EMERALDS "Servant" c26 (Wagon)

Cleveland based Emeralds serves up another frothy stew of mystic miasma, probably my favorite to date. If you've been following these dudes for a while yr sure to be pleased by this release. The Ohio trio serves up two sides of mind squirming, swamp shifting, asteroid soundscapes, drawing openly from their influences (listed in the first page of their website!) of terry riley's minimalist tonal patterns and tangerine dreams moody dystopian synth soundtracks. Type of music that makes you turn off the lights (if they're not already) and stuff yourself between two mattresses and get yr creep out on (if you're not already).

Full color art of what looks like a byzantine mosaic.
Not sure of the edition or if it's still in print.
Check the sort of awkward page of the label here:

HEPATITIS (B) YOUTH "s/t" c15? (Friends and Relatives / Green Tape Records)

Liner notes list 12 members on the inside of the tape and it's sort of weird to say it, but it doesn't feel like that at all. Usually you put three dudes in a room and the music is totally (TOO) full, the tape is covered in loop goop and hissing twists. Not this mini-album. A nice ensemble piece that sounds like, after a hearty meal of cardboard dipped in wet sand, the band hit the recycling shed and ripped through a set of their favorite "tunes" with only themselves to please.

I'd long heard stories of the north florida scene (which was mind-blowing enough back then), weird people hanging out under bridges covered in fake blood playing 4 minute sets till the cops showed up (for real!) and have followed some of their paths and detritus since and this is a nice crouton in the sound salad. Carlos Gonzalez is listed first and since his exodus north he's put out a staggering collection of releases getting better every second as Russian Tsarlag (check the most recent LP on Night People, along with a great cassette on Bonescraper). Zach Ippen I know only from running the Green Tape Records label which had a hand in putting this (and a recent Gang Wizard LP) out, but i'm sure if you tracked down some of these other names the pieces would start to fit together.

Definitely a nice little slice of magnetic tape, pretty short which is a little sad but leaves you wanting more of that dude sort of moaning/singing through a toilet paper tube over some bass player stuffed in a bag of leaves with a drummer keeping the beat on the roof of the passing 18 wheeler.

Comes packaged in a plastic snap-shut case,
black and white photocopied art
still in print from Friends and Relatives site (along with lots of other good stuff!)

the not-super-helpful green tape records site:
and the more helpful Friends and Relatives site:

NYSS "Stjeer" c60 (Hikikomori)

This tape is the first I've seen submitted for review that came with a nice hand written note. Jonas explained this tape isn't even part of an edition because he "doesn't think his music is good enough," which is a shame. The music is definitely good enough to be released in more than an edition of zero, especially considering the amount of stuff that's released in an edition of 100,000...

The music is hypnotic 'keyboard' that at times sounds like a budget crap-sio or SK-1 or maybe even a chord organ without the incessant whir of the motor. The hypnotic element is partially due to the semi discordant tones humming in and out and also because of the fact that it's relentless. the wailing of the keyboard is relentless and it makes you feel like yr recliner went too far back and yr head is simultaneously resting on yr favorite chair and the ground.

there are only like two breaks in the whole piece and you get the feeling it was a friggin muscle cramp that made him stop because as quickly as possible it restarts right where it left off.

Hikikomori is based out of sweden and doesn't have a website and this isn't in an edition...BUT if you write to Jonas at : calvinwiththecops [@] yahoo.se and "email a request...i'll record some of it for [you.]" i don't know if that means everyone gets their own unique tape or he'll just dub you a copy of this, either way, it's a good chance to pick up some ambient keyboard jams in a hand-collaged case from a very polite dude in the north east of Sweden.

again, no site, just email:
calvinwiththecops [@] yahoo.se

SLASHER RISK "Richard's Blood" c20 (Heavy Psych Recordings)

I've heard a bunch o' buzz about Slasher Risk so i was psyched to see this tape in the pile of 'to review.' What's even better is I was listening to it at about 3:30 in the morning on headphones, can't think of a better listening environment.

The tape is two live sides, each 10 minutes, side one from Silent Barn in their hometown of brooklyn, the second side a little further up I95 @ AS220 in providence.
The first side, though it's their hometown, sounds like they're terrifying and torturing the audience a lot more than side two, part of this is because you can actually hear the audience. The band sounds really intense and intestine eating, with a barrage of electronics, drums and guitars hitting the audience right in the kisser.

The big down side is the audible audience intensity is definitely compromised by the recording quality making you feel like you're listening from the back of the room, like you can see limbs flying, teeth hitting the ceiling fan and toenails being chewed, you're just on the other side of the room. The second side has more or less the same ups and downs, but with a more prominent vocal / guitar sound and a bit higher quality recording.

These sides haven't necessarily revealed to me what the sonics of the band are due to the recording quality, but it is definitely evidence that these folks would be an intense live band and presumably an awesome listen with a little better engineering.

Printed in an edition of 50.
black and white cover with blood red label on white tapes.
Sold Out from the label:

ANTIQUE BROTHERS "Hot Shit" c50 (Really Coastal)

Of all the things i'd never think to make a 'comeback' or find a home in the 'noise tape' community it would be "pro-dubbed" tapes. But what do i have in front of me but a new release on the Really Coastal label by Antique Brothers on a pro-dubbed bone colored tape, with printing indicating "hot side" and "shit side." Next step "one side longer to retain continuity" notices.

The upside of pro-dubbed tapes is definitely in the fidelity, you can hear the music a bit better, and i'd guess the label has to have a little more at stake in them (it does cost more right?) so they're going to expect a higher quality release, and Antique Brothers deliver just that.

Two sides of music that push and pull at elements of looseness and cooperation as a slide guitar beautifully leads the group through and off of percussive paths suggesting folk, psych and free jazz elements while never investing in one at the exclusion of others. The first side is a lot more patient and exploratory of the forms while the second side does venture into the spastic which is suggestive of out/free jazz. But still, something in there doesn't quite hold on and it remains more in the "psych freak out part" rather than a genre crossing.

The title does seem a little weird to me though, there is never really a "shit" vibe to the whole piece and hot doesn't exactly seem an apt description for something that is so toned down and focused for 3/4 of the listen. It's not for me to name releases though and it's not really worth complaining about when it's as good as this stuff.

A nice second release from the Really Coastal label with full color photo artwork.
Printed in an edition of 125 on the aforementioned pro-dubbed tapes.
still available from the label:

THE NORTH SEA "Elixir" c41 (Abandon Ship Records)

Do you remember that bit by Chris Rock where he's talking about not having medical insurance as a kid; how his parent's answer to all their illnesses was Robitussin? "Flu? Tussin! Broken bone? just put some 'tussin on it!" Then there are the stories of people 'robo-trippin' (are there any verified cases of this where it's not just some kids taking so much of anything they feel like shit and call it 'high?). Then there is the very real feeling we all know of taking a bunch of cough syrup because you feel like shit and having yr eyes glaze over like maple syrup and yr motor skills slow down. This tape "Elixir" by The North Sea falls somewhere in this equation.

Long periods of extended hum, like the resonance of having yr mouth open as you fall out of a plane, give the listener the feeling of excess, the experience of witnessing too much to comprehend, like looking out of a plane window over the ocean. There's a slow wail that carries through almost the whole of the tape, giving the listener the sense of peace and almost anxiety that accompanies isolation and vastness.

The end of the second side registers the only significant shift, with the music beginning to show signs of thaw, growth and fluctuation, maybe yr peaking or coming down or losing hope or just beginning to come out of the tussin / ice fog.

It bears mentioning that I'm usually forcing myself to stop concentrating on the process and methodology of the artists and just "enjoy" the music and that was never an issue on this jam. Just sat back, listened and enjoyed.

Nice layout / full color art by pete friel.
Released in an edition of 100
still available from the label:

GARETH HARDWICK "Carnations" c30 (Peasant Magik)

This tape got an immediate second round even though i have wtc size stack of tapes waiting to be listened to next to me. A simple packaging, color copy of what looks like a dried up river bed of rocks that's a three panel fold out. First side is a really soothing, almost disarming cascade of rising and descending synth, sort of like the rocks pictured on the front of the case. It's slow and borders on harmonic without ever relying any distinct melody.

The second side is a bit more dissonant though not without resolution, two synth lines slowing intertwining creating discord and a slight tension with a bit more high end though the tones establish a relationship and work slowly towards become a unified field of sound that is, like the first side, more soothing.

A really good listen.
Still available from the label:

note: the label site says one side is guitar and the other is organ, presumably side a is the organ, side b is the guitar which would explain the difference in register and approach but with a consistency between sides in the goals of the sounds.

LEAD SISTER "II" c30 (oms-b)

This really captured my attention at first, sounding like a world war musical clash, slightly loop oriented but with a pretty interesting palette of sounds, awkward percussion sources sounded like oil barrels tapped with rubber mallets, clicking sounds being pulled from one end of the measure to the other, maybe an accordion, flutes that sound like their from the master musicians of jajouka or maybe it's a muted trumpet? sometimes it sounds like there's a whole damn wall of them! contorted mbira lines act as a cadence for the rest of the instruments, while shrill stringed instruments act as walls of swaying dissonance.

All this stuff going for it, interesting rhythmic arrangements, instrumentation, production but most of the compositions, with the exception of one on the second side featuring a nice double bass mostly felt like 10 second loops on repeat and it's a real shame because it doesn't take a lot of modulation to make something interesting; hell, that greh holger tape on hanson is nothing but sloooow modulation, same thing with a great synth tape from pulse emitter!

It's unfortunate, because it's not uncommon to come across something you're not compelled to re-listen to but this tape has all the elements of something i'd be really excited by it's just that listening to one song feels like you've just listened to the tape 5 times. I'd really love to hear something else by these folks that takes a little longer to develop or reveals a little more the longer you listen other than something that feels like a loop. Still, worth pointing out again that the instrumentation, composition and structures are all pretty interesting and a bit out of the ordinary and depending on how yr predisposed could be yr thing.

comes in a nice looking blockprinted and watercolor sleeve, white tape.
printed in an edition of 60
still available from the label www.oms-b.org

PREDATOR VISION "II" c30 (Abandon Ship Records)

On the cover of Predator Vision's second tape, mysteriously titled "II" Danny Glover is caught looking off into the distance, slightly to the left, sort of lost in thought. You would think it's because he's trying to hunt down and kill the predator in his second full length movie, but my guess is he's remembering being 16 and at his first Santana concert and feeling liberated by the "smell of pot" though he hasn't actually done any. He's staring off into the distance as the first jam lets loose a tight building kraut-style drumbeat with two guitars ripping and rolling solos on top of each other with waves of phase carrying each section into the next as the comes apart slightly only to reconfigure with some riffs structuring the final movement. Danny is staring up at the sky hard as if his neck is the sensory organ for hearing and he wants to expose it to the last riffs of the first side which sort of sounds like sweet leaf by sabbath, though the rest of the music sounded nothing like that.

there's a pause and the bass player jeremy pisani (red favorite) joins the trio of etienne dugay (real estate) on drums and ben daly and matt mondanile (real estate, ducktails) on guitars. things get a little weirder, glover's vision from staring at the sun is becoming less literal, the music has opened up; the drums remaining rhythmic but without the crisp disciplinary beat propelling it forward, instead the drums and bass now work as a "section," slightly syncopated while the guitar and occasional organ sounds float in a softer environment, one less defined by rigid shapes and more by pulsing color. Glover is into it. The mood builds and builds, lifting and sort of absorbing the influence of pisani's bass and heading back into what the three dudes feel most comfortable doing, letting it rip.

the music is abruptly stopped, like the tape ran out, or the cops broke up the show sending Glover on his way with a sort of distant, to the left, look on his face.

black and white art on tan paper
printed in an edition of 100
Still available from the label,

BUDWEISER SPRITE "trash on the grass" (905 Tapes)

Back with more noise-constructed rock n' roll, the man with the positive vibe has an epic one this time. A c-92 usually means dulldome for just about anyone, but here Budweiser Sprite shines. Starting off with unrelenting, fast paced, driving rhythms that last for nearly half the side of the cassette, there is no boredom to be found. Only after it seems that this approach will define the entire release do the rhythms begin to change. Still using mixer/4track/circuit feedback to create sludgy and farty loops, the aesthetic is lo-fi. Unlike so much lo-fi noise though, this is multi-textured, surprisingly expressive, and never flat or dull. Rather, it occupies a certian voice that is immediately recognizable as Budweiser Sprite. This is greatly due to how he uses this fart-range. So much action is put into the sounds, so much movement and an incredible sense of head bobbing and fist pumping pace, that the true joy he gets out of making this music is immediatly translated to the listener. These muffled tones come from a party beyond the perifory, centered into focus in a way that shows how awesome and straight up happy the unknown and mysterious can be.