TERESHKOVA “Golden Tomgirl”
(Never Anything Records)

Portland, Oregon, native Jeff Lane keeps on keeping it weird on his latest tape as Tereshkova. The bedroom psychedelic pop fest Golden Tomgirl knows when to freak out and when it needs to shimmer and shine like a vivid half-awake dream. Often these two ends of the spectrum collide in the middle, and the result is a drug-fueled magic wand to the head, leaving you unconsciously screaming while obscured by clouds and dodging continuous trucks and thunder under a mother’s smile. Did I get enough references in there for you to understand where I’m and Tereshkova’s coming from? I sure hope so.

So to shove the obvious in your face just a little more, Tereshkova takes a lot of his inspiration from early Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, with a little Floyd thrown in there, but all this with a lot more synthesizer embellishment and electronic percussion. Don’t worry, the requisite fuzzy guitar freakouts are there to satisfy the acid heads with a shoegaze fetish. Understandably, then, there’s literally not an ounce of disappointment for anyone – I think all those references cover the entire spectrum of whether or not you will appreciate this tape. Those who don’t aren’t on the right drugs. And stupid.

But don’t do drugs.

--Ryan Masteller

“Souls on Fire” C37 (OSR Tapes)

I dare you not to fall in love with everything after listening to Andrea Schiavelli’s Souls on Fire on OSR Tapes. The erstwhile member Eyes of Love, Nude Beach, and Punks on Mars knows a thing or two about toiling through the songwriting process, and he presents his opus here, a collection of seventeen songs spanning false starts with other bands and projects and albums. Do you think this is some sort of cobbled-together catch-all nonsense of tracks orphaned by their creator for one reason or another? You’d be dead wrong! Or, well, you’d be 100% right about the orphaned tracks thing, but this is certainly not nonsense in any way. Actually, the disparate nature of the track styles is a huge part of the charm. They showcase Schiavelli’s skill working in all kinds of idioms; from folk to indie to post punk to British Invasion to ballads, he offers a master class in making fricking swell-ass tunes, each a true extension of himself as a composer and as a human being. I’m talking about feeling, dude, in that Andrea Schiavelli injects more of it into a three-minute pop song than you can into an angry Facebook post decrying the inconsistency of the timing of your mail delivery. That’s right, Aunt Edna, he blows you right out of the water!

Souls on Fire plays like the soundtrack to a Wes Anderson movie that hasn’t yet been filmed, one from the turn of the century or so, when Mark Mothersbaugh’s curatorial magic still permeated and underscored the most important scenes. Those were the scenes that hit me, the ones where I felt there was some sort of universal understanding of sadness and joy mixed together in bittersweet harmony, executed with a knowing and educated coolness that passed between Anderson and the viewer like a nod of mutuality and respect behind mirrored sunglasses. I pictured myself nodding at him like that, like we were best buds, more often than I’d care to admit. Maybe that nod is now passing between me and Andrea Schiavelli, because we both get it and we want to get you in on that action. Or maybe it’s because I have that first Punks on Mars record, and the savvy consumer in me has also purchased aviator shades, and I’m just begging for attention because Souls on Fire is more listenable in the long run than Punks on Mars. Don’t be fooled, though – this is all good stuff, and you’re in good company. I’m probably going to listen to this tape another several times today to make the afternoon go quickly, and if I can’t shake those foggy good feelings, then you’re all just going to have to live with me that way, sunglasses affixed to my smiling face well into the evening hours.

--Ryan Masteller

"Hunters at Cyber Dawn" C40
(Field Hymns)

Dewey Mahood’s been making music for coming on three straight decades now, some of his past and present projects including Edibles, Eternal Tapestry and Plankton Wat. His newest solo effort, Spectrum Control, utilizes a handful of pedals (loop, delay, reverb, distortion, synth wah to name a few) through which he plays (what I assume is a) Casiotone keyboard (with factory presets), electric bass and standard guitar, creating a series of (relatively) short, psychedelic mantras to get lost in. Kinda like Asa Osbourne’s hypnotic Zomes meditations, but much heavier, especially on side B, with the distorted bass.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Unclouded Celebration"
(Stimulus Progression)

Nicholas Emmert serves up a nice slice of proto-new age meditations on celebration. Best known for his guitar work in California's Mammatus, Emmert strays from the spacey psychedelic riffing but keeps the mental synthscapes familiar within the bands’ albums.

Psychoactive Light, the opener, is the quintessential piece backing scenes of joy from any film covering the subject of courage and perseverance: Children swinging on the playground in slow motion, a bus passenger staring out of the window ready to take on an uncertain future, gulls stitching across a clear sky above a skin of shimmering waves. What make Emmert’s compositions different from many of his contemporaries are the fearless perforations he pokes into the compositions, jolting the listener out of a trance and into the next movement of each piece, still containing angelic harmonies and white noise, but of a different set.

The flip side of Unclouded Celebration contains Polished Fog: twanging guitars (or sitars…) blended with phasing synthesis. Emmert moves the cassette to a dreamier, drowsier space atop a mountain at dusk before jamming a blast of brassy chords into the speakers. We are awake! Polished Fog finishes on a bubbly, percussive tail that suggests another needle of existence to knock the listener into reality once more. A chattering of the other creatures affirming the listener they are not alone in celebration.

LIYL: Kyle Landstra, Matthewdavid’s Mindflight, H Takahashi

-- Joseph Morris

$3.33 "Just a Dip, No Why"

Infinities without end abound in the universe; in fact, nothing isn't one. Which is to say, everything is not one, or not "one". $3.33 has divided ten dollars by three, to come up with that maddeningly perfect infinity where the numbers never change, all threes, highlighting, perhaps, our physical connection to the infinite, our conjugal embrace of a world that seeps into us and flows out of us even in our basest and most basic system: money.

I think they didn't get there with division, though. The insanity of impossibly dividing in a decimal system is overtaken through sheer force of "oh my god, this! and this! and this one too! And it NEVER ENDS!!!" when you consider just how many THINGS that cost how much money, and are added with state and local sales taxes can produce this one trinital amount. See this mind blowing print that $3.33 produced: this would totally be hanging in my office right now, but I didn't know about it till after it was SOLD OUT. (I expect more things.) Gum and candy and the state takes its cut: commerce in Marfa, TX. The amount in question.

The print's the only hint to the "government" identity of this mysterious person, credited as $3.33 with production, composition, Wurlitzer, and cover design - by all of which is clearly meant, head genius in charge - on the 2016 release Just a Dip, No Why. Other musicians get named, their contributions a sound source for a document constructed by timbre, instruments carefully selected by sound: bass clarinet, drums, cello, and guitar.

We dive right in, switch on in the middle of the heaviest part of the jam, just like Miles did withOn the Corner, the composition is infinite, and we just get to sample this definable part of it. $3.33 favors a bath texture, gently punctuated by pointilistic sounds, be they drums or groovy sample loops. Sometimes the bath is scary, sometimes it's warm and inviting. It oscillates erratically between these two but you never get all the way into scary world or comfort world.

$3.33 permeated my personal world for the first time about a month ago, when I saw Just a Dip, No Why on this one radio station's chart that never steers me wrong: CKUT's Total Eclipse of the Chart. I had already resolved to get it when I found myself in Jamaica Plain, MA, a couple of weeks later, looking through the Cassette Gods to be reviewed stuff, and then of course the sky opened, angels of math inevitability sang, and there it was, its funky Asian pop samples and backwards Wurlitzer tugging themselves right into me, merging with my brain. I don't know how much more perfect this thing could really be.

(By the way - have you read the work of Rudolph Wurlitzer, not the guy who birthed the organ $3.33 plays, but the guy who writes novels? [They are related.] They are brutal, existential, surreal, infinite, and possibly relevant.)

That famous "genre", from the recent times when the infinite subdivision of classes of music got to the absurdity point where you could just make up a genre and people would do it, but maybe the R E A L one from that time, the one that will be cared about maybe when S E A P U N K is So Totally Teens how Nagel is So Eighties, the F U L L T E X T one, I'm dancing around it because that's what $3.33 does too. You won't find any Greek busts here or Windows 95 graphics or library music in $3.33's body of work. The signifiers aren't there but the Thinking About Stuff totally is. Actually I'm thinking more about the other $3.33 stuff I dug into, that receipt print I mentioned before, the one album where the song titles are all naive-ish youtube comments and the videos are all sped up driving POVs, the manifestos about Soundcloud or BPM, the concern with "sample-based" music. Let's call it Condensorwave: those nebulous gases found a glass to adhere to, someone to articulate a graspable vision of infinity that uses some of these strategies on that person's own terms.

Go to $3.33's website at http://threethirtythree.biz/, click on all the stuff: what a way to spend your time. Which is NOT infinite. So do this instead of whatever else you had planned. And get this tape. It's so freaking great.

-- Matt Pakulski

"Do or Dangle"
(Babes in Arms Records)

Hard to tell if these are intended to be demos or not but the sleepy, lo-fi bedroom quality makes them all the more interesting. It's unclear if these are the same Sloppy Heads from Brooklyn but I dig the style and it's always nice to think of my neighbors making great stuff like this.

Ranging from singer-songwriter electric guitar jam (How Long is Forever?) to CAN-style psychedelic freakout (She's Gone) to droning organ-flooded Tortoise-era post rock (Nightbird) - the whole record is hidden under a veil of age that sounds like it could easily be five or twenty years old.

Only three tracks, the first is a perfect lead-in as a traditional 3-minute pop song that brings us to two extended 10+ minute jams that wiggle and warble a serene confidence that owes as much to musical predecessors like D.I. as it does to the wonder of a sunrise on the first spring day. The hopeful finish to the record gives it a warm resonance that makes me want more. 

There's less than ten of these bad boys left through the label so do yourself a favor and Tina Turner dance over there and snatch one up.

"Bare Bones and Branches" C69
(Summersteps Records)

I’m fairly certain I saw Lou Rogai perform in a barn about 20 years ago. A dirtbag of a friend who will remain faceless liked to fancy himself a promoter, but, at 17, his capacity for responsibilities and sensibilities when coordinating “Fests” was…well…at least he tried? Anyway, Lou Rogai, if I remember correctly, found himself in Jerkwater, Ohio, with about 30 snotty punk teenagers (myself inclusive) trying our best to “support the artist” and not break our cheekbones with professionally practiced sneers while he played some weird guitar that didn’t even have distortion or an amp for that matter…So, yeah. This performer has been having a serious go at it for quite some time, and this specific release is the 10th year anniversary of his “Lewis & Clarke” project.

Not much to disagree with here. Proficiently calculated emo-folk with a host of Nashville flourishes to keep it moving along. Definitely a catch for those that dug the mid-tempo Whiskeytown/early Wilco or Kind of Like Spitting alt-country vibes.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Peripheral Biohardware Junkyards" C99

The definition of sulcus, as per Merriam Webster:
“plural sulci play \-ˌkī, -ˌkē, -ˌsī\
:  furrow, groove; especially :  a shallow furrow on the surface of the brain separating adjacent convolutions.”

A heady groove, huh? Pretty fucking fitting.

Here are four 25-minute tracks that could easily pass for lost Funkadelic basement jam sessions, dusted off and given another delay-pedal polishing. This is the perfect gateway tape for those that love a good, bluesy funk rhythm, but aren’t quite sure yet about that whole ‘free-jazz/noise’ thang. Perhaps Sulcus is your helping hand. The raw production fosters the feeling that you were right on the other side of their garage door from George Clinton. Dig it.



-- Jacob An Kittenplan

MATTHEW BARLOW “Hatha” C30 (Inner Islands)

Billy Corgan addressed a song “For Martha” at the back end of 1998’s criminally underrated (says me) Adore, which many (read, me and my friend John) hoped would kick off a long and exciting string of sets closed with said song, replacing the still-always-appreciated “Silverfuck” as the encore. Who knows if that ever happened. What I do know is that Billy Corgan has nothing in common with the mantra, “Just being, without striving. A place of stillness.” Matthew Barlow, releaser of cassettes and sampler of nature, has stated this as his theme for Hatha, his tranquil new tape for Inner Islands. Matthew has dedicated this tape “For Martha,” and thus a tenuous connection was conceived. Matthew’s Martha is likely not the same as Billy’s Martha, the fact snapping the narrative thread like a rubber band stretched waaaay beyond its safe point of stretching. See, Matthew and Billy have nothing in common, and I think we’d like to keep it that way – while Matthew points us all toward a path of personal betterment, Billy’s mouth fills up like the toilet it is and spills over onto public consciousness, sowing toxicity wherever he appears. I’d rhetorically ask whatever happened to poor ol’ Billy, but we all know he’s always been a douchebag, good records notwithstanding. That’s why I’m gonna follow Matthew on this one.

And as soon as I do, I’m halted by the trance of Hatha. Two sides, one “Sun,” the other “Moon,” each manifesting fifteen minutes of that time of day in the form of sheer musical gorgeosity. “Sun” features samples of birds twittering away, while “Moon” casts the nighttime crickets and frogs as its main players. Barlow adds sparse synth texture, but his true element is the flute, which he plays longingly over the tracks’ foundation. It’s haunting and otherworldly, yet familiar, a reminder of the Earth itself (minus the humans) and the passage of time. It’s about “just being, without striving,” and as a “place of stillness” it succeeds magnificently. It’s new New Age, and Hatha’s ambient heart beats slowly and methodically, gradually revealing the secrets of your current moment. All you gotta do is let it work its magic, and you’ll be transported somewhere else entirely. And while it’s likely the kind of music that would play in the background of high-end tea houses everywhere (looking at you again, Billy), it needs its space, to be out in the open and breathing in and out. That’s right, this tape is a living thing – hook it up to an EKG machine at your local hospital and see if you don’t get a pulse. Then run as fast as you can, because they need those EKG machines for much more important matters.

--Ryan Masteller