AARON ZARZUTZKI & NICK HOFFMAN "Opening Band" c10 [Pilgrim Talk]

Opening Band is the accompanying cassingle to Aaron Zarzutzki's and Nick Hoffman's full-length clatter platter, the Psychophagi LP also on Pilgrim Talk.
The two side-long pieces were culled from the same recordings as the LP but didn't fit on the vinyl. Bite-size morsels are actually really nice for this sort of thing. I'm not exactly sure what sorts of materials were used to create this, apparently Zarzutzki's weapon of choice is some sort of customized/disassembled turntable. I don't hear any records being played so I imagine Zarzutzki's got other plans. Hoffman (Veyou, Katchmare, the Pilgrim Talk and Ghost & Son labels) on the other hand is on the even vaguer outfit of objects and electronics. The first side titled "Chicago Make Some Noise!" wastes no time delving into a nightmarish free-improv zone whipping up enormous noises that sound like dragging a metal shelf across a concrete floor. After a bit of silence and pitter patter, the boys start in again with a constant, vibrating sine tone and another heavy freak out sounding like that shelf being torn apart.
The second side "No One Knows How to Party like Chicago" starts up with what sounds like a sputtering upright bass before one of them asks "Are we recording?" "Yeah" "Oh shit, I didn't know you started." The previous side moved between moments of silence and extreme volume, high peaks and deep valleys, while this side features a larger quantity of sounds being made throughout, some sounding like cymbals or metal pots and others of a more jagged electronic nature.
I dig that these guys are so rooted in the acoustic side of electro-acoustic improv, as it comes out more detailed than the more typical overloaded mixer noise stuff. The duo is incredibly dynamic, able to navigate nimbly between silence and frightening loud clatter. I haven't been able to decide whether I prefer the tape or the record, it usually ends up depending on how much time I have to listen. Whether you treat the tape as a taster, a companion piece or its own release, it is a cool piece of work and the first of what I hope to be many more releases from this new Chicago duo.

PALE BLUE SKY "Souvenir" c23 (Jugular Forest)

The minimal synthesizer compositions of the Arbor label founder Mike Pollard have always fascinated me. From his work as Treetops to his latest moniker Pale Blue Sky, Pollard has proposed top-notch soundscapes. What makes his work so unique is its sonic capabilities; it doesn't present itself as a mind-blowing spectacle as much as it does provide a moderate amount of sound that seems too skeletal to ignore.

With Souvenir, we have five simply beautiful pieces. Unlike other synth-utilizing contemporaries, the tone is very warm and emphasizes lower frequencies. These particular frequencies aren't the kind that would shake the speakers, but instead fill the room with a calm rumble. Every pulsating tone that Pollard generates overlaps into an enveloping blanket of keys that remains subtle and understated, even at its most lush moments ("Lay, Wait" for example). Field recordings are also creatively utilized on the closer "Fell" which translate into a subdued crackle rather than revealing any discernible outdoor sounds. To summarize, Pale Blue Sky stuns me once again (this being the second release I've heard aside Shades of Grey) with this gorgeously-suited-for-analog, 23-minute opus. Highly recommended.

Limited to 75 cassettes, with a nicely simplistic fold-out j-card.


BERBER OX "Minor Tranquilisor" c56 [Stunned]

The title of this brand new tape on Stunned is no joke. Berber Ox is a project of Aussie David Rutledge and his tape delivers some serious "tranquilisation" divied out at a glacial pace.
The first of the four pieces "The Sister Phase" is by far the chilliest of the tape. And I mean fuckin' freezing! The damn thing could put you into some kind of hypothermic coma. Don't take that the wrong way as this piece is very engaging, but it gives you that pins and needle feeling you get when exposed to extreme cold. Overall, Rutledge devises an extremely minimal composition, employing only a couple oh-so-important drones. From there though, Rutledge will occasionally drop in manipulated tones that don't disrupt the heavy zone going on, but in fact intensify it. Some seriously expert drone work here! The second track, "Circadian," totally changes things up with a field recording of what sounds like walking through a quiet market or something. There are some foreign-language pop songs, motorcycles revving, people chattering. What I really love about the piece is it sounds like there is actual movement here; for instance, one song will come through loud and clear and gradually disappear as other sounds clutter the headphones and without noticing it another song will become barely audible and slowly come into focus. I don't know if the recordist physically moved through the sounds while recording or if it's just a great editing job but it's effective either way.
The flipside features the drones, muffled speech and distant thumping drums of "Carry Only the Money." There's a loud creaking chair of all things that pops up early in the piece leading to a small explosion of field recordings of whats like people moving stuff around. If you ever longed for a soundtrack to your move, here it is! After lots more chattering, Rutledge shifts things into an impenetrable looming wall of drones. Rutledge bookends the tape with another straight drone track, the final piece, "Kali Star."
Very cool tape. Recommended for fans of patient, minimal drones or extensive field recordings. And if you dig both then check this out pronto.
This also has some of Phil French's best artwork yet, all colored pencil too!

CHRISTWRONG "EP" C9 [Control Force]

Awesome semi-joke black metal/punkcore from Moscow, ID. This is nothing new, just done awesomely! You know these people mean business with titles like "Stalinchrist," "Blood for Blood Sake," "My 100 Snaken Angers," "The World is Now Crusher" and lyrics like "Wild life has left here/No deer!/Only tank with snout of swine/No pine!" "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is for fucking chumps," and "Feed my fucking hate you when you lie!/My trash will more survive you DIIIIIIIE!"
All songs are a minute long and not particularly distinguishable from each other but on the other hand, they all rule equally hard! There's total raging from all involved and even a few fun guitar leads. A most excellent way to spend 9 minutes, multiple times!
Tapes are all gone as far as I know, but you can download the mp3s along with cassette artwork and lyric sheet at the label's website. Czech it out!


if you plunder your resources both electronically & in print, from the last couple decades you may find some words here and there throughout the sub-underground about the crazed madman antics of one c. mcalister. its the stuff that legends are born from, or so it seems. since the mid 1980s up until present day charlie has been constantly churning out his own brand of what-have-you glory on many a micro-label and beyond. his discography could fill a gin tub, with upwards of 80 or so tapes, records, cds, books, videos, jars of sauce, experiments...not to mention drawings, paintings, performances, etc. etc.
he smears and blows spontaneous creative juices like a rabid dog, and throughout the years he never seems to falter, constantly re-arranging his art. many seem to dub his music "folk" - which is accurate if you take it in the sense of storysongs by and for the people. if there was still a real sense of oral tradition these days, the bog man could rival john henry. its true his mainstay of instrument choices usually consist of the banjo, acoustic guitar, violin, etc...but they seem either handcrafted or inflicted with dry rot. what mcalister does exceptionally well is deconstruct pop melody and craft his own self described psych dixie music. and it dosent end there...the influences are vast, and often times change from release to release.

mcalister also compiles from time to time works of sound collage, and cold waves is one such release.
the thing about this release is, although new, if you have been following his output - this thing has seen the light of day at least three times over the years. cold waves keeps cropping up. it leads me to belive this album has been in a constant state of flux. additions and subtractions. new cover images replace the old, which still seem to bleed through on the xerox. previous track listings scrawled over. new catalog numbers...
well it seems that it has reached some sort of apex with charlie dubbing it under his new label moniker space cult (previously tar owl / previously flannel banjo) - and what you get is a wild ride shifting spasticly all over many terrains. re-worked audio detritus. hypnotic rhythms from which no samplers were used. everything is as organic as dirt. skipping records made from various household ingredients being applied, and actually occasionally being constructed of said ingredients. meat, asbestos, wood, metal. interlaced are the sounds of horns, organs, steel drum, boxes and cans. you name it. both brooding and soothing.
and quite different from other mcalister releases. it may have taken four or five years for this cassette to become fully realized, but it has been well worth the wait.
my suggestion : reach on into that satchel, pull out a few clams, put them in an envelope, and mail it off into
the abyss. in a fortnight you are sure to receive a mangled manila envelope full of sweat and goodness.

and if you are feeling like frying plenty of past releases are still available if you know where to look.
i would recommend starting with : DOORMAT TX, UNREAD, LITTLE MAFIA & TICK-TOCK.

HARTLEY C WHITE "Run the Gauntlet" c60? (Whopazootic Music, 1991/99)

Hartley C White's body of recordings is like a hug in the face -- it's pretty alarming to jump into this music, with its ultradeveloped internal language of martial-arts-inspired snare rhythms, extreme-front multitracked vocals, keyboard bass & dissonant-consonant treble attractions. "Who-pa-zoo-tics": it's a cold pool at first but you can really, really swim in it.

Hartley's freaked out about various salient factors of modern existence but this album isn't a political treatise or anything. It's more like a series of extremely funky martial arts exercises inflected with an existential politics. The music is challenging but not in the ways I think listeners are used to being challenged. The production & arrangements are slick and clear and definitely not hard on the ears. These are nakedly, blatantly good songs, unencumbered by their complex rhythms & strange forms. What's challenging is being with this guy as he puts himself in the danger zone -- White is on the edge of himself.

"The mode of operation isn't hard to see, it can be put to work on you or me." Recorded in 1991, Run the Gauntlet is only the first of 4 albums White's released. His latest Under the Radar was released this year and it expands his already huge world even more. Check out his myspace here to hear samples, get in touch and find out how to order his music. As far as I know all of his albums have been self-released w/ gorgeous art and extensive liner notes / photographs etc. from White's Corona NY "Whopazootic Music" label, and it looks like they are also available as downloads -- support this guy and his amazing music!

PC WORSHIP - "Millenial Kreephaus" c26 (Night People)

PC Worship is back with a boggling new cassette, that is sure to turn our brains into a glowing pink syrupy substance.Millenial Kreephaus is the name of this tiny box of magic.The always exploratory Justin Frye has somehow found time in between his work with the awesome Gary War, and his own mysterious Teeth Mountain ventures, to conjure up twenty six minutes of new fear and wonder.His music is always of a different breed, never really falling into any particular genre, but for "psychedelic" territories.Those of you who were lucky enough to catch the ultra-mesmerizing Dune of Heroin release, and soaked in it, are in for quite a treat.
There's still a fair amount of cave-folk strumming, weird chords stretch out into breezy oblivion without any warning, and return as something completely different.Acoustic guitar fragments chip away and float out to space, and just when you had forgotten about them, they slowly resurface as woozy saxophone squeal.This music relies on blind chance, but doesn't seem to linger in the "jammy" hot zones long enough to get burnt.
Frye's influences are tough to pin, based on his songwriting anyway.His tunes are loose, sprawling jaunts, and rarely end up in the same place that they started.His tortured-yet-tuneful howl soars high above the cluttered instrumentation, with a slight echo treatment that bounces it in every direction.Now, this isn't all noisy freak outs and Jandekian improvisation abuse.Frye tends to discover a pleasant lull in a song, and attach himself to it for a somewhat lengthy run.Gentle guitar drones fill the air with a sweet,light green haze, and it's quite refreshing indeed.Thing shards of melodic beauty float around and pop like tiny bubbles, and there is a low bass tone swelling off in the distance.It's quite a breathe of fresh air.
Underneath all of the fuzz and rhythmic clutter, there lies a collection of songs, and if you listen close enough you will hear them flourish.It's time to battle your short attention span, and commit to the long haul, because the payoff is BIG, both musically and aesthetically.

Get this, and other plastic gems from NIGHT PEOPLE.