Friday, January 27, 2012

Night-People Winter Releases: GERMAN ARMY, HOT AND COLD, BOMBER JACKETS, THE GARMENT DISTRICT, SORE EROS

heyyy, I've moved down to Portland, ME...check the sidebar for updated mailing info

Iowa City's Night People issues up another batch of fine cassettes that have kept me bobbing my head in a narcoleptic haze for the past week. Gnar Tapes already reviewed the Golden Hours tape here and Bloggins and Messina reviewed the Bebe Fang release here. Thanks guys. I'd like to go on the record and say that Shawn Reed has really outdone himself with the quality of the selection with these tapes. This is "the best batch yet!"

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German Army delivers a synth driven post punk spoken word artifact of very high caliber on "Papua Mass." This is really great stuff, reminiscent of Douglas Bregger's two amazing releases from the 1980s (google him). Though that stuff was a little more like nerdy "real people" music for synth fans and this is definitely "cooler." It is sure to appeal to all fans of "talking over keyboards" music. This is related to the Kill Shaman universe. Previous German Army tape reviewed here.

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Hot & Cold lay down rock hard dark drum machine garage punk grooves on "Conclusion Introduction," which is a reissue of a release on a Beijing label. The band is made up of two brothers, one living in Canada and the other in China. I really like this one a lot, no obscuring of the vocals at all, everything is super clear. Repetitive bass lines and simple casio damage, a la Suicide. One of my favorites of the batch.

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Bomber Jackets is an English group with members of the band Pheromoans and their second release "Larching" is as groovy as anything on Night-People. These releases are all so good, but they all share a similar aesthetic so far with the mid tempo talk/singing over keyboards and drum machines, so I'm finding it hard to have new things to say about this tape. I really like it a lot though. If this kind of dark new wave is your thing, you should really go ahead and pick up this and the two aforementioned releases. The next two tapes veer off into different territory, so let's get to those already.

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On their debut release, The Garment District are already crafting fully fledged essential music, and showing their neighbors in Pittsburgh how it's done. Most of the music is created by Jennifer Baron (who was in Elephant 6/Merge Records band The Ladybug Transistor) and the vocals are by Lucy Blehar. Additional collaborators include Greg Lagel, Kevin C. Smith and bassist Jowe Head (of Swell Maps and Television Personalities!). This is a keyboard based album, though some guitar shows up from time to time, but it's much different in tone from the previous three releases I mentioned above. The mood is much lighter and more hopeful, though there is a hint of melancholy to the vocals. You get a little Sega Genesis, a little Vangelis a little Stereolab, but mostly you get a lot of Ms. Baron's melodic creativity. The second side is more of a collage, with some other music sampled along the way. Recommended, but ain't it all?

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Finally, we come to "Sickies Volume One" by the Western Massachusetts band of weirdo psych popsters Sore Eros. These guys aren't afraid to let their freak flag fly during their live sets, which often feature truly brokendown weirdness and deep jamming amidst their first-class song craft. Unlike all the previously mentioned tapes, this one is proud to feature guitars and drums in addition to keyboards! These boys play relatively normal songs but deconstruct them in ever so charming ways. The songs fall apart, get covered up by strange noise and peter out into beautifully pathetic codas. "Golden shit" would just about do it. Guest players include Gary War and my pal Danny Oxenberg from the legendary 90s band The Supreme Dicks (whose discography has finally been reissued on vinyl and CD by Jagjaguwar). Sore Eros definitely shares a kinship with the Dicks' burned out sounds and the group has really come into their own since moving to Western MA a year or so ago. Keep your eye on them. Highly recommended.

Find all Night People releases here. When making your tape order, you should definitely pick up a copy of the repress of the very hard to score first Peaking Lights LP "Imaginary Falcons." Really glad that one's back in print. It looks like the still have plenty of cassettes from the last run of tapes still available. What are you waiting for? Downloading that shit? C'mon!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cassette: A Documentary

Hey I think we can all "get behind" this, a documentary film about cassette tapes. Kickstart these ponies up. >>LINK<<

ACTUARY / ADERLATING
"Curses and Conspiracies" c20
(Love Earth Music)

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Funny cover. This is a really brutal tape that completely took me by surprise. I'm not aware of either of these artists, but I'd sure like to know more. First off, it appears that each artist plays percussion on the other one's side...cool idea. The Actuary portion is a tangled mess of screams and noise that is very well edited. It's a complete sonic onslaught that had me riveted the whole time through. It's great to hear noise music that really speaks to me. A lot is done with the human voice here. The Aderlating side is even better. These guys take more of a noise meets death metal meets free jazz approach and it works wonders. This is some of the best music of its kind that I've ever heard. If you haven't checked out either of these bands, please do so now. This is sure to appeal to the metal heads and true noise fans, but it's dynamic and innovative enough to grab the shirt collars of all fans of "out" music. Great!

I think the guy who does this label is in the band +DOG+, you should check out +DOG+. Website. Actuary site. Aderlating site.

BOZMO "Hosanna in the Highest" c60


With lyrics like "you're in middle school for life, I'm in middle school for life," this is just clearly not my thing. I am NOT in middle school for life. Still, this tape by Bozmo is pretty good. Ya know, it's indie rock. It's relatively upbeat, well recorded, it's got instruments and stuff. The singing is not overly wretched and I can see a lot of people digging this, but sometimes I wish Steve Malkmus had been horribly maimed during high school, like the dudes in Faxed Head. I would probably not have to attempt to differentiate band x from band y from band z so dang often. I mean, I've heard way more derivative stuff out there, and shit, Pavement just copied the Fall and put a better melody to it anyway. What do I know about music for chrissakes? I'm just saying, God blessed every individual with their own speaking voice, so why does all this singing sound the same? Am I bitter? Does anyone care?

This is also available as an LP and as a digital fun-packet. Listen to it here, you might like it if you like this kind of thing...man I feel like I've been saying that a lot. Can someone please send me something that's really truly punk please?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

LIMBS BIN vs FIELDMASTER "Inside: Spacelords: Psychic Assassination Trouble In Little China"
(self released)


Very very short split tape with blasts of noise from Western Mass dude Limbs Bin and Western Mass improv punk noise band Fieldmaster. The Limbs Bin side gives you four short examples of Josh Landes' primitive power violence to a blown out drum machine beat. The Fieldmaster jam is more of an acid punk deconstruction, not sure who those guys are. Their side was recorded live at a punk house in Holyoke, MA. Everything here is really "blink and you miss it," but good. Good and funny too. Get Limbs Bin related stuff here. You should really pick up the Familiar Combatants tape for a more complete overview of LB. I hear there's a 7" coming out soon.

PREGNANT SPORE "Ache For" c92
WIDOW'S BATH "A Love in the Shadow..." c48
(Rainbow Bridge)


At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like this. At a criminally long 92 minutes, Pregnant Spore's Ache For seemed like it might be more than I could handle. The first few minutes of burping electronics didn't do much for me, but eventually I surrendered to the flow and let the music wash over me. I would call this "mellow harsh." There's enough space in the music for it not to be oppressive and it eventually put me in a pleasant mood. This is the kind of music I generally associate with open circuit electronics: make a little noise...silence...adjust some connections...make a little noise...silence. I'm usually a fan of shorter tapes, but sometime you have to just go for it.


Widow's Bath give us a shorter tape with a longer title, "A Love In The Shadow Of That Which Constitutes Love." I did not enjoy this one as much. It's much busier, lots of nob twiddling and stuff that doesn't really go anywhere, though there seems to be an interesting backstory detailed on the label's website. Not my thing though.

Let it be know that I've never heard of this label, Rainbow Bridge, which is based out of Baltimore, but it seems like I should. They've got over 100 releases in their discography including jams by Andrew Coltrane, Skin Graft, NPV, Torturing Nurse, Cock E.S.P. & Merzbow, which are still in print. Check it out here.

DUNNO, KIDDO (Stop This Coffin!)

With a name like Dunno, Kiddo you'd expect this to be pretty cutsie...and you'd be right! It's pretty good too. Double A side tape of 5 short songs all recorded by one guy named Cedar from a band called A Primitive & Savage Land. I'm definitely hearing a strong Magnetic Fields vibe. Songs about love and stuff. You might like it if you like this kind of thing.

All the internet presence I could find was the label's facebook page.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Know Your History VHS (self releasesd)
MOLE HOLE "Wedge" VHS (Lighten Up Sounds)

I'm happier than a pig in shit to be covering not one, but two current VHS releases. I've long hoped that Cassette Gods would begin to review releases on this medium. After all, it is a video cassette, so it totally falls within our purview. But the truth is, no one has ever sent us anything. Until now.


The first tape I received is not exactly a music release, and while I don't want to get in the habit of reviewing people's film films, Know Your History - Butcher Shoppe 2011 Underworld/Happy America Day is too cool (and has enough music related content) to not write about it. It's a two-parter made by Lucy Watson of the Boston band Kid Romance, a group that has been completely different every time I've seen them (from '93 Boredoms to militant anarchopunk to elctrosomethingorother). They've got a great long playing vinyl disc out on Skrot Up, which I suggest you check out. (Edition of 220).

Anyway, we open with a red curtain parting and we're in The Craze. It's a silent horror film with great music that seems to involve a group of sinister ladies who torture this green troll and also keep a naked man chained up in their basement. There is a ritual with some chickens, a bath of green acid, lots of horrifying masks, some spilled milk, bones and more than a touch of burlesque. It reminds me a lot of a Paul McCarthy piece.

The audio throughout the tape is by OMG (aka L.U.C.Y.) and it's really killer: a doom-laden mix of melodramatic strings, spooky jazz, ritual percussion, clinking glass, minimal electronic sounds, slowed down vocals and deep breathing. It runs straight through The Craze into the second part of the tape, which records the events that transpired on one July 4th at The Butcher Shoppe, a former house venue in Boston. The curtain closes and reopens and we're in a basement filled with punks and a band is playing behind the smoke.

We cut back and forth between the inside and the outside of the venue, where the increasingly rowdy attendees are moshing, drinking, smoking, throwing shit and lighting off fire works. This second segment also plays like a horror film, though that's mostly due to the lack of sync sound and the fucked up OMG music going on over the whole thing. We never get to hear the band or the party goers: although Lucy does put in a few scene specific sound effects, this part of the film is silent as well. Nothing really "happens," but the music really keeps the whole thing suspenseful. Watching this makes me think about how much the soundtrack of a movie impacts what you're seeing. Let me say again, the music in Know Your History is really amazing and could completely stand on its own. It ends, as all things must, with the flashing of red and blue lights.

I think these were only given away free to house venues in Boston, but if you want a copy, you could try writing to wlucy953@gmail.com. She also has a new VHS out that you might want to see if you can snag. It's called Puff a Pound. Ha!



The second VHS release in my possession is an audiovisual release by Matt Himes, whose "folk" project Shep & Me should be known to all Cassette Gods readers. Himes has recently been recording instrumental soundscapes under the name Mole Hole. Wedge is a nicely building set of ominous drone made from a bunch of mismatched gear: waveform signal generator, answering machines, tape loops, ride cymbal, a ceramic plate and some pedals. Visually, we get a static shot of three overlaid film projections. All very nice. This, and a lot more, at the Lighten Up Sounds website.

So in conclusion...if you're doing something with music on VHS, please send it our way. Whether it's a film with a focus on music (Know Your History) or a piece of music with visual accompaniment (Wedge), we want to check it out! If you haven't made one yet, well then what are you waiting for? Abandoned VHS tapes can be found everywhere and new ones (including cases) can be purchased from deltamedia.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

GRATEFUL DEAD "Dane Country Coliseum, Madison, WI 2/15/73" (soundboard)


I always find Grateful Dead tapes at yard sales and junk shops and I've thought for awhile that it would be cool to review some of the best ones for Cassette Gods. I found the complete recording of this show on two Maxell XLII c90s at the flea market in Searsport, ME earlier this summer. At first I planned on reviewing it myself, but then I figured it might be more interesting to type out the review found in The Deadheads's Taping Compendium: An In-Depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead on Tape, of which I own all three 600 page volumes. So this is a "guest review" of sorts. None of these reviews are archived anywhere online. I bought the books for $3 each about ten years ago and it looks like they've gone up quite a bit in price since then (see). Still, I think they are an invaluable resource for fans of the band and worth buying at any price. This review appears in Volume I: 1959-1974 and is written by Harry Hahn. Let it be known that this show was one of former GD tape archivist Dick Latvala's favorite shows, may he rest in piece.

Grateful Dead 2/15/73 (Thursday)
Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI
1: Loose Lucy, Beat it on Down the Line, Brown Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Tennessee Jed, Looks Like Rain, Box of Rain, Row Jimmy, Jack Straw, China Cat> I Know You Rider, Me & My Uncle, Bertha, Playing in the Band, Casey Jones
2: Here Comes Sunshine, El Paso, You Ain't Woman Enough, They Love Each Other, Big River, Dark Star> Eyes of the World> China Doll, Promised Land, Sugaree, Sugar Magnolia E: Uncle John's Band, One More Saturday Night
sound check: "Loose Lucy," "Jack Straw," "Box Of Rain," "Uncle John" - first "You Ain't Woman Enough"

Highlights: Loose Lucy, BIODTL, Playin', H.C. Sunshine, Dark Star > Eyes > China Doll, Sugaree, Sugar Magnolia

This show opens with a tasty, hip grinding "Loose Lucy." It's the Grateful Dead just the way we like them: Jerry in command while Bobby, Phil and Keith hold their own. Phil steps up boldly to lead them into a perfect, burbling "Beat it on Down the Line." The cut in "Looks Like Rain" is quite bad. The rest of the songs in this set, not standouts in any way, are great archetypal renditions of Grateful Dead standard bearers. The set ends with a long, juicy "Playing in the Band" with the Dead at their best during the extended journey back from the deepest Milky Way to the final vocal break.

"Here Comes Sunshine" displays a lot of progress since February 9, 1973, the last time it was played. This version is more confident and more jammed out. The unfortunate "You Ain't Woman Enough" has failed to grow on anyone after all these years. The entire set is very good, but the real magic happens during "Dark Star." It's actually a relatively short and nondaring version until Phil takes a unique solo. It seems as though his notes are divided into two different registers. The Wall of Sound system eliminated the difference between PA and stage monitor; the two registers of Phil's sound seem to be delivered through two different sets of speakers within what was essentially a giant stage monitor. This creates something of a call-and-response quality that isn't replicated at any other show that I've heard (although tapes of early Michael Hedges concerts occasionally display the same effect). As his solo progresses, Phil begins to strongly suggest "Eyes." There is a stunning moment in which Jerry comes back in to build one of the sweetest jams the Dead ever played. The rest of the band falls into formation, and we find ourselves beautifully transported into the summer day that is "Eyes of the World." "China Doll follows with equal beauty and the dead serious silences of a funeral. "Sugaree" and "Sugar Magnolia" are highlights of the rest of a nice set.

You can stream the soundboard source of this show by clicking on this link to archive.org.

Setlist from deadbase.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

NATHAN VENTURA "Coming Home in a Nutcase" c31 (self released)

Coming Home in a Nutcase Cover Art

"When I was younger I used to shit in a paper bag..."

So begins this new album by Nathan Ventura, whose last tape I put on my best of 2011 (which I just listed as Untitled Tape I got at Gay Gardens). The previous one was more of weirdo folk thing with some harsher elements. The first side of "Coming Home in a Nutcase" is a spoken word piece that gets started with with some rough industrial rhythms before transitioning into an absolutely gorgeous/ominous organ and horn dirge and just keeps going on from there into worlds of clattering percussion and other assorted madness. The B-side continues the out of tune drifting soundscape, but features some fucked up hillbilly singing in addition to the spoken passages. I really appreciate Nate's "anything goes" attitude and skewed sense of sonics. Each side flows from one segment to the other, but I've been told it was as solo recording made in pieces and assembled after the fact. Great editing, deep weirdness. For fans of the 1800s singing bull tribute band and other such entities. This stands outside of anything that is going on in music right now. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

write him at nathanrainer@verizon.net and check out the music at his campsite.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

FAT WORM OF ERROR
"Brickfaced Vol.2" c40 (Yeay!)

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I'd be quick to name Fat Worm of Error as my favorite live band playing right now. The five member group of Jess Goddard (vocals, keys, costumes), Chris Cooper (guitar), Tim Sheldon (guitar), Donny Shaw (bass), and Neil Young (drums, elctrnx & Yeay! Plastics proprietor) are so much more than the sum of their parts and create sounds so far beyond what is usually expected from a band with such commonplace instrumentation. Fat Worm is far for commonplace. In fact I would go so far to say that there is not a single other band that has ever made such sounds. Sure, there are other bands splashing their post no-wave antics left and right, there are other artists creating fractured electronic blorp-scapes and there are a few costumed noise rock bands still left hanging on, but FWOE is a complete synthesis of everything that has been awesome about the American underground for the last 30 years.

The band of folks who are mostly in their mid-late 30s and early 40s has some serious pedigree, with two of it's members (Cooper/Goddard) hailing from the Bay Area's otherworldly historical reenactment troupe Caroliner (look it up. If you don't own every LP, most are still kept in print for roughly $7 a piece...write agenerak@yahoo.com). Not to mention each of the member's A-1 side projects and loose SF connection to Deerhoof from days of yore. FWOE makes its home in the forests and brick towns of Western Massachusetts.

While they may not outshine Caroliner in the concept or costume department, Fat Worm's broken down, off rhythm composition/improv takes off in surprisingly new directions. Nothing is tied down in their universe; riffs disappear as quickly as they are introduced, off-time vocals land like a ton of bricks over rapidly shifting ground. Parallels could be drawn to a band like Arab on Radar, but FWOE's work is less coarse and brutish. This gang is more like a chamber music ensemble; their strength relies less on overpowering sonics, but on subtle interplay between their constituent parts.

I've probably seen this band play 20 times and it took a little while for me to realize that what I had initially taken to be complete improvised cacophony, was in fact a finely developed Harmolodic songcraft (Ornette Coleman fans take note). At this point I could probably sing along to these lurching odes to disconnectivity. One of the most wonderful things about the Fat Worm crew is the innumerable treasures that repeated listens hold. The band is set to go on tour this spring. Get on the mailing list to stay updated.

To the matter at hand: is Brickfaced: Vol. 2 a good place to start? I'd suppose so, it's a fine collection of unreleased snippets recorded over the last five years. The group's perverted charm shines through over the course of tape's 40 minute run time and I imagine you could become hooked from just listening to this document. But for the uninitiated, I would strongly suggest starting with the Broods LP released last year on Ecstatic Peace and Open Mouth Records. It really shows Fat Worm operating at the height of their powers. Whereas, their early cassette and cdr work with pretty scattered, and their long playing debut CD/LP on Load showed the signs of considerable post production work, "Broods" really captures the organic beauty of these five individuals playing together in one room. That's not to say that you shouldn't head right over to the Yeay website and buy Brickfaced right now, it's only $6 ppd and it will surely sell out quickly, but once you get started, you'll want to track down all of the releases in the band's dense catalog.

Find Yeay Plastics here. One of the few bands reviewed on CG with a wikipedia page. Their live exploits have been heavily documented on youtube. There are tons of Fat Worm jams to listen to on the Free Music Archive, including a complete download of Brickfaced Vol. 1 from 2003.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Golden Hours - "Floating Weeds" c25
(Night-People)


Very catchy pops from Portland-area flowerheads. Been waiting on this one because Raf and Alex's other catchy pops band The Woolen Men are one of my favorites. Can't ever really complain too much about anything Night-People does, on any level. Pretty, kiwi-style girl vocals, shiny keys, jangly gits, punchy drums, great songs; another solid release for NP's already sterling pop/garage/rock catalog. "Satellite" is my favorite track, I think. Again, this shit is straight pop and can get a little cutesy with the very girly vocals but sometimes that's a really nice thing, I guess. Apparently they have another tape that came out on Eggy awhile back but I don't think I knew these kids back then so I didn't get one. If you like this definitely check out The Woolen Men (no girls, sadly) who have an LP on the way from Woodsist sooner/later this year. If you really didn't already know, go visit Night-People.

JEWELS OF THE NILE - "PLEASURE" (Sweating Tapes)


Jewels Of The Nile are a KILLER new synth duo, consisting of members Meghan Christine and Jessy Montaigne.Jessy spent time in the now deceased Subtonix, and both are current members of the amazing Magick Daggers.If you are familiar with either of these acts, you already have an idea of what you're dipping into here.Jewels of the Nile conjure up a similarly harrowing style of spiritual cramping, with ghostly female vocals, bass-heavy synths and pulsating rhythms.Pleasure is a terribly catchy, and frighteningly hypnotic concoction of early dark-wave, goth, and electro vibes.These two graciously spin seven foreboding tales of love and death, and they are damn good at it.Mixed by Soft Metals' Ian Hicks, this album is stunning from end to end, and each doom-filled track holds a unique tone and overall mood, all the while remaining a very cohesive album.It's got a strikingly dark and glacial synth tone, sounding just as full as it does bare and deserted.Montaigne's lyrics pour out like a sweet venom, with her voice hanging somewhere between tuneful lullaby and deep howl, and rests comfortably within the deep chill of the icy keys.On side B, the two turn out a deeply paranoid version of Christian Death's "Deathwish", and things begin to make a lot of sense right about then.
Ultimately, a very rewarding trek through slightly familiar dark and cold wave territories, and I really can't say enough good things about this tape.Edition of 150 in hand sewn pleather cases.Get one from Sweating Tapes.

MINCEMEAT OR TENSPEED "Games of Chance" c52 (self released)

Mincemeat or Tenspeed really throws down on this cassette, one of the best "noise" tapes I've heard in awhile. Calling it noise is probably over simplistic. This is 21st century abrasive pyschoparty rhythm music. It's fuzzy throbbing tentacle suckling goodtime happy horse mangler trot-fest. Splish-blip raindrop-shatter with wipers flicking. Assrobbing twitch and 4/4 thump towards spool unfurling higgity. Spectrum dislocation disorder survivor's club mentality rubdown. I saw this guy in a basement last month and it was a dance party 's all I'm saying. He's now located in Providence, RI. Track this bea(s)t down. Beautiful screen printed J-card Buy here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

DAY CREEP "Death Bell Chimes" c20 (Snow Clone)


Aaron Troyer's Day Creep wows me a second time in a row with some of the most consistently awesome rock music being made today. This tape is leaps and bounds above the previous album that I enjoyed so much a few months back. Really well recorded Columbus, OH one man band, that breaks free of any of the last vestiges of slop apparent on previous efforts. That's not to say the music is shiny or white-washed, but this is definitely taking it to the next level. There is such a keen sense of melody and real tightness to the drums, bass and guitaring. What really stands out here are the songs, which are absolutely top-notch. Aaron, like all the best rock singers, gets his point across in a completely unhurried manner, letting you really hear the lyrics. He's in control and you're in good hands. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Sample the album's opening cut here.
Label site.

DEAD PEOPLE "s/t" (Dirty Pillows)


Good old-fashioned slop rock from New Orleans based Dead People. This is the band's first release and also the first release on the Savannah, GA label Dirty Pillows. A fine debut for both entities. As on the above-reviewed Day Creep tape, it's nice to see that the state of the limited run cassette in 2012 has come to include all genres of music and here's to Cassette Gods continuing to cover it. These guys throw a good party for the length of this four song EP and I bet they're really fun live. Keep 'em coming. You can look into buying the tape from the label's website here or listen to some other Dead People tunes over here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings - Portland, ME



It's Friday the 13th. The stroke of midnight. Cool. I'd like to take this holiday of the occult to shed a little on what is perhaps one of the most positively positive labels out there. Run by Matt Lajoie of the bands Herbcraft and Cursillistas, L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings releases musical ephemera on cassette and vinyl from it's cozy den in Portland, ME. There are really so few labels out there releasing contemporary psychedelia and doing it as under the radar as LTFR. L'animaux Tryst is equally at home with improvisatory electric music as it is with the folk based psych that Portland became so known for in the mid 2000s. For the most part, the music offered by the label seems to have no knowledge that the 1980s ever happened.

While that is the case for most LTFR releases, one tape completely breaks the label's mold and it's actually one of the best tapes of 2011. Altered Gee (pronounced "G") is the work of a couple of barely 20-year-olds and its definitely an 80s retro jam (see the Sega Genesis cover art), but in my opinion it blows just about everything else going on out of the water. I seriously doubt these kids feel like they are part of a trend, and heck, maybe I'm foolish for even lumping them in with all the other folks making backwards-thinking keyboard music these days. What really stands out about European Gees is how S-E-X-Y it is, though in a pretty drugged out way. Instrumentation is as follows --> keyboards: SIEL OR 400, Moog Taurus II. drums: SP 1200, Drumulator, Korg DDD-1. At the very least, you should have a listen over here. But do me a favor and buy the tape from the L'animaux Tryst website (link at bottom). You'll be glad you did, cause it sounds oh-so-better coming out of your boombox.

The other current releases I've heard from LTFR cover the broad spectrum of psychedelic music. The Concord Ballet Orchestra Players traffic in extended Parson Sound styled excursions. Their release is a beautiful double cassette in a large holder that comes with a handful of color photo-cards. Smokin'! Some of this stuff really gets out there in a "next level" sort of way. Howl's Angels by Oracle Offering is a quiet and beautiful meditation for echoing voice, flute and sympathetic strings by a lone female artist. Very spooky-ooky and sure to please fans of the chanteuses of Prisma or Visitations. One gets the feeling of observing an arcane ritual. The longer the tape goes on, you wonder if you haven't perhaps stumbled onto something that's perhaps a little sinister. After European Gees, this was my second favorite release of the current batch of tapes. Mysteries by Jared Fairfield is the most overtly folk-psych release in the current batch, but that doesn't keep it from traversing various other realms. It opens with a lovely finger picking guitar instrumental that is backed by a autoharp and chiming bells. After the intro, the albums title track expands the pallet to include drums, organ and electric guitar. That piece reminds me a little of the work of Brattleboro bands The Happy Jawbone Family Band and The Great Valley, but it has a more ethereal and less ramshackle feel. The track is a real standout, check it out here. One song has a heavy Sabbath styled bass riff that pops up out of nowhere, but it mostly stays in "friendly" territory. A really nice surprise! The album comes in a beautiful paper wraparound that is threaded through the cassette with yarn. Pete Fosco's Vactionlanded tape is series of minimal guitar instrumentals played with commitment to space and the subtly evolving idea. He seems to use a bow or e-bow and some other implements to produce the extended tones heard here. There's hardly any traditional noodling, but neither is the music overly reliant on effects boxes. Planets Around the Sun are a duo who lay chant-like vocals and wah wah guitar over Eastern drones and repetitive tom tom beats on We O We. The music recalls some of MV & EE's more astral jams, but with less focus on the folk/blues influence, though that does pop up on the album's final track. A very heady sounding recording, though sometimes the vocals are little buried underneath all the other goodness.

All L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings can be found on the label's website. While you're poking around you should check out Matt's band Herbcraft. Their new long player "Ashram to the Stars" on the Woodsist imprint Hello Sunshine is as finely crafted an interstellar vehicle as you're likely to find in this day and age.

FEATURELESS GHOST - "Biologically-Sound Cyber-Bodies" c21 (Crash Symbols)


Highly addictive new mini album from Featureless Ghost, an ATL duo consisting of uber busy synth dude Matt Weiner, of recent TWINS and Cruisin' fame, and Elise Tippins of Fantastic Lands.Both did some time together as Best Hits, too.Not unlike the warped synth treatments and dense bumping of his previous outfits, Weiner once again brings an arsenal of arpeggios, driving beats, and robotic trickery.Featureless Ghost has more of a dark, cold wave vibe, with an array of icy synths and hollow analog jaunts, and the stern, Numan-esque vocal delivery(from both members) gives the songs a menacing and sinister feel.With all of the obscure references you can throw at this act, a good part of this actually reminded me of early Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode albums, with all the chopped vocal samples, deep grooves and funky synth-bass.Compliment.The drum patterns are catchy and well sequenced, nothing too flashy or overbearing, and the instrumentation is tasteful, and flawlessly executed.
"Data Dancer" really got into my head, and refused leave for days on end.It's got a really heavy Front 242 vibe, led by weirdo voice samples, rather than actual vocal parts, and a skittering kick drum that just won't quit.The keys are really tweaked on this one, and scattered weirdly throughout the song, giving a nice contrast to the underlying club vibe it holds.From there on, it's a decade-less, nonstop barrage of every available(and unavailable) "wave" out there.This is a highly recommended debut, and it may just get the loners and introverts dancing, outside of their bedrooms for a change.Fingers crossed for a possible tour, because this probably kills live.
Get one from Crash Symbols.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SEWN LEATHER "Blood Runs Down the Drain/
No Light in the Hall"
RYAN JEWELL "Radio: Vol. 1"
(Friends and Relatives)


This is the first time I've actually heard the music of Sewn Leather. I wasn't sure what to expect and in fact I'm not sure I've actually heard Sewn Leather at all. The note written by the artist to Friends & Relatives head honcho Justin Clifford Rhody is reprinted on the inner J-card and reads as follows: "Use as much or as little as you want. Dear Justin, I hope these recordings are satisfactory. I was on drugs, mostly hydrocodone, when I made them. I don't think it's Sewn Leather. I think it's 'Riz-La-Rink.'" Alright. This shit is all over the map. We've got some messed up Slang Tang, acoustic songs with variable tape speed and a number of other jams with hip hop undercurrents. Like the music of The Savage Young Taterbug, you can tell that this guy is more than a little "off". This is an aesthetic that really speaks to me. Some people might be turned off by a recording with such a variable nature, but for me it's like a golden nugget.


Ryan Jewell is a percussionist and this is ostensibly a percussion record, but it's actually so much more. He uses very simple textures to work his magic across this tape's two 20 minute sides. From little crinkly sounds to more droned-out textures, Jewell's music fits into what I hear is being called the Reductionalist school of contempo "jazz" (think Bhob Rainey, Greg Kelley, Dave Gross, Forbes Graham and more recently Jack Callahan), but could just as easily be something else entirely. Both of these pieces were recorded on the radio. As Justin says "free of genre, pure of essence."

I think you'd be foolish not to pick up both of these tapes. Contact info available at the Friends & Relatives blog-o-site y'all. Justin's offering a bunch of special deals on tapes, records, cds, human hair and sticks right now. Help him move off this godforsaken rock!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brave Mysteries:
Occult Music for the 21st Century

I'd like to share with you my appreciation for Brave Mysteries, a Madison, WI cassette and vinyl label that specializes in a cryptic form of music that I'm not sure has a proper name yet. Like Night People, Not Not Fun, NNA and countless other labels these days, Brave Mysteries has a very specific aesthetic that can be found on each and every one of their releases. But, while those aforementioned labels traffic in an 1980s obsessed retro-futurism, our friends in Madison are more comfortable with 1580s mysticism. The cleanly recorded music released on BM straddles the line somewhere between psych, drone and noise, but it manages to feel both fresh and timeless. These are recordings that take you on a journey, often towards some darker areas of the human experience, but their affect is never off putting or confrontational. The music welcomes you in, like getting an invitation to join a cabal of hooded Crowleyites. I suggest you attend their black mass.

Peruse the strange goings on at this web portal. Think of checking out the 5 tapes for $30 ppd deal. I've heard six different releases on the label and they were all top quality!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

BEBE FANG - "s/t" c32 (Night-People)


Bebe Fang are a very promising new Dutch duo, who share members with recent Night-People alumni, Eklin.Bebe Fang creates a fairly similar universe, with their cavernous percussion, glacial atmospherics, and some rather haunting, yet, mesmerizing vocal pairing.Their music is completely free of specific genre, and they never cover the same ground twice.Their subtle movements are constantly evolving and taking a new form, like an icicle patiently melting into a puddle on the warm ground, then evaporating to start again.The first few minutes of side A brings a dark and unsettling swell, falling somewhere between 1970's horror soundtrack and hypnotic drone.A desperate and breathy female voice floats atop a translucent bass line, like some kind of bluesy apparition.The steady thudding of a singular drum creeps in, and things really start to bloom.By the end of side A, a deeply rhythmic seance is happening around you, and it's an all-consuming and otherworldly sound indeed.
Side B offers something fairly similar, beginning with a lengthy drone made up of scathing repetitions, howling wind, and the deep vibration of an underlying synth chord.It's not until "Dirt" that their ambient exploration really begins to shine, with a dense and distant pounding, not unlike that of a heartbeat, and an uneasy male voice gliding over miniature guitar and bass intertwining.Things close with a choir-like tune, called "Light", a short vocal workout that really shows what their voices are capable of, and a perfect exit to their other-wordly beauty.Highly recommended headphone listening.Checkout Eklin's "Onwa" cassette, too.Get both from Night-People.

YORK FACTORY COMPLAINT "Live Document 09-10" c40 (Robert and Leopold)


Yow that's loud! Let me turn this down...one sec. Shit this is some loud fucking noise music. Okay let me see here...Ahhh I can't deal with this...{takes tape out of deck. three weeks pass} Okay let me try to listen to this again....shit that's loud! Let me turn this down...hold on. Okay, I'm good. This is some pretty brutal stuff.

Though the group has come to include other members from time to time,York Factory Complaint originally formed as a duo of Ryan Martin (not the guy who does Hot Releases) and Michael Berdan, who both are represented on all three cuts of "Live Document." The A side is a complete live set featuring Genesis Breyer P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle. Now if that's not a ringing endorsement of YFC, then I don't know what is. And ringing it is: terrifying oscillations with mangled yelling underneath. Not friendly, but it sure packs a punch. The B side takes it down a little bit with two (respectively) mellow sets featuring different four piece lineups, one with Cory E. Card and Louis Caldarola and the other with Theresa Smith and Michael Yaniro. Many folks will be drawn to this for the P-Orridge collaboration, but I think they'll be presently surprised by the more dynamic sounds found on the other segments of the tape.

Robert & Leopold releases all sorts of brooding and serious noise tapes. Check out their catalog here.

NOAH WALL "Heloise" (Crash Symbols)



Very compelling album of singing and keyboarding by Noah Wall. It's got lyrics, it's got synths. If what you need is singing and synths, it's got what you need. The first thing it's got is synths, cause that's the first thing you hear. Then you hear singing. Singing from a guy named Noah. It's got singing. You need singing. You need Noah singing. As it progresses the album achieves some of the grandeur of Eno's best pop. That's good. You need that grandeur. Noah puts his vocals through a bunch of filters and stuff. Did I mention it's got filters? It's got those. You need those. You need this. If you want...

Best to listen for yourself. Hey this is available on cassette and vinyl! You can do the listening and buy the tape or LP version of "Heloise" here.

Crash Symbols looks like they've got a hecka ton of other stuff out too. SEE.

HIMBERT and HERBERT / GOLDEN ARROW HOLY FACE "It's Happening" split c60 (Teflon Beast)

Teflon Beast sent me this very well produced split tape of pop music awhile back. Apparently it's a tribute to the little known split record between The Supremes and Neil Diamond! Himbert & Herbert (The Supremes) are a neato mix of 60s girl group vocals, and 80s dance music. I had a great time with this, you probably will too. The B side is an entirely different (Teflon) beast: Houston's Golden Arrow Holy Face (Diamond) provides a collection of rich syrupy folk country ballads with nice atmospheric production and plaintive vocals. Rather lovely. As it progresses I started to feel like we were more in Dave Berman (Silver Jews) territory, which is a good thing in my book. Both of the artists on this tape deserve a much wider audience, so what are you waiting for?

Also available from the label is "Christmas with the Beast", a compilation that features tracks from the above mentioned artists and a few others. This seems like a good label to watch if you are into well made "real" music. Go for it.

Check it all out here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN meets
BYRON COLEY "In Orbit" c45
(Feeding Tube Records)


A live recording of music writer and poet Byron Coley reciting text as a handful of Western MA regulars conglomerated under the Sunburned moniker jam out behind him. I believe Byron is reading from the recently published book "This Planet is Doomed: The Science Fiction Poetry of Sun Ra", a collection of writings by the late great bandleader that reads as much as an admonition of earthlings as it does a paean to the joys of space travel. The writings reveal a deep paranoid streak in Sun Ra, which comes across less in his music, but makes perfect sense when considering the life and work of that celibate monk of the astral spaceways. I'm not sure if Byron adds any of his own words to the Sun Ra material, but if he does, it all blends seamlessly. At times his reading conjures up the psychedelic fury of the wild-eyed Kesey. Pretty fun stuff. Check out the sample of the live set on youtube. If you like what you're hearing, go "glank" this "scozz". If you're only going to buy one object today, you might get the Sun Ra book instead. More info on that here. Actually you might want to write Feeding Tube and see if they have the book in stock and kill two birds with one stone. Now that's an idea I like.

The tape is an edition of 90 and will probably sell out fast.

Feeding Tube webzone. Look under the "tapes" heading.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Midday Veil “Subterranean Ritual II” & Fungal Abyss “Bardo Abgrund Temple” (Translinguistic Other Recordings)

Here are a couple of newish releases from TranslinguisticOther Recordings, a relatively fresh Seattle-based imprint started by Midday Veil members Emily Pothast and David Golightly. In terms of packaging and overall presentation, these folks don’t cut any corners: sleek professionally printed j-cards, digital download cards, editions of 250, and even color-printed promotional one-sheets. This may not sound earth shattering by any means, but it’s also not what you typically encounter within cassette culture. The music contained on both of these releases sounds pretty impressive as well.    

The “improvised sound rituals” featured on Midday Veil’s “Subterranean Ritual II” shimmer and sway in a slow motion psychedelic breeze. With droning analog synth, reverberant baritone guitar, and gentle tom strokes leading the way, Emily Pothast’s treated wordless vocals fill in the spaces between, creating a spectral ambience that recedes and crests to the group’s own highly attuned sense of time and (s)pace. Even at the most outright rockist moments (the end of “Moon Temple”), the sound is more ‘ceremonial’ than ‘space’ rock. But you can call it whatever you want, group catharsis seems to be the main objective here.

Fungal Abyss, an alter ego of the bizzaro metal outfit Lesbian, operate along similar long form improvisational lines. This quartet, however, plays within a more classic psychedelic rock set-up: guitars, bass, drums. That’s not to say that “Bardo Abgrund Temple” sounds dated or re-hashed in any way, quite the contrary in fact. At roughly 70 minutes in length, Fungal Abyss head out on a truely psychedelic journey. I say that both because it was noted that the group recorded these improvisations under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms (as if the group name didn’t tip us off to their interests) and because the music itself moves in and out of various passages, from peaceful, droning drift to epic, gurgling guitar shred, pushing towards something grand and unknown. This is first-rate modern psych rock by a group that knows how to walk the walk. 

Hot Face / Shearing Pinx - split (Isolated Now Waves)

 
What better way to consumate my relationship with Cassette Gods -- after a ridiculous delay -- than through the prism of Shearing Pinx and the Isolated Now Waves label, two of my main squeezes of the last three years. With Hot Face along for the ride one can only assume the ride will be bumpy and exhilerating.

Hot Face, I'm assuming, man the sticker side and promptly kick the listener's dick in with jams halfway between Les Georges Leningrad, AIDS Wolf and Sleetmute Nightmute, which means: simplistic, albeit devastating, drums, mangled guitar lines, loose-ass high-hats and a singer, female, with so much personality she scares the timid and enchants the high-strung.

ShPx's side is more of a shaded sketch than a concrete body of lyric, instrument, skin and muscle. I mean there's a bloke shouting in the back, but he's kickin' it from his head, almost surely, and the rhythms and smears of guitar string grind so hard they dissolve like a crank-yanker's teeth and reform like Mario after a Koopa-borne death.

There's a high-pitch squeal overtop this bubbling cauldron that's driving me nuts, so ... there's that. If you poke underneath, much gravy is to be found; I just can't get past that squeal. Probably the least impressive piece of work I've had the pleasure to peruse from this camp, but when you consider that includes a dozen releases by Shearing Pinx, a half-dozen Mongst tapes and an LP, ditto for Aerosol Constellations and several more I can't even think of right now, well, it's apparent these guys are normally a good go. Onward!