SKELETON BEACH “The Inevitable Death of Language” (Orb Tapes)


I was heretofore unfamiliar with Skeleton Beach, and I am remedying that hosscrap as I type this. The Knoxville-based producer, who goes by Gene Priest at the grocery store, is a big fan of old horror movies, analog synthesizers, and analog synthesizer scores of old horror movies. So me and Gene would probably get along just fine – I’m known to drop a “cosmic” or “far-out” psychedelic masterpiece, preferably one that scores a thriller, into my tape deck every now and then. This time, though, it seems as though old Gene has listened to a bit of Aphex Twin, a dab of Squarepusher, a smidge of Autechre before sitting behind his gear and cranking out The Inevitable Death of Language, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, contains no language. Well, maybe the universal language – mathematics. Probably some love too. Maybe not though.
I say “this time” even though I’m a n00b, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. And OMG – The Inevitable Death of Language is such a good place to start! LOL, SMH, YOLO, Skeleton Beach creates pristine electronic environments here, all indebted to the synthtastic reels he’s watching in his head, the ones Inevitable Death is providing the soundtrack for. And honestly, by immersing yourself in this one, you’ll be able to see them too – no more clunky LED screens or internet-enabled phones, you just let your brain do the work for you. Or the LSD in your brain, which surely enhances these magnificent brain movies. I am not taking LSD, nor am I condoning it, but tense psychedelic beatscapes are Mr. Priest’s forte, and honestly, I’m in a zone here. Now I have to go back and sift through the rest of the discography. I have a feeling I’m going to have a blast.

THE UNKNOWN SOUND COLLECTIVE “The Light within Hauntings” (Orb Tapes)


It gets under your skin right away. Elena Botts’s, erm, haunting voice drifts over sound sources like chimes or gongs, hit every four bars or so (emphasis on the “or so”), on the opening track “Stillborn,” till they’re processed and accompanied by field recordings played as textured noise. Botts masters the space in which her voice appears, clearly favoring the vastness of what’s outside of her in contrast to the still, small voice that occupies the corners, acting as a running commentary to everything else beyond it that does not notice it. Maybe her voice is the “light” within the “hauntings” of the tactile world, the focal point for wayfarers in need of guidance through the gloom. Then again, maybe it’s just a siren song, luring us in further until what haunts us is upon us, and we merge in cold corruption in an anti-flare of terror and gloom. How shocking!
As the Unknown Sound Collective, Botts and company take elusive approaches to composition, but it’s all rooted in Botts’s vocal performance. Sometimes traditional percussion cuts through the gloom, and piano isn’t an unwelcome guest itself. But it’s mostly the field recordings and other samples that really lend a sense of mood and tone, whether they’re anachronistic (traffic sound meets pagan chant?) or logically aligned (struck ceramic orb meets pagan chant?). But the content isn’t as important as the atmosphere, and The Light within the Hauntings, despite sounding exactly the way that title sounds, is a rich nocturnal world in which a single point of focus exists, and you’re drawn to it, whether directly or gradually. Either way, the Unknown Sound Collective has you right where it wants you.

DEUCE AVENUE “Perennial Fire and Life” (Unifactor)


I am ripped to the ass with anxiety. I was good for a while, but now it’s all getting to me – I’m not normally an anxious person, but holy heck, can we just give it a rest for a while? And it’s not like I don’t know there’s a way out – I’m also a wickedly hopeful person in the best of times, and even in these crummy times, but it’s wearing thin. Still, complaining about it’s not going to help me is it? Or you. You don’t need my moaning. Let’s get past it.
Deuce Avenue rips me to the ass with anxiety, but here catharsis reigns. Most psychotherapists would take a gander at what I’m listening to in this state and immediately scramble for the off switch. Deuce Avenue, the project of Noah Anthony (Profligate, Social Junk, Night Burger), doesn’t have time to worry about anxiety – he allows his music to personify it, and in doing so sucks some of that real-life anxiety out of the air and parades it around a stage in some sort of pantomime. That’s what happens when your idiom is minor-key synth-noir, and you’re good at rippling sheets of tense atmosphere over tar-hot bubbling bass and clattering rhythm tracks.
It works – you perceive Perennial Fire and Life for as short a time as you’d like (and there’s no reason not to get all the way through in one sitting), and it immediately impresses upon you its soundtracky goodness, a signal that you can relax and enjoy this thing instead of letting it ratchet you up beyond where you already are. You lose yourself in the underbelly of this thing, and from there you’re buoyed through a cinematic adventure of clandestine operations, your only tools and defenses an Arp Odyssey, a Korg Monologue, and a Yamaha VSS-30. Use them wisely to rid yourself of the blues, as Noah Anthony did as Deuce Avenue. It’s a circle of life thing.

MACHINE LISTENER “Headfooter” (Unifactor)


Hey, I get it – you coat your circuits in breadcrumbs, plug them in, and drop them in a deep fryer, and this is what you get. Headfooter, the combination of melting electronics and the pops made while they’re melting in the deep fryer, is a cry for help from the synthetic world, a sputtering, cascading, milky goo emanating from the mouth of a disintegrating android. Matthew Gallagher – not the watermelon one – harnesses the subtleties of these imaginaries and abstracts them, layering them against each other and applying rhythm to the antirhythm, creating in the process a glimmering, shuffling, reanimated corpse of digital parts constructed (probably) from all the horrifying sounds a disintegrating android makes. (But making them sound not so horrifying in the end.)
Machine Listener: navigating the depths of the digital psyche, scouring the nooks and crannies of nodes and motherboards to gain even the faintest glimpse, the most fleeting synapse of unprogrammed human response. I wonder how far Gallagher (again, no watermelons) has gotten in their research, tinkering as they do in lab coat and goggles and periodically publishing their findings (such as Headfooter) to an audience mostly disinterested in the tech, in the philosophy, instead hanging on to the dank Warp-ified impulses and blankets of synthesizer. That audience isn't getting it though! Get under the hood, fiddle with the knobs and plugs. Get a microscope and use it for Pete’s sake. There’s gotta be something under here that points to machines and humans interacting on some identical level. There’s just gotta be!
Till we figure it out, the Machine Listener continues to work.

SPEDNAR “Coniunctio” (Unifactor)


Someone touched the wrong node, and I bet it was Kevin Bednar. Bednar is Spednar, experimental weirdo, and yes, that MUST be on your CV when you submit a potential tape to Unifactor. Bednar actually touched a lot of the wrong nodes, because that’s clearly how Coniunctio came to be, a whiplash-inducing sprint through inputs and outputs, programs and manual dexterity, triggered harmonics and unrelenting electronic percussion. Drawing from the greats – yes, think Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Oval – Bednar blasts us with wave after wave of virtual synthesizer madness, displaying every flavor of digital studio trickery possible. Sheets of static decay and reconstitute while electricity pulses from circuit to circuit until it’s impossible to tell down from up or end from beginning – and isn’t that’s how it’s supposed to be?
Bednar does allow it to end, but not before finishing off the tape with two lengthy and languid ambient pieces that sparkle with euphony as they soundtrack suspended animation. Unifactor vet {arsonist} lends a hand on the fifteen-minute “aut” before Bednar takes us home on “untitled,” eleven minutes of glowing ecstasy. It almost seems like the environment has come to life around “untitled,” and “aut,” and as such I think I may have to try to communicate with it in a similar capacity. Maybe I can make these sounds with my brain. But fortunately, I have Coniunctio to feed back upon itself, perhaps permanently damaging my perception of space-time in the process. Don’t you think we need more tapes that do exactly that to us? I mean, who needs time to be a straight line anyway – I like my reality to be a little more three-dimensional.

SAMUEL GOFF & MARIAM REZAEI “The End of the World … Finally” C35 (Cacophonous Revival)


I think it’s appropriate that I sit here on New Year’s Eve 2020 (yeah, you’re reading this later) and listen to a tape called The End of the World … Finally, a blast of a new tape from Richmond-based percussionist Samuel Goff and London based turntablist Mariam Rezaei. Maybe it’s a little ironic – I’m sitting here, perched on the promise of hope at the tail end of possibly the worst year I’ve ever encountered, and I’m thinking to myself, “It’s the end of the end of the world … finally!” So my “double negative” negates the crushing doom of plague and conspiracy with a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air after being choked by the stinking smog of 2020 for what seems like forever.
But don’t get me wrong – The End of the World … Finally is also a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief, in that it also depicts the release from repression, not ending in hope, however, but in oblivion. But still, there’s gotta be hope, right? Think: Goff and Rezaei have put together this utterly hyperkinetic workout of percussion and signal, so the only way to emerge from it is with your heart racing, like you’ve just been incredibly active or the last 35 minutes while you’ve listened to it. And take it from me, exercising after a long break (I’m a terrible holiday exerciser) pumps your body full of long-required chemicals, allowing you to feel revived and revitalized, even if it’s a fairly painful process. Don’t worry – also take it from me, it’ll get better.
So The End of the World … Finally is a celebration then, a quick-paced and highly active wing-ding that’ll either end in nothingness or something better – but there’s no in between! That’s good news, I think, and it’s news made better with the prospect wicked drumming and wickeder experimental turntable slashing, or whatever the heck Rezaei is doing. Doesn’t matter, it sounds awesome.

MID-AIR! “Smoothies and Jacuzzis” C19 (100% Bootleg)


Mid-Air!’s latest, Smoothies and Jacuzzis, finds Christopher Alan Harbach in exactly the place you might expect to find him in this time around: in a jacuzzi. With a smoothie.
But look, that’s the easy way out, and it’s dumb to just parrot the title of this thing and be done with it. But the sophisticated beat-oriented jazz samplefest you’re treated to for nineteen minutes here bears some of the hallmarks of its at-first-glance flippant (but not really) title. See, Smoothies and Jacuzzis is a lifestyle thing, a health regimen, a relaxation technique. It offers nutritional benefits as well as a mental reprieve. You can ingest exotic things that are good for you; Mid-Air! creates immaculate beat tapes out of exotic source material that is totally good for you. You can immerse yourself in the healing waters; Mid-Air! immerses you in the healing properties of brilliant music. This is all a win-win – I’m beginning to think “smoothies” and “Jacuzzis” are metaphorical anchors!
This is all a lot of talk without the actuality of enjoyable music, and Mid-Air!, as usual, obliges. The beats are languid, chillaxed; the samples carefully layered. While the immediate stylistic touchstone is obviously jazz, “trip hop” is not an odd term to come to mind. I find myself reclined, eyes closed, drink in hand when Mid-Air! hits the stereo, and whether that drink is a smoothie or stronger, and whether I’m actually in a Jacuzzi or just dreaming about being in one is of no consequence. I’m under the Mid-Air! spell no matter what.

DURO DOUBLE LIFE “Psyched for the Yin-Yang” C32 (Haord Records)


First, let’s get it out of the way: Haord Records acts sound as warped as the picture on the j-card of Duro Double Life’s Psyched for the Yin-Yang. They’re misshapen, seasick, oblong, wobbly, and impossible to pin down in any meaningful way. They’re synth-punk rejects who have too great of a sense of humor to take seriously yet are too good to completely dismiss as parody. Duro Double Life is no exception, and therefore fits the Haord mold like oozy slime trying to fit in a mold: it splats out without taking a solid form, but its jellified remains are filled with bits of solidity that ground it as a life form of some sort. Did I say human? No, I did not.
Named after a biodegradable paper bag – because why not – Duro Double Life drips their debut sonics all over these tape spools, their sickeningly warped songcraft filling the air with mesmerizing greeze. Somehow everything sounds half-liquid, and that’s a good chunk of the appeal of Duro Double Life: a percentage of the songs remain songs, another percentage literally dribbles from your speakers like you were in a 1980s kid-suspense movie, say Gremlins. That’s right, Psyched for the Yin-Yang somehow manages to entertain via wonky juiced effects while also bubbling like a body-horror sight gag gone horribly (and terrifically) awry. Duro Double Life’s early Ween-meets-Melvins low-end while squirming with quarter-speed Devo delight is an absolute vomit-surge to the senses. And I mean that in the most complementary way possible.

RHUCLE “Royal Blue” (Oxtail Recordings)


I had to check out the Bandcamp page because I know I’ve written about Rhucle, the project of Japan’s Yuta Kudo, before, and I wanted to refresh my memory. But once I got there I was bombarded by release upon release as I scrolled down the page, endlessly, until my scrolling thumb got so tired I had to stop. (Luckily I found one, probably two, tapes that I wrote about. Whew!) The sheer volume of output you’ll find there is staggering, and you might be overwhelmed enough to reconsider determining a starting point. But don’t! What I’ve heard is all utterly delightful, and you can just forget about everything and use this, Royal Blue on Oxtail Recordings, as your starting point regardless. It’s really something you shouldn’t stress out about.
The main reason why you shouldn’t stress out about it is because Rhucle’s music is entirely stress free, Royal Blue being no exception. Utilizing synthesizers and field recordings, Rhucle gently and exquisitely opens up paths to inner peace that you may not have realized were available to you. Best experienced in solitude, preferably within a set of headphones that dwarfs your noggin, Royal Blue is an inner world of maximum rest and relaxation, a rejuvenating sensory experience, an immersion in crystal pools among the clouds. Perfect for meditative practices, Royal Blue wisps and drips, shimmers and floats, all in soft focus, all centered inward for true peace. So, you still feeling stressed about getting into Rhucle? It’s like I told you – that’s a ridiculous observation, especially with this beautiful new tape right in front of you.

MACIE STEWART & LIA KOHL “Recipe for a Boiled Egg” (Astral Spirits)


MACIE STEWART & LIA KOHL “Recipe for a Boiled Egg” (Astral Spirits)
One glance at this thing before I pop it in reveals Lisa Kohl on “cello and voice” and Macie Stewart on “violin and voice,” and I’m like, “Right! Got it.” I know exactly how this is going to go – some kind of chamber orchestra thingee. Crack knuckles, lean back, let this review write itself.
As my desk chair slips out from underneath me and I crack my head on the floor (do NOT lean too far back in triumph in wheeled desk chairs), I’m met with Recipe for a Boiled Egg in all its glory, and despite all the promises to the contrary, I’m not finding any actual boiled egg recipes on this tape. (I guess just boil water, drop in egg, repeat? I’m not much of a cook.) Plucks and plunks punctuate “PERFECT (EVERY TIME),” accompanied by vocal arpeggios and righteous cello sawing. But that’s not the lane Stewart and Kohl stay in, and that’s what makes Recipe such an engaging listen. Even by the next track, “Open Winded,” the duo is stretching out harmonic notes as languid as the surface of a lake, resolving in delicate chord changes.
But that’s not all! They also play their stringed instruments as if they were percussive ones, all while allowing their voices and bows equal playing time. The playing is often electric, especially on the tempestuous “Screaming Tea” and madcap “The ‘Electric’ Slide,” while such flights are set against moments of relative calm and beauty, such as on tape closer “Song for Soft-Serve.” And food is a delightful theme throughout, as many titles refer back to eggs or other adjacent subjects (“Right Before Dinner,” “Rich, Sticky, Sweet,” etc.). So, basically, Recipe is the exact opposite of the classical tropes I’d imagined before hitting play, which made for a much more exciting listen. Drop your expectations, people!
Also, don’t worry – my head’s OK.

NON PHOTO BLUE “Dépaysement” C40 (Amek Collective)


When Daniel Donchov, aka Non Photo Blue, feels out of sorts, out of place, he can really get to the heart of it. In his recordings he taps into unfathomable emotions with remarkable insight, laying bare the frayed nerves of missed connections and lost attachments while blanketing it all in an effervescent mist of synthesizer tones and gentle field recordings. His work is depressingly ambient, yet it manages to plant the seeds of hope and fertilize their growth with a wisdom gleaned from heartbreaking experience. In us, the listeners, is cultivated a sense that with each passing trauma or tribulation there exists the spark of healing and renewal. It’s the grief that keeps on giving.
Dépaysement is the sound of longing, then, of being far from home in an unfamiliar land and allowing the anxiety of it to overwhelm you. And that’s where it comes from, with Donchov traveling through several U.S. states during the wild and wistful autumn before our immaculate quarantine. The Netherlands-based Donchov is clearly inspired by the change of seasons, but just as that change portends winter, so too does Donchov drift into melancholy as he seemingly longs for home while upon foreign soil. And to think that I can’t even imagine the America that Donchov was able to see, let alone what it’s become – there is so much unrecognizable about it, so much tragedy upon it. Surely that’s not to place its plight above anyone else’s on a list of importance, but it still weighs heavily on the mind.
Donchov’s Dépaysement weighs heavily on the heart, but with the glimmering blue hope of a light at the end of a long and lonely tunnel. Here’s to that: to something bigger than us that we can latch onto, that we can turn our focus to and embrace with a collective affinity. But still, it’s the dark moments like those on Dépaysement that get us through, that cast everything into stark relief. The darkness is important too.
Sounds like an Amek release, doesn’t it? You’d be right about that.

RAY MONDE & J. NOVICK “Ray Monde & J. Novick” C30 (Flophouse)


I don’t think we should be flippant about Ray Monde and J. Novick’s work, do you? I think we treat it with the reverence it deserves, with the reverence with which it was made. It sounds reverent too – Novick’s synthesizer beds, thick with mood, allow for Monde to add his restrained sax to build and release tension through exquisitely built glacial chord progressions, field recordings adding flavor here and there where necessary. But then you look at the track titles and notice that the transcendent track 3 is titled “New Age Shit,” you wonder whether you’ve struck a true modus operandi or a jest tossed off by two musicians frustrated with the response to their work.
We walk the edge of a knife here.
But let’s regroup firmly on the serious side and just sink into this fever dream that Monde and Novick have conjured from realms beyond ours. No, this is no “New Age Shit,” this is the removal of the veil, the parting of the curtains, the deep dive into elemental existence. It’s like purple antimatter ripples as envisioned by a time-unstuck Angelo Badalamenti, but backward sometimes and slathered in more reverb. The overwhelming interstellar-ness of the cavernous production places you right in the middle of the void, the action blurred at the edges of your perception the only action occurring and the only action worth focusing on. As the tape comes for you – and it will come for us all – it will assimilate your humming atoms into its own massively buzzing energy field, and all will be right in the end.
Also released on Russia’s Invisible Animals.

REACHES “The Land Is Kind” (Crass Lips Records)


Maybe this extreme synthpop thing was actually the way to go after all. Justin Randel certainly knows his way around a hook, and these tunes are eminently hummable the longer they ping around your brainpan. They linger like sugar dust on the windowsill, like confectionary snowflakes hardening and sparkling and becoming overrun with insects if left out in the yard too long. The Land Is Kind occupies the post-punk territory blazed by Suicide and early Ministry and Pet Shop Boys. There’s even an acoustic guitar track! Surprisingly, the gist is simplification, of getting back to nature, of eschewing modern urban trappings for the better, the more serene. The grip of culture is a stranglehold. Turnips and the woods are the future.
Digi at



Hey, Half Japanese fans, do you know where your frontman is? In 1993 Jad Fair was doing stuff with Jason Willet and Gilles Rieder, and this fuzzed-out/flipped-out good time is the result. 1993 was a long time ago. It’s 2020 now. Only in 2020 could an unearthed “lost Half Japanese” album see the light of day … on cassette. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We should be ashamed of 2020. We should all chuck all of our media into a cesspit and rend our garments and cover our heads with ashes. We should have remembered this tape long before now, long before it was too late. Now it’s just white noise, these words are white noise, maybe a star will supernova close enough to Earth to spare us of this embarrassment. Or maybe the last person on the planet will find a fritzing-but-still-somewhat-usable Walkman with this tape in it and press play and remember what life used to be like. Clanging, belligerent, a fuzzy wreck. It was pretty good while it lasted. 

WOBBLY “Popular Monitress” C54 (Hausu Mountain)


Jon Leidecker certainly has the pedigree. You’re not messing around when you mention both Negativland and Thurston Moore (Ensemble) in your CV, so one thing we can all agree on is that expectations should be chucked out the window as quickly and with as much prejudice as possible. We were primed for this moment by 2019’s Monitress, also on Hausu Mountain, having nothing to do with Popular Monitress despite the repetition of the word Monitress. Maybe Leidecker has some connection to women who advise, or monitor, or admonish, often in a school setting. With Popular Monitress, the connection can only be one of admiration and support. Can’t argue otherwise.
But as Wobbly moves from Monitress to Popular Monitress, it’s important to note that this is not a “remix” album, or an album connected to Monitress in any thematic way. So we take it on its own, and while Monitress was an incredibly engaging listen, Popular Monitress sort of knocks its socks off. Well, ok, complements it. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t squirm and squiggle from inception to blooming realization in remarkable and confounding ways. Utilizing iPhones and iPads, as well as a single grand piano (not really), Leidecker composes and processes the heck out these MIDI jaunts, synthesizing a daring and death-defying (not really) song cycle that constantly shifts and frequently delights with its incredible mobility.
Popular Monitress emerges fully formed in Hausu style, a perfect exemplar of house sound: mind-expanding electronic experimentation that’s as wildly unique as it is peculiarly accessible. From the detritus swirls melody and rhythm, locking into themes before sandblasting them into unrecognizable otherness, then swirling again into something new. It has the freewheeling sense of improv, but it’s cleanly pieced together in recognizable chunks, the complex array of digitized movement resolving into alien earworms for cultures and species programmed differently than our own. And this even takes into consideration the actual keyboard-based tracks like, well, “Every Piano,” which fastens itself to an instrument of our own world regardless of how it’s played. But it sounds like a piano!
Whatever you’re looking for in this new Wobbly tape, you’ll find it. Whether it’s the proto-Hausu electro-jammage or the IDM-adjacent rhythmic workouts, you can’t go wrong. The real treat is trying to trace a thematic line through this massive beast, 21 tracks, almost an hour long! It’s both harder and easier to do than you imagine. And it’s an incredible endeavor.

HOLY RIPPLE “S/T” (Defective Tapes)

My surfing vocabulary is novice at best. I’d offend the bras and barneys if I were to assume a mondo wave out by the cove in late August was the “Holy Ripple”. I can afford to risk that offense, and suffer a gnarly knuckle sandwich. It would likely increase my street cred.

1. A strong introduction, casting Robert Duvall as a crestfallen Mountie with painted pewter figurines in his vest pockets. Open hands, the esteemed method actor reminisces on his filmography and contemplates another Coppola sequel, “Napalm Beeb II”: whatever happened to the surfing general?

2. “Gold & Smoke” rises and meanders the same beachfront properties trespassed by Real Estate’s hi-powered RC dune buggy with a six-pack of PBR in tow.

3. When the last tall boy is crushed into a silver dollar and the hand-cranked drum-machine is hacked by the neighborhood medicine man, your only recourse is a barefoot hike around “Bald Mountain”.

4. This diner doubles as a time machine. The waffles are the optical disks of memories, such as study hall paper airplane construction. Last period’s physical education is insufferable as usual. A brutal round of dodgeball results with the “Hometown Hero” standing alone, center court, clutching seven Nerf blobs in his never-washed Slipknot tour t-shirt.

5. “Sour Grapes” [RIP John Prine].

6. Side B: different from Side A, if only because “Radwood” showcases an authentic swipe at the guitar solo from YES’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart” [Unrelated: RIP Eddie Van Halen]

7. So… what if you’re stuck in bumper to bumper, and see the licence plate in front of you says: “Kill 4 Luv”? What kind of life events result in said vanity plate? Why or why not? Support your answer.

8. Further cinematic fan-fic: Consider director John Cassavettes still going strong in the 1990s, removing Tarantino from his boy-king VHS throne of delusion. In a return to form, he recruits Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk as back in business, down on their luck wise-guys, and of course, Gena Rowlands as the “Getaway Blues Driver”.

9. While stepping into the pond of unconsciousness, behold a dusty old Mason Jar labeled “Delia’s Demon”.

10. The two or three chord droning penultimate track, “Swim on, Slayer” may be a miniature in this version, but I think it deserves a 13+ minute burner variant, preferably live in front of a studio audience avec fog machine and home movies projected onto a fitted bed sheet.

11. Finally, fanstasmagorically, HR connects the dots between the standard, “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”. (yeah that’s a good one too, Bruce, but…) But it’s an unexpected dance floor call to action, be it in a large anxious crowd or an unlit bedroom late at night
with earbuds and the Twilight Trilogy. 

peace sign with a halo

--Adam Padavano

V/A “th’Gunk Was Bunk” (dihd)

Y’know they say things come in cycles. This one’s the love child of Ghost Rider and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Dihd records, longtime champion of much adored/misunderstood mystery meat of the masses, provides the survival kit for times like these and those. What times are these? The cover illustration by Jaime RVRS MRCY suggests a literal “bunk” in which to tangle with the proverbial “gunk”, an allegorical cot with bedroll for ol’Rip Van Winkle to snooze on. It appears Rip Van is visited in slumber a-la Uncle Ebeneezer Scrooge, by a Dragon Ball-Z coiffed mer-man entwined with a dragonian serpent… do I detect halitosis? He’s/they’re hovering mere inches from RVW’s face. As if that weren’t enuf, looks like th’peasants have risen from their subterranean hell-holes to drag the poor beardo down to the frizzle-fryer.

Yeah…cool, but what’s it sound like?


Chapter 1: PENGO. A shaking quaking steamer by the name of One Egg Cream for Phossy Jaw. Sometimes I pretend the Black Angel Death Song is a lil more peppy. Pengo knows.

Ch.2: PREENING. WC taking out-jazz to the streets of Cleveland, almost conjuring up the spirit of Mingus’ Haitian Fight Song.

Ch.3: All night, like, put it on repeat ‘til it wears into a fuzzy strip of plastic. BAD EYESIGHT? Alright, just listen to the disintegration.

Ch.4: ASPS (not ASPCA). Take a deep dive into the mind of Klaus Kinski. Recreate a Werner Herzog remake and title it Snakeferatu. This is the opening credits theme. Picture an auditorium of asps.

Ch.5: “HEYST! Who goes there?”

“’Tis I! May I enter the Tide Pool?”

(Instructions Follow)

A guided meditation of a quasi-baptism.

[Water Break] 


[Reviewer’s note: cassette side b features another of Jaime’s drawings. This time it’s Rip Van Winkle’s torso, chopped and sandwiched around the letter “b” with the serpent’s tail on the other side. It signifies a turning point in the hero’s journey.]

Ch.1: Return to UNITED WATERS for a spiritual groove. Checkers is more than just red and black. It’s a way to let your mind be free.

Ch.2: HEALERS co arithmetize:

Psyche x Folk 


Remainder: celestial drone-fest=paradise collage 

Ch.3: More terrifying than expected, DOUBLE WIG hypothesizes. When your mask is not another face, aka if Lemmy were to steal your face right off of your head.

Ch.4: A bit’o’symmetry here, SWEATING PIPE. Pipe Sweating. A tip of the hat to the cymbal mic on this one. MVP.

Ch.5: In closing, fittingly, the one-man HUMAN ADULT BAND is accompanied by an on-air Coast to Coast AM with George Noory phone call from Patty, discussing chemtrails in Seattle. T Penn goes full singer-songwriter with Peace to You, a clarion call to fellow Earthlings. Peeling back the curtain on this one, T Penn sez: “It's me on vox and a borrowed acoustic guitar bc I left mine at a campfire jam, hosted by SHADOW BAND, the night before. One of the cooler activities done as a part of the SHADOW BAND gathering/bonfire was a sauerkraut canning workshop.”

While we have th’Gunkmeister on the horn, what are the curator’s intentions with this collection?

“Speaking of comps and candy hopefully the new Gunk is mostly Reese’s but there might be a Necco wafer in there somewhere. Happy Halloween.”

dei aye ache dio

--Adam Padavano

MARSHA FISHER “Collage Works 2020” C30 (Gay Hippie Vampire)


Marsha Fisher sculpts sound like they’re slurping it through a straw, meaning they take the source material and run it through a very small space, a little bit at a time, and see how it goes down. Often you can’t tell what ingredients comprise the sound, it’s all just whipped up into frequencies that sometimes appear to want to resolve into what they once were but never can, and there’s never a real clue as to what those sources were. That’s part of the fun though, wading through the murk of these collages (that’s what they are) and being overcome by the milkshakey-ness of them as they drip from ear to shirt, and then you need a napkin or a towel or something to clean it up. It’s also quite fun to watch an EQ display of this tape, with the static of the tape fizzing at the bottom of the range and spiking up every time the source appears. It’s actually kind of mesmerizing to see a visualization of this material.
Plus, here’s another release where I think there’s only a single tape copy available. Actual collaged j-card made out of magazines and recycled cassette.

VALOTIHKUU & DYNASTOR “Midnight Fairytales” (Dronarivm)


I know you want your Midnight Fairytales to be cloaked in mystery, lavished in mood, and slathered in dreams. You want a slow build of tension – not excruciating tension, but just enough to make you wonder if everything’s OK. But most of all you want the magic, the shimmering resolve that everything’s gonna work out right, more than right, better than right. Because that’s how fairy tales work – the imagination set free to run through majestic vistas and vast landscapes to come up with stories where you’re the main character, the protagonist, the hero, and it’s you who must uncover the mysteries and unleash the magic. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
Surely not Valotihkuu and Dynastor, and they’ve written the book, the definitive collection. Their Midnight Fairytales is bound in ancient leather and written on papyrus – it smells like a library. Once you’re in it, you’re in it for good – you have to exist within its pages. You can wander through forests and stroll along streams, and Valotihkuu and Dynastor capture every moment and represent it in glass, shimmering with radiant light. You can listen to the whispers of the trees and the lakes and the clouds, and each sets your path toward destiny. You are filled only with wonder and awe, and you are ready for the challenges ahead.
Did I mention Valotihkuu and Dynastor have crafted this wonderful and wistful adventure via kosmische drones and sparkling synthesizer? Now you know why you’ve gotten to where you’ve gotten on this journey.

SUGAR PILLS BONE “Is This My Husband’s Cemetery?” (Bad Cake Records)


The burpwave pioneers return. Here on this hill from which they previously ascended to destinations unknown, Sugar Pills Bone materialize again packing a cassette blaster filled with devious samples that they manipulate and curdle until the result barely resembles anything but a melting toy box full of malfunctioning Teddy Ruxpins and my-first-boomboxes. The fact that they’re doing it in the middle of a graveyard should be doubly off-putting. Because when one manifests materially upon a hill, that hill must be the site of a cemetery – it’s simple logic. In this instance, there’s a service going on. Burpwave in your face has you questioning the titular question, because that’s all you can do in a situation like this.
Is this my husband’s cemetery?
Isn’t it all of ours?
The duo of Boney Dog Davis and Sleepy Sugar Thompkins don’t take this seriously. They don’t take any of you seriously, especially not the ones who are mourning. They’re too busy making up their own genres (burpwave, duh) and crafting compositions for it. Here, they’ve simmered a “split pea symphony in burp minor” for us, because that totally makes sense and no one should ever question it. It’s a quick blast of dirty plunderphonics, samples both obvious and obscure colliding against each other, overlapping, decaying, sandpapered till they sound as abrasive as sandpaper feels on your face. It’s also a friggin joyride, a blast, a hard shot to the cortex, something carefully crafted or haphazardly chucked together – I can’t figure out which, or if both, the balance. Regardless, the scales align perfectly at THC-choked enjoyment. Try figuring out all the hidden messages in your dorm rooms, you dweebs.
Seriously though, these people at the cemetery are going to have to disperse or else risk a permanent catatonia. Who knows when Boney Dog and Sleepy Sugar are heading back into whatever Lodgespace-adjacent dreamworld they originated from. Gotta light?

NESEY GALLONS “Misprisions” (Already Dead)


Nesey Gallons has some secrets, and they are wrapped up tight and concealed from everyone’s knowledge. They’re wrapped up so tight and concealed so well that they’ve begun vibrate with a sinister electricity in the hopes that they’ll get noticed and subsequently revealed. But wouldn’t that just be a weight off Nesey Gallons’s chest? Wouldn’t that just be a relief?
Gallons, one time Elephant 6 stalwart (Music Tapes, Circulatory System), has relocated to Maine, and I LOVE Maine and New England in general, and I miss living close enough to it. The tape, a lovingly recorded artifact, sounds like purple twilight and cold wind and falling leaves. Gallons tries to choke back his secrets and his fears throughout, his melodies bursting morose and unfettered in their fractured beauty. You can almost see him gulping frigid air after every line, his breath misting against streetlights.
He’s surrounded himself with a crack team of players, and Misprisions, the result, is a definite 1990s psych-pop throwback to the E6 heyday. I know it’s unfair to pin a scene on a one-time scenester, but it’s impossible to take Athens out of the elephant even if the elephant’s taken itself out of Athens. Something like that. But the group further solidifies the tightly wound interpersonal dramas and dilemmas that build up inside oneself over the years, and those damaging secrets about oneself and others, those misprisions, can’t stay inside forever. They build up, have to get out.
Luckily, they can get out in a beautifully articulate way sometimes. Nesey Gallons has the sublime expression of the release of that pent-up guilt locked down.
Songs written between 2011 and 2013.

RODO “Within the Void” (Already Dead)


The void is real, and it’s there. Rodo knows it, and Rodo embraces it – Rodo is, wait for it: Within the Void. Maybe that bonelike structure trapped in the black circle upon the white field on the cover is Rodo, content to be engulfed rather than scrabbling for escape. That’s because Rodo embraces it. I’ve mentioned that before.
Over six spine-tinglingly gloomy dark ambient pieces, Rodo explores the blankness of the situation. Everything is absence and distance, like “Black Sea of Infinity” or “Amid the Waves.” “Do You Know What Fear Is?” tracks the emotional response to a wasteland, a vast, blistered horizon with nothing living upon it. Then there are “The Void Within” and “After the Void,” troubling reflections on utterly negative space. Like, does the vacuum exist inside of you, and is that why your heart is hurting so bad so often? Absence and regret – the void is of our own making.
Or maybe it’s a shadow dimension containing a shadow entity that thrives on nothingness, and Rodo is simply hastening its passage into our own. I wouldn’t be surprised, not with this one! Still, cautiously, thrillingly, hauntingly, Within the Void blooms black against the daylight, taking its place alongside hope as its antithesis. You need the darkness for the light to truly shine, am I right?