Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE JULIE MITTENS “Soundcult” C43 (Barreuh)

Jeez, I expected something much twee-er than this, maybe indie rock or something. Narp big fella, you’re in for some heavy psych with The Julie Mittens, a trio recording for Dutch label Barreuh based out of Eindhoven. I wouldn’t want to live next door to The Julie Mittens, because they’re really not interested in keeping it down. Everything is pushed straight to the red, and that’s exactly how it damn well should be. The guitar/bass/drums outfit functions like a Cerberus of outlandish improv, volume clearly their fourth member, the four lengthy tracks here careening at a nonstop pace and intensity throughout the cassette’s runtime. Is it exhausting? Only, again, if you live next door and The Julie Mittens are playing at three in the morning (or, you know, if you’re OLD and SQUARE). Otherwise, there’s lots to dig into here, lots of beefy guitar meat and not a whole lotta gristle. That reminds me, did Led Zeppelin ever release that instrumental jam sesh that’s like a total legend in their catalog? No? Did I dream that? I probably dreamed that. I probably dreamed that because I listened to this here SOUNDCULT first. You don’t have to live in a world where Zep broke up if you’re listening to SOUNDCULT. Instead, you can pretend that they freaked out and played like their life depended on it somewhere around “Heartbreaker,” ditching Plant and jamming for days on end. You can experience every waking second of that monolithic entity if you only had The Julie Mittens in your life. (Well, forty-three minutes anyway.)

The Julie Mittens

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, October 16, 2017

GERMAN ARMY “Te Ano” (Opal Tapes)

“Never tell me the odds!” growled space pilot Han Solo to the taller of the two robots, the yellow one with the British accent. The odds are always stacked against you, I’m here to reiterate and confirm, and the odds of me catching up to German Army via Cassette Gods review submissions is approximately 41 to 1, or something like that. Because I was never good at math, I’ll round that up to “long shot” and just enjoy my time with the GeAr tapes that do end up in my pile. I think there are 41 GeAr releases overall too, which is where I get that number from. I’m probably off by fifty or so, though. They’re all good too. This one’s good.

In Tape 36 (or whatever), GeAr-heads and the general public alike will find lots to enjoy, mainly because those who turn on the Discovery Channel, or whichever one it is, during “Shark Week” will like the cover. Te Ano, translating to “the ano” when wrung through the old Spanish-ometer (just kidding, it means “I love you”), glistens in the rain and blisters upon contact, its white-hot molten tribal industrialisms a lurking school of megalodon in the midnight sea, and you oh listener of music, are shipwrecked and adrift, awaiting the rescue that will never come. The ear becomes attuned to the GeAr, the monsters become attuned to the light, and we all fight through the chum for the best hunks. We have become the monsters, the famished sharks always eating, constantly swimming, the sun and the beach and the air our only enemies. We are master hunters, and we deserve music to hunt to. What are your chances, alone, in the water, do you think? I’m pretty sure they’re 41 to 1.

Have you delved into the vast German Army catalog yet? Child, you should get started, you have much to hear, and much to accomplish.

German Army
Opal Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, October 14, 2017

G & DORO "If I See You" (Palm Tapes 2017)

These are some pretty well crafted freestyle dance tracks evocative of nineties light house music. What really stands out here is the vocals by Dorothea Pass and the hooks laid down by her and producer Graeme Stewart; a duo from Montreal, Quebec. Upbeat tempos, soft synths, fascinating drum machine patches/patterns, and complex vocal harmonies tie together the 4 roughly five minute songs. The third track "No Looking Back" combines Cocteau Twins-like synth and vocal work with a rough/tough Amen Break, taking me by surprise! Definitely my favorite track of the bunch.

If you're thinking of hanging in a Buffalo Stance, this might be for you!


--"Jamband" Josh Brown

Friday, October 13, 2017

“False Omega” (Gubbey Records)

This is the soundtrack to a trip through a haunted barn in southern Indiana at dusk in late October. It is a moody, spooky tape, and despite its being a tape of “songs,” it is vibe-oriented rather than song-oriented. There’s a rotating ensemble of woodwind players backing up a bandleader who sings in a whisper and plays acoustic guitar and breathy organs. There’s a lot of warm air flowing, a lot of wind flowing through cracks and bellows. The production is highly effective in capturing all this organic sound variety and spooky ambience. Once I got to “On and On” at the end of the b-side, I was hooked in. I consider that song to be the highlight and the climax of this elegant little tape of dark moods.

Gubbey Records
PO Box 7481
Louisville KY


-- Kevin Oliver

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SUN RAD “No Cover” C20 (Property Tapes)

Maybe black suits Sun Rad best. Forget about the vibrant see-through red tape his music’s housed in this go-round, it’s the black you’ll remember. NO COVER has no cover, the Norelco case comes in a PITCH BLACK leatherette pouch affixed with a 1-inch button, mine depicting a child with his or her tongue out, catching snowflakes? Or maybe coughing after breathing in industrial pollutants. Isn’t that a swell picture, a harsh reality? Keep that stupid comment in your pocket: Every Sun Rad release is a collapsing stellar event, gravity finally getting the best of all matter and time and space within its event horizon. That movie was pretty dark too, but man was it just as entertaining as NO COVER, replete with horrific passages where terror in minute increments overwhelms each individual sensory receptor. I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe because the ten minutes of “Black Square” on the B-sizzle make the relative head-nodders on the A that much more of an escape hatch to actual human emotion. See, “Black Square” is the low-ass frequencies all up in your area that are the sonic equivalent to the impassive security video of a nightmare come to life, not unlike the found footage on the EVENT flipping HORIZON. But that A-side, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” makes its way through scientific permutations until somebody figures out what’s going on, then saves the day. But I’ve got it backward – “Black Square” is the ultimate transmission, the last thing you’re going to hear. And come to think of it, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” is pretty dank too, just with a teensy bit more melody and some beats. Oh man, Sun Rad is really freaking me out right now. That’s a super good thing.

Sun Rad
Property Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"American Demon" C75
(Illuminated Paths)

As of September 2nd, 2017, Illuminated Paths has released/promoted 395 albums (per Bandcamp), mostly involving stock 90’s techno breakbeats (back when it was called “techno”, in fact) in mantra loops, some vaporwave midi arpeggios, and heavily processed guitar licks sprinkled in. saneLIV’s “American Demon” album falls right in line, but with an ivory-tickler’s finesse, here and there, that breathes some lively fun throughout this hour and a quarter mishmash of a release.

Mostly instrumental, these tracks hold no continuity or signature style, giving the release a mixtape sort of vibe, and it’s a pleasant “get to know your co-worker” kinda feel; nothing too daring, but not somber or timidly milquetoast, either.

Personally, I’d like to hear more fleshed out/explorative piano compositions and less reliance on beats for energy, but what the hell do I know? Have a listen for yourself below, knowing all the while that the first song is probably the best one, and not available via bandcamp. J


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CREEPING PINK “Parliament of Trees”
(Magnetic South)

Bloomington, Indiana brought me some interesting slightly psyche-y slightly noisey rock with sweet vocals and smooth transitions from track to track on this tape. The nice blend of effects, droney parts in combination with more formal structure and buzzy guitars remind me of a good mescaline experience, though i've never tried mescaline. “Those sympathetic to the UK comedown between psychedelia and punk should find comfort in Parliament of Trees.” “Parliament of Trees” would pair well with the desert, whether it be in mixed reality or real reality - if that makes sense. This has been the first tape i've listened to with guitars in a hot minute, why? Because technology is taking over of course. You already knew that though.


-- Lucas Martinez

Monday, October 9, 2017

“s/t split” (What’s for Breakfast?)

If you like fast short songs, and you like them loud, and you like to party, then maybe we should hang out together. While we are hanging out we can listen to a split EP that dropped on my lap the other day.

The first side starts with four fast, loud and short tracks from The Speed Babes, a Chicago garage-psych outfit led by Jesse Ewan. All four tracks have vocals dripping in reverb and loud guitars. These four songs are off of their full length album “Yellow”, which you should check out.

On the flip side is three fast punk rock tacks from Arsene Obscene. They are what I would call a garage punk band from Nice, France. Francois Ibanez screams his head off as he heavy handedly strums his guitar through a cranked amp. these songs are also featured on the full length album “Guitar Trash”. Another album you should check out. The great thing about punk is that you don’t have to understand the lyrics, it’s about the emotion conveyed.

I also want to mention the cool cover design by Nick DeMarco. I would party with that armadillo, wouldn’t you?

Cassette includes download codes and “What’s for Breakfast?” sticker.



-- Charles Wolfe

Sunday, October 8, 2017

“ICE AT 1991” C48
(Personal Archives)

We do indeed plunder your phonics, repurposing them, making them better than they ever had any right to be. I was shaking like a shitting dog listening to DJ Wally’s The Stoned Ranger Rides Again the other day, and while DJ DJ Tanner is a bit more Copelandic, I’m still fidgeting like I’ve got the DTs with the bliss missiles from yonder cassette tape rocketing through my ear canals. I swear I didn’t look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse, but maybe my ears did? Shoot, if that’s the case, I’m in big, big trouble, Joey Bada$$ trouble, but earwise. It’s like I KNOW “Bent Altar” and “Horrible Rally,” the two sides of YONDER CASSETTE TAPE, in some deep and unknowable way, long before I ever hit that play button. But I don’t, because they keep surprising me, keep making me turn my head away from what I’m doing (none of your BUSINESS), literally snapping my neck every thirty seconds or so as a new and newly warped fragment of tunage flits across my speakers. That’s what DJ DJ Tanner seems to want to do to me, to you, give us all some sort of arthritic condition in the vertebrae near the top of our spine, because, look, we’re all on the threshold of 40, we can’t keep doing this. Jon Fine said as much in Your Band Sucks, and he’s older and more tinnitus-y than I am. But he was in Bitch Magnet and therefore susceptible to the amplitude, whereas Tanner-ramma-lamma-ding-dong simply grooves the groove, as laid back and pineapple-y as a piña colada on the pool level. It is never less than COOL here, than SUAVE, we do this, we make it all work, we know it’s really the 1970s, the 1960s, it’s not a joke that we’ve become unstuck in time and are fidgeting at the effects. We take in our surroundings and nod accordingly, because this is how it’s supposed to be. But what’s to become of ICE AT 1991 when the party’s over? Where do we, and it, go to come down from the evening’s events? Well, I’ve got the solution – let the good times roll. They’ll never end, not while you’ve got this tape on repeat. And that’s the secret – you can pretty much party forever with a good DJ DJ Tanner set all up in your headspace. Heck, you can probably live forever. Why not give it a shot?

DJ DJ Tanner
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, October 7, 2017

THE JOURNALS KEPT "War Trails" (Cassetteland)

The Journals Kept is a duo from New Hampshire that keeps 90's alternative alive. Reminescent of acts like Bob Mould or Counting Crows, they bring their own interpetation of 'amped folk rock' or 'fuzzed out pop'.

Think Wilco meets Alanis Morrisette.

War Trails includes 16 full length songs of varying tempo and topics.

Cassette features full color j-card, with yellow pad printed cassette.


-- Chuck Wolfe

Friday, October 6, 2017

split C60 (Outward Records)

Cold Clouds and Misled Navigator have both given up checking the map or the blueprints or the GPS or the instruction manual, content instead to wing it and figure it out on their own. Fine by me – It’s worth it just to be lifted by these two ambient visionaries and allowed to levitate in stasis, rules discarded, reality slipping away like layers of haze upon emerging into the light. This split on Outward Records is a clear indication that the label head just shrugged and was like, “Whatever these guys want to do, it’s their thing.” Totally, man, and if I had an hour to kick back and let their synthwork wash over me, I would. Turns out I do, which is why I’m reporting to you from beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere, or at least beyond the reaches of the limitations of my consciousness. Cold Clouds, aka Sam Hatzaras (aka Petrified Heart of an Air Whale), has the A-side all to himself, and, speaking of levitation, unfurls “Levitation for Dummies,” the first of two half-hour tracks that simply sprawl to their conclusions. “Levitation” is a gently shifting masterpiece, gradually taking on characteristics that subtly change the mood and direction of the piece. Seriously, just go with it – close your eyes and be transported by the Cluster-y goodness. Misled Navigator runs in parallel to the ambient cloud formations before embarking in a more proggy direction, incorporating percussion and organ (patches?) into “Let Yourself Evaporate,” itself a thirty-minute interstellar workout. Indeed, during the passage of the B-side I felt my molecules loosen and ascend before joining a passing cirrus formation. I am, as a human, almost entirely made up of water anyway – what is it, like 95 percent? I don’t know, I could be wrong about that. Regardless, why don’t you make like Cold Clouds and Misled Navigator – throw down your compass and just let it ride?

Cold Clouds
Misled Navigator
Outward Records

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, October 5, 2017

MILLIP "Talk to Me"
C32 ([d]-tached Records)

You are riding in a crowded subway car, when the coolest guy youíve ever seen steps onto the train. Heís got crazy spiked hair, rings on his fingers, and a long white coat. You stare, with jealous eyes, at his mirrored sunglasses and his finely manicured goatee. The word Sprinkles! is loudly splashed in gold ink across the black muscle shirt heís wearing.  This guy is so cool, man. Heís like an emissary from the future. You really want to be this guy! You want to sweep into a metro station like you own the place.

Suddenly, you hear the most amazing electronic music fill the air. All the people on the subway car look around trying to figure out where it is coming from. Man, it's some good stuff, too. A great beat, perky synth rhythms. Never too repetitive. Just the right groove. You want to dance to the music, you want to be the music! Just as everyone is about to give in to the urge and jump up dancing, the amazingly cool guy reaches inside his flowing white coat and pulls out a futuristic looking phone. The music is coming from his phone! And it stops as soon as he answers, saying in a deep baritone, "Talk to me."

People lower their heads and return to being tired, empty people on a train headed nowhere. But deep inside of each of them is a dancing little robot that will never die.

Presented for you in a green glitter prison tape with a double-sided J-card. Edition of thirty. Four fantastic tracks, repeated on the reverse side.



-- Gray Lee

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"My Grandmother Actually Made This/Azimuth"
Split EP (Sledged Infant Records)

Sledged Infant Records and Prudent Master team up to release an upbeat vaporwavish psychedelic onslaught of weirdness in a split EP form.

So, acid wave is a thing, and it perfectly describes this tape.

Production is top notch, insert is full color, both sides, and the cassette shell is a sultry ruby red.

Gertrude side: comparing this with the acid rock bands I am familiar with I would describe them as the Butthole Surfers of electronic music

Head nodding beats mixed with odd voice overs conjures up some sort of Pink Floyd remade for the new millennium (do we still care that we are in the future).

You probably should not actually take acid and put this album on, I am pretty sure that is a bad trip waiting to happen.

It is weird from the start and cranks that shit up at the end

Space Butter side:

Space Butter side consists of a bunch of old songs going back to 1972. It starts off with a really cool jam from 1990 called "Clovis".

It's my favorite track form the album!

It shares a common wiredness with Gertrude, while being a little bit more accesible. I suggest if you are still deadset on taking acid

to listen to this side.

-- Charles Wolfe

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

BUFFET “EP” C15 (All You Can Eat Records)

SST-indebted punk rockers from Anacortes, Washington, Buffet, a 4-piece, probably have no inkling at all that they share a hometown with Phil Elverum, as far from Buffet on the rock spectrum as you’re likely to get. Doesn’t matter – they don’t care, and they likely also don’t care that Elverum’s presence is the only thing I know about Anacortes, so … we good? Anyway, yeah, the 1980s hardcore scene birthed some great bands. Buffet, despite its goofy cover (DIY though, and Mr. Head-Smacky has an American flag on his shirt, so there’s a message?), would sound right at home during the period. They could open up for Black Flag and not even blink an eye. Four of the six songs here are super short and fast, recorded and executed perfectly for the style. “Nick #2” and “Family Dinner” slip into My War territory (see what I did there?), sludgier, grimier, more tortured, each lasting quite a bit longer than everything else. These songs are for making mischief to, doing petty crimes to, harassing “the man” to. The Buffet boys probably have driven by Calvin Johnson’s house (I imagine everything in Washington state is like twenty minutes from everything else) and flipped it off, maybe throwing beer cans at it or whacking his mailbox with a bat. You know, punk stuff, hardcore stuff, eighties stuff. Whatever. Get bent, losers, Buffet is more fun than they ought to be, and I recommend them.

All You Can Eat Records

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, October 2, 2017

MAZES “The Violent Tapes”
(Sanzimat International)

Mazes—not to be confused with “the British wankers who stole the name”—is a Chicago-based band with ties to far-flung cities like Buenos Aires, New York, Italy, Moscow, and San Fran. The Violent Tapes, the band’s third album, was written, performed, and produced by members Edward Anderson, Federico Bramanti, and Charles d’Autremont, with the help of numerous guest contributors.

The Violent Tapes is full of sunny, breezy, 60s-indebted psych pop. It’s territory that’s been well explored, and while Mazes don’t necessarily add anything groundbreaking, here they’ve produced a solid album that is certainly never bad. In fact, its best moments are really, really good. Songs like “West Coast Revolution” and “Subversive Glove” grab your attention but feel effortless. “Missing Numbers,” “Twinning,” and “White Faces” feature interesting change-ups that are surprising but never disjointed or unnatural.

To me, the main flaw of The Violent Tapes lies in its running time. “Det Är Lugnt” could be cut without much detriment to the album as a whole, and “Theme for Violent Tapes” seems like an appropriate closer. “Reuñion,” “International Waters,” and “No Hay Cambio” are all short, solo acoustic numbers that provide some variety when contrasted with the more straight-forward pop songs, but aren’t really noteworthy on their own.

All in all, The Violent Tapes is an interesting, accessible album that shows that Mazes are capable of outshining their psych contemporaries with tight arrangements and catchy hooks. When it works, it really works; when it doesn’t, it’s never worse than average. Buy it for “West Coast Revolution,” “Subversive Glove,” and “Pilar.”

Sanzimat Int'l
Sanzimat Int'l Bandcamp
Mazes FB
Mazes Bandcamp

-- Brandon Spaulding

Sunday, October 1, 2017

EVA GEIST “Aquator System” (Elestial Sound)

An excellent entry into the wide world of synth music. It makes me remember the first time I heard Kraftwerk, that thrill of new sounds and textures. The artist manages to evoke the history of this music while still building a solid bedrock of new and innovative sounds. The album has excellent clean production values that really highlight the coldness of electronic music. Big warm bass contrasts nicely with the effervescent stabs and thick pads. Very dancey and fun. The artwork fits the music perfectly and I feel like what you see is very much what you get.


- - Jeremiah Paddock

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Pilgrim Takes His Spill" (Antiquated Future)

Buffalo Voice is an indy project by vocalist and musician Tucker Theodore, described as “Psych-sludge garage-punk from another universe” on the site of their label, listed as post-punk and garage rock beneath. Upon pushing play on the stereo I was greeted by a soothing array of guitars, with an almost psychedelic quality somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd. As the first track, “Boy”, song picks up the tempo, I was also reminded of Oasis and The Church.

The first track acts as a nice sample platter for the rest of the album, showcasing the different sounds subsequent songs will have. I think it was perfectly placed as the first track. There’s a certain science to the order in which you place your songs on an album (an art almost lost in the age of the mp3) but this band seems to have it down, the songs flow into each other pretty well for the most bit. It’s better to look at the album as a whole piece rather than as a collection of individual songs.

Subsequent tracks feature very calm and relaxing acoustic guitar with distorted vocals. The fourth song is the album’s title track. There are more lyrics in this song, but they are hard to discern; something rather constant throughout the album. I can make out the title of the songs in the chorus from time to time, but I can’t understand anything else the singer is saying. It almost reminds me of what it might sound like if Kenny from South Park started his own psychedelic rock band.

Onto side B, the first song History Bridge is louder, heavier, more aggressive, and lyric-driven. It is a departure from the mostly relaxing songs on Side A, and stands out from the rest of the songs on the album. The rest of Side B is on the whole more energetic and up tempo than the first half, gradually returning to a relaxing and psychedelic finale with the track Distocia.

The album was pleasing to listen to, making for some great relaxation music, or some background music when you’re working on something creative. What does it mean, pilgrim takes his spill? I picture one of the pilgrims on the Mayflower falling off the gangplank of the ship into the water. Pilgrim Takes a Spill holds many secrets that I do not understand, but one might piece more of it together upon repeated listens.


-- Suren Oganessian

Friday, September 29, 2017

ENEMA SYRINGE “Flapper” (Chondritic Sound)

Enema syringes are pretty useful if you don’t like the taste of tequila but still wanna get drunk and have fun with your friends at the rave over in the industrial side of town. ENEMA SYRINGE boasts of this fact with lightly distorted pulsings and repetitious beats that mimic the slow-churn heartbeat of a factory worker. This is especially true on track two which is nothing less than a phonograph needle grinding away on a scuffed up piece of musicless wax for about two minutes. A feat no doubt ahead of its time being that it was created in 1986 while I was busy gestating and finally emerging from the womb of my biological mother who took me promptly to the orphanage where I spent some rather lulled and torpid years with the other orphans before being adopted by young Christians at the age of three. But this review isn’t about me, it’s about ENEMA SYRINGE’s “FLAPPER”, which, after having listened to for three days straight even while I slept, I have nursed a real affinity for. It speaks to me and to my soul and perhaps it will speak to you and yours as well if you procure it and let the wonderful sounds fill your bedroom through the blown-out speakers of an expensive Montgomery Ward boombox.

-- Ricky Lemonseed

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Discreet Charm of the Ghostmodern World"
(Ephem Aural)

Masaki Kuro drops off his dark electronic beats in a nice pad printed white/light grey cassette with full color printed inserts. I would describe Fomrer Airline as experimental electronic drone. The Discreet Charm of the Ghostmodern World is an album that more art than say, a danceble beat or slick guitar riff, then this is the tape for you. Not that that is bad thing... The synths on "At the Known Intersection" surround you with sparkling stereo raindrops, as if you are in the matrix! "The Flapper Disappears" merges a nice steady groove with a bunch of tasteful noise sprinkled on the top. Quality wise, the sound is fantastic, very low noise floor on the cassette, I love a good-fi cassette. Masaki also did all the artwork himself, good attention to detail, and a nice consistent style throughout.


- - Chuck Wolfe

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

AYLU “groove 4” C18 (outlines)

Was it Aylu who singlehandedly introduced Chicago footwork to the South American continent? Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Who can really take credit for something like that? It’d be like me introducing my family to spaghetti or something. Makes no difference, or sense. Regardless, Aylu has singlehandedly brought Chicago footwork to Argentina, wrapping its rapid polyrhythms in her own signature style. It’s fitting, then, that “groove”-y Wrocław tape label outlines has included Aylu in its, ahem, “groove” series, as “groove 4,” this here tape, constitutes the first in a trilogy of forthcoming releases dedicated to female producers. Never one to seemingly shirk a forward-thinking footwork-indebted artist, the label’s done a nice job adding Aylu to its catalog. I’ve gone on record saying that it’s impossible to resist the movement of outlines’s artists, and here it’s not different – Aylu takes ordinary objects and sounds and pieces them together, like me with a bunch of my sons LEGOs after I stumble through them like a great lummox. But the precision and inventiveness these sounds are put together with takes much more effort, more care, and more vision. The ping-ponging disintegrations of soundwaves, the voice patches, the melodies surfacing and submerging – all coalesce into a weird, wild whole. It’s almost like you’re listening to it wrong, the nine minutes of each track stretching out as linear time – if you adjust your position on the space-time continuum, you may find that the tracks halve themselves but sound like a full orchestra. Is that the secret, knowing this is a deconstruction of a different whole because we perceive time in a linear manner?

Did I just suggest Aylu was some sort of being existing outside of linear time?

Anyway, have fun with this one. I sure did.


--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Split Series Vol. III” (Orange Milk)

I’m not sure you can get a better description than the story of this release, which you can find on its Bandcamp page. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that there’s a dying blob and an alien rave – literally, I’m not making that up – and Garbage Boy and Qwizzzz do nothing with sound that doesn’t point directly to this narrative. The heaving, moaning blob in all the dramatic glory of its final heaves, the alien arrival and celebration in all its off-kilter majesty (including a “song from [the] leader” – really!) is perfectly encapsulated by the artists, captured in their primitive microphones for future generations to play back for when the aliens return for our blobby corpses. If that’s what they’re going to come back for. (And they are.)

I’ve been to this Split Series rodeo before, and while we’re waiting on blobs and aliens by staring at the decidedly crotch-y and ass-y cover art (by Garbage Boy himself!), I’ll regale you with tales of “where I end and you begin” … no I won’t. Garbage Boy’s side is distinctly Garbage Boy’s side, and likeqwize [sic] for Qwizzzz, so much so that it’s like a battle of who’s gonna turn out the weirdest jam. GB’s “Tenshun” (Japanese for “the middle,” or maybe it’s a fun spelling of “tension”?) gets points for dense electronic miasma and literal throes, and the comedy of a dying entity so different from us that it seems like slapstick is too rich to ignore. (Watch it die, it’s funny!) (I feel so gross for typing that.) Meanwhile, “suuuun Four” on the flip is almost twice as long, allowing extra craziness to creep in beyond the initial seasick electro-pulse dance party. Oh, that proto-grunge bass/vocals passage is so out of nowhere! I love it. Makes me think we packed some Sabbath on those Voyager Golden Records, which were subsequently discovered by a certain dead-blob-loving alien race. Circle of life.

As usual, Orange Milk comes blazing out with another batch of the most forward-thinking tunage imaginable, and Split Series Vol. III is simply the tip of the iceberg. Ho hum. How boring, constantly being barraged by game-changing sonics. It gets so old after a while.

Orange Milk

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, September 25, 2017

BEN ROBERTS “Unit Audio” C40 (Staaltape)

Plunderphonics never sounded so cared for, so labored over, as it does on British expat Ben Roberts’s UNIT AUDIO. The now-Madrid-dwelling Roberts has amassed a collection of cassette tapes that he discovered over the years, and the archive serves as the inspiration and the source material for his cassette on Staaltape, the Berlin label run by Rinus van Alebeek and focusing on sound art. Let’s just say that UNIT AUDIO is freaking cornucopia of found sound, pieced together for maximum weirdness and instant likability. It starts strong and stays strong, continuing on its path toward greatness minute by warped-audio minute. Ever thought you’d hear somebody talk about musique concrète that way?

Hyperbole aside, what Roberts crafts is surprisingly musical, and although tones tend toward the ambient spectrum, there are some rhythmic elements that appear at points. The pieces are stitched together so that the sounds both flow with each other and collide against themselves, sometimes at the same point, depending on the mood Roberts is trying to create. The result is never less than thrilling, as each new passage reveals surprising new directions and interesting new sources, all of which are fairly mysterious, especially if you’re able to turn off your mind as it tries to process each new sample. (Although, Spice Girls? I knew THAT one at least.) (I don’t know what that says about me.)

What does UNIT AUDIO say about Ben Roberts? It affords a peek into his imagination, surely, where the source material swirls until it coalesces into a sensible whole. Roberts invokes the idea of sehnsucht, meaning there’s a “yearning” or a “longing,” a sense that something is missing or imperfect and that something’s presence will restore the whole. UNIT AUDIO is restless, a time capsule, multiple snapshots of human life superimposed on one another in a confusing mass, the disorder, perhaps oxymoronically, satisfying in its turmoil. The whole is here. What’s missing is within us.


--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, September 24, 2017

“Death Chants” C42 (Already Dead)

Here, Ak’chamel has perfected the power of the dirge. Each one of these tracks is a funeral procession, dark, full of dread, mythical in its incantation, and magical in its execution. Don’t get me wrong, though – there are no gnomes or fairies or anything here, not even any good wizards or witches. Ak’chamel’s magic is the blackest of the black, exactly like the metal hat they try on for “The Tragedy of Birth,” a literal black metal excursion that sets the rest of the tape in stark relief against it. It’s a new direction for Ak’chamel (at least from what I’ve heard), and it suits them just fine, appearing as a poisoned oasis in the midst of a wilderness where every edge is serrated for maximum skin-shredding. But that wilderness where Ak’chamel dwells, the regular old unholy ground of terror and ancient malevolence, makes up the majority of DEATH CHANTS, and for that we are thankful. I didn’t even mention the word “cult” yet, but Ak’chamel’s fans – er, cult – (that was sort of backward, huh) – will have nothing to complain about. DEATH CHANTS is, probably pretty obviously, music for nocturnal chambers or forest clearings where rituals occur in secret. Acoustic instruments drone their primeval purpose, melodies absent in the service of pure tone, recorded in secret from the rear of midnight ceremonies. Each rite is a supplication to Ak’chamel, and Ak’chamel returns the sentiment in a pestilent overture of destruction. Listening to DEATH CHANTS, it’s impossible to expect your experience to end in anything other than a maelstrom of agony, but that’s what these cult creeps are all about, aren’t they? It’s weird, then, that they’re so incredibly poised to break out into the mainstream and engulf the Bible Belt with their weird and woolly beliefs. Watch out, Jesus!

Already Dead
Ak’chamel, the Giver of Illness

--Ryan Masteller