Guest Review part 2: Will Griscom from Berkeley, CA reviews The Cat's Orchestra and others...

hey Nick!

I got some tapes in the mail yesterday, and included with one of them was the following note. (I'll leave it up to you to decide) - ed.

how's it going?
in mxxxx
i am going to see if there is snow
on the mountain here before work
i regrettably wn't be seeing you
at these fxxxx shows... my work
schedule has me by the turtleneck
if youknowhat I mean.
cxxx bxxxx forever. yes
let me know howweverything
is with you and what.
Zxxxxx Mxxxxxxxxx

Also, here are my reviews of the two tapes:


Geist & the Sacred Ensemble -- "In Search of Fabled Lands"
Label: Translinguistic Other

This is some dark weird folk rock that ventures way out into territory I don't hear much these days -- there's a lot of drone and dissonance and throat-singing and shouting and weird drums, and a whole lot of tambourine. Cool sounds. The production is pretty clean overall, with none of the obligatory FX pedal abuse that would put this over the line into modern "psych" territory, but that doesn't keep them from getting noisy when they want to. Some parts definitely made me feel like I was listening to Devendra Banhart doing acoustic covers of Flipper. The lyrics seem to mostly be about death and dying, but my favorite songs are the instrumental jams, which really open up the sonic space they've created to explore some more melodic material. Overall, not bad!

Giant Claw / The Cat's Orchestra
Label: Cae-Sur-A

Two sides of hardcore arpeggio abuse from kids who like to hang out at the deeeeeeeep end of the pool. Heavy Claw takes the a-side with some live recorded ambient-synth-noise that starts out a little shaky in terms of wonky tape compression artifacts but rapidly gets things sorted out and proceeds to move smoothly through a number stunningly beautiful of segments, each consisting of multiple layers of looping synth that gradually fade into the next section. Lots of different elements that are constantly moving around, with stacked arpeggios that would be reminiscent of certain classical minimalist composers if it weren't for the consistently smokey analog synth vibe. The one-sheet mentions Terry Riley as a reference point, which is not totally off the mark, but you have to imagine it as filtered through Tangerine Dream and early 1990s Sega Genesis soundtracks. This kind of ambient synth music can really easily fall into the trap of "chill" cliches and boring sounds, but Giant Claw manages to avoid most of that and delivers a really rewarding, involving listen.

Side B comes from Russian loner dude The Cat's Orchestra, who I last heard from several years ago playing acoustic ethno-folk on homemade instruments. Apparently he's jumped on the analog synth bandwagon as well, although I can't say I really understand what's going on here -- there's a single-chord synth arpeggio that repeats throughout the entire side, and a one-bar drum machine loop, and some whooshing sounds… and that's about it. Sometimes another riff will come in that sounds like it's in a different key, or the main riff will drop out for a couple of bars and it sounds like something new is going to happen, but then it just fades back in again. Definitely a confusing listen -- maybe that's a good thing? The Cat's Orchestra uses the all the same basic elements as Heavy Claw (analog synth, looping, arpeggios) but the end result is distinctly different, way more minimal, agitated and disconcerting.


that's all! let me know if you need anything else.