ORRA “Into the Wind” C40 (Inner Islands)

We sit with our backs to the trunk of the broad oak and breakfast quickly in the twilight, before night falls and we must move again. “The Fog Has a White Tongue” (side A) and we feel it begin to obscure us from prying eyes in the near distance. We two are alone, and we have been for almost a month now. It’s difficult to tell – determining time has become a dismal art at best, and the sun and moon start and stop in the sky seemingly at random. We don’t know why the world has started to shift its relationship to us; we only know that we may be the only ones of our kind left, and as such may be the only ones that can stop it.

And we’re being followed. We don’t know by what.

The forests hide us in the day, and we sleep when we can. As soon as it is dark, the path beckons, and we douse our small fire and remove any sign of our passing. The combination of the fog and the gathering dusk allows us greater freedom of travel, but we must take care not to veer from the path. We numbered three once, but we no longer do – we lost a companion on the wild steppe before we came to the forest; he simply disappeared in the night without a sound. We dare not stray now – we have come too far. The path continues on.

And then the river meets us. It is wide – we can’t see the other side, but the fog obscures anything more than ten feet in front of us. A dinghy is moored to a small dock, and we must risk it – we don’t know how wide the river is, and we may not be able to ford it or cross it in any other way. An oil lantern hangs next to it, and surprisingly ignites on the first try. We throw our packs in the boat and cast off, rowing slowly and carefully in the evening silence. “The Water Is Black That Licks the Boat” (side B). Perhaps this crossing will throw our pursuer off our scent. Likely not, though – it has followed us across greater obstacles than this.

As my companion rows, I drift into uneasy sleep. I do not dream, my rest will be short. Indeed, I’m awakened by thunder in the distance – it’s miles away, perhaps behind a mountain. But we still can’t see, and the night has deepened. The fog persists. The river is wide. We cannot know when the shore will approach. We must be watchful.

(Pro-dubbed cassettes come in clear cases with full-color 3-panel J-cards. Orra is Jennifer Williams and Sean Conrad. “The long untold night between scenes of folklore, and the breath and ridged back of elements unseen.”)

--Ryan Masteller

“Hooky” (King Pizza Records)

I try to never judge a tape by its cover. However, when I saw the cop walking by an overflowing sewer towards a guy in an embroidered Jacques Le Coque jacket concealing a joint that spelled out the album name on the front of the j-card, I knew I was in for a fun listen. Turns out I was absolutely right. The music on this tape sounds like the smell of cheap beer acquired with a fake id for a gathering of young oddball types in somebody’s parent’s basement that has no air conditioning and is taking place on a Friday night while the rest of the school is at the big football game. This isn’t music for jocks and the kids at the ‘popular table’. The vocals can be a little whiny, the guitars are soaked in reverb, and songs are dominated by themes of angst and fun mostly had while intoxicated. Like most fuzzy garage pop, it’s best enjoyed at a loud volume and a light heart.  Tap into your juvenile side and give it a listen.

-- Roy Blumenfeld

"The Nola Tape" C24
(Kerchow! Records)

Lower than lo-fi backyard-bbq-casiotone-psychedelia amongst non-judgemental friends. Plenty of major chord grooving and a few slower, somber psalms interspersed. Short tape- All over the place. I reviewed this one first, excited to hear who was playing down the street from me in a few weeks and I’m quite curious how they’ll go over amongst the noise-worship cult that LCM (venue) caters to. Pretty sure that if they play the Joy Division-tinged jams at the end of this tape, they’ll leave Oakland feeling pretty damn good!


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

RIVENER “Fires in Repose” (Twin Lakes Records)

Rivener – one who rives. That means rends, or tears apart, for those of you who don’t speak thirteenth-century English. And no, I didn’t say “scrivener,” so all you Melville fans out there just calm yourselves down. Paul Belbusti and Michael Kiefer rive the meat from the proverbial improvisational no-wave bone in this here duotic outfit, and listening to it is like being hacked with a meat cleaver. Over and over and over. In a good way though!

Over three tracks and 33-ish minutes the duo tears into conventional rock instruments – guitar, drums – and the prescribed methods to use them with unhinged abandon, sometimes even bordering on the hinged, which makes this noisy improv release an easier swallow than your average one by toolbox-wielding psychopaths hellbent on torturing their gear. “Almz” shreds like early Sonic Youth improvising, then devolves into late-period Sonic Youth improvising. And it’s called “Almz,” like Rivener is handing out currency that will better your situation, but scuzzily! (That’s why there’s a “z” in there.)

I like how “A river in her” sounds almost like a homonym for “Rivener.” Almost.

These guys title their compositions perfectly. “An uneventful first quarter” pretty much means your first quarter was a failure in real life. But in Rivener Land, it means utter success, kicking out massive jams, interspersed with periods of tranquility, then kicking out more massive jams, then more tranquility, then JAMZ (because “Almz”), and rubbing your nose in those manky spreadsheets like a misbehaving dog. How dare you come to me with a negative on your P&L! Actually I don’t care. This Rivener tape rules though.

--Ryan Masteller

RADIANT HUSK “Deflation Basin” (Bezoar Formations)

This tape (which in the very beginning sounds like what could be a laser-tag commercial as done by David Lynch) really most of the time feels like it is electronic soundtracks and sound effects from old movies. Listening to this throughout I envision: a scene from an old-school sci-fi western – it’s dusk & some weird shit is going on. Or space travelers just getting out of their spaceship & walking around a strange new alien Planet. Or the trip-out scene in an old drug-scare shockumentary. Or probably any old episode of the Twilight Zone.

Mellow Atari-wizard bursts double with field recordings from alien lands (the occasional bird-chirps in one track really fill out the ambience).

This is solid. Play it in the background or zone-out at max volume.

Side 2 is a little more dynamic, btw, starting out less mellow & more weirdo gloop-loop with some squishy crunchers , and ends on an ambient chill voyage.

--Garrison Heck