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