DAS “Feinted Haunts” (Close/Far)

Look DAS, I get it. I, too, was a freaky “X-Files” fan, which I’m assuming you are, because nobody who’s not an “X-Files” fan says this about their music:

“‘Feinted Haunts’ is about the line between fascination and fixation where memories can become haunted and how grappling with them can be as perplexing and disturbing as the deepest desire to witness the supernatural.”

I have a deep, deep desire to witness the supernatural. In fact, I may already have. I’ve seen UFOs (as in unidentified flying objects – who’s to say whether they were “alien” or “supernatural” or whatever). Really. I’ve seen a demon manifest itself. Really. I’ve come across gnomes in the deep, dark Bavarian forest. Really.

But what DAS gets, what isn’t necessarily obvious when you think about it, is the VIBE, the mood, the intense propulsion of a narrative thread and of excitement. Channeling John Carpenter, channeling other composers who think like John Carpenter, DAS plugs in to the darkness, the night terrors, the weird black shadows where stuff lurks that you don’t really want to encounter.

Oh, but you really want to encounter it. That’s the point.

Then “Feinted Haunts” is for you. It will accompany you on all your late-night ghost/alien/demon/oddity-hunting adventures. It will soundtrack your games of D&D. It will accompany you on your walk home from Bob’s apartment. It will be there when you need the fortitude to whip out your phone’s camera and record whatever the hell it is that’s in the alley over there. And it will do it gladly, and without fear. Because what’s life if you can’t impose a little mood music on your dangerous situations now and then?

Boring, that’s what. Even if you die in the process.

DAS (whose Bandcamp link is “Feinted Haunts”? I’m confused)



NEONDEMON “Six Songs” (Death Boutique)

It’s spelled backwards on the tape, how is it pronounced? Nowednoen? No, it’s NEONDEMON from a vanity micro-label based in Sydney, Australia. A fitting name for the artist of this stimulating collection titled Six Songs. These are some synth heavy songs that show NEONDEMON’s overview from 2012 to 2016.

It starts off with a wobbly bassline over drum machine clicks. Throughout the first track, “Pickman’s Mephitic Models”, different grooves and synths introduce themselves before leaving suddenly while leaving the main theme underlying it all. This album stays pretty consistent with a driving rhythm, low growling bass and wet synth bells repeating motifs throughout the tape. The third track, “Batlüng ‎Å” has a hyper-speed square wave lead line that suddenly throws you into a flute playing softly over bird chirping around the one minute mark, an unexpected but welcomed break from the noise.

You can really see NEONDEMON’s progression as an artist as you listen to their Six Songs. There is an interesting array of soundscapes for what this project is: fast grooves, emotional drawn out swells, and a somewhat ominous conclusion to wrap it all up. The last track on this tape is titled “The Pink City” which is about homage to travels to the city of Jaipur, in India. It concludes the album when sounds we have not heard enter in the form of sitars and the buzz of flies.

Consequently, Six Songs is a world of its own. Each song seems to have a message that I cannot decipher on this mysterious, pink colored tape with a man in a white mask on the cover.


-- Zack Moncrieff

SLUSH "Frog Water" (Personal Militia)

Slush is a Garage Rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Their, as far as I can tell, debut album; Frog Water combines several styles like punk, hardcore, and alternative rock.

From the loud and in your face opening track 'Your Place' to the sludge track 'Or'. This album explores everything that is great about indie rock.

'Predator' sounds like it could be an MGMT song. Even with all the different genres the album combines, it doesn't stray all over the musical map, it is mostly a punk rock album.

Features pad printed green colored cassette, full color J card.
Best tracks: Predator, Victim


--Chuck Wolfe

QUITTER “Quitter” (Death Collective)

Nobody likes a quitter. You either finish what you start, or you get the hell out of here, mister! That’s what my grandpappy always used to tell me, and he hand-painted every square inch of the U.S. Navy over his lifetime. Often while weeping into the sea.

I’ve discovered an exception to this rule in the form of Quitter, a Glasgow-based musician named Kenny Bates, who isn’t actually a quitter and is pretty driven and inspired a lot of the time. In fact, he’s the exact opposite of a quitter if you get my meaning. You don’t? OK, follow along, then.

On his second release as Quitter, Bates, fka Lefthand, mics up his bedroom or basement or wherever and records directly into his 4-track or, like when he has a live drummer and bass player (as he does on “For the Hell of It,” “Bert, I’m Searching for Oblivion,” and “Cooler”), into some digital apparatus (but these band-y ones might be 4-track-y too – who’s to say?). Undaunted by these recording limitations, Bates presses forward, presses record, and knocks out a batch of melancholy guitar-based indie tunes, just like our forebears did. Little fuzz here, little rockin’ out there, and you’ve got a finished product you can sink your teeth into. Quitter? Hardly. “Finisher” is more like it. “Champion.”

Quitter’s sound spans the decades since indie first formed, fully, from the firmament, a magmic eruption that hardened within minutes and stands to this day as a monument to all guitar-bearing songwriters. Strains of Pavement, Death Cab, and Beach Slang are present in Quitter’s DNA, and this self-titled cassette is as fully formed as the forebears. Formed in full. Fully. Firmament. Foundation. Fixodent.

Fuck it, I’m not writing anymore. I quit. Sorry grandpappy.


Death Collective


THE MYRIAD ONES “The Hardest Part” C37 (Already Dead Tapes)

[Yanks door open, slamming it against the wall, nearly ripping it off its hinges]

What’s going on here?! This Bob Bucko joint is NOT experimental, and I don’t know what to think anymore. My perspective has been turned upside down, and there just aren’t enough appletinis in the world in which to drown my confusion and frustration. If only there was a way that this music could soothe the savage beast within…

Oh wait, so this Myriad Ones tape is actually pretty good, preconceptions notwithstanding. Actually, who NEEDS experimental when you’ve got the hooks that The Myriad Ones have got! And it’s not just Bob, Storm Ross is on guitar, lending a fuzzy-ass hand to these actual power pop tunes – yes, ACTUAL power pop tunes! Ranging from the trebly new wave of “La Luv” to the Yo La Tengo-with-a-flying-V of “Pretty Things” to the Echo and the Bunnymen-esque “Butterfield” and the … oh, you get it. The Myriad Ones have you covered for every car ride that lasts thirty-seven minutes … or longer, if you want to repeat it. You might just want to do that.

Featuring guest turns by rapper Darko the Super (nice turn on “Stark”!) and Kristina Castañeda (nice turn on “Let’s Take Care of Each Other,” “Moonfight,” and “Better to Forget”!), The Myriad Ones take a collaborative approach, indeed crediting each song to “whoever played on ’em” – including Jeremy Edwards, whose drumming appeared on three tracks (you didn’t think we’d forget you, Jeremy?!). Everything on “The Hardest Part” just seems to fit together, yet effortlessly, like when you start a puzzle and you open up the box and half of it’s together already because the last person forgot to break it apart. And while I find the puzzle thing supremely goddamn annoying, it works perfectly well in the context of music. So … there, ok?

Why don’t you ask the dog on the cover how he feels, if you don’t believe me? “Ruff ruff! Ryriad Rones’ ‘Rardest Rart’ ris rerightful! RRRRrreal reat! Ruff ruff!”

I told you.

Oh, and, uh, sorry about the door.

Already Dead Tapes


HOT SNAKES "Jericho Sirens" (SubPop)

I feel like it was not too long ago, that I read that Hot Snakes are in the studio. While I was very excited I was also a bit weary. While their last album "Audit In Progress" was a great album, it was not as groundbreaking as Automatic Midnight and Suicide Invoice. Though I felt the same way about Suicide Invoice when I first listened to it.
So, after a couple of weeks of listening to this album, I ready to give it a nice writeup.

First of all, I have to say it is very telling already, by the amount of times I have listened to this, that I enjoy it.

Jericho Sirens starts out with a solid lead track called "I Need A Doctor". Classic "Rick screaming his head off with lyrics that make you kind of uncomfortable" kind of track.

"Candid Cameras" has a Sonic Youth kind of artsy rock style to it.

Then we get treated to "Why Don't It Sink In?", which is somewhere between a the punkest song ever and album filler.

After that they apologize to us with probably the strongest track on the album, "Six Wave Hold Down", comes on. Hot Snakes returns to their Automatic Midnight era sound. Pumping Bass, slides between chords, awesome guitar fills, everything you want in a Hot Snakes song!

Lastly on side A is "Jericho Sirens", I would probably flip the tape over at this point but the next song on side B is really good. I'm just kidding, its not that bad. I like the drum playing very much on this song, and its got the pumping bass synth/DBX 120 thing happening.

"Death Camp Fantasy" starts out upbeat but then becomes more reflective. Also a very solid track. Probably my second favorite.
"Having Another?" Brings us back to their Suicide Invoice sound, very energetic, must be great live!
"Death Doula" also sounds like it could be on Suicide Invoice. Probably in my bottom three tracks list.
"Psychoactive" breaks us out of everything we thought was Hot Snakes, while the style is still Hot Snakes. The mood change at 1:30 makes the hairs on my back stand up.
"Death Of A Sportsman" is also a song that is a pushes the Hot Snakes sound to new territory. Some parts are reminiscent of Ricks work in The Obits. I can sense a Fugazi influence to it. The song ends the album perfectly.

So there you go. If you are a Hot Snakes fan, buy this album, it rocks. If you're not a fan, it is not too late, buy the album.


COMPS “self-titled”
(Escape from Party Island)

Breezy like Archer Prewitt or Real Estate or maybe Car Seat Headrest, COMPs, formerly Compliment City (aw, I like that one), is Geoffrey C. Webb of somewhere in Michigan, a bedroom pop auteur with an ear for candy-coated melody. And while my cousin Jeff would be mocking Webb for spelling his name wrong, I will not stoop to such ridiculous lows. Here on his self-titled debut cassette, Webb collects two EPs, “I Love My Fucking Pets” (side A) and “pip pap pop” (side B, and from which the cover art is taken). Pleasant, unchallenging indie never sounded so sweet, so much like a “Final Fantasy” character lovingly holding a cartoon sheep. Try to get the unrelenting jangle out of your head, the pure misty-eyed wistfulness of youth out of your heart, and you’ll just be thwarted, frustrated by Webb’s songcraft, written and recorded in a stumbling frenzy, quick and unvarnished, reminiscent of teenage melodrama. Fall in love or break up, I don’t care. This is Webb’s version of everything.

Escape from Party Island



OHM “G5” C50
(Dinzu Artefacts)

I’ve been sitting on this chair in this museum for what seems like hours, and I think everyone has gone home except for Ohm, the Dutch trio tinkering away on … instruments? … in the corner over there. I dare not move, unless I break the spell. That I have an important appointment I simply must get to is inconsequential – I should’ve thought of that before I wandered into this museum and sat down on this chair and become mesmerized by this Ohm group. Oh well – the vice chancellor can wait fifty minutes!

For I am a paragon of patience myself, at one with the slow unfolding of “G5,” unfazed by heaps of objects designated “sound sources”: “sound guns”; “spinning top”; “shredder”; “pencil drums”; “mechanics.” These are the things you hear on “G5,” among others, played live and recorded at two different sessions in 2017: Sonic Acts at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Gaudeamus Muziekweek, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht. That I’ve spelled these things correctly is a minor miracle unto itself.

It is impossible to know what is being played while listening to the recordings on cassette tape, but being there, sitting on this chair in this museum, is like being a witness to a slow-motion tornado of minimal rhythmic activity. Ohm’s sounds are like breathing, air flowing into and out of lungs, punctuated by dust motes and germs and coughs – so, smooth, yes, but also tactile and a little disconcerting.

As “G5” passes the fifty-minute mark I unglue myself from my position and wander off toward the entrance, forgetting everything that I was supposed to do in the past hour and not worrying about it anymore anyway, I am inspired to maybe wander through a gallery or two before poking my umbrella-covered head back out into the overcast city. Although if they don’t have any Picassos in here, I’m gonna be pissed.

[Disclaimer: I wasn’t actually there.]

Dinzu Artefacts


“Moving Fast 4 U”
(Zaftig Records)

Hey, they have soul and funk music in Toronto? Who knew! I always assumed everything coming out of Canada was in some way connected to the New Pornographers or Tragically Hip (oh, Gord…) family trees, but hey, I’m always happy to be proven wrong. And I should’ve seen it coming – the title of this tape, “Moving Fast 4 U,” is a Prince homage if I ever saw one, and I’ve seen like a million of them. RIP, purple fella…

Wow, it seems all I’ve done here is paid my respects to two musicians who’ve left indelible marks on the industry. Sorry for being a downer.

United Power Soul is not a downer. They will have you jumping and boogieing and dancing and getting jiggy and whatever else you kids using lingo from 1978 to 1996 are doing! “But Ryan,” you ask, “like most other people, I don’t live in Canada. How can I possibly experience the unbridled highs of a United Power Soul set?” Foolish reader, you’ve come to the right place. You can buy a United Power Soul tape, duh! This is Cassette Gods, after all. Plus, there’s a link right here.

United Power Soul
Zaftig Records


“Blue Green Depth”
(III Arms)

You can’t read this -- it's a redacted document. Let’s pretend you didn’t even see it on my desk. I have to get it down to Archives before the end of the day, and I haven’t even blacked out all the sensitive information yet.

Are you just going to stand there while I do it? OK, but don’t read anything as I’m working. Like I said: SENSITIVE INFORMATION.

OK, I’ll give you the lowdown, as long as you PROMISE not to tell anyone. Seriously, this conversation is not happening right now. I could go to jail. Gitmo, maybe.

So what do you want to know about Operation: “Blue Green Depth”?

You’ve heard of the “German Army,” right? You should have -- this office is littered with evidence documenting their existence. This “German Army” uses a form of sonic warfare to infiltrate the population, then they pump their scandalous message into unsuspecting minds by subliminal means.

Yeah -- "Blue Green Death” is nefarious. Nefarious and catchy.

Turns out that most of the “scandalous message” is true -- and you know we can’t let the truth get out, right? That’s why we REDACT all this stuff and send it to Archives where no one will ever see it again.

If we allow the general public access to this information, there’s no telling what could happen. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

German Army

III Arms


NEON LIES “II” (Black Verb Records)

Just in time for the new cold war (is that what it is?) comes Neon Lies on Berlin-based Black Verb Records. Chilly synthpunk meets … well, it’s chilly synthpunk, you probably aren’t going to get a better descriptor out of me than that. And that’s OK – Neon Lies, from Zagreb, Croatia, is under a distinct historical curtain from which this type of music is a perfect escape, a dancepolitik of dissatisfaction with a sharpened steel Eastern European edge. Trebly crashes punctuate minimalist black-clad songcraft, nocturnal nightclub culture abuts deeply rooted urban ennui.

Neon Lies can’t tell us anything we don’t know, but it’s nothing we don’t already believe. Or, uh, what we refuse to believe. I keep mixing those up. It’s all in the context.

This is the sound of digging in to a long occupation. The sound of small rebellion. The chipping away at the status quo. Neon Lies has tapped the pulse of frustration and used its blood on its sonic canvas. Still, wear sunglasses always, so no one can determine your loyalties. The truth is in the eyes.

Neon Lies

Black Verb Records


“Usphutorontus Deius Nissesubla”
C60 (Aubjects)

Oh my god, Aubjects does it again. Aubjects is always doing it, apparently, and “Usphutorontus Deius Nissesubla” (“I know not what it means, but I'm certain it's absolutely true” – not sure if that’s a translation or a comment, actually) by Directives is a winner before you even press play on it. Hold one of the edition of 20 with handmade and -stamped covers in your paws, with “hand-painted sand paper applied to hand-cut blue paperboard. … Hand-stamped covers. Photocopied insert w/ hand-inked symbols.” You’ll get it, then. You’ll understand. Look at that image up there – mine’s second from the right on the top row. This thing is so tactile it’s ridiculous.

Haven’t even pressed play yet. Now I did, and it just keeps getting better and better. D. Petri, the identity behind Directives, experiments with guitar, etc., but comes across like a one-person prog band for the effort. These two 30-minute sides are absolutely overflowing with shimmering waves of sonic joy. Beyond inventive, Directives just keeps layering on treat after treat of effects-laden instrumentation, building an entire world you can get lost in for a long damn time. This is easily a recent favorite and will go back on the “relisten” pile – and NOT the one where I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get back to it.” No, I’m listening to Directives again tomorrow.



“Candy & Coombs” (Hand’Solo)

I just discovered the Rock the Bells radio station on Sirius in my car, so it’s been pretty exciting getting reacquainted with all the classic hip hop I haven’t listened to in a long time. I’m serious, slipping back into that has been exhilarating, like I should’ve paid more attention to it the first time around. I’m not a true hip hop connoisseur, but man, when it’s on, it’s ON. And it’s pretty rare we get handed hip hop tapes to write about here for Cassette Gods, let alone decent ones. So this confluence of events seems to be hitting at just the right time…

…that I pulled the Crash Silverback and Max Muthaphukin’ Stax tape from the pile. I love nerd rap, guys, let’s just get that out in the open. You start dropping sci-fi references in your verses, you got me hooked. So these two guys, one who’s got the voice of said silverback, the other who has the voice of the squirrely alien hitching a ride in the gorilla’s brainpan, probably shouldn’t be flowing as smoothly and as super entertainingly as they do. But they do, consistently, and the production is gritty and the samples are on point. Oh my god, I was just thinking about 3rd Bass and Crash Silverback drops a “Gas Face” reference on “Wolfgang.” That’s the sign, ladies and gentlemen – the sign from on high to buy this tape.

Hand’Solo Records


ASPS “s/t” 2xC24 (Nostorca)

Ballsy move there, ASPS, going the “Foghat Principle” route with the double live tape. Well, if “live at the lake June 2017” is your “At Budokan,” then you’re in great shape, because that was a bestseller. And there’s no reason to think “ASPS” WOULDN’T be a bestseller, because it’s filled to the brim (2xCS worth, that is) with the kind of viperous synthesizer racket that the kids today really sink their teeth into. Notice I didn’t say “fangs.”

So how many did Nostorca print up of these? A couple mil? Doesn’t matter, you can always go back to press. Till then I’m smitten by these four sides, these four passages, eleven to twelve minutes each, that just slither under the skin and shoot into the bloodstream. Heartstopping, poisonous electronic workouts! Deep jungle creepage, heavy new wave video game death, hovering alien spacecraft transmissions, werewolf miasma wreckage… Oh to be in the audience on that delightful June evening.

Maybe I’m biased because I’m holding this thing in my hand, but I feel like I can never turn it off, this Norelco cube out of which pulses sound and light, like the fabled Tesseract or the evil masks in “Halloween III: Season of the Witch.” Now, I realize that “ASPS” isn’t in the shape of a Halloween mask, but stick with me here – there’s mind control going on, and I’m afraid I’m gonna bite the big one if I can’t let go of it.

But I oh so don’t want to let go, or stop listening! Drink … the poison …



GRISHA SHAKHNES “ARCS” (Marginal Frequency)

Tel Aviv artist Grisha Shakhnes specializes in field recordings, and “ARCS” delivers the goods like a clandestine briefcase swap in a darkened alley. In fact, this is the exact vibe that Shaknes is going for here, as if he pulled a slip of paper from a “mood hat” with the words “darkened alley” written on it, thereby tying him to clandestine nocturnal deeds for the duration.

And that’s great, because he’s pretty good at it. Lots of low end, with discrete features emerging here and there, lots of details you have to squint your ears to catch. Sort of makes listening like a treasure hunt, or a form of audio forensics, like in one of those 1970s movies where sound engineers have to parse clues from recordings to discover who committed the crime: “The Conversation,” or the one with John Travolta. Those were pretty good movies. Can’t get away with those now, what with hi-def video surveillance and GPS tracking all over the place and whatnot. Still, relics of a forgotten time…

Marginal Frequency recommends a subwoofer, and I don’t disagree. Stick your head right up next to that old stereo speaker for the full effect.

Marginal Frequency


“capas de un tapiz” C55
(Marginal Frequency)

To understand: Cristián Alvear and Santiago Astaburuaga are a Chilean duo who perform here the works of Rolando Hernández (side A, “topializ”) and Nicolás Carrasco (side B, “sin titulo #21”). Alvear and Astaburuaga play a variety of instruments and electronic components, sometimes dropping into moments of almost complete silence. These lengthy compositions, almost half an hour each, require a delicate touch and almost scientific care. Metronomic rhythm intrudes at points, as does mechanical interference.

If you imagine a space, a studio, a museum perhaps, maybe a laboratory, where sound becomes a subject to be scrutinized as if it took on physical properties, “capas de un tapiz” would be the recording of it. It’s almost impossible to separate the functions that brought about these sounds’ creation from the sounds themselves, and imagining Alvear and Astaburuaga surrounded by instruments and other ephemera and exploring, experimenting, and discovering is the only way to fully enjoy and understand this tape. But hey, it sounds pretty intense too, so maybe just do what you want?

Marginal Frequency


(Os Tres Amigos)

In the hills of Oakland, Pauline Oliveros's frogs still reign supreme, still rain down their psychedelic exhortations to the burning grass fires and warehouses below; "Come! Do osmose your soulless din through our amphibious skin! Let the chordal whir of your motorhearts sew itself into the motherchorus of life we summon!"

&Some 10,000 kilometers away, Gili Mocanu answers this call with his and Katri Virtalaakso's Audio/Visual collaboration, Somnoroase Pasarele, specifically via their latest album "Auto[1]", out on Portugal's label, "Os Tres Amigos".

A cursory glance at the 25cm x 20cm mini-poster included will show a cartoon calendar-esque caricature; the internal organs/rooms of a living breathing tenement building, both its healthy and sick microfauna, spending and passing their lives in hollowed out ecstacy, deep introspection, and/or manufacturing their basic needs. Each room is built to be independent, yet they all contribute to the aches and quakes of their greater structure, this beast itself under the weight of so many plaguing forces, all interplaying independently, no One Single Straw upon any camel's back.

A cursory ear bent under decent headphones will reveal textural galaxies gravitationally guided by, but nowhere near adherent to, some concerted allusion of scaffolded intention. Syncopated sonic strata upon strata upon strata interweave and unveil themselves, intermittently, in four dimensions or more, the breath between each measured nervous meditation acting as wavering pausal walls between aforementioned rooms/organs above. And then there are all the frogs; robotic, amphibious, their atonal mating calls and war cries, their rubberized digits' pads dragging shredded suction-cuppylike across smooth'd granite and broken glass, shrill trills and deep moans coaxing sympathy from the hills and deep down below the earth's crust, urging greater faults to subterraneously groan along, hertz-wise; implied.

Anyone who has ever attempted to meditate knows the true brute force of the monkey mind, its unbridled power to redirect, fracture, quake & liquify the very foundations of breath itself, this in/exhalation an otherwise universal means to keep time. In this rhythmic hallucination, Gili Mocanu colours & contours so many atonal, timbrally pregnant signals, chirps, & floes with a hypnotist's massaging of time's passing, rendering audible a channeling of earth's possessed vibrations, mocanucured mercurially, to get lost in, over and over and over, again.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

THE MIDNIGHT VEIN “s/t” (self-released)

I was really excited when I read that John Agnello had mastered this bad boy – I was hella ready for some throwback Jawbox-y shit, I truly was. You can forgive my confusion at the jangly indie rock that emanated from my speakers, then, and I did a head-fake double-take back at the j-card where I read: John Angelo.

Not John Agnello.

OK, deep breath, you can get through this.

The Midnight Vein is actually pretty A-OK, an indie throwback or two from Buffalo who definitely know their way around their local studio. I’m reminded of the fun melodic bands with acoustic guitars as main instruments that used to play with my much more electrified rock bands in high school and college. (One of those openers was a Dead Milkmen side project, not gonna lie.) Like Decemberists meets Citay, the Midnight Vein wind their psych folk through your wheelhouse, and you slug that thing right somewhere, it’s hitting its spot.

Drink some brews. Is Midnight Vein playing the local hotspot, the watering hole, the independent venue? Hell yeah, go see em. They’ve GOT to have a merch table with this tape. Buy it, don’t think

And hey, if you live in western NY, and you have $30, the Midnight Vein will HAND-DELIVER your tape and then throw a party for you. GAME. ON.

The Midnight Vein


SPECIAL MOVES “January” C6 (Reflective Tapes)

Somebody was telling me the other day that it’s so hard to have fun anymore.

“Do you think it’s because of Trump?,” I asked.

We both disintegrated into motes of dust, the question hanging in the air for eternity.

“January” is a sort of cassingle from Special Moves, and with it comes six minutes of having fun. “Josh from BOX FAN/PARASOL/BLOOD ORPHANS and friends make lo-fi DIY rock,” and life becomes a smidge brighter for these 360 or so seconds. Sparks appear in the corner of our eyes; we exchange knowing glances.

Like early Superchunk if Mac was addicted to Auto-Tune, yet really not as off-puttingly weird as that sounds, Special Moves will warm the cockles of your old-timey indie rock heart.

Reflective Tapes


TYSON SWINDELL “Palindromes” (self-released)

Oh everything’s so goddamn fucking miserable that all we can do is disappear up our own assholes and brood.

Make something better of it, then. Get off your cross. Quit fucking BROODING.

Piano and electronics, for those of you who want some sort of musical guidance. There’s a track called “Dammit I’m Mad.” Snore. 


--Kanye’s Twitter feed

ALGAE & TENTACLES “Lightning” (self-released)

Lay it on me, John Melillo of Tuscon, dreaming of water so far away from water, so bleached and brittle and dry and baking in the desert sun – lay it on me. Still lakes recede, become contaminated, contaminated by nature – some say reclaimed, but I say revised.

Lay it on me.

“Lightning” strikes the experiment and it grows, one lone puddle electrified, molecules dancing, recombining, at speeds unimaginable. Out of this disturbance grows an aquatic nightmare – but with nowhere to go, it disappears with the puddle, shriveling like John Melillo in the blazing Tuscon afternoon.

Plug in, “Lightning,” layer yourself with extra effects, feed from the power grid, breakneck pace forward, sometimes uncontrollably. Smash through highway barriers, perfect chaos, each shredded nerve a trophy for thriving one second at a time. What sounds electricity makes! What combinations it emanates! 

Lay it on me, post-punk desert shaman.

Algae & Tentacles

--Ryan Masteller 

PHTEVEN UNIVERSE “s/t” C44 (Choam Charity)

There’s much to unpack here. Too much? Too much.

When you click on the link below, you will be able to read the backstory. 

In short: Phteven Universe is Pilleater, and “Phteven Universe” is a vaporwave tape whose twisty philosophy encompasses a lot of the questions I once had about vaporwave. In the end, I’ve learned to relax, take it slow, take it easy, and appreciate the vaporwave releases that I enjoy. Not all of them are enjoyable. In fact, there are so many that a lot of them blend together in a slurry of pristine chemicals, too toxic for human aural consumption.

“Phteven Universe,” I’m happy to report, is one of the ones I enjoy, one of the fun ones.

First, Pilleater himself doesn’t take himself too seriously. Maybe it’s a Philly thing, because, c’mon, you gotta have a bit of that blue-collar gallows humor if you’re coming from Philly (and I grew up in eastern PA, so I should know). Second, he gets the absurdity of infinite repurposing, as his garbled sources sound like fourth- or fifth-generation mulch composites. Third, he namechecks “Floral Shoppe” and “Eccojams,” possibly both with and without irony, suggesting that these, too, are ripe for the recycle treatment. Fourth, he’s a Skinny Puppy fan, so – cool!

So listen, I know it’s hard to take vaporwave seriously anymore, but this is a great reminder that you can still have a good time with it, that it’s more than just mall music slowed down to a crawl. We all know how boring THAT is, so thank goodness Phteven Universe is here to do something about it.

Choam Charity Records

--Ryan Masteller


I’ve watched from afar as my colleagues at Tabs Out did a little retrospective/spotlight on Tingo Tongo Tapes, the Oakland-based label blasting cassette recordings out at us unsuspectingly like human waste from the shitting cartoon ghost man NBA logo on the K^aren “NoT BaLD” tape. (And yes, I admit, that was me. I hated that tape.)

But that’s the thing about Tingo Tongo (or any label, really): you hate one thing, you get down with another. So yeah, get down with the Tingo Tongo vibe. There’s so much weird magic on their side of the bay that it seeps into the water table and the drinking water reservoirs and contaminates the holy living crap out of whatever music emanates therefrom. (There it is again – “holy living crap.” I can’t get away from the ghost man.) I’ve got some physical artifacts that are actual proof of whatever point it is I’m trying to make. 


You never know what’s title and what’s artist with these guys, and a perusal of the Bandcamp page (Mike Meanstreetz’s Bandcamp page, one of the TT showrunners; but not Tingo Tongo’s of course) only confounds the matter. I’m going with CMMZMMMG \\ Electronic Quartet as the artist because I’ve written about them before. Nope, still confusing. Anyhoo, did you ask for this? This tape I mean. No, you didn’t but CMMZMMMG, etc., delivered big time, the quartet melding minds over two inscrutable sides of murky atmosphere. On this version of “Whereas,” or whatever, Cameron MacNair, Mike Meanstreetz, Mike Glover, and Maneesh Madahar (the titular CMMZMMMG, ish) mutilate their instruments in a sort-of séance environment, mixing in static and noise for an ungodly but tempered racket. This is Tingo Tongo at its most controlled. Probably.


Things get really confusing here, because Whereas was also a name in the release above, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whereas’s side is “Live at Acerogami,” a free-form freakout of psychotic instrumental noise rock that would fit equally as well on AmRep as on Astral Spirits. To say this is my favorite seventeen minutes of the Tingo Tongo catalog thus far wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world. It’s pretty great. Devin Nolan adds his own seventeen minutes on the B-side with “Hedgehog Blues,” which oscillates back and forth between what sounds like field-recorded banjo music, and then that same banjo music run through an industrial magnet, slowed down and distorted beyond recognition. The transitions are fabulous, the noise is glorious, and this whole thing might have hopped to the top of my repeat queue.


God love em, or it, Bonus Beast forgot that we’re not ACTUALLY living inside a video game and made a tense song cycle to what it’s like to probably live inside one. Harsh beats collide with “melodies” straight from the ColecoVision soundcard collection. It’s sort of like Trent Reznor left the studio lights on back in 1989 and a pack of sentient cartoon weasels came in and cut a record. With LOTS of laser and static effects. I don’t know what to do, these tapes just keep getting better and better as I go. I’m totally atoning for the K^aren review.


Oh fucking Christ, there’s a hair in this one. Gross. I won’t let that ruin my experience of TendHer’s “Dream,” though, I promise. In fact, by the end of it, I’ll probably forget it was even there in the first place. That’s because “Dream” is 90 minutes long, two thick sides of gently shifting soundscape that I’m pretty sure are meant to keep me company through a fever dream, but they might actually be the CAUSE of said fever dream. Either way, this ambient stuff is way more tactile than it ought to be, and I’m not sure if my hands feel grimy because TendHer’s in my head or if I’ve been smearing them in wet sand as I listen. Maybe it’s the hair. Dammit, I haven’t forgotten.


For all your Tingo Tongo needs head to their super sparse Bandcamp page, or check out their much more expansive Soundcloud. All you have to do to order tapes is email em.

--Ryan Masteller

“Honestly” (Related Records)

Hey, MY name is Ryan too! What are the odds? Not to be weird or anything, but this sort of looks like my high school yearbook photo… Erm, no, we’re not the same Ryan. I had to think about it for a second.

Ryan Avery has a great time riffing a capella to appreciative audiences, sometimes in spoken word. These are funny, short songs/tracks/etc., and Avery’s wit and wisdom (he’s released a lot of stuff, check out his Bandcamp below) seems to translate well to a live setting. Have fun with this one.

Hi My Name Is Ryan

Related Records

--Ryan Masteller 

My apologies for the brief lapse in posting. We have now returned with our regularly scheduled programming - Ed.

“Property Line / Plunge Pool”

Life hack: When traveling, be accompanied by music. Sure, that’s an idiot life hack, as anyone with even a little bit of street smarts knows that music is the best traveling companion. Who needs other human beings, dialogue, conversation, company? Not me. Just give me the open road and a stereo system and I’m good to go for hours and hours.

While you might think a good Weezer jam or the latest Drake joint would get my car a-thumpin’, you’d be absolutely dead wrong. Give me Christian Mirande’s “Property Line / Plunge Pool” any day of the week, because not only does it provide the sonic complement to, let’s face it, any motion at all, it also provides the mood, the surrounding ambiance. As these carefully crafted soundscapes unfold, the sense of travel, of movement – the interlocking functions and patterns that cause mass movement from one place to another – trickle, then rush, to overwhelm with stimuli.

Life hack 2: If you’re in a car, I suggest cranking this pretty high to get the full nuanced effect. Or you could do this:

Life hack 3: “Headphones Recommended,” like it says in the parenthetical addendum to “Into the Bin.” I’d pay attention to that one if I were you.

Christian Mirande

Unifactor Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

“Arcana” (Aural Canyon)

Primary Mystical Experience exposes the hidden mysteries of Aural Canyon on “Arcana,” a tape chock full of secret wisdom. Or maybe it’s an actual canyon facing exposure – just take one look at that j-card and marvel at the markings of time passed etched upon the rock wall by the flowing water. “Arcana” itself contains the sonic equivalent of discovery, of meandering down that river, of coming face to face with history and geography. Allow yourself to imagine as you listen – you’re on the river, the slow movement propels you ever forward, time is a relative construct. Ponder how the canyon looked in ancient times. Wonder at the people who lived nearby. Dream of returning to that time, of simplicity, of personal fulfillment and challenge. Let go, and all will be revealed.

Well, probably. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

“All music recorded by PME on modular synthesizer Fall 2017. Each performance was recorded onto a single stereo track in one take.”

One glorious take.

Primary Mystical Experience

Aural Canyon

--Ryan Masteller