MED.HAMMER "Shedding Life" (Existential Cloth) C60 Ed. of 20

Death drone. That's what this is. Simple, dark, heavy. I got my copy of this tape from Existential CEO Matt, himself on a recent trip up to Portland, ME. I listened to this driving done I-95 in the rain. I'm surprised I didn't drive myself through the guard rails into oblivion.

Shedding Life is just two thirty-ish minute live sets from their 2007 tour. Matt kept talking about what a blast that trip was. I would think these guys were dosing out on codeine the whole time, not partying. Goes to show you what I know. Maybe that is their kind of party. I wasn't there. I only know the end result, and its soul crushing.

So, to be clear, this ain't no Line-6 loop station mic and a singing bowl form of hippy drone. Shedding Life is one hell of a dark Thanatonic meditation aid. Next time I smoke salvia, I hope I remember to put this on. Hell or high water, it'll be a journey to remember.

Existential Cloth on Myspace.
Med Hammer on Myspace.

KID WIZARD "To The Stars By Hard Ways" (Hidden Fortress Tapes) C30, Ed. of 30

Space music for the lo-fi set. If there are two things in the world that I love, its DIY synths and tapes hiss on analog synth music. Both those are here in spades. Another tape that had a nice career in my car over the summer. Good for you, I haven't waited too long and copies are still available (at time of writing). But enough sales-hype, let me tell you about To The Stars By Hard Ways.

As notes warble on a home made mellotron (for real?), a filmless score is made, then bumped out of the way almost immediately by some juicy electro groove. That's the flow of this tape. Kid Wizard is a master of the medium. Only in the Bay Area would someone posses both the skill at electronics to build his own entire Synthsizer studio, and also have the musical genius to groove house parties like Kubric would have in the '70's.

If I were doing A&R for either Rephlex or Satamile, I'd be tossing this guy a cash advance. Some one, some one PLEASE put this on wax. It deserves it more than anything else I've heard this year.

Hidden Fortress Tapes.
Kid Wizard on Myspace.

THE MENTHOLS "Stereoisomer" C58 (Amateur Depression) Ed. of 100.

Who gave these kids the cough syrup? Garage punk that rides the line between total banality and total brilliance. Nine songs here that throb, swagger and pummel my brain and nether regions. Sympathy For The Record Industry dons it's Lufthansa cap, dusts off it's dog collar and bull whip and road-trips out to PA for an extended erotic, psychedlics-fulled one-on-one party with Siltbreeze. Extended interludes that are actually funny. I might be over-hyping this tape (could anything ever be that good), but even so this is some tight rock 'n roll. And, Jesus, just look at that cover art! Punk as fuck!

This tape sat way too long in my car stereo this summer to finally get a review, so I gotta tell you things fast and furious. Anyone reading this: jump on this band ASAP. If these dudes were from Brooklyn, they'd be internet famous already. Once an LP hits, I reckon The Menthols will be deemed CLASSIC.

Menthols on Myspace.
Amateur Depression on Tumblr.
Amateur Depression on Myspace.
Cut to the chase and mailorder.

TINY MUSIC: s/t c37 (Nihilist Records) & “F.W.S.S.” c76 (self-released)

This clanking collective of Chicagoans really know how to make an interesting din out of household objects. Using explicitly acoustic instruments, they can really clock out a cassette and give dudes with tables full of effects pedals a serious run for their money. Any electricity they do use is only to power their homemade gadgets, spinning chimes and slatted metal to scrape against. The actual list of items they use (included in the liner notes) is staggering, everything from drinking straws to window weights.

The music is always instrumental and generally dissonant, but the contraptions aren’t the whole of the music, there’s also a heavy use of various flutes and bowed instruments that, when the music does come together and become rhythmic, invoke an elven maypole dance, the family minstrel band doing some real medieval truckin’. I was a little disappointed that “F.W.S.S.” (which stands for "Fall, Winter, Sping, Summer”) didn’t really apply it’s seasonal motif more comprehensively; it seemed like each song, though possessing individual idiosyncracies, sounded largely the same structurally, with no difference in mood. Still, I think the potential of this group, both auditorily and in formation, is limitless, and look forward to future releases.

Both tapes come with xerox inserts, but “F.W.S.S.” has varied pieces of flora glued to the front and watercolored labels.