Saturday, February 28, 2009

ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE "Buffalo Hump, Moon Face, Thin Skin" c20 (Grimology Records)




Just had a conversation with my friend Sam from Brattleboro about the "scene" in vermont, trading notes on the few things we knew about and him giving me the low-down on a few things i didn't know anything about. Sure enough a package arrives today from self described "frozen northern vermont" from the Matt @ the Grimology label, something neither Sam nor I knew about, probably because it's like 2 hours of frozen wilderness away. Well, either way, its on the unfrozen internet now, so you all have no excuse.

This tape by Israeli Intelligence hailing from California, titled "Buffalo Hump, Moon Face, Thin Skin" is a real scorcher; two ten minute sides of unrelenting mischief and burn. Not so much like a wildfire out of control turning rich people's estates in embers, but more like a high pressure blast furnace on the intense end of the sound spectrum and on the other end with occasional breaks and voiced outbursts the burn would be better described as a semi-toxic melting plastic toys on yr dad's grill type of sound. Does music actually sound like that? Did I just describe a tape as sounding somewhere between a blast furnace and a pyromaniac 11 year old? Jeez...

Anyway, some good stuff on here in particular the ascending bass tones and vocal stuff that peers through the wall of noises make for a more dynamic listen. It makes sense a totally snowed in igloo-crew would be psyched on playing / releasing this stuff in their house driven near mad by months of trying to fight off hail, ice and hypothermia all the while dreaming of a white hot california sun burn.

Black and white cover features a totally googley-eyed dude that reminds
me of that scene in Un Chien Andalou where they cut that guys eye in half
that almost makes me puke every time.

Edition of 50, still available from the label:
http://www.grimeology.com/home.html

Friday, February 27, 2009

ORDINARY MACHINERY: “Stand While Fields Pass” c20 (Three Songs of Lenin)


I’m not particularly well-versed when it comes to field recordings. In fact, this is probably the first one I’ve listened to where any part isn’t prefaced by “do you know what animal makes this sound?”. Nonetheless, Scott “Work/Death” Reber makes this one a memorable listen. The only notes included within are “recorded while others slept, at work under highways, near electricity, and refrigeration”. Apparently, Scott has been working third shift for the last few years and, combining said sounds of car tires bumping, water dripping, and white noise buzzes, he totally expemplifies that feeling of dancing around the border into late night mania when left to one’s own devices. Sometimes harsh, but always ambient, you’re left almost nervous when the tape clicks off and the hum disappears, like the silence of a power outage. This isn’t his frist endeavor into “found sound” editing but, without downplaying his other releases, I found this to be surprisingly dynamic and probably my favorite thing I’ve heard from him thus far.
Comes in Scott’s signature packaging style of Crass fonts and neutral 2-color screenprint insert.

PO Box 29680
Prov., RI 02909

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CARCINOGENIC STATIC CARNIVAL: "Live at Zebulon" (Massdist)

I'm always in admiration of musicians who challenge themselves to work outside of their assumed confines, those that have the ability to branch out to other genres while still carrying the charisma of their regular work with them. Colin Langenus is the embodiment of this lifestyle, playing every single type of music from rap to blues to folk, and now, with this arrangement, funk. "Live at Zebulon" find Langenus gathering his friends once again for another epic project chronicled here in four long but killer tracks.
What I enjoy about Langenus is that he never does anything half-assed. Any other person trying their hand at this would just play the music, same ol' line-up, bass, drums, and guitar. What Langenus possesses is an inherit knowledge of what makes music great, how to make a full sound, in this case, adding various horns and, this is what totally does it for me, JAZZ FLUTE. The result is easily comparable to any of Stevie Wonder's earlier works, keenly dead-on instrumentation. Although a little more King Crimson than Parliament at times, the more intensely rocking parts take nothing away, they just make you want to bob your head even more. I suppose most ears might define this as "noise-funk", but the noise feels pretty minimal on this, just slight background gurgle on the last track. This is really more a display of the talent of the musicians within than anything else. If there's anything I'm disappointed about in Langenus' side projects from Usaisamonster, it's that they aren't given a larger light. Given, I might be slightly biased as his solo album, "Living with the Rock", is one of my favorite albums of all time, but considering the strength of most of his discography, I'm gonna keep buying what he's selling.

http://massivedistribution.com/

HORSE BOYS: s/t c40 (OSR Tapes)


Zach Phillips, Northeastern man about town and relentless musician breaks out his piano chops on this c-40 of lo-fi songsmithing. Zach can also be seen in bands like Cave Bears, Sord, Heat Wilson, Snake Guts, and his electronic project, Nals Goring, but this tape finds him cutting out all the extras and making simple but ideally produced songs, and a lot of them, 38 to be precise. Mostly titled with a structure of “What is ‘X’ Like”, the songs are sometimes fast and panicky, but mostly more relaxed, leisurely strolls across classic novels you’ve been meaning to read, think Erik Satie after a couple cups of coffee recording on a boom box at home. Gently peppered with some field recordings and tape collage, these songs could easily be the soundtrack to a Michel Gondry movie, best listened to with headphones on rainy afternoons, doing crossword puzzles or writing to friends.
Edition of 100, comes in a handmade sleeve with color copy insert.

http://osr-tapes.info
http://www.myspace.com/horseboys

LYRTHAS: "Drink the Blood..." (self-released)

Lyrthas is the nom de plume of Lane Milburn, prominent member of the Closed Caption Comics group based in Baltimore, MD and formerly 1/3 of the black metal trio, Witch Hat. In this independent endeavor, Milburn modestly packages his work with all black & white materials, recycles major label tapes, and even notes that these are "demo recordings 2007-2008". I use the word "modest" because this feels like far too little for such an epic piece of work.
I'm not particularly familiar with metal in general beyond GWAR and Black Sabbath, but Milburn compares himself to Mercyful Fate, Destruction, and Accept. All I know is that this is what I wish all metal could be, 7 tracks and 24 minutes of super speed on one side that's over before you want it to be. Milburn does all of the instrumentation himself, playing guitar and drum machine (I think), as well as providing eerie vocals and the occasional organ accompaniment. This is basically like walking, no, RUNNING through a haunted house. Or woods. Or a haunted anything while fleeing in terror from winged demons, the point is that the mania this provides can turn any day into Halloween. Proof that the nicest guys are the ones most harsh.
Apparently, this is the first Lyrthas work since 2003, so one can only hope that it isn't another 5 years before the next one sees the light of day. This is the first tape I've actually ever made copies of for friends. Embrace the darkness.

http://www.closedcaptioncomics.blogspot.com

FLORIS VAN HOOF: "A Fudge Too Much" c42 (Breaking World Records)

I'd like to preface this by first saying that I have liked every single tape, record, CD-R, etc. that George Myers has ever released. In the world of independent record labels, Breaking World is king in quality, packaging, nearly every facet is well-considered. Given, he recently broke a catalog number of 100, so he's had some time to perfect his process.
This tape came shortly after a recent tour with his band, Grey Skull, to Europe, and as far as I know, he is the first to officially bring Van Hoof to the US, and I am more than ecstatic that he has done so. There's no such thing as "perfect" in any medium, but as far as noise tapes are concerned, this at least makes for a really great archetype.
Side A starts with the song "Boing", primarily electronic beats doing as they're titled, pleasantly bouncing around amidst rhythmic bursts of static. This slowly works its way into "Fudge", a deep, layered, organic drone sparsely peppered with a lo-fi exterior of the sound of tapes being ejected and flipped, and I also think I heard a phone ringing. Side B continues this darker vibe with "Thunderfunder", a one-man semblance to the "thunder drum" featured in Sun Ra's "Strange Strings", eventually dissolving into 8-bit mayhem alarms that slide their way into the final track "Sandworm", stylistically bringing the whole thing full circle. Typically, I hate really long tapes, but this c42 covers a lot of ground without ever becoming drawn out. This is the first thing I would give to someone who wanted to learn more about tape trading, or even the potential of electronic music beyond the "Pitchfork Favorites" regulars. This is only Van Hoof's fourth formally released recording, so I think we have a lot to look forward to from this fella.

http://www.endlesswebsite.tk/
http://www.breakingworldrecords.com/

SHV: s/t c40 (Night People)

Providence is a straight-up spooky place. At night, it's a ghost town with people living in it, it's bizarre and beautiful. In comes semi-recent transplant SHV (an acronym for "Superior Human Vomit"), the identity of Ali, a former member of Boston supergroup Dreamhouse, and someone who waves that freak flag high. She's also a regular collaborator playing with Carlos Gonzalez (Russian Tsarlag) in the new band, Swamp Tease, and has also contributed to Christopher Forgues' Hexmorb project.
This is only Ali's second release under the SHV moniker, the first being the "Endless Love" cassette on Geoff Mullen's Rare Youth label, but it's definitely a fully-formed sound. The first word that comes to mind is "industrial", with piston-pumping drums and super fuzzed-out bass sounds. Imagine your favorite Joy Division tape getting super worn out and then having the pitch turned up a bit higher. This seems to be the primary concern on this tape, but it also has moments of goopy oscillations and found sound clips from "Some Like it Hot", including a brilliantly placed outro of Marilyn Monroe singing "I'm Through with Love". The lyrics otherwise remain relatively unintelligible, with a few exceptions (my favorite being a sing-along of "one hand on your neck, one hand on your chest"), and the lyrics sheet within is unreadable due to the small size of the type bleeding during printing (well, at least I think they're lyrics). I think this is really cool actually, and sort of prevents the listener from getting too direct of a message, because when making my own interpretation of this work, the broadness feels like something that really helps you understand and connect to the creator's process and their intentions. Between the eeriness of the music itself, and the sort of "tongue-in-cheek" vibe from the mass of cats on the cover, this makes for a remarkably sincere listen from someone who could own the world if they wanted to. Another good example of a c40 that goes by without a minute of redundancy.

http://www.raccoo-oo-oon.org/np/

OPHIBRE / HUNTED CREATURES split c40 (OPH Sound)



Packaged like a wedding invitation this tape definitely had a "till death do us part" vibe shared between both sides. Ophibre's side was a sprawling 20 minute toboggan ride down a tuvan throat singer's waterslide party. Totally smooth crooning and wavering without any of the party, crooning or a waterslide atmosphere. Maybe falling off a bridge and being consoled by the sound of the wind and watching the earth approach in slow motion would be more apt. Would fit in nicely with the buddah box loops that i would play non-stop if it didn't drive the people i live with crazy (and that's not meant to be derisive.)

The Hunted Creatures side is a nice fit and disposing of the consistency of the Ophibre side works two pieces with a bit more of a contour to the journey focusing less on the catatonic elements that Ophibre wrestled with and more on the distinction between similar objects, like a desert landscape where everything has been bleached and burned by the sun for hundreds of years (or a few nuclear weapons.) This could be partially because it's a live set though that doesn't reveal itself in the recordings particularly which are of a high enough fidelity that you don't feel like there's an ocean of air between you and the actual sounds.

Nice packaging and good any season listening, deep dark winter despair or spring time with the windows nailed open.
Not sure of the edition size but it still appears to be available:
www.ophibre.com

ANDREA STROUD : "Killer Workout" c30 (Hot Releases)




You know how when your filming a tv screen or computer and the frame rate between the camera and the monitor is off so it flickers or distorts or skips around? Usually in movies they cover it up with fancy modern technology so you can't see the irregularity, but sometimes it's in tact. Like maybe in the dude's house from Silence of the Lambs, or maybe in some gangrene Japanese horror movie featuring a girl who works out non-stop in near darkness to the sound of dripping water echoing down some empty hallway filled with near reptilian hand-less victims mumbling to themselves for an eternity.

Maybe the sound of the tv is on and you can hear "it" but it's so over driven and blown out that only every so often to you catch a glimpse of a melody, maybe it's some synthesizer buried under tape hiss or maybe that's a broken heater and someone breathing down your neck, hard to tell but you know it's not comfort music.

Supposedly all sourced from workout tapes there's definitely a suggestion of someone really really pushing themselves here, everything is in the red and it sounds awesome, the most audible 'music' comes at the end of the second side with a crappy 'punk' sounding guitar jam totally overgrown with moss and sauce, nothing clean, easy or in shape about this.

Comes packaged in really, really well done full color fold out insert of workout photos of the artist, totally insane. Definitely recommended.
Not sure of the edition but still available from the Hot Releases myspace where there are also sound clips:
www.myspace.com/hotreleases
and their proper internet home:
www.hotreleases.org

Monday, February 23, 2009

MIST "Certain Expansion" c40 (Pizza Wagon)




Debut release number 3 for today (sort of)! This one off of Cleveland's own Pizza Wagon which is a split release by Wagon run by John Elliott of Emeralds and Pizza Night run by the perennial nice guy Sam Goldberg though it doesn't show up in either of their discographies so maybe this is a co-release venture.

Appropriately this tape is these two dudes collaborating on two sides of heavy heavy synthesizer with credits for a voice and electric violin in there though they must heavily processed in the mix because it just felt like two synthesizers oscillating as yr hurtled through zero gravity in an epic, endless somersault. Really beautiful black hole, blind folded centipede leg jams.

Unfortunately doesn't appear to be available from any of the labels but they're worth checking out if yr intrigued.

Sam's Pizza Night label:
http://clevelandpizzanight.blogspot.com/
John's Wagon label, though everything is sold out:
http://clevelandwagon.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Driphouse "Axe" c31 (Gel)




Another debut release, this time coming from Daren Ho, formerly of Racoo-oo-oon, now running his own label under the name Gel. Its first release is "Axe" by Driphouse which is Daren's solo recordings. Though the title may lead you to think (hope?) that this is 31 minutes of Daren standing on a mountaintop assaulting his Flying-V guitar while his hair blows in the wind and lightning splinters the very earth he's standing on, well, it's not that. In fact there's very little evidence of the credited guitar on here, except the end of the second side features some very unmasked guitar playing that stands in stark contrast to the heavily balanced first side. The tape's first side is a long comet tail of arpeggiated synth wrapped and delivered in lush layers of unrolling cat tails of electronics and less obvious guitar work. A really well composed side of melodic, clean and controlled synth with a degree of freedom that keeps your ears perked.



The second side is a counterpoint, much more quiet, without the heavily padded synthesizer lines built on top of each other. The space and guitar work create a much more difficult listening environment, where the first side encourages the listener to relax the second side, with its focus on lack forces your ear to pay closer attention to the developments and directions the music takes.

Comes packaged in a really nice color transparency with great minimal lettering/design.

Not sure of the edition and there's no website up yet, use your highly evolved email skills to get in touch and pick a copy:
gel.inquiry@gmail.com

picture at top is of both the Driphouse "Axe" cassette and the second Gel release "Exterminator Sunshine 2" by Ryan Garbes (which also rules!)

Dave Smolen "S/t" c1 (Breathmint)




Yep, you read it right, a 1 minute tape. Jeez! I just saw this guy play at INC and he was one of my favorites, really percussive electronics, so you can imagine how disheartened i was to discover this tape was the only thing of his available that night, though i still picked it up thinking, 'i wonder how anyone could approach the task of making two 30 second sides worth all that trouble.' Of course, it gets better, it's not even the full side and both sound really really similar, like someone waking up in the middle of a gamelan riot, uh, for like 15 seconds, twice...

Luckily I picked up a bunch of other stuff from him that night because this would definitely not suffice when i was in a Smolen mood. Still, gotta give props to Breathmint for once again doing something that most people would not let sneak beyond the conception phase. Plus i've heard his request to the artists is "Gimme your best minute!" which i'm pretty fond of.

Comes in black and white cover on red paper.
Looks like Breathmint is in the process of getting the newest batch up so i'm not sure of the edition but check:
www.breathmint.net for more info.
Picture of Dave Smolen pulled from the site of the label he runs:
www.malleablerecs.com

Buckets of Bile "Outside Mind" c6 (Speed Tapes)




Fresh outta the Postlady's bag, Speed Tapes' debut release by Buckets of Bile, outside of the name, is hardly what I'm used to getting in the mail. Outside Mind, at 3 minutes a side of lo-fi fuzzy keyboards with female voicing feels a lot more suited for the 7" format. At first listen it's not 100% obvious you're listening to 'pop music' per se, the 'percussion' is totally totally buried like a pompeian boombox, on top of that there's a heavy fog of distorted keyboards (i think anyways) and finally there's the almost casual singing; all creating the illusion that yr on an aimless stroll to where ever the sky is the bluest, instead of a clearly marked. Or maybe it's intentional deception, hansel and gretel style, the muddiness is meant to help you lose your path and, you know, tap into that "the journey is the destination" vibe.

The A side, appropriately, is the more catchy with the "I don't mind" refrain hypnotizing you for the almost 3 minutes of fuzzy warmth. While the B side still has a hook and bite to it, the double voicing acts to further distance itself from a song (while still definitely being one). Definitely for fans with an appreciation of the (lo-fi) pop song format and the expansion of its limitations. A nice change of pace between filling my ears with camel piss and street rot, for real.

Full color covers, released in an edition of 100.
Sound samples and purchasing info available at the label's myspace:
www.myspace.com/speedtapes

Sunday, February 1, 2009

FLETCHER PRATT "Mind Gunk Vol. 11" c20 (Housecraft)



Maybe it's not yr mom, but someone's mom you know or maybe it's yr friend's step-dad's grandmother who is a little, uh, over-ripe. You know, not just collecting porcelain frogs, but maybe old oreo cookie boxes and newspaper clippings of fourth of july parades. And, just so you know that she knows you think she's crazy there's a really nice (and old) bumper sticker on the hutch which is covered in pictures of cats (from advertisements) that reads "God Bless This Mess" and, you know what, she's right. It's all arranged in its proper place, suggesting more like a life-collage than somebody with a mental illness.

If that "grandma" is Maude, then Fletcher Pratt is the Harold, without all the morbid fascination and concern with "living life." A c20 rollercoaster of gadget attacks, guitar bombast, tape sounds scrawled on the walls of a passing 18 wheeler. I can just imagine the four track this came out of having the same "God Bless This Mess" sticker on it and Fletcher just chilling amid a pile of broken vhs tapes, alf dolls and wet spaghetti, cooking up a plan for his next bully session with sound, bending it to his will and calling shaking a shopping bag full of wine glasses accompanied by a broken acoustic guitar "music." The title mind gunk is super appropriate in this case and the fact that there may be 10 other volumes of this out there is awesome. As Snap! once said "It's gettin kinda hectic."

Comes with full color, handcut insert
out of print from the label:
http://housecraftrecordings.com/
appear to be some available at the Tomentosa Distro:
http://www.tomentosarecords.com/housecraft.html

THE TERATOLOGIST "Cabinet of Curiosities" c30 (Cathartic Process)




Cover of the tape has a picture of a baby's head in some type of forceps on an otherwise all black, minimal background. I put the tape in and said out loud to my girlfriend "get ready for some harsh noise!" I started taking off my shirt, getting out the barbed wire, broken glass and mousetraps to accompany the tapes shredded innards blasting and I have to admit, I was caught off guard.

Instead, the speakers began to ooze what sounded like field recordings of a submarine or a conversation between two tectonic plates. Heavy, slow and clear the (for me) terrifying sensation of descending into a intentional dimly lit, claustrophobic environment was only offset by the almost slick presentation of the sounds. Don't know if it's a laptop of just that DM Turner (who is credited with "all sounds") really knows how to engineer a release that is immensely improved by the high quality of the sound.

The second side shifts the focus slightly on the interplay between the subtle and the overstated, like the ship is navigating its way through an algae asteroid field; this is suggested on the first side but it's almost foreshadowing for the more intense relationship of the second side.

If this tape were 4 hours longer it could be the noise version of Dark Side/OZ but instead it'd be Teratologist/Das Boot.

Still available from the label, sound clips on the site:
http://www.catharticprocess.com/

DJ YO-YO DIETING "DRUM" c88 (Portland Bad Dateline / Cherried Out Merch)




Back in the halcyon days of hip hop as disco was losing its grip on popular culture and gangs and djs came together to jam parties and rival crews beefed over who was the baddest mc, had the best clothes or knew how to dance the hardest, the music at its core was celebratory. The mcs were bragging and boasting, the djs were working for turntable supremacy, the breakers were searching for the craziest moves and the graffiti kids were trying to throw up the newest letterings/pieces they could imagine.

Then in 2008 DJ Yo-Yo Dieting (bka Sisprum Vish outta the NWest) put out an 88 minute tape of slooooow sludgey worm swallowing music drawn from this legacy and more recently the exploits of grey tape magician DJ Screw. The sounds are nauseating, the tempo is near rigor mortis and the feelings you're left with are euphoria bordering on shame. What the eff happened? Blame it on political corruption and attendant civic alienation, hopelessness in the face of catastrophic global weather patterns or raw capitalism's endless pursuit of profit in the face of human suffering and ecological devastation. They all qualify but still leave me feeling hollow as to why i want to listen to Snoop D-O double G's voice at half speed while the female chorus (who now sounds like a man!) talks about what she wants done to her/him sexually, by a group of dudes.

Nope, no explanation why I keep listening, it just stays on repeat in my tape deck because i like the feeling of walking around with jelly fish under may ski-mask and wet cement in my boxers. Man, i don't know, listening to this tape is like prank calling your mother or something? Well, I've never done that but I do listen to this tape all the time.

Full color cover, see above.
still available from the label:
http://acnewinds.blogspot.com/

Vucub Cane : "Voices of the Mourning" c26 (self released)

This is the mystery jam if there ever were one. Total demo style, cut and paste artwork on top of a crappy black photo copy, blank tape, no info except mr. cane played "drums, effects, vocals, guitars." My sources said it's "folk black metal" which had my ears perked and red with excitement and i wasn't disappointed.

The tape is actually one-sided and burns the whole way through, there are songs listed and instruments credited, but in all honesty it just sounds like a hot burning wall of desolation; 'vocals' totally blasted out and filling up the ear cavern with wailing ulcerated guitars coming in second to singe everything left standing after the vocal onslaught. The "drums" and "effects" credited are like air cavalry, never see em but you definitely feel em. The whole tape has a real bleak vibe and quality to it that aligns it in my mind with elements of black metal but some of the clarity is missing to put it over the top which to me is a good thing, it feels a lot more ethereal and as a result desperate because you don't know what the hell to do with the wave of body bags just thrown at you.

No contact info and not much online besides a few message board surfers trying to get a hold of it. Check yr local morgue for a copy maybe?

ID M THEFTABLE / CRANK STURGEON c46 (Basement Tapes)

A slap on the knuckles for me! It wasn't until I read the liner notes AFTER listening that i realized this was a split tape and not a collab. It's really not a gigantic deal and sort of explains what my main statement was going to be.

Id M and Crank are the two main dudes (at least to my knowledge) disrupting the Portland, ME music scene. At any given show you're likely to see them spray reconstituted milk on you while almost nude or play a ruler while conducting the audience to squeal out fake animal names.

This tape listens a lot more like "alone time" jams. No audience to interact with or distract the process (not that it is a bad thing when they do.) In fact, absent from both sides of this release is any prolonged exploration of voice trauma, usually a key component of their live sets. Instead a relatively fast paced carousel of tape cuts, toy instruments eeking out their last beep and sundry cheap tape decks being tossed about by the musicians in a manic attempt to freak themselves out while alone.

A nice addition to their catalog of releases and it's worth checking out to hear these guys step back from their focus on vocals, which it bears repeating, is nothing something i have a problem with at all!

Both awesome live acts, check em out if you ever get the chance.

Printed in an edition of 100, full color nice photo collage covers.
Still available from the label:
www.myspace.com/boilerroomemissions