Friday, November 17, 2017

"Genushenka" C55
(Shadowtrash Tape Group)

If someone on the street hands you a brand new Fidelity Astro tape, you keep it. You put it in your breast pocket and walk carefully but immediately towards your most trusted tape deck back home and you wonder what the themes on the tape will be. You know they’ll have a hip-hop beat behind them, and some kind of easy listening vibe, sure, but will there be ambient soundscapes on this one, or will it have remixed devotional singing soundbites? Or both? Will it be jazzy, romantic, or new agey? Will there be field recordings of local birds or city noise? That there will be loops upon loops of relative chillness is for certain, but what qualities will they possess? What instrumentation? What pilfered pre-existences will get new life breathed into them? Through each release, quality has been the only consistency, and that’s one hell of a trick to pull off in a world of “I farted into a microphone and dubbed thirty copies!” May we all aspire to be so concerted in our craft.

This particular artifact contains (per Shadowtrash Tape Group’s website):
“a tribute to '70s lounges, scratching, breakups,
new love, gospel wisdom, and actress gena rowlands.
sad beats and victory anthems for late nights.”

I couldn’t agree more.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, November 16, 2017

RUBELLA "The Pit" C30 (Self-Released)

If you’re creepy and you know it, clap your hands! If you’re creepy and you know it, clap your hands and re-fucking-joice!

Rubella are from Lakewood, OH, which is pretty much Marilyn Manson’s backyard, as far as the rest of the USA is concerned, and, as far as I’m concerned, this secretive band (how many members?) may as well share the same eyeliner/sweat-smattered keyboard stands. Either way, this is some gritty, noisy, pitch-black synth-punk that’s well worth a rumple-faced nodding along to. My guess’d be that there’s just a drummer and a singer playing bass and lead synths, but I could be wrong. What I’m fairly sure of is that this has got to be one hell of a live show! If Ohio is good for anything, it’s the art of celebrating the dismal. Want proof? Check out the tongue-in-pale-cheek videos on their blogspot below! “Life in general is suffering”, indeed. ☺

Keep this shit up!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Oh, have we got some goodies for you today, kids. Just in time for your pre-Harvest stockup comes an Autumn cornucopia of sonic wonderment from our friends over at Tymbal Tapes. Label honcho Scott Scholtz has three of his thumbs in as many delicious pies, and he’s served them up hot and delicious for your autumn enjoyment. Come for the promise of wonderful music, stay for the swell artwork by Tiny Little Hammers and a bunch of unrelated metaphors.


Drone at me, little synthesizer, and I will be enthralled until your sound ends. Valle De Galgos do more than that of course – harmonium is a key ingredient, as are field recordings and … voice? – but the building blocks are irrelevant once you’re in the middle of it all. The project, a newly formed duo consisting of Argentine sound artists Atilio Sanchez and Pablo Picco, hit all the philosophical touchpoints you’d ever want in an ambient release. Buildings? Check. The sea? Check. Geometrical shapes? Check. Outer space transmissions? Check. Inner voices? Check. Ghost dimensions? Check. Anything else? Check, but you have to let your imagination run with it. Mine went to what I know about Patagonia (which is very little, sadly) and conjured rocky shores at the southernmost tip, where you’re just a hop, skip, and a journey stowed away on an icebreaker from Antarctica. Fitting that seabirds make an appearance on “En camino a Calera”? Probably. It helped with my visualizations anyway. Regardless, once the initial chord of “Florence Westfalia / Tierra de Nilivilves” began to stretch and the harmonies began to augment it, I was hooked, even when it decayed into static. Guide me, little synthesizer (and other stuff). Guide me.


I had the idea to just make the review of this tape a laughy emoji, but then I asked myself, what am I, some Pitchfork staff jagoff from 2002? I most certainly am not. I do, however, get a chuckle whenever I see Terry Crews’s face – that dude is so self-aware, it’s amazing. And when I read the description of “Wow This Beard,” I nearly doubled over in an intense guffaw. “Wow This Beard” is a plunderphonic exercise whereby normally reliably ambient maestro Nate Wagner sliced apart a bunch of Old Spice commercials featuring Crews and recombined them into a fairly coherent vaporwave approximation. And as you might imagine, the tape smells really dang good! I always found the Crews commercials pretty entertaining, and that’s coming from someone who barely has a second to become immersed in television anymore (a very good thing, I think). So maybe it’s no surprise then that Wagner succeeds in applying his keen critical ear to commercialized product and dissecting it before us to reveal the deep, dark underbelly of the marketplace. Is it weird, then, that I’m also constantly reminded of Crews’s role as the president in Idiocracy? Does “Wow This Beard” provide commentary on the realization that I’d prefer Crews’s fictional president to our current one? Let’s answer that question together as we listen, shall we?


Romanian artist Somnoroase Păsărele is no stranger to the Tymbal world, having released “GAMA” on the label waaaay back at the tail end of 2015. He returns triumphant with “ESSEN,” an electronic masterpiece that is at once difficult to scrutinize and easy on the ear – that is, if you like your synthesizer properly kosmische’d and dissonant. Hey, turns out I do, so as this thing plays out, I’m falling more deeply in love with it as each minute passes. Păsărele does not let up on the tension one iota, and so “ESSEN” is an edge-of-your-seat nailbiter that reflects his home country’s rocky history and the divide between East and West. “ESSEN” sounds like it could have emerged from the Berlin electronic underground, and I wouldn’t blame you if that was your initial impression, but the communist stormclouds that once gathered to the east, at least until 1989 and the fall of Ceauşescu, are still deeply felt. Maybe that’s me reading into it, or maybe it’s because I just literally read a book on gender in Romania. Either way, “ESSEN” is fascinating, and your attention to it must be undivided.

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RYNE ZIEMBA "Dirty Sunset #1"

Hairdo rock. Glam. Sass. Rolling Stones kitsch.

-- Kevin Oliver

Review. Brief. Undetailed. Possibly lazy. Possibly enough.

-- Editor

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Adapta y Sobrepone" C17

San José, Costa Rica’s Caídas Libres blurs the lines between ‘90s indie, punk, & shoegaze. Think muted/minimal Husker Du meets Swingin’Utters, with a touch more dissonance & creativity. Most notable are the bell-like swells taking the place of guitar lines early on in track 3 as the drums and bass play a slower, groovier number, just below. The heavily reverbed vocals taking a backseat to the guitar is also pretty interesting, too. Per bandcamp, this is Caídas Libres’ debut EP (and far too damn short a one) so keep an eye out for a full length, hopefully!

6-panel J-card comes with lyrics (which you’ll need cz the vocals are BURIED in the mix something FIERCE!) and good looking graphics.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, November 12, 2017

ILLUSION OF SAFETY “Surrender” (No Part of It)

You’re in an airport bathroom stall wrestling with a malfunctioning auto-dispenser. Macabre transactions are occurring out there past the smell of ammonia and rotting caulk.  The airport TVs are blaring again, but each one blends into the next one so that the news program says that another boy has been shot by the cops & another flight is cancelled, but you don’t know which boy (is it you this time?) or which flight (is it you this time?).

-- Kevin Oliver

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"split" C40 (Funny Not Funny Records)

One East and West Virginian open mic hero each rolls up a pearl-snap’d sleeve and deals pensively sensitive blows to the harsh realities of perceived life and relationships with their steel string guitar, medium/soft hardness pick, and honest words/lyrics. The soundperson turns up the reverb on the vocals and nods to their friends who bring lively dates to the table. The cycle continues.

RIYL: singer/songwriters, guitars, lyrics, barstools, mood

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Goldsound" C50
(Time Release Records)

Cleveland, Ohio’s Gina Kantner (aka Chromesthetic) is a lone looper, harnessing the power of the pedal through stoner rock riffage, delay/reverb’d feedback, and…drum machine? Yep, that’s a drum machine.

I’m not gonna lie. The first few listens, I wish’t that I was in an alternate universe where I was the reviewer for “vinylgods” and I had the pleasure of drowning in my own drool over the mantric riffage of Kantner’s eponymous debut. Nearly perfect throughout, it doesn’t seem to hold the same consistent weight as this newer, more experimental offering, but maybe that’s a good thing? Why re-mix a tried & true algorithm when there’s so much more to explore? What is heaviness but anticipation?

Still deeply focused on tone and the timbral products of so many recurring* posits running to and fro, Goldsound’s ebbs & flows give the brain some room to breathe, side-track, and re-orient, before nodding along again in sweet, sweet relief. Best if listened to LOUD(!) on bass-y speakers. Apologize to your neighbors in adavance.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CDX "Smiles" C20 (Suite 309)

Sounding like maybe the perfect union between my two all time favorite tape labels  (Orange Milk Records and Constellation Tatsu), CDX is the most accessible alter ego of Tim Thornton (Tiger Village, Suite 309) and this all-too-short “Smiles” EP smacks of all his signature moves, including but not limited to:
-classically arranged bloop-tee-toodinals
-spastic vintage drum machine sputterings
-soaring and/or fuzzy modular synth lines
-sunburnt-at-the-beach drone swells
-vaporwavygravy sample bastardizations & good vibes

…all within a more easily mappable structure and, dare I say it, consistent rhythm. Well, for the most part. This cat is forever aaaabstract, and even his more conventional projects are destined to push the boundaries between pop and the classical/avant-garde. As an added bonus, this li’l morsel manages some electronic ululations that would fit in nicely with many an experimental rapper out there. Somebody hire this chap!

Did I mention that this tape is waaaay too short? Across twenty minutes & split up into only four tracks, not one minute gets old, even after listening on loop for over an hour straight. Pretty damn brilliant! Keep ‘em coming!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

BBJR “Pareidolia” C40 (Already Dead Tapes)

My familiarity with BBJR, aka Bob Bucko Jr. of Personal Archives fame, has been limited to his releases as guitar/drums jazz freakout duo Sex Funeral (with Matt Crowe) and his more abstract solo material, so it was with great surprise and joy that PAREIDOLIA conformed to none of my preconceptions about Bucko’s work. Tapping into mad psych and towering interstellar ambient, BBJR punches holes in space-time with guitar and sax alike until he’s created, like, a bunch of new black holes. I can’t even count them, it seems as if they just appear throughout PAREIDOLIA. Not surprising, then, is the density of these compositions, each a heavy isotope (not to be confused with a heavy metal, of course) that will decay as soon as it ends, with radioactive material all that remains. So, a public service announcement: wear lead suits when listening! Anyway, there’s lots to love here for the psychic space traveler, ready to wrap your mind around concepts that make very little sense on Earth. Each of these four astral blasts explore the outer regions of the mind and the universe and make connections of one to the other as if it were as simple as direct observation – no complicated mathematics required. BBJR clearly imposes patterns and ideas on PAREIDOLIA that make perfect sense when all is complete. Wait, I’m getting a message here … seems as though “pareidolia” is a phenomenon where order is perceived when there actually is none. So … I was probably way off on suggesting that Bob Bucko is some sort of theoretical genius. Still, he’s pretty good at this improv stuff, and it’s not TOO crazy to impose some order upon it … is it?

Already Dead Tapes

-- Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Yhvasca” (Jungle Gym Records)

African Ghost Valley is a Canadian/European electronic duo that produces self-described “heavy, loud and floating landscapes.” On YHVASCA, the group’s first effort for Jungle Gym Records, listeners are presented with six concise dark ambient numbers that act as “a soundtrack for post-apocalyptic suburbia.”

YHVASCA opens with “APO IIXII,” a constantly shifting piece with loops and synth drones fading in and out of the mix, competing for space. Some other favorites include “WARMA”—which sounds like the remnants of a song crushed to bits and buried beneath electronic murk—and the title track “YHVASCA”—featuring waves of foreboding noise and light, twinkling chimes lurking in the background.

With YHVASCA, listeners are offered a brief glimpse into the universe that African Ghost Valley inhabits. The enigmatic and ever-shifting nature of the album, coupled with its run time of just over twenty minutes, lends itself to repeated listens. Check it out, and let YHVASCA be the soundtrack to your droning dystopian nightmare.

Jungle Gym FB
Jungle Gym Bandcamp
African Ghost Valley FB
African Ghost Valley Soundcloud

-- Brandon Spaulding

Monday, November 6, 2017


This album is great. It’s also difficult. Jo Miller-Gamble is dorky and guileless. I wish the vocals were clearer so I could understand the words better. On first listen I didn’t like it, and I thought to myself, “Well, maybe it was made by a bold and silly teenager.  Since I don’t want to say anything mean, I’ll put it aside for now.” Then I played it again, and I started warming up to what I found repellant at first. I noticed the somber beauty of “Scent of Life,” and I realized that I had misinterpreted this album. Try listening to “Scent of Life” when you’re feeling relaxed and see for yourself. The songwriting is good. Miller-Gamble is “free” because of his depth. There is a depth to this album that can be appreciated once the superficial confusion has been passed through.

-- Kevin Oliver

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Yawnkillers" C26
(Auralgami Sounds)

Tony Robot’s side on the “O” card hosts some sort of masked robot warrior, right hand out, gesturing a lightningbolt clad finger “downward”, perhaps suggesting that you’ll want to “get down” with this release, or maybe that you’re “going down” in a fight with said arbiter of pain. And with the three song titles on his side: “Doom Stick”, “Death Adder”, and “Fatal Roundhouse”, it’s safe to say that a double entendre hath been implied, as the dozen minutes feel like yet another sequel to the Rocky training montages, only adapted to today’s sports/energy drink aesthetic. Plenty of “hard hitting” beats, replete with actual explosion sounds and “heavy” pulsings throughout. Tony Robot, indeed, wants to “bring it”.

Atomo’s side is markedly more eclectic and explorative, albeit just as “extreme” in the “get down and stay down” department.  Track one explores a sweet li’l piano lick that’d easily fit in the background of Big Boi’s “Boomiverse” album, but with a roller-skate-rink-on-speed’s accompanying percussion and processed “beep beep” (think Samba’s whistle, but 4 octaves lower) to keep the booty and neck from shaking in unison. Track two is a doozey, weaving between 5/4 & 4/4 seamlessly, and adding a catchy vocal line at the end, with a 6/8, pitchbending, apartmentcomplexburner, to boot! The final jam, in 8/8, aims to please you into the ground, with effortlessly upbeat energy for days. Maybe millennia. Really, I’m too damn old to be dancing, or even neck-swaying to this shit, so I’m glad this set is short, being so incredibly condensed and all.

If you’re in the mood for dance-tronic beats from where the mid-west meets the mid-south, this is good food for your jambox.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Transparens" C51
(Idle Chatter/Fabrica Records)

Idle Chatter is Fabrica Records’ cassette-only partner label and NaEE RoBErts’ “Summer Care” is but one tape in “Transparens”, a femme-focused 3xCS set, alongside Montréal’s Gambletron and Floridian (tape curator), Wren Turco. All 3 three artists work to expand upon electronic music, with NaEE RoBErts taking a decidedly vocal focus, oftentimes singing atonally overtop droning, warbled synth lines and busy, techno beats.

These brazen vocals will likely make it or break it for you, as their time spent “between the keys” (or maybe a quarter step up/down?) can be a bit disorienting for the western ear. The tonally strong musical arrangements they’re pitted up against provide a pleasing anchor that’d be really hard to lose track of if it weren’t for such imposing singing, and maybe that’s the point, and this is truly groundbreaking? Find out for yourself via the link below.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, November 3, 2017

"Higher Art Vol. 1" C44
(Halfshell Records)

Looking at Seattle, WA’s Swamp Meat profile, I see “thee oh sees” in their tags line (per bandcamp), and I think to myself, “Do I need to research this band that I’ve been hearing about, in passing, for maybe ten years now?”

I am a person that hasn’t fallen in love with Radiohead or The Flaming Lips or Jazz or The Blues because, honestly, I haven’t been ready for it. I think that, when the time comes, a certain aesthetic or tone or chord progression will SMASH YOUR FACE IN, IN A REALLY PLEASANT WAY, and that I don’t need to rush it.  Anyways…that’s my justification for not seeing how Swamp Meat compares to Thee Oh Sees.

What I CAN tell you FOR SURE is that this album of previously unreleased tracks, Thee Oh Sees covers, and/or live songs are a great, diverse collection of cosmic, carnified-garage-psych jams and dark, chamber-pop devotional ditties (with some overlap!) that makes for great headphone listening. There’s lotsa hidden gems (like ghostly melodica lines and trembling organs) buried beneath the louder melodies (mostly richly bowed strings and/or soaring pedal-soaked guitar tones) that are well worth searching for with eyes closed.

It’s good to note, too, that this release is a fundraiser for one of the largest, non-religiously oriented homeless shelters in the PNW, so, feel free to donate!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, November 2, 2017

"A House, Floating In The Middle Of A Lake"
(Anthropocene Recordings)

A cassette whose two sides feel different enough in tone and makeup that they could pass for separate EPs, at the very least.  Side A is a mellow affair, masterfully blending acoustic guitar with synths, and with an undercurrent of urgency that makes it clear that there is something buried just beneath the surface here.

How did this find me?  There's a vocal centerpiece on side A, "Ghost of the Harvest," a haunting, stark voice, an acoustic guitar.  This feeling of being haunted occupies the side, unrelenting in its insistence that there's something just beneath the current.  Is that you, behind that tape hiss (it's always there if you're willing to listen.)

There's the feeling of this construction owing something to drone, though there isn't a lot of drone here until side A folds in on itself over the course of the last track, "The Wind At Your Back," where a pulsing chord played like the sound of a breath across bottles accompanies a slowly building piece, with beautiful bass and an ethereal plucked string-through-water overlay.

Side B ventures further afield, more experimental, with a notable jazz influence on the opener, "Grass Burning In The Palm."  Vibes and saxophones, a laid back vocal, we're in a smoky bar here, somewhere out of time.  The side won't reach exactly this level of displacement again as it settles toward a more ambient and electronic pulsation.

Buried voices, shouts from somewhere, some looped conversation and dirty guitar.  You brought me out here but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be seeing.  Is that a weed or a flower?

The album comes back to center at the end, finding a lovely little melodic piece with just vocals and guitar in "Map."
Your tape found me well, I'll keep digging in the back yard.

--Kingo Sleemer

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

SMELLYCAT “dearest” (Self Released)

Smellycat’s “dearest” is a four part collection of quick moving mini vaporwave tracks, loops, sound collage and beats. Most tracks are very short but it makes for a fun listen keeps the listener pretty attentive with a nod to some contemporary approaches to online electronica in the past few years; lots of samples, quick cuts, and slowed lo-fi loops. “dearest is like a news feed of profound indifference, soaked with neon anime colors, lo-fi vaporwave vibes, Tumblr soft porn or cats, cats, cats.” Spoiler alert: Toto’s Africa does appear somewhere in these two tapes.

--Lucas Martinez

Monday, October 30, 2017

"Ratsickles" C33
(Sivilised Recordings)

I’d be a real lying son-of-a-beast here if I said that Onus’s “Ratsickles” was a “must hear” for the general rock populace. Whilst melodically SOLID, they’re probably too stoic in their presentation to command the average, passing listener’s attention. Their powerhouse is in a concertedly shamanistic patience, their lock-step-rhythmic chanting, a sincere, open-ear’d ceremonial bliss. I won’t even talk about the stop-on-a-dime timing!

When it comes down to it, Onus are an undeniably Serious. Itch. Scratcher. This three piece is an outright Drool-Worthy outfit to watch out for, especially for all lovers of Lungfish’s ritualistic grooves, Seam’s lush indie-guitar wizardry of the flat-pick’d riff, and, OH!!! that fucking brilliant mid-low tone from Sonic Youth’s most (imnho) tonally beatific masterpiece “Murray Street”! No, it’s not made for everyone, but (made for) quantity ain’t (made for) quality, either, now is it?!

Comprised of drums, bass, and baritone guitar, each instrument carries its own rock-solid, independent weight whilst a slew of layered, disciplined baritone vocals drag our minds into and out of lock-step, angular grooves, replacing them (and us) within/out abstract lyrical positions. Strum-free, the (baritone) guitar lines are occasionally looped over and accented with timbre’ly -potent pedal’d-textures…and I realllly hope I get to see these folx play the west coast sometime soon, to see if they use a loop pedal and THEN explore overtop it, live, or do they just hire another touring musician? Do they all sing at the same time, or is it just one singer’s multiple takes in the recording? Or is it all just one person creating these rhythmic mantras in their garage studio? I’d love to hear the outtakes and demos, too!

When you’re sick of party melodies and want some lyrical jams to seaweed sway to, give this half-hour palette-wetter a few repeats and you’ll probably fall in love like I did. More please!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Year Of The Centipede"
(Gubbey Records)

This is one of those skronky flailing slobbering tantrums chasing me so it can throw crumpled-up bulldozers at my face all day. But not all the time. Sometimes Black Kaspar gets the void to gaze back into you long enough for you to forget what you even look like, but they also have a controlled explosives mode. And other times they build obviously unstable towers made of shudders and let you sweat while waiting for them to collapse in rubbery, concrete-barfing ecstasy.

We have constant distorted bass. We have feedback-skewered unidentifiable rumblings like an airplane stuck in your hair. We have jellied synth transmissions from out there. We've got those guitar squigglies sneaking in to see what's going on. This doesn't necessarily *sound like* Naked City, Alboth!, Borbetomagus, Slab!, or whatever deconstructed metal primitives you could rattle off, but it sure *reminds me of* them. Which means you probably already know whether you need this pounding mess of soggy shrapnel in your life. I do.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

BEN VARIAN “Quiet Fill” (Plastic Response)

This is some real nice pop music. Back to roots pop music. Timeless. The instruments couple, part and coalesce in fabulous little (big!) melodies and Ben’s voice sounds so nice when he sings about the things he sings about. Singing about the little things. The special things. Oranges, money, coffee, moldy things, digital things, tattoos, sports, computers, chopping wood, the details of an American life. The production is wonderful. I’m gonna listen to this tape lots and lots and probs put some of these songs on mixtapes that I make for people who hate music to turn their minds around and show them that music can be fun and thoughtful and kind and not all about sadness and serious things. But this is serious music. Super serious. It’s too good not to take seriously. Groovin’ on a melody then the melody changes and suddenly you are transformed into another realm of musical possibilities and you stay there for a minute and then you go somewhere else, somewhere better, but you still miss where you just were, and then you go back for a second, but only a second, then you go somewhere else again and you are glad that you are in the new place and you want to stay in that new place and let yourself be overtaken and you become overtaken and it is a miracle. Ben is a miracle. A gift from the gods. This is good music, fine and happy but really it’s not all that happy, it just makes you happy to hear this kind of music and this kind of music is one of a kind. I bet Ben would make a good boyfriend.

-Ricky Lemonseed

Friday, October 27, 2017

ARIAN ROBINSON "An Eternal Sleep"
(Ephem Aural)

This album opens up with a creepy dissonant track which is just named "I-II".
There are only three tacks on on this album, and they are just numbered, using roman numerals. The tracks average about 15 minutes long each.

The second track (titled "III") gives the impression that I am under an overpass, maybe in a river, then just when you start to get settled in, a jarring scream scares the shit out of you.

The last track makes me feel like I am at factory. Thats the thing about art music, it is all subjective. You might have different feelings.

Arian lives in Germany and makes art music. An Eternal Sleep is 45 minutes of Arians' work. As the cover art suggests it is very ambient and moody.

The noise floor is little bit high though. I recommend you turn on Dolby B, it actually works very well with this album.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Thursday, October 26, 2017

MONA CLAY Heretic (self-released)

My first thought was that I am unqualified to review this, as it starts out with relatively standard emo-sounding bedroom... emo. Like, I think I liked a Cursive record one time, but that probably doesn't have much to do with anything. 

The front and center element here is that angsty teen voice, complete with all these lyrics, you know. This is present basically throughout. Some songs contain samples of couples arguing. There's even a Millennial Whoop, which is officially a known allergen, bumping around in there somewhere. The other feature I recognize is that distinctly indie-emo verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown yell-talking that's really quite serious and earnest, and why don't you understand? And so on. 

But as the tape goes on, I start wondering who this is really meant for. Don't get me wrong, I'm concerned that I still may not have properly emphasized how strongly the adolescent emo waves just roll off this thing. On the other hand, there is everything else. The guitar tuning ranges from kinda wobbly to almost dissonant, with some shoegaze-esque layering showing up in places. The textures and mixing help out a bunch. I would even believe there was a Sonic Youth influence happening to some degree, especially in the last song, 'The Soul of a Giant', which I actually quite like. And wouldn't you know it, later recordings on Bandcamp sound even closer to the semi art-damaged indie rock side of things. You might want your EpiPen handy for this one, though.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

LID “Submarine Devotion”
(Sorted/Lavender Sweep)

This is an excellent career retrospective album compiling various 7” and cassette releases by a band from Leicester, England that was active in the mid-90s. Stylistically, the music is on the continuum of Velvet Underground--New Wave --Alternative. What I like most about it is its guilelessness. It sounds pure, it exists self-sufficiently, and if I listen with an open heart, I feel connected to a spirit of fun and freedom and beauty. Occasionally they touch the fringe of dorkiness with the acoustic guitar/bongo sound, but the very fact that these elements weren’t suppressed on the retrospective album is evidence of the raw-dog purity of this music. I was reminded of Cleaners from Venus and Teenage Fanclub. Good stuff, great songwriting.

--Kevin Oliver

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BAYWITCH "Hella Spawn" (Halfshell Records)

The opening track, "Baywitch Theme" completely introduces you to the world of Hella Spawn. Imagine yourself on an island with all the time in world. All you can hear is the tide rolling and this album playing from an unknown source. Both creepy and inviting.
Groovy basslines, driving percussion, twinkling guitar riffs and a vocalist who sounds like they're singing to you through a ouija board. This release is definitely a healthy mix of party, surf, and ghouls. My favorite track has to be "I.O.D.T.H.C." and if you don't intend on listening to this album in it's entirety then at least give that track a listen.

The closing track "Potion Breeze" almost makes you wish you were on a deserted island enjoying the surf and this tape. All around Hellaspawn is a solid release and leaves the listener longing for more. That being said, I hope to hear and see more from Lila Burns and this incarnation of BAYWITCH.

-- Julienne Pasta

Monday, October 23, 2017

KRYSTAL MATH “Night Tones” C16 ([d]-tached)

Christopher Tilmouth’s debut EP as Krystal Math comes fully formed. The Manchester artist, like many electronic producers, draws from the nocturnal vibes of his home city, soaking them in as he traverses the pavements, injecting them into his music. The nocturnal vibes soak the pavements and seep into the water supply, from which they flow throughout the greater metropolitan area, the suburban landscape, farmlands, undersea, to America, where they wash ashore and make a beeline to my speakers. My cassette copy of “Night Tones” was insanely wet when it arrived on my doorstep, shivering, scared, alone. I took pity on it and let it inside my house. I made it take off its shoes first, because I keep that kind of house, OK? Still, it wanted me to shed my inhibitions once the music started jammy-jamming all up in my cockpit, which is what I call the room in my house where I keep all my tapes and other music and media ephemera. Might it be because of the aviator headphones? Who knows, this isn’t the Memphis Belle, and I sure ain’t Matthew Modine. It wouldn’t have even known what I was talking about, this “Night Tones,” and this Krystal Math hits the cortex way less harsh than how I imagine crystal meth does, because kids, don’t ever do crystal meth. This high is due to the deep IDM electronic clusters, the downtempo minor-key melodies, the rain-distorted neon signifying enclaves of human habitation.

Krystal Math courses through your eardrums to your brain stem and jostles your feet out of their stupor. Sure, the subsequent movement probably makes you look like you’re a few cards short of a full deck, but isn’t that what this kind of music’s out to do? Crumble those inhibitions till they’re nothing but emotional rubble. Also, if you’re like me, you’ll stay completely still and just examine the intricacies of the music as they bubble and shift across the auditory spectrum. You and I are nerds that way.

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Pharo" C60 (Hzy Mlk)

There doesn't seem to be a ton of info around about this project or its only member, Robert Heller. But judging solely by the cover, this tape contains 100% fewer slowed down New Jack Swing samples than I had hoped for, and way more DSP-twee acoustic guitar exploration instead. 

And there is a nice melancholic tinge to the guitar figures here, which gives those passages a fitting nostalgic bittersweetness. The DSP work is controlled and flows with a pretty advanced sense of pacing. While there are many times when things meander organically enough that you look up after a few minutes and suddenly realize you're in a different place, jarring cuts happen frequently enough to re-up your attention.

But if this all sounds like 'me too' Endless Summer-isms, know that that aspect turns out to be a relatively minor element. There are dulled four-on-the-floor beats popping up at points, some basement folk murk being granulation-crumbled, even some bad time psychedelic vibes creeping into the room. In fact, side 2 is where Heller seems to cut the cord and let you drift out into the nebula.

Not exactly shutter shades with an extra frame for your third eye, but maybe it's more like Mego's sharp focus after that one mushroom trip and covered in years of old Tascam snow?


Saturday, October 21, 2017

MEGABRETH “Ultra High Noise” (Field Hymns)

File under: pun rock. That “k” is missing on purpose, buddy! Listen up, because this is the ghost of Cassette Store Day future talking to you here – I’m here to tell you that you’ve done wronged the world, and your doom is upon you. Repent, “fix your heart or die,” and Megabreth is your reward! Seriously, if you’re wandering through your local Urban Outfitters (how am I typing with a straight face) and you don’t spot “Ultra High Noise” on the shelf, there’s something dreadfully wrong with the world and you probably have to go back in time and fix it. Or, if you do spot it in the appropriate position of massive endcap next to the cash register and you decide that you’re better off buying some dumbass Burger Records horsecrap, you should also go back in time and adjust whatever stupid thing you did to get you to this place.

If your favorite thing about Megabreth is the song titles, I wouldn’t blame you. Who doesn’t love tracks with titles like “Ride’em All, Kill the Lightning”? Or “Butterfly with Mullet Wings”? Or “Light My Wire”? Or, heck, non-punny ones like “Spacefist”? But you’d be partially in the wrong still, because you’ve stopped before listening (haven’t you). Megabreth crushes these math rock/post punk tracks on their foreheads like beercans, barreling through them like Oneida or Trans Am-a-lama-ding-dong riding no wave unicycles through puke valley. And you can trust me on that, because I don’t even know what that means! It’s a feeling with these guys, one that you can feel in your heart and your feet. Probably your butt too. Strap in, feel the Gs, and spend Cassette Store Day not regretting the choices you made in an alternate timeline. Because you can always go back and fix it if you have to.

Field Hymns

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, October 20, 2017

DAVID CHUTKA "EP One" C20 (Albert Street Records)

Lawrence, Kansas’s David Chutka really outta be on PIXAR’s soundtracking payroll: his minimalist, sustain-heavy, mid-slow tempo piano mantras aren’t just “emotionally evocative”, they’re downright manipulative! All it’d take is to slap an animated visual of a dog watching its owner (though a window) leave for work after giving it a kiss on the nose and everybody in the house would be choked up in absolute, perfect unison.

This tape is criminally short, clocking in at under 15 minutes of music, with an extra-lovely American Football-esque vignette “hidden” at the end led by a gorgeous, richly timbre’d trombone line (layered over top the piano); Just, WOW, does it rrrrreally drive home how damn good it feels after a good professionally rendered cry? You be the judge, if you get the tape? Yup!

I’ll be looking for more good stuff from DC, and checking more movie score credits, too.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, October 19, 2017

RAZORLEGS "Bloodshot" C40 (Self-Released)

This tape sounds like a guitarist and a drummer from a rock band got tired of the lead singer and bassist and threw them out of the dive bar they were playing a 2am gig.  The guitarist, PD, looked over at the drummer, Andrew, and said "We did the right thing man. Those posers were holding us back." Andrew only nodded slowly and emphatically, and then began to drum with renewed vigor, his frenzied arms swinging down faster and faster, exploding in crazy, tribal kick drum insanity until he entered a percussive trance known as "the monster drums."

PD let loose with the most horrific screeching wail he could produce from his tortured guitar, the amp vibrating with strain, shaking the tiny, poorly lit stage where the duo thrashed about in their own pit of sonic fury. The rafters shook frightfully and dust sifted down on the shoulders of the small crowd of onlookers who had gathered to find out what the horrible noise coming from the stage was all about.

Feeding off each others energy, PD and Andrew created an avalanche of sound incomprehensible to the human mind. They savagely thrust spears of pure avant rock in every direction. As layer upon layer of jet-engine flange was hurled from the amplifier like scalded demons, and the ominous drums continued their ceremonial death march, the crowd began to grip their ears and scream in pain. It was just too much rock and roll! Suddenly a guy near the edge of the stage dropped his beer bottle and it shattered. No one could hear it. The bottle turned to dust on the floor, as the broken pieces were vibrated apart from the deafening wave of sound. Even people writhing on the gritty floor in pain had to admit to themselves that no matter how catastrophic it seemed, it was never aimless. These lads knew how to rock.

It took the local police some time to arrive at the dive bar, because the noise ordinance complaints had come from all over town. As they stepped out of their patrol cars, the front doors of the dive bar blew off of the hinges and the surviving crowd members rushed out into the cool night air, blood running from their ears.

"What is that godawful racket?" Screamed Sargent Jones. But no one could hear him.  Before the officers could rush inside, another tidal wave of sheer treble bolted through the air at them like lightening, the rumbling of the monster drums shaking the ground. The venue owner and the barkeep scrambled through the open doorway just as the entire building exploded, the roof flipping over on a couple of cop cars and crushing them.

Soon every human capable of motion was running from the epicenter of the blast. Every window  shattered as the auditory onslaught continued. One by one, the major cities of the earth were reduced to heaps of debris. As the sun rose that morning, it rose on an entire world ravaged by sound. The only two people left alive were Razorlegs. PD looked around at Andrew, blood and sweat upon his brow. "I think they're all dead man. What do we do now?"

Andrew looked out over the ashes of the world for a minute, and then began to beat the drums in one last primordial rolling of thunder.  PD cranked the amp one last time, and the little blue planet known as earth dissolved into a cloud of dust in the Milky Way.

Presented for you in a red high-bias cassette, with white stamping on both sides and a fold-out U-card. Edition of 100.

Gray Lee

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MAN BARTLETT "Space on Earth III"
C60 (Self-Released)

According to the j-card, the world is doomed to end soon through any one of a number of imminent disasters. As discouraging as that sounds, the artist offers some well-crafted sounds for the big goodbye, what he refers to as ìa hymn and a dirge for our little blue marble.î  Each side of the tape is a half hour titled simply by the dates they were recorded.

Side A  - "2070510" is the hymn.  Drone out to this korgtastic volume of minimalist warmth. It rises, it falls, it soothes the weary soul.

Side B - "20170605" is the dirge. Though much more atmospheric and menacing, it is no less intriguing.

Upon repeat listening, I found myself playing the second side first, then following up with the first side. 

Presented for you in a white cassette with blue stamping on both sides. Edition of fifty.

-- Gray Lee

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE JULIE MITTENS “Soundcult” C43 (Barreuh)

Jeez, I expected something much twee-er than this, maybe indie rock or something. Narp big fella, you’re in for some heavy psych with The Julie Mittens, a trio recording for Dutch label Barreuh based out of Eindhoven. I wouldn’t want to live next door to The Julie Mittens, because they’re really not interested in keeping it down. Everything is pushed straight to the red, and that’s exactly how it damn well should be. The guitar/bass/drums outfit functions like a Cerberus of outlandish improv, volume clearly their fourth member, the four lengthy tracks here careening at a nonstop pace and intensity throughout the cassette’s runtime. Is it exhausting? Only, again, if you live next door and The Julie Mittens are playing at three in the morning (or, you know, if you’re OLD and SQUARE). Otherwise, there’s lots to dig into here, lots of beefy guitar meat and not a whole lotta gristle. That reminds me, did Led Zeppelin ever release that instrumental jam sesh that’s like a total legend in their catalog? No? Did I dream that? I probably dreamed that. I probably dreamed that because I listened to this here SOUNDCULT first. You don’t have to live in a world where Zep broke up if you’re listening to SOUNDCULT. Instead, you can pretend that they freaked out and played like their life depended on it somewhere around “Heartbreaker,” ditching Plant and jamming for days on end. You can experience every waking second of that monolithic entity if you only had The Julie Mittens in your life. (Well, forty-three minutes anyway.)

The Julie Mittens

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, October 16, 2017

GERMAN ARMY “Te Ano” (Opal Tapes)

“Never tell me the odds!” growled space pilot Han Solo to the taller of the two robots, the yellow one with the British accent. The odds are always stacked against you, I’m here to reiterate and confirm, and the odds of me catching up to German Army via Cassette Gods review submissions is approximately 41 to 1, or something like that. Because I was never good at math, I’ll round that up to “long shot” and just enjoy my time with the GeAr tapes that do end up in my pile. I think there are 41 GeAr releases overall too, which is where I get that number from. I’m probably off by fifty or so, though. They’re all good too. This one’s good.

In Tape 36 (or whatever), GeAr-heads and the general public alike will find lots to enjoy, mainly because those who turn on the Discovery Channel, or whichever one it is, during “Shark Week” will like the cover. Te Ano, translating to “the ano” when wrung through the old Spanish-ometer (just kidding, it means “I love you”), glistens in the rain and blisters upon contact, its white-hot molten tribal industrialisms a lurking school of megalodon in the midnight sea, and you oh listener of music, are shipwrecked and adrift, awaiting the rescue that will never come. The ear becomes attuned to the GeAr, the monsters become attuned to the light, and we all fight through the chum for the best hunks. We have become the monsters, the famished sharks always eating, constantly swimming, the sun and the beach and the air our only enemies. We are master hunters, and we deserve music to hunt to. What are your chances, alone, in the water, do you think? I’m pretty sure they’re 41 to 1.

Have you delved into the vast German Army catalog yet? Child, you should get started, you have much to hear, and much to accomplish.

German Army
Opal Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, October 14, 2017

G & DORO "If I See You" (Palm Tapes 2017)

These are some pretty well crafted freestyle dance tracks evocative of nineties light house music. What really stands out here is the vocals by Dorothea Pass and the hooks laid down by her and producer Graeme Stewart; a duo from Montreal, Quebec. Upbeat tempos, soft synths, fascinating drum machine patches/patterns, and complex vocal harmonies tie together the 4 roughly five minute songs. The third track "No Looking Back" combines Cocteau Twins-like synth and vocal work with a rough/tough Amen Break, taking me by surprise! Definitely my favorite track of the bunch.

If you're thinking of hanging in a Buffalo Stance, this might be for you!

--"Jamband" Josh Brown

Friday, October 13, 2017

“False Omega” (Gubbey Records)

This is the soundtrack to a trip through a haunted barn in southern Indiana at dusk in late October. It is a moody, spooky tape, and despite its being a tape of “songs,” it is vibe-oriented rather than song-oriented. There’s a rotating ensemble of woodwind players backing up a bandleader who sings in a whisper and plays acoustic guitar and breathy organs. There’s a lot of warm air flowing, a lot of wind flowing through cracks and bellows. The production is highly effective in capturing all this organic sound variety and spooky ambience. Once I got to “On and On” at the end of the b-side, I was hooked in. I consider that song to be the highlight and the climax of this elegant little tape of dark moods.

Gubbey Records
PO Box 7481
Louisville KY

-- Kevin Oliver

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SUN RAD “No Cover” C20 (Property Tapes)

Maybe black suits Sun Rad best. Forget about the vibrant see-through red tape his music’s housed in this go-round, it’s the black you’ll remember. NO COVER has no cover, the Norelco case comes in a PITCH BLACK leatherette pouch affixed with a 1-inch button, mine depicting a child with his or her tongue out, catching snowflakes? Or maybe coughing after breathing in industrial pollutants. Isn’t that a swell picture, a harsh reality? Keep that stupid comment in your pocket: Every Sun Rad release is a collapsing stellar event, gravity finally getting the best of all matter and time and space within its event horizon. That movie was pretty dark too, but man was it just as entertaining as NO COVER, replete with horrific passages where terror in minute increments overwhelms each individual sensory receptor. I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe because the ten minutes of “Black Square” on the B-sizzle make the relative head-nodders on the A that much more of an escape hatch to actual human emotion. See, “Black Square” is the low-ass frequencies all up in your area that are the sonic equivalent to the impassive security video of a nightmare come to life, not unlike the found footage on the EVENT flipping HORIZON. But that A-side, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” makes its way through scientific permutations until somebody figures out what’s going on, then saves the day. But I’ve got it backward – “Black Square” is the ultimate transmission, the last thing you’re going to hear. And come to think of it, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” is pretty dank too, just with a teensy bit more melody and some beats. Oh man, Sun Rad is really freaking me out right now. That’s a super good thing.

Sun Rad
Property Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"American Demon" C75
(Illuminated Paths)

As of September 2nd, 2017, Illuminated Paths has released/promoted 395 albums (per Bandcamp), mostly involving stock 90’s techno breakbeats (back when it was called “techno”, in fact) in mantra loops, some vaporwave midi arpeggios, and heavily processed guitar licks sprinkled in. saneLIV’s “American Demon” album falls right in line, but with an ivory-tickler’s finesse, here and there, that breathes some lively fun throughout this hour and a quarter mishmash of a release.

Mostly instrumental, these tracks hold no continuity or signature style, giving the release a mixtape sort of vibe, and it’s a pleasant “get to know your co-worker” kinda feel; nothing too daring, but not somber or timidly milquetoast, either.

Personally, I’d like to hear more fleshed out/explorative piano compositions and less reliance on beats for energy, but what the hell do I know? Have a listen for yourself below, knowing all the while that the first song is probably the best one, and not available via bandcamp. J

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CREEPING PINK “Parliament of Trees”
(Magnetic South)

Bloomington, Indiana brought me some interesting slightly psyche-y slightly noisey rock with sweet vocals and smooth transitions from track to track on this tape. The nice blend of effects, droney parts in combination with more formal structure and buzzy guitars remind me of a good mescaline experience, though i've never tried mescaline. “Those sympathetic to the UK comedown between psychedelia and punk should find comfort in Parliament of Trees.” “Parliament of Trees” would pair well with the desert, whether it be in mixed reality or real reality - if that makes sense. This has been the first tape i've listened to with guitars in a hot minute, why? Because technology is taking over of course. You already knew that though.

-- Lucas Martinez