Sunday, March 18, 2018

GAMBLETRON / WREN TURCO “We Can’t See Past the Cliff” / “Artesian Pressures” (Idle Chatter / Fabrica Records)

My esteemed Cassette Gods colleague Jacob an Kittenplan has already done the heavy descriptive lifting on this V/A triptych with his writeup of the NaEE RoBErts third of the bunch, so I’m going to leave the label/concept out of this and just point you to the hyperlink above. Gambletron’s tape is all over the place, in a good way, beginning with “Guelph, Ontario,” an ode, presumably, to “The Royal City.” Beginning with layers of texture, the track morphs into a club banger before pulling back into instrumental hip hop territory. At twelve minutes, it makes me want twelve minutes more of whatever comes next. Hey, there’s a second side? Brilliant! “AM Radio Theremin Drone” packs all the menace and weirdness of hovering theremin and combines it with radio signals and static, suggesting outer-limits communication or deep-space intelligence. Or maybe somebody’s spying on you from behind the Iron Curtain, and your radio and phone are tapped, producing the interference. And this is the 1960s or 1970s or something. Creepy!

Wren Turco is the curator of the Transparens series, and her contribution, “Artesian Pressures,” glows with electronic neon hyperactivity. Never static, always restless, Turco’s tracks take on lives of their own and sustain themselves with seemingly little effort, much like the wells suggested by the tape title maintain their water levels without much interference or need for pumping. Thus, to cliff-dive facefirst into an awkward metaphor, sonic irrigation of the mind can commence. Oh, groan! But, perhaps, Turco’s tape is the closest of the trio to come to exemplifying the cover artwork, which was, in her own words, “created from a sequence of transparent sculptural projections that gradually mutate in motion.” Apply that to “Aretsian Pressures,” and you’ve got a conceptual match.

Cassette edition, limited to 100, is still available from Fabrica. Act now!


Wren Turco

NaEE RoBErts

Fabrica Records

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Morgan Garrett
"Spiral and Spiral II” C47
(Self Released)

I once thought that
Xiu Xiu
might have done
too many

I do not.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

LOL - editor

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Boundaries” C46
(Trrrash Records)

Included below, between the Bandcamp link to this specific album and a Facebook link to the record label is an interview with Sarmistha Talukdar, the cancer biologist that expands both her research AND creative expressions through this far-reaching sonic probe, Tavishi. Cagean, but not cagey, “Boundaries” is the crossroads between Western Avant-Garde Experimentalism and Hindustani Classical composition; a thoroughly, intelligently designed documentation of assigned sounds correlating with cancer cell identifiers, planetary observations and, oh, what the hell? Anime? Yup!

To say that this tape is “rife with subtext” is an under(grad)statement, but, hey- we’re all learning here- this just goes to show that a deeper inspection of the W-H-Y///H-O-W only intensifies a given product.

Again, I strongly suggest reading the interview first (and maybe a few others) before listening. Included with the physical tape are liner notes on what math-nerdy processes were followed to yield each track, compounding the already Deeply engaging aural product, rendering it both escapist/spellbinding and edge-of-seat-titillating!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Nobody, Never, Yeowe” C86
(Five Records)

ATTN: Weirdos,

If you’re interested in experimental music, sound collage, audio diaries, and/or pretty much losing your mind, you really oughta read this guy’s manifesto, accessible via the first hyperlink below. Really. Take the time. Even if you don’t get around to the sounds, it’s truly inspiring.

There is no way to really “review” this tape other than to alert you to what it stands for; a general expanding of your consciousness concerning how you feel about certain sets of statistically unrelated, dynamically divergent sound relationships. Well, that and what it sounds like to walk through an art gallery consisting of someone’s random thoughtsketches, but HEARING a lifetime’s differing aesthetics/perspectives instead of just SEEING them. If that didn’t make sense, it will after listening to this.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Appropriate Modes & Zones” C40
(Skin Trade Recordings)

Permanently etched into my consciousness is Dylan Carlson’s assertion that “there is nothing heavier than the drone,” (roughly paraphrased from an interview included with Earth’s  “Hibernaculum” DVD).

LAST truly embodies this sentiment, 200%, with the gold-star niche that Hi-Fi speakers are pretty much required to truly get all of the nuance that has been magnetized to this tape. With a below-low end that varies texture like a good massage, “Appropriate Modes & Zones” may well be the number one hit for the deaf community… if marketed correctly.

I once went to a show where the composer arranged pieces that were all played under 20Hz (for the layperson, that’s below what most mortals can actually hear), and the audience all wore earplugs so that the reverberations from the specially fabricated speakers could better shake our noggins like an empty snare drum (our chests like floor toms and bass drums, depending on our physiques), and this particular tape bridges the gap between that experience and what a longform SUN O))) chord sounds like, wrung out into infinity.

Living in an apartment building,  I couldn’t really give this tape its proper due by playing it through a full stack bass cabinet, but I hope one of y’all get a chance to, soon! Deep tissue massage on all your internal organs, I tell you whhuuuutt!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Von Bock Strasse 18” C30
(Ana Ott)

Michael Valentine West’s sophomore release for the (ground-breakingly badass) Ana Ott imprint is a patient, meticulous, finely nuanced beast. Painstakingly stitching together glitchy tones, blown out field recordings, modular synth swells and dramatic, narrative dynamics, this release is not likely an easy listen for those seeking instant gratification. MVW’s compositions are beyond complex AND well planned out, establishing unique, meditative loops (that could easily stand up on their own) before breathing yet more life into them, just as you’d swear your ears were already super-saturated.

In just under a half hour, and spread across three tracks, “Von Bock Strasse 18” is a hypnotic, hallucinogenic journey through serenity, ecstasy, and nerve-wracking anguish. Strap on some decent headphones and find a quiet spot to listen to this one at least twice in a row, each time.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, March 12, 2018

BR’LÂAB "Molochville” C22 (Ana Ott)

Along the North Western German border labors a freaky dream factory known as Ana Ott, who specializes in shedding dawn on unknown artists who want nothing more but to Keep It Fucking Weird. Seriously, every single artist on this label’s roster is brilliantly innovative and truly left-of-left-field. LOVE IT!

Br’lâab’s “Molochville”, a side project done by a film score composer-gone-batshit, is an all too short collection of hazy dream sequences woven into yet more blurry vignettes, utilizing chopped/screwed samples & loops, field recordings, & semi-virtuosic instrumentation. The result is a warped meeting of several realities and the complete disassociation from time and space. This has to be what Timothy Leary heard as he waded through his bardo. This is for reals something special and not to be missed!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, March 11, 2018

DON GERO "Wizarding” C40 (Crash Symbols)

This album is pretty much the audio equivalent of a strobe-lit inner-city high-speed car-chase. For-serious. Oughta come with a warning for possibly inducing seizures. It’s basically camping porn. Fuggin’ InTENTS!

&In a word, “Wizarding” is relentless. With equal parts focus on hypnotic-tribal beats and unabashed minimalist synth arpeggios that vary slightly with each passing measure, this non-stop aural assault is living proof that you don’t need breakneck speed to get the heart rate pumping overtime.

If you’re suggestible to such visions, consider this the perfect soundtrack to watch a bunch of metalheads thrashing about in a circle pit whilst the elders (read gen X’rs) surround them, lost in lotus meditation.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Black Sea II” C32
(No Index Recordings)

Havre de Grace are a free improv group (read: jam band) that focuses on filling out the entire room with heavy/psych blues rock aesthetics. This is a live-to-tape documentation of one of their earlier meetings, and it’s safe to say there is some pretty good chemistry going on. The moods captured range from peaceful midnight walks in the fog to rush hour police chases though a crowded train station, and plenty of spaces in between. The opening track has a VERY strong tonal likeness to Cave In’s “Creative Eclipses” EP (specifically the 1st track), and it plays like a natural extension/appreciation via instrumental meditation that any fan would dig.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, March 9, 2018

“Music for Cosmic Nights” C32
(Cosmic Winnetou)

Bio-dome life, feel it. Somewhere out there in the wilderness there’s a geodesic dome where scientific experiments are happening and the subjects are isolated to the point of going stir crazy. Except, of course, for the fact that nighttime is the right time, the right time to get your stargazing on, no light pollution, just you and maybe your colleague(s), done with your experiments for the day, checking out the Milky Way and all that other great stuff in the sky. Dry Valleys playing on the stereo, of course, like Night Ranger during coupleskate, as “Music for Cosmic Nights” is pretty exactly the go-to tunage for actual cosmic nights viewed sometimes through the clear roof of the geodesic dome. Drone meets “phone home” as outer space connections are made, the motes of soundtrack fluctuating in place of true communication, but we only want the approximation of it anyway, don’t we? It leaves our imaginations alone, allowing them to spiral off like galaxy arms that those bio-dome subjects are witnessing, blurred into incomprehensibility by the unmooring of perspective. Maybe the time in the dome is doing them good, the days pass, the weeks, the months, the experiments continue, but there’s still the night sky, and there’s still Dry Valleys, and there’s still release. It’s only when the bio-dome inhabitants realize there are stowaways that the spell is broken and the mayhem ensues. Then it becomes a party, the work is forgotten, but “Music for Cosmic Nights” lingers in the minds of those hijacked by the pursuit of personal gratification, a ghost of purpose now past.

And oh my god yes, this was all an elaborate alternate-history Bio-Dome reference. Don’t let my idiotic digressions detract from the magic of Dry Valleys.

Dry Valleys

Cosmic Winnetou

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, March 8, 2018

FURNITEUR “Perfect Lavender”
(Prince George Records)

Omg at first I was like oh dang it this is gonna be a hard one to talk about because I don’t even like 80’s music when it was from the 80’s. But when the second song started and the singer was singing about how American girls aren’t on her radar my attention was piqued. The chorus comes in and the singer talk/sings “I’m a brat, I’m a brat” a few times and it’s terribly satisfying. Like your friend comes up to you at Lagoon and is all “Hey Rickey try this a big bite of cotton candy cloud, you’ll rly like it!” but you know better because you hate cotton candy ever since it made you so sick last time and so you tell your friend no way but she’s not gonna hear it and so she shuvs the cotton candy in your mouth and actually its wonderful! That is an analogy for how I feel about this album when I listen to track 2. The third track I can’t remember v well because it was skipping, or I mean the audio was going away and then coming back so there were some weird lil eras of silence that rly took away from whatever emotions or daydreams the track might have had me explore. Quite the avant garde decision! Side two starts off p good. The whole album sounds exactly like the album art. It’s super sugary like I’m gonna get cavities, but isn’t it fun to get cavities? Not to have them but to get them. It was Halloween the other day and I ate lots of candy but none of it was as sweet as Perfect Lavender. The audio goes in and out again on side two, but only a little bit this time. Nothing all that memorable happens the rest of the time but this isn’t a discredit, I’m still having fun. If this album were a party I would have a tremendous time hanging out on a comfy couch getting drunk on hpnotiq and viniq with red bull. So thanks for having me, it’s been swell.

with love,
Ricky Lemonseed

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

WORN LEATHER “Tape Three” (Reflective Tapes)

This tape grew on me. It is torch-bearing punk in the lineage of Velvet Underground, the Replacements or the Minutemen. They have good songs that utilize the natural strength of a 4-piece rock band, featuring a lot of guitar work and soloing. Raw, frugal, honest, understated—in fact, the main weakness in Worn Leather’s style is that the singer is somewhat emotionally muted and dull-sounding. But the more I listen to them, the more I like them. They seem like nice guys: thoughtful, trying to make something good, filled with sadness and rage and boredom and fear. Actually, Worn Leather remind me of a band I know in Worcester, MA called Gnards. They share that classic punk (with guitar solos retained) style; they are hard-working; and they’re nice guys. I imagine Worn Leather to be among this crew. Maybe they’ll throw in a little glamorous touch from time to time, but mostly what shines through is their common-man quality—simple, raw, good. I give thumbs up to these punks from New Haven, CT, as well as their people over at Reflective Tapes in Olympia, WA. The marker drawing of a rather non-descript duplex on the tape cover is oddly wonderful. Also, one final detail that enhances my enjoyment of this album is in the liner notes: “Recorded by Stefan Christ in a snow storm.” It seems that all records of substance nowadays are done with help from Christ during bad weather. Nicely done, guys. 

-Kevin Oliver 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

LUKE JUMES “The Collected Luke Jumes Vol. 1” C53 (self-released)

When the future comes, there will be an indie folk musician from Massachusetts with a working iPhone and an endless optimism named Lukey, and there will be a beard snake crawling around his chin until it registers to the horrified onlookers that it’s a friendly beard snake. And there will be songs recorded onto the iPhone called “Get My Goam” and “Pee Jazz” (not one but two!), and Lukey will hum you to sleep over the sounds of robots and spaceships. No one will be angry anymore and everyone will hug. The songs will wilt like flowers in the summer, magnetic tape losing its resilience over time and hardening and cracking. And joy will flow in rivers and streams throughout the land, until it pools in lakes and reservoirs and finally oceans, tapped for birthday parties and anniversaries. It will be Nathan’s birthday every day, and Ashla and Nathan will love this music for all time. Even ten billion years from now when nothing but dust covers this planet, Luke Jumes’s songs will be remembered in the calm between the dust storms, hovering still in molecules and DNA strands. But until then there’s a tape, and the tape may be for sale if you can find it.

Luke Jumes

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, March 5, 2018

(Monorail Trespassing)

Walking the finest line between harsh noise and black metal, Slow Tongued Beauty, aka Ryan Scott Kerr, unleashes a maelstrom of highly digitized mayhem that’s truly impossible to ignore. Rhythm insinuates itself under the constant white-hot blaze of electronic aggression, although it tends to drop out suddenly during quieter ambient passages (before, obviously, coming back in and scaring the crap out of me – I have had to adjust the volume [and my pacemaker] while listening). “Sopportare” means “to bear” in Italian (thanks Google Translate!), and if “Sopportare” the cassette is any indication, Kerr’s has been bearing quite a heavy burden for an awfully long time, and this release is, ahem, his release, a primal scream of gnashing demons rotting the very interior of his heart. He also has some other releases, so perhaps we consider this a therapeutic outlet. Regardless of Kerr’s intent, his recordings are as gripping as a Velcro body suit at a fabric convention (clearly don’t know how Velcro works), and it’s impossible to turn “Sopportare” off, no matter how overwhelming or distant it gets (or how broken the “Stop” button on my tape player is). It’s the latest in a long line of solid and sturdy Monorail Trespassing releases specializing in the artistic within the static and the void.

Slow Tongued Beauty

Monorail Trespassing

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, March 2, 2018

MICHAEL CLAUS "Memory Protect" (self released)

Michael Claus (no relation to Santa) is a unique Bay area house artist. Exceptional synthesizer sounds and poly-rhythmic drum machine cascades fade in and out in tight grooves all locked in to a bass drum pulse. With pillow soft synth waves, some morphing basses, and laid back, concise beats; the tracks make for an excellent burn. The tones are familiar but also abstract while the production is crisp and organic sounding. This might be everything you'd expect from a solid house album and more!

"Past Era" has some amazing bubbling synths with canon delay. It brought me to a place of laid back I may not have previously known. The album has a specific flow to it. "Forests" is a beautiful synthesizer cascade forming a large polyrhythmic, modular soundscape. "Dissent" introduces a darker, more mysterious element (which reminded me of Brian Eno's Another Green World or Tangerine Dream) while maintaining elements of filter funk. "Tidal Shift" combines elements of drone with a complex yet heavy tom driven dance beat. "Ocean Side" may  be my favorite tune on the record; its perhaps the funkiest and most house music oriented.

This self release is unfortunately sold out !!

--"Jamband" Josh Brown

Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Heel Flipper” C48
(Small Scale Music)

The Sommes Ensemble toured Europe in 2015 and 2016. Wanna know how I know that? “Heel Flipper” is the result, a document of the “strategic, organized chaos” the quartet blazed through the clubs they visited. Featuring alto sax, guitar, bass, and drums, the ensemble is an unsightly smear of fusion and free jazz and free-form freakouts, a perfect signing for Montreal’s Small Scale Music, a purveyor of the strange and the challenging. Whether the Sommes Ensemble is blasting out shards of anti-jazz or stirring a sonic cauldron of audio witches’ brew with the deepest restraint (we are on the cusp of Halloween as I write, after all), the result is never less than captivating. Or visceral. Definitely visceral, what with all the shredding and slashing and other instrumental violence wreaked upon (probably very willing and totally primed) audiences. You can hear the musicians’ skin lacerating and the blood pouring as they play, such is the intensity of performance. The unholy bacchanal of arterial spray surely whipped their audiences into frenzies so uninhibited that old Freddy Krueger himself would blush if he heard it (and if he had facial skin). But what makes “Heel Flipper” much more than just a live document is the inventiveness and the singular in-the-moment clicking of personalities. The energy is beyond palpable – it’s mesmerizing, and it penetrates you like old Freddy Krueger’s knife hand, scrambling your equilibrium as if it were opening an irreparable chest would. But of course everybody left the Sommes sessions unscathed, and probably more than a little keyed up. But mostly happy, at least until their next brush with violent death at the hands of a fictional monster… Or their next Sommes Ensemble show. Boo! Halloween…

Small Scale Music

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"Heart & Insight Meditations” C61
(Crash Symbols)

Jesse Fleming & Electric Sound Bath have teamed up here to provide two ambient-soundscape enhanced, guided meditations, each half hour long side focusing on either forgiveness or perspective. ESB’s prosaic guitar drones lend a soft but solid anchor for your thoughts to hold onto while Jesse Fleming’s posits sink into your mind.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CHANNELERS “Slow Leaf Spell” (Inner Islands)

“Patterns and repetitions to contrast the ever-changing self.” We know Sean Conrad gets it. Over his many releases as Channelers, Ashan, and half of Orra, as well as curating the like-minded he surrounds himself with on his label Inner Islands, Conrad has become an institution, a purveyor of inner peace and personal betterment through meditative music, or music and meditation, and his corner is an easy one to be in because it’s all done in the interest of harmonizing yourself with your environment before embarking on a path of sharing that peace and joy with others. That’s why his pastoral ambient/drone/folk tunage is the sincerest pastoral ambient/drone/folk tunage, his personal pumpkin patch of sound is surely the one the Great Pumpkin is going to visit this Halloween. Over four languid tracks, Conrad explores change as he stretches out his compositions and allows them to become their own entities, growing and evolving along with their composer until they become one in the mind and the heart. As always with Channelers releases, there’s that great “Om” potential where inward projection of consciousness may just indeed lift you to some higher plane of tranquility. Consider the fern on the cover of “Slow Leaf Spell,” and imagine the sounds passing up and down the living cells of the plant, energizing it and allowing it to align its vibrations with that of ours. As we listen and contemplate the cellular workings of it, we are slowly and methodically hypnotized by its life force. We can learn from that, and we can make the Inner Islands way, the Channelers way, a part of our own existence.


Inner Islands

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, February 26, 2018

LUUREL VARAS “Leisure Time” (Crash Symbols)

The term “odyssey” gets thrown around a lot these days, or at least I throw it around a lot when I’m talking about driving to soccer practice or soccer games or basically anything soccer related. Let me start over. The term “odyssey” gets thrown around a lot in my house these days, regardless of how far I have to go, because isn’t just wandering out of your house every once in a while an adventure? If he’s anything like me (and who’s to say he is?), Luurel Varas of Estonia sure thinks so, probably, because he chops up a bunch of stuff he finds all across his everyday life and turns it into an odyssey for the ears, a broken-beat odyssey, a sampledelic instro-hip hop affair that just invites itself over, makes itself comfortable on your couch (or in your cassette player), and plows right into that odyssey everybody keeps talking about and promising and writing incessantly about on Cassette Gods. Luurel Varas delivers. “Leisure Time” is a blast of spring breeze (which of course I’m just getting around to on the cusp of winter), refreshing and invigorating, a vaporous entity that envelopes you with its warm rhythms and it’s lush melodies and whisks you away on the odyssey of its choosing, a magic voyage to some unknown land where the only outcome is good and the only treasure you find is marshmallows. These are the exploits of pure whimsy, and joy is in the air and in the water and in the food and in your blood. And now that same joy is in my house, and in my car, and I’m off to soccer practice full of joy and whimsy, and the odyssey of my life is before me, soundtracked by Luural Varas. “Leisure Time” is welcome here any time, doesn’t matter if I’m chilled out or ready for action. The odyssey always awaits.

Luurel Varas

Crash Symbols

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, February 25, 2018

ITCH PRINCESS "Everyone's a Doctor" (Truly Bald)

Some fantastic disengage your brain type stuff, Itch Princess's Everyone's a Doctor seems to combine experimental pop and R&B, hard rock, and virtuosically complex live drumming with dense vocal harmonies via Minneapolis' Katelyn Farstad and a roster of role players; this is some unique music.
Some of the songs are reminiscent of a jazzier, more abstract Kate Bush making dub music.

Some of the sections in the songs are straight progressive rock such as in "Being Totally Useless" and "Blue and White".  Some songs are indictive of even the Residents or Jefferson Airplane. The aggressive prog-rock drumming becomes the signature to the sound. "Nothing To Do With Love" has a break down with flams elaborate enough for a Ruins record.  Some of the tracks almost touch on abstract R&B or soundscape drum machine & keyboard driven funk (particularly "Second Row" or "The Lemongrass Zone"); while the album features acoustic guitars at times it also edges on noise rock and modern classical composition through out.

Look for it soon on Truly Bald! 

-"Jamband" Josh Brown

Saturday, February 24, 2018

“Inertia – Music from the Motion Picture”
(Hyster Tapes)

There’s something about handmade objects that is much more special than your plastic-wrapped, machine spit-out, printed and stamped bric-a-brac. I got a whole bag of tapes in the mail and the soundtrack to a movie called INERTIA was one of them and it’s the cheapest and crudest of the bunch but also the best one because it’s made from a recycled tape, which in this case means a tape got recorded over and someone used a piece of griptape from their skateboard or maybe some sandpaper from the garage to buff out whatever was printed on it originally. You can feel the roughness with your thumb and connect with the person who scratched it. You cannot do this with a computer or a machine. If a computer or a machine makes something it is not an art object in the same way as someone grabbing a Jesus tape, buffing out the titles, and recording some new sounds over the rambling pastor. This is the best way to do things, the freest way, and the friendliest to mother nature. Upcycled tapes, not recycled. Why don’t more out there do this? Of the large stack of tapes I received this was the only handmade tape, hell the only one that a human folded the jcard. But whatever, the real reason to be sitting here typing away is to describe the SOUNDS on this artifact. The sounds are made by Zoe Polanski and they are haunting, anxious and beautiful, if not a little dark. A voice echoes through empty space, perhaps there is a forest of dead trees, the wind blows, something is missing, the voice fades into something else, an organ, then returns, brighter, dark brown turns to orange and is cold. Mist, a moonless but starlit sky. Mother’s Theme. Dawn breaks and Benny is Gone. The heart beats faster. The mood is anxious and blue, dark blue, a frozen blue and the sound lifts. I have not seen this movie which leaves me at a strong disadvantage in being able to describe what the sounds are describing. I know I am at the cinema. I am not watching something happy or joyful. I am not watching something horrific. I am watching something paranoid, guilty and perhaps scared. I am scared and I am sad and I am unsure. Hush, sleep comes and Mira Dreams. Sleep is peaceful at first, slowed, lulled and torpid but Mira dreams deeper and the voice comes back whistling through the trees and then it is gone again, replaced again by a slow, bright swell that soon will ebb and leave us alone, silent and alone before the storm comes roaring overhead in a televised nightmare. Yes I am at the cinema and when I leave I will take with me all that I have seen and heard and keep it in the front of my mind from years to come.

-Ricky Lemonseed

Friday, February 23, 2018

"YaW” C58
(Other Electricities)

This is the third release I’ve been given to review via the Other Electricities imprint (Miami, FL) and I’m just as enamored as I’ve ever been. OE knows how to both relax AND subtly challenge their listeners, and I really dig that.

Via the press notes for this release, OE states that “Yaw” is “RIYL: Six Organs of Admittance, James Blackshaw, Jack Rose…”, and this is objectively verifiable. Through 24 vignettes, these mantra’d repetitions of gorgeous, melancholic, nylon-strung-along melodies & minor key meanderings have certainly been done before, both just as smoothly and moodily as said aforementioned luminaries…in fact, it’s almost as if this album didn’t need to exist, having been nearly executed to perfection, plenty of times before…

But this is specifically a companion piece. It is a “what ghosts might have been wrought” collection, to be considered alongside the devastatingly commanding monumental album “MAW”, of which these same tones are wrangled, mangled, and alternately, expertly crafted into a psych-freak-folk masterpiece that is not quite earworm, yet unforgettable, nonetheless.

Perhaps “Yaw” ought be considered a palette cleanser, or, mayhaps a soul-whetter. It sates. It engages. Yet it slips in & out of memory and definition. It accepts respect, suggests addiction, but retreats noncommittally into itself, to be de-and-re-constructed again, and again, in passing thought. Strap on decent headphones to catch the otherwise all-too-subtle droning spectres deeply planted throughout.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Countrycide” C28
(Push and Pull Records)

Well, I reckon you’re safe to assume that “Countrycide” falls under the umbrella of “cow-punk”; but what you just don’t know is how gaht-dhamn perfectly this Madison, WI trio integrates the very best of ‘90s surf-punk aesthetics whilst effortlessly exercising said cow-punk themes. All three of these shit-kickin’ musicians are dialed-the-fuck-in, seamlessly passing the Show-Off-Yr-Chops baton to churn out sing-along jam after gang-vocal’d anthem! Even the bass player gets a turn at breaking away from the expected stalwart ostinato scaffolding in order to expertly freak/flesh out a handful of songs! &without a single slow number to be heard, this half-hour debut comes screeching to a close FAR before you’re ready to hang up your boots. Keep on killin’ it, WC!

RIYL: Swingin’ Utters, Dead Kennedys, Meat Puppets

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Back To The Warmth” C46
“Safe & Sound/Self-Titled” C60

Not even Re-Motely near the beaten path ‘twixt Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, a psychedelic rock trio refuses to iron out their heavy space-rock jams, preferring instead to indulge in digging heals deeper and deeper into every other passing meteor.  In their shed (that’s Midwestern for “in-law unit”), neighboring both river and state forest, they dutifully refine their creative selves, becoming an unstoppable force, sending out psych-bluesy riffs out past the aether, into infinity. Locally, deer, wood-nymph, and Bud-wiser pilferer are happily enchanted. In unison, heads will loll.

Mostly comprised of drums, guitar, and synthesizer, Ruckzuck fill in all necessary nhooks & crannies, even eschewing possible layered vocals for a most direct, most poignant delivery…well…as far as heavily pedal’d/augmented vocals do.

&Much like their geographic location, their influences range far & wide, between Acid King, Broadcast, the Breeders, and beyond. These inspired-yet-non-derivative qualities yield pensive explorations, Appalachian-solid hooks, cosmic mental vacations, and, pretty much always, a damn fine time. Rife with ear worms AND meditations, their releases are not to be ignored.

Listening with and without (decent) headphones will prove equally rewarding, so allow yourself a two-for-one experience.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

XOXO TECH "Alien Dream Software"
(self released)

A dynamic combination of sophisti-pop and italo-disco; this Minneapolis duo, comprised of Mariel Olivera and Joe Burns, first release is uplifting and superb!  With soundscapes, synthesizers, saxophones, heavy beats, pitch corrected vocals, and timbre morphs galore in addition to their unpredictable but catchy songwriting; XOXO Tech's approach is warm post-futurism with polyrhythmic counterpointed riffs. 

Combining pop and straight dance music into a unique blend with a fresh approach, Mariel and Joe's vocals are sublime and the overall aestethic takes a page from a book I've yet to read. Hooks. LOTS of hooks! The music itself is evocative of Janet Jackson, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Erasure, and obviously a little Madonna.. but way more prog. Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and Kraftwerk also come to mind!! The lyrics are poetic and the parts have the abstract arrangements of a modern classical composer.  This is really one of the more clever releases I've heard in a long time.

My favorite track on this EP by far is "Red Hot" with catchy chorus "I Don't Want to Stopppp Loving You". /Alien Dream Software// is available as a self release now to order on cassette from their bandcamp!!

-- Josh Brown

Monday, February 19, 2018

INNER TRAVELS “Sea of Leaves” (Inner Islands)

It does look like a sea of leaves from up here, the forest spreading out into the distance, foliage rippling in the wind like waves, just dusk enough in the evening that the deep green isn’t so easy to make out against the shadows, mimicking the opaque depths of a vast body of water. From a height, atop a mountain or other scenic point, imagination takes over as the sunlight fades, is replaced by the trickier illumination of the moon, and the mysteries of your vision deepen. Steve Targo, our maestro, our guide, reflects through synthesizer on the “splendor of nature,” internalizing the landscape that he’s witnessed (Celestion, Pell Lake, Wisconsin, Fall 2015 to Fall 2016). This is New Age for a new age, a desperate grasp at inner peace before the peace can be directed outward and shared with those who need it most. Targo’s nailed it, understood that “desperate grasp” and “inner peace” need not be mutually exclusive when confronted with intentionality. Through natural beauty and connection with the earth, Targo is inspired to share the paths to personal wholeness. His gentle meditations penetrate your mind and your body and remove you from daily stresses that only serve to poison your outlook and thereby your relationships. Once again the Inner Islands way prevails, with “Sea of Leaves” yet another guidance system to a better life.

Inner Travels
Inner Islands

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, February 18, 2018

“Burnt Enigma”
(Illuminated Paths)

Amazing design with elegantly burnt edges on the sleeve. Inside is a slogan: “Gentle Music amid Modern Violence,” a good slogan for this music, a beautiful murky dream.

Deep below, down in the depths, down through the drainage ditch, down through the dark pipes, there is a wild party at bonfire beach. This music is made at that beach.

Better yet, this music plays out of a forlorn jukebox at the laundromat of the end of the world, a jukebox forever tumbling on high heat in the jeweled depths of the cosmic laundromat.

-Kevin Oliver

Saturday, February 17, 2018

“Cities on the Plain”
(We Be Friends)

This tape is expressive of love, friendship, adventure, and the joy of life. I like it a lot. It is an album made by a happy couple, and often that kind of album risks being cheesy and repellent, but this one is really good. The songs are well-crafted and understated. They draw you in and have a bit of a 90s alternative flavor. And moreover, the feelings in the songs, the topics in the lyrics, aren’t cheesy at all. They’re clear proof that love is all you need. If you have a happy love life, you can make a great album. That’s how this tape makes me feel, anyway. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

-Kevin Oliver

Sorry for the brief interruption of your regularly scheduled cassette programming. 
We're back to daily broadcasts, at 8:00 AM on the dot.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

QUEST REMOVAL “Preset Stealth / Wrong Wohnung / Furtim Vigilans” (Abstract Tits)

Gang lips melt psychically, ESP on vaporizer, bent ears to heaven, earth, then heaven. Chance chants and hovering lately, base emissions bear instruction if internalized. New moves, moving stealthily through conduits in condominiums, check the synchronization, check the patents, move stealthily. Transmissions almost received, encourage adjustment, adjust, receive. Reframe directives, levels dangerous and vision iffy. Vision compromised, mindwarp engage emergency agents aged acutely. Wrong Wohnung! Falsch flat! Exit strategy, max evasion, adjust, reframe. Crashes thunderous and through portal swift evac, superimposition confusion and nocturnal damage. Transmit, one to one, record, reverse tactics, abort. Check the cortex, retransmit, abort. No signal. End.

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Creatures of Sea and Seashore” C12

Nerd-Core! This quarter of an hour hipster tutorial is  pretty much unabashed Nerd-Core at its finest! With comparable/minimal sonic aesthetics strongly recalling early Microphones’ demos, this marine-biology cheat-sheet-gone-mp3 set is now easily the raddest sea shanty EP I’ve e’r laid ears upon! Minimal guitar picking, concertina & lyrical truthbombs for miles & smiles, forever! Edumacate yo’selvz!

Short, sweet, informative, unapologetically infections. Download the smahtz via this bandcamp link below…

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, February 12, 2018

“Adrift” C33 (Nailbat Tapes)

I used to live in a town called Boiling Springs, in Pennsylvania, and there was actually a literal boiling spring that fed the lake in town. It was not red (although the water contained a great deal of sulfur, although I don’t think sulfur reddens anything). If you unmoored yourself from any side of the lake, you would find yourself on the other side of it within thirty seconds if you paddled. It was very small. Red Boiling Springs is from Portland, Oregon, but hey, who’s counting? The sounds of ADRIFT, once they’re in your head, bring it all back, all the precious seconds where time and meaning were important. The field recordings and ambient drones cast you into the water and leave you there to contemplate their origin and their purpose, like I once did, many years ago. I was there, adrift, and then I allowed the moments to overcome me. Red Boiling Springs takes me back to those moments and allows me to relive them. Are the questions any closer to being answered? Nah – and that’s the beauty of it, I’ve come to understand.

Red Boiling Springs
Nailbat Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, February 11, 2018

HOOPS “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?” C36 (Chthonic Records)

I really got into “Masterpieces” following this review – it was really interesting and a surprising find. And I’m not going to speak for the vast majority of people who this is clearly aimed at – you know who you are, mom! – but I don’t get it. Why is that? Hoops recorded a bunch of live takes of Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs all on his lonesome with an acoustic guitar. These are good songs. But Hoops, dude, we can’t hear you. You’re too mumbly. The fidelity’s a mess. Is that the point? Am I missing something? Why does this exist in a format where I have to pay for the physical artifact? I was excited, now I’m just bummed. Probably a one-time fuckup. Oh well – better luck next time, Hoops, and you people reading, don’t give up on checking him out!

Please note: Tracks were recorded in 2007 and released in 2017. There’s part of the reason.

And you’re right, nagging conscience – my mom wouldn’t be able to get past the poor recording.

--Michael “Hoops 23” Jordan

Saturday, February 10, 2018

BICHON FRISÉ “s/t” C25 (Abstract Tits)

Quiet down in there, Bichon Frisé, I’m trying to talk on the phone! I mean, I love dogs, but look at these animals – what am I supposed to do with this? Do you breed them this way? I mean, my aunt breeds Lhasa Apsos, hideous creatures, so I guess there are worse things in the world. But still, Bichon Frisés are just WEIRD, and round, unnaturally round with their hair like that. Little yappy roundheads. So glad the “band,” I guess, Bichon Frisé is more interesting than the wacky-looking canines they’re named after. The Copenhagen quartet mixes noise and drone into an unholy racket that I can STILL HEAR FROM THE OTHER ROOM! Shards of sound pierce eardrums, pitches too high for the HNW crowd but malevolent and intended to harm nonetheless. I think, anyway, or maybe this tape is just the rallying cry for the inevitable dog army that can perceive these tones and follow their instructions to an outright conclusion. Sparkly, refracted soundwaves – listening to them is the sonic equivalent to staring at a light spectrum just slightly too intense for human vision. Pushes the boundaries of endurance. Worth the effort. But seriously, I can’t hear a word you’re saying because they’re still at it in there.

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, February 9, 2018

(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Much like the rest of the DYDON tapes recently sent my way (and thanks for that, it’s been a pleasure!), 4,75 by Sweden’s Det Vilda Fältet blows across desolate landscapes and becomes one with its surroundings. And blows us all away in the process – their controlled, cinematic scores change the landscapes to soundscapes and internalize the vastness of natural beauty in a way that opens up the imagination and the mind to unforeseen possibilities. This is not weird – this is how life works around the DYDON offices, obviously located in the penthouse of some swanky Stockholm high rise. I sense an MO for the label, and Det Vilda Fältet follows it without hesitation. These Kranky-indebted slow burns unfurl as if they were sonic flora on our imaginary plain, blooming languidly under the harsh wilderness conditions. Hardy plants rustle in the breeze, and dust kicks up among the rocks and tumbleweed as the sun beats down upon the earth. Guitars make sounds and tones as if they were barely touched, effected remorselessly, organically growing from the ground as if they WERE the hardy plants they conjure. And maybe that’s the key to understanding the whole thing – the music grows, nourished, however scantily, from the ground and the air, the composers/players the water (we humans are practically 100% water after all), imbuing the sounds with life and purpose. Listeners like us scuttle from the shade of outcroppings to these plants that nurture us like desert beetles, mindless in our basic functions. And Det Vilda Fältet infiltrates and penetrates all like a holy ghost, sacralizing somehow with benevolent auditory beams. I’m too respectful to call this post rock, but it sure scratches that itch.

Det Vilda Fältet
Do You Dream of Noise? (site is in Swedish – beware!)

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, February 8, 2018

JULIA BLOOP "Roland Throop"
C60 (Crash Symbols)

Julia Bloop is from Brookyln they/she/he makes what I guess is a mix of chillwave an experimental loops. I wouldn't call it vaporwave but I get a similar feel from it.

My favorite song from the album is the title opener 'I Gotta Get Outta This Place'.

Features a double sided full color J-card and tasteful ASCII art pad printed onto clear cassette shell.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

(La Rosa Nostra)

HDCLNR cranks out monthly installments of lo-fi jams from artists of varying stripes, culling their (mostly ritualistic/meditative/narrative) sounds into 45+ minute batches, a dozen or so tapes made each time around. These bedroom-conjured, often barebones recordings lend an intimate earnestness that may very well be the antidote to radio’s formulaic overproduction, and it’s this humble production style that ties so many different genres into one cohesive offering. Each release is a journey through solo percussion explorations, bard’s lamentations, shoe(stringbudget)gaze jams, and a whole host of other outsider stuff, and, via the bandcamp link below (only), you can have 9+ hours worth of ‘em delivered to your front door for a song. Feeling as curious as I am?

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

LACE BOWS “Earth Tunnels” C31 (OTA)

EARTH TUNNELS begins with a sample of a song from the 1950s or 1960s, a song I don’t recognize and neither does Shazam (god knows I tried). The effect is similar to the vibe in Terry Gilliam’s TWELVE MONKEYS when Bruce Willis’s Cole catches snippets of old songs on a car radio, or when he returns to Earth’s present (our future) to be woken by “Blueberry Hill.” It’s sweet, it’s nostalgic, but it’s also harrowing, especially when, on “I Saw Earth Leaving through This Tunnel,” the song decays, slowing down before transitioning into a field recording of what sounds like the Rossio train station in Lisbon (the announcements and conversational snippets are not in English, that’s for sure, and Lace Bows is from Portugal, so, 2+2=4!). That transitions too, and it’s as if Lace Bows is wandering from location to location, recording the music playing in the outdoor spaces, looping it, fidgeting with it until it unfurls, trancelike, and becomes part of our own background. The music fades and crowd noise continues, until it, too, is overtaken by the next phase of the track, a pensive drone that approximates cosmic travel.

And it’s here that we have to consider what is meant by EARTH TUNNELS, and “I Saw Earth Leaving through This Tunnel,” because the evolution of the sounds suggests a passage of time and perspective. The past fades quickly, the modern – our present – also fades, although it takes a bit longer, until the evolution is complete, and there’s no more earthly sounds, just the drone of the universe. But that’s just side A – side B, simply titled “-,” emerges from the drone, as if from, ahem, a tunnel, and traverses similar paths as side A (field recordings of outdoor musicians, crowds, stations), but this time, instead of allowing the field recordings to simply exist on their own, Lace Bows traces a musical undercurrent beneath the samples, creating a different experience. By the end of “-,” Lace Bows’s music and a song fragment meld together perfectly, as if they were meant for each other. Does this mean that Lace Bows is outlining through sound a blueprint for human evolution? Or is it meant as a document to be studied by a far-distant iteration of humanity, somewhat like “Blueberry Hill” in TWELVE MONKEYS, or even an unknown civilization? Or is it something completely different?

Something to think about. Whatever it is, EARTH TUNNELS is fascinating to listen to.

Lace Bows

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, February 5, 2018

“Farewell, Ringworld” C40
(Hylé Tapes)

I can’t get off this Ringworld soon enough. All this traffic …

Alright, I admit it, I was thinking of wrapping in that titular line bit from Upright Citizens Brigade (all hail Matt Walsh), but I think it’s gonna get totally blown. Probably because I don’t know anything about RINGWORLD, the book series, other than that it’s a pretty popular science fiction tome among the unwashed D&D nerd masses. I kid, I’m practically one of them, although I wash and I don’t play D&D. But I do love me some sci-fi! Just … not RINGWORLD. Haven’t got around to it. So I don’t have any in-jokes to share with you.

What I do know is that FAREWELL, RINGWORLD is spectacular. El Choop (by the way, I don’t get the name – that’s not a slight, just wondering) out of Bristol, THE UK, drops the dubnuts for the lugnuts, the SPACECRAFT lugnuts that you have to, you know, work on with tools so that you and your crew don’t instantaneously decompress or something. Meaning this: what El Choop does on FAREWELL, RINGWORLD is very synthy and not at all dubby, his usual MO, meshing oh-so-appropriately with outer space environs. Take for example the j-card visuals that serve as a starting point for your imagination – amazing, yes, bringing to mind EPCOT Center from the late1960s or early 1970s (even though the theme park opened in 1982), but every group picture of a crew always foretells disaster. El Choop predicts the disaster (whatever it is – again, RINGWORLD virgin here) in his tense synthesizer compositions, recalling the ubiquitous STRANGER THINGS score but set in space. This is the soundtrack for takeoff, docking, quick dashes from local law enforcement, secretive meetings in clandestine locations, offworld transactions, and spaceships, spaceships, spaceships. I could live in this music – it’s what I dreamed as a kid would be our reality right now.

Sadly, our reality is our reality, but it takes artists like El Choop to help us engage our imaginations and bring us back to that innocent time when we were young and the future was ours. Is that nostalgia? Yeah, maybe, but so what. You can tell a million stories with FAREWELL, RINGWORLD as the background and none of them would ever be boring, ever be anything less than gripping escapist fantasy. That’s important when you need something other than, pft, “real life.” Forget it – you might as well spin yarns about having incredibly important lines in wildly popular films if “real life” is where you’re rooted. El Choop’s giving you an opportunity to live a little bit in your mind, in your heart – take that opportunity and run with it. Or launch with it, or whatever space verb you want to apply here.

El Choop
Hylé Tapes

--Ryan Masteller