“T. Penn Collections” C92
(Saga House)

The first thing you’ll notice about this tape is that the A-side is backward. Like, literally, it’s a mirror image of side B in all ways. The tape plays backward, like you’re perma-stuck in the Black Lodge, but the backward-recorded sounds aren’t played forward again to mess with your head. It’s a weird, nightmarish side, only suggesting the lo-fi chaos that appears on side B (and plays the right way). Well, maybe not “suggesting.” It does play everything on side you’re about to hear, just … differently.

The second thing you’ll notice is that head Human Adult T. Penn is a friggin’ weirdo. The Jersey lifer begins side B with the seventeen-minute “Music Is Not My Religion but This Is My Prayer,” a guttural meditation on the low end of the EQ spectrum, dense and noisy and intense. From there he slips into anti–rock music shaman mode, drawing from different iterations of bands he was in (Th’ Summer Dresses, Th’ Horrorday Rounders; Human Adult Band gets credit for tracks B2, B3, and B6) and playing a couple tunes written by people who aren’t him (R. Stevie Moore, Marc Bolan). These are wandering no wave ideas filtered through bedroom DIY, beat ingenuity tethered to necessity as the mother of ramshackle invention.

T. Penn may be a friggin’ weirdo, but he’s an interesting one nonetheless.

Keep an eye out for Philly’s own Saga House cassette label – they bill themselves as “a curatorial project to recycle a load of 1,700 blank cassette tapes and a duplicator found in a church basement in 2014. Saga House is a not for profit endeavor, selling the tapes directly for $3 apiece.” Sounds like they’ve got a lot of good things planned for those 1,700 tapes.

Saga House