L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings - Portland, ME

It's Friday the 13th. The stroke of midnight. Cool. I'd like to take this holiday of the occult to shed a little on what is perhaps one of the most positively positive labels out there. Run by Matt Lajoie of the bands Herbcraft and Cursillistas, L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings releases musical ephemera on cassette and vinyl from it's cozy den in Portland, ME. There are really so few labels out there releasing contemporary psychedelia and doing it as under the radar as LTFR. L'animaux Tryst is equally at home with improvisatory electric music as it is with the folk based psych that Portland became so known for in the mid 2000s. For the most part, the music offered by the label seems to have no knowledge that the 1980s ever happened.

While that is the case for most LTFR releases, one tape completely breaks the label's mold and it's actually one of the best tapes of 2011. Altered Gee (pronounced "G") is the work of a couple of barely 20-year-olds and its definitely an 80s retro jam (see the Sega Genesis cover art), but in my opinion it blows just about everything else going on out of the water. I seriously doubt these kids feel like they are part of a trend, and heck, maybe I'm foolish for even lumping them in with all the other folks making backwards-thinking keyboard music these days. What really stands out about European Gees is how S-E-X-Y it is, though in a pretty drugged out way. Instrumentation is as follows --> keyboards: SIEL OR 400, Moog Taurus II. drums: SP 1200, Drumulator, Korg DDD-1. At the very least, you should have a listen over here. But do me a favor and buy the tape from the L'animaux Tryst website (link at bottom). You'll be glad you did, cause it sounds oh-so-better coming out of your boombox.

The other current releases I've heard from LTFR cover the broad spectrum of psychedelic music. The Concord Ballet Orchestra Players traffic in extended Parson Sound styled excursions. Their release is a beautiful double cassette in a large holder that comes with a handful of color photo-cards. Smokin'! Some of this stuff really gets out there in a "next level" sort of way. Howl's Angels by Oracle Offering is a quiet and beautiful meditation for echoing voice, flute and sympathetic strings by a lone female artist. Very spooky-ooky and sure to please fans of the chanteuses of Prisma or Visitations. One gets the feeling of observing an arcane ritual. The longer the tape goes on, you wonder if you haven't perhaps stumbled onto something that's perhaps a little sinister. After European Gees, this was my second favorite release of the current batch of tapes. Mysteries by Jared Fairfield is the most overtly folk-psych release in the current batch, but that doesn't keep it from traversing various other realms. It opens with a lovely finger picking guitar instrumental that is backed by a autoharp and chiming bells. After the intro, the albums title track expands the pallet to include drums, organ and electric guitar. That piece reminds me a little of the work of Brattleboro bands The Happy Jawbone Family Band and The Great Valley, but it has a more ethereal and less ramshackle feel. The track is a real standout, check it out here. One song has a heavy Sabbath styled bass riff that pops up out of nowhere, but it mostly stays in "friendly" territory. A really nice surprise! The album comes in a beautiful paper wraparound that is threaded through the cassette with yarn. Pete Fosco's Vactionlanded tape is series of minimal guitar instrumentals played with commitment to space and the subtly evolving idea. He seems to use a bow or e-bow and some other implements to produce the extended tones heard here. There's hardly any traditional noodling, but neither is the music overly reliant on effects boxes. Planets Around the Sun are a duo who lay chant-like vocals and wah wah guitar over Eastern drones and repetitive tom tom beats on We O We. The music recalls some of MV & EE's more astral jams, but with less focus on the folk/blues influence, though that does pop up on the album's final track. A very heady sounding recording, though sometimes the vocals are little buried underneath all the other goodness.

All L'animaux Tryst (Field) Recordings can be found on the label's website. While you're poking around you should check out Matt's band Herbcraft. Their new long player "Ashram to the Stars" on the Woodsist imprint Hello Sunshine is as finely crafted an interstellar vehicle as you're likely to find in this day and age.