“Thinky Space”
(Entertainment Systems)

Did you just down an entire smoothie composed of Cluster, Vangelis, and Brian Eno for breakfast? Because I just did, and I think Nicholas Langley did too, or maybe that’s what his breakfast smoothies consist of everyday, that and some bananas and soy milk and other healthy oddities. John Carpenter? Sure. Kale? Why not. Make the thing green. This cassette tape sure is.

Just because you can say those names out loud doesn’t mean you can craft the same type of music within that sci-fi ambient synth idiom. It takes a special kind of celestial soul to get on that interstellar tip. Fortunately for us, they must distill astrophysics in Brighton and distribute it en masse, or at least in heavy doses in the Langley household, because our boy Nick, perhaps perched on the edge Brighton Pier, staring out into the expanse (or toward France), has it coursing through his system. Or maybe he’s just internalized it over time – he has been making this kind of music for many years, and indeed runs a label called Entropy Music that is home to many of his releases (several of which are collaborative efforts with label cofounder David Dilliway), including Phragaonesia, Gestalt Projectection, and The Reasonable Men. I guess, in the end, this is just what he does.

Which makes Thinky Space, his first cassette release for Entertainment Systems, a completely logical outcome. The tunes burrow under your skin and head straight for your cerebral cortex, regardless of whether they’re atmospheric ambient passages (“Svalbard Gothic”) or pulsing waves of joyous melody (“Yellow, Green, Silver”). Heck, Langley’s good at both. And the variety does us good, kind of like a breakfast balanced with all sorts of nutritional goodies, perhaps whipped together in a blender of some sort. But that’s the smoothie talking again. Once those galactic swirls start swimming around your field of vision and your relation to your surroundings becomes less and less observable, it won’t matter anymore. Breakfast will cease to be important. Brighton will cease to be important. Somehow, the only important thing will be to exist in the moment and observe. That’s the feeling I get from Thinky Space, anyway.

--Ryan Masteller

BILL FOREMAN "The Bliss-Chasers"

All problems solved...If you ever wondered what Jonathan Richman sounds like gone Americana, look no further! Actually, you can't help but like this Bill Foreman fellow. His tape comes in a ziplock bag with lyric booklet and a short letter...and a download code.

Bill doesn't have the range of Turley Richards (look him up) or even Jonathan Richman but he makes what he has work in this dirt road context. If Van Dyke Parks and that big bus took the main roads on Discover America (look this up too) then Old Bill surely takes the side streets. Maybe doing house parties every town or two. Maybe staying in state parks, tent camping on the sly...

This is America. Real America. Bedrooms, back rooms, back yards. White America though. No Jackie Wilson know the jukebox anywhere along the way. Having these lyrics is a gift. Foreman says it all straight and simply enough, but seeing it in print helps. Like having the map unfolded in the front seat at a stoplight.

Bill Foreman will likely never appear on a major label, yet his presence is needed and argument enough for the whole of this tape culture thing. This tape sucks you in the side door and take you across his version of not just America but the world as he sees it. Just as quickly you hear the stop/eject clack and it's over. This is what the best art does, it takes you away and returns you slightly changed. Bill Foreman has that gift. Thank you Bill....

-- Bob Zilli

“Slow Motion Groan” C46
(Uuhngreh Schpuggenuh Records)

involves: bells, cello, violin, cymbals, glockenspiel, melodica, tambourine, bass drum, acoustic & electric guitars (w/ pedal’d aide of: tremolo, (subtle) distortion, & phaser)

I’m seriously considering teaching the gooey art of graphic design to 4th &5th graders during summer school this year, & I feel like this tape would make a great soundtrack to use for whenever I want to talk about the principles of texture & focus, and how they are related to timing & groove.

Side one is an incremental crawl across five tracks, beginning with organic, muddy, ritual drones in the forest, then slowly becoming mechanized, colder, yet freer, and finally ending in star-heated, intergalactic ambient transmissions & echolocations. The five stages, though each differing in How they were made, carry with them the constant theme of juuuuust harmonious, but not quite tonal, which sure as shit does not happen by accident.  

Side two is a re-release of last year’s “Indoor Derivatives” 20 minute, formerly “digital-only” release, and though not quite as (inter)stellarly cohesive in its scope (ha!), it certainly can stand on its own. The deftly balanced ratio of tonal & atonal is obliterated right off the bat, with layers and layers of discordantly bowed strings and cymbals, each screeching for the ear’s attention (I count two to three per channel, but keep getting lost) in slow motion. This grandiose resetting allows for the other three tracks to breathe on their own, as unique, independent beasts…as beastly as organic drone tracks go, anyways.

Great with and without headphones. Strongly recommended if you’re looking for a more minimal, ambient bridge between Pelt and Hear Hums.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Äquator System”
(Elestial Sound)

Oh yes – this is music for European nomads. I’ve been told that somewhere. Where? Liners. Duh. On the Bandcamp. It’s where you learn everything. But European nomads is the vibe, and the vibe takes you along with it, on its journey, till you end up in Berlin at some co-op and you get involved in the underground electronic nightlife scene, which is all black and goth and nocturnal. It’s just how we understand Berlin, those of us who have never been there, and maybe even those of us who have been there as well. (I fall under the former category, unfortunately, so all my knowledge is secondhand.) But this Eva Geist character, whose real name is Andrea Noce (but no way of telling what she writes when signing in to a national park register), just sauntered into town one day with a laptop full of synthesized music that she just had to share with everybody, and we should all be wildly grateful that she did, because even though a majority of it is downtempo, there’s a lot to be said about the introspective quality of tunage of this stripe when it’s pumped into your headphones on cloudy winter days. Isn’t every day a cloudy winter day in Berlin? I spent many a cloudy winter day wandering around London, and Eva Geist’s music would have been perfect then. (She was probably still in junior high or something when I was in London.) I imagine Berlin takes on a similar aura. Each of Äquator System’s tracks wants to accompany you in its own way; each clamors for the rewind and repeat treatment, and I’d give it to them if I didn’t have to get on to the next track. “No, ‘Vernal Equinox,’ I love you and all, but I really have to push forward to the title track.” Dejected, “Vernal Equinox” sinks into the background, but hey, I’ll get back to it in a little less than a half hour. Because I’m going to press play again on this thing when it’s over, and I may even get into this European nomad spirit and jet off to the continent one of these days. Ah, who am I kidding – I’m an adult, those spur-of-the-moment post-university jaunts have to be relegated to the past. Too many things to plan these days. Kind of sad, really. I’ll live vicariously through Äquator System, then. It’s totally worth it.

--Ryan Masteller

STEMBREO “Yex Dit Jow” (Illuminated Paths)

Stembreo has somehow intentionally made a full-length version of The Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” which is the track on that album that I always skip because I’m never in the mood for it. I don’t fault the fans of “Revolution 9,” and I realize it’s fairly influential as a concept. So – I don’t know, I don’t care if you slag me for skipping it. Whatever. Stembreo doesn’t sample any music, just vocal sounds. One of the samples is the repetition of a male voice saying “Number six,” which makes me think of the “Number nine” sample, obviously.

Oh god, I don’t care. And hey, let’s pad this thing out, shall we? “The album is a track-by-track palindrome; after the 10th, and originally last track, I duplicated the ‘songs’ [that’s right, pop that term in quotes] in reverse order under different titles, just as pretentious as the idea to do so…”

That is the gist. Here is my “review”: “kdsjaofeoiosaefjafoeaisjeoihjfo’hagih’aoihb’naweofji’eijapojhjhv;adajiselfejia’jifh9jadjifoawieag4h’ajslkdj.f”

Palindrome that in less than five minutes, I dare you!

--Ringo’s hovering syllables