Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GAZE "III" (Teen Action)

SIDE A
A signal fades in and out of volume, pulsating and oscillating with distorted fuzz and distant organ jams. It sounds analog; tubes over solid states. It turns into a space jam more akin to the psychedelics of Hawkwind or the homemade bent circuits of Mark Lord/Kites. No percussion is present; the only sense of rhythm is made clear by the on/off of circuit board knobs that crackle with radio interference. The whole tape kind of sounds like different airway signals from a distant, foreign, cold land - like a drifting spaceman way past orbit from that movie Gravity hopelessly trying to put out an SOS but he/she only get this tape in response.

Halfway through Side A, "Xerxes Concubine - the Winged Lion", a synthesizer melody made of approximately 3-4 notes takes center stage. It stagers and isn't a firm collection of notes (I sense perhaps because the artist is improvising) but they counterbalance the atmospheric chaos behind into something harmonious yet still ominous.

The musicians take a step back and someone cuts out and is replaced by sped up pulsating samples that linger as synth notes are held out. A metronome is heard. The tapes gets creepier as the artists underplay, perhaps with more moments of quite their sounds are more confirmable, as if we're getting a better rendered illustration of the monster they're attempting to narrate. Still - we're not being attacked here, just observing ... but over time, the first track begins to degrade from "space rock" to just "spacey".

If there are any complaints, I'd say the composition drags on for too long on side A. There are only so many descending pitch frequencies smothered in distortion one can hear before the sound stops carrying its validity. Side A could have easily lost about five minutes and I wouldn't miss those five minutes. You may disagree but there is no need for this to be a sixty minute tape.


SIDE B
While I can tell the artists are trying to branch out a little more at the beginning of Side B, The first song, "Peacock Motel" unfortunately offers little new ideas sonically. Digital delay snare tapes begin to hint at something new as sounds more akin to bird calls are made rather than outer space chill. I hear a little more contemporary Black Dice influence on "Peacock Motel". For an instant I heard something that's maybe a unmixed guitar dying in the distance. diverse tones are utilized better, but they are elusively amiss amongst watts of mangled samples and crackles.

I'm being more honest than not; if the first two songs were not labeled I could barely tell a difference. And they're drawn out. Perhaps live I could tolerate how long these space jams go for because I would be given the pleasure of watching the musicians play, adding a visual element, but on cassette in a walkman at 6 AM it sadly begins to underwhelm.

The final song on Side B, "Brindisi Nights" breaks mold fortunately. Laser beams from other galaxies still are present, but looping Cliff Martinez sythn licks sync in and sink their teeth into this track. This accessible 80ties thriller homage base allows for the musicians to really go full throttle and escalate their space assault. It adds a new dimension. The synthesizer melody flutters like a butterfly drenched in the rain of an approaching hurricane. Giving the listener a constant in a swirling world of loosely structured frequencies balances out the track. It allows the listener to get more out of it because of the subtle harmonies being made. Plus - loops, psychologically, allow the listeners to put down a wall because they know what's coming next. The effect is borderline "dancey", although I could never dance to this band, sorry.

The cassette design is minimal but effective. I like the yellow on blue; X-men colors. The utilitarian designer in me disapproves of there being no plastic case hence making the tape susceptible to damage, but the environmentalist applauds the lack of waste; two pieces of small paper and a tape = one new art product, why not? They get big points for good basic typography and I like Gaze's logo: /////

http://www.teenactionrecords.com/ TAR 032

--Jack Turbull

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