SAMUEL GOFF “Transmissions” (Orb Tapes)

Among the Rocks and Roots released one of my favorite 2019 surprises, Raga, which I wrote about immediately after hearing it (it came in the mail; I popped it in within five minutes, not knowing what to expect; I was blown away). It remains a go-to tape when I want a faceful of blistering weirdness – on that front it fully delivers. Samuel Goff comprises half of Among the Rocks and Roots (he’s also a founding member of RAIC), and here he steps out on his own with Transmissions, his first-ever solo release. How does it stack up against the utter onslaught of Raga? Well, it’s still an unmistakable assault on the senses; and while it may not be as traditionally “heavy,” with pummeled instruments and breakneck pacing, it absolutely delivers on the madness and intensity of Goff’s other project.

What’s most noticeable about Transmissions is the variety it displays from track to track, and this makes sense given the fact that it contains field recordings collected over the course of a year; these are sourced from Goff’s travels to Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, Bolivia, while the rest was recorded at the University of Richmond in Virginia. While “Pikeville” mixes free jazz and backporch Kentucky folk, “Transmissions, Part One” blends together scrambled, er, transmissions until they resolve into a cauldron of boiling static. These things juxtaposed against each other serve to heighten their individual characteristics – and this is even before we get to the rhythmic stuff! That’s right, both “Snakebite” and “Cochabamba” hit you with more traditional rhythms, with the field recordings of “Cochabamba” doing some incredible heavy lifting as they inject the thirteen-minute track with surprise movement. (Not to mention the choir – really nice touch.)

At this point you’re only halfway through, and the second side of Transmissions bears out the contrast between noise and rhythm and local sounds/music as sound art in infinitely intriguing ways. Goff transcends genre with ease, swirling everything together until each element fits perfectly in its own place, no matter how much it contrasts with something else. This is the logical next step following Raga, a half-turn to the interior workings of how one participant processes the world around him.


“Mighty Giant Pinky - Tribute to Satanicpornocultshop” C95
(Strategic Tape Reserve)

Is the Pinky attached to a Giant in the same way as webs of beats have been mercilessly tacked to a writhing beast in full throes? Or is it (this Pinky) simply to relative scale of said Giant, a slippery net of percussive cross-hairs, possessed, staggering, unpinnable, sovereign? 

How Mighty is the Pinky, flexed magically, wand-like in its mesmerism of loose footwork & turntablism-kisses? How does the final digit dangle, hypnotic as tribal collectives seduce our consciousness into its diffuse-state, primed to access those hidden paths paved with their own beatification.

The Japanese electro-weirdo-beatsmiths SATANICPORNOCULTSHOP inspired many an intense NTSE-NTSE-NTSE-NTSE freak to branch out into the unknown and steal a piece of sound-mind from the wandering schizophrenic canon & this behemoth compilation details but an eeNTSY slew of their legacy.

—Jacob An Kittenplan

"Hair Clinic" C22

Max Nordile may or may not have set up a flash mob to improv with dedicatedly out of tune instruments in the middle of one of Chinatown’s six-way crosswalks during peak rush hour traffic. He then, possibly, moved the party on south two blocks to an underpass camp to better commit his mumble-fess'd transit-gressions amongst the rapt & swaddled, possessed & dispossessed. The possible chronology is suspect. 

The point is to make not a one hot lick 
o’ sense of sound or sensation, but many?
Know trumpets and crossing signals were herd
-ed in the making of this dis(t)reet recording.
Oakland has no sound problems having problems with sound 
solutions. (GRN + GNR = NRGX2)
"Fucking science”, indeed. 
Disorient yourself accordingly…


—Jacob An Kittenplan

“Something About Hands” C34
(Wolves Productions)

On “Something About Hands” Jarvis Probes not only recalls the spacey guitar tones & noodle-work of 90s indie luminaries like Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr, he manages to interweave their creative, unique, jammy solo styles into one cohesive force, and then he conjures up some driving, interlocking backing layers (and layers) as well, all of this while avoiding either previously mentioned stalwarts polarizing vocal affects. In fact, JP don’t sing at all, but rather focuses on an almost dream-like sequence of axe-centric hooks & bridges. Pretty fun stuff!

—Jacob An Kittenplan

HYPNAGOGUE “Distant Light Receding” C42 (Momentary Solitude)

“Inspired by the harsh beauty of a coastal New England winter.” Been there, reveled in that. The beauty, I mean, of winter in New England. Coast or country, doesn’t matter – it’s cold, and it’s quiet. Blanketed under snow or bleak, barren, and wind-blown, the environment lends itself to staying indoors and warm rather than braving the frigid temperatures. Even if you have to wander out there for some reason (my friend’s a Massachusetts farmer, for example), you don’t move much, pressed as you are into your own body within your layers of clothes in an attempt to stay warm.

And whether you’re indoors or out, you’re almost certainly bound to spend a lot of time within your own mind. “Distant Light Receding” is perfect accompaniment for your thoughts, a vehicle to transport your emotions and allow you to make sense of them. James Rosato’s delicate ambient folds of tone become the aural equivalent of the cloud layer on those gray days, obscuring a weak sun that pops out for a few hours a day, then heads back beyond the horizon for those long cold nights. The best part, though, about the winter sun – presumably that titular distant light – disappearing? The starry New England night sky is just so much better this time of year.


PAINTED FACES “Living and Eating Pizza in New York City” (NULL|Z0NE)

When I say limited edition cassette batch, you say “HEY!”


When I say limited edition cassette batch you say, “HO”!


“HEY!” à “HEY!”

“HO!” à “HO!”

OK, that’s enough. We can shout and raise our hands in the air until we’re blue in the face and our throats are raw and ravaged by our enthusiasm. But it’s not without merit, because that’s often the reaction I have to new NULL|Z0NE tapes, and this one here by Painted Faces is a ripper. David Drucker has been doing his freeform freakout thing for nigh on a decade, and Living and Eating Pizza in New York City, the first PF tape I’ve written about since Hermit of Bushwick on Already Dead (but not the first thing Drucker’s released since then), gets right down in it. Right down in the murk and the mire, right down in the frequencies and the tones, the ones that hover right there above the ground about an inch or two up, spread out like a sick fog.

I like that Painted Faces gets hit with the term “psychOdelic” in its press, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s certainly a trip and a half through Drucker’s mind, but it’s like you took the wrong acid and then fell in a swamp. But Drucker doesn’t care – he’s certainly just more interested in following whatever whim he has wherever it takes him, whether it’s to a bowl of soup or to an air conditioning unit stuck on “grind.” At any rate, it’s fascinating to follow him there, isn’t it? That’s what Living and Eating Pizza in New York City is all about. I think. Maybe it’s also about its titular subject, but who knows. I like pizza.

Btw, there are only 5 left of the edition of 10.


JASON CALHOUN “Practice” / GREYON GREENE “Belong to It” (Lily Tapes & Discs)

Fall 2019 has passed us long by, here in the depths of winter 2020, but that doesn’t mean we can’t return to that innocent season and reflect on time’s inescapable passage. And what better way to do so than with the Lily Tapes & Discs Fall 2019 batch? There is no better way. LT&D specializes in contemplative releases, and Jason Calhoun and Greyon Greene are nothing if not contemplative.

Calhoun’s Practice is an embroidered pattern stretching across the fabric time, until it frays and comes undone at its end. That’s exactly what’s on the cover of the j-card, and that’s exactly the mental image you need to immerse yourself in it. Actually, you don’t even need that – just free your mind up for some lovely hypnogogic, trance-inducing enlightenment, and let the hazy afternoon winter sunlight filter in through your curtains while you are gently rocked on the current of half-sleep. It is not a coincidence that Calhoun’s previous moniker was “naps” – far from it. His music is gentle and restrained, allowing for deep relaxation even as a tiny hint of melancholy seeps in. Perfect for staring out windows or drifting into obliviousness.

Greyon Greene takes his cues from the Cliff Martinez school of synthesizer soundtrackery, painting the urban nocturnal in broad strokes. The vibe is set from the opening strains of “Where Is Mulder Now?” which obviously, in its wondering, hints at mystery and, perhaps, even longing. These are not inapt descriptions of the whole of Belong to It, which could easily provide the score for a Nicholas Winding Refn film (and I’m in the middle of Too Old to Die Young as we speak, so it’s all totally fresh and appropriate right now). Greene splits the difference between synthwave and utter ambience, the neon wandering resolving into sunrise serenity as eyes finally close. LT&D couldn’t have explained the MO of the Brooklyn-based musician better than me anyway: “For leaving the house … and walking to the highest point in the neighborhood to watch while everyone else goes to sleep. Meanwhile, you’re already dreaming.”



I’m already a little grossed out by the stylized flesh on the cover, cartoon flies added for effect, before I even pop in this tape. I don’t even know what to expect, but I’m already smelling it – that sweet, ripe, decaying odor that’s as revolting as it is familiar. If that’s the flesh of a skunk, then there’s an additional olfactory element. Let’s just say it doesn’t do the already-pungent mélange any favors.

This is all before “Tit Tat” even gets ten seconds into itself. The violently low synth bass reverberates throughout my whole body, like Road Kill – the band, not the item – has been perched on my chest, sitting there until this very moment, ready to rip an intense series of farts until I’m convulsing in distress and choking on yet another scented accoutrement to this whole thing. The fact that this is even called EAT has me running to the nearest toilet and heaving up whatever little is left in my stomach, while Roadkill cackles maniacally from where I’ve shoved them, continuing to utterly destroy the atmosphere around them with their anal explosions. 

Ten seconds in, people.

Beyond that, Roadkill cooks up a particularly nasty strain of synth-punk, indebted to Suicide, Skinny Puppy, and Butthole Surfers. And while you may never want to eat again after this noxious mini-album, you’ll certainly be going back for seconds on EAT.

(I’m so lame.)