Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guest post by RJ Sana Sheikh out of Mumbai:

unan/nikos kyriazopoulos split cassette entitled mimus/skua
[organized music from thessaloniki t17 / a question of re_entry q12]

Nicolas Malevitsis, who ran the Absurd label in Athens from the late nineties until just two years back (now heading the vinyl label 'Corpses beneath the bed' -- a reference to Bolano's 2666) petitioned two Greek musicians, Unan (Chris Chondropoulos) and Nikos Kyriazopoulos, to interpret birdsong by various electronic means. The Unan side -- called mimus -- is an expansive and variegated collage apparently culled from field recordings + multitracked skipping vinyl. The experience is lofi, something birdlike flits in, a microphone rolls around on the floor banging into things. Unexpectedly, all of this fades into silence; then: human murmurs, a baby's voice, ethnographic percussion, wet melodies. The tape finalizes with the same avian tune found on Royallen's Motivational Tape (Vanishing Hour Revival, 2009) -- perhaps they were both digging through the bottom of the same second-hand record bin. All in all, an agile + unpredictable tour; a fun listen. Kyriazopoulous' side skua is eighteen minutes of warm analog circuits firing off, some of them emulating birdsong, others sounding more like bubbling swamp water and insects, most of them unmistakably the charges and pulses of harsh mixer concrete. At around five minutes, a sonorous moan or howl seeps in and overtakes the circuits -- just for an instant, and it's beautiful -- but then we are back in the swamp for another ten minutes of mimetic chips and chirps. The musician finds himself an accessory to nature, but the music does not transfigure it. We still have much to learn from the birds.

Friday, March 30, 2012

CRUUDEUCES "St. James" c21
ALEX HOMAN "That Is No Way To Talk To A Lady"
WEIRDING MODULE "Peace Offering" c57
(905 Tapes)


Cruudeuces is the music project of Nathaniel Brennan of North Adams, Massachusetts; a cool town to visit if you ever find yourself in the Northwestern part of the Bay State.  First off, you've got one of the coolest geological sites in all of New England: The Natural Bridge State Park (cool).  Secondly, this old mill town is home to a very cool contemporary art museum: the spacious and enticing group of buildings known as MASS MOCA (whuzit?).  Lastly, there is Mr. Brennan himself, noisily submerging his clarinet through a number of aquatic effects and using a net of coarse mesh to reel in the day's catch of sound.  This guy puts out a lot of stuff, and this is as good as any I've heard. The state park is just a minute from the dude's house, so blast some noise music as you drive by.

Alex Homan - Swishy delay loops with a bit of vocals and a lot of guitar.  Some of it gets very jiggy, but the endless echo bores me.  Only occasionally does a clear sound cut through on the A-side.  If you get drunk enough, you can make this kind of music without an effects pedal in sight.  Looks like Mr. Homan got the memo and attempted something on the the B-side that sounds more like the Beatles' acid damaged outtakes for "Across the Universe" followed by decent Popul Vuh imitation.  Make what thou wilt of this. c38

Michael Troutman, bassist of motor-city-styled rockers Awesome Color, makes something much more interesting with his Weirding Module solo project.  The first track "Cat Suicide"is a really heavy instrumental take on an Alan Vega-less "Ghost Rider."  The tape doesn't let you down from there.  Each of the following nine pieces is filled with interesting and dynamic electronic music of various styles.  Great recording with deep bass and an uncluttered arrangement. This guy has done a lot of good stuff already (check), but you'd be hard pressed to find a better representation of his skills than this new release. Recommended.

905 Tapes - Over 150 releases thus far and not stopping.  All of the tapes in this new batch have great art design: the front image being a removable rectangle that covers the J-card on which the credits are written.  Very much so: http://905tapes.com/

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Midwest Best - s/t and The Decay/Wayfarer - "split" (Hosehead Records)

Time for a double shot of retro from Toronto based Hosehead Records. Patrick (HR co-founder) sent along some stickers and a delightfully personal (handwritten!) note with these two tapes. I wanted to love these releases because I could sense his enthusiasm...unfortunately I didn't...




First up is a self-titled EP by The Midwest Beat. If PAISLEY UNDERGROUND makes you uneasy and/or angry stop reading now because The Midwest Beat's jangle pop (is that a bit o' twang in there too?) is nothing if not 60s flavored 80s nostalgia recast yet again here in the 10s. The EP is comprised of previously unreleased mono mixes of the group's self released debut CD (also put out as two 7"s by Dusty Medical). As a musician/label guy (Teflon Beast Records) what I really appreciate about this is the MONO (no, I didn't get a disease from listening to these songs). The difference between a stereo and a mono mix usually doesn't interest the casual listen, but since I'm not a casual listener I notice these things. The Beatles deceived me in my youth by making craptastic stereo mixes the only possible way to hear their albums on CD when I was buying them up in the 90s. Hearing the mono mix of Revolver a few years ago gave me an ear-gasm! The music is front and center - none of this shit where the tambourine is in the left speaker while all the vocals are in the right. No, mono presents the songs as they are and for a straight up rock band that is all they should need. Oh holy F, I've gotten off track here. Back to The Midwest Beat...their songs are ok...good singing and Rickenbacker ringing - the cover art is perfect for their sound, blah blah blah.
Side one of this The Decay/Wayfarer punk split doesn't work and its the better of the two sides. I liked Social Distortion when I was fifteen too...The Decay are rough and tumble punkers and the singer is quite the Mike Ness or if I feel like being worldly, Joe Strummer. I hate the shorthand of lazy criticism where the writer just compares the new band to an older band, but this is simply the best way to express what I'm hearing as I let the tape play. The Decay are great at being what they are and nothing else. This isn't about adding anything new to the musical conversation. The band try to answer the question, how does one express anger or dissatisfaction as age creeps past the early 20s into the 30s? The Decay are not going to grow old gracefully that's for sure.  

Wayfarer, oh no...Sorry...Opening track "Collide" put me off immediately. Bottom line: fans of a certain reheated emo/punk rock will love this split. For me, I'll stick with the classics.

Hosehead Links: Here and Here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

GUEST POST by Adam Zaby
-Washington, D.C.


The Daily Brothers "The Dream is Dead" c40 (Teflon Beast Records)
There's definitely a Grateful Dead influence working throughout this tape, and while it's not the only thing going on with the Daily Brothers, it's clearly highlighted in the label's submission letter and then there's the sweet looking skull on the cover so it would be a mistake not to mention it here, too.  Since I'm confident that the world of music would have been better off without the Grateful Dead, I'm probably the wrong person to be reviewing this tape. And I know that what I've just said probably insulted about a billion hippies, so I switched over to Spotify for a few bars of GD's Greatest Shits just to confirm my position. Position confirmed.

So take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt: this tape is something of a five steps forward, three steps back for what's otherwise a very promising upstart tape label. The earlier Himbert & Herbert release I liked a lot, but I'm not as down with this facet of the multi-genre label's output. The Daily Brothers are clearly hardworking. They probably came up playing bars/restaurants/clubs in their hometown, which I take to be somewhere in the hyphen between D-FW, Texas before they moved to Austin.  But there's an earnestness in the vocals that borders on being hard to watch for me, and I'm sure my bias here relates back to my aversion to the Dead.

My favorite track on the album would have to be the instrumental organ number "Behold, New Behemoth!," which comes near the end of side A, and is nowhere near as Metal with a capital M as I was hoping. Instead it's got kind of a sleepy R&B vibe (that I dig a lot) like it should have backed a montage sequence in a mid-70s film score. The mixing and recording for this album came through a little rough on both sides, with the drums and organ dissolving into the CrO2 without the same charming graininess of four-track bedroom recording, but it works on tracks like this one that seem already subdued by the haze of a bygone era.

Now flip the tape, and you'll find that side B does pick up with a much better, stompier classic blues rock (the first song seems to be about shoes so "stompier" fits). And if that's your thing, you might want to skip past side A altogether, and get straight to the more groove-aligned material.
Teflon Beast, keep on truckin'...
Buy it here. Listen here.


Eclipser "Transmissions from the Silver Pyramid" c60 (self-released)
Oh, Canada, you sweet bastard, ambient seems to have become a native form for y'all. You looked north, saw absolutely nothing the fuck up there, and found a way to incorporate that constant chill at your back into your music. Eclipser's a trio out of Victoria, BC, a town my TX ass thought was a whole province until now: Jeremy, Arlen, and a guy named Speedy, which I take to mean that he's a race car driver by trade on the Canuck NASCAR circuit.  And together they've found that great northern chill and run it through with some carefully distributed drone.

There's a nice roundness to Transmissions, a cohesiveness, and I get the sense that the group's sound could expand or contract to fill any container, which to me is a sign of a solid electronic act. You won't find much if anything abrasive in the mix here, mostly wholly conceived notes hanging in the air. This is the sound of radiant floating orbs, occasional spaceship encounters, and some lonely, rich hermit idly flipping keys on the organ in his mountain castle. In other words, it bears a striking resemblance to the images and not the sounds for what could have been an awesome Wu-Tang video. The best parts of the tape are cinematic, suggesting motion, interaction between characters. This is especially true during the atmospheric build on side B and then again later, much deeper into the same side where there's some nice human speech played backward.

The difficulty with this genre, in my opinion, is that it can be damned impossible to distinguish one band's sound from so many others except among the more loyal and elite listeners. Personally, I own a few ambient tapes, and I consider them all to be nice albums, but it doesn't always matter to me which one gets thrown in the deck, which probably takes me right out of the running for that "elite" ranking I just mentioned. But then ambient artists seem inclined to be self-effacing (self-eclipsing?), preferring to hide behind their sounds, rarely performing live outside of their hometowns, and somehow never having their photos taken. So maybe this is okay, just fine. I do know I'm glad to have their tape, and I'm sure I'll enjoy Eclipser's kosmische, their hypnotic and pulsating forms, for many more flips to come. Here's to hoping these guys can find the base of loyal and knowledgable electronic fans that they deserve.

More on the band here. No clue where to pick up a copy, though.


--both reviews by Adam Zaby--

COSMIC RELIEF "Dekalb EP" (Green Tape)
+plus+ ???MYSYTERY TAPE???
Guest Reviews

Cosmic Relief Dekalb EP 

Nice country-tinged singer/songwriter stuff from... Dekalb, IL. For the most part just guitar and voice with some accompaniment here and there, possibly live in whole or in part. Simple songs with above average lyrics, mostly dealing in loneliness or heartache, but not generic and helped by this girl's voice, strong and pretty, not sultry or cute-. This caught me on an unseasonably warm and cloudy day and sat about right. Hope she finds someone soon, she seems like a nice gal.

This tape of unknown Provenance is either a 2-way split titled blossoming from within the head by gitche-anahne-bezheu and exotic kush pack by aghori or a 4-way split with gitche-anahne-bezheu, blossoming from within the head, aghori, and exotic kush pack. In either case, it's a cassette full of noise, one side more placid noise, the other more harsh noise. Not much else really happens.

Guest reviews by Jesse Baker of Columbus, Ohio...telling it like it is.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dolores Boys - S/T - Psychic Mule (ed. of 50)


Popping this one in, I honestly think my tape deck is dying. I have other hints suggesting this ailment, but the chipmunky croon of the Dolores Boys' singer can't be on purpose. Can it? Still, the rest of the music is unaffected by mechanical malaise. The grit and filth, scrowling keys and clanging guitars don't seem off-pitch. They do seem so wonderfully wrong, however. Recorded with too much reverb in a warehouse on some humid night, here is a deft collection of lo-fi goth surf. Half the songs are instrumentals, tense sketches of angular punk, dropped and abandoned as the moment of inspiration passes, soundtrack-like incidental pieces, really.

The way the Dolores Boys straddle the nu-Goth and neo-Surf vibes is well done. I'm a fan of the racket, the deep cavernous space they've sculpted their sound from, the tense metallic racket of the guitars. Doomy bass lines and frantic tom-toms evoke some spikey-haired horror in black lipstick and mesh. But the atmosphere of the music isn't some foggy graveyard on a cold autumn night, its hot, claustrophic and urban. Unending daylight, blinding hot sun.

And the song titles kill it for me, "Lead Singer in a Cover Band," "Jesus Gave Up On White Blues Singers" these boys understand the running joke that is rock and roll.

This might be the first full on summer burner of the year.

Peep that shizz: http://www.psychic-mule.com/

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post from Josh Johnston (Kentucky USA)


Various Artists “Marecages Restauration” (Crudites Tapes)

With a cover depicting a gator’s head on a child’s body, you can’t help but be a bit worried that the sounds won’t quite live up to the sights, but this French compilation is packed with enough sonic goodness to do a picture of the pope in a rhinestone suit justice. It’s a bit lengthy (twenty tracks clocking in at an hour), but the affair never grows dull thanks to the sheer variety of sounds scattered throughout. Windswept soundscapes and manipulated samples of speakers discussing schizophrenia saddle up beside uneasy folk and good ol’ guitar-driven rock. Electronics run the gamut from dying machine to fast-motion dream. The vocals are playful just as often as they are downright creepy, and the songs are sung in English almost as frequently as they are in French. There’s even a cover of “Strychnine” thrown into the mix, because why not throw a cover of “Strychnine” into the mix. Definitely worth trekking on over to Bandcamp to try/buy (http://sdzrecords.bandcamp.com/album/v-a-mar-cages-restauration).



 LOUGOW “King Conversion” (Friends and Relatives Records)
These two fifteen minute slabs of tape manipulation and percussion feel like nightmares I would have had after falling asleep with the television turned up much too loud as a child. The first involves wandering through a burning office complex. A drummer can be heard fooling around in a distant room as if chunks of the ceiling aren’t falling, but the smoke prevents me from ever actually finding him. When the situation finally grows hectic enough for me to call off the search, I open the first door I come to and find myself staring out at a crowded factory. The workers go about their business, stoically ignoring the machines falling apart only a few inches away. Is this just me? The second involves fighting off paranoid hallucinations in an abandoned hospital as the one-man cult who dragged me there conjures some violent spirits in the other room. The occasional peaceful mirage presents itself, but I hold on to the last one a few seconds too long, awaking to find half of my body already in the mouth of some new creature. When it finally swallows me whole, I slide down the chute, dropping back into the same hospital. Clearly, you need this.

BUY IT HERE: www.friendsandrelativesrecords.blogspot.com
listen (http://lougow.bandcamp.com/album/king-conversion)



Anthony Ford “Kissing the Poverty Goodnight” (Otherness)
When poverty hits the sack, it rests its head beneath a dream catcher that it snatched from a booth at the county fair last July, and when Anthony Ford gives it a final peck on the forehead, there’s plenty of overdriven guitar work involved. Side A sounds like Ford hit record then proceeded to surf through a box full of experiments and sketches, eventually taking the cassette out and taping it to a flagpole during a storm. This is a good thing. Side B finds Ford breaking out more conventional (though, no less interesting) songs, with hypnotic, trem-picked guitars riding atop excited, rolling toms. I thought of a surfer having some sort of epiphany after narrowly escaping being eaten by a shark, and, for reasons unknown to me, deciding to become a snake-charmer, but that could just be me. There’s plenty to sift through here, and anyone up to the task will surely find the experience to be an enjoyable one. Shoot Anthony an email (othernessinc at gmail dot com) and procure a copy or two. It’s worth it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Reviews by S. Howe of Montreal: Broken Shoulder, American Dust & Brizbomb

BROKEN SHOULDER "the tape of disquiet" (tape your mouth)  C40

Old school organ note a la walking the cow accompanied by unspecific aluminum pie plate drumming develops into clone robot keys only to fade out with what seems insecure suddenness.  We re-establish ourselves on the saccharinity of a sonic youth-like bass line, a more developed synthesizer idea creeping into the schizoid picture.  As a personal rule, if the synthesizing instrument occurs without a decent filter (be it distance, archaic speakers or exterior registration) I am not likely to masturbate wildly to the album a second time.  Interesting sounds like roundish feline feedback and slight percussive tinkering transport the side to a wavering close and I am verily compelled to flip the tape.  I wish I was not told that this album was recorded before the glow of some ancillary hemisphere, however, as I am nearly able to sense, now, the direct plug work and sound forgery.  The cover is simple and suitable on a crisp, well-executed j-card, and the tape itself, which is regardfully  unscathed, is an unbelievable solid fuchsia color.  On reading the revealing curriculum vitae that introduced this music, I was able to recognize, decidedly, the tragedy of the situation.  Our UK sound purveyor has had an accident, the result some bunk bed mishap, apparently, but I cannot decipher a modicum of physical or mental anguish on either side of the album.  There is a generally relaxed type of decently cushioned chair-tremor here, nothing more at all relating to sadness or some form of distress (not that that is a necessity, but it helps). Brutal B side-listening this morning as I eat a breakfast sandwich.  The sausage is delightfully greasy atop a disc of egg that is slightly dry.  A stiff yet fresh English muffin completes a very average taste experience. The tape unwinds into a cleanly yet disturbing contribution to the one-note synthesizer revolution of never, in other words.  Sinew snap of radiantly recorded bass-fathoms embroider the sound of gimped artistry.  The highlight here, in my pointless opinion, is the awkward guitar needlepoint culturing the record's conclusive track.  I could wrench perhaps 2-3 more ejaculatory episodes to this one but without the enthusiasm of my initial hoist.  This audio cassette is about a broken shoulder.  30 copies.

acquire here (http://sittingnow.co.uk/2012/03/12/broken-shoulder-the-tape-of-disquiet-tape-your-mouth/)


AMERICAN DUST "protector" (self-release?) C10

That was just a dream.  Undamaged electro-acoustic menage from the Midwest on a sturdy white tape with crisp gold lettering; an intelligent-looking, extra paneled j-card of interesting eerie artwork.  The title track is unmemorably astounding, a tremelo-adorned song of good tempo and placid fuzz vox.  The second number on this super single elapses like a disciplined tall firs treatment, unfortunately, drained of sincerity (somehow) in disavowing strum lag and misstep -- a lack of deprivation, simply.  I sensed a murmur of occult evil emanating from our lead vocalist, as well, the kind of psychic transmission one would detect in the company of a Hollywood magician.  Good female vocal harmonies herein, Johnnie and Bambi could share a larynx, so to speak, perhaps even a microphone.  The second side of this audio cassette unveils two tawdry dimensional innovations atop dusky tracks similar in cadence to the initial side. There is an encapsulation of the small town house band throughout this extended play, only singular here in the band's glaring ambitiousness. I could not help but picture, sides A through B, this band preparing their reverb quotient before four hunched elderly rummies in some wood-draped watering hole at approximately 6:30pm, maybe three teenagers in the darkest corner of the establishment dumping fair amounts of phencyclidine into half-empty beer mugs...curlicued runners and flaps of ripped moss like carpeting.  The final track is a shade of dark blue with despondent violin of a kind of bruised f-hole tweak and loafing gristly apex not really
expected from your average house band.  The sound quality of this cassette is excellent through headphones, but I believe it is more so a non-headphone album for your favorite uncle.  To my understanding 2 musicians in the history of musicianship are permitted to use the 'water effect' vocally without loss of rectitude.  Neil Young is one of them.  100 copies.

purchase here (http://americandust.bandcamp.com/)



BRIZBOMB (fabrica)  (C45)

A live alien mythography registered at Westside Welding and Machine NY in November 2011.  The languid, droning transpiration of a colossal cosmic vessel as you hear fuzzed helium screams of extra-terrestrial ghost-formations communicating paranormally, perhaps plotting a massacre.  Scenic second track suggests a populous disembarkment of said vessel and the dubious meeting of infrangible alien minds.  A wide synthesizer-sounding loop battle ensues round 3, diaphanous skin is peeled free as by violent telekinesis in sizzling amorphic ebbs and the weaker unearthly race is processed into glowing cubes of pallid blue and pink. The bountiful satellite now conquered, all resources are rapidly usurped by unimaginable flesh-machinery.  Side B: the powering of our colossal ship for departure, pallid pink and blue cubes are transported to its mechanical helm and ingested by a turbine of tumultuously flashing white light that strobes to a crackling visceral throb. Radio frequencies peer in and out of this voluminous miscreation.  The moon is abandoned, stripped barren only milliseconds before.  Considering the magnitude of the vessel it is rather quiet on desertion...something stirs secretly within its vastly ramifying fuel chambers.  It was a ruse, the supposedly weaker alien race suddenly reconstitute as one into a radiating collagenous mass and surreptitiously overwhelm the ship, ingesting its spectral enemies via a kind of osmotic processing.  You can rent this feature film here (http://brizbomb.com/) for five dollhairs; maybe build a paramount film synopsis of your own on listening to the puzzling magnitude of this odd cassette.  It is most certainly deserving in this regard.  Immaculately recorded on an exquisite clear to metallic blue-foiled tape with austere white lettering.  An admirable heavy j-card of enduring varicolored ink finalizes this
space transaction.  Brizbomb is one human and one 1.8 meter tall, 147 kilo (5'10", 325+ pound) rack.  100 copies.   BUY HERE: fabricarecords.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012

LOCKBOX "Hypersecret" c48
(Animal Image Search)
Guest Post by Karsten Høegh of Denmark

Lockbox (17 year old Jesse Briata from Denver, Colorado) presents an eclectic mix of styles ranging from sample based loungy collages over wonky beats to outright psychedelic noisy effect-experiments. Also there's some percussion bits thrown in that sounds like it was made by bashing away on whatever was lying around at the time, some rather random guitar playing and bits of abysmal singing (thankfully not a lot though). The whole thing (all 17 tracks!) has been mashed up pretty severely by being transferred from a computer unto a microcassette recorder - as a sort of mastering technique from hell I suppose. You're probably familiar with the sound of microcassette answering machines or dictaphones. These devices were primarily made to capture speech and so they tend to cut both low and high end frequencies, compress whatever goes in using brickwall limiting, have ridiculous built in microphones that distort everything - while they lack the ability to maintain constant tape speeds creating wow and flutter effects in abundance. In other words: they sound great! On the other hand though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. A couple of tracks in it becomes obvious that the listener is missing out on a lot of the sound of the original tracks, pre-microcassette. And while this of course can create an aura of mystery and the feeling that we're getting a sneak peek into private notes warped by time - over a full album length tape it becomes a bit too monotonous for this reviewer. I can see how the ability of the technique to create uniformity in a bunch of tracks that actually sound very different can be tempting, but some of the material included just doesn't seem to work very well with the sound and so it becomes more a question of concept than of actual content. I think that some diversity in the sound palette to contrast the limitations of the microcassette could really have lifted this release from being plain interesting (trendy weird?) towards something more worhtwhile. To be fair some of the tracks do manage to shine through the trashed out noise beautifully, and some of the experiments - like interrupting the recorder during transfer - are quite funny as well. Also I can appreciate the overall light hearted attitude (I'm a grumpy old man myself). So if you're into experimenting with stuff like this yourself, or just get a kick out of listening to other people's answering machines, there's a good chance you'll find this an interesting listen as well.

Friday, March 23, 2012

CARTOON "69er On A Magic Carpet"
(Epic Sweep Records)

SONY DSC
















Thank you for sending me the most fucked-up prog-rock funky-time weirdo-party tape I've received all year! Thank you Cartoon! You are one fucked up people/person. Worth it for the cover of "Birdland" by Weather Report alone (though that's not all). This is a seriously well done tape that is completely chopped and screwed. I mean this is also seriously "bad music", but it's got the awful charm of your favorite Boredoms side project or the absolutely immortal Ground Zero Plays Standards (must have). Don't hesitate. Amazing artwork, especially on the inside of the J-fold.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

GUARDIAN ALIEN "Drums>Space>Jam" (Animal Image Search)


I do love Jerry Garcia and co., so I always smile fondly when I get my regular dose of Grateful Dead pastiche artwork in the mail from some band or another. Well it's 2012 and this year's tribute comes in the from of a live tape from Brooklyn's Guardian Alien. At least they go out on a limb and name their tape Drums>Space>Jam after the regularly occurring mid second set journey that was either your pee break or the peak of your acid trip depending on what kind of deadhead you happened to be. While this group, made up of Turner Williams on Japanese lap guitar, Greg Fox on Drums and Alex Drewchin on vocals (plus guests Brad Hass and Camilla PC), doesn't come anywhere near the MIDIfied cornball atonality of late 80s and early 90s Grateful Dead, they are most certainly a jamband, and an rather uneven one at that.

I believe the lap guitar in question is similar or same to the instrument Mick Flower plays on those lovely Corsano-Flower records. It seems to be rather easy to create an inoffensive major key arpeggio on the instrument, but it's strictly defined tonality can become somewhat limiting. In the hands of a master like Mr. Flower, the results are trance inducing, but here it veers too often into go-nowhere noodling. The drumming is perhaps the most exciting part of the tape, and there are some moments in this amphetamine space rock where the endlessly repeating patterns played by Mssrs. Fox & Williams begin to interlock in a just exactly perfect way, but all too often it's just a bunch of music school bullshit.

It's the vocals what really sends this tape out into the timbers of Fennario (a cold wolf infested place, not fit for human habitation). Oh boy, someone hoarsely screaming some generic hippie shit over and over again until it degenerates into mindless "Eastern" chanting and moaning. Hey, I'm all for unpolished and discordant (you should see my record collection), and the singer surely offsets any of the chops the instrumentalists display, but this all just rubs me in absolutely the wrong way. It's definitely equal parts punk rock Hawkwind and Krishna loving nincompoopery , and it's 100% annoying. If I didn't know better, I would think the singer was some tie-dyed burnout having the worst drug experience of her life being recorded for posterity by some some unsettled true-blues in the taper's section of Soldier Field in '95 (in other words: bad vibes/dark times). Your mic pole isn't long enough Bob Wagner.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

OLD HAG "Interludes" c45 (Homhomhom)

Another cool tape from a Mainer. Max Citron and his wife are recent transplants to midcoast Maine from the Pacific Northwest. They bake bread and sell it to local food stores and Max makes music on the side. This collection of 12 analog synth studies was acquired on his Old Hag tour, though I'm not sure if it's specifically a recording of that project. While I do find it harder and harder to say anything at all about everyone's bedroom synth jams, I know what I like when I like it, and I like this. The A-side is relatively easy going to start, but ominousness slowly creeps in. By the first cut on the B-side a deeply fucked up guitar enters into the mix and I'm in creepball heaven! From there, the guitar goes back in it's case again, but the whole tape continues to have a gently twisted feel. Comes in a hand etched plastic case with a bunch of hair and roots as for a J-card. Looks like you can only download it now, so give it a shot.  I guess the only thing I would say to Max is, "more axe damage please."

Check out Max's awesome webpage here. This link here is for the audio of the tape in question.

And lookie here at this:


Solar Panel Optical Feedback from homhomhom on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PINE SMOKE LODGE "From The Yellow" c90 + c38 (Existential Cloth)


It took me awhile (as in months) to even press play on this recording because I knew I was in for quite a journey and I needed to pack some supplies. There are over two hours of music on From The Yellow a late 2011 double album by Pine Smoke Lodge. While I would usually discourage artists from sharing quite this much of their "special talents" in one helping, the loooong player is actually an ideal format for this duo from Portland, Maine (my new home town -- holla atcha void).

This is echo-laden mystic drone at it's best. A hallucinatory wash of tambura, keyboards, bells and frame drum that can be forgiven it's mild pilfering of other culture's music due to the intense amount of dedication and patience that must have been required to produce such sounds. Pine Smoke Lodge is a male/female duo that came along at the tail end of the Portland folk-psych thing and they're still doing it like it's 2006. I've seen them unspool their thing live and it's quiet a treat if you're the kind who can sit still for 45 minutes. It's not new age, it's stone age. So show some support and get the tape, or write 'em a post card.

Looks like it's still available, but the total run was only 50 copies so act fast. Get it here. Sample or here or here. Check out their dense discography here

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Review IV - -
VELVET ELVIS + ENDLESS CAVERNS

This guest review is by Daniel Letson of Berkeley, CA. Let the fur fly.

----------------------------------------

velvet elvis - no rules in the wasteland (cae-sur-a)

  • http://www.cae-sur-a.com/ve-no-rules/

When I first read the name "Velvet Elvis" I couldn't help but imagine some B-list Geffen cut-out or a 6th-wave freakbeat act. Instead, I ended up with a 30-odd minute tape full of plodding, canonical stoner rock, and Hawkwind-ish hard-fantasy vocal stylings. One side-legnth epic with requisite Moorcock/Frazetta imagery dominates, while the B-side is a few more mid-length chooglers.

In their own minds, Velvet Elvis is churning out hi-grade Sleep-axis riff rock, but on tape, Bongzilla is probably a little closer to the mark. Despite acceptable chops, and a certain recidivist chutzpa, nothing sticks. Guitars chug and cymbals clang, but I'd be hard pressed to call it psychedelic, and even harder pressed to call it important. The rich tape distortion keeps the whole affair on this side of lifeless, while the slogging "soundscape" at the end is a perverse highpoint, as keening feedback and (pro)found sounds display a modicum of stylistic liquidity. In the band's defense, this kind of outing might have been given a pass 5 years ago, when bespectacled beardos sipped craft beers and Slayer onesies were flying off the shelves. Today, it's innovate or die, and this kind of heavy middling isn't flipping any lids.

endless caverns - sensei deprevation I-III (existential cloth)

  • http://getoffthecoast.blogspot.com/2010/11/sensei-deprivation-ii.html
  • http://www.discogs.com/Endless-Caverns-Sensei-Deprivation/release/2644701

I'd never heard Endless Caverns before this tape, but one furtive glance at the unlabeled cover art lets you know this one is coming directly from a "burned mind" headspace. On side one, smokey licks tangle over 3rd world amp buzz and oppressive vibrato throbbing. The saturated fidelity puts a dreamtime haze over the proceedings, as looped n layered guitar lines are bathed in phaser+'wah. On the flip, things go from austere to jazzy, and back again, as melodies cascade and decay, with occasional found sound punctuation. All in all, a pleasant if somewhat monosyllabic exercise in eastern-tinged aural visioneering.

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FAINS - "s/t" c30 (Scissor Tail Editions)



Short and sweet and full o' sketches, the artist known as Fains (Scotty Griffith), serves up twelve platters of mini's on this self-titled tape. The music here isn't difficult to describe because there isn't a ton that stands out. Electronic key squiggles, spare beats, a splash of noise here and there, some backwards whooshes, and what sounds to me like midi-guitar noodling towards the end of side B - that's all there is to this half hour of glitch jive. In my more cynical moments I wouldn't recommend this album, but I happen to push play when I was exhausted and need a come down cool out. The flow from piece to piece is excellent and I liked the (my perceived) lack of trying with this recording (not to imply shitty sound or apathy). Fains' music doesn't convey heavy themes, he's just making electronic sounds and enjoying his gizmo's. Having perused Fains' label, Scissor Tail, I would like to point out that this young label's cassettes are worth exploring, especially for fans of all kinds of experimental diddlin' and slick art design.


Listen Here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

BLOOD LAKE "I Sincerely Want To Move To The Mountains" (Tolmie Terrapin Press)

Blood Lake is the project of Kyle Frasure of Miami, Fl. We've got a nice set of mellow unaffected (and only lightly effected) electronic pop songs. Some of the tracks bury the vocals under some murk that makes it hard to understand the lyrics, but there are quite a few that have really touching &/or confessional themes. This is my favorite track here. You can listen to the whole album or buy the tape by following that same link. More info on the label here.  Also features Moon Climb the Wall (Mark Johnson of Hunnie Bunnies on a few tracks).

An error has been corrected from the original post. My apologies to both Mr. Frasure and Mr. Johnson. - ed.

Peace!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

BEEF "Deities" c20 (self released)


Who are Beef? A band who gave me their tape after I shared a living room floor with them while we were both playing an out of town show. Other than that, I'm not really sure. They are a five piece from New York who manages to stir up quite a shitstorm on their first cassette, entitled Deities. At the onset, we seem to be at the intersection of No Wave and more technically proficient art rock, which appears to be a more and more common format for young groups in Brooklyn. Thankfully these guys veer a closer to a big messy NO than anything you might have learned in algebra class. The most exciting part for me is the tortured female shrieking from Beef's Korean born vocalist Greem. They are the most present at the start of "Spheres of Bloodlust" on the A side. That track's instrumental sections manage to capture rhythmic guitar density and circular drumming without sounding anything like Sonic Youth. Yeah! The B side is more like a Monoshock styled full on psychedelic blast. All in all, the best tape I received with inkjet printed J-cards in a dog's age.

Check it out here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Review III: Dave Smolen and hair_loss

Here's the second review. Hope it works and let me know if you need/want more help with reviews in the future.

-Tucker

METASPLICE "MS I/II" (Injections ltd.)

Alrighty so what we have here is a new collaboration between Dave Smolen and hair_loss. The cassette starts out with some slower moving drones and deep beats as other worldly noises come out through the tape hiss. Then it starts getting faster and noisier as more waves of noise come in. There is a lot going on on this tape; I've listened to it 3 times now in order to get a good feel of it and every time I put it on I notice something new happening in every track. Lots of really cool beats swirling around each other all of the time while new sounds come through and create a really nice grooves and shit that you can sort of nod along to before you become enraptured by the mass amount of sound that are vibrating into your ear drums. Sometimes it sounds like I am listening to a really fast-paced sci-fi movie full of aliens that are in a dance club somewhere on another planet. Some of the sounds these guys are making have a mysterious feel to them like the waters of the deep or outer space or the twilite zone type thing. It's like if David Lynch's twin peaks was more like SKINS this could be the soundtrack.

The packaging on this baby also holds some mystery, a blue tape and blue j-card with nothing but a 35mm splice of film glued to the inside flap. Very simple packaging for an anything but simple collection of tunes.

BUY

-------

FYI, I've got self penned reviews coming out every day for a week or so, but I hope to put up some more guest reviews as they come in- nick

Thursday, March 15, 2012

JEFF REHNLUND "Gangham Attic" c30 (oms-b)

Photobucket
This is an excellent collection of brittle sounding field recordings of South Korean traditional music captured by experimental musician Jeff Rehnlund, who is a current resident of the United Kingdom. It's a companion piece to Jeff's Gangham Basement LP released in 2009 on the amazing Hot Releases imprint (they've also done an LP of Jeff's original music called Smoke From The Mirror). The recordings are edited with an ear for the other worldly sounds of reeds voices and drums. This is sure to appeal to fans of the Master Musicians of Joujouka or the more gritty Sublime Frequencies releases. If you've never heard the music of this region before, you're in for a treat. Despite it's often piercing pitches and clangorous percussion, it can be quick to put you into a trance. Pro-dubbed with color J-cards in an edition of 100 tapes.

pick it up here. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Review part 2: Will Griscom from Berkeley, CA reviews The Cat's Orchestra and others...

hey Nick!

I got some tapes in the mail yesterday, and included with one of them was the following note. (I'll leave it up to you to decide) - ed.

Nxxx
how's it going?
in mxxxx
i am going to see if there is snow
on the mountain here before work
i regrettably wn't be seeing you
at these fxxxx shows... my work
schedule has me by the turtleneck
if youknowhat I mean.
cxxx bxxxx forever. yes
let me know howweverything
is with you and what.
YOUR FRIEND
Zxxxxx Mxxxxxxxxx

Also, here are my reviews of the two tapes:

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Geist & the Sacred Ensemble -- "In Search of Fabled Lands"
Label: Translinguistic Other
BUY

This is some dark weird folk rock that ventures way out into territory I don't hear much these days -- there's a lot of drone and dissonance and throat-singing and shouting and weird drums, and a whole lot of tambourine. Cool sounds. The production is pretty clean overall, with none of the obligatory FX pedal abuse that would put this over the line into modern "psych" territory, but that doesn't keep them from getting noisy when they want to. Some parts definitely made me feel like I was listening to Devendra Banhart doing acoustic covers of Flipper. The lyrics seem to mostly be about death and dying, but my favorite songs are the instrumental jams, which really open up the sonic space they've created to explore some more melodic material. Overall, not bad!

Giant Claw / The Cat's Orchestra
(Split)
Label: Cae-Sur-A
BUY

Two sides of hardcore arpeggio abuse from kids who like to hang out at the deeeeeeeep end of the pool. Heavy Claw takes the a-side with some live recorded ambient-synth-noise that starts out a little shaky in terms of wonky tape compression artifacts but rapidly gets things sorted out and proceeds to move smoothly through a number stunningly beautiful of segments, each consisting of multiple layers of looping synth that gradually fade into the next section. Lots of different elements that are constantly moving around, with stacked arpeggios that would be reminiscent of certain classical minimalist composers if it weren't for the consistently smokey analog synth vibe. The one-sheet mentions Terry Riley as a reference point, which is not totally off the mark, but you have to imagine it as filtered through Tangerine Dream and early 1990s Sega Genesis soundtracks. This kind of ambient synth music can really easily fall into the trap of "chill" cliches and boring sounds, but Giant Claw manages to avoid most of that and delivers a really rewarding, involving listen.

Side B comes from Russian loner dude The Cat's Orchestra, who I last heard from several years ago playing acoustic ethno-folk on homemade instruments. Apparently he's jumped on the analog synth bandwagon as well, although I can't say I really understand what's going on here -- there's a single-chord synth arpeggio that repeats throughout the entire side, and a one-bar drum machine loop, and some whooshing sounds… and that's about it. Sometimes another riff will come in that sounds like it's in a different key, or the main riff will drop out for a couple of bars and it sounds like something new is going to happen, but then it just fades back in again. Definitely a confusing listen -- maybe that's a good thing? The Cat's Orchestra uses the all the same basic elements as Heavy Claw (analog synth, looping, arpeggios) but the end result is distinctly different, way more minimal, agitated and disconcerting.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

that's all! let me know if you need anything else.

-will

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WAYLON THORNTON & THE HEAVY HANDS
"Melted Rings: A Stack of Tracks 2007-2011
Dirty Pillows) GUEST REVIEW


As promised, here is the first of many guest reviews that I'll be posting on the blog. This one is by Tucker White of Salt Lake City Utah - ed.

Well howdy doodie, tootie fruity. This is some fun stuff. Nice lofi garage pop from the hubby 'n wifey duo out of the good ol' FLA. They bust out some real groovin'/catchy
jams in a bluesy punk kind of way. Waylon breaks out some really great vocal melodies that almost sound like the cramps or something at times. I mean you've definitely heard this type of music/sound more than a couple of times before but they pull it off in such a fun way that it doesn't really matter if it's not a "new sound" or whatever people are calling that sort of thing. Listening to it now in my bedroom, all alone, late at night, with a 40oz of Old Milwaukee that's nearly empty, really makes me want to go out skateboarding around town, in the sun, while bumping this tape full god-damn blast on my glitchy-ass walkman. The qualilty of these recordings (which are compiled from 9 different releases) work perfectly with the sound these guys have going for them. It's all dirty and muddy but it's more like a mudslide pie or something that tastes all nice and sweet and delicious. These tunes are bound to put you in a good mood. They makes me want to skateboard all the way down to the pie shop and get a huge piece of mudslide pie. but I can't on account of the hour. That and I don't even know if there's a pie shop around here. But that's what this tape makes me want to do. So if skateboarding and eating mudslide pie sounds like a grand old time to you then you should pick up this tape pop it in your (hopefully unglitchy) walkman or ghetto-blaster and skateboard your ass down to the pie shop. And you should probably pick up a 40oz of your favorite booze on the way; while you're at it.

Cheers to you, Waylon and Meggy this last swig's for you.

Find it here

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monterey Babe Aquarium "self-titled," Smegma/Colour Bük "split," Sagan Genesis/Waxy Tomb "split" (Weird Forest Records)


Hello....wait, you know what?...I'm not going to write a big fancy introduction just because I'm new here...We'll learn plenty about each other by discussing music...I've got three new tapes from Weird Forest Records stacked on my stereo begging for review, so let's get on with the show... 

Monterey Babe Aquarium 

Rejoice zonkheads! Another addition to the bliss of sleep soundtracks has arrived...I promised myself I wouldn't ever write the phrase "hypnagogic pop," but when in Rome...Monterey Babe Aquarium's self-titled cassette is an ode to fish...not literally perhaps, but all the track titles are names of kinds of fish. My favorite piece could also be a long forgotten member of Captain Beefheart's band, "Vermiculate Spinefoot." Synth riffs dance in tidal rhythms, repetitive lines of melody inoffensively wrap troubles in bubbles and gills. This is some serious music ya'll...not really suited for parties where you and yr gaggle drink budget vino while exploring the limits of gratuitous nudity...MBA are a talented trio of nautical musicians and, according to Weird Forest, two of the Aquarium guys also play technical metal so there's that to balance all this colorful meditative keyboard music. These tracks show real eclecticism and skill so take a SWIM! Edition of 100



Smegma/Colour Bük 

Skronk - wheeze - hhhhhzzzzz. Get ready for a split where the humid air of degenerate noise punches you in the face, lovingly of course. Smegma's A-side is a live performance from 2010. Voices echo round and round while at least one member of the group castrates a saxophone or enjoys a lil S&M role play in a hall of mirrors. Exciting music for sure and scary with a joker's grin. Colour Bük's B-side is even better. I got a case of the jackhammer blues and I like it. This is the sound of picking scum from underneath long ass fingernails while playing a poorly wired off brand gee-tar. I'm kinda annoyed by the "clever" moniker - c'mon umlauts and the UK spelling? Alright. Fine. Not a big deal 'cause the sounds are just what the scuz doctor ordered. Edition of 100


Sagan Genesis/Waxy Tomb 

Conversely, Sagan Genesis is just a dumb enough joke name to make me smile. Bravo! This is my favorite of the three tapes and also the one with the fewest copies available so don't sleep on it, just getcha 'un. SG's side is KDVS experimentation (KDVS is the UC Davis free form radio station that has been fostering the scene out west for awhile now...see also MBA) and bleak synth music. It isn't hopeless music though, just music for an overcast soul. Which is perfect since I'm writing this during a thunderstorm grey Texas weekend. The composition is titled "Mollusk in Water" (again with H2O creatures! - don't worry this isn't a Ween tribute) and I can't say I know what it means, I just know I "get it." Waxy Tomb is Julia Litmer-Cleper and you home listeners wouldn't know it, but she incorporates performance art into her live show which adds a freaky layer to this miasma of sound. For all of us indoor tape jammers what really comes through on WT's side is the force of her music. Titled, '"Take One, Try All" (hormone pills),' the weight of industrial music's past gets filtered and spit out anew. All three of these cassettes will remain in rotation for some time to come at my house. Edition of 60

Buy here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

GUEST REVIEW TIME

I've got a lot of responses to this, so I am no longer taking guest review requests. I'll probably do something like this again when I'm once again too bogged down with submissions. Now I'm going to get down and dirty with the cassettes I've already decided to review. Expect reviews from me covering the house band's at Boston's Gay Gardens, new 905 tapes, GX Jupiter Larsen, Million Brazilians, Pine Smoke Lodge, Guardian Alien, this crazy looking tape called Cartoon, Images, Old Hag, Beef, Black Cum and some Korean field recordings. You can also expect guest reviews from 10+ folks around the world. All coming up soonish...

original post:

Hello faithful Cassette Gods readers and submitters. Sorry I've been really slow this last month, busy with business and all. I'd like to see if anyone out there would be interested in doing some guest reviews on the site. Here's how it would work:

1. you email me at cavebears@gmail.com
2. you let me know how many tapes you'd like to receive
3. i mail you a piping hot parcel of audio magic. if you live outside of the united states I may need you to cover shipping costs
4. you pledge on your walkman's grave that you will email me reviews (positive, negative, funny, whatever) within one week. please include artist name, tape title, name of the label and cassette length (if possible)
5. i post your illegible ramblings on the site

Easy right?

Hopefully, by doing this, we can work towards getting a couple more folks on as permanent reviewers and I'll stop feeling so bad about not listening to these tapes that I know I should be checking out...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

TRAILBLAZER "Trailblazer" c20? [Eggy]


I don't know anything about this Trailblazer other than the project also had a tape on Night People awhile ago. The name is kind of ironic; Trailblazer really doesn't blaze any trails. The material here hails directly from Joy Division, Suicide and more recent home-recorded acts like Blank Dogs. That said, this stuff is still good.
A basic drum machine track pushes each tune along while the Blazer rips out fuzzy, reverb-saturated organ and guitar melodies. There's a good dose of Suicide-esque delay-feedback too.
All of the info given is "Side A: Killer Jams Side B: Killerer Jams" which sort of makes sense as all tracks feel like variations on a theme rather than clearly defined compositions of their own. Certain tracks do stand out such as the second "killer jam" which features a hint of totally dig-able 80s dance bombast.
Each track has a really simple but solid structure that's thoroughly smeared by a bevy of sloshed effects, with each track generally featuring a key riff or melody that pops up halfway through. Like I said it's nothing you haven't heard before, yet it's a lot of fun to listen to. For fans of home-made post-punk and/or harmonious music in a noisy shell.
Another solid and listenable entry in the Eggy catalog.

Friday, March 2, 2012

SON OF SALAMI "Deli Days" c26 (Night People)

http://www.raccoo-oo-oon.org/np/images/salami2.jpg
Joey Pizza Slice AKA Son of Salami is one of the most prolific singer songwriters making music today.  What put's Joey's music into a realm of greatness is an integral combination of process and product.

The songwriting is clearly great: funny, awkward, beautiful, often touching; with subject matter that is either too silly or too heavy for most songwriters (sandwiches, dead girlfriends). The washed out cassette production sound that is becoming pretty standard fare these days sounds as good as it possibly can, but it is the way he goes about making his music that truly separates him from the heard. All Son of Salami recordings are first-take tracks made up of a series of "blind" overdubs. "Joey records on a portable tape recorder from which the erase head has been removed, allowing for overdubbing at the cost of not being able to hear the music being recorded over," says Shawn Reed on the Night People website. Ever read Bill Evans' liner notes for Kind of Blue?

There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

During every one of his live performances, he demonstrates the process and creates a unique pop masterpiece right in front of the audience in a matter of moments. If that's not cool enough, he proceeds to toss the newly formed cassette nonchalantly into the audience, for it to disappear into the void, never to be heard from again. Some intrepid future archivists are going to have their work cut out for them when they attempt to piece together the disparate stains of this guys' unheard discography.

Pick up his new collection of songs on Night People here and you damn well better get his Feeding Tube LP right over here.

Son of Salami website