"Heart & Insight Meditations” C61
(Crash Symbols)

Jesse Fleming & Electric Sound Bath have teamed up here to provide two ambient-soundscape enhanced, guided meditations, each half hour long side focusing on either forgiveness or perspective. ESB’s prosaic guitar drones lend a soft but solid anchor for your thoughts to hold onto while Jesse Fleming’s posits sink into your mind.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

CHANNELERS “Slow Leaf Spell” (Inner Islands)

“Patterns and repetitions to contrast the ever-changing self.” We know Sean Conrad gets it. Over his many releases as Channelers, Ashan, and half of Orra, as well as curating the like-minded he surrounds himself with on his label Inner Islands, Conrad has become an institution, a purveyor of inner peace and personal betterment through meditative music, or music and meditation, and his corner is an easy one to be in because it’s all done in the interest of harmonizing yourself with your environment before embarking on a path of sharing that peace and joy with others. That’s why his pastoral ambient/drone/folk tunage is the sincerest pastoral ambient/drone/folk tunage, his personal pumpkin patch of sound is surely the one the Great Pumpkin is going to visit this Halloween. Over four languid tracks, Conrad explores change as he stretches out his compositions and allows them to become their own entities, growing and evolving along with their composer until they become one in the mind and the heart. As always with Channelers releases, there’s that great “Om” potential where inward projection of consciousness may just indeed lift you to some higher plane of tranquility. Consider the fern on the cover of “Slow Leaf Spell,” and imagine the sounds passing up and down the living cells of the plant, energizing it and allowing it to align its vibrations with that of ours. As we listen and contemplate the cellular workings of it, we are slowly and methodically hypnotized by its life force. We can learn from that, and we can make the Inner Islands way, the Channelers way, a part of our own existence.


Inner Islands

--Ryan Masteller

LUUREL VARAS “Leisure Time” (Crash Symbols)

The term “odyssey” gets thrown around a lot these days, or at least I throw it around a lot when I’m talking about driving to soccer practice or soccer games or basically anything soccer related. Let me start over. The term “odyssey” gets thrown around a lot in my house these days, regardless of how far I have to go, because isn’t just wandering out of your house every once in a while an adventure? If he’s anything like me (and who’s to say he is?), Luurel Varas of Estonia sure thinks so, probably, because he chops up a bunch of stuff he finds all across his everyday life and turns it into an odyssey for the ears, a broken-beat odyssey, a sampledelic instro-hip hop affair that just invites itself over, makes itself comfortable on your couch (or in your cassette player), and plows right into that odyssey everybody keeps talking about and promising and writing incessantly about on Cassette Gods. Luurel Varas delivers. “Leisure Time” is a blast of spring breeze (which of course I’m just getting around to on the cusp of winter), refreshing and invigorating, a vaporous entity that envelopes you with its warm rhythms and it’s lush melodies and whisks you away on the odyssey of its choosing, a magic voyage to some unknown land where the only outcome is good and the only treasure you find is marshmallows. These are the exploits of pure whimsy, and joy is in the air and in the water and in the food and in your blood. And now that same joy is in my house, and in my car, and I’m off to soccer practice full of joy and whimsy, and the odyssey of my life is before me, soundtracked by Luural Varas. “Leisure Time” is welcome here any time, doesn’t matter if I’m chilled out or ready for action. The odyssey always awaits.

Luurel Varas

Crash Symbols

--Ryan Masteller

ITCH PRINCESS "Everyone's a Doctor" (Truly Bald)

Some fantastic disengage your brain type stuff, Itch Princess's Everyone's a Doctor seems to combine experimental pop and R&B, hard rock, and virtuosically complex live drumming with dense vocal harmonies via Minneapolis' Katelyn Farstad and a roster of role players; this is some unique music.
Some of the songs are reminiscent of a jazzier, more abstract Kate Bush making dub music.

Some of the sections in the songs are straight progressive rock such as in "Being Totally Useless" and "Blue and White".  Some songs are indictive of even the Residents or Jefferson Airplane. The aggressive prog-rock drumming becomes the signature to the sound. "Nothing To Do With Love" has a break down with flams elaborate enough for a Ruins record.  Some of the tracks almost touch on abstract R&B or soundscape drum machine & keyboard driven funk (particularly "Second Row" or "The Lemongrass Zone"); while the album features acoustic guitars at times it also edges on noise rock and modern classical composition through out.

Look for it soon on Truly Bald! 

-"Jamband" Josh Brown

“Inertia – Music from the Motion Picture”
(Hyster Tapes)

There’s something about handmade objects that is much more special than your plastic-wrapped, machine spit-out, printed and stamped bric-a-brac. I got a whole bag of tapes in the mail and the soundtrack to a movie called INERTIA was one of them and it’s the cheapest and crudest of the bunch but also the best one because it’s made from a recycled tape, which in this case means a tape got recorded over and someone used a piece of griptape from their skateboard or maybe some sandpaper from the garage to buff out whatever was printed on it originally. You can feel the roughness with your thumb and connect with the person who scratched it. You cannot do this with a computer or a machine. If a computer or a machine makes something it is not an art object in the same way as someone grabbing a Jesus tape, buffing out the titles, and recording some new sounds over the rambling pastor. This is the best way to do things, the freest way, and the friendliest to mother nature. Upcycled tapes, not recycled. Why don’t more out there do this? Of the large stack of tapes I received this was the only handmade tape, hell the only one that a human folded the jcard. But whatever, the real reason to be sitting here typing away is to describe the SOUNDS on this artifact. The sounds are made by Zoe Polanski and they are haunting, anxious and beautiful, if not a little dark. A voice echoes through empty space, perhaps there is a forest of dead trees, the wind blows, something is missing, the voice fades into something else, an organ, then returns, brighter, dark brown turns to orange and is cold. Mist, a moonless but starlit sky. Mother’s Theme. Dawn breaks and Benny is Gone. The heart beats faster. The mood is anxious and blue, dark blue, a frozen blue and the sound lifts. I have not seen this movie which leaves me at a strong disadvantage in being able to describe what the sounds are describing. I know I am at the cinema. I am not watching something happy or joyful. I am not watching something horrific. I am watching something paranoid, guilty and perhaps scared. I am scared and I am sad and I am unsure. Hush, sleep comes and Mira Dreams. Sleep is peaceful at first, slowed, lulled and torpid but Mira dreams deeper and the voice comes back whistling through the trees and then it is gone again, replaced again by a slow, bright swell that soon will ebb and leave us alone, silent and alone before the storm comes roaring overhead in a televised nightmare. Yes I am at the cinema and when I leave I will take with me all that I have seen and heard and keep it in the front of my mind from years to come.

-Ricky Lemonseed

"YaW” C58
(Other Electricities)

This is the third release I’ve been given to review via the Other Electricities imprint (Miami, FL) and I’m just as enamored as I’ve ever been. OE knows how to both relax AND subtly challenge their listeners, and I really dig that.

Via the press notes for this release, OE states that “Yaw” is “RIYL: Six Organs of Admittance, James Blackshaw, Jack Rose…”, and this is objectively verifiable. Through 24 vignettes, these mantra’d repetitions of gorgeous, melancholic, nylon-strung-along melodies & minor key meanderings have certainly been done before, both just as smoothly and moodily as said aforementioned luminaries…in fact, it’s almost as if this album didn’t need to exist, having been nearly executed to perfection, plenty of times before…

But this is specifically a companion piece. It is a “what ghosts might have been wrought” collection, to be considered alongside the devastatingly commanding monumental album “MAW”, of which these same tones are wrangled, mangled, and alternately, expertly crafted into a psych-freak-folk masterpiece that is not quite earworm, yet unforgettable, nonetheless.

Perhaps “Yaw” ought be considered a palette cleanser, or, mayhaps a soul-whetter. It sates. It engages. Yet it slips in & out of memory and definition. It accepts respect, suggests addiction, but retreats noncommittally into itself, to be de-and-re-constructed again, and again, in passing thought. Strap on decent headphones to catch the otherwise all-too-subtle droning spectres deeply planted throughout.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Countrycide” C28
(Push and Pull Records)

Well, I reckon you’re safe to assume that “Countrycide” falls under the umbrella of “cow-punk”; but what you just don’t know is how gaht-dhamn perfectly this Madison, WI trio integrates the very best of ‘90s surf-punk aesthetics whilst effortlessly exercising said cow-punk themes. All three of these shit-kickin’ musicians are dialed-the-fuck-in, seamlessly passing the Show-Off-Yr-Chops baton to churn out sing-along jam after gang-vocal’d anthem! Even the bass player gets a turn at breaking away from the expected stalwart ostinato scaffolding in order to expertly freak/flesh out a handful of songs! &without a single slow number to be heard, this half-hour debut comes screeching to a close FAR before you’re ready to hang up your boots. Keep on killin’ it, WC!

RIYL: Swingin’ Utters, Dead Kennedys, Meat Puppets

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Back To The Warmth” C46
“Safe & Sound/Self-Titled” C60

Not even Re-Motely near the beaten path ‘twixt Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, a psychedelic rock trio refuses to iron out their heavy space-rock jams, preferring instead to indulge in digging heals deeper and deeper into every other passing meteor.  In their shed (that’s Midwestern for “in-law unit”), neighboring both river and state forest, they dutifully refine their creative selves, becoming an unstoppable force, sending out psych-bluesy riffs out past the aether, into infinity. Locally, deer, wood-nymph, and Bud-wiser pilferer are happily enchanted. In unison, heads will loll.

Mostly comprised of drums, guitar, and synthesizer, Ruckzuck fill in all necessary nhooks & crannies, even eschewing possible layered vocals for a most direct, most poignant delivery…well…as far as heavily pedal’d/augmented vocals do.

&Much like their geographic location, their influences range far & wide, between Acid King, Broadcast, the Breeders, and beyond. These inspired-yet-non-derivative qualities yield pensive explorations, Appalachian-solid hooks, cosmic mental vacations, and, pretty much always, a damn fine time. Rife with ear worms AND meditations, their releases are not to be ignored.

Listening with and without (decent) headphones will prove equally rewarding, so allow yourself a two-for-one experience.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

XOXO TECH "Alien Dream Software"
(self released)

A dynamic combination of sophisti-pop and italo-disco; this Minneapolis duo, comprised of Mariel Olivera and Joe Burns, first release is uplifting and superb!  With soundscapes, synthesizers, saxophones, heavy beats, pitch corrected vocals, and timbre morphs galore in addition to their unpredictable but catchy songwriting; XOXO Tech's approach is warm post-futurism with polyrhythmic counterpointed riffs. 

Combining pop and straight dance music into a unique blend with a fresh approach, Mariel and Joe's vocals are sublime and the overall aestethic takes a page from a book I've yet to read. Hooks. LOTS of hooks! The music itself is evocative of Janet Jackson, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Erasure, and obviously a little Madonna.. but way more prog. Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and Kraftwerk also come to mind!! The lyrics are poetic and the parts have the abstract arrangements of a modern classical composer.  This is really one of the more clever releases I've heard in a long time.

My favorite track on this EP by far is "Red Hot" with catchy chorus "I Don't Want to Stopppp Loving You". /Alien Dream Software// is available as a self release now to order on cassette from their bandcamp!!

-- Josh Brown

INNER TRAVELS “Sea of Leaves” (Inner Islands)

It does look like a sea of leaves from up here, the forest spreading out into the distance, foliage rippling in the wind like waves, just dusk enough in the evening that the deep green isn’t so easy to make out against the shadows, mimicking the opaque depths of a vast body of water. From a height, atop a mountain or other scenic point, imagination takes over as the sunlight fades, is replaced by the trickier illumination of the moon, and the mysteries of your vision deepen. Steve Targo, our maestro, our guide, reflects through synthesizer on the “splendor of nature,” internalizing the landscape that he’s witnessed (Celestion, Pell Lake, Wisconsin, Fall 2015 to Fall 2016). This is New Age for a new age, a desperate grasp at inner peace before the peace can be directed outward and shared with those who need it most. Targo’s nailed it, understood that “desperate grasp” and “inner peace” need not be mutually exclusive when confronted with intentionality. Through natural beauty and connection with the earth, Targo is inspired to share the paths to personal wholeness. His gentle meditations penetrate your mind and your body and remove you from daily stresses that only serve to poison your outlook and thereby your relationships. Once again the Inner Islands way prevails, with “Sea of Leaves” yet another guidance system to a better life.

Inner Travels
Inner Islands

--Ryan Masteller

“Burnt Enigma”
(Illuminated Paths)

Amazing design with elegantly burnt edges on the sleeve. Inside is a slogan: “Gentle Music amid Modern Violence,” a good slogan for this music, a beautiful murky dream.

Deep below, down in the depths, down through the drainage ditch, down through the dark pipes, there is a wild party at bonfire beach. This music is made at that beach.

Better yet, this music plays out of a forlorn jukebox at the laundromat of the end of the world, a jukebox forever tumbling on high heat in the jeweled depths of the cosmic laundromat.

-Kevin Oliver

“Cities on the Plain”
(We Be Friends)

This tape is expressive of love, friendship, adventure, and the joy of life. I like it a lot. It is an album made by a happy couple, and often that kind of album risks being cheesy and repellent, but this one is really good. The songs are well-crafted and understated. They draw you in and have a bit of a 90s alternative flavor. And moreover, the feelings in the songs, the topics in the lyrics, aren’t cheesy at all. They’re clear proof that love is all you need. If you have a happy love life, you can make a great album. That’s how this tape makes me feel, anyway. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

-Kevin Oliver

Sorry for the brief interruption of your regularly scheduled cassette programming. 
We're back to daily broadcasts, at 8:00 AM on the dot.

QUEST REMOVAL “Preset Stealth / Wrong Wohnung / Furtim Vigilans” (Abstract Tits)

Gang lips melt psychically, ESP on vaporizer, bent ears to heaven, earth, then heaven. Chance chants and hovering lately, base emissions bear instruction if internalized. New moves, moving stealthily through conduits in condominiums, check the synchronization, check the patents, move stealthily. Transmissions almost received, encourage adjustment, adjust, receive. Reframe directives, levels dangerous and vision iffy. Vision compromised, mindwarp engage emergency agents aged acutely. Wrong Wohnung! Falsch flat! Exit strategy, max evasion, adjust, reframe. Crashes thunderous and through portal swift evac, superimposition confusion and nocturnal damage. Transmit, one to one, record, reverse tactics, abort. Check the cortex, retransmit, abort. No signal. End.

--Ryan Masteller

"Creatures of Sea and Seashore” C12

Nerd-Core! This quarter of an hour hipster tutorial is  pretty much unabashed Nerd-Core at its finest! With comparable/minimal sonic aesthetics strongly recalling early Microphones’ demos, this marine-biology cheat-sheet-gone-mp3 set is now easily the raddest sea shanty EP I’ve e’r laid ears upon! Minimal guitar picking, concertina & lyrical truthbombs for miles & smiles, forever! Edumacate yo’selvz!

Short, sweet, informative, unapologetically infections. Download the smahtz via this bandcamp link below…

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Adrift” C33 (Nailbat Tapes)

I used to live in a town called Boiling Springs, in Pennsylvania, and there was actually a literal boiling spring that fed the lake in town. It was not red (although the water contained a great deal of sulfur, although I don’t think sulfur reddens anything). If you unmoored yourself from any side of the lake, you would find yourself on the other side of it within thirty seconds if you paddled. It was very small. Red Boiling Springs is from Portland, Oregon, but hey, who’s counting? The sounds of ADRIFT, once they’re in your head, bring it all back, all the precious seconds where time and meaning were important. The field recordings and ambient drones cast you into the water and leave you there to contemplate their origin and their purpose, like I once did, many years ago. I was there, adrift, and then I allowed the moments to overcome me. Red Boiling Springs takes me back to those moments and allows me to relive them. Are the questions any closer to being answered? Nah – and that’s the beauty of it, I’ve come to understand.

Red Boiling Springs
Nailbat Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

HOOPS “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?” C36 (Chthonic Records)

I really got into “Masterpieces” following this review – it was really interesting and a surprising find. And I’m not going to speak for the vast majority of people who this is clearly aimed at – you know who you are, mom! – but I don’t get it. Why is that? Hoops recorded a bunch of live takes of Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs all on his lonesome with an acoustic guitar. These are good songs. But Hoops, dude, we can’t hear you. You’re too mumbly. The fidelity’s a mess. Is that the point? Am I missing something? Why does this exist in a format where I have to pay for the physical artifact? I was excited, now I’m just bummed. Probably a one-time fuckup. Oh well – better luck next time, Hoops, and you people reading, don’t give up on checking him out!

Please note: Tracks were recorded in 2007 and released in 2017. There’s part of the reason.

And you’re right, nagging conscience – my mom wouldn’t be able to get past the poor recording.

--Michael “Hoops 23” Jordan

BICHON FRISÉ “s/t” C25 (Abstract Tits)

Quiet down in there, Bichon Frisé, I’m trying to talk on the phone! I mean, I love dogs, but look at these animals – what am I supposed to do with this? Do you breed them this way? I mean, my aunt breeds Lhasa Apsos, hideous creatures, so I guess there are worse things in the world. But still, Bichon Frisés are just WEIRD, and round, unnaturally round with their hair like that. Little yappy roundheads. So glad the “band,” I guess, Bichon Frisé is more interesting than the wacky-looking canines they’re named after. The Copenhagen quartet mixes noise and drone into an unholy racket that I can STILL HEAR FROM THE OTHER ROOM! Shards of sound pierce eardrums, pitches too high for the HNW crowd but malevolent and intended to harm nonetheless. I think, anyway, or maybe this tape is just the rallying cry for the inevitable dog army that can perceive these tones and follow their instructions to an outright conclusion. Sparkly, refracted soundwaves – listening to them is the sonic equivalent to staring at a light spectrum just slightly too intense for human vision. Pushes the boundaries of endurance. Worth the effort. But seriously, I can’t hear a word you’re saying because they’re still at it in there.

--Ryan Masteller

(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Much like the rest of the DYDON tapes recently sent my way (and thanks for that, it’s been a pleasure!), 4,75 by Sweden’s Det Vilda Fältet blows across desolate landscapes and becomes one with its surroundings. And blows us all away in the process – their controlled, cinematic scores change the landscapes to soundscapes and internalize the vastness of natural beauty in a way that opens up the imagination and the mind to unforeseen possibilities. This is not weird – this is how life works around the DYDON offices, obviously located in the penthouse of some swanky Stockholm high rise. I sense an MO for the label, and Det Vilda Fältet follows it without hesitation. These Kranky-indebted slow burns unfurl as if they were sonic flora on our imaginary plain, blooming languidly under the harsh wilderness conditions. Hardy plants rustle in the breeze, and dust kicks up among the rocks and tumbleweed as the sun beats down upon the earth. Guitars make sounds and tones as if they were barely touched, effected remorselessly, organically growing from the ground as if they WERE the hardy plants they conjure. And maybe that’s the key to understanding the whole thing – the music grows, nourished, however scantily, from the ground and the air, the composers/players the water (we humans are practically 100% water after all), imbuing the sounds with life and purpose. Listeners like us scuttle from the shade of outcroppings to these plants that nurture us like desert beetles, mindless in our basic functions. And Det Vilda Fältet infiltrates and penetrates all like a holy ghost, sacralizing somehow with benevolent auditory beams. I’m too respectful to call this post rock, but it sure scratches that itch.

Det Vilda Fältet
Do You Dream of Noise? (site is in Swedish – beware!)

--Ryan Masteller

JULIA BLOOP "Roland Throop"
C60 (Crash Symbols)

Julia Bloop is from Brookyln they/she/he makes what I guess is a mix of chillwave an experimental loops. I wouldn't call it vaporwave but I get a similar feel from it.

My favorite song from the album is the title opener 'I Gotta Get Outta This Place'.

Features a double sided full color J-card and tasteful ASCII art pad printed onto clear cassette shell.

-- Chuck Wolfe

(La Rosa Nostra)

HDCLNR cranks out monthly installments of lo-fi jams from artists of varying stripes, culling their (mostly ritualistic/meditative/narrative) sounds into 45+ minute batches, a dozen or so tapes made each time around. These bedroom-conjured, often barebones recordings lend an intimate earnestness that may very well be the antidote to radio’s formulaic overproduction, and it’s this humble production style that ties so many different genres into one cohesive offering. Each release is a journey through solo percussion explorations, bard’s lamentations, shoe(stringbudget)gaze jams, and a whole host of other outsider stuff, and, via the bandcamp link below (only), you can have 9+ hours worth of ‘em delivered to your front door for a song. Feeling as curious as I am?

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

LACE BOWS “Earth Tunnels” C31 (OTA)

EARTH TUNNELS begins with a sample of a song from the 1950s or 1960s, a song I don’t recognize and neither does Shazam (god knows I tried). The effect is similar to the vibe in Terry Gilliam’s TWELVE MONKEYS when Bruce Willis’s Cole catches snippets of old songs on a car radio, or when he returns to Earth’s present (our future) to be woken by “Blueberry Hill.” It’s sweet, it’s nostalgic, but it’s also harrowing, especially when, on “I Saw Earth Leaving through This Tunnel,” the song decays, slowing down before transitioning into a field recording of what sounds like the Rossio train station in Lisbon (the announcements and conversational snippets are not in English, that’s for sure, and Lace Bows is from Portugal, so, 2+2=4!). That transitions too, and it’s as if Lace Bows is wandering from location to location, recording the music playing in the outdoor spaces, looping it, fidgeting with it until it unfurls, trancelike, and becomes part of our own background. The music fades and crowd noise continues, until it, too, is overtaken by the next phase of the track, a pensive drone that approximates cosmic travel.

And it’s here that we have to consider what is meant by EARTH TUNNELS, and “I Saw Earth Leaving through This Tunnel,” because the evolution of the sounds suggests a passage of time and perspective. The past fades quickly, the modern – our present – also fades, although it takes a bit longer, until the evolution is complete, and there’s no more earthly sounds, just the drone of the universe. But that’s just side A – side B, simply titled “-,” emerges from the drone, as if from, ahem, a tunnel, and traverses similar paths as side A (field recordings of outdoor musicians, crowds, stations), but this time, instead of allowing the field recordings to simply exist on their own, Lace Bows traces a musical undercurrent beneath the samples, creating a different experience. By the end of “-,” Lace Bows’s music and a song fragment meld together perfectly, as if they were meant for each other. Does this mean that Lace Bows is outlining through sound a blueprint for human evolution? Or is it meant as a document to be studied by a far-distant iteration of humanity, somewhat like “Blueberry Hill” in TWELVE MONKEYS, or even an unknown civilization? Or is it something completely different?

Something to think about. Whatever it is, EARTH TUNNELS is fascinating to listen to.

Lace Bows

--Ryan Masteller

“Farewell, Ringworld” C40
(Hylé Tapes)

I can’t get off this Ringworld soon enough. All this traffic …

Alright, I admit it, I was thinking of wrapping in that titular line bit from Upright Citizens Brigade (all hail Matt Walsh), but I think it’s gonna get totally blown. Probably because I don’t know anything about RINGWORLD, the book series, other than that it’s a pretty popular science fiction tome among the unwashed D&D nerd masses. I kid, I’m practically one of them, although I wash and I don’t play D&D. But I do love me some sci-fi! Just … not RINGWORLD. Haven’t got around to it. So I don’t have any in-jokes to share with you.

What I do know is that FAREWELL, RINGWORLD is spectacular. El Choop (by the way, I don’t get the name – that’s not a slight, just wondering) out of Bristol, THE UK, drops the dubnuts for the lugnuts, the SPACECRAFT lugnuts that you have to, you know, work on with tools so that you and your crew don’t instantaneously decompress or something. Meaning this: what El Choop does on FAREWELL, RINGWORLD is very synthy and not at all dubby, his usual MO, meshing oh-so-appropriately with outer space environs. Take for example the j-card visuals that serve as a starting point for your imagination – amazing, yes, bringing to mind EPCOT Center from the late1960s or early 1970s (even though the theme park opened in 1982), but every group picture of a crew always foretells disaster. El Choop predicts the disaster (whatever it is – again, RINGWORLD virgin here) in his tense synthesizer compositions, recalling the ubiquitous STRANGER THINGS score but set in space. This is the soundtrack for takeoff, docking, quick dashes from local law enforcement, secretive meetings in clandestine locations, offworld transactions, and spaceships, spaceships, spaceships. I could live in this music – it’s what I dreamed as a kid would be our reality right now.

Sadly, our reality is our reality, but it takes artists like El Choop to help us engage our imaginations and bring us back to that innocent time when we were young and the future was ours. Is that nostalgia? Yeah, maybe, but so what. You can tell a million stories with FAREWELL, RINGWORLD as the background and none of them would ever be boring, ever be anything less than gripping escapist fantasy. That’s important when you need something other than, pft, “real life.” Forget it – you might as well spin yarns about having incredibly important lines in wildly popular films if “real life” is where you’re rooted. El Choop’s giving you an opportunity to live a little bit in your mind, in your heart – take that opportunity and run with it. Or launch with it, or whatever space verb you want to apply here.

El Choop
Hylé Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

KONAKON “Ousia” C33 (OTA)

Oh heavens, this is the second OTA release in my batch, and I’m deep. First it was Patrick R. Pärk, now Konakon? (And I see you there, Lace Bows tape – you’re next.) Konakon, aka Parma artist La Blancheur des Cygnes (which is NOT a real name, unless your parents named you “The Swan Whiteness – blame Google Translate for any miscommunication there), has been jamming experimental nigh on twenty years, even playing in an Italian noise rock group called Brother James and peddling wares through Second Family Records Netlabel. As Konakon, he drops all that noisy horsecrap and steers down the straight and narrow, playing wonderfully expressive electronic tunes using digital tools that he developed. (Not that the noisy horsecrap is a bad thing – goddang I love noise rock.) It’s pretty great stuff, and it’s pretty all over the place too, which is just how I like these kinds of releases: you never really know what direction it’s going to head in next. From stuttering hardvapor to chillwave to IDM to industrial to ambient, Konakon knows when to hang back and when to jam the pedal to the floor, only letting up when he feels like he’s shredded the tires of this metaphorical jalopy and you’re just coasting on the rims. Then he just rides the rims. Oh, what’s that? The tape’s stuck in the tape deck and it just keeps skipping and disintegrating on itself? OUSIA has a little bit of that too. But mostly it’s a noir electro free-for-all, a brooding party for night owls SO OVER the club scene. I don’t know where OTA keeps digging up these releases, but they can keep ’em coming for all I care. Never stop never stopping, friends. Also, as is the label’s wont, each tape in the edition of thirty comes with “unique handmade covers done with wax crayons on architect sketch paper. That’s a terrible photograph of mine up there – doesn’t do it justice. Beautiful stuff in real life, Catarino Gorgulho. Beautiful tape Konakon. Keep on keeping on, OTA.



--Ryan Masteller

HYLIDAE "s/t" C30 (Night People Records)

Armed with ‘90s upbeat techno aesthetic and ‘10s dubstep modularly-shifting atonality, Hylidae massages together every single trope among the two (and all subgenres betwixt- minus obligatory metronomic pulse), thus culling this vast expanse into one techno-cosmic blackhole’d tome-in-concentrate.

&while the first few minutes might have us wondering if this is just another multi-layered pop-fest collage of major-chord vaporwave phrasings, the progressively erratic transitions between riff, melody, harmony, &rhythm all seamlessly coalesce into one solid, energetic (I did dance; like, a lot) journey that, due to convoluted arrangement, proves well worthy of continued revisitations. This is a pretty rad debut, and I’m really curious as to where Hylidae goes from here.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

ROMAN NAILS "Chiseler" C15
(Night People Records)

Roman Nails is a dude and his looped modular synthesizer and countless pedals and an old drum machine.
Roman Nails is ominous as fuck, enchanting/possessing various parts of the body, jerking them sporadically. This is known to many as dancing.
Roman Nails is Steve Reich’s maybe distant millennial nephew, ‘lectrifying polyrhythic phrases, converting them to the dark side.
Roman Nails’s “Chiseler” is incredibly short, but listenable to over and over again cz you totally missed like at least TWO of the SIX or so layers the last time they came around.
Roman Nails is the reason you own good headphones.
Roman Nails is a fitting contributor to Night People’s mind-warping roster of awesomer.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

ZINA "Furniture" C22
(Night People Records)

Zina sculpts infectious synth-pop earworms on her lonesome, enlisting little more than her cotton-candy alto, a drum machine (stuck in ‘80s mode), and a handful of varying synth riffs (&modes, &drones, &basslines & swells, & simple contrapuntal melodies), each turned up to eleven, all (the synth dynamics) hosting stock-nostalgic timbres that both amplify And shimmy right through her vocals. The real kicker for me is in the genius mixing, because, while that voice IS gorgeous, it merely hush-hushed’ly swims in the mix juuuust above the surface of said beautifully arranged minimal synth compositions, only modestly commanding to be the focal point, if not outright sharing the spotlight with said synths, altogether.

The end result is a trance-like pop soundtrack that is easy to get lost in and easy to let get lost in the background, only to have one of the many hooks bring you right back from your thoughts a moment later. Each song has it’s own individual identity, yet they all share in the dancy-pantz ‘80s love. The last song is a serious must hear, so strap on the headphones & play loudly!

Also, to note, I got FOUR Night People tapes in my review package last month and really gotta hand it to the good folx over there on an outstanding aesthetic, both on the physical J-Card, as well as the sounds contained therein. More please!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan