Sunday, December 17, 2017

PLEASURE CURSES "Screens" (Self-Released)

Looking for some music to play in your expensive car, while you drive downtown at night? This is it. You are on your way to a club where they only let the cool people in. What those cool people in that club don't realize is, in your pocket,  you've got this tape from Portland, Oregon duo Pleasure Curses. (What a great name for a band, right?) Once this music goes in the player, the party goes to another level. For about eight minutes. That's how long the tape is.

And just like the great name of this artist, "Screens" can be taken several ways. According to their Bandcamp, this tape is an exploration of how disassociated people have become in the digital age. And that's something I normally could get behind, except that this music is so supercharged with dance energy that I am finding it difficult to concentrate on the high minded concepts they are pitching my way.  I was just now listening for some lyrics I could quote as an example, but I ended up just bobbing my head and admiring the cover art. It's a good looking J-card. Artwork is tight, pulled together, and purposeful, like the music I'm hearing. And for an EP that was started in an abandoned house in Chicago and finished in a blizzard in Portland, I'd say it wound up pretty hot.

-- Gray Lee

Saturday, December 16, 2017

“Local Culture” C26 (Personal Archives)

It’s in the wires, the electricity buzzing from home to home, lighting up the suburbs, homogenizing and pacifying, erasing uniqueness from the American landscape. LOCAL CULTURE is the lament of local culture, an ironically electronic foray by Matthias Timmerman’s Underwater Escape from the Black Hole project. Ironic in its juxtaposition to its subject matter, that is – UEFTHBH doles out release after release of the finest electronics-based tunes, so you should pretty much know what you’re getting into here. Nice to see the release on Personal Archives – a fitting match, and my reaction to the pairing of two great experimentally minded institutions was like, yeah, what’s UP?! Fist pump baby! With my descent into suburban humor complete, it’s almost a shame that you have to listen to me continue to extoll the virtues of LOCAL CULTURE, but you’ll just have to get over yourself just as I have learned to live with the truths of my own reality. Moving on, Timmerman’s work here, to paraphrase his own song titles, crests and breaks like white caps on shore, thick sonic hiss coating the mélange of melody and casting the four tracks in a rich shoegazey glow. Unsurprisingly, the ocean is a popular destination for the landlocked masses to retreat to when the stresses of everyday living become too much to endure. (I should know – I live fifteen minutes from a beach, and it’s absolutely crawling with you goddamn tourists for four months out of the year.) Thus, LOCAL CULTURE becomes an audio retreat from endless development, a medicinal artifact to get lost in beneath headphones when you’ve all but lost the dream that there’s a better place somewhere. UEFTHBH effortlessly folds in pop hooks, too, to save you from disappearing too far down a spiral of self-pity. Somewhat like M83’s best work, LOCAL CULTURE casts UEFTHBH as the hero of your everyday journey, someone you can look to during the darker moments. It may not be actual escape, but it’ll tide you over for a while, maybe provide that spark of imagination or drive that’ll propel you to something more fulfilling.

Underwater Escape from the Black Hole
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, December 15, 2017

(Wiener Records)

Los Angeles’ Forget Me Nauts may well be 2017’s College Radio hit-maker version of Hootie & the Blowfish…y’know, but, like, with an electro-pop anchor…and nuanced experimental explorations...taking a back seat

Both outfits manage(d) to explore a broad range of genres and moods while staying true to their fraternity core; both have an undeniable penchant for hooks and “keeping the vibe going” with straight forward jams (albeit FMN utilizes steady synthesizer melodies a bit more).

I’ve listened to this tape for a week straight now and can’t really tell whether or not I actually like it, but I’m fairly certain that a considerable swath of pop-minded folx will eat this shit up. Is this you? Click the links below to find out.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, December 14, 2017

CHANNELERS "Faces of Love" C40 (Inner Islands)

Inner Islands is well known for deeply zen, mind-clearing, meditational releases, and this release from Channelers,  "Faces of Love" is no exception. I would like to throw around a lot of dreamy terminology about how this music helps you find your inner dimension, the essence of peace floating on a calm ocean of tranquility, but instead, I would like to focus on how analog this music sounds. The warmth and stillness of this recording nears something sacred.  It evokes wide open spaces filled with natural light, and one could uses it to prepare for sleep, or to prepare to truly awaken. 

Side A is called "Always Been" and it's twenty minutes of harmonium infused bliss. Side B, entitled "Pressure Sigh," blesses you with minimal notes from a bright and shining piano, each utterance fading into the distance for so long that the next note surprises you with its arrival. The two sidelong pieces compliment each other perfectly

Presented for you in a pro-dubbed chrome tape, white cassette with black print on both sides, and a three-panel J-card. Edition of seventy-five.

-- Gray Lee

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

GALAXIE DELUXE “IV” C30 (OJC Recordings)

The question, “Are you Team Rigel Magellan or Team Ropal Jagnu” used to eat at us just like choosing either the Beatles or the Stones did in the 1960s. I never felt comfortable aligning myself to one band or the other – why couldn’t they just make music together and give everybody what they really wanted? But there was never the possibility that Paul would jam with Keith or Mick would rock out with John. It was a foolish dream that ended long before I was even born. Now, as we’re rolling through the late twenty-teens, I’m faced with the OJC Recordings version of that conundrum: Am I a Rigel Magellan or a Ropal Jagnu man? The question is all but tearing me apart inside. Fortunately for all of you afflicted in the same way that I am, I have good news – the mail has foretold of a cassette tape project where the problem is resolved in such a satisfying manner that you’ll say “Beatles who?” and “Rolling … Bears?” once you wrap your ears around this pretty little nugget. See, Rigel Magellan and Ropal Jagnu have made my dreams come true as Galaxie Deluxe, their own supergroup, thereby allowing me to forego any terrible choice that almost certainly would end in Solomonic baby-halving (which didn’t actually happen, so … chill). Huh? This is their FOURTH go-round as the GD quirkadelic lo-fi mavens, GD? That would explain the title, IV, and also the fact that I wasn’t really as worked up as I pretended to be above. Also, it’s hard to stay tense when the Galaxie Deluxe gang is so obviously having such a blast working together. Utilizing their trademark synthesizers, drum machines, and skewed take on melody (think the Haord crew as a potential contemporary match), Rigel and Ropal lurch through a nine-song repertoire recorded with the fidelity low and the atmosphere high. Their approach is sort of “Monster Mash” run through video games and dub, with obscured, bizarre vocals narrating the proceedings. The song “How’d They Get a Sound So Big?” is sort of the project’s overarching mystery, as they somehow build thick swaths of atmosphere from obviously chintzy equipment (or maybe it’s not, but the effect is right on). Still, hard not to have a good time with Galaxie Deluxe, some incense, and a blacklight. This is the exact tape I wish I had in college, and I’m still in a position to enjoy it. Now if I could only figure out this resurrection spell, I’d have Ringo back among us and playing with the remaining Stones right now. (Wait, Ringo’s not one of the dead ones? Oh boy…)

OJC Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“Regeneration Blues vol. 1” (Orb Tapes)

If you’ve ever spent a rainy day inside admiring the sweet twang of your Dobro, thinking lovingly of your trusty blender, and struggling to find a way to combine your passions, furrow your brow in frustration no longer! Teuthis Galore presents Regeneration Blues vol. 1, a collection of two chopped and obliterated blues samples dragged to hell and left there. Regeneration Blues is just the latest release on Pennsylvania-based Orb Tapes by the ever-prolific Teuthis Galore, and is also the artist’s second feature on Cassette Gods.

Both tracks follow a similar formula: a lurching blues loop of indeterminate origin dives further and further into noisy, tape-manipulated insanity until it is only vaguely reminiscent of the lick that opened the song. All at once, near the end of each side’s ten-minute run time, the trip ends, the noise subsides, and the jittery sample briefly reemerges before disappearing altogether.

Certainly not for the faint of heart, Regeneration Blues vol. 1 is an interesting deconstruction of blues music akin to Steve Reich’s early work and Henry Flynt’s merging of “hillbilly” folk instrumentation with experimental tape fuckery. Robert Johnson’s inverted portrait appropriately graces the cover and serves as Teuthis Galore’s foreboding statement to all who dare to enter this Delta death hole.

Orb Tapes FB
Orb Tapes Bandcamp
Teuthis Galore Bandcamp

--Brandon Spaulding

Monday, December 11, 2017

C60 (Antiquated Future)

"Lady Hope" rounds out a trilogy of bleak, handcrafted releases by Seattle artist Tucker Theodore, the first of which was 2013's "To make the Sun Hurt" which was an acoustic album with some noise augmentations. Next was 2014"s "Kill and Dress," which was a little darker and a good bit noisier.

This album ends the story. It is the cassette that investigators discover jutting from the tape deck in a burned out car and send to forensics for testing. What is heard on the recording is the remains of a truly heartfelt expression, but where there was once a singer/songwriter, strumming a guitar slowly and singing about lost love or lost life, now the ravages of time and heartbreak have washed over his song, and have begun to even corrode the very tape that he recorded on, until an oxidized shell of brittle burnt metal, and the cinders of a well worn guitar are all that is found among the charred ashes.

I would like to know what the protagonist in the story is going through, but I do not believe we are meant to. Tucker Theodore has painted himself a shadowy figure, staring out at us in his muscle shirt, daring us to know him. We cannot. For at every opportunity, he is obscured further, until he is no longer there. That is what makes this hour-long dirge stirring, and yet indiscernible, moving, yet distant. "Lady Hope" is a beautifully sad love letter, crumpled and set alight in a rusted oil barrel full of bent nails.

Presented for you in a white cassette with black stamping. Includes a download card.

-- Gray Lee

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Acid Owl" C44
(Grabbing Clouds Records & Tapes)

Patrick R. Pärk (aka Kösmonauten) may very well Dream tangentially Tangerinian on the nightly, but his Life Education project finds him letting in a little room for 3 or so monkish Spacepersons to (spiritually) jam out an internal centering, eschewing the asteroid-wayward, cosmic narrative for a celebration of microcosmic breaths, in and out, of mind; the effect is a molasses-slow’d interpretation of ritualistic spacecult communion

Perfect for all times not including “work hours”, Acid Owl lays the groundwork for pulling the ground, and work, out of today, leaving, instead, a seaweed-swaying sense of time and connection to the Great Pulse, which, for me, has inspired increased productivity in my personal pursuits. Take all I say with a grain of salt, but I’m fairly sure that if you give this album in its entirety two loud plays, you’ll find yourself wanting to either Get Shit Done (artistically) or simply feel a little more calm, without necessarily feeling “dulled”. Check it out via the link below, with good headphones or bass-heavy speakers. ☺

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, December 8, 2017

“Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy”
(Friendship Tapes)

Free jazz in the spirit of lo-fi punk, with tape manipulations. Raw and clangorous. The liner notes suggest a sort of new age psychiatry vibe. In fact, the deluxe handmade packaging somewhat outshines the recordings, between the funny enigmatic liner notes and a hodge-podge of imagery that defies expectations. The strange photo of an assembled plate of food on the edge of a sink is a nice corollary to the music, because they both strike me as documents of raw living. I look at the photo and – through the haze of human experience that separates me from the artist – I see a moment in Andy Allen’s life, his creative process, his prepared meal. Maybe it was delicious, maybe it was gross, but it was definitely the real raw-dog deal. The excitement involved in seeing that red plate of food perched at the edge of the sink is a natural equivalent to making “music for prescribed proportions w/ flexible content” out of bleating woodwinds and fast-forwarding cassette machines. Testify!

-- Kevin Oliver

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MICHAEL POTTER “Garden Portal Almanac”
C37 (Already Dead)

Mine eyes have seen the glory. Interacting with Michael Potter online has clouded what I expect Michael Potter on tape to sound like. The musician, based in Athens, Georgia, enjoys a wide array of experimental cassette releases (hey, like me!), so I figured he was going to dive in the deep end of sonic chaos with some crazily modulated and processed noise release. Well, I was right about one thing – he’s in the deep end, paddling effortlessly around like an unholy hybrid of Matt Biondi and Mark Spitz, masters in this metaphor of their chosen profession, but the sonic chaos I expected out of Potter was of a completely different variety. Not the noisenik of my imagination, Potter instead tackles two of my greatest loves, prog and krautrock, excelling way beyond any reasonable expectation and making my fucking day right there and then.

I mean, he’s got a whole band with him, and they’re so cohesive, the interplay so organic that I couldn’t even write anything right away because I had to shield my eyes from GARDEN PORTAL ALMANAC, such was its splendor (that’s also a metaphor – I was listening to, not looking at, GARDEN PORTAL ALMANAC). You like hyperbole? I feel like I’m filled with it right now. That’s what happens when you get hyped by something like “What Makes You Happy,” its build, triumphant, galloping toward complete harmonic tension before guitar pyrotechnics explode into the night sky and Potter’s guitar face threatens to consume us all. And this is all in the first track alone. I can’t even believe there are five more of these things.

“Can One Make Two” will satisfy every kraut craving you will ever have (except the sauer kind, and who likes that garbage anyway?), its motorik rhythm racing to outpace every instrument chasing it. The bass keeps up, lithe, athletic, while guitar and synth color and texturize the landscape, bursting and blooming anew with each passing second. Jeff Tobias’s mercurial saxophone is more than just icing on this masterpiece, it adds an intensity that completes the track in a way that leaves me stupid with word neglect and remembering problems. Plow me over again, “Can One Make Two.” Double, triple rewind.

The middle passage is a bit more ruminative, led by “Garden Portal Lullaby,” a rich, shimmery acoustic track that of course ends on spaced-out laser melodies that would’ve made the Verve blush in 1995. And I’ve heard a bunch of versions of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” and “Sleepwalker” takes the cake. Dear David Lynch… Anyway, end on a high note with “Days Go Fast” and “Get Out,” each crushed by the power of the band, blistering supernova hot like a Trans Am/Pontiak hybrid, pistons firing effortlessly with sheer authority – and talk about your car bands! Dare we add Maserati to the mix? Totally wouldn’t be out of place.

I think it’s pretty clear what the next step is – buy one of these pups from Already Dead, like you haven’t already or something. Buy another one. Give it away. Give them all good homes. Make those good homes better ones.

Michael Potter
Already Dead

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

PAUL CARR “Big Carsey” / “I’m Not Fantasy Man” C5 (Build Music)

I’m so dumb! This is so great. Paul Carr talks things and says words and his guitar cabo boings against beats like they don’t even know or don’t want to. Why is David Bowie talking to me from beyond the grave? And the real question – is everyone with a British accent David Bowie? – haunts my experience of this here now section of timeline. The answer lies in my understanding of what even “is” is, and it’s not an easy question to answer. I’m seasick but grounded, like I’m eating ice cream off the pavement and everyone is ignoring me because they’ve seen it all already. I’m not fantasy man either! I don’t even know what that means, but the worst part of it is that it means something because I’m denying it with my dying breath. The pulse of “Big Carsey” is my heartbeat, but it makes me crazy, I’m freaking out man, like Garth in Wayne’s World, also of ice cream eating fame, or at least talking about ice cream flavors, where villains are flavored “pralines and dick,” but I can’t tell who’s against me here. My eyes are pried open and I’m forced to watch weird stuff with Paul Carr in the background. I’m probably gonna spew. If I’m gonna spew, I better spew into this. Paul Carr is a winner with a winning personality, remember that or face the deadly consequences.

Paul Carr
Build Music

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

(Skin Trade Recordings)

Atonal blackness envelops, night rife with existential danger. Caustic machinations manipulated for maximum terror haunt rather than emanate from stereo speakers, their psychic dread lasting long after the final tone is sounded. These cosmic nightmarescapes are augmented with horrifying vocalizations, communications from the very darkest pockets of existence, universes where decay and destruction mask the demonic inhabitants. The sounds resolve themselves in pulses of charred oblivion.

And that’s just the Actuary side! In somewhat of a reversal of what I’ve just described, Actuary has this message of gratitude on the inside of the j-card: “To those who struggle but get it done anyways.” Actuary gets it done, but the sound is the sound of struggle, difficult to hear and digest. But that’s the point. At any rate, “Possessing Power” is one of the coolest noise tracks I’ve heard in a while. It’s harsh but it’s surprisingly listenable as I recline in the jaws of an irate hellhound.

Seamstress does not let up on the unholy racket, plowing through the single track on side B, “Carbon Silhouette,” like their hair was on fire, or their gear, or the ground upon which they walk. Hallucinating the entire way through the side, Seamstress doles out harsh trip after harsh trip, magnifying the darkness inherent in the shadow of the silhouette cast. A nice counterpoint to Actuary, Seamstress plays music that’s the equivalent of a lava lamp filled with black liquid buoying black bubbles of a slightly different blackness. This whole thing’s a harrowing experience. It’s great to dig into.

Skin Trade Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, December 4, 2017

FUCHS & BECKETT “#fadbdd Vol. 1” C40 (Litho)

There’s no way to divorce the music from the story. A man named Martin Ermisch passed away at 91, leaving a collection of reel-to-reel tapes to Fuchs, his neighbor, in 2015. The tapes had belonged to Ermisch’s son, Bernd Jürgen, a musician and studio owner who had sadly predeceased Ermisch in the 1990s. Not willing to let such a treasure trove go to waste, Fuchs enlisted Beckett, of Fuchs & Beckett fame (get it?), to go through the tapes and see what they could do with them. Among their discoveries were tracks recorded at Jürgen’s studio, and also “recordings of family events, fieldrecordings[, and] radio broadcasts.” The duo then “destructively edited” the recordings, a term so descriptive that I’ve fallen in love with it, and rearranged and processed the results for this here tape.

That’s the story – let’s delve into this thing, shall we? The first thing that comes to mind is Leyland Kirby’s Caretaker work, the ghostly samples of an obscured past haunting the present, casting a long shadow over legacy and personality alike. One can’t help but wonder how these recordings affected Ermisch and Jürgen, and Fuchs & Beckett handle them (despite the destructive editing) with care, ensuring that the decomposition of the sounds were captured for maximum emotional response. In doing so, the memory of the two men is kept alive in a reverent way, and as the repurposed sounds trigger universal cues, they prove that the archive kept for years by two different people can be dispersed over a wider audience who can relate quite easily to it. Even the 19-minute ambient track “Hahallelujah” is enveloping and inviting, piped in as it seems from another dimension. This makes me wonder if Ermisch and Jürgen are peeking in on us from the great beyond, checking up on what Fuchs & Beckett got themselves into with their material. Fortunately for our late benefactors, they’ve got nothing to worry about. The sounds are in good hands.


--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, December 3, 2017

M A L I B L U E :( “failure” (Adhesive Sounds)

That’s a thick black cloud that’s encasing this release, a surprise given that m a l i b l u e :( usually traffics in somewhat brighter fare. This time, though, the vaporwave artist embraces the clustering darkness (forever) of “life under late capitalism,” a freakishly weird time to be alive for all of us. Not hard to see what direction m a l i b l u e :(‘s headed this time around, as a quick glance at the track titles will give you all the indication that you need: “disappointment,” “fear,” “i'm so sorry,” “no hope” … should I go on? This tape’s called FAILURE after all, as if any attempt at course correction is bound to end up miserably for those who try, and even more miserably for those who are just caught up in it. Gross. Gross! But fortunately for us listeners, tragedy and encroaching doom make for pretty great artistic statements, and FAILURE in that regard is a total triumph. Forget for a second the wars, the famine, the environmental catastrophes, the unchecked rise of big business, the social injustice – there’s some great music to be gleaned from it! … Wow, that was almost too cynical to type, and it’s left an awful taste in my mouth. Don’t think I’d reduce the importance of any of that for a second. Still, if something like FAILURE is going to get you off your keister and into any kind of position to help others, it has proved its worth and met its intentions. And it really is damn listenable, I wasn’t kidding about that – where the cynic in me sees only a hedonistic future of music in catastrophe and the stone-faced crusader sees it as a means to rise above, it’s really somewhere in the middle, and that’s where it has to be sometimes to be the most effective. And it’s great that artists like m a l i b l u e :( can deliver so effectively – FAILURE’s a plunderphonic masterwork, vaporwave for the internally conflicted, charting an ear candy course through pop, trip hop, experimental electronics, shoegaze, softcore, dub, etc., a living, breathing concoction from a genre that often loses the “living” and “breathing” in execution. In one fell swoop, m a l i b l u e :( makes up for all of that with FAILURE.

m a l i b l u e : (
Adhesive Sounds

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"On My Mind/Pumpkin" C6

Dude, there’s “lo-fi”, and there’s “six-fucking-feet-below-fi”; guess which camp LMA belongs to. And it’s almost a shame how goddamn terrible this two song “cassingle” is, in comparison to the full “demos” album that’s available on the bandcamp site. The quality of the (already EQ limited) mix translated to tape is just fucking awful. It’s all relative, right? I mean, the “demos versions” available online are so goddamn great, as well as all the equally gripping (maybe even more interesting?) vignettes and weirdo-omages going on that I feel kinda cheated that I didn’t just get the demos. LMA, if you ever go back in time, please send me the full DEMOS collection! Luckily, the I’m blissing out to the “One Bird Demos” instead and wanting more!

Shit! I forgot to review the tape, I was so busy complaining! Queso, Lifemusik Mit Andre is some serious bedroom lofi cheese-core jamz-kicker. He gots that non-stop 80’s backing karaoke drum tracks, nostalgic My First Casio melodies (intentionally. I’m fairly certain this was done on a decent modular synth) and unapologetically loose, gritty croonery (deep baritones and some buried falsetto), and grooving keyboard basslines that just don’t let up.

Be thankful you’ll never come across this cassingle (it’s not for sale, anyway), and be so thankful that you can hear it all on bandcamp. Strap on some headphones and grab a Capri-Sun!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, December 1, 2017

“Concrete Colored Paint”
(Several Minor Promises)

While this review risks becoming white noise amid the unrelenting whirlwind of positive GeAr praise, it might behoove us to get down to the elemental nature of the mysterious California weirdos and remind ourselves what’s so great about them in the first place. The elemental nature. Because I can’t just say “GeAr = good” and move on, even though I’m tempted to do that what with the jaw agape and the drool puddling in front of me as “Concrete Colored Paint” plays on my stereo. Typing is hard in this state.

Item number 1: festering synthesizer and/or guitar work. You might think of the term “festering” and be immediately turned off, but German Army isn’t food and musical instruments don’t smell funny unless they’ve caught on fire somehow, so … get over it. No, the sound is molten, uneasy, slippery, hard to pin down when it’s bubbling like a lava flow one minute and pixilating in a hyperspace starburst the next.

Item number 2: rhythm in the bones. German Army has two settings, dub and tribal, and they use both to great effect, creating an industrialized crawl that pulses through the night and forms the backbone of their writhing tracks. While listening to “Zozobra” I realized that I have not nodded my head like that since Busta Rhymes dropped “Woo Ha!” like a million years ago. (“Zozobra” should not be confused with “Woo Ha!”)

Item number 3: dark, gripping soundscapes. Every moment is a harrowing one for German Army, doesn’t matter if it’s a film soundtrack moment like “Night Convict,” a tense nocturnal video game atmosphere like “Every Hole Dug,” or an ambient denouement like “Landowner.” Expect the tunes to be sharp and dangerous, sly creatures that penetrate your being and wriggle around inside your mind until you’re mad as Sam Neill in Event Horizon.

Did I just reference Event Horizon? Probably. All this to say, “Concrete Colored Paint” is a complete distillation of everything that makes German Army a great act, and while you’d think their intense release schedule might cause some dilution of the old creativity reservoir, you’d be wrong. “CCP” is one of the best GeAr releases in recent memory, and that’s saying something among all the quality tunage. From start to finish it sinks its long, needle-like claws in the base of your brain stem and manipulates your every function. It practically commands you to play it a second time once it ends. “Concrete Colored Paint” is just that persuasive, that compelling. It might even make you do things you don’t want to do, like build altars to weird gods and chanting all night to them in supplication.

Who said cult? They’re probably a cult. A doomsday cult, where the world ends as the result of a time disruption that winks it out of existence before it’s even formed. Too bad GeAr’s music’ll disappear with the rest of us.

German Army
Several Minor Promises

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, November 30, 2017

(Black Bug Records)

Talk about enthusiasm! Ridiculous band name aside, Nunofyrbeeswax are an eager couple of whippersnappers from Berlin who play “a bunch of pop songs as raw as their hearts in a minimal set up,” and boy, I’m just getting the cutesy garage feels from these two. I mean, sure, there are definite post punk undertones, but this is way more fun than huddling under that scene’s dour blanket of misery. They hew way more toward the new wave side of things, a dank combination of fifties throwback jangle and proto-indie wobble. “Pop Your Heart” even reminds me a little bit of Komeda, actually, the Swedish mod band whose “Boogie Woogie/Rock’n’Roll” appeared on a million mixtapes I made twenty years ago. And while Nunofyrbeeswax plays much more raw and unrestrained tunes, they’re still a lot tighter than maybe you’d expect them to be. Davide and Angela (and whoever else plays with them) sometimes come off as a goofier Boss Hog, especially on “Outrageous,” where the groove’ll get those hips wiggling faster than you can say “Winn Coma.” Even on the slurring indie of “Rhino” and the somehow seven minutes of “How to Handle a Non-Audience,” Nunofyrbeeswax never loses their winning charm or boundless energy. In fact, they seem to have vast reservoirs of each at their disposal. And it sure doesn’t hurt that the songs, all in English, are sung with the most adorable German accents you’re ever going to hear. In fact, it totally makes up for the band name – you can forgive the fact that the idiom’s not the most interesting or, dare I say, cool. But that’s OK, that’s part of the charm! You’ll be too busy having a blast to care anyway, what with all these great tunes. And that’s your beeswax and your beeswax alone – not anybody else’s.

Black Bug Records

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

(What’s for Breakfast? Records)

This is some p dope punk rock and really the only kind I’ve ever known anything about unless you count Green Day, who is my favorite band in the world and nothing like this. But that doesn’t matter cuz why would you even want to be compared to Green Day when you are making this kind of music? Prolly you wouldn’t. Or maybe you only like Green Day’s early stuff in which case maybe you wouldn’t mind. Still this tape has nothing to do with Green Day. Bleeders is doing it right. Doing a good job. Pat them on the back next time you see them and say Good job Bleeders I believe in you and I understand your vision. Their mind is in the right place and they sing about cool things like aunts that you love even though everyone else hates them. They also sing about things that are not cool at all but are good to sing about. Like when people misbehave in unforgivable ways and how it’s important to tell them to eff off and that what they have done is wrong and it would be better for everyone if they changed their ways right now by owning up and begging forgiveness. Punk rock has always been a really great way to say these kinds of things, which is probably why people invented it. In direct opposition to all that is evil. There’s lots of diff kinds of punk these days and Bleeders is the best kind, the early kind, the original kind, the kind that everyone thinks abt whenever u hear the words punk rock. I’ve never known about Bleeders before now and yet they make me feel v nostalgic for the punks of yesteryear and happy to know that they have begat the punks of today who drive their legacy forward through the dark and treacherous times.

-Ricky Lemonseed

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

SAINTES "Melancholia" (Crash Symbols)

Straight outta France, crazy synth-wave named Saintes.
Sophmore album, lo-fi dark winter Anne paints.
Sorry, I don't rap well. Melancholia is Saintes second album, released May 12th of 2017.
It's pretty straight up lo-fi bedroom pop, lots of synth action going on.
Similair to bands like Rainbow Edition or Purgatory, Saintes carves out their sound by doing things their own way.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Monday, November 27, 2017

C40 (Hylé Tapes)

Looking back on a year ago is the equivalent of reliving a painful psychological beating, and every time I think about something it’s like I’m poking at a bruise. So why is it, then, that Matthias Puech’s A YEAR OF TIME actually forces me to attempt to make peace with the past year instead of continuing to grumble about it? That’s not to say I should reduce the social and political turmoil we’ve all gritted through to mere afterthoughts – anaesthetizing that part of my brain would be foolish. Instead, I think, Puech’s given us A YEAR OF TIME as a form of reset, to meditate the bad vibes away and refresh our outlook before it gets irrevocably coated in psychic grime.

The Paris-based Puech, a “synth designer, programmer, teacher, and researcher” beyond his forays as a musician, splits this tape into four 10-minute “seasons,” with “Spring” and “Summer” on side A and “Fall” and “Winter” wrapping up the tape on side B. Each passage approximates its season in some way: “Spring” mimics melting water and birdsound; “Summer” imagines glacial pools and intensifying heat; “Fall” betrays the emotional ups and downs accompanying the shift in temperature and temperament; and “Winter,” like “Summer,” takes a placid approach but with a more downtrodden tone, broken at times by static blasts that play like icy wind gusts. Each track is an immersive experience, as if you’re transported to the best memory you have of that particular season and are encouraged to relive it repeatedly until the track ends and you transition into the next season. The pacing is gradual and deliberate, forcing you to stop what you’re doing and think about the passage of time in terms of a bigger picture, one where you’re not the most important thing on the face of the planet. That perspective should serve all of us well, as the less inclined we are to be selfish, the better everybody’s situation is bound to be.

I could list all the awful junk that’s transpired over the past “year of time,” but it’ll just serve as a reminder of despair and hopelessness. That’s not what you want from me, and that’s not what you get from Matthias Puech. Instead, this tape is a great reminder of the power of introspection and personal healing, getting yourself right before you can truly and convincingly assist others in struggles for justice and peace. These synth excursions exhibit medicinal properties, filling your ears and mind with righteous vibes and good intentions. Internalize that, then point it outward. Let’s make the next “year in time” a whole lot better than the last one.

Matthias Puech
Hylé Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, November 26, 2017

BUCKET BRIGADE “Mnemosyne” (Love All Day)

Bucket Brigade brings a slew of modular synth tracks for “Mnemosyne” - each demonstrating one to a few instances of continuously moving modular creations over the span of a couple minutes. Like with most modular music there’s not really a particular lead line highlighting the track rather than an ooze of moving synth patches always slightly changing form, pattern, and sequence but retaining their general timbre. The opening track is pretty and lighthearted, and the tape itself makes for some smooth background electronica that you can choose whether or not to get lost in.

--Lucas Martinez

Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Faith In the Unknown" C30
(Superdreamer Records)

Cowtown’s own Aaron Troyer has a heavy hand in several rockin’ acts near his collegiate Ohioan metropolis (Day Creeper, Pink Owl), but this here tape showcases a slick compilation of some past seven years’ worth of his solo compositions alone. Here, you’ll gleefully soak up some unapologetic influences of the Kinks and Television, as well as a few nods to the Boss, the Clash, and even U2. Incredible bass lines and on-point mixing make this a pretty sweet half hour’s worth of nostalgiarbation; so crank up the jambox and maybe invite your uncle who sometimes parties a li’l too hard. The feeling that y’all should be singing along to these ne’r-heard-before jams will feel surreal enough to spring for some WAFFLE HOUSE hash browns at dawn.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Marjoram" C25

A Michigander and Tokyo-gander met via Soundcloud, decided to collaborate, and made electronic pop songs that would fit on popular radio stations worldwide. Their bandcamp page includes a “librarycore” tag, which was a first for me. So, here’s the thing: instead of my telling you about my opinion* of their music (aka “doing my job”), I am electing to, instead, strongly urge you to forego the bandcamp link/listening aspect of this project and rather just open up your heart and mind to these folx as individual, incredibly brilliant, creative human beings who have a rad cartoon project on their hands. Their dream needs more exposure, and it’s one I can really get behind, so please thoroughly explore the second and third links provided below and ask yourself if you don’t want to see this awesomeness bear fruit!

*not favorable in the least, honestly. Yes, I’m a heartless bastard sometimes.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Personal Voyage" C90
(Maple Death Records)

Blak Saagan invites us all to explore the universe with him on Comet 67P. In space, of course, there is no sound, but there is in your space suit, right? Samuele Gottardello uses analog synth and a drum machine to create the soundtrack to an eternal journey. Throughout much of the journey there is little action, allowing time for introspection. Not entirely enveloped by the sound, you watch planetary bodies slowly drift in the distance. Light bends around Jupiter as you are slowly drawn by the gravitational current. You stop on one of Saturn's many moons, Enceladus. Do we hear footsteps here, or dripping water? The drums flow in and out from rhythm to texture and back. Synth lines are slowly layered upon one another and as you stare deeper into the void, bodies become more defined. You begin to realize that there may be no end to your journey, that you may be forever hopping planets and navigating between stars. Forever hoping to discover...

The audio contained is wondrous, calling to mind the likes of Silver Apples or Cluster, at times the propulsive melodies of chiptune games and at others the boogeyman boogie of Angelo Badalamenti or Barry Adamson. The cover art is perfect for the sounds and ideas contained, but as you can see the tape has some annoying flaws. The screws are on the B-side, but at least they labeled it. I may play screws first in the future anyway because they hit my biggest peeve: a short A-side b/w a full B-side. I hate to have to fast-forward through 8 minutes of blank tape at the end of my A. It does come with a download code to bypass this issue. Other than that this is a solid release.

--Ben Myers

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"Like A Fountain Stirred" C38
(Dead Language Records)

Mercy Choir takes a page out of the Castanets’ playbook on “How to Darkamify an Indie-Folk Song” & adds a healthy sprinkling of showtunesiness, making “Like A Fountain Stirred” its very own, stand-alone beast to be reckoned with. While the songs hang loosely from a pop’s tried & true scaffoldings, a whole host of careful arrangements, lush orchestration, various tempo/rhythm changes, consonant/dissonant shifts & layered male/female vocals make this a serious, psychedelic study in pop music, & well worth repeated listens to hunt down all those subtle sonic details.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, November 20, 2017

"Love Do Your Worst To Me"
(self released)

Us Presidents are a band from Denton Texas. Denton Texas is a very notable place, not as popular as Nashville, or seattle, or LA. However many great acts have come out of Denton; Roy Orbison, The Marked Men, Neon Indian, and The Riverboat Gamblers just to name a few. So, I had very high expectations before I even removed the shrink wrap from this album.

Clean guitars, drawn out vocals lines and a synth are the key sonic elements defining this album.
Rhyming ideas [i-de-ers] with fears in Moon Ship made me laugh out loud, 
and not in the 'your joke sucked but I want to validate you' kind of way, more like the I snorted while I snickered kind of way. I really enjoyed "Things You Do", it's a bass line driven pop song, with a nice catchy riff, the kind of song you can hum along to. Another catchy track is Master Magician, the vocals have kind of a King Gizzard feel, its real short though, and rewinding sucks (it also is a big factor in reducing the life of your cassette), so check out the bandcamp link at the end of this post.

Four panel color J-card with light blue colored cassette, pad printed and shrinkwrapped.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Stereochronic" C30
(Punkadelia Records)

If you were just pleasantly wondering what a shoegaze band out of Norfolk, Virginia might sound like, I have good news for you; pleasant news, even. “You’re Jovian” fit the bill. Yes, one jangly rhythm guitar trades spotlights with another more heavily pedal’d lead guitar while a confident bass player & lively drummer pleasantly hold down the fort. Since any semblance of diction in this genre was banned around four decades ago (opinions aren’t guaranteed to be pleasant), YJ dutifully obey The Recipe, both burying their vocals in the mix AND running them through every reverb pedal they could find. The result is, as you’d imagine, pleasant; straight up pleasant. Barring the requisite dissonance of wah-and/or-phaser-drowned solos planted throughout, this release, along with pretty much every other decent shoegaze band worth its salt(y tears) would fit perfectly, pleasantly & innocuously into the background of a low-key picnic or family gathering, letting all within earshot either mildly sway along or attempt to ignore (and subsequently, subconsciously mildly sway along) with the vibes. Give a listen via the link below. You might be pleasantly surprised.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Lizard Brain Decision" C32
(Audacious Art Experiment)

Say what you will about the pop song (unimaginative, simple, predictable), but to even attempt to write half an hour’s worth of three chord songs with lyrics that aren’t absolutely miserable pap is, well, HARD WORK, and to do it in six days is pretty goddamn insane. Joe Ashe of Sheffield, UK manages to not only pull this off, the writing within 6 days, but PLAYING all the instruments AND recording it all, as well! But here’s the kicker…IT’S NOT JUST POP! In fact, though built around the garage rock aesthetic, Sleep Terminal steps it up with intricately arranged movements, creative, nuanced feedback, noise loops, and a mélange of effects that I can’t possibly imagine he had in his brain while cranking this beastly mess (and by “mess” I mean “incredibly tightly executed wall-of-death sound”) in less than a week’s time. It takes most bands YEARS to churn out this kind of quality…and, really, the majority don’t ever achieve the half-way mark (however the fuck one measures that). I’m bowled over, and, as you can maybe tell by now, a li’l jealous of JA’s skills. I wonder if his amygdala didn’t take a time out on its fear-watch to lend a helping hand in bridging the left and right brain for 144 hours so they could expertly, automatically churn this puppy out. As far as I’m concerned, witchcraft is at play here.

If you like psychy garage-rock, or simply want to admire songcraft on the fly, this release ought to blow your goddamn mind. Listen loudly!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Genushenka" C55
(Shadowtrash Tape Group)

If someone on the street hands you a brand new Fidelity Astro tape, you keep it. You put it in your breast pocket and walk carefully but immediately towards your most trusted tape deck back home and you wonder what the themes on the tape will be. You know they’ll have a hip-hop beat behind them, and some kind of easy listening vibe, sure, but will there be ambient soundscapes on this one, or will it have remixed devotional singing soundbites? Or both? Will it be jazzy, romantic, or new agey? Will there be field recordings of local birds or city noise? That there will be loops upon loops of relative chillness is for certain, but what qualities will they possess? What instrumentation? What pilfered pre-existences will get new life breathed into them? Through each release, quality has been the only consistency, and that’s one hell of a trick to pull off in a world of “I farted into a microphone and dubbed thirty copies!” May we all aspire to be so concerted in our craft.

This particular artifact contains (per Shadowtrash Tape Group’s website):
“a tribute to '70s lounges, scratching, breakups,
new love, gospel wisdom, and actress gena rowlands.
sad beats and victory anthems for late nights.”

I couldn’t agree more.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, November 16, 2017

RUBELLA "The Pit" C30 (Self-Released)

If you’re creepy and you know it, clap your hands! If you’re creepy and you know it, clap your hands and re-fucking-joice!

Rubella are from Lakewood, OH, which is pretty much Marilyn Manson’s backyard, as far as the rest of the USA is concerned, and, as far as I’m concerned, this secretive band (how many members?) may as well share the same eyeliner/sweat-smattered keyboard stands. Either way, this is some gritty, noisy, pitch-black synth-punk that’s well worth a rumple-faced nodding along to. My guess’d be that there’s just a drummer and a singer playing bass and lead synths, but I could be wrong. What I’m fairly sure of is that this has got to be one hell of a live show! If Ohio is good for anything, it’s the art of celebrating the dismal. Want proof? Check out the tongue-in-pale-cheek videos on their blogspot below! “Life in general is suffering”, indeed. ☺

Keep this shit up!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Oh, have we got some goodies for you today, kids. Just in time for your pre-Harvest stockup comes an Autumn cornucopia of sonic wonderment from our friends over at Tymbal Tapes. Label honcho Scott Scholtz has three of his thumbs in as many delicious pies, and he’s served them up hot and delicious for your autumn enjoyment. Come for the promise of wonderful music, stay for the swell artwork by Tiny Little Hammers and a bunch of unrelated metaphors.


Drone at me, little synthesizer, and I will be enthralled until your sound ends. Valle De Galgos do more than that of course – harmonium is a key ingredient, as are field recordings and … voice? – but the building blocks are irrelevant once you’re in the middle of it all. The project, a newly formed duo consisting of Argentine sound artists Atilio Sanchez and Pablo Picco, hit all the philosophical touchpoints you’d ever want in an ambient release. Buildings? Check. The sea? Check. Geometrical shapes? Check. Outer space transmissions? Check. Inner voices? Check. Ghost dimensions? Check. Anything else? Check, but you have to let your imagination run with it. Mine went to what I know about Patagonia (which is very little, sadly) and conjured rocky shores at the southernmost tip, where you’re just a hop, skip, and a journey stowed away on an icebreaker from Antarctica. Fitting that seabirds make an appearance on “En camino a Calera”? Probably. It helped with my visualizations anyway. Regardless, once the initial chord of “Florence Westfalia / Tierra de Nilivilves” began to stretch and the harmonies began to augment it, I was hooked, even when it decayed into static. Guide me, little synthesizer (and other stuff). Guide me.


I had the idea to just make the review of this tape a laughy emoji, but then I asked myself, what am I, some Pitchfork staff jagoff from 2002? I most certainly am not. I do, however, get a chuckle whenever I see Terry Crews’s face – that dude is so self-aware, it’s amazing. And when I read the description of “Wow This Beard,” I nearly doubled over in an intense guffaw. “Wow This Beard” is a plunderphonic exercise whereby normally reliably ambient maestro Nate Wagner sliced apart a bunch of Old Spice commercials featuring Crews and recombined them into a fairly coherent vaporwave approximation. And as you might imagine, the tape smells really dang good! I always found the Crews commercials pretty entertaining, and that’s coming from someone who barely has a second to become immersed in television anymore (a very good thing, I think). So maybe it’s no surprise then that Wagner succeeds in applying his keen critical ear to commercialized product and dissecting it before us to reveal the deep, dark underbelly of the marketplace. Is it weird, then, that I’m also constantly reminded of Crews’s role as the president in Idiocracy? Does “Wow This Beard” provide commentary on the realization that I’d prefer Crews’s fictional president to our current one? Let’s answer that question together as we listen, shall we?


Romanian artist Somnoroase Păsărele is no stranger to the Tymbal world, having released “GAMA” on the label waaaay back at the tail end of 2015. He returns triumphant with “ESSEN,” an electronic masterpiece that is at once difficult to scrutinize and easy on the ear – that is, if you like your synthesizer properly kosmische’d and dissonant. Hey, turns out I do, so as this thing plays out, I’m falling more deeply in love with it as each minute passes. Păsărele does not let up on the tension one iota, and so “ESSEN” is an edge-of-your-seat nailbiter that reflects his home country’s rocky history and the divide between East and West. “ESSEN” sounds like it could have emerged from the Berlin electronic underground, and I wouldn’t blame you if that was your initial impression, but the communist stormclouds that once gathered to the east, at least until 1989 and the fall of Ceauşescu, are still deeply felt. Maybe that’s me reading into it, or maybe it’s because I just literally read a book on gender in Romania. Either way, “ESSEN” is fascinating, and your attention to it must be undivided.

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RYNE ZIEMBA "Dirty Sunset #1"

Hairdo rock. Glam. Sass. Rolling Stones kitsch.

-- Kevin Oliver

Review. Brief. Undetailed. Possibly lazy. Possibly enough.

-- Editor

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Adapta y Sobrepone" C17

San José, Costa Rica’s Caídas Libres blurs the lines between ‘90s indie, punk, & shoegaze. Think muted/minimal Husker Du meets Swingin’Utters, with a touch more dissonance & creativity. Most notable are the bell-like swells taking the place of guitar lines early on in track 3 as the drums and bass play a slower, groovier number, just below. The heavily reverbed vocals taking a backseat to the guitar is also pretty interesting, too. Per bandcamp, this is Caídas Libres’ debut EP (and far too damn short a one) so keep an eye out for a full length, hopefully!

6-panel J-card comes with lyrics (which you’ll need cz the vocals are BURIED in the mix something FIERCE!) and good looking graphics.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, November 12, 2017

ILLUSION OF SAFETY “Surrender” (No Part of It)

You’re in an airport bathroom stall wrestling with a malfunctioning auto-dispenser. Macabre transactions are occurring out there past the smell of ammonia and rotting caulk.  The airport TVs are blaring again, but each one blends into the next one so that the news program says that another boy has been shot by the cops & another flight is cancelled, but you don’t know which boy (is it you this time?) or which flight (is it you this time?).

-- Kevin Oliver

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"split" C40 (Funny Not Funny Records)

One East and West Virginian open mic hero each rolls up a pearl-snap’d sleeve and deals pensively sensitive blows to the harsh realities of perceived life and relationships with their steel string guitar, medium/soft hardness pick, and honest words/lyrics. The soundperson turns up the reverb on the vocals and nods to their friends who bring lively dates to the table. The cycle continues.

RIYL: singer/songwriters, guitars, lyrics, barstools, mood

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Goldsound" C50
(Time Release Records)

Cleveland, Ohio’s Gina Kantner (aka Chromesthetic) is a lone looper, harnessing the power of the pedal through stoner rock riffage, delay/reverb’d feedback, and…drum machine? Yep, that’s a drum machine.

I’m not gonna lie. The first few listens, I wish’t that I was in an alternate universe where I was the reviewer for “vinylgods” and I had the pleasure of drowning in my own drool over the mantric riffage of Kantner’s eponymous debut. Nearly perfect throughout, it doesn’t seem to hold the same consistent weight as this newer, more experimental offering, but maybe that’s a good thing? Why re-mix a tried & true algorithm when there’s so much more to explore? What is heaviness but anticipation?

Still deeply focused on tone and the timbral products of so many recurring* posits running to and fro, Goldsound’s ebbs & flows give the brain some room to breathe, side-track, and re-orient, before nodding along again in sweet, sweet relief. Best if listened to LOUD(!) on bass-y speakers. Apologize to your neighbors in adavance.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CDX "Smiles" C20 (Suite 309)

Sounding like maybe the perfect union between my two all time favorite tape labels  (Orange Milk Records and Constellation Tatsu), CDX is the most accessible alter ego of Tim Thornton (Tiger Village, Suite 309) and this all-too-short “Smiles” EP smacks of all his signature moves, including but not limited to:
-classically arranged bloop-tee-toodinals
-spastic vintage drum machine sputterings
-soaring and/or fuzzy modular synth lines
-sunburnt-at-the-beach drone swells
-vaporwavygravy sample bastardizations & good vibes

…all within a more easily mappable structure and, dare I say it, consistent rhythm. Well, for the most part. This cat is forever aaaabstract, and even his more conventional projects are destined to push the boundaries between pop and the classical/avant-garde. As an added bonus, this li’l morsel manages some electronic ululations that would fit in nicely with many an experimental rapper out there. Somebody hire this chap!

Did I mention that this tape is waaaay too short? Across twenty minutes & split up into only four tracks, not one minute gets old, even after listening on loop for over an hour straight. Pretty damn brilliant! Keep ‘em coming!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

BBJR “Pareidolia” C40 (Already Dead Tapes)

My familiarity with BBJR, aka Bob Bucko Jr. of Personal Archives fame, has been limited to his releases as guitar/drums jazz freakout duo Sex Funeral (with Matt Crowe) and his more abstract solo material, so it was with great surprise and joy that PAREIDOLIA conformed to none of my preconceptions about Bucko’s work. Tapping into mad psych and towering interstellar ambient, BBJR punches holes in space-time with guitar and sax alike until he’s created, like, a bunch of new black holes. I can’t even count them, it seems as if they just appear throughout PAREIDOLIA. Not surprising, then, is the density of these compositions, each a heavy isotope (not to be confused with a heavy metal, of course) that will decay as soon as it ends, with radioactive material all that remains. So, a public service announcement: wear lead suits when listening! Anyway, there’s lots to love here for the psychic space traveler, ready to wrap your mind around concepts that make very little sense on Earth. Each of these four astral blasts explore the outer regions of the mind and the universe and make connections of one to the other as if it were as simple as direct observation – no complicated mathematics required. BBJR clearly imposes patterns and ideas on PAREIDOLIA that make perfect sense when all is complete. Wait, I’m getting a message here … seems as though “pareidolia” is a phenomenon where order is perceived when there actually is none. So … I was probably way off on suggesting that Bob Bucko is some sort of theoretical genius. Still, he’s pretty good at this improv stuff, and it’s not TOO crazy to impose some order upon it … is it?

Already Dead Tapes

-- Ryan Masteller