SELARODA "Polytexturalism"

The front cover of this cassette, an abstract painting of a curving contoured line amongst patho blue and foliage warm paint build up, hints at pointillism. If the artist were to approach his instruments in a manor similar to a pointillist painter, then it suggests that the cassette music may have fast tempoed rhythms and, while remaining on topic and at attention, seem energetic and frantic like that song "the flight of the bumblebee".

The music is, however, more similar to the back cover image behind the liner notes of the release. This image resembles television snow or an up-close but blurry blue tinted photo of the moon's surface. It is unfocused but tranquil, even if it seems a bit unsettling due to its cryptic nature.

The electronic and analog music only comes from one or two or three sources at a time (perhaps all recorded with a 4 track?). Modified vocal moans with fishtank chorus pedal loops of found sound, an acoustic guitar, a skipping record and piano strings being plucked on a steinway from above, desolate reverb piano with deep sea depth charge sonic vibrations, held out tension building synthesizer chords with mutating bleeps and blipps ... chords swell and change to create long-winded melodies that meander, melt away or keep on trucking. At the releases most subversive, tonal instruments are subbed out for the artist's desire for dissonance, but the noise never becomes aggressive, even when it is isolating. It stays in a meditative zone, even when high-hat beats are present (which is only for a moment on the cassette and feel very deep in the mix).

The music stays in the genre of the instrumental ambient; all vocals, which are few and far between, remain incomprehensible whispers, making the whispered narrations on Slint's Spiderland sound like the forte vocals of "MAMMA MIA" the musical. The vocals are also swamped down with audio effects and focus on tone as opposed to lyrics. I'm totally fine with considering the vocals as an instrument as opposed to a vehicle to tell a story or recite poetry.

Everything is rather pleasing to the ear even when the melodies played are somber. Even the noise isn't too harsh (I may still advise not giving this cassette as a birthday present to your weak-hearted grandmother). I appreciate that this is a social and inviting album without being obnoxiously accessible or pop, a rarity in the realm of music on the fringe.

The most gentle moment of the cassette is its end; a classical piano plays a soothing lullaby that is dreamy and relaxing. And when I listen to it and compare it to the mountains of feedback laced noise tapes and in-your-face hardcore tapes I must consider for review on a weekly basis, it feels like the most punk rock thing I've heard in a while.


--Jack Turnbull

CORRECTION: The artist was mistakenly identified as "Seladora" in an earlier version of this review. The correct spelling is "Selaroda."