Deflation Basin [CS; Bezoar Formations]
Radiant Husk’s Deflation Basin is a fabulous tape, a fantabulous tape, a zip-zoop ZAbulous tape, and I’ll tell you why: It takes the cassette-drone formula we’ve all been mucking around in for years and attempts to expand its parameters. Most interestingly, it maintains a rhythmic element through its first ‘movement’ that also could be considered a focal point of the drift itself. It underpins the action and lends additional meaning to the coruscating remnants that via a lesser project would be left to run the show on their own. Later on, a slow bell tolls for thee, continuing the quasi-percussive trend and lending a sense of un-metal doom to the proceedings. It also eventually morphs into another example of Radiant Husk’s ability to weave exciting themes through a set-in-stone surface, taking the second half of Deflation Basin’s first side to a place that simply disallows interruption of any kind. I know, I sat and listened to it in my record room and was plastered to my computer chair like a WoW lifer. Then you get to Side B and it’s another game being played by the same set of rules. This time you still get the rhythms, but you also get swooping swirls of bulbous bass and synth streaks. That doesn’t last long, however, as all of a sudden it’s time for electro-acoustics and a change in mood as insects chirp in unison like the buzz of a rapt audience. They know what’s good.Links: Bezoar Formations
Kiss You So Many Times You Can’t Count My Love [CS; Sanity Muffin]
Can I just really quickly mention that even though I (think that I) am breaking the rules by reviewing this tape on December 21st, 2014 for Cerberus, that I could seriously give two shits? The Soundcloud stream you can check out below the writing I’m about to write was uploaded to the world wide web in April of 2013. Yikes. To be fair to myself (and to you guys I believe, who now have gotten the opportunity to read this little blurb about it, thus hopefully hipping a select few to its charms and beauties, which are plentiful), Kiss You So Many Times You Can’t Count My Love only showed up in my mailbox a short couple of weeks ago with a bunch of other goodies from Sanity Muffin. Therefore, I think reviewing this little beauty is totally fair game, and in fact kind of necessary. To be perfectly frank, I just have to write something about this — one of the prettiest and overall best tapes I’ve gotten within the last calendar year. Phipps pt is music written, played and sung by a woman named Lovage Sharrock who’s got a voice that bounces off the surface of your eardrums like light from an abalone shell. Beneath lilting, skeletal guitar ballads, all shrouded in ghostly reverberant overtones and subtle synthesized backdrops, Sharrock lets patient melodies float out over extended passages of sustained verse. You’ll wanna say “Grouper” right away, given Phipps pt’s similarly cavernous stereo settings and hushed songwriting aesthetic, and I won’t blame you. But know this: I have already listened to this tape multiples of dozens of more times than I did Ruins, and I think there are some solid, tangible reasons why, aside from the fact that it’s in my review pile, that I love that it’s something new and different in the field of acoustical spirit-summonings, and even beyond the show-stopping cover of Robert Wyatt’s “Sea Song” smack-dab in the middle of the album. Lovage has an incredibly direct whisper, less distant than you might think; almost uncomfortably close without sacrificing its inviting, alluring tone, letting us all in on the secrets instead of hiding them back in a fog. The effects are there for sure, but always secondary and subservient to the tasks at hand: relating a story and doing so in beautiful song. She tells me things I like hearing, but more importantly, they’re things that I need to be hearing. “What are you searching for / what are you waiting for” she pulls me in closer and closer… “and when you find that find, will you then be satisfied? / I want you to be gratified.” Well, let me tell you miss Lovage Sharrock. I sure as shit have, and I sure as shit am.Links: Phipps pt - Sanity Muffin
The Prepaid Piano & Replayed [LP; Senufo Editions]
Juxtapositions of technology and music have long ruled art – both as visual and aural medium. It’s a debate at the center of organic vs. synthetic, one that in and of itself often has captured an instrument’s true intention while ignoring its exerted purpose. Andrew Pekler’s representation of the never-ending circle comes in the form of a nearly 2-year old art installation in which five mobile phones were placed inside a piano, triggered by an audience’s calling each phone at any given time. A bunch of other technical jargon later and we’re gifted with The Prepaid Piano & Replayed. The results unfold like a test tube experiment on each side: the A-side the “organic” results; the B-side a reconfigured arrangement (of sorts) based on a MIDI algorithm. The truly strange part is how robotic and prepared the A-side is compared to its technologically determined B-side. Not only has Pekler made a cruel statement which provides little evidence for either side to use to further their debate, he turns it into a well-deserved joke. In truth, the end user is the litmus test and just like opinions, we’re all assholes who must argue for/against something rather than accept/reject nothing. Removed from this sort of lab rat hypothesis, it should be noted The Prepaid Piano & Replayed (the ampersand separating the individual names of each side, in case you were curious as to its strange title) is a difficult listening experience. There’s no other way to sugar coat it. But don’t mistake ‘difficult’ for awful. On the contrary, it’s just that without the context in which each side was crafted, Pekler’s experiment can seem rudderless. Which only complicates these imaginative debates about the realness of the manufactured and the facade of what constitutes an organic instrument. Much like Pekler, the man with a plastic bucket and some branches will have as much say as the old scientists and sonic experimenters who toiled at large Moogs.Links: Andrew Pekler - Senufo Editions
Wilds [LP; AVANT!]
When the fires burn / and the ashes rise / as the children stare / with their blood-red eyes… Not exactly a cheerful message from Hot Guts and their retinue, and while part of me feels they’d of had more of a righteous charge in the 80s, when a lot of their influences were out and about, they’re sufficiently steamed; they’ve obviously had a rough go of it. I’m not sure why they’re angry, but I respect it, the question being: Do they effectively channel their rage into their music? I’m happy to say Wilds serves as an apt microcosm of madness (not the ‘he’s crazy!’ kind but the ‘if you keep pushing him, he’s going to kill you!’ kind), constructing semi-Utopian cold-synth caves that are surprisingly comfortable to crawl into. I wrote about these guys in Signal To Noise mag years ago and barely recognized them this time around. The core Guts of their being remains as tortured as it ever was, they’ve just found a more electronic/digital way to express that angst. Not sure why but the track I’m connecting to most effortlessly is “A Kindness,” a cut you won’t hear unless you sit and listen to this LP front-to-back (people still do that, right?). It’s a bleak landscape, barren and frosty, populated by two lost voices, male and female, whose calm moods soon are broken up by dreamy beats, distant, blurred sirens, and the most provocative synth swipes of the record. As the apparatus decays more and more foreign elements enter the fray and muddy the signal beautifully, and just as quickly as it began, Wilds is done. I’ve gone about this all backward, of course. Don’t miss the strangely vulnerable permutations and jubilant chorus of “Will Carry,” or the upbeat playfulness of “Kite and Shadow.” Another head-slam from AVANT!, another nice reveal care of Cerberus, no?Links: AVANT!
Inside Aquila [CS; Found Tapes]
Instead of a standard j-card, the first release from Virginia’s Found Tapes label is a black cassette that comes with a Norelco shell outfitted with these creepy veins just underneath some kind of painted coating that’s adhered to the plastic. Getting the obvious out of the way first: This thing just looks completely bad ass. But the unique vein-look does more than just make Inside Aquila stand out in your wall tape rack – that splintery 3D artwork also just so happens to give a nice little visual queue as to the work I.G.M (Ian G. McColm) put into the music for Inside Aquila. Like the sharp contours, twisting lines and tight angles created by those veins on the cover, McColm’s compositions often start with prickly staccato textures, tiny dots connecting a jagged maze through which meandering drones and reverberant harmonics of the guitar can freely flow, a nice backdrop for the spaghetti western melodies that sit on top, spread across the tape like the boney fingers of a skeleton. The album moves through some frigid fright-fests, humbling, beyond beautiful balladry, but it’s the substance beneath all that that keeps this guy on repeat: those undertones are so deep and rich, rolling tides of seismic bass, all full of satisfying and gratifying nutrients fed straight into your mind with the efficiency of… well, of a human body’s circulatory system, God’s second greatest creation (next to the auto-reverse function on a Walkman).Links: I.G.M - Found Tapes
“All Over the News” b/w “Hawaiian Ice” [Cassingle; Self-Released]
I’m convinced Trevor Tremaine has suffered a concussion after one too many Hall and Oates love-ins. Something’s up with the soap opera switch; perhaps his evil twin has replaced his loud aggression with devilish sax and Barry & Levon suave. Much like his first cassingle, the double dip here is well worth the exchange rate of just $240 worth of pudding. “All Over the News” is just three decades removed from pre-Clear Channel R&B; “Hawaiian Ice” is far more funky in that over-produced way which infected much of mid-80s pop culture. What’s refreshing is that Tremaine – or whoever is playing him – seems so sincere. There is no denying that a wide audience wants this, as evident by the Lewis enrapture. Hell, wouldn’t be surprised if that sly Ameri-Canadian has been posing as a noise musician all these years. At the very least, he’s the assaulter that’s led to Attempt. Whatever change of mind/person, it’s not worth fighting it any longer. This is good retro-pop that hasn’t been overdone. “When it’s done/You’ll miss it so much.”Links: Attempt
Spaceworld [CS; Field Hymns]
A title like “Spaceworld” may or may not be a little misleading here: Sure, Spaceworld is certainly spacey. It’s cosmic, even. It’s frictionless. Neon. Expansive. Some tracks have that light speed-glide to them, with some hypnotic, perpetually self-perpetuating grooves floating gracefully off into the black abyss. But there’s something about Spaceworld that might take you back to reality, too. When the guitar’s lullaby lilts its way in, when the doumbek softly beats out its intoxicating rhythm, and when a cooing voice hums its harmonious hymns into the sides of your brain, you’re gonna feel… young. And very human. You’ll see things you enjoy seeing on good old planet Earth on the day-to-day. Like green grass on a hillside, or fluffy clouds, or the sun flickering across the ripples of a pond. Twinkling synths and bell chimes illuminate the atmosphere like Christmas lights on an auto-timer, flickering to life, lighting the path home. Simple and pretty things your brain likes to experience, simply because they are so simple and pretty. The kind of background beauty that gives life in the foreground its secret charm, gift-wrapped by New Zealandite Conrad Wedde for his first (and hopefully not last) tape for the amazing Field Hymns imprint.Links: Conrad Wedde - Field Hymns
My Name Should Be Trouble [LP; Totally Wired]
I get down on myself sometimes when I sit down at the computer and a flood of florescent words don’t automatically start tumbling into the ‘Body’ portion of a review. That’s just me being a bitch, however, because bands go through the exact-same thing, toiling when no one’s watching in hopes that at some point notice might be taken. BRUCH, on the other hand, possess the bravado to just DO IT, no self-consciousness whatsoever. I’d argue that a little more forethought would have improved My Name Should Be Trouble, but that might be antithetical to BRUCH’s entire operation. You certainly don’t pump out two full-length albums and a collaboration (with Gran, whom we’ve also Cerb’d up a bit) in the space of a few years if you can’t cut it confidence-wise. So that’s how it is, and though I also take issue with the Elvis cues briefly taken by the singer, the runaway spirit of My Name is impossible not to get caught up in. It’s like 12 snapshots from disparate eras of life, taken with different brands of cameras according to which year it was, scattered on a bed and set to sound. My favorite cut is “Take Me Home Vienna” (What is it with Totally Wired bands and Vienna? First Crystal Soda Cream wanted to escape it, now BRUCH wants to idealize it?), a simple-enough railcar ride led by snappy (perhaps brushed?) drums and Pulp Fiction guitars and bolstered by deeply purred vocals somewhere between James Burroughs and a sedate Iggy Pop. From there “That’s What Love Is” or “Trouble” should be your next stops, the former an urgent smear of keys and lovely ladies’ lipstick, the latter a ballad of sorts filtered through 80s bubble-pop and 50s torch songs. Unfortunately, I can’t help you any longer, so gear up for this one and keep your mind open-open-open.Links: Totally Wired
HD015LP/540-046/LLR010 [LP/CS; Holodeck]
There’s something uplifting to be argued in favor of isolation. Cut off from the world, instinct takes over. Senses keenly improve. The strong are able to maintain their humanity while tapping into feral abstracts. I doubt Survive is taking itself this literally with its recent Blade Runner incarnation, but it’s safe to project that in our doomed alternative timeline, the music of HD015LP/540-046/LLR010 will help us remember the methods of survival: lonerism. It’s a moonlit dash from one safety zone to the other, all the while finding the bare minimum of necessities to eek out another day. Though it seems stark – perhaps even dark – there’s hopefulness in the vision. No one wants us to end up in the dark, victims of our own fascination with the post-apocalyptic. But should it ever come to pass, those who find the will to [S]urvive will find themselves proud of their transformation. It’s a sad future but their is brightness for those who see it as the new beginning it is. Survive are giving us the tools of preparedness in case the day comes.Links: Holodeck
Poet Named Revolver
Meets Gruesome [CS; No Kings Record Cadre]
It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, but as it turns out Lee Noble’s old band was fucking incredible. Also featuring Trabajo’s TJ Richards, as well as No Kings cohort Stephen Molyneux as members of the quartet, I guess the really surprising thing about this is to find that Poet Named Revolver was, interestingly enough, a pretty straight-forward guitar/bass/drums indie rock kind of combo. Of course, it was their experimental tendencies that made these guys so much more interesting than so many other players in the game around that time… and listening through these fantastically composed and executed songs, it’s also a surprise that this band didn’t exactly take off. Meets Gruesome, their sole album, is an earnest, heartfelt collection of rockers that bleed with sincerity. It’s full of clever song structures, pivoting sections that gallop over quick-tempo ragers and sweep across light, heart-breaking balladry, all with a nimble ease, a master of its own obstacle course. There’s a bit of a folk-bent here with help from some banjo, accordion, and harmonica arrangements peppered about, but the tendency to include these textures doesn’t minimize the electric power that runs through this record’s coarse veins. And for as big and bold as those chords strum, and as hard as those drums persistently pound, the band also maintains a thin, lean musical frame, which is the perfect construct to house the singer’s voice. Not sure which member specifically it is who’s crooning here (and it may be that different tracks on the album feature different voices), but each tune is sung with the quaking tenor of a young Isaac Brock, pretty and perfectly in tune for the softies, and appropriately hoarse when barking out over a particularly rowdy chorus.
This album was originally released on cassette by Nailbat Tapes back in 2008, and this new edition of 50 copies is criminally meager. Sorry to review a sold-out release, everyone (especially since it’s such a crusher record)… but I felt like I just had to get some words down on this one. Check your favorite distros, or heck, buy the digital record from the band, and godspeed!
Links: No Kings Record Cadre