Unsecured [12-inch; Modern Love]
Skipping right to my favorite Unsecured track (as time is short in Cerbistan), “Plutocracy” is like the scene that finds Arnold Schwarzenegger in a gun battle in the middle of a factory somewhere: Random bursts of steam escape from screaming pipes, a low rumble sets the scene for the violence to come, and mechanical sounds tick off in intervals. Miles represents the perfect companion project/guise to accompany Demdike Stare and/or other of their ilk (Metasplice/Andy Stott/etc.) down the never-ending tunnel of Electronic. Unsecured is technically an EP. Still, you give me 33RPM and two full sides of music, nearly 30 minutes in all, I tend to see you as an album. There’s nothing lightweight or in-between about it, “Blatant Statement” living up to its name via a buzzing, surging, liquid-digital flow that’s insistent as it is intense and “Technocracy” making its convincing aural arguments atop a bed of menacing, earth-shifting low-end and mixed-green rhythms. The UK is swamped with a glut of electronic/dance releases, so it’s kind of nice to appreciate some of the more intriguing developments from these shores, isolated from the deluge.Links: Modern Love
Mary Plum Musket [CS; Treetop Sorbet]
Remember when Bob Pollard was so drunk that anything he did was considered lo-fi? Then he went and got earwhigs, better liquor, fell upon his English degree, and was just pretty good rather than great? The bloated Dayton Elvis, if you will. Well, Honey Radar will take you back to the fit and trim Bob, the one packing away the beer and able to still be an adequate poet that got to the heart of the matter on four dusty inputs. Mary Plum Musket is that brief remembrance but so much more, as Philly’s Honey Radar also dabble in destruction–not of legacy but of sound. “Roughing up the Painter” and “Mason Neck” are lazily sung explosions of pop brilliance before the tape devolves into rudimentary jams that deconstruct the very premise MPM first presented. Yet it’s all catchy and fun and drunk, like days of yore spent playing horseshoes in a hilly backyard without a proper pit or starting fights at bars with frat guys just to see what would happen; before you realized those 5 years better be put to good use and debt collectors came calling about student debt. This is what it paid for and this is what it’ll get you. Professor Pollard knew it was nigh but it has yet to poison Honey Radar.Links: Treetop Sorbet
Tristia [CS; Worthless]
So good to hear from Rat Catching again, but Tristia sees the solo outfit of Jennifer Melinn (Fedora Corpse Records) in an even more aggressive mode than where we left off with that full length LP on her label. It sounds to me like Melinn locked herself in a closet with a batch of corroded Mincemeat Or Tenspeed tapes, or bagged her synths and tossed them into the ocean and then retrieved and tried to play them. It would have been a lot easier to follow the Mudboy route so props to RC for not going there again. A more flame-breathing tape you will not hear outside the auspices of the metal hordes. Some of Sutekh Hexen’s barer, noisier drones even register, and don’t think “Pelts!” is surrendering a damn thing. What a goddamn scorcher Tristia, eloquent as the collection of Ovid elegiac couplets for which it was named, yet mean enough to break your arm.Links: Rat Catching - Worthless
Messiah [CS; Sunshine Ltd.]
Come in…come in! Breaker breaker this is an alien lost in the recesses of time and space. My spaceship is experiencing mechanical failure and I don’t know if anyone can hear this but I need help. I know much of your solar system has been fed a bunch of Hollywood propaganda about big headed, bug-eyed beings from outside your depth of knowledge but I am none of those things. My head is small, my eyes correctly proportioned. My breath doesn’t even smell bad. But back to the matter, my ride is steaming. I think the hyperdrive is on fire. It’s all to do with picking up Brad Rose and Nate Young. Knew I shouldn’t have beamed them up. They started playing with all the glowing buttons on the console, believing it to be some futuristic instrument to save mankind from music. Turns out it’s just the control panel for my used UFO. Anyway, I don’t need saving from the smoking and sputtering of the ship, I have the training to fix it. But every time I make one repair, Rose and Young cause two more ruptures in its place! Can someone come and take them back to Earth? I’ll pay your gas money. Just make sure you bring a jalopy without anything that can be made into an instrument.Links: Sunshine Ltd.
Vision Burst [CS; Singapore Sling]
If you’re the patient type, you might want to steer clear on this one — nothing here remains constant for more than a nanosecond or so. Each and every little thing on this tape is instantly circuit-bent causing all sounds heard to swivel, swerve, prick, and pommel the brain at blistering speeds through random sorts of non-structures. Of course, this means that on a second-by-second basis, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. But whatever it is, it’ll probably be a high, roughly textured frequency. And that screeching high and rough frequency will probably be coming at you fast, fast, fast; really really really fast. That’s most of the fun of Vision Burst, just how bug-eyed it really is. Even better when things finally release and relax a bit, Seth Graham peeling layers of noise sheets back to give the listener a glimpse into more manageable focus-groups of the billions of sound-particles that go into the petri dish where this stuff grows - tiny little melodies and things. Microscopic, super-sonic, ostensibly out of control, yet also molecular in a way. “Songs” here aren’t nearly as random as I’ve described them when you can step back a little, let them exist within themselves as wholes. Molecules built around nuclei, sure. What else to say…? “Mind-blowing” certainly comes to mind.Links: Henry Dawson - Singapore Sling
The Education of my Rubber Dolly [CS; Watery Starve]
Music that references pornography in either packaging or song titles is not an uncommon thing. It’s so common in the Noise community that there are even bands that exist largely to mock that particular trend. It’s not quite so prevalent in the DIY community though, at least not yet, so Courtney Asztalos and Michael Arcos’ choice to, ostensibly, reference an old school Karezza fetish video with The Education of my Rubber Dolly EP puts the hook in pretty deep. For a certain kind of pervert, anyway.
Bedroom proclivities aside, the music on this grey C15 is enchanting. Female vocals are nestled snugly in a nest of synthesizer and reverb that seem calculated to create just the kind of intimate, and somewhat lustful, atmosphere suggested by titles such as “Alone With You.” The album falls short of Lynchian levels of psycho-sexuality but, possibly thanks to being recorded live in a single day, it has the kind of dark and looming atmosphere that man would probably appreciate. The whole thing is a bit more Crazy Clown Time than Julee Cruise, though.
It’s noteworthy that lusty, airy, night-music on this cassette is not accompanied by images of latex clad forms as suggested by the title. Instead there is gorgeous watercolor (probably generated by the hand/brain of Lynn Fister, who runs the Watery Starve label) and the image of a girl on a leather sofa in a child’s Halloween monster mask. There is possibly something to the contrast of sexual objectification suggested by title and sinister whimsy of the imagery. The games of youth become entirely different types of play as we grow.Links: Jane Jane - Watery Starve
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link [CS; Auris Apothecary]
The battle within oneself is at the heart of The Adventure of Link, and though it’s waged against a vile outside enemy, the ending finds titular hero Link against his shadow; light and dark always locked in eternal struggle. It’s the similar tack of Nakatsuka’s iconic soundtrack. Though it may be for a mere video game on old technology, do not doubt its resonance and impression. The music of 8-bit games has spawned a sub-culture obsessed with the classics as it creates new, detached pieces. But what Nakatsuka captures is the excitement of exploration and the inevitability of growing up all in the vale of the shattered. Link’s world is shattered by the spell cast on Zelda after saving her from Gannon’s clutches. The Adventure of Link is separate from The Legend of Zelda, both in terms of goal, ultimate enemy and game play. The soundtrack captures all of it, romantically presenting safe havens such as villages with airy compositions while making quests into caves and temples dense with worry and peril. Auris Apothecary’s packaging finds Nakatsuta’s classic packaged on a golden cassette with nothing more than simple titles to best explain the music and the settings. There’s nothing to distract from the music except the nagging need to just play the damned game!Links: Akito Nakatsuka - Auris Apothecary
Ralph White / Sun Araw
“Lord Franklin, A Child Ballad” b/w “Thrasher” [12-inch; Monofonus Press]
This is one of those splits you didn’t know you needed in your life. Never would have paired Sun Araw and Ralph White outside of live shows with one another, but it makes sort of mangled sense once White starts in with the African percussion and what-not on his side of Lord Franklin, A Child Ballad / Thrasher. It’s mostly acoustic guitar, laced with old-timey fiddle, percussion, and other embellishments I can’t quite identify, and it’s all breathtaking in a way previous White recordings haven’t been for me. Impressive; daunting, even. More interlocking, coruscating parts than are traditionally associated with this brand of Americana, and much appreciated they are. Sun Araw, as you’d expect, is in a much spacier place than White, filtering a succession of muffled guitar noodling through silk curtains of synths. Closer to Boredoms in spirit and, once the vocals kick in, Amen Dunes than anything else I can think of at this hour, you’ve got to respect what Cameron Stallones does with “Thrasher.” He’s a pretty whacked guy, and I must admit I hadn’t realized how far he was pushin’ his aural exploits. Good to know.Links: Ralph White / Sun Araw
Voices [LP; Discrepant]
It doesn’t get much more spiritual than Voices if you’re into the whole field-recordings-of-ethnic-musics gig. Much like the Gonzo & Lowdjo triple-tape series, also released on Discrepant, this splendid LP by Kink Gong (aka Laurent Jeanneau) transports the listener to an entirely new habitat and makes no apologies for the lack of the usual noise/indie/experimental signposts. Jeanneau has a knack for arranging the din into palatable shapes, though this is far from easy listening. You have to believe. The first track reminds me of “Water Wings” from that second Dan Deacon record, if that matters. The looping becomes overwhelming, for sure, which renders the subsequent ambient-ish portions of the record that much more welcome. The source material for this gem was collected in the southern regions of Yunnan and Guizhou in China as well as in Sapa, North Vietnam, and Phongsaly, but that’s not important right now. Just tune in and blast off to one of the most interesting recordings of the young year. WOW.Links: Kink Gong - Discrepant
Electric Snake Mutilation / Elevator [2XCS; Skrot Up]
A rambling double-cassette that flits between several styles in a short amount of time? Normally I’d say, politely, FUCK NO, but Pousse Mort carry enough artillery to compete with even the German Army that’s been barraging the world with tape shrapnel. (Note: I just replaced the batteries in my Walkman and PM aren’t quite as corroded as I thought; still harsh though.) It’s the enthusiasm, rather than the paper-thin musicianship (though it is there), that brings Electric Snake Mutilation / Elevator across, so don’t go into this expecting any shredding. It’s beat machines and synth patterns that go bing… bing… bing. Also vocal ranting that reminds me of Manual Zombie and sub-level garage riffs. Near the end of Side A of Snake Mutilation there’s a sequence that might be the ultimate collage of post-Nintendo, age-of-Mincemeat Or Tenspeed values, yet it fades quickly. SHIT! A puzzling release you’ll have fun piecing together; I guarantee it (can I sell you a suit?). 50 copies = ouch.Links: Pousse Mort - Skrot Up