SUDDEN OAK : S/T (Bezoar Formations)

Sudden Oak is a newly san franciscan duo made up of John (guitar) and Matt (saxophone). This polka dotted (what does that design have to do with polka?) c21 with a xerox/printed cover is a perfect soundtrack for your summertime hang sessions. That is if your summertime hang sesh happens to be you gettin total bleek, loner style, tied to the front of a greyhound with a mouthful of earthworms.

First side opens with some mellow but slightly dissonant waves, suggesting an interest in droning on, finding the subtlety in the greater picture. Yet as it creeps forward it slowly becomes heavier; not like an Earth record 'heavy' but heavy like a stomach punch played in slow motion where the skin is rippling in an almost hypnotic fashion or like sticking yr head out the window of a moving car with yr eyes open type of heavy. By the end of the first side there's a really thick air, like you're trying to breathe through some ashtray lifestyle and it's not looking too good for you.

Second side does a little side step but definitely doesn't make the dance any more optimistic. While tonally the instruments are a lot more distinct there's definitely a more blown out feel at the beginning though they retain control enough to cough out some synth-sounding parts, definite guitar mangling and some nose-bleed feedback to carry you through till the very distinct 'click' of the tape ending, like a teacher just whacked the fuggin desk with a ruler to take you out of the unreleased, chopped and screwed soundtrack to the hills have eyes (the orig, obv). hot tape dudes!

LATERAL HYETOGRAPHY : Some Girlzz cassingle (Really Coastal)

First off i have to get my conflict of interest out in the open, Jon, who is lateral hyetography, and i email each other about the Boston Celtics and Books, i don't think that'll effect my write up, but i just want to put it out there.

This tape is a legit, professionally printed m-f'in cassingle. kudos for that ish; you'll occassionally see a new tape that's professionally printed, but i'll be damned if dudes are still making cassingle/promo tapes. Anyhow this jam (it's just one jam! program repeats!) hits a really really soft spot of mine, old organ drum beats, or something that sounds hot-shit-just-like-it. its a great beat that runs through the whole tune. it has a playful pop feel and structure to it, wispy, sort of high pitched vocals. i don't like using musical comparisons because i don't want to belittle or offend people or give one person ownership of a sound but this does have some ariel pink vibes quivering through the atmosphere, though the production is a lot, lot cleaner.

After a bit of verse chorus verse action, there's a long refrain that builds layers and layers of voice and synth padding, which had me thinking about the effect of the Line 6 era of noise bands and their effects/role in constructing pop format songs, there are a few bands, most notably Black Pus, who are utilizing the technique exceptionally well. while i wouldn't put this tape in that category only because it's a studio recording, it does suggest some interesting approaches to the pop/noise/ambient hybridity that are occurring.

Second Edition of 95. released by Really Coastal

HUI "Excerpts From the Hui Tape Collections" (Stenze Quo / Meudiademorte)

This tape comes with a simple black and white photocopied insert that lists the title, time and all the instruments used on each side. The only other text is the the title "Hui- shows an excerpt of from the Hui tapes collection played by marcel turkovsky." It really makes you feel like you stumbled onto a demo or rough mixes from a huge library of master tapes. Judging by Marcel's output, i bet there is a friggin wine cellar somewhere full of master tapes, notepads filled with ideas and more instruments like the "polnisch knull" or a "pustrohr" that are just waiting to be manipulated and undone as were on this tape.

I remember watching Fast, Cheap and Out of Control and in the documentary there is a robotic scientist who is studying the way in which ants walk and comparing it to contemporary attempts at making movement mechanical. The ant is a really imperfect creature, stumbling about, falling, not precise at all, yet it is what the scientist believes is the most effective. They allow mistakes, working them into a larger routine, whereas robots of the R2D2 nature are so rigid that if they fall or bump into something they are rendered completely useless. There needs to be room for error, or better yet, error needs to be considered an integral part of the process.

Marcel's compositions have something of a similar ring, both in their process and the end result of the sound. I don't want to get too caught up in process, especially since i've never seen him play solo, but there does seem to be a focus paid on the process here, with irregular loops moving in and out of the foreground acting as both structural tool and as embellishment. While the tapes play both parts, they are also assigned a particular role as organic noises enter the field of sound, tapping, bells, walking, something in the background banging; all causing the initial tape looped sound or rattling to be re-registered as something 'taped' or secondary. It is this back and forth and attention to recontextualizing a sound that makes this tape so good. What is a hypnotic bug sound changes dramatically when a mbira/xylophone sound enters and pushes the skittering loop to the background.

This tape is a great example of using loops, layers, field recordings and primitive folk instruments to create a challening and exciting listen that supercedes the standard Line 6 loop fest. listen up!

Edit! I just went to listen to another Hui tape i have to realize they're the same, in different packaging, evidently this was initially released (still available) by Stenze Quo, another great label.

TOWERING BREAKERS w/ BEN MORRIS "Like Light" (Rayon Records)

I recently got this jam in a batch of tapes from Pascal who runs Rayon records. All the tapes have a similar packaging style, this weird fold over oragami style case with a photo attached to the side making it twice as wide as normal (and impossible to put with the rest of your tapes, though really, it's necessary to have like two other shelves for storing releases like this, plus they look good.) Tape is yellow, spray painted, edition of 50, along with the photo and insert the sleeve is slathered with green goo. for the record, goo is always a nice touch in my book.

The tape itself lives up to the pacakaging offering the listener lots and twine to wrap around your head, tape to stick on your face and cotton balls to stuff in your mouth. Each side has two pieces each offering different imbalances and distractions matched with concentration and integrated forms. Not sure of any of the other releases by Towering Breaker since this is the first i've heard but the fact that they're joined by Ben Morris ("mad dog ben morris" according to the insert) really effected the way i was listening, trying to hear the way a guest was sitting in; sort of trying to find the piece that has been added to the equation.

These guys deliver a great mix of semi-distinct layers interacting, trying to weave together some distant cries caught on tape, with a slightly overblown signal making a mic bounce off the wall, while trying to meet and mate sounds there is also a comfort in the fact that they are their own; what sounds like water sounds and maybe drums (or a person shaking a chainlink fence) shift in and about creating a really unsteady (in a good way) drone that feels like it could fall apart or totally congeal at any point.

The next section starts a bit more spastic and jumpy, allowing for definition between the pieces, to develop their own identity before carrying off into a wall of co-mingling where totally non-verbal voices reach out and grab at everything, pulling segments into a full on wall paper peeling seance of sound. Grey clouds of gloom follow ushered in by shooting rhythmics sounds of totally unidentifiable nature, driving into the sunset there is true comfort and ease in the handling of the resolution. Gong/bell types of sounds hush and brush against walls of tape hiss and wind, something like the concert of a late night harbor for a ship just in from sea.

TROPA MACACA "Peca Ma" (Silver Ghosts)

This tape comes from a live performance (one set split over both sides) from "OUT.FEST" in 2007. Tropa Macaca is a duo, i believe, from portugal. If it weren't in the liner notes i wouldn't have guessed that this were a live release considering the weight and length of some moments. But i think that is my prejudice coming through, where live sets are often marked by an anxiety that translates into quicker transitions and shorter parts. Then again, i'm not from the school of mellow dudes on the floor...

That said this tape is not without its share of fractured moments and there's no hesitation over the introduction of new directions or textures but there is a definite focus on the development of their drone elements. A deep bass ocean is introduced, an ocean of lotion, thick and simmering with heavy heat beaming down carrying on through sputtering loops of percussive wind warmth. Elements of synths (maybe not actual synths though?) mix easily with more airy whispy creating a nice balanced palette, though not without the necessary tension to keep a recording (performance) interesting and with a sense of movement.

Sounds of unplugging and plugging in scatter across the surface; a nice metaphor for the music, the sounds of instruments and action creating a world in tune with and plugged into the fabric of being undone and unattached, floating across the surfaces, looking down, under the rippling, fractured bubblings.

Comes in plastic case with silkscreened cover.
no website yet, you can email for copies

WEIRDING MODULE "Underwater in Space" (Silver Ghosts)

Weirding Module is the solo synth project of mike, the bass player awesome color. If you're familiar with their rip roaring rock and roll records, this tape may come as a bit of a surprise. If you're only familiar with mike as one half of the duo Bisexual Ghengis Khan (with colin from usaisamonster) than this will seem like familiar territory for this soldier of rock to walk.

It feels almost like the release was named after him trying to describe the sound of the tape to an aunt or an uncle who hadn't smoked pot. Underwater in space, though not possible (is it?) is a pretty literal description of the noodles, franks and beans that make up this primordial stew. A really great tape that starts with lots of decaying sounds, tones being ripped apart and bounced about in semi-rhythms, half in time half out creating a reallly disorienting set of blerps and beeps to follow. The second piece is a lot more minimal and almost devious in its pause. Comes across like a true vouyer staring into a mirror.

The second side starts, appropriately, wave-like with pulses cascading in and out and crashing against anything in their way. I remember a koan about the strenght of something soft, like water, breaking something hard, like stone. Soft is harder than hard. These pieces in all their mechanical circuitry have something soft in them, an ability to rise and descend to express and manipulate while still being rather cold and rigid, almost surgical in their execution.

A great tape, well played and pretty diverse in the approach and the movement of the music. Not particularly bleak or dark but not really uplifting and storybook. Maybe that's what space is like, or underwater. Environments that are almost totally inhospitable to humans, yet, with the proper equipment somehow people end up there staring at themselves and whatever goo and dust is floating by.

Silkscreened covers by M. Padding, in a plastic tape case perfect for filing.
No website available, you can email for copies

MUNTJAC "Warp" (Taped Sounds)

A new mini-planet has evolved and it's soundtrack is straight from the "home taping" scene of yesteryear. this release is an unbelievable little nugget of quirky, chirpy, simple, songs and that in and of itself makes it quite an amazing feat! This tape would fit right in along side anything that came out of the Shrimper-Era home recording blitz that brought us a million and one amazing tapes (and personally was a big inspiration). One of the unfortunate features of a lot of those tapes was usually some dude whining about something 'personal' in a voice that maybe should have remained at home and not recorded. still, a lot of the music was exceptional and was catapulted even further into the stratosphere of "sweeeeet" by the super ultra lo-fidelity of the recordings. This Muntjac recording is right on time. It sounds like instead of multi-tracking he did the old boombox next to a boombox so all the tracks have a 'live' feel to them. A lot of the standard weapons are used, shitty keyboard beats, shitty keyboards, guitars, overdriven bass and some tape manipulation. Many of the tracks are self contained ideas but a few move in and out of the structured and into 'fields' of sound yet never lose sight of the intentions of the track. Major kudos for that. Again, so thankful for the lack of voice; there's no way words (and the human voice) could say something more interesting than the music. Then again, you never know. Comes packaged in a mini ziplock bag with a black and white insert with some drawings of a planet and some animals on it along with a color mini zine featuring weird marker drawings and basic release info.