GULLWING: s/t c20 (Basement Tapes)

I want to start this by writing about the packaging for this tape. It’s kind of a bummer. It doesn’t stack, it doesn’t shelve, and no one I know has the kind of table space to set aside for items like this. I like handmade stuff as much as the next person, and I appreciate the effort put into this, but not only does it not close, but the tape doesn’t even fit into it properly, hence the copious amounts of string and glue. There’s creative, and then there’s unreasonable.

That being said, the actual music within is a whole different matter. Baltimore’s Bryan Rhodes, half of the Cutest Puppy in the World, creates a very strange listen that I’m not positive about on execution, whether it’s all original work or edited from other sources or both, which I guess is the point as it’s described as “musique concréte”, layering thick clouds of electroacoustic sound. Side A is heavy on the strings and, unable to separate the band name and the music, I couldn’t shake the image of a seagull fighting to maintain stable flight in a coastal wind storm, the same kind of din made by the crashing waves in “Fantasia”. The sound stays pretty consistent throughout, whereas side B is a smooth, gradual change of jazz forms starting with more eclectic, improvisational works and then slowly sliding into an “adult contemporary”, NPR-safe style, while a foundation of upright bass laces it all together. Worth checking out if you already have a series of gallery pedestals or a curio cabinet to keep your folk art in.