LOCKBOX "Hypersecret" c48
(Animal Image Search)
Guest Post by Karsten Høegh of Denmark

Lockbox (17 year old Jesse Briata from Denver, Colorado) presents an eclectic mix of styles ranging from sample based loungy collages over wonky beats to outright psychedelic noisy effect-experiments. Also there's some percussion bits thrown in that sounds like it was made by bashing away on whatever was lying around at the time, some rather random guitar playing and bits of abysmal singing (thankfully not a lot though). The whole thing (all 17 tracks!) has been mashed up pretty severely by being transferred from a computer unto a microcassette recorder - as a sort of mastering technique from hell I suppose. You're probably familiar with the sound of microcassette answering machines or dictaphones. These devices were primarily made to capture speech and so they tend to cut both low and high end frequencies, compress whatever goes in using brickwall limiting, have ridiculous built in microphones that distort everything - while they lack the ability to maintain constant tape speeds creating wow and flutter effects in abundance. In other words: they sound great! On the other hand though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. A couple of tracks in it becomes obvious that the listener is missing out on a lot of the sound of the original tracks, pre-microcassette. And while this of course can create an aura of mystery and the feeling that we're getting a sneak peek into private notes warped by time - over a full album length tape it becomes a bit too monotonous for this reviewer. I can see how the ability of the technique to create uniformity in a bunch of tracks that actually sound very different can be tempting, but some of the material included just doesn't seem to work very well with the sound and so it becomes more a question of concept than of actual content. I think that some diversity in the sound palette to contrast the limitations of the microcassette could really have lifted this release from being plain interesting (trendy weird?) towards something more worhtwhile. To be fair some of the tracks do manage to shine through the trashed out noise beautifully, and some of the experiments - like interrupting the recorder during transfer - are quite funny as well. Also I can appreciate the overall light hearted attitude (I'm a grumpy old man myself). So if you're into experimenting with stuff like this yourself, or just get a kick out of listening to other people's answering machines, there's a good chance you'll find this an interesting listen as well.