“Windscale Pile No. 1”
(Do You Dream of Noise?)

As I contemplated “Windscale Pile No. 1,” I marveled at the coincidence surrounding my receipt of this tape and its subsequent review. First, Do You Dream of Noise? must have some exclusive European rights, as this tape was “released under exclusive license” from Burnt Toast Vinyl, a Philadelphia-based label with whose releases I’ve had some interaction in the past. Second, Soporus, guitarist Matthew Stone and bassist William Stichter, performed together in the band Saxon Shore, a really good post rock band who I’ve sadly only encountered on compilations. (Really good compilations.) Saxon Shore has deep connections to the corridor from Central Pennsylvania to Philadelphia, a corridor I’ve often traversed during my time living just south of Harrisburg, driving the two hours or so to Philadelphia and back for shows, Phillies games, family visits, etc. It should come as no surprise, then, for anyone familiar with the area that Soporus has a deep connection to man’s attempt to harness nuclear power, as the infamous Three Mile Island lies not far from where I lived and Stone grew up. In fact, the track “A Clear View of Three Mile Island from on Top of Governor Dick Tower” is as obvious a paean to this topic as you can get, and it strikes me just right as I, myself, as a college-age whippersnapper, once climbed a water tower overlooking Harrisburg and TMI in the distance. As Stone, Schichter, and I approach forty (and damn you for dragging that out of me!), I’m overwhelmed by history and memory that such biographical details and the music of “Windscale Pile No. 1” conjure.

This ruminative attitude is reciprocal: Soporus plays it, I reflect on it, and thus the circle is complete. That’s what Soporus wants us to get out of this anyway – reflect upon the meditative passages of “Windscale,” get deep into the currents of the past and how we relate to it, and let the sonics break over us like waves on a shore, or drift upon us like snow on a path, or rise and ascend with us like luminous beings. Listening to “Windscale” is the equivalent of being back on top of that water tower in the dead of night, adventure ahead, life brimming, nothing to stop forward progress but our own flaws. And where we are now in relation to that matters only to your innermost secrets. Coincidence from past to present drives “Windscale,” reflects it, causes you to react to it, but meditating on that experience will unlock the secrets.

Let’s end, then, on a recap of the strange path this tape took to get to me: a label from Sweden sent this tape to me in Florida, but I probably lived no more than 20 miles from the band in a past life in Pennsylvania.

RIYL: Stars of the Lid

Do You Dream of Noise? (again, this is in Swedish)

--Ryan Masteller

“articulate ridge #16” C36
(Personal Archives)

Marcus Maurice seems to be everywhere these days, and I’ve had the privilege of catching up on a couple of his recent releases as More Eaze, first with “firesid3 ch@t r00m” on Orange Milk, then with his split on Astral Spirits with A. F. Jones and Steve Flato. There’s so much more out there though. So much. Including “articulate ridge #16” on match-made-in-heaven label Personal Archives. Why is this such a divine conflation of ideology? Could it be the mutual embrace of sonic exploration? A singlemindedness of independent vision? A vast love of the everlasting weird? Yes, yes, and double yes, or “yup,” if that is indeed what “the #h1tz of 2dai” is belching in its MIDI glory as I’m typing this sentence right now. It’s good to question the basic building blocks of what you’re listening to – how else are you going to imprint your own self onto it? Belch-barf yeps aside, “articulate ridge #16” continues the unlikely marriage of More Eaze’s focus on the overt and the avant-garde, the in-your-faceness of the harsh synthetic composition a key unsubtle component to the intricacy of the work. Because More Eaze is doing his thing all up in the electronic spectrum, there’s a sense of familiarity in that melodies certainly seep through, as do rhythmic elements, setting his tracks up as suites of “songs” in a sense, though “Banger: Impossible” may well be the title of his next record (do it, for some stupid reason, do it!). But they’re so much more, so deeply enjoyed that taking in any of this in bite-size pop fragments is fully impracticable. I say this with a smirk creeping across my face as “the #h1tz of 2dai” utilizes an ACTUAL pop hit at the end of it to bring it to a close. I’m weighing whether or not to spoil the surprise, but who cares, you’ll listen to the whole thing anyway.

Hahahahaha Blink-182.

Anyhoo, “albuquerque necktie” has to qualify for some kind of award handed out to awesome album titles, and it lurches as violently as its title would suggest, ending in a liquid puddle of post-necktie viscera. Perhaps it’s simply the logical precursor to “L8 capitalist ax13ty 2k17,” the idea of that title a psychological “albuquerque necktie” (if not a literal one). The sickly processional plays like a decaying parade float as it simultaneously gets wet and melts from electrical currents coursing through it. Life doesn’t have to be that way, not if you’re not part of the festivities in the first place. Don’t be part of those sickening festivities. Follow More Eaze instead, down the “articulate ridge #16” until your gears seize and your pistons quit firing. Something like that, if you’re following.

More Eaze
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

“The Invincible” / “The Vacant Coast”
(Pyramid Blood / Otherworldly Mystics)

Stanislaw Lem’s THE INVINCIBLE. Got it, Joshua Stefane, added to my list. I mean, I’m not kidding, SOLARIS is in the mail for me right now, and can’t wait to start. Like seriously – it should be here next week according to Amazon’s shipping notification. I’m an insatiable science fiction junkie, much like Stefane, it sounds, and we’d probably get along just fine, being that we’re both writers too. Anyway, you’re here about these tapes aren’t you, not the little aside I’ve got going on here? (Well, a one-sided aside anyway.) (And really, it sometimes seems as if my music writing comes off as science fiction snippets anyway – at least that’s the POINT.) (Do I detect a hint of dissatisfaction?) (Never, music is my first love. Sci-fi’s a close second, probably. Books are, anyway.) (GET ON WITH IT.) The whole science fiction connection comes from THE INVINCIBLE, which is intended as an “unofficial soundtrack” to the book. I’ve been meaning to get into Lem for a long time, as SUMMA TECHNOLOGIAE, while nonfiction, has been on my reading list (which is insanely long) forever, but maybe I can ride the wave of Endurance into my first foray. I’ll take my chances with these two tapes.

First, on THE INVINCIBLE, Stefane crafts patient approximations of deep space upon the advent of humanity’s venturing into it. He molds, effortlessly, sonic sculptures that conjure the awe of the infinity facing such a finite creature as man, as well as the terrifying uncertainty of first contact. He depicts space as indifferent and hostile to humans and magnifies their insignificance within it. The ambient passages of THE INVINCIBLE serve to further, ahem, alienate mankind in the vastness of the universe, seeping into the subconscious and burrowing into the back of the mind. It asks the questions that Lem would – what is a hostile entity, and how do we perceive it? What makes something hostile toward us anyway? And could it be that our humanness is projecting that hostility? Are WE in fact the hostile entities? (Again, haven’t read the book yet, hope I’m close.)

The story behind THE VACANT COAST is a different one, but no less intriguing. Stefane, who now resides in Japan, spent time in Kinosaki “during a period of convalescence,” and this release was conceived and recorded there. The town, not far from the southern coast of the island and about a hundred miles from Tokyo, is renowned for its hot springs, and therefore is conducive to deep meditation and spiritual and physical healing. All of this is basically a description right in the Endurance wheelhouse, whose sonics perfectly soundtrack YET AGAIN a narrative, this time of an earthly place, but one no less deserving of reverent, inspired composition. A place like Kinosaki allows one to get inside their own head, and Stefane’s imagination was deeply fired by his time there. He also discovered some photographs from the 1960s, two of which adorn the j-card of this tape, and the photographer is unknown. Each evokes a time and a place, and it’s easy to see why Stefane found them so absorbing that he used them for his album artwork. Both images portray a quintessential moment in life, and Stefane’s connection to them, perhaps enhanced by his location, is deep and unknowable yet expertly expressed in THE VACANT COAST.

In the end, whether the plot takes you to the furthest interstellar reaches or simply a mysterious, unusual place here on Earth, there’s always a story to uncover, whether you follow it or write it yourself. Endurance does both here, and expertly.

Pyramid Blood
Otherworldly Mystics

--Ryan Masteller

WE ALSO LET BLOOD “Eclecticism” C30
(Personal Archives)

Harrison Phillis tries to keep up the appearance of an unruffled outlook, but once you get beyond the surface, there’s a vast reservoir of psychic crud that’s causing ripples and glitches in his positive façade. Not that it’s surprising – a perusal of his discography and a sampling of the wares has me all tense and junk, as if any relief from sheer panic is going to come in the form of jittery, caffeine-shot vibes that will only serve to amp the tension even if it dials back the dread. I’m a little more paranoid than I used to be, and We Also Let Blood feeds that paranoia. But, as Phillis himself says, WALB is like Charlie Brown cooking up an HNW, and OK, I get the downtrodden nerd vibe a little bit here on ECLECTICISM, especially on the specifically non-HNW tracks that use – gasp! – melody as a building block within the sonic structure. “You Can’t Reach Me Here,” “I’m Sorry, I Wasn’t Listening,” and “No, What Did You Say Before That” utilize very similar tones that flit and bleep amid swoops of violent distortion. I’m partial to these tracks as they’re really unusual within the idiom, especially when set in relief against the rest of this tape and, indeed, the rest of Phillis’s oeuvre. These excursions off the well-trod noise path, sidesteps though they are, are the most striking things about it. But that’s not to suggest that the rest of ECLECTICISM is ho-hum – quite the contrary! The nihilist streak lurking behind the We Also Let Blood mask is unleashed in force for the most part, as serrated metallic sheets of noise, ear-splitting klaxons, and rumbles so subterranean they sound like seismic shifts comprise the majority of the tape. And if you’re a noisenik, you know that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Still, the tonal shifts of something like “Logistics” will have your stomach dropping and heart thumping like you’re trapped in a plunging elevator, such is its effect. I think that’s the absolute perfect sensory description of what We Also Let Blood does to you.

We Also Let Blood
Personal Archives

-- Ryan Masteller

"Solar Schematics Split" C20
(Tingo Tongo Tapes)

On this short split, Igor Amokian explores a relatively beatless stringing of glitch, bleep, and dying machine drone. Hummable phrases pop up here & there, some even repeated, but this is by and large a robot’s stream-of-conscious transmission, recorded to tape.

Following in a similar vein is Psychiceyeclix, with this side utilizing more loopage, creating a syncopated bloop-beat to sway along to. Both artists could very well be starting a new sub-sub-genre called Modem-Core, as I’ve heard pretty much every electronic phrase used within these twenty minutes while waiting for AOL to connect, some twenty years ago. This could be their manifesto. If that’s your thang, strap on them headphones and give this a spin. A hard-drive spin, that is!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

4 Way Split C40 (OJC Recordings)

Like some unholy quadforce forged in the heart of Mt. Doom (and shut up I can mix up my fantasy references if I want to), 4 WAY SPLIT seems to be OJC Recordings’ attempt at total domination. Not to be confused with the CSNY classic 4 WAY STREET, 4 WAY SPLIT packs a quartet of OJC’s wackiest heavers onto one tape, each displaying the violent power they’re apt to unleash at any given, unpredictable moment. You’ve got Ropal Jagnu’s gut-busting synth warble, Stephen’s Lorikeet’s lo-fi guitar tunage, Rigel Magellan’s uncompromising synth pop, and more lo-fi guitarrage from DDM. Personally I’m a Ropal/Rigel fan, and you can catch some of that collaborative wave on the newest Galaxie Deluxe release from OJC. But all four artists prevail in their gloriously debauched idioms, each leveling an uncomfortable amount of “personal expression” at us audience members until we’re MK Ultra’d into doing every bidding of our new OJC masters. Or at least a little seasick from the passage. Either way, it’s hard to shake the disconcerting recordings contained herein, and it’s almost certainly because of the rough edges on each of these tracks. Ropal and Rigel sound like they’re drenched in maple syrup, and SL and DDM come off like they’re playing on the inside of a shoebox. That’s OK for this crew, although it would be interesting if some of that synth drippage leaked into the Stereopathetic Soul Manure–era Beck interlude sounds of the guitar dudes. Whatever your poison, you’ll sure to at least BE poisoned by partaking in this toxic mélange. And you should already be used to that, person reading Cassette Gods – that’s pretty much all we do around here: poison our bodies by listening to toxic sonics performed by sick puppies who get off on our discomfort. And then there’s us, getting off on our own discomfort. Where does the circle end? Maybe it won’t, and that’s just fine by me. Fine by OJC, too, as they’re an important link in the chain.

OJC Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

"Nuked/Flushed" C20
(Tingo Tongo Tapes)

So, a floor tom, a clarinet, an electric guitar, and a loop pedal walk into a bar and begin to sloppily quibble with each other, in slow motion, for some twenty-and-one-half minutes. The bartender whips out his iPhone, hits record, and then drunk-dropboxes his ex back in Los Angeles, who, inclined to breakfast upon LSD flavored cheerios, falls in love and dubs it to tape. Have a listen for yourself via the link below.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Snake Magic"
(Tingo Tongo Tapes)

There really isn’t a whole hell of a lot out there on the interwebs to reference either Jasper Lufkin or Tingo Tongo Tapes, but I can tell you this; they’re not especially interested in tonality, metronomes, mixing, or catering to what the west generally considers “accessibility”. This aesthetic obviously holds clout, and those that are interested in such styling’s will surely read on.

The first half of this tape is dedicated to singer/songwriterly acoustic guitar strumming, minimal, playful solos (also acoustic) and singing that is either tone-deaf or perhaps “calculatedly post-key”. There are plenty of folx out here that dig such things, right?

Side 2, however, might as well be an entirely different musical project altogether. Maybe I didn’t tell you about how the first side went on and on like a citizenship ceremony or olympics opening, but…well…it did. Maybe a bit too much for my own (non)humble taste. But this second serving is a whole different beast!

Remember that scene in Rosemary’s Baby where the newlyweds hear a culty din coming through the wall? Well, imagine if that movie were adapted to today’s technology, and, instead, you have satanists playing samples and loop pedals. Side 2 is pretty much that, and the emotional time it takes to listen to it goes flying by in a haze. I couldn’t find any links to listen to the album online, so I guess you’ll have to keep an eye out for it at your local record store.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

GREYDINI “Bananas for Gatti”
C50 (Tashyna Records)

Think Bodycocktail and Juiceboxxx fist-fighting in heaven, probably because they’re sworn enemies (they’re not), and you’ve got an idea where Greydini’s coming from. Cacophonic post punk on one hand, weird-eyed dreams of pop stardom on the other, BANANAS FOR GATTI tiptoes the tightrope of genre and reaches the other side unscathed, the other side being the eighteen tracks on this freaky-deaky tape. Synthesizers and drum machines menace the nocturnal populace, and Greydini himself, aka Greydyn Wolfcow, stalks among the 1980s club crowds, dressed in skinny jeans, leather jacket, tennis shoes, imagining himself as some sort of vampiric lover, four-eyed, mop-haired, and ready, laser focused on his conquest. The nerd’s fantasy. Hey, don’t worry fellow nerds, I’ve been there, we’re all nerds together – settle down. So to say that Greydini makes awesome soundtrack tunes for quirky horror movies in his head is an understatement. Or a statement – yeah, it’s more of a statement, because that’s what he does. I mean, check out these song titles: “Scorpion Midnight,” “Riding a Tentacle Again,” and “Midnight VCR Thieves” – if your mind’s not made up yet, what else can I do to entice you? Mention that a bunch of tracks have echo-y sax flitting over them? By the way, a bunch of tracks have echo-y sax flitting over them. Do the robot to these electro bangers in your mom’s basement, and send your fan letters of deepest gratitude to my attention at Cassette Gods. As for me, I’ll be presiding over my harem, reclining in my chaise, being fed Cheetos like grapes by a beautiful woman while another beautiful woman fans me with a palm frond. Obviously I’m watching Battlestar.


--Ryan Masteller

YLAYALI "YY" (Lily Tapes and Discs)

star star star star Good Cassette

By Gray Lee, August 25th 2017

Verified Purchase

Received the cassette sooner than I expected. Played it on my Walk Man. Plays good with no skips or anything like that. Has music on both sides, just like I remember cassettes having. There was a crack in the case right on the front, not a big deal but I still had to give less than five star for this.  Music is lo-fi bedroom  music I was expecting from Ylayali, along with a good bit of fuzzy, gauze-covered electric guitar and hazy field recordings. Inward facing lyrics about the normal things of life, sung in a sad, hopeless way. First track is called ìPBî and at some point references how a very old jar of peanut butter gets all separated and canít be mixed, no matter how much you stir it.  Thatís what Philadelphia based solo project Ylayali has always been good at when making the music things, taking everyday life and turning into dreary sleep rock.

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Presented for you in a white cassette with the sides marked by a magic marker, clever addition of humorous Craigslist style liner, and includes a download card.

-- Gray Lee

CARDIAC BEACH “Serf’s Coma” (AEscape Sounds)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve hit maximum self-reference. The snake is eating its tail, I repeat, the snake is eating its tail. Cardiac Beach is a wonderful outfit, and “Serf’s Coma” is a fantastic tape release, but let’s face it – this is essentially a live vaporwave band. I truly didn’t think I’d live to see the day when plunderphonics would find its way into a physical space, bands mining the depths of their referential touchpoints and creating brand new sounds on instruments that call into question the very essence of being. What are we supposed to do with this information? How are we going to proceed from here?

Ooohhhhhhh – that’s how bands USED to do it: play live instruments, etc. OK, I can dig it.

I sort of kid, but man, Cardiac Beach really does sound like vaporwave gone native, gone human. Maybe it’s the sound of the crashing surf that permeates the recordings, maybe it’s the sincerity of Cardiac Beach’s reverence of littoral culture, maybe it’s the warble in the recording that reminds me of sunbaked masters – whatever it is, it takes a bit to realize what we’ve got here. But once we’re there, it’s easy to like pretty much everything about SERF’S COMA, for all the reasons I just mentioned, and also because it’s just a fantastic beach record. You pop this thing on at any given summer event, you’ve got an instant hit on your hands. And there’s very few vocals to distract from the hazy jams on this feel-good BBQ chart-topper, and when they’re there, they’re either wordless or sound wordless, mixed back, high over the rest of the tunes. So play the heck out of this thing until the tape starts to melt into itself, like it sounds like it’s doing at the end of “Cruise Ship Tycoon.” Spread the vibes, spread the love, and unleash your inner vacation self. You’ll be glad you did, and also that you started growing a beard and wearing Bermuda shirts to work.

AEscape Sounds

--Ryan Masteller

NAGUAL "Scraps: Southern Tour"
C16 (Pidgin Records)

Side A is a brief cool afternoon breeze through warm colors. A glowing electronic drone almost becomes hypnotic, but interspersed percussive guitar keeps the listener alert. Side B is more pensive and wide-eyed, wary of the danger of night. The percussive sounds are back, but this time as hidden creatures, somewhere in the shadowy landscape of Virginia, their actions and precise whereabouts unknown. Classically trained guitarist David Shapiro has woven a complex and layered tale here. Though it is a short story, it is worth being retold.

Presented for you in a butterscotch C16 cassette with a printed label on side A and approximately 12 minutes of audio recorded in 2016 in Virginia, shrunk-wrapped in a brown O-card. Edition of fifty-six.

-- Gray Lee

“Axiom of Maria” C40
(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Don’t let it fool you, or maybe let it fool you because it doesn’t matter, but AXIOM OF MARIA was “recorded in a basement one night [in] September 2008.” The ambient passages, replete in their timelessness, are unconcerned that their recorded sound has sat unreleased for almost ten years. Lee Boyd, resident of Umeå, Sweden, and purveyor of fluere tapes, unabashedly revels in pastoral ambient, embracing the space and the distance conjured by its openness. No surprise, then, that he goes by cloudsound, not merely a cheeky transposition of the name of the online streaming platform but also a clue connecting the billowing sonics to a natural formation. Indeed, AXIOM OF MARIA encases you in its atmosphere, its gentle motion proceeding across your field of perception as it slowly shifts, taking different shapes and hues. At points calming as an altocumulus formation and at others shifting into the distant menace of cumulonimbus, AXIOM never breaks, never bursts, simply remains. “If clouds sounded like tape hiss,” goes the cloudsound self-descriptor, and there’s nothing better I can add to it. Get immersed and discover the cloudsound environment.


Do You Dream of Noise? (this is in Swedish, so good luck reading it.)

--Ryan Masteller

PLEASURE CURSES "Screens" (Self-Released)

Looking for some music to play in your expensive car, while you drive downtown at night? This is it. You are on your way to a club where they only let the cool people in. What those cool people in that club don't realize is, in your pocket,  you've got this tape from Portland, Oregon duo Pleasure Curses. (What a great name for a band, right?) Once this music goes in the player, the party goes to another level. For about eight minutes. That's how long the tape is.

And just like the great name of this artist, "Screens" can be taken several ways. According to their Bandcamp, this tape is an exploration of how disassociated people have become in the digital age. And that's something I normally could get behind, except that this music is so supercharged with dance energy that I am finding it difficult to concentrate on the high minded concepts they are pitching my way.  I was just now listening for some lyrics I could quote as an example, but I ended up just bobbing my head and admiring the cover art. It's a good looking J-card. Artwork is tight, pulled together, and purposeful, like the music I'm hearing. And for an EP that was started in an abandoned house in Chicago and finished in a blizzard in Portland, I'd say it wound up pretty hot.

-- Gray Lee

“Local Culture” C26 (Personal Archives)

It’s in the wires, the electricity buzzing from home to home, lighting up the suburbs, homogenizing and pacifying, erasing uniqueness from the American landscape. LOCAL CULTURE is the lament of local culture, an ironically electronic foray by Matthias Timmerman’s Underwater Escape from the Black Hole project. Ironic in its juxtaposition to its subject matter, that is – UEFTHBH doles out release after release of the finest electronics-based tunes, so you should pretty much know what you’re getting into here. Nice to see the release on Personal Archives – a fitting match, and my reaction to the pairing of two great experimentally minded institutions was like, yeah, what’s UP?! Fist pump baby! With my descent into suburban humor complete, it’s almost a shame that you have to listen to me continue to extoll the virtues of LOCAL CULTURE, but you’ll just have to get over yourself just as I have learned to live with the truths of my own reality. Moving on, Timmerman’s work here, to paraphrase his own song titles, crests and breaks like white caps on shore, thick sonic hiss coating the mélange of melody and casting the four tracks in a rich shoegazey glow. Unsurprisingly, the ocean is a popular destination for the landlocked masses to retreat to when the stresses of everyday living become too much to endure. (I should know – I live fifteen minutes from a beach, and it’s absolutely crawling with you goddamn tourists for four months out of the year.) Thus, LOCAL CULTURE becomes an audio retreat from endless development, a medicinal artifact to get lost in beneath headphones when you’ve all but lost the dream that there’s a better place somewhere. UEFTHBH effortlessly folds in pop hooks, too, to save you from disappearing too far down a spiral of self-pity. Somewhat like M83’s best work, LOCAL CULTURE casts UEFTHBH as the hero of your everyday journey, someone you can look to during the darker moments. It may not be actual escape, but it’ll tide you over for a while, maybe provide that spark of imagination or drive that’ll propel you to something more fulfilling.

Underwater Escape from the Black Hole
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

(Wiener Records)

Los Angeles’ Forget Me Nauts may well be 2017’s College Radio hit-maker version of Hootie & the Blowfish…y’know, but, like, with an electro-pop anchor…and nuanced experimental explorations...taking a back seat

Both outfits manage(d) to explore a broad range of genres and moods while staying true to their fraternity core; both have an undeniable penchant for hooks and “keeping the vibe going” with straight forward jams (albeit FMN utilizes steady synthesizer melodies a bit more).

I’ve listened to this tape for a week straight now and can’t really tell whether or not I actually like it, but I’m fairly certain that a considerable swath of pop-minded folx will eat this shit up. Is this you? Click the links below to find out.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

CHANNELERS "Faces of Love" C40 (Inner Islands)

Inner Islands is well known for deeply zen, mind-clearing, meditational releases, and this release from Channelers,  "Faces of Love" is no exception. I would like to throw around a lot of dreamy terminology about how this music helps you find your inner dimension, the essence of peace floating on a calm ocean of tranquility, but instead, I would like to focus on how analog this music sounds. The warmth and stillness of this recording nears something sacred.  It evokes wide open spaces filled with natural light, and one could uses it to prepare for sleep, or to prepare to truly awaken. 

Side A is called "Always Been" and it's twenty minutes of harmonium infused bliss. Side B, entitled "Pressure Sigh," blesses you with minimal notes from a bright and shining piano, each utterance fading into the distance for so long that the next note surprises you with its arrival. The two sidelong pieces compliment each other perfectly

Presented for you in a pro-dubbed chrome tape, white cassette with black print on both sides, and a three-panel J-card. Edition of seventy-five.

-- Gray Lee

GALAXIE DELUXE “IV” C30 (OJC Recordings)

The question, “Are you Team Rigel Magellan or Team Ropal Jagnu” used to eat at us just like choosing either the Beatles or the Stones did in the 1960s. I never felt comfortable aligning myself to one band or the other – why couldn’t they just make music together and give everybody what they really wanted? But there was never the possibility that Paul would jam with Keith or Mick would rock out with John. It was a foolish dream that ended long before I was even born. Now, as we’re rolling through the late twenty-teens, I’m faced with the OJC Recordings version of that conundrum: Am I a Rigel Magellan or a Ropal Jagnu man? The question is all but tearing me apart inside. Fortunately for all of you afflicted in the same way that I am, I have good news – the mail has foretold of a cassette tape project where the problem is resolved in such a satisfying manner that you’ll say “Beatles who?” and “Rolling … Bears?” once you wrap your ears around this pretty little nugget. See, Rigel Magellan and Ropal Jagnu have made my dreams come true as Galaxie Deluxe, their own supergroup, thereby allowing me to forego any terrible choice that almost certainly would end in Solomonic baby-halving (which didn’t actually happen, so … chill). Huh? This is their FOURTH go-round as the GD quirkadelic lo-fi mavens, GD? That would explain the title, IV, and also the fact that I wasn’t really as worked up as I pretended to be above. Also, it’s hard to stay tense when the Galaxie Deluxe gang is so obviously having such a blast working together. Utilizing their trademark synthesizers, drum machines, and skewed take on melody (think the Haord crew as a potential contemporary match), Rigel and Ropal lurch through a nine-song repertoire recorded with the fidelity low and the atmosphere high. Their approach is sort of “Monster Mash” run through video games and dub, with obscured, bizarre vocals narrating the proceedings. The song “How’d They Get a Sound So Big?” is sort of the project’s overarching mystery, as they somehow build thick swaths of atmosphere from obviously chintzy equipment (or maybe it’s not, but the effect is right on). Still, hard not to have a good time with Galaxie Deluxe, some incense, and a blacklight. This is the exact tape I wish I had in college, and I’m still in a position to enjoy it. Now if I could only figure out this resurrection spell, I’d have Ringo back among us and playing with the remaining Stones right now. (Wait, Ringo’s not one of the dead ones? Oh boy…)

OJC Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

“Regeneration Blues vol. 1” (Orb Tapes)

If you’ve ever spent a rainy day inside admiring the sweet twang of your Dobro, thinking lovingly of your trusty blender, and struggling to find a way to combine your passions, furrow your brow in frustration no longer! Teuthis Galore presents Regeneration Blues vol. 1, a collection of two chopped and obliterated blues samples dragged to hell and left there. Regeneration Blues is just the latest release on Pennsylvania-based Orb Tapes by the ever-prolific Teuthis Galore, and is also the artist’s second feature on Cassette Gods.

Both tracks follow a similar formula: a lurching blues loop of indeterminate origin dives further and further into noisy, tape-manipulated insanity until it is only vaguely reminiscent of the lick that opened the song. All at once, near the end of each side’s ten-minute run time, the trip ends, the noise subsides, and the jittery sample briefly reemerges before disappearing altogether.

Certainly not for the faint of heart, Regeneration Blues vol. 1 is an interesting deconstruction of blues music akin to Steve Reich’s early work and Henry Flynt’s merging of “hillbilly” folk instrumentation with experimental tape fuckery. Robert Johnson’s inverted portrait appropriately graces the cover and serves as Teuthis Galore’s foreboding statement to all who dare to enter this Delta death hole.

Orb Tapes FB
Orb Tapes Bandcamp
Teuthis Galore Bandcamp

--Brandon Spaulding

C60 (Antiquated Future)

"Lady Hope" rounds out a trilogy of bleak, handcrafted releases by Seattle artist Tucker Theodore, the first of which was 2013's "To make the Sun Hurt" which was an acoustic album with some noise augmentations. Next was 2014"s "Kill and Dress," which was a little darker and a good bit noisier.

This album ends the story. It is the cassette that investigators discover jutting from the tape deck in a burned out car and send to forensics for testing. What is heard on the recording is the remains of a truly heartfelt expression, but where there was once a singer/songwriter, strumming a guitar slowly and singing about lost love or lost life, now the ravages of time and heartbreak have washed over his song, and have begun to even corrode the very tape that he recorded on, until an oxidized shell of brittle burnt metal, and the cinders of a well worn guitar are all that is found among the charred ashes.

I would like to know what the protagonist in the story is going through, but I do not believe we are meant to. Tucker Theodore has painted himself a shadowy figure, staring out at us in his muscle shirt, daring us to know him. We cannot. For at every opportunity, he is obscured further, until he is no longer there. That is what makes this hour-long dirge stirring, and yet indiscernible, moving, yet distant. "Lady Hope" is a beautifully sad love letter, crumpled and set alight in a rusted oil barrel full of bent nails.

Presented for you in a white cassette with black stamping. Includes a download card.

-- Gray Lee

"Acid Owl" C44
(Grabbing Clouds Records & Tapes)

Patrick R. Pärk (aka Kösmonauten) may very well Dream tangentially Tangerinian on the nightly, but his Life Education project finds him letting in a little room for 3 or so monkish Spacepersons to (spiritually) jam out an internal centering, eschewing the asteroid-wayward, cosmic narrative for a celebration of microcosmic breaths, in and out, of mind; the effect is a molasses-slow’d interpretation of ritualistic spacecult communion

Perfect for all times not including “work hours”, Acid Owl lays the groundwork for pulling the ground, and work, out of today, leaving, instead, a seaweed-swaying sense of time and connection to the Great Pulse, which, for me, has inspired increased productivity in my personal pursuits. Take all I say with a grain of salt, but I’m fairly sure that if you give this album in its entirety two loud plays, you’ll find yourself wanting to either Get Shit Done (artistically) or simply feel a little more calm, without necessarily feeling “dulled”. Check it out via the link below, with good headphones or bass-heavy speakers. ☺

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy”
(Friendship Tapes)

Free jazz in the spirit of lo-fi punk, with tape manipulations. Raw and clangorous. The liner notes suggest a sort of new age psychiatry vibe. In fact, the deluxe handmade packaging somewhat outshines the recordings, between the funny enigmatic liner notes and a hodge-podge of imagery that defies expectations. The strange photo of an assembled plate of food on the edge of a sink is a nice corollary to the music, because they both strike me as documents of raw living. I look at the photo and – through the haze of human experience that separates me from the artist – I see a moment in Andy Allen’s life, his creative process, his prepared meal. Maybe it was delicious, maybe it was gross, but it was definitely the real raw-dog deal. The excitement involved in seeing that red plate of food perched at the edge of the sink is a natural equivalent to making “music for prescribed proportions w/ flexible content” out of bleating woodwinds and fast-forwarding cassette machines. Testify!

-- Kevin Oliver

MICHAEL POTTER “Garden Portal Almanac”
C37 (Already Dead)

Mine eyes have seen the glory. Interacting with Michael Potter online has clouded what I expect Michael Potter on tape to sound like. The musician, based in Athens, Georgia, enjoys a wide array of experimental cassette releases (hey, like me!), so I figured he was going to dive in the deep end of sonic chaos with some crazily modulated and processed noise release. Well, I was right about one thing – he’s in the deep end, paddling effortlessly around like an unholy hybrid of Matt Biondi and Mark Spitz, masters in this metaphor of their chosen profession, but the sonic chaos I expected out of Potter was of a completely different variety. Not the noisenik of my imagination, Potter instead tackles two of my greatest loves, prog and krautrock, excelling way beyond any reasonable expectation and making my fucking day right there and then.

I mean, he’s got a whole band with him, and they’re so cohesive, the interplay so organic that I couldn’t even write anything right away because I had to shield my eyes from GARDEN PORTAL ALMANAC, such was its splendor (that’s also a metaphor – I was listening to, not looking at, GARDEN PORTAL ALMANAC). You like hyperbole? I feel like I’m filled with it right now. That’s what happens when you get hyped by something like “What Makes You Happy,” its build, triumphant, galloping toward complete harmonic tension before guitar pyrotechnics explode into the night sky and Potter’s guitar face threatens to consume us all. And this is all in the first track alone. I can’t even believe there are five more of these things.

“Can One Make Two” will satisfy every kraut craving you will ever have (except the sauer kind, and who likes that garbage anyway?), its motorik rhythm racing to outpace every instrument chasing it. The bass keeps up, lithe, athletic, while guitar and synth color and texturize the landscape, bursting and blooming anew with each passing second. Jeff Tobias’s mercurial saxophone is more than just icing on this masterpiece, it adds an intensity that completes the track in a way that leaves me stupid with word neglect and remembering problems. Plow me over again, “Can One Make Two.” Double, triple rewind.

The middle passage is a bit more ruminative, led by “Garden Portal Lullaby,” a rich, shimmery acoustic track that of course ends on spaced-out laser melodies that would’ve made the Verve blush in 1995. And I’ve heard a bunch of versions of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” and “Sleepwalker” takes the cake. Dear David Lynch… Anyway, end on a high note with “Days Go Fast” and “Get Out,” each crushed by the power of the band, blistering supernova hot like a Trans Am/Pontiak hybrid, pistons firing effortlessly with sheer authority – and talk about your car bands! Dare we add Maserati to the mix? Totally wouldn’t be out of place.

I think it’s pretty clear what the next step is – buy one of these pups from Already Dead, like you haven’t already or something. Buy another one. Give it away. Give them all good homes. Make those good homes better ones.

Michael Potter
Already Dead

--Ryan Masteller

PAUL CARR “Big Carsey” / “I’m Not Fantasy Man” C5 (Build Music)

I’m so dumb! This is so great. Paul Carr talks things and says words and his guitar cabo boings against beats like they don’t even know or don’t want to. Why is David Bowie talking to me from beyond the grave? And the real question – is everyone with a British accent David Bowie? – haunts my experience of this here now section of timeline. The answer lies in my understanding of what even “is” is, and it’s not an easy question to answer. I’m seasick but grounded, like I’m eating ice cream off the pavement and everyone is ignoring me because they’ve seen it all already. I’m not fantasy man either! I don’t even know what that means, but the worst part of it is that it means something because I’m denying it with my dying breath. The pulse of “Big Carsey” is my heartbeat, but it makes me crazy, I’m freaking out man, like Garth in Wayne’s World, also of ice cream eating fame, or at least talking about ice cream flavors, where villains are flavored “pralines and dick,” but I can’t tell who’s against me here. My eyes are pried open and I’m forced to watch weird stuff with Paul Carr in the background. I’m probably gonna spew. If I’m gonna spew, I better spew into this. Paul Carr is a winner with a winning personality, remember that or face the deadly consequences.

Paul Carr
Build Music

--Ryan Masteller

(Skin Trade Recordings)

Atonal blackness envelops, night rife with existential danger. Caustic machinations manipulated for maximum terror haunt rather than emanate from stereo speakers, their psychic dread lasting long after the final tone is sounded. These cosmic nightmarescapes are augmented with horrifying vocalizations, communications from the very darkest pockets of existence, universes where decay and destruction mask the demonic inhabitants. The sounds resolve themselves in pulses of charred oblivion.

And that’s just the Actuary side! In somewhat of a reversal of what I’ve just described, Actuary has this message of gratitude on the inside of the j-card: “To those who struggle but get it done anyways.” Actuary gets it done, but the sound is the sound of struggle, difficult to hear and digest. But that’s the point. At any rate, “Possessing Power” is one of the coolest noise tracks I’ve heard in a while. It’s harsh but it’s surprisingly listenable as I recline in the jaws of an irate hellhound.

Seamstress does not let up on the unholy racket, plowing through the single track on side B, “Carbon Silhouette,” like their hair was on fire, or their gear, or the ground upon which they walk. Hallucinating the entire way through the side, Seamstress doles out harsh trip after harsh trip, magnifying the darkness inherent in the shadow of the silhouette cast. A nice counterpoint to Actuary, Seamstress plays music that’s the equivalent of a lava lamp filled with black liquid buoying black bubbles of a slightly different blackness. This whole thing’s a harrowing experience. It’s great to dig into.

Skin Trade Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

FUCHS & BECKETT “#fadbdd Vol. 1” C40 (Litho)

There’s no way to divorce the music from the story. A man named Martin Ermisch passed away at 91, leaving a collection of reel-to-reel tapes to Fuchs, his neighbor, in 2015. The tapes had belonged to Ermisch’s son, Bernd Jürgen, a musician and studio owner who had sadly predeceased Ermisch in the 1990s. Not willing to let such a treasure trove go to waste, Fuchs enlisted Beckett, of Fuchs & Beckett fame (get it?), to go through the tapes and see what they could do with them. Among their discoveries were tracks recorded at Jürgen’s studio, and also “recordings of family events, fieldrecordings[, and] radio broadcasts.” The duo then “destructively edited” the recordings, a term so descriptive that I’ve fallen in love with it, and rearranged and processed the results for this here tape.

That’s the story – let’s delve into this thing, shall we? The first thing that comes to mind is Leyland Kirby’s Caretaker work, the ghostly samples of an obscured past haunting the present, casting a long shadow over legacy and personality alike. One can’t help but wonder how these recordings affected Ermisch and Jürgen, and Fuchs & Beckett handle them (despite the destructive editing) with care, ensuring that the decomposition of the sounds were captured for maximum emotional response. In doing so, the memory of the two men is kept alive in a reverent way, and as the repurposed sounds trigger universal cues, they prove that the archive kept for years by two different people can be dispersed over a wider audience who can relate quite easily to it. Even the 19-minute ambient track “Hahallelujah” is enveloping and inviting, piped in as it seems from another dimension. This makes me wonder if Ermisch and Jürgen are peeking in on us from the great beyond, checking up on what Fuchs & Beckett got themselves into with their material. Fortunately for our late benefactors, they’ve got nothing to worry about. The sounds are in good hands.


--Ryan Masteller

M A L I B L U E :( “failure” (Adhesive Sounds)

That’s a thick black cloud that’s encasing this release, a surprise given that m a l i b l u e :( usually traffics in somewhat brighter fare. This time, though, the vaporwave artist embraces the clustering darkness (forever) of “life under late capitalism,” a freakishly weird time to be alive for all of us. Not hard to see what direction m a l i b l u e :(‘s headed this time around, as a quick glance at the track titles will give you all the indication that you need: “disappointment,” “fear,” “i'm so sorry,” “no hope” … should I go on? This tape’s called FAILURE after all, as if any attempt at course correction is bound to end up miserably for those who try, and even more miserably for those who are just caught up in it. Gross. Gross! But fortunately for us listeners, tragedy and encroaching doom make for pretty great artistic statements, and FAILURE in that regard is a total triumph. Forget for a second the wars, the famine, the environmental catastrophes, the unchecked rise of big business, the social injustice – there’s some great music to be gleaned from it! … Wow, that was almost too cynical to type, and it’s left an awful taste in my mouth. Don’t think I’d reduce the importance of any of that for a second. Still, if something like FAILURE is going to get you off your keister and into any kind of position to help others, it has proved its worth and met its intentions. And it really is damn listenable, I wasn’t kidding about that – where the cynic in me sees only a hedonistic future of music in catastrophe and the stone-faced crusader sees it as a means to rise above, it’s really somewhere in the middle, and that’s where it has to be sometimes to be the most effective. And it’s great that artists like m a l i b l u e :( can deliver so effectively – FAILURE’s a plunderphonic masterwork, vaporwave for the internally conflicted, charting an ear candy course through pop, trip hop, experimental electronics, shoegaze, softcore, dub, etc., a living, breathing concoction from a genre that often loses the “living” and “breathing” in execution. In one fell swoop, m a l i b l u e :( makes up for all of that with FAILURE.

m a l i b l u e : (
Adhesive Sounds

--Ryan Masteller

"On My Mind/Pumpkin" C6

Dude, there’s “lo-fi”, and there’s “six-fucking-feet-below-fi”; guess which camp LMA belongs to. And it’s almost a shame how goddamn terrible this two song “cassingle” is, in comparison to the full “demos” album that’s available on the bandcamp site. The quality of the (already EQ limited) mix translated to tape is just fucking awful. It’s all relative, right? I mean, the “demos versions” available online are so goddamn great, as well as all the equally gripping (maybe even more interesting?) vignettes and weirdo-omages going on that I feel kinda cheated that I didn’t just get the demos. LMA, if you ever go back in time, please send me the full DEMOS collection! Luckily, the I’m blissing out to the “One Bird Demos” instead and wanting more!

Shit! I forgot to review the tape, I was so busy complaining! Queso, Lifemusik Mit Andre is some serious bedroom lofi cheese-core jamz-kicker. He gots that non-stop 80’s backing karaoke drum tracks, nostalgic My First Casio melodies (intentionally. I’m fairly certain this was done on a decent modular synth) and unapologetically loose, gritty croonery (deep baritones and some buried falsetto), and grooving keyboard basslines that just don’t let up.

Be thankful you’ll never come across this cassingle (it’s not for sale, anyway), and be so thankful that you can hear it all on bandcamp. Strap on some headphones and grab a Capri-Sun!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan