Bánh Mì Verlag

2x cassettes from Die Reihe and Luminous Kudler offer a firm introduction to new Brooklyn based label Bánh Mì Verlag, dealing primarily in contemporary sound + composition. 

Die Reihe = label proprietor Jack Callahan delivers a minimal modular demonstration across the spectrum, turning a thickly inscribed book to a fresh page.

Luminous Kudler, a like minded man about town, slays in the open/conceptual computer style, bound for tru destiny.

Keep an eye toward banhmiverlag.com for an exemplary catalog set for release, many pairing already established figures (some collaborators of Callahan's) in unconventional and exciting ways.


- -Matt Robidoux

"White" (PV003)

The first track, appropriately titled “All About Me”, sets the mood for this album. A shallow snare pops breezily along to gentle, unassuming arpeggios and finicky chords, while the vocalist cheerfully calls out a series of “ooh’s, ah’s, and oh’s.” It can actually be quite hilarious to listen to. Aside from what one could consider the definitive track on this album, “Blood on Our Hands”, this album melds together as if it were just one long, rambling jam session devoid of structure. That being said, “Blood on Our Hands” alone is worth getting the album for; it really is an incredible culmination of all the best elements of Coombs and Tasch, and features not only a chorus, but an effective use of dynamics!


"I'm So Happy I Could Die" C45
(Drid Machine Records)

Drid Machine seems to have a monopoly on gnarly weirdo music coming out of Scandinavia. The last tape I reviewed from them (Freddy the Dyke/Bloodsprut) blew my mind, and this tape has only made me more trusting in the tastes of whoever runs this sick Norse label. This No Balls tape has 11 tracks, and about 11 riffs all told. Pummeling but almost entirely static instrumental (save for one track) noise rock from two members of Brainbombs that finds a groove and sticks with it endlessly, denying much in the way of rock n roll catharsis. Their method for keeping each track interesting while never really changing the pattern to the song is hypnotic. The secret to each track is the glacial pace the band takes to alter the groove, mixing in minute drum fills and muted horns that change the song ever so slightly enough that you don’t go mad thinking your tape players busted and just playing the same twenty seconds over and over again. They shake their experiment in rock minimalism a few times, the last track on the A side has a lot of movement, and the first track on the B side rocks out pretty hard. Later on that side they interrupt one of their monumental grooves and dive out of nowhere into a spacey dubbed out passage. Even though many of these tracks might seem to consist of the guitarist just down picking his muted strings over a funky drum pattern ad nauseum, it’s hard to find this boring. Each riff or pattern sticks around just long enough for you to be frustrated by it, so that when the next song starts it has your full attention. This bands onto something really novel, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of their material. 
 -- Tim Johnson

(Broken World Tapes)

Anthro Rex used to be the solo noise kind of sort of definitely weird project of one Daniel James Cashman, but now with his Dozen in the fold (the band is actually a four piece), old Danny boy is creating some of the most coherent music of his "career." If you've heard the cave man rumblings of Cashman's other band Grey Skull, imagine this band as a little more reigned in with Misfits and psych rock guitar noise jamming blended thoroughly in equal measure. Wait...you don't have to imagine, go ahead and stream right here. I saw these folks play a few months ago right after seeing 4 Phish shows at Madison Square Garden and I would say both experiences were equally psychedelic.

Wound "Breathing The Void" c20 (Teen Action)

Brash new album from Italy's WOUND. This is some grim, outsider low-end experimentation in the vein of early BSBC and the more lulled TG works.

  Side A creeps like a black sludge, slowly sliding down a dank basement wall. A sinister hiss stays in the shadows, yet has a quietly menacing vibe. Subwoofer recommended. 

  Side B lunges at you with a bit more brute force, a dense sub drone lingers in static, and just as the deep sinking feeling begins to set in, you are blindsided by harsh reverb swells and ricocheted thuds and percussive cracks. This is industrial music for the after-after hours, and I can't wait to hear more. 

Get a copy from www.teenactionrecords.com 

IN HEAT "Demo 2"

For some time, Providence's underground sub-cultural has been dominated by two ruling aesthetics; the psychedelic, ear piercing bleeps, drones and laser spitfire of contemporary noise (think Forcefield, Mindflayer, Mark Lord) and the angry, jet black, endurance testing blast beats of punk hardcore metal (think Dropdead). This is most evident inside Providence's "Armageddon Records", a wonderful punk/metal/DIY record store that subtly has visual references to the summer of love in the form of Brian Chippendale posters around its militaristic black and white t-shirts advertising crust punk bands.

The connecting thread of these two genres is arguably nihilism and volume, although that loaded philosophy is interpreted positively (an act like Providence's Lightning Bolt) or negatively (an act like Providence's Arab on Radar) by the cities inhabitants. If not nihilism, at the least a rejection to the vast majority of industry standards that hold back a large portion of musicians. To put it simply, most bands from Providence aren't interested in getting radio play, and are more interested in feeling music by loudly vibrating it onto the audience's chests during live shows.

Providence's In Heat is, I am assuming, relatively new to the scene and beautifully mix these two genres into music that makes perfect sense. They are a harsh psychedelic noise band with a classic metal core drum bass duo. Shrieking golem vocals are sprinkled on top of this intriguing, converging of genres. It compliments it well.

According to the band's Bandcamp, this particular cassette is not their newest, and it is amply titled "Demo 2". It feels like a demo. The volumes of the players don't vibrate, sway or crescendo. The release doesn't feel mixed, although I don't mean to imply that certain elements are hard to make out.

A clear vision is being presented on this release, but it is evident that In Heat is just getting started with their presents on the scene. Hopefully this band will stay together, because if this is a Demo, the real release is going to be something special. And not just for the band themselves, but for a landmark DIY city that, while small, continues to evolve and break new ground.

Bandcamp website:

The cassette is available online here or go see them at a show around New England or America or whatever.

--Jack Turnbull

MIKE TAMBURO "Presnce" 2xCass (Inner Islands)

Very, very lovely and methodical acoustic ambient album on two tapes from this Pittsburgh native. Highly recommended! Tamburo uses hammered dulcimer, shahi baaja, gong, guitar, autoharp and other instruments to create hypnotic blankets of sound. Just do it! STREAM / / ORDER 

(Tor Press)

These are two cool split tapes that are already sold out from the label, but I think you can still snag one somewhere on the webs. I'm just gonna copy and paste the label's description and some soundcloud links. Does that make this a release announcement? I guess so. Definitely not a review, as you will notice the absence of any critical commentary. Boy, these are sure easier to write than reviews. Sue me, I'm a busy man.

Ignatz / Sophie Cooper 
Ignatz is the moniker of Belgiums Bram Devens, an occasional member of Sylvester Anfang II. Here we have 5 new tracks, unusually 3 of them are entirely instrumental but none the less still retain the unmistakable lo-fi blues sound of Brams music. There's a primitism to Brams guitar playing, at times indelicate but still beautiful and always beguiling. Sophie Cooper is a singer songwriter from Stoke-On-Trent, here she presents five deeply personal songs. Her music always reflects her life and more often than not is inspired by the people around her. These songs have a dreamlike quality, with found sounds and vocals drifting in and out of clarity. This is emotive often heart-rending music. Limited to only 75 copies with artwork by Jake Blanchard on pro-dubbed cassettes.

Hellvete / Jake Blanchard
Hellvete is Glen Steenkiste (Gonzalez & Steenkiste, Sylvester Anfang), here we have 3 distinctly different tracks, ranging from delicate percussion, zoned out drones and banjo plucking. It's impossible not to get lost in this music, long tracks of sustained drones with subtle textures and layers building and fading. This is the second release from Jake after his debut on Feathered Coyote. Often using hand made instruments Jake weaves blissful drones with primitve rhythm and melody at times harmonious and euphoric giving way to distorted and dissonant. Limited to only 75 copies with artwork by Jake Blanchard on pro-dubbed cassettes.


THUNDEREGG "He's Actually Pretty Cool Once You Get to Know Him"

Here is a unique cassette; select songs of bedroom recordings from a thoughtful, talented singer songwriter. There are twenty eight songs on here, the equivalent of a double vinyl LP. Each song is recorded by a four track, so the whole release has a humble do-it-yourself element to it, even if the songs are the length, genre and feel of something radio ready.

The songs are not presented in chronological order. The opener is from 1998 and the latest recording is from 2012. They're all catchy and well composed, with some nice instrumental decision making. Will Georgantas also has very good instincts and knows when to double up the vocals, when to throw in a well executed guitar solo, etc. Some songs are waltzes, in 3/3 time signature, while others feel like straight up emo anthems. There's about a billion late nineties comparisons I can make to Thunderegg's sound, but the clearest influence is the vocals of Ben Folds Five. Georgantas voice is eerily similar to Ben Folds.

Georgantas doesn't have the ability to sing songs that are simultaneously quirky and funny while also being devastatingly relatable and, in Folds own words, "punk rock for nerds". The lyrics don't have the same edge, they seem to just wash over me. Another comparison I would make would be to early Jason Anderson recordings.

I'll admit I'm probably not the best reviewer for this specific cassette however. What I enjoy about music is usually more abstract. As much as I complain about punk bands reverberating lyrics to the point of being incoherent, I usually think about lyrics last, with the exception to a handful of amazing singer songwriters. For example, you may release I make a lot of comparisons to Neil Young. I like Neil Young.

But I digress. If you are a fan of mid-ninties K records, Tullycraft, Death Cab for Cutie, you know, that whole scene, this might be a great cassette for you. Thunderegg is not the greatest of emo crooners, but with a release that is TWENTY EIGHT songs deep, you get a lot of bang for your buck here.

artist's website: http://www.thunderegg.org/
This release is like ... over an hour long.

--Jack Turnbull

BUFU Records

This is a good label to watch if you're into upbeat rock music made by nice kids.  I guess calling BUFU the Burger Records of Boston wouldn't be too much of a stretch, with it's mainstream-leaning DIY kind of mash-up aesthetic.  I'd say the bands on Bufu are more varied though. Here we've got the bum-ditty guitar twang muppet vocals of Free Pizza, the weird and athletic noise rock of Designer, a compilation tape of the best of Massachusetts stalwarts Zebu! and the Black Flag meets Metallica shred of Acidosis.  It's all fun and I like it.

Designer and Free Pizza are on tour now, more info and streams on the site:


PALBERTA "My Pal Berta" (OSR Tapes)

Simply put, one of the best tapes I've heard in a year or so. Just listen to it and then buy it from the label, which also has a cassingle out from Portland's The Memories.


I really liked this. You might too. Tony from SQRM/Crystalline Roses on vocals with Jeremy Pisani (Red Favorite) and Andy Crespo (original Barn Owl) as well as others probably. Hawkwind meets hardcore? I think this is coming out sometime on an LP.

There's also this, which also features World Dom vocalist Tony and his pal Zac, both of whom I put in the band for the Jandek show I booked at Flywheel back in 2010...fun little tidbit. This is a nice unassuming little album and you'd maybe never hear it if you weren't about to listen to it right? This one is available on tape from High Ledges, a new label started by Meghan Minior and Will Killingsworth of Ampere.

Western Mass motherfuckers.

GIVAN LOTZ "Snarling"

Let me begin this review by congratulating Givan Lotz for his design work on the cassette paper sleeve. The cover is gorgeous; it is a fluorescent colored digital homage to silkscreen and lithography, with paper thin subtle hatching gradients in cool hued prints. Floral textiles are reminiscent to Rococo era lithographs, but the repeating patterns feel Warholian because each subjects color is monotone.

The color choices look LSD inspired like Haight Ashbury 60ties hippie posters, but the subjects are fetishistic, like a Henri Fantin-Latour painting. This is fitting for the audio's gentle mood with slight hints to something more acid drenched.

Givan Lotz doesn't have the positive peace sign energy of the summer of love however that his design aesthetic might suggest. The songs on this release were made over the period of four years according to a press release statement. So the songs are not naive. They are considered, humble and a bit burnt out. Lotz's voice is haunting and murmured. At times it can be dragging, but subtle and surprising instrumentation shifts keep the release engaging.

The genre to this music is a cousin to campfire folk, but it's deeper and darker than that; it's cavernous and reverberated. I hear a little Black Heart Procession, but Lotz hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, so the time signatures mimic the rhythms of another culture, even though the common theme of the cassette is melancholia.

Lotz tackles the subjects of loneliness and tragedy without getting over sensitive or dramatic by giving the music the cool of a dusk evening in the desert. The sounds are searching artistically for tonal expansion while the lyrics get down right personal.

It's a strong release that comes recommended. Check it out.
record label: www.other-electricities.com
Artist website: http://www.other-electricities.com/givan-lotz

--Jack Turnbull

slow down...speed up

Still working on trying to get this blog updated more regularly. Thank you so much for sending in tapes. Nothing gets thrown away, but there is a large backlog of submissions at the moment and not enough people to listen to them.

Do you live in the Boston area? do you enjoy listening to music on cassette? Are you interested in becoming a Cassette God?  I'm looking for reliable and frequent contributors to meet up with me face to face and receive tapes for review every week.  I really feel like this system has the best chances of getting the highest percentage of tapes posted to the blog, but if I can't find three to five reliable people out here, I might need to go back to the previous system of posting the individual reviewers addresses on the sidebar. I took those down because I felt like not enough writing was being done, but now we're in the same boat and February has been pretty bleak as far as contributions to the blog go. So please drop me a line at cavebears at gee mail dot comb if you are local and want to help keep this thing running.

Why keep it running? Because a small but consistent number of people look at this site daily. Recently it's been averaging 500 views per day (15,000 per month), with a total of half a million since we started.  I'm sure this is minuscule compared to some other music blogs, but it's enough to make me feel that we are doing something for the people whose music we post about.

Also a note for people submitting music for review: send no promo emails ever. There are enough people who actually send physical submissions that we could review one tape a day (minimum) if we had enough writers, so I definitely don't take the time to look at submissions from people who can't muster a single copy of a tape.

update 3/8/14: I've got some good folks responding, and I've been handing out tapes by the dozen, so hopefully this will mean a more active CG in the future. I've also started writing a few little scraps here and there. keep the tapes coming, there is light at the end of this tunnel of a submissions box...

GUNK "Gradual Shove" (Ranch Records)

Comprised of Philadelphia scene veterans Josh Mackie (Your Children is Beautiful, Idiot Forever), Dan Angel (Sex Dungeon Studios, Ugh God) and Nate Dionne, Gunk gels together at the molecular level, offering a freshman LP worth hundreds of work hours and the air of a years old collaboration.  It seems as though the post-Joe Sly DIY era finds its rock epicenter in Philly with Gunk churning out some of its most relevant cuts in their initial statement.  Picking up where bands like Fat History Month and Arvid Noe left off (and New England Patriots and Pile continue to reside) Gunk takes a standard basement trio and great songwriting to a not oft trod level.

"Gradual Shove" sounds like a band's band on tape in 2014 should, recalling a pre-aught decade and excavating the best parts of the unsung bands from them, in this case perhaps Heatmiser and Rob Crow, as well as a bit of Spoon with the piano doubling on opener "Photograph".  The arrangements are spooky and expressive, bass overdriven and above the mix.  

"Ice Cream" is the definitive cut on the album.  Smart and hook laden, musing on simple benefits of hydrant breaking and ice cream eating in the east coast summer, giving way to a complexity of arrangement that pushes it over the edge.  A wobbly counter melody, sneaky flutes and "self help" tape static segue a traditional rock statement into concrete smatter and the closing cadence of a stately symphony.  The album takes no time to slow as the listener is immediately pummeled by "Kill Em All" by the time the next quarter note hits.  Keep listening because these off kilter melodies ripen with age. 

The raison d'être of Gunk may be summed up in the first three tracks but they are a sweet combo.  Stick around for the rest!

- -Matt Robidoux