VARIOUS ARTISTS “Psychotropes 2” C64 (Alrealon Musique)


Indonesia has never seemed further away than it does right now. New York too, for that matter – I’m not going to be getting on a plane anytime soon to travel anywhere, so both places are out of the question. I’m sequestering myself until further notice – well, at least until all that COVID is gone.

Why am I talking about Indonesia and New York in virtually the same breath? Great question. Psychotropes 2, out NOW on Alrealon Musique, is an “18 track compilation of noise & electronics from Indonesia and New York, USA,” highlighting the similarities and shared inspirations that can span oceans and continents and cultures. But I don’t know anything about that hogwash – I’m just a philistine with a tape deck and very few interesting insights, pummeling this keyboard with my fists.

So it’s probably pointless to track any sort of progression here – let me just say that it’s an incredible global connection Alrealon Musique has made in bringing together such disparate “noise & electronic” artists. Sure, there’s wall of sound maelstroms and chaotic electronic manipulation, but there’s also storm-clouds-in-the-distance creep and slightly corroded human-voice spectrality. Everything is three-dimensional and tactile in a way that gripping a rock and whipping it through the windshield of a car is three-dimensional and tactile. Not to mention cathartic.

Anger, restlessness, tension, Psychotropes 2 has got it all, telegraphing a universal sense of unease. From where I sit here in the United States, I’m amazed at how easy it is to find common ground through sonic assault. I guess it just goes to show you that, no matter what the language, we can still communicate via racket.


--Ryan

AVIDA DOLLARS “DMMM" C50 (Self-Released)


Minneapolis’s post-industrial duo, Avida Dollars, has come out with a surreal darkwave sprawl in “DMMM”, blending the drum machine and synth bombastics of Street Sects, manic vocals* of Xiu Xiu, & guitar indie-jamminess of Broken Social Scene in such a way that these familiar tropes form their very own unique (if not slightly disorienting) singular soundtrack that’s perfect for long city walks and/or crafternoon accompaniment. Super easy to get lost in and downright infectious in parts! Can't wait to hear what’s next...


https://avida-dollars.bandcamp.com/album/dmmm


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*kind of a perfect mix between Street Sects & Xiu Xiu, really

ALBERT DEMUTH / THOT AUDIT “Albert Demuth / Thot Audit” C41 (Self-Released)


Starting off pointedly vulnerable, this split between family & friends gradually shifts from attempted Berman-replacement alt/folk to late 90s psych/garagerock, in a series of explicitly more and more novel steps, adding and then tweaking tremolo pedals, echo, and, later, heavily delayed synth pads. While the centered genre is alt-country, the real recurrence is consistent effects/dynamics exploration*, which will make every listener wonder: Could (parts of) this be pulled off live, were the audience not drop-dead quiet? How much could one possibly even adhere to the recorded blueprint?


This split needs to be played at max comfort/safe volume to get what it’s offering, but it takes a few tracks (and/or repeated listens) to really latch on. The overall gestalt might leave songwriters with more questions than answers. No bones about it, though, the artwork is fucking KIL-LER and worth the price of admission alone!


https://albertdemuth.bandcamp.com/album/albert-demuth-thot-audit

and/or

https://thotaudit.bandcamp.com/releases


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*Angel Marcloid lending a pretty powerful accent here & there?

BLOOD RHYTHMS “Heuristics" C69 (Personal Archives)



"A heuristic technique, or a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect or rational, but which is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal."

    ~W. Iccapedia


Fitting name for these Arvo Zylo études, excavated from his bountiful catacombs, dated back from 2K-2K15, all of which are fast & loose, raw & dirty, unhinged and unadulterated. There’s an Evangelista-esque psalm, a (relatively) sleepy ambient vignette, a scary story, a KMFDMish-guitar-led shred sesh and a slew of other dusty artifacts that all fit fairly well together in their (dark) spirit of exploration and atmospheric command. 


https://personalarchives.bandcamp.com/album/heuristics

and/or

http://nopartofit.blogspot.com/



—Jacob An Kittenplan

SPACE HEATER "Sales Event of a Lifetime" C37 (Terry Tapes)


This sick, slick, six-piece prog-rock outfit has it going on, with sax, trombone, multiple synths & guitars, bass & on-point percussion (see: Andy Loeb, from yesterday’s review!) that all seamlessly lock in for stop-on-a-dime grooves, time changes, & mood shifts. You want Mahavishnu Orchestra-smooth jazziness? Done. Howzabout some blues-heavy Gentle Giant riffage? Uh huh! Hell, they’ll throw in a free-jazz freakout and D&D adventure FOR FREE!


Sales Event of a Lifetime, indeed! Listen to from front to back for maximum trip payoff!


https://spaceheatermusic.bandcamp.com/album/sales-event-of-a-lifetime

and/or

https://terrytapes.bandcamp.com/music


—Jacob An Kittenplan

ANDY LOEBS "Open New Window" C18 (Self-Released)


Banged out solely on a Korg Electribe 2, Andy Loebs’ “Open New Window” sprints across 18 minutes of proggy footwork and vaporwavy gamelan* polyrhythmics in such a dizzying hurry it’s hard to tell just what the hell is going on. Think Orange Milk’s mid-2010’s percussion-centric, dancy-freakout style, a-la Darren Keen and Barry Helafonte, but more mercilessly caffeinated. This is some pretty rad stuff to get the heart & mind up & racing! Helluva workout!


https://andyloebs.bandcamp.com/album/open-new-window


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*replacing metallic tones with cheesy/classic voices

ABAUNZ “Ilunpean Arnas Hotsa Entzuten” C32 (Jollies Records)


From just southwest of the Pyrenes Mountain range, Abaunz, singing primarily in Basque, commands a raw & dirty mix of old school minimal industrial brutality, employing ancient drum machine programming, occasional guitar destruction, classic 80s stock synth tones, and tortured/chanted vocals; but overtop these elements is where it gets really interesting; Abaunz sprinkles in an innovative mixed bag of ambient texture, Euro-danciness, and even a skosh of Latin and Middle Eastern flavor, making “Ilunpean Arnas Hotsa Entzuten” (translation: Hearing the Sound of Breathing in the Dark”) a truly novel and inspiringly agitating, cohesive ride in unfamiliar (if not outright uncharted?) country.


https://jollies.bandcamp.com/album/ilunpean-arnas-hotsa-entzuten

and/or

https://soundcloud.com/abaunz


—Jacob An Kittenplan

SKYMINDS “Shapes & Traces” C40 (Internal Rhythm)


Skyminds’ sophomore full length, “Shapes & Traces”, finds the SF Bay Area duo continuing to blend a diverse array of acoustic strings & hand percussion with cosmic synths & smooth, groovy bass (& saucy hi-hats & pretty piano lines & sleepy flutes & bright dulcimer &&&) to form a unique hybrid beast of psychedelic indie-strumentals and spacey devotionals that defy all genres. Though there are familiar hints of the trippier sides of Yo La Tengo, Sea & Cake, & Akron/Family sprinkled throughout, Skyminds’ arrangements are far lusher, interlocking, and, at times, almost chaotic in their overloaded output. 


At low volume it’s study music with a swagger, but at max volume, it’s a rollicking journey!

  

https://internalrhythm.bandcamp.com/album/shapes-traces

and/or

https://internalrhythm.org


—Jacob An Kittenplan

THE FANTASTIC IMAGINATION “Wizard Friendship Bracelet" C41 (Fish Prints)



The Fantastic Imagination’s “Wizard Friendship Bracelet” is pretty much everything you dig about ambient electronica and new age all rolled into one rollicking stream-o-conscious adventure, making beatific pits stops along the way for dance parties, lotus position bliss-outs, elven communing, & even a few Enya-esque yodel-alongs, all these sub-strains flowing seamlessly in & out of each others’ spacious environments. 


WFB feels pretty much like an ecstatic DJ’s mixtape with a perfectly weighted ratio of shake-it to cool-down time built in, and it's pretty fuckin' great!


https://fishprintsinc.bandcamp.com/album/wizard-friendship-bracelet

and/or

https://thefantasticimaginaiton.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan

WETHER “Heir Bud" C23 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


Bordering on downright aggressive, Wether’s newest offering “Heir Bud” holds our ears to the staccato crackle of atonal rhythmic destruction for so long, it begins to sound like a hell-rented frog pond. Enter in some soaring/delayed ghoulish samples & soundbites and we’re back in the deepest bowels of Hades once again, the only reprieve of side A being a bizarrely tonal closing that wraps up like Bach’s iron fuckin’ fist.


Side B is a parallel hell, swapping out knob-tweaking rhythmics for more bleak musique concrète schizophrenia, finishing off with a possessed karaoke hymn of despair. 


Not for the faint of heart, this release pairs well with STR’s following/most recent offering, Q///Q, as it’s pretty much the polar opposite. 


https://strategictapereserve.bandcamp.com/album/heir-bud

and/or

https://wether.bandcamp.com/


—Jacob An Kittenplan

WETHER “Heir Bud” C23 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


For me, writing about Wether is like fishing in a public fountain: it’s frowned upon in general, and the authorities love issuing me citations about it. Plus, there’s no fish, so there’s no reason for me to even be there or doing that anyway. Yet here I am, pole and tackle box in hand in the midst of morning rush hour, surrounded by people (c’mon, everybody, COVID! Go home …), ready to try my luck yet again, even though I know the only thing I can possibly reel in is the loose change people tend to throw in these things, and not even that because my hook’s not magnetized.

Feels like a fruitless endeavor, right? It sort of is. Mike Haley is our Wether-man, and he’s second in command at Tabs Out (behind Dave) where I also dabble in some writing, so I’ve been banned from reviewing his stuff over there. But guess what, Mike? You have no authority here at Cassette Gods! Not that it matters anyway, I guess. As I’m sure you’ve prepared yourself for it, the typical Wether map forecasts burbles and samples, with a slight chance that one of them is going to be a reveille (I want that to be pronounced “revile” so bad) trumpet. Heir Bud doesn’t disappoint, as there’s enough burbles and lasers and other noises and samples (including the warped trumpet, and even some Sound of Music!) to make you forget that we’re living in troubled, troubled times.

Still, the typo on the cover is fairly disappointing – the name of the movie you’re trying to reference is Air Bud, not Billy Madison (which was nicknamed Heir Bud on set – fun fact).*

*[Not a real fact.]

In the end, I think the words we’re all looking for are “Great set, Mike.” Great set indeed. Although I fear that, with this whole endeavor being as fruitless and fairly illegal as it is, I’ve only managed to reel in a couple of metaphorical nickels and a penny or two – which, let’s be honest, I just scooped out of the water with my hand.



--Ryan

Q///Q “Vanguard Youth" C40 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


While there may be a slightly detectable GeAr flavor in Q///Q’s “Vanguard Youth”, you’re far more likely to taste a parallel timeline where, back in 1990, it wasn’t England but rather Portugal, and it wasn’t electric lutes, keys, & drums but rather synthesizers & drum machines plugged into those delay(s) and reverb pedals that a certain possible Spaceperson 33 decided to take up with their hypnogogic barrage of self-battling mid-tempo arpeggios and lulling mantric riffs against our earholes. If this isn’t a what-could-have-been homage, I don’t know what is. Same fugue-like fog and serene tangle of lolling grooves, but maybe slightly looser, hazier, and would-be-nappier, were the vocals* not so ceremonially executed and interest-piquing. 


The GeAr diaspora ventures further and further, far out and farther outer!


https://strategictapereserve.bandcamp.com/album/vanguard-youth

and/or

https://germanarmymusic.bandcamp.com/album/q-q-gear-side-project


—Jacob An Kittenplan


*Chanted half in Engrish, half in Portuguese

Q///Q “Vanguard Youth” C40 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


Webster’s defines “vanguard” as “the forefront of an action or movement.” (Next to “hackneyed writer” it dispenses with words altogether and features only a picture of me with a lampshade on my head.) I think we’ve established that German Army, of which Q///Q is an offshoot brand, is at the vanguard of social resistance and change via sound art, and it’s also pretty clear that the youth are going to have to step in and take up the mantle and continue the fight as time passes. Youth with enough energy to throw each other, Superman-like, through the air. Vanguard Youth we could call them.

Q///Q did.

Yeah, we like a little rhapsody with our waxation, and Vanguard Youth delivers it within its fragile now-wave synth tunes, numbers teetering on the edge of a knife: to one side, trouble, to the other, rapture. It’s an operation that seems untenable – too much potential for disaster. But that’s the beauty of Q///Q – it balances the hazy computer pulse of a good GeAr tune, whacking itself against a shorting node, with the blissful and melancholy ambience of a good Peter Kris track, enveloping a node with its humidity until it shorts. Either way you’re effing up a perfectly good computer.

And while it’s not a traditional call to arms in the same way as the most circuit-fried GeAr releases can be, it at least sustains the unease beneath the surface. Its consistent presence is a constant reminder to go forth and do that thing, right that wrong. It’s not on the front line, but it’s nourishment for the vanguard youth behind the scenes. Real change is gonna come, you mark my words.



--Ryan

OMORI “Embryogenesis” C28 (Amek Collective)


It’s pretty dark right now, for everybody. In Bulgaria it’s also dark, for Omori, aka Stoyan Yovchev, and Amek Collective, who are isolated from a lot of the world due to this damned COVID! Damn you, COVID! But if Embryogenesis is any indication, this whole thing is a process, a trial run, for bettering ourselves in anticipation of life on the other side. Because, folks, let’s not forget – there will be a life on the other side.

So Embryogenesis, while created before the pandemic, is perfect meditation music for people in our position. We can’t get out and do the social things we want to do, so we do the indoor thing and cogitate, letting the waves upon waves of electric sensation mentally tune us up. Yovchev’s not kidding when he breaks out “I Didn’t Realize How Fast It All Ceased to Be” or “Struggle Against Chaos,” his dark ambient ripples lapping surprised and confused internal shores. And while it’s probably unfair to keep reminding everyone that Yovchev is a youngin’ – he’s only twenty, people! – it’s remarkable that someone so young can hit emotional notes so deep. By the time “There Are Other Worlds” rumbles out of the speakers, it’s like the sky has opened up and a portal to some-wherever-the-heck else has appeared, reminding us of our utter smallness.

Perspective: a lot of us need it at this point.

So it’s time to get inside your own head, maybe a little more than you have in the past or that you’d like to admit because it’s too difficult a thing to do when the world is in utter upheaval. But if you’re gonna do it, let Omori guide you around in there – he seems to have the situation under control. (Well, as under control as he can control his own personal outlook, but you know what I mean.)

EDIT: And then there was this. Angel Simitchiev, who runs Amek, passed on the horrible news that Stoyan Yovchev took his own life in April. Here is a link to a lovely memorial by Amek artists. In the United States we have organizations such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and I encourage you to utilize this or its equivalent in your country if you need help. Keep each other on our minds, always, especially now!


--Ryan

BUBEN “Between All Forms” (Histamine Tapes)


“Vladislav Buben is the founder of a number of genres in experimental and electronic music in Belarus and the cultic musician who influenced several generations on the Belarusian electronic stage. …”

OK, wait, hang on. “Founder of a number of genres”? That’s a pretty remarkable statement, and one that, if true, would elevate Vladislav Buben to the echelons of those like Chuck Berry, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, and Baha Men. I wish I could make that claim. I may have coined a term here or there [I haven’t], but I’m certainly not the path to immortality in an encyclopedia of some kind. I’m not like Vladislav Buben.

Whatever genres Buben claims to have founded, he’s certainly perfected his craft within the electronic ambient idiom. Here he drifts between poles, highlighting the spaces that quickly pass from one state to the next. “Air to Breath” is caught between an inhale and an exhale, “Lived in Harmony” suggests that passage away from an ideal state and a longing for it, “Resources of Nature” highlights the raw forms we find before we fashion them into something else. And of course, there’s “Between All Forms” itself, the title track, the distinct hovering point where everything loses itself before reconstituting. There’s so much promise there.

But we drift, along with the maestro, the composer, the visionary, formless, waiting for definition. So what if we don’t get it? The drift is enough!



--Ryan

CHERRIEP VS. GHOSTWHIP “Nas.rar” C19 (Philthtrax)


Do you like pretending you’re cruising in Outrun, all SEGA Genesis’d with booty bass blasting out the rolled-down windows of your Countach? Do you always feel like you just have to “take it 2 the limit”? Do you just wanna scream “Go!” at the top of your lungs before you stomp the gas and the G-force slams you into your seat? That’s what Ghostwhip wants. Cherriep? Wants that too. Because, duh, the car, the road, the freedom. Downshift, fly.

Nas.rar is four-track electro banger, hungry for speed – sweet, sexxxy speed. Cherriep and Ghostwhip share the space, share the love, share the magic of shredding tarmac to the horizon. Is Nas.rar dumb? Hell yes. Is it as exhilarating as traveling 120 mph down straight Midwestern highway, white-knuckling for your life while the music injects intoxicants directly into your nervous system? That’s right, Nas.rar is like a stimulant straight to the dome, a blast of nasty energy that’ll keep you flying as far and as fast as you can get before you run out of gas.

Don’t run out of gas.


--Ryan

VOID BRINGER "Demo" C10 (625 Thrashcore/Get Stoked)


Behold, the apocalypse! I present to you, for your extreme listening pleasure, this brutal demonstration from deep in the woods of Bolton, Vermont. VOID BRINGER. Sometimes a band is just perfectly named and this is one of those instances. On this quick ten minute blast of a release Void Bringer hammers through 9 pulverizing tracks of hardcore harnessing that lovable powerviolence vibe of the 90s west coast scene.  Often bands that play in this style fall flat for me and seem like clones of one of the greats, ie: Crossed Out, No Comment, Manpig, Capitalist Casualties, Man Is The Bastard... and often offer little of their own. This thankfully is not the case here.

Lyrically this thing is totally in your face, nothing hidden behind poetic verse or weak metaphors. The open track literally declares "I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it. Fuck you. We hate you." And beautifully sets the tone for the next 8 tracks. Musically this is heavy, fast and ugly with too many tempo changes per song to keep count. Void Bringer are masters of the fast/slow/fast approach to this particular style of extreme music. No frills, no solos just hammering riff, battered drums and angry howls.

The song "Retaliate" features a Richard Spencer sample that highlights one of his disgusting talking points before going into a song that is not an endorsement of his bullshit but an outright condemnation and call to action with a final cry of "Fuck the Proud Boys. Fuck the Alt-Right."

This is a great tape to just let your player auto flip and play on repeat. Each listen reveals more and more subtle nuances buried in the thick mess of distortion. Truly a standout from Vermont, which in recent years has become quite the fertile grounds for hardcore and extreme music in general.

Perhaps write to the band to obtain a physical copy or to 625 Thrashcore, or check it out via bandcamp at the link below.

https://voidbringer802.bandcamp.com/album/demo

- Righteous James

MATTHEW ATKINS “Spectral Terrace” C23 (Hemisphäreの空虚)


“Spectral Terrace” and “Lost Time in a Lost Place” are suggestive track titles, aren’t they? Makes me think that old Matthew Atkins is somehow digging up old memories here, mining his subconscious for things forgotten, or at least misfiled or mislabeled somewhere in his memory bank. Throughout his Spectral Terrace tape, he rummages and uncovers, sitting in the middle of a pile of stuff he pulled out of drawers in order to organize them better. Maybe get rid of some stuff he doesn’t need anymore.

Maybe I’m just reading into it the fact that I’m about to clean out my garage, and it’s a daunting prospect.

Let’s not get too hung up on my fears or phobias (although I did find a black widow in there once) and circle back around to the work Atkins is doing here. Not shy about his process, he lists “cymbals, singing bowl, snare drum, brushes, contact mics, motors, monotron delay and computer software” as his sound sources. Each one takes on a timbral focus at times, and all of them flurry around each other as Atkins progresses. Knowing this, it’s not hard to figure out what this is like: a studious interpretation of trying to understand what’s gone before you and how to illuminate that for present and future use and understanding. Time to rummage through the old brain files a little more.



--Ryan

HAVADINE STONE “Fever Demorian Aphasia International” (Anathema Archive)


How do you communicate without speech? That’s a great question, and one that’s fairly important at this moment in time. Actions cause movement, change, reform. Words seem to inflame, don’t they? They take on such great meaning…

Field recordings take us through activity. We can overlay those sounds on our imaginations, pretend we’re in the middle of them. Song breaks the cycle, words inserted like ghosts or memories, yet that’s all they are. Spoken passages float like breath and drift away, like ghosts or memories. All is breath, all is movement, words lose cohesion and dissipate.

Words meet action, taking on such great meaning. Words and action heal. I was so wrong about all of it!


--Ryan

MARILU DONOVAN & TRISTAN KASTEN-KRAUSE
“Nowhere" C30
(Unifactor)


Marilu Donovan & Tristan Kasten-Krause are two electro-acoustic nuance worshippers that play harp and double bass, respectively, each deeply sawing away at their string-guts to carve up thick, binaurally juicy drones and their ensuing overtones & feedback loops evoking ritualistic, if somewhat spooky, minimalist atmospheres that’re only further darkened by perfectly placed vocal intonations of the semi-damned...and a masterful employment of natural feedback and seemless looping techniques.

With their less-is-more aesthetic allowing for more-or-less bumps-in-the-night to be picked up on, this is Not to be listened to alone around the witching hour, lest you want to get your heart rate a-pumpin'!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

VARIOUS ARTISTS
“Centiweek” C100.8
(Default Label Wroclaw)


Wroclaw, Poland’s “Default" label has stunningly curated one hundred minutes and forty-eight sprawling seconds worth of mind-bendingly adventurous, unpinnable, forward-thinking ambient/experimental soundscapes and (a)rhythmic theses, with nary a metronomic/predictable beat to be heard between eighteen separate European artists. Think ELEH's vast catalogue, but 1.5 dozen parallel versions of them! Siiiiiiick!

So, of course, the tapes are already sold out, but there’s plenty of bandcamp love to go around, so click on that link below and get lost in a cold sea of sci-fi sine waves & icy caps!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

DEAN LEININGER
“Unmoved, Unspoken” C32
(SDM Records)


On “Unmoved, Unspoken”, Dean Leininger waxes solemnly cinematic back and forth between epic drones/drums and a shadowy new age aesthetic that isn’t afraid to pull a few noisy punches here & there, for maximum effect. Without spoiling the surprise, it’s worth noting that there’s an entire world’s worth of narrative jungle-gym buried within this intense warehouse, and one could hallucinate many a strife-riddled journey based on the contained classical movements, and a few of those battle-calls*, that make poignant appearances throughout this fast-paced half-hour saga. 

Uber-versatile, crank this puppy up for excitement, or bury it down low to drift off to, but be prepared to be thrown off a few times while getting accustomed to the flow!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*one of my own interpretations

SIHTX
“Ik’ Svigt Mig Mer'” C25
(Koda)


Quoting directly from their Bandcamp bio, cz it’s all pretty imperative to GET just what the hell is going on here: 

"This tape was composed in Copenhagen and Oslo between late 2018 - early 2020. It was composed with my electronic beat machine - a wooden square box with small hammers controlled by my laptop - hitting on all the objects that resonated with my inner feelings during that time. Those objects were glass, light bulb, tea cup, china, metal spoon and other metals. Other sounds in this records are tinfoil, clocks, tape, knives etc.

For this release each track has illustrations by artist Michael Schiøler Tingsgård. Michael received each finished track with a title and a sentence for his own imagination and interpretations. That was the only communication between composer and illustrator during creation of this cassette. Each sentence can be read on each individual track or in the associated folder when purchased."

So, just what does that all sound like? Pretty fuckin’ rad is how! This is an electro-acoustic lover’s dream, with constant momentum carried by impressionistic-industrial rhythmic movements that never stale, and a barrage* purely organic vs. heavily treated percussive tones & mysteriously wrought textures. It’s hard to believe no synthesizers were used to get those deep moaning drones off in the distance, but, to have consistently manufactured such sonic space throughout a half-hour narrative and never fall into a rut takes a mixing wizardry that Sihtx sure as shit has, in droves.

Listen to loud with headphones and get lost in well-lit abandoned warehouse of sound!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*generally a half-dozen distinct sound-items barbed-wired around a given second in time

GRAY WORRY
“Trace Amounts" C20
(Self-Released)


It’s fairly oxymoronic* to refer to something as “mini-epic”, but then again, "Gray Worry” is this newly minted Nashville new age artist’s nom de plume, and their red-herring album title is, in fact “Trace Amounts”, so…all bets are off here.

Anyone not color-blind will attest that anxiety hardly holds a neutral hue. Anyone familiar with cosmic new age knows the songs are ambling and generally pretty fuckin’ long. GW takes it upon themself thusly to distill such far-reaching subject matter into a minimalized, distilled form, takes but three separate synthesizer layers (or less!) and plays with emotional timing and grandiosity in such a way…

Were budget not an issue, this tape really oughta've come with a mini-projector to watch washed-out projections of births & deaths of nebulae so we could try to connect the contrasting thoughts between cold, impossibly distant phenomena in the span of a sonically curated hot minute** as opposed to what might take a further few billion years in real time/life. Who the hell knows? This tape is disorienting and engaging if you want it to be, but not quite*** bedtime material, like Stars of the Lid. Maybe think of Gray Worry as their astral, semi-wayward nephew?

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*and downright fucking heresy to the pedantic purists, myself sometimes inclusive
**these songs are almost pop-punkish in length, relative to NA aesthetics
***second to last track’ll derail anyone’s dropping out who was not down for the count by this time

SPLIFF JACKSUN
“Sanctuary" C36
&
YLANGYLANG
“Interplay” C38
(Crash Symbols)


These two Montreal artists differ greatly in their styles but share much passion in the way of concertedly dialing into the m-o-o-d they’re cooking up. 

Spliff Jacksun is first & foremost a beatsmith, floating dependable, jazzy keys & horns overtop stock bass drum & snare. His formulas are tried, true, & so finely tuned you almost can’t NOT hear the rhythmic ghost of someone rapping overtop it all, like each track were an instrumental versions of unreleased Common songs (off the album “Be”), which makes for an excellent office/lobby soundtrack to soothe the soul.

YlangYlang’s is very much the opposite, her minimalist avant-pop incantations flowing cosmically outward, airily, foggily tracing along no dedicated scaffold, her synth and noise accompaniments both gripping & surprising in their novel placements and effectiveness throughout the flowing compositions. Part mesmerizing orchestral ambiance, part syrupy pop spell-casting, “Interplay" reveals itself more and more with each passing run of the tape, never once getting old or wearing out its hypnotic welcome. Pretty ground-breaking stuff!

and/or


—Jacob An Kittenplan
x

CHALTANDR
“NumbERS" C11
(Self-Released)


Steve Reich’s bastard child, Chaltandr (SF Bay Area), comes at us with a short but sweaty barrage of cascading loops that wax & wane expertly to reveal touch & go focii & textures that never settle but lead us onto the next movement that’s overwhelming and maybe tonal but definitely textural percussive and what’s the difference between the two when there isn’t a chance to take a breath is that a fucking fog horn yes and a blow-out oh most definitely so we’re at Kirby Cove with fleeting vistas of the hazy bridge but I guess worried about ghost ships & barges in fleets like fleeting attention spans and this distorted onslaught is impending and catastrophic and sure as shit not worth a fuck for anything other than tripping out or re-setting to right like how can I collect myself, well, it’s only an 11 minute race from Side A to Side A, again, so, well, I guess,
I’ll listen to it again
For the fourth time
In a row.

Chaltandr has a serious penchant for mystique & aesthetics, btw; behold the good lookin’ ephemera documented in pix below. The mini-malist chapbook sweetens the pot ten-fold!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan