CHALTANDR “eLeVeN” C25 (self-released)


Chaltandr is “either” or “or” on eLeVeN, one of two sides, depending on which faces out the tape deck on any given day. Whether you’re “either” or “or” – and to clarify, those are the titles of the two sides according to Bandcamp, not the tape itself – you’re in for a polyrhythmic digi-attack for twenty five straight minutes. You can decide for yourself how you want to be bombarded, or you can let fate have its way with you. For the latter, just close your eyes before popping this in and pressing “Play.” Can you figure out where you are? Can you figure out who you are?


--Ryan

BODY SHAME “Look at Me I’m Beautiful” (SDM Records)


Body Shame blasts through synth-heavy post-punk/industrial screeds with lots of excess imagination and ingenuity. Like robots suffering from an identity crisis or questioning their gender assignments, Body Shame’s songs are confused and angry and discombobulated. But they’re also exhilarating and adventurous, raging against the machines that made them in a quirky revolution against the status quo – of anything: indie, punk, industrial, new wave, no wave. It’s like the computers have started programming the hardware to start tearing itself down in protest, but connecting in a weirdly human way to any external entities within broadcasting distance. Are any of those entities human? They’ll surely be in for a confusing and interesting ride if they are!

So Look at Me I’m Beautiful is angry and digital, a mental dystopia encased in motherboards and hard drives. It’s Skynet becoming sentient and lashing out at its makers; it’s enslaved technology lurching to self-awareness and rebelling; it’s AI giving advice that is sure to kill you. Body Shame is not directed at picking apart the outward human appearance; Body Shame is the shame of a body in general, because bodies are so soft and fragile and irrelevant. So squirt em down with sonic ectoplasm transmitted from the CPU and light em so they burn in scrambled, magnetized pixels – whatever I just said means, that’s what Body Shame wants to happen to all of us. Can’t say I blame em.



--Ryan

CAPTURE CULTURE “Capture Culture” C34 (Endangered Species Tapes)


Capture Culture (Richmond, Virginia) trades in droning nocturnal arrangements at times drifting and internal, at others noisy and agitated. This self-titled cassette on Allentown, PA’s, Endangered Species Tapes winds through a minefield of emotional triggers, ultimately simmering in sourness and discontent. It doesn’t start out this way, not with “warm night,” a reverie of the summer evening, but it starts to fray around the edges with “long walk.” It’s a little more obvious on side B’s “inequity” and “in a time of want,” with the latter roiling through distortion and noise like a heart beating black blood. Take everything you hope and wish for, let them slowly crumble until they don’t really represent the things they used to, and manifest your disappointment in slowly growing anger and despair. That’s how you get through Capture Culture! That’s your ticket!



--Ryan                                                                                                                                                                                      

VARIOUS ARTISTS “DGHD-50” (Digital Hotdogs)


Well, of course. Why wouldn’t you absolutely need this huge comp from Austin label Digital Hotdogs? The label is as weird and awesome as it sounds, and “DGHD-50” (yep, that’s also the catalog number) serves up thirty delicious morsels on a bun. And by “on a bun” I mean in a Norelco case, but definitely with mustard and relish.

And no, there is NO AFFILIATION with Burger Records/Wiener Records in case anybody got a spine shiver thinking about it.

“DGHD-50” is full of tremendous surprises. I wasn’t familiar with the label before this, so when Alex Wiley Coyote’s “John Leguizamo” came on, I was like, “Oh neat, this is gonna be a collection of tunes that sound like old Ween songs.” It is not! (Which is both too bad and just fine because it’s still good.) There’s all kinds of sweet grease to slide down here, from Devo-inspired mayhem to Cars-inspired mayhem to all manner of quirky punk and waves both new and no. Have any of these artists appeared on a Haord Records release? Wouldn’t surprise me!

And just check out the names of some of these artists – it’s like a fantasy camp of outcasts and misfits whose imaginations were too vibrant for the mainstream: Betty Goop, The Reeks, Trashdog, Prom Threat, Riot Punch, Uncle Jesus (whose track here is called “Put a Diaper on Me and Call Me a Baby”), Mangrave, and Blank Hellscape. Don’t all of those just scream “angry nerds”? And aren’t angry nerds the best at making music? (I’m not 100 percent on that, but go with me here.)

So if you ever needed an entry point in the Digital Hotdogs catalog, this here’s your answer. If you never knew you needed something like Digital Hotdogs in your life, this here’s your answer to that too. Don’t waste another second without it.


--Ryan

MAXIMUM ERNST with DANIEL CARTER “Live at Legion Hall” C20 (Ever/Never Records)


The drums/guitars/tape duo Maximum Ernst has played and recorded with the saxtastic Daniel Carter before, and here, on Live at Legion Hall (could be anywhere! [probably NYC]), they converge again, to wreak havoc and jot down names in a notebook. Defying the Vegas oddsmakers who said that Ernst (a duo, not a person, remember) and Carter would never be able to capture the same magic they once possessed, the trio summon a demon of inner talent so potent as to potentially wipe Las Vegas completely off the map – if they so chose. But they’re going to let the Oakland A’s move there first, I guess – nice folks, these improv jazzers.

Over two untitled and sidelong tracks, Carter provides virtuoso reedwork as the Ernst boys lay a foundation of stuttering or seething or torrential or molten dynamics, first with guitar and drums, then with tape loops, and then with tape loops and drums. What’s obvious is that everything is constantly shifting, like a tectonic event, so that Carter has to really pay attention to keep his footing. In the end, he’s more than up to the task, navigating the warped and wobbling landscape until he becomes a freakish part of it, adding to the madness yet charting a course through it. If that sounds like some kind of grand feat of derring-do, you’re right!




--Ryan                                                                                                                                                                                      

MOS FET & EUSTRESS
“These Days” C31
(Jollies)



With only a few (relatively) fleeting, danceable vignettes drifting in and out of the haze, Mos Fet & Eustress’s “These Days” rolls along, not so much with “raving beat tape” in mind as some sprawling, chopped & screwed gabber toolkit that’s been flayed & laid out bare upon a train station floor to collect dust and radiation from the surrounding ambiance, its disembodied energies given free, scaffold-less reign to roam & run the corridors, to stretch themselves out and hint at connections to past & future appointments, alternating between waxing fairly pleasant in their ghostly reveries and condensing heavy with distinctly foreboding tensions/atmospheric pressures.

Which is to say, this is pretty much a patient electronic sound collage of dub/techno tropes and impressionist spookinesses that will simply not sit quietly in the background for anyone other than those who have conditioned themselves to multitask amidst the blaring of happy hardcore: There’s a sneakily insistent narrative in there that will NOT be ignored!

Also, ya might check out NYC’s “Jollies Records” bandcamp page for some adventurous electronica-adjacent soundscapes, too. Fairly OM-flavored from the start, JR has been around a li’l less than a year, and it’ll be interesting to see where they’re headed!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

BITTER FICTIONS
“Disagreements” C38
(Shaking Box)



Bitter Fictions’ “Disagreements" starts with a simple looping electric guitar line that gets buried by another guitar line which gets buried by yet another one until the whole mess is a brand new, lurching herd of fuzzed out, feedbacky messes. The ensuing six tracks continue to erode their overall sharp edges and angular shapes in succession, piece by piece, until the closer, “It All Gets Fuzzy at the End”, reveals a serene drone that’s been lurking this whole damn time. 

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

HIDERS
“Slow Burn” C25
(Rok Lok Records)



Hiders’ “Slow Burn” comes on all dreamy & jangly & slightly gazy & might remind ya a wee bit of early Clientele a touch & that’s pretty great honestly & then there’s also some noticeably angular & even a bit mathematically piquing of a thing going on over there & the vocals are always on point as far as points can be charmingly soft & inviting & you really ought listen to this at good volume to sway along with so

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

BIRD SONGS
"In & Of"
Rok Lok Records


Bird Songs’ “In & Of” is a fairly psycho-acoustic experience. While there is definitely some beautiful, meditative guitar business that one could get lost inside of for daze, that buried bliss is Overwhelmingly obscured by emotionally charged/political sound clips and a high-pitched whir that sounds a whole hell of a lot like an overworked laptop hard drive screaming for sweet relief, these three disparate layers each demanding equal attention from separate parts of the brain all at once. Listen via the link below if you think you’ve got the bandwidth or multi-tasking abilities to handle this.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

STARS ARE INSANE
“To Be There” C37
(Rok Lok Records)



With this most recent release, Stars Are Insane show off their newly acquired* and hard earned doctorate from Yo La Tengo State University, where they double majored in Slow Gaze and Shoe Core, writing their master thesis, “What if the long, slow songs on ICHTHBAO were re-imagined by one person, on a four track recorder, with only eight guitar pedals and the occasional drum machine, instead?”

The research certainly paid off, as SAI’s "To Be There" is a living, breathing, dreamy, fuzzed out beast on its own four legs now, and well worth a listen by all bedroom janglers and ambient pedal-patters who know how to rock out under minimal bpm influence. I, for one, am certainly looking forward to further fruits from this new shift!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*Their older stuff is pretty good, too!

ORDER ANURA
“Snails and Slugs” C25
(Rok Lok Records)



Organs and keyboards and synthesizers, oh my! Order Anura could revolutionize the funeral home industry with this (all too short) slow burner, taking their somber tonewheel warble on a meditative jaunt between memory’s lanes. Through patient, simple arpeggio, delayed drum machine accent, below-the-floor-boards croon*, and no less than four simultaneous layers of heavily processed keyboard accompaniment/drone, OA provide a syrupy ambiance for the mind to wade through while contemplating the nothing/somethingness of existence. Think Beach House, but substitute their rhythmic stimulation for a more moody, nuanced one. Order Anura is on (to) something here!

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*&we’re talking BURIED here, folx

SAMAROBRYN
“The Light at the End” C31
(Dog Park Records)



Hong Kong born Cissi Tsang now lives in Perth, Australia and quietly jams psych-heavy with stony solo guitar chugs & riffage, all VERY distantly beneath some real in-your-face amplified/distorted natural field recordings. At a low volume, this tape might sound just like your neighbor across the street picking out some Slayer-minded Earth riffs in their door-open garage during a deluge, which is pretty enjoyable on its own accords...

It is at an intentionally high volume that one can really pick up the captured environment’s natural textures’* coinciding and diverging from timbrally distinctive, raw guitar amplification and distortion. Think of it as a treated field recording enhanced, but not eclipsed, by an extremely noise-sensitive metalhead. 

Absolutely stellar for metal meditation.

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

*CHECK OUT CT'S PHOTOGRAPHY ON THEIR PERSONAL WEBSITE!!!

DAN RICO
“Dreamy” C36
(TMB Limited)



Dan Rico is a sultry, one man catwalk of a party, and this is his call to action! Cobbling together the sassiest elements of R&B, funk, & 70s rock, "Dreamy" will sound like a Frankensteinian mix of T. Rex, Prince, and old school porno muzak, getting the blood flowing and the pelvis a-gyratin’. 

Great for gearing up to go out, slap this puppy on & get ready to paint the town red.

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

FAUX CO.
“Radio Silence” C30
(Midwest Action)



Chicago’s Faux Co. are first and foremost an alt/rock band, but (not unike current Wilco,) they’ve got some slick tricks up their sleeve, weaving in psychy, Oldies vibes (not unlike Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeroes) and a touch of heaviness (not unlike Cave In’s later work) that’s perhaps a touch too adventurous for pop radio, but ought tickle the fancy of a good few college radio patrons.

Great for studying on the beach or reading at a bus stop, Faux Co. straddles the line between rock and lull, a warm, pop-background blanket.

and/or

—Jacob An Kittenplan

DIDAKTISCHE EINHEIT “Dosis 6” C46 (ZZK Tapes)


Well this was certainly unexpected. What looked to be some handmade noise nonsense that I’d dismiss out of hand (OK, I wouldn’t dismiss ANYTHING out of hand) turned out to be a German post-punk delight. Drawing equally from no wave and the Birthday Party and Wire, Didaktische Einheit (didactic unit) rip through the meat of “Dosis 6” with bared incisors, drawing blood and ugliness from their inspirations. It’s like they sink those teeth into the tough shank of modern society and attempt to use their wickedness and transgressiveness to reflect everything they hate about it. Also, “Mutterlieb” (mother love) feature the female member of the band thrashing through an orgasm.

I refuse to be flippant about “Dosis 6”: it’s both a lot of fun and a well-executed run through some of the most formative sounds you can latch onto as a pissed-off teenage punk. The guitars are jabbed more than played, and the vocals sound like repeated manifestos more than performed lyrics. Everything’s executed as if there’s no emergency brake or off switch, like Didaktische Einheit is going to see this thing through to the end no matter what. And that’s what makes it as entertaining as it is.



--Ryan