Friday, May 30, 2008

DOLPHINS INTO THE FUTURE "untitled" (Dreamtime Taped Sounds)

Lieven Martens has been oozing creative weirdnesses into the ether since before the day I first learned what a CDR was. His Imvated label was always way ahead of the pack in terms of focused obscurity-cultivation (illogical artwork, random-seeming bands, confusing packaging choices, etc), and most tape-traders were very sad to see it go. But his resurrection via the Bread And Animals umbrella of sub-labels sees Lieven hitting his stride more than ever before, yo-yo-ing out an endless string of ever more esoteric projects and aliases and concepts. One of the greater things about this phase two operation is the added emphasis on Lieven's own music, which lately has been dispersed with increasing frequency under the banner of his new age grey-wave band, Dolphins Into The Future. Seemingly based largely around the ideas espoused by the Sega Genesis game "Ecco The Dolphin," the bulk of the Dolphins recorded output sounds like wobbly cassettes of porpoise conversations played through a daisy chain of delay and reverb and salt water with some ambient keyboard loops layered on top. Deeply aimless shit, for sure, but aquatic drift can be a sublime thing, and this self-titled CS knows when to sink and when to swim, which makes for a nicely balanced soak in the Dreamtime pond. The cover looks like it was straight-stolen from a pamphlet about the astrological properties of crystals though, total soft lavender overdose. Just looking at it makes you feel like you're slowly being brainwashed to believe in past lives and talking animals.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

PAID IN PUKE "The Nyah Nyah Nyyyaaah Demo" (self-released)

Seeming to come from the mind of 13 year old boy, Paid In Puke is actually one New Jersey lady C. Lavender. Fitting in well with the Radio Shock lo-fi beats theory of diy, and harkening back to that brief moment when Cobra Killers' were the breath of fresh air over at Digital Hardcore and Kathleen Hannah's solo album promised something much rougher and punk than Le Tigre ended up being. The assemblage of the beats is equal parts keys, drummachines, erotic samples, and who knows what without feeling overly-collage based. Short and sweet also plays as a strength to this little party in a cloth pouch that appears for a distorted, digitally crunched moment and then is gone. Only complaint is that side B begins about 1 min in. May home dubbing humble us forever.

SECRET ABUSE "Sojourn 3.6" (Agents of Chaos)

Jeff Witscher's Iowa relocation-evolution continues to deepen and intensify with each and every new CS, and although this one says it was recorded in March in California (right around when the aborted Deep Jew tour was kicking off), it has all the hallmark overdriven drone mood motions of his Midwest-birthed "Young Pig" volumes: excoriating sheets of vaporous noise, hypnotic upswellings of low-end, fractured guitar tones fed into the face of an amp, etc. It's the perfect middle ground between the pissed rage of his Impregnable fits and the new age bath of Marble Sky -- harsh meditation, maybe? This one seems to be pitifully rare, and is as ripe for a reissue as everything else he's touching these days. Comes with a couple classic poesy inserts too, as per usual. One of 'em ends with: "It was reported their singing resembled/the flight of moths in moonlight/who can say? it is silent now." You can't make this shit up, it's too real.

Friday, May 23, 2008

PLANKTON WAT "Alchemy of Darkness" (DNT)

Plankton Wat is Dewey from Eternal Tapestry's solo guise where he sits in a chair, oils up his wah pedal, and goes to fucking town. Total one-man instrumental space-drift raga-blues with an emphasis on delay (reverse and regular), wah, and brain-ooze. One could make the claim that there's a lot of this kinda stuff flying around out there on the information superhighway but in truth you could really say that about anything, so that doesn't hold much water for me. To my ears, this is the best Plankton outing I've yet heard, great grey mood rings flashing with shadows of color and layers of refracted light, gently picked strings, bursts of hypnotizing distortion, falling leaves of echo and hush. Would be nice to lay on yr back on a fucked up rug and have Dewey serenade you with these blissed, blue ballads. Could use a pillow too, as long as we're dreaming.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

MANDARIN CLIT "Pisum Sativum" (Scumbag Relations)

Scumbag Relations sticks so rigorously to its scum electronics cage one can't help but applaud it. Since the very first tape dubbed its way into the world the mission has been: disgusting, creepy-crawl, experimental nausea. Long may the Scum flag wave. Mandarin Clit has been a very recurrent name in their catalog and each CS I've heard bearing that name has made me feel ill, confused, and awkward. "Pisum Sativum" is no exception. Housed in a a great hand-cut J-card of a pile of olives (and bearing a tiny insert of a photo of a vagina with a twig laying on it), this one-sided C23 is as true to form as a person could conceivably hope. Dry scrapes, a metal object being touched and dropped, the steady hum of a machine, dead space -- this is the ultimate in total unfeeling music. It's not for the listener OR the person playing it. It's hard to even say why it exists. It freaks me out. Cheers!

WILD GUNMEN "untitled" (White Tapes)

Apparently these Cincinnati outcasts have been around for ages but are so exclusively in love with drugs and drug addicts (or pretending like they are) that they never get their shit together enough to play live or tell anyone about their music -- hence their total mystery status despite years of activity. Hilariously (hypocritically?), however, the drugs have in no way compromised their ability to set up and maintain a Myspace page and litter it with daily blogs ranting about hazy nonsense (clearly the the high-speed internet bill keeps gettin' paid on time). Russ from Blues Control put out this tape a little while ago, which then got passed to James Toth/Wooden Wand, who fell hard for 'em and has since released a handful of additional WG CDRs on his Mad Monk label. Don't know what those discs are all about, but this CS is pretty likable, if a little relentlessly inconsistent. The female singer's got a real voice and knows how to use it but often chooses to ditch it for an alternate personality where she acts like a bad actress and sings super high and performance art-y and lists every drug she can think of (a lot like that Queens of the Stone Age hit from a few summers ago!!). The rest of the band's contributions range from loner Jandekian Americana folk stumble to lo-fi noisy rumblings to slow ambient pulsings, but for the most part stay fairly compelling. Warts and all though, a mossy gem of a tape, with lots of hills and valleys and dead-end alleys to get mugged in, and another cool piece of the recent White Tapes resurgence puzzle.

SOCIAL JUNK "untitled" (JK Tapes)

Ashland, KY's pride/joy are gearing up for a MASSIVE US tour and a relocation to KALI-FORNIA, so now is the time to recognize and give praise to Heather & Noah's years-running electronics miscellany mission under the Social Junk flag, and I recently dug out this old-ish C60 on JK Tapes and it's flooring me all over again. Such a broad planet of moods, instruments, tempos, intensities, layers, levels, etc. A genuinely perplexing band to pinhole or even explain, the breadth of terrain they cover is stunning. Subtle low-end loops rumble on concrete, distant sax blasts explode in the corners, hypnotic voices chant, ritual drumming marches into the foreground with a parade of emotive distortion, vibes transition from miserable to majestic in an instant, you get lost in the current of their ideas and tidal pulls and then look up and it's an hour later, the tape's over. This is another gem in the gold vault of SJ's ever-deepening discography. Pay attention soon.

TRAUM ECKE "untitled" (Goaty Tapes)

West Mass backyard ectoplasm sculptors Ducktails have been unleashing a stream of limited cassettes over the past year-ish documenting their very post-Skaters brand of pop-trash neon electronics (themes/artwork usually float around 1992, Nintendo Power, dream zones, Predator, etc) and Traum Ecke is an offshoot operation mining the same basic mirror field of warped tones, shimmering ambiance, and psychedelic murk. This particular CS (packaged in a classically gorgeous Goaty-brand full-color hand-cut J-card) crawls through a really well executed skylight vision bath, awash in looped keyboard sparkle, guitar ooze, and pitter-patter percussion. It's really hard not to hear the echoes of so many Pacific City Ferraro/Clarke incarnations in this stuff, but there's always room for new kids on the block, and the Ducktails dudes are clearly solid descendants in the rad lineage of Slimer-worshiping, acid transmission, basement new agists. Thumbs up.

SAINTS "Umbanda" (Abandon Ship)

First heard a demo tape from this Goleta dude/duo a while back that sounded like a single mic left on in a room while someone took turns clattering out rickety rhythms on various random surfaces. Very empty, small energies, no real agenda. Intrigued me, but didn't really catch fire. For this CS on Abandon Ship they've clearly been doing some jam-homework, ironing out arrangements and aesthetics, it sounds like a totally different band. Now things are heavily in-the-red, with blown-out percussion played slo-mo style, distorted moaning, lots of repressed feedback, discomfort. Whatever coastal loner experimental hippie vibe they used to kick around is gone, replaced with a heavy noise, proto-industrial vibe, pissed off but lazy, lolling around in a stew of bile. Umbanda is a fringe Afro-Brazilian religion founded by a medium in the early 20th century, and every "song" on this C-whatever is named after a different esoteric tenet of this faith, but I can't discern even the remotest relationship between subject matter and sound. Not that there needs to be, of course. Would prefer things not be so angry-sounding, but perhaps they've got an axe to grind with the Umbandan belief system?

TEENAGE WAISTBAND "I Saw What I Wanted To See" (self-released)

I've listened to this tape like 5 times with the intention of rambling out a decent descrip but it always ends right as I'm starting to think of something to say and then the moment's gone. I gotta get faster (long-ass drone cassettes give you way more time to ponder!), apologies. This band is from Providence, RI and this CS has an awesome 2-color silkscreen job on bright orange paper and seems really appealing on the exterior. Inside it's more so-so, stripped guitar/bass/drum punk, played pretty legitimately in that herky-jerky style that kids used to love back in early 00's. The singer's voice is awfully helium-y to listen to for any extended period of time though (so I guess it was wise they only made this CS 14 min long), and the songs have that back-and-forth feeling a lot of punk stuff has where you can sorta tell exactly what each instrument is going to do before it even happens. I'm sure live this would be pretty fun to bob yr head to for 10 minutes and then go hang with yr friends but on tape everything's recorded/mixed pretty sanely and evenly and simply, so it never gets as crazy as you want it to. That's not really a fair complaint, more of a projection, but I feel like a really shitty/raw live recording of TW would RIP, or a freaky session where they force themselves to add a ton of bizarre overdubs to one of their songs or something. Good stuff, but the waistband seems cinched a bit too tight, could use some loosening. Sag that shit out, teens.