Monday, January 23, 2012

Know Your History VHS (self releasesd)
MOLE HOLE "Wedge" VHS (Lighten Up Sounds)

I'm happier than a pig in shit to be covering not one, but two current VHS releases. I've long hoped that Cassette Gods would begin to review releases on this medium. After all, it is a video cassette, so it totally falls within our purview. But the truth is, no one has ever sent us anything. Until now.


The first tape I received is not exactly a music release, and while I don't want to get in the habit of reviewing people's film films, Know Your History - Butcher Shoppe 2011 Underworld/Happy America Day is too cool (and has enough music related content) to not write about it. It's a two-parter made by Lucy Watson of the Boston band Kid Romance, a group that has been completely different every time I've seen them (from '93 Boredoms to militant anarchopunk to elctrosomethingorother). They've got a great long playing vinyl disc out on Skrot Up, which I suggest you check out. (Edition of 220).

Anyway, we open with a red curtain parting and we're in The Craze. It's a silent horror film with great music that seems to involve a group of sinister ladies who torture this green troll and also keep a naked man chained up in their basement. There is a ritual with some chickens, a bath of green acid, lots of horrifying masks, some spilled milk, bones and more than a touch of burlesque. It reminds me a lot of a Paul McCarthy piece.

The audio throughout the tape is by OMG (aka L.U.C.Y.) and it's really killer: a doom-laden mix of melodramatic strings, spooky jazz, ritual percussion, clinking glass, minimal electronic sounds, slowed down vocals and deep breathing. It runs straight through The Craze into the second part of the tape, which records the events that transpired on one July 4th at The Butcher Shoppe, a former house venue in Boston. The curtain closes and reopens and we're in a basement filled with punks and a band is playing behind the smoke.

We cut back and forth between the inside and the outside of the venue, where the increasingly rowdy attendees are moshing, drinking, smoking, throwing shit and lighting off fire works. This second segment also plays like a horror film, though that's mostly due to the lack of sync sound and the fucked up OMG music going on over the whole thing. We never get to hear the band or the party goers: although Lucy does put in a few scene specific sound effects, this part of the film is silent as well. Nothing really "happens," but the music really keeps the whole thing suspenseful. Watching this makes me think about how much the soundtrack of a movie impacts what you're seeing. Let me say again, the music in Know Your History is really amazing and could completely stand on its own. It ends, as all things must, with the flashing of red and blue lights.

I think these were only given away free to house venues in Boston, but if you want a copy, you could try writing to wlucy953@gmail.com. She also has a new VHS out that you might want to see if you can snag. It's called Puff a Pound. Ha!



The second VHS release in my possession is an audiovisual release by Matt Himes, whose "folk" project Shep & Me should be known to all Cassette Gods readers. Himes has recently been recording instrumental soundscapes under the name Mole Hole. Wedge is a nicely building set of ominous drone made from a bunch of mismatched gear: waveform signal generator, answering machines, tape loops, ride cymbal, a ceramic plate and some pedals. Visually, we get a static shot of three overlaid film projections. All very nice. This, and a lot more, at the Lighten Up Sounds website.

So in conclusion...if you're doing something with music on VHS, please send it our way. Whether it's a film with a focus on music (Know Your History) or a piece of music with visual accompaniment (Wedge), we want to check it out! If you haven't made one yet, well then what are you waiting for? Abandoned VHS tapes can be found everywhere and new ones (including cases) can be purchased from deltamedia.com.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master.

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