“It’s In My Backpack”
(Bald Spot Records)

This whole album really makes me long for my high school days. All I ever wanted to listen to in my junior and senior years was old indie rock that made me feel like I was living in the 90s. Don’t ask me why I wanted it to be the 90s, I just did okay?

If I could go back in time and give this album to myself in those days I think I would’ve listened to it until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Plus it would’ve been nice to have something to listen to other than Weezer’s blue album for the thousandth time. This album makes me feel the way I did back when I was 16 and I was discovering The Clean and The Hentchmen. Back when all I wanted was for people to think I was that cool alternative kid who could tell you a million bands that you didn’t know about. Good times.

On another note, while going through the depths of Busters Facebook I found out that they played a show with Carseat Headrest back in May of 2015. I wish I could’ve been at that show. Buster is from Philadelphia. I’ve never been and I don’t plan on going anytime soon. But if Buster ever plays a show in Atlanta, I’ll be in the front row wishing I were still in high school.


-- Garrett Douglas

“Color Quest”
(Afterwards Records)

You know, before I started writing stuff for this website, I was never really a big fan of electronic or ambient music at all. It just all kind of seemed like the same formula to me, but maybe that’s because I never gave it a real shot.

The inside of this cassette’s case is really pretty and this ended up being the first one I listened to out of my new batch of tapes. The first track on the album “Head First” started playing and I absolutely fell in love. I rewound and listened to it a solid 20 times before I actually even got to the rest of the album. It was so simple, but so unique. If I could choose a time and a place for you to listen to that song for the first time it would be driving through the city at 2 am. I love this song.

I love this album. This album made me fall in love with a genre that I’d never been willing to give a chance to. There are only 25 of these tapes in existence so hurry up and buy one before I buy all of the remaining ones.


-- Garrett Douglas

"Self Titled" C60
(Shifting Sands Congregation)

First off, kudos to whoever ickified the shell of this tape! You probably can’t see it with the picture, but there’s a dearth of varying textures on the outside, which appropriately sums up the inside’s composition. Both sides of this rad split between experimental composers would fit perfectly over top of the Baraka or –squatsi films, but here’s my thoughts on them individually.

Scriptures side: starts out with warped organ overtop heavily treated field recordings of soaring birds having themselves a grand ol time, then blends into helicopter’d, binaural beats & the music video “Blaze of Glory” by Bon Jovi comes on…or at least that’s the ambiance my mind appoints…which sets up for the remainder of this side, continuously delivering a convincing aural take on mankind’s attempts at dominion over nature through atonal dialogues & taunts.

TS side: plays almost like a mixtape, with equal parts minimalist drone (think Eleh) and mesmerizing avant-garde classical string-bowing (ala Steve Reich). Both are bewitchingly powerful and pair well together in their juxtaposing moods.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Seven of Clubs" C58
(Pidgin Records)

GodDAMN do I love it when an artist takes a tried & true trope & turn it on its ear. For example, Torche took stoner rock, right, and just shoved a molten cone of neon-pink cotton candy right through its heart. In this manner, so to does Ian G. McColm, but with doomy, blackened noise. Think Sutekh Hexen meets Tecumseh…and they go for a giggly skip, hand in hand, through a sunny cemetery.

Lugweight (whose name is right up there with “Ton” as one of the most literal of heavy band names), found on Side B, takes the bright & shineyness away & replaces it with a li’l more speed & riffage, & later on, vocals (and field recordings) that are buried into the overall mix much like Hollow Sunshine’s. Were this tape a cloud, it’d be the Mammatus at neon dawn, for sure.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Phase Lock" C30
(No Rent Records)

FD deal primarily in electronic dance sounds, with a few noisy and ambient gigs on the side. It’s good for freaking out or wiggling the gluteus maximus to, if that’s your thing. Give a listen via the link below, if this is your thing.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Anxiety of the Eye" C30
(No Rent Records)

A cursory sweep in RFD’s history shows they have a release out by Helen Scarsdale and were promoted by 23five, two highly esteemed SF institutions, so I knew from the get-go that this was gonna be a real treat!

&Lo & behold, here be indeed an Infuckingcredible collection of field recordings from various secluded spots in California’s wilderness all woven together seamlessly with droning, minimal, modular synth stitching. With great dynamic range and patient, nuanced layering, this is pretty much what Mama Earth’s circulatory system sounds like, amplified for human ears; peaceful in pace, but heavy and filled with the ancient means of simultaneous destruction and creation. Breathe in…


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Self Titled" C40
(Midori Records)

Just goes to show you how far my head’s been up my ass; Jeweled Snakes hail from Oakland, which is just down the street from me, & I’ve never even heard of ‘em, much less the equally awesome Midori Records, equally neighboring.

The duet kicks out dark, dark electro-pop (think of the grimiest Brainiac tracks) meets stripped down Industrial party jams; and with chanted choruses like “Get Off Your Ass! Medicate Yourself!”, you can make the connection that they’re a more creative My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult (“Confessions…”), but replacing the repetition, upbeat tempo and polished vocals with more focus on synth textures and ritual sacrifice. Pretty goddamn great!


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Self Titled" C59
(Midori Records)

Map Collection’s debut album is a minimalists’ psychedelic journey, conjured up by two cooperative (as opposed to dueling) modular synthesizers. Pretty much any blip & bloop you’ve ever dreamed of hearing in an office space, roar or hum from shipping warehouse, or space-echo-as-proof-of-distant-realities on the learning channel has been recreated by here in real time, looped, & fed into this cascading abyss of an hour long sonic ride. At times soothing ambient, at others noxiously chaotic, it’s a good headphone meditation, and a fanfuckingtastic headfuck in juxtaposition to a long walk in the wilderness.

"Green Tape"
(Zypher Laboratory)

Igor Amokian/ABF crank out gritty beats that can’t be pigeon-holed into just one or two genres. Influences of early industrial, trance, hip-hop and dub-step cross over each other naturally, filling in the gray area between hardline definitions of style. This is groovy party music to either shake your ass to or just wobble your head about in the corner.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“The Hell Realm”
(Spare No Expanse)

What is the “Hell Realm” anyway? Is it “Infinite Purgatory”? Can you have one without the other? Or are they inextricably linked? I think that’s what The Celestial Body is asking, anyway, and the results might surprise you. Or maybe they won’t – I don’t know what your take on all this bleakgaze wish fulfillment is. Perhaps it’s just a coping mechanism, a strategy to work through the, dare I repeat, infinite problems associated with modern living, a reaction to the reaction to the reaction. Again, infinite is key – it’s like infinite sadness, a blanket gut punch stretching from horizon to horizon. But I promise you that this does not sound remotely like The Smashing Pumpkins.

This sure seems like a strategy – an inward-looking song cycle of complete disappointment. The beauty of such a thing, of course, is its ability to reflect our own insecurities back at us in such a way that makes the path toward destruction less than a complete nightmare. That’s where The Celestial Body comes in. Part of the Posthumankrew, the mysterious artist begins The Hell Realm with sort of a fake-out, a proto–Wax Trax! composition with the appropriately proto–Wax Trax! title “Rest in Piss.” Its mixed-back Jourgensen-esque vocal samples lend it an air of passing from this life to the next – albeit a bad death, as suggested by the title. Anyway, without reading too much into that (I’d probably go on for a while), you can consider the rest of the tape a replication of purgatorial existence, a dark, dreamlike experience that skews neither positive nor negative. The dank electronics cast surreal imagery on the imagination, allowing it multiple avenues to process feelings both unstable and grounded. In short, The Hell Realm plays as sort of a lectionary for the afterlife.

But here, life goes on, and once the tape ends you’re reminded of your continued existence. Your endless, continued existence. Maybe this is our purgatory right now – who knows? Endless weirdness – kind of like how everybody thought the island on Lost was purgatory for so long. To borrow from the film popularized (in theaters!) by Mystery Science Theater 3000, perhaps our planet is like Lost’s island, and “this island Earth” is an infinite waypoint for us eventual “celestial” beings. Or maybe it’s just plain old Earth, and The Celestial Body has my own imagination in a stranglehold. Who’s to say for sure.

The Celestial Body
Spare No Expanse

--Ryan Masteller

"Supersonic Sons" C39
(Egg Hunt Records)

The Sun Machines are a radio-friendly synth-pop outfit with 4.5% Tv On the Radio influence, but, like, nowhere near as weird. This is an across the board agreeable album and, with a li’l punchier production, could be a top 40 release, were their cards schmoozing played right.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Come To The Loud" C8
(Unpossible Records)

Straight-forward punkrawk, with a sprinkling of Frank Black & the Jesus Lizard, for good measure. If you were looking for a soundtrack for driving to the corner store for some unfiltered cigarettes, this short & sweaty tape’ll get ya there.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

KP & ME "Sex Cells" C20
(Crush Grove/Sound Workshop)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets the Datsuns. Pretty alright fun. If you like garage-y punk, you’ll enjoy this tape. No surprises. Nothing to hate. Just pretty alright. Yup.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"That Too Long Hour Never Dim Enough To Sleep"
C62 (Kerchow Records)

Unapologetically Raw and Simple, Nick Dolezal AKA Restaurnaut AKA head honcho over at Kerchow Records in Chino, CA draws his power from being both intimate AND anthemic, kicking out simple yet freakfolktastic ditties that cannot be ignored, with all the candor, Lo-Fi aesthetic, and insight of early Modest Mouse demos and Daniel Johnston! His half-hour side is captivating, inspiring, and not to be missed, if the earliest Devendra Banhart tickles your fancy. I know I’m referencing a lot of others, but those others were pretty great, and so is this, only, like, y’know, different.

Side B, Wica Intina, is almost the reverse. Though equally as intimate and honest, it comes off like your best friend pouring their heart out (via folk guitar) after a long, monotonous day. It’s real. Depression is rough. Being real is rough. And depressing. As is this side.

If you’re lucky enough to grab this tape before it sells out, you’re in for a wild ride, and then a sobering one. Nice pairing Kerchow!!! Comes with a fancy lyric sheet, as shown below.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Sequencer Works Volume Three” C88
(Personal Archives / Ka-Rye-Eye)

You can take your Yamaha RM1x sequencer and shove it somewhere where it don’t belong, because you won’t need it anymore. Arvo Zylo has been whipping that thing into shape since the year 2000, back when our biggest fear was that computers were somehow going to revert to the year 1900 when the clock struck midnight at the turn of the millennium. Bet he was gearing up for a little bedlam when he started to conceptualize these projects. See, he was doing some sequencing for an industrial band back then, so it’s no surprise really that “Fuckmata,” which begins this collection, is an aborted cover of Ministry’s “Stigmata.” I don’t know if anything in the world makes more sense. I’m pretty sure my first reaction to just starting this tape was that of, “That’s it, then, no need for anybody else to work with this technology – ol’ Arvo’s outtakes are already the pinnacle.” Then I stupidly said the same thing about Jimi Hendrix and a guitar, and I was never heard from again.

But then I was! I had to finish this review, didn’t I? Limitations notwithstanding. Anyway, Volume Three is obviously the third (and final) in a series of these things, the first two being released on Out-of-Body Records and No Part of It respectively, and it includes material recorded (but not necessarily released, and if it was, the quantity was limited) between 2000 and 2010. Zylo specifically limited himself to the Yamaha RM1x, and, to paraphrase ideas in Scott Scholz’s excellent liner notes (titled “Worshipping the Glitch,” naturally), that limitation lends itself to quirks of recording and fidelity, allowing rough edges to remain that could otherwise be sanded smooth within digital software platforms. But isn’t that the fun of it? The rough edges are what give the music its character. I’m a firm believer in the merits of happy accidents, where even the barest sketches of composition can be fully redeemed by technological discovery. Wrap that all up in an industrial (music)–strength package and the sky’s the limit. Of course these are more than just bare sketches – each piece is a machine-shop freakout’s worth of technical destruction, warped and layered for maximum face-melting upon exposure.

Did I say “face-melting”? Sure did. Arvo Zylo’s chaos comes packaged across a wide range of frequencies and patterns, and “confrontational” is certainly a good term to describe the results. Side A is decidedly more industrial-heavy, while side B tracks its muddy boots across the thresholds of noise and drone, but never getting caught in stasis. And while 88 minutes is a heavy slab to devour at once, there’s lots to discover as you maneuver your way through the wreckage. Start here, start at volume one, start on the moon, who cares. For maximum self-flagellation, make it a triple and set your out-of-office for the afternoon. And don’t forget where you put that Yamaha RM1x – despite what I said earlier, you might need it later if you get inspired.

Arvo Zylo
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller


Side A had some pretty rad violin for a bit, but was otherwise miserably barren and monotonous. Seances are really fun to participate in, not listen to. Like, At All.

Side B was pretty fucking rad, though, which just beefs up the resentment felt towards subjecting myself to the half-hour of onanistic solo free jazz attempts on Side A. Seriously, whoever you are, your virtuosic guitar playing is fucking rad. Please record more of that and save the ceremonial ambiance for your live sets where it’ll translate better.

&Keep ‘Em Comin’,

 -- One Blessed/Cursed Cassette God

"The Sheahto" C32

I could see this album fitting nicely beside Tucker Theodore’s brilliant “To Make the Sun Hurt” release via PDX’s Antiquated Future label, but, alas, it’s self-released. Maybe they’ll re-issue it? Same lo-fi, left-field, bedroom psych/folk, but with a tinge more “Charles C. Leary” warble and schoche less Alan Lomax veneer. Pretty solid tape all the way through & definitely worth picking up if you’re a-hankering for some forward-thinking freakfolk.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“KERCHINGLE #5 - I E-mailed You An .Mp3”
(Kerchow Records)

This compilation tape from “Various Artists” is a compilation of 60 10 second tracks. The result is an interesting listen when playing the tape, the mind attaches itself to the feeling and tempo of each track while also getting used to each track changing perfectly every 10 seconds. Ideally the tape is played all the way through when listening to the album, as if it were one track. Each track is noisy and spontaneous, playing off of the drastic changes with respect to each track before it. The quick changes gives the album it’s own feeling, and the collage of these specifically chosen tracks makes the album it’s own piece. Though the artists and what tracks are on this tape is up for interpretation, the tracks flow nicely and give the tape a distinct listening experience.


-- Lucas Martinez


This two-song tape (repeats on side B) comes in an o-card slipcase with a bright, attractive sleeve. The group, which includes OSR alumni Francis Carr, Zachary Phillips, Christina Schneider and features Alexis Graman on the second track, offer up a couple of nifty off kilter pop selections.

I hear guitar and synth along with slightly off-key vocals but not much else in the way of instrumentation.

"Modern Chairs" is my personal pick of the two and it exhibits why the components can work in a pop setting. I'm. Less excited about "Relative Strangers" but must admit it has it pleasures too. The question that kept going through my mind was would I sit through a whole album or a show of this. I can't tell you but I will confess I keep listening to "Modern Chairs" repeatedly. High marks for originality. This borders on outsider music. Eager to hear another two track single.


-- Bob Zilli

“The Evening Hopefuls”
(Spring Break Tapes)

On The Evening Hopefuls, German composer Stefan Paul Goetsch reworks pieces of orchestral rehearsals for a score that he had written into something otherworldly and magnificent. Culled from three hours of music he rearranged and reworked in his hotel room, The Evening Hopefuls drifts on another plane of consciousness, one halfway between sleeping and waking. To think of the source material as something other than the final product here is strange – this tape feels so complete, so considered, the music becomes its own entity and takes on its own persona. I say that of course without hearing the original material, but it’s hard for me to discuss within that context. Still, if you were to try to pin it down, you’d have some wildly unearthly material to describe – not only are we talking about a partial dream state where snippets of potentially meaningful communication appear and are lost in the ether, we may also be recipients of messages from other civilizations elsewhere in the universe. It all depends on your perspective. Regardless, we immerse ourselves in Goetsch’s master craftsmanship, buoyed by our own context, and drift on our imaginations toward meaning. That’s what music listening is all about anyway, right? Imposing a worldview upon a feeling. Hainbach’s output defies easy interpretation, and it’s all up to you. Listen deeply. Laugh knowingly and worriedly at the track title “The White House, Hell’s Valley,” and be renewed in the end by the hovering brilliance of “The Evening Hopefuls.” Be wary, be wise, but breathe deeply and be overcome by Hainbach.

Spring Break Tapes

-- Ryan Masteller

RANGERS “Texas Rock Bottom” (Baked Whale)

This tape is very good. It reminds me of East River Pipe, and East River Pipe is one of my favorites, or at least used to be when I was a gloomier person, and Rangers appeals to this exquisite feeling of gloom. He is the lonely dreamer beyond the wasteland, the heavy hearted, the eccentric man in the darkened room conjuring up glimmers of beauty and life. “Up all night, I think I saw the light.”

-- Kevin Oliver

“The Glistening One”
(Moon Sounds)

Dramatic-atmospheric guitar rock—very pleasant and enjoyable—serious, dueling electric guitars, clean guitars, crisp and clear and expanding out to fill the air. From an interview with the band: “The idea of tension, ascension and then a release—that’s what I’m aiming for.”


-- Kevin Oliver

"Through Tough Thoughts" C33
(Antiquated Future)

With this release, PDX’s Antiquated Future label continues to promote heady, demanding artists who aren’t complacent in relying on the age old tropes and arrangements that their ancestors developed; naw, fuck that!

Jordan O’ Jordan’s ‘TTT’ sounds like every progressive Bower Birds song ever, but constantly, and not just as an explorative track between catchy hits. JOJ ain’t about the hits, but them squiggly spaces between, and, for that, this album is a worthy study item in American Singer/Songwritery.

Loudon Wainwright III
Claw-hammer Banjo & Devotional Harmonium Gospels


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Lunar" C35 (Self-Released)

HTA hails from Columbus, Ohio and makes beats that are a 90’s instrumental hybrid of Hip-Hop and Instrumental Post-Rock. ATCQ meets maaaaybe Maserati, if you will.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

MONKIER “Highs / Lows” (self-released)

Monkier, a band name I continually want to read as “Moniker,” make pretty competent jazz music with funky flourishes here and there. The playing is tight, the musicians obviously occupy a headspace where they’re able to read each other and play off each other with virtuosic aplomb. But I cannot get past the nerdy hipster rap vocals. I’m sorry. Those vocals are grinding this review to a halt, because there’s no way I can objectively listen to this with them hiding behind corners, ready to make themselves heard whenever I think I’m in a “safe zone” of instrumental bliss. Maybe that’s your thing – maybe you like that vibe, and this sounds good to you. But me, I wish this was “no-vocals” territory. Sorry gang.

-- Biddy Biddy Bop