MULCH "Mulch 2" C30 (Self-Released)

Can’t find much on this quartet, other than the liner notes, which state that there’re two guitarists, a drummer and a bass player who abuses the hell out of his harmonica. The tape sounds like a buncha dudes having fun, making a racket in the garage, dabbling in noisy-ass post-punk with the recording method fusing all the instruments together into one fuming, jumbled beast. Probably much more fun to see live.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

LOKE WILSON "Self-titled" (Sass Bologna)

This is the real deal! Turkish dude’s been making electronic music since the ‘70s and it sounds like he’s seen no reason to change with the times. Luckily for him, with today’s retro-synth craze, his legions of vintage synthesizers, keyboards and electronic drum kits are now hip again and maybe he can retire comfortably, doing what he’s always done, which is making bad-ass synthstrumental, funky, over-the-top dance jams in honor of those who know a good time when they hear it.

Sure, part of it is that I’m three strong cups of cold-pressed coffee into my first week of summer vacation, but this truly prance-tastic…liek…I honestly got up and shook my lazy, pajama’d ass for a bit. After I finish this review, I’m going to honest-to-god-here dust the cobwebs offa my ten pound barbells, wrap a sweatband around my head and do some cardio-flirting weightlifting. So good!

Thank you, Sass Bologna, for putting this out, and thank you Loke Wilson for sticking to your funs. <3

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

New address for submissions

please note the new address for submissions on the side bar

Cassette Gods
c/o Deep Thoughts JP
138-B South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

"Sick Sad World" C39
(Focus Grill)

Instrumental Indie-Jazz guitar-chop worship, a’la Sharks Keep Moving/Shipping News with some acid-tinged lead guitar wankery (think Papa M’s “Live from a Shark Cage”) pushing the envelope. Plenty of Modest Mouse string-bendiness, fret-board tapping & intermittent distortions abound. All in all, a right pleasant foray into the indie-fields of the latest pre-2Ks. I know I’m name-dropping a lot but DDAAMMNN’d if them names ain’t still worthy o’ worshippin’! & as an added textural bonus, Melt Banana-esque atonal guitar meanderings creep in from time to time, both percussive and all slide-like. The result is disorienting, engaging, & an all-around inspiring soundtrack for writing or cleaning out the garage. Crank it up!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Live at Young Camelot" C23
(Fuzz Row Records)

2001, South Park, Dayton, Ohio, seven or so houses to my right, I could not tell you in which cardinal direction. These kids wore arch-supportless, white, canvass footwear, drank brandless tequila, all the while eschewing the making as if it were an honorable tenet.

Garage rock. Yeah.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

OAHU "Plant Life" (Second House)

Adrian Todd Webb’s Oahu project is a whimsical departure from his other pursuits as a member of the electro-folk-pop band Seamonster, Illustrator / Cartoonist, and the Editor of Nine Things magazine. Plant Life is island living encapsulated in multi-tonal ambience.

The title side slowly grows from simple chord to big distorted sun saturated beast over the length of the tape; a meditation on nurturing, patience and the behemoth potential of nature itself. These are the harmonies of organisms linking together to develop, spread and survive. Ant Colony begins on a percussive note and pulls some of that Seamonster flare into the fold. An unexpected noisy, acidic groove that mimics the busy, bouncy work that goes on in an ant colony. Synths symbolically jabber and bustle like the commanding and responding creatures of the mound. Oahu finishes the tape off with Redwood, a droney bit of business built for the scenic experience. A muted, foggy piece that pairs well with stargazing through the slits in the treetops.

Webb succeeds in providing a perfect snapshot of Virginia Beach experiences wrapped in the exotics of Hawaiian pre-conceptions (I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I imagine this tape would totally compliment a visit there).

LIYL: Discovery, High Sunn, Yo Gabba Gabba!

-- Joseph Morris

TANDEM CASCADES "Breakers/Peelers"

Nautical thoughts come to mind as I listen to Breakers/Peelers, the 2016 cassette release by Tandem Cascades, a solo drone/noise project of Philadelphia's Marc Zajack. Side A is a three-part composition called Breakers, and Side B is a four-parter, Peelers.

Breakers is the less maritime of the two, evoking for me echoes of the empty room, the aperture of the cassette machine it sounds like it was recorded on, and the diaphragm of the transducer. "Fidelity" is foregrounded, and the sound is faithful to its own transduction through my playback apparatus on large speakers in my living room. The noise floor becomes a warm, comfortable noise bed, soft moss through which the pieces stroll comfortably. Three short parts lock together in maze logic: "Breakers I" gives us a warm chord drone with unmoored electro pulse that slides throughout; "Breakers II" is a percussive scrabble followed by a long decay bong; and "Breakers III" unites the percussive and tonal in a rolling piano stride.

Peelers takes us out of the forest onto the waves. The warm drone and groovy pulse of "Breakers I" is transformed, in "Peelers I", to a world of harsh tone drone with percussion sounds that chop erratically. In "Peelers II" we are briefly submerged, glimpsing the throb below the surface. "Peelers III" brings us back on board, a lonely ship's bell punctuating the macro smooth of ocean surface over chaotic system of the deep. Evolution into a drunken forever nighttime sea shanty in the cabin happens, ending quickly. "Peelers IV" - pretty sure we sunk. That is underwater murk.

I can't figure out how the pretty rainbow crayon art relates to the music. Blocks are well delineated and organized by chaotic logic, with emphasis placed on the central non-block figure, the only curve in sight, suggesting a vulva.

Throughout, there is a logic of duality, of oil and water: the construction relies on the relationship between drone/tone and pulse/chop. "Breakers I" presents the clearest juxtaposition of the two elements; "Breakers II" separates them completely, and "Breakers III" unites them. Long and short, odd and even parts of Peelers are above and under the water: our eternal lives in the air seeming longer to us but the real eternity beneath only portrayed in the short amount of time our living consciousness can perceive it.

Find them at Breakers/Peelers, by Tandem Cascades

-- Matt Pakulski

"Drink the Brine, Get Scarce" C32

That moment when you say “This sounds like something Steve Albini’d have a hand in,” and you check the band’s website and say “Well, that explains it. He recorded it himself.”

Speak/sung vocals howled with reckless abandon, loosey-goosey cowpunk and post-punk (compost punk?) drums & driving distorted bass lines jerk ya around, crisp, raw guitars jab from all angles; these Canadians have everything you like about the Jesus Lizard, and they recommend you download their album, gratis, if you don’t pick up the physical media (which comes with all the lyrics, btw).

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Uniform Groove with a Chisel” C40
(OJC Recordings)

No data cannot incriminate you. Where no information lives, there nothing can learn anything about anybody. Turn off your smartphone, your computer, your television, anything that connects you to the outside world. Can you turn off your brain? That’s a trickier proposition.

Static. Static created to carry no data can divert unwanted attention. Fill a space with enough sound, enough noise, and even the tiniest shred of knowable information can be obscured, made to seem nonexistent. Look around – your phone’s tapped, your home’s bugged, your car is probably programmed to automatically drive you to the nearest police station at the slightest slip-up.

No data meet No Data, your absolute answer, the popular life-encryption system used worldwide. Totally analog, No Data emanates from a single cassette player, overwhelming every ancillary noise within any enclosed space by bombarding it with tonal sheets. No Data is approved by all major Deep Web counterespionage agencies.

Of course, all conspiracies will eventually coalesce into actions destined to destroy humanity. Your reprieve is temporary. No Data will, like the proverbial cockroach in the aftermath of a nuclear incident, remain in its tape player broadcasting itself to empty spaces. That is, until the batteries run out.

Ancient synths rotting in the sun. Greenhouse gases. Melting ice sheets. No data.

--Ryan Masteller

URTHSLA "Wannsee" (Field Hymns)

Graduates with honors from the Spacemen 3 school of psyche. Not Spacemen worship (though there is some amp worship), but headway on the Spacemen themes. More synth-sounding electronics than power chords & more vocal harmonies than lyrics. Each side bookends with pleasant field recordings. Also, a bit of minstrel drone similar to In Gowan Ring on side B as a nice surprise.

I'll keep this one in my personal stash.

--T Penn

“The Cashmere Cassette”
C26 (self-released)

Maybe this is what you expect from someone once involved in the Elephant 6 collective, whose ranks included psychedelic pop experimentalists like The Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Olivia Tremor Control, to name probably the most famous. Thomas Hughes was in Spinto Band and The Music Tapes, bench players to the main attractions but important in their own rights. But that was long ago – no one talks about E6 anymore, at least not in relief to the current “music” “scene.” But what may appear as a mere footnote to some still looms large for others. That’s right, there are pockets of musicians around the world who still think Sgt. Pepper’s is the be-all and end-all of musical recordings, and they channel and mold that spirit to fit their compositions.

Carol Cleveland Sings continues to fly that freaky Brit pop (but not “Britpop,” mind you) flag, and Hughes, along with partner in crime Gretchen Lohse, wrestles some essence of the Fab Four to the ground and pins it with its arms behind its back so it can’t wriggle away to the other side of the room. The brief songs are heavy on the optimist vibe, and you really can’t tell that they were all “recorded in various bedrooms across Pennsylvania and Vermont.” The sound quality is great, certainly better than that first Marbles record, and the instruments are orchestrated with an ear that would make George Martin proud to call Hughes and Lohse his biological children. Although of course they aren’t, it just seems like their DNA has a few strands of Martin’s floating around in there. Hey, you never know with this gene pool.

All that’s to say these short songs are lush and fully formed, and the bedrooms they were forged in were clearly magic. Hughes has a reedy voice not dissimilar to the Apples’ Robert Schneider, and that combined with his chops at arranging brief orchestral pop likely got him through the shady back-alley door with the password slot I imagine served as the entryway to the E6 headquarters throughout its official duration. There’s a total playfulness exhibited here, not least where CCS’s choice of cover songs is concerned, as they take on Japanese cute-synth-pop-overload maestro Takako Minekawa’s “Destron” on side B, an appropriate choice if I ever heard one. And even though “Paperback Writer” does at first glance appear to be a Beatles cover (how ap-effing-propriate), it’s not – it’s a song about the song “Paperback Writer,” its release, and how it how had two chords, among other things. Tracklist red herring? You bet. Annoying that it wasn’t the cover? Naw. I like how CCS wrote it – they’re so self-referential in the tune that they even mention the fact that they’re self-referential. What song even does that (besides “Trompe Le Monde” of course)?

This tape was originally released in 2010, so it’s a good thing it’s seeing the light of day again on its fifth anniversary, even in a small edition of 200. I’m glad it hasn’t yet become a five-year-old footnote. It’s a gas from start to finish, and it’ll have you reaching for the rewind button often.

--Ryan Masteller

"No Rave" C17

Don’t worry, this isn’t actually techno. I know, I know. With the word “Rave” in the title, I was fearful, for sure, but within seconds of pressing play, my suspicions were dispelled.

This is a pleasantly cheesy ‘80s dance party with all the common trappings… for days. If you can’t afford the Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark reunion tours, this DC trio’ll play your local VFW hall or basement. Not just a one trick, dark no wave pony, they’ll throw in a bit of 90’s Mtv R&B and a weird U2esque ballad at the tail end for ya. Everyone needs a slow jam to cool down, right?

-- Jacob An Kittenplan


Based fully on presentation, I assumed this was going to be Columbus Ohio’s best Ty Segal rip-off: home-dubbed, heisenbergian face illustrated on the cover with the slogan “IF IT AIN”T ROCK N ROLL IT AIN’T SHIT.” I was pleasantly surprised when I was blessed with the sounds of dueling Dulcimer and Saxophone.

This tape, dubbed directly to a Maxell Communicator Series C30, has a Clean side and a Dirty side (labeled). The clean side sounds fairly dirty on its own with its stretchy dulcimer drones and tormented sax trills punching in and out between long winded rips. The piece eventually opens up to sections of wah-ing, pitch-shifting and… complete cacophony. The addition of effects definitely helped keep my interest after quickly discovering long dulcimer and sax jams just aren’t my thing. Coy Daddie then moves to stabbing rhythms before a complete metallic reverb drowns each instrument in an echo chamber. Eventualy the “clean” side dies down and dissipates. At this point I am beginning to think the tape is mislabeled and I just witnessed the “dirty” side by mistake.

The B side is much cleaner and sounds like it’s a very similar or the same composition but without effects, giving clarity to which effects were used and when. The flip side also affords more depth into the performance of each instrument; we can hear the dulcimer or sax in their natural environment and can imagine the performances a bit more vividly. Then comes the distortion, pitch-shifting and you realize Coy Daddie is comprised of a gang of liars who enjoy a classic mess-around on a lowly cassette reviewer and hold the coining rights to the Saxtronics tag on Bamdcamp.

LIYL: Merzbow, Hair Police, Yellow Swans

-- Joseph Morris

"Dial Forever" C37
(Other Electricities)

Fantastic recipe for Bacanal Intruder:

-Strip THE BOOKS of all vocal samples (choose from the Lemon of Pink album) to bring out rich string-work and effects pedal-tweeked guitar ambiance.

-Drain DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE of all whininess and falsetto (Choose from We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes) to focus on simple guitar picking patterns and minimal song scaffolding.

-Blend them together with the jangly, most spacey, patiently meditative guitar tones and keyboards of JIMMY EAT WORLD (Clarity)

-Roll out onto a baking sheet and beat until all rock drumming is replaced with subtle, gently noisy drum programming, leaning toward latin-pop vibes or outright ambient texture.

-Sprinkle on SHARKS KEEP MOVING angular, snaking bass lines here & there for flavor.

Bake for 37 minutes. Serve lukewarm & snack on throughout the day. Best after the third day, once fermentation sets in.

Definitely one of the best “indie” albums I’ve heard in a while. More please!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Big Bear Jam-Bor-Ee”

The Parentals don’t care. Because they don’t care, neither do I.

Look, who else is going to make to make “music” like this, huh? Other Californians who like to get high? You think this is funny?

Actually, I do think this is somewhat funny. I warn that you should be stoned out of your gourd in order to enjoy Big Bear Jam-Bor-Ee to its fullest potential (and great title by the way, more on that in a minute), and since I’m an illicit substance teetotaler, I’m not the target audience. Actually, you probably need to be massively stoned to get any enjoyment out of this at all.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get it. Twenty-some years ago I too embarked on a home-recording journey with a friend of mine (and some other friends who happened to be around sometimes), and we basically tried to cover the entire music-genre spectrum in our output, recorded totally Ween-style to a Tascam. We weren’t stoned then, either, but we were hopped up on sugar, like big time.

You don’t want to hear that though, which is why that last paragraph didn’t go on longer than it did. (I could go on, if you want me to.) The Parentals gang – Thomas, Lawrencio, Victor, Estela, and Monserratt – decamped to a cabin in Big Bear, California (hey, title!), and recorded weird little snippets of “songs” and released them on tape. Probably good that there’s only forty copies – if they have forty friends, there goes the pressing! No need for a redo.

What makes Big Bear Jam-Bor-Ee remotely interesting as an artifact is that clearly some thought went into its manufacture. Take the song titles, for instance. The tape starts off with “Personal Hotspot Part Deux,” followed by “Personal Hotspot Part Hoo,” but there’s no “Personal Hotspot Part Un”! Those crazy kids. The tracklist is scrawled on the back like an old Beck or Grandaddy tape, and other funny song titles include “Hip Hop Harry” (which is forty seconds of awful), “Hoo Hee hoo Hah,” “Hee-Haw BBQ Pep Rally 2009,” and “Indian Bernie Sanders.”

The front cover has features funny review blurbs, which are entertaining. Donald Trumpets says, “This is my favorite album of 2015!” The Onioner says, “Just listen.” Read into my definition of “entertaining” what you will.

The songs on the other hand? I’m giving more thought to this review than the songs were given in their creation, and that’s being generous, I think. The further I listen down the tracklist, the more unlistenable it gets. I got as far as “Hoo Hee Hoo Hah” before I had to turn it off. Joke’s on me. But hey, again, target audience and all that.

The Rolling Stoner says, “Children’s music for dumb people.” My tagline? “Dumb music. Not for children. Or people.”

The Parentals

--Ryan Masteller

“You Won’t Find My Punchlines Here”
(Speaker Footage)

When you want to get serious with me, I’ll get serious with you. Sima Kim is on my wavelength. Sima Kim is as serious as a heart attack, and you cannot stop Sima Kim. Cyborgs populate this post-carbon planet, inhabited mostly by ghosts since the atmosphere became too poisonous for people. Did I say post-carbon? Yeah, we’re waaay off into the future on this one, and “cyborg” is probably a misnomer for the beings who live here now. It’s sort of a combination of scientific breakthrough, synthesis, and adaptation through evolutionary means that have got this world where it is. Now, though, Sima Kim is ready to kick it again, kick it raw, ready for these ’bots to grind a dancefloor into oblivion. If Sima Kim can’t find a dancefloor, then get ready for the funkiest terraforming you’ve ever seen, partner.

These post-apocalyptic slow jams for a synthetic future explode like mega-megaton warheads dropped from the upper atmosphere upon strategic points across the globe. Maybe Sima Kim started this whole process of human transformation at the beginning and is only now benefitting from the results. And don’t get me wrong, we all benefit from the results – we just needed a prod in the right direction to enable us to handle the impact. Like a grime-meets-RnB pulse of sonic warfare, You Won’t Find My Punchlines Here is true to its word, leveling the ruins of the past to lay a new foundation. Yes, that’s seriously dank vibes. But whatever, it’s club night, let’s ride from the darkness of daytime into the slightly darker moments of the night, because that’s what we do now.

--Ryan Masteller