The National Park System

A Visitor’s Guide

[12-inch; Lo Bit Landscapes]

Is this what Supersystem were supposed to sound like after they branched out from El Guapo and failed to live up to the legacy? National Park System remind me of Psychobuildings and King God, but they will remind you of, you guessed it, the 1980s. The two Side A cutz bring it pretty gosh-darn hard and will make you yell OH MY HECK (had cousins in Utah), dressed in the daze of fluttering synths and imaginative soundscapes. “Sad and Fucked (Not Moving)” walks along the ocean shore like that super-old M83 stuff used to, and decides to stay for picnic. Hey, where am I goin’, know what I mean? I’m confused by “Flying Penguin,” though. It’s too lounge-y to pass the smell test. I’m sure there’s someone in Brooklyn who would tell me I’m wrong. I just gotta be me. Nice thick vinyl, 45 RPM speed for the hearing-fortunate.

Links: Lo Bit Landscapes

Cremator

Alpha Ralpha Boulevard

[CS; Field Hymns]

I enjoy creativity spurred by another’s similar spark. Such is the case with Alpha Ralpha Boulevard, inspired by a piece of science fiction from Cordwainer Smith. To turn a story into wordless interpretation is no small feat, but the energetic pulse of Cremator’s musical vision to a tale of a society at the dawn of a new individuality is palpable whether you’ve read Smith’s work or not. Yet the bigger challenge is removing Smith’s story from the equation: what do we have left without the backbone? Does Alpha Ralpha Boulevard stand on its own merit? It wouldn’t be worth writing about if it didn’t. Though flooded with manifests of orbital enlightenment and B-movie nostalgia, Cremator doesn’t fall for either though borrowing motifs from both. ARB is a classic; an homage to Schulze’s enthusiasm and the suspense of Alex North. But its rudimentary, bare bones, and unafraid to be simple or contemplative. If we are truly floating through space, ladies and gentlemen, then we should not be afraid to stare into the vast galaxy and face our reflections in the stars. Cremator was fearless, now’s our turn.

Links: Field Hymns

Nihiti

Ghosts & Versions

[12-inch; Lo Bit Landscapes]

Nihiti’s For Ostland LP fell through the cracks for a lot of punters and shouldn’t have. Ghosts & Versions attempts to remedy that while allowing a few labelmates to get their remix fix on. It’s always a risky proposition putting a project like this (four recasts versions of the same song) on wax – clear and smoky no less – so I’m glad it worked out. National Park System toss out a redux that finds an odd place between the helium alien voices of Joe Meek and euphoric electronica. Mark Verbos is less successful, linking club beats to whatever he decided to keep of the original mix. Not so bad if you think about it playing in the dark at a roller rink though. Hrdvsion rent out a hardline bass attack that takes no fucking prisoners, like Metasplice and a Warp artist grimacing at each other. Every off-beat hits like a boot-kick to the belly. Zebrablood steal the show, perhaps understanding Nihiti’s original mission best with an aggressive, door-knocking beat and synths sequences that bounce around and lock together like liquid puzzle pieces. This is what your grandkids are going to commit crimes to; the hard stuff.

Links: Nihiti - Lo Bit Landscapes

Iain Shaw & David Shrigley

AWESOME

[CS; Already Dead Tapes]

Pretty interesting “split” here on Already Dead Tapes. I type the word “split” with those ambiguously skeptical quotation marks because it’s not really a split in the traditional sense. David Shrigley (who is something of a renowned Scottish artist) spends his fleeting moments of tape-time with plainly dictated speech, and his contributions appear every other track rather than on one whole side of the tape. All the rest goes to Iain Shaw, who’s plaintive (but hopeful!) plucks of guitar strings and little-kid-confident voice give form to lovely little songs. There’s only seven short tracks on the release, but that seems to be plenty of time for both artists to wiggle their way into whatever young, inquisitive, love-struck other self of yours is hanging out in your subconscious, and get that guy to skip some rope. There’s a little bit of a dark tone throughout, but ultimately those notions make way for pseudo word-games to unfold that might pander to some philosophical pondering. After a once or twice through, despite whatever “heaviness” the prose might conjure, you’ll still start to feel a little lighter on your toes, as though your brain is sweating off some emotional dead weight. If you’re having a tough work day, AWESOME could be a nice mid-day snack for your mind, just the pick me up you’d need to make it to 5:00.

Links: Iain Shaw & David Shrigley - Already Dead Tapes

Quttinirpaaq

No Visitors

[LP; Rural Isolation Project]

We should have seen records like No Visitors coming, what with Twin Stumps, Load Recs, Expensive Shit, Landed, and others foreshadowing a lot of the moves made. Quttinirpaaq invest in plodding jams with layers of soot heaped overtop like punishing Parmesan. Connections to Rubble and Abrasion Ensemble don’t mean anything to me; you? The more understated sequences leave you thinking Qu-paaq could enter Elg territory and score some of that recent hype (particularly “Golden Needles,” which is masterful; almost post-Tricky), but overall they’re more interested in smashing stuff, which I appreciate. Lots of surprises on this record, though you have to believe deep in your bones to follow a few of these numbers to their conclusions. Stay focused.

Links: Quttinirpaaq

Flown

Flown

[7-inch; self-released]

Brooklyn power trio Flown are creeping out of the woodwork with a heavy, caustic resin of bluesy rock, sludge, metal and post-punk, presenting a music that seems to be equal parts Ut and Black Sabbath. Consisting of guitarist Margot Bianca, bassist Caroline Yes, and drummer Kate Ryan (all sharing vocals), Flown have followed up a physically out-of-print cassette (20 copies – yipes) with a strong seven-inch containing two pieces, “Eyes of God” and “Yearlong Eclipse.” All of this music is also available online, so if you miss out on objects, fret not. The single is beautifully packaged in a tricolor silkscreened folder jacket with a vellum obi strip and an attractive insert.

One can hear the flinty merger of riot grrrl punk and hard psych in the flat-out motor that begins “Eyes of God,” which quickly shifts into pounding sludge with folksy harmonies, banshee wails and bilious distorted vocals in a strange intertwine. Headbanging is pretty much the only appropriate response as the three chant and pound away before returning to a close of Slant 6-like angularity. “Yearlong Eclipse” lilts and shouts along with sinewy, contorted blues-rock moves, enchanting voices theatrically undercut by stomach-churning grit and a murderous abrasion. While certainly a band to experience in the flesh if possible, Flown’s eponymous 45 brilliantly captures their menace, beauty and coiled energy.

Links: Flown

Pod Blotz

Timeless

[CS; Dungeon Taxis]

Suzy Poling is more than music, she’s art. Living, breathing art. The sort that museums keep behind invisible ropes and low-tech alarm systems. She’s the echo of steps in a gallery. She’s the sound of children running around the clumsily designed instillation piece (it should be in Paris or NYC or Prague, not Denver or Toronto) barely contained by the room. She’s lights and colors and flash and sound and collage and dreaming and whispering. As Pod Blotz, she’s the embodiment of art as pop–but not the glamorous, tabloid style but of the sleazy, drugged existence on the streets before discovery. Knowing that you are “it” but never being told by the collective hive mind that you have “it”. So she takes “it” and runs with “it” until “it” is whatever she makes of “it”. That’s why she and “it” and this is all Timeless. A swirling magnet of hodge podge that makes me dance and cry and shout even as the security guards drag me out and innocent bystanders ask me to quiet down.

Links: Dungeon Taxis

Gonzo & Lowdjo

Noise(s) خشة

[CS; Discrepant]

Noise(s) خشة is one of three tapes by Gonzo & Lowdjo that whirl together field recordings, rare LPs, noise generators, and more into a woozy world-music (in the least-reductive manner possible) stew. Somewhat similar in spirit to what Daniel Padden was attempting in Ship Chop, but much more raw, lo-fi, and scatterbrained. While it makes perfect sense to me, those preferring longform expressions will be frustrated by the constant superhero leaps from buildingtop to buildingtop. All three of the Noise(s) tapes (I think they were being sold together) sold out before you could sneeze (though apparently if you email lowdjo@gmail.com copies can be procured), so I think it’s time to push for a vinyl version. Eh? Eh? Yeah, baby.

Links: Gonzo & Lowdjo - Discrepant

Erros Magicos

Shambhala

[CS; Moon Glyph]

Can’t help but feel the ghost of Remote Island on Shambhala, though the interpretations of pop couldn’t be further removed. The debut cassette from Erros Mágicos is far distant memories; the nostalgia of a time and place that never existed. Honestly, isn’t that the sort of nostalgia we’re all suffering from? Maybe this is the magic pill, the one to make those feelings stay without stooping so low as to think Charles in Charge or Fine Young Cannibals were quality entertainment. At least that’s how “Verão Está Aquí” makes me feel. By the middle of “Aves da Cidade,” I’m beginning to embrace my love of French pop without having to sneak listens to Alizée like I’m popping a different type of pill, and as “C’est Tout Noir” finishes its swirling psychedelia of Parisian couture, I’m hooked. An outfit as robust as Erros Mágicos usually lose sight of creating tightly knit pop, but Shambhala is just that amid its pharmaceutical flashbacks. Erros Mágicos should be taken outside the supervision of a doctor, no prescription needed, chase it down with a mimosa and laguiole on a side trip to Andorra.

Links: Moon Glyph

John Swana, Mark Price & David Lackner

Smooth End of Summer

[CS; Galtta Media]

What gall, to release something with a title like this one in May of all months. When we are all actually extremely excited about summer’s rise to mighty power in the wake of winter’s slow and gruesome demise. But anything from Galtta Media I will take, and so be it that it’s this totally bonkers, ambient-jazz tape from a trio of talent. This music came to exist over some distance; David Lackner played some noise/saxophone at a session in New York with Mark Price and recorded it. They squished, squashed, chopped, chiseled, charred and char-broiled that sax all down into a soupy stew of chordal-drone and added some beats. Then the two shipped the tapes over to veteran EVI-virtuoso John Swana’s studio in Philly to tickle the mix with his scalar prowess. And that’s it. That’s not it! There’s also baritone marching horn, MIDI keyboards and samplers, and a voice on this album too. Whatever you think all of that might sound like, it probably sounds a lot different. There’s no good way to prepare you for what is here. I want to say that it’s aggressive, but it’s not: These guys, in a tone that is dimly lit, cull cool neon purples and blues from the 80s, and supplant them gracefully onto the surface of Pluto. If there’s any kind of rhythm here (and there is), it’s not based on any Earthly notion of the concept. It’s an aural space where whistles occupy odd nooks, singing off as distant ghosts, and melodies are known to drift like the smoke off a clove cigarette. Add the beats, and you know you are in one hip, holographic zone. As much In a Silent Way as it is Selected Ambient Works vol. II and further is this tape, a snapshot of the future of jazz as we know it.

Links: John Swana, Mark Price & David Lackner - Galtta Media

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In this ever-expanding musical world, there's a wealth of 7-inches, cassettes, CD-Rs, and objet d'art being released that, due to their limited quantities and adventurous sonics, go unnoticed by the public at large. Cerberus seeks to document the aesthetic of these home recorders and backyard labels. Email us here.