Thursday, February 23, 2012

HUBBLE - "Hubble Linger" c61 (NNA)


  Zs guitarist Ben Greenberg, aka: Hubble, gets down on some lengthy, synth-like guitar passages with his debut solo venture for NNA, Hubble Linger.Those of you who are familiar with his work in the Brooklyn avant-chamber trio, know that Greenberg harnesses a rather shrill, yet effortlessly palatable guitar tone, with a sharp, metallic clank that almost overpowers his tricky notation.On Hubble Linger, Greenberg uses a similarly brash approach to his music, and instead of hiding behind a string of pricey effect pedals and surgical treatments, the endless wash of mathematical notes pours out of his guitar with a completely natural, organic vibe.Deep within the stacks of hypnotic scales and layers of deconstructed melodies, lies a very calm and meditative piece of music, focusing more on "the big picture", and relying less on pure chance.That's not to say Hubble Linger is completely free of total harshness, it's definitely got a dark side, as the last few moments of this tape are smoldering with layers of piercing feedback, and just when you start to think you can't take it any more, things begin to ease up and fizzle out.
 Overall, this hour-long guitar seance flows along beautifully, with a ton of interesting tempo changes, controlled fretboard wizardry, and more than enough psyched-out drones to liquefy your brains for the duration.Highly recommended!Grab one from NNA.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hostage Pageant "Abuse Generator" (Handmade Birds)


"Abuse Generator" (an apt tape title if ever there was one) by Hostage Pageant couldn't be more removed from its protagonist's other band, the blackgaze wonder that is Crooked Necks. Where the Necks are quiet and subdued Hos-Pag is noisy and abrasive. Where the Necks ride rhythm, melody and dissonance HP sack subtlety in favor of blustery reams of noise approved by only the harshest of the harsh, the sort of folks that think Blue Sabbath Black Cheer is too commercial and allow New Blockaders to penetrate them aurally before breakfast.

I'm not necessarily one of those people, but I put a premium on pain if it's balanced out by bliss, no matter how cracked-out. "Abuse Generator" contains the sort of balls-on-the-bandsaw tantrums you'd expect from Prurient and Merzbow, and manages to satisfy the part of my brain that often protests when harsh noise is on the menu for too long. It's craggly, it's screeching and it'll bake your brains, but it's a fun ride that unfolds over a satisfying two sides, taking advantage of the long-form amenities of Ye Olde Cassette without burning too many candles at too many ends.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

J.D. EMMANUEL "Peaceful Kingdom Concert 1982" c40? [Sonic Mediations]



Just got this great new tape from Justin Wright's Sonic Meditations imprint by Belgium's J.D. Emmanuel. You probably remember a few years back when one of Lieven Martens's labels reissued Emmanuel's Wizards LP which has probably influenced everyone whose worked in the recent synthesizer nu-age.
I was just a touch apprehensive that this was a concert recording, recorded in a Texas park no less, only because I worried about the sound quality. However, this thing must have been recorded direct because it sounds fantastic, as if Emmanuel had recorded it at home or in a studio. You get the live feel, the cassette consists of 4 improvised pieces, but there's no lo-fi barriers in between you and the sounds. Just like sonic meditations such as these should be.
Not only does the tape sound good, this is some top shelf material. I personally prefer this tape to Wizards, which had great stuff on it no doubt. Peaceful Kingdom Concert 1982, also apparently titled Trance-Lation Into Space, has a hypnotic energy about it that is impossible to ignore. You feel buoyant and submerged at the same time, just drifting through water or space or time. Emmanuel's synthetic textures and twirling yarns mold such an immersive atmosphere, it's easy to get lost in it. As the cover art brings to mind, the effect isn't too dissimilar from those dreamy poppies in The Wizard of Oz.
I probably don't have anything particularly insightful to say about this other than it's damn good and well worth tracking down for anyone who loves to indulge in analog hypnosis.
For the gearheads: Emmanuel used a Yamaha SK-20, 3 Sequential Circuits Pro-Ones and a DeltaLab DL-2 Digital Delay on this recording.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The aGitator - c44 I Had An Accident Records


No scratch-and-sniff J-cards with this release; I Had An Accident Records compensated for bullet drop to put this tape right in your mouth. The release is packaged in a gray cassette with a blue case with artwork by the aGitator. The tape begins like a brutal wedding thumbing its nose at the dead bodies sitting in pews and turns watery on track two after they all drank the cyanide-laced grape juice.



This music is the residual memory of a dark abandoned subway rave. Hypnotic beatwork; sounds filter and ricochet like rusted saw blades pushed and pulled in a slaughterhouse. It is in your head, in your mouth and wants to get out. A quarter of the way through the first side, I'm in a lobby waiting for a clerk to bring me a ledger with a sheet metal cover while someone else's bride paces back and forth. Dad is in a chair getting a shave with a straight razor. He's trying to laugh at a leather strap hanging on the far wall without getting cut by the razor.



The sound nearing the halfway mark on side A takes on a stumbling beauty like old citrus trees potted indoors and watered with mineral oil. They wake up, look around the room thinking who the fuck just put that in my soil? And we begin to stutter, drinks in hand, paper cuts wider and deeper from sheet metal pages. Pulling balloons out of our chests through our mouths, remarking, "The light seems so old around all these antique police scanners." Turn on the TV when eating a microwaveable poultry dinner. The track "Western Theme" appears and looks back at the carnage. It's beautiful and makes the stainless steel horses happy. 20 light years back I changed flights.



Side B. The morning after a honeymoon trip. There are other people in the room who don’t care. Someone brought their kids so we order room service and ask for waffles with edible silver decorations. It’s not Christmas; we got garland? Wipe the grease off the model skeleton. The kids want to decorate it with the garland, but we have to leave soon and drive up to the mountains to see glaciers in the only van on the road. Not sure why it’s called a “mountain pass” because it seems to just dead-end at the top... We parked and sat listening to the slow crack and creak of the glacier’s crumbling rock bed. Listen to it mimic our pulse. The kids want to play pick-up sticks on top of the glacier. They have their jacks, old metal typewriter keys, old silver fillings, pick-up sticks; fresh paper cuts from a travel guide’s sheet metal cover. “Does the glacier have a cavity?” It keeps cracking its teeth on the ground.



The track “Farmhand” provides transplanted rural memory near the glacier. It might be too unstable to bother climbing on top of to plant scarecrows. This tape is unsettled bliss, nightmarish honeymoons, beautiful decay and swollen glands ecstatic with amniotic fluid birthing miniature metallic orphans; a slowly melting glacier exposing half-launched swing sets and entombed instruments of torture. It’s one of those “must have” tapes on the I Had An Accident Records roster.
Order Here

Friday, February 17, 2012

Casino Gardens "Fantasies in Cools Palace" (Lilerne)


Wow! What a rad tape. Very easy to listen to bedroom-style pop-rock shit (think Pink/Ferraro) on a chill vibe that is comfortably in-step with many of today's other home-recording boy wonders, but isn't boringly unfocused or nervously lazy. Had some friends who were really into his first tape on Beer On The Rug, which is unavailable now but I heard a second pressing is on the way. That one is pretty sick too (thanks bandcamp), but this new Fantasies in Cools Palace tape is really, really nice and pretty surprising in how effortless it sounds while still maintaining some originality, albeit in a pretty traditional context. Fuzzy guitars, snappy drums, etc. A lot of tropical imagery in the song titles and such. Some really pretty stuff on here too, especially the cool, weird, short interludes between songs. The final track is really pretty but I think my favorite track is "Malibu" for its boppy energy and cartoon rock feel. Cool tape, Casino Gardens. Get the tape and check some shit out at Lilerne Tapes.

GAY SHAPES "s/t" c34
SCHURT KWITTERS "Annapolis" c41
GRUIFORMES "Threaded" c60
(YDLMIER)

Worcester's Gay Shapes have really come into their own with this release, which contains a half hour of primo drone. I've admired the solo work of Joe Bastardo (Bastian Void), but when he joins up with Mickey O'Hara and Abdul Sherzai the gloves really come off. These guys get into some heavy alien abduction territory. Nothing particularly new age-y here, so beware Vangelis fans. The B-side plays out like Maurizio Bianchi's take on the Master Musicians of Joujouka. Bastardo's graphic design is top notch, as per usual.

The Gods Must Be Crazy, because here I am reviewing my second Fat Worm of Error (related) tape in less than one month. Schurt Kwitters is the solo project of that band's vocalist, Jess Goddard. She put out a CDr with Breaking World Records, which I haven't heard, but her LP/CD on Open Mouth really whetted my appetite to venture further into Jess's woozy world. During live gigs, Goddard frequently uses a sewing machine as a musical instrument, and I can detect it's presence on the B-side of her very fine third solo outing on Boston's YDLMIER Tapes. I would recommend Schurt Kwitters to all fans of non-repetitive electronic music who still like to shuffle about a lil' when they're feeling okay. Jess uses cheap keyboards and a very small dollop of delay, to create a perfect comfortable/uncomfortable feeling. Like that fog in your brain that won't stop casting it's spells. Bounce closer little fog. Hop. Bounce. Into my tape player. Bounce. Hop. Bounce.


All audio improvised, re-imagined and effected entirely in Oklahoma by Mark Carroll. Materials used: 4 large suspended threaded rods, washers, crushed cans, glass bottle & large sliding rusty door.

We are in the jungle now boys.

This is the best available tape from YDLMIER, as the previous two are already sold out from the label. You might try your finer distributors, but in general you have to act fast if you want to catch these puppies, as they wiggle by in tiny editions of 40. Some of these tapes deserve to be heard by many more people, and this is definitely one of them. The A side is a mostly acoustic dance of chiming metallic drumming with light audio manipulation gradually increasing towards the B-side where it begins to become more of an electronic tape with percussion samples. It begins with the thunderous roar of steel and ends with an Recommend.

Still available from YDLMIER is a Dave Gross release where each cassette contains a different saxophone improvisation and a Brian Green tape that samples city street recordings over pleasant, if directionless drone.

puppies

Monday, February 13, 2012

DON CASH - "Epic" cs (Spring Break Tapes)


LA's Spring Break Tapes nails it once again with their second release, a collection of deep "hits" from Toronto MC/producer/chameleon, Don Cash.He's been praised by producers, club thugs and indie fans alike, and apparently The Fader called him a "21st century icon" after having just a few limited CD-R's under his belt.Fancy.Epic is the first of three full lengths he's planning to release in 2012, and aside from being an eclectic mix of total bangers, it's a pretty good place to start if you are unfamiliar with his work.

Side A kicks things off with "Rock and Roll", a tight and punchy street beat, with a solid, flowing vocal delivery that might pass for one of Madlib's alter-egos.He doesn't go overboard with giant hits or piles of whirring samples, leaving it up his voice to do most of the work.His MC style is pretty much of his own, keeping things mostly laid back, with his lyrics teetering a thin line between bizarre and clever.As things move forward, he graciously flip-flops between thick disco beats, soulful new wave, and steady r&b cuts, tackling just about any genre out there with the greatest of ease.
Side B definitely steals the show with "Disco Wreck," a glittery jaunt through 1970's dance floor workouts, thick and sleazy bass lines, and slightly whispered, sexually charged vocals that seem to be going on about some hot mess of a gal.The following track, "On The Strength" shows Cash doing his best (unintentional) Quasimoto impersonation, with a quick delivery and odd tone, only it's not at all comical or hacky.The choppy drag of the downbeat, along with the grainy vocal treatment make it sound a bit rough and confrontational, making his smooth and flawless lyrical flow come off as anything but subtle.From there he ebbs and flows through a handful of sub-genres, until it's about time to flip the tape over again.

All in all, Epic lives up to it's name, and this strange mix of gems is a fantastic place to start for unfamiliar ears, and a nice little collectible for mega fans and tape heads.Can't wait to hear his upcoming LP's.Get yourself one of these bright red cassettes from Spring Break Tapes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

TODD LEREW "Lithic Fragments" c40 (Brunch Groupe)



Late winter soft wedge between hot-sauce bottles at el metate it was always a sealed mirror-reflective bubble-pouch with a tape inside no more than everchanging clear tones of the pleasant.

$5 and more info here - http://brunchgroupe.com/lithicFragments.html


excellent debut tape, right at my speed
really best thing i've heard in some time.
i'm getting caught up - keep sending them in


Saturday, February 11, 2012

THE DICTAPHONE "Past.Future.Void" c32
MOLE PEOPLE "s/t" c19
RUBELLA "Dragger" c11
(Tolmie Terrapin Press)

past.future.void Cover Art
The Dictaphone is a one man punk band from France who does original songs with some goth, industrial and no wave elements. The singing is really snotty in the best sense, each song has a kind of different production sound and the whole album is really killer. There are a couple of covers on here and he even does a version of "Shark Fucks" by Tronics (original). Are you kidding me? "Shark Fucks?" This is dude is so cool! Highly recommended. Listened to the shit out of this. Thanks for waking me up from my synthesizer induced coma. There are actually some keyboards and electronic noises from time to time, but also lots of real guitars and drums. Guitars doing wacky things. Comes with an insert and a piece of film negative.


More rawk music from Cleveland's Mole People. Grungy, bass heavy a la the Melvins, but also chiming and psychedelic during the vocal passages. The music is very well recorded too. Mole People pack a punch. The songs usually go through a few sections and incorporate some more melodic and rhythmically complex segments that alternate with the heavy onslaught. The vocals, don't always match the toughness of the music, but that can actually work out in these guys favor most of the time. I bet Mole People completely destroys in a live setting. Comes with a lyrics booklet.

dragger Cover Art
Well we can't all be winners, now can we? Two out of three ain't bad, and this less said about the Rubella tape the better. This is like Sparks (who I adore) meeting some twisted form of electronic pop punk in hell. If that sounds cool to you, then I'm lacking the proper words to describe exactly how this made my skin crawl. Run me through with a spear. Please. Kill me now.

Order tapes here.
Listen to sounds here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

GELATIN KIDS c10
SKY STADIUM / POTIONS split c40
(Lillerne Tapes)


A really good, but dangerously short keyboard based downer pop tape by Gelatin Kids. Sometimes this kind of music works and sometimes it leaves me bored, but in this case it really works. I like the two songs with vocals on the A-side. They take a kind of Thurston-esque songwriting approach (misty, nostalgic, deadpan) but substitute the howling open tuned guitars for very "of the moment" Casio tones and beats. The instrumental on the B-side doesn't interest me as much, but based on the strength of the other two tracks, I would say this is definitely a winner. Please make more of these gelatinous children for me to consume.


This is the second time I've reviewed Sky Stadium's music and I just have to say, I'm not terribly moved by it. Same goes for the B-side of this split, which features music by another solo artist who goes by the name Potions. There are so many people making ambient synthesizer drone these days that I find it really hard to gush over one tape or another. There are some clear standout artists who perk up my ears for one reason or another (for the most recent example, check out the review right below this one), but I just can't find anything here to differentiate this from so many other tapes I receive. Maybe the problem is that I have to listen to too much of this kind of stuff? What we have here is very mellow, sometimes rhythmic and completely unoffensive, but to me it lacks any particularly unique aspects that would make me proclaim, "ah, the Sky Stadium sound" or "this must be Potions." I don't feel like I'm asking too much of an artist to show me at least just one little something new, and until that starts happening on a more regular basis, I'm probably not going to get behind about half of the keyboard based music I hear.

Just my $.02. You, on the other hand, might feel entirely different, and that my friends is why we are each separate humanoid entities.

Buy tapes and listen on the Lillerne website.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

DANIEL VINCENT and ATAY ILGUN "Fragments of Sound" c40 (Tape Your Mouth)

Fragments Of Sound
What a pleasant surprise. This is a very lovely mellow psychedelic tape; the first release from UK label Tape Your Mouth. Daniel Vincent and Atay Ilgun perform a very beautiful dance of intertwining electric and acoustic instrumentation. Cosmic sounds give way to intricate guitar patterns producing deep lysergic ripples. This is a collection of very mature and thoughtful pieces of instrumental music that were all recorded on one day this past November. Highly recommended for fans of the musical passages on Comus' "First Utterance" or of Time-Lag artists like Joshua Burkett or Visitations, but sure to appeal to the analog synthesizer set as well. It's relaxing and meditative, but with a slight edge of paranoia and/or darkness.

Tape Your Mouth web-action here. The version of the album that is streaming online extends the tracks track times considerably.

I've got quite a back log of tape submissions. I will review everything eventually, but I've just moved recently and I don't have internet at home yet. If you're waiting for my comments on your music to pop up, have no fear, I will definitely get around to it soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Angelo Harmsworth - "Playground Barriers" c32 (Holy Page)


Holy Page has been releasing quality cassettes for over a year now, most of which hold some highly addictive properties, so it came as no surprise, that by the end of my second listen of Angelo Harmsworth's latest, I couldn't seem to flip the tape over again quite fast enough.Playground Barriers opened itself up to me almost immediately, with a array of shimmery and vibrational melodies, all weaving in and out of one another with no real end in sight.The deep swells of a dozen chords all blaring out at once had me so entranced, it was almost as if time had stopped for a few minutes.I could feel the low end of this mysterious rumbling deep within my chest, and just as it would fizzle out and disappear, leaving me calm and anxious, another swell would come on even stronger than the last.The phrasing is definitely in there somewhere, but it's well hidden beneath piles of delays and fuzz, leaving you with what seems like one continuous pummeling made from thick layers of good vibes.

Harmsworth's heartfelt drones weren't so easy for me to pick apart, as all of the sounds are combined to make one all consuming sound, but I'm pretty sure it was a heavily treated guitar, coupled with various bass instruments that was making my bones hum.Whatever is in his arsenal, be it analog or digital, there is a fairly deep connection between them here, and it's the kind of strange chemistry that any group of musicians would spend years trying to harness.Playground Barriers hits you like a hundred white floodlights all beaming at once, and just as they start to fade, and your eyes slowly begin to come back into focus, they just blast you again and again, each time in a completely different color.Incredible stuff.Get one from Holy Page.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

VARIOUS ARTISTS "Hanged Man Vol. 1" c62 (Hanged Man)


Long overdue review on this one, just in time to wish you a happy Super Bowl Sunday!
Hanged Man is a new label outta Seattle, from dudes involved in Thunder Grey Pilgrim and the Hanged Man Vol. 1 compilation marks their first release.
The opener "Lawbreaker" is nice track from local boys Megabats. They keep things really simple to their credit, with lush synth swells and slo-motion sequencer arpeggios running freely across the piece. An elegant little ditty. These guys seem to get better each time I hear something new from them. Kristian Garrard swings his "Ice Axe IV" in mono. A deep bass kick throbs at the forefront against shimmering, modulated swirls. Nice and meditative. Local guitar swami Karnak Temples (Adam Svenson from Dull Knife, Little Claw etc.) cuts a sweet drone swath. Sir Temples wrings vocal-like tones out of his ax on this number, like he's scoring an Egyptian ghost-story. He weaves his web with impeccable patience. Truly masterful and definitely a standout.
It was a wise choice by Hanged Man to follow up that Karnak Temples jam with the ghostly folk-tune "Scotch Broom" by Josh Medina. I can't tell you how nice it is to pop in what you think will be an all drone/noise comp and get a really great, hypnotic folk tune out of the deal.
I wonder if Inh Halenthropy could be one of the many monikers of Jason E. Anderson (Brother Raven, Spare Death Icon) and if it isn't, that's even cooler cause we got someone else doing thrilling, 70s analog synth psych-burners like "Arp Grey Magic 2600." Slammin' track. Dark/doom/drone act Thunder Grey Pilgrim drops "laospel" which features Jeff Kling. There's dissonant synth, plunking guitar arpeggios and creepy vocals. At times I feel like a hear a glimmer of bagpipes or cello but they may just be phantoms. Then they kick on the DOD Death Metal for some muted crunch at the end. I think there is a violin or something in there somewhere, but either way, this is a weird track. Sokai Stilhed's "City of Love" is even stranger; a clusterfuck of fluttery synth, garbled samples and fleeting glimpses of old folk songs Lomax-style. Sweet!
Elsewhere on the tape, Them, There delivers echoing guitar tones on "Ghostwood," Demian Johnston brings the drones and field recordings on "And Then It Drags Across the Bottom" and "Bottom Road" is a heavily reverbed, glistening guitar set from Nightjar.
This is a pretty cool comp cause most of the names I didn't know brought some really interesting things to the table, with a couple old hands holding down the fort; hopefully we can expect to see more from the new guys in the future on Hanged Man.
The dub is too quiet for me, but first-time releases are bound to have a few glitches. The screenprinted artwork however, is super solid. Great job on that front.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

FILTH "Winter Mind" c55 (Out-of-Body)


Well, "Filth" is right. This tape is nasty, it's grimy, it's filthy. Winter Mind is a mess of synth, tape manipulation, feedback, thumping drum machine and garbled vocals. A little reminiscent of other audio nasties like Sewer Election or Wolf Eyes a la "Stabbed in the Face" but stretched out for ten minutes at a time. There's a nice crustiness to the fidelity that works for this sort of thing. So even when the tape gets relatively consonant, as on the standout, grooving "White Decay," it's always undermined by some warble and crackle. Filth is meant to be loud, the liner notes command you to "play at maximum volume," and it's aggressive as well but I do like that Rob Buttrum, the body and mind behind the project, leaves space around the distortion. It makes for a more dynamic listen than the work by some other lo-fi noiseniks. I'm not an expert in the stereo crumble genre but this stuff sounds pretty good to me. Winter Mind is worth checking out if your looking to feast on barbed wire.
Even though I dig the "live/no overdubs" vibe, some editing would have been nice. In other words, I probably didn't need a full 55 minutes of this carnage. But I'm notoriously nitpicky about long cassettes, so take that criticism as you will.
This was the first release on Denton, TX label, Out-of-Body Records who also put out a spooky Flesh Coffin tape that deserves some words as well.