-OTRON "Prism Exhilarated" C52 (Self-Released)

If you like trip-hop beats, slick production, scads upon scads of instructional/educational vocal samples, and the occasional saxomophone solo or ambient soundscape, well, has UK’s –Otron got a collector’s item for you! No, seriously. As per their bandcamp:

“…It is also the world's very first album release to integrate Soundary's Prysm technology.

Prysm is a unique duplication system, ensuring that every copy of an album is sonically different from every other. Thus, when you buy Prism Exhilarated on cassette you are purchasing a unique musical artefact available to no-one else. It is the ultimate collector's edition.

For this first Prysm release, 49 unique tapes of Prism Exhilarated have been produced. Available alongside this one-and-only limited-edition run is a 'reference' digital rendition (the effective copy 0), which is included with each cassette and also purchaseable as a standalone download.

For more details on Soundary Prysm, head to

Kinda cool, no? The J-Card certainly is purty!


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

THE DOLL “Hiss” (Big Sleep Records)

Is it weird that I keep picking up this tape, hoping against hope that the luscious red bubble wrap adorning its j-card will somehow become tactile enough that I can pop it with gleeful abandon? Does it help or make it worse that the sound of bubble wrap popping is a central element in lead track “Bubblewrap”? Is it concerning to anyone else that I’ve now just dug through my trash looking for any scrap of bubble wrap among the discarded Amazon boxes (damn you, Amazon, and your giant bags of air!) and mailers that these cassettes come in?

I’m going to say, yes, worse, and hopefully.

But that’s not why I’m here. Or you either. You’ve got work today, you need to stay focused.

The Doll manipulates sound – that’s a given! – but these field recordings tell a story grounded in everyday events, in real life, in the physical world around us that we can touch and feel and embrace – and pop! Throughout “Hiss,” during which there’s a lot of the titular sonic flourish, The Doll observes, records, and reflects, flashing commentary on the disposability of objects through the sound associated with them. Take the car alarm on “Home Sweet Home” for example – the impermanence of an automobile is juxtaposed against the idea of a lasting place of dwelling, yet the imposition of the noise reinforces the idea that the car is going to wind up as junk at some point. Also, the home itself is violated by the noise, a crack in its ironclad defenses as a place of safety, maybe to the point where the home will one day be abandoned itself.

Disposability! Bubble wrap! We pop it, it flattens, and oceans more of it is manufactured. We live, we die, and other people fuck to replace us. Circle of life. This time I mean that.

But still, the noises burbling out of this one are cool. See where it takes you.

The Doll 

Big Sleep Records


ENDURANCE "Shade Terrarium" C52
(Constellation Tatsu)

The crown jewel of Constellation Tatsu’s Spring ’18 batch, for me, was Endurance’s “Shade Terrarium”, which pairs a polar perfect along with Chihei Hatakeyama’s “Scene”. While CH’s humble, droning swells always prove hypnotically stoic and timeless, Endurance’s offering takes those moody seas of e-bowed guitar ambiance and slow-motion thrashes them mercilessly about with myriad doctored field recordings, indefatigable xylophone choruses from every decibel level, an emotional dynamism ranging from mania to melancholy to outright malaise, and an overarching depressive impatience that comes part & parcel with the isolation and darkness of any effectively oppressive Shade Terrarium. This is by no means a “feel good” release, but rather a blindingly brilliant, poignant capturing of our affected dispositions as we slip from Hecate’s suggestion into a much needed vernal shrug.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

ZIYAD "Compost Regrowth" C35 (Hear Now Records)

Formerly “Noah’s Heark”, Pakistan’s Ziyad Habib conjures up some pretty dynamic electronica, ranging from peaceful synth soundscapes to outright dancefloor jamz. The layers and production are tight as all get-out and the beats, when employed, hit hard, as do the sparse vocals of Lady Midnight. Probably too psychedelic/experimental for mainstream radio, this album ought garner some serious attention for anyone who enjoys dancy electronica mixed with r&b & footwork.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

FLESH NARC “Songs of Reality” (NULL|ZONE)

Ever wondered what a US Maple/rRope/Skeleton Key hybrid sounded like with Auto-Tuned vocals? If so, then friend, I’ve got a treat for you. Enter the mad realm of Flesh Narc, a concept that sounds like it came from a terrific 1980s action movie but is actually a quartet of dudes whose madness burbles so close to the surface that they can barely step into society without the average citizen passing to the other side of the street when they see Flesh Narc coming their way. This madness seeps into every second of “Songs of Reality,” a tape that’s as invigorating as it is sort of terrifying but also super abstractly listenable, like if Justin Timberlake got caught in a blender and found that his tonsils were the best tool to help extract himself. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t make it.)

At times a noise recording masquerading as rock and roll, at others rock and roll becoming inverted by some sort of gravitational anomaly, “Songs of Reality” straddles the very line of existing and not existing, valiantly attempting to prove its existence by shouting itself into existence. It’s the kind of wavering reality alluded to in platitudes like those spoken by the great Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, such as, “No matter where you go, there you are.” It means nothing and everything, a Zen riddle simmered too long in a psychic saucepan. Except violent – almost way too incredibly visceral for prolonged contemplation. See, Flesh Narc batter the airwaves with a devious ruckus only hinted at by their contemporaries, and you pretty much have to make snap decisions or you might find yourself brained by a toaster oven hurled by someone ELSE listening to Flesh Narc. Gotta keep your eyes peeled, you people are everywhere.

Flesh Narc



“Jappements à la lune”
C 35 (Cuchabata Records)

What a mighty interesting record. There is only one analogy that comes to my mind to describe this album. It’s like the sound effects of The Jetsons mixed with an insane asylum. The record is comprised of three tracks, one of which contains “vocals.” Vocals is in quotes because it’s not singing, per se. More like yelling or chanting. Cultish. I’ll level with you guys. It’s just a mess of an album. If you enjoy dissonant screeching with no resolution, harsh percussion, and chanting/gargling in French, this album might just be for you. I mean that in the best way. There were sections of the tracks that I truly enjoyed and could bop with. Sections where the feedback wasn’t overbearing and the drums weren’t so in your face. For the most part, however, the album is just too harsh for my ears.


-- Greer Biggs

Oxen Records Triple Scoop

LEECHER “Retfa” C30 (Oxen)

“Retfa” opens quietly with a rumbling storm, heard from miles away. The electrical din gives way to columns of steam, blasting above the distant thunder. Voices hiss below the burst and churn of the storm. Just as it all begins to fade, a harsh blast of static begins the second section of “Retfa,” during which Leecher turns up the voltage - letting fly shrill voices of static which wind round one another, skipping and rolling to a climax. The B-side is a live performance containing a great variety of sounds, opening with a slowly shifting groan - like a giant motor slowly gaining momentum. Over the ringing feedback, the audience can be heard cheering in excitement during a brief pause. Between the pulsating, grinding distortion and the crashing whine of static, at a few moments this track could pass as a lo-fi black metal demo. Buzzing oscillators chant under a thick haze. Ragged voices join the thick haze of sound, screaming all the way to an unexpected conclusion. Nicely paired with some high-contrast closeup photography from Leah Purse, this is a wonderfully active and chaotic harsh noise experience. Very dark and kinetic - while I don’t know much about Leecher, this tape makes me want to seek out some more. My only complaint on this one is that the A-side is so short.

SPORE SPAWN “Ochitsuitara” C22 (Oxen)

According to my online translation sources, “Ochitsuitara” translates roughly to “if you’ll relax,” but the A-side is an unnerving track during which I imagined being chased by a homicidal hand puppet. “Itsunokotodaka” (When is it? according to google translate) opens with a looped sample that would otherwise sound benign, but due to some roughly trebled reverb it gives off a rather creepy vibe. Spore Spawn lets this build for about a minute before a barrage of feedback kicks in. The speakers thrust frantically as layers of harsh tones, scrapes, and pulses overlap with the sampled loop - now coming in and out - both forming and affected by the feedback and chaotic throb. We find respite now in a damp and dripping alley, and have a tense moment to check on our surroundings and catch our breath - but it is futile. The voice is always just beyond the last corner turned... We begin the B-side, “Yameta Yameta,” (seems to translate to an ending and/or illness) with a rather pretty, quietly shimmering drone, then enter short stabs of feedback and crunchy blasts of noise. A frantic, rasping voice cries out over the ever-shifting drone. In the middle of the track we’re allowed to peer into a looking glass, a chance to see these machines in the background working in reverse. For the last half of “Yameta Yameta” directional time is useless - as forwards, backwards, and static flow all at once - experience the beautiful terror of realizing the meaning of all. Life is but a joke. Check this one out, it’s filled with fucked-up wonder.

PRIMORDIAL WOUND “Pure Blight” C43 (Oxen)

“Pure Blight” is two sides filled to their brims with high-energy noise. The 15-minute title track is bookended by a vocal sample which sets the tone for its psychotic break. Restless tones swirl and crawl, buzzing and squealing above a bed of low-range hum. Something is always moving, the walls twitch at your eyes. “Scrabble at Lock” creeps up slowly, an electric rain falls from the dark sky and your key slips and clatters upon the stair, threatening to be lost in the gutter among the refuse. Pure dread. Side B opens with a new variety of sounds, dominated by metallic crashes processed into squeals and static washes which never sit still. “Strained” is a constantly mutating beast with some strange voices (I swear I heard some electric guitar with wah) calling out against the rumble. The third track ends with a soft fade before blasting into “Antagony,” which gallops and gnashes before outright spitting fire. C. Mumma’s artwork presents this tape as it sounds: a hand-delivered unbodied head - a mental struggle to get out of this physical hellhole.

--Ben Myers

DoM "Adult Contemorary" C5 (Hear Now Records)

Adult Contemporary is a cassingle with two pretty rock solid tracks; “History” is a jangly/shoegaze number with GBV pop sensibilities and “Gud Times” which lives up to its title, kicking out a 90s dance party with roof-burning organ riffage and classic 80s percussion (think Depeche Mode) that keeps the booties shaking. If you threatened DoM with a good time, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t even know how to turn it down.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

V/A “Some Gunk, Some Junk” C-43 (DIHD)

Th’fine folks at Definitely Intentional Hearing Damage (dihd) have done it again. Eleven artists/bands come together in a seamless sound collection adhered together with mayonnaise and gauze.

Justin Mank, provider of the cover art, begins with a fist pumper, Swamp Water, the appropriate earthy entry point to such a heady endeavor. Midway through side a, Honey Radar’s She Became the Champion turns out a radio hit. Somewhere between Cobra Dan & th’Easy Money and Quit, someone hit the emergency brake on the interstate, and my leg fell asleep. There’s a fifteen-mile long yard sale in Hunterdon County, NJ tied together with coaxial cables and bungee cords.

T Penn’s Human Adult Band features on side b its trademark blueberry embalming fluid on stale cracker sealed with postage stamps. All that’s missing with this one is a loop cartoon reel of red wigglers dancing the hot hot hot circle wedding reception dance.

Here are some notes as listed on Dsscoggz: Volumn 2 of the Gunk Tape Compilation Series. Limited to 100 copies, mostly distributed to the bands. Slime green cassette shell.

May you come across this one in your travels.


--Adam Padavano

“Paternal” C20 (Nailbat Tapes)


The dad in me relates to this big time. What parent hasn’t encountered some terrifying event where their child is in danger, at risk in some way, the results of some medical emergency a distant unknown in the face of the unknowable? I’m lucky. I haven’t experienced anything TOO bad. Now let me find some real hard wood to bang on for as long as my knuckles retain their skin.

Matthew Sullivan’s been there. Gone deeper than me, I’m sure. So it should be no surprise then that his daughter, who is now just over two years old, and who experienced “a medical emergency that put her life at risk” the night she was born, is the source material for “Paternal.” Her pulsing in utero heartbeat forms the basis of side A, which is manipulated and imposed upon a tense backdrop (as is the Red Boiling Springs way) that harnesses the emotions of a strained and frazzled extended stay in the hospital. In fact, most of the sounds we’re getting throughout both sides of the tape originated from Matthew’s daughter within the body of her mother, and it must have been an unbelievable task to return to these recordings and work through the events. That he’s able to fashion something like “Paternal” for his daughter is remarkable, and hopefully he can tell her the story in the future while presenting her with the tape he made to honor her.

“Paternal” is joyous, harrowing, bracing, and ultimately tranquil as the danger passes. It’s a fascinating study of a father’s love for his daughter and the unusual expression that it takes. Highly recommended.

Red Boiling Springs

Nailbat Tapes


"Scene" C40
(Constellation Tatsu)

Chihei Hatakeyama doesn’t play somber ambient guitar drone so much as he channels and soundtracks a ceaseless coastal fog sleepily drifting in from the Pacific’s serene bed towards all awakened ports. These gentle, airy, ambient ghost-shanties whispering eternally & without hint of anchor are the recycled mists of Sisyphean tears microtonally eddying & fluttering in binaural glisten, their atmosphere a stoic haunting in the most neutral way conceivable.

Scandinavia may have the hottest guitar licks on the planet, but Japan’s got the most chill, by far.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Timid Seamstress"
(Humanhood Recordings)

Campbell James Kneale is an experimental musicians based out of Featherston New Zealand. He is probably best known from his work in "Birchville Cat Motel". Because, in 2011, The Guardian included Birchville Cat Motel in their 101 strangest records on Spotify article (see link below).
He music has a strong drone edge to it, the crackle and hiss from the polyester ferric works in tandem to give his art that certain aesthetic that a CDR just couldn't give.

So, whether you are smoking a cigarette while walking past St Teresa's School, or say, vomiting up your frogurt behind the Supervalue on Daniell, you will be happy to know that there is background music for your old TV looping video art installation that you are setting up in the local art loft.
Well, that is once you call your parents to remind them you haven't gotten the money you need for rent yet. Good news is that fathers day is close, so that's a good excuse to call them.
They wont even suspect a thing.

I am not being a dick here guys. Campbell himself states that his musical aim was to create something that is equal parts boredom and and ecstatic power.

I am told there is supposed to be snare drums on this album, but I dont hear them.
Features environmentally freindly Cardboard box and black pad printed cassette and sexy red leader tape.


-- Chuck

"Open Submission" C30
(Constellation Tatsu)

One of my favorite games to play while listening to Constellation Tatsu batches is “Which tapes pair best together?” and this Spring ’18, I’m pretty sure Lunaria and Alex Crispin are the sweet-and-savoriest team there is. For every viscous, sublime drone from Lunaria, Alex Crispin answers with airy, brooding minimalism. &while both albums celebrate the transportive nature of binaural swells and reverb, it is the latter’s narrative movements of grace and melancholy, evoked by clear chimes, Icelandic keys (think Múm’s earlier work), poignant tonewheel organ, sparse smooth-jazz guitar accents (shush- you know you eat this shit up when done right!), Basinskian textured backing loops (and, well, time, itself, really) that all come together to round out the former’s all-seeing/hearing bliss. This is not to say that “Open Submission” does not stand sturdily on its own, but that, like the title suggests, it is meta-versatile and deft in being open to any interpretation one’s consciousness chooses to submit.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"Ascension Now" C40
(Constellation Tatsu)

Take a look at that title, again: “Ascension Now”; and the cloud-locked island-peak of solid rock that beckons us from the J-Card’s minimal façade. Once PLAY has been pressed, Spain’s Daniel Guillén pulls every trick in the New-Age-Old Handbook to hook us into his panned, reverb  + phaser-filled tractor beams, gently transporting us to this precipice/utopia/be-all-end-all-vantage-point.

Swell, natural field recordings and beatific swells of the major-chord variety foggily envelop us. Consonant arpeggios uncompromisingly dial the mood into “hey, there… yes… shit is so… so, so good”… and the myriad layers of seam-free drone? No, they do, not, stop… like, ever.

&while this album could easily be the perfect yoga soundtrack of the millennia (did I mention how expertly timed the phaser is, alongside deep breathing?), I’m more than willing to bet that your blaring it from the bedroom hi-fi will get them neighbors chill/relaxed/mindful enough to wait until at LEAST 9am, before mowing their lawns, from now on. Forever-ever.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

STREET RAT "Penance" C30 (Crass Lips Records)

Well introductions withstanding in the immediance that there is a stack of tapes before me looking all sad eyed puppy like so I'll dive right in. First blindly hooked cassette snagged is the no doubt greatly stood STREET RAT with an album titled PENANCE. Oh boy… all girl band? Yes I am with that. Dudes are lame. They destroy bands everywhere. Also non sequitur but worth mentioning is that I do not believe in commas. They are for fascists. Okay then. Shall we...

First I will describe this tangible delectable sent about a year ago ☻ and set before me now. Also do not worry tapeheads we will/are catching up fast. Mark those words if you have a highlighter and you shall see soon in the hue of neon boldness! Anyway back to applied 'aesthetics'... a word used often enough that it should actually be retired from the pantheon but I digress. The pretentious pontiffs would surely revolt in the temples. Whatever that is supposed to mean. F-O-C-U-S ▬ Ok... 'Norelco' style clear Sony reused case here. Still nice enough to pass most eyes by without ghastly shock if not for the damn branding logo. Sony the schadenfreude demands it's recognition. I personally do not care and actually like when someone uses what is thought unusable by them from balklands. So... very nice then. Praise be given to the DIY hands that craft. Beats the hell out of spending that hot cash on the  thin brittle modern equivalent. Also why pay someone else to have all the dub fun? Rhetorical... like your haircut. Don't dwell on it. Single sided print work on regular paper with a thin weight. Folded proper enough to be a fine J-card substitute. Cut a bit too small and creaseless after many months of hugging the tape to keep it from freezing  to death on those cold lonely nights as it waited for it's moment in the sun shine. Xeroxed artwork with hand scrawled track listings. A nod to the 80's norm. A bit of the buck toothed vampires or: scotch tape was left on the copier and thus making an appearance. Part of the cover now and forever immortalized. No doubt to the jelly belly chagrin of the remaining roll at home in it's dark claustrophobic cave of a drawer. Either way it looks very rad and I love it. All this so far amounts to what is a very knowledgeable lot. They have done their homework and/or had elder siblings or other lo-fi cultists to ape the ways correctly. Those that have served the squirrelly defiant empty pocketed upstart for decades now. My love tail is twitching. Top this with a beautiful near out of place brand spanking new cassette tape with sleek shiny clear shell with black guts and you got yourself a winner here in a nice collectable worthwhile artifact. Nice one! Top it all off with a handwritten STREET RAT logo streaked across the shell that really looked like  it was pad printed by a professional print shop until I got close enough to see the marker pen ink lines. Awe. A few faint traces of the culprits fingerprints left at the scene of this intended crime make it all the more special for me really. Joy... the pure kind. Altogether this is how the DIY is done folks. A strong 'Ⓐ' right out the gates and finally time to let the tape roll out it's audio warbles and get me dancing no doubt...

Droner punk with the  Anarcho lean here. Serious unhappy stuff. Their ethos I imagine at crawl in mind rise asking for my spare coinage. I give them slugs and they pretend not to notice as they play their murky lo-fi rumble of peace dove dub over my love nubs which I call my ears. Don’t get weird people.  I am immediately left wistful for my own mostly bygone youth (F U TIME!) filled days of patchwork black & white s-pants and proud as a baby burp stitched billboard of my fav bands which covered  the vest-ables so as the denim itself lived in darkness. Yep I was one of you and still am if you let me come hang out. ☻ Wow that even gave me a shiver! Scary stuff. Back to my vest! If the bands I carried over my skin would have sent me a quarter each for my daily advertising efforts... well I would probably of bought more patches honestly. Do they owe us a living? A horse is a horse of course. Yep I am immediately enamoured by these modern squat kids being from the same ranking ranks in past angst and scope. Think some ilk with spawned traits of  Bikini Kill if raised by a mother named the  Poison Girls with siblings named Eve and Joy as well as their cousins down the street the Lost Cherrees. With their sireing contributed by some Man Is The Bastard type deadbeat father whom they don’t see much but  are always reminded that they are acting just like when they get too chaotic. Thanks mum and good taste in the gene shopping! I mean that for my sake at least. ♥ I think that is a fair analogy if not a happy home for musical growth. By golly there imprint is even dubbed Crass Lips Records how neato is that. I love nods to the deserving ones of the before times. Not enough of that these days with so much pretentious self puffery and imagined greatness being touted about like they invented the damn noise wheel themselves. Damn stupid dummies. When the awesomely titled song Roaches On The Ceiling begins to play the little scamps themselves are drawn out from memori grave as the nostalgia stutters up. The plot’s soil being my own very first of dingy apartments in sketchy downtown city blocks dissected by living coughing alleyways ubiquitous with the creepers. As song continues some lo-fi noise through aleatoric experiment still using out of tune guitars and thinly skinned drums but drowned under the pedal boards I feel a bit dirty. Kinky stuff here. No I’m joking I just get the heebie jeebies thinking of the roach motel I used to run. (Good band too and from Florida as well) Quite a hissy venture and a stern reluctance on display here to conform to anything approaching pop music. Whoever listens to that lame leg of a genre. I just may rise to racket myself after signing this review off or get high and climb the ladder to sit on the roof and yell at joggers. Yes this is a drowning depressive wallowing of youth frustrations here. Swallowed up and digested in noise and damn it if it doesn’t make me happy.  I am even smiling. My face hurt immediately but I am still happy and enjoyed it all very much. I actually think STREET RAT may be DOA and kaput now sadly but I am not sure. Please let me know if you know in the comments or call me and leave a message if you send me a cell phone. Seems no new stuff has been uploaded for near a year while they waited on my ass to write this way too long of a review. I have problems that would curl your toenails children… ☻ But if they are no more what a pity. They had that spark. Get back at it Rats if you read this... if you have the love make time and hit record again. I will be ready for it. Sounds like I’m done huh? I like to end a few times before I end. We are going to have fun together you will see as you read...

STUPID ANDY FACT: Did you know rats dribble continuous piss as they walk? It's true. I see it more as a convenience or freedom than anything negative though. Ones that call it gross are just jelly dicks. I love rats. They make for great pets but they are heartbreakers be warned. As in the end they are not here very long and gone with your love in tiny little whiskered mouths a twitch before you even get to say all this I just said. (insert sad face) 

So PENANCE by STREET RAT from the Florida (which they can't help being from!) is highly and long windedly recommended from my decrepit disillusioned little heart ten fold and 20 ways into an origami swan raised up from an ugly duckling once sat afloat in a Florida swamp pond marsh pool lagoon puddle everglade lake dreaming of soaring the skyways. Claps your hands stomp your feet praise the Street Rat and buy them some hugs and bug spray unless you’re haphephobic or a Jainist or something. Amen. You are free to go.


-- Andy Tithesis

“Demonic Operators, Hear My Voice”
C32 (self-released)

Baltimore trip metal noiseniks Blood on the Mercy Seat drop a three-track self-released, self-recorded, self-designed tape that positively brims with raw intensity. Utilizing all kinds of terrible instruments (sax, percussion, samples, loops, whatever they can probably get their hands on), BOTMS conjure atmospheres that are almost certain to cause fits of rage, epileptic seizures, religious ecstasy, or prolonged scientific inquiry. Surely intended to raise malevolent spirits, “Demonic Operators, Hear My Voice” is a message broadcast into the darkness, into the black, into the metaphysical realms where such operators, ranging in power and influence, reside. Judging from the tingling response I’m getting in my extremities, along with the sudden appearance of blood spraying from all parts of my body, I feel like these “Demonic Operators” are listening. We should probably be careful from here on out.

Blood on the Mercy Seat


NNN Cook “Crease or Abyss” (Grownup Music)

This guy over here is going to rip a new one out of our own universe
As we sit around the table in prayer delivering the elephant
OUR universe, goddammit 
Do you know what that means for you and me? 
Things may get a little bigger, spread out
Shirts may not need to be folded or tucked in 
We can leave many of our shirts’ arms out across the bed
I stood there drinking tap water from a beer can 
Looking at the shirts’ arms 
This one pointing that way
That one pointing this way
Trying to figure out any one and true direction
But, as I said, I think this guy over here is going to rip a new one out of our own universe
Unless he already did
Looking at every shirt arm – fuck, you’re right, they’re called sleeves not arms – my brain getting tangled up in their different directions like somebody twirled the sign around on some country road. This way to the beach. This way to Eurasia. 
My little Lucerne 
My little luxury sedan
Cell phone blocks the hazards with a plastic platter of festering hoagies in the backseat. God, I wish I had asked them to hold the mayo. Now we’ve got those big old mean flies with teeth biting in the Summer and sleeping in our beds.
It’s been so hot that I almost forgot that those flies were biting my head last night as I stood out front of your house knocking on your door over and over again while you sat around the table in prayer.
And, I will mention, it’s been too long since your security door has been unlocked. Now the lock is rusted. I should’ve known better than to try and use the front door to reach you.

Anyway, open up the skies, why don’t you? Maybe that way the flies will have enough room to breath and go off somewhere else with their horse teeth and stop biting me tonight.   

-- Rick Weaver

“Cosmic Lifeforms” C54
(Circle Box Records)

Cosmic Lifeforms is a familiar science-fiction tale of human/machine hybrids which realize sentience and escape the planet on which they are enslaved. It opens with a beautiful time-lapse montage of baby stars and planets in the playpens of their galaxies. As we focus on one planet in particular, we hear life developing--slowly at first--progressing more rapidly, as the life formed by chance forms its own life by choice. Jenzeits use analog modular synths and an app to narrate this tone tale. There’s a definite narrative here, tension builds and breaks several times before the credits roll on “Twilight Nights”. Drawing from every decade since the 1960s (or perhaps the “beginning” of “time”) Jenzeits channel more artists than I care to name drop. There’s a lot of this cosmic voyager bedroom synth around, and this is streaming and available on the cheap as well. If that’s your jam, check this out.


--Ben Myers

"Music For Piano #7"

The latest effort from Max Eilbacher, titled "Music for Piano #7" and released on the Cleveland-based label Unifactor, is a straightforward yet effective exercise in chance and control. The album is composed of two long-form sound collages, though in a more linear style than is typical. A slew of samples, separated into section according to source, are thrown at the listener and are constantly manipulated by pre-determined software patching.

The name of the release is taken from a piece by Japanese avant-garde composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. According to the Unifactor release page, the score for Ichiyanagiís piece was used as a rubric for this release. "Instead of interpreting the score as a human player, I created a system on the computer that would perform the score. The system decides what sample to play, the position of playback, the order in which the samples are sequenced, the length of each sequence and how the sample's timbre is modulated. These decisions are based entirely on a Max/MSP patch's ëreadingí of Ichiyangi's score."

This play between chance and control has always been interesting to me personally, and Music For Piano #7 provides a solid experiment in this arena. Max/MSP's reading of the Ichiyanagi score simultaneously provides total control and total chance. The results are also a step above similar experiments in computer-based randomization and control, which may seem too cold or alien. Each side of the tape keeps a sense of movement which holds onto the listenerís attention until the end of the tape.

The sample material also provides a nice element of change as the album progresses. The A side is composed entirely of electronic sounds while the B side uses various field recording snippets. And just for fun, each segment is introduced by a voice saying what sample is used in the upcoming part, which makes the whole thing feel like it has episodes. All in all, a good listen and one to check out for fans of experimental music and computer music. 


--James Searfoss

“Love Hotel”
(REC Records)

Some surprises reveal themselves to you gradually. Birds of Paradise, the duo of Roy Vucino and Hannah Lewis, move slowly, meticulously, deliberately on their REC Records EP “Love Hotel,” a dark jazz-inflected noir narrative that has much in common with Badalamenti, or at least the “Twin Peaks: The Return” soundtracks. They don’t so much play as conjure, compose as dust the air with their black magic. Along with André the Maji, the couple crafts tragic soundscapes and forlorn hymns, blown by the wind till they’re ghosts of memory.

“Love Hotel” begins with a ten-minute reimagining of Duke Ellington’s “Sentimental Mood,” here cast as a drone piece over which Lewis’s voice floats like a feather on a stream. The drone gradually cracks and falls apart into dissonance, but not before revealing a complete mastery of juxtaposition between beauty and tension. The next three tracks are all less than a minute long, but they all follow a similar experimental path, each angling for attention amid the longer “show” pieces. “Waterdrops” even poses as a mystical folk number, the Lewis-penned song’s brevity only serving to reinforce the confidence the band has in it.

“Autumn Done Come” anchors the tape, the penultimate track (right before the minute-long “Echolalia”), a torch song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Nick Cave recording. It’s the closest Birds of Paradise come to traditional songcraft, but still, its unsettled attitude makes it the perfect kind of tune to show up at the Bang Bang Bar during one of “Twin Peaks’s” episode-ending performances. There I go again with a “Twin Peaks” reference, like I’ve got it on my brain or something. David Lynch and Dean Hurley missed an opportunity by not booking these guys, methinks.

Birds of Paradise


“Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light” C19
(Dead Definition)

These cello/electronics pieces by Garrett Johnson (+++) are divorced from the visuals of the dance duet Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light, composed of Britta Joy Peterson (direction/choreography/dance) and Juan Rodriguez (choreography/dance). As such, it is up to us to imagine the movement of the dancers, which, perhaps surprisingly and definitely “spectrally,” are captured by +++ in a squiggling array of active sound.

I highly recommend you read Johnson’s essay on the release’s Bandcamp page, which muses on everything from the role of technology in preserving art to happy/unhappy accidents affecting this very performance. But beyond the connection of these sounds to those (unseen by us tape holders) movements, “Tired Hearts Kick Darkness and Bleed Light” is a sonic treat, a passionate radiation of a time and a moment beyond the confines of the past. Everything is recorded these days, everything is preserved. Perspective is a tornado of possibilities.

Also, this marbled tape is absolutely gorgeous to behold. 


Dead Definition


CRAMMM “Crammm” C6 (self-released)

Fuzzy AmRep-style cassingle from a couple dorks from New York, New York. Some guy named Ryan gets credit for “Levels.” I gotta say, the actual levels for these two soundalike songs are pretty fucked. But what are you gonna do, sometimes there’s not a lot to eat in the kitchen, and you make a sandwich from leftovers and awkward condiments. That’s a metaphor, for you superstars who just scrunched up your faces in confusion.


--Somebody, not Lester Bangs though

“The White Album”
(Crash Symbols)

My colleague at Tabs Out, Scott Scholz, was quoted as saying about I am just a pupil that it’s “freaking my shit right out.” And look, Scott’s OK – he’s a little demented, but we let that slide. And actually, he’s not even that crazy when it comes to “The White Album,” as I’m having an equally hard time figuring out where the hell I even am while I’m listening to this. I am so jolted out of any sort of normality that it feels like I’m fighting an intense uphill battle to even get my footing. Solid ground eludes me. So I slip and I slide down the endless stream of samples and plunderphonics, an endless and frictionless transparent tube through a madhouse of other people’s opinions. It’s freaking my shit right out.

Oh! Scott was right! He was so right!

But this freakout is a wake-up call, a magic whistle to the dome where you’re transported to other people’s lives and are allowed to peek in through the drawn shades. But still, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS, whether it’s the political weirdness of Bush accusing Gorbechev of aggression against the automobile on “Patriot” or the platitudes of a prospective lover to her beau on “ASMR,” with promises of removing duct tape. I’ve found myself laughing out loud through the gritted teeth that I’m grinding to bloody nerve stumps as I’m tied to a chair MK Ultra style with my eyes pried open as I’m listening to “The White Album,” and it’s a virtual certainty that I’m undergoing some severe psychological upheaval. But probably subliminally!

I’m laughing a lot, but there’s a lot of icky stuff to get through here too. Still, it’s all pretty hilarious – I’m absolutely gonna have to come back to this and try to parse out my feelings. I have an inkling that I’m going to discover things about myself that are better left buried under the surface. Like – “Black Ops”? Scary. But “Hillary” is just too funny, with its cherry-picked quotes slathered against a backdrop of generic R&B for maximum madness. Oh, who’s to say what the proper response is, or if there even is a “proper” one. “The White Album” is endlessly relistenable, and you’ll be able to find kernels of truth among the absolute outrageousness of the project. It’s one of the best things I’ve listened to in a while.

One last question: why does Obama sound like Norm MacDonald on “Obama”? Really, that one’s nagging at me.

Still – hilarious. 

Crash Symbols


LA NEVE "American Sounds"
(Don Giovanni Records)

American Sounds sees Joey “Quits” DeFrancesco, guitarist for Sub Pop’s Downtown Boys, making a striking creative divergence into dream pop and dance music, all while cutting a figure in a dress.  La Neve’s deadpan vocal delivery is remarkably fun and the keyboard work and drum beats are deft and complex, filled with deliberate counterpoint hooks. The songwriting is playful yet adamantine in its groovy danceability and the timbres are bright and surprising. There are some serious Italo-disco moments throughout.  Just about every cut on this tape is fresh but my favorite is the title track.

Definitely one for the Psychic Television fans!


-- “Jamband” Josh Brown

(Lily Tapes & Discs)

Cla-ras spends the majority of its nineteen-minute half of this split tape in deep introspection, meditatively allowing the gently played guitar to warm the room with its rich tones. I stole some of that language from Lily Tapes & Discs, because it’s an easy entry point to Cla-ras, the Providence-based musician whose music is here released on cassette for the first time. And indeed, “I Could Taste Iodine in the Drinking Water” feels like it’s right next to you on the couch, warm fire crackling, snow drifting beyond the window, a knowing and comfortable companion. Even as spoken word snippets appear here and there, these adapted from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the spell remains unbroken. Here’s hoping for more from the Cla-ras camp in the near future.

Lung Cycles is no stranger to Lily Tapes & Discs, but these three tracks on side B mark the first output since 2015. As always, the ambient acoustic folk Lung Cycles has perfected sounds like a transmission from a time long past. Sidling into the room and sitting down on the couch next to Cla-ras, Lung Cycles continues the deep winter living room rumination, remaining in quiet reflection throughout the entirety of his while looping in unobtrusive samples and allowing the environment itself to lend accompaniment.

This tape was released in January, so its very existence makes SO MUCH SENSE. The vibe of chilly isolation is its strongest selling point, tied as it is to a distinct time and mood.

Also, the packaging itself just looks gorgeous.


Lung Cycles

Lily Tapes & Discs


FIRE-TOOLZ “Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” (Suite 309)

Haha, we thought Angel Marcloid’s Fire-Toolz project was crazy enough WITHOUT any help, right? Well listen to this!

[holds up phone in direction of stage from which an insane racket emanates; stunned 1955 teenagers watch in silence]

I’ll save you the googling. That was a reference to the film “Back to the Future.”

“Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” is even more outlandish than “Interbeing,” Marcloid’s 2017 release on Bedlam Tapes, which also had a COMPACT DISC release somehow??? Aren’t those just like beer coasters anymore? I don’t fucking buy CDs.

Anyway, “Interbeing Remix” takes “Interbeing” and runs it through a meat grinder. Everything’s a total clusterfuck, with tracks run through an industrial magnet or maybe just stretched to drone length and allowed to sit there until you know it’s doing it on purpose just to spite you. There’s some crazy pop, some gabber, digital hardcore, hardvapor, mutant disco – dude, you name it, it’s on here. Even the repeat songs sound completely different in one remixer’s hands than another.

And oh – some of my faves cut these tracks to ribbons: More Eaze, Nmesh, Tiger Village … eat a butt, Paul Oakenfold!

All of this is to say that “Interbeing Remix Vol. 1” is not just a perfect companion piece to “Interbeing,” it might actually blow “Interbeing” itself out of the water! Well, OK, I won’t get too hasty here – let’s just say they’re perfect companion pieces to each other, and you should spend IRL money (or bitcoins) to add both tapes to your collection.

Notice I didn’t say “CDs.”


Alright, I’m outta here. I’ve got a date with a clock tower and a weather experiment.

Suite 309