THE CRADLE “Sweet Automatic” and “Is This Okay?” (No Records)

Free-spirited, wild-sounding.  Good voice, clever recording.  It’s got a multi-tracked, one-man-band vibe, but doesn’t sound solitary—this could be performed in a big ensemble.  The production is homemade & astute, deliberately done, tricky usage of strange sounds but always to the effect of sounding good.  In the realm of what you might call “experimental music,” this is more likely just good songs recorded well with gusto.  The song called “automatic” is great, you should listen to it.  The package is inviting, a cozy lone-wolf DIY fly-by-night operation.  Some strangeness with the long-playing tape, the b-side is called “Is This Okay?” which I first took as an irreverent solution to not having a custom tape to dub your album onto: first an over-long silence (“Is This Okay?”  Haha.), then a feedback drone (“Is This Okay?” Haha.), then some raw jams, then a lot more silence.  I figured, “he’s just tossing a tape package together, doing what he can with what he’s got, cool, yeah, definitely okay.”  The bandcamp archive has “Is This Okay?” as an actual album, the raw jams identified as “some of my songs re-recorded with gong-kebyar instrumentation.”  Oh.  I see.  The artwork is great, black & white on shitty paper, hand folded & scissored with a gatefold lyric sheet.  The lyrics are good and I’m glad they’re printed; it really brought me into the listening.  From the tapes that Nick has sent me, this is one of the best yet.

--Kevin Oliver