Thursday, November 27, 2008

NURTURE ABUSE "Carcass Parade" (Truculent)

I got this tape from Chris in Providence during a tour in 2007. It is a harsh noise tape, but coming at it from the approach of somebody who is way down with noisecore. Chris is one of the guys from Suffering Bastard btw, check them out for sure... Anyway, Nurture Abuse is bleak and wrenching, a string of many short feedback / distortion / vocal pieces on a nicely presented (this is from Truculent after all) c10 tape. Imagery and titling is very consistant and what you would expect from the project's name. It's not a common situation these days to hear a harsh noise tape that screams that its roots are in punk and grindcore, versus roots in just dicking around with random gear for no reason besides being stoned, so I was happy to listen to this one a number of times. I stop listening to it once I start to feel too much like the guy who is about to have his head chopped off on the photo inside the sleeve. I feel like when the time comes for my head to get cut off I would like to be out doing something besides typing with one finger about a tape for a webzine. Otherwise it's like the guy in Jurassic Park who got eaten by the dinosaur when he was on the toilet, you know? Anyway, look up Nurture Abuse, this tape if it is still available, and related bands such as Suffering Bastard! www.truculentrecordings.net ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

ABRADE / BAKA YARO / NUCLEAR DAWN / SMG 4-way split (Noise Infection Music #2)

"A FUCKING DESTRUCTION OF MELODIC WIMPS!!!" (insert xerox photo of the Pope) "THIS TAPE WILL SMASH YOUR WEAK EARS!!!" ...hell yeah, it might not be as "noise" as it claims, like any grindcore and punk slogans as usual, but that's part of the fun and tradition I guess, to seem wild and totally out of control! This tape is really fun and a firm disciple of DIY's unconditional friend. "ABSOLUTELY NO COPYRIGHTS: COPY THIS TAPE NOW!!" ...tape trading in the midst of 21st century mp3 oceans, such a strange and confusing sentiment, but somehow it maintains a soft spot in my heart, even though tapes = more garbage made/on Earth, and mp3's = not physical clutter... ANYWAY... ABRADE = intense high-energy grindcore from Chicago. They're comparable to bands like Magrudergrind and I'd recommend grabbing anything by Abrade you can find if you really love current grindcore that is not screamo in disguise. Hentai Lacerator played with them in Chi on Saint Patrick's day 2007 in a basement and it was an awesome time, very youthful and for-the-moment, the spirit of true hxc. BAKA YARO = fast intense crusty hardcore from Slovenia!!! Fucking hell, Dylan who does these tapes gets people from all over. He traded me this other noisecore tape of a band from Romania! Can't recall the name at the moment... Baka Yaro is high energy music with statements like "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" audible in between. Call me PC, but that seems like a fucking good thing to say through music or anything else!!! NUCLEAR DAWN = I love Nuclear Dawn. Brutally awesome animal rights themed noisy grindcore duo from Columbus Ohio, this time with songs like "Incarcerated By Employment", "Fuck Celebrities", and "AS IF COMPASSION WERE A LAUGHABLE QUALITY TO HAVE" - if you love fun and awesome grindcore, seriously look these guys up. If you are into music that's about radical ideas, especially anything similar to those of the A.L.F. - this is a band to get down with. SMG = The band is from Malaysia! They play super fast and muddy hxc/grind, totally desperate and wrenching, but with periodic breakdowns to string everything together. I'd like to find more from SMG sometime. I got this tape in 2007 from Dylan, but I think his contact has changed since then. I guess he is living in Spain right now! Try him at dylantaylorlehman@hotmail.com and definitely look up these bands!!! ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

NUCLEAR DAWN / WARHEL / VOMITROCITY / DISMAL "SUBURBICIDE" (Punched In The Throat Records #9)

FUCK YEAH! I think I got this 4-way split tape back in 2006 at some point? In Columbus Ohio, where I was living at the time... Nuclear Dawn = awesome (seriously awesome!) animals rights themed brutally noisy grindcore duo from Columbus, guitar / drums / both screaming and grunting... I adore the style they play and even how it is recorded, totally lo-fi but you can hear everything really well. I love Nuclear Dawn. Look them up!!! Warhel = totally brutal crusty metal, whom I think live in a remote farm area of West Virginia(??) Songs themed around the atrocity of war, the atrocity of mainstream political systems, and a healthy level of misanthropy, maybe tied to Green Anarchism, I'm not totally sure and would wanna look them up further to avoid speculation... Dismal = rugged crusty hardcore from Columbus, more apocalyptic shit it seems. I think this band has/had(??) people from stuff like Killed in Action in it... Dismal is way D-beat if you are into that sorta thing. I get frustrated when bands choose that specific style and never stray from it though, it seems insecure / stale, but the stuff on this tape is still strong and exciting. Vomitrocity = gross and ridiculous goregrind from Columbus, with songs that are more about jokes and fun stuff I associate with the Cbus hardcore scene I saw earlier this decade when I lived over there. Vomitrocity was/is(??) people from bands like Killed In Action and Dylan who went on to Nuclear Dawn. Dylan did this tape, and I think his contact has changed since it was released. Try him at dylantaylorlehman@hotmail.com and search for these bands on MY space (so sad) or elsewhere. "IMMUNE TO MELODY"~"GRIND FOR LIFE!!!" ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

THE BREAKS (2004 demo)

Fuck yeah, talking about tapes that have cool memories attached... I got this from The Breaks at the beginning of my first Realicide tour, solo, the Summer of 2004 - at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center in Saint Louis (fuck yeah this is from a while back, before Joe and those dudes stopped coming to Lemp...) show with Voetsek and some others... They were a really fun and exciting oldschool hardcore band: fast, catchy, youth angst, and a little blood-letting... The demo is 4 songs and a crudely drawn cover of a kid whose brainseems to be exploding outta his ears. This band hasn't existed in a long time, I think some of those guys ended up in Chicago, but if you ever see something by 'em and enjoy traditional hxc, check it out. Joe Sulier, the singer of Breaks, later went on to form the Get Born! beat-inspired punk petry series in STL and on tours, involving Jim Swill from Realicide. ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

KATCHMARE + ANTLER PISS "AUTOMATIC WEDDING" (Scissor Death)

This tape was mailed to Cassette Gods with my name on it. I was recruited into CG for the purpose of reviewing tapes dealing in all variations of hardcore punk and electronic, not noise. This tape is very much a noise tape, in just about every way, in every vague and irrelevent way. I don't really listen to a lot of noise recordings, especially on cassettes, unless they are specifically driven by some form of radical or sociopolitical ideas or motivations. This element needs to be readily evident, cos I can't fucking read minds. With no notes or explaination or absolutely anything to convince me this is not just more SOUND FOR SOUND'S SAKE or worse yet the complete tsunami of ACCIDENTAL NIHILISM that carries the noise scene in the US and elsewhere, combined with any knowledge whatsoever of my personal politics regarding the functions of music and bands which are readily noticable in most of what I involve myself with, why would I be somebody who'd want to review this particular tape? There are other writers for CG that surely feel much less critical and downright combative as me about the popular noise scene, I just don't understand why I was chosen as the target reviewer. Maybe it was just another case of somebody seeing my name and making assumptions, I have no clue, but I do not usually write reviews of ANYTHING, let alone tapes, nor do I seek or read reviews at least 360 days a year I'd say, and I am on here to review variations of hardcore music. The term "hardcore" is sooo fucking loose too, I mean it can mean hundreds of things, but this tape not connected to hardcore by anything I've been brought aware of. I am not gonna get into my opinion of it as a noise tape on here, it's not why I'm writing and trust me you wouldn't wanna hear my thoughts on it anyhow. Please please please though feel free to send your hardcore, grindcore, noisecore, speedcore, etc. not-just-made-up-genre-names-as-a-joke tapes to CG with my name on it and I will talk about your tape! And this is not a rant saying you should not send noise to CG, cos I'm pretty sure you're supposed to, just please don't put my name on it cos it's not why I'm writing for CG (I said it yet again, sorry) - You don't wanna hear my opinion of the average noise tape cos I will not talk about if it sounded good, I will talk about if it taught me jackshit or not about anything. Oh yeah, for this tape, though I kinda didn't review it, www.scissordeath.com ~ Robert Inhuman, October 2008

PENIS GEYSER (3rd tape, 2007?)

Fucking hell, back again - Columbus Ohio true noisecore filth with a 3rd demo tape, from later 2007? or is this into '08?! Either way you'll be pissed if you hear it. This 3rd Penis Geyser tape offers TWICE as much as the previous one, 6 MINUTES! And it is actually a bit more to work with, sounding like it could be edited together from various recordings over a period of time, though each still only a couple seconds long of course. For fans of Gerogerigegege, Seven Minutes of Nausea, Gore Beyond Necropsy, Fear of God on a really off-day... Penis Geyser is still that ritual shame of rock music, corroding away the dignity of anyone it encounters! Tape comes in a "cassingle" style paper wrap-around adorned with a drawing of Charlie Manson with a giant cock surging out of his mouth like some kinda play on the alien from that movie, Alien. ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

PENIS GEYSER (2nd tape, 2007)

"TOTAL DESTRUCTION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION" - "MUSIC IS FOR NO ONE" --- This is the 2nd tape release of Columbus Ohio's completely unreasonable noisecore band, Penis Geyser, recorded in 2007. It's a little more to work with that the one the year before, this time filling a whole 3 minutes on one side of a c6! Yeah, what an epic, huh? The recording is basically indecipherable harsh noise, straying from the completely ADD start/stop/repeat format of the earlier tape. There are three members credited (including Mikeal of the Smash Music noisecore zine!!!) for various percussion and vocal work, but it is seemingly inaudible... My favorite thing about this tape is its look - all black xerox with sparse white lettering inside a black envelope, tape's label is black print on a black label... Reminds me of the Fields Of Blood CD done on the Outfall Channel label in Dayton: ALL BLACK. There is a cool xerox booklet with a series of images of a woman altered in different ways via photocopy machine work, which I'm still/forever a sucker for. The look is totally "harsh noise", straight-faced and morbid, despite the name of the band I mean. ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

PENIS GEYSER "a tribute to the smiths"

The first demo from Columbus Ohio TRUE noisecore creeps, Penis Geyser. If you enjoy music you will most likely hate that this tape even exists!!! It is actually a longer cassette but there is only 1 minute of audio on it. To make things more excruciating and confusing, the recording makes most other NOISECORE sound hi-fi and complex! It makes Seven Minutes of Nausea sound like Dream Theatre! The tracklist consists of an "intro." followed by "songs 1-26", each "song" determined by a nanosecond passing thought among the band during the course of the 1 minute recording that is more count-offs than anything else! I fucking love the classic prank with count-offs, a ritual of many noisecore bands such as Ptao and my ultimately beloved Final Exit! This tape will really piss you off, unless you love noisecore, in which case it will briefly remind you of that and then be over. It's from 2006 and I think the contact address on the sleeve is out-dated. ~ Robert Inhuman 11/27/08

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ROBEDOOR / HUSERE GRAV split c45 (Not Not Fun)

This split is a great pairing of sides from the workhorse Robedoor and Husere Grav who i am hearing here for the first time. The cover depicts some sort of southeast asian ceremony happening that looks like a totally fugged up game of reverse-duck duck goose with a crowd of people reaching out to a circling figure who is all dressed up. You know, you can tell a lot by first impressions, love at first sight or don't judge a book by the cover, whatever, either way i was checking it out as i popped it in thinking "either an incense party" or "an appropriating tribal jam?"

Answer is neither, on both accounts/ sides, ESPECIALLY the husere grav side which about the only southeast asian resemblance it has is that, uh it makes you feel like "you ain't at home" (unless you're reading this from malaysia). The side is a pretty tension oriented (pun!) affair with suggestions of rhythm only ever barely creeping into the audible. It has a super bunker vibe to it, like you've been tunneling and have a scalp covered in dust and musk, possibly post-air raid. lots of smokey murk mixing with yr essential air causing you to get red-eyed and half delirious.

The Robedoor side (actually Side A)has a different 'tude invoked, while mainting an earthy feel, the tape starts a lot lighter creating a balcony of guitar and vocals, maybe there's some light coming through, but i wouldn't call it a hopeful scene if yr the lost traveler, because this stuff is definitely loaded with a sense of foreboding. Then the trees quake, the earth shakes and the dirt separates and yr stuck staring at a rumbling, thudding minimal drum scape and some super muddied up guitar. Definitely a bad sign for yr khakis. the sounds only get thicker and thicker and thicker and thicker till yr eventually totally covered in vines, lips swollen, mucus filling yr mouth and the guitar and drums just build and build becoming heavier and more violent. tape ends with some delayed out / processed vocals (i think) and yr total decomposition. maybe if yr lucky there'll be a reverse-duck duck goose ceremony where you just got ate the eff up by the jungle jams.

recommended for nights alone, camping trips or for ruining the good vibes at the holidays. great stuff.

full color cover, tape labels in an edition of 150.

out of stock at the label: http://www.notnotfun.com
some available at DNT distro: htt://www.dntrecords.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Soup Purse / Argumentix split "True Guru Electronics" c28 (Below PDX)

When i saw the title of this tape "true guru electronics" i didn't know if these dudes were playing off the current wave of interest in 'new age' culture and music, proclaiming themselves the true gurus of electronics or just liked the way they sounded together (a great pairing of words if you ask me.)

well, after listening, i still can't tell what the exact intentions were of the artists, the Argumentix side does have a nice "tone therapy" vibe to some of it, though it sounds like a lot of the sounds are made up of tapes being eaten or distorted, stuff being cut up played backwards and washing out yr earhole, which is fine by me! a short side at 14 minutes, but a nice divergence from the more beat oriented stuff he's been doing lately.

the soup purse side is a bit of a mystery and not necessarily in a good way. don't want to harsh on anything here, but what starts as a nice pile up of voices, creating a healthy murk of vocal sounds and curdling electronics turns into samples about pissing on people and talking faux-whitehouse style vocals? can't really tell if it's a joke or serious or what and that being said it's hard to determine what to do with it. I know james (below pdx head honcho) has a real sense of humor and isn't afraid to introduce it to his music/label, and kudos for it, but this side just missed the mark and undercut what maybe was serious music? yoinks...

full color cover of some blue jumpsuit lady bowing before a disgusting 'guru' looking dude with a extended unicorn turd for a walking stick. red tapes with black and white labels, still available from the label:

http://www.belowpdx.com

WEIRDING MODULE / ARNAU SALA split c40 (senseless empire / ozono kids)

These two dudes have been on a roll in my "book" lately, Weirding Module runs the senseless empire label which released that Canopic Lidz tape that awkwardly rules, Arnau runs the Ozono Kids label that has been putting out awesome Angeldust, M Ax Noi Mach Records and running the barcelona noise scene. It's no that their recorded output, as you'd guess, is up to par.

The Weirding Module side is a continuation of the territory that he's been digging through, mucking up and re-wiring. Low repetitive bass lines loop and roll on top of each other like so many worms in a can, burbling and boiling in clean tones that are soo deep you almost lose a filling. This dream team is followed by a floor cleaner gleam on a super sharp drum machine loop that really lacks the warmth and presence of a synth, but it's a short walk alone as the beat carries on the whole side of the tape tormented, threatened and eventually subsumed by a wave of electronics and synths that whip and whirl about finally enveloping the beat as part of it's mermaid vomit sea algae jam, harsh and patient enough to soften glass.

Arnau's side is more a dentistry nightmare to the outerspace grease of the WM side. Thick electronic layering feels like a fuggin sonic weapon, all the while remaining warm. This side is also distinct from WM's with the presence of vocals. A lot of times, voices can be a hard match for the limitlessness of "noise" and as a result, at it's worst, can un-do all the hard work an artist has done to create something interesting, by grounding it, making it totally tangible and often times just a background to the voice. In the best case scenario, as is close here, the voice and the noise become the good cop/bad cop, or really, the bad cop / bad cop with the antagonism of the voice only becoming more palpable because of the shrill, skittish electronics teetering above you. This is well played out here especially at points where Arnau is practically whispering, like a stalker in the closet. Throw in some drum machines, gasping electronic and shortwave interference and you've got yrself a hot tape!

comes in real nice two color silkscreen on black paper, numbered to 100,
black tapes.

still available from the label:
http://www.senselessempire.com

EMERALDS & AARON DILLOWAY "Under Pressure" c60 (Hanson)

The work of Aaron Dilloway should be no mystery to the readers of these pages, label head at the venerable Hanson Records he has been a constant source of releases new, old and above all mysterious. His prodigious output as a solo artist, in collaborations and work with Wolf Eyes makes it hard not to run into his sonic incantations and for that you, listener, are better off. Here we have dilloway running alongside, instead of head-on, with Emeralds, an equally charged outfit, who have been here to western mass playing live more times than most local bands in the last 3 or so years. Again, for that, we're all the better.

The tape seems to walk between the worlds i imagine both of these artists inhabiting though i doesn't feel like their doing this out of a lack of shared space or goals, it's two languages that meet without needing to be translated to understand each other. The emeralds vibes are often high and in front, the repetitive warmth of analog synth lines (can't tell if they're loops or not) carried in on a bed of fog and haze. There's a really melodic, almost nostalgic/evocative tone the synths bring that allow the bed of noises to speak much more than usual. A bit of what sounds like tape fudgery has a real garbled feel that is a well timed switch out of the swelling, moody synth-mospheres. These hold solid and work as a nice contrast to the role-reversal moments that are a lot more dense and give the sensation of drowning in the haze feeling light disappear and yr eardrums burst, a nice second side to the out of body ether tones of the first side.

A solid, thoughtful take.

black and white cover, white tape. Still available from the label.
http://www.hansonrecords.net

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WARMER MILKS "Slave to Suicide" c32 (Animal Disguise)

Man, you know sometimes you get the feeling "i've been here before" and you search a totally alien scenery for some suggestion of familiarity; or when you're talking to someone and you can't remember how (or if) you know them and you stare at their face, searching every detail for a feature you can recall, anything, any trait that will suggest something- open up a doorway. This tape feels like a long string of those, low rumbles that extend for a long time, sounding like a place i used to visit in brooklyn right by the expressway with the hypnotic thudding of trucks passing over a bump, over and over and over while you're half asleep. some surface being scratched, a barrel knocked over by the wind rolling back and forth on the opposing handles all night. The type of scene or setting a director would use to suggest a little kid with straight hair and cold blue eyes is evil or has super powers. this whole tape is like that with varying degrees of minimal flittering and chirping mixed with a couple of melodic pieces (my favorite at the end of the first side gets cut off!) and even a weird vocal/percussion track that is a real stand out, but again, gets cut off...

black and white "old school" style cover, looks like it would be a harsh noise tape from the late 80's, silhouette of a church, all caps lettering, really belies the content of the tape in some way, but in other ways, you know, an Omen / Argento type of feel, it doesn't. black tape with letter markings, "limited edition" still available from the label:

http://www.animaldisguise.com

GOD WILLING "Different and Worse" c15 (Monorail Trespassing)

If you haven't been hipped to the sound of God Willing yet this tape is a serious trial by fire. God Willing is Ren formerly of Gang Wizard & Dynasty, a world traveler that has moved from Providence to LA, back east to nashville and now word is that he's back above the mason dixon line in philadelphia; consider it a warning. Though he comes off as a mellow dude, this tape is an unrelenting attack of god knows what, the times i have seen him live it was guitar and tone generators and it was seriously beautiful and moving.

This jam is about to cause some serious bowel movements and isn't at all approaching tonality. After an initial onslaught of heavy burning, the wall comes undone long enough to hear him rip apart whatever was happening electronics flying everywhere building back up to a wall of tantrum inducing sounds.

The second side is a straight laced scorched earth campaign, no hesitation, just grizzle piled on grizzle piled on grizzle. This side, by not coming undone in the middle gives you the pleasure of feeling out the contour of the sounds and waiting and watching the embers slow and transform into crusted over ashy tumbleweeds of rumble and bubble, there's a final gasp/blast at the end but it's almost inconsequential after the whipping you were just handed...

Always recommended.
comes in full color sleeve with minimal grainy artwork and black and white labels on the tape.

available from the label:
http://www.monorailtrespassing.com/

CANOPIC LIDZ "Da da vinci code" c40 (Senseless Empire)

man! i don't know what you guys do on yr days off but me, i spend them browsing through old pen and pixel album covers on the internet or, if i'm alone, jamming a tape with one in my room unfolding the totally destroyed j-card in joy (is it still a j-card if it folds out 100 times, each with a different ad for a record you know probably never came out?). well, when i got this tape from senseless empire boy was i psyched, other than the deathbombarc cd, this is the first time i can think of cash money / no limit style art/aesthetic gracing the front cover of a 'noise tape.' now, don't get me wrong, it's not a 'bling-bling' affair with butts and diamonds in the sky and cadillac driving from beyond the grave. nope, the cover is just a sarcophagus, tut's, and some reggae-gradient background with the text across top and bottom, but it has that something special- that feel. you know?

the tape/music itself is sort of on another level, though the connection is still maintained through simple beats, mostly loops accompanied by keyboards/synths and some weird ass production choices. whereas Beats by the Pound would usually use cheap keyboards it seems Canopic has often eskewed the thrift store scores for more sophisticated equipment, a variety of synthesizers and unidentifiable electronics accompany the stuttering, staggering beats. Side A is a lot more of a rawkus affair, disjointed beats with heavy wheezing noises filling the voids and rearranging yr mind, the second side has a much "softer" feel, at times a hair away from a secret passion of mine, soft rock. though it never does get there and stays firmly in the 'gross sound' township.

This tape could have easily been a gem at a flea market, just imagine it on a fucked up old maxell, a 4-track demo made by some kid listening to old cabaret voltaire records, writing self-mutilation fantasy poetry, then going into his room and making these beats crying off his goth make-up at the thought of facing another day in this cruel world full of worthless humanity and his heavy all encompassing desolation (and his love of rap tapes from the american south in the early 90's).

full color art, spray-painted tape, in an edition of 100
still available from the label:

http://www.senselessempire.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008

PULSE EMITTER "Unearthly" c45? (Tape Tektoniks)

This tape is a serious trip. For fans of John Carpenter scores and screwed music. Well, actually, you don't need to like screwed music in general, just something really really really slow. And now that i think of it John carpenter scores are usually too suspense filled, but they sound haunting nevertheless.

The minimal liner notes read that it was "recorded ...with a modular synthesizer and time based effects" over 3 days and it really feels like it.

Now, I don't like the ocean really. I don't want to go on a cruise or ever be out of sight of land, it makes me feel so anxious just even thinking about it. How could you be at ease? The constant rocking of the boat, the waves hitting the sides of the boat, just the moon in the sky and the reflection of it off the oil black surface, it really just feels like a metaphor for degenerative nerve damage and loneliness; don't even get me started on jaws (i think it's the same idea though...). This tape makes me feel that way.

The approach on this tape taps into all of that, slow building, creeping ominous landless grief and solitary despair and paranoia. It's so minimal there's not much to write about in terms of tonal range, it's slow, slow, slow, slow, slow modulations over the period of each side, one movement per side. rules.

comes with full color cover on a sweet grey tape with silver screws, color label.

tape tektoniks site:
http://www.tapetektoniks.de/

available from the muediamorte site:
http://www.floor42.de/meudia_3/shop/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=11&sort=20a&page=2&zenid=61264ed8f98a7b9ebb2fb0e7026b12da

SAM PHILLPS / SAM GAS CAN "Sam's club" c30 (Yeay! Tapes)

This tape is a split by two dudes who flank the western mass scene, Sam Phillips to the north, a great dude who runs the space the Tinder Box up in brattleboro and Sam Gas Can who runs faux paus recordings, hailing from the outskirts of worcester in central mass. The concept has nothing to do with big box stores, low prices, buying in bulk or joining their 'club' of lowered labor standards, underpricing small businesses and cheap plastic shit.

The sam phillips side is more of a one man band, touring the alleys, trees and dumpsters of brattleboro. Lots of semi-processed (or not?) field recordings married to the tape hiss and wind mix perfectly with the intentionally 'musical' sounds that come off more as sound clips of weird instruments, sounds and voices. The messes mix and unmix with the sound of children, birds and the tape itself being manipulated, the tape reaches into itself with sam eventually shaking what sounds like a fence into a basic rhythm and singing joyfully along to his new "band" and his audience of a parking lot and stream. a nice ride for sure!

Gas Can's side opens with a similar tone of hand-held tape deck cutting into more 4 track recordings, whereas Phillips' side feels more like a leisurely stroll outside, almost as an invisible companion, this side has more of the feeling of looking in the window of Gas Can's bandroom. lots of jumping around from style to style, casio cruisers and keyboard jams with a real mellow feel jumps into some skittering electronics, then maybe to some sampled pieces (or not??) that sound like it could be a compressed piece of a bollywood soundtrack or something from konono no.1, then everything gets super weird as it sounds like sam sings black sabbath lyrics into a well for a while and the tape just slowwwwwwwws down.

comes if full color sleeve w/black and white backside.
still available from the Yeay! site:

http://yeay.suchfun.net/catalog.html

VAPOR GOURDS "Dagger Magic" c30 (Yeay! Tapes)

This tape has been a constant companion in my tape deck since i picked it up from local record store, Mystery Train here in western mass. It was put out, mysteriously, by Neil Young over at Yeay! Tapes, who refused to let it be known who the sorcerer was behind this exceptional tape.

When Jay Dilla died almost two years ago he had just completed my favorite record of his "Donuts" which is essentially a jacked up beat tape, some of the songs have since or were at the time, being recorded over by mc's from all across the map and since his death there has been a non-stop stream of posthumous music (as there usually is when someone dies way too young) and to my surprise, most of it is still AMAZING. i bring it up because this tape, despite having a keen ear for the subtlety of sound that usually accompanies (one would hope!) a noise artist, seems more in line with the left of center, disorienting and beautiful beats that you'd find in the vaults of a jay dilla library.

Albeit, these are a bit more dusty and hang on to, say, swooping washed out synth loops a lot longer than Dilla would, it still has that feel, to me, of someone constructing, building, adding on, taking tiny pieces and coming up with the most amazing pastiche of weird ass soul strings, cheap keyboards, and buried under there somewhere is a beat. There are anomalous moments and that's what keeps this tape worth coming back to; absolutely hypnotizing, reverb soaked guitars, siren/bombs, crazy blasts of keyboard beauty stuck right on top of a beat in a manner that is so jarring it can only be intentional and as it repeats, forming a phrase of "drumbeat, guitar loop, drumbeat, KEYBOARD and then back" the voice of the artist only becomes more apparent and you become more appreciative of the strength of compositions and realize it's definitely a lot more than just "a beat tape".

comes i color copy w/ silk screen covers on white stamped tapes,
still available from the label, check it out FOR SURE.

http://yeay.suchfun.net/catalog.html

Monday, November 10, 2008

ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER "Transmat Memories" c40 ? (Taped Sounds)

This tape is a serious piece of work! The output of one dude from Boston may not strike you as fertile breeding ground for space-age synthesizer compositions but this stuff is really solid; stands on par with any of the mid era Tangerine Dream records (though features exclusively synth work, no guitars or acoustic instruments) and maintains a tempo that TD usually drops off in favor of a more ethereal approach.

Two sides of almost manic sequences usually two at a time snaking into each other with one eventually fading as another new staccato burst assumes control. Most have a sort of controlled feeling despite their tempo though there's a great great piece in the middle of the second (i think, i've listened to the tape a couple times and don't know which side is A or B) side that sticks out just by virtue of being slow and heavy. it starts of sounding like a boat motor in mud, total motion sickness vibe, the low disgusting rolling sounds slowly are joined by a bubbling mid range and a uncoiling high end phrase that repeats and repeats, burning the low end sound out of yr ear. From their it's all downhill and uphill and yr skin is peeling off and your listening to the sound of boiling mercury and it rules.

I feel like it's important to point out that Taped Sounds put this out, a label that is constantly cataloging all sorts of tape hiss bliss and dream soundtracks and this tape fits in perfectly alongside the most recent Non-horse tape, Afternoon Penis tape and the Mudboy/Orphan fairytale LP that came out a year and a half ago despite all of them having completely different approaches/methods for coming to the point they're trying to make. Excellent!

There's rumors swirling of a Dolphins Into The Future / OPN collab, can't wait to hear that. Comes in a bleached out pastel color cover, looks like maybe a bomb accident pictured? Blank white tape.

Still available from the label:
http://users.telenet.be/bread.and.animals/

BONE RATTLE "SSSSSSSSSSS" c20 (Friendship Bracelet)

This tape is an easy heavy jammer, feels like being at a show in a fugged up basement, mold on the ceiling, sweat on yr vest, while yr ripping the horsehair plaster off the wall and eating it in a total jam out bliss.

Two sides of drums/electronics and voices, duo style. At times the drums and electronics are battling for supremacy: who can jump off the cliff first, who can tape a garbage bag to their head first; never a clear winner except the listener. The battles result in some great drum spasms and electronic cholesterol clogged heart attack blasts. There's also a back and forth vocal struggle, a yelping throated tug of war sometimes acting as an additional agent in the drum/electronics battle, other times acting as a vocal track on top of the instrumentation.

The second side has a bit of voiced exchange that actually surpasses the voice as third party, with some notable pitched battles played out in full. This time the voices are mixed way up front which is a real nice touch and lets you know the vocal aspects of the recording aren't taken for granted or present on the tape only because the dudes are shrieking and screaming because they can't help it.

packaged in simple black and white on orange paper, white tape with simple markings to distinguish itself.

no label website, so use yr stamps:
Friendship Bracelet
3 Beacon St.
Reading, MA
01867

or hit up the band's myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/bonerattle

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MARKUS SCHWILL "Heart-Beat-Diagram" c60 (Borft)

I was turned onto this tape by Jelle Crama, hanging out in his old spot he was just keeping the soundtrack going for the day, sneaking out of the room to pop on another cassette so you'd only notice halfway through the music had changed and was amazing. This tape was soooo stunning. Supposedly the work of some eccentric German dude who has since disappeared (even though the liner notes say there is more work ready to be released!!!), this tape for me sums up the aesthetic i've grown to love from the Swedish label Borft. A mix of sophisticated and crude electronics / synthesizers, one part mystery, two parts so weird it can't be from this world. This is the same scene Enema Syringe came from.

Recorded in 1992 and released in 1993(and STILL AVAILABLE!) this tape precedes all the current synthesizer/sequencer fascination currently sweeping our ears from under us. It's a live take all done with an MS-20 and effects mixer, it's at times totally raw and grimey and alternately semi-clean and upbeat/dancey. It has a somewhat minimal feel, i think a result of it being recorded live and only one person playing one synth, but in no way does that suggest scarcity or lack in the approach and output.

The tape has been a constant companion since i ordered it a couple years ago and it has never grown tired or redundant. Unbelievable that it's still available, definitely worth checking out along with anything else on the borft label!

http://www.borft.com

SALT & PEPPER "s/t" single sided c20 (Scumbag Relations)

So this was in a stack of tapes i got a while back (a long while?) from the dude over at Scumbag Tapes/Relations and it had slipped through the cracks and ended up on the bottom of a pile and shit on me if it wasn't my loss!

This tape is a brief moment of shining sound, literally because the tape is spraypainted a toxic gold and figuratively because the music rules. Remember in Zelda when you went into that dude's cave/store and there were only three things for sale (which, i would like to point out without question played a influential role in the current boutique/gallery/store interior design schemes popular with entrepreneurial youth)? Well, if you can imagine a world where that guy doubled as a used equipment salesman and you could purchase some totally sweet keyboard covered in moss and gemstones and take some of yr magic zelda-world potion, burn a bush, head underground and jam out for a side of a c10, you'd end up with this tape.

Not to be mistaken, this tape in no way searches for the metaphysical, postures about having a self realization read from the shapes of clouds or echoes of seashores; nope, this dude just jams zelda style, simple melodies (with a tenor straight from the theme music) and a clunky keyboard drumbeat to follow along. Man, i wish there was a second side to this tape!

wrote to the label for more info but haven't heard anything yet, unfortunately out of print (sorry i slept on it!) but the Scumbag Relations label is worth checking out anyways, this tape alone is proof of his good sense of sound.

http://www.scumbagrelations.net
http://www.myspace.com/scumbagrelations

Monday, November 3, 2008

M AX NOI MACH "Chaser" c20 (self-released)

M Ax Noi Mach is Rob Francisco (also of angeldust, rubbed raw) who hails from (north) philly. He was heavily involved with the amazing space the Philadelphia Athenaeum which has unfortunately been closed for a few years now. He's put out a series of 10"s, 7"s, 12"s, tapes, mixtapes, cdrs and books over the last years that are all amazing, walking a 'line' between power electronics (a line Angeldust definitely crosses), noise, party music and poetry his releases are always compelling and littered with memorable quotes, "AHHHHHHHH!" or "Don't look at me when i'm talking to you!" He also maintains a great blog with cellphone photos, poetry and occasional other detritus, American Rager which i think speaks to the same aesthetic i find so exciting in his recorded work. A mix of filth and humanity that somehow comes out bruised and beautiful, or stabbed to death in the park.

This tape is a collection of mostly heavy beats littered with minimal noise squalls atop of them. the beats are interesting because they're obviously not mined from the same library, some feel stolen/sampled while others feel like he programmed them, yet all of them come across with his figurative voice, and more often than not his actual voice. And when his voice is present it's amazing and commanding. It's in his lyrics and voice that i think it seems most important he's from (north) philly, so much of what he says sounds like overheard streetfights, or late night screaming matching if you lived above a strip bar. This tape, in particular the second side, is a lot more instrumental but in no way lacking, grimy stained jeep beats drop in and out usually as the noise parts become more prominent.

Another great release, though at 20 minutes you're forced to go through another listen, or two or three or four.

Three color screenprinted covers with clear tapes.
Available from the man himself through his website.
http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/mnstrattacks/men.html

EDIT: Just got info that the European version of this was released by that great french label Tanzprocesz, check their internet presence here, where the tape is still available:
http://tanzprocesz.free.fr/

JESSICA RYLAN "Lush Life" c20 (irfp)

It almost seems unnecessary to write up jessica's stuff at this point. If you're familiar with her work you won't be disappointed. If you're not you have a wonderful world of music to introduce yourself to. Jessica builds all her own synthesizers and having such a keen understanding of their makeup is masterful in her manipulation/exploration of them.

Two sides of synths/electronics, side a being a being more melodic and clean, bouncing about and interacting with each other, creating controlled permutations. Side two is a bit more dirty sounding, with all of the tones having a sort of scratch to them without ever losing sight of what's under the fuzz, a nice contrast to the first side.

If you're reading a review of a tape to decide if you want to get it, it's a no-brainer.
Full color cover, white tapes
still available from:
http://www.irfp.net

WORK / DEATH "Le Corbusier" c20 (Three Songs of Lenin)

First off, Work/Death aesthetic of all Crass style lettering always gets him bonus points in my book, sometimes the releases can look a little similar, but heck, i can go elsewhere for fetishized packaging, and anyways, this is a two color silkscreen on butcher paper, pretty nice looking. The insert unfolds to reveal the series of statements "you think i am ugly," "but this is beacause," "you are a philistine." The assumption is these quotes are relative to the title, Le Corbusier the famous brutalist architect whose work we all know and has been unfortunately the template for low budget 70's population boom buildings (my state school alma mater is perfect example.) The connection isn't insignificant, it's easy to draw a parallel between the critiques of Brutalist architecture and the music (noise) that Work/Death is creating. Often perceived as, well, brutal, huge hulking masses, totally devoid of the flair or signature embellishments associated with a famous architect, his work was often cold, repetitive and made concrete. Still, they conveyed a certain strength, a unity of purpose that made you consider the whole instead of it's parts.

All of this carries over into the recorded work on this tape - one long piece interrupted only by side one of the tape ending - the trajectory is clear and the movement of the music is well controlled. Starting off with a long mid range tone that gets really thick without a lot of low end there isn't an obvious use of loops of layering that usually bothers me when people are trying to build up dense textures. Distorted chunks cut in and out without feeling unharnessed, acting as an accent. (flip the tape) Replacing the heavy chunks the piece enters the shrill territory, creating sound fields that feel like insect swarms or more like the buzzing of a powerline late at night. Just you standing there, staring up above you at massive powerlines and you can hear the energy moving through them in some frantic race. The pieces thins out, ending naturally with pieces falling back and minimizing their role in the structure till yr left with only a minor buzz.

Can't find a website for the label, but you can use the regular old mail
if you're interested:

Three Songs of Lenin
POBox 29680
Providence, RI
02909

MONSTURO "S/T" c20 (Ekhein)

Super mystery. I'm not sure where i got this tape and i can't find much about either the label (which looks good!) or the band on line, Monsturo does have a webpage but as you'd expect, pretty limited info.

The tape has solid black xerox labels on both sides with only the label name on them. My favorite thing about heavy coverage like that is the toner doesn't really fuse well, it starts to rub off slightly depending on usage and contact and it gives it a really charred look that i love.

This tape feels and listens just about the same, ultra bleek & minimal with limited distinguishing marks. Total sensory deprivation. Both sides have that aftershock feel walking through some subterranean void with no light. One point worth making is despite being so distant it doesn't have a heavy tape hiss to it which is actually nice, it gives the sounds a lot more depth despite feeling so distant.

Definitely a nice piece of work.
black and white packaging, not much more information.

still available from the artist:
http://www.monsturo.org/

PORTLAND "volumes 3-5" c20 (Below PDX)

I got this tape from james squeeky when Argumentix rolled through town, he played a great set of almost industrial music, at once totally intimidating and fierce while maintaining a certain playfulness that made the music that much more approachable. After the set we traded some tapes (bummed i didn't get the invisible scratch picklz bootleg tape) and i've barely craked the stack.

This tape is an edited down tape of apparently three volumes of field recordings of the bright and beautiful city of portland, oregon. The first side is a swiftly paced collage of somewhat standard city sounds, traffic, walking, passerby's conversation, crosswalk, bus engines etc, it's editing is smooth and never gets to minimal or intense. While the second side is a little more 'noisy' with actual instruments clinking around, maybe it's before a show or he walked into a practice space or tripped in the dark over a cymbal?

I feel like i've known a healthy number of people in my life that want to (or do) move to portland because they think it's an oasis of punk and beauty, so this tape is nice to hear foot on pavement, the scanner at the grocery store and the sound of some dude jabbering in the back ground. But still, maybe that proves the point of PDX being a noise heaven, even the street is a noise show! ha!

Black and white cover on vellum, yellow tape. Edition of 38
still available at:
http://www.belowpdx.com/index2.html

BONUS BEAST "#1" c30 (High Density Headache)

A first for me, i got this tape from checking out a myspace page. Usually i refuse, even bands i totally love, i can't stand listening to myspace tracks, the mp3 quality sucks, the pages make me want to vomit and you're so distracted looking at everything else there's no way my mind can give proper attention to the sounds. So, when i did like one of the tracks and wrote to them to find out about a tape, i was convinced i'd get it and hate it, it just seemed like poetic justice that i would get the tape and it'd sound like shit, thankfully it wasn't.

Turns out this is one of the guys (or more) who was in Big Nurse which i guess is now broke up, i saw them play a pretty good set here in western mass at mystery train records. This tape shares sentiments with the now defunct BN but takes a different route.

Definitely a home-recorded affair, awkward mixing choices, overdriven signals, lost moments, zero engineering and tape hiss are all worn proudly on the sleeve, and i think to their benefit. While it does have a feel to it that it's thrown together at parts it still reveals awesome moments of guitar damage and wiggly drums all woven together, though not without the corresponding moments of clean guitar wires woven through clattering drums. It definitely feels like these guys know how to play underneath the mush and smoosh of their blownout recordings, it's nice they leave it as a suggestion and don't focus too much on showmanship.

The second side has a slight detour into sliding, glazed fields of slowed down tapes, loops and a really nice patterned keyboard that repeats until heading back into the guitar/drum duo where more of their skill sets are revealed definitely suggesting some sort of guitar scales and jazz inflections underneath a wall of spaced out jitters and noisy critters.

not sure if it's still available or not, i just wrote and asked. you could do the same! edition of 24, color printout cover in soft plastic case.

http://www.myspace.com/seriouslyhyped
http://www.highdensityheadache.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 2, 2008

CHARLIE DRAHEIM "Reject" c20 (Animal Disguise)

Just picked up this tape from the Animal Disguise site and is listed as a second edition bootleg / unauthorized tape. Not for the faint of heart or those who put on tapes called "Reject" to begin their Reiki sessions, unless you want to unlock the wrong energy. This tape sounds like two muzzled dogs fighting in a pile of steel tubes. Despite being restrained their is a sort of carnage to the action taking place, and the tubes isn't supposed to be a metaphor, it really sounds metallic, heavy and with a that slight room-y echo that you'd get if you were to yell down a long metal pipe, sterile but noticeable. A nice balance of what would feel like harsh, difficult noise with a real palpable bottom end to transport their development / undoing. Comes w/ black text on red paper, simple graphics, bootleg style.

edition of 100 but down to the last copies available from the site:
www.animaldisguise.com

HATRED "Pitted Water" c30 (AA Records)

Picked this tape up when Demons came through town a few months back along with a few LPs and they're all awesome. This tape is two live sides with Nate Young (of Demons, Wolf Eyes) being the consistent member. Don't know about yr predisposition towards either of those projects but if you're into either at all, this tape won't disappoint.

Separating this from the (recent work of wolf eyes) this tape gives lots of room to the interacting members, leaving air and breathing room (or tape/pa hiss and audience noise) between the squalls and squawks of the instrumentation. I'd be more specific about what is being played but the liner notes give no indication, and it's actually sort of welcome, allowing my ears to pay attention not to the mechanical side but the aural. Would be safe to say there's some analog synth, tape, and varied electronics, even safer to assume that knowing the other players are Max Eisenberg (of the great DJ Dog Dick, sometimes Nautical Almanac) on one side and Twig Harper and Max on the other side.

The live in W.Baltimore side is a lot more chaotic than the Detroit side; trading punches of cut up and scattered sounds countered by blasts of truly intimidating walls of gurgled up electronics. The battle slows a bit into a more tempered back and forth mutating into a low heavy unfurling, sounding like a mechanical mucus covered tongue unrolling.

The live in Detroit side has a similar feel at the start, with a good bit of shrieks and wails passed back in forth leading into a really really swollen build up carrying all the information exchanged at the beginning of the performance on its back and leveling out into a full room, totally controlled mess.

Black and white line artwork, white tapes.
still available at AA records website:
http://www.wolfeyes.net/aaindex.html

BUFFLE "Cavernicole" (Relax Produzioni) c10

I don't want to act as if i'm underscoring the quality of the music on this blue cassette, but i'm obligated to start off by saying this Italian label Relax Produzioni has hands down the best logo i've ever ever seen. A circle w/ a pair of bare feet, in the laying down position with a cowboy hat floating just above, barely touching the big toes on both feet. Super simple but sooo striking, and it's italian!? amazing. anyhow. This label evidently has consistency in mind, great simple logo and great simple music.

Buffle can slide from side to side, long layered pieces with lots of padding and thickness, like a smokey room with only one lightbulb and water up to your waist. Other times they're playful and the recordings are pretty transparent; yup, that's a guitar and a keyboard and a delay pedal, etc. It's a nice relationship to have with a band, a signature sound that can be applied to any number of approaches. Well, this tape has not only upped the ante, but has also found a soft spot of mine. Much like the muntjac tape on Taped Sounds (reviewed mid october) this tape has a real bedroom, 4-track vibe to it. Well, to be more precise a kitchen/4-track vibe to it, it sounds like the dudes opened the cabinets, arranged a few "drum kits" and busted out the guitars and let er' rip. both sides are mostly these snakey, clanky busted up simple jams that interweave the percussive pots and pans with the noodley but not wank-off guitars. A slight refrain at the beginning of the second side, almost like a reminder of what else the band does; weird keyboard relapse attack but actually a sort of nice interrupt to allow you to feel the cupboard jams fresh again.
Full color cover, blue cassette, blue/clear case and the aforementioned best logo ever.

RELAX Produzioni released it but
check their myspace to see about picking up copies:
http://www.myspace.com/buffle

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SUDDEN OAK : S/T (Bezoar Formations)

Sudden Oak is a newly san franciscan duo made up of John (guitar) and Matt (saxophone). This polka dotted (what does that design have to do with polka?) c21 with a xerox/printed cover is a perfect soundtrack for your summertime hang sessions. That is if your summertime hang sesh happens to be you gettin total bleek, loner style, tied to the front of a greyhound with a mouthful of earthworms.

First side opens with some mellow but slightly dissonant waves, suggesting an interest in droning on, finding the subtlety in the greater picture. Yet as it creeps forward it slowly becomes heavier; not like an Earth record 'heavy' but heavy like a stomach punch played in slow motion where the skin is rippling in an almost hypnotic fashion or like sticking yr head out the window of a moving car with yr eyes open type of heavy. By the end of the first side there's a really thick air, like you're trying to breathe through some ashtray lifestyle and it's not looking too good for you.

Second side does a little side step but definitely doesn't make the dance any more optimistic. While tonally the instruments are a lot more distinct there's definitely a more blown out feel at the beginning though they retain control enough to cough out some synth-sounding parts, definite guitar mangling and some nose-bleed feedback to carry you through till the very distinct 'click' of the tape ending, like a teacher just whacked the fuggin desk with a ruler to take you out of the unreleased, chopped and screwed soundtrack to the hills have eyes (the orig, obv). hot tape dudes!

www.bezoarformations.com

LATERAL HYETOGRAPHY : Some Girlzz cassingle (Really Coastal)

First off i have to get my conflict of interest out in the open, Jon, who is lateral hyetography, and i email each other about the Boston Celtics and Books, i don't think that'll effect my write up, but i just want to put it out there.

This tape is a legit, professionally printed m-f'in cassingle. kudos for that ish; you'll occassionally see a new tape that's professionally printed, but i'll be damned if dudes are still making cassingle/promo tapes. Anyhow this jam (it's just one jam! program repeats!) hits a really really soft spot of mine, old organ drum beats, or something that sounds hot-shit-just-like-it. its a great beat that runs through the whole tune. it has a playful pop feel and structure to it, wispy, sort of high pitched vocals. i don't like using musical comparisons because i don't want to belittle or offend people or give one person ownership of a sound but this does have some ariel pink vibes quivering through the atmosphere, though the production is a lot, lot cleaner.

After a bit of verse chorus verse action, there's a long refrain that builds layers and layers of voice and synth padding, which had me thinking about the effect of the Line 6 era of noise bands and their effects/role in constructing pop format songs, there are a few bands, most notably Black Pus, who are utilizing the technique exceptionally well. while i wouldn't put this tape in that category only because it's a studio recording, it does suggest some interesting approaches to the pop/noise/ambient hybridity that are occurring.

Second Edition of 95. released by Really Coastal
http://reallycoastal.com/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HUI "Excerpts From the Hui Tape Collections" (Stenze Quo / Meudiademorte)

This tape comes with a simple black and white photocopied insert that lists the title, time and all the instruments used on each side. The only other text is the the title "Hui- shows an excerpt of from the Hui tapes collection played by marcel turkovsky." It really makes you feel like you stumbled onto a demo or rough mixes from a huge library of master tapes. Judging by Marcel's output, i bet there is a friggin wine cellar somewhere full of master tapes, notepads filled with ideas and more instruments like the "polnisch knull" or a "pustrohr" that are just waiting to be manipulated and undone as were on this tape.

I remember watching Fast, Cheap and Out of Control and in the documentary there is a robotic scientist who is studying the way in which ants walk and comparing it to contemporary attempts at making movement mechanical. The ant is a really imperfect creature, stumbling about, falling, not precise at all, yet it is what the scientist believes is the most effective. They allow mistakes, working them into a larger routine, whereas robots of the R2D2 nature are so rigid that if they fall or bump into something they are rendered completely useless. There needs to be room for error, or better yet, error needs to be considered an integral part of the process.

Marcel's compositions have something of a similar ring, both in their process and the end result of the sound. I don't want to get too caught up in process, especially since i've never seen him play solo, but there does seem to be a focus paid on the process here, with irregular loops moving in and out of the foreground acting as both structural tool and as embellishment. While the tapes play both parts, they are also assigned a particular role as organic noises enter the field of sound, tapping, bells, walking, something in the background banging; all causing the initial tape looped sound or rattling to be re-registered as something 'taped' or secondary. It is this back and forth and attention to recontextualizing a sound that makes this tape so good. What is a hypnotic bug sound changes dramatically when a mbira/xylophone sound enters and pushes the skittering loop to the background.

This tape is a great example of using loops, layers, field recordings and primitive folk instruments to create a challening and exciting listen that supercedes the standard Line 6 loop fest. listen up!

Edit! I just went to listen to another Hui tape i have to realize they're the same, in different packaging, evidently this was initially released (still available) by Stenze Quo, another great label.

www.myspace.com/stenzequo
www.Meudiademorte.de
http://www.myspace.com/meudiademorte

TOWERING BREAKERS w/ BEN MORRIS "Like Light" (Rayon Records)

I recently got this jam in a batch of tapes from Pascal who runs Rayon records. All the tapes have a similar packaging style, this weird fold over oragami style case with a photo attached to the side making it twice as wide as normal (and impossible to put with the rest of your tapes, though really, it's necessary to have like two other shelves for storing releases like this, plus they look good.) Tape is yellow, spray painted, edition of 50, along with the photo and insert the sleeve is slathered with green goo. for the record, goo is always a nice touch in my book.

The tape itself lives up to the pacakaging offering the listener lots and twine to wrap around your head, tape to stick on your face and cotton balls to stuff in your mouth. Each side has two pieces each offering different imbalances and distractions matched with concentration and integrated forms. Not sure of any of the other releases by Towering Breaker since this is the first i've heard but the fact that they're joined by Ben Morris ("mad dog ben morris" according to the insert) really effected the way i was listening, trying to hear the way a guest was sitting in; sort of trying to find the piece that has been added to the equation.

These guys deliver a great mix of semi-distinct layers interacting, trying to weave together some distant cries caught on tape, with a slightly overblown signal making a mic bounce off the wall, while trying to meet and mate sounds there is also a comfort in the fact that they are their own; what sounds like water sounds and maybe drums (or a person shaking a chainlink fence) shift in and about creating a really unsteady (in a good way) drone that feels like it could fall apart or totally congeal at any point.

The next section starts a bit more spastic and jumpy, allowing for definition between the pieces, to develop their own identity before carrying off into a wall of co-mingling where totally non-verbal voices reach out and grab at everything, pulling segments into a full on wall paper peeling seance of sound. Grey clouds of gloom follow ushered in by shooting rhythmics sounds of totally unidentifiable nature, driving into the sunset there is true comfort and ease in the handling of the resolution. Gong/bell types of sounds hush and brush against walls of tape hiss and wind, something like the concert of a late night harbor for a ship just in from sea.

http://www.myspace.com/rayonrecs

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TROPA MACACA "Peca Ma" (Silver Ghosts)

This tape comes from a live performance (one set split over both sides) from "OUT.FEST" in 2007. Tropa Macaca is a duo, i believe, from portugal. If it weren't in the liner notes i wouldn't have guessed that this were a live release considering the weight and length of some moments. But i think that is my prejudice coming through, where live sets are often marked by an anxiety that translates into quicker transitions and shorter parts. Then again, i'm not from the school of mellow dudes on the floor...

That said this tape is not without its share of fractured moments and there's no hesitation over the introduction of new directions or textures but there is a definite focus on the development of their drone elements. A deep bass ocean is introduced, an ocean of lotion, thick and simmering with heavy heat beaming down carrying on through sputtering loops of percussive wind warmth. Elements of synths (maybe not actual synths though?) mix easily with more airy whispy creating a nice balanced palette, though not without the necessary tension to keep a recording (performance) interesting and with a sense of movement.

Sounds of unplugging and plugging in scatter across the surface; a nice metaphor for the music, the sounds of instruments and action creating a world in tune with and plugged into the fabric of being undone and unattached, floating across the surfaces, looking down, under the rippling, fractured bubblings.

Comes in plastic case with silkscreened cover.
no website yet, you can email silverghosts@gmail.com for copies

WEIRDING MODULE "Underwater in Space" (Silver Ghosts)

Weirding Module is the solo synth project of mike, the bass player awesome color. If you're familiar with their rip roaring rock and roll records, this tape may come as a bit of a surprise. If you're only familiar with mike as one half of the duo Bisexual Ghengis Khan (with colin from usaisamonster) than this will seem like familiar territory for this soldier of rock to walk.

It feels almost like the release was named after him trying to describe the sound of the tape to an aunt or an uncle who hadn't smoked pot. Underwater in space, though not possible (is it?) is a pretty literal description of the noodles, franks and beans that make up this primordial stew. A really great tape that starts with lots of decaying sounds, tones being ripped apart and bounced about in semi-rhythms, half in time half out creating a reallly disorienting set of blerps and beeps to follow. The second piece is a lot more minimal and almost devious in its pause. Comes across like a true vouyer staring into a mirror.

The second side starts, appropriately, wave-like with pulses cascading in and out and crashing against anything in their way. I remember a koan about the strenght of something soft, like water, breaking something hard, like stone. Soft is harder than hard. These pieces in all their mechanical circuitry have something soft in them, an ability to rise and descend to express and manipulate while still being rather cold and rigid, almost surgical in their execution.

A great tape, well played and pretty diverse in the approach and the movement of the music. Not particularly bleak or dark but not really uplifting and storybook. Maybe that's what space is like, or underwater. Environments that are almost totally inhospitable to humans, yet, with the proper equipment somehow people end up there staring at themselves and whatever goo and dust is floating by.

Silkscreened covers by M. Padding, in a plastic tape case perfect for filing.
No website available, you can email silverghosts@gmail.com for copies

MUNTJAC "Warp" (Taped Sounds)

A new mini-planet has evolved and it's soundtrack is straight from the "home taping" scene of yesteryear. this release is an unbelievable little nugget of quirky, chirpy, simple, songs and that in and of itself makes it quite an amazing feat! This tape would fit right in along side anything that came out of the Shrimper-Era home recording blitz that brought us a million and one amazing tapes (and personally was a big inspiration). One of the unfortunate features of a lot of those tapes was usually some dude whining about something 'personal' in a voice that maybe should have remained at home and not recorded. still, a lot of the music was exceptional and was catapulted even further into the stratosphere of "sweeeeet" by the super ultra lo-fidelity of the recordings. This Muntjac recording is right on time. It sounds like instead of multi-tracking he did the old boombox next to a boombox so all the tracks have a 'live' feel to them. A lot of the standard weapons are used, shitty keyboard beats, shitty keyboards, guitars, overdriven bass and some tape manipulation. Many of the tracks are self contained ideas but a few move in and out of the structured and into 'fields' of sound yet never lose sight of the intentions of the track. Major kudos for that. Again, so thankful for the lack of voice; there's no way words (and the human voice) could say something more interesting than the music. Then again, you never know. Comes packaged in a mini ziplock bag with a black and white insert with some drawings of a planet and some animals on it along with a color mini zine featuring weird marker drawings and basic release info.

http://users.telenet.be/bread.and.animals/

Friday, September 26, 2008

JASON CRUMER "Ruth" (Nazot)

(Let's just pretend we all took August off on purpose, okay?)

Jason Crumer has been getting some hype these days, based on the noise community's positive reaction to his latest full-length CD, "Ottoman Black," on Hospital Productions. His previous album, "Future With No Chance" on RRR was on my year end list in 2007. Any attention this guys gets is a good sign for the scene. It means that no matter what trends are dominating in the underground community, no matter which way the harsh noise wind is a-blowin', enough people still care about quality over hipness. Crumer's ultra precise cut-up style does not really fit into the current cultural moment, dominated by hippy drone converts, and a few lingering wall noise devotees. While most of the harsh noise artists right now are looking backward at the mid 1990's American scene, Crumer has taken up the direction abandoned by people like Viodre and Pedestrian Deposit, and kept moving forward. "Ruth" is Crumer's forgotten 2004-2005 masterpiece of junk metal/pedal noise. Intended for a CD release more than three years ago, these recordings got put on the back burner by the label. After a while, it got passed on to a second label where it also sat, unreleased, for some time. Crumer, in apparent desperation, finally released the album himself on cassette a few months ago. Unfortunately, the cassette medium does not do this incredible recording justice. "Ruth" was professionally mastered and in its digital incarnation sounds impeccable. This cassette dub, however, sounds blurry and distant. I've heard rumors of a CD reissue in the works, but this album might just be one of those projects, inexplicably doomed by misfortune. (I probably shouldn't lament the sound quality of this release on site devoted to the cassette medium, but this really is a terrible injustice.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

DJ THUMPER! / VANKMEN (Hate State)

So these are two people I've played and toured with a lot in Realicide, but you know there aren't that many tapes I like listening to so I'm gonna write about this one. It's a split c39 tape recorded live from Ravesploitation Fest, November 2007 at The Smell in LA, by Jonathan Snipes (so you know it's alright). It was Thumper's first actual live show, and still the best to date (he doesn't play live very often), featuring gabber and breakcore mixes of the Mortal Kombat theme, Andrew WK, Bush (the band actually) pitted against dialogue from the infamous Virina Tech shooter of 2006, Slipknot and a bunch of other nu metal bands I'm not going to bother trying to name. Basically DJ THUMPER! (aka Mavis Concave, btw) is really fun and well-produced gabber and breakcore fueled by pop culture samples, adding the somewhat subtle mechanics of a rather dark commentary on the entertainment world and how we relate to it as a society. VANKMEN, of Oakland, upholds the title of "best speedcore gabber in North America"... yeah I stand by that statement, and haven't run into much to challenge it so far. Vankmen is fucking brutally hardcore and equally fun, satirizing spaced out kandy ravers to a backdrop of ectoplasm-spattered ghost-busting, in his live set combining hardware drum machines and bent noise gear with segments of Ableton software tracks! This was an incredible festival and this tape documents quite accurately two of the acts that contributed, representing US gabber when so few ever do! Man, breakcore is alright, aside from the gimmicky fart-joke trends, but man, GABBER is what will always keep me going when the going gets rough, and you know it frequently does! Lastly, as this is a Hate State release, it's packaging is hand-knitted, plus the sleeve with Thumper's "lyrics" and Vankmen's shout-outs. When was the last time you came across hardcore techno and hand-knitted tape cases in the same object?! Fucking hell, what a weird thing to exist... DJ THUMPER! www.myspace.com/thumpallnight VANKMEN www.vankmen.com HATE STATE (check out other releases too!) www.hatestate.info ~ Robert Inhuman 09/23/08

Saturday, September 20, 2008

RIVAL FACTIONS "Our Voice" (Flish Records)

Leo gave me this when we were in Richmond last month. Among all the comedic burn-out psycho-dayglo paper-rad-clad noise of their Church Of Crystal Light scene, I never expected to get a really solid HARDCORE tape, among a serious bounty of work Flish has released the past year (most is much more alligned with noise / experimental / just plain WEIRD). Rival Factions' tape is on one hand painfully stereotypical: images of bullet belts, riot gear cops, ugg.... gasmasks, AK rifles, and old english fonts combined with stenciled fonts. The music is just as predictable as the imagery, and the lyrics are the expected vague pseudo-revolutionary teen angst grab bag. But fuck it man, I really like this music! I prefer to listen to bands like Drop Dead or fucking Crass (duh), as more popular examples that is, for an affirmation of the attitude I want to live with and stand behind, because they are slightly more articulate and focused in their purpose, but AT LEAST bands like Rival Factions carry the same youthful spirit and fun aggression without malice (I'd hope in many cases at least) that brought me to punk and hardcore initially in my teens... They might not be challenging me as an artist or as a radical, but maybe they are at least challenging me to not forget the naive yet seed-planting attitude that set my life on the course its on. I am not in a band that sounds, or is, much like Rival Factions, but that kind of band was the starting point for me as a person who'd want to be in bands at all. In there defense, at the risk of being blatantly combative, AT LEAST a hxc band like this attempts to speak out against violence and injustice, in their own way with their own simple perspective on these subjects. I prefer it greatly over the growing popularity of bands that base their material on flirting with sexism, homopobia, fascism, etc. You can call me a "PC faggot" all you want, but I know the truth of these joking campaigns: Historically they weaken our immunity to ideas of hatred and fascism, before you know it the ideas have gone from JOKE to REALITY. So be fucking careful with your satire; make sure it reads accurately AS satire; or there's a price we all pay. And lastly, again in defense of more generic hxc bands like Rival Factions, AT LEAST it does not bore me to tears. People cling to the notion that noise music is inherently challenging and "experimental", when in fucking reality it has become just as pigeon-holed and predictable as classic hxc punk and other cookie-cutter sorts of music. And comparing a generic hxc band next to an equally generic noise band, at least hardcore still gets my blood pumping, so on a primal level it has that in its favor and that's kinda why I'm writing this. I'm not gonna live or think exactly how this tape implies I ought to, but I am gonna feel a little uplifted when I hear it. So thanks, Leo!!! And of course in the true sense of anarchy and alternative choices, their myspace link, www.myspace.com/rivalfactions ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08

DIANOGA "Uprising" (Phonophobia)

This is a pretty sick grindcore tape I got up in Minneapolis. There seem to be some really awesome bands like this up there right now; we played with another called Sloven that ruled too. This stuff isn't exactly progressive in any particular way, but at least it's keeping grindcore and thrash really fun, high energy, nothing too technical or self-righteous. Our Minneapolis show was in a filthy basement called the Cockpit, and this tape is a great souvenir of that experience. Dirty water dripping outta the ceiling; low ceiling and big support beams in the way so you can't even see who's singing or drumming half the time; lights out and horribly overblown yet coherent ENOUGH. The lyrics are... brief. If you like grindcore like that this is a tape / band to check out. Oh yeah, the sleeve is a xerox of some sick deep-sea-monster artwork, which actually reminded me of another band up in MPLS, the late Ganglion who seemed to have a theme of dark sea horror or something... Anyway, www.myspace.com/dianoga420 ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08

HEGEMONICIDE / VICTORY! "Home Is Raped" (self-released)

This tape is utterly unlistenable. But in the spirit of noisecore, in its eternal mission to smash all music into obilivion, I guess this makes sense. We played with Victory! at 2 of our Michigan shows this past summer, in Lansing and in their home Grand Rapids at a great non-profit venue called the DAAC (look it up!). Victory! is a really promising duo of Sam Snedeker and Brandon Hill, who've formerly worked together in various incarnations of noise and free-jazz-inspired improv. But yeah mane now they play completely off the hook noisecore, in all its classic confusion and obscurity. This tape is terribly unlistenable, but I really enjoyed their shows and would definitely listen to something recorded in a slightly different way; any way that allows me to hear what is going on musically even in the absence of "music", haha... Hegemonicide is Brandon solo playing great hardcore with his guitar and a drum machine. I couldn't hear this on the tape either, but you know maybe my tape is just fucked up cos Sam dubbed it for me late the night of the DAAC show and maybe something happened...?! Anyway, we saw Hegemonicide that night as well and it was really great. I'd definitely want to hear some decent recordings of those songs. There were samples playing between songs too; really great stuff that goes beyond the stereotype of "animal rights" into a more mature attitude that it is LIFE overall we need to keep sacred and in respect with all our thoughts and actions... very challenging ideas being offered by a couple of guys just outta high school. Leading me to the ZINE that comes with their tape! I know I've said that the tape is really rugged in sound quality, but this book of images and LYRICS quickly sparks an interest to learn, moreso than what the fuck is up with these bands, who are these people, I'd like to talk to them about these subjects and hear an elaboration on their perspective. I was blown away to see a range of topics such as dietary disciplines, things that seem to reference green anarchism, feminism, spirituality, speciesism, "...Then fuck punk and fuck you. You are no different than the things you claim to hate." I dunno, it was an array of topics and ideas that really made me want to get to know these guys better... and a little wanting to hear a better recording or at least find out if my copy of the tape was messed up! The end of one side is filled with something like reference materials(?!) - found / used (on the tape, however you wanna say it) interviews with Utah Phillips, Cornel West, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Go to Grand Rapids and meet these kids, or here's their contact... Sam, snedekersam@gmail.com and Brandon, grbah@comcast.net ~ Robert Inhuman 09/20/08

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BLUE SHIFT (Puik)

Another mysterious Belgian release from the vaults of jelle crama, presumably on his prolific but secret, often unlabeled, multilingual, impossible to decipher lettering label Puik. Jelle has made a name for himself in a million ways and one of them is by putting out mysterious tapes of people from all over, making you question if the artists are real and if the tapes are even legit. The one i hold is totally unmarked on the J-Card, just his trademark gloops of globs for artwork, and scrawled on the cassette "Blueshift." For those unacquainted, Blueshift is the solo work of Providence's Cybele Collins primarily channeled through a solo violin. This tape is one sided and travels nicely; it's one of the many graces of the cassette format that it undermines the concept of 'tracks' and allows the whole side to flow together with each track working off each other, departing or complimenting and this release takes advantage of that property.
Harsh staccato stabs that sound as if a drum solo and a guitar solo somehow shared a windpipe, breathing the same ferocity. This almost sped up sounding warp mutates into what feels like a final stand, the last round of the battle, all the teeth have fallen out and it's an impact match. A drummer is added to the mix making the music more physical and accenting the already percussive nature of the playing. Moving from the harsh, though clean moments the atmosphere becomes more open, obscured by space, with slight plucks and clucks of strings and an exhausted breathing, almost animal sounding, taking over the horizon. Though not suggestive of resolution there is a quiet, meditative quality to the remainder of the tape with a real focus on detail though tripping and stuttering as if there is just too much to enjoy, too many places to look.
A really great tape that has a real esoteric feel both in its musical efforts and the presentation and though remaining obscure and barely terrestrial it has a real tangible beauty.

http://www.jellecrama.com/puik/

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

RALE "Nightside / Shadeup" (Peasant Magik)

The recent minor buzz surrounding Rale in the DIY noise community isn't necessarily surprising when aesthetics are considered. With everything from Emeralds to Emaciator to Infinite Body catching people's ears, Rales arguable relationship to new age noise definitely makes him a candidate for popularity. Those familiar with the ongoing work of William Hutson would most likely see more to it than this (and none of the bands just mentioned really do either, but bear with), and rightfully so. While Hutson has actually proclaimed the virtues of new age music for much longer than it has been cool to, his current act Rale is hardly a part of the whole hippy-noise repeats social history and evolves into yuppie-noise phenomenon. In fact, Rale has nothing to do with new age music. So is the topic irrelevant? Not in terms of what appears to be going on outside the creative exercise. And while most may not even use the term new-age to describe the phenomenon (it does invoke a lot of inaccuracies), it is true that someone, somewhere, complimented Rale recently, calling his work, essentially, a triumph of focus. It is here that things get interesting. Focus, most likely, is being used to describe how things move slowly, are well crafted, expertly arranged, and delicately textured in Rale's work. This may not be exactly what focus is though, since focus could allow an artist to freak out to perfect just as well. Even patience seems like the wrong word. For many, making "slow" music has nothing to do with patience. Although, since Hutson is hardly the stoner, patience is definitely a factor. Yet, when taken in context of what is inspiring the DIY noise community lately, the word 'focus' is perfect. Actions and reactions, it seems the perfect pendulum swing away from the Mosh/Thrash noise of a few years ago. And who better to be a king in this newly formed kingdom than a perfectionist like Rale. The lessons people seek for themselves can definitely be learned in Rale's graceful and sonicly daring work. But, if this review may have a point, it is that Rale's quality and impact will last long after any current fads are over.

Monday, July 21, 2008

K.I "Vol. 12 Lux Irritum" (Stars 38)

Picked this tape up @ Armageddon Records in Providence about a month ago while in town for a show. This release, volume 12, in the Kites march towards the hereafter is a definite challenge. While many of the volumes up to this point have been 'non-musical' in that the sounds are harsh, muddled, or cradled in feedback and synth decay, it's this volume that definitely takes the cake for removing itself from a context. When this tape starts there is little audible evidence anything is happening, maybe it's blank, but you can definitely hear trace evidence of resonance, but still the tape sounds out of place. Not in the sense it doesn't fit, like a donut in a salad, but in that it has no body, is without grounding, the revelations at each step are non-descript; you can't assign it or designate its component parts, there's no labeling the anatomy. It's like a tape recording an empty house, the occasional whispers of tape hiss bouncing off the walls. As the tape moves forward the listener feels less blindfolded, assorted bursts and burps erupt from the periphery drawing your attention to the harsh bursts at center, like a roman candle being shot over your shoulder, illuminating an otherwise completely dark room with a candy aisle explosion into a wall.

Side two is a similar in the attention to the desolate, hills have eyes type of landscape, but there is a lot more to contend with, a constant interference accents the lazy, dry heaving manner of the slow and empty panorama, while the first side feels more like you're tied to a chair this has a much more distinct slow-chased, dry-mouthed feel to it ending with a rapturous handling of the harsh. Listens like an unreadable plaque on a statue and exudes the mystique of a foreign tape that you only have the art for, some unknown person, from a place you can't identify, playing music you'll never hear.

Great Full color art suggests an eastern European model search gone awry with fold out inserts of other worlds, other machines and unintelligible road maps. In terms of mythology, the kites releases are a saga worth following.

KINIT HER "As Magi" (Living Tapes)

Grown men imitating cats probably sounds like a terrible idea for a powerful rock band. Well, Kinit Her are here to defy the odds. Falsetto has a beautifully place in rock history. Just ask Elton John. Now here is the post-Joanna Newsom version. Although that reference will lead you completely astray, as this music is filled with precise and driving guitar leads, triumphant war-melodies, and a new age afterglow that is all sci-fi and no fantasy. Rarely does something so well formed breathe its first life on cassette. 'As Magi' is one of those albums you can recommend to everybody. Gentle in the right places, diabolical beneath it all, and so well crafted an executed that neither passion nor form is ever sacrificed. If the live show is even half as good as this, then this is the 8,000,000th coming of Christ. Get this.

RE S DUAL MANG "Book 1: An Obliterit No No" (Mangdisc)

I got this tape recently from Skot (aka Id M Theftable) when i was raiding his tape merch, didn't get any info from him, but from the liner notes of this tape we learn that this cassette is a collection of radio show (named Re S Dual Mang) excerpts from 2000-2005 aired on Portland, ME's WMPG. Evidently the show has been airing since 1997 but those first 3 years didn't make the cut for this release. Comes hand packaged and spraypainted, totally anonymous except for the insert, this tape looks kind of like a tape you'd find on the street. In a way it sounds like that. Well, depending on which street you lived.

The tape runs really seamlessly but is a massive collage of totally damaged mind scans from the Maine airwaves. It has a really playful nature that i appreciate, akin to the early Black Bean Placenta one sided 12"s that i heard years and years ago (which actually often featured Crank Sturgeon who is from Maine and has releases on the Mangdisc label). It's not afraid of overwhelming you with a wall of sound so long as a wall of sound include two guys battling it out with a nonsense rhythmic double monologue or a guy mimicking a talking toy, maybe a couple of real, unprank phone calls, one of a girl from the Midwest calling in her personal ad (she's just living in Maine for now, she's moving back, in case anyone out there is listening???). The cacophony continues with tons of clinking, toys, keyboard battles and marching songs fill out the absolute tornado torpedo that is this tape.

I remember being a kid and listening to all the Boston area college stations, WERS, WZBC, WMBR and feeling so excited by the world of unknown sound being revealed to me, Reggae, Punk, Hip Hop, College Rock, looking back i always thought i was so lucky to have that amount of exposure, I'm just glad my wide-eyed 10 year old self never made it up to Maine, (even though it wasn't on the air at the time) because i think i would have been forever disappointed by the offerings of Boston radio thereafter.

kraag.org

COW / HUMAN ADULT BAND split tape (Phase! Records)

This short split tape between COW (Change Of Women) and Human Adult Band is a really great match up of approaches. I had seen Human Adult Band a long time ago (5 years) and was totally perplexed by them and immediately fell in love. I've kept up with some releases on DIHD and Bonetoothhorn and through a few of their lineup changes; they now incorporate King Darves on drums, Trevor Pennsylvania on Bass and Mike on guitar. I hadn't gathered much from them recently so when i saw this split i was real excited to hear what they've been up. The tape (probably 8 minutes a side) starts with really clean guitar, an almost out of tune bass and the drums mixed to the back of the sounds. A bit of a departure from the new brunswick basement sounds i remember from these guys- formerly sounding like they were covered in new jersey's finest grime and grit, this has a lot more an of an airy feel. But it's not a departure, they haven't gone nu metal, formed a jam band or started introducing dance routines. What was at the core of this group is still there, and we're all the better for it. They're exploring the fundamentals of music, they're operating in a 'band format' with drums, guitar, bass and vocals, there are semi-distinct parts and they stay in time with each other. For the most part. And there in lies the beauty. The bass sometimes misses notes, the vocals sound like the singer was catapulted over the rehearsal space, the mix is a little off sometimes (like during the guitar solo the guitar gets quieter- beautiful!!!) But in the end the guitar cleanly strums away the detritus like a broom does a broken lamp and instead of cleaning up after the house party, they tear down the shades, throw out the couch, scoop up the puke and sleep it off to start all over again, maybe next time covered in algae and earthworms.

Side Two is COW and they have a decidedly different atmosphere, it's not the glue huffing euphoria of Human Adult Band so much as blown out tire on a rumble strip. I don't know much about these guys and don't know if it's my journalistic duty to Google them before i write about them but i didn't want to color my review of them with internet rumor. Anyhow, they definitely share a love of questionable mixing choices (a good thing in my book!) leaving the vocals on some track almost inaudible where on others it's all you can hear. Definite nods to the classic groups of thrash/grindcore like Napalm Death and Carcass, especially in the vocals, while leaving enough room for their own sound to shine. While approaching blast beat speeds COW never loses their musicality, always staying within the parameters set up for the song, a welcome approach to a situation where it's so easy (and can sound so good) to just totally lose it and battle it out with your bandmates. There are some choice moments of heavy tempo changes from thrash beats slowly trudging down the steps into a total tar pit of unconsciousness, like you're being slowly clubbed into the darkness by each and every beat. Another favorite, and something i wish there was a little more of was the double vocals, the sounds of two guys losing molars screaming into a shitty mic is the best. There are 7 songs in this short outing all with a different enough flavor to keep you happily chewing the fat and when it's over, wanting more, even if it's giving you heart failure and you're losing vision in one eye.

Full color cover artwork doesn't really match up with the way either side made me feel, but not a bad looking tape.

www.phaseweb.tk

Friday, June 27, 2008

SEAGULL "From Grass and Earth" (Smoke Filled Casket)

Somehow this recent slab sent in from Seagull's Michael Piercey became unfairly buried in the "already reviewed" pile and so did not appear in the most recent column (which is solely comprised of a ton of reviews to make up for my absence on the 'Gods blog). Just as well, because this piece absolutely kills and so deserves a little extra shine on its lonely.
Seagull recently appeared on the second volume of Sam McKinlay's excellent Lake Shark Harsh Noise compilations. Whereas that track ("The Heart Lies Dormant Against All Who Come For It") had a brutal mid-range heft, this second edition of "From Grass and Earth" is considerably more sadistic on the ears. Scalding sheets of high-pitched hiss and feedback are the main attraction here, particularly on Side A. That might not seem rare in harsh noise, but the particular way Seagull pulls it off is kind of refreshing in a scene of mostly low-end crunch worshippers. Characteristically, "From Grass and Earth" owes more to older Japanese artists like Pain Jerk than Canadian contemporaries like The Rita. It's "dirty" noise that ignores the usual defined, crumbling textures of the wall style in favor of greasy machine overload. At the same time, the layers congeal, separate and rub against each other to create an atmosphere of ghostly subtleties and unexpected harmony.
All in all, a perfect noise tape. Could have sworn this duo had a Myspace page at some point but now I can't find it. Seagull's own label is listed below in all its mailorder-ready glory. I suggest you visit and purchase this item and other merchandises and support the tenure of High Canadian Noise, long may it reign.

www.smokefilledcasket.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

XTRA VOMIT "Inebriation" (Otherwise Dead Records)

Awesome hardcore punk in just about every way. The riffs are catchy but not poppy. The vocal is strenuous and very human; totally youthful. I listen to this a lot in my car (but if you're on a bike you could use yr walkman, which is seeming like a MUCH more appealing situation these days). The production rules so fucking hard cos it's way raw and warm but not lo-fi, not losing any clarity and you can hear what's going on to the right degree I think; even the way the tracks are linked together is perfect; classic sample clips between tracks edited well and not akward or detracting from the music... I got this tape from the Loaded For Bear / Abrade tour in January 2007. I guess this guy Xtra Vomit, or Sock from Grand Rapids MI, was supposed to be with em or something and he couldn't make it, so they were getting his tapes out to people along the way. I didn't initially know what it was (just that it was probably punk or grind and not a noise tape); didn't know it was a solo act or that it was drum machine cos it's kind of like Mavis Concave's SX where the machine is pretty similar to a standard hxc punk drum style. There's a cover of the band Cress (in some ways similar, but not same, as Crass) which I didn't know before Cress actually used drum machines too. This tape definitely got me listening to a lot of Cress afterwards, which I'd really only heard briefly until then, and I can see a good amount of influence they might've had on the Xtra Vomit material in content and approach. There's a xerox zine/book that comes with the tape and it's got the words and collages and notes, totally fun but not at all just some childish bullshit trying to adhere to some stereotyped aesthetic. Xtra Vomit rules cos it's one dude in the midwest doing what he wants to do in the vein of classic hxc punk even in the 21st century. I think we're playing with him in Grand Rapids next month, so I'm pretty stoked. I hear there are other releases besides this "Inebriation" tape too... Robert Inhuman, June 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

JERK "Narrow Bionic" (Catholic Tapes)

From a murk that threatens to be the tedium of yet another drone-sludge release emerges fantastic and masterful rock music. With no-reference points that are meaningful, Jerk firmly has its own sound that centered around energized rhythms that evolve perfectly. Using the textures of both electronic and acoustic instruments, the beats fun and upbeat without sacrificing the meat. Sparse vocals punctuate just enough to make it a true rock affair. While fans of everything from Arab on Radar to Racoo-oo-oon would love this, Jerk don't travel any type of conservative road calculated to please everyone. They just weave a magic and unique rhythm based sound that feels great. Get it to soundtrack your summer by.

Friday, June 6, 2008

JOHN WIESE "Don't Move Your Finger" b/w "Corpse Solo" (Ecstatic Peace!)

A special brand of legitimacy is bestowed upon Noise artists who do not use pseudonyms. They get to do fancy shows funded by arts councils. (Nothing sounds less worthy of the Fine Arts gallery world than a Noise project called Feedback Twerp, or Stab Wound Crap Sack, regardless of how appropriate for the setting the music may be.) "Real name" artists don't have the burden of adhearing to one specific aesthetic the way that a project with a psuedonym must. In the case of John Wiese, I would never suggest that he is undeserving of any of his success, only that he wouldn't have had the same type of success had he called himself something goofy like almost everybody else. The issue is, how do these artists use their "real name" credibility to further their music, or the genre as a whole. Last year, Wiese toured Europe in a lineup featuring some current popular Noise artists, C. Spencer Yeh and the members of D. Yellow Swans, and some old-school English Free Improv musicians like Evan Parker and John Edwards. The shows were billed as "Free Noise" in an uninspired attempt to mashup the two genre names-- as if Noise weren't somehow "free" in the same sense as Free Jazz and Free Improv in the first place. (Or does it mean that they weren't charging a cover at the door?)

The result of this tour, for the rest of Wiese's work, seems to be a renewed excitement about improvisation and the musical aesthetic of Improv. After he returned from tour, Wiese set up the Sissy Spacek 13-tet, a truly abominable Improv performance featuring members of Mika Miko and No Age who, I'm certain if quizzed, could not name any of the original members of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, let alone grasp what Wiese was actually asking them to do in the performance. It was as if only half of the thirteen players (Mitchell Brown and Joseph Hammer specifically) were even aware that Free Improvisation was a musical practice that hundreds of brilliant people have devoted their entire careers to since the mid-1960's-- i.e.: a practice with a rich history to which a player must have some responsibility before they get up in front of a sold-out crowd and start fucking around.

Wiese has been much more successful adapting his newfound interest in old-school Improv to his solo work. The cassette, "Don't Move Your Finger b/w Corpse Solo" is the first document I've heard of a style in which Wiese has been performing occasionally throughout the last year or so. Whether or not the pieces are truly improvised is not the point-- they may be thoroughly composed. The sound borrows heavily from the moment-to moment logic of early European Free Improv (EFI) music. Both sides of the tape (appropriately recorded live in Holland and "somewhere in Europe") use minute slices of audio: Wiese shuffling around with contact mics, hitting drums / table legs, and twanging guitar strings. These sounds are placed among very short silences, and ping-ponged across the stereo spectrum. The feeling is very similar to the later days of EFI when electronics became more common but the compositional logic of the players hadn't yet adapted to their new instruments' strengths. One touchstone may be the music of Furt. This tape, like a Furt album, has a distinctly electronic sound palette, a British sense of fussiness (in a very Derek Bailey / John Stevens kind of way) and a pre-EAI (Electro-Acoustic Improvisation) idea of time and linearity. Wiese is proving here that he could have easily held his own had he appeared on the (so-called) orange CD on Charhizma, but on nothing afterward.

The real strength of this area of Wiese's music is not totally represented on this tape, however. The tape is good-- in fact, really good. But when Weise plays similar material live, it is the influence of his Noise music upbringing that makes this style into something special. He plays it loud. Really fucking loud. Which is not something that Furt do. And really, that volume is what pulls this stuff out of the realm of homage (to EFI, to Evan Parker, to whatever) and into something genuinely new. It sounds stupid to say that something so simple could, so drastically, change the nature of this music, but it is absolutely the case. The actual sounds that Wiese plays are, to my ears, undistorted. It is uncommon to hear clean audio at really high volume, and for it to be as violent and assaulting as Wises makes it. Seriously, I thought my teeth might rattle out of my head in the middle of the concert. The one aspect of EFI that Wiese has done away with entirely is it's politeness. By simply cranking the volume, he's given it quite a bit of attitude. So even though he records and perform under his real name (and not Withered By Her Stare or Autoerotic Nightstick) John Weise can still bring the noise. Even when seduced by other areas of art music (those that are substantially better funded) he choses to retain a degree of the confrontational nature inherent to Noise, learned through a decade of Noise mastery.