"Spring Peppers"
(Mythril Strap Records)

Spring Peppers is a seemingly random assortment of tracks by Providence, Rhode Island songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Bryan Reynolds (that admittingly came out in 2011). It opens with a song called “Mist Your Little Failure”, a fairly deconstructed, very strange, sophistipop song.The album has a unique, fresh take on lo-fi engineered hauntology and experimental pop songsmithing, recalling more the Residents than Ariel Pink, John Maus, or R. Stevie Moore. Reynolds voice is bold and unique even when the lyrics seem obtuse.

Reynolds mastery of guitar, drum programming, hand drums, and drum kit are apparent throughout. There is a bizarre tribute to Salvador Dali which repeats “I put a lobster on a phone” over and over and over and over with a strident confidence. “It Shines (Because Its Real)” is a catchy abstract shoe gaze song.

Some of the tracks are reminiscent of cable access grade science fiction scores. Elements of industrial such as Coil or O.L.D. is apparent in the electronic driven tracks. The final acoustic track, A Tame Lion III might be the best of all. If you’re looking for a thought provoking collection of experimental music that is heavy in the music department and light on the experimental, this might be a great listen. Longggg SOLD OUT!

-“Jamband” Josh Brown

“Plastic Exports”
(White Reeves Productions)

These are devotionals to the noncoding DNA within the human genome, the junk DNA. Are these components doing nothing in not encoding protein sequences? Are they doing something otherwise, perhaps regulating other protein-coding sequences? Who’s to say. Scientists have no idea. Scientists are dumb, according to the guy screaming at me on the corner. He is composed of nothing BUT junk DNA.

I’m junk for referring to Wikipedia for all my DNA-related information.

Junk DNA, the proper noun, the artist, the alter ego of Matt McDowell, functions properly. The tracks that make up “Plastic Exports” are devotionals to … maybe not the noncoding DNA within the human genome, but they’re certainly compositions whose molecular structures are 100% active in all aspects of execution. Nothing is wasted. Guitar, bass, vocals, keys, electronics, and field recordings, all performed by McDowell himself, intertwine among themselves like the structure of a double helix; each has its place, its purpose. Together they haunt the collective body, the many who become transfixed and transformed. Evolved.

These passages sneak, slink, weave, envelop, and penetrate. They’ve been on ice since 2012 for some terrible reason, only now released into the world for our consumption. And of course, White Reeves Productions is back, too! But after only a year of hibernation, not six years.

White Reeves Productions

--Ryan Masteller

"Recurring Chasms"
(Antiquated Future)

Soft guitars, windchimes, a bit of a lilting male voice. A pulsing, driving bass line.  Still that voice, which works very well here.  Full band kicks in with drums, that interesting guitar.  I'm feeling this, a muted and muffled recognition from somewhere to the side of the center.

Olympia, Washington's The Washboad Abs come at us with arpeggiated guitar over muted drums, and an almost a hushed reverence over a driving rock beat.  Travelling through some coma dream, some fever on this autumn afternoon.  A lightness and an airiness throughout.  There is a hefty undercurrent, a tight rhythm section locking the proceedings to ground though our head wants to embrace the clouds very often here.

Something about this feels lo-fi, though not in the way you'd expect. This is especially on side 2, starting with  something more upbeat, "One" is a bit of pop to color our Indie. But the overall feeling is so laid back, so lazy and drifting, it's sometimes hard to see the individual pieces here.  That said, the craft is undeniable, and this will get its hooks in your if you let it.

-- Kingo Sleemer


We have lost the will to exclude breakcore from our lives. X.nte, from Atlanta, Dirty South, makes obsolete the many years between the last time I bought a Digital Hardcore or Squarepusher CD and this present moment, and holy god it seems like I never should have stopped lining the shelves of my collection with this stuff. “CLOUD2” is a massive headrush, a MASSIVE HEADRUSH, in case lowercase letters didn’t do it for you there. They don’t cut it.

Interspersing remixes of other artists’ material with x.nte’s own, the producer weaves jagged and delirious electronic mayhem, a seemingly never-ending digital environment where we must navigate between EQ stalactites and stalagmites through a subterranean vortex. It’s impossible to loosen my white-knuckled fingers from my armrests – by blood’s pumping, my teeth are grinding in lockjawed intensity, I’m hyperventilating like I’m in the emergency room, I’m sweating through a jacket and two shirts.

I’m the pilot of a pixelated spacecraft dodging enemies and debris in tight quarters. It’s a goddamn exhilarating ride. I think an enormous NES ate me and I can’t tell the difference anymore.

Don’t stop purchasing x.nte’s “CLOUD2” from \\NULL|ZONE// till it’s gone. Edition of 50. 

--Ryan Masteller

“Black Book Run-On”
(Lighten Up Sounds)

Graham Baldwin, guitar purveyor of the mighty BLOODWALL, conjures walls of leaking blood on this improvisational two-part meditator. Well, the walls aren’t really leaking blood, and Baldwin’s atmospheres are a lot less stressful than walls leaking blood would suggest, but to say that Baldwin crafted these pieces with anything less than his own sweat and blood would be an understatement. So let’s call it, say, “bloodskin” music, or “blood vessel” music or something, because the blood is actually staying under Baldwin’s skin and in his blood vessels and not leaking from the walls or anything.

Back here on planet Earth we dive into “[t]his recording[, which] was made using a micro-cassette recorder to capture musical scenarios with various instruments, radios and electronics, performed on a semi-daily basis over a two-month period in the Summer of 2013.” I’ll tell you what I was doing in the summer of 2013: wrangling a two-year-old. Certainly not crafting space moods with guitars and electronics and strings and whatnot. I probably could have used that sort of Zen space. But I’m good.

The pieces, stitched together, form a unified whole that moves from fragment to fragment and side to side with ease, the transitions left unsmoothed for maximum tactility. We like that kind of stuff here – keep the frayed edges, the process blemishes, the hiss, the fuzz. That’s what I always say. Fortunately I’m writing about music and not building houses or anything – can you imagine if I applied that line of thinking to laying a foundation?! Process blemishes… I’d be fired for sure.

Graham Baldwin’s Bloodwall

Lighten Up Sounds

--Ryan Masteller

A I W A "Prepper Mindset"
(Always Human Tapes)

From the jump, A I W A delivers up a raw, experimental take on dance music. Excellent timbres and a constantly booty bass; awesome filter sweeps; crackly snares. It’s something thoughtful you could move to on the dancefloor.  A I W A’s calling card seems to be taking dance music conventions and deconstructing them into brightly colored riffs and beats.

“nut it delle” is a truly jaw dropping pan flute-synth song mixed with 90s horn stabs; a stand out track for sure! Fresh and unique, this is truly a raw take on current techno. Morphing phases and polyrhythmic beats; chimes and grooves. Some really inspirational hand clapping. Really clever counterpoint and throbbing basslines; tons of great subtle drops; brilliant flourishes of hi-hats. The melodics are very cloud like.

For people that like their techno /interesting/.

-“Jamband” Josh Brown

AMK "Caravan" 4xC10 (Phage Tapes)

AMK is one of those noise guys who has been around for a long long time and even though his is pretty prolific it is always quality. Caravan is no exception, it brings in a mix of beautiful turntable insanity as well as some incredible field recording tacks. Train Stop is probably one of my favorite tracks of 2017 with its gorgeous layering and beautifully captured found sounds.

I was a little put off at first by the format of 4 10 minute cassettes but it all kind of makes sense in the end. Highly recommended!

- - Marc Benner

“Revisited, Revisited, Revisited” (Eh?)

I never watched “Brideshead Revisited,” the 1981 British teledrama on ITV that starred a pre-“Dungeons and Dragons” Jeremy Irons, but if it’s anything like it seems from cursory research, the “Downton Abbey” contingent is sure to find it readily appealing. Here, on “Revisited, Revisited, Revisited,” the show’s theme, composed by Geoffery Burgon, is repurposed by artists L. Eugene Methe and Megan Siebe. Utilizing cello, violin, cassette loops, and electronics, the duo teases out the originals chamber vibe into an echo of otherworldly sound, a historical document harking back to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain with remarkable ease.

Perhaps it’s not too disingenuous to suggest that Methe and Siebe take a page from Leyland Kirby’s Caretaker manual, the ghostly-melancholia-of-nostalgia vibe cycled through effects. But hey, if it works, it works, and it certainly works. I’m pretty much transported exactly to a manor in the English countryside where I can lounge by trees with teddy bears or lounge by fountains with teddy bears or lounge in gondolas with teddy bears or rip around in this thing all day. The sounds bleed through time, from the past to the present, all on cassette tape like the prophecies foretold. These extended meditations on the theme are a delight to zone out to on a clear spring day, by fountains, trees, or streams.


--Ryan Masteller

“What’s All This New Piss?”
(Cassanova Cassettes)

If you dig straight up, balls to the wall rock and roll, then you’ll want to check out this tape!  Even though the album cover photo looked pretty cool, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the first release I was reviewing for Cassette Gods.  However, what I heard coming through the speakers of my kitchen counter cassette player while sipping my morning coffee and cooking Sunday breakfast was a solid, powerful sound that embodied a mixture of many of rock’s most influential bands from the past twenty plus years...and it was being produced by the energy of only two people!

The Asbury Park, New Jersey duo kicks off their latest 5-track EP with ‘Preacher Says So’, a song that sounds like it would be the love child of Oasis and the White Stripes. This is followed by ‘Here We Go Again’, a ditty reminiscent of early Strokes output.  Track three on the EP is ‘Paddle Out’, a song clearly influenced by the work of Nirvana.  The album concludes with ‘Shed is Old’, which is my personal favorite as it’s a fun rocker that takes one back to the 80s hair metal heyday.  Kudos to these guys for doing Bruce’s adopted hometown proud and keeping old school, kick ass rock and roll alive and well on the east coast! 

-- “Charlie” John Templeman

"U R Missing, U Destroyed From Inside” C37
(Abstract Tits)

Xenia Xamanek Lopez is a Copenhagen-based badass of many experimental hats, each of which somehow more distinctly adventurous than the last. & While other projects of hers focus more on drones or a choral base, this particular monicker, “C. Cell” draws its power from several disciplines including (but not limited to) Basinskian harsh noise cycles, where destroyed loop eats decaying loop eats dying loop, spacious narrative compositions of swollen distortion, non-beats, and live, knob-tweaking shouts into the void, and some good ol’ fashioned Skinny Puppy vignette worship, where nasty drum machines and ever-tweaked, tonal phrases battle to the death.

Not for the faint of heart, if this striking piece (to be ingested in its entirety) doesn’t grip you thoroughly, right away, may I suggest Taking your Time and zoning out a bit? The intricacies didn’t reveal themselves to me until after a handful of listens all the way through, but, once I strapped on the headphones, all the subtleties came out in full reinforcement; then I became a believer. Sit tight!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

ALEX CRISPIN "Idle Worship"
(Sounds of the Dawn)

Based on the tape’s title, I was pleasantly surprised to find Alex Crispin’s Idle Worship to be a beautiful drone album. The album begins with minute synthesizer melodies over a breezy soft pad sweep of chords. Calming, soft, and charming. This is some really special high fidelity new age music. I can feel the warm summer breezes and ideal locations. I lose myself completely. This is definitely something you can relax to. A storm of overtone melodies softly permeates throughout. There is some thoughtful piano work on this album. A while into the second side, hand drums make an appearance. The final track is a fantastic; evocative of Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach with rapid fire arpeggios, guitar, and layers upon layers of keyboards.

Whether you’re on your way to a yoga retreat, sitting at your favorite spa, or stoned off your gourd on the couch with a loud stereo, this is definitely a winner!

-“Jamband” Josh Brown

(Meta Errings Records)

This is the funkiest tape I believe I have ever received, and I of course mean that in a good way. Don’t misunderstand, this tape is rock and roll. )( somehow manages to be both in your face and laid back, frantic and soothing. Alex Ian Smith’s raspy falsetto is rivalled only by his excellent mix of guitar and bass. One thing I truly love about this tape is the synthesizer, we as music fans are at the beginning of a synth resurgence and I for one, am all for it. The synth on this tape is able to make me both nostalgic for the 80’s yet excite me for a future filled with jetpacks and shiny tracksuits. This album also showcases a talented drummer’s versatility with simplistic beats in the beginning to more complicated riffs in songs such as blinded by the blight.

With this tape, Railings combines influences from jazz, pop, and many different walks of rock to create a new and different sound. This tape plays just as well in your bedroom as walking through the city. )( creates a psychedelic rock experience that you don’t need drugs to enjoy, but it couldn’t hurt. Give it a try, after hearing the first track (not to be confused with the song track one) Breaking the Bong cut through the silence, you’ll be hooked.       

This cassette also included on its B side a sampler of other Meta Errings artists, and I will certainly be checking out 8-tracks from everywhere along with a few others.

---Drake Douglas

"Isinglass" C48
(Public Eyesore / Eh? Records)

Your average Josephine, when asked “What adjective would you use to describe the potential for this rock?” might reply “throwable” or maybe “stackable”, perhaps “cleavable”, but not likely “wobbly”, and even less likely “contact mic-able”, but, hey, Cheryl Leonard is not your average Josephine.

Possibly allergic to conventional instruments and/or western tonality in general, she produces and amplifies her own unique timbre-sets from such self-fashioned instruments as “driftwood pipe organ, Kelp Flute, and Kelpinet”. She also utilizes Japanese bowls and gongs, as well as contact-mic’d sand and wobbly rocks on hardwood floors (of which I have had the pleasure of seeing live, in tandem with progressive ballet)…aaand driftwood mobiles softly clinking together. This recording doesn’t include the myriad sculptures she’s made from horns & jawbones & pinecones & turtle doves & pear trees. She’s prolific in both her soundmaking and soundmaker production. If you’re not already, get acquainted via the link to her website below.

This specific release finds her collaborating with like-(out-of)-minded explorers Bryan Day and Jeph Jerman, they, themselves deft and prolific and here coaxing reverberant drones out of “household objects, invented instruments and radio transcievers”, the resultant being a surprisingly pleasant amalgam of ambient, drone, and percussive noises that feels both deeply narrative in composition and outright eternal in delivery.

To note, Eh? Records, out of Sam Framcisco, is putting out some truly outside-the-tetrahedron experimental/noise, so go on over and have an ear-gander at the samples available on their website.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

(Halfshell Records)

Like most music, the first thing that impressed me was the incredible detail payed to the packaging (blue glitter shell in a poly clear case). The album started with a speech read over what seemed like Beach Boys songs being played backwards. These are both good precedence’s for Seattle’s Basement Surfers brand of slightly progressive power pop. Some really cool guitar and keyboard tones float around the many, many parts of their songs! The first song made me curious about whether or not they surfed (like the ocean). The drumming is pretty nasty and the song structures and arrangement are dense and fascinating. Even a space rock jam breaks out now and then!!

Part way through the side is a sweet synth jam (has to be my fave overall). Throughout surf rock pastiches appear and fade. This tape really went off into a jam/guitar soundscape section towards the end of side a!!  Side b starts with a well-deserved series of catchy, seemingly more pop, oriented guitar rock songs. Side B has a flow to it, almost like a medley. The vocals are subdued and fine. I imagine the band likes Yes a bit, maybe too? Sadly SOLD OUT but check it out on bandcamp!!!

-- “Jamband” Josh Brown


Effortlessly translucent, Tropical Interface, a fresh-faced Russian producer connected via plantlike fibers to the so-called “eco-grime” scene (Resident Advisor’s term, not mine) as well as to Sydney-based instigative record label Eco Futurism Corporation, drops “OM1,” the first in hopefully a lengthy series of tapes for Orange Milk. Get it? “OM1”? If this keeps up, by the time “OM20” drops, the ocean will have reclaimed most of the surface of the Earth, save for a few island oases where cooperation with nature is the only option for survival. Of course there will be a recording studio on one of them – how do you think “OM20” came to be in the first place?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Tropical Interface is the sound of the molecules in the polar icecaps beginning to speed up with the increase in temperature, hastening glacial breakdown and the aforementioned expansion of ocean borders to terrifyingly inland locations. Balancing the molecular freakout with a pristine and clear tonal palette, Tropical Interface layers on coat after coat of digital sheen, expressing in synthetic reproduction a fully natural experience. This is the whole MO of the eco-futurism movement, though, a blend of nature and technology that seamlessly interweaves to evolve into something beyond even the vision of its creation.

Where “OM1” succeeds, thrives, and indeed moves far beyond any confines imposed upon it is in its delirious melodic structures and patterns. Tropical Interface sure does make some of the most pleasant and accessible footwork/drum-n-bass/etc. that you’re likely to hear, even as “OM1” doesn’t skimp on the virtuosic rhythms or breakneck pace. This tape is a living, breathing entity, a mad dash toward possibility, potentiality, and, in the end, probable outcomes. Cop one from an island oasis near you.

Tropical Interface 

Orange Milk

--Ryan Masteller

MARIJEAN "Shades of Green"
C90 (Chthonic Records)

Marijean fades in like a dream carried by a muffled, almost timid, voice. Shades of Green is overall downtempo and is often led by what sound like a synthesizer and a guitar. Though these electronics are prevalent, Marijean doesn't rely on over-the-top mixing to convey their somber passion and allows the listener to become engulfed in its warm tones. Shades of Green, in my opinion, is a lullaby that is heard from another room; if not another mode of thought altogether.  Even though this release is about an hour and a half long, I can't help but wish it were longer.

-- Julian Alvarez

SLIME MOB / 06515 Split (Self Released)

Not that I’d ever complain about any exposure for the Connecticut music scene, but these are tragically two of the most overlooked Connecticut experimental artists. Lots of people know Connecticut for its opulent suburbs and rural areas but many don’t know about the difficult streets of the inner cities. 06515 and Slime Mob embody the carnage of being an outsider musician in an unforgiving place.
The Slime Mob side of this tape is a sample driven masterpiece in urban sprawl and decaying media imagery. Mixing such diverse styles as crunk, breakbeat, straight hip hop, and found materials (the album opens with a blood curdling 911 call) the layering and beats are flawless and heavy with heavy guitar samples and booty bass galore.  This side even has a remix of Umbrella. It sound is almost like rows of car stereos slowly edging up a city street in tandem. If you ever wanted to have the snot scared out of you by a Handsome Boy Modeling School album then here you go.

The 06515 side goes off the deep end FAST and stays there. Booty bass, reggaetón riffs; doo wop samples; sirens and off phrase rhythms like you might hear in early Autechre. Its in a way smooth but also jarring. Its difficult to place how the complex sample tapestries were created. This sound is amongst the freshest of the fresh. Its like the speakers are moving around the room. It reminds me of waiting at the crowded bus stop at the New Haven green, the smell of all kinds of smoke in the air, people selling single cigarettes on the benches. The sounds of rhythms melting. At some points, cogency even breaks out in actual, complex, danceable music.
All and all, I feel like this split really expresses the style and dynamic of Connecticut experimental music at its finest. Look for more in the future from these two dynamos!!

Slime Mob side:

06515 side:

Still available if you contact Slime Mob!!

-- Josh Brown

"Thin the Blue Line" C26
(Split Banana Records)

Final Cop shares the same grim, industrial genetics as German Army, but eschews all of that namby-pamby, reflective/meditative stuff and worldly wisdom and focuses instead on working out the frustrations and ineffectuality that comes from suffering through a hard, city livin’.

For a GeAr ReLaTiVe, these songs come off like a (rightfully) jaded early 20s streetpunk testing the murky waters of self-medication and organized crime. Sounds like it might not pull one out of a bad mood so much as help cook up plans for revenge.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

RUNNING “Live at WFMU” (Monofonus Press)

From Running’s gushing butts comes a behemoth of fetid sleaze dank enough to overpower the most stalwart of our young heroic generation. Running is not for the squeamish. Running is for those who wallow, who wilt, who wonder what it must be like not to heave their stinking breakfasts back up day in and day out. Running is not for those of you who are into actual running. Running likes to sit alongside track meets with cases of PBR and hurl insults.

Speaking of hurling, Running lobs a hand grenade full of rotted meat into your open and vulnerable psyche while also literally lobbing gobs of rotted meat into your open mouth. Seriously, go to a Running show.1

Dressed in their Hawaiian shirts for radio (don’t ask me), the trio blasts through a vicious set of post-SST/AmRep noise to a radio audience that didn’t sign up for this shit. When they’re through, Thomas Storck, whose radio show they just played, can’t even muster acknowledgment. He just plays “Call This Number,” an entire A-side by Person of Interest. OK, fine, he thanks Running after “Call This Number” ends. But he’s not the same after listening to running – he’s changed. Like he’s been making out with a jackhammer.

In the end, the only thing you really need to ask yourself is, “Did I really just read a review beginning with a line about ‘gushing butts’? And I read the whole thing?”

1. Disclaimer: rotted meat may or may not be lobbed into your open mouth at a Running show.

Monofonus Press

Undancing in the Dirt with Thomas Storck: Playlist from July 17, 2016 [WFMU]

--Ryan Masteller

POCKET CLOUD “Tangle” (Valley Heat Records)

Pocket as far as I could tell is the debut album for Brisbane, Australia based band, Cloud Tangle, and if this is the first I sure can’t wait to see what comes next. Written and performed by solely by Amber Ramsay, Pocket is a ethereal, melodic concept album that would be impressive if created by a full band let alone one person.

Cloud Tangle’s Pocket is like a dream, a good dream to be sure. From the organ like synth, to the drawn out longing vocals, the whole thing makes you feel lost in another world. This is music that lends itself well to deep introspective thought, this is the kind of music you need playing when making life changing decisions out in the rain.

The best way for me to describe this album would be haunting, but beautiful. Listening to this tape you can just feel the time and emotion that went into putting it together, the way the instruments are used, some put at the forefront and others are hidden away only to be discovered in later listens. 

Favorite Track: Almost Close To You

--Drake Douglas

GERMAN ARMY - 3 tapes

"Kurgan Hearth" C39
(Os Tres Amigos)

What do German Army, Andre the Giant, Albert Einstein and a tweaker covered in baby oil all have in common? They’re pretty much impossible to pin down! Yes, you guessed it; GeAr continues to blurrr the ever-loving-shit outta the boundaries between industrial, ambient, tribal, and devotional genres, melding their disciplines like scratching an itch your third eye didn’t know it even had. Both expertly innovative and bewitching, this hypnotic (too upbeat for “hypnogogic”) document transports half our brains to distant Promethean ceremonial circles while dragging the other half along the exhaust-blackened walls of occupied underpasses soon to be “under construction” again.

This somewhat recent release (out of Portugal) is one of (well?) over 60 others (for GeAr) and is already sold out (of course), so give it a spin on the ol’ bandcamp (link below) and keep your eyes peeled for more brilliance in the (likely NeAr) future.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan


"Pyura Chilensis" C35
(Luce Sia)

I could see GeAr putting out a cassette in each of the 195 countries in this world by 2020 and each and every goddamn one of them being worth the shipping/smuggling cost. Seriously, this prolific project kicks out the…well…not “jamz” per se, but some seriously entrancing tracks of the industrial/ambient/tribal/devotional/fusion variety. And just what the fuck exactly does that sound like? Well, it sounds like German Army. 

This time around the globe, “Pyura Chilenses” comes out of Switzerland, and it’s a decidedly colder, more industrial offering, and just as Rock Solid as ever. My favorite track (Kaleteur Mist) pairs such disparate timbres as Andean flutes (field recorded, wafting over a valley?) and frenentic, blown out, metallic drum machines rattles that could be mined from any number of construction sites. Dynamically navigating the levels of attachment, GeAr evoke feelings of detachment and overwhelming mood-swing (of the chill variety), and it’s a damn fine trip! 

Strongly recommended for anyone who loves the early Skinny Puppy instrumentals/interludes.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan


(Total Black)

“Swidden” is yet another psychic onslaught from San Bernardino’s finest purveyors of ambient industrial wreckage and postapocalyptic sonic doom. Here we find the group on Berlin’s Total Black, a total perfecto match and a total win for central Europe. A total win for us Americans, too, as we’re able to purchase things from other countries and have them shipped to us here in the States. Bet you never saw that coming.

There’s also the digital files, but what’s the point.

Brilliantly earwormy as usual, German Army tracks wriggle around like arthouse nature films, like insects in the throes of predation. These tunes burrow into your brain like rat lungworms, parasites that feed off the very activity they create. In fact, the pulsing electricity created by brainwaves reacting to “Swidden” is sheer nourishment to a vast ecosystem internal to the human body. I’m certain you’d be super grossed out if you levied it with any degree of scrutiny.

“Swidden” is not for the faint of heart. German Army is never for the faint of heart.

German Army 

Total Black

--Ryan Masteller

"The Shape of Punk To-Go"
C10 (1980 Records)

In less than four minutes side one is over.  In less than four minutes side two is over.  Within those confines there's an assault that pounds a hole directly through the walls behind the speakers, directly through the third eye in the center of my forehead. 

This is technical, fast, driving metal and it never lets up. There are four song titles but it plays like two sides of solid pulsating insanity.  Well played and recorded and very intent on getting the point across.  Which is "we're going to tear down your house."

You can't listen to this quietly, and you'll not want to.   There's a Mr. Bungle/Secret Chiefs 3 thing going on here, a jarring and smashing but very precisely controlled aural brutality. Recommended as your outgoing message for when you don't want them to leave a fucking message.

--Kingo Sleemer

J. ZUNZ “Silente” (Monofonus Press)

Somewhere between Cocteau Twins and Mitski on that admittedly narrow spectrum lies J. Zunz, super music moniker of Ensenada, Baja California musician Lorena Quintanilla. Formerly of Guadalajara, Quintanilla “depicts the entrapment between unsolved happenings” on “Silente,” her first solo album.

Wait a second. Did I read that right – “the entrapment between unsolved happenings”? For those of you who are as obsessed about Twin Peaks (and in particular The Return) as I am, that should set your Spidey … er, Blue Rose senses atingling. I mean, that’s essentially the gist of the entire story arc: entrapment, unsolved, … happenings. Even the cassette title, “Silente,” conjures memories of Mulholland Drive’s Club Silencio, whose singer-in-residence, Rebekah Del Rio, made an appearance in Twin Peaks.

As an amateur sleuth, for me these dots connect ever so conveniently while listening to Quintanilla’s music, and it’s not difficult at all to imagine J. Zunz playing the Bang Bang Bar. In fact, she may just have in an alternate universe (wink wink).

[Why are you winking?]

[I don’t know!]

If J. Zunz did play the Bang Bang Bar, she’d slot in right between Lissie and The Veils, or maybe Trouble and Au Revoir Simone. She really, really wouldn’t be out of place at all. And I’m really getting hooked on “Silente.” Grab the heck out of it if you can.

J. Zunz

Monofonus Press

--Ryan Masteller

"In the Midlands everyone jerks on the private towpath"

I'm not exactly sure what this is nor if I've correctly identified the artist and title. This tape is recycled out a copy of Neil Young’s “Freedom,” but the artwork has been pasted over with a page torn from a novel. The cassette also has a sticker which reads "juicy bulbs and the scheduled tombs,” but internet searches for these phrases are fruitless. The audio contained is just as cryptic—the tape begins with a male voice with an English accent which croaks out “...its a good morning for rubbish.” The voice comprises most of the tape, but samples of other audio-snippets of music or news broadcasts-are sprinkled throughout.

I cannot discern any sort of narrative that links together the phrases, but I suspect that this tape was created from another tape of recorded voice, as some portions of audio are repeated but with different context given. Vampires appear several times, and the phrase “glorious nipple” is one which appears more than once, at one point said to “always seem bigger on the radio.” At one point I think I hear him say something about the “juicy bulbs” but I can’t be sure. This collage is pasted across both sides of the tape from end to end and is at once intriguing and grating. The voice is not pleasant nor easy to understand. It sounds as if recorded upon a hand-held tape recorder in various states of fidelity and sizes of room. Many fragments sound muffled as if recorded inside a pocket and through layers of fabric, or on a busy street. Towards the middle of the tape some of the audio seems to be affected with primitive tape-machine skills and blasts of static and noise.

I would compare the work here to that of Shane Edge or Aki Onda, but without further context I’m unsure of the purpose here. If you want to hear this, I’m not sure how you can find one nor how to contact the person(s) responsible. They sent it in for review however, so it’s intended to be experienced in some fashion. I’ll sum up this review with a quote from the tape itself: ”I’m a safe bet, not a nightmare chicken.”

--Ben Myers

"Last Day On Earth"
C30 (Staaltape)

Midori Hirano's side is primarily a piano piece with some ambient / experimental music elements thrown in. The piano piece isn't overly complicated but it is a great calming listen on this cold Sunday afternoon.

Kris Limbach's side is  a much more noisy musique concréte composition. This being one of my favorite genres it is always great to find a new artist and especially one who does it well. This track does remind me of some Small Cruel Party works, clean but wavering in and out of discernible sources.

Overall I am impressed with Kris Limbach and not disappointed by Midori Hirano's composition. I do like that Staaltape did mix these two artists together because releases like this show it does not always need to be artists that are exactly the same on a split release.

- - Marc Benner

"Karst" C42
(Monofonus Press / Astral Spirits)

Jeph Jerman & Tim Barnes have teamed up to deliver a few long form, layered, sonic poses of textured ambience* for your inner storytelling pleasure, so put some meditation pillows in the closet & strap on the ol’ headphones for an exercise in mental multi-tasking.

Journey 1, titled “Scumbling” finds you navigating urban life’s rich tapestry of vehicular reverberations mixing with a subtle, utterance-free toiling.

Journey 2, titled “Occluded” could be anywhere, but I’d put my money on a gambling hall. Cheap, contact mic’d tables give away secrets, and a quick getaway to another country is on the menu.

Journey 3, titled “Karst” is painful. Something happened. Maybe a goon cracked a bottle over your noggin or maybe it was the pills. Either way, something ain’t right, and you’ve gotta take care of that splitting headache or…

These are just a few possible interpretations of what “Karst” may yield those a-yearning for a subtly guided daydream.

*To note: One might ask, “Now why in the hell would I want to listen to field recordings of everyday sound happenings paired with another human being’s whimsical responses in the form of clattering about?” The answer might involve the careful mixing of said soundscapes & scrapes together and your own relationship to repeated listens.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

(Rok Lok Records)

“To Be Here” is the 28th release on Stars Are Insane’s Bandcamp page, but the first that I’ve heard. Mike Andriani creates guitar-based drones which bookend and backlight pop songs, using 4-track tape and layers of guitar. This is ethereal bedroom-pop which is heavily inspired by 90s lo-fi and shoegaze culture. The cover art perfectly compliments the music: a silhouette of a tree-line against a purple sinset, one pinprick of light beginning to shine through the haze. The sounds warble and flow along the riverbed carved by tremolos and tape-delays of the past, propelled by lazy drum machines and oscillating drones.

Vocals are not always present, and often sparse. The lyrics reflect upon the passage of time and the changes which occur within ourselves and among our relationships. Sometimes the voice reaches just a bit out of key, but that only reinforces the bedroom quality of the recording. On the song “They Won’t Destroy Us” the guitars warp and bend against a steady progression, suggesting the feeling I get when staring at a flagpole against a flow of clouds. The pole threatens to fall and crush me, but never reaches and I float safely below. “Dream King” reaches into more propulsive territory, with a driving beat and squall of guitar. Still this short, restrained rocker doesn’t fly off into the stratosphere. In two minutes the dream is over and “Then There Was the Sky” drifts into the forefront, an instrumental composition of layered drones and melodies.

Recorded in the fall and winter of 2016, “To Be Here” feels perfect for the cold twilight of those months, breath hanging in the air and stars twinkling more clearly. Andriani keeps the pace unhurried and lays blankets of guitar across the songs on this tape. This is DIY shoegaze at its chillest. Play this and watch the icicles grow.

--Ben Myers

“Seekers” C42 (Cosmic Winnetou)

Inspired School of Astral Music, from North Kansas City, somehow has connected to my brain. It’s the “astral” part, isn’t it, the unknowable spiritual dimensionality that allows linkage without a physical bond. How else would Inspired School come to the same conclusion as me, that “it is possible to experience the music from beyond within, and voice this experience through a musical instrument”? I’ve been saying that for, like, ever! Well, not in so many words, but definitely a variation. Reading that then listening to “Seekers” has kind of validated a lot of what I believe about music. Or at least my online persona believes it, since in reality I’m just a collection of computer coding masquerading as a human presence on social media and music sites for some reason. (Or maybe I’m a demon-possessed laptop. Who’s to say for sure?)

Inspired School of Astral Music exposes the inner melodies calmly attempting to guide us through life, manifesting as droning synthesizer with exquisite solos to keep our attention. The trancelike repetition is underscored with pulsing energy, truly giving the impression that it pipes in from another plane of existence. Also, each track is (at least digitally – there are no track titles listed on the physical product itself) dedicated to someone or something: “For D.,” “For C.,” “For L.,” “For G.,” “For A.” This gives “Seekers” an extra sense of camaraderie and interconnectedness, that the music filtering through the Inspired School is just that – filtered, not owned, freely given to those who deserve or require it. It’s not for us, it’s for you. It’s not for me, it’s for them. It’s not for ISoAM, it’s for D., and C., and L., and G., and A., and everybody else. I’d argue that it might not be for me, being a bot and all (or a demon), but probably nobody’s going to think about that very much after reading this. They’ll be too busy getting a psychic massage from the Inspired School of Astral Music tape they just bought.

Inspired School of Astral Music

Cosmic Winnetou

--Ryan Masteller

Larry Wish, Lips & Ribs, Oxykitten

Yo everybody! Put down your snow shovels and strip off your snowsuits, spring is here! And so is a new spring batch of tapes from your favorite purveyors of ice meltage and plant growage, Field Hymns! I know, shut up, right? Yeah, shut up!

LARRY WISH “How More Can You Need?”

Not a typo, this title, “How More Can You Need?” Larry Wish is just drunk, probably, or maybe high on pollen (god, this pollen), hovering around his synthesizer and dreaming up wistful and off-kilter anthems for waking up in sunlight rather than darkness. Wishing upon warbling stars, we are transported to Larry’s magical realms where gnomes and fairies populate our conscious REM visions, stumbling through seasick synthwork on a path to discovery. Discovery of what? Discovery of fun, kids! Listening to Larry Wish is like mainlining Lucky Charms, and don’t you pretend you didn’t deck yourself out all in green this St. Paddy’s Day. Sprinkles, sparkles, spackles, crackles, wibbles, wobbles, wubbles. I think my cereal was dosed.

LIPS & RIBS “Battle in Nagoya”

Casio-wave boss fight music never sounded so refreshing and alive! “Battle in Nagoya” follows “Males in Harmony” (actually, all these artists pretty much follow themselves on this here Field Hymns label – is that cannibalism or incest, or neither?), a crash course in hyperspeed sugar-rush synthesizer/rock dynamics. Like chiptune’s bigger, beefier brother, Lips & Ribs prep you for digital dancefloors and digital mosh pits alike. Pretend you’ve been sucked into a computer like Jeff Bridges in “Tron” and try not to get yourself de-res’d as you play disc-throwing games, and laserbike racing games, and generally avoiding those flying 2D robots that look sort of like renderings of old Cylons. I mean, all you have to really do is take a stroll down electric blue lanes on this glorious digital spring day. See? Lips & Ribs still make us feel good about ourselves even though we’re comprised of computer code.

OXYKITTEN “Gleeking the Cube”

Speaking of getting out of the house and hitting the streets on this perfect day, Oxykitten has misspelled probably my favorite Christian Slater skateboarding movie, in the process adding way more saliva than necessary. But, like an unholy hybrid of Larry Wish and Lips & Ribs (it’s incestuous, that’s what it is), the ’Kitten barrels forward, heel-flipping and ollying and popping shuvits like nobody’s business. If someone had the audacity to attach wheels to a MiniKorg and record the sound of skateboarding upon it, it would be Oxykitten. Synth excursions abound, trees sprout through the cracks in the skatepark concrete, and we all receive a lovely cassette-shaped flower from Oxykitten, grown from the neck of a dead squirrel. Inhale the fragrance, kickstart your histamines!

--Ryan Masteller

"Echoic Architecture” C60
(Polar Seas Recordings)

If the serial killers don’t get you, the squatters and security guards will likely give you a hard time. This is why you can’t just explore abandoned buildings whilst donning headphones. Luckily, there’s a way to safely transport and guide your mind through infinite catacombs, subway tunnels, condemned warehouses, and more! Try “Echoic Architecture” by the good folk over at Endurance!

Per Bandcamp, Endurance has churned out over a dozen releases in the last two years, and my guess is that this is what it sounds like when a Canadian-living-in-Japan’s hobbies are centered mostly around making professional-quality field recordings of subtle city sound textures and sculpting high-frequency overtones and organ drones. The sound is pure, dissociative desolation. A blooming relationship with crumbling walls, damp pipes, and neglected electrical equipment develops as a coping mechanism.

Yes, this tour is a lonely one, but only if allowed, so you keep your footsteps for company, and as the hour-long soundtrack comes to a close, as you reach the final landing and fling open that half-rusted out door to realize a barren rooftop, with its collapsing garden of chimneys & satellite dishes, the realization of how expertly scaffolded this waking dreamscape truly was beams down on you like a perfectly timed sun poking through the clouds.  Happy exploring.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan