Monday, June 30, 2014

Yamaoka - "Silent Bridge" c66 (Sacred Phrases)

 
  
  Beautiful album from Japanese electronic musician Kenichi Oka aka: Yamaoka, on the well fitting Sacred Phrases label. Mesmerising set of tracks that span over a decade's worth of electronic music styles, in just 66 minutes. Sharp, percussive synths are weaving tight micro-rhythms all at every turn, morphing at a relentless pace. Hints of early techno and drone tactics run throughout Oka's hallucinatory arrangements, with more than a hint of modern new age to fill them out nicely.
  It's easy to lose yourself in this at times, as the deep repitition takes hold of you near the end of side A, but that is a very good thing in my opinion. Side B is equally as intense, yet it remains playful and bright, reminding me of Steve Moore or even Tangerine Dream at times, respectively. As the last seconds roll on I realize that this one is a total winner front to back, and you should grab it quick. Limited to 100 with DL code. Get one here: www.sacredphrases.com
   

Friday, June 27, 2014

HARMONY MOLINA


Interesting singer songwriter who contacted me about trying to get a release on my label. I don't know if I'm going to go for it, but I figured it would be proper to share his very strange music with you. It has a kind of tuneless psychedelic quality to it that should be appealing to fans of outsider music. Check it out if you're looking for something from way back in left field. http://harmonymolina.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MATTHEW AKERS
"A History of Arson" C36
(Out of Body Records)


Good gravy and jumping jack rabbits, this is a phenomenal cassette. The cassette case had a strike anywhere match inside. For a split second I thought I potentially might have a Ted Kacznski Unibomber situation on my hands. The cassette's graphics resemble something that might be in one of Fox Mulder's filing cabinets. Fortunately, the cassette didn't explode when I put it in my walkman. Instead, it played a collection of incredible synthesizer and keyboard arrangements that equally play in the genres of smooth dance and dissonance drone.

Matthew Akers is a "Moog maestro"; his analog and digital synthesizers are at his masterly command. They pulse, drain, fade, increase, repeat melodies with mathematical perniciousness, flutter up and down through frequency envelope patterns, they hypnotize, they minimize with melodies over chords. you can't un-hear his jams like when you can't stop re-living that grief stricken day in your life.

The whole spectrum of what may be on just about the coolest Italian horror movie soundtrack is this cassette; the murder scene when the killer is right behind the protagonist is represented of course, but also the romance scene, the environmental pan over shot with a camera on a helicopter, the car chase action sequence, the blood on the dance floor scene, the work-out montage, the drone that accompanies when the villain reveals a plot twist through an over dramatic monologue, the walk out of the movie theater end credits. Imagine if Ray Lynch or Tangerine Dream collaborated with John Carpenter and produced the score for the Nightmare On Elm Street series.

Six jams, buy it here ---->
http://outofbodyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/matthew-akers-a-history-of-arson-c36

Amazing stuff from a Denton TX record label. throw 'um 4 clams (and tip these guys a 10) for the full analog experience and get the edition of 100 cassette, it's worth every penny.

--Jack Turnbull

Sunday, June 22, 2014

LITTLE SPOON
"Girlfriend Forever"
(MJMJ Records)


The cassette cover is of a slightly out of focus young woman with a dripping rainbow across her face (please note: the above photo was ripped from the artist's website ... the actual cassette cover is a close up of the above photo). It reminds me of local access children television programming, family friendly craft fairs or one of those discombobulating pink house wackos from "A Family Finds Entertainment". The girl is, please forgive me here, good looking, with subtle messy bangs, a calming expression and a flirtatious tilt of the head.

The music seems to match this visual well. It's appealing, stimulating yet calming dance music. It is gay in the old fashioned usage of the word, even when the music is bittersweet in temperament. I sense even a little of "the Cure" in the synth tone.

Little Spoons vocalists at times sound like a tenor young Prince (or as the artist formerly known as) but they can also make like native American tribal chanters. At other times their voices sound without gender. This androgyny is engaging the same way Ziggy Stardust era Bowie was engaging, although these are dreamy dance songs, not intergalactic ballads. A female voice emerges at the beginning of side B ... or maybe it's the same voice? I dunno... but it's got me listening, which is a very good sign of a good cassette.

I think one thing that makes this cassette work is the fact it is, once again, a utilitarian release. The beat, while dropping out at times to allow melody to take center stage, remain rather simple and repetitive four four drumbeats. This gets ones head nodding and then Little Spoon doesn't let up. This cassette has a mission to make you move. There is fun poetry here in the lyrics, interesting tonal experimentation, beautiful digital vocal harmonies, good transitions and enough song diversity to keep me interested ... but the glue that keeps it all together is a focus on the beat. Even on a song like "We are Both Adults", which is notably more serious and somber than the rest of the release, has a drumbeat that keeps your head nodding. It doesn't break your neck (it's not trying to) but it is consistent.

This music is best when the harmonies are really pushed to their fullest digital capabilities, like on the cassette finale, "There is Something Over That Hill". There's still a computer loop rhythm that sounds like MUM, but here the vocals delay, merge into chorus, loop and the whole song ends with the rest of the song elements dropping out as the vocals infinitely fade out chanting with divine glory.

This is a fine release and good for the summer season. Diverse, inviting, mellow without being lazy, dance inducing without being aggressive and with lush, stoned vocals. Check it out.
Listen to it here on their bandcamp:
http://littlespoon.bandcamp.com/album/girl-friend-forever

--Jack Turnbull

Thursday, June 19, 2014

POLST "s/t"


POLST is a 4-piece metal/punk band from Portland, OR. This cassette marks their debut release.

Having lived in Portland, I can safely say that is particular mixed-genre is pretty common for the geography. Music fans in the rest of the country are somewhat misled by the commercial success of bands such as The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, The Blow, Sallie Ford and so forth, and whom collectively suck 60/70 %. The reality of the music scene in PDX is that it is a meth-paved playground where metal bands run wild and are free to cross-pollenate with other fringy genres of a similar ilk. While living there, I found this to be notably boring.

That being said, I always appreciate ‘standouts’ no matter how dismissive I am of the genre as a whole. POLST is certainly a great example of a ‘standout’ among bands that I can barely sit-thru. Possibly my paramount complaint about the genre/subgenre is that there rarely seems to be much of a difference between songs; you can’t understand the lyrics, there is almost never anything that vaguely resembles a melody, and while the musicianship is usually very impressive it is rarely purposeful, putting it in the company of the most useless genre of all…jam bands. (something to think about: have you ever seen jam bands and metal bands in the same place at the same time?)

But as I said before, POLST is a ‘standout’. Most of the songs are what you would expect from band describing themselves as “The metal-side of punk”. However, there is a certainly a difference song-to-song, primarily noticeable in the way and proportions that the genre-elements are mixed. While most metal/punk bands are either punk bands with a metal edge or metal bands with punk influences, POLST truly (and seamlessly) cross genres within the same song, best exemplified by the fourth and last tracks (“This Stone” and “Under a Puppet” respectively) which even include elements of psychedelia. Better yet, there is plenty that “vaguely resembles a melody”. In fact the second song “Pretty Water” I might even describe as catchy. They take the best elements from each genre tread including the youthful sensibilities of Cro Mags, DOA or Negative Approach, the desperately aggressive power of heavyweights Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as elements I’m not qualified to describe from other bands I’m embarrassed to list. (note: keep in mind that the only Dillinger Escape Plan song that I definitively claim to have heard more than once is the cover of Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” featuring Mike Patton).

“This Stone” begins with a sort of dramatic, cleanish, thinner-side-of-sludge guitar intro that could honestly be the beginning of a song from almost any genre under the Big Tent of Rock and Roll. After about a minute, the rest of the band comes in, transitioning into a stab-first-then-grind take on grindcore. From there it leads us a journey of mystic anger and adrenaline to a head bopping hardcore-styled chorus, to a bridge more reminiscent of punk. It then transitions abruptly but seamlessly (again) back into sludgyland where the backing vocalist takes the lead repeating the words “You already know” and the screaming lead vocalist joining him about a half-second behind which I suppose constitutes harmonizing in the metal world – considered by many to be the Everest of harmonizing – then eventually breaking down into something which might even be called ‘pretty’.

I can’t pretend to fully understand what metal fans look for in their music, and its possible that I might be fan of the genre if I did, but as a outsider I would say this works and by the Springsteen-principle (a theory dictating that EVERYONE likes at least one Bruce Springsteen song and if they don’t, are most likely philistines at best, domestic terrorists at worst), I would surmise that metal fans would like it even more. The screaming is nicely cut by flat and nearly amelodic backing vocals for extra-listenability, a sound filled by the impressively busy drumming of Tuviya Edelhart (see also: Valkyrie Rodeo), the slight juxtapositions in genre/influence within each song.

Any serious music appreciators would be remiss in passing up this cassette. You know how some people/you say things like “I hate all country except for Johnny Cash” or “I hate all rap except for 311”…this is your breath-of-fresh-mud exception. Metal, punk, and even hardcore fans should absolutely check this out, if you weren’t too offended to read this far into the review.

Listen to it and buy it here:

http://polst.bandcamp.com/

--Travis Long

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NEAR EARTH/BROKEN KEY
Split Cassette

A Side
Near Earth is the name of the band. The band's name is a very fitting name because it describes the band's sound; Electricity laced dream pop that references the spacey and cosmic without ever getting too innovative through experimentation, thus keeping the music in space but still "Near Earth".

Hints of Kraftwerk, Duran Duran and the Psychedelic Furs raise their heads as potential influences, but the closest comparison I can make is to a watered down Radiohead from their Bends album era. Sometimes the basslines are little too U2 for my blood too.

This is an absolutely passable and well rounded indie rock side of a split cassette, but it's also music that is nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of things. The melodies, tones, sonic effects and beats sound all too familiar due to their use in commercials for totally average new cars. I keep waiting for a narrative voiceover to appear in the music asking me "Where do you want to go today? The all new Honda Accord" ... The musicians are probably very sincere but their music is accessible and familiar to the point of redundancy. Near Earth doesn't shake me up even though the band is talented and their recording abilities are noteworthy. With all this said, if I was at a bar and these guys were playing, I'd be content... not satisfied, but I'd find it hard to complain. Near Earth are competent musicians, just not adventurous ones.


B Side
The other side of the Cassette is from Broken Key. Broken Key is a lot more dancey. His songs (or better yet, beat vinyets) are short, loose and almost lo-fi in execution. Broken Key can dive into 8 bit territory. His bass drops are heavy and would fit well on a dance floor. Occasionally his melodies become frantic with lots of lots of notes littering the stanzas of his computerized sheet music. On other jams there is a hip-hop vibe. Voice overs interrupt looping drum beats like a DJ Shadow track or a Beastie Boys song. Sometimes the songs are minimalistic, almost too minimalistic and the pinball sound effects don't respond well enough with the core backbeats of the song's structures.

But other times, the looseness allows for some refreshing ideas to emerge. For example, some of Broken Key's melodies feel medieval in scale, like they could be plucked from a Hobbit's lute, except they're played with electronic devices. Broken Key can also hint at being punishingly loud but he's still a little timid to go there full throttle ...

Broken Key all sounds a little amateurish but still intriguing. This half of the release is scatterbrained; the ideas have not been fully thought out in a series. But Broken Key is enduring and more adventurous than Near Earth, and the artist's effort is promising.

All in all, a decent cassette worthy of some summertime airplay.
Listen to and buy the cassette here: http://vwyrdwurd.bandcamp.com/album/93-ep-cold-open-ep
Check out the record label here ---http://www.vwyrdwurd.com/
The Cassette is roughly half an hour long.

--Jack Turnbull

Monday, June 16, 2014

Seven Lies About Girls "The Process Of Weeding Out" c32 (Teen Action)


  S.L.A.G. is back with another ace speaker crippler via- Teen Action Records. "The Process Of Weeding Out" begins it's jaunt with"Your Last Affront", a soaring synth drone with some eerie delayed vocals and a thick humming bass rhythm to match. Influence is vague, but it kind of reminded me of the tamer TG moments until "Screw The Law" came chugging away like a distorted jackhammer. Heavy, blown out guitars(?) are in control, and a pummeling percussive element carries them away in a sack to who knows where, as your speakers are pushed to their limit. You have my attention.
  Side B has a less calculated vibe, and is surely the more eardrum friendly part of the tape for most. Synths squelch and bleep on in circles, weaving between woozy piles of muffled sounds and gated rhythms. All the while a deep rumbling of drum machines and other thuds try and keep up with the pack, until things finally fizzle out. This is an compromised album without any particular set of boundaries, and I think fans of Dead Machines, TG and Yellow Swans will probably really dig this. Limited run, hurry and get one from www.teenactionrecords.com 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

TEEN BRIGADE
"August" & "And Everything After"
(Holy Infinite Freedom Revival)


You know when you be fuckin around on some keyboard or guitar and you be piecing some weird things together and all of a sudden you like "DAMN, THAT SHIT IS TIGHT"? That's what Teen Brigade's tape "August" & "And Everything After" is kinda like! Spacy, Psychedelic melodies flowin between and across other shrympanati melodies! THIS IS GOOD TOSSIN MUSIC! SEX MUZAK! I think it's just one dude, and whoever he is, that dude is off tha MOTHAFUCKIN CHAIN! I was rockin this tape at a late night BBQ and ervrybody kept sayin "THAT SHIT BE GOOD"!

This tape is actually two albums combined into one tape released by Holy Infinite Freedom Revival, a label from Indianapolis! This label seems tight as a shrymp's ass! Check it out @ http://holyinfinitefreedomrevival.bandcamp.com/ !

And you can stream the whole Teen Brigade tape @ http://holyinfinitefreedomrevival.bandcamp.com/album/august-and-everything-after ! But streamin tha digital crizzy ain't nothin like the real tape! SO ORDER ONE FROM THESE BOIZ! PEACE!

-Frank Hurricane

welcome to the crew Frank!!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

OUTER GODS / UNIT CHARGE
Split Cassette


This is a drone noise split cassette that explores black metal themes like creepy Vampire movie sound clips, drop D bass feedback, banshee moans, hypnotizing mutilated tape hiss, classical creepy organ and sonic killer bee swarm emulation.

Dread, anxiety and the absence of harmony are the common ideas presented. Zoned out synth chords infinitely spiral downwards. Twilight descends, hope dissolves within oneself as the sun burns out while simultaneously imploding.

Medieval torture, devil worship, basilica filling organ chords reverberate through count asshole's sinister castle of psychedelic hallucinations. Dissonance reigns supreme. Tides of distortion litter the tremble with evolving, disturbing crescendos.

The mixes here are swampy, but the slow developing compositions surprise with skeleton-siren screams and Sunn amplifier electric guitar zen mushroom trips. At times it can feel a little heavy handed, but it is also a genuine, audacious release. The cassette covers a lot of territory considering it basically never switches chords and ignores rhythm, melody and lyrics. Outer Gods are a little more upfront with their menacing intentions while Unit Charge is more abstract. At times the recorded microphone fuzzing can be like frantic jazz; improvisational spirit is audible behind a cloud of man-bats absorbing the sky.

Roughly forty minutes in length, this is a quality release to reject the contemporary world to. Celebrate your isolation, piss off your roommates, blast some Outer Gods and Unit Charge.

Listen Here: https://outergods.bandcamp.com/album/outer-gods-unit-charge-split
Record Label: http://persistentmidnight.tumblr.com/

--Jack Turnbull

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HUNNIE BUNNIES "Pizza Clown"
(Anonymous Dog)

Someone stumbling upon Hunnie Bunnies in a random basement could be forgiven for assuming this band would be more style than substance, more performance than music. The Johnsons – Mark and Jeff – dress in nightgowns and splatter themselves in green paint before freaking out with fucked up beats on broken equipment and tense little throbs of sound, throwing themselves around and through the audience with little regard for anything but spectacle. This sort of thing has become a kind of trope in the noise scene, with a a whole subset of bands that can be defined more readily by their performance antics than the music that accompanies them (think Contortionist Jazz Exotica, Yohimbe, Sylvester Alone, etc.). And while some of these acts make sounds as compelling as their performances I rarely find myself wishing I had their newest tapes (the aforementioned acts being among those whose sounds absolutely live up to the spectacle).

What separates Hunnie Bunnies from this subculture-within-a-subculture is their emphasis on beats and the ways in which they use rhythm as a major factor in their sounds, no matter how fucked or far out those sounds can be. Anything becomes music if it happens to a beat, right?

These former Boston noise heads reigned as some of the most active members of that city's underground scene for several years before Jeff moved to Philly 2 years ago. Mark stuck around a little longer, curating the Raw Meet noise/performance series that became a major outlet for Boston's noise freaks to get turned on to acts from other similar cultures all down the East Coast. Now Mark has made the move to Philly as well, and the Johnsons are reunited in brotherly love, but they recorded this tape for Peter Negroponte's Anonymous Dog label in Boston's hallowed Whitehaus when they were living apart in May 2012.

This tape illuminates the process by which Hunnie Bunnies get to the point of the sonic and spatial freakout that's become their trademark. The first side focuses on the spacier side of their sound; the interstitial moments when they're gathering up energy for the strange storm they're about to unleash on an eager basement – starting with ambient brushes and tonal throbs into places of sparse percussion and fuzz through distorted vague vocals. Lots of building. Then halfway through side two, everything changes. Where before all the energy had been a tense but sparse arrangement of rattles and hums, suddenly it's as if all that was just making sure all the elements worked before busting them out all at the same time in a cacophonous clusterfuck of raw sonic energy.

With the boys back together in the land of liberty, lord only knows what can be coming next. It's been a while since they've had time to get together and actually get down to business figuring out what they want Hunnie Bunnies to be. Word is they're working on more thoroughly composed pieces and even...songs?! Who knows? No matter what the future holds, this tape stands as a pretty fine document of the inbetweentimes when the boys were living in different cities and getting together every now & then to jam out in their wheelhouse of weird sonic chaos.

ORDER FROM: http://wizardsac.bigcartel.com/

--Conrad Benjamin

Saturday, June 7, 2014

EARTH HEART
"Be Brave, Earth Heart"

Earth Heart is the creative handle for Boston-based singer/songwriter Katie Coriander who is also responsible for the accompanying artwork. On this cassette/EP (her debut release) and others, she is joined by Matt Axten of The Dying Falls on drums.

The first thing I found striking about this tape was the sound which (most likely) comes from a combination of reverb and the way in which it was recorded at EMF in Cambridge, MA. (I have no idea how it was recorded). From the very beginning of the tape when we hear the sounds of setting up (indecipherable dialogue, fumbling with drumsticks, clearing throat, etc.), you can hear an almost measurable distance between the sources of the sounds on the recording. You can hear the distance between the drums and guitar, the mouth and the microphone, the microphone and the floor, the distance between fingers as they form chords, and the guitar itself sounds as if it is powered solely by its own reverb. This gives the songs a particularly spooky feel, especially for something not recorded in Germany in the mid-80s. It’s remarkable how this cassette takes you inside the room where it was recorded, which if it exists at all, is probably in a haunted house.

This intimate and imminent eeriness is accentuated by Coriander’s voice which inspires a very strange, impossible, and splendidly godless image of Nancy Sinatra taking voice lessons from Conor Oberst. Trembling, neurotic, terrified with a touch of psychosis, but delivered with the command of someone who has been substantially lower than she could have previously imagined, and is aware and over the less conventional qualities of her voice and seems to draw confidence from her own vulnerability. This twice-removed terror is made sweet by the subtle but sharp undercurrents of 50s/60s pop in increasingly noticeable as the tape plays on.

Listening closely to the lyrics, you might notice a pattern occurring in Coriander’s storytelling where she seems to pile layers of literal imagery and expression, describing something deeper without ever conceding that there’s anything there at all. The third song, “Mario Brother”, (in addition to showing off some raunchy guitaring) frantically spits an inner-monologue about playing Mario Brothers with her little brother. It is not gimmicky enough to be a song about a video game but not sentimental enough to be a song about a sibling relationship either.

On a similar and possibly directly related note, you sometimes catch a line that might seem a little on-the-nose and takes you out of the moment. However, it is generally accepted by even the most discriminating critics that great songwriters will sometimes use clichés, or what might be interpreted as lazy-imagery, either as filler or because it is truly the most appropriate way of expressing A Thing. We forgive the songwriter when they show that they have other tricks up their sleeves. In this case, Coriander rewards us handsomely. Towards the end of the second song “Frankie Danger” (one of the best on the tape and obviously about some stage of an unwanted pregnancy), she repeats the opening and initially off-putting line “Table for two, even though we’re really dining for three”. But just a single line later we hear “But when tomorrow comes, when it cums (sp?) inside me”, turning-a-phrase so sharply into in offbeat expression of sexuality gone awry that it’s almost captivating.

She empties her sleeves again on the last (and other best) song on the tape, “Fire Song”. The first verse describes a dream in which she buries herself alive then shoots herself upon completion for reasons simultaneously convoluted and completely logical, and which turns out to be a pretty potent combination as dichotomies go. She does one-better in the first chorus (/bridge?) with the somewhat contrived hook (albeit a perfectly executed melody) “I’ve been feeling like something’s been missing for a long, time, now” but she makes the would-be cliché her own in the next line, “And I’m pretty sure I can smell a burning dumpster”.

It’s hard not to be charmed by the dark yet humdrum place that these songs seem to come from – much like the way we consistently (and sometimes reluctantly) tip our hats to anagrams and quips that inadvertently imply negative expectations. You probably wouldn’t want to go to this place, but maybe have a friend pick up something from the gift shop if they’re in the neighborhood, and this tape beats the shit out of a postcard.

This EP is available for free download. Check it out here, along with other releases from Earth Heart:: http://earthheart1.bandcamp.com/album/be-brave-earth-heart

--Travis Long

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MWCHINS "Pasta Straw"
(Friendship Tapes)

MWCHINS : PASTA STRAW
heya, heres a guppie of a tape that goes down crocked!!! mwchins is one man and a few sounds. pasta straw consists of 3 tracks. i think. i guess. its a brief cassette of grambling and garbling and honing...honing all of itself way up into your psyckee. recorded onto cell phones in a few random cities, the tracks are named "repetitions" 1-3. you do indeed get repetitions, yet they do not seemed synched - thus delivering a bit of a dizzy effect unto your whole person. the sounds of a field sobriety test being failed. the insides of an old wooden pail. crumpled up debris on a dogs taint. mwchin rubble is surprisingly great! seek and find via : friendship tapes. (http://friendshiptapes.net/Friendship_Tapes/Friendship_Tapes.html)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tea Factory/Klangberg Split CS (3BS)


 Killer split cassette from two Sydney based sound artists, on the excellent 3BS label (you might recall the fantastic EMC tape from them, not long ago.) 

  Tea Factory owns side A with a massive track loaded with heady zoning and a heaving drone collage. Mysterious and haunting sounds pile atop one another, machine hums and creaking echoes rattle about to no end, as a dense pounding rolls on just below them. A percussive jaunt emerges. This all unravels with ease, and the intensity grows with each metallic swell. No turning back at this point, but why would I? I I like where this is headed.

  Side B belongs to Klangberg, who offers up a run of slithering bass dirge that could cripple some cheap subs. As things slowly open up and begin to make headway, this is reminding me of recent Vainio works, and I'm all over it. Synths squelch and tumble, but never comes a dull moment. Now the skittering begins, eventually brash the tones align to form a thick sustained chord, and a seriously charred melody rises up to take us out. Jump to Klangberg's beautifully howling, tonal caress of Simkop's "Algi", and the head bites the tail. Massively recommended!

Get one from 3BS here. http://3bsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/klangberg-tea-factory