ILIA BELORUKOV & VASCO TRILLA “Laniakea” C35 (Astral Spirits)

Ilia Belorukov plays alto sax and fluteophone as well as dabbling in electronics, and Vasco Trilla is the percussioso, a word I made up. Hey, if Belorukov can make up words like “fluteophone,” so can I! (I’m … kidding. I hope you know.)

Laniakea was recorded in Barcelona at Trilla’s studio, and if you’ve got all that time to mess around and work out ideas and stuff, why not release it out into the world? Oh, the tape was recorded on one day, July 16, 2017? Well, I’ll be – instead of tinkering forever and getting everything exactly right, looks like Belorukov and Trilla improv’d this bad boy and got the heck out of the studio. Which makes me wonder – was this some sort of guerilla session where the duo broke into a local cable access station and used their gear in the dead of night before absconding with the fruit of their labor?

Not even a little bit. That I know of.

Laniakea is a freakishly tense ambient(ish) soundtrack to … I don’t know! Something freaky and tense, OK? My imagination can’t be firing on all cylinders all the time. And as a freaky and intense soundtrack, it succeeds in making me feel the very marrow in my bones as the tape progresses. It’s harrowing, foreign, and uncomfortable, and it’s also thrilling and vibrant in baffling and disturbing ways. Is that enough to spur you to try this out for yourself? You should – if you have the GUTS.

I don’t mean to be rude, though. I just think you should challenge yourself when you have the opportunity, try something new and interesting that you haven’t before. It’s a path to self-improvement.


“Antiquated Future Records: The First Seven Years” C72
(Antiquated Future)

Label retrospectives can be pretty bittersweet. For example, did you know that Rosie Steffy* was in a band called Upside Drown?! I had never even known the band existed before popping this tape in and hearing RS’s distinctively gorgeous voice melding ridiculously perfect along with Colleen Johnson’s…and I know I can’t know like 3% of all the great stuff going on in the Bay Area, but GODDAMN would I have LOVED to see that! &I may be overgeneralizing a bit here but I’d wager to say that there are a lot of bands on here that you West Coasters didn’t know about either and probably wish you’d seen while they were still kicking ass…and were still slinging tapes at said shows!

Antiquated Future have not only been around for SEVEN YEARS NOW, but the tapes they send in for review are constantly reminding me that I actually don’t hate lo-fi indie/folk, because pretty much every release they’ve put out has found me either pleasantly surprised or outright hooked and/or floored. If you’re into quirky bedroom folk or psychedelic-indie-singersongwritery-wierdnesses and are unfamiliar with AF, this’ll make excellent homework for ya…& if you’ve been a long time fan as I have, it’ll act as a nostalgic montage of left-field pop goodness for your Sunday afternoon pen palling & journaling for sure.

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*Aimless Never Miss, Tall Grass, La Dee Da, and a ridiculous amount of other great bands from here (SF-ish)

RED BOILING SPRINGS “Paternal II” C20 (Nailbat Tapes)

We’ve been here before. Matthew Sullivan’s Red Boiling Springs project tackled the difficulties of parenthood on the first “Paternal,” but he certainly wasn’t done, and who can blame him? The first “Paternal” focused on the events surrounding the birth of his daughter, and contained samples of in utero sounds. “Paternal II” follows the events of the birth of his son two years later, which also included a medical emergency. The Sullivans were clearly unlucky.

But it’s so great to hear these sounds, these heartbeats, the field recordings of a living child. Of course, this being a Red Boiling Springs tape and all, those sounds get processed until they’re heaving fog banks of intense noise and static, mirroring the angst of the whole process. And honestly, why would you do anything differently? It worked the first time, let’s try it again. The Sullivan kids will each have an incredible keepsake documenting their life before birth.


“Yemas” C21
(Antiquated Future)

With calculated stagger and lean might, PDX’s Indira Valey is a true Drunken Master* in vocal acrobatics, her playfully unassuming baritone delivery but a red herring of a focal point, casting abstract symbols down below to get colored in, obfuscated, and all but obliterated under the ensuing tidal wave of her enchantingly chanting Fursaxan/Sacred Harp-ian choirs, bells, tribal rhythms, and barebones electric guitar accents all frolicking in a swirling hertz-o-sphere of crystalline treble.

Due to the freakish dynamics, this album is wildly different depending on the volume it’s played at and I can’t even recommend low, medium, or high** right now; you gotta explore that for yourself. 

I already can’t wait for the next release!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*see Jackie Chan's weirdest/possibly greatest kung fu mastery ever!
**they’re all great!

KOMESHI TRIO “The Master Speaks Thrice” C38 (Astral Spirits)

Who is the master? If you’ve watched any number of thrillers with cults in them, the master always seems to be someone malevolent and cunning, able to pull the strings of a bunch of puppet followers to realize his nefarious dreams. If the master speaks, you listen with rapt attention. If the master speaks a second time, you listen but become infinitely more terrified. If The Master Speaks Thrice


Komeshi Trio is going to take this one for the team and find out just what happens when the master speaks that third time, what kind of hell will rain down upon his followers and/or his enemies. Maybe everyone. Everyone is probably the master’s enemy if the master has to hide in the shadows to consolidate his power until he accumulates enough to emerge and make his move. (Oh! The master in all these scenarios really comes across as Voldemort, doesn’t he?)

Komeshi Trio is Peter Kolovos on guitar, Patrick Shiroishi on saxophone, and Noel Meek on electronics and tapes. The two improvised pieces that fill one side of a tape each were recorded over the last couple years and bear the hallmarks of occult practice. “The Books of My Numberless Dreams” is a wordlessly incanted library of miasmic pestilence, a slow enveloping of the listener by dark forces that leaves one a husk once the music has done its work. Jags of each player’s instrument lash out at opportune moments and pierce the dread, adding to, yep, the dread. It’s dangerous listening to it!

“One Note for the Dervish” tricks you at first into thinking it may stretch euphoniously into hymnodic rhapsody, but that spell is broken quickly as the electronics short-circuit and set the stage for an apocalyptic showdown. This time, around 4:15 in, hints of the “Imperial March” from Star Wars hover at the periphery, and Kolovos turns his guitar menacingly toward his two improv-mates, letting it billow with menace. Shiroishi and Meek respond to the challenge, but the stage is set for the rest of the track: we’re in for an intense tug-of-war as the players battle each other for supremacy.

The Master Speaks Thrice, and war and death are among you. Or, if not war and death, then at least mild annoyance. But the soundtrack’s top notch no matter what!


“Plays the Vitamin B12” C42
(Strategic Tape Reserve)

Abstract reads: “Former cult krauter reimagines remixed electrified notes of long-time co-contributor/conspirator; striking manifesto ensues.” 

The facts check themselves. Nicholas Langley is guilty. Of bringing a nuanced scoche of avant-electronic/funk to the otherwise unwieldy vibes of UK underground stalwarts, The Vitamin B12. This (already sold out) release showcases (yet) another alternate universe where Nicholas Langley travels back in time to New Years Day, 1990, armed with nothing but all of his life lessons learned as of 2019 about just how godfuckingdamnweird he could rearrange some already godfuckingdamnweird tunes, seeking out Alasdair Willis’s (future) take on what should become some seriously heady jamz. 

NL’s own take on the matter is a magical mix of brisk & disorienting with an underlying groove that’ll sneak up on ya while you’re trying to make heads or tails of just which layers are leading which other ones along. Pretty stellar stuff. Get lost in the Bandcamp link below!

—Jacob An Kittenplan

“The Flowing Burial Ground” C21
(Midwest Action)

Eric Wallgren’s sophomore release holds the same School of Lou Reed vocal flavor as his previously Delicious* album did last year, but on this one, he trades in the loosey-goosey bedroom psychedelia for a more powerful GBV/Magnetic Fields feel, employing some driving, captivating drum machine beats and beatifically cheesy preset tones instead. The result is an infectiously charming string of indie earworms all crammed into 1/3rd of an hour’s time. Super fun! Pretty much anybody should be able to get behind “The Sinking of Claude Dillinger” ballad, and I strongly suggest you give yourself the opportunity to file in!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*that album was also pretty great. Just sayin’!

E. WHATEVSKI “Cult Classics” (Hand’Solo Records)

Whatevski’s got a cult, hey. We are his acolytes. We comprise his followers, his harem. Whatevski Whatevski says, whatevski we does. Whatevski drops a mixtape, dedicated to his cult, and we listen to it, enraptured. Dedicated to his cult? It’s called Cult Classics, homie – let that be a lesson to you.

“Assembled deep within the caves of Whatevski’s secret compound,” Cult Classics brings together a metric ton of underground hip hop talent that’s about to blow the doors off whatever clubs Toronto’s even got left. Hand’Solo’s headquarters just became the number-one target for whatever government organizations are tasked with monitoring the Venn diagram where “cult” and “dope rhymes” meet ceremoniously in the middle. We’d regale you with the specifics of the reports, but they’ve all been redacted.

So redact this: Cult Classics is a nasty slab of wickedness produced to perfection by crate-digging madmen and maestros. Each track is a master class in head-noddery, an upraised middle finger to décor, and a time bomb of seething wordplay. No matter what affiliations we hold coming into Cult Classics, we will leave a fully-fledged member of this distinct association. What we choose to do with that membership is on us – I say we flaunt the fuck out of it.