Two Splits from SicSic Tapes

Flamingo Creatures represent the kind of high-minded "experimental" sound of composition I've always loved and found difficult to fully embrace. A patchwork of bells/percussion, violins, distant blustery horns, and other daubs of weirdness, FC (the duo of Ruth-Marie Adam and Ronnie Oliveras) have recorded a side of tape worth exploring. The familiar "avant-gardness" of it all is a little tired, but I think if one wants music that evokes an ensemble falling down the stairs, then this is the tape for you. Limpe Fuchs' side of the split is live voice and percussion...freaky. This is the kinda stuff I admire, but rarely listen to more than once.

The second of the split album I received from SicSic Tapes is spacey voidness musickkkkkkkk. Mise_en_scene's half is drone/electronic skitch, like falling in a dream...never waking. Gerendas vs. Voigt is much more my speed. The two composers (Thomas and Daniel respectively) manipulated and mangled each other's sound files to create this dialog of smeared noise. It works for me. How about you?

Buy and Listen HERE.

Blsphm/Gezoleen/Hadals/Knoll - split - (Tapes of a Neon God)

The four way split from Blsphm/Gezoleen/Hadals/Knoll put out by Tapes of a Neon God is n-o-i-s-e. Pure and simple - short and sweet...though the compositions are not so easy to define or pigeonhole, this cassette is squarely aimed at a specific kind of listener. What's wrong with that? Nothing!

Blistering white noise - aggressively non-tonal music here friends...Not much left to say except if you're like me and find the twisted hiss of searing volume enjoyable - you WILL dig this four-way freakout fuckfest...because even when the sheets of sound calm down to mere static, like on Hadals' cut "Flippertronics," you will still be enveloped in churning noise...just at a lower volume...tinnitus for all!

Buy and Listen HERE.

Junior Pande - "Tape Two," and Ali Helnwein - "Strange Creations" (Spring Break Tapes)

Junior Pande's (otherwise known as Justin Peroff, drummer for Broken Social Scene) Tape Two is futurehead music. Vaguely hip-hop in repetitions, but mainly abstract electronic one-man band exploration in execution, this album is 22 minutes of collage whizz-whir and I dig it. The electronics take the listener over in a dsytopian way. I don't know how to feel about the experience of being assaulted by keyboards and beats and splattered samples. Junior Pande's music does, like Stuart Berman of Pitchfork wrote, allude to the Flaming Lips in the sense that the melodies and the almost "sci-fi" vibe of the music do point to the nexus of electronic pop and "electronica." The production is top notch...maybe this is the soundtrack to Thom Yorke's daydreams?

Strange Creations by composer Ali Helnwein is truly a fantastic surprise. Often, when I get put out by one too many noise cassettes, I think I've heard it all before. Then my ears are surprised with an unexpected review submission. Helnwein is a film and TV composer and his moody pieces on this album reflect a flair for the dramatic and understanding of narrative. "Whistling Past the Graveyard" is BEGGING for Tom Waits to throw his gravel scarred vocal chords on top and/or just sit behind the scene of some Tim Burton conceived claymation short film. From "Greed" to "Gluttony," Strange Creations is an album full of inventive arrangements and wonderful melodies. Turn tape over. Repeat.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Sissysocks - "Bloodied" and "Because We Have Things in Common" (Sabolek)

One's mind can become lost tracing the sounds of the latest ambient music cassette. There is a certain electronic mayhem that covers my walls with wild waves. I can't define it, but I'm overwhelmed by the clatter - visually as much as aurally. It seems like I'm constantly moving in slow motion. Perhaps I've listened to one too many ambient tapes?

Melbourne's Sissysocks has released two archival albums worth of drifting analog bliss on his own Sabolek label. Because We Have Things in Common is comprised of material recorded between 2009-2010 and Bloodied is a reissue of a set originally released by Totem Tapes which has music from 2008-2010. Both albums have spooky moments (Bloodied more so) and beautiful high tides (Because...more so). There is a lo-fi feel to these brews, but never anything sloppy comes through the speakers. It all seems to be performed with a clear goal in sight...I can't tell you what that goal is I supposed to check the attic for ghosts? All in all (with the exception of artwork which I don't care for) these are good spools of audio fibers.

Buy and Listen HERE.

EASYBOY - "Mirror Killer" 7"EP (Spooky Town)

  Brattleboro, VT's Spooky Town Records has been putting out some great releases as of late(i.e. Guerilla Toss)and they've recently supplied me with a new personal obsession, with Easyboy. This five song EP is a fun and addictive listen, and I just can't stop flipping it. Mirror Killer isn't anything grossly profound or groundbreaking, but the songs are honest, the lyrics are humorous without coming off as goofy, and the  music is well crafted. Easyboy creates some terribly catchy electronic pop songs in the vein of Gary War, Devo, OMD, Mac Blackout and other whatever-wavers, with piles of thick synth melodies and driving drum machines. 

  Here's the breakdown. His vocals are heavily treated, soaked in reverb and slightly robotic a times, which is most cases hides an awful voice, but in this case just adds a bit of depth to things, because he can actually sing a tune. The quirky delivery of his decent lyrics hover just above the numerous layers of warm synths and abnormal drum machines, making for a fresh batch of infectious, astral pop tunes. Stellar debut. Fingers crossed for a proper full length, sooner than later. Edition of 300 on black vinyl.Get one directly from Spooky Town here.

The Rainbow Body - "Return Unto Void" (self-released)

The Rainbow Body's second album of the year is celestial stargaze...all guitar FX looped and reverbed out...way, way out. The guitar drone sculpting of Matt Katman is perfectly executed on his tape of void wandering music. Eight compositions, each titled "Void" (then numbered 1-8), imply floating through the endless darkness, but never cause the listener fright. This is positive music. PMA! As lush as Kattman's guitar chords are, he never gets lost in his own waves. Drones give way to high & low tides of sound and occasional melodies appear deep beyond the outer realms of the cosmos - begging the guitar player to grab hold and ride. Music for space cadets...blast off...2001 is our past, time to go where no man has gone before.

Buy and Listen HERE.


Horaflora, the long running project of Oakland, CA's Raub Roy, has been confusing and astounding folks up and down both coasts for a number of years with his objects and electronics live acts, but his recent vinyl releases (a 7" with Bromp Treb, a 12" Secret Boyfriend and a full length LP) have really put his music in a new context for me.  Taken in as pure audio, these dense artifacts taken on the proportions of a trek through uncharted sound worlds full of wild and strange creatures creeping through mists and cackling incantations.

Start here for a small size of the Horaflora Soundsystem b/w Fat Worm of Error's rhythmic ace Neel Young

Who's her secret boyfriend? Why he's the master of all things unholy round Chapel Hill, NC

The Gland Canyon is a cassette on Raub Roy's new Weird Ear Records where you'll get to take an extended dive, or mule ride, through his sound:

Horaflora's new LP "Craterellus Cornucopioides" is named after an edible mushroom, and what a tasty treat it is! You'll surely want to sample this platter on wax.  Horaflora-"Trumpet of Death". Purchase from Weirdo Records.


UFO Factory is a kraut / kosmiche / psych inspired label and art gallery out of New Detroit, MI.  The flagship title is "I'm in Love with the Light," a double vinyl by space rockers Infinity People that sounds similar to Gong during the "Floating Anarchy" period, among other influences.  Solid stuff and well recorded.  The 2 LP set is a co-release with Burger, Cass, X!, Italy and Life Like records and has a nice inner gatefold.  Check out a track to see if it's up your alley:

The label also has four cassettes out, one of which is purported to be recorded in 1983, but seems like in-house project.  Everything's got a nice design and feel to it.  Reach for them if you're a fan of German progressive music from the 1970s.  There's also a cassette release by Princess Dragon-Mom, a Michigan noise act that is about to celebrate it's 20th year as a semi-entity.

Order tapes and records here.

Roy Orbitron - Fluorescent Spells (Tamur Records)

What is up with all these bands with names that are almost Roy Orbison? Roy Orb and Roy Orbitron? One is a theta wave ambient zoner and the other is this weird piano bar folk slammer. I am so lost what does this have to do with In Dreams? Oh well, Roy Orbison will just have to hold his own on 45s and greatest hits collection in Target Clearance bins everywhere.

Needless to say I got Roy Orbitron’s Fluorescent Spells in the mail today and I wasn’t floored but maybe someone else will be. It’s rock and roll and the recording quality is good but there wasn’t really much that stood out too me or caught my attention. Oh well. Send me some freaky stuff ya’ll! 

Buy and Listen HERE

Zany Zongas and Yosa Buson - "Intercession" and Travel By Train - "Strings" (Old Monster Records)

Today I've been slamming my head against thick waves of drone. Two tapes/two different drone workouts. The first, a collab from Zany Zongas & Yosa Buson, is heavy and menacing. Intercession is a start to finish solid mix of sludge, beats, samples, and muck. The guitars are playing slabs of sound, not chords or riffs. The opening track (all the titles are symbols by the way) features a surprising opera vocal sample that adds to my terror. All this darkness isn't improving my mood. Basically, this tape is molten thick drone and fucking cool all down the line.

Travel By Train's tape, Strings, is a collection of drones released in 2004 and, according to the label's Bandcamp, it was recorded "in candle light in the Santa Cruz mountains during a week long rain storm." The album is wonderfully conceptual in composition. Each piece is based on one string of a guitar (Low E, A, D, G, B, High E) and the "playing" of that string has been manipulated, stretched, torn asunder, and beaten to create these six new slices of music. As a listener (and guitar player) I love the low to high ascendency of the album as a whole. TBT's right on the money with this concept and executed the performance/production perfectly.

Buy and Listen HERE.

"Here's A Mirror" C29 (Leopard Shepherd)

What I've got here is a cassette by a defunct Burlington, VT duo called Spacemen Saturday Night.  I got this in Nashville, Tennessee while on tour and just finished listening to it for the first time.  I've got to say, what I just heard completely floored me. It looks like Becca Capers Hill is a homespun Kate Bush, but one fueled by the same strange melodic fire of her fellow Lake Champlain weirdos Son of Salami, Ryan Power and Lawrence Welks.  Hill's bell-like voice sit's comfortably atop simple keyboard, guitar and drum machine arrangements.  Comparison's could be made to southern Vermont's Blanche Blanche Blanche as well. Naive, yet cool. The male vocalist in this band has got more of a Vaselines/Jonathan Richmond thing going on, which I can handle when it's in harmony with the female vocal.  Thankfully, he mostly stays out of the picture and she really get's to shine.  I'm anxious to hear what Ms. Hill comes up with next.  Anyway, can you handle something this cute? I sure could. This release is really worthwhile.

Daniel Fromberg - "self-titled" (Teen River)

Prodigy kid with guitar from Chicago 'burbs records quality instrumental pop/rock before the age of tween.

There's the synopsis of Daniel Fromberg's brief music career so far. The youngster clearly loves traditional pop/rock forms and his abilities will be something to watch as he ages. I assume right now he's being helped out by collaborators to produce the top quality music, but it doesn't matter 'cause it makes for good listening. On his self-titled tape, put out by Teen River, Fromberg (along with Phil Sheaff) shows off a precocious knowledge of everything from classic rock to Elephant 6 style homemade sounds. Pleasing all around listen, but I bet in ten years these recordings will seem very much like the sketches they are. Fromberg will hopefully continue to grow as a musician and composer and one day hit us all with a great pop masterpiece! Right now the tree of song is growing, waiting to reach full maturity.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Porteur - "LKBK" and iji - "World of Gecko" (Holy Page Records)

I the last year I've found myself in the comfortable position of never being at a loss for background music (or noise). Incidental sounds to fill the air while cooking, reading, watching boring ass olympic competitions on mute...Porteur and iji are the kind of listenable background artists I can read a book to. Neither wow me, but I am thankful for their skills at creating vibe. My "office" room no longer creaks with wall movements in a vacuum, but is constantly humming and bopping to tapes from all over the world. The twinkling hazy "bedroom pop" (as described by Holy Page Records - I don't subscribe to the term) of Porteur's LKBK is (I'd call it "Lake Book," but probs wrong on that) without a doubt the sun setting on southern Arizona captured on cassette. The title track's vocals are as ephemeral as the air we breathe. I can't get a beat on it even when the beat enters. I'm floating off towards foreign vistas. Recommended for fans of shimmering dream guitar ringing.

iji recalls an alternate 90s dance scene where pop/rock songwriting co-mingle with beat-centric odd experiments. Not quite dissimilar from the actual 90s, but oddly pleasant enough to be their own jam. Upliftingly light and shimmying, iji have recorded loosely psychedelic beat-pop that gets my body moving. Most of the tape was recorded by one dude named Zach, but there is one live tune at the end which feats sax and bass and this is my favorite cut. Smooth playing, but not at all locked into "jazz," there is a vaguely naive quality to "singing in the shower" feel of the lead vocal. Overall the music carries you along on relaxed grooves and psuedo-world dance percussion fills...worth exploring? 

Buy and Listen HERE.


One of the only truly psychedelic bands I've seen all year and the stuff sounds great on tape and vinyl. Philly based Mike Bruno and his crew inhabit the hushed realms of the deep mind. For fans of the golden rectangle, Robyn Nice et al.

7" out now on Marmara and full length LP and tapes on Haute Magie. Plenty on his bandcamp.


Chandails - S/T (Self Released)

When I first heard about Phoenix band Chandails I assumed that they were some all girl group with big hair and angelic voices based on their band name, which in French means sweaters. My 17-year-old self was so wrong. In a way I grew up along side this band and have followed their skuzzy telecaster driven jams for as long as they have been around. This summer was their first tour as a band and was my first tour too, cool!

Lets get back to the point though. Chandails are a super great project full of young dudes who really know what they are doing. Mixing surf elements and classic garage rock styling with pop sensibility these four young dudes really have it going on. The self-released tape that they have out right now is a collection of seven songs recorded at a few of the members’ homes that sound pretty lo-fi. The way it’s mixed is pretty odd but I like that the vocals are pretty up front in the mix because whenever I see these dudes live I can’t always make out the lyrics. Think the earlier millennium LA noise pop scene jammers mixed with some no wave stuff and at times a twist of buddy holly vibes.

I like all the songs on here but I definitely have my favorites! Spaniard the obvious single and the first track on this tape is really catchy. I feel like it’s about the Spanish colonizing a lot of central and Latin America and how they aren’t really here anymore, but it’s hard to tell! My favorite slammer is the sixth song on the tape and it’s called “Still Peaking” which is driven by the bass line and changes its vibe but remains steady throughout. The lyrics discuss some wild journey that seems to be highly influential and taking place in an individual’s own world. Separating from a group of people, tanning in India, all sorts of bizarre stuff, then regret. Needless to say Still Peaking is an amazing narrative that I can’t get enough of.

Overall this is a cool tape. The dub isn’t that great and takes some getting used to but the art is really nice and once this tape is in your tape player it won’t be coming out anytime soon. I got my copy at Eastside Records in Tempe, AZ when these dudes played the grand re-opening at Eastside’s new location, but you can pay what you want for it over at their bandcamp!  

Buy and Listen HERE!

4 X Haute Magie

Time to review the neighbors. Not literally neighbors as in go next door for sugar, but down the road apiece neighbors...fellow Austinites. Austin based label Haute Magie has had a lengthy ride to were they are today. Founded in '09, the label closed up show to rethink and refocus their vision. Operations began again in 2011 with a more professional look and structure. I recently received four tapes from this haunted crew and I'm pleased to say that I love both the art and the sounds. For the most part the music straddles a fine line between archaic mysterious vibes and modern ingredients. 

Mike Bruno & the Black Magic Family Band's album The Willing of the Wisps has the charm of backwoods religious-cult-folk music mixed with a touch of Jandekian isolation. The songs do not reveal themselves to you easily, but the sound of the listening experience is thrilling...if you want to get lost that is...deep, in acoustic guitar lines, mournful ballad voices, and "out there" percussion hits. Bathaus is a one-woman cut&paste electronic collage maker. Her beats are classic, but her end results are new. ArcaneIIICut is a close tie with the Mike Bruno release as my favorite music from the cassette world this month. I can dance the blues away or meditate on mortality with this album. Bravo!

The next two tapes I listened to from the stack of Haute Magie are more layered and unexpected listens. Pan and Mitchum both have albums of thoughtfully composed sound-cycles that will likely appeal to a discerning fan of fluttering tonalities and motion sickness. Pan's self-titled album is one delicate creature. The vocals (when they appear) are as much pure sound as the prepared guitar or washes of feedback. I can't say where I've been, but I've been through the looking glass with this tape. Mitchum's tape this hip-hop? Holy Shackleford...instrumental tracks of beats, samples, (even) flutes! Damn, I'm digging this ride!! Who knew Germany (the country of origin here) had such a skilled producer roaming their streets? Check out "The Pit." 

Bottom line here folks: explore the releases from Haute Magie. I haven't heard such varied sounds from a label in weeks. These bastards live in the same city as me? Wild. Proud. 

Buy and Listen HERE.

Upside Drown - Mood Music (Antiquated Future)

Upside Drown, what a cute band name! Woah, this band is way beyond cute, this band is really good! Their new record “Mood Music” is a gloom folk wonderland just garage enough to get the heavy homies at the show bobbing their heads up and down. The Guitar licks on the piece are badass! At times the melodies even break into these weird little no wave parts. This tape is really perfect for the upcoming winter season, these guys and gals from Oakland really know how to keep it real and suck you in.

Think a softer Grass Widow with a wider palette. This stuff is really good; the obvious single is “Even Dead Bodies” because of it’s catchy little chorus, “Eeeevuhn Dead Bodieesssss take up room” it’s haunting but playful like a kid playing with a dead bird on the side of the road finding curiosity in the bird’s rigamortis. So morbid, oh well! Despite the single coming early in the record Upside Drown manage to push this record to a blissful limit. I think I listened to it 10 times on repeat last night alone.

Open Palms, is my other favorite track on here. It’s a slower track that really drifts along with a tender vocal styling and odd percussion that is different than the rest of the tracks on the record. It slowly builds up and sinks back down into itself and opens up for a tiny little ripping distorted guitar solo, so dreamy! You have to buy this tape people!  

Packaging wise this is one of the most beautifully done tapes I have seen in awhile. The J-card is letter-pressed and there is even a little zine containing lyrics stuffed in there! Actually the J-card might be polymer plate printed, either way it is still very nice! This tape comes with a download code as well for digital files. A really gorgeous release from Upside Drown and the good label heads over at Antiquated Future. I can’t wait to see what the young Olympia label dishes out next! 

Buy and Listen HERE

Babelfishh - Howl Bender c32 (I Had An Accident Records)

Babelfishh is Scott Huber, an MC from Houston, Texas. He tours extensively throughout Europe with the likes of Oskar Ohlson, James Reindeer, and other amazing beat producers. He is a prolific writer with the ability to build strange terror brewed lyrical awakenings. September appears to be a busy month with a collaboration 10” release with Oskar Ohlson on Sept. 10th on Knertz and Howl Bender, the latest solo effort on I had An Accident Records. Part of the oddity 667 crew, Howl Bender produces extremely heavy thrash metal riffs paired nicely with slamming beats and this rasping lyrical assault. The opening track just bangs hard right out the door. I’m listening to this thinking do I call this hip hop, noise, or thrash metal. I’m banging my head and looking around me to see what everyone else is doing. I don’t know how to play along. This is intense. I haven’t heard such a unique blend that is so fitting I wonder why I wouldn’t have thought of it before. These tracks move together with smooth transitions and small field recording and spoken word pieces laced into the inner workings. I love the sound of Huber’s voice. Its raw but poetic in a gutted sense. It bounces hard against the banging drumming sounds and the slamming metal riffs, it just belongs right where it is.

I imagine Huber sitting in a garage somewhere, like this is some revivalistic garage hip hop. Underground at its core. A laborer forced to get his hands dirty and after a day of working in filth he unwinds by grabbing a 6-pack of PBR and starts the war. An assault on the mic and a hard hitting beat producer. Spawning feelings of visual reliance, an urban brawl, blistering in the blazing heat of Houston. Everyone is irritated by the everlasting summer sun and the humid stench of air relentless in the evening as mosquitos the size of horse flies surround your ears, get up in your face, that buzzing noise, the turning of the television, fumbling in the dark, the tortured soul. With everybody passed out on the floor, there is some real interesting situations you never want to be part of - Howl bender is the beast within, rolling through your soul and vibrating your vocal chords. Howl Bender is the psychotic neighbor killing squirells in his basement. The skull collection is limited to 100 copies on rust colored tapes - deeply weathered thoughts, just builds quick, and a letting loose. Release the demons and check this album out

MERX - 8 song CS (Skrot Up)

  Stellar eight song tape from German Army affiliates, Merx, and their first for the excellent Danish (mostly)cassette label, Skrot Up. Right out of the gate, this reminded me of a synth obsessed, Euro take on Samhain, respectfully. The vocals come off as dark baritone-driven passages, and shine a dim light on some of wave/punk's most notable front men. Danzig, Curtis, Vega, and even's all there in some mutated form or another. Their songs are concentrated bits of brittle, stripped guitars and muddy bass lines, acting mostly as a frail, gray backdrop for the staunch vocals to trample over. Their drum tone has a bare and primitive swagger, consisting of mainly programmed tribal thumps and empty snares, giving this album an undeniable Unknown Pleasures vibe at times, and the sweaty repetition of early Suicide at others. No complaints here.

 Minimalist punk, goth and dark wave are definitely in their bag, but it's not all they are limited to. There's plenty of original ideas flowing throughout this cassette, and Merx' songs are well crafted and fairly memorable. You could easily tell them apart from the slew of  "soft" and "black" bands that have surfaced recently. Another keeper from Skrot Up, and hopefully not the last we hear from Merx. Limited vinyl version out soon via Permanent Records.

4 Big Ones from Cae-Sur-A

Ghastly graphic cover art on this one. Blood '08 by Fossils from the Sun actually kinda terrifies me. The music is an exercise in low frequency studies and ritualistic vocalizing. This music evokes secret society cloak & dagger mystery. Hints of feedback balance out the pulsating rivulets of bottom end on what is a very spooky listen.
Riasni Drova Consort's A Still Better Seaward Peep is the biggest question mark of the batch for me. Part acoustic, old world folk, part modern classical. The sounds remind me of the sights & smells of the Italian countryside about two hours outside Rome. Then again...this music could be from Irish castles as it feels equally Celtic. I'm taken away, across the Atlantic with this cassette. A truly odd listen, but one that holds promise for future revisiting sessions.
Like a lost artifact (or arty-fact), April in the Orange's In the Mirror Under the Moon is out of time with its surrounding. The album could've been recorded in the early 70s. It's a fantastic record for the fall (not the spring) too. The music is delightfully rustic with esoteric, grinding electronics atop cabin-worthy acoustic guitar picking. This is a wonderful tape for fans of quiet moods. 
Lefterna's two EPs, Not Here (if Anywhere)/Degradation-Obsession, are contrasting styles that add up to a happy whole. Not necessarily "happy" music, but a sense that the thought behind the music is thorough. The first half is drone meets electro-bleepity bloppity. It dances as much as it evokes darkness. The second EP is pretty much exactly like you would expect from something titled "Degradation Obsession." Loops wax & wane and...degrade. This is a challenging set of recordings for sure.
Buy and Listen HERE.

Pillars & Tongues - "If Travel is Asked of Me" (Red Frost Industries)

Pillars & Tongues make ambient, electronic song music. They should be working on a soundtrack to grainy, B&W footage of Russia or our current American recession. This is somber stuff, but not depressing. For all the floaty synths, it seems grounded in the real. If Travel is Asked of Me is focused and thoughtful in its construction. According to Red Frost Industries:

"[The album] is in some ways an entirely new work, and in other ways a collection of old songs. Of the five tracks, three are newly recorded versions of songs that appeared previously on last year's full-length release, 'The Pass and Crossings'. The album also features two entirely new tracks, comprised primarily of duo and trio improvisations that have been given shape largely by the band's new member, Ben Babbitt...Babbitt's contribution to these songs is significant as well-- the songs slowly evolved with months and months of touring, following bends in roads, aging with the seasons, and changing positions with the touch of new hands." 

I certainly feel this tape is worth listening to as it is deeper (at least in my mind's ear) than most ambient works. The lyrics and voice work well in tandem with the music. I have a feeling I'll get more out of this album with further plays.

Finally, the artwork is calming. Maybe it's just me...I need to stare into the void that is the geometric abyss on the album cover. I'm not repelled, but brought in. I look forward to more work from both label and band.

Buy and Listen HERE.