Friday, December 24, 2010

FACTUMS - "Guilding The Lilies" C45 (Night People)


Finally!Seattle's Factums bless us with another dose of tortured dub worship and blank, no wave deconstruction, this time in the form of a cassette.If you are still being mesmerized by last year's ultra-inventive "Flowers" LP, as I know I sure am, you will surely fancy this batch of songs just as much, if not more.
Right off the bat, Lilies fills the open spaces with damaged percussive loops, reminiscent of early Suicide and Young Marble Giants' clever minimalist bumps.Every click and rattle are soaked in heavy delays and more than a touch of reverb.Once they have totally hypnotized you with a lengthy clicking drone, they chime in with a creeping synthesizer and those downer vocal slurs that we love them for.These elements all seem to melt together so well for this band, and they continue to belt out something completely different and fresh every time.
The songs on Guilding aren't so similar to what we've been hearing from them recently.There's still a strong presence of Residents-esque no wave weirdness to their music, but things have definitely been toned down in terms of tempo and overall mood.These tunes are fairly laid back and heavy on the dub tip.They tend to drift off into space here and there, but this tape is pretty cohesive in hindsight.Works in fragments just fine, which is how most of their stuff is put together, but I think this album is best listened to in it's entirety.This is a bit of new territory for Factums, if you can imagine that.Fantastic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

COYOTE SLINGSHOT // CAUTION (COMMA) LEMMY
“Jumping Fences With The Road Kill” split
(Sweat Power #004)

a guest review by Josh Landes, culled from the Feeding Tube Records "review a cassette" box

Coyote Slingshot is a frantic burst of plaintive whines, carnivalesque synth lines, and hyperbolically distressed lyrics. It sounds like a diary recitation at a raucous party: there is something very pained and personal to these fractured pop hymnals, but the sheer enthusiasm with which they are delivered pushes them into a frenzied sing-a-long of complete abandon and rapturous release. A touchstone on the path to this interesting and exhilarating sound would be Sunset Rubdown, but this cassette establishes an independent voice for members Dominic Rabalais, Camille Morehead, and Julia Ross. I would like to see this in a dank basement with maximum deranged gyrations. The first track, “I Should Have Killed You When I Had The Chance, If I Had Ever Gotten The Chance To Kill You”, is a stomper. The wordy title speaks to the wry sense of self the passionately rendered tracks impart onto the listener. This is their party. We are the ones in the stupid hats. The second track, “Grace From Terror”, begins with a facile, glee hook, and settles into a heads-down skank-fest with some delightfully rough guitar crunch and group vocals. The band nods to Neutral Milk Hotel and Black Flag on their internet presence, and I can see what they’re drawing from: the sort of lo-fi explosions of NMH cuts like “King Of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2-3” and BF’s grim determination and ‘into the red’ presentation. I like this band; they don’t seem to half-ass a goddamn thing and they have something to yell about.

The Caution (Comma) Lemmy side of the split consists of trembling electronic burbles and pitched squalls eating their way into your head in the background. Warm, gargled waves segue into more fuzzy eruptions. Textures are contrasted on the second track (“Senti-Mentali-Tease”) with interventions of heavily distorted and cracked noise landing atop a bed of hums. The third track brings in some vocal samples to languish beneath a heavy serving of whatever has been going on for the last few minutes. Its inability to engage the listener is perhaps due to the brevity of what are best described as aborted suggestions to sound. These propositions seem unfinished and don’t provide a great amount of accentuation to their meandering ideas. The perplexingly titled Caution (Comma) Lemmy remain a cipher to me.

Favorite Cassettes of 2010

Provided below is a list of my favorite cassettes that were released this year. These aren't in order of enjoyment or interest, and are rather in alphabetical order because there's no competition between these cassettes.

Colored Mushroom & The Medicine Rocks "At Red Frosting" c26 (Wagon): John Elliott's latest foray into synthesizers has expanded by adding two other members to the group. Not only does Elliott and co. put forth the as-expected shimmering tones heard from projects like Imaginary Softwoods and Emeralds, but also incorporate driving rhythms into the mix. At Red Frosting has led me to believe that this is the most accessible Emeralds side project, but I could be exaggerating.

Cyque-Sage "Woven Hare" c40 (Different Lands): Mike Pouw (who also records as Knit Prism) has created some great rainy-day/nighttime music with his moniker Cyque-Sage. Very subtle yet eerie tones begin to oscillate as shuffling, crackles, and clattering interjections weave in and out of the drones; it's hauntingly beautiful. - http://capri.firstpress.net/Differentlands/

Sean McCann "Fable Shop" c49 (Cylindrical Habitat Modules): This seems to be an anomaly within what I've heard from McCann: no sprawling, ambitious orchestrations; here we have murky hums emanating from (what I assume is) a synth engulfed in foggy room ambiance. In a similar league to Cyque-Sage's Woven Hare, Fable Shop has that hermit/claustrophobic quality to it that leaves me both alienated yet subdued.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tapes I Like

Here are some newish tapes that I like:

Zaimph "Coast to Coast" C40 (Gift Tapes) - Marcia Bassett of Double Leopards newest...great stuff

Angels in America "Allergic To Latex" (self released) though i think it's now on Digitalis, but probably sold out...try epichotness@hellokitty.com , though that doesn't seem real, does it? Super great out of left field, twentyearolds from Western Mass and Baltimore play it like it ain't been played before, and maybe it's true...

Anthro Rex
- all of the recent self-releases have been great, and there are a few, including a split with Id M Theft Able...this from the "front man" of Neanderthal "rockers" Grey Skull. Really deconstructed shit. brings a winsome smile....drop Dan Cashman a line: porkatron88@hotmail.com

Preggy Peggy & the Lazy Babymakers
/Hjuler und Frau ++ Colorguard/Ashley Paul splits - both from a Serbian (?) label that I believe is called Male Bonding (actually it's called No Basement Is Deep Enough - ed.), but don't quote me on that. One of them is i
n a hand sown "pussy pouch" with public hair, blood and girl-come... contact xtabaywatch@hotmail.com or http://www.myspace.com/xtabaywatch

Mirror Tapes - located in Malaysia (again, ?) is putting our some cool looking reissues of noise and electronic music: Conrad Schnitzler, M.B., etc...http://www.mirrortapes.blogspot.com/

also gotta give it up again for Night People and Goaty Tapes whose releases are always little gems in the packaging and audio continuity department. Nice when one artist defines the look of a label. Most of their releases sound great, and they for damn sure look good on your shelf.

last, but not least, Sounds Of The Indian Snake Charmer, Vol. 2 a follow-up to the out of print first LP. Recorded by Aaron Dilloway in India...it is, as advertised, that wonderful music that snakes like to jam to so dearly - - http://www.hansonrecords.net

Friday, December 10, 2010

LAUHKEAT LAMPAAT "Mystery of Hyyry" c40 [pok]


Handmade cover travels many places most often giggling Finnish brothers Antti and Jaakko Tolvi ring bells, jangle change, gently tap percussion instruments, crazed strings, busy triangles, tablas b-side has your water drums pan flute mystery back for little bells playful and joy.

"This is hot oat! Lauhkeat Lampaat have found new views for their sounds. What used to be a mountain is a huge pile of bubble gum now and what used to be a straw is now an old tree dropping its seeds on your head. Call it free, call it impro, anyway the brothers and their guest have done something special for you. Hand made sleeves." pok
http://www.haamu.com/pok/catalogue.htm


Sunday, November 21, 2010

AARON ZARZUTZKI & NICK HOFFMAN "Opening Band" c10 [Pilgrim Talk]


Opening Band is the accompanying cassingle to Aaron Zarzutzki's and Nick Hoffman's full-length clatter platter, the Psychophagi LP also on Pilgrim Talk.
The two side-long pieces were culled from the same recordings as the LP but didn't fit on the vinyl. Bite-size morsels are actually really nice for this sort of thing. I'm not exactly sure what sorts of materials were used to create this, apparently Zarzutzki's weapon of choice is some sort of customized/disassembled turntable. I don't hear any records being played so I imagine Zarzutzki's got other plans. Hoffman (Veyou, Katchmare, the Pilgrim Talk and Ghost & Son labels) on the other hand is on the even vaguer outfit of objects and electronics. The first side titled "Chicago Make Some Noise!" wastes no time delving into a nightmarish free-improv zone whipping up enormous noises that sound like dragging a metal shelf across a concrete floor. After a bit of silence and pitter patter, the boys start in again with a constant, vibrating sine tone and another heavy freak out sounding like that shelf being torn apart.
The second side "No One Knows How to Party like Chicago" starts up with what sounds like a sputtering upright bass before one of them asks "Are we recording?" "Yeah" "Oh shit, I didn't know you started." The previous side moved between moments of silence and extreme volume, high peaks and deep valleys, while this side features a larger quantity of sounds being made throughout, some sounding like cymbals or metal pots and others of a more jagged electronic nature.
I dig that these guys are so rooted in the acoustic side of electro-acoustic improv, as it comes out more detailed than the more typical overloaded mixer noise stuff. The duo is incredibly dynamic, able to navigate nimbly between silence and frightening loud clatter. I haven't been able to decide whether I prefer the tape or the record, it usually ends up depending on how much time I have to listen. Whether you treat the tape as a taster, a companion piece or its own release, it is a cool piece of work and the first of what I hope to be many more releases from this new Chicago duo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PALE BLUE SKY "Souvenir" c23 (Jugular Forest)



The minimal synthesizer compositions of the Arbor label founder Mike Pollard have always fascinated me. From his work as Treetops to his latest moniker Pale Blue Sky, Pollard has proposed top-notch soundscapes. What makes his work so unique is its sonic capabilities; it doesn't present itself as a mind-blowing spectacle as much as it does provide a moderate amount of sound that seems too skeletal to ignore.

With Souvenir, we have five simply beautiful pieces. Unlike other synth-utilizing contemporaries, the tone is very warm and emphasizes lower frequencies. These particular frequencies aren't the kind that would shake the speakers, but instead fill the room with a calm rumble. Every pulsating tone that Pollard generates overlaps into an enveloping blanket of keys that remains subtle and understated, even at its most lush moments ("Lay, Wait" for example). Field recordings are also creatively utilized on the closer "Fell" which translate into a subdued crackle rather than revealing any discernible outdoor sounds. To summarize, Pale Blue Sky stuns me once again (this being the second release I've heard aside Shades of Grey) with this gorgeously-suited-for-analog, 23-minute opus. Highly recommended.

Limited to 75 cassettes, with a nicely simplistic fold-out j-card.

http://arborinfinity.com/palebluesky.html
http://jugularforest.com/

Monday, November 15, 2010

BERBER OX "Minor Tranquilisor" c56 [Stunned]


The title of this brand new tape on Stunned is no joke. Berber Ox is a project of Aussie David Rutledge and his tape delivers some serious "tranquilisation" divied out at a glacial pace.
The first of the four pieces "The Sister Phase" is by far the chilliest of the tape. And I mean fuckin' freezing! The damn thing could put you into some kind of hypothermic coma. Don't take that the wrong way as this piece is very engaging, but it gives you that pins and needle feeling you get when exposed to extreme cold. Overall, Rutledge devises an extremely minimal composition, employing only a couple oh-so-important drones. From there though, Rutledge will occasionally drop in manipulated tones that don't disrupt the heavy zone going on, but in fact intensify it. Some seriously expert drone work here! The second track, "Circadian," totally changes things up with a field recording of what sounds like walking through a quiet market or something. There are some foreign-language pop songs, motorcycles revving, people chattering. What I really love about the piece is it sounds like there is actual movement here; for instance, one song will come through loud and clear and gradually disappear as other sounds clutter the headphones and without noticing it another song will become barely audible and slowly come into focus. I don't know if the recordist physically moved through the sounds while recording or if it's just a great editing job but it's effective either way.
The flipside features the drones, muffled speech and distant thumping drums of "Carry Only the Money." There's a loud creaking chair of all things that pops up early in the piece leading to a small explosion of field recordings of whats like people moving stuff around. If you ever longed for a soundtrack to your move, here it is! After lots more chattering, Rutledge shifts things into an impenetrable looming wall of drones. Rutledge bookends the tape with another straight drone track, the final piece, "Kali Star."
Very cool tape. Recommended for fans of patient, minimal drones or extensive field recordings. And if you dig both then check this out pronto.
This also has some of Phil French's best artwork yet, all colored pencil too!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CHRISTWRONG "EP" C9 [Control Force]


Awesome semi-joke black metal/punkcore from Moscow, ID. This is nothing new, just done awesomely! You know these people mean business with titles like "Stalinchrist," "Blood for Blood Sake," "My 100 Snaken Angers," "The World is Now Crusher" and lyrics like "Wild life has left here/No deer!/Only tank with snout of swine/No pine!" "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is for fucking chumps," and "Feed my fucking hate you when you lie!/My trash will more survive you DIIIIIIIE!"
All songs are a minute long and not particularly distinguishable from each other but on the other hand, they all rule equally hard! There's total raging from all involved and even a few fun guitar leads. A most excellent way to spend 9 minutes, multiple times!
Tapes are all gone as far as I know, but you can download the mp3s along with cassette artwork and lyric sheet at the label's website. Czech it out!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CHARLIE MCALISTER - "COLD WAVES" - C30 - (SPACE CULT)


if you plunder your resources both electronically & in print, from the last couple decades you may find some words here and there throughout the sub-underground about the crazed madman antics of one c. mcalister. its the stuff that legends are born from, or so it seems. since the mid 1980s up until present day charlie has been constantly churning out his own brand of what-have-you glory on many a micro-label and beyond. his discography could fill a gin tub, with upwards of 80 or so tapes, records, cds, books, videos, jars of sauce, experiments...not to mention drawings, paintings, performances, etc. etc.
he smears and blows spontaneous creative juices like a rabid dog, and throughout the years he never seems to falter, constantly re-arranging his art. many seem to dub his music "folk" - which is accurate if you take it in the sense of storysongs by and for the people. if there was still a real sense of oral tradition these days, the bog man could rival john henry. its true his mainstay of instrument choices usually consist of the banjo, acoustic guitar, violin, etc...but they seem either handcrafted or inflicted with dry rot. what mcalister does exceptionally well is deconstruct pop melody and craft his own self described psych dixie music. and it dosent end there...the influences are vast, and often times change from release to release.

mcalister also compiles from time to time works of sound collage, and cold waves is one such release.
the thing about this release is, although new, if you have been following his output - this thing has seen the light of day at least three times over the years. cold waves keeps cropping up. it leads me to belive this album has been in a constant state of flux. additions and subtractions. new cover images replace the old, which still seem to bleed through on the xerox. previous track listings scrawled over. new catalog numbers...
well it seems that it has reached some sort of apex with charlie dubbing it under his new label moniker space cult (previously tar owl / previously flannel banjo) - and what you get is a wild ride shifting spasticly all over many terrains. re-worked audio detritus. hypnotic rhythms from which no samplers were used. everything is as organic as dirt. skipping records made from various household ingredients being applied, and actually occasionally being constructed of said ingredients. meat, asbestos, wood, metal. interlaced are the sounds of horns, organs, steel drum, boxes and cans. you name it. both brooding and soothing.
and quite different from other mcalister releases. it may have taken four or five years for this cassette to become fully realized, but it has been well worth the wait.
my suggestion : reach on into that satchel, pull out a few clams, put them in an envelope, and mail it off into
the abyss. in a fortnight you are sure to receive a mangled manila envelope full of sweat and goodness.
C. MCALISTER : PO BOX 20095 / CHARLESTON, SC / 29413

and if you are feeling like frying plenty of past releases are still available if you know where to look.
i would recommend starting with : DOORMAT TX, UNREAD, LITTLE MAFIA & TICK-TOCK.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

HARTLEY C WHITE "Run the Gauntlet" c60? (Whopazootic Music, 1991/99)



Hartley C White's body of recordings is like a hug in the face -- it's pretty alarming to jump into this music, with its ultradeveloped internal language of martial-arts-inspired snare rhythms, extreme-front multitracked vocals, keyboard bass & dissonant-consonant treble attractions. "Who-pa-zoo-tics": it's a cold pool at first but you can really, really swim in it.

Hartley's freaked out about various salient factors of modern existence but this album isn't a political treatise or anything. It's more like a series of extremely funky martial arts exercises inflected with an existential politics. The music is challenging but not in the ways I think listeners are used to being challenged. The production & arrangements are slick and clear and definitely not hard on the ears. These are nakedly, blatantly good songs, unencumbered by their complex rhythms & strange forms. What's challenging is being with this guy as he puts himself in the danger zone -- White is on the edge of himself.

"The mode of operation isn't hard to see, it can be put to work on you or me." Recorded in 1991, Run the Gauntlet is only the first of 4 albums White's released. His latest Under the Radar was released this year and it expands his already huge world even more. Check out his myspace here to hear samples, get in touch and find out how to order his music. As far as I know all of his albums have been self-released w/ gorgeous art and extensive liner notes / photographs etc. from White's Corona NY "Whopazootic Music" label, and it looks like they are also available as downloads -- support this guy and his amazing music!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PC WORSHIP - "Millenial Kreephaus" c26 (Night People)


PC Worship is back with a boggling new cassette, that is sure to turn our brains into a glowing pink syrupy substance.Millenial Kreephaus is the name of this tiny box of magic.The always exploratory Justin Frye has somehow found time in between his work with the awesome Gary War, and his own mysterious Teeth Mountain ventures, to conjure up twenty six minutes of new fear and wonder.His music is always of a different breed, never really falling into any particular genre, but for "psychedelic" territories.Those of you who were lucky enough to catch the ultra-mesmerizing Dune of Heroin release, and soaked in it, are in for quite a treat.
There's still a fair amount of cave-folk strumming, weird chords stretch out into breezy oblivion without any warning, and return as something completely different.Acoustic guitar fragments chip away and float out to space, and just when you had forgotten about them, they slowly resurface as woozy saxophone squeal.This music relies on blind chance, but doesn't seem to linger in the "jammy" hot zones long enough to get burnt.
Frye's influences are tough to pin, based on his songwriting anyway.His tunes are loose, sprawling jaunts, and rarely end up in the same place that they started.His tortured-yet-tuneful howl soars high above the cluttered instrumentation, with a slight echo treatment that bounces it in every direction.Now, this isn't all noisy freak outs and Jandekian improvisation abuse.Frye tends to discover a pleasant lull in a song, and attach himself to it for a somewhat lengthy run.Gentle guitar drones fill the air with a sweet,light green haze, and it's quite refreshing indeed.Thing shards of melodic beauty float around and pop like tiny bubbles, and there is a low bass tone swelling off in the distance.It's quite a breathe of fresh air.
Underneath all of the fuzz and rhythmic clutter, there lies a collection of songs, and if you listen close enough you will hear them flourish.It's time to battle your short attention span, and commit to the long haul, because the payoff is BIG, both musically and aesthetically.

Get this, and other plastic gems from NIGHT PEOPLE.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

EMA - "Little Sketches on Tape" c32 (Night People)

 
  This was kind of a nice surprise.It's hard to tell what you might be getting into with a new Night People release, but it's always sure to be fresh and inventive music nonetheless.EMA's newest offering, a 32 minute cassette entitled "Little Sketches on Tape" is just that.Erika Anderson, formerly of the dreamy avant-folk act- Gowns, gives us a beautiful and mysterious cut and paste tape collage.The entire album is made up of completely spontaneous clips of hazy vocal play, fragments of lullabies and soft-spoken poetic charm.The guitars are chopped into a million pieces and given out a bit at a time, notes always bending upward and outward, and disappearing into thin air before an actual chord is constructed.Lush piano strides are thrown in at random and play only a tiny role in this, but add to her woozy melodies quite nicely.Hints of folk and early jazz make their rounds,but no more than to nudge your brain a bit either way,if only for a split second.
  These songs possess a heap of charm, a cleverness that lies in the fact that you never really hear a complete "song", in the traditional sense anyway.The polite rush of anticipation and wonder you get from this as a whole, is more than enough to carry it's weight.This is a heartfelt, and deeply personal project,and I really hope we get to hear more from her.Stunning.

Get it from Night People.

PETE SWANSON "Ghost O Clock" c20 [No Label]

Excellent self-released tape from Pete Swanson, formerly known as 1/2 of the Yellow Swans, with a spoo-oo-ooky title perfect for this Halloweekend. I've seen Pete play a couple times solo and he always rules but the first time I saw him was my favorite. He had his trunkload of gear set up per usual but through the performance the dude was just rockin' out, singing his song like the punkest noise dude in history. Anyway, the two side long pieces here are close to that territory. A smidge more mellow than said live set, the darkened cloud of noise on "Side A" features Pete's guitar strums and occasional vocals at its heart with a dusky outer coating. Really great track.
The flip side is an even better storm. The song bleeds through more and Pete layers a number of great guitar leads into the swarm. I love that the tape sounds smeary but not without definition. The chords cascade into each other seemingly in haphazard fashion but they all fit into the grand sleepy scheme. The tape sounds great at any hour but it's best at Ghost O Clock.
There's not much that really needs to be said about this; Swanson has been making fantastic music for nearly a decade now and his train keeps on rolling. If you haven't heard any of his solo work yet I highly recommend tracking this cassette down.
Also check out his LP Where I Was for a sampler of Pete's series of tapes over the past year or two.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SLEEP OVER - "S/T" c20 (Night People)


Wow.Such a pleasant surprise, from front to back.Christa Palazzolo, Sarah Brown, and Stefanie Franciotti make up the wonderful Sleep Over.They are a fairly new act, hailing from Austin,TX.You might remember them from the "Dark As Night" tape compilation on Bathetic last year, in which they had two dreamy tracks to contribute, "The Key" and "Your World is Night".They have since returned with a release of their own, a dazzling new cassette for the Night People label.
On their new twenty minute cassette, these three Austin future-witches cast a heavily sedated dream-spell on some fairly intense and dynamic minimalism and reinvent the somewhat exhausting of shoegaze altogether.Their lush and endless layers of vocal harmonies run so insanely deep, they could easily pull this off all on their own.But with the help of some rather ethereal synthesizer grouping, and dense machine-drums gently pounding away slow as molasses, they build up giant walls made up of black magic and breezy melodies, turning your brains to a pink sparkling liquid in the process.Psychedelic pop beautifully smothered in pagan ritual chants and drug-addled mind power, at it's finest.
Fans of early Cocteau Twins, Lush, and the current "witch haus" movement that includes Salem, oOoOO, and SURVIVIVE will surely melt right into this mysterious three piece.They are way ahead of the pack,that's for sure.I can't say enough good things about this.Get it before it's gone.New releases are in the works.

Get it from now from Night People.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EAGLE CHALICE "Let's Float" c20 (Hidden Fortress Tapes)



Another two sider. Who'da thunk? A two sided tape!
First side feels a little too together. The parts are there and anyone with ears can discern the wah-pegiated synth from the bell tones but for me it feels a little phoned-in, like it's mood music or a keyboard preset demonstrating a sequencing effect on a new model. In particular the drum sounds really feel like the 'rock' setting just slowed down which makes it difficult for me as a listener to feel the agency in the music. Other folks might have an easier time just sitting back, untying their shoes and letting themselves drift and float.

The second side was a whole other slice of banana bread. The entire tone is way more suggestive and subtle. The minimalism gives each component more strength by demanding more out of it. A bit darker but definitely not approach cold or goth it still has the 'floating' vibe hoped for in the title but this trip feels a bit more unknown and tenative lending itself to a sense of adventure and discovery whereas the first side feels content to sit on the 'new-age' surfboard and cruise the clouds.

Well done art / layout and just because i'm less of a 'chiller' may mean other folks will have the exact opposite feelings. It's nice though. TWO SIDES for real!

Released by the very likable Hidden Fortress Tapes
http://hiddenfortresstapes.blogspot.com/

ENDAHL/KHOURY/RIGGS "Average Handle Time" c11 (Detroit Improvisation)



This tape, featuring the names of the players instead of band name, features a short piece per side, clocking in at 5 and a half minutes each. It's like a tape version of a seven inch; the opposite of a mp3 download code. Each of the people involved have their instrument listed : guitar, violin, piano. And that's what you hear.

It feels slightly unusual to have such a transparent release! There is a 'traditional' feel to the electro/acoustic improv vibe here, none of the instruments travel too far outside of their standard range or palette but there is a definite comfort in the approach and the relationships. The guitarist (Chris Riggs) sits back for most of the first side and on the second side wobbles a low end almost-drone that gives the pianist (Matt Endahl) and violinist (Mike Khoury) plenty of room to start and stop, bob and weave and otherwise make the most of their brief sides.

Nice, simple (in form) release, from the black and white art to the attention given to the instrumentation.

No label site:
Email: Entropystereo@yahoo.com
Distro: http://www.tomentosarecords.com/selfnoooo.html

Thursday, October 14, 2010

XIPHIIDAE "Science Everywhere" c45 (Housecraft)

The alias of Housecraft label owner Jeffry Astin, known as Xiphiidae, is a project subject to change direction with every subsequent release. At times, Astin will focus a tape on bowed guitar mantras, or sometimes a tape will be based on lush field recordings and found sound. In the case of Science Everywhere, Astin provides a pretty unfamiliar sound in comparison to what I've heard: here we have 45 minutes of hypnotic, fractured, and heavily percussion-based soundscapes, with the occasional incorporation of the warm guitar textures that are instantly recognizable with prior knowledge of Xiphiidae's past releases. Though carried out for this length, this new direction never spreads itself thin; certain movements emphasize cut-up, warbled tape edits while others sport more definable rhythms. The most fascinating aspect of Science Everywhere is how the sounds at hand are utilized: they're taken out of the context of their original recording and put in a completely new foundation, from musique concreté clatter to brooding tribal percussion. Sporadic, colorful and entrancing-- it's a bold yet refreshing change of pace.

This tape is sold out at the Housecraft site, but I would keep my eye out on the usual distros: Tomentosa, Discriminate, or Amethyst Sunset.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ANGEL OLSEN - "Strange Cacti" C24 (reissue) (Bathetic)


Bathetic Tapes is pretty well known for their unique, genre-bending roster, and each time i buy a new tape from them,i can be sure are sure that it will be completely different than the last.The majority of their releases have been deeeeep lo-fi/bedroom pop,rock, and drone projects.With the release of Strange Cacti, they take a dip into more the stripped down, affected folk-hymns of a beautiful singer/songwriter named Angel Olsen.These six new songs are some of the most passionate, honest, and well written folk tunes that I've had the pleasure of hearing.
At first glance, you may hear something in the arena of Joni Mitchell's steady strumming and affectionate voice.In fact, there are elements of just about all the more obvious names in classic folk music, Melanie, Joan Baez, and even hints of Nico's deep and haunting croon makes it's way into her songwriting.Olsen sprinkles her own glittery magic over these heartfelt songs, and her insane vocal range is her secret weapon.Olsen's powerful,yet somber voice flutters around her gracious and confident strumming, and the two often intertwine to deliver deep, hair raising chords.Everything here is clean,untreated and her music doesn't rely on drowning in effects and studio trickery.There is a bit of chorus and reverb added to her voice,and it accents her wild pitch control very nicely.
Strange Cacti is a deeply personal album, but the songs leave plenty of room to insert your own story into their warm,heady vibes.It's full of heart wrenching howls, thick chord progressions, and just plain good songwriting.I can't wait to hear more from her very soon.Comes on solid white pro-printed, and dubbed cassettes with printed black and white photo j-card.
Get it from Bathetic

Saturday, October 9, 2010

WONDER WHEEL "Natural Selection" C60 (Hobocult Records)



"Natural Selection" is a collection of recordings Paul A Rosales made over the years with some help from Ines Navarro & R Stevie Moore. If Brian Wilson had to "struggle at the piano" for weeks to emulate the ocean's tide & enormity on "Til I Die," Paul seems naturally inclined to make motor music. About half of these songs are actually cars or buses motoring along, & about half are more varied & sideways.

The cars are all unique but they're all built to drive: bass, crushed & specific drums, what sounds like two synth parts (one frothy lead & one more playing against it, maybe played at the same time), occasional support guitar. Paul sings from a pretty limited "melodic palette" that keeps the wheels on the ground, sometimes like early-Bats-style Robert Scott, but this is not the early Bats. The locomotive attitude of these songs works really well to create wide open spaces where intuitive bass playing, perfect-simple drums & well-placed synthesizer parts can frame Paul's vocals. "Future Home" is a great car.

But even the songs that play it straight get weird. Try to count beats in "Bedtime" -- whoa! "Algebra Problem" has a jazz thing. One of the most exciting songs on the album, "Thirteen" is structured over a super hot ascending synth line, like: short searing guitar solo / Ron House-ish vocal verse / short searing guitar solo / verse / etc. "Sleep" is another highlight: ideal mystery TV, erotic dream vocals. "TV Screen" builds in speed toward some wrong vocals & UFO chord changes.

OK you get it. Hey, check out this video of Paul's song "Crimes." Hobocult says "Natural Selection" is out of print but you might be able to get a copy from Paul (myspace here), who has a bunch of other music out, including some you can download from his blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

KENNETH JOHN GILMORE - "Anina" cassingle c6 (Discotheque Records)



you might have seen Ken, Kenny, Kenneth Gilmore's live hands moving from guitar to creepy synthesizer & back in Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. did he come up with that added riff in their cover of "Bright Lit Blue Skies?" anyway, Anina's not on the stage but in the studio, in that kind of vague, Surf's Up-era Beach Boys studio where all things technical are so assured that there's room for the weirdest pitch mysteries & dissonant consonances. "Anina" is a really subtle song. as its parts repeat & develop, Gilmore tries out different guitar phrasings, and leaves behind incredibly attractive hooks that the song could be about. the end result is a confident lounge vibe that fades out after all the "band members" each have their moment to shine. Gilmore really plays like he's different people, and maybe he is.

the b-side "Thick Leaves" is a kind of stunted jam, with a great-because-too-quiet synth/organ lead melody playing coy as a nasty piano bass & drum machine rhythm section chug along. Gilmore doot-doots along like he's conducting the band. water sounds, sniffs, coughs, room and street sounds: sounds of real life filter in not really as "part of the noise" but as if the track is scoring an invisible movie.

great cassingle. hopefully this guy records more because his writing and playing are exciting. this was also the inaugural release on Dischotheque (think they're up to DTQ003 now), who are already MVPs in the cassette mansion.

go to discotheque records' website for a preview of the main event.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LUKE PERRY - "Brainwave's Rerun Crunch" c62 (El Tule)


I received a mysterious little package in my mailbox the other day, addressed from psych/electronic super dude Mr.Dylan Ettinger.I didn't really know what to expect from him, other than some kind of bizarre cassette tape.I opened it up and removed it's contents, and sure enough, I pull out a tape with a dream-inducing (or nightmare) image of Luke Perry with some colorful psychedelic images surrounding him.Naturally,I inspect the packaging to see what kind of goodies are inside.A hot pink tape with a sticker containing a black and white image on it.That image is none other than a scene from The Simpsons episode that Luke Perry was in.Nice.I popped the tape in my player,took a seat, and anxiously waited for the fun to begin.
Almost immediately, the speakers started to pour out a glowing, neon pink and green colored ooze that reeked of 90's TV nostalgia.Blazing guitar shred,new wave synth arpeggios,and boppin' drum machines by the truckload.Parts of this sounds like scenes from Saved By The Bell, when "the gang" enters The Max.Images of nerds playing video games, and jocks sitting with their chairs turned around started to flash in my mind.As things moved forward, a more diverse,even psychedelic tone sets in.Washes of delayed surf guitars fade in and out, and some heavily treated 90210,and other television show samples bounce around a bit.It all seems to work somehow,and it held my attention right to the end. The instrumentation, though somewhat humorous up front, is actually well played and the songs are structured quite nicely.They are really catchy jams,and I wish that they were just a tiny bit longer.
At some point throughout side A, you will come across a disturbingly perfect cover of the Beverly Hills"90210 theme song.Complete with keyboard-sax solo.Much respect to this dude for accuracy.Overall a totally fun and somewhat interesting listen.Worth the 5 bucks it costs from El Tule for sure.He's got a split cassette with the awesome Twins called "Guts".You can pick that up
from Peace Age for 5 bucks as well.HEAVY on the 90's retro tip,but when it comes to the music..solid electro-psych-pop bliss.h

Hit up El Tule for a copy,and more awesome tapes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DOVE "2004 LP " c35 (Financial Ruin)


If you are a Florida native, or in tune with their local d.i.y. punk scene in the last 5-10 years,you more than likely worship Floor,who also share members with Dove and a few other more recent projects like I Love You.This monster of a 3 piece hail from a little place called Winter Haven,Fl.They've been areound for quit a while, but their output is rather small and selective,with only a handful of singles,and LP's under their belt.But,when Dove actually gets a release out there,they always deliver in a BIG way. This tape is a reissue of their 2004 self-titled LP,and also includes two bonus tracks, one being their side of the Floor/Dove split 7".

This album is quite a vicious beast.Long time fans know what they are in for,but new ears are going to be pummeled.Dove don't seem to stray too far off from their counterpart -Floor,delivering heavy-as-bricks rhythms, pounding drum assault,and syrupy vocal hymns to top it all off.The walls of sludgy guitars and low end bass dirge are definitely reminiscent to bands like Sleep, High on Fire, Cavity, and Torche.At times you would think that you are listening to a five piece band,with at least 3 axes locking up on these thick and brutal riffs, when it's actually just one bass,guitar and drum kit doing the work.The songs are well crafted,and these guys don't seem to rely on just being as heavy as possible, to mask an album's worth of mediocrity.An all too common trait in this genre.Dove does just the opposite in fact.The songs are catchy,moody,and worth a ton of repeat listening.A great batch of tunes from a band that absolutely deserves more attention.Comes in a cardboard box,with Electric Warrior knockoff artwork,full color j-card with lyrics,and a sticker or two.Amazing.

Get the tape,or lp from Financial Ruin - Dan is a good dude.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BIRTHDAYS - "Hawaiian Punch Wave" c30 (Impose Cassette Series)


A decidedly less danceable affair than his live set I caught last night, Birthdays' Hawaiian Punch Wave tape is a nice little exercise in looped keyboards and sampler pounding. Birthdays is Samuel Yager, originally from New York, currently residing in Boston. Compositions build slowly as he mans flashing buttons and knobs, sometimes aging from lowkey blip-grooves into full-grown bedroom house jams, sometimes into slower pieces of pounding sludge.

Hawaiian Punch Wave is out now. CLICK HERE to order and preview MP3s.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CASCADERS - "ST" c24 (The Curatorial Club)


A subtle, spacious journey through "modern living in urban society," Cascaders' debut tape is a slow-motion grind through what it feels like to be an animal in a world defined by machines and screeching steel. Shards of light protrude through darker, hypnotic segments, brightening up patches of otherwise low-humming ambience. This provides a soundtrack perfect for background conversation swells, thoughtful late-night wanderings and sunlit day beginnings.

Cascaders is Jamie Granato from Men & Women. He also co-founded the Group Tightener label. The tape is SOLD OUT but you an download it for free courtesy of the label RIGHT HERE.

HANGING COFFINS - "self titled" cassette C40 (Night People)


As with most other NP releases,this cassettes was heavy on the eye and ear candy indeed.I'd heard a bit of kind words about these cats from a few friends in CA,and they were absolutely right.This tape rules.If dark and gloomy post-punk/downer pop is your thing,you will be flipping this one over and over.Murky guitar jabs and distant noodling paired with the icy organs and synth jaunts are reminiscent of The Animals lesser known explorations,and Chrome's clever eerie-but-accessible vibes,which won me over immediately.As things keep moving along,the Coffins take a dip into more distorted and treated vocal territories,and more of a raw approach with the rhythm section.A definite Six Finger Satellite influence is there,only they trade the overflow of dementia for a touch of melody.Some of the jams do get strange and wander off into nothingness for awhile,but for the most part this album is a cohesive,dark,and interesting listen.Look for 2 new releases from these guys,soon.
Most likely out of print by now,but DNT or Fusetron may still carry it.I would try the label first.Worth searching high and low.
NIGHT PEOPLE

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SECRET BOYFRIEND: “End This Thrall” c45 (Hot Releases)

Really pleasantly surprised by this one, didn’t know much at all about Ryan Martin or his North Carolina-based Hot Releases label for a long time, but this one has definitely got me jumping on the wagon. This shit goes all over the place, dense drone, power electronics, clanking scrap metal, drum-machine driven Suicide-style guitar jammers, and even hushed acoustic ballads, this one has got it all, and it seamlessly flows from one to the next. Martin is proficient in all aspects, recording, playing (“noise dude” that actually knows how to play guitar!) and killer collage-style artwork. Totally engrossing and eclectic, can’t say enough good things about this, a musician after my own heart, excited to hear a proper full-length because I can guarantee it’s gonna be massive.

http://www.hot-releases.org/

PALM YARD: “Craft Night” c37 (1019 records)

Gotta admit, I’m still not entriely sure what these new genre terms such as “chillwave” and “shitgaze” mean exactly, but this band really wants you to know that they make music of the latter and that they are from Santa Cruz and they love it. Hats off to that kind of hard reppin’, for sure, but what I assume they mean is they play new-style punk music and they record it as super lo-fi as possible, because that sure as heck is what it is. Fans of Psychedelic Horseshit and early Wavves (“early”, jeez, that sounds stupid, that guy is like 12 years old) should take note of this trio; although these 11 songs are far less aggressive than those examples, this has a slight 80s midwest, post-punk sound bubbling under the surface of all that tape hiss. With titles like “Eat the Rich” and “Purple Haze”, you know these guys are California dreamin’, surf style without really having a surf sound. Or is there a new surf sound? Whatever, grab your board anyways, tide is high. Edition of 100, xeroxed inserts and gold spraypainted tapes.

http://palmyard.bandcamp.com/

MISTER FUCKHEAD: “And Company” c93 (no label)

Holy shit, are you kidding me? 93 minutes??? I can’t lie, call me unfair, call me a bad reviewer, call me whatever you like, but I had to fast forward through at least some of this, there was no way I’d be able to sample the whole thing otherwise. Mister Fuckhead is the guise of Arvo Zylo, inhabitant of Chicago and, at least here, organizer of wingnuts. Assumedly recorded at a number of live performances (insert is incredibly difficult to read), Zylo collected his friends together to squawk and squeal on a vast number of untraditional instruments ranging from tape loops and trigger pads to scrap metal and appliances. There’s also a good deal of brass, and some slick backing drums keeping it all together, and it actually makes a pretty exciting sound, big group just going bananas. I can imagine it being a really great live show, or even if these recordings were spread out over a couple of different releases to make the whole thing more palatable, because they really do have quite a bit of merit to them, but this kind of length is pretty difficult to slog through no matter who’s making the music. Pretty sure this is sold out, but there are a bunch of samples and new items on his bloggy-blog.

http://nopartofit.blogspot.com/

EXPO 70: “The Vanishing World Within” c40 (Solid Melts)

Some really killer synthesizing on this one, divided into phases, the first side almost scary in it’s 80s horror/sci-fi environments, starting with a nice drone and fading into a more complex structure with deep, pulsing bass that reminds me of the soundtrack from “the Thing”. This eventually moves into “Phase III”, a prog-jammer with drums and guitar, real groovy space boogie. Side two is a little more universally similar, the phases harder to pick apart as they drift in and out of one another, carried for a long time in the middle by a classic drum machine egg-shaker sound. Real calming, enjoyable textures, excellent artwork by Mr. Expo himself, Justin Wright, who keeps a great ongoing theme of reflecting images of instruments and space shapes on all his covers. At a time when bands like Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never are so popular, I’m surprised that this is a name that doesn’t come up more often. First edition of 150 is sold out, second edition of 100 probably won’t be around too much longer either, but the dude has a massive discography, lots of places to hear his righteous psychediddlea.

http://www.myspace.com/expo70
http://solidmelts.com/

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

THE PHEROMOANS - C26 (Night People)


Yet another awesome cassette tape from Iowa's NIGHT PEOPLE label.This is a great one,too.The U.K.'s PHEROMOANS are making quite a glorious racket this year.They've had a handful of releases on various labels like Sweet Rot,Hozac,Night People,Convulsive,and even the young Aural Pleasures imprint.Their sound is a primitive clatter.Rules and regulations don't apply to this.Nor does the word "cohesive".This tape is 28 minutes of angular,bare bones garage-punk at it's finest.So pure and uninhibited.This reminds me of Door and the Window's quicker moments,and The Shadow Ring in their most primal form.Heavy on treble and easy on the studio tricks.Their charm lies in the fact that there is absolutely no production value,whatsoever.
With Pheromoans,what you see isn't exactly what you get,but what you hear is exactly what is being played.It's hard to tell whether or not some of these tracks are live or being recorded in a tin can full of glass.Angular guitars play slightly out of tune,as the drum kit falls apart around them.The punk-turned-poet vocal warbling is not unlike that of Mr. Mark E. Smith's (pre-football announcer), but less coherent and way more spiteful.This band is sharp and inventive,and they're output is insanely expansive.Pheromoans are owning 2010's lo-fi art-punk resurgence.Goooood shite.A new LP is out soon on Convulsive, and a cassette/cdr reissue of their oop 2007 cd-r is out now via Aural Pleasures
See Night People for the tape.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

HAPPY JAWBONE FAMILY BAND "Family Matters" c76 [Spooky Town]

If you haven't heard Happy Jawbone Family Band, you've got some work to do. This band is really damn good, I give them my "Best New Band" Grammy or whatever that award is. Apparently, HJFB is a bunch of people who either live in Brattleboro, VT or Boulder, Colorado and they somehow form like Voltron to make the most arresting, ramshackle, brilliant pop music I've heard in a while. Calling out all the great tracks is kinda pointless here as there's pretty much no filler in the 40 songs/76 minutes. They're all great tracks!
I described the tape to a friend as kinda like Hairdryer Peace made by a ragged pop band. The tape is so well put together stitching songs of all varieties of styles and instrumentation along with a few well-made collage pieces. Family Matters flies by exceeding fast for such a long release. This cassette earns its 76 minutes, which is big praise from a c30-or-less enthusiast. I feel really long tapes should be saved for special occasions and this is a special occasion.
The jerks even interrupt my favorite song on the tape with a Wu-Tang-ish skit that takes up more time than the song does but I can't help but love them anyway. Admittedly, the skit is pretty funny.
The tape is obviously the product a bunch of really talented, creative people as there's some really cool aspects here rarely found in lo-fi pop music. For instance, the band is fairly self-referential throughout the tape but the b-side opens with "The Album So Far..." a neat collage, squeezing the past 30 some minutes into one. It's plainly a cool track but it's also funny to see them giving a little wink that this record is so long you need a refresher of what you've heard before you can continue.
Anyhow, this is great. Hooks galore, a constant stream of surprises, a ton of replay value etc. etc. Totally essential, one of the best tapes of the year.

BUY THIS MOTHERFUCKER RIGHT NOW


Happy Jawbone myspace

Sunday, August 29, 2010

LEE NOBLE - "Darker Half" C45 (Bathetic)

Lee Noble has been around for a few years now, with a handful of tapes on a few household tape labels.He creates deep, swirling drones that hold just as much brooding blackness as they do bright and floaty vibes.
'Darker Half' actually does offer up just that,a 45 minute slow crawl through Noble's darkest thoughts and less than comforting creative consciousness.But not all of this looms in the dark completely.There is plenty of pure ear candy here,it's long before the clouds start to part and the sun comes out.Warm and shimmery vibrations take the wheel, and float along patiently on a cloud of echoed piano ambiance for a while.The puddles of delay bounce the syrupy melodies off one another, at times clashing for an instant, creating an accidental and beautiful chord.Eventually they wither away into a sharp treble-soaked guitar treatment.This tape flows extremely well from start to finish,and probably sounds amazing as an uninterrupted listen with no flipping.Deep and moody brain dancing from Mr.Noble.Repeat listening indeed.Awesome cover art and a pink tape.
These are probably gone now,but try your luck at BATHETIC.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MATRIX METALS - "Flamingo Breeze" C (Notnotfun)


Sam Meringue is Matrix Metals.You might know him from other projects like Explorers,Wingdings,or 90210(with James Ferraro).With MM's he makes some nice hazy,laid back electronic pop/dance jams.Remember that game Out Run?You cruised the PCH in a 1991 red Porsche convertible with the top down,and your arm around your lady-friend.Genius.This is quite comparable to the game's timeless soundtrack,but a bit more tasteful,and played with some modern instrumentation.SOME.A ton of samplers,vintage drum machines,and minimal synth-pulses ride along side some spacey guitar-jangle that reminds me of recent Ducktails records at times.It's fuzzy lo-fi production keeps the songs fun and charming.A nice little cassette for some beach cruising or a late night stroll with your Walkman clipped to your belt.Totally worth the 5 bucks it costs.Do I even need to tell you that it's super limited?Vinyl version on the Old English Spelling Bee label.This is probably already gone forever.
Try NOT NOT FUN

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WASTELAND JAZZ UNIT/(D)(B)(H) "Split" c40 [Baked Tapes]

This was a good match up by Baked Tapes as WJU and DBH are two of the more interesting “improv” acts out there right now. The Wasteland Jazz side features the duo of Jon and John--on sax and clarinet, respectively, played through a shit-fucking-ton of distortion--absolutely burning as usual this time with the addition of a percussionist. The first part of the sidelong piece “Box Breaker” has something that sounds like a sequenced synthesizer puttering away. I’ve never encountered that on a WJU track before and to be honest I don’t necessarily like it. It’s not so much a matter of harming the piece as just not doing anything for it, it remains pretty static and undynamic and lets the reeds do all the work. They can totally handle it though. The sax and clarinet are as unstatic and dynamic as ever and they are just tearing the house down. Skyscrapers crumble, helicopters infest the sky, these are the sounds of a warzone. The second part of the side notches itself a lot deeper into the red and its some of the most brutal, scathing, NOISY!!!! action from these guys yet. Just motherfucking relentless. Listening to this right now makes me wonder why I don’t have more of their stuff in my collection. These players are total fire, the kind that can actually burn you. Oh, the percussion? I think I heard a cymbal or two through the feedback barrage. Possibly.
Whereas WJU’s contribution was complete pummel, (D)amaged(B)achelor(H)ood contributes a looser improv piece heavy on guitar strings. DBH is Justin Rhody’s junk-improv act which features him and a revolving cast of characters (who all often play multiple instruments) so you literally never know what you’re gonna get. I don’t like this track, “What We Do is Rumor,” as much as the other DBH tape I have, but its certainly got an interesting vibe. Somewhere between jazz and drone the piece lumbers along in murky one-track cassette recorder hell. Sometimes laying low, sometimes getting cranky with feedback , sometimes letting Rhody loose on the trumpet. The not-bad-but-not-great recording quality hampers the jam a little bit though, as all the nuances of group’s playing don’t really shine through. Still it’s a nice one to throw on if your in the mood for some murky freedom blues. It’s definitely an act worth following though, for the pure unpredictability of it if nothing else.
Pitch-perfect photo by J. Rhody on the cover too.

Wasteland Jazz Unit
(D)(B)(H)
Grab it from the bakery floor

LASSIE - "LASSIE" c20(?) [self-released]


Mike Pigott (MASSTROPICAS/Green Mansions) pushed me this Lassie tape the other day after playing it for me on a boombox in his kitchen. Lassie is Peter Bonneman + Steffen from Love Potion.

The first side is a big psych mess of heavy riffing, weird samples (a recording of an exorcism, John Wayne Gacy interview) and various layers of drums and congas somewhere deep in the mix. There's three distinct parts - the first third is backed by Latin percussion, the second third carries the momentum through a stretch haunted by exorcism moans and the third fucks with John Wayne Gacy. The second side is a bit grittier, less grooves and more harmonica. No idea where you can buy this but I'll try and find out and update this soon.

EDIT:
It's SOLD OUT.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

V/A - SUNSET GRILLERS COMPILATION C90 (CGI FRIDAY)


As I mentioned in a previous CGI FRIDAY related post, this young Portland,OR tape label was birthed from the discovery of 420 used cassettes, each priced at $4.20.They continue to put out killer releases that are both major ear and eye candy, for 4.20..CGI number three comes in the form of a 90 minute compilation cassette.It contains new and unreleased tracks by the likes of Wooden Shjips, Grass Widow, Inca Ore, Run DMT, White Fence and a bunch more of psych's more recent household names.Although this is run on used tapes, there is only a small amount pops n' snaps throughout it.I think the recording's tiny inconsistencies really add to the diy aesthetic of this release.
A slick white cassette with 3D decals comes housed in plastic case with a 2 panel J-card with 3D artwork, with glasses for proper viewing.The 80's hunk in a speedo,grilling up burgers on a beach hotel balcony jumps right off the paper and into your home.An all around great looking/sounding cassette.Can't wait for this label's next batch of releases.

*Get a copy of Sunset Grillers from CGI FRIDAY.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

??? “Unknown Arabic Tape” c60 [Unknown]

So I picked this tape up for 10 cents at Goodwill and played the hell out of it these past few weeks. I really have selfish motives for writing this review, as I’m hoping on the off chance someone will be able to tell me who/what this is. I’m pretty sure this is in Arabic which I do not speak a lick of which is the main obstacle that has stymied me from gaining any knowledge of who this guy is. Sound-wise, it’s a Um Kalthoum-style vocals and orchestra thing. What’s killer about this, aside from the absolutely sensational string section, is there’s definitely disco, funk and even reggae influences at work here at various times. It doesn’t even seem weird or out of place at all, it just sounds awesome. And, oh the strings! Maybe someone not that into string sections wouldn’t be so impressed here but I am really, really into them. Sometimes they have more of a pop sound, creating interplay with the vocals and a lot of the time they evoke film scores of the 60s and 70s. Spy movies, Morricone scores, whatever, all synthesized into something completely great in its own right. Anyhow, it’s amazing tape, no idea where to find it (I’m pretty sure it’s a bootleg anyway.) Your local thrift store maybe? Worked for me.
Now if anyone has any information on who this little Lothario is, let me know!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

GEM JONES/PART TIME CRUISER -" Split" c44 (CGIFriday)

  The CGIFRIDAY tape label is somewhat of an experiment.Apparently these dudes found a box of 420 (no joke) used cassettes in a dumpster, all priced at $4.20.This inspired them to launch what is turning out to be a KILLER label, with all tapes priced at...you guessed it $4.20 (+ s&h).
 This 44 minute brain dancer comes to us from a mysterious bunch of strange ones indeed.Gem Jones fills up side a with a slew of melodic drones and subtle ambient washes of synthesizers,guitars, and bursts of distant vocal dirge.It rarely makes it's way into any structured form of song, and that is where it scored big time.The layers of hazy melodies and wild organ runs reminded me of newer Tracey Trance stuff, but way more murky and cavernous.It flows nicely and kept my attention for the duration of side a.Good stuff.
  Side b comes from Part Time Cruiser, a 21 minute crawl through a strange and exotic toxic-wasteland.Green clouds of smoke rain down giant drops of distorted moans and blown out riffs.It has it's share of calm and collected moments,like a trickling creek flowing through a tranquil forest.But it isn't long before the fire gets out of control, and everything is set ablaze.Eruptions of tortured,yet melodic wails swell up and dissolve into tattered loops of fuzz and feedback.There are hints of pop crafting scattered throughout this piece, and you can almost hear an actual song trying to surface from the rubble.An interesting listen for sure.Perfect for night cruising with the T-tops off.Awesome stuff.
Get it here: CGIFRIDAY

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PINE SMOKE LODGE "Throwing New Light" c54 (Ghetto Naturalist Series)


Pine Smoke Lodge is the duo of Matt McKeever and Hillary Dickerson, who run Existential Cloth Recordings. Nathaniel Brennan's (Cruudeuces) description of this tape on the Ghetto Naturalist Series site dares the listener to listen to it on a midnight walk in the woods, which is a helpful piece of advice-- because it gives a sense of how haunting this tape truly is. The arrhythmic percussion, the sputtering flutes, the reverberated chants: Pine Smoke Lodge set a mood that is both entrancing and unsettling. Side A doesn't even have the patience to fade in; it immediately immerses you in a haze of meditative clatter, that ends on a somewhat more melodic/pleasant note. Side B completely disregards where this tape left off and returns to its ominous roots, however it begins subtly and slowly introduces its indecipherable sounds. The changes each of the three pieces go through are slow, but completely alter themselves once complete. Highly recommended.

Edition of 40 hand-numbered tapes, comes with a small insert.

http://existentialclothrecordings.blogspot.com
http://ghettonaturalistseries.blogspot.com

Monday, August 9, 2010

BROKEN WATER - "s/t" C26 (Night People)


Olympia's Broken Water consists of former members of the short-lived Sisters and also Congratulations.Their newest,a collection of rare tracks, is a deep and affectionate batch of songs,that seem to be influenced as much by Seattle's musical history as they are it's damp,mountain air.Fuzzy guitars swirl around like a dense wind,washing away into thick and heavy riffing.There's some nice boy/girl vocal pairing happening at times,and their breathy,heartfelt harmonies fit into this stuff pretty well.I dig that there are more than a few different elements going on here,and not one of them seems to be forced or contrived.Most definitely has an awesome jangly-pop feel to it,and even more of a grunge vibe than you'd expect.The songs shift without warning, from somber acoustic twee to blown out psychedelic-heaviness in no time.I heard a bit of Unwound, Comet Gain, and Sonic Youth tactics every so often, which I suppose is expected.But after a few spins, I realized that Broken Water have got their own thing going on here, and a nice thing it is indeed.Suggested listening.New LP out now!

*Get all of their releases from NIGHT PEOPLE

Saturday, August 7, 2010

BENT SPOON DUO "Fossils of Slumber" c30 [Holy Cheever Church]

Picked this up at one of DNT's big sales and I was certainly a satisfied customer. The Bent Spoon Duo of Chris Dadge and Scott Munro (there’s a trio version too that I haven’t heard) is a great junk-clatter act from up North i.e. Canada and with this tape alone they've definitely made themselves one of my favorites of the free/junk/improv/clatter/whatever set.
They rip it on a menagerie of instruments, none of which are listed but there's violin, brass, random percussion and a touch of electronics at least. Sounds like there may be another stringed instrument in the mix but knowing these crazy guys they're just probably plucking away on that violin like nobody's business. Anyhow, Bent Spoon Duo really know how to pull twisted sounds out of their instruments, and it sounds like mostly without the aid of electricity which garners my utmost respect. Also on the respect front, they don’t loop which I appreciate (not that I dislike looping) as they definitely have enough confidence to use space/silence and limit the amount of things going on. Well, I must confess I think they do loop something toward the end of the tape, but they are still out there being the gangly weirdos they are, not worrying about hiding behind a wall of sound. They're doing what they do, sawing violing strings in half, making swamp creature effects on their mouth pieces, whatever it is they feel like and doing it with style. To paraphrase that idiot Lady GaGa, they're Bent Spoon Duo, bitch, they walk that walk.
I like these guys. I want more, I'm gonna go find some.

Bent Spoon Duo
Holy Cheever Church

DIRTY BEACHES - "Night City" Cassette Tape C22 (Night People)


Alex Zhang Hungtai is the cloudy brains behind Dirty Beaches.He lists things like breakfast,Alan Vega,Martin Rev,and Willem Dafoe as his influences.After hearing this a few times,I'd say that they are all pretty obvious indeed.Although I didn't really hear much breakfast or Willem Dafoe off the bat,I did however hear a ton of Rev and Vega love.He's got that minimal percussive-looping down nicely,along with some dense cavernous guitar-drone that glides along his breathy,hushed vocal style.It is what it is,and this formula works out quite well for Hungtai.But,this is far from just another Suicide knock off.That's just the breakfast.This is the part where the W.Dafoe element comes into play..proving that Dirty Beaches can take on just about any role they are presented with,and do it with finesse and confidence.Their music is all over the map,mysterious and inventive, goes anywhere from minimal cold waver bumps(Night City Theme)to free-folk campfire songs(True Blue) in no time.He covers lots of ground in little time,yet remains cohesive and focused.A charming quality that some other genre benders have a hard time mastering.Much of their charm comes from with the grainy,lo-fi fuzziness of the songs.Nothing is too blown out or incoherent,and somewhere amongst the treble-soaked echoes and washes,there is a fair amount of melodic songwriting to be heard.A nice batch of songs for a cassette release.Killer artwork to boot.Looking forward to the upcoming LP.

Dirty Beaches has a shit-ton of releases coming out in the near future on a handful of labels.Here's just a few of them to watch out for..
*Fake tape series (B-sides) 3" CDR - La Station Radar (France)
*Omon Ra II / Dirty Beaches Split Tape - Campaign for Infinity
*Golden Desert Sun 7" - Italian Beach Babes (UK) (OUT NOW)
*U.S. Girls Split 7" - Sibling Sex

Get it from NIGHT PEOPLE

JAWSMOKE/NITE LITE "Split" c26 [Stunned]

So apparently Phil French (Super Minerals, Magic Lantern, Stunned Records) and Jeff Astin (Xiphiidae, Tricorn & Queue, the Housecraft label) have been hanging out and I want to know one thing: why wasn’t I invited guys?
The first side by Jawsmoke titled “Palo Santo” is actually a series of miniatures that were maybe recorded in and/or inspired by St. Paul or something(?) It’s very pleasant to listen to, particularly before bed or just waking up. All the sounds are pretty gentle, without being new agey or overly “soft.” It’s tactile music but still a nice one to relax to. I’m guessing there’s probably a keyboard or two, tapes, and some simple percussion maybe. Each piece lasts anywhere from 45 seconds to a couple minutes and there’s usually some rhythmic looping somewhere though it's typically obscured by keyboard drones or field recordings. The approach is refreshingly simple; none of the pieces achieve a lot but they are all modest successes. They show up, they’re enjoyed by the listener and then it’s on to the next. I wish this approach was implemented a lot more often when dealing with ambient/drone-oriented music.
Nite Lite is another Astin/French project but the group also features Myste French, Whitney Hackett and William Giacci (Super Minerals). Like the first side, there’s a modest approach I really appreciate. Namely that this jingle-jangle percussion jam doesn’t immediately sound like five people. Each person is doing their own simple percussion-oriented thing on thumb piano or metal chains or whatever and allow the sounds some space to collide. There's a loose but natural chemistry with the group of players as they are never too shy but all remain tasteful in their contributions, no one voice overwhelms the others. The piece, "Molly," just kind ambles along without arc but it has complexity without density which is a nice change of pace from the usual. Enjoyable little tape overall.
This tape is available as a free bonus if you buy the other 5 new Stunned releases which you should (the Warm Climate tape rules!) I like the squiggly line artwork too.

Stunned

Friday, August 6, 2010

CHRIS WEISMAN "Fresh Sip" C62 (Autumn Records)


"Don't you people like anything simple"?


I was wondering when I'd get a tape that really made me want to write something...that time has come! Chris Weisman is a songwriter and bedroom multi-tracker from Brattleboro, VT. His brother Kurt was in the much celebrated band Feathers and he is the bass player in the much hyped (and really rather good) band Happy Birthday along with Ruth Garbus and Kyle Thomas (both of Feathers). Musically and lyrically he fits in comfortably with what I would call the artists of "Brattleboro Renaissance": a loosely connected group of bands and songwriters creating music that in my mind is the polar opposite of Feather's spacy sound, and definitely far removed from the brutal death trip (wink wink) of Noise Central: the Pioneer Valley of Western, MA, just 45 minutes southern. Theirs is a music that manages to truck in both surrealism and substantiality, all the while grooving to some impeccably crafted, and often complex, song structures. Besides the aforementioned acts, I would also include the Happy Jawbone Family Band and the music of Zach Phillips and Sarah Smith (Easy St./Sord/Horse Boys) in this category.

"Fresh Sip" is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of recent memory. Coming off of his "Tape Walk" CD from last year (an album that collected a half decade's worth of songs) this cassette is just as diverse, yet it feels all of one piece and flows so beautifully from one song to the next. Utilizing a sonic pallette of guitars, simple percusion, and occasional primitive keyboard work beneath Chris's multi-tracked falsetto vocals the songs on "Fresh Sip"are his most fully realized to date. At first listen, I felt this music was begging to be the soundtrack to many a tasteful dorm-dweller's sleepy Sunday (in a good way!), but upon further examination there is a level of rigorousness to this music that defies easy classification and might take some people out of their comfort zones. {In fact, I'm listening to this right now on the stereo of my local coffee shop and I can tell it's seriously irking the guy at the table next to me. So much so in fact that he just slammed down his drink and demanded that the lovely barista turn it off at once! True story.}

"You can't really call an animal mean when she has to fight forces unseen in the popular dream".

What makes music like this succeed or fail, ultimately, is the quality of the voice, and Weisman uses a number of inventive phasing effects, self-harmonies and some tasteful delay to flesh out his already wonderful melodies. These effects are never intrusive and really add peaks and valleys to the album, where acoustic song follows electric barn burner, follows a capella diddy. The lyrics include some humorous cultural and musical references ("I get that, good for me" type stuff), but they also bare their composer's soul from time to time, as well as including some snaky twists that defy standard rhyming practice.

I've seen Chris perform twice, once by himself and once with a small group. I would say that if he can teach a band this music and perform it live then he would have something that could potentially be ever better than this work. Until then, we will have to be content with his frequent missives from the deepest parts of sound and emotion.


http://www.autumnrecords.net/ --- buy "Fresh Sip" and "Tape Walk"
http://chrisweisman.com/ --- download many of Chris's songs

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SLASHER RISK "Chillers" c64 (Baked Tapes)

Slasher Risk are awesome. And while I’m still waiting patiently for them to record and release a full-on rock n roll LP (you know that would fucking rule) I’m content to listen to them disregard all the rules when it comes to sound pollution.
This cassette on Baked Tapes, the imprint of Jesse DeRosa of Grasshopper, the best trumpet duo you’ll ever hear by the way, is a heavy, hour-plus, unbridled brick of volume. Window-rattling, wall-shaking volume; at least I’m assuming the windows were rattling and the walls were shaking wherever this thunder was recorded. The title is a red herring, case you didn’t notice. The Slasher Risk cocktail Chillers is 1 part drums, 1 part guitar and, I don’t know, 4 or 5 parts feedback. I’m pretty sure this is a single live set which is pretty insane too. I don’t know what more to say really, these guys are good and they’re loud. If you don’t know ‘em, fix that.
Now where’s that rock n roll record?
Still available from the label.

Baked Tapes
Slasher Risk <--- Check out the track "Brooklyn" here for evidence of how bad ass a Slasher Risk rock and roll record would be. Do I need to start a petition or something? jeez...

HOLY STRAYS - "Hyperion" C35 (NNF)

I'm always excited to dip into the most recent Not Not Fun release, as they are usually right up my alley.And such is the case with the Holy Strays "Hyperion" cassette.It comes on a dashing green tape, with some cool gold artwork on both sides.All of the sounds on the tape are they work of a talented Parisian named Sebastien Forrester.The music is for the most part pretty laid back, with some soothing electronic-based arrangements, and layers of soft synths piled high.It's obvious that this isn't just some Fruity Loops experiment, or whatever random electronic music program jamming.He's really putting some vintage analog gear to good use, and it pays off big.A bit of Hyperion goes in the direction of Klaus Schulze, and lingers in the empty spaces for a while.But things take a turn for the better, with moody, dark hooks and tempo changes galore.
Throughout this tape you might hear pieces of Stereolab, Cluster, and even Brian Eno's more psyched-out works.But it does a good job of not overexposing it's influences too much.Catchy analog jams and focused arrangements in flux, and good recording.Hope to hear more from this guy.

Get yourself a copy from NOT NOT FUN

Monday, August 2, 2010

GRANITKORRIDOR "III" c60 (Stunned)

Granitkorridor is a project from Germany, consisting only of bass. III is the first of two tapes released this year on Stunned and as you can imagine its pretty damn, uh, bassy but thankfully not in the we-are-the-100,000th-band-to-rip-off-Earth way. Producing six evenly spaced pieces over an hour, Sven Dyllus, the man behind the project, brings heavy, airless sounds with a burly, nearly impenetrable texture and wields them with an exceedingly light touch. Sound-wise, it reminds me of Seattle crew Dull Knife who also employ a bass. Must be something about those four strings...
What really draws me to the project is that though these are deep, dark drone pieces, Dyllus imbues each with a strong melodic presence, forging a connection with the listener rather than alienating him or her.
Well composed and instantly listenable, Dyllus is taking all the new age clouds everyone’s huffing and turning ‘em fuckin’ grey.
Sold out, but there's bound to be some new releases soon.

Stunned

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BLOOD WING - "6 Song Cassette" C12 (Skrot Up)


Sometimes a joke is so brilliant and clever, that it takes you hearing it at least 5 times before actually getting it.Such is the case for Washington's Blood Wing.These 6 subliminally awesome songs come via- cassette from the killer Skrot Up label.They always have something good going on it seems,and this one takes the cake for me.So here's the rundown..Their myspace claims that they are a 3 piece consisting of Tall Bear, Black Salmon, and Runs With Sky.Whether or not any of these members really exist is irrelevant.But for the sake of this review,we'll say that may be the dirty work of Sean from the Spits.What matters here,is that you get six killer, 80's throwback metal jams,that are doused in a hazy lo-fi bedroom-punk fule, and set ablaze like a pile of scalped palefaces.And that's actually pretty accurate.
Blood Wing has a comical(?) Native American theme that runs rampant like the wolf throughout this tape.Maybe they are totally serious..I can only hope.Aside from great song titles like "Proud Eagle, "War Cry", and "Your Turkey is a Fool"..you will also hear funny samples of things like pow-wow chants, civil war chatter, and what appears to be some sort of John Wayne dialog.You also get an insert with a picture of a Native American man holding a rifle,and the words "Free Leonard Peltier,Fuck The FBI" above..Fuck yeah.
The awesome headbangin' riffage fits perfectly over the pounding drum machine beats, and gruff, Danzing-like howling.I'm not sure why, but some of it reminds me of older Killing Joke..maybe the phased-out vocal parts or occasional busted-organ mocking the riffs..Anyhow,this tape is short and sweet.A musket loaded full of fist pump-able anthems,and catchy chorus lines.A week ago I was laughing about this,and today I can't put it down.Red Red Blood in the Snow will never leave your head.Fingers crossed for a follow up.

Skrot Up