SUB LIQUID “Beneath Your Reflection” C42 (Rotifer)

I’m standing in the dark on an expanse of marble floor, cutting paper snowflakes in slow motion.  I’m crying soundlessly, my makeup is running slightly, but it only makes me look sexier.  A red ant is crawling up my neck and as I watch it in the mirror I wonder: is it a real ant or a robot ant?  It gets to my cheek and I squash it with my finger and its flesh smears into a perfect blush and I flash a sparkling mouth. 

Sub Liquid is immaculate.  Pristine.  Innocuous.  The soundtrack to an inevitable erotic design.  A sculpted runway model, shaved, perfumed, choreographed.  It has a vibe.  The tape is impeccably made, if its individual design components are just regular ok.  Rotifer Cassettes has a lot of great-looking artifacts in the online discography.

--Kevin Oliver

BANG! BROS. "Whatever" (???)

It's not soothing, precisely.

But I wouldn't call it 'harsh noise' like people say. It's like, in this incredible density of drum-like plip boff bangs it wanders around between this contradictory manic/reflective space and yes, the sensations of being attacked from inside the body by countless infinitesimal intelligences. The cellscape of the body comes into a new and personal life as a living land of utterly chaotic hyperactivity. And just when you think you've had enough of protein synthesis, the filthy form of the human reappears, squealing manically at you from a muck-universe.

I love writing about this tape almost as much as YOU'LL love listening to it. Some people say things like noise music isn't politically transgressive or subversive anymore. How could anyone be fooled into caring about that? This tape is da bomb, it puts me deeper in my crazy body and it puts my body deeper in this crazy fool of a world. And thats da shiiiit.

- - Devin Brown

“Pongdools” c30 (Djrona)
“Gazer” C44 (Tomentosa)

STAGHARE “pongdools” C30 (Djrona)

Staghare, the solo-project of Utah native Garrick Biggs, makes beautiful, meditative and thoroughly accessible drone-pop epics on “pongdools,” the final installment in his self-released Djrona trilogy. Biggs gradually builds each of the tape’s three tracks on layers of simple, raga-like guitar and gently ebbing and flowing synth lines. On the second track “soul dive,” as these reverberating drones slowly take on mass and intensity, a propulsive motorik beat and repetitive 2 note bass hook enter and establish a central pulse around which a bed of wordless (or indecipherable, at least) close-harmony vocals and bubbling, fluttering synth tones revolve and chase one another in and out of the foreground of the mix. As this section peaks, the rhythmic elements disappear momentarily as a longer yet still indecipherable vocal line establishes a further layer of mantric repetition. The rhythm tracks then reappear in slightly reconfigured form to drive the remainder of the eleven plus minute track through a fluid, constantly shifting web of soothing, pleasant tones and textures. 

The other two tracks on “pongdools” adhere to similar structures and are distinguished from one another more by degree of intensity than memorable melody or directly identifiable, individual content. In each of these songs both melodic and textural intentions are rendered fragmentary and dispersed throughout the constituent instrumental and vocal tracks that make up the pulsing whole. The listener gets more of a holistic sense of harmonic and melodic content in flux than a clearly defined and easily repeatable statement of theme. Likewise, instead of exploring unique and singular textures Biggs establishes a familiar, comfortable textural space or range within which his melodic and textural fragments slowly shift and revolve like colored fluids revealing the contours of a  translucent container. 

Terms like these—comfortable, familiar, accessible—might seem like negative qualifiers in the context of self-consciously exploratory, “psychedelic” music, but this thorough pleasantness on the terms of the recognizably, established-as-such “pleasant” is what makes this tape unique. Everything revolves around major key bliss and tried-and-true drone-pop tropes cherry-picked from a number of easily identifiable influences and reconfigured for maximum pleasure. I don’t know enough about the occult to read any significance into the symbols printed on the shell of staghare’s tape, but if they have any significance at all I would be willing to bet Biggs is casting some sort of spell of safety and protection here—marking off a sacred space inaccessible to the ill-intentioned critic who might wield those “pleasant” terms (comfortable, familiar, accessible) as weapons to question the seriousness of Biggs’ psychedelic or quasi-spiritual intent. The music on this tape is not challenging. The dark side of the psychedelic experience, or of spiritual struggle, is given no quarter here in Biggs’ sacred space. Should it be this easy? Can it be this easy? Is this easy-listening almost dancing hip youngsters? Cast out those bad vibes bro. Staghare wants you to have a good trip. Why not indulge? This candy tastes like candy. 

-- Brantley Fletcher


STAG HARE  “Gazer” C44 (Tomentosa)

Dude, this guy again – I freaking loved Angel Tech (I had the Space Slave version, but it, Pongdools, and Gazer have been released as a 3-tape edition called Djrona). Now I freaking love Gazer. You know why? Because it allows me to use all my favorite adjectives for space when describing the music: celestial, interstellar, infinite, gorgeous. There are probably more, but let’s stop there. I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much.

Salt Lake City’s Garrick Biggs is the man behind Stag Hare, and if you couldn’t guess, he hovers weightlessly around the twin suns of “ambient” and “drone.” Gazer is four psychedelically washed pieces of guitar and synthesizer minimalism, titled “Gaze 1” to “Gaze 4,” that are as transportative to other realms and dimensions as a wormhole. I don’t know if there’s less light pollution out in Utah (especially once you leave Salt Lake City), but I’m almost positive Biggs can see the Milky Way every single night. That would explain a lot.

“Gaze 1” begins all “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space,” but literally, and with no reference to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” As in, imagine yourself floating in space and listening to the celestial tones – that’s it. And Gazer doesn’t shift around much after that either – “Gaze 2” is a little more restless with a few more obvious guitar tones, but again, it’s all pretty much about floating literally in space. “Gaze 3” hints at discovery – of who knows what, life? Passage? Meaning? I almost want to call it my favorite track because I could probably psychoanalyze myself with it. Almost, but I can’t because the whole thing’s so good. “Gaze 4” returns us home, or at least to something more nurturing than deep space that feels like home.

And it’s all cyclical, a nice trick that Biggs achieves – you realize he’s got something up his sleeve other than the secrets of the universe. When “Gaze 4” ends and “Gaze 1” restarts, flip the tape right away, and the chordage runs straight from “4” to “1,” so you have, if you want, an infinite loop without interruption. Genius move – Gazer allows you to start the trip all over again.

Gazer points to my favorite kinds of tapes – sidelong (or in this case, half-sidelong) gas-blasters of stellar proportions, constantly churning nuclear reactions rendered aurally consumable by safe distance. Space porn for your ears. And it makes me feel really, really small and insignificant, a state I should be in more often – it helps me focus. It’s celestial, interstellar, infinite, and downright gorgeous music.

--Ryan “Terminal Velocity” Masteller

“Holiday” C20 (Colossal Tapes)

I am in the shadow of Colossal Tapes. See what I did there? I took an existing property, Shadow of the Colossus, a “video” game from PlayStation’s third console (or PS3), and turned it into a clever reference. But don’t let me spoil the reference for you with over-explanation – Colossal Tapes is huge and I have to defeat it by listening to all of its releases. That or by bashing it repeatedly in its conspicuously glowing orb-y part.

I’m going to bash Sally Jesse Raphael in its conspicuously glowing orb-y part too, but first I’m-a listen to this C20, that is, Holiday, a super-limited release – seriously, only 25 made, son! Sally is someone or something from Pasadena, California, which is where Colossal Tapes is also from (total coincidence I’m sure), and who or which makes violently catchy improvisations using turntables, samplers, and tape loops. This is noise with a vibe – case in point, the rhythm of “Never on a Sunday” sounds like someone shaking a can of spray paint while choirs of cheerful imps ooh and ahh through about 50 years of static. Think that’s weird? “Maybelle” hints at hip hop – I know! – before settling into a tinny sample blob of beautiful space gunk.

Sally Jesse Raphael exists within an unholy vortex where Leyland Kirby’s Caretaker and a fully Bermuda-moded Eric Copeland unite across space and time to form a unique space beast (and specifically so on the amazeballs “Barcelona”). Actually, Holiday sounds like the aural equivalent of the real Sally Jesse, present day, tankini-clad and beckoning under a tropical night sky. Try to get that image out of your head while pooch-scooching naked over a sand dune. I won’t lie, if this is happening to you, you may have been drugged, or you may even be dead. But fear not, because you can take Colossal Tapes releases with you to the other side! I read that in the Bible somewhere.

Now on to the rest of Colossal Tapes’s discography! I wonder if I’ll have to climb the next one to smash its head or if I can just hit it with a bow and arrow.

--Ryan “Terminal Velocity” Masteller

REZZETT “Zootie” (The Trilogy Tapes)

Rezzett are an experimental, electronic duo from London. Their identity remains unrevealed, but rest assure under the Trilogy Tapes catalogue which are known to have superb releases from the underground London, electronic scene.

While electronic music is known to have clean production (for the most part), Rezzett walk away from that by displaying us tracks with unresolved endings and songs that resonate on the more lo-fi or muddy sounds. Though the songs are essentially built from traditional electronic or early techno, it feels as if they are formed organically combined with raw intensity. As a result of textured synths that lay out a woozy atmosphere, you can expect to undergo an experience equivalent to taking multiple sedatives.
Their works are best notable in the subterranean, UK music and fashion sphere. Brands like Cav Empt or Palace Skateboards have used their music to have alongside the clothing that clashes together nicely.



-- Jesus Perez

LAKE MARY "There Are Always Second Chances in the Mountains" (Planted Tapes)

Diddling is always entertaining in the fingers of the diddler, but done incorrectly, it can leave the orifice-owner (ears, etc.) bothered, blue lipped, even a little sore. Sadly, Lake Mary didn't know how to touch me.

There's SLC field recorded birdsong diddling, acoustic guitar diddling, even a banjo gets diddled. I might as well be in a white noise orgy conducted by a virgin who still believes in the power of saying "I love you" and/or the power of the post-rock medleys at the end of Danny Boyle movies.

Give me a classic rub and tug by a beardo who's had one too many bad trips. 'Cause if you're going to have an existential crisis looking into a foaming abyss, the hole's gotta be deeper than six inches.

Beautiful packaging. Handmade cedar coffin with risograph printed art insert, insterted.

--Mylanta Stamz