy, Fire Heads, and TIT. Remember that guy?

C’mon, you remember.

Anyway, where Cave Curse was once a solo venture it now stands as a full band, even though this tape was recorded just by Hussy and drummer Will Gunnerson. But dammit, it sounds like a full band! The pace is consistently set at “breakneck,” the attitude is perpetually “disaffected,” and the melody is one “metal on metal” away from giving the sound guy a total nervous breakdown. But that’s all important when you’re pissed and have a van loaded up with vintage electronic gear. You run that gear into the ground to serve your artistic purpose.

And Cave Curse does just that. Beautiful static, beautiful rage – I feel like a kid again, the only indie rocker playing basement hardcore shows. What a time to be alive.

Cave Curse

Rare Plant


STURQEN / vÄäristymä “Atonia” C60 (Nervu)

Unpredictability. Couldn’t have said that better myself, Nervu promo copy, and if there’s one thing that’s unpredictable about me, it’s the use of said promo copy in my own writing. I’m not a fan of crutches, but there I go, using one.

Why isn’t that an issue right now? Because it’s a word I think we can all agree with and enjoy when it comes to “Atonia,” a split of vast electronic proportions that’s as philosophical as it is dangerously flammable. And it’s flammable mainly because of the instability of the sounds within, the volatile elements mixing it up and moving against one another. Not because I’m holding the tape up to an open flame (although I’m doing that too).

It’s philosophical because I always dive down that wormhole when a release moves my body and consciousness beyond the confines of this gangrenous trash planet.

Sturqen, a duo from Portugal (down old South America way), and vÄäristymä, Finnish brothers whose name I have not once typed out myself in this review (hallelujah copy/paste!), are of like mind, and the forces they join on this shared release are complimentary in their tonal and vibrational power. Sturqen’s side features two fifteen-minute tracks, “Metrologia Part I” and “Part II,” and throughout the duration you’re treated to ebbs and flows of mechanical influence, pulses and tones carrying messages in code. Is your brain able to crack it? Can it receive the information? It won’t if THAT’S your attitude there, mister. I see you with your head on your desk. Yeah, this is a classroom now. I’m teaching. 

If you think Sturqen requires an advanced degree in physics to figure out, wait’ll you get a load of VÄäristymä. Much more abstract and demanding undivided attention (well, Sturqen demands your attention pretty undividedly too), vÄäristymä’s side hops the rails of linearity and spirals off into some kind of unreality that mirrors this one but skips around the timeline a bit and creates feedback loops for maximum disorientation. Try to focus on the melodic and tonal structures. Try to capture the sense in the rhythmic skips. Try to understand why time is not moving correctly and things are happening again and already and before and during and later.

Unpredictable, flammable, electronic, able to warp the very fabric of space and time… doesn’t “Atonia” sound like something you want in your speakers, like right this second?





"Slack Babbath Plays Peep Durple"
(Orb Tape)

I am not sure if I am being trolled or not. This release might qualify as the most experimental album ever.

So theres no Black Sabbath or Deep Purple sound at all. I dont even think there are any instruments.
There is definitely someone fucking with switches in a room and looping random things.

I was expecting something more akin to the Butthole Surfers, just based off of cover art. This album sits right past where art diverges from music. It is fully art. Is there anyone out there that would like this, probably not.

There are plenty of people out there who like this kind of music. 
-- editor

Orb Tapes is based out Pensylvania, so there's some weird stuff going on in my backyard. Cassette release features color J cards with pad printed yellow colored cassette.

-- Chuck

“Hypothetical Love”
(Tank Beach Tapes)

Why is it that Banzai Cliff makes SO MUCH sense? I mean, seriously, it’s easy for me to turn off a tape, especially one based somehow in rock or pop idioms, without listening to it much, getting the gist in the first few minutes, skipping ahead, and writing a generic review about how rock music sucks but this one’s sort of OK. (Now you know the secret to my reviewing prolificacy.) But I’ve not only made it through “Hypothetical Love,” I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. I’m going to have to grab a digital version so I can play it in the car and everybody can hear it. (I’m an adult – there’s no tape player in my car.)

Speaking of tape players in cars, the reason “Hypothetical Love” has made such an impact on me is because it’s a total throwback to when I was a teenager, cruising through high school with hormones blasting out the wazoo (uh, ew), driving to and from school with whatever tape I happened to be adoring at the time blaring from the open windows. And yeah, we’re talking the 1990s, so it was most likely Pavement or Superchunk or something; if I was riding in Banzai Cliff’s car, it would’ve been the Cure, or the Smiths, or Psychedelic Furs, or Echo and the Bunnymen, or any number of excellent “First Wave” acts I can now listen to anytime I want on Sirius, because, again, adult.

But Banzai Cliff is of the moment, and their throwback style is reminiscent of another band I became obsessed with several years ago, Coolrunnings. Like that Knoxville band, Banzai Cliff crafts nakedly emotive and taut pop/new wave/alternative hits with minimal personnel and equipment. BC, the duo of Nicky Koch and David Ulrich, also clearly are tuned in to great 1980s coming-of-age movies of the John Hughes, etc., variety, even going so far as to reference “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” on “There’s Something Afoot” (and of course you add “at the Circle K” to finish the quote, because you’re smart, just like me). Coolrunnings had “San Dimas Oasis,” so maybe there’s another point of connection.

But I think what sold me on Banzai Cliff came from this line on “Danielle”: “I lost my virginity listening to Modest Mouse.” Such an eighties line, but such a 1996 reference! (Although current-iteration Modest Mouse can take along walk off a short dock, if you get my drift.) High school senior me would have eaten this up if it were twenty years older, and the reference coupled with the song’s vibe and sound has me wondering if some sort of time-folding event is occurring as I listen. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think Banzai Cliff just knows me somehow, knows me too well, because they did the same stuff and liked the same movies as me. Maybe it’s nothing more complicated than kindred spirits getting what the others are up to.

Banzai Cliff

Tank Beach Tapes


DAS “Feinted Haunts” (Close/Far)

Look DAS, I get it. I, too, was a freaky “X-Files” fan, which I’m assuming you are, because nobody who’s not an “X-Files” fan says this about their music:

“‘Feinted Haunts’ is about the line between fascination and fixation where memories can become haunted and how grappling with them can be as perplexing and disturbing as the deepest desire to witness the supernatural.”

I have a deep, deep desire to witness the supernatural. In fact, I may already have. I’ve seen UFOs (as in unidentified flying objects – who’s to say whether they were “alien” or “supernatural” or whatever). Really. I’ve seen a demon manifest itself. Really. I’ve come across gnomes in the deep, dark Bavarian forest. Really.

But what DAS gets, what isn’t necessarily obvious when you think about it, is the VIBE, the mood, the intense propulsion of a narrative thread and of excitement. Channeling John Carpenter, channeling other composers who think like John Carpenter, DAS plugs in to the darkness, the night terrors, the weird black shadows where stuff lurks that you don’t really want to encounter.

Oh, but you really want to encounter it. That’s the point.

Then “Feinted Haunts” is for you. It will accompany you on all your late-night ghost/alien/demon/oddity-hunting adventures. It will soundtrack your games of D&D. It will accompany you on your walk home from Bob’s apartment. It will be there when you need the fortitude to whip out your phone’s camera and record whatever the hell it is that’s in the alley over there. And it will do it gladly, and without fear. Because what’s life if you can’t impose a little mood music on your dangerous situations now and then?

Boring, that’s what. Even if you die in the process.

DAS (whose Bandcamp link is “Feinted Haunts”? I’m confused)



NEONDEMON “Six Songs” (Death Boutique)

It’s spelled backwards on the tape, how is it pronounced? Nowednoen? No, it’s NEONDEMON from a vanity micro-label based in Sydney, Australia. A fitting name for the artist of this stimulating collection titled Six Songs. These are some synth heavy songs that show NEONDEMON’s overview from 2012 to 2016.

It starts off with a wobbly bassline over drum machine clicks. Throughout the first track, “Pickman’s Mephitic Models”, different grooves and synths introduce themselves before leaving suddenly while leaving the main theme underlying it all. This album stays pretty consistent with a driving rhythm, low growling bass and wet synth bells repeating motifs throughout the tape. The third track, “Batlüng ‎Å” has a hyper-speed square wave lead line that suddenly throws you into a flute playing softly over bird chirping around the one minute mark, an unexpected but welcomed break from the noise.

You can really see NEONDEMON’s progression as an artist as you listen to their Six Songs. There is an interesting array of soundscapes for what this project is: fast grooves, emotional drawn out swells, and a somewhat ominous conclusion to wrap it all up. The last track on this tape is titled “The Pink City” which is about homage to travels to the city of Jaipur, in India. It concludes the album when sounds we have not heard enter in the form of sitars and the buzz of flies.

Consequently, Six Songs is a world of its own. Each song seems to have a message that I cannot decipher on this mysterious, pink colored tape with a man in a white mask on the cover.

-- Zack Moncrieff

SLUSH "Frog Water" (Personal Militia)

Slush is a Garage Rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Their, as far as I can tell, debut album; Frog Water combines several styles like punk, hardcore, and alternative rock.

From the loud and in your face opening track 'Your Place' to the sludge track 'Or'. This album explores everything that is great about indie rock.

'Predator' sounds like it could be an MGMT song. Even with all the different genres the album combines, it doesn't stray all over the musical map, it is mostly a punk rock album.

Features pad printed green colored cassette, full color J card.
Best tracks: Predator, Victim

--Chuck Wolfe