PAINTED FACES “American Basement” (Already Dead)


David Drucker is back in his Painted Faces moniker, this time with some literal painted faces on his j-card – well, at least old werewolf Dad. The Halloween look harkens back to my childhood, when we all dressed up for the season and had parties in basements and everyone thought the peeled grapes they were feeling were eyeballs. Anyway! That’s terrifying in every way.
Drucker brings out that unique American dread, where things like Halloween parties in the 1980s occurred even though everyone was headed to hell in a handcart. Or maybe they were already there, in the wood-paneled variety. His lo-fi one-man stoner rock shtick (with a healthy dose of seasick Casio) does an admirable job whisking me away to a nostalgic place that I’m not certain is actually nostalgic – it’s more like a place I left and return to in my mind periodically with discomfort.
It’s weird, unnatural, and smells of bong rips. (That was the college part, not the kid growing up part. We still had wood-paneled basements in college.) Drucker’s music is weird, unnatural, and is probably made following a handful of bong rips. Is Painted Faces maybe, perhaps, the perfect example of the American way shot into the night, crippled and alone, dirty and subsisting on junk food?
Could be.

ENDURANCE “Day Trips” C42 (Distant Bloom)


All is dream, here, for Endurance. Despite its name, Day Trips isn’t the hopping-in-the-car-to-the-countryside kind of day trip, not unless you’ve got a blanket to lay on beneath a tree in a meadow, one on which you can relax and shut your eyes for a while. That’s a really enticing proposition, actually, so I might follow my intuition right out of this tape and into real life. But until then, Endurance, aka Joshua Stefane, curator of the lovely Japan-based Muzan Editions tape label, has got my full attention, even though “full attention” here includes the opposite of that: letting your mind wander down the avenues Day Trips is, well, tripping.
Stefane has been around the block, and you can try to count the Endurance releases on his Discogs or Bandcamp page, but it’s fruitless – there are too many. So you probably know the drill: long-form ambient pieces made with modular synthesizers and field recordings. A contact mic or two. All combined in the secret laboratory where sound becomes an ethereal state and the division between levels of being and astral planes and mental states and even universes blurs until it’s one enlightened whole. And again, all is dream: “Sleep Timer,” “Dream Prep,” and “Stretching Toward the Sea” all fill the mind with warm serotonin, initiating the blissful drift into walking unconsciousness. Time ceases, peace ensues.
As it should be; as it happens in all Endurance releases.

ADAM VOID “New Depression Era Rambler” (Cut in the Fence)


When Black Mountain, North Carolina, starts spitting out no wave/antifolk outlaws, you know something’s festering down south, something weird and rotten. That something weird and rotten is Adam Void, an experimental sound masochist with a bunch of keyboards and noisemakers and other dirty ephemera, as well as some recording equipment. On New Depression Era Rambler, Void taps into New Weird America, turns it on its head, introduces it to electricity and circuits, and terrifies both it/them/us in doing so. Get these demons out of my house!
Like a hermit popping back into civilization after a good sixty-year break, Adam Void alternates between undigested folk ditties and electric toy freakouts. He pokes and prods the newfangled equipment, jumping back and covering his face as he’s surprised by the sounds he makes. But he gets the hang of it, and the result is frequently exciting, the twelve short tracks slamming against each other in ADD glee. He’s like a hobo with a bindle full of samplers and drum machines, playing boxcars on the back tracks of Appalachia to audiences of squirrels, birds, and raccoons. Killer set!

NORAH LORWAY “Future Void” C24 (Distant Bloom)


All this talk of voids, future or otherwise, makes me think of absolutely nothing. That makes sense, right? There’s nothing in a void, by definition. It lacks. Which is why I’m trying to figure out this Future Void tape by Dr. Norah Lorway (Falmouth University), one purportedly pointing the way toward emptiness. “Trying” because there’s nothing suggesting this tape isn’t full of rich ambient textures, and if we’re looking to the future, this here in the present is making me much more hopeful that the future will also contain supplemental rich ambient textures. I don’t have any reason to think otherwise.
Unless … perhaps Future Void is the sound of sound leaving, the process of emptying completely. If so, then maybe we’re onto something, as Lorway’s sounds do indeed dissipate as they progress, at first blanketing the environment like fog before thinning out and gradually transitioning into the ambient sounds you hear in whatever room you’re in. As such, Future Void fulfills itself, but not how you’d expect. Instead of disappearing completely, it simply transforms, allowing environmental factors to overcome it and replace it. No void, just absence. That absence is immediately filled. Perfectly blended.

MID-AIR! & DORFEUS “Alkaline Battery” (100% Bootleg)


In a shocking twist, Mid-Air!, aka Christopher Alan Harbach, has released a dementedly stunning new cassette tape of warped sampledelic pleasures. Wait, did I say “shocking twist”? I meant “In the world’s most obvious news …” stunning tape, etc. That’s right, there’s more Mid-Air! in the world, and that’s always a good thing. This time he pairs with Dorfeus McNeely, and together they trip down psychedelic paths blazed by Boards of Canada and Black Moth Super Rainbow – in fact, you’ll have to forgive me for thinking that Alkaline Battery feels at times like a higher-fi version of Falling Through a Field, albeit with more jazz inflections and zero vocals. There is sampled speech, sure, but it basically melts off the turntable like your face melts off in the mirror when you’re sky high.
Might be time to plug this thing in, then. Or recharge it. It’s a battery after all, and it looks like one – well, the packaging anyway. It moves haltingly through seasick rhythms like a Christmas toy chugging all the juice it can from these AAs before they inevitably have to be replaced. And that’s where Mid-Air! and Dorfeus come in, or always are. They’re the replacements and the replaced, the constant cycle of wringing as much enjoyment as you can from a battery-powered object until you either lose interest in it and don’t bother with it anymore or you melt the sucker’s circuits all the way down. Come to think of it, Alkaline Battery is sort of the sound of all of that. Revel in it!

MODUS PONY “Ulterior Frequencies” (Strategic Tape Reserve)


I wonder, when it comes down to it, how much of anything we say to one another, including the stories we tell, is real. ModuS ponY came into possession of a mysterious notebook, filled with all kinds of things: grocery lists, Spanish lessons, weird poetry … musical ideas. ModuS ponY tracked down the compiler of the notebook, a man named “Richard Something” (obviously fake), and got handed a bunch of tales of the “fractured 1970’s avant-garde scene in and around Los Angeles.” Turns out Richard Something is a bit of an unappreciated genius, so much so that people took his ideas and built careers based on them … or, uh something like that. Also, he took these people to court. And unequivocally lost every case.
ModuS ponY, perhaps sensing that he was pretty much in the clear legally (beyond his legal losses, Something seems to be the kind of “bullshit” peddler we should all be wary of), decided to create some of the musical ideas discussed in the pages of the notebook – well, he was at least inspired by them. Whether the stories were true or not, they were good, and moduS ponY wasn’t about to waste a good freak-pop jam sesh. So he hunkered down and cranked out Ulterior Frequencies, a paean to the heady days of LA art experimentalism. It’s a sneaky noir document shot through with German science jazz, proggy but not indulgent, cinematic but not incidental. As is the moduS ponY way, he’s able to stick with the concept throughout the tape’s entirety, punctuating the tunes with snippets of conversation here and there – samples from Hollywood’s freaky age? Maybe.
Can’t exactly be sure what moduS ponY is telling us. What if he even made Richard Something up, or even – gasp! – the notebook itself? The good news is that it probably doesn’t matter, because your enjoyment of Ulterior Frequencies does not depend on things like “accuracy” or “truth.” It does depend on moduS ponY’s compositional skill, and in this we have no doubt. He is able to spin yarns and tall tales of the city and the night, of characters of ranging nefariousness, of scenes where ideas germinate and bloom, no matter how sideways or unnaturally. Beneath it all beats the heart of a weirdo, keeping an eye out for other weirdos. Weirdos like you and me.

HEALTHY REALISM “Dog Armor DLC” C25 (Personal Archives)


Dog armor. Is that a “from” or a “for”? I’m not sure Healthy Realism, the trio composed of Max Senteney (drums), Alex Colombo (guitar/synthesizer), and James McKain (tenor saxophone), even knows, although if “DLC” is any indication, you’re prepping your game avatar with something. Maybe armor that makes you look like a dog. That would actually kind of be funny.
Whether your downloadable content is dog-related or not, Dog Armor DLC content is packed full of defense-boosting attributes, or at least it conjures up some kind of force field or protective mechanism that allows you to ward off whatever it is that Dog Armor DLC is manufactured to guard against. If it’s boredom, boredom doesn’t stand a chance against Healthy Realism – Healthy Realism is the antithesis of boredom, its archenemy. When Senteney, Colombo, and McKain start ripping into their improvisations, instruments wielded like weapons at the ready, they fill the empty spaces of your nemeses attention until they’re jittery, bloodshot-eyed wrecks. They scribble every conscious moment with fistfuls of sonic crayons, and the wondering minds of their targets are the construction paper canvas. They might want to get some dog armor themselves – then they’d be on the same page as all of you!
Dog armor. Is there anything it can’t stop?
Consider yourself lucky to have in your possession this defensively offensive (or vice versa?) implement. Do damage to everything as you attempt to control its power! But have faith – Dog Armor DLC will always get out of hand. In the best way possible.

PHARMAKUSTIK & THORSTEN SOLTAU “The She-Butterfly” C36 (Park 70)


What it must be like to be a butterfly! Life must be an endless symphony for the creatures, one of flitting from plant to plant, bringing joy to any and all passersby who encounter them and their colorful, vibrant wings. Their leisurely pace reflects a carefree approach, and we humans who view them love them because we can imprint our own desires onto them. We see butterflies as symbols of a relaxed freedom, one that we can strive toward – there has to be a path to such happiness for us. And then, once we’re as equally happy, we can also reflect that happiness! Circle of life.
But that’s not really how it is, is it? Butterflies are insects, and like all insects, butterflies are fragile, subject to temperature shifts, predators, and objects much larger than them in motion. Therefore, what appears to be a carefree existence is anything but – butterflies have a lot going against them. Pharmakustik and Thorsten Soltau seek to emphasize this in The She-Butterfly, a tape on the edge between “(Color Variant)” and “(Pupation).” The two artists highlight the minutiae of the life of the butterfly, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to the emergent creature we’re all familiar with. Each stage is fraught, as anything from ants to spiders to wasps to birds to lizards can chow down on these creatures, so they have to be vigilant. That’s why they’re so bright – they can’t defend themselves, so they look poisonous. Would you eat a butterfly? Despite how delicious they might be, I would not.
And so Pharmakustik and Soltau reveal the actual hardscrabble life of a butterfly, one in search of nectar and wary of almost constant death. Their samples and loops shift minutely, the most unassuming sounds taking center stage, the repetition, especially of “(Pupation),” a key to unlocking the natural cycle these insects undergo. In fact, I feel like I’m in my own chrysalis, pupating away as the chemical composition of my body shifts to metamorphose it. It’s really weird!

PLAKE 64 & THE HEXAGRAMS “Saga Dawa” C32 (Coin Dolphin Arrangements)


Alex Homan comes at it this time around from beyond the shimmering double vision of harmonic transcendence. Not surprisingly, Saga Dawa a Tibetan month of the lunar calendar, the “month of merits,” which celebrates the birth of the Buddha. This Plake tape does a little bit of celebrating if you ask me – whether Buddha or otherwise, Homan is at the forefront of celebrating life and people through music. He usually drops a little note on his j-cards, and this one says, “May all beings benefit by any and all virtues.” I like the way this guy thinks.
Saga Dawa thus comes across as a prayer to the cosmos, filtering experimental Animal Collective–style jams with Beach Boys-y melodicism, an essentially redundant descriptor as “Animal Collective–style jams” kind of implies that. It’s all there, the campfire guitar and violin, the off-kilter psilocybin-informed rhythm, the chaotic post-production swirling around the songs’ core. It shifts from lo-fi to reg.-fi with ease, even popping into hi-fi once in a while (“Floating Island” anyone?). But the charm is in Homan’s utterly restless experimentalism – there’s no way this tape (or his work in general) should sound so disparate yet so obviously be made by the same person. Homan sings to you in such a companionable way, but he doesn’t think you’re stupid – he knows you can handle what he’s got cooking.
Which is another thing this tape has going for it, which makes it so approachable – its communality. You just want to sit around it with other people and listen to it all the way through. It doesn’t repeat itself – Alex Homan is too full of ideas to let a tape of his do something like that. It’s thrillingly all over the place, and you’ll never find yourself in the midst of a dull moment. In fact, you’ll probably want to go through it a second time right away because you’ll miss a lot the first time, trust me. Endless Easter eggs await.

FLETCHER PRATT “Rituals for Magnetic Tape Vol. II” C60 (Flophouse)


When I think of “ritual,” I think of something that happens beyond the everyday, something that’s set aside and sacralized for a specific purpose, whether that something is spiritual or religious or not. Could just be a ceremonial type thing, something you set out to perform while focusing intently on the steps, revering each moment. Could be conjuring demons in the woods. The possibilities are literally endless.
When Fletcher Pratt tackles a ritual practice, he does it with a Nagra IV-S tape recorder, on which “all sounds [were] recorded and processed.” Talk about focus! His medium is magnetic tape, and he hunkers down with it, cradling it like a precious heirloom, ready to turn what’s on it into a paean to the ever-loving cosmos that it came from. Maybe that’s what he thinks when he’s working, “ritualizing,” or maybe not, but in the end the result is the same: the sounds come via a carefully crafted process that’s hopefully repeatable. Given that this is volume II, that seems to be the case.
The tape squirts and spits as it reels around the Nagra, also shimmering and crackling and twinkling and chirping. It’s the sonic equivalent of the natural world, all in motion all the time, a complex system of physics and matter. And even if Fletcher Pratt doesn’t decide to don a cloak and perform secretly in the middle of a forest, it wouldn’t be the most outlandish thing to picture if he did. In fact, Rituals for Magnetic Tape Vol. II is its own shrine to its own self, with fragrant organic incense the only thing getting sacrificed to it. Mellow out and descend!



What can JrF contact microphones, tape decks, a no-input mixing board, electronics, and field recordings get you? For Nicholas Maloney, it gets him some of the deepest, dankest low-end sound design imaginable. For its first half, FTES barely registers any treble – it scrapes the sonic depths at such frequencies that molecules are actually disturbed. Literal molecules! The resulting glitches in the space-time continuum are distinct enough to be perceptible, but they happen so quickly and so frequently that we can’t get a grasp on them. It’s like stills wound forward four frames, back two, forward another four or five, back three, moving the timeline, but oddly. The unnatural shifts in reality are like hiccups, but ones we can’t cure by drinking tall glasses of milk upside down-ish.
The end is not so interminably (but not bad interminably) low on side B, as the tones register in higher frequencies. They’re still intense, still disruptive, still massive – don’t ever get me wrong about that. By the end of the fourth track (all four untitled) it feels like you’re sitting in the middle of fission reactor at rest, radiation still vibing through your body but the works kind of shut down. Maybe FTES is meant to recreate the sound of the ghosts of nuclear reactions – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was its intent. Or shall I say, FTEnt? No, that’s dumb.

ROVELLASCA “The Fissure of Rolando” C36 (Park 70)


An airborne camera zooms across landscape. Barren, desolate, scarred by tectonic shifts, the ground passes quickly, the juts of rock suggesting mountains or other ranges, but it’s impossible to tell from this height – you can’t get perspective. It’s all rugged, impassable terrain by ground. The formation of the peaks and valleys was clearly violent, forged with unimaginable force. The wind whistles around them at extreme cold temperatures. The sky is clear blue above, the air is thin.
Rovellasca’s decaying ambience is rough, tactile, and distant, the perfect accompaniment to The Fissure of Rolando, three long pieces for Earth’s remotest places. I’m projecting, surely, but the edges are rough, the tones deep and resonant, the field equipment in constant motion as it captures dynamics on a planetary scale. Each moment causes descent, brings you closer to the landscape, until you’re scraping the ridge of a fissure with intense friction. You’re no match for the fissure – the fissure will engulf you. As will The Fissure of Rolando.
An airborne camera zooms across a glacier…

PET PEEVES “Mild Fantasy Violence” C40 (Personal Archives)


Ripped from the tabloid headlines, Pet Peeves’s Mild Fantasy Violence makes good on the otherworldly chaos promised in the title – but only mildly! Because if you had full-on, red-band, TV-MA fantasy violence, we wouldn’t be here having this conversation. We’d be at the hospital begging for someone to reconstruct our eardrums following what I would only imagine to be a death metal/speed jazz onslaught of serrated, blindingly fast, and barely tolerable weaponized sound. Some of you might find that unpleasant.
This isn’t that.
That doesn’t mean Pet Peeves, the Alex Maerbach/Joe Cavaliere duo, can’t get a little crazy with the cheese wiz, ’cause they do. They do big time. But they’re much more content to wade in the noise-rock/post-punk end of the pool, where they shred as much as they want but don’t have to do it at dangerous levels. They lurch and jive, using guitars and drums to cut in and out of their compositions, divebombing unsuspecting indie nerds with massive riffage one minute and whipping out sheet-metal walls of feedback the next. Their bag of tricks is a rock lover’s dream!
If you want to think about the damage Mild Fantasy Violence will do in comparison to the full-body onslaught of hard-R violence, consider it the equivalent of lopping the top off a pumpkin and scooping out all the grossness, the music carving up the interior like semi-sharp instruments. So, nothing happens to your human head, just the imaginary pumpkin one. You can picture that, can’t you?
Mild Fantasy Violence’s TV-14 rating should not scare you off – it’s a heckuva ride.

TOM WHITE “Side Down” (Anathema Archive)


Experimentalist Tom White dons two very different sets of scientist goggles on Side Down, one for “No script on set” (side A) and another for “Behind the face of a rock, throwing stones” (side B). “No script” suggests you waltz up on stage and dive in – either you remember what you’re supposed to be doing or you wing it and see if it works. Who cares which one applies here – White’s certainly got somewhat of a plan, but I think he’s dabbling in some dense improve too. “No script” is split into three parts and was originally a piece performed live for eight channels. Here it’s considered a “re-imagining.” I’m imagining all kinds of machines and gadgets working together in concert for some kind of common goal. I don’t know what it is, but I’m mesmerized by the process!
“Behind the face of a rock, throwing stones” is exactly what the tape says it is – rehearsal music. Sadly, our disease-riddled world isn’t really allowing any sorts of artistic performance (except for country music concerts in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, probably), so we’ll just have to wait to see Surface Area, a dance company composed of “deaf and hearing artists,” do their thing to Tom White’s groove. I’m just kidding, this isn’t really a groove – it’s totally choreographed and likely not remotely what I’m picturing in my head right now. But White takes a really tactile approach here, prioritizing “noncochlear” sound for its rhythmic and vibratory properties. Truly, these are frequencies that resonate throughout the body, allowing for even the hard-of-hearing to internalize and interpret them. Maybe one day soon we’ll be able to gather with other humans and witness art in person once again, and on that day Tom White and Surface Area will finally be able to perform their work together.
I’ll probably just stay home though, I’ve gotten used to that.

LISA CAMERON AND CLAIRE ROUSAY “Vertices” (Personal Archives)


I’m so used to experimental percussion releases like this one to be abstract minimalist performances around a prepared kit where it’s struck very infrequently with suspect rhythm. Not that, of course, all drum music has to have “distinct rhythm” or anything, but let me be the first to say “Thank god” that Vertices has elements of a smashed jazz watermelon to the face. Does it have its abstract moments, it’s passages of experimentation? Well, yeah, that’s kind of what Lisa Cameron and claire rousay do – they experiment within their idiom. Does that mean I’m left high and dry on a pleasurable percussive experience? Not on your life – I’m in the splash zone.

“Taut” is a weird intro, with what sounds like a metal string stretching maybe past its prime tensility to a point where it could be struck or rubbed to such a degree that the potential energy stored up in it is instantly audible. Over almost ten minutes there’s thwacks and runs, crisp reminders that we probably just heard a drum head being stretched, not a bloody guitar string. Anyway, ever listen to jazz drum solos and not wonder where the rest of the ensemble is? Get used to it with these two – they’re like they’re own group, and they have no use for any melodic accompaniment. Plus, the drum solos sound like a full band.

Get ready also for feedback of some sort – the centerpiece of Vertices is “Invitation,” an excursion in atmosphere. It seems impossible that Cameron and rousay can coax such subtlety from such instruments, but hey, such is the case. The duo rips some more jazz drums on the closer, “Spurn.” I think I may have peed a little in my euphoric state. I did not see that reaction coming. I’m not saying it was unpleasant or anything, it was just weird that I got to such a high degree of enjoyment and then – boop – pee.

I’ll go back and edit that out later.


DAO STROM “Traveller’s Ode” C44 (Antiquated Future)

From PDX by way of Vietnam, established author, poet, spoken word artist, and sonorous/spooky spell-caster, Dao Strom, has made it her mission to explore story and mood, song and summoning, plea and command. Her crisp, soft utterances beg and deny emotion by way of ambivalent intent. She is and she is not singing to, for, about, in, or from, anything or anywhere, and her mesmerizing meta-message-koans will haunt any observer who comes within earshot. Not catchy, they’ll latch on anyway. Noncommittal sentiments; they’ll do the same. 

One could expect nothing less from PDX’s Antiquated Future!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

YAARA VALEY “Deshecha” C23 (Antiquated Future)

Dabbling within ditch and gloom, glitch and doom, Yaara Valey leads a seance of one with lute, breath, and a mastery of mixing chanted loops, reverbed out tribal percussion, delay-heavy pluck, and passing tech anomaly. Her dynamic, contralto delivery is only matched by an expertly layered mile-high pile of harmony & counterpoint; the end result is nothing short of bewitching.

With all tracks repeated on each side and clocking in at 23 minutes, it’s easy to listen to this entire release back to back to back before you even notice it’s over. Bewitching!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

VOSP “Pale Shelter” (Anathema Archive)

I think I’m being punk’d.

Christian Mirande writes about “active listening” when it comes to Pale Shelter, like I’m expected to screw up my consciousness and direct it right to a point where nothing recorded to this VOSP tape can even remotely get past me. Well, the joke’s on him, and VOSP, and Anathema Archive, because I don’t have to do a g-d*mn thing to “actively listen” to Pale Shelter. Pale Shelter does the work on its own, making it so I don’t have to Zen out and pretend that I’m paying attention while manipulated field recordings of insects skritch past my waking mind and directly into my subconscious. Nope – all I do is turn on this g-d*mn tape and it’s got its friggin hooks in me. Are they skritchy insect hooks? G*d, I hope not.

Maybe it was intended as a lecture. Was it intended that way? I could do without lectures. You get lectures from me, not the other way around.

VOSP, though – VOSP is an attention grabber. VOSP doesn’t skimp on the entry points, on the jaw-droppers. When you talk about “active listening,” you’re assuming a mindset, a focus necessitating prep time. Well I went in cold on Eric Grieshaber’s wild sonic fantasies, and I was ripped from my worldview and chucked through a black hole where everything was reverberating and pulsing all around me. Was I a cartoon dog on an interstellar surfboard, catching some cosmic gnar on a molecular level? You better believe it. That’s how I was able to get to the center of it all, pass through the “Colorless Dream,” and hang ten on a friggin constellation. Some of you might be thinking, “Well, isn’t that neat. I’ll get myself ready and dip my toe in the water.” That’s not going to be enough. First, Pale Shelter is going to serrate your face. Then, it will become so cold that it boils. Then, it’s all cartoon dogs and surfboards.

Life doesn’t always make sense. You can’t always gear up. Just roll with it. Lecture over.


HEAVEN DRUGS “Heaven Drugs” C14 (Personal Archives)


Vaporwave either gets a bad rap or it finds itself utterly beloved – there’s not a ton of middle ground. I mean, sure, you can slow down an R&B jam until it sounds like syrup and call it vaporwave, but where’s the fun in that? I could do that. Heaven Drugs decidedly does not do that. In fact, I barely even started listening to Heaven Drugs when I was like, “Yep, this is going over in that ‘beloved’ column. This is great – and I’m barely two minutes in!”
I had to do all fourteen minutes (which, trust me, is an absolute joy), but the dreamy mix of looped source material is perhaps unintentionally gripping. Isn’t this supposed to narcotize the heck out of you? But look, this thing shifts from one thing to the next without really pausing for breath, and it all works really well together. And it’s NOT one of those syrupy smear-jams, it’s like an uplifting mixtape for your spirit animal’s soul. Can you hear the seams? Heck yeah. Is it super-amazingly endearing and make you want to swim around in a pool of it for hours? Also heck yeah! When it was over, I was like, “Aw, man, it’s over?” I didn’t want the Condo Pets melodies to dissipate into the ether, but there they went …
That’s what happens when you only get fourteen minutes to spend with something good.
I guess I could just listen again.
Plus look at all the cute little 2 x 2 art inserts by Matthew Crowe! (J-card by Taylor Luetkehans.)

COSMIC FRAILTY / BBJR. “Family” / “Extended Stay” C22 (Personal Archives)

If this is how the thing sings, I want every part of it. I’m not going to say that I know what Cosmic Frailty and Bob Bucko Jr. are doing on this split EP, but I’m pretty sure that whatever objects and instruments they’re amplifying and manipulating are doing some heavy lifting in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), blasting as they do their frequencies beyond the confines of our planet and into the outer reaches of deep space. Did you know that BBJr.’s personal Personal Archives headquarters has a massive radio tower on its roof? Did you know that BBJr. bounces signals off NSA satellites for amplification? Did you know that he frequently receives answers to these transmissions, but that he’s just not telling anyone about them?
Oh, that’s a saxophone.
Look, I’m not here to tell you what to do with your life, but I am going to recommend that if you’re feeling at all in a familial way and perhaps find yourself inclined to make yourself comfortable with your familial relations for a while, look no further than “Family” / “Extended Stay” to support that frame of mind. Do beware, though, that “Family” takes on the pulsing and effected ripples of black hole travel (it’s a thing) and that the “Family” you may be seeking is not the kind of “Family” you’re bound to find. Ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers? No, the Donald Sutherland one – the good one. That might happen to you. If so, you’ll be in for an “Extended Stay” with said “Family,” perhaps even a permanent one, with even more ripples of deep space action and then the final reveal of open-mouthed, wide-eyed, bleating saxophone, right in your face. That radio tower wasn’t an innocent transmission at all, it was a beacon!


GREYON GREENE “Humidity” C18 (We Be Friends)


Hey. This is how it’s hitting us now. C18 – EP length. I’m in the path of hurricanes sometimes, Eta as I’m writing this (it’ll be a bunch of broken-up fragments when it hits, so it won’t hit hard), and as such I’m used to humidity. I’m used to paint peeling and wax warping, magnetic tape losing its integrity as moisture builds and builds and builds in the air. I’m used to what Greyon Greene’s got going on here, dripping synths and moisture beading on my window as the front advances. Smears of liquid pantone across splashed wood hitting metal for reassurance, for balance, even if it’s not real, even if it’s generated by computers or machines. Humidity is real, it hangs in the air, it gets in our lungs and weighs down our hair, which is long now, so long and annoying. And curly. Who knew how curly my hair would be if I let it grow! Greyon Greene tightens the curls, makes the sweat drip. Cracks light into prisms as it struggles across the leaden space. Hopefully provides nice, cold drinks at the end of all of this. Because we’re really, really gonna need em.

SHAME “White Man” (Orb Tapes)


Shame is Abdul-Hakim Bilal, and I’ve had my eye on their band and their work before. (In fact, Samuel Goff, Bilal’s Among the Rocks and Roots cohort, is putting this out on CD [of all formats!] on his Cacophonous Recordings label.) White Man is an uncomfortable release, especially for someone like me who represents the titular demographic. Bilal is black, and “the struggle black people face daily is present in this harrowing and experimental album.” Bilal utilizes vocals to great effect to supplement the noise churning like a distant storm or like the crackle of enflamed dry wood. Anger and fear permeate the release with a harrowing intensity. I succumb to the tape’s intent of discomfort. It makes me squirm, and it makes me hurt. I can only let it crush me with its weight. Who gets to impose their will on others; who is worthy of that? Nobody. White Man is a seething answer.

CORSICA ANNEX “Doors Outside” C30 (Ingrown Records)

Corsica Annex’s looooooong awaited follow up (to a goddamn brilliant debut, also in Ingrown!) is a jam-packed half hour’s worth of slow-motion power-scubaing through shimmering coral reefs of sunny synthesizer washes, needling guitar plucks, woozy tape manipulations, & a warm undercurrent of mixing wizardry that’s sure to sweep one’s mind off its root-system. 

All elements swagger and sway into the periphery of our aural tunnel vision and out, as if to signal to our short-sighted minds which current to ride next; staccato attack or droning retreat? Whichever way the ear takes, we find ourselves lazily led into ever cascading permutations, strolling onward and upward, into permanent sunrise. 

Beatific study/power-napping music for the eager mind and heart!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

MIL KDU DES “GXH” C32 (Ingrown Records)

Mil Kdu Des’ “GXH" is a sprawling beast that vacillates between minimalist cosmic post-freakout comedowns and maximalist tribal funk jamz. The spaciousness is all but tangible throughout, each synthesizer, percussive agent, and deep bass pulse playfully interweaving a devotional call & response from across some vague canyon of distance, the air between said agents steamed and chilled, steamed and chilled into a saucy hurricane of bombastic dance and water-break recovery.  

Get this on the dance floor NOW!


—Jacob An Kittenplan

X.Y.R. “Tourist” C40 (Ingrown Records)

Hazily plucked from underside the many islands floating over Russia’s tropical moonscapes, X.Y.R. share with us a blissed-out blend of New Age synth tones/drones/arpeggios, Afro-Cuban grooves, Gamelan-esque, hypnotic counterpoints, and a relentlessly pleasant vibe camping out between ambient, upbeat, and entrancing. The consonance sparkles non-stop, the interlocking rhythms and transient, textural glares waft in & out, the sense of serenity practically glowing in one's ear canals.

It’s a tall order to create something as equally dance-able as it is nap-able, but this set of jamz does the trick every single time!


—Jacob An Kittenplan