BOLIDEN “Backyard” (Lillerne Tapes)

Let it go. That’s an easy sentiment to read into Boliden’s work. The Barcelona musician, going by José María Delgado Díaz in real life, fills his work with such a sense of freedom that you can close your eyes and revel in the moment. Washed-out visions of sun-dappled fields flit through your mind, and you breathe in the scent of the outdoors and nature and lose yourself in the world around you, untroubled by other people. The tracks inhale and exhale, becoming part of you, innately occurring with you, becoming intertwined with your life cycle. There’s great longing, there’s hope, there’s nostalgia, there’s sadness, there’s happiness, there’s love, there’s loss. Boliden deftly weaves the human experience into his work, drawing from the grandest and broadest emotions to appeal to a great swath of listeners. Chances are, if you’re human, you’re likely to find something to enjoy in Boliden’s work. I’m not kidding – it felt like I was listening to a new love letter to life with each passing song. The production, a bedroom-style agglomeration of tones and moods, appropriately misty and interspersed with sparse beats, perfectly fits Boliden’s idiom, the lived-in quality of the recording and worn edges of the tracks complementing the suggestion of outdoor activity and exploration. Easily relistenable, the exact thing you need for long drives or walks, BACKYARD opens the world around you in a way that’s new and inviting. Get your mitts on a copy right quick before the 50-tape run sells out.


Lillerne Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

JOHN FREIDEL “Entrancer” (self-released)

Entranced. I know when I’m being it. Done to me. When it’s happening. Entranced by the sounds in the air. John Freidel has seen at least a couple of BLADE RUNNER movies, and he knows how to be the ENTRANCER, the suggester, the sculptor of the atmosphere. His cinema ear has led him to the synthesizer, and with it he imagines worlds. Who said John Carpenter? Oh, right, I did, I’m the only one here, and surely Carpenter’s disciples are welcome. They’re welcome until they come in here and hypnotize me, leaving me open to suggestion, to entrancement. I’m my own man.


Where was I? Did I type something just now? Peering one line up leads me to believe I’ve been entranced, hypnotized, but Freidel didn’t need to do that. ENTRANCER is a supremely enjoyable listen without a trigger, the only cue needed may be a visual aid, a film that ENTRANCER can play over. Either that or I’ll skulk around to it in the haunted house or the haunted rooftop in the rain, making my own movie version of Freidel’s artistic vision in my head. Like our old pal Yves Malone, Freidel doesn’t seem to be averse to conjuring unrealized narratives through his music. See past release A ROSE IN GLASS for further example. ENTRANCER, though… that one’s a keeper. And the artwork by Evan Hill? Stellar. All around excellent package. ENTRANCER is probably … [eyes glaze, blank stare] ENTRANCER IS THE GREATEST TAPE EVER.

What just happened?

John Friedel

--Ryan Masteller

(Empty Cellar Records)

I gotta admit that the album name is so big and promient that I mistook it as the band name.

Mercury, the latest album from Earth Girl Helen Brown starts out with a very lo-fi sounding track called "Fox Trott", it is a very Ty Segall-esque song.

She then shifts 180 degrees to "Earth Elevator"; a country western song about leaving the planet.
Finishing out sdie A (spelled wrong, on purpose, like on the album) is "Space Travel is in My Blood", a synthy, chorusy, ambient pike.

So then a funny thing happened to me. This album is actually taped over a Joni Mitchell album, Mercury is only 6 songs long.

After sdie A was finished the album cut back to that Joni Mitchell album, and I gotta say it was pretty bad.

Even though it is not the most professional thing to do, I kind of really like the idea of recording over shit albums, give them a new life, a new purpose.

Plus it saves the artist some money, and it IS recycling, so like hug a tree man!
After a quick fast forward the tape auto-reversed and side B was all queued up.

Wicked cool bass line intro on "Set the Woods on Fire", a little mischievous diddy about just burning it all down.

"The Other Man" is a weird "Florence and the Machine" sounding entity, very ambient. It's got this thing with synth beeps going off here and there.

Finally "Starlight" concludes the album, its kind of fucking weird as well.

Cassette features a 4 panel color J-card
upcycled cassette (mine was Joni Mitchells "Dog Eat Dog")

-- Chuck Wolfe

PATRICK R. PARK “Library Sounds” C57 (OTA)

I can’t believe it’s 2017 and we’re still talking about Stranger Things. Well, maybe I can – season 2 is on the cusp of release as I write this, after all. But talking about Stranger Things in the context of its music right now seems passé, as if it hadn’t already been beaten to death in 2016. Key word being “seems,” because I have good news – the 1980s-synth-soundtrack-indebted album is still alive and well, and some would say better than ever in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it. That someone is Patrick R. Pärk, erstwhile Kösmonaut, serial tape releaser, synthesizer manipulator, and all around good guy. LIBRARY SOUNDS easily falls under the tags “cinematic” and “electronic” (and by the way, I just saw BLADE RUNNER 2049 too, and this would be an equally appropriate soundtrack for that excellent depiction of a dystopian future), but don’t let those simplistic descriptors fool you – it’s an absolute aural treat, a fine addition to the genre’s canon.

All these sci-fi references make me wonder what sort of library we’re talking about here. Documentation of civilization is one thing, an idea perfectly relatable as a way to compile historical evidence. But what if that history is being viewed from the perspective of an extraterrestrial entity? What if that entity was viewing the history of Earth through its lens? What if that lens existed long after humanity, and Earth itself, had ceased to exist? What if humanity was just one of a multitude of interstellar species in a great nonterrestrial compendium? Pärk’s breadth of tone, at times placid and at others tense, billowing ever outward, could easily serve to assist research and discovery in a location such as this. We, as humans, just won’t have anything to do with it – you know, because of being long gone and stuff. Pärk is able to plumb the depths of those feelings, where we stare awestruck into the vast expanse of the universe, dumb, questioning, violent, until the universe decides it’s had enough of us and we are lost to time. How weird to be reminded of our inconsequence. How satisfying.

Patrick R. Pärk

--Ryan Masteller

“Raft Recordings from Economy”
(Notice Recordings)

Economy is the name of a place, in Nova Scotia, the place, in fact, where Darcy Spidle was spending a residency (of some sort) and where he also decided to build a raft and make a jaw harp record under his Chik White moniker. It’s not that simple (or as ridiculous as it sounds) – it was pretty industrious of him to build his raft, and he decided to make his recordings while on it in the Bay of Fundy, location of the world’s highest tide. (He also brought some seal bones, eagle feathers, and clam shells, because DUH.) This modern-day Gilligan (you guys get that reference anymore?) would head out, hoping his raft wouldn’t sink, and make music with his hand-made jaw harps, using the lap of water and the surrounding ambience as background for his compositions. Surprisingly listenable for such a strange endeavor, “Raft Recordings from Economy,” while no “Thriller,” is certainly one of the most forward-thinking and natural-sounding releases of its type. Aw, who am I kidding, it IS the “Thriller” of jaw harp records! Topping the charts. But seriously, folks, this tape is beautifully curated, thick cream cardstock with faux woodcut artwork. Looks like a real artifact – gorgeous thing, and as tranquil and natural as it gets.

Notice Recordings

--Ryan Masteller

Stefan Thut & Seth Cooke
“Aussen Raum” C40
(Notice Recordings)

Field recordings of the sounds of water along Bristol’s River Frome. A “realisation of Stefan Thut’s text-based score.” Wander the waterways with Seth Cooke and hear firsthand the actual sounds of a river diverted and its surroundings. Ridicule along with everyone else the water feature built as a monument to the river. I’m laughing at it in my head. It’s so stupid! “Aussen Raum” is clearly a labor of love, academic, stone-faced, serious. Understand the commentary of man’s hubris as he foolishly tries to subvert the will of nature. Listen to him try and succeed in the face of opposition, only to be mocked incessantly! Water continues, water goes on. Such is life.

--Ryan Masteller

“Katrina Stoneheart and the Spookfish”
C45 (Rok Lok)

You puking frog person, this is what you deserve. Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk dude Drew Gibson and other dude Dan Goldberg rip holes in dimensions with their self-titled foray as Katrina Stoneheart and the Spookfish, a name made up of two goddamn unnatural things. The tape is forty-five minutes of bedroom electronic ambience as thick as slabs of beef. Beef slabs thick enough for the tiger adorning the painting on the front of the j-card. It would rip right into those things, just like Gibson and Goldberg rip into whatever rigs they happen to be perched behind on this recording. You puking frog person, get a grip! The drones and tones waver and interact, like multiple radio signals from space getting picked up at once on a high-tech piece of government equipment, forming strange harmonic interactions to the bafflement of scientists. The sounds elicit a physical reaction: disorientation, nausea, or sheer joy, depending on how you’ve managed to tune the internal components of your ears over the years. As if you had the biostructural know-how to do something like that! Besides, “ears” rhymes with “years,” and don’t think KS and the Spookfish didn’t notice that little detail. They’ve probably holed up already in a studio, or an apartment, or a studio apartment, or a basement, or your living room to record the follow-up to this bad boy, so intrigued are they by the current happenings of this review. That’s right puking frog person – the sounds of their next record are coming from INSIDE your house! So is this phone call.

Rok Lok Records
Katrina Stoneheart

--Ryan Masteller

“We Are the Primitives of a New Era”
C30 (Loki)

In this dystopian dream punk nightmare universe, no one can hear you scream – UNLESS somebody’s listening. I’m listening to Midnight Mines – their instrumental screaming with instruments (not voices) from the inside of their bodies and minds reverberates through “We Are the Primitives of a New Era,” and trust me, it is heard. I am new to the London duo, composed of Baron Saturday and Private Sorrow, and guys, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Handshakes all around, virtual high fives, and cetera. What’s great about “We Are the Primitives” is that it’s giving me nothing to pin these guys down with – each track is a gnarled excursion into the dark recesses of one style or another, all making strange and wonderful sense when butting up against their tracklist neighbors. There’s the proto-industrial “Do the Locomotion,” the noir rock of “Up on the Roof with Scabs and Pigs,” the shimmering respite of “It Started All Over Again,” and the cutup clusterfuck of the entirety of side B’s “Static Symphony,” a collage of sounds strung together for fifteen minutes by the strands of nightmares. All of it is awesome, and I don’t want the exploration to end. It does end, after the shortest thirty minutes of your life, and then your only recourse is to press play again (or buy another one of their tapes – really, you’ve got a couple recourses). Even on repeat listens, the exploration continues, and maybe now the exploration is by Midnight Mines, and it’s of my own brain! See where the tunnels lead as they drill deep into it. With all this grubby London nightlife imagery coming to the fore as I’m listening, it ain’t gonna be somewhere pretty, I can guarantee you that. But that’s the point – that’s what makes it a mesmerizing listen.

Midnight Mines

--Ryan Masteller

BARRY LONDON “T.I.R.M.L.” (Decontrol Tapes)

Life amazes me sometimes. Did you wake up today expecting to be blown away by Oneida’s synth man, Barry London? If you did, great work – you’re one step ahead of me, although your life is probably less fulfilled by surprises. Maybe you should take a good look at yourself in the mirror if sheer joy at the unanticipated escapes you. Me? I’m like a giant aquatic hog rolling around in whatever passes for giant aquatic hog filth, because I am listening to “T.I.R.M.L.” by Barry London. You don’t get to where I’m at by wandering around in a cynical fog all day long.

I wonder if Barry London was expecting to blow us away the night he wandered into Secret Project Robot—June 20, 2015, to be exact. He probably was, knowing the ace he had up his sleeve. “Technology Is Ruining My Life” (that’s what T.I.R.M.L. stands for, dummy) unfolds over side A as synth arpeggios and melodies unfurl as if the titular statement meant nothing and technology instead was ENHANCING London’s life to such a degree that he had to harness its magnificence. I mean, you gotta plug a synth into the wall, don’t you? Technology! We all know what he means, though, what with the insane proliferation of “smart” everything. London takes us back to a simpler time, when this music was meant as a soundtrack to science fiction, when the technology on screen or on the page was LITERALLY ruining the characters’ lives, and probably removing those lives from them (or coming close to it). But on that night, June 20, 2015, his synths were a time machine, and we remembered the retrofuturistic possibilities of STAR TREK and TRON and BUCKAROO BANZAI.

If “T.I.R.M.L.” is a reflection of, ahem, a life being ruined, then flip that tape for “Rental Car,” and you’ll fall in love all over again. With whatever is in front of you, essentially. Yes, “Rental Car” is London’s “Love Potion No. 9,” or WHATEVER, and he follows that with “Saturday Night Fever,” two deep analog dives that’ll have you pressing rewind pretty much every time these end. These heady nugs burrow themselves deep into your cranium and become part of your neural network, jacking in like rogue cables to the matrix or something. Taking over the pheromone release valve, probably, given all the happy vibes currently flowing through my body. So what if technology is ruining our lives? We can enjoy parts of it before we go extinct, can’t we? Like, the unexpected parts that amaze us.

Barry London
Decontrol Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

"Sparkling Pieces, Someone" C31

So, there are folx who can “play the room”, and then there are folx like Doctor St. Rain, who truly base their intended output upon the dimensions of the room and what acoustic offerings, specifically FEEDBACK, they can wrangle and manipulate into varying harsh phrases. Doctor’s Train favors the latter. In fact, Doctor Strain, taking much pleasure in what pretty much every sludge band I’ve ever seen live revels in between chord phrasings, they really know how to draw out the in-between, giving microcosmic life to feedback, feeding it back and back and back into the output until its nuances create meta-folklore of their own to interpret.

Suffice it to say, this tape by Doctor Stra In sounds fucking terrible without good headphones and/or a headspace for grating treble. The whisper’d percussion and anti-reverberant vocal lines, as well as a few surprising guitar strums merely break up the headlining feedback into a reframed “song” aesthetic that it so gloriously/sanctimoniously negates/denegrades.

This tape sure as shit ain’t for everyone, but I’d recommend a good, deep listen to anyone interested in microtonal freeform’s relatively punker cousin who just got back from college.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

KREKSO feat. AGNES HVIZDALEK C40 “Strictly Akustic” (Meteorismo)

Not gonna lie, I was REALLY hoping this “akustic” music wasn’t going to be all guitar and coffeshop, you dig? So when the “akustik” became “electroacoustic,” I was more like, “Yeah, I can get with this.” Krekso comes from Prague, as does Meteorismo, but this isn’t PRAGUE Prague, it’s more like an abstract representation of it. So maybe I should’ve guessed that this was going to be a little more interesting than I first imagined at the start, what with all the unpronounceable names (to me anyway – sorry, so many diacritical marks!) and the four tracks stretching forty minutes. Also, the eggs and flowers and weird face collage on the front found me searching for the proper adjectives and all I came up with were adverbs, so I had to start over. In doing so, I admired the cover. I’m not sure it’s not trying to kill me with its gaze.

Nothing here is normal, and that’s as it should be – the Krekso gang warps the hell out of a litany of instruments and hardware: piano, synths, harmonium, guitar, “objects,” tape echo, trumpet, clarinet, trumpinet, electronics, and the stuttering spoken vocals of Agnes Hvizdalek herself. The chaos is breathtaking, yet each piece here picks you up within it like a benevolent twister and twirls your perspective before gently setting you back down. It’s a tactile experience, clearly homespun and labored over, yet freewheeling enough to surprise you almost as often as each second moves to the next. As such, STRICTLY AKUSTIC came out of nowhere for me, but it will certainly find its place among my “repeat listens” pile. Which, sadly, is enormous. Or not sadly, depending on how you look at it. Darn adverbs…


--Ryan Masteller

(Anna macht Urlaub)

Ambient music from Munich, aquatic. Very serious. How serious? This serious.

Concrescence: Serious international ambient artist. Join him on an existential drift through philosophy.


BE; “At the Start” (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

“We Must Be Ourselves.” Exist, amorphously. Create instructions. Follow them. Divest from them. Stand, amplified, the Boat in Oakland, in California. Unleash hellish racket. Revise hellish racket. Divest from instructions. We are water, almost 100%. 100% liquid + dust + magic. So 90% water then. Express yourself. Cover Madonna unceasingly. These are all covers of Madonna songs/none of these are Madonna songs. Stand, amplified, screech, scrawl, effervesce, perhaps nude. Word sludge. Amplified, still, and there are spectators. Wisdom, chaos. One snake eats tail, the other eats shit. Infinite garage. Typo. Infinite garbage. Typo. Finite gristle. Roll in it. Writhe, wriggle, vomit. Such babies!

--Ched Chunder

K^REN “NoT BaLD” (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

Since when did the NBA logo become a shitting cartoon ghost man?

--usually a Blues Traveler/Spin Doctors fan

OZEAN “Ozean” C15 (Lavender Sweep)

Simply gorgeous. Ozean recorded these three songs in 1992, forming in the wake of a RIDE/Lush double bill and a fortuitously placed flier seeking a guitarist and singer. Yeah, this is right in my wheelhouse – you want a Cocteau Twins/Lush/Slowdive hybrid? Look no further. Originally released as a demo, these three songs have been remastered and released now, in an era when pretty much every shoegaze band is reforming and finding newfound success. Too bad Ozean was fifteen years too early – they would have been huge now, probably. Gauzy and heavenly, melodic and distorted, Ozean fits right in with their contemporaries. God only knows what might have been.

--Ryan Masteller

(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Cinematic: “of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures”

A modus operandi becomes apparent for Voice of Canvas upon the very first note of the very first track – strike that, before the very first note of the very first track is even played. “Cinematic by Definition” serves both in title and execution as a mission statement, following which SEMAPHORE EKKO is easily understood and appreciated. Similar in scale and scope to film soundtracks that capture the grandeur of location (and it helps when the film is set in a location that becomes an integral part of and potentially overwhelms the action), SEMAPHORE EKKO almost fully becomes a film in itself, not even needing the crutch of a visual medium to establish its plot. It doesn’t hurt that the jcard is adorned with mountain, though. There’s a grandiosity about that snow-covered peak photographed in black and white, monolithic in its presence and conveying a heightened sense of the dramatic to any who view it. Turns out that Voice of Canvas is awfully good at soundtracking mountains.

It’s good that VoC is back, then – not much has emerged from the Swedish artist’s camp since 2010, and if that time was spent gestating the ideas that would become SEMAPHORE EKKO, then bravo. Not unlike Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannson, whose FORDLANDIA is simply breathtaking (and who I wish was providing the music to BLADE RUNNER 2049, but hey, if you wanted Vangelis, why bring in Jóhannson in the first place?), VoC, using all the studio tricks he can muster, creates a huge sound out of stillness. Part ambient, part electronic, solo but with an ear for enormity, SEMAPHORE sneaks up on you, drifting through “Cinematic by Definition” and emerging into the sort of trip hop excursion “Solid Venue (Edt).” It’s “I Call You,” though, that solidifies the whole endeavor, as VoC adds spaghetti western acoustic guitar and ratchets up the spectacle of expectation as if following a gunslinger who wanders into an arctic frontier town under an aurora borealis. From there the sparseness of keys and frigid atmosphere take over, and VoC never loses his vision as he progresses. The music halts these imaginary moments in time, allowing your mind to take the narrative over and build its own backstory and resolution. In this way, Voice of Canvas is maybe more of a cinematographer than a musician – maybe even a director, bringing together the pieces of his singular vision and presenting them as a unified whole.

Voice of Canvas
Do You Dream of Noise? (hope you can read Swedish)

--Ryan Masteller

"Only Human…Only Machine" C53
(Dystopian Caveman)

Long Beach’s “Namo” churns out late 20th century hip-hop beats with production-aided ambiance and texture that only the 21st century can provide (well, from a bedroom’s laptop, anyway), and this long-running document is surefire proof that jungle-beats, expertly-tweaked bass presence, and good ol’fashioned hip-hop bass-snare scaffolding can be interwoven to host a diaspora of classic themes that promote productivity, increased heartbeat, and maybe a li’l chair-anchored exercise. Coming to a cubicle near you!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

STORCH INTERIOR EXTRACTS “Remote Assistance Failure” C40 (Cellar)

Not on this Earth, you don’t. REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE is a cosmic signal. That is all. There is nothing suggesting that Storch Interior Extracts is from this arm of the Milky Way, not even the fact that its transmission is recorded and encoded and released by Prague-based Cellar Tapes. You can’t make these noises on this planet, it’s just that simple. Well, maybe your computer can make them – they’re sort of variations of the clunks emitted when you try to perform a function that doesn’t work on it. But your computer certainly isn’t smart enough to rile those tones into infinitely clustering patterns that shift and evolve over time! (OK, maybe it can. Dang, computers are smart!) Point is, the more you listen to REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE, the more you’ll understand that the soundwaves billowing at you are some sort of mathematical communication from another part of the universe. Maybe the source has obscured its coordinates within it? Regardless, hiding a message in a file marked “Home Electronics Tutorial” that only emerges once the conditions are met is a pretty neat extraterrestrial trick if they’re looking to narrow their human contact down to someone who meets specific criteria. I mean, I think it is – how else would an advanced alien race attempt to contact a potential new space buddy? I mean, besides just showing up and announcing themselves like adults. If it was me who had just discovered these guys, I’d be way more forthcoming about it. Because I’m not a whiny space baby. Storch Interior Extracts are probably not whiny space babies either, I’m just saying. What I’m also doing is enjoying the hell out of REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE. I think it’s resolving into clarity, and resolving pretty nicely, if I do say so. Message received – now I’ve got to decode this thing. I’ve wasted enough of your (and my) time, anyway. Now I’ll just run this thing through my trusty Texas Instruments BA II Plus. That’s a calculator. I doubt anything’s going to happen.


--Ryan Masteller

GERMAN ARMY “Pacific Plastic” (Seagrave)

Let me read into this.

First, that cover is what, a … cross-section of something? Looks like it, and judging by the release on SEAgrave and the term “Pacific” in the title of PACIFIC PLASTIC, I’m going to go with a cross-section of ocean, no matter how alien it actually looks. Maybe it’s an alien ocean. Maybe it’s the Pacific Ocean after generations of evolution. Why else would it contain odd polygons? Because aliens use polygons in the oceanographic studies. DUH.

I mean, I’m obviously wrong. Most of the track titles point to places that don’t even come close to the Pacific Ocean (actually having more to do with Africa), so let’s talk oceans in general, and civilizations that border them, rely on them, etc. Or let’s not – you need a break from me doing that, don’t you, digging down into some rabbit hole to follow a red herring or other crammed-in animal metaphor that will only bring ruin and frustration? Eff it, let’s just listen to this thing.

Maybe you’re expecting this, but tribal exoticism wrapped in proto-industrial electronics is the German Army way, and PACIFIC PLASTIC is no different, for the most part. And even though that sounds like a distinctly active description, the mood is a languid one, borrowing from equatorial summer afternoons. This is as relaxed a vibe as GeAr is likely to get without going full Peter Kris ambient on us (save for a couple spots, like the title track and “Svaneti in June”). What we get are meditations on scenic vistas stretching to the seas, of national parks and tiny islands, ancient kingdoms and towns bordering safari camps. The sounds could easily complement a nature or anthropology documentary or a film set in a location mysterious and unusual to Western eyes. Regardless, GeAr tap into indigenous wavelengths, reveling in the environments that humanity hasn’t fully destroyed yet.

Where does that leave PACIFIC PLASTIC? Is it a call to reassess modern civilization through a different lens? Is it an admonition of our reliance on the manufacturing sector? I wonder, then, if it’s bad or not bad that I have this plastic tape in my possession. I guess if I don’t throw it in the ocean, I’m in good shape. Enough – I already said I wasn’t going too deep here. And Alien polygons… what an idiot.

German Army

--Ryan Masteller


What's for Breakfast Records is a punk rock cassette label that tends to pair up an American band with a foreign band.
Their latest EP features Mala Vista from Brooklyn, New York
and Charlie's Stripe supporting the other side of the tape with their Italian punk rock licks.
The Mala Vista side rocks us back to 1977 with
"Locked Away". They then bring us into what could be an 80s rock song with "Shake", it's got kind of a of a Gaza Strippers feel to it

On the B side, oh wait a minute, there's no b-sides! Just two more solid rock songs. anywho, Charlie's Stripe gives us their poppy upbeat song "Jay".
I feel like love is around us too.
They then close the EP with "Waste Your Time", another upbeat punk rock song.
Though, I feel like the EP could have been mastered a bit better, due to the volume being way lower on the Charlie's Stripe side.
I suspect if you are getting this you are supporting one of the bands and will just listen to the mp3 versions.

Cassette comes in a red colored shell, and includes stickers.

-- Chuck Wolfe

"Leisure Time" C57
(Crash Symbols)

Estonian synth-psych beatmaker, genre-blender, and all-around goodtimes-provider Luurel Varas finally serves up nearly an hour’s worth of even-keeled neck-waving soundtrackage for the bad-ass Crash Symbols label, and it’s pretty much perfect for zoning out, computer work, and/or barbequing. While listening (on repeat), whenever I’ve let the music fade to the backburner of my mind (doing something besides focusing on the various, rich layers) I’ve consistently ended up feeling transported back to A Tribe Called Quest’s hey-day, feeling those grooving, jazzy themes all over again, but this time with a more subtle, texture-driven bent (via synthesizer manipulation) that gives this release a quality not yet explored (exploited?) just yet. At other times, I’ve felt Bill Leeb’s remote presence, recalling ethereal atmospheres reminiscent of turn of the century Delerium (think “Karma” or “Poem”), and all of these things are not only good, but pretty great, especially since one genre’s flavor doesn’t get the spotlight for too long.  Tape is nearly sold out already (and rightly so), so keep an eye out at your local shop.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

(Astral Spirits / Monofonus Press)

I’m immediately enamored of the names on this release: “More Eaze,” “Jones & Flato,” “Bhob Rainey.” They flit across the edge of my mind like “astral spirits.” As the More Eaze side begins, I’m looking at the cover art and I feel like I’m in the world of Academia-meets-Street-Rapper. I’m mesmerized by the juxtaposition of strange names and the ambiguous punctuation marks that separate them. Steve Flato is a beautiful sounding name, so beautiful that it must be a fake, an alias of some sort, but it isn’t.  “All instances of synthesis and sound captures…” Yes, this is a true instance of synthesis and sound capture—a true rattle from the bottom of the well. Jones & Flato sound like a haunted grain silo. More Eaze sounds like a spaceship. Then Jones & Flato and Bhob Rainey (another beautiful, fake-sounding name) put me to the test with a long, high-frequency segment. Ouch! Steve Flato is interested in the use of music “as a therapeutic tool,” but to me, this last part was just painful.

--Kevin Oliver

3 MOONS “3WordSword” (Sonic Meditations)

“Meditate and destroy,” goes the saying, and 3 Moons follows it across the dusty wilderness. In the midst of the landscape the duo draws power from extrasensory sources, each breath in and each “Om” out a consolidation of strength and force they keep in reserve. Jefferson Zurna and Dena Goldsmith-Stanley use that power to transform psychic spaces, terraforming your very innermost being as if it were physical topography. Like Trinity in the Nevada desert as viewed from a distance, 3WORDSWORD contains all the intensity of a nuclear explosion but muted, its low rumble only the tip of the iceberg of the supernatural force contained within. 3 Moons are thus shaman, using telepathy to draw you ever further away from civilization to places where spiritual upheaval can truly occur. The drones improvised with “rumbling sheets of feedback, guitar figures, hypnotic reeds, and cryptic electric piano” penetrate every fiber of your being, coursing through your body and mind and interacting with the basic construction of your DNA. You different yet? You should be – I feel like every second 3WORDSWORD is playing is a second of sonically induced evolution. Pretty soon I won’t resemble a resident of this planet anymore, a human being. Then something like “E.T. Drone Home” will be more than just a cleverly worded song title—it’ll be a portal to a new plane of existence. How cool is that going to be?

3 Moons
Sonic Meditations

--Ryan Masteller

BE; "At the Start" C60 (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

BE; be an improv group that uses looped guitar (generally treated as percussion and occasionally drone), voice (also looped), percussion and pedals to achieve maximum chaos. At times minimal, but mostly maximal, these folx bang and clang out anti-rhythms for the…well…what’s the opposite of “masses”? It’s an acquired taste, and one that’s really needed to get into a live recording that wasn’t mixed via soundboard. The tape’s mastering is looooow, so you’ll get your dosage of tape hiss, for sure. Was that intentional? Who knows! One thing is for sure, Tingo Tongo Tapes gives zero fucks about tonality, cohesiveness, or pretty much anything to do with pop appeal. If that’s your thang, you’ll fucking love what they have to offer. Explore via the link below.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan