AMULETS “Auras” C26 (Spring Break Tapes)

Loops. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Isn’t that how the old saying goes? Or wait – that’s not exactly right. There’s no reason you can’t live without loops. In fact, I might go so far as to say that loops actually make your life better, even all the time! Yeah, that’s more like it. Loops are always good, never bad, and can bring the dead back to life.

OK, maybe I went a little far at the end there, but holy moly, do I love me some loops. And who better to bring the master loopage than Amulets, aka Randall Taylor of Austin, Texas, on his debut for the swell-ass Spring Break Tapes? No one, that’s who. Taylor’s pretty much cornered the market on ambient guitar tape releases (I think he’s released around twenty thousand this year alone), and Auras does nothing to dispel the sense that he’s still riding that peak. You go, Randall Taylor. You go.

True to form, Taylor fills this teal-shelled cassette with glorious tones that wander through landscapes and bring worlds into being. Also true to form, he wrings emotion from his wordless guitar-and-sample pieces, leaving all listeners a conflicted mess by the end of side B. That’s fine – if you don’t have feelings, you shouldn’t be listening to this kind of introspective stuff anyway. Take side A for example, “The Coldest Time Was Always Midnight” – the title alone tells a story, one that screams sadness and disillusion, sure, but Taylor backs it up remarkably well with his music.

But it’s side B where the “Amulets way” really shines – Taylor crushes it on “A Funeral by the Sea.” The track plays like a processional to the titular service, mournful, respectful, and accompanied by waves crashing against the shore on a cloudy, autumn New England day. When the synth enters about two-thirds of the way through it, I’ve become a mess, or a bird, or the deceased ascending, but who knows because I’ve lost myself in it. That’s good composition. That’s Amulets composition.

So climb on board that train departing from or heading to Austin, the train that Amulets is conducting, and pretend the sound of the wheels on the track is an infinite loop leading you to the landscape of your dreams. I guess that’s something you can do – why not do it this weekend? It’s not like you have anything better to do. You’ve got six bucks and a mailing address, right? Do it.

Whoa, eight-panel J-card? Don’t hesitate a second longer.

--Ryan Masteller