“Belong To It" C37
(Lily Tapes & Discs)

Greyon Greene synthesizers up a serene, ever-enveloping fog of neon warmth… and then sporadically sprinkles in some housey beats all nice & low enough in the mix to render the expansive ambiance as somehow relaaaaaxed, but also kinda peppy, both somber and yet productive. Great reading/study soundtrack or a power-nap companion!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

“Cassette Tape" C20
(Permanent Nostalgia)

To deeply listen to the super-sentient recording artist, Royallen, is to wonder whether or not their very name is a cascading, seven-fold portmanteau of the words “Roy”, “Royal”, “Oya”, “Y'all”, “Al”, “All”, and “Allen”;  the only constant of their work being the aesthetic of an over-whelming bombardment of seemingly unrelated plundered/chopped/screwed soundbites and dissociated sonic sentiments melded into one sharp, cacophonous blitzkrieg. The tape may only be 20 minutes, but you’ll have felt like you’ve listened to well over an hour’s worth of emotionally charged transmissions and ubiquitous beatscapes at the same time. This must be what omniscience and/or schizophrenia might sounds like to some deities. Listen with caution!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

“Teleportation Chronicles" C50

Constellations, amirite? Imagine being the first asshole that insisted a deity-sized handful of flaming gaseous orbs just fucking trillions and trillions of miles apart should be imaginarily tethered in our minds by thick, straight lines: not wavy, not jagged, but boring ass chalk-streak straight. zzZZzzzZZZ. There is but one constellation, my friends, and it is the Sparkly Bees…but I suppose referring to the night sky as “Old Million Eye”, ever blinking lazily down upon us, is pretty great, too.

OME’s “Teleportation Chronicles” does just that; let’s us skip around the cosmos in under an hour, distilling all the percussive excitements of comets whizzing by (tracks 1, 5, &6) and all the empty lag one must feel internally whilst bypassing light-years in travel time (tracks 2 - 4) , just pairs down all the extra baggage and gets us immediately higher-than-high minded about sonic spatial relationships and outer-atmospheric ambiance. And theremins. Lots of rogue theramin going on here. But maybe it’s just radar interference?

Strap on the ol’ headphones and get your space-time travel on!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

DVANOV “Подполья” (Third Kind)

“Eight songs for the outskirts.” That’s how it goes for Dvanov, whose Cyrillic-displayed tape (look at it up there) and songs leave the rest a mystery for the English-only reader. I, being an English-only reader (OK, I know a smattering of German), am ass deep in the mysteries, and my personal embarrassment at “settling” on one language (American) is rightfully at the forefront of my inability to decipher even a teensy bit of this tape. In fact, I’m so colloquial in any response to any music I’ve ever written about that it would probably take a full-time translator to smooth it all into another language, and even then it would probably be bastardized to within an inch of its original meaning.

Which is just fine by me, I’m the first to admit I’m a blabbering idiot half the time.

So this Dvanov, then! Like Eastern bloc Sonic Youth worship by way of the Make-Up (or other groovy Ian Svenonius project), the Saint Petersburg quartet aren’t doing it for any scene in particular, nor are they aping any other vibe. They’re their own thing, a band of scrappy misfits with a perfectly cast female lead singer, the interplay a regular cacophony of syrupy dissonance. Guitars collide with synthesizers, and the martial drumming sort of grounds everything in a krautrock vibe. It’s all decidedly and excellently Russian, and that’s not even just because the songs are all sung in Russian! Maybe imagine Deerhoof jamming with a state band from the 1950s, or Trupa Trupa hanging out in a goth club behind the Iron Curtain. Either way, Dvanov’s got it going on, making music for people who need it most: the ones on the outskirts of society, those knocked down or back by oppressive regimes. This is music to seethe to.


“Wild Boys " C32

UK-based minimalist synthwave jammer, Burd, consistently lays down line after infectious line of expressly moody (if not outright aggressively pleasant) groovy-gone-epic melodies, arpeggiations, and catchy counterpoints with scant a percussive tap or scratch to be heard. &while popping in a “Wild Boys” tape won’t likely start any dance parties, it’s all but certain to sync up plenty of nodding heads while the night carries on.

—Jacob An Kittenplan

“Every Road is a Good Road" C50
(Full Spectrum/Debacle Records)

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, “Every Road is a Good Road” holds weight. There’s plenty of paths/resemblances pointing to Sun City Girls noodle-work & irreverence, some trippy pedalwork and entrancing finger-picking a-la Espers, but also, it's looser, spacier, & jammier (again, SCGesque, but maybe more Animal Collective-like) in its use of synthesizers/sequencers.  

All this referencing aside, Blaine Todd is neither copycat, nor one-trick pony, but rather a Frankensteinian super-monster of psychy alt/folk goodness that proves hell-bent on guiding us through a cavernous, mesmerizing underworld of awesome. Hail hail!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

ERVIN OMSK “Peilen” (Orange Milk)

Sven Fritz, the composer behind the Ervin Omsk pseudonym, has a name that I really, REALLY want to pronounce out loud in a heavy German accent. Don’t worry – I’m as German as they come, with several years’ studying the language to boot, so I’m among my peers, my peoples, my blood when I say this. Plus, there’s just an incredible amount of force one can inject into the German accent. Lots of plosives.

As Ervin Omsk, Fritz hits us with a debut album that is almost all plosives. Well, not t, d, or b sounds, per se, but percussive ones, tactile drum and cymbal hits, electronic bursts and rolls, synth blurts and loops that, if the sounds were coming from your mouth, would fill it completely with potential energy before your lips, tongue, and teeth would render it kinetic. Sometimes emerging in a jumbled rush, at others tentatively testing the ground with what passes for feet (anthropomorphize all sound now!), Ervin Omsk compositions are never dull, fizzing and popping and whirring with potency as they react like unstable compounds in a heated beaker.

What can pass at first for noise often resolves into fractal patterns, resulting in a distinct payoff as the dimensions of the tracks take shape. And that’s sort of the fun of it, the whole point even, maybe: the process. Latching onto that process and realizing how it unfolds is so satisfying, especially when the outcome is as meaty and complex as Peilen is. Plus, Peilen means “to gauge” or “to determine direction” or “to understand” in German. You’re essentially doing all three things at once when you’re listening to Ervin Omsk, so your brain’s certainly getting a workout. Now if I could only get off my couch and get my body to do the same thing…


KRIS AND TAVI "Lines In Dirt" C31 (Skrot Up)

Lines In Dirt is a dreary cassette, but one that can bring you into a better headspace. Like other dream pop and shoegaze-adjacent artists (Deerhunter, MBV, etc.), Peter Kris and Tara Tavi specialize in hazy, almost half-hearted rock music. They do a good job balancing between the ambient guitar feedback and the melodic singing and looping. Both of them feature on vocals, swapping for different tracks, which is a nice change from many similar bands that have just one vocalist, or two simultaneously. One especially good track is Tavi's "Angeles Forest," which has a Lost Under Heaven-esque life-affirming aura throughout. Check this out if you are looking for something to calm you down and give you the recharge you need to get through the next few days.

--Kirk Bowman

“Fable Table Cloth” C26
“Laire Wesh” C48

By the end of the 202nd decade BCE*, weirder-than-thou prog-noise-rock champions Larry Wish served up two distinctly off-kilter albums, and they each work in tandem with one another to prove that the discipline of the tonally strange has it’s sub-genres -and their mastery- just like any other. 

On “Fable Table Cloth”, you can detect notes of King Crimson amidst the borderline of loosey-goosey-jam/improv and irreverent synth-pop. Far as I’ve heard, this is the most rawkin’ LW has gotten, and it’s almost anthem like, were it not…just…so…bizarre. These folx make Brainiac sound like New Order, I’m tellin’ ya!

On deck B was “Laire Wesh”, a decidedly familiar alter-ego, but more subdued, more quaaluded (yeah, it WAS possible, after all) and perhaps a li’l less rude that FTC. Less in-yo-face, but equally as noggin’ scratcherly/eyebrow-crinklin’. 

If you like the predictability of pop-structure, but that’s as far as you care to go with “the rules of song-writing”, Larry Wish (& His Guise) will keep you on your tonal toes the whole time while slippin’ in some catchy synth-work behind your ears, for sure.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*that’s end of 2019, folx

“Clehft" C36
(Pidgeon Records)

Shrill, bawdy, & hypnotic, Figured (McColm/Rowden) deliver captivating braid after braid of feedback and bowed drone, paying homage to both Niblock and Pelt, drawing the raga’s waxy-resin’d entrails out into the ether, pulling its very essence taught, and mercilessly sawing away at it- and by the end of the cut, we, the listener, find we’ve been receiving these reverberations from the space-side end, and it’s gonna be hard to find our way back to solid ground.

Truly entrancing (and unapologetically grating), “Clehft" ain’t most people’s cup o’ tea, but for the feedback worshipper and harsh-noise-drone lover, this is gonna scratch some serious itches until ya bleed. Great for nervous naps, deep listening, or straight up infuriating anyone within earshot. Play at max responsible volume for best results!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

GÜNTER SCHLIENZ “Iglu” C30 (Cosima Pitz)

Now we need him. Don’t get me wrong, we need Günter Schlienz normally, on any given day, but in this time of retreat from society and self-isolation, maybe we need him just a teeny weeny bit more. See, tapes like Iglu are made for getting away, for hunkering down, for spending some alone time. Tapes like Iglu remind us that there’s beauty in being by oneself, in introspection, in nostalgia, in meditation. And, funnily enough, Iglu wasn’t even recorded and released in response to anything happening outside itself – it’s just there, where Günter Schlienz wants it to be.

German for “igloo,” Iglu as conceptual idea is a brace from the – literal – cold, but it also encompasses a more general sense of shelter and safety from exterior elements. Sounds a little bit like the perfect antidote for pandemic stress, doesn’t it, a relief from the constant barrage of bad news? I’m here to inform you that Schlienz is on point, at the top of his modular synth/tape machine/field recording game. Inside his igloo you hear nothing but the empty expanse beyond, the whistling of the wind, the creaking of the ice, the blankets of drifting snow, and the ethereal filmographic accompaniment Schlienz provides it all. Within Iglu you can curl up and stay safe and warm even as the world around you descends into unknowability. That sounds like a place within which I can practice social distancing while retaining personal serenity.


“Under the City Moss" C34

Ima Do are an angular post-rock outfit from Atlanta, GA, with smooth, jazzy (as in, not “smooth-jazz” ) horn-age that flirts with lead melody just as much as their fretless bass; this is cold-brew coffeehouse stimulation at its finest, folx; “Under the City Moss” is how you force people to study faster, happier, and more goddamn Peppy… and the otherwise disparate pairing of a jazzy groove-machine (such as ID) with a solo electronic artist (JD) that (at least, on this release) specializes in melding Steve Reichian principles established in “Come Out” and “Drumming”…well, it all makes sense within 2 minutes of side B, I’d wager. 

The tonality syncs up, as does the tempo, but the flow, juxtaposed, is what makes this pairing pretty stellar, and worth letting the tape roll over a few times before swapping it out. 

—Jacob An Kittenplan

PHANTASIA "Demo 2019" (Artifact)

This tape came across as a total mystery to me, aside from song titles and production credits this tape has no other information attached to it. Luckily the internet was able to shed a little light on this one for me. Phantasia is a five-piece sort of gothy, sort of punky, very rockin’ band from New York, NY that has been kicking around since (seemingly) the summer of 2019.

Phantasia is driven by some great punchy drums and basslines that will definitely make you want to dance. Sharp guitars stab while dreamy synths wash over everything else. Topped with vocals delivered in an almost monotone that bring to mind dazed Debbie Harry, and I promise that is not at all a diss.

The pounding rhythm section keeps me coming back for more of this, everything else is just icing on the cake. In a short 17 minutes Phantasia offers 7 songs that seem to each build off of and compliment each other in a way that many demos just don’t do. This does not come off as a demonstration but more of a fully formed band, sound and concept.

“Rotten”, the longest song on the tape at 4.5 minutes shows off the guitars quite a bit more and offers a nice change of pace. “I Broke A Promise” follows it with a quick punchy number that has been my favorite of the batch since my first listen. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any fans of first wave punk, early new wave or even no wave for that matter. Highly infectious rock n roll.

--Righteous James