SETH KASSELMAN "Left Out" C90 (self-released)

You take a lot of stuff from a lot of places, don't you?  I don't know, maybe you don't; let's call it the royal "we." This is about Goodwill, apparently, with a capital "g", that place where you go and find leftover junk and buy it and somebody profits and somebody doesn't... there's a political statement in the j-card, along with a tax form, a separate level of meaning given to whatever meaning the listener gives what's on the tape. 

What's on the tape is kind of exactly what's in the Goodwill - tapes and records and CDs (and some ceramic statue of a dog) you wonder why anybody had in the first place, but you buy anyway, so you can dig in there and see if you can make something out of the other something that's not really a sum of any parts but is, instead... what? 

There are clanging bells here, various samples of sounds (maybe recorded from junk retrieved there, maybe not,) along with what is definitely recordings of tape recordings played sometimes at the correct speed and sometimes not.  Chanting people and drums.  Some of it sounds a little like that stuff in the desert scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, along with some percussion that may be someone beating on a water bottle with a mic inside.. 

Essentially plunderphonics and sound collage, various sources thrown on top of one another, manipulated and turned into something else, Left Out is a journey, and by no means the kind of one-trick-pony that something like this often becomes in lesser hands.  There's a flow here, and, while there are periods that won't let you forget you're hearing someone else's garbage collected in thrift shops, there are also transcendent moments in which there's very little in the way of guideposts pointing you back toward that shore.

For me where these things can come alive, as they do beautifully here, is in the sounds sourced from someone's personal audio, recordings from meetings, phone calls, the day-to-day ephemera, probably important to someone at the time of recording but now set adrift and out of context, devoid of its original meaning but given a new, more universal appeal through the sheer randomness of hearing it in this way.  This is immersive music made of scraps of everything, and worth hearing.

-- Kingo Sleemer