LATE “Color Drained” C22 (Amek Collective)

I think I’m gonna hafta pay attention to these Amek Collective releases – they’re pretty friggin’ great if you ask me. That Giuseppe Falivene tape I reviewed a few days ago? Please. So tight. Now “Color Drained” by LATE? Amek, you’re gonna make me lose my shit, aren’t you? Please don’t make me lose my shit. You wouldn’t like me in that state.

But it’s close to happening, so let’s embrace the madness while we can. We’ve only got twenty-two minutes to do so anyway, as “Color Drained” is just a mere EP, a taste of what’s in store from LATE. (Given the ungooglable nature of LATE’s name, I’ve got no idea what kind of discography the producer has.) We’ve got black-hole-dense electro, black-hole-dense ambient, black-hole-dense techno – heck, if LATE was an actual black hole masquerading as a DJ, I wouldn’t be surprised! But the utter destruction of the sound frequencies LATE dabbles in should be an indication: nothing will escape LATE’s gravitational pull, and that’s OK, as nothing should.

But you can still hear the destruction in progress as it pulls apart your atoms, and that’s what makes “Color Drained” such an exciting listen. It shreds whether the pace is breakneck or glacial. It envelops you. It doesn’t let you escape its grasp.

… Nice work!


“Entrance to the Next” C44
(Inner Islands)

Historically, Sean Conrad (Inner Islands’ fountainhead)’s Channelers project has been the more ambient/free-form spring of his to flow forth gorgeous ambient/dronal beatitudes…but with his earlier (ASHAN/ Far Drift Afield) release picking up that loosey-goosey, serendipitous sway-baton, I wondered where Channelers would go...

Turns out... further Glacial, into the flawlessly-polished, silvery-mirrored cave-of-consciousness. Slow-motion tip-toe. Vibrator-enhanced cafunés, under lavender breeze. “Entrance to the Next” is the incremental soundtrack to parading towards all meditations of yesterdays’ afterlifes’ very sum. Think “peace”, but, like, the sound of it, of bitterness’s very absentia. SC is on the next level, and his myriad projects dig deeper and deeper into Valhalla’s ceiling. Turn on. Tune in. Drop…


— Jacob An Kittenplanj

“Far Drift Afield” C42
(Inner Islands)

ASHAN, AKA Sean Conrad, is head honcho over at Inner Islands, and he, as you might rightfully infer by the label’s name he currently curates, is pretty much the true embodiment of today’s New Age movement.  You can damn near feel your crystal chakras pulsating rainbow peace-pipes into trans-infinite bliss alongside his every drone, swell, and arpeggiation, because he (SC) has been at it for a loooong, long time, and he can pretty much om/freestyle up a mid-day nap-spell upon anyone whose ears his vibes doth impregnate at the drop of an incense ash.

“Far Adrift Afield”, however, isn’t just your average ASHAN album! 

With this release, he has righteously shrugged off the compulsory percussive scaffold of releases past and now lets his legions of harmoniously hypnotic counter-melodies weave an all-infectious ghost-of-groove, instead, relieving us rapt listenerfs of any heavy-handed demand to follow an explicit Beat…and I, for one, am grateful to hear what I’d consider to be the True Nature of these consonant movements, liquidly coinciding and diverging at their own frequencies, sans-metronomics. It makes all the difference, and this release feels like a Serious Step Forward.

For the ASHAN completist, FDA will be a crown jewel; and for the newbie, it’ll be everything you’ve ever wanted out of ambient/new age bliss-outs.  With AND without headphones, it’s guaranteed to lull you into a better place!

Keep an eye out for the follow up to this, dropping at the end of August!!!


— Jacob An Kittenplanj

PAINTED TOMBS “The Gothic Free Rock Sounds of Painted Tombs” C33 (Foreign Object Damage)

I don’t … I don’t really feel like I have to do any work.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold! The gothic free rock sounds of Painted Tombs!

See? The band pretty much reviewed themselves by titling their tape that. I can’t help it if they want to do my work for me.

OK, fine, so maybe I can add something like, “These desert-blasted tunes hit you full-on like a gravity bong to the dome, scuzzy and grimy and experimental, writhing in the minds of their creators. Beware their snakebit charm!”

Badalamenti meets Monster Magnet, but way less focused. Sometimes you just have to go where the spirit leads you.

--Dave Kettlechips  

EGGS ON MARS “Mama Pancake” (self-released)

Hey, we all fell in love when we were young and got our butts kicked by it. I remember it, but it’s fading.  I’m not even remotely close to the person I was in high school and college, yearning, longing, finding fleeting happiness, most often wallowing in self-pity. That’s what made music so awesome back then – I could pop on a record and it could make me feel like the emotional beating I was taking was worth it. In fact, it got to the point where I sort of craved getting my heart broken. It got me closer to some of my favorite music.

Fast-forward to now, to Eggs on Mars, and their place in the world at this very second. Maybe there’s somebody like me-back-then right now who just got their heart stomped on while trying their darnedest to make something resembling a relationship work out. But in the end it’s pointless, you know? It all crumbles, you’re crushed, and you’re back to where you started, hugging your records and tapes and crying into your pillow.

Who am I kidding – I’m a national treasure. The mold is broken. There’s no one like me.

But what if there was! They’re listening to “Mama Pancake” right now, reveling in the jangly power trio action of Eggs on Mars, getting constantly distracted by their awesome name, chuckling, and forgetting their utter romantic failure. And now they’ve remembered it. Now they’re crying again. Eggs on Mars, your job is just THAT MUCH HARDER. I hope you’re up to it.


“Split Ends, Split Head” C46

Racecar. Boston did not sob. A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. Mitch Meyers, AKA Sreyem Htcim! These are all mighty fine palindromes, but only one is (a fraction of) the project name of a chap that brought us Hear Hums & Peace Arrow!

There…I dropped The Names. It was worth it, though, cz it’s really interesting to hear a beloved artist’s evolution-through-struggle with self-imposed limits; especially when those limits involve song-writing…while stubbornly refusing to use any lute instrument, right?! Like, I’m pretty sure even the bass notes here are bonged out by a bass xylophone. The list of instruments (mostly percussive) gets lengthy (like, Olivia-Tremor-Control-and-the-kitchen-sink lengthy), with glockenspiels, melodicas, kalimbas, clarinets, djembe, harp, zither, drum kit, saxophone, the occasional synthesizer slide, vocoders…

With this laundry list of bangers & twangers, “Split Ends, Split Head” sounds likely to be an explosive rock-fest, right? Wrong! Much like said self-limitations, all these potentially noisy tone-makers are muted into a graceful hush, just loud enough to be melodious, but barely toeing the line between utterance and whisper. It ends up sounding much like a dedicated group of considerate cult members trying to hold a ceremony at midnight without waking anybody up in the apartment next door. The energy is expertly restrained, kept in check and massaged, rather than catapulted. It’s…it’s pretty weird, and well worth a concerted headphone listen or five.

My partner thinks it kinda sounds like Múm, from time to time, when I play it on the stereo. I can kinda hear it, too. Have a listen for yourselves via the link below!

— Jacob An Kittenplan

CUNABEAR “Ursine Valor” (Beartooth Collective)

Hey, I’ve had my eye on Beartooth Collective for a while – they seem to like what I have to say, and I seem to like what they like to promote, so … we’re quite compatible. (Whatup Beartooth – I see you.)

Cunabear is somewhat of a flagship act, as Matty Dass is both the Bear itself and the proprietor of the ’Tooth, all of which operate out of Savannah, Georgia, one of my favorite places on earth (and you should take that designation very seriously, because I shit on Georgia quite a bit overall). I pop up there every once in a while from my homebase, and it’s not JUST to hit up the Graveface shop. Although that’s a lot of it.

Cunabear is a hip hop savant, and “Ursine Valor” is just one of a massive amount of releases on his Bandcamp page, so, uh, check that out for a while if you want, because you’ll find yourself spending quite a bit of your afternoon around there. Utilizing the laid-back boom-bap production style of De La Soul and Digable Planets, Dass recalls the motormouthed reference-traps of Aesop Rock with his flow, not least of which because of his deep timbre.

Surely not untouched by the artistic fertility of the Savannah College of Art and Design, a huge presence in the city, Cunabear can spread out, experiment, try on whatever he feels like, whatever comes to mind, as he drifts through his imagination like he’s coming upon warp zone hub after warp zone hub. Never content with settling on a singular style, Dass is a chameleonic presence, disappearing into multiple production styles before emerging with a death grip on each one. “Ursine Valor” is just the tip of the iceberg, kids – get up in that discography and dig in.


“Cabin Fever”
(Deathbed Tapes)

I’ll side step the generic platitudes one usually sees affixed to a harsh noise release to simply inform you what this tape offers up: a solid wall of old-school, delay drenched tape, pedal and synth noise. Cabin Fever is a wonderfully horrifying psychedelic whorl. Play this tape loud. Preferably on some big old thrift store speakers. Something that really brings out that “wet sandpaper on concrete” feel of the recording. Something that will leave your ears ringing and your extremities tingling. If you have a guitar amp handy, try that. On a tape like this, stereo separation is not as important as the visceral weight of the sound. 

In case you weren’t around in the late 90’s, Autoerotichrst did a handful of split 7”s with the likes of Richard Ramirez and Japanese Torture Comedy Hour, then took a 20 year break. Except not really. Founding member R. Mason did a few releases throughout the aughts and teens as Exploding Meth Lab and Lysergic Rites of Sadopriest. Back in the day, Mason also played bass for the east coast grind band Enemy Soil. 

Now as a duo, Cabin Fever is Autoerotichrist’s first proper full-length release. It took about 20 years to happen, but it was worth it.  Mason may not be one to oversaturate the market, but still has a solid repertoire under his belt. Clearly, this band takes their time and carefully selects what they put out. Like early Whitehouse and Ramleh, there is the feeling of abstracted song craft and composition here. The material is organized. It leads the listener by the nose, to nowhere nice, no doubt. 

-- Mike Barrett

HEIKKI LINDGREN & ESA RUOHO “HLER” C60 (self-released)

Helsiniki-based sound artists Heikki Lindgren and Esa Ruoho perform as HLER, and this sort-of self-titled tape captures a live performance at E:MF 2018 (January), and also at Ampeeriklubi VI, lots of other Finnish text, etc., a month later. Now, I want you to close your eyes, press play, and pretend you’re in a planetarium or a Hadron Collider of some particular size.

Got it? OK.

Lindgren and Ruoho are expert knob-twiddlers, conjuring celestial elements with their bare hands and their synthesizer rigs. Each half-hour track (one on each side) is perfect for the spaceman facing existential danger in all of us. It’s like “HLER” was birthed in a science lab and set free to infiltrate the insecurities in every human, triggering unease wherever it alights. It’s a sinister missive from elsewhere pointed directly at us. Why? From where? Huh?

I don’t know! Stop asking questions. Just … stick your head into “HLER” and listen to it, alright?