Hott Tubb, Bearded Astronaut, Radio Shock, Heavy Breathing / Allele

GUEST REVIEW BY SEAN KEANE of the great state of New Jersey

The tapes I received from the fine folks at Cassette Gods were scattered across the spectrum of modern cassette culture both in style and quality. This was an interesting experience but I now sympathize with bloggers who are oversaturated with submissions that aren’t necessarily within their listening realm. With that warning, here we go…

Bearded Astronaut "9.8 3m/s2"
Green Tapes - C-30

This was by far the most rewarding of the bunch for me personally. The quality of the recording was pretty good but the inspiration was flowing. The A-side starts out with some Dan Friel like screeching that surfs through your ears like electric jellyfish. Slow Casio(?) notes and scattered electronics morph into an epic drone piece complete with faded electro-drum beat and warm experimental saxophone tones shining through the layers of noise that have grown with beautiful intensity.

The B-side is even more rewarding, starting out with smoky mellow yellow guitar riffs in front of a meditative monk droning, hypnotizing you into a sleepy haze. The guitar slowly becomes more fluid and morphs into a super cool psychedelic noise piece with a hammering drum machine, reminiscent of early Psychic Ills. The tape slows down here and lets you spread this thick jam all around your brain with a chilled out drone, keyboard and electronic drums movement. Bearded Astronaut treats this last part like a rollercoaster and builds you up with a slowly only to bring it all home and drop you 100 stories through a maze of manic noise.


Hott Tubb “S/T”

First off, this tape had the highest recording quality and best production of the bunch by FAR. It also seemed to be the only pro-dubbed tape as well. Just an FYI to people looking to put out a tape, do what you gotta do but if you put it together nicely it makes a difference. Not everything needs a physical release. This tape certainly warrants one. It seems like a lot of time went into this an I appreciate that. These guys are not the type of music I normally listen to, but I actually found myself enjoying most of this tape. It reminded me of a Thievery Corporation / MGMT combo. There are vocals on almost every track except for a couple of cool Brainfeeder-esque interludes. The thing that attracted me to the tape was the dramatic changes within the songs, shining a beautiful bright light on this duo’s mind for epic electro pop structure. They move from mellow to dance to dramatic electronic pop fairly seamlessly. If you dig MGMT then I suggest you give these guys a shot. And this is just a humble design opinion but I would suggest that for further releases they change their logo so it doesn’t read with 3 T’s right next to each other. I almost didn’t know what these guys were called because it is pretty dumb to read even without a confusing font! HOTTTUBB

Radio Shock “Internal Symmetry”
Self-Released –C-20

Alright, now we are into the nitty gritty. The dirty south of this guest review. This was the first tape I popped in because the artwork looked promising (I’m a sucker for colorful skulls). The recording quality wasn’t too hot but not terrible and the tape quality was a solid home dub. With the first track I was almost completely put off from doing these reviews. It sounded like a weak Suicide impression and weirdly reminded me of Nickelback with the vocals. I apologize if that sounds extremely negative, but it might be exactly what somebody out there has been looking for. The second track put me in a much more hopeful spot with the vocals much more faded and distorted, sounding more like a noise instrument here. The cassette only gets better as you continue to the B-side, starting with some noise and a slow beat. Long distorted guitar strokes wash over the track with some mild intensity and the distorted vocals work best here. The track was fairly interesting but not overly inspired. FINALLY the last track was KILLER! I loved it. I reminded me a stripped down version of what Black Dice has been doing lately. A rockin noise piece with clamoring electronics, perfect for an industrial dance party or bopping your head to while burning one down. If you check out his bandcamp he seems to have more tracks like the one I enjoyed on other releases.

Heavy Breathing / ALLELE – Split Demo
DIY or DIE – C90

And we are here. The place you don’t want to be when you get a random cassette you know nothing about. This place is one of frustration and it comes because this cassette was just lazy on a bunch of levels. First off this is a Sony C-90. You can buy blank cassettes on the Internet for cheap, they won’t have corporate logos / text all over, and you can get the exact right length of tape for your specific release. It’s fine if you can’t afford this but try to make up for it in some way. There is literally NO art on this release either. It has typewriter written text on the Jcard except for “ALLELE” is written in marker on the plastic case(UGGGHHH). Draw me a picture or something, c’mon show people you want them to listen this. This will make your release immediately more desirable. Just some advice for anybody releasing a tape in the future, take it or leave it.

Usually a lazy lookin' tape contains kind of lazy tunes, but the A-side from Heavy Breathing is about 12 minutes of radical thrash music. Once again not what I normally listen to and the recording/ dub quality was lacking (even for a thrash punk band) but it had the right energy. The problem is that after the small amount of music you have to fast forward 30 minutes to get to the end of the tape in order to flip it over and get to the B-side. It’s not a big deal but it’s annoying. The flip side is at least a long piece, but it is completely boring guitar noodling and distortion. I wanted to like this side because I like textural pieces, but this just got worse and worse as it failed to progress into anything. The two artists don’t compliment each other at all and that is probably the biggest downfall of a split cassette. If this was a one sided C-24 or a two-sided C-12 for Heavy Breathing I would have been down with it. Short and sweet would have been lovely on this one. The tape reads DIY or DIE which is great, but DIY doesn’t mean you don’t have to try.