“What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Exotic”
(Meliphonic Records)

If I’m to take the title of Sheep Bella Tine’s October 2015 tape on Meliphonic Records seriously, then I’m one of the most exotic people you’ll ever meet. I have a list a mile long of all the things that haven’t killed me, and I’m adding to it every day. I barely get out of bed every morning before I have to chalk something else up to not killing me. My toothbrush could’ve gotten lodged in my eye a number of ways! Modern convenience my foot – my house is a fucking time bomb.

… A fucking time bomb making me super exotic! OK, so you get it. But “exotic” is the key word here for Sheep Bella Tine, a Cookeville, Tennessee, duo comprising of Wica on guitar and Zacharious on drums. The decidedly live sound of the tape is a benefit, as the interplay of the guitar and drums, while decidedly jammy, allows the players to expand and fill out the corners of the compositions. Is it improvised? You decide! It was recorded in their kitchen, after all, on a Zoom H4n, which Amazon tells me is this.

The tone and scale are steeped in Eastern tone and scale, and the tape itself is adorned with non-Western imagery and text. It’s evocative – where exactly are Sheep Bella Tine deriving their inspiration? From all over, homie, for sure, as Hebrew texts are chewed, Marabouts are mistrusted, and monks are segregated throughout. These things are not explicitly stated (aside from the song titles), leaving the music to do the narrative heavy lifting. Songs begin, fly forward until they can no longer can, and end, rushing at the listener and enveloping them in the sounds, sights, and smells of distant lands and different cultures.

Which sort of helps you out if you don’t like to fly, or travel, or do anything fun. You don’t have to worry about anything in your own home! Never leave the comfort of your living room again, even though every manner of knickknack and appliance is conspiring to murder you right now. Crap, right, the living room – it’s super dangerous. You might want to actually get on that plane instead. I’m not giving you a good choice, am I? Oh well – you’ll be just as exotic as me, then. Good luck living through the night!

--Ryan Masteller