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