Friday, November 29, 2013

TOUCHSTONE PICTURES
(Meltmeltdripdrip Records)

Hip hop inspired 8 bit late night dance sequences. 808 drumbeats galore that bleep, get wet and get stuck in your head. "Nighteraser", the cassette's opener, could easily be the walkup introduction music for a heavyweight boxer in a Super Nintendo universe. The melodies in these songs are strong and nicely escalate in complexity. Elements of noise are incorporated but are balanced with the melodies.

"It's Kronk" is a little more atonal and reverberated. A minimalistic hi-hat is the only constant as the more cerebral, mysterious effect laden melodies hypnotically repeat through higher and lower frequencies. Later on in the song it changes mood and isn't menacing any longer, but it is still challenging music.

Side B opener, "That's Rite", is a little more funky. Fat bass lines are accompanied by wah-wah synthesizer. It sounds like eating greasy french fries. Some nice computer chords are played and the song at times feels straight up weirdo.

"Netwerk" finally gets the human touch and opens with some non-standard tuning guitar duo that is quite pleasant to the ears. It is followed by a droned out organ and finally an upbeat, uplifting looping synasizer part with fuzzed out low notes. A great end to a diverse electronic release.

One thing I appreciate about this tape is that while the sounds are all pretty much made by computers, which for my tastes is a turnoff, I do get a sense the musician is using his instrument to its full capacity. There is a lot going on in this tape sonically. The genres and moods switch and yet it is all being clearly played by Touchstone Pictures.

I am also about 90% sure it was made using Buzzmachines, some great free Windows shareware from 2002 that allows you to conduct and produce some fantastic beats. Maybe I'm totally wrong, but even if I am Buzzmachines is worth experimenting with. What do you have to lose, it's free!

Label: http://www.meltmeltdripdrip.co.uk

-- Jack Turnbull

Monday, November 25, 2013

GERMAN ARMY
"Burushaski" (Belaten Records)


When the world ends, and we're salvaging the ruined world for canned beans and purified water, German Army will probably be setting up to play in some crazy bunker venue, assuming they can scavenge enough batteries to power their synths. Their last tape, Youtan Polou, which came out on Chondritic Sound was one of the best tapes I heard last year, and Burushaski actually tops it. This is some truly other music, floating somewhere between industrial, noise, and synth-pop. Lots of minimal, pulsing beats, chilled out synthesizers, and baritone vocals clashing with whirring electronics and scrambled radio samples. The overall tone is extremely desolate and post apocalyptic, like a bunch of survivors piecing together entertainment from a vague memory of yesteryear. Germany Army know when to challenge your head and when to pull back. Some of these tracks are pretty scary, especially one particular track on the A side that has some of the most unsettling vocals I've ever heard, but they never linger in a frightening vibe too long before switching it up with a more melodic and dancey track, which makes for a really well paced listen. I can't recommend this enough, this a tape truly worth tracking down. 


-- Timothy Johnson

Friday, November 22, 2013

SCKE//
“Ornaments” 7”
(KIKS/Girlfriend Records)


This 7” is from UK-based Benjamin Hallatt, recorded under the name SCKE//. An electro-acoustic spectacle, it lives somewhere between the minimal glitch of a similar-era Kompakt, Kranky or Mille Plateaux release and something more homemade and warm. Hallatt definitely abandons the hi-fidelity, in your face side of glitchy, experimental music for a sound that’s more suitable for travelling or looking out of a train window.  

Side A, “Ornament 2,” is a slow-burning piece that has a plucked and distinctly Asian flare, sampling sounds that veer from percussive to melodic. It’s undoubtedly got a folky vibe until it intensifies and Hallatt starts reversing stuff. 

Side B, “Ornament 7,” gets the more classic low-key glitch workout, as Hallatt tweaks his modular into static pops, hisses, and squeals over comforting, motoric electric piano chords. Neither track has any beat-oriented activity.
The 7” is pressed on quality, heavy vinyl and includes a folding sheet with a picture of some sort of Asian Chiffarobe on it.

Buy here:

Stream/Buy Here:

-Dan Hockstein

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CURT OREN "Home" (Personal Archives)


This tape kind of baffled me. Curt Oren, who hails from the University of Iowa (The tape includes an expired parking pass from the school), has crafted 7 tracks consisting entirely  o fsaxophone compositions utilizing extended techniques, with breathy vocal accompaniments. If that sounds a lot like Colin Stetson to you, that's because this is ostensibly some sort of tribute to Stetson's approach to the instrument. Some of the songs on the bandcamp are even tagged with his name. I don't want to call this a ripoff, because he isn't just rehashing and reusing material from New History Warfare although clearly that album left a pretty big mark on Oren, and it's impressive that he managed to replicate the techniques and components of it so accurately (even down to the vocal accompaniment, Laurie Anderson is replaced by someone named Nora Petran). I loved that record, and I guess I love this tape. Oren takes the clanking and meandering contact mic'd saxophone a little further down the road, but it's hard to sell this as being much more than lo-fi version of New History Warfare. Still, I enjoyed the experience, I can’t get enough of this sound.


-- Timothy Johnson

Monday, November 18, 2013

BLODSPRUT // FREDDY THE DYKE
Split Cassingle
(Drid Machine Records)


Short and sweet split tape from two future-grind bands from Norway. The Blodsprut side is a solid exercise in the art of grindcore, sweetened with some unusual instrumentation and song structure. Howled vocals, crazy militaristic drumming, and a guitar tone that sounds like it could be used for demolition work. It grinds, but it sounds really different from a lot of other grindcore bands I've heard. The interplay between the drums and the guitar really helps to separate them from other bands in this family of music. The drums are maniacal, and there's a lot of space in the music for the drummer to tear your speakers, and the guitar is wielded sparingly, getting you sneering at just the right spots.

BUT, the B side is truly the winner. Freddy the Dyke make The Locust look like they're trapped in the neolithic era. This two piece rips more than any other groups I've heard in a while. Crazy over-loaded effected vocals are delivered in tight barks, while the music moves deftly between fist-waving stoned dirges, gyrating tribal rhythms, and blasts of total noise. The second track pulls back a bit, and is a bit more of a math-y percussion workout, with some really distant vocals and a lot of space to zone out before they kick in the overdrive and hit you in the face. This comes highly recommended, I wanted to hear way more of this stuff and the tape wasn’t long enough to sate my needs, plus the artwork on both sides of the mailer box that came with the tape is incredibly rad. Pick this up. 


-- Timothy Johnson

Friday, November 15, 2013

Digging Like a Dog

(mostly) Northeastern Report

Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along;
Take me to the valley, and lay the sod o'er me,
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong.



A couple of cool new records I've been listening to a lot lately are both sort of fall-out albums from the noise scene. Phemale does tripped out cabaret style songs on his super limited debut LP "Silk City", out now on Red Scroll Records.  You've got to catch the live act...costume changes between every song.  First guy since Russian Tsarlag who does this kind of stuff that I can really get behind.  I hear there is a tape on Elm City Records too that is definitely worth tracking down too. I've also been playing Form A Log "Two Benji's" LP on Decoherence a lot recently. This is not as techno as the Container or Profligate material (both guys are members), but deftly straddles the line between rhythm and noise. Speaking of which, there are 2 new Profligate 12"s that you need to buy for your weird rave. Find that shit! Though as far as noise goes, no one is more noise than Noise Nomads. New LP out now on Western Mass institution Feeding Tube Records. Byron Coley writeup and purchase power available from their website. Distro via Forced Exposure


The new LP by Daniel Bachman, "Jesus I'm A Sinner," is his best work yet. I should know, seeing as I put out his first record and it's been topped twice now, both times by the super folk purist label Tompkins Square.  They've also got limited new vinyl by Daniel's bro Ryley Walker and the immortal Michael Hurley.  On the folk front I'm also still digging Asa Irons (ex-Witch and Feathers) "Knife Gift Debt" which can be streamed or purchased on vinyl here.  Very somber and beautiful folk album with an allstar cast of Maine musicians.  Maybe you'll find him playing a party at Taboo's house???  That band right there, one of the best bands in America right now and they actually do have internet, despite what has previously been reported.


One of the most surprising tapes I've heard in recent memory is the Power Masters discography-so-far self released cassette - amazing hardcore/garage/weirdo band from Providence.  You've got to have balls to use that name in that town. Mad props. Check it out.  More quality New England punk rock from Hoax who have self released a 12" that comes with 5 huge posters. Amazing!  Peep.

I've also really been liking the recently reissued Idea Fire Company album "Rags To Riches."  This 2005 cassette is now available on vinyl from Recital Records.  IFCO is one of the most studious bands in the Northeast.  I wouldn't fault you if you'd never heard them and certainly wouldn't if you'd never seen them live.  I would wager 75% of their fan base is overseas.  There sound is just that SERIOUS man. 

Don Gero's first release (out via Primordial Sounds) is a very focused and well recorded drums and triggers set. This guy is previously of Boston and the band Arvid Noe, now on the west coast. Find this dude in Oregon or somewhere and make him play your basement!  Also on the Boston front, we have the upstart label BUFU Records.  They're doing more of a rock thing, but I really like the super tight surf madness of Tsons of Tsunami (Guerilla Toss side-project) and the cartoony and technically proficient sound of Designer and it's also great to see ZEBU! get a 10th anniversary compilation tape. BUFU also has the first 7" by MA band Aykroyd who offer two nicely done post-punk/psych tracks. This is the kind of incredibly active label this town needs! My newly adopted hometown has had a string of really great bands of late.  If you're into nice female fronted garage pop, check out Saralee who have an LP out on Ride The Snake and a split tape with Giving Up on Sophomore Lounge.  Last but not least on my beantown radar are Knight Howls, the all-vocal duo of Arkm Foam and Frank Hurricane (who probably has like 8 other releases out right now...I'm hearing rumors of a double LP on Feeding Tube).  These guys hoot and holler their way to the pressing plant on their first vinyl release. Find Foam's contact here, and also pick up a Frank Hurricane tribute tape with j-card and mini-poster by Josh Burkett. Oh and also shout out to my boy Mark Johnson who has two new tapes on Anonymous Dog, one with Hunnie Bunnies and one as Truck Stanley's Night Dreams.


I've been getting super gacked-out on the Gem Jones release on Night-People. It's a totally fucked version of old school R&B boogie woogie stuff.  Music of the highest order. This tape is from the last batch or maybe two batches back, but I just really started getting into it based on the recommendation of  The Savage Young Taterbug, who's short tour tape, "Journeyman's Cheddar," is a recent favorite of mine. Tater's tour pal Tracey Trance was also trucking with a great new cassette called "Keep It Up."  You probably can't find those last two tapes anywhere though...


Brattleboro, Vermont's The Happy Jawbone Family Band never fail to jah-maze. Their new self titled LP on Mexican Summer is the cleanest thing they've done yet and the song writing is top notch. This record is growing on me with each listen.  I wanna go bone deep... What else is new in Brattleboro??? Oh yeah, great first 7" by Danny Bissette on Rarebit Records.  Danny is perhaps the most secret member of the scene up there.  UPDATE: you can purchase the 7" and some other great tapes at www.rarebitrecords.com Chris Weisman, Ruth Garbus and the Great Valley continue to make killer music up there and expats Blanche Blanche Blanche (OSR Tapes forever) and King Tuff are making waves in New York and LA respectively.  BBB have an especially great new LP out now on Whart Cat Records called "Breaking Mirrors". Check it out!!! 

Okay, that's all for now. Keep sending in those tapes and I'll keep finding people to review them.  I think this is the steadiest stream of new posts we've had in a while.  Also if you're interested in writing for Cassette Gods and you live in the Boston area, send me a note at cavebears at g-male dot (honey) comb.

Oh yeah, one last shout out to my boys The Phish From Vermont, who totally slayed Fall tour.  Way to go guys!

bet you didn't see that one coming...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

HEX BREAKER QUARTET
"Method for Astral Amelioration"
(Dokuro)

This New York based ambient drone trio (yes, trio) slowly crescendos as each individual player adds a well mixed layer to the previous player's opening. Each layer has a separate focus; some are clean, sharp and major scale in relation to the other almost atonal drawn out pulses. Played in major key, it harmoniously transcends while remaining robotically cold.

Side B, "Reveal Cosmic Light", is similar in drone but introduces what sounds like an alto saxophone player or a trumpet player who can melodically and beautifully improvise over the heartbeat pulsations of delayed and modulated electronics. He takes a solo early on and then brilliantly underplays amongst the luminescent, cerebral signals of the noise.

Sounds like a sci-fi movie soundtrack or loosely inspired by the early luminaries of synthesizer; Ray Lynch, Kraftwerk, Vangelis at his most Blade Runner ... very well executed, perfect and ready to be the totally sweet noise quartet at your next art opening or hyper trippy beach house birthday party. High honors for this cassette!

Also check out Cassette put out by NNA TAPES - http://nnatapes.com/available-releases/hex-breaker-quintet-riders-c40/ - That's pretty good too.

About 20 minutes
www.soundcloud.com/hexbreaker

-- Jack Turbbull
www.jackturnbull.com

Saturday, November 9, 2013

STEVE CREATURE "s/t"
(Fussy Fucker Tapes)


Intimate, acoustic pop punk four track bedroom jams! Steve Creature effectively doubles up vocal tracks, mixes energetic yet minimal hi-hat/bass/snare beats and essentially knows his way around a tascam! He's able to get big, rockin' tones out of humble equipment. Reminds me of a less snarling FYP minus the blast beats, or if Neil Young got into a time machine in 1973 during the ditch trilogy and hung out with Green Day for a month before returning to his real time. The microphone on this is recorded at a high treble and the guitar gets some nice, low wooden sounds out of an acoustic; there are hardly even symbols in the drums and yet these beats really drive.

Song lyrics about bitter breakups, leather jackets, the draw backs of drug abuse, problems with rent, working too many hours at the office, ... you know, I can relate to this stuff. "I don't like being in the same mood everyday", the chorus on "Same Mood Every Day" showcases how Steve Creature can be candid and sorrowful when describing the monotony of the 9 to 5 even when the melodies are really catchy. The content gets intense on "I'm Glad You Didn't Kill Yourself Last Summer", but then folkish and lighter with "No Glue/No Fun" although the lyrics are darkly ironic.

It would be nice if there were maybe one or two more introspective and optimistic tunes on this that focused on lighter material, which would meet the enthusiasm of the pop-punk melodies. There's only five songs on this, and the tape is notably sad. Liz Prince's illustration of "creature of the black lagoon" makes a grumpy face with a walkman in hand and headphones on head. Of course sad songs are awesome; there's a whole genre, the blues, based on the idea. It's just pop punk goes so well with "Blitzkreg Bop!" or the Ramones' "Commando". You know! The Ramones songs that sounded like SaturdayMorning Cartoons. ... like "Spider-Man" ... or the classic "I Don't Wanna Grow Up". You know? Just fun songs.

But I'm glad I got this cassette. I'll keep this review short. Also! On a side note check out Liz Prince's artwork and illustration. It is an impressive cannon of work!

http://stevecreature.bandcamp.com/
about 10 minutes long.

-- Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbull.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ANYBODY BUT THE COPS "Demo Tape" (Self Released)

Kalamazoo, Michigan is a famous place for diy and these fine folks are at the epicenter of it, key organizers of the Kzoo dit (doin it together) basement/free school scene.  It is well worth a stop!

"Demo Tape" was recorded at Millhouse, one of the main joints, and you can hear the acoustic pang off concrete to prove it.

Anybody But The Cops' debut tracks propel like a high school militia of Mike Watts with ferocity first, genre switching and bending before you can get too used to any one motif.  No-brow duct taped drumbeats hold down zoom pedal jazz metal hewn on denim with a Primus patch.  The only vocal appearances come by way of a few vocal yalps, solo or in unison (and a skit)!  The kitchen sink is packed full oof jams.  There are many moments worth checking out, make sure to stay for the Gershwin riff.



- -Matt Robidoux

ANTIQUE PONY
"Gay Ghosts"(Hikikomori)

This tape was a nice surprise, initially when I picked it out of the pool I didn’t really have high hopes. Neither the band name nor the title of the album really rang with me, but I liked the album art enough to pick it up and I’m glad I did. Antique Pony are from Glasgow (home of other cool noisy rock band Divorce), and craft a dark and moody blend of art rock with a very original composition and execution. “Halloween,” the opener on the tape, is a nod to Slint era post rock with mumbled, monotone vocals buried beneath harmonic waves of guitar. The second track is a total winner, and probably my favorite on the tape, particularly the end portion where they bust out a violin and launch into a killer groove with the plucked strings right up in front. I was a big fan of “Beautiful Atlas,” which starts off the B side with some interesting found audio, and some truly ominous piano drones. The songs on the B side are much less spectacular, but c’est la vie, not every tune can be a winner and I can safely say there are no bad songs on this tape. Antique Pony blend together a lot of familiar indie rock elements, from the Slint-ish vocals to the Sonic Youth guitar squalls, but with a unique aesthetic that never feels like imitation. Highly recommended.

http://antiquepony.bandcamp.com/

----Timothy Johnson

Monday, November 4, 2013

Extreme Misanthropy Crew
Manifesto ii"
3BS Records

-->
Extreme Misanthropy Crew are from Australia. They also make some killer beat heavy industrial music that I’m sincerely glad to have in my life.Totally earnest in their approach, their song material on this tape is truly a manifesto. One song is about intellectual property, with all it’s samples pulled from common property material, and the B side is an extended exercise in picking on global warming denialists. The throaty, harsh vocals and washes of noise had me snarling, but the rhythms are so infectiously danceable that it doesn’t feel like an exercise in attrition. The sound on the tape reminded me a lot of some of the more techno influenced noise out there (ie: Lasers, Mark Lord), just less art damaged and with a greater influence from screamo, while still possessing the same sense of heavy hitting minimalism. I appreciate a band that’s not afraid to get serious with their message, but if I hadn’t listened to the B side and it’s dissection of a Christopher Monckton speech the political aspect of this music would probably have been lost on me, but such is the nature of shouted/screamed vocals. I dug this tape quite a bit, and I’m glad it made it’s way across the world to me, but I think three songs of this stuff is probably enough to sate my appetite.

--> http://3bsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/manifesto-ii 
--Timothy Johnson

Saturday, November 2, 2013

PETER KALYNIUK


I remember giving this guy a great review for his last tape release. I don't know if any of these bandcamp tracks are available on a physical format, but you've got to hear this stuff.  He's like the Esquivel of the lo-fi home recording generation.  Also reminds me of one of my favorite weirdo records,  "Stones" by Emil Richards. Anyway, just listen to this music.

Friday, November 1, 2013

CREATUROS "Swampp Thingg" (Primordial Sounds)

 Wow, this cassette by Creaturos was a pleasant surprise. I saw these guys play on Columbus Day last week opening for Ty Segall's new band fuzz and they were your average four piece garage surf rock band, definitely pros at what they do but also generic ... that said, they had good taste and chose to channel good influences. The cassette, in contrast, I have very few complaints about. It's well produced, elaborate, intelligent, well composed and delivers the goods: High energy electronic rock and fucking roll.

SIDE A
On cassette the magic of the audio studio adds a lot; echoplex voice tracks are placed perfectly in between the verse and chorus on "Jame's Day Milkshake". The vocal harmonies cut through the mix better than in a live setting.

"Charlie Brown" has a distinctive garage rock feel, but the subtle use of a phaser distortion pedal gives this song a feel absent from your old school Lookout! Records crew. There is also an outro accompanied by feedback, falsetto vocals and a flute (!!!). This part matures Charlie Brown and is what makes this band not your average dad rock. It finally goes back into three chord but they let the flutist, Molly Kate Maltezos, rip! The reel to reel zips off at the end.

These guys go pedal to the metal and can get loud. These guys can be swooners and can get the audience to fall in love with them too. It's a personal critique, but I could use a little more clean guitar on this. Everything is drenched with reverb, which makes everything sound mystical, but it can also muddle at times. Their blues song "3 times" is a good return to Earth. While it still sounds like it was recorded in a Church, the insertion of an acoustic guitar (or maybe it's just a clean electric) is a good instinct. The drums are also just tambourine. Ironically, the quieter "3 times" is the most menacing song on the cassette. it sounds like Leadbelly licks but Spencer Gralla has a tenor voice like Ozzy Osborne. It makes for a killer cool combination even if the lyrics just repeat themselves.

Side A ends with "Weak End" a fuzzed out rock ballad with noise parts that let the chords hold out. Great, great, contemporary rock and roll. The composition seems to showcase a knowledge of rock history. I hear Neil Young, My Bloody Valentine, the Who, Brian Eno (?!?!) ... its just a few basic chords but the tone is so calculated. AND ALSO! While still reverberated, Gralla can (gasp!) SING! I don't want to sound flip, but I have reviewed so many tapes where the vocals were an afterthought. Here Gralla does not shy away or cop out with desperate screams. "Weak End" is anything but.


SIDE B
Side B opens with solo guitar without a pick; each individual string is articulated. But this doesn't last too long as Creaturos embark on a jam that reminds me of "Thee Ohh Sees" at their most excited. This is primarily because of the echoes used in the vocals.

The next song, "Leave your face behind", is more of a trippy cowboy ballad with FANTASTIC multi-vocals. If anything, buy this tape for the singer because he can sing, a rarity in our cassette culture.

"UFO Yeah!!!" is appropriately the cassette's biggest space jam. When I say this, I mean there is a lot of added effects that do not correspond traditionally to the bass/drums/guitar. but they cut through the mix well and do not distract.

The last song, "Something Happened" is a last call love lost ballad which is a great way to end. The vocals are double with a female voice and an omnichord is supplied by Johny Allen. Here the reverb guitar sounds golden, sublime and perfect. "Something Happened" breaks verse/chorus/verse structure, is haunting with lines like "something happened when we were young/ wasn't worth the trouble but it was fun", crescendos at the end into sonic rock and roll bliss. That driving bass line of just one note played fiercely while the drums go crazy will never get old. Not in the year 3000.

Love this tape. You should book these guys, watch these guys, love these guys. If they can find a way to add the studio extra elements to their live set they'll be unstoppable.

--Jack Turnbull

You can order tapes at http://primordialsounds.bigcartel.com/.  I highly recommend you also check out the recently released Don Gero tape on the label.  One man live drumming with triggers and pedals similar to Black Pus or Dick Neff, but with it's own (sort of more refined) thing going on. - ed.