In the Dust of This Planet [CS; End of the Alphabet]
Desolation is more than one man can explain. It is experienced differently from person to person; where one would place it as a sole being in an area of complete emptiness and seclusion, another may find desolation in the form of the crumbling infrastructure abused in urban landscapes. Does it speak to isolation or deterioration? Is it felt more as an organic happening or a synthesized event? In the Dust of This Planet ask all these questions in its fearless/fearsome drones. Combining the various stages of drone from the past 30 years (a dash of industrial, a pinch of electronica, a lot of minimalism), MIR set the stage for desolate listening. Though the air is disturbed and the scene is well lit, how you make out the surroundings is up to you. What you will notice is how cold In the Dust of This Planet comes across, really letting you feel the crumbling world which we are killing through our irresponsibility. So yeah, another one of THOSE records. Maybe with the not-so subtle hand of MIR, this time you’ll pay attention.Links: End of the Alphabet
The Gods of Eden [CS; Nostilevo]
Radio Club’s The Gods of Eden is another release I couldn’t, wouldn’t dare let fall into the clutches of lost-in-2014 nothingness, now matter how sold-out-as-FUDGE it is. How could I have? This is easily the best coldwave tape I heard all year, and its fresh, creative way of doing business brings back the early 80s in the best possible sense. The vocals are mere shadow voices, like a third-generation tracing of Peter Murphy’s voice dowsed in effects and alcohol, while the synth-simple arrangements evoke awe every time they shift into a new gear. There’s some autobahn-style straight-ahead chugging that gets rather intense, a dribbling of Blank Dogs mid-tempo mumbling here and there, and a smattering of more scientific strains of catchy, maddening Wierdness that I simply insist you hear in the here and now (NOW!). You won’t move like this to a cassette tape in your average daily dealings, I can guarantee that. It’s impossible to fold your arms while listening to “The Monkey’s Paw.” Again: Sold out, but ask Nostilevo for a repress (redub?) and I’m sure they’ll do somethin’ for ya, kid.Links: Radio Club
Fantasy Living [CS; Spring Break Tapes!]
The debut tape from Monte Burrows (nom de plume of our dear Spring Break Tapes!-maker, Joe “Tuesday” McKay) comes with an interesting passage of complete and utter nonsense written by someone named Uel Aramchek printed inside the fold-out J-card. I caught the word “necropolis” in a quick skim (that word just sticks out, doesn’t it?) and so I wanted to start there. Because that is indeed where this music starts, on the galley of a submerged ship at the bottom of a lagoon, barnacled and gnarly, and your vision of this aquatic graveyard smeared in the wafting lukewarm currents. He takes you right there, fixing your listening scope with a scratched-lens filter, blurring the old tape loops and grinding organs into a haunted dystopian drone from another time. Monte Burrows hits some Basinski vibes as the whole of the composition seems to point itself down into that crumbling descent we call de-composition, but with the horns and woodwinds on side B, I’m also really taken back to my first encounters with Philip Jeck, and the composer’s ability to pull a sensory-stuffed drone out of romanticism and let it ride in a sad, sallow mess of sound, all without sacrificing the most important thing: the melody (of course!). Totally haunting and all-engrossing stuff, an impressive first outing and another slam dunk for Spring Break Tapes!Links: Spring Break Tapes!
夕方の犬 (dog in the evening)
low temperature room [CS; Adhesive Sounds]
It’s often a folly to think of modern music as art. Exceptions exist but they are beyond the peripheral; works so simple but presented as complex. Music removed from the mainstream, deemed inaccessible. But it’s odd to separate by these weak definitions. I assume that if you like [MAINSTREAM ARTIST] you can enjoy [INACCESSIBLE ARTIST] when you take the time to find commonality. Actually, low temperature room takes the pain of exploration out of the equation. It follows in the grand emergence of softly sedated musicians taking song craft to its rudimentary form, yet it is not shy about pushing a listener out of their comfort zone in the name of art. The titles are bare bones, telling you how to feel. However, the music betrays the obvious. If you’re a surface listener, all you’ll take from low temperature room is in plain sight. But you learn, just as you will with the [MAINSTREAM] and the [INACCESSIBLE] that they both exist in the same plane. That the terms are interchangeable or frankly, meaningless. Their definitions are attached by lazy hacks and fashion police. 夕方の犬 doesn’t give in to any of it.Links: Adhesive Sounds
Bugs and Rats
Adidas [LP; Feeding Tube]
I’m staring the Cerberus 2014 deadline dead in the eyes and honestly all I really wanna to dooooooo is cuddle up like a balled-up-fists baby and watch the SNL 40th Anniversary show because people are MEGA-Tweetin’ that shit and for good reason supposedly. But I can’t stop thinking about rolling up the beans of this Bugs and Rats record into a nice, tight music-blurbito, so I guess I’m going to commit myself to that for the time being. Don’t know if you remember but there was a Back Magic LP that I dug on HARDdd last year and Adidas is like the sleazy, Pissed Jeans take on that more minimalist duo sound (though, against all odds, Bugs/Rats are a trio). Then again, I think of Bleach and Purling Hiss a lot too when the first track on Side B kicks in. Love that shit; live that shit; no shit; where shit? Anyway, there was this band on Aagoo a few years back, Okie Dokie, and I finally have a reason to reference them again, and it’s spelled ADIDAS (specifically the second song on Side B). It’s a punk project, made in the projects, for the projects. Times New Viking, No Age, suck a cock, you dull me. And what’s more: You people don’t even know how well you have it. I give you GOLD like Adidas a few times a week and you slurp it up for free and leave to click on other scraps of neon vomit. Now I know how prostitutes feel. Now I know how Bugs and Rats feel, come to think of it; a lonely space, that of genius. Pedantism? Why yes, I’ll take some! BadapBINGgggg (fuck can we just end this thing?), it’s 2016!!!Links: Feeding Tube
Onho [8-inch lathe; PseudoArcana]
So I made a pledge on these here pages not to mention a certain island nation that neighbors Australia that produces a lot of odd yet warming pop music. So I promise to stick to it even when the artist in question hails from said nation. Because this isolated, reverberating 8-inch plump on 8 minute tracks per side has little to do with the same lush, open landscape in which it was birthed. It helps that the eponymous “Ohno” is actually a soothing drone created from an Indian instrument the tanpura. Though the tonal tendencies occasionally cross into the exotic, it often holds steady in a more modern repose. Slightly more akin to worn out Lululemon than authentic robes and shawls, but none the less more centered and spiritual that the host of suburban women adopting Yogi couture. “Death to Kali” is done with the very traditional pipe organ, placing Meek’s second piece further away from some Donovan trip. This is Ravedeath Hecker and not solely based on the the instrument of choice, but in the even-handed use of harsh tones atop a gentle melody. A wind whipping through the green valleys to the scenic beaches. No, I made a promise and I will keep it. But it helps when said nation really has not one discernible musical identity but myriad ones. Meek proves that inspiration goes beyond his surrounded home and his time spent touring the rest of the world truly makes Ohno a global experience without the filter of where his passport says he lays his head.
Transient [CS; Golden Cloud]
Only one side in and I’ve already got the old typewriter out and my fingers are flying next to my spirit being, miles high, bobbing along a drifty hypno-trick by Lake Daggers, who is Wyatt Montgomery Worcel. That’s the first time I’ve ever read that name or typed it down, and it looks like he’s only got one other thing available so far (a forthcoming split?), so if it’s new to me, maybe it’s new to you too? What’s not totally new to me is hearing another noise-guy answering the call of the tasty-beat-maker draught the hip-hop scene may or may not be struggling with (I guess I can’t really say for certain, alls I know is that I’m not really listening to the modern hip-hop scene, but I very much am getting my beat-kicks out on these weird-ass cassette tapes). Don’t mean to pin Worcel here down with that “noise-guy” platitude either, but I hear it with the TERRODOME guys, Charlatan to an extent, Paw Paw, Potions out in Chicago… artists seemingly looking for (and finding) new ways to get your head-nod on that start with a mesmeric ambient cradle of buzzy background synths or droning drawls of guitar strings, and lets the grooves carve their way in nice and easy. In the case of Transient here, Worcel’s version of this fuzes a buzzing, ever-present radiance of ecstatic color with a nice array of percussive textures built into balanced grooves. With silvery guitar melodies that swirl like liquid mercury driving it along, it’s the kind of thing that at times makes perfect sense as a strait zoner, at others pure dance-floor fodder, and very often it’s both at the same time (this tape’s real sweet spot). A prime cut of meditation meat to chew on.Links: Lake Daggers - Golden Cloud
Size Queen / Jane La Onda
The Spectacle / Buy Buy Buy [LP; Feeding Tube]
I saw Guerilla Toss last year and don’t remember much about Kassie Carlson because it’s tough to concentrate on characteristics of people when they’re blurry as fuck and surrounded by sounds that could bludgeon out a devout terrorist upon contact. But hey, if GToss is any indication she knows her stuff, and this collection of two sold-out tapes, one per side of vinyl, fleshes out her place in the underground world outside of that band everyone’s been talkin’ up for a good while now. Her Jane La Onda nom de plume carries with it a strange mystique, a tinny, toybox sound that changes shapes constantly as she spits coy nursery rhyme-style verse(s) post-Cocorosie. Buy Buy Buy is an interesting sojourn, but to me this material would have sounded just fine on tape; the real gold here is the Size Queen side (in my twisted mind) because its coldwave sensibilities are bettered by the vinyl format. I also feel The Spectacle plays to Carlson’s strengths just a bit more, teasing out the softer side of her voice and offering an elegant landscape consisting of lush, green beats, a misty-blue rhythmic spray, and cute lil’ bass lines that contribute more than you’ll realize at first. Vaporwave heads will want to claim Size Queen for their own but don’t fall for the ruse, brother; it ain’t legit. In other news, note the several instances of coruscating, often call-and-response, pitch-bent vocals, both higher and lower, as they fly across your ear’s path like sparklers dazzling your eye; now that you’ve noted them, enjoy them and contextualize them… My work here is done.Links: Feeding Tube
Ascension or Whatever [CS; Holy Page]
Holy Page is a label I haven’t had a good chance to dig into, but from the two tapes I have heard (this one here and the pleasant pop tunes of Stephen Steinbrink), it’s clear the imprint has a pretty wide footprint on the experimental music landscape. Here’s an odd little beastie from Mold Omen which is a duet between Mike Pursley and Andy Livingston, two noise-ers from out in Baltimore. The duet-feel is palpable here, rare for an album I’d have no problem throwing straight into the weirdo-noise category (my very favorite category!), where knobs and effects often swirl, smash, and smear sounds together into an ambient wash. But with Ascension or Whatever, the tracks typically carry a plucked (or droned) amplified guitar part and an accompanying percussion element, distinct voices working together in concert, even lining up rhythmically at times. And although those elements are arranged in slightly (or radically) different ways from track to track, the mix maintains its aluminum can sheen with tinny frequencies and hardly any bass to give the group a distinct “sound.” In a strange way, even though this music is largely formless, often abrasive, a borderline-brain-irritant, some of the pieces give the same feeling you can get from the great power-duos. But for the most part this is obviously absurdist work with a few moments of eardrum-shredding feedback, tons of atonal hoopla, and an overall attitude of “who gives a flying…” – These guys are masters of not taking themselves too seriously, obviously imbuing their work with the sort of twisted sense of humor that comes with experimenting with high-voltage currents and the occasional accidental self-electrocution. And because of it, Mold Omen is maybe better than it thinks it is, which is kind of scary. Good for us, bad for them? Or bad for us? I can’t decide, this shit’s fucking weird, guys.Links: Holy Page
Order of Disappearance [CS; Cosmic Winnetou]
The music contained on this little cassette makes me long for isolation in a way few other things have in recent memory. I feel that to experience its true impact I need to find a little fog-shrouded coastal town, and walk the streets completely alone in the early hours of the morning. Dewey sidewalk underfoot, wandering aimlessly, at some point I forget that I am even wearing headphones, and the music blends with the grey 6AM light and the gauzy glow of street lamps minutes from turning off. A feeling of total separation from the world, of being in a place without future or past, where everything is a long, fog enshrouded infinite moment would be crystallized by that combination of music and environment.
Really such a fantasy boils down to a desire to escape from the ins and outs of life; duck out of the hail of ultimately trivial bullshit that makes up a seemingly ever larger portion of our days as we age. At 26 my jejune struggle not to capitulate to the “realities” of day-to-day living is straining from the constant assault of “adult” life. Which just makes these little 20 minute escapes matter all the more.Links: Micromelancolié - Cosmic Winnetou