Kyle Landstra
Sage [CS; Cosmic Winnetou]

I’m not entirely sure there’s such a thing as a “household name” in cassette-culture drone artists, but if there is, Kalamazoo’s Kyle Landstra might be one. With solid releases from Sonic Meditations and Already Dead Tapes (among others, to be sure — I can’t vouch for all of them, although I’m inclined to without having heard them), his latest for German imprint Cosmic Winnetou might be the standout of the bunch. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten a nicer tape deck, speakers, etc. since last I’d heard from Landstra… but somehow the harmonies on Sage sound fuller, rounder, just bursting with colorful beauty (as the cover art might suggest). Landstra here breathes a life force of sheer energy into his synthesizers. In fact, Sage and its hyper-fidelity nearly defies the cassette format altogether; this is Landstra as brought to you by THX. One side glides whilst the other grinds - that seems to be the delineating feature between the two. And since both pieces of music are essentially studies in the centric tone, harmonic frequencies up and down the spectrum (akin to Fibonacci, although there is a prominence of the major fifth interval), Sage as an album relies most on elements of dynamics, which happens to be where Landstra just skies it out of the park, creating the thrill of a free-fall out of something disguised as planar or monotonous; by the end, you’ve really been through something important. Pure drone decadence, folks, this one is sure to land on a number of year-end lists (present company included). Somebody press vinyl for this guy already.

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