Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IASOS "Inter-Dimensional Music" c54
(Rotifer Cassettes))

I thought it might be appropriate to say a few words on Iasos, now that New Age music is cool for the very first time ever. Born in Greece in 1947, but raised in the United States and a resident of California since the late 60s, Iasos is often described as the first "New Age" musician. His 1975 album "Inter-Dimensional Music" has seen a lot of renewed interest, with a vinyl reissue on Baltimore's Hearted Hand last year and a cassette reissue on Rotifer now in it's second pressing of 200 copies. I highly recommend you check it out if you are an un-ironic appreciator of dreamy synthscapes. There are parts of the album that I would genuinely describe as tropical, with Iasos emulating the sounds of a rainforest on his synthesizer.

R. Buckminster Fuller (in a letter to Iasos)
"I find your inter-dimensional music needing new words to describe it. I feel as though I were entering a new world - a new and very profoundly beautiful world."

Alan Watts, Metaphysical Philosopher
"Iasos is doing the classical music of the New Age."


Thursday, November 24, 2011

How To Put Out A Taped Cassette

By way of being thankful for the tape cassette as a medium, I thought it might be kind of cool to write a little something about what I've learned from putting out scores of cassettes over the years. Forgive me if any of this seems patronizing. I sure wish I had had some of this information when I was making my first crude audio missives! I'm going to take you step by step through the process.

Making a Master/Dubbing
You can release a cassette tape of music that was initially recorded on any medium. Your cold, clinical sounding Garageband recordings may find new life on a warm sounding c23 (notice I said may). I often record my music onto cassette (4 track, handheld, stereo boombox) and then transfer it onto a computer where I piece together different segments using Audacity (or some such program). If you are going to do like I do, make sure to watch your levels as you are transferring the tape onto the computer. If it's peaking on the audio program (that means the image of the sound waves is reaching the top of the spectrum) then redo it cause it's going to sound like shit.

What I do next is I take my finished digital files (one track for each side) and put them back onto a cassette to make the master tape. Be sure that the cassette is the same length as the ones you'll be dubbing onto. If you are using a tape for your master, I suggest using a dedicated two deck player as opposed to a boom box. You can often find used ones for cheap at a Salvation Army or Goodwill. If you use normal speed dubbing, the quality will significantly better than when using high speed. Multi-tape dubbers are notoriously finicky and result in shite quality more often than not.

You can also choose not to transfer your audio back onto a cassette and use a CD or a computer file (wav or aiff please) as your master if you desire. Simply buy an 1/8" to RCA cable from radio shack and go from the headphone jack of your computer or CD player directly into the back of your tape deck. Some people might think this gets a "cleaner" sound, but I personally think putting your stuff onto a tape for the final master adds a layer of warmth to the recording. The best advice I can give you is that experimentation will provide you with the best results.

Production
I'd say that there are generally three ways of producing a cassette release.

1. Almost-free method: You may have noticed, but a lot of folks simply don't want their old cassettes anymore. What you can find in free-boxes, soup kitchens, or ultra cheap at thrift stores includes sealed boxes of blank tapes, old mix tapes, copies of Harry Chapin records, sermons, major label hits or self released albums. Oftentimes you'll find the cases included with these tapes. When I lived in Western Massachusetts I was able to make hundreds of cassettes for free by picking up whatever I could score at the Amherst Survival Center. If you're in that area, I suggest you check it out.

So now you've got all the blank media you'll need for your release. If you are using brand name blank tapes (whether blank or not) chances are the little tabs on the top of the tape will still be intact, allowing you to dub over whatever is that's already on there. If you are recording over Julio Iglesias' "Un Hombre Solo", you'll need to cover up the holes (where those tabs should be) in order to record over his saucy sounds. It's best to use two pieces of sturdy tape (the sticky kind), but even a piece of paper will do. Keep in mind that unless you are using commercial recordable tapes (c60, c90), your tapes are all going to be different lengths. I'm sure you'll find someway to work around that. Sometimes it's helpful to erase the already existing program by dubbing a blank cassette onto the one you want to record over. This will help reduce the chance of the old audio bursting through onto your music.

Now you can produce your artwork any way you'd like (more on that in the next section).

2. Buying Tape Stock and Cases: This is not a paid advertisement, but Deltamedia.com has pretty much everything you will need to get started. They sell tape stock of any length, different kinds of cases and some other stuff like labels or j-cards that you can stick in your home printer. There are a few different types of cassettes available. I suggest buying Type I Master Cassettes (Music Grade). I've had some problems buying Type II tapes, as you have to make sure that your master tape and the machine you are using to dub with supports Type II. Either way, be sure to order "tab in" tapes.

I'll often get the tapes and cases I need online and then go to a trustworthy print shop to make the j-cards myself (the j-card is where the art goes btw). You can lay out your artwork either by hand (like I do) or on the computer (like everybody else does). The cheapest way would just be a 11x17 piece of paper (any thickness you desire, card stock is the best) with 6 j-cards. Obviously, it's cheaper (and sometimes artistically more appropriate) to use black and white. Color will usually cost at least 4x as much, but all in all, the total cost of printing won't be too high either way. Just remember that the more you make, the less they'll charge you. Your print shop will also make you some rectangular stickers that you can put on your tapes. In any case, marking them someway is a really good idea. If you've got a good home printer you can run off your artwork on the j-cards and labels from home, but I actually think this will end up costing you more when you factor in the ink and all. Obviously, if you want to try your hand at screen-printing or block printing, those are affordable and cool looking options as well. However you decide to do the artwork, combine all the pieces and you're good to go!

Working this way will generally put your production cost at well under $1 per tape.

3. Pro-dubbing: Again, not a paid advertisement, but National Audio Company is really the place to go if you want someone to cover every aspect of production for you. They will duplicate your tapes from a supplied master (CD, audio file or cassette), make the artwork to your specifications, put printed text or any image you want on the cassettes themselves and even shrinkwrap your finished product! Trust me, this is probably the best way to go when you weigh the cost vs labor vs quality of the product. If you make a run of 200 copies, it will only cost you ~$1 per tape, before shipping. I've heard these guys are a "Christian company" so they might not do your project if it's called Cockdickanus or something stupid like that. But that's just a rumor...

Publicizing/Distributing
Besides Cassette Gods, there are a number of other places you can send your tape in order to get noticed. Animal Psi is a really good place if you just want to announce yourself. Send them a description of your stuff and a link to your website and they'll post it verbatim. It's sort of like a catalog of recently released stuff with very little editorial content. Foxy Digitalis is another site that will frequently review unsolicited submissions, but be aware that they will just as easily hand out a negative review as a positive one. Vital Weekly is a long-running email newsletter that reviews new underground music. They have a policy of reviewing every submission they receive. Rotten Meats is another good place to go to and so is the Auxiliary Out blog, which does really in depth analysis. Of course there are probably hundreds of other blogs that write about contemporary D.I.Y. music, but I've tried to list the ones here that seem less like "cool kids clubs." Click on any of the names in this paragraph to be taken to the appropriate website.

Getting your tape picked up by internet distributors or record stores is based on luck and connections as much as it is merit, so I won't really go into that too much. There is no secret. Just work hard and keep at it, no matter what! I am loath to name names, seeing as these people get enough unsolicited emails. I would suggest thinking about the places where you buy your tapes from and look into who sells copies of your favorite label or artist's work. If you offer your tape for $5 retail, I would suggest asking a wholesale price of $3 to get people interested. Don't sell yourself short though: maybe require a minimum order of 3 to 5 units. You can also suggest trading tape for tape.

==================================================

Hey, in other news, I've also done some updates to Cassette Gods that might go unnoticed lest I hip you to them here. For one, I've gone through every post since the beginning and updated the tags. Took a little while, heh heh heh... So if you scroll to the bottom of this page you'll see a complete list of artists and labels that have been covered by CG over the last four and a half years. Cool! I've also added a link to the old Cassette Gods page that is archived on the Deathbomb Arc website. You can find the old columns and stuff there. Find this page by clicking on the word "Founded" in the upper right corner of this page. Hopefully we'll begin posting more current non-review writing, like the piece above, and also interviews, writing about live music, etc... in the coming months. I've created a dedicated section to that kind of writing. Just click on "Editorials" on the right hand column.

Hope y'all enjoy. Just don't call me an editor...

Feel free to write me at info@onekindfavor.net or cavebears@gmail.com with any questions...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sad Horse - "Eggy Tape" (Eggy Records)


Just got this one from Raf Spileman of Eggy Records a week or so ago. Eggy Records is one of my favorites and it happens to be based here in Portland where I live. Despite being an excellent musician and artist in his own right, Raf has insanely awesome taste and Eggy has been steadily releasing music by some of my favorite bands. The tapes always look and sound amazing and his all-killer distro is always bringing in Grade A shit t00. This brand-fucking-new one is up there with the best and has been super anxiously anticipated for by many. Sad Horse is a frenetic punk duo from Portland and this, their second album, comes after a long wait following their killer first, self-titled tape. I don't know much about Elizabeth but Jeff works at Exiled Records in Portland, which is an amazing record store owned by Scott Simmons of Eat Skull and Pacific City Nightlife Vision Band. There's an element of cool and funny in this music, an element that may be one of those things that seems to come with an informed intuition only possessed by record store employees. Maybe that's totally false, I don't know, but this dude is always playing rad shit in the store and I'm not surprised to hear that his band sounds the way it does. There's elements of Dead Moon in the guitar, their two voices are both higher registered yelling and remind me of early Boredoms sometimes, the drums are snappy and quick like George Hurley when he was in the Minutemen. The songs are surprisingly well written and dynamic, utilizing simplicity and style. The songs are brief but full and there's no sounds going on that weren't meant to be going on. Awesome production quality and, no-hating, a refreshing disregard for unnecessary reverb or surf tricks that so many radical little rock bands tend to incorporate. They definitely have their own thing going on and don't seem to be interested in joining in on any garage rock posturing, as fun and addicting as it may be. I really liked this tape and it's relatively short length makes it easy to jam over and over. I hear there is an LP in the works, so hopefully the wait for more won't be as long as last time. Grab one at Eggy's Mail Order Dept. Hand-painted covers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

IDEA FIRE COMPANY "Postcards"
(No Basement Is Deep Enough)



This tape marks the 20 year anniversary of Idea Fire Company's first release, the double LP "Explosion In A Shingle Factory." The Amherst, MA based IFCO generally operates as the duo of married couple Scoutt Foust and Karla Borecky, though they have included other members form time to time, such as Matt Krefting on their 2009 LP for Ultra Eczema, "Beauty School." IFCO is truly one of the great band's of the last few decades and they've stuck to a pretty consistent M.O., layering Foust's random noises and found sounds over Borecky's expert keyboard and piano lines. Very similarly to Cluster and other kosmische musik, IFCO makes fairly serious work that is, nevertheless, completely fun.

Though generally well received critically, IFCO small-run LPs, often released on Foust's Swill Radio (started in 1983) generally stay in print for many years, with copies of old releases being sold unopened by distros for bargain basement prices. Well, hell, who am I to complain? If you're looking to start an IFCO collection, it sure won't cost you an arm and a leg. That's something you can't say about kindred spirits The Shadow Ring, of which Foust and Borecky were sometimes members.

"Postcards" would surely be a great place to start that collection. It is a completely stunning and deserves a much larger release then this slim run of 93 copies. All but one of the pieces are from 2011, but it is as engrossing as the group's best work from any year.


For everything IFCO, Foust and Swill Radio, go here: http://www.anti-naturals.org/swill/
Foust's commentary on the items in his distro are usually good for a laugh.

For sound samples and label contact:
http://soundcloud.com/nobasementisdeepenough
You can often find NBIDE releases here:
http://www.discogs.com/label/No+Basement+Is+Deep+Enough


LENHART TAPES "Tape Music #2"
REMÖRK "Symphonie Monotrone"
(No Basement Is Deep Enough)

I've got four more tapes to review from the one year old Serbo-Belgian label No Basement Is Deep Enough. Besides having a really great discography, the label is taking package design to heights not seen since the last great renaissance of cassette culture in the 1980s. The label's choice of musical material is as creative as it's choice of packaging material. Being a European label, I would say it's tastes veer heavily to the aesthetics of that continent's avant-garde (weird spoken word, free improv and tape collage) but the label has also featured a number of artists from the US. NBIDE is curated by Ignace De Bruyn and the art design is by Milja R. (balkanbridesdotcom) These next two tapes are the pinnacle of the label's artistic design:

The Lenhart Tapes release comes in what is perhaps the coolest packaging I've ever seen: a makeshift crucifix housing a coil and some fake pearls in a wooden frame. The music was recorded live on Serbian radio by one Vladimir Lenhart and his four fabulous walkman tape decks. I'm not one who always takes so readily to tape collage, but this piece really astounded me. Throughout the half hour of "Tape Music #2," we are taken on a journey through middle eastern music passages (reminiscent of a Sublime Frequeincies "Radio..." release), intoning voices in various languages, goats blurting, weird electronic sounds, even a how-to instruction on the use of the E-Bow! The fact that this recording was made live in one take makes it all the more appealing. I feel that these sorts of collages can become really bogged down when they are too fussed over, and Mr. Lenhart's piece flows with the natural ease of the best music.

The tape by Remörk also has a very clever design. Housed between to slaps of wood and held together by a metal pin that goes through two wooden pegs holding the tapes reels in place. The full title of the album is "Symphonie Monotrone (Interuptions Pour Guitare Et Korg Monotrone), so If I can translate the French correctly, it's some music made by a guitar and Korg keyboard. I don't hear the guitar at all, but what I do hear sounds like the cries of a dying robot with a wrench stuck in it's head. Very simple tones that gradually become more distorted as the overtones stack up. This tape is one-sided.

Check out audio samples or contact Ignace here:
http://soundcloud.com/nobasementisdeepenough
You can usually find tapes here:
http://www.discogs.com/label/No+Basement+Is+Deep+Enough

HIDEOUS UNO / BANK OF CHRIST split
THE BAD TRIPS / VESTRON CANNON split
(No Basement Is Deep Enough)

This split tape from Serbo-Belgian label No Basement Is Deep Enough offers up two slices of Bay Area music in one hand-sewn pouch. The Hideous Uno side was recorded in the late 90s and sounds like a cold wind whipping over the bodies of dead mountaineers, rending the flesh from their bones. A very sparse and beautiful vocal piece with delays and loops very much in a Henri Chopin vibe. My research tells me that Hideous Uno is none other than Grady Runyon, former lead guitarist and vocalist of the squalling mid 90s dose of bad acid, Monoshock (!!!) and also of Liquorball. While this sounds nothing like those groups, it's nice to know that Runyon had other things up his sleeve. If you haven't heard Chopin or Runyon's other work, run don't walk...

The Bank Of Christ side is a really apt choice of pairing, accomplishing the same sort of effect, but this time using more traditional instruments: violin, synth, tumpet, bass, percussion. The music here was recorded in the last few years and and is mostly very eerie and atmospheric, until it picks up for the last few minutes with an upbeat drum figure. The recording quality is really cool, sort of like old wire-spool technology.

Well, maybe I don't get a whole tape, but No Basement Is Deep Enough offers up another split with a more contemporary Grady Runyon project. The A side here is by The Bad Trips, a trio of Runyon (guitar/sound), Jeff Grimes (guitar/sound) and Gordon Roberts (keys/bass) recorded in 2007. This is about as different from Monoshock as Hideous Uno is, though I find it slightly less compelling. Basically a lot of eerie sounds and echo that sort of hang in stasis for awhile and then vanish. Doesn't so much sound like a bad trip as it does a pleasant one in some nice spooky old woods. The natural sound of the guitar becomes more apparent during the last third and I really like that part a lot.

The B side of this tape is by Vestron Cannon, a trio of Damon Sturdivant (guitar), Dusty James Hill (bass, keys, sax) and PK Maunz (drums). Listening to this side made me actually appreciate the Bad Trips side a lot more. While Runyon and co. are very methodical in their sound creation and the whole A side has a nice arc to it, Vestron Cannon's music has much more of a "let's just jam" feeling to it. The results features plenty of screechy saxophone, Les Rallizes Denudes-esque guitar rifferey and propulsive drumming, but the group never really seems to develop any of its musical ideas and I'm left wanting more. The most interesting thing about this side is the recording quality, which has a half-submerged feeling to it.

The packaging of this tape another extraordinary balkanbridesdotcom creation: an embroidered piece of fake leather that wraps around the cassette and is clasped together by an overcoat button.

To hear tracks from all NBIDE releases or make contact, go here:
http://soundcloud.com/nobasementisdeepenough
You can also find most of their uniformly great releases here:
http://www.discogs.com/label/No%20Basement%20Is%20Deep%20Enough

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GERMAN ARMY - "Body Linguist" c30 (Skrot Up)


This double A-side from L.A. minimalist duo - German Army, is yet another deep notch in Skrot Up's bedpost.With just nine tracks clocking in at just under fifteen minutes, Body Linguist plays out like an old punk record, but with delicate synth chords traded in for power chords, and scattered machine-drumming instead of straight forward pummeling.It's fairly moody and blatantly minimal, almost to a fault.I'm a big fan of most anything dark and desolate, especially with a vague cold war aesthetic, and these dudes pull it off handsomely on all fronts.The songs are short and sour, and might be completely improvised, but it's hard to say.It kind of reminds me of Portion Control or recent Factums, with less focus on the vocals.Bits and pieces of random dub instrumentals, snagged, stripped down to their skeletons, and spat out at half speed.
Parts of Body Linguist tend to dip into Throbbing Gristle's more subtle and tender moments, with a bit of skittering electronics and noisy interludes, but for the most part this tape keeps it's cool.This is definitely an album made for a cassette release, as their songs aren't really something to be played individually.As a whole, Body Linguist is a consistent and rewarding listen, and should be played front to back.Headphones are suggested.Check out their recent cassette on Night-People, too.
Get Body Linguist here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

R. STEVIE MOORE "Ariel Pink's Picks Vol.1"
(RSM Cassette Club / Laughable Recordings)

This a compilation release featuring recordings from outsider legend R. Stevie Moore's long and illustrious career. Compiled by Ariel Pink from his personal favorites, the tape starts and end's with two really enjoyable collaborations between Moore and Pink which serve as nice bookends to the tape. This tape was co-released by Colby Nathan's Laughable Recordings and the reinvigorated R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club. There were only 100 of these made (crazy huh?) so I suggest you act fast. If you miss out on a physical copy (from the label's bandcamp), you can always download the album from Moore directly (link below), but that version doesn't feature the duo tracks. While some folks might flock to this for those two collaborations (which are pretty great actually), I strongly suggest picking this up as a primer to R. Stevie Moore's vast body of work. Even if you are familiar with some of his cassettes, cdrs or records, you will surely find many tracks here that are new to you (as I surely did). The man has released a purported total of 400 albums since 1968. And is generally considered to be one of the pioneers of home recording and D.I.Y. releasing. At its best, Moore's music is as good as, if not better than, any of the mainstream 70s pop that was being created when he was in his heyday. Moore seems to be reinvigorated these days, playing shows around the country and continuing to release new music. Pink is a huge admirer of Moore and you can see where he get's a lot of his aesthetic from by listening to these cuts. A good thing never gets old.

http://laughablerecordings.bandcamp.com/releases
http://rsteviemoore.bandcamp.com/album/ariel-pinks-picks-vol-1
you might find a copy at the discogs page at some point in the future

Massive Update

Oh boy! I've really been letting the submissions pile up and I'm finally getting around to writing again. I've been busy starting a new record label (hence my blogger name change from Feeding Tube Records to One Kind Favor). In addition to the R. Stevie Moore review above, I have 19 more tapes I'll be writing up. I really appreciate everyone sending me their stuff and I'd like to make a pledge to review every tape I receive. Now, this means I might not like everything I'm reviewing, but I'm going to try to be fair, and if not fair, I'll at least try to be informative. Besides the 14 tapes reviewed below, I also have 5 astounding releases from the Belgian/Serbian label No Basement Is Deep Enough. Besides getting my vote for the best label name ever, they also win awards in my book for their absolutely outrageous package design. I'd like to give each of those releases their proper due, so I'm going to let what I've written today sink in and get to the NBIDE tapes next week...oh and it looks like I've bumped a few recent reviews to the next page, so continue on further for some more great stuff.

-Nick

THE GREAT PAIN OF SPACE "s/t" c29
TURQUOISE FEELING "January Sisters in Drag" c20
OBVIOUSLIES "Brokedance" C62
(Snow Clone)

Columbus Ohio's Snow Clone is one of my favorite little labels at the moment. I totally flipped over the Day Creep tape this Summer and this other batch of earlier tapes somehow found their way to my door up here in Belfast, ME. Besides being original and quirky, all of the releases are dubbed really well and sound fantastic.

Get tapes here: http://tapesprogressadministration.blogspot.com/


The Great Pain of Space is a single-sided collection of really outstanding synth and oscillator tracks. Some are rhythmically driving, some are more spacey. I would go so far as to assume that nary a computer was touched in the making of this album, but I might be wrong. It's stuff like this that gives me hope for the current wave of keyboard madness. You can make a synth album that actually resonates with the warmth of the human spirit. FYI, the band is named after a quote from the outstanding Sci-Fi writer Cordwainer Smith's short story "Scanners Live In Vain." Dude wrote the handbook on psychological warfare. Man I love it when people geek out on this shit like I do. No clue who the artist behind this tape is...


Turquoise Feeling is a rocking rock band that rocks quite rockingly. There seems to be a definite aesthetic for bands in Columbus and these guys do that aesthetic quite well. Kinda low-fi, kinda country, kinda punk, kinda awesome! These are the kind of songs that I would love to drink a Budweiser to in a shitty bar with two other people there. If you're a fan of the Replacements or their ilk I would highly recommend picking up this and the Day Creep tape. Hell, just buy everything on this label. These guys do this shit so good and don't appear to be making a big deal about how awesome they are.
http://turquoisefeeling.bandcamp.com/
http://14inchesoflove.blogspot.com/


The one-sided Obviouslies "Brokedance" EP starts of as a bit of sing-songy male/female vocal whimsy, but soon transitions into a really spaced out/slowed down heavy jam for drums, guitar and keyboard. While the vocals are perhaps my least favorite part of the sound, sort of like a cross between They Might Be Giants and Yo La Tengo, they are still quite strong and they mostly stay out of the picture. I almost didn't want to review it based on the opening minutes, but I changed my mind and stuck with it. This tape is really awesome. Gets to a hypnotic downer-rock place that is not reached on the other two tapes. What a label!

www.obviousli.es

OTRO MUNDO "Jellied" (Ascetic House)


Rather well recorded and goodly sounding acid garage (in the vein of Butthole Surfers, et al.) with a touch of touchy-feely that others might call melodicism (in the vein of what I can only describe as 90s "indie rock"). The burners on here really burn and there is some nice guitar on the slower jams. If you live near Tempe, AZ check this band out, as I'll betchya Otro Mundo are a real stellar live act, but their talent comes across quite well on tape as well. As is the case with just about every band these days, the vocals are buried in a little bit too much reverb, but maybe I just have to get with the times? Definitely more than worth the $3 the band is charging for it on their webpage:

http://www.theotro.blogspot.com/

COOKIE BROOKLYN
"Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Under My Car" c40
RORY STORM "Wirewreath" c30
(Epic Sweep Records)

Epic Sweep is a New Zealand based label that appears to release the work of NZ based artists on lathe cut 7" and cassette. All of the runs are really small, with the Cookie Brooklyn tape being the real major production with a total of 40 copies made. http://epicsweeprecords.com/


This Cookie Brooklyn tape is definitely my kind of thing. A collection of recordings made between 1996 and 1999 and then completed from 2006-2009. You get a little bit of downer folk, you get a dollop of noise/drone guitar jamming, you get a healthy helping of avant-garde spoken word with piano and plunking sounds. The guy's got a really nice voice and it shines even when buried beneath murky instrumentation, as it is on some tracks. Plus there's a really funny double-sided foldout insert with rambling commentary from Mr. Brooklyn, whose real name appears to be Mark Williams. I hope to be reviewing the next Cookie Brooklyn tape in about 15 years or so...


I feel like I just might not be qualified to comment on this music accurately. As far as I'm concerned, the most slamming "techno" I've ever heard is "Come Out" by Steve Reich. That shit really gets me dancing. Be that as it may, Rory Storm's "Wirewreath" is a completely enjoyable collection of beats and blurps to get your party started. Well, at least until the much more harsh B side kicks in. While this sort of music isn't usually my cup of tea, I have to say I enjoyed this tape.

THE CHARRED RAMPS "Hunt The Grease" c62 (FMSMPRC)

hunt the grease Cover Art

From the look of the packaging, I thought The Charred Ramps was going to be a skate punk band, but they are actually and industrial/tape degradation duo that plays a little bit of thrash on the side, though it takes a while to become apparent. All in all, a very interesting and dark journey through a number of cool soundscapes. This tape is available for trade only. So send some music or art to the address below if you want a copy. Or you can download it from the label's webpage. By the way FMSMPRC stands for "Fuck Me Stupid Mountain Princess Recording Collective," in case you was wonderin'.

fmsmprc
1217 Douglas St.
unit 226
Los Angeles, CA 90026

http://fmsmprc.bandcamp.com/

BITTER FICTIONS "Percolator Glitch"
BITTER FICTIONS "Looper Pedal Blues"
(Shaking Box Music)



Bitter Fictions sent me two self-released tapes from good old Calgary, Alberta. That's in Canada folks. Appears to be the solo project of radio DJ and music writer Devin Friesen. "Percolator Glitch" is a series of atonal live guitar improvisations processed through Max/MSP (that funny computer program that looks like a spider web). The track titles form a little joke:

Side A
1. I remember listening to I'm Your Man
2. It had some nice pop hooks, but bad instrumentation
Side B
3. I just feel that was him getting old and thinking, I gotta seem young and hip!
4. Synthesizers! That's the answer!

I've got to say I completely disagree with that statement on general principle. Leonard Cohen's "Various Positions" (1984), "I'm Your Man" (1988) & "The Future" (1992) form one of the greatest triptychs in all of music. The weird tinny production is one of the things that makes those albums (especially the latter two) stand out from most of the rest of recorded music. Case in point:


Hell I'm so rankled now that I'm not sure if I can go on... Okay fine, I will. "Percolater Glitch" just really isn't my cup of tea. I can't say that I've ever enjoyed the combination of guitars and computers. "Looper Pedal Blues" I like a little more. Kind of Lee Ranaldo inspired songs that lead into guitar jams. There's more variation in the instrumentation and rhythm here and some of the music is tuneful in that atonal way we've come to know and love from about a million bands these days.

http://bitter-fictions.blogspot.com/

ALTO JEFFRO "Echo Together" c35
SKY STADIUM "Ancient" c20
(Lave Church Records)

I got two cassettes from Lava Church about a month back. The label is based out of Sarasota Florida and you can get all five of their releases for only $13.50. Now that's a good fucking deal. The tapes come come on with double sided color cardboard j-cards and an 80s "Super Stars" trading card. http://lavachurch.blogspot.com/

Photobucket
First up is Alto Jeffro "Echo Together" c35. I like this one quite a bit. Alto Jeffro is a duo from what is described as the "arctic woodlands of Massachusetts." They are a duo and they sure do echo together. Despite some of the tape's computerized Ariel Pinkisms, the proceedings are generally tuneful and enjoyable. Mostly keyboard and drum machine pop with echo on pretty much everything. There's a ukulele on one track, but no guitar that I can detect. Can't really understand the lyrics, but it seems like these boys are having a good time. You probably will too.

Sky Stadium - Ancient
Next we have Sky Stadium "Ancient" c20. Sounds like what you might expect a band called Sky Stadium to sound like. What's that? You expect it to sound like a bunch of football hooligans whose idiotic screams are only hampered by the lack of oxygen in their mile high sports venue? Well you're way wrong! Vangelis is cool again (or maybe cool for the first time). This tape sounds like the opening of Blade Runner for 20 minutes. No beats of any kind, just the sound that dolphins make as they fly through space. It's okay.

HAUNTED CREATURES "s/t"
(Dynamo Sound Collective)



Pittsburgh, PA is a really strange place. The deeply weird concert promoters seem to be in some sort of perpetual war and the vibe can be pretty down. That being said, the city is geographically quite breathtaking, with tons of bridges and weird old buildings, not to mention one of the coolest collections of businesses ever to be assembled under one roof. 3138 Dobson St. on Polish Hill has the honor of housing Mind Cure Records, Copacetic Comics and Lili Coffee Shop. How's that for a one-stop? Apparently you can add Ryan Emmett's Dynamo Sound Collective to the list of things that are "A-OK" about Pittsburgh. The label has released over thirty tapes and this one is a nice atmospheric little bugger from the four member Haunted Creatures, that features Mr. Emmett, Micah Pacileo, Amy Hoffman and Darren Myers. The A side offers a bunch of swooshes and swoops, while the B side gets us started with a humorous sample of audience clapping before getting way into a swirling tribal jam that breaks down into sampler glitches. In conclusion, I think Pittsburgh is cool.

http://www.dynamosoundcollective.com


PROBLEMS THAT FIX THEMSELVES / MICROMELANCOLIE "Fractures" c47
(Already Dead Tapes and Records)


This is a split between two electronic artists. Again, I'd like to say that electronical music is really not my "thing" by any means, but I have been known to enjoy a repeated listen of Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy" EP from time to time. The first side of "Fractures" is by Problems That Fix Themselves and it's very much in the vein of that Richard D. James mini-masterpiece. I don't really know the correct language to use when describing this stuff, but I can say that Problems' music is quite complex and utilizes a number of interesting rhythms and textures. Hey now, they even named one track after Jeffery Tambor:


The B side is by Micromelancolié and it's a lot more slow building, sounding like a room slowly filling with bees transitioning into the dead sound of a record spinning endlessly in its runout groove. Not as instantly ear grabbing as the Problems material, but It's a good match to the energetic workout you get on the other side.

The tape comes wrapped in a cardboard holder and the graphic design is pretty pro.

http://alreadydeadtapes.wordpress.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BLUES PATROL - "ROCK" c20 (Hot & Ready)


Blues Patrol are a two piece from CA.Their newest cassette for Hot & Ready, is aptly titled "ROCK", which is pretty accurate, although after hearing it a few times, I think that "BENZO ROCK" would be more appropriate.Aesthetically, this has everything that I like about minimalist punk and pop acts of the 80's and 90's(see: awkward skinny male on cover, b+w breakfast/hangout photo insert, etc), and sounds alot like them, too.They've got the broken swagger and hiss of Beat Happening, without all the deep vox and painful cuteness.It's very simple, and could very well be 90% improvised.You start playing, and I'll catch up..and now we've got a song.Repeat.The guitars are distant and catchy, and sound just right for this kind of laced vocal style.The words just kind of fall out of his mouth.They've got a fairly heavy blues vibe going on, and like to keep things pretty laid back."Ain't No Gremlin Rock" has a rather infectious saxophone stumbling throughout most of it, and it's probably the best track on the tape.It reminds me the busted collage sound of the Shadow Ring, with a bit of that lo-fi creeper vibe of Russian Tsarlag, completely by accident..ROCK sounds like it's going to fall apart at any second, and it's a not a bad thing at all.Pick one up from Hot&Ready.

D//VV/D - "Gravitational Collapse" c30 (self released)



Phew!This one was a pleasant surprise indeed.D//VV/D reminds me a lot of Coil, more specifically, a Coil film score like Hellraiser.It's a strangely accessible mish mash of dark and bloodthirsty samples, synths and drum loops, who've all joined hands to dance maniacally around a church fire.Simple.It's a deeply foreboding listen, with some sinister vocals and deep industrial pounding.SPK and Skinny Puppy are decent reference points, although this guy wins because he's got a four-track vibe that keeps it honest and charming.Most of it hangs in the instrumental territory, and relies mainly on layers of grainy synthesizers and dense drum programming, although you'll hear a few coherently creepy voices rise up through the smoldering ash."Chaotic Summer" is a real lurker, and actually offers some tasteful vocoding.
Side B will really take you for a ride.It's mostly filled with demented drones and might be something that's playing in whatever they call "the depths of Hell" in outer space.Total cosmic doom.The standout track for me was "Gas Giant" which sounds like Throbbing Gristle playing some 90's club dub tune, at three different speeds, all at once.Black gold on a blue tape.Visit his site and pick one up before it's too late.Do it here.Edition of 50.

GOOD AMOUNT "Power" cs (Holy Page)


Okay, before listening to this cassette I had little to no previous knowledge of Good Amount, except for a few random internet blurbs and/or name drops by friends.By the time side B had ended, I was actually upset that nobody had bothered to turn me onto this much earlier.Power is the name of this cassette by Christian Filardo, aka: Good Amount, and it absolutely deserves it's title.From the very start, good vibes are pumped out in large amounts, like some kind of glittery neon elixir made of dolphin tears.A burst of synth chords swells up and withers away instantly.From there, they lay out a canvas so vast and endless, and begin to fill it.An arsenal of found sounds is spread out all over this thing, with random soft synth notes spattered over top.It's got a ton of open spaces, and yet it never seems to completely fade out or lag.The occasional ethereal voice will come into play, and whisper softly under a blanket of delays, followed by a swirling machine hum and percussive bump or two.This is a very warm and inviting batch of drones and loops, and it only gets deeper and more intriguing as it unfolds.I can't wait to hear more from them.Highly recommended for headphone listening, and mandatory listening for fans of Emeralds, OPN and the like.Pick one up for yourself or a friend from Holy Page.Edition of 100.