Guest Mix: Russian Tsarlag
Champ Mixtape [by Profligate]
Some musicians these days produce so much music that it can be hard to keep up. It’s probably always been this way, but the internet ease-of-access often serves as more of a reminder of how much you’re missing rather than as a way to tune you into everything that’s going on in the depths of underground music. Adam Harper just wrote an essay about this for his continuing column for Electronic Beats. In it, he outlines ways to try and keep up with so much going on, but the very existence of that essay is an admittance of how hard it is to actually do that. He mentions the usefulness of websites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp, as well as the benefit of links, but these alone couldn’t possibly uncover even a fraction of what’s out there. Luckily, you are not alone. The line between music listener and music journalist has blurred to such a degree that everyone has become an archivist, collecting names, labels, and releases, reconfiguring the context of everything in order to fill in the gaps of the music web with more and more lines.
This mix of early Carlos Gonzalez songs from his long-running Russian Tsarlag project is a great example. With less than a week to go before the release of Russian Tsarlag’s new album, Gagged In Boonesville, Noah Anthony of Not Not Fun’s Profligate thought it’d be a good idea to compile a what-you-probably-missed greatest hits of Gonzalez’s massive output. Collecting songs from years of limited and tour-only releases, each of the 10 tracks here fit together like timeless references to Russian Tsarlag’s evolving “swamp-surf” sound.
Stream the mix below and then feel free to dig deeper into the Russian Tsarlag discography. However, you may want to leave bread crumbs so you can find your way back. After all, every look in one direction is its own turning-a-blind-eye to every other direction, and we don’t want you getting too stuck in the web.
01. “Last Release”
02. “Teenager In A Mansion”
03. “Lived Too Long”
04. “50 Years”
05. “Death Night”
06. “Let’s Drive”
07. “Take U Home”
08. “Bertha’s Back On Tape”
10. “Desire’s Trace”
Russian Tsarlag’s Gagged In Boonesville is out next Tuesday, July 2, on Not Not Fun.
Cold Of Ages
You lie awake at night clutching the Cold Of Ages cassette and the Cold Of Ages CD like evil twin infants against your chest. Your mind races. “Ash Borer, I love you, but I just need more. I need your rhythm section to beat me to an even more disfigured pulp. I need your endless tremolo-picked guitar lines to criss cross down my limbs with even more clarity. I need whatever that synth-like ambience is, probably a synth, yeah, to permeate me to the core. What more can I do? Don’t leave me like this, Ash Borer.”
It’s ok. No more tears. As if you need a reason to gather more Ash Borer physical media, Arcata, CA’s soul-crushing black metal sorcerers — perhaps the closest American humans have ever gotten to Emperor’s high water mark (other than Weakling, of course) — just reissued the mammoth Cold Of Ages on two LPs “featur[ing] a vinyl-only mix and master for a heavier and more aggressive sound than the CD and CS versions” via the eternally dope Pesanta Urfolk. Take a listen to the album’s 16-minute opener, “Descended Lamentations,” below. If it doesn’t satiate you, I don’t know what will.
Called to Leave
No Kings: the name of the label itself signifies quality. From Lee Noble and Motion Sickness of Time Travel to Dan Svizeny and Secret Birds, No Kings’ lo-fi, half-reclaimed National Geographic/half-deco artwork and aesthetics of longing and happiness found in dark, sketchy places provide many a beautiful piece of tape.
Stephen Molyneux is no exception. His folk ballads are visceral and tactile, aided in part by the stark recording conditions (a single microphone, according to the website). On Side A, Molyneux squeezes seven songs into 11 minutes. Saving no breath, he allows the steady strum of his guitar to dictate the pace by which the tape progresses. His voice, the only other instrument present (for a while), mesmerizes with its unapologetic imperfections and boldly audible lyrics. Pairing folk images of ghosts, mountains, gold mines, legendary characters, and fruitless journeys, Molyneux is charming and engaging in his vocal delivery.
When “Of Ghosts” appears at the end of Side A, it signals — via time-tortured organ chords — the transition from the oddly jubilant air of discovery to the cold reflection on death of Side B. Here, the tape hiss threatens to overwhelm Molyneux’s singing, which is reduced to barely a gasp in a silent attic. Just as the rivers of Tennessee provides life and sunlight — birds, delicate beauty — straying far from it can lead to wasteland. There is recovery from the darkness in “Of Labor,” which is perhaps a darkly tongue-in-cheek eulogy to the hopelessness of rural poverty, where work and toil are only ever substituted by sleep.
Various Artists: Bridgetown Records
Last Batch Comp
Kevin Greenspon, I love you, dude, and I totally get doing anything to put Bridgetown Records out there, but there’s gotta be a better way than having to verify and type “Spend less with DISH” to download the transfer files for this mix. Hit me up. I got ideas and shit. ;)
Anyhow, I recognized something about Chocolate Grinder posts. We always write short blurbs for “popular” musickings, but never for the peeps who really “matter.” In light of that, this is the Last Batch Comp of tapes on Bridgetown Records for the year (until 2014) before a huge Kevin Greenspon tour. Most of ‘em are sold out because I’m a slow poke, but I been working on shit, so chill out and FIND THESE TAPES!
So without further ado, minus the hyperlinked names of every band/artist featured in this, Bridgetown Records presents THE Last Batch Comp: Cousins, Brahms, Hausu, No Paws, Mariposa, Nicole Kidman, Widesky, Hollow Sunshine, and R. Sawyer. Enjoy. And as always, “Hi!”
Download the comp here.
• Bridgetown Records: http://www.bridgetownrecords.info
Layers upon layers upon layers upon layers upon layers. Our memories, our emotions, our neuroses are just layers upon layers. Nothing is black or white. To me at least, there always seems to be an ethereal filter or psychedelic effect turned way up on the amplifier of life. [Almost] all music is made of layers upon layers. A gentle voice rests upon an expansive rolling lawn of reverberating guitar ramblings. The subtle echo begins to grow, swallowing up the sustained airy vocals, creating a comfortable bed (which has many layers itself) of ambient undertones.
This is what is going on with White Poppy’s upcoming release Drifter’s Gold: layers upon layers. It’s certainly what is going on with the visual accompaniment for “Daydreaming,” a track off the cassette that’s due July 2 on Constellation Tatsu. The video features layers upon layers of color-soaked footage of foliage and wilderness, serving as the backdrop for Crystal Dorval (the solitary creator behind White Poppy) and her heavenly voice to fade in and out, but never quite disappear — just like on the record.
The Drifter’s Gold cassette released by Constellation Tatsu next week is in anticipation of a full-length self-titled LP to be released by Not Not Fun in August. Exciting!
Oneohtrix Point Never
“Still Life” [excerpt]
The video for Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Still Life” in many ways mirrors the aesthetic that Daniel Lopatin employed on his new album, R Plus Seven. Like the video, the album is implicitly structured, but there is no cohesion, no resolution. Instead, the music suggests form, but rarely commits to any clear shape, often leaving tracks in a suspended, disembodied state while still relying on semiotic convention for tone. The resulting moods, then, feel disconnected yet assuring, synthetic yet transcendent. And on “Still Life” — one of the darker tracks on the album — we get an eerie desolation, a state that’s underscored in Nate Boyce’s fantastic video by the confrontation between a futurist sublime and the rooted aetheticization of branding, the liquidity of its imagery offset by a fetishistic, staid consumerism. And keep in mind this is just an excerpt! (The original track length is 4:55, and it doesn’t actually start in this video until 1:13.)
Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven is out October 1 on Warp.