“Love Acid Daydream
(Escape from Party Island)

I’ve lurked upon an internet conversation recently (because I don’t really contribute, I’m much more of a popcorn-crunching entertainment hog wallowing in the filth of everybody else’s problems) that basically hypothesized that if you have a really, really, terribly, I mean REALLY stupid band name (or artist name), then your music was directly proportional to the shittiness of said name. Let’s test it out with Turkey Salmon, one of the absolute worst names I’ve come across. (I mean really, unless this artist is the son of former California Angels outfielder Tim Salmon, who hated his newborn son so much from the get-go that he named him with a proportional hatred, this Turkey Salmon clown has no real reason to step out into public with a recording moniker so obviously culled from indecision at the grocery store.)

(This catastrophe is on you, Jason Miller.)

OK, synthesizer warble run through a badly tracked VHS player – check. That’s a good start. Let’s see … the rest is sub Flock of Seagulls, who I actually kind of like. You know what? Something called “Turkey Salmon” doesn’t get any more of my time. I won’t go so far as suggesting the music is as bad as the band name, but here’s some advice for you kids: If you want us to take you seriously, don’t name your project “Turkey Salmon.”


--Lettuce Apple

ALOSI DEN "Have You Met The Dead Poets?" C30 (Desert Home Recordings)

Picture a noon-time playground, ‘bout a block and a half away, teeming with li’l snot-nose’d monsters*; all that shrieking, shouting, cursing (and/or hearing cursing) for the very first time, getting skinned knees** that feel like they must have seriously just losted a limb or something! A fucking sonic mess, pretty much.

Again, cz this is important, from around 1.5 blocks away.

cz that’s the point where this screeching and caterwauling has had the space and time to reflect, fracture, &mingle with your new neighborhood’s surprising concentration of shitty apartment complexes before finally morphing into a whole other gorgeous set of now bewilderingly pleasing, sleeping-fan-esque ambient textures...

Not that this album is, in any way, “ambient”, or, categorically, “pleasing”, for that matter. Alosi Den, in fact, manages to pigeon-hole the whole idea of “pigeon-holing” into another completely inapplicable universe; &freed from this constraint, they slip stealthily ‘twixt cosmic’ly aligned, head-lolling space jams, discordant, frenetic free-jazz-freakouts, and a mesmerizing tether of mathy, post-rock, mantric-guitar swagger,, all of this in a mathemagician’s subtly-suggested blink of an ear.


It is worth mentioning that “Have You Met the Dead Poets” shares similar qualities with a plethora of the following heavy-hitters, as they share some of the same brilliant tones & moods, from time to time:

Broken Social Scene (their blissful, slow-motion space-jamming), Movietone (that gorgeous, criminally understated reverb/noodling), Slint (or, maybe specifically Papa M’s “Live From a Shark Tank” clean-pick’d ‘lectric guitar blueprint) and, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (the vocals are nearly indistinguishable in parts, though for only a quarter or less of the time). Oh, and the Meat Puppets (cz a lot of this album is what it’d sound like if you slowed their “II” album down to quarter-speed).

If I haven’t convolutedly fawned over this album enough, let me spell it out;
“This should be listened to,
with decent headphones,
about three or four
-teen times in a row.”

*phrase lifted/bastardized from Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.
**the vocals are, at times, deliciously harsh-yet-muted; their decibel level a Sistine monument to tasteful counterpoint (yes, vocals as Counterpoint!) and that continual push to keep listeners on their non-dominant stirrup.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

VARIOUS ARTISTS "VSR’s Brooklyn Mixtape"
(Very Special Recordings)

“VSR’s Brooklyn Mixtape” is a sampler compilation of tracks culled from various past VSR releases*, highlighting how diverse the label is in its mission to promote pleasant and/or groove-heavy NYC recording artists. All contributions are masterfully produced, medium-paced, and fairly enjoyable. If you happen to only notice acts from the Big Apple’s hip-hop or heavy metal scene, this could be a real eye opener for you.

*said releases lined up in physical form for their photo-op on the front cover of this j-card.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

MARVIN THE ROBOT "Psalms for the Sexually Disenfranchised" C30 (Self-Released)

Marvin the Robot sounds sorta like KIND OF LIKE SPITTING… spitting BLOOD, that is! Think of all those early Saddle Creek Records artists and their aversions to singing in tune, and apply their collective, sustained distain to pretty much every other instrument in MtR’s arsenal, as well; excepting Marvin here has sublimated his wayward, atonal energies into kicking out juxtaposing, noisy, impeccable stop-on-a-dime rhythmic phrasings to keep your attention rapt. Clearly, he knows how to avoid being too melodious AND play with too much confidence, so he chooses the latter, kicking that groovy currency into overdrive to make up for debts rung up by being so ostentatiously unharmonious. As in, this album is borderline noise-rock, but with too strong of roots along the anti-folk Great Plains to quite take that label to seed. If you thought Connor Oberst or the Kinsellas were delightfully obnoxious, just you fucking wait!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Pee On These Hands" C33
(Side Wound Worship)

With an album title like “Pee On These Hands”, it’s fairly hard to take a band seriously…but I do. &it’s not just their blatant K-Recs aesthetic (or the trimmed knuckle-hair short of being a Halo Benders cover band, at times) or some seriously righteous, out-of tune dual anti-harmonies sung that further the case that maybe “Platonic Boyfriends” are simply write-offable as just a buncha goofballs only releasing a tape for tape-release’s sake; but, to this, I say, “NAY!”

Nay. Despite their rudimentary musicianship (or perhaps highlighted by it), this quartet of lo-fi, slow-motion cowpunkers-gone-PNW cultists manages a fairly sweet dynamic interplay and some mind-twerking lyrical poses that can be as novel as they are revelatory*.

If you’re into semi-dadaist punk that pairs old stock Americana riffs/ripoffs with outright K-Recs-style instrumental irreverence to said chops-worshipping, tPB deliver like a virgin street preacher’s first shaky words.

*personal favorites of their notably unarticulated lyrics include:

“When I was one-infinity-three (free?)…
a fraction (fracture?) in your buised rib,
I could feel your heads a-comin’ over me.”


“so don’t move, but also move.
Learn how to feel free
Without being someone new (knew?)”


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

“A Short-Term Fix for a Long-Term Death”
(Already Dead Tapes)

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…” 

The Binary Marketing Show’s “A Very Old Conversation” opens “A Short-Term Fix for a Long-Term Death,” and the importance and grandeur, definitely bittersweet, that is instilled in it, made me long for a speech to be overlaid on top of it. I felt the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence was a pretty good start. So there it is.

“Short-Term Fix” is also filled with the idea of separation, of you from your life on this earth, and prolonging that inevitable for as long as humanly possible. It’s a glitchy pop slurry of Sparklehorse intuition and Broken Social Scene execution (the low-key stuff, like “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” or “Major Label Debut”) run through Crash Symbols’ internet server on the way to Already Dead. That means it’s got hooks for days, it’s packed with creativity, and nothing can stop it from sinking its teeth into your waking consciousness. All you have to do is press play on the thing.

But that darkness undercuts it, balances the sweet with the sour, the unpleasant undercurrent of encroaching mortality. Yep, death is coming for all of us, but we can probably smile a little bit, and at least begin to contemplate the meaning of our existence a smidge, while we bliss out of “Short-Term Fix.” You take the positive with the negative, no? That’s what makes life – as well as this gem of a tape – interesting.

The Binary Marketing Show

Already Dead Tapes


DAVE RUDER "Qualms Rectified" C36
(Gold Bolus Recordings)

Dave Ruder’s audiobiographical “Qualms Rectified” release feels deep down like a sound pome, perhaps titled “37”; feels like an abstract homage to Sandra Cisneros’ gut-punching, prosy chapter, “Eleven”, which starts out;

“What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six…”

I say this for a few reasons;

1) it affords me justification for reading the J-Card’s title and saying “QuALMS R-R-R-E-C-T-i-fied!” with a frenetic diction of the inner 15-year old me employing Beavis’s caffeinated alter-ego, the Great Cornholio, which leads me to;

2) some of the lyrical themes, nay, MOST of Dave Ruder’s words had me laughing-out-loud at first, and giggling childishly for the duration of the track. And there are several tracks like this, leaving me to feel like I am also six, and five, and four…

So, is this release just some sophomoric Nilsson-esque cataloging of irreverent fancies? Absolutely not! As stated before, “37”, not “17”,  because, when the focus isn’t on singing about self/socially-deprecatory themes, the accompanying instrumentation is a mature, wisened treasure trove of perfectly arranged horns, woodwinds, bowed strings & restrained guitar that no t-shirt-collar-stretching newcomer could likely pull off (much like Nilsson, again, when I think about it); and the interludes/vignettes add so much to the weight of the songs surrounding them that I cannot picture the album without them, despite DR’s notes on the creative process involved with churning this puppy out, asking in earnest self-doubt;

“Why can’t I just find a voice for 40 minutes of music?”

The answer is simple, Dave! The plethora of perspectives, moods, touch & go foci, & introspective themes in your tool kit all coalesce into one brilliant chorus of artistic gestalt, you silly, humble goose! Keep on blending & exploring! I’ll keep on keeping tabs on your output! Stay weird! Perhaps you are the next Great Horn-Cowl-io?


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

COLIN LANGENUS "Cut and Dry” C38

Colin Langenus recorded the guitar for these songs and then sent out the barebones scaffolding to his buds across the country so they could contribute as seen fit. The result is a playful, summery collection of blues-rock & country numbers that’d fit right along on a mixtape filled with Tom Petty, Iron & Wine, Allman Brothers, & Steely Dan.


 --Jacob An Kittenplan

BILL FOREMAN "The Duck Hunter” C44 (Self-Released)

Not one to risk having his idiosyncratic, prosy takes on life misconstrued, Bill Foreman, solo singer-songwriter extraordinaire, has provided a corresponding chapbook of lyrics to go along with his tape, “The Duck Hunter”, this poetic pamphlet providing provey proof once and for all that he is, indeed, a devout disciple of Dylan (by-way-of John Darnielle), and a dead serious Americana artist of the 21st century.


 --Jacob An Kittenplan

TONY BULLETS "Homesick” C23 (Self-Released)

“My name is Tony and my friend gave me a guitar.”
~quote from the first two seconds of this tape

“I recorded this during a time in my life when I was between homes and not really sure where I was going, how I was getting there, or whether I was even making the right decision in going.

“The recording process was cathartic AF and made me feel like even though things were changing, the one constant was my urge to create.”
~excerpt taken from artist’s bandcamp page

As you might so expect, this is what the sympathetic seams
of some torn t-shirt-sleeve’d feel like, once someone slap’d
their heart on ‘em, full force… & then record’d their sleek,
tear-slick lamentations &vibrations.

So. Expect slightly out of tune guitars. Expect so clever lyrics. Expect a slow number or two, detailing the details of some oh-so slow deaths by numbers, divisible by two. Expect an honesty slightly less cringy than one might expect. Expect anti-folk a-la Midwest, via the slightly so honest East Coast.

&Expect better and better songs to come, in the future, as, at the time of review, this üüüüüüber-handsome baby/pewter blue/pink relic is soo very sold-the-fuckety-fuck-out!!


 --Jacob An Kittenplan

BOILED WOOL "How Can You Tell By Looking” C26 (Self-Released)

NYC’s Cynthia Chang takes a page out of early Beach House’s minimalist synth-pop playbook, but kinda makes their own “found poem/collage” with it, substituting Legrand’s emotionally laconic delivery for its inverse, a hyper-stylized Billie Holiday-esque caricature of nasal croonery, which gets further distorted by a wavering diction and blown out EQ mixing. Further artistic augmentations involve the substitution of structural chordal movement for static loop deviation, these rhythmic passages shifting so subtly, they might be negligible, lest ye seek them out. The end result, like any decent art, will either bore the hell out of you, or turn your world on its ear. Strap on headphones and give a concerted listen to see for yourself.


 --Jacob An Kittenplan

F E B R A "Furt Prietenesc” C65 (Self-Released)

Without looking into the actual translation, I’d guess the words “Furt Prietenesc” to be Romanian for “Cutting of Teeth”; as in, this album ought be listened to as a sort of étude, a document of the progress made in F E B R A’s becoming a savvier producer & more well-rounded techno-crat.

This hour long excursion through Ableton Live ninjahood ambles about like an early Autechre album, with a host of lush, consonant ambience, semi-grating dub-step’y, modular ominosity, and sparse, echo’y synth melodies; the difference being that F E B R A generally chooses to pare down where his predecessor chose to be over-indulgent, sparing us that trebly, rabid battery of e-snare/hi-hat, favoring instead to pair his spacious, ambient poses with markedly less busy-as-all-get-out beats, a-la Trip-Hop, or “Glitch-Hop”, as the bandcamp page lists under its #tags.

The tape, already sold out on bandcamp, serves as an artifact of where the artist has come from, but, holy hell, just listen to the EP released the following April and get ready for some Seriously intense, industrial jamz! Can’t wait for the next release!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Volume 5” C35
(ShanGORIL La Records)

Say what you will of jam bands; there’s definitely something captivating about a group of people who play together with great confidence and rhythmic chemistry, even when they aren’t all in the same key. 

RIYL: Akron/Family or Animal Collective, but unbeholden to harmony. Sound weird? Hear for yourself via the link below.

  --Jacob An Kittenplan

Jambands rule -- ed.

TATRAS / OOSTANAULA “split” (Park 70)

The Knoxville-based label Park 70 brings us this split tape from Tatras and Oostanaula. Tatras’ side of the tape is a soup that swells and morphs. A fine stew of thick and booming textures that heave and retract, building and waning. Guitars, bowed cymbals, synths, fields recordings (and probably some other things) swim around and merge with one another. There are melodic moments that come in and out, which give it a nice balance as well. A segment of arpeggiated synth accompanied by field recordings and other nebulous sound sources feels like you’re in a dream at a street-side café and a car drives by playing Tangerine Dream (pun intended). All of the elements in these two tracks seem to meld together and coalesce to form a unified but mutating texture.

Oostanaula’s side of the tape is also fairly soupy, and I mean that in the best way possible. Field recordings of waves and gulls fold over themselves and are joined by flutes and drones. The overall feel of this music is not terribly different from Tatras’ side of the tape, but this track, titled “Cobra Pit (Lorazepam Shift)”, has a more ominous feeling to it at points. Some of the tonal aspects are more foreboding, if not downright dissonant, than the tonal moments on the A side. (Not to say that this track is all doom and gloom; there are certainly more consonant moments featuring flutes, vocals and guitars.) But this helps to balance the overall release as well. I think this is a great pairing of two musical projects and it’s the type of subtle curating that really adds to the impact of the entire release. So kudos to the folks at Park 70 for that as well. If you’re a fan of ambient or experimental music, check this release out. I know I will be playing it again in the near future.


--James Searfoss   

PLASTIC GARBAGE "Plastic Garbage” C15
(Gay Hippie Vampire)

Like a passed out clown in the ER waiting room, Plastic Garbage is boldly irritating and infectiously captivating. Her crude synth lines and pre-set drum machine beats are a muddy mess that only slickens with each anti-harmony speaksung, these themes themselves a murky, plebeian mix of facetious poignancy and celebrated angst-as-unifying factor.

&did I mention that these fucking songs are going to get stuck in your fucking head? I can’t figure out if this anti-pop is obnoxiously creative or creatively obnoxious. Maybe both? Anywhichway, this tape will challenge you to draw venn diagrams relating what is catchy to what is cringey to what is startling; what is silly to what is absurd to what is untenable.

Chalk another one up to Lincoln, Nebraska’s Gay Hippie Vampire nation and their churning out the most semi-important relics of our time!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Boogie Woogie Thought Crimes” C32
(Gay Hippie Vampire)

With song titles like “Wouldn’t it Suck if the Rapture Happens and I Have to Go to Heaven because of All the Acid I’ve Done?” and “A Dog > An Even Cooler Hat (Which the Dog is Wearing)”, it should be fairly evident that the only thing this “Improvisational Grind” duo takes Very seriously is a Good Fucking Time. With both guitar shredder and drumkit shit-kicker-outter moaning and howling along just about as rabidly and spastically as their instruments could possibly wail & crash, you can’t help but feel like you’re right there in the basement, listening to your buddies completely freakthefuckout on their instruments, as if they were fighting them to the death.

&so, you might ask, “what separates this from just a coupla assholes jerking off their instruments really fast?” Good question! Maybe you don’t fully understand to what degree JUST HOW FUCKING FAST they’re playing!?!

I imagine them sneaking onto a bill at some bar and someone not exactly feeling THE FREEDOM that these chaps are HARNESSING; this dude says something like “Shee-it! Even III coulda play’d that song!” To which a random stranger’d counter, “No, sir. No, you could not. You could not fucking possibly play that goddamn fast for that goddamn long and manage to not play the same thing over and over again, no. No, sir, thou art wrong.” And then they’d reach into their pocket and pull out a handful of 50% processed sugar/50% glitter, and they’d sprinkle it on his silly head.

That’s what listening to this music feels like: Some sage passerby dropping meaningless knowledge on you and then making a mess of your clothes and surrounding drinks. Boogie Woogie Thought Crimes, indeed!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Frotting” C32
(Gay Hippie Vampire)

Speaking of “a touchy subject*”, I grew up in southwestern Ohio; landlocked, but near-drowning every single day in the turbulent oceans of homophobia that ran rampant there. I hear it’s better now, in Dayton, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of reaction I’d get from wearing a t-shirt with a giant TWO DADS TWO SONS EMOJI on the front. I’m sure one could make up a thousand different stories before running out of explanations that would bewilder the local inquirers. Now, what’d REALLY offend about 95% of my Midwestern neighbors back then would have been to blast this noisy half hour of droning tape loops over a bar’s sound system.

“Hey, man, now look. If I wanted to listen to a vacuum cleaner and a lawnmower going at it from the next room over, I’d just record my Sunday afternoon, gawht-dhamnnit!”

is an example of the gentle ribbing I might get. And it’s not that far off the mark. A blissful chorus of sleeping fan, idling tractor, storm-battered picture window, sweaty Air Conditioner, and a juuuuust-not-quite-closed-car-door-whilst-barreling-down-the-interstate is all but buried here within these two 16 minute long stretches of magnetized tape. I reckon this release’d sound amazing played through a bass amp, next to an actual ocean, lunchtime schoolyard, and/or maybe a wooded haven of cicadas.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

*don’t frot over it if you didn’t get the superficial pun at first ☺

THE CRADLE "Endless Room for Error” C16

I hereby submit to you a soniconspiracy theory:

The Cradle’s “ERFE” is, perhaps, NOT simply a nod toward his fellow Big Apple’r,
the cult-classic sound viking…the inimitable…MOONDOG…
but it is rather a frantic, technologically-tweak’d declaration of NYC lineage;

Let us observe the phenotype:
-Infinite hand-drum barrages that refuse dynamic nuance yet groove anyway? For fucking sure.
-Behemoth, slippery time signatures that beg a second set of syncopated counters to even fucking realize what is going on? Sorry, still nodding along in concentrated calculation. I think so?
-Unapologetic, mantric loopage for daze and daze and daze? Uhhh…what? Uhh, yes…
-Okay, so the spoken word passages aren’t nearly as articulate, or poignant in theme or delivery, but the sincerity is still there. Check, goddamnit!

Am I reading into all of this too much? Could this maybe be just a buncha weirdo loops being haphazardly stacked one atop the next to be explored by an otherwise notoriously brilliant, finger-picking folksinger? Is this all just some freak accident? Or Does this wildly inaccessible set of angular loops and atonal hooks sound all too familiar, despite those 21st century digital replacements; is this all proof of some deep-seeded legacy, finally bearing fruit?! I hereby submit that it’s suspect enough to warrant a DNA test.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Green Burial” C20
(Permanent Nostalgia)

Side A:
In the director’s cut* of Memento, the protagonist barges into his neighboring hotel room** to find out what all that shrillness and buzzing is about. He discovers an empty space***, but for one electric guitar, run through a dangerously rusty delay pedal, into a fairly large amplifier that has, indeed, seen better days, itself.

His anterograde amnesia does not allow him to remember that used to play for Shipping News**** back in the day, but somewhere in his blood, he knows of the freedom-justifying maxim that “if you play the wrong note, play it again, only louder”, and that, although decibel level isn’t exactly what Mr. Davis***** was talking about, persistence, patience, and forgiveness sure as shit was.

He picks up the guitar, strums a chord, picks a few bass notes, &strums again, letting the slightly sharp strings ring out, bounce back from one wall to another to another to his own hear. He strums again…and has forgotten what he has already played. Soundcloud was not a thing back then.

Side B:
Is a lot like Side A, but with some pretty COOL****** surrounding sounds from outside said room incorporated. Perhaps a window was opened. Perhaps a radio tower was fritzing more heavily than normal, eliciting robotic possession of said beat up amp…

and, man…once you get to the end of this relatively short tape, there is one SICK door-hinge riff that absolutely SCREAMS!

It is worth mentioning that listening at different volumes to this recording yield DRASTICALLY differing results. Explore!

*I am totally making this shit up as I go along ok
**Seriously I can’t even remember anything about this movie other than the short-term memory loss theme please bear with me
*** Bluesharp the recording artist is all about a recording environment’s stranglehold on soundwaves and how they make it to your ears and or a recording device so know that ok
****Seriously I could not begin to stop hearing “Axons and Dendrites” and wondering if this “Green Burial” album is what the beginning of that song might have sounded like were it written while coming down off any number of powerful narcotics or downers or tranquilizers or other such stuff
*****Miles Davis never said this and I can’t figure out who did or if I’m just referencing some false memory or whatever but you get the idea
******Cool as in a Cool Person as in a reference to yet another rad artist on the Permanent Nostalgia roster!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Found Tape” C20
(Permanent Nostalgia)

Making one feel

Royallen’s “Found Tape” is a loom
of thrift-store score snippets*,
their decay’d riffs and slippery vignettes
having been appropriated,
decontextualized, and irreverently spliced/looped
into, over-top, and straight through one another,
all minimalist stitches glowing warmly,
the underlying uneven wear of warp and weft
celebrated earnestly as wabi-sabi,

making one feel

*snippets pilfered include but are not limited to
various pre-1990:

-vintage infomercial dialogues
-a’capella gospel & worksongs
-saccharine/cheesy soap opera interludes
-piano practice recordings of arpeggios
& raw, faltering recitals
-whispered confessions
-fledgling techno beats
-R&B choirs in their pre-chorus prime
-70s British Folk wankery
-60s flat-pick’d/slide Country & Western guitar
-50s classical romantic string arrangements
-elder pop croon’ry & indecipherable soul vocal swagger
-Liz-Phair-esque muddle of harp-ish piano-bridge
-phrenetic, trebly chaos via orchestral pit
-the list goes on & on, as the tape progresses,
becoming further and further disparate
in genre-pairing.

All sounds melded & ingested, the end result yields either a novelty-seeker’s satiation, a confused/amused notation, or an irritated bystander, begging for the back door, unsure of “what the heck music even is, anymore!”
Plan your picnics accordingly!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"The Terminology Is Flawed” C50

“The Terminology Is Flawed”, one serious noggin-fuckin’ of a slow-motion harsh-noise wall collapsing, is three possessed ears and two rusted-out, telepathic antennae, fully caffeinated, on les fritz, &perhaps tipsy, walking down the center of Bourbon Street, 8” pumps feeling suspiciously graceful, &just minutes after yet another fucking mid-summer, mid-afternoon storm clears. Which is to say, it is not “easy*”; “easy” being a double-standard/entendre for being psychically beaten about by passersbys’ Puritanical judgypantsnesses and their correspondingly-contrastingly raised eyebrows in betrayal of their own self-disapproval. Which is to say, “hard”.

Fri(g)id is an unapologetically dissonant/dissident NOLA noise knob-turner, her choice of vocal sample source material being, to say the least, a grotesque quilt of the American Sexual Identity and the viscerally felt collective trauma that comes part & parcel with that unpackable(?) baggage. These vocal samples are woven in jaggedly, just below the surface of ugly, mutating, rhythmic textures in a four way perpetual tug-of-war for status as primary pulse. The one time she uses her own voice to repeat a hauntingly mumbled spell, it is so processed and distorted, and with such a demonic cadence, that I cannot not imagine Miranda July performing a goat-blood soak’d public exorcism alongside it. Which is to say “uneasy”.

To make this ever more immersive & disorienting, these hand-dubbed tapes come with a strikingly crude set of pornographic/advertisement/non-sequitur word collages & brief liner notes.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

*words written for review were selected in such a manner as to attempt to emulate the release’s complexity, convolusion, noise, confusion, and all around hypnotically-induced scatterbrain’d’ness that comes with deep listening. This is really a powerful, important document to witness and share. Listen the fuck up!

MELFI “Four Concerns” C30 (Czaszka [Rec.])

I listened to “Four Concerns” at nighttime on July 2, 2018, and the ambience of the evening accentuated the processed cello, field recordings, and modular synthesis Melfi utilizes in this work. From the moment the cello clips Paul De Jong’d their way in stereo across the speakers, I was hooked.

But the cello’s not all. Melfi proves to be a master manipulator of mood and tone, and although much of the two pieces here are said to be “improvised,” there’s very little chaos or unintentional disruption. “Four Concerns,” while split into parts “I” and “II” across the sides of the tape, comprises a full vision that indeed “seem[s] to follow the course of a story.” It’s a work that surrounds you with itself and settles in to all the cracks and fissures of the moments of your life you spend listening to it.

As I sat and contemplated “Four Concerns” on the evening of July 2, crickets and frogs joined in the festivities outside my window, their song an accompaniment to Melfi’s machinations. It fit perfectly, so much so that I invited them back for an encore performance the next evening. Melfi’s unintentional collaborators were glad to oblige.

But after that they’re no longer welcome. A man has to sleep sometime.

Czaszka (Rec.)


CRYOSTASIUM "The Possessor” C18
(Fish Prints Inc)

“The Possessor” is a black metal album…only the kick drum doesn’t follow that stalwart, hummingbird-heartbeat-on-amphetamines formula, but rather a confident, gothic-industrial-night-club-under-attack-by-zombies-like-every-single-fucking-night pulse.

“The Possessor” is a black metal album …only the vocals aren’t harnessed from the shrieks of professional trashcan-shouting-into banshees so much as an abused Japanese vocal processor that likely held hands with an AI model, watching Linda Blair highlights, for maybe four years straight, learning to projectile vomit mangled half-annunciations/invocations only decipherable by practiced necromantics.

“The Possessor” is a black metal album …only the interludes aren’t culled from the haunted dreams of Mussorgsky’s conductor’s wand’s rise and fall of all damned arpeggios in unison forever-ever; nay, instead, these passages are but spirits of these magnetized past and future blackened industrial lamentations, sampled, stretched into ambient ghosts, and tethered ethereally to a nice, natural, spooky bog of a field-recording documenting a midnight cemetery constitutional.

“The Possessor” is a black metal album …only the bass’s throbbing tug grows outfuckingrightgoddamndancier and DANCIER as the all-too-short album progresses and takes on trickier time signatures.

“The Possessor” is a black metal album…only you can read the letters on the spine.

&Perhaps now you’re inclined to ask, “If it walks like a duck, and it sings like a hellbound semi-aquatic harpy, how will we pigeonhole it?” If so, just sit with that koan, knowing that neither Cryostasium nor Fish Prints Inc, for that matter, could possibly give a flying fuck. I’d wager a nickel that, somewhere in Boston, there’s a needlepoint’d maxim hanging on a wall that reads “If you love a genre, set it on fire. If it comes back, it will be yours forever. If it doesn’t, it never was.”


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

“The Right Side of Mystery”

The Right Side of Mystery marks Nathan Moody’s tenth release of experimental-electronic composition over a twenty-year stretch; but this 2xCS is markedly different in that “no synthesizers or samplers were used” in its making. Instead, NM built his own custom, novel, resonating devices and affixed contact mics and electro-magnetic pickups to them to best harvest their metallic/culty/industrial timbres. &the yield is striking!

Three-parts snaking, vibrant Eastern raga to one part gloomy, droning dirge, TRSOM is filled with dizzying, polyrhythmic posits, stacked against themselves, and raw electro-acoustic plucks floating alongside heavily-processed bowed strings (& resonating chambers?), all of these fluid elements slowly swirling together to create hypnotic, hallucinatory spaces for an infinite supply of undiscovered, ceremonial aesthetics and canons. Read C-U-L-T-Y. A-F.

Whether flailing around a hazy bonfire or meditating in the dark, with or without headphones, this brilliant release provides myriad rock-solid, mesmerizing scaffolds for  self-reflection/expression/inquiry and/or simply tripping the fuck out.

Also, the minimalist packaging material, sigil, & shells are not only notably elegant, but a great physical manifestation of the sounds magnetized within.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

*Photo snagged from NM’s “Noise Jockey” website

(Property Materials)

There’s been a lot of talk about tulpas, whether it’s Diane Evans or Dougie Jones, but no one’s ever really laid to tape what the idea of a “tulpa” really sounds like until Moondrawn, with, duh, “Tulpa.” And even he foresaw the tulpa craze way back in 2011! It’s like he had a crystal ball or something, or was trapped inside some kind of “lodge” where time loops infinitely…

Still, the synthesizers are nice, and the drone is a sweet transition from “Tulpa” to “He Is a Sleepwalker,” the two Moondrawn tracks on his half of this dreamy tape he splits with J. Bagist. The Boston experimental electronic heavyweights (I’m assuming, I don’t live in Boston) are a perfect match for each other – Moondrawn’s minimal drone swirls into J. Bagist’s tense productions, digital pulses and rhythms bubbling in sweet contrast. The question then becomes, are these two artists real people, or are they manufactured supernatural entities?

You know, tulpas?

The only way we’ll find out is if we go to a Red Sox game with Terrence Mann while on the hunt for the secrets to Archibald “Moonlight” Graham.

Betcha didn’t see that reference coming.

Anyway, this split is a dense combination of electronic manipulation, spanning an enviable spectrum of experimental ambient music. Don’t sleep on this one, or you might lose everything that makes you you in the foggy mind of your doppelgänger.


Property Materials


NELORIES "1990 Demo EP” C18 (Fish Prints Inc)

Nelories started off in the early ‘90s as two high school gals (I repeat, HIGHSCHOOL!), one playing electric guitar, the other, an accordion- whilst singing in her second language, English- which made for a nuanced departure from standard vowels sung, as well as playfully novel* lyrical poses and topics.

Hungry for a “fun fact” about this obscure twee/J-proto-indie-pop band? Their only American release was on a label run by a They Might Be Giants member, said release being for a CD of the Month club. Yeah, you’ll go “Ahhh…yep. That makes some serious sense!” upon first listen, with all those hooks AND change-ups.

As for this demo, be forewarned: the mix is rather raw…but pointedly so? As in, earlier on (in my repeated listening to this) I really wished the guitar was turned up a skosh (or like four), but, after repeated (repeated, repeated) listening, I found that the earlier tracks’ lower mixing suited the overall release well, meta-wise, as that guitar gets subtly turned up in the mix more and more, from start to finish, alongside a piecemeal introduction of some fairly creative bass and on point drums; by the end, the guitarist is shredding and there’s a really rrrad double-bass kick-drum line that just HITS!

Label-wise, “Fish Prints Inc” is, for all intents and purposes, a sibling of I HEART NOISE, which, if you’re not aware, is a pretty badass label that re-issues long lost gems and/or issues ones that really shouldn’t get lost in the fray. FPI is decidedly anti-nostalgic in their mission, however, with their only two releases consisting of this three-decades-old esoteric relic alongside a brand new, visionary atmospheric black metal album. What the fuck is next? Who knows?!

What I DO know for certain is that, if you’re into quirky, accordion heavy ‘90s indie-rock, this will scratch one hell of a lot of itches for you!


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

* reportedly, as I can’t really make out the words over the accordion in the mix. Never been great with that to begin with. Listen for yourself via the link!

SCALD HYMN "Pearl Diffident" C47 (L.I.T.L.)

Western Masser Erik Brown might just be the most prolific person in harsh noise right now. I don't think there's been a time in the past year that I've been to a show at his house where I haven't left with at least one or two new tapes from one of his half dozen projects. All of them on point in quality and vision. He makes tapes that are what he wants noise tapes to look like: photocopied blackened, garbage. (If you've been to Cold Spring Hollow, you know that house is just teeming with inspiration). And the audio is pretty close.

About a year to year and a half ago two things really stepped up Erik's game. First, he started collaborating with Dan Greenwood of Diagram A, and second, he got his hands on a digital sampler. Greenwood taught Brown some serious tricks for mulching field recordings into glistening heaps of sonic rubble. The sampler has allowed Erik to maintain a level of clarity and control that otherwise would quickly get lost in tape-to-tape processing. 

"Pearl Diffident" is two side-long tracks of just the sort of humid, dark and harsh sound collage I love. The A side churns along mercilessly and amorphously; shredded tinfoil shaking in the wind played at half speed, dumpster wreckage cascading in on itself, maybe even trees whispering in the summer wind behind the house overblown to a horrifying wall of noise. Its molten lava, and won't be stopped. Side two is sparser and rhythmic. An appropriate juxtaposition to the preceding barrage. It doesn't hold the same visceral impact of the A side, it's a slow burn. Sounds are murky, but the sources are a little clearer if you know what's hidden there. The A side is high contrast. The second is duller and muddier, throbbing in the night.

(this album isn't posted there, but the contact is good)

-- Mike Barrett

SPECTRUMS "Thanks For Your Kind Words” C17 (Self-Titled Recordings)

“Taking inspiration from the Chicago school of post-rock, Tangerine Dream, and John Carpenter's soundtracks, the trio adopts a keyboardist's mindset with guitars firmly in hand.”
-exerpt taken from their website.

Man, I must be going deaf, because I am not hearing ANY keyboards whatsoever on this tape, or post-rock time-signature changes, for that matter. Maybe their live show is different? The two guitarists definitely have some great chemistry, and their tones mince well (see: Sonic Youth), but I really don’t get why there aren’t at least some sparse vocals to flesh these tracks out more. Am I missing something here? Judge for yourself via the links below.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Supernova" C30+ / "Spaces For Strangers" C23+
(Bullshit Night Records)

Never more than now would a Neil DeGrasse Tyson soundbite be more applicable. Cleveland, Ohio’s EU-IV (“you-four” [&I presume the next syllable is an implied “ic”]) provides ample jazzy/hip-hop samples/rhythms to rhyme and/or muse over, in the comfort of your own jambox-realm. Standard beats and edgy dead-space-in-the-mix passages will hopefully inspire generations to come.

As for the Seattle-ite SARCASTALITES, Gwen Thomas sings, plays, records & mixes this “Spaces For Strangers” entire album, utilizing an all-ladies team of engineers (6 of them!) to master/produce/churn out this solid ‘70s disco collection, with novel, millennial themes.

“Earth is for friends…Space is for Strangers” INDEED.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan

MONOTRAIL "Selected Jams" C35 (Oggy Records)

[cue carnie barker]
“Shimmer me timbres!
Serious knob-tweakery is afoot!
All along the Monotrail express!
Next stop, ZONER-TOWN!”

Intrepid Berliner, Rijnder Kamerbeek, is a nuanced, live-show slow-jammer/explorer of space and orbital pull through their subtle manipulation of modular synths, loopers/legions of effects pedals, & drum machines/sequencers.

“Selected Jams” is a culling of six solo improvisations. Don’t expect a dance party so much as a noggin-noddin’ couch party. Anyone who even half-attentively listens to this will be immediately drawn into themselves, eyes closed, auto-hypnotized, slowly seewead swaying along with the continuous micro-morphing of synth sequences, drones, and faint, buried beats. Great for drawing and mediation. Headphones a must.


  --Jacob An Kittenplan