Two sides of the same coin. Two freaks of the same freakout. Newagehillbilly and Plake 64 & the Hexagrams, Alex Strama and Alex Homan, respectively, two Alexes in perpetual search of the most elusive sound. That sound, like bigfoot, stumbles through the forest yet is on the air, blurred and obscured, but felt as a presence nonetheless. The Alexes share a cassette tape and try to reenact what they’ve experienced. Is this real or a fakeout? Why must it be either?
April the Ninth reminds us that the artists are “born in America,” yet it also reminds us “death to the confederacy.” How intriguing! The Newagehillbilly side pumps hot missiles of gratuitous noise in consistent bursts, the experience an experimental excavation with no spark of inspiration left unexplored. The Plake 64 side is not so bombastic, but spends its time coaxing frequencies from freakier dimensions. Freakier than equal freaks you say?
The juxtaposition of the two artists makes for a wild comparison, and going back to back as they do makes them the perfect counterpoints for each other. And who can argue with that? Seriously, take a listen, and you’ll stop your arguing instantly.

ANDREW HAINES “Hidden in the Night” (Jollies)


There’s been talk of robots. Andrew Haines once went by the moniker Midnight Circuitry, and we all nodded knowingly and looked at each other with confirmation in our eyes. Because despite the fact that Andrew Haines was now going by “Andrew Haines,” it was evident that “Andrew Haines” was simply an AI construct, a series of nodes and wires and microprocessors behind a human façade. And who’s even to say that’s the truth? There’s no picture of “Andrew Haines” on this new Jollies tape, Hidden in the Night, so there may not even be a body to go with the personality. And aren’t the initials “AH” awfully close to “AI”? I mean, they’re one letter off, and the one letter off is adjacent to the incriminating one! I’m thinking this is all lightly veiled code.
But why the secrecy, why the deception? Was Midnight Circuitry too obvious an identity? My guess is yes, and the change was made to “Andrew Haines” to human it up a little. But the second you press play on Hidden in the Night, the entire charade crumbles in a heap of wiring. See, “Haines” can’t help but ratchet his “mind” open and allow the cracked, post-techno innards to spill out. Restless futuristic polyrhythms collide with dark neon nocturnal moods, everything automated and syncopated and perfectly adjusted for maximum efficiency. Synthetic blurts of color and melody pixelate at the point of reception, the waveforms accurately conveying the information from one machine to the next. Is it weird that a human like me can get so invested in such a singular display of dazzling software manipulation?
Have we even proven that I’m a human myself?
This is yet another feather in Jollies’ ever-filling cap – I’m not even sure they’ve released something that hasn’t wrestled me to the ground and pinned me into deliriously enjoying it. That’s not to say I have to be held down and forced to listen to something – they don’t actually need to do that to get me on their side.

ARE ESS “Onsen Egg” (Foreign Power)


Yeah, I got my hands on some Tarkovsky Criterion action. Stalker and Solaris were both pretty great. Slow burns, both of them, but the payoff was worth it in both cases, and each was a master class in character development. Are Ess, aka Robert Sergel (initials!), has also checked out a bit of Tarkovsky, and the mood has filtered into his music. This is a good thing – Are Ess strips away some of the fuzzier elements of earlier EP releases for Onsen Egg, a much more subdued affair, atmospheric and serene. The pace is tranquil (except on propulsive tracks like “Motorik Dream,” which you can totally figure out what it sounds like just from the name). Sergel sure doesn’t sacrifice his knack for writing a killer tune, though – he just combines some of the best things about traditional pop songcraft with whispier, more effervescent flourishes.

CONJECTURE “∫V” C30 (Amek Collective)


Conjecture, aka Vasilis Angelopolous, dropped V (for vinyl? Probably not) on Amek in 2019, but Angelopolous wasn’t done there. He had some extra tunes that didn’t make the cut, and he wanted to complete the document V and get everything out there in the world that he intended. Thus we’re treated to ∫V, which, surprisingly or not, depending on how mathematically inclined you are (I’m not), translates to “complete V” in mathematical language, with ∫ being the symbol for “complete.” Now that I’ve knocked your socks off with that titillating bit of arcana, we can get down to business – the business of finishing up V as God and Vasilis Angelopolous intended. [Ed note: “God” is not intended to equal “Vasilis Angelopolous” in that sentence.]
We play around with the idea of singular vision, and we certainly find a number of artists who purport to express that vision, whether we agree with it or not (and really, who are we to disagree with another’s vision?). But Angelopolous had a vision for his work as Conjecture, and he truly completed it with ∫V. The three tracks appended to the original idea are supermassive black holes of colorless density, great subterranean aquifers of viscous albumen, molten rivers of liquefied steel. In the language of sound and music, not metaphor, we’re dealing with an onrush of nimble proto-industrial electronics, or ambient synthwork with a decided pulse. Maybe if Orbital completely melted down in a blast furnace and the sound was barely Orbital anymore, you might start to get there. Or you might just be like, “This is on Amek?” and you’d be equally if not more so in the right spot.
The three new tracks also get the remix treatment from Amek family members antechamber, Талос, and LATE, so there’s a shattered-mirror effect going on here with the revisions. (LATE was one of my introductions to Amek, and so I’ve got a soft spot for the project.) Basically, ∫V is like one of those 1990s maxi-singles with a bunch of remixes, like something from KMFDM or, uh, Busta Rhymes. (I LOVE Busta.) It’s actually kind of brave of Angelopolous to let others in on his vision, giving them free rein to retool his work. Good thing it turns out incredibly well, otherwise this Conjecture material might have ended right back up in the vault.



Sometimes you just do it because you love to do it, you know? You do it, then you do it again, then you do it some more, and you do it because it’s in your blood, in your bones. You breathe it, you live it, and it becomes both a part of you and a healing practice to regenerate you. Zachary Levinson and Alexander Homan know exactly what I’m talking about, because they’ve found what they love to do, and they intend to do it endlessly. That something just so happens to be experimental acoustic guitar meditations.
That’s the gist of Endless Guitar Meditations – Levinson and Homan each provide a half tape’s worth of acoustic improvisation that meanders like a river as it makes its way toward the coast. The two even collaborate on “On the Banks of the Bodhicitta (Ode to Fahey),” which wears its inspiration as on its sleeve as possible. That’s right, there’s quite a bit of Fahey worship in the playing of these two, a sort of proto-folk that also borrows from Orcutt’s jagged acoustic blues riffage. There’s also hints of raga, and of course there are passages where all you hear is the ambient squeaks and creaks of string and frame, neck and pick, the physicality of the recordings never wavering.
And it’s not just because these pieces are “endless” (although some sure are long) that signals a love for this performance – it’s evident in the playing itself, as these two attempt to outdo each other in a fretboard Olympics. But even then, when the focus is on the intense playing, on the perfection of performance, on the internal spirit of competition, the spirit moves outward, over the crowd, the audience, the listeners. And it’s here where the AGH Tapes motto comes right into play: “May all beings benefit by the virtue of these works.” And all things do, and are lifted and carried right along with every note springing to life under nimble fingers.

THE MIDNIGHT STEPPERS “Isolation Drives” (Radical Documents)


It was a fluke from the start. Isolation Drives ended up at Radical Documents HQ, and it was good. It was good enough to be beloved, and beloved enough to release upon cassetted tape. But there wasn’t much for Radical Documents to go on – just a return address (“Beaverton,” Oregon, doesn’t sound like a real place) and a phone number: (503) 369-8009. Don’t worry – the number is on the j-card, and the Midnight Steppers request that you call them for more information. There’s no web presence – no Bandcamp, no website, no social media – so a number’s all we’re going to get.
Pretty DIY, eh?
Midnight Steppers are all about DIY, as Isolation Drives was proudly (I assume “proudly” since this is all in the liners) recorded to a Tascam 424 – “NO COMPUTERS WERE USED TO CREATE THIS MUSIC” (all caps in original). So the tape fits right into that early GBV aesthetic, or among the shitgaze pioneer releases of the mid- to late aughts, like Black Vatican or Psychedelic Horseshit. Everything is distorted and sounds like it’s being played in a can, and that’s what makes this so great – scuzzy indie rock doesn’t sound right unless there’s an inordinate amount of fuzz and hiss, like it’s a demo tape handed out at a chaotic live show at a local VFW. So hey, if you’ve got one of those lined up around Beaverton, you should give the Midnight Steppers a call – they might want on that bill. Here’s the number again:
(503) 369-8009

DAO STROM “Traveler’s Ode” (Antiquated Future)


In what can only be described as a “waking dream” (my words), Dao Strom’s Traveler’s Ode connects roads and rivers and thought patterns as it eschews sense of place for a more universal concept. Wherever you go, there you are, am I right? (That’s a little Buckaroo Banzai wisdom for you there.) Traveler, wanderer, doesn’t matter what kind of title you get stuck with, it’s on you and you move from place to place, never sticking anywhere, nowhere ever sticking to you. That’s where it blurs – that’s where the “waking dream” occurs.
Dao Strom utterly embodies the paths she treads, soaking in the interactions she has with people and places and internalizing it for rumination later. It actually seems to have become a part of her – over ethereal instrumentation (recalling, among others, Julee Cruise and Grouper’s Liz Harris), Strom sings lullabies in a hushed voice that barely stick to the physical plane, becoming mist and memory as soon as the words pass her lips. All devolves into light particles and drifts into the sky. The energy of human interaction is what kept them tethered in the first place.
What also keeps them tethered is a limited-edition poetry/art book called Instrument, published by Fonograf Editions. This will only assist in deepening your understanding of Dao Strom’s process and mindset, and will undoubtedly affect you in profound ways. I haven’t even read it, and look at me – I’m weeping! Oh right, that’s the tape.

THE TUESDAY NIGHT MACHINES “Lozenge” C50 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


You can say a lot about the Tuesday Night Machines based on the packaging of their releases alone. Take Hawaiian Yurt Music, for example, which comes housed in a burlap O-card. Or Roof Tent Rhythms, which is enclosed in an actual piece of folded tarp under which the Tuesday Night Machines slept one night while compiling the samples that would comprise the release. And now there’s Lozenge, which comes in a regular Norelco case but has a purple felt j-card, and the cassette itself looks like a bright gold brick.
To be clear, these are not faults – they’re entry points for adventure.
This time the Tuesday Night Machines have served up a massive analog delight over two sides, each one a far-out excursion to the outer reaches of whatever TNM happens to be tripping on. (And that does not suggest actual “acid tripping,” just whatever’s floating the TNM boat.) I’m going to be honest – I’ve popped this thing in and completely zoned out to its ever-shifting sense of reality or unreality, lost in its vastness but grounded in its sonic waypoints, which lead the way toward full appreciation. I don’t know what that means, because you can hear so many frequencies, it sometimes becomes impossible to differentiate what’s there and what’s not. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a handle on it, but that surety isn’t complete. And that’s for sure.

ANDY FOSBERRY “When Comfort Is Stranger” C45 (Third Kind Records)


I’d like to get a glimpse of what’s going on in Andy Fosberry’s head. Not like a literal glimpse – there’s a brain in there, and it’s firing electrical synapses and whatever to keep the body going. I mean like a glimpse into what his inspirations are, the visual images that play within his mind that inform the music he makes. Again, not literally – I fully understand that there’s not a projector or something in there flashing home movies on one side of his brain pan. I’m not going to try to dig through his skull with a teaspoon or anything.
I promise.
Andy Fosberry makes soundtracks, and thank god for that. Some of the soundtracks are real – Fosberry sees film and makes music for it. Some of the soundtracks are in his head – Fosberry sees visuals there and makes music for it. When Comfort Is Stranger maybe telegraphs its opening track, “Here Is Your Eye,” a Stranger Things homage with pulsing synths and 1980s-inspired vibe, but it veers beyond it to all sorts of cinematic atmospheres. There’s lens-flared ambient and piano-led melancholy, like the appropriately titled “Lana Del Rey,” which flatters the muse with a deft homage. (And let’s not kid ourselves – Norman Fucking Rockwell is an absolute treat.)
So it plays out like it says it will, treating “comfort” and “strangeness” like interchangeable elements, two sides of the same coin, a combination made familiar by the nostalgia it promotes. Turns out Andy Fosberry and I see pretty similar things in our mind theaters when listening to music like this, and we both have a visceral and positive reaction upon the brilliant juxtaposition. You could probably chisel your way into both of our heads and see pretty much the same thing!
Metaphorically. Always metaphorically with the head excavations.

PORTLAND VOWS “Living Posthumously” C48 (Third Kind Records)


The first thing you gotta worry about when you listen to Portland Vows’ new tape Living Posthumously is right there in the title – what does that mean?! Bob Plant, philosopher, thinker, all around smarter person than me, either doesn’t get that the present-tense “living” really can’t be modified by the adverb “posthumously,” because that would be the type of paradox that could knock the entire space-time continuum off its axis (if indeed it’s on an axis). Did I say paradox? I meant oxymoron. You can’t live after you’re dead, which is what “posthumously” means: post-living.
So maybe I am as smart as Bob Plant, but get this: I’m smarter, and here’s why. I was able to make it all the way through the Portland Vows mind puzzle and come out the other side, completely unscathed, not knocked around or plowed over by his mental gymnastics. Well, I was at least a little scathed as I made it through Living Posthumously – but in a good way! In fact, I actually sort of started to feel like Living Posthumously was coating my brain in some narcotic yet restorative way, filling in all the emotional cracks that I wasn’t even aware of with its delicate and insightful drone smears and guitar twinkles. Perhaps it’s the art that put these ideas in my head (and kudos to Tiny Little Hammers for another superb design!).
So maybe Living Posthumously is a statement of stasis, a balancing act, a dissertation on a modern problem of feeling stuck in life in such a way that experiencing it is like looking back from beyond the point of expiration and viewing the sleepwalking self. It’s both a condemnation of inaction and the revelation and acceptance that inaction is all there’s ever going to be. But that doesn’t mean those complex feelings can’t coexist within your mind sans a soundtrack. And Living Posthumously is a great one, filled with gorgeous miniature lullabies, star shimmers, and Nyquil-coated safe spaces. You’ll need those safe spaces to recharge at least some energy spent on those thousand-yard stares.

YAARA VALEY “Deshecha” (Antiquated Future)


Once Indira, now Yaara Valey has clearly spent too much time bingeing Game of Thrones during the pandemic, siding for some reason with the Greyjoys and lobbing a softball of a joke setup that I can only manage to get out of the infield because of the surprisingly obsolete, nay antiquated reference. (That’s two jokes in one. You’re welcome.) Seriously, doesn’t it seem lame to talk about Game of Thrones already? Pop culture truly moves at dizzying speeds.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system, we get deep into another superb EP by the Portland, Oregon, high priestess of ritualistic freak folk, the droning and engrossing Deshecha. Over five hallowed tracks, Valey concocts pagan ceremonies to nature, of “emptying” our earthly vessels, “undoing” our conceptions, “and surrendering” to the earth, the natural state of things. The quoted items are paraphrases of three of five song titles, so you can really get a sense of the theme running through Deshecha. As such, the EP isn’t a lighthearted one, even though the touch is quite light. I mean, of course, that the sounds produce (or are produced by) magic, filling your body with tingling sparks and lifting you (maybe literally) into the night sky. Valey then tends the fire she has built and continues to draw in more followers. Let’s join up.

GUENTER SCHLIENZ “Mutterkuchen” C40 (Auasca)


You know something’s up with Stuttgart electronic composer Guenter Schlienz when he starts literally listening to his DNA. He says there are “sounds and styles … encoded” in it, and these “resonate heavily in [his] mind” and “rattl[e] his bones,” until they’re forced to emerge via the fingers touching synthesizers in certain predetermined patterns. These patterns are encoded within a computer program. They are organized and refined. They are offered up to the world.
Mutterkuchen finds Schlienz pondering these broadcasts from within his own body, wondering how they connect with the world and the wider universe, maybe offering a way that he, himself, find meaning out there. He’s certainly connected to the artists who have inspired him this time around: Bach on “Bach” (I think …), Tangerine Dream and Cluster on “Spoonful of Stars” and also, quite obviously, “Kosmische Music.” Basically he does what he does best, which is close his eyes and follow a muse out into outer space, like far out, and the sound of it reaches our ears at whatever point the soundwaves travel the interstellar distance back to our receivers. He’s a human broadcasting system, somehow surviving out there. Without a space suit.
But it’s really for him, and you can tell. The sound is within him, and he channels it in reverence for itself on its own terms. Doesn’t matter that there are antecedents and inspirations – they just help him translate it. And we are the lucky recipients who have it all translated for us. Bystanders, somehow in the path of excellence and delight.
Also, Mutterkuchen translates to “mother cake” – seems obvious, I think?

DANIEL SAYLOR “Plastic Present” C45 (Third Kind Records)


It’s the answer to a question nobody asked. Plastic Present represents a counterpoint to southern electronic rock, the point being … what’s a good electronic rock band from Florida? Never mind. Daniel Saylor lives three hours from me over there in Orlando, and somehow he finds a way through the heat and humidity, the tourist season, the constant construction and traffic, and the just south-ness of Floridian life to actually form a coherent thought, record it, and make it sound good enough to release. Not only that, he made it sound so good that he released it through Brighton, England, label Third Kind (one of the best). How’s that for a cultural surprise?
Plastic Present takes on a lot of the characteristics of electronic Radiohead or solo Thom, but without the constant barrage of depressing vocals. It only starts there, though, and spirals out from there. And sometimes there are vocals, but not often. And sometimes Saylor has help from erstwhile bandmates, but a lot of this work is really on the solo tip. Breakbeats and synths do battle for the tonal high ground, and both win and lose constantly, bringing about a tenuous balance that shifts one way or the other depending on how the next track begins. A second battle occurs between the syntheticness of sound sources and the obvious human manipulation of it (not to mention the playing of actual instruments at points) – the cross-section of human anatomy adorning the cover suggests that humans win. But the “plasticness” of Plastic Present suggests otherwise. Again, there’s no winner, but everybody wins.
So … what was the question in the first place again? No idea. What I do know is that Plastic Present is very good, and I still can’t believe it came out of a middle-Florida swamp. A paved-over swamp, sure, but a swamp nonetheless.
PS: The last song has some rap.

WHETTMAN CHELMETS / QUALCHAN. “Theme∞Variations” C34 (Strategic Tape Reserve)


We couldn’t agree more, Strategic Tape Reserve. Two of your favorite artists on one tape? Try two of ours as well! Whettman Chelmets and qualchan. have both appeared on the STR roster in the past, Whettman with Doesn’t Remember… and qualchan. with the end of all seasons. (What is it with these guys and punctuation?) We here at Cassette Gods have written about the two of them as well – feel free to take advantage of the search functionality on this web page to dig around in the archives. Everything we’ve said about them is complimentary, I promise.  
So it’s a big deal that the two artists have gotten together, and the results speak for themselves. Whettman takes side A and riffs on a melody that qualchan. had sent him, employing a bag of compositional tricks to avoid making any one of the tracks sound like the others. Classical techniques? Of course! But he’s also grounded in his own skillset, the one where he makes thick drones and ambient shoegaze and what have you. But don’t take it from me! Take it from Chelmets himself. Go ahead, dig through that back catalog. Also the promo copy. (Hey, at least I cite the ideas that aren’t mine.)
And then qualchan. takes side B, and we’re thrust immediately into a tripped-out sample/loopfest inspired by nature (Oregon’s Cascade region), but nature shot through with neon electric currents. How qualchan. juxtaposes the two and gets away with it is beyond me (although it probably shouldn’t be if I’m writing about music, let’s be honest). It’s laid back but verging on the point of soundtracking a lysergic nature doc, which, obviously, would be a really cool experience. Plus everything fades in and out quickly, often in less than two minutes. Come to think of it, Whettman Chelmets’s side does that too, except substitute two minutes with three minutes.
There’s so much to explore here – you’ll be here checking this out for a while on repeat.

0824 “SGV” (Skrot Up)


No one’s ever going to mistake German Army for a techno band. They have techno elements, sure – drum machines, samples, synthesizers – but those sonic miscreants are way more on the industrial tip, and even then they’re often stripping away the heaviness or in-your-faceness of industrial (guitars, vocals) in favor of textures and repetitive components that zone you out as much as rile you up. And don’t get me started on Peter Kris’s work, solo, CCP, or otherwise! You’re really not going to get all four-on-the-floor to a PK joint. And sure, I’m aware that this opening paragraph is a massive oversimplification, but you gotta start somewhere, right? Right.
You’re confused! I can see it in your beady little fucking stupid eyes. The “band” 0824 is a duo composed of GT and PK, meaning this is a German Army side affair. The number comes from the “day [GT and PK] first heard techno at our local Tower Records in West Covina.” So there’s definitely some leaning in going on here, some genre appropriation: BPMs are wicked high, siren-y synth magic abounds, and melodies are quick, repetitious, and hooky. The tracks don’t last terribly long – get in, make noise, get out – so the attention span certainly isn’t taxed. Sometimes there are laser noises. What good techno record doesn’t have laser noises?
You’re absolutely right – there isn’t one.
This is a fun, energetic diversion among the German Army discography. Blast it wherever you can.

BENDRIX LITTLETON “Deep Dark South” (NNA Tapes)


Bendrix Littleton is Bennett Littlejohn’s recording moniker. If you’re giving me a double-taked “Huh?!” and wondering how I’m going to keep that straight as I’m writing this, you’re not crazy for doing either of those things. In fact, we’re told that Bendrix Littleton is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, whose name derives from Maurice Bendrix, a character in Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, which makes this whole thing even harder on anybody trying to make any sense of it. Plus, now I’ve got three names to keep straight? Please.
So what kind of dude was Maurice Bendrix, and what can we expect from Bendrix Littleton? Maurice sounds like kind of a shithead, “consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness” – so maybe a self-directed shithead, but I’m not really sure I want to spend a lot of time with someone like that. Where Bendrix Littleton comes in on that spectrum is in his depiction of the endlessly stretching biographies of Deep Dark South residents crushed by economic disparity and ennui. Residents of the Deep Dark South are notoriously unreliable sources of information in real life (trust me), so we, as listeners, are equally crushed by the disappointment inherent in their lives, manifesting in a false, fragrant hope that barely conceals the rank spiraling to oblivion those lives are on. The trajectory is manifest through the transparent lies.
So it’s no surprise that Bendrix Littleton can barely manage to raise his voice above a whisper, with his acoustic guitar and studio accoutrements successfully propping it up, but only just. There’s a heavy, heavy weight on Littleton’s soul, and he struggles to relate the stories of the people he’s come across, stories of who he was and who he’s terrified of becoming, and stories of fleeting searchlights of hope in a dense haze of humid misery. Coupled with the homespun charm of the four-tracky sonics and you’re rewarded with a heartbreaking document of real, actual life. Turns out it doesn’t matter if the storyteller is reliable or not, or even if the narration is an outright lie – we can still all learn something from it, we can teach ourselves to feel again, for us, for those around us. Fuck, I’m sad now.

ESTLIN USHER “Still” C72 (Clinquant Pudendum)


We talk about ambient a lot around here, as a style, a form of musical expression, but do we really take into consideration what it actually means? For me, getting a nice droning soundtrack, preferably via synthesizer, can perk up any situation in which I find myself alone in a room sitting quietly. But that’s more of a forced ambience, isn’t it? An imposition of mood upon an environment. What about the room, the objects, the air when that’s all there is? On Still, Estlin Usher is bound to find that out.
Still is an improvised electroacoustic encounter, whereby objects – dried grass, cymbal, flowers, foil – are subjected to moving air and recorded, subtly processed and delayed, their sounds creating the soundtrack of themselves, and only their own soundtracks. Contact microphones capture the audio, and the results are stretched and elongated over the course of two 36-minute sides. It rustles, scrapes, bangs, and fizzes, and – if you’re listening properly, with patience and through headphones – it envelops you within its microcosmic universe.
Who needs that far-out sci-fi ambient when you can get the real thing, right here? Tactile, rough, and full of life – that’s the Still bottom line.

KAY ODYSSEY “Knock Out!” (Pecan Crazy)


Ho hum, another day, another awesome tape from Pecan Crazy. Kay Odyssey is an Austin four-piece dream rock/indie band along the Belly/Lush spectrum, but with some heavily vibrato’d Sleater-Kinney-esque vocals. Honestly, did you just read that sentence or not? Because if you did, you should be drooling all over your clean shirt right now – there’s nothing not to like in that sentence. In fact, you should be running to the phone and calling the Pecan Crazy ordering desk. (Or going to the website, either one.)
This is a full ten-song burner (eleven if you count the cassette-only hidden track, and you should!). The guitars are recorded crisply and cleanly, the distortion compressed, the drums smacking away in clockwork foundation. Kristina Boswell’s voice expertly flits over the top of the compositions like a bird periodically alighting on a Marshall stack, but never once straining to be heard above the rest of the band. This is expertly crafted and mixed, and should be a staple for all you indie rock lifers still out there. I’m queueing up my VHS copies of 120 Minutes right now to get even more of a fix. If you don’t have VHS tapes like that, you can just play Knock Out! over again – no one would judge you.

MEZZANINE SWIMMERS “Kneelin’ on a Knife” (Already Dead)


Ow – frickin’ ow! Nope – don’t listen to what the Mezzanine Swimmers, which in this case is just a guy named Mike Green, not a bunch of high-wire water enthusiasts, have to say. Has to say, I guess. One guy. Anyway, again, ow, because Kneelin’ on a Knife, which is what this new EP is titled, is not a great idea in practice. You put a knife on the ground, regardless of how sharp it is, and actually try to kneel on it, you’re asking for bloody kneecaps. Take it from me, the guy who actually attempted that.
But then all … no, most is forgiven, because Kneelin’ on a Knife is a fun five songs of exquisite bedroom composition – meaning Mike Green does this all on his own and doesn’t need, like, a band practice space or whatever. He could do this in his bedroom if he wants (not that he has to). These delectable off-kilter tuneskies are delivered through a haze of homecooked static and fuzz, but not everything’s cloaked so heavily. Melodies abound, and porch-stomping rhythms ground most of Green’s work. The delightfully patchwork and collaged approach mirrors the cover nicely, and you all know how much I appreciate the rough-and-tumble homespun-ness of an experimental pop release. Mezzanine Swimmers is right up that alley.