OLIWA “Eras” (Illuminated Paths)

Oliwa is an ambient artist from Argentina. “Eras” is a bright summer day on another planet. Synths create textural soundscapes that are beautiful, warm, and commandeer the listener away from wherever they are into the sound itself. Masterfully done.  

-- Roy Blumenfeld

SAL LAKE / KEIKI split (Live God Records)

Two enter the Thunderdome. One leaves.

Or, uh, they converge into one enormous abominable entity and reflect our own ugliness back at us through the sheer power of sound.

Sal Lake (Andrew Lake, Athens, OH) and Keiki (Evan Lautzenheiser, Cincinnati, OH) have killed their former independent selves and merged within these split cassettes, with Lake occupying side A and Lautzenheiser side B. Lake gets a little krauty and proggy at first with “lungsack,” (I call it “facepunch” behind everybody’s back), then coats our ears in ambient and noisy grease throughout the rest of his side. Standouts include “betterhomeandgardens,” which grinds our faces in our neatly manicured lawns, and “ourprincesscastle,” which manages to somehow make me want to play Super Mario Bros. again, yet terrifies me from doing so at the same time.

Lautzenheiser’s Keiki side dispenses with subtlety immediately on the horrific “Hanged Man,” somehow sounding like the tape manipulations at the beginning of Boredoms’ “Super You” before hiccupping off into the sunset after a minute forty-five. “To Listen, To Love” gleams like a transformed god with inviting peace and magic, but gunks up with demonic glee by its end. And “13” – the less I say about “13” the better. It’s thirteen minutes long (hence its name), and could kill you if you’re allergic to it.

This split is sound sculpture at its finest. Punk ambience. Death drift. Thunderdome results. God’s punishment. A way out.

--Ryan Masteller

PETER KRIS “Sprawl and Sky” (A Giant Fern)

The full potential of the guitar has finally been realized. Instead of just rehashing the same old chords over and over, some musicians choose to do more. Peter Kris, best known for his work with the band German Army, is one of those musicians. On “Sprawl and Sky” he varies from the melodic (example track: “Few”) to the chaotic (example track: “Disregard Answers”).  It’s hard to believe the same guy and same instrument are responsible for all of the output on the tape. But sure enough, Kris has proven that with a guitar in his hands he is capable of getting the sound he wants out of it.
Unfortunately for those looking for a physical copy, it appears all 50 have sold out.

-- Roy Blumenfeld

“Good God’s Urge”
(Warner Bros.)

Why are you looking at me weird? What, so you think Cassette Gods is for the underdog, for the burgeoning musician or band who can only afford a limited tape run for their output? Well get bent, you stooge! Because if someone has the audacity to do a PHISH post on this page, I’m going to go super mainstream on you. That’s right, this is Porno for Pyros’ Good God’s Urge, released in 1996 on super-ultra-mega-uber label Warner Bros. They own pretty much everything, and they manufacture weapons (well, if the back cover of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Yanqui U.X.O. is to be believed, and who’s to say it’s not?). So strap in, and enjoy, because I paid money for this in high school, and I may have contributed to some Tony Stark–like weapons research in the process.

Perry Farrell’s excellent post–Jane’s Addiction act (yes, I said “excellent,” mofos!) wowed us (yes, I said “wowed us,” jagweeds!) with their nifty self-titled debut in the throes of 1993, not all that long after Jane’s called it quits for good(ish). Sure, Porno for Pyros was a fun one (“Pets”!), but Good God’s Urge was the weird hedonistic tropical head trip that we really wanted. Wasn’t it? Normally, when bands decamp to places like Tahiti for inspiration, you can pretty much write off the results. But not PFP – from the bubbly first strains of “Porpoise Head” you know they’ve done much more with their time on island than drink mai tais and tan themselves. Listen to the singles, for god’s urge … I mean, god’s sake! “100 Ways”? Song ends brilliantly, rhythms break down and vocals soar. “Tahitian Moon” is like the best thing they’ve ever done. And “dogs rule the night” is an amazing high point.

The whole thing is nuanced and highly enjoyable, even almost twenty years on. And here’s a fun fact – Mike Watt played bass on some of the record! So did David J of Bauhaus/Love and Rockets. So did … Flea. (Guh.) I guess original bassist Martin LeNoble was too busy working with Scott Weiland to do the whole record. Or being married to Christina Applegate. (Another fun fact – I attended a festival where Scott Weiland did his solo thing, and LeNoble played bass in the band. It was the closest I’ve ever gotten to seeing Porno for Pyros. And it figures: worst member, worst musical configuration possible.)

Man, this was fun reliving Good God’s Urge – I seriously haven’t listened to it in ages, and I’m really glad I did. If you have a similar proclivity, fire up that tape deck, or whatever you have. (It was released in formats other than cassette, of course. Warner Bros. needs all the money it can get!) I also have to mention – look at that image up there! There’s a Wall sticker on the tape! A Wall sticker!

--Ryan Masteller

ZERO THE ASTRONAUT “Infinite Evening”
(Solid 7 Records)

When Zero the Astronaut awoke and climbed out of their ancient tomb, flanger pedals in hand, tinfoil instead of linen cloth adorning their decaying bodies, the earth shook, and cries of “1991!” and “1975!” erupted from the terrified populace. Undeterred, the band, led by Alex Adler, raised their arms until golden glitter rained down from the skies, choking 2015 Los Angeles in a storm of sparkling particulate. They wandered through the chaos they created, marveled at the humans choking to death on their magic, their sugar, their blood, their … sex. The City of Angels was forever changed, and no amount of frantic prayer in dying moments to multiple deities was able to save the populace. Zero the Astronaut had arrived. Zero the Astronaut had taken over the city. The first stop toward global domination.

The sounds: psych-grunge-funk. Remember those lesser Sub Pop bands you’d see in their 1994 catalogs that never made it, or were gobbled up in the post-Nirvana major-label grunge grab? This is that music. This is that time. This is Zero the Astronaut’s statement to the world.

I stood alone above Los Angeles on my pillar of cloud and watched as the band shuffled through the streets with their instruments, stopping to mercy kill any survivors with a quick blast of “Misery City.” I shook my head in wonder: how did this band manage to escape their tomb? It was sealed with the deepest magic known to our kind. But up here, above the glittering death, I could only observe the chaos, knowing that we’d secure the borders before Zero the Astronaut could continue with their nefarious plan. I smiled, and hummed a tune that I had forgotten for almost twenty years, a tune from my high school rock band days that sounded ominously like the chord structure of “On Pleasure Pier.” Zero the Astronaut would indeed be destroyed.

--Ryan Masteller

GAD WHIP “Breakdown Test” (Gad Whip Recordings)

The English have always been the best at post punk. Bands who have been around from the beginning like PiL, Gang of Four, The Fall, and The Pop Group all still exist. Of those 4 though I’d say only The Fall are still making music worth listening to.  Gad Whip are a new band here to add to the legacy. I’m not sure if they seek to be torch bearers or simply wanted to make some music that shows their influences. Side A of “Breakdown Test” is very derivative of those 80s groups; although “Fish Vehicle” displays that they like industrial music from the same era too. ‘Derivative’ doesn’t mean ‘bad’ either; it just wasn’t anything new. For instance “Car Crash TV” might as well be a PiL song. As a homage to past groups Gad Whip did great. Side B is where things get interesting. The band shows their creative side on a single 15ish minute long track called “The Argument” which features a song built around an audio sample of two lovers fighting. I hope they continue to push more in the direction I heard from that track on future projects. I’ll be listening.

-- Roy Blumenfeld