Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Night People Spring Round-Up

The uniformly beautiful releases from Night People, the label run by Wet Hair's Shawn Reed of Iowa City, are surely not strangers to the readers of these pages. While we here at Cassette Gods often toil to shed light on the darkest corners of the audiotape producing world, bringing new talent to the forefront, we oftentimes find it helpful to check in with our old pals. The newest batch of NP tapes deserves special mention as there are some really ACE releases here. Let it go without saying that you'll probably want to check out the latest missives from Robedoor and Factums; enough said there. Here are some other spools that you'll surely want to unwind:


Goldendust "Digital Skies" c16
A really great short tape from this Midwest duo (LP forthcoming). Written songs with organ and minimal beats. Some new age-y lyrics as can be expected with this kind of stuff, but the production makes it entirely worthwhile. Crazy panning effects in the first song reveal the weirdness early on. Then some subtle guitar underneath. Crazy alien Vocoder singing leading to a darker B-Side. You can tell these folks are going for something more than creating a haze. Good time paranoid sci-fi vibes.


Cellophane Spill "S/T" c26
No hypnagogabop here my friends. This is some very cleanly recorded weirdo electronic music with fractured rhythms and a varied sonic pallet. It's similar to some of the best 1980s European stuff in this vein like Club Moral (but less harsh) or BeNe GeSSeRiT (but less weird). Most of the vocals are heavily processed and evil but when the first clear song comes in it sounds like they are actually singing in German? Some research seems to suggest these folks are from Texas, but it sure doesn't sound like it. Great stuff and the most unusual thing in the whole batch.


Blanche Blanche Blanche "The Songs of Blanche Blanche Blanche" c32
In my book the award for "album with the most heart" goes out to this Brattleboro, VT duo, but these guys are my friends so maybe I'm biased. Screw that! this is just exceptional stuff. Zach and Sarah write concise, complex melodic keyboard driven pop songs that evoke the common woes and WOWs of the 21st century 20something set, all without managing to slip into the same-old-same-old cliches so present in contemporary songwriters. Sarah is the "Mo Tucker of Vocalists", beautiful naive and solid as a rock. Zach is the mad genius behind the group's music and anyone who has followed his other projects (Heat Wilson, Horse Boys, Nals Goring) knows that the music on here is an evocative mix of modernist piano composition, 60's pop and 80's new wave. A match made in heaven.


Lantern "Stranger I Come/Stanger I Leave" c26
This tape opens with an only halfway successful attempt to enter the mirror, but once the electronic noodling is out of the way, Lantern reveal themselves to be more than decent Stooges inspired guitar/bass/drums/vox scorchers. The slower jams don't do a whole lot for me, but when they are on full-burn I like this tape quite a lot. A nice deviation from the usual NP sonic aesthetic and that's just like sister ray said.


The Savage Young Taterbug "Theme For Gasoline Weirdo" c16
As a performer and recording artist this guy Charles is a real STAR of the drunken feathered cap wearing set. Unlike his often baffling live performances, his two NP tapes have been really lovely, drippy-trippy listens. However, I feel like the overly reverberated trend doesn't necessarily suit what I find to be so special about Taterbug's music. I'm still waiting for him to record the truly Savage folk/pop album that I know he has in him. His songs and lyrics are real winners and it's a shame to bury them in so much of the murk-of-the-day. If you've never witnessed once of his more stripped down live sets, then you won't know what's actually underneath all this and I imagine you would find no fault with this stellar release.


Naked On The Vague "Midnight" c32
Remixed soundtracks from these Aussie mainstays. The spookiest of the whole recent batch. Ominous synths collide with foreboding feedback.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WATER BORDERS - "Drippings" C30 (Skrot Up)


San Fransisco's Water Borders are by no means a new thing, their recent ep on Hungry For Power, along with some much deserved attention from 20JFG and Fact magazine, has made them somewhat of a household name, if you r house full of introverted neo-goths.Their wonderfully terrifying video for the Akko remix has been strewn about the web for the past few months, as well.Good, good stuff.This tape was released in 2010, just before their ep, and contains three lengthy songs, or movements, rather.The first being "Ararat " ", a dark and rather brooding tune, full of swelling synths, both analog and digital, and deep, baritone vocal passages.This song hardly resembles anything beat driven, or new wave, having little to no percussion at all.It slowly crawls through a handful of key changes and tempos, and keeps it's gloomy swagger, without a single thump.Water Borders is one of those rare acts, who don't rely on clicks and clacks to create something completely moving.Instead they fall back on dense, low end keyboard rhythms, or pulses, like the synth bass, and use them to make driving, beat-less rhythms.Their music is organic and artificial all at once, like a liveing, breathing, machine.This clever dirge, along with layers of dreamy synths, and carefully crafted arpeggios, make up most of Drippings music.
The most memorable song, and definitely the most full-bodied and driving of the three, is the last track."The Man With Fish In His Hands", comes off as some sort of busted Xiu Xiu scraps, playing from the bottom of an old well.The vocals come courtesy of Lynette of Bestial Mouths, and her scratchy squealing voice makes for an interesting contrast, up against WB's stern, deep moans.They mostly take turns spitting their venom, but at one point they overlap each other's tortured vocals, and it's purely black magic.This song is the only one of the three that features percussion, and they really give to you here.Swarms of tattered snare cracks and other various clicks and thuds are brought on harshly.There's no subtle head nodding, that's for sure.The staggering beats carry their wild voices and crushing synth patterns perfectly, as things just seem to grow and expand as the seconds pass, until everything drops out, leaving only a muffled whirring sound, tucked beneath what appears to be a very haunting, continuous choir chant.Completely enthralling, and full of wrong turns, this tape is fantastic, and anyone who's unfamiliar with Water Borders should get on it, asap.
Edition of 100.Get a copy from Skrot Up.

AFTER AFTER AFTER - C46 (dbl A-side) (Skrot Up)




This one was a total mystery.The insert doesn't tell you much about the tape, or about this group.All I know, is that their called After After After, their Swedish, and this is their new 8 song cassette.Skrot Up has been releasing wild electronics, harsh noise and no wave gems for some time now, and their catalog is quite an expansive one.AAA begins things with a sort of blank, no-wave vibe, nothing too catchy or memorable, and eventually grows into something much deeper as it plays out.Sharp keyboards and stiff guitars are laid over minimal dance beats, and there's a less than enthused, yet strangely tuneful vocals here and there.It's pretty varied though, the song " Kranky", is a slow burning instrumental, with a steady snare roll that points towards a big finish.It's coupled with some ethereal synth sprawls and various electronic sines and pink noise."Dancing in a Mist" really stuck with me.It's got this French new wave vibe, with icy synth repetition, and minimal guitar jabs.It's kind of a danceable, in that "I don't dance" sort of way, and the vocals,although rather incoherent, have a cool, almost sexy tone, and it all works pretty well for AAA.There's a ton of different styles going on here, and this tape goes from scathing electronic dirge, to dreamy euro-pop in a flash, without being overly contrived or scattered.As much Adult as they are Air.Good stuff.Edition of 100.
Get it here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

KEN SEENO - "Invisible Surfer On An Invisible Wave" C26 (NNA)


  The insanely talented Ken Seeno, somehow found the time to create this lush and expansive electronic album, for NNA Tapes.The last year or so has surely been a busy one for him, between touring and recording in his full-time gig, as 1/2 of Ponytail's guitar assault, although you won't find any tropical anthems or weirdo pop jams here.Invisible Surfer is a calm, collected batch of analog synths and keyboard modulations, swirling rhythms and dreamy landscapes.It's a very well crafted collection of deep swells and breezy sweeps, and the amount of vivid imagery this stuff will show you, is intense.There's a fair amount of nature samples lingering in the background.Birds, frogs, streams and other chirping critters, make a handful of appearances throughout the album, and accompany the shimmery drones quite nicely.There's little to no percussion, and zero driving beats in Seeno's music, but Invisible Surfer is still jam packed with deep movements and good, good vibes.Fans of OPN, Emeralds, and the like will totally fall in love with this tape.Perfect.
 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

CANKUN - "Jaguar Dance" c47 (Not Not Fun)


French minimalist/electronic brainchild - Vincent Caylet, gives us his debut outting under the new Cankun moniker, a fantastic new cassette entitles "Jaguar Dance".This couldn't have found a more suitable home, than the one it's found at with the amazing Not Not Fun family.This album is painfully addictive and fresh right from the get go.On "O Mountains O", a weightless soft synth drone floats along at a crawling pace, warming up and melting down into pools of thick, bubbling melodies.There's already a deeply organic vibe, one that might conjure images of a liquefied hologram, a sort of neon colored cyclone, spinning wildly through the air.Heaps of colorful guitars are spilled into the mix, with a heavily delayed, slow bounce.They quickly begin to grow and multiply, as the clusters of sharp micro-rhythms find their way into the deep and continuous keyboard swell, the two start to intertwine, creating a lush and vivid landscape.Jaguar Dance's sound is easily comparable to that of Sun Araw and High Wolf having an underwater calypso jam session, with Matrix Metals controlling the soundboard.It's bubbly tone suggest that it may have been recorded somewhere in the depths of a underwater cave, and rarely, if ever, does it come up for air.
As you begin to explore more of Jaguar Dance, you will notice that the songs begin to take shape a bit, and find a more swaying, rhythm based approach,"Congo Mobile Disco" fades in with a swirling psych guitar stride, draped over top of a minimal beat, and just when you've gotten comfy, it pulls you in a whole new direction.Caylet introduces a faster, more prominent drum pattern, along with some subtle, treated strumming in the background.This all plays on for a minute or two, slowly building upon itself, with layers of electric guitar noodling and some rather piercing riffs that climb over top of each other.Things finally come to a head, and then quickly plateau, fizzling out like the red sun, as it descends into the sea at dusk.A very, very good debut on all fronts.Another gold star for NNF.