"Tartarus" (Self-released)

 SIDE A "Muskrat Tail"

Hyper wet vocals vibrate monotone nightmare "siri" lyrics that are incomprehensible. Amplifier feedback and effect pedal super slow chord progressions linger and barely convey a structure. The mastering and mixing of this drone out is well crafted. Borrowing from the Wolf Eyes playbook the vocals sound not like voice but rather vocals as instrument to assist gizomos and gadjet sonic effect modulators! Nightshade & Gel Nails portray a dingy and foreboding mood that is psychedelically meditative while sounding sonically avant-garde and bad ass.

Side B "Fast Food for Fast People"

Wobbly tape loop opens side B. It frankly makes me a little sea sick. Then modulating synthesizer escalating hum acts as a rhythm as frequencies melodically descend like depressed bombs. Everything is a little too casual, most notably the vocalist who is awkwardly not in tune. There's J Mascis whiney and then there is this guy whiney. His lyrics are too distorted to be easily comprehended leaving its overly emotional tone unsympathetic. And it's frankly just mixed too loudly. I miss the inventive dirty keyboard noise in the background that are actually playing some interesting major/minor chord progressions, but they're drowned out by the lead singer's psyched out vocal effects. It's too bad because with a little more studio time on this one it could have been just as successful as side A.

In fairness, both songs provide a lyric sheet. And the lyrics are really, really good.

The cassette itself has a minimal yet tasteful silkscreen job with various stamps to show its DIY authenticity.

--Jack Turnbull

HUMAN ADULT BAND "Creepy Classics" CS (D.I.H.D.)

Here is a nice DIY crafted four song EP. It contains 3 originals and a Neil Young cover from his Ditch trilogy era classic album "On the Beach" - "Vampire Blues". The songs seem authentically bummed, exhausted and frustrated but also pleasantly revealing in the bliss which is making poor life decisions late at night. An anything goes noise philosophy is apparent in the band which leaves the originals sounding like the Birthday Party played by Velvet Underground loving Brooklyn NYC burnouts.

The players sound as if they suffer from insomnia. The singer doesn't have young Nick Cave's peppy, crooning wolf howl or the intensity of Australia, 1981. This being said, the character he portrays in song is captivating nonetheless. While strained and bleak, the singer can get into some hardcore territory. He has the cathartic and forceful bark of the guy in Pissed Jeans. On their "Vampire Blues" cover, he does not have Neil Young's signature Alto range, but his voice is distinctively passive aggressive which gives the song's blues structure a nice punk rock charm.

The guitars are distorted and frantic but at their least meandering and helpless. They never give up however; the band has the energy of rock and roll and even when they play on only fifteen minutes of sleep the music is still more fierce than the bleeps of robots. They are playing some harsh noise here with rock song structure, but it is still music that is warm from tube hum.

I bet this band would be interesting to see live, a mixture of Lou Reed cool with Nick Cave mean and a heartfelt impersonation of Harry Pussy guitar playing at half speed. Pretty good tape, it's like 15-20 minutes, check it out.

-Jack Turnbull

"From a Soundtrack to the Anabase of St-John Perse" C42

"Concerto For Housekeeper and Other Dances With Phoebe" C60+C102 Box Set
(Imminent Frequencies)

Just a brief heads up on two interesting releases I just heard about on the Imminent Frequencies label:

Second reissue of this cool 1995 album from the duo of Bruce Russell (Dead C.) and Alastair Galbraith, originally issued on Corpus Hermeticum on cassette and put on vinyl in 2000 by Bluesilver records.  Limited to 150, check it out.

Another archival release available from the label that is worth picking up is the Philip Corner cassette box. Corner is a founding member of the Fluxus movement and this album contains plenty of interesting clangs and drones.

Pure Horsehair's new album, "Ambergris", not to be mistaken with the musician Ambergris, presents a musical range from wood cabin freak folk jams, early "Microphones" territory (before it was Mt. Errie) of blurry and harmonized vocals, psychedelic story-land underwater blues to a subtle, under played dedication to dark synthesizer melodies, drones and drum beats. This cassette is one of the most well executed and challenging I've heard in a while.

All the songs are understated downer bad trips but still highly organized, complex in structure and well orchestrated into quartet or trio parts. My guess these recordings were done with a four track? Phil Spector "wall of sound" influence is somewhere deep in here as various guitar tones, keyboards and unexpected harmonies bounce around. Good examples of this can be heard in "waxwing", and "first fig".

A big part of Ambergris's successful sound is his ability to utilize cold, synthetic keyboards and analog effects to feel warm like the humble, introspective acoustic guitars they are mixed with. The most anatomic Ambergris gets is on "high hopes", but then brilliantly the tone switches to some early late 60ties bad ass rock drawl in "as if". The drums are still 8-bit but it is hardly distracting jarring. It doesn't sound tacky like overly digital music. It is so precise in repetition however it becomes transcendental and meditative. And my god, these blues lyrics on this song are AMAZING. The singer's voice isn't distinctive like a Bob Dylan or Neil Young, but he has pipes and range. It is also a laid back but still authentically sad voice, which melts in very well the cassette's overall DIY casual typewriter aesthetic. This is a great tape.

The cassette only lists an e-mail: ... Pure Horsehair does have a bandcamp but his recordings sound far superior in tone on cassette over a Soundcloud. It's the difference salt can add to food.

--Jack Turnbull

JAAP BLONK "Songs of Little Sleep" (Scumbag Relations/Sleepy Cobalt Sound)

On a loosely conceptual album concerning the entering and exiting of sleep, its cycles and the subconscious, Dutch composer/performer/video artist Jaap Blonk fractures into a chamber ensemble of clones of himself, extending far past the outer limits of extended vocal technique.  

Jaap forms the base of his repertoire around a lineage of Dada sound poets, his recording of Kurt Schwitter's 1922-32 masterpiece "Ursonate" being his most well known.  His live performances border on scholarly presentation- he's an expert on this subject and one of the few preservers of the literature on the underground circuit.  As in the Dada tradition, Blonk's pieces are based on phonetic vibrations with no logical context, only emotional/aesthetic.  As if aurally observing a sleep study, you hear Jaap enter into a deeper subconscious state- yawns turn into low guttural grunts and blistering harsh noise coming unbelievably from a human voice.  Tossing textural scrapes and use of electronics allow for plenty of sonic variation on this extended player, though i'd be just as convinced by the vocal alone.  

- -Matt Robidoux


Now that we're really starting to feel the frosty breath of old man winter, I thought it would be appropriate to share this awesome double cassette compilation of covers by artists all across the underground spectrum.  Featuring tracks by the likes of Alvarius B (Sun City Girls), R. Stevie Moore, Carla Bozulich, Amps for Christ, Charlie McAlister, Simon Joyner (and tons more I've never heard of) this hot compilation will be sure to keep you toasty during the dark days of the impending season.

BIG BILL "A Hard Day's Bill EP"

 Here's two eps for the price of one that's something everyone can get behind for the upcoming Holiday season. These two bands exhibit a wide melodic and rhythmic range. Do you like Modest Mouse, Death, Grateful Dead jams, Mountain, Wavves, Blink 182, the Beach Boys or Buddy Holly? If you said yes to one or more of these contributors to the ROCK than this 2013 gem of a two band rock/roll album split can fulfill at least one of your sonic protopunk desires. This release is strictly for the KIDS who are still pumped on skateboarding, Alicia Silverstone and their newly acquired Fender Squire. It bursts with enthusiasm, energy and youth but also shows an impressive song education by referencing tones and rhythms from so many different eras. I get images of high school hallways and school cafeteria food fights. References to Bill Murray and some pretty clever lyrics are in these songs. Both singers of both bands have good voices that are well harmonized with other members.

A couple highlights:

* The angst lonely bedroom song Genevieve focuses on the passage of time and it's a Archie Comics pop romance of a good punk song. "We used to call you Jenny, ... but now you go by Genevieve" - HEART MELTING! It's like a younger and less soothing Roy Orbosne. I feel like I am listening to the fucking Beets on Nickelodeon's Doug, (Not the Brooklyn band ... although that band is the fucking best). There are some great major to minor chord transitions in the song as well.

* East Sides Lies is my favorite song because it sounds like early DEVO mixed with the cartoonish Angst of the RAMONES. But it also contains a solo that emulates and equals the greatest liberating riffs and hooks of DEATH.

Big Bill is a little more garage with some poppy bass lines and party rock beats. The vocalist even sounds a little like the CRAMPS or even, again, an early demo DEVO. Their fun party rock song Get with the Goblins is like if the lead singer is attempting to impersonate an alien from Mars with his domineering, staccato alto-tenor. They are surprisingly surfy, even hitting some Fred Schneider recorded by Steve Albini solo album territory (It's not as good as that album mind you, just reminiscent).

... This recording is distinctly inspired by the city is it recorded and mastered in, Austin Texas. It equally captures the energy of an Austin concert with that cities' strong commitment to home recording culture. GREAT guitar solos and psychedelic tones similar to the gnarl of MOUNTAIN.


Artwork by

-- Jack Turnbull

TASHI DORJI "Hills Rose Up....." (Turned Word)

Beautiful solo guitar tape, no effects pedals.  Somewhere in-between Derek Bailey and Robbie Basho, but trending closer to the Englishman (I swear I just wrote that before looking at the label's description quoted below).  Lovely screen printing.  Always a treat to get new releases from this fantastic label, sometimes stylized as Trd W/d.

I found myself out in the gardens’ July sun pencil scratching onto an old receipt. All about friend and improvisational guitarist Tashi Dorji and how wonderful he is and how much I adore his music. Thinking about the time we were jamming and some sound I made on the guitar caused him to outright belly laugh. And some scrawl about the story he once told me, about how the prince of Bhutan had asked him to play some Elvis songs in Thimphu , and Tashi declining the request. Or the countless times that we shared a meal together, or a fire. And how Tashi showed up at my job once, dragging me away because I was overstressed and needed food. “I’m way too hungry to cook now…..and plus, all the food that I have at home would take far too long to make, “ I whined.

He calmly demanded that I list the things I had lying around. Next thing I knew we were eating the most toothsome dish of something so simple. Potatoes, tomatoes, a little oil and some spices. Maybe one more ingredient? His presence and his music is like this too. Bare of pretension yet full of newness and uncompromising inertia. Seemingly quick, sharpened and then mellowed, presenting an intensity to fall into the moment and nourish oneself with the ingredients at hand. Reminiscent of the rythmn experiments of Derek Bailey, the lavish east leanings of Robbie Basho's playing and the intensity of Bill Orcutt's attack. Featuring the artwork of Amy-Moon. Offset printed
. -- Dan Beckman

(Meltmeltdripdrip Records)

Hip hop inspired 8 bit late night dance sequences. 808 drumbeats galore that bleep, get wet and get stuck in your head. "Nighteraser", the cassette's opener, could easily be the walkup introduction music for a heavyweight boxer in a Super Nintendo universe. The melodies in these songs are strong and nicely escalate in complexity. Elements of noise are incorporated but are balanced with the melodies.

"It's Kronk" is a little more atonal and reverberated. A minimalistic hi-hat is the only constant as the more cerebral, mysterious effect laden melodies hypnotically repeat through higher and lower frequencies. Later on in the song it changes mood and isn't menacing any longer, but it is still challenging music.

Side B opener, "That's Rite", is a little more funky. Fat bass lines are accompanied by wah-wah synthesizer. It sounds like eating greasy french fries. Some nice computer chords are played and the song at times feels straight up weirdo.

"Netwerk" finally gets the human touch and opens with some non-standard tuning guitar duo that is quite pleasant to the ears. It is followed by a droned out organ and finally an upbeat, uplifting looping synasizer part with fuzzed out low notes. A great end to a diverse electronic release.

One thing I appreciate about this tape is that while the sounds are all pretty much made by computers, which for my tastes is a turnoff, I do get a sense the musician is using his instrument to its full capacity. There is a lot going on in this tape sonically. The genres and moods switch and yet it is all being clearly played by Touchstone Pictures.

I am also about 90% sure it was made using Buzzmachines, some great free Windows shareware from 2002 that allows you to conduct and produce some fantastic beats. Maybe I'm totally wrong, but even if I am Buzzmachines is worth experimenting with. What do you have to lose, it's free!


-- Jack Turnbull

"Burushaski" (Belaten Records)

When the world ends, and we're salvaging the ruined world for canned beans and purified water, German Army will probably be setting up to play in some crazy bunker venue, assuming they can scavenge enough batteries to power their synths. Their last tape, Youtan Polou, which came out on Chondritic Sound was one of the best tapes I heard last year, and Burushaski actually tops it. This is some truly other music, floating somewhere between industrial, noise, and synth-pop. Lots of minimal, pulsing beats, chilled out synthesizers, and baritone vocals clashing with whirring electronics and scrambled radio samples. The overall tone is extremely desolate and post apocalyptic, like a bunch of survivors piecing together entertainment from a vague memory of yesteryear. Germany Army know when to challenge your head and when to pull back. Some of these tracks are pretty scary, especially one particular track on the A side that has some of the most unsettling vocals I've ever heard, but they never linger in a frightening vibe too long before switching it up with a more melodic and dancey track, which makes for a really well paced listen. I can't recommend this enough, this a tape truly worth tracking down. 

-- Timothy Johnson

“Ornaments” 7”
(KIKS/Girlfriend Records)

This 7” is from UK-based Benjamin Hallatt, recorded under the name SCKE//. An electro-acoustic spectacle, it lives somewhere between the minimal glitch of a similar-era Kompakt, Kranky or Mille Plateaux release and something more homemade and warm. Hallatt definitely abandons the hi-fidelity, in your face side of glitchy, experimental music for a sound that’s more suitable for travelling or looking out of a train window.  

Side A, “Ornament 2,” is a slow-burning piece that has a plucked and distinctly Asian flare, sampling sounds that veer from percussive to melodic. It’s undoubtedly got a folky vibe until it intensifies and Hallatt starts reversing stuff. 

Side B, “Ornament 7,” gets the more classic low-key glitch workout, as Hallatt tweaks his modular into static pops, hisses, and squeals over comforting, motoric electric piano chords. Neither track has any beat-oriented activity.
The 7” is pressed on quality, heavy vinyl and includes a folding sheet with a picture of some sort of Asian Chiffarobe on it.

Buy here:

Stream/Buy Here:

-Dan Hockstein

CURT OREN "Home" (Personal Archives)

This tape kind of baffled me. Curt Oren, who hails from the University of Iowa (The tape includes an expired parking pass from the school), has crafted 7 tracks consisting entirely  o fsaxophone compositions utilizing extended techniques, with breathy vocal accompaniments. If that sounds a lot like Colin Stetson to you, that's because this is ostensibly some sort of tribute to Stetson's approach to the instrument. Some of the songs on the bandcamp are even tagged with his name. I don't want to call this a ripoff, because he isn't just rehashing and reusing material from New History Warfare although clearly that album left a pretty big mark on Oren, and it's impressive that he managed to replicate the techniques and components of it so accurately (even down to the vocal accompaniment, Laurie Anderson is replaced by someone named Nora Petran). I loved that record, and I guess I love this tape. Oren takes the clanking and meandering contact mic'd saxophone a little further down the road, but it's hard to sell this as being much more than lo-fi version of New History Warfare. Still, I enjoyed the experience, I can’t get enough of this sound.

-- Timothy Johnson

Split Cassingle
(Drid Machine Records)

Short and sweet split tape from two future-grind bands from Norway. The Blodsprut side is a solid exercise in the art of grindcore, sweetened with some unusual instrumentation and song structure. Howled vocals, crazy militaristic drumming, and a guitar tone that sounds like it could be used for demolition work. It grinds, but it sounds really different from a lot of other grindcore bands I've heard. The interplay between the drums and the guitar really helps to separate them from other bands in this family of music. The drums are maniacal, and there's a lot of space in the music for the drummer to tear your speakers, and the guitar is wielded sparingly, getting you sneering at just the right spots.

BUT, the B side is truly the winner. Freddy the Dyke make The Locust look like they're trapped in the neolithic era. This two piece rips more than any other groups I've heard in a while. Crazy over-loaded effected vocals are delivered in tight barks, while the music moves deftly between fist-waving stoned dirges, gyrating tribal rhythms, and blasts of total noise. The second track pulls back a bit, and is a bit more of a math-y percussion workout, with some really distant vocals and a lot of space to zone out before they kick in the overdrive and hit you in the face. This comes highly recommended, I wanted to hear way more of this stuff and the tape wasn’t long enough to sate my needs, plus the artwork on both sides of the mailer box that came with the tape is incredibly rad. Pick this up. 

-- Timothy Johnson

Digging Like a Dog

(mostly) Northeastern Report

Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along;
Take me to the valley, and lay the sod o'er me,
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong.

A couple of cool new records I've been listening to a lot lately are both sort of fall-out albums from the noise scene. Phemale does tripped out cabaret style songs on his super limited debut LP "Silk City", out now on Red Scroll Records.  You've got to catch the live act...costume changes between every song.  First guy since Russian Tsarlag who does this kind of stuff that I can really get behind.  I hear there is a tape on Elm City Records too that is definitely worth tracking down too. I've also been playing Form A Log "Two Benji's" LP on Decoherence a lot recently. This is not as techno as the Container or Profligate material (both guys are members), but deftly straddles the line between rhythm and noise. Speaking of which, there are 2 new Profligate 12"s that you need to buy for your weird rave. Find that shit! Though as far as noise goes, no one is more noise than Noise Nomads. New LP out now on Western Mass institution Feeding Tube Records. Byron Coley writeup and purchase power available from their website. Distro via Forced Exposure

The new LP by Daniel Bachman, "Jesus I'm A Sinner," is his best work yet. I should know, seeing as I put out his first record and it's been topped twice now, both times by the super folk purist label Tompkins Square.  They've also got limited new vinyl by Daniel's bro Ryley Walker and the immortal Michael Hurley.  On the folk front I'm also still digging Asa Irons (ex-Witch and Feathers) "Knife Gift Debt" which can be streamed or purchased on vinyl here.  Very somber and beautiful folk album with an allstar cast of Maine musicians.  Maybe you'll find him playing a party at Taboo's house???  That band right there, one of the best bands in America right now and they actually do have internet, despite what has previously been reported.

One of the most surprising tapes I've heard in recent memory is the Power Masters discography-so-far self released cassette - amazing hardcore/garage/weirdo band from Providence.  You've got to have balls to use that name in that town. Mad props. Check it out.  More quality New England punk rock from Hoax who have self released a 12" that comes with 5 huge posters. Amazing!  Peep.

I've also really been liking the recently reissued Idea Fire Company album "Rags To Riches."  This 2005 cassette is now available on vinyl from Recital Records.  IFCO is one of the most studious bands in the Northeast.  I wouldn't fault you if you'd never heard them and certainly wouldn't if you'd never seen them live.  I would wager 75% of their fan base is overseas.  There sound is just that SERIOUS man. 

Don Gero's first release (out via Primordial Sounds) is a very focused and well recorded drums and triggers set. This guy is previously of Boston and the band Arvid Noe, now on the west coast. Find this dude in Oregon or somewhere and make him play your basement!  Also on the Boston front, we have the upstart label BUFU Records.  They're doing more of a rock thing, but I really like the super tight surf madness of Tsons of Tsunami (Guerilla Toss side-project) and the cartoony and technically proficient sound of Designer and it's also great to see ZEBU! get a 10th anniversary compilation tape. BUFU also has the first 7" by MA band Aykroyd who offer two nicely done post-punk/psych tracks. This is the kind of incredibly active label this town needs! My newly adopted hometown has had a string of really great bands of late.  If you're into nice female fronted garage pop, check out Saralee who have an LP out on Ride The Snake and a split tape with Giving Up on Sophomore Lounge.  Last but not least on my beantown radar are Knight Howls, the all-vocal duo of Arkm Foam and Frank Hurricane (who probably has like 8 other releases out right now...I'm hearing rumors of a double LP on Feeding Tube).  These guys hoot and holler their way to the pressing plant on their first vinyl release. Find Foam's contact here, and also pick up a Frank Hurricane tribute tape with j-card and mini-poster by Josh Burkett. Oh and also shout out to my boy Mark Johnson who has two new tapes on Anonymous Dog, one with Hunnie Bunnies and one as Truck Stanley's Night Dreams.

I've been getting super gacked-out on the Gem Jones release on Night-People. It's a totally fucked version of old school R&B boogie woogie stuff.  Music of the highest order. This tape is from the last batch or maybe two batches back, but I just really started getting into it based on the recommendation of  The Savage Young Taterbug, who's short tour tape, "Journeyman's Cheddar," is a recent favorite of mine. Tater's tour pal Tracey Trance was also trucking with a great new cassette called "Keep It Up."  You probably can't find those last two tapes anywhere though...

Brattleboro, Vermont's The Happy Jawbone Family Band never fail to jah-maze. Their new self titled LP on Mexican Summer is the cleanest thing they've done yet and the song writing is top notch. This record is growing on me with each listen.  I wanna go bone deep... What else is new in Brattleboro??? Oh yeah, great first 7" by Danny Bissette on Rarebit Records.  Danny is perhaps the most secret member of the scene up there.  UPDATE: you can purchase the 7" and some other great tapes at Chris Weisman, Ruth Garbus and the Great Valley continue to make killer music up there and expats Blanche Blanche Blanche (OSR Tapes forever) and King Tuff are making waves in New York and LA respectively.  BBB have an especially great new LP out now on Whart Cat Records called "Breaking Mirrors". Check it out!!! 

Okay, that's all for now. Keep sending in those tapes and I'll keep finding people to review them.  I think this is the steadiest stream of new posts we've had in a while.  Also if you're interested in writing for Cassette Gods and you live in the Boston area, send me a note at cavebears at g-male dot (honey) comb.

Oh yeah, one last shout out to my boys The Phish From Vermont, who totally slayed Fall tour.  Way to go guys!

bet you didn't see that one coming...

"Method for Astral Amelioration"

This New York based ambient drone trio (yes, trio) slowly crescendos as each individual player adds a well mixed layer to the previous player's opening. Each layer has a separate focus; some are clean, sharp and major scale in relation to the other almost atonal drawn out pulses. Played in major key, it harmoniously transcends while remaining robotically cold.

Side B, "Reveal Cosmic Light", is similar in drone but introduces what sounds like an alto saxophone player or a trumpet player who can melodically and beautifully improvise over the heartbeat pulsations of delayed and modulated electronics. He takes a solo early on and then brilliantly underplays amongst the luminescent, cerebral signals of the noise.

Sounds like a sci-fi movie soundtrack or loosely inspired by the early luminaries of synthesizer; Ray Lynch, Kraftwerk, Vangelis at his most Blade Runner ... very well executed, perfect and ready to be the totally sweet noise quartet at your next art opening or hyper trippy beach house birthday party. High honors for this cassette!

Also check out Cassette put out by NNA TAPES - - That's pretty good too.

About 20 minutes

-- Jack Turbbull

(Fussy Fucker Tapes)

Intimate, acoustic pop punk four track bedroom jams! Steve Creature effectively doubles up vocal tracks, mixes energetic yet minimal hi-hat/bass/snare beats and essentially knows his way around a tascam! He's able to get big, rockin' tones out of humble equipment. Reminds me of a less snarling FYP minus the blast beats, or if Neil Young got into a time machine in 1973 during the ditch trilogy and hung out with Green Day for a month before returning to his real time. The microphone on this is recorded at a high treble and the guitar gets some nice, low wooden sounds out of an acoustic; there are hardly even symbols in the drums and yet these beats really drive.

Song lyrics about bitter breakups, leather jackets, the draw backs of drug abuse, problems with rent, working too many hours at the office, ... you know, I can relate to this stuff. "I don't like being in the same mood everyday", the chorus on "Same Mood Every Day" showcases how Steve Creature can be candid and sorrowful when describing the monotony of the 9 to 5 even when the melodies are really catchy. The content gets intense on "I'm Glad You Didn't Kill Yourself Last Summer", but then folkish and lighter with "No Glue/No Fun" although the lyrics are darkly ironic.

It would be nice if there were maybe one or two more introspective and optimistic tunes on this that focused on lighter material, which would meet the enthusiasm of the pop-punk melodies. There's only five songs on this, and the tape is notably sad. Liz Prince's illustration of "creature of the black lagoon" makes a grumpy face with a walkman in hand and headphones on head. Of course sad songs are awesome; there's a whole genre, the blues, based on the idea. It's just pop punk goes so well with "Blitzkreg Bop!" or the Ramones' "Commando". You know! The Ramones songs that sounded like SaturdayMorning Cartoons. ... like "Spider-Man" ... or the classic "I Don't Wanna Grow Up". You know? Just fun songs.

But I'm glad I got this cassette. I'll keep this review short. Also! On a side note check out Liz Prince's artwork and illustration. It is an impressive cannon of work!
about 10 minutes long.

-- Jack Turnbull

ANYBODY BUT THE COPS "Demo Tape" (Self Released)

Kalamazoo, Michigan is a famous place for diy and these fine folks are at the epicenter of it, key organizers of the Kzoo dit (doin it together) basement/free school scene.  It is well worth a stop!

"Demo Tape" was recorded at Millhouse, one of the main joints, and you can hear the acoustic pang off concrete to prove it.

Anybody But The Cops' debut tracks propel like a high school militia of Mike Watts with ferocity first, genre switching and bending before you can get too used to any one motif.  No-brow duct taped drumbeats hold down zoom pedal jazz metal hewn on denim with a Primus patch.  The only vocal appearances come by way of a few vocal yalps, solo or in unison (and a skit)!  The kitchen sink is packed full oof jams.  There are many moments worth checking out, make sure to stay for the Gershwin riff.

- -Matt Robidoux

"Gay Ghosts"(Hikikomori)

This tape was a nice surprise, initially when I picked it out of the pool I didn’t really have high hopes. Neither the band name nor the title of the album really rang with me, but I liked the album art enough to pick it up and I’m glad I did. Antique Pony are from Glasgow (home of other cool noisy rock band Divorce), and craft a dark and moody blend of art rock with a very original composition and execution. “Halloween,” the opener on the tape, is a nod to Slint era post rock with mumbled, monotone vocals buried beneath harmonic waves of guitar. The second track is a total winner, and probably my favorite on the tape, particularly the end portion where they bust out a violin and launch into a killer groove with the plucked strings right up in front. I was a big fan of “Beautiful Atlas,” which starts off the B side with some interesting found audio, and some truly ominous piano drones. The songs on the B side are much less spectacular, but c’est la vie, not every tune can be a winner and I can safely say there are no bad songs on this tape. Antique Pony blend together a lot of familiar indie rock elements, from the Slint-ish vocals to the Sonic Youth guitar squalls, but with a unique aesthetic that never feels like imitation. Highly recommended.

----Timothy Johnson

Extreme Misanthropy Crew
Manifesto ii"
3BS Records

Extreme Misanthropy Crew are from Australia. They also make some killer beat heavy industrial music that I’m sincerely glad to have in my life.Totally earnest in their approach, their song material on this tape is truly a manifesto. One song is about intellectual property, with all it’s samples pulled from common property material, and the B side is an extended exercise in picking on global warming denialists. The throaty, harsh vocals and washes of noise had me snarling, but the rhythms are so infectiously danceable that it doesn’t feel like an exercise in attrition. The sound on the tape reminded me a lot of some of the more techno influenced noise out there (ie: Lasers, Mark Lord), just less art damaged and with a greater influence from screamo, while still possessing the same sense of heavy hitting minimalism. I appreciate a band that’s not afraid to get serious with their message, but if I hadn’t listened to the B side and it’s dissection of a Christopher Monckton speech the political aspect of this music would probably have been lost on me, but such is the nature of shouted/screamed vocals. I dug this tape quite a bit, and I’m glad it made it’s way across the world to me, but I think three songs of this stuff is probably enough to sate my appetite.

--Timothy Johnson


I remember giving this guy a great review for his last tape release. I don't know if any of these bandcamp tracks are available on a physical format, but you've got to hear this stuff.  He's like the Esquivel of the lo-fi home recording generation.  Also reminds me of one of my favorite weirdo records,  "Stones" by Emil Richards. Anyway, just listen to this music.

CREATUROS "Swampp Thingg" (Primordial Sounds)

 Wow, this cassette by Creaturos was a pleasant surprise. I saw these guys play on Columbus Day last week opening for Ty Segall's new band fuzz and they were your average four piece garage surf rock band, definitely pros at what they do but also generic ... that said, they had good taste and chose to channel good influences. The cassette, in contrast, I have very few complaints about. It's well produced, elaborate, intelligent, well composed and delivers the goods: High energy electronic rock and fucking roll.

On cassette the magic of the audio studio adds a lot; echoplex voice tracks are placed perfectly in between the verse and chorus on "Jame's Day Milkshake". The vocal harmonies cut through the mix better than in a live setting.

"Charlie Brown" has a distinctive garage rock feel, but the subtle use of a phaser distortion pedal gives this song a feel absent from your old school Lookout! Records crew. There is also an outro accompanied by feedback, falsetto vocals and a flute (!!!). This part matures Charlie Brown and is what makes this band not your average dad rock. It finally goes back into three chord but they let the flutist, Molly Kate Maltezos, rip! The reel to reel zips off at the end.

These guys go pedal to the metal and can get loud. These guys can be swooners and can get the audience to fall in love with them too. It's a personal critique, but I could use a little more clean guitar on this. Everything is drenched with reverb, which makes everything sound mystical, but it can also muddle at times. Their blues song "3 times" is a good return to Earth. While it still sounds like it was recorded in a Church, the insertion of an acoustic guitar (or maybe it's just a clean electric) is a good instinct. The drums are also just tambourine. Ironically, the quieter "3 times" is the most menacing song on the cassette. it sounds like Leadbelly licks but Spencer Gralla has a tenor voice like Ozzy Osborne. It makes for a killer cool combination even if the lyrics just repeat themselves.

Side A ends with "Weak End" a fuzzed out rock ballad with noise parts that let the chords hold out. Great, great, contemporary rock and roll. The composition seems to showcase a knowledge of rock history. I hear Neil Young, My Bloody Valentine, the Who, Brian Eno (?!?!) ... its just a few basic chords but the tone is so calculated. AND ALSO! While still reverberated, Gralla can (gasp!) SING! I don't want to sound flip, but I have reviewed so many tapes where the vocals were an afterthought. Here Gralla does not shy away or cop out with desperate screams. "Weak End" is anything but.

Side B opens with solo guitar without a pick; each individual string is articulated. But this doesn't last too long as Creaturos embark on a jam that reminds me of "Thee Ohh Sees" at their most excited. This is primarily because of the echoes used in the vocals.

The next song, "Leave your face behind", is more of a trippy cowboy ballad with FANTASTIC multi-vocals. If anything, buy this tape for the singer because he can sing, a rarity in our cassette culture.

"UFO Yeah!!!" is appropriately the cassette's biggest space jam. When I say this, I mean there is a lot of added effects that do not correspond traditionally to the bass/drums/guitar. but they cut through the mix well and do not distract.

The last song, "Something Happened" is a last call love lost ballad which is a great way to end. The vocals are double with a female voice and an omnichord is supplied by Johny Allen. Here the reverb guitar sounds golden, sublime and perfect. "Something Happened" breaks verse/chorus/verse structure, is haunting with lines like "something happened when we were young/ wasn't worth the trouble but it was fun", crescendos at the end into sonic rock and roll bliss. That driving bass line of just one note played fiercely while the drums go crazy will never get old. Not in the year 3000.

Love this tape. You should book these guys, watch these guys, love these guys. If they can find a way to add the studio extra elements to their live set they'll be unstoppable.

--Jack Turnbull

You can order tapes at  I highly recommend you also check out the recently released Don Gero tape on the label.  One man live drumming with triggers and pedals similar to Black Pus or Dick Neff, but with it's own (sort of more refined) thing going on. - ed.

GAZE "III" (Teen Action)

A signal fades in and out of volume, pulsating and oscillating with distorted fuzz and distant organ jams. It sounds analog; tubes over solid states. It turns into a space jam more akin to the psychedelics of Hawkwind or the homemade bent circuits of Mark Lord/Kites. No percussion is present; the only sense of rhythm is made clear by the on/off of circuit board knobs that crackle with radio interference. The whole tape kind of sounds like different airway signals from a distant, foreign, cold land - like a drifting spaceman way past orbit from that movie Gravity hopelessly trying to put out an SOS but he/she only get this tape in response.

Halfway through Side A, "Xerxes Concubine - the Winged Lion", a synthesizer melody made of approximately 3-4 notes takes center stage. It stagers and isn't a firm collection of notes (I sense perhaps because the artist is improvising) but they counterbalance the atmospheric chaos behind into something harmonious yet still ominous.

The musicians take a step back and someone cuts out and is replaced by sped up pulsating samples that linger as synth notes are held out. A metronome is heard. The tapes gets creepier as the artists underplay, perhaps with more moments of quite their sounds are more confirmable, as if we're getting a better rendered illustration of the monster they're attempting to narrate. Still - we're not being attacked here, just observing ... but over time, the first track begins to degrade from "space rock" to just "spacey".

If there are any complaints, I'd say the composition drags on for too long on side A. There are only so many descending pitch frequencies smothered in distortion one can hear before the sound stops carrying its validity. Side A could have easily lost about five minutes and I wouldn't miss those five minutes. You may disagree but there is no need for this to be a sixty minute tape.

While I can tell the artists are trying to branch out a little more at the beginning of Side B, The first song, "Peacock Motel" unfortunately offers little new ideas sonically. Digital delay snare tapes begin to hint at something new as sounds more akin to bird calls are made rather than outer space chill. I hear a little more contemporary Black Dice influence on "Peacock Motel". For an instant I heard something that's maybe a unmixed guitar dying in the distance. diverse tones are utilized better, but they are elusively amiss amongst watts of mangled samples and crackles.

I'm being more honest than not; if the first two songs were not labeled I could barely tell a difference. And they're drawn out. Perhaps live I could tolerate how long these space jams go for because I would be given the pleasure of watching the musicians play, adding a visual element, but on cassette in a walkman at 6 AM it sadly begins to underwhelm.

The final song on Side B, "Brindisi Nights" breaks mold fortunately. Laser beams from other galaxies still are present, but looping Cliff Martinez sythn licks sync in and sink their teeth into this track. This accessible 80ties thriller homage base allows for the musicians to really go full throttle and escalate their space assault. It adds a new dimension. The synthesizer melody flutters like a butterfly drenched in the rain of an approaching hurricane. Giving the listener a constant in a swirling world of loosely structured frequencies balances out the track. It allows the listener to get more out of it because of the subtle harmonies being made. Plus - loops, psychologically, allow the listeners to put down a wall because they know what's coming next. The effect is borderline "dancey", although I could never dance to this band, sorry.

The cassette design is minimal but effective. I like the yellow on blue; X-men colors. The utilitarian designer in me disapproves of there being no plastic case hence making the tape susceptible to damage, but the environmentalist applauds the lack of waste; two pieces of small paper and a tape = one new art product, why not? They get big points for good basic typography and I like Gaze's logo: ///// TAR 032

--Jack Turbull

(Metaphysical Circuits)

Guitar solos and beachside sunset keyboard harmonies dance around a metronome click. Synthesizer emulating Plucked Violins drift around before falling into line, oscillating and invading your brain with sexy dancehall disco fantasies. This is space jams with whammy bar vibrato and drum machine sequencers galore.

Church bells, scrambled brains and egg tape loops and pulsing 70ties shitbots pleasantly congeal. Sign waves pulse with little logic. At one moment, a looping car engine start is presented and is then reversed and reverberated at low volume. It portrays an inner chaos that has been mastered into improvised melodies of gentle statements, a beautiful irony.

An AMEN drum beat is accompanied by bongos and low end, low frequency loop cantina piano. Great BBQ music. The laid back scratching of a record even emerges alla an early Beastie Boys jazz jam! A history of the trio in jazz lies behind this digitalized jam and ends with low tone frequency modulation and delay.

You're then inside the planetarium getting a lecture on the cosmos from Whoopi Goldberg as Ghienan in Star Trek:TNG. It feels nice, but then all of a sudden a black hole emerges which is an overdrive repeating screech. A snare drum militantly keeps beat as frequencies ascend and descend in pitch. The tape goes from accessible to anti-social within minutes before sputtering into digital delay infinity and fade out.

It reminds me of an instrumental Passion Pit at times and early Wolf Eyes on Seroquil at other times. Somewhere between disco beats and mangled howling at the moon is Amalgamated. Think the Trainspotting Soundtrack at it's more pulsating moments.

Side two blends these two feelings a little bit better but overall this is too spacey to be an awesome dance cassette to too dancey to be an awesome space cassette. I like the range and respect it, but right now I'm looking for a cassette that I can play at BBQs all the time, not just for a song here or there, you know what I mean?

But that's not this tapes problem, it's mine. This tape is good. Psychedelic, Acid drenched disco dance and expanse. Techno's back. This is the perfect soundtrack for your Halloween Harem of purple smoke, Cassette Gods.

--Jack Turnbull

(Hare Akedod)

"Gripgevest & Kling"; Another beautiful drone mind scape from the pitch dark deep thoughts bin.

Diverse in mood yet smooth in transition, fuzz guitar and West World synths play post-modern Middle-Eastern scale drug blues.

At this cassette's best, "Gripgevest & Kling" underplay but don't underwhelm. All tracks are live improvisations as the cassette liner notes state. These two musicians are clearly listening to one another while responding to one another, not an easy task. This probably explains why chord progressions are drawn out, echoed and gradually transform.

Still, the spontaneity of experimentation is present. Levels of volume and whammy octave changes surprise although don't overstimulate. Ideas are presented and then edited and adjusted in real time giving the tape a loose feel. The word "Jam session" is appropriate even though this isn't rock/roll music. It's better for relaxing and staring at your living room fish tank aquarium.

The tape breaks down when one of the musicians is ONLY listening while the other is playing and vice versa. It's fair to say the tape crescendos and recedes, but moments of amp input fuzz and looped keyboard melodies can break mood or just not jibe well. At worst, the tape can sound uninspired and casual while wanting to sound serious. It comes off as heavy handed.

Some guitar playing on this suggests an amateur knowledge of scale. But unlike less talented improvisors, all the right notes are playing, just with a small range that does not showcase the guitar's full ability. At times it sounds like one of the two guitarists only has one string on their guitar. That lesser range is less satisfying but not distracting to the overall mood.

At times, the majestic, progressive noise sounds and limited guitar don't seem to pair up well with folkish flute. Moments of melodic and thematic unity are more often than not on the tape, but at the lower points the call-and-response can feel strained.

These guys don't mind sounding creepy, trippy, tranquil or menacing. It's an ambitious tape and a great piece of cassette craft, but not an essential part of your collection. Good effort overall and great liner note graphic design.

-- Jack Turnbull

"Archaic Practices"
(Feathered Coyote Records)

High pitched peace pipes slowly collide with a looping train reaching it's station. Drawn out drone and hiss is this tape's beginning. I keep waiting for an axe to fall somewhere on this noise cassette but instead it fades in and out of tranquility. Slowly through the mix of feedback a faint few chords on synthesizer are revealed. Chime Melodies drenched with echo and reverberation appear, disappear and drift. Behind sweeping broad statements of noise is clean guitar chords sliding up and down inversions.

Other songs are less soothing. "Archaic Practices" can set a more ominous mood akin to Lars Van Trier movie soundtracks. Fife whistle even reminds me of the creepy drug hallucination scenes from Akira. These moments of style on the cassette play is less innovative than his subtly more melodic songs, but they are still effective and complex; tranquil yet unsettling. Vangelis at his most atmospheric also comes to mind.

I had to sit down with this cassette to fully appreciate it. It's not instant gratification rock/roll music. Instead of emulating mechanical, mathematical movement changes, the melodic and thematic electronic noise transitions ooze like evolving, primordial slime. Distant drums and snake slithering are mysteriously lurking through these songs.

Yet at other times, If I had a flying car and I wanted to show my girlfriend that flying car, I would play something like "Archaic Practices" in that flying car.

On a side note, the cassette album artwork is minimal yet well crafted, colored and designed. An illustration of a light purple silhouetted human figure eaten by oversized tape worms is a fitting image for how this music "decomposes" and recreates itself.

Read trippy literature to this cassette. It's not great for action-painting because it is more relaxing and meditative than seizure inducing metal, but due to its slow evolution between major and minor chords, gongs, static and ghost moans, it begins to become mind expanding. Great tape, just be patient with it.

--Jack Turnbull

"King of Doobs"

A supremely boring “Rock Opera” in an edition of 50. With such an awesome band name and an album title like “King of the Doobs,” I had pretty high hopes. Unfortunately each side (respectively: side “jeff” and side “alex”) really doesn’t do much but pay testament to some of the most boring of the suburban rock tropes. Very little of this tape stands out from the hordes of other vanilla rock bands in the world, there’s just not much interesting going on. Singer has a nasally, kind of whiny voice, the guitar rocks, etc. I don’t want to be a totally mean person though- there are some pretty decent songs on here. It’s just that the songs I genuinely enjoy are separated by some pretty boring ballads. “Fuck Your Friends” is a pretty good rager that definitely makes me want to romp a little bit, and the bass tone on this track is killer. “Let’s Go Out Rockin” isn’t a masterpiece but the rhythm is infectious and I dig the cheesy lyrics. “Pink Lemonade” is a perfect summertime jam about catching bugs and being in nature, but it’s October now so the summer fun time theme kind of missed the mark for me. Maybe if it was called “Tamiflu and Cough Syrup” it’d fit my mood a little better, but I guess that would probably take away from the lyrical weight or something.

--Timonthy Johnson