Sunday, November 30, 2008

Maths Balance Volumes – Information is Pain [Taped Sounds/Zeikzak]

I haven’t checked in with the Bread & Animals label franchise in a while but leave it to them to create a new addiction in my life. The name of this addiction: Maths Balance Volumes. Information is Pain, at least I’m guessing that's what this tape is called cause it’s the only thing somewhat resembling words here, besides “Maths Balance Volumes”, has spent a great deal of time in my player this past week and continually calls me back for more.
I’ve heard accounts that this duo is tapes and guitar as well as tapes and tapes. The guitar/tapes thing sounds pretty right here but I wouldn’t put tape on tape action past these guys either. The first of two songs on the first side is hyperactively sloshed. Jumpy tape loops of… I have no idea are paired with a three/quarters formed guitar riff. There’s a breakdown with distant echoing percussive sounds until a finger tap/morse code type figure starts ruling (could be guitar or tape I suppose). There may be some vocals in the muck too. I don’t understand it but this audio clusterfuck creates an appallingly great groove with touches of ethnic blues rock poking through near the end. The track is cut off mid stride, total bummer until the next piece starts up. If I assigned a genre to this tape, I’d say “Tape Blues” which is probably accurate for about a third of the material here. The piece is a rambling swamp stomp wobbling along on a catchy Velcro guitar riff against constantly reeling, stretched tape moans. There’s super sparse percussion here that I’m assuming is coming from a tape loop. The oddest thing here is that there’s a great lead vocal, actually singing words (though I can’t tell what they are) and I’m fairly sure it isn’t coming from a tape. This is a total pop gem constructed in the strangest way possible.
The first track on the flipside is a few minutes of utter WTF moments. There’s a one-note organ loop, sax bleats, drunken harmonica and some explosive dry heaves. All lead by some dude sounding like he’s Tom Waits battling a tyrannosaurus rex. By the end there’s some flute, and hand drum/tin can sounds. The next track sounds way tape-gnarled/bit crushed with a delayed, manipulated chipmunk voice over a drum machine and maybe a keyboard. The third track is a real short interlude and has the same contorted sound of the previous jam but it’s a sample of a lounge jazz piano run. The final track is my favorite on the side and goes straight for the muddy blues jugular with a crunchy, low-slung guitar riff and unintelligible but soulful singing. Interestingly enough, the song is played relatively straight with not much by way of weird tape sounds. This is one of those tapes I just keep flipping over every time it ends. An addictively wild ride.
Tape is packaged in typically great Bread and Animals/Zeikzak style. The cover of the case has weird bluish globules resembling old Gushers fruit snacks. The tape case itself came painted shut; drenched in magenta, with some yellow rays and more of that blue slimer. This came out in the summer if I recall so it’s been long sold out but I got my copy at Tomentosa and it looks like they’re still in stock over there. Buy it as fast as you can! But if you can’t find a copy of this, however, I saw Maths Balance Volumes have a self-released LP out. I’m most definitely gonna look into that when I get some more extra cash.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trapped in the Closet: Volume 1

This is the first of a "feature" I'll be doing--and stupidly calling "Trapped in the Closet". The basic idea is that over the year and a half I've been doing this, I have been sent so much great music, way more than I ever could have expected when I started, actually still pretty amazed people ever sent anything. Anyway, I play something from every package I receive on the show at some point but finding time to review everything is trickier. I started cleaning out the closet and looking through stuff I got but never actually reviewed. My apologies to all the labels/artists that sent stuff that I haven't gotten to. Hopefully, doing these periodically will help make up for it.
Diamond Lemonade – Diamond Lemonade [JK Tapes]
I’ll start things off nice and easy with this Diamond Lemonade cassette that came out on JK Tapes earlier in the year before the label closed its doors and rose from the ashes, phoenix-style, as the quarterback/space obsessed Young Tapes. Diamond Lemonade is Ulf Schütte, who knows a thing or two about labels with his Tape Tektoniks imprint. The sound source here, I’m guessing, is just bells or chimes but they are chopped, screwed and looped creating a constant flutter of frequencies. Things don’t change too much but the track zips off rather quickly, never outliving its welcome. The second piece is longer, and sounds similar but is much heavier on the murk factor. Tones rise and fall and flit around. There aren’t really “melodies”, per se, but through repetition and the overlapping, all the layers create weird little rhythms and pseudo-melodies, all concluding with vintage radio blips. Cool stuff, wish there was more here, though I remember seeing a Diamond Lemonade tape on Bread & Animals so I’ve got a hunch we’ll be hearing more from this project. Same jams on both sides.
Arklight – Welcome to the NHK Wasteland [Little Fury Things]
I was curious about this crew since I saw the name popping up across a bunch of very different kinds of labels. This disc showed up from NY label Little Fury Things and this disc is a mess in a good way. The title track evokes earlier Smog type stuff with sleepy monotone vocals and fuzzy guitar, and then lo and behold, a sample of “Bathysphere”, my favorite Smog song, kicks in. At first, I thought I somehow had two songs playing at once but nope. That track encapsulates the general sound of this CDr, if you can make the argument that the CDr has a “general sound.” “Store Lights” continues this blurry but propulsive style of bedroom rock. As far as I know this is a group, but sometimes it seems like just one dude sketching out any idea for a song that enters his mind. Maybe it is at times, or maybe everyone is just so connected it creates that vibe. Arklight, even in rock mode, walks a weird line between hooky chord changes and skronkiness, and finds it totally natural to switch to playing funk guitar riffs mid-song. “Cycle” switches up the style with heavy auto panning, filtered vocals and it’s driven by a drum machine-like beat and this weird sample/loop of electronic screeching. It all wraps up with 30 seconds of beautiful reversed guitar strums. “Wind Me in Grime” sets blues rock licks against a slow but pummeling drum machine (or is it live drumming?) and various effected sounds (one of which sounds like someone hammering). “Field of Motion” returns to that Wild Love-era Smog style but way more fractured/weird than Bill Callahan dared to get on that record. “Stolen Revolutions (Night Shuffles)” introduces a legitimately grooving drum pattern over which, various guitars and vocals float over. The potential is fully realized with the next track “Micro Mesh”, in which Arklight boldly wears its Miami Sound Machine influence on its sleeve. “Micro Mesh” is the best song on the record hands down and according to my girlfriend, “this song is awesome!” I’m inclined to agree. There’s a heavy Latin vibe here but that’s crossed with sitar runs and drones. The piece is propelled atop this short loop of electric piano, while acoustic guitar, delayed violin and vocal shouts are all introduced at different points. It’s a magical song. “Spit on a Queen” wanders along against twinkling keyboards until drum beats and organ loops come in, and maybe I’m psyching myself out but I think I’m hearing a U2 sample somewhere (a la “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). I think my mind’s probably playing tricks. “The Plague Years” is the resident folk ballad here but it’s still got a heavy drum beat and creepy recorded-in-a-cave backing vocals. “Death has No Imperfections” is the counterpart to “Micro Mesh”; it’s totally grooving, busy as a city and brings back the sitar too. Welcome to the NHK Wasteland has 15 songs and not all of them stick but there’s plenty of good stuff here to make the album worthwhile. And I do like that the record feels like this guy’s/these guys’ brain put on a piece plastic. Still in print.
6majik9 – Ritualisimo Putrido [Music Your Mind Will Love You]
Of the handful of 6majik9 releases I’ve heard through the years this is the one that has best fulfilled the group’s potential. They seem to push things just to the precipice of totally falling apart. All sounds, percussive/melodic/amelodic, are scattered everywhere but each track, for the most part, feels entirely focused. The album is well paced, keeping everything moving along at a decent clip, letting the sounds stream by you and leaving it up to your ears catch them all. My favorite, the album opener, “No Sense Being” compresses the mindset of the album into two minutes and forty five seconds. A hollering saxophone and stumbling percussion lead to a deliberate beat that guitar feedback, sax and other instruments are molded around. “A Beauty That Needs of Blots” creates and maintains a subtle groove mainly due to two dueling acoustic guitars along with flickers of percussion and keys. “Outsider Basement” works with an entirely electronic palette (I think), resembling an even more sloshed, instrumental Excepter. There’s a heavy synthbass that nudges the track along for me. Various blips from keyboards and drum machines skate along on top of that bass pulse. At least until somebody hits the “waltz” setting on their rhythm programmer and the band slowly coheres around the beat. “To the Inverse One” is eerie. Featuring a slow hand drum pattern, a great sax part and organ and other creepy swells. A solid disc of rambling, Australian gangly jangle and packaged in the trademark, tactile MYMWLY style. Still in print.
Cursillistas – Wasp Stings the Last Bitter Flavor [Digitalis]
This is a beautiful little disc of folky drone. “Drone (Groan)” opens with a minute or so of drones/groans before authoritative tribal-ish drumming takes over. Totally suspenseful; the track then segues into a pretty track of layered guitar and I think maybe a wooden flute somewhere wayyy in the background with “Caves Carved in Golden Light.” There’s a touch of wordless singing before segueing into the next track, “Larks on a String”. The tracks creeps along for nine minutes with eerie clanks, faraway whistling, a minimal guitar diddy, looped percussion and spaced vocals. It’s a bit like a lovechild between the scores of a horror movie and a spaghetti western; taking its tonal direction and ghostly presence from the horror movie but with an interesting, somewhat sparse arrangement not dissimilar to ones in Italo-westerns. With less than a minute to go, there is a drastic shift to a lonely acoustic guitar strumming, leading to “Treestain”. The guitar continues before being joined by others, spare percussion and eventually a main vocal. Again, sounds wordless to me but maybe it’s another language or something, I’m certainly not the one to ask. The song builds to a rather lush, brooding cave-addled crescendo. “Moccasin Tramp” increases the tempo just enough for foot tapping to ensue, vocals and acoustic guitar are ever present there’s also a synth providing a simple melody. It seems a synth might not work with the organic sound of the album, but surprisingly it does and is rightly soft and unobtrusive. This segues into “Happened in the Sun/Moccasin Stamp”, creating the second suite of the album. This track reminds me a bit of that Panda Bear record from last year, lots of looped layers of percussion and vocals moving pretty quickly. Not really a straight Beach Boys vibe though, more like just what was going on earlier in the album but with the “catchy” switch engaged (not a slag to the rest of the album so we’re clear). Around halfway through the 10 minute track length, the drumming slows down continuously and the vocal layers come through a little clearer along with some quickly strummed accompaniment, leaving the track floating like a cloud. Beginning with the tinkling of a bell, “Show Them Love” finishes off the album in fine style. It develops very slowly; making it the mellowest point on the album. Backwards guitar (I’m guessing) is introduced to the usual cast of characters operating with a very simple, deliberate melody. Very pretty multi-tracked vocals show up at the end singing words this time, though all I can make out is “show them love”. I really appreciate the care that was taken in constructing this release as an “album” as it is sequenced very naturally and logically, and it’s cool that the two halves of the albums work as suites as well. Still available from Digitalis and definitely worth your time.
Andy Futreal – Orphelia Wanders [Harha-Askel]
This is a CD-r of pretty acoustic picking released on the Finnish Harha-Askel label. This is a nice intimate album. It’s really great to relax and take it in. “Laterite Road” appears very early on and is one of my favorites. Futreal has a wonderfully gutsy style of playing. Sometimes when I hear solo acoustic guitar stuff it comes across as too smooth or even sounding, but Futreal isn’t afraid to use the guitar’s overtones and its odd, incidental sounds. That isn’t to say he can’t pull off plush, florid playing as he does on the title track. “Christmas04” has a magnificent melodic refrain which is altered ever so slightly each time it appears. “Frontporch” is a recording of just that, wind gently on chimes (on a porch I’m assuming). “Over Across and Down” has a tenser vibe, while “Minus5postbenadrylslide” is a tranquil, lighthearted slide guitar romp. “Occasional Rain” has a great, slightly musty feel. It’s a rather simple melody but played so expressively by Futreal that it’s quite gorgeous. “Chickenwing” is another standout. I’m pretty sure there’s multi-tracked guitar here, and if there isn’t then I’m very impressed. The track moves between fuller, strummed passages and sparse, brittle breakdowns—all of it beautiful. “Timezone II” surprisingly reaches for some heavier low notes and a noticeably “rock” vibe, but Futreal even skews that. Most tracks on the album fit into the 1-3.5 minute spectrum but Futreal unfolds “In the Failing Light” little by little over 12 minutes and pulls an amazing trick where he’ll slowly let his listener drift away before reeling him back in with an unassuming refrain; and he pulls this trick throughout the piece. Oh yeah, apparently these pieces are all improvised, which makes the playing all the more amazing. At 56 minutes, I think the album is a little long but there’s a lot of great material here and Futreal certainly has an interesting voice in the solo acoustic guitar sphere, and if you have any interest in that sort of thing you should definitely check him out. CD-r still in print at Harha-Askel as I write this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ducktails – Untitled [Breaking World]/Bromp Treb – Twins [Breaking World/Yeay!/Apostasy]

I’ve been waiting for this 7inch from Matt Mondanile’s Ducktails project for a long while now. Maybe, more specifically, I’ve been waiting for “Pizza Time”, probably the single of ’08, to have a legit release. I’ve spent more hours on myspace than I care to admit just playing that track since I discovered it earlier in the year. Over all this time, my expectations had grown to astronomical levels. So, does this little record deliver on all its promise?
Answer: yes.
The first side kicks off with the breezy “Beach Point Pleasant”. Effortlessly feel-good-about-your-life music. There’s a twangy, super-surfed guitar whipping up wonderful lines against a multitude of hazy keyboard layers. There’s a looping slot machine keyboard jingle that the whole track is built upon. Oxymoronically, it’s cloudy and sunny at the same time. I’m not all that sure what to write about this. It’s just… good. Really really good. “Pizza Time” is what some might call “da bomb” and they’d be right. My girlfriend and I listen to it every time we eat pizza (every other day probably). I listened to this track hundreds of times and the piece has not lost one molecule of its charm. Truth be told, it’s one of the catchiest things ever written/played/recorded/whatever since the beginning of time. It features one the grooviest guitar parts in recent memory and the best use of an auto-wah pedal I’ve ever heard, killer drum machine beat, the works. When Mr. Mondanile reaches for the low notes in the bridge, it’s pure heaven. The second side features “The Gem” in two parts. This side represents an a little spacier area of the Ducktails sound. Heavily flanged keyboard and drum machine build and build through the length of “Part 1”. “Part 2” continues in the same vein but jacks up the tempo a bit. All the little melodies and counter-melodies come through clearer in the second part and you can really catch all the intertwining lines. The ever pumping drum machine gets erratic towards the end but still jams like there’s no tomorrow. Fantastic record.
Though I’m always happy when George W. Myers peddles ear candy like this Ducktails record and last year’s Cherry Blossoms LP, Breaking World Records made its name on zany Western Mass stuff like this Bromp Treb 7inch. Co-released with Yeay! Cassettes and Apostasy Recordings, Twins is all over the place. All the source material comes from drums apparently and there’s some sort of tape manipulation/tape collage thing happening with those sounds. Some sounds sound rough and percussive and some sound like voices and dogs barking and some sound like popping bubbles. He must be using every part of the drum here just like the Indian used every part of the buffalo. Because, shit, I don’t understand how all this stuff used to be straight drums at some point. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent “structure” here just a vomiting forth of sound if you can dig it. Flip the record over and you get “Birdie Flies”. The sounds here are (surprise!) recognizable as drums. A drum duel ensues with lots crash, whiz and bang. The drumming sounds a bit more ragged and sharp edged than other drums-only groups. There’s a looser feel that works for this guy. There’s a great part at the end where things come together very nicely in semi-rehearsed fashion; a mid tempo tom-tom stomp where both drum tracks almost double each other but keep things interesting with slight diversions and nuances. For fans of drums and weird noises.
As always the best thing about a record on Breaking World is the artwork by Mr. Myers, the finest pen in the underground. The Ducktails artwork is soft and mellow, perfect companion for the music. The labels are cool too. I like the front cover of the Bromp Treb, but it’s the back cover that’s really happening; pseudo-symmetric, psychedelic Where the Wild Things Are shit. Totally great. Cool labels too and all the album info is printed on the inside of the cover. Both are cheap and still available from their respective labels.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bo Knows/Katchmare – Split [Scissor Death]/Nick Hoffman - How To Make Things Happen [Scissor Death]

I’ll let you in on some little known (online anyway) facts about me. 1) My favorite color is yellow and 2) my favorite dinosaur is the brontosaurus (fuck you veloca raptor). So I was psyched when I opened up this package from Nick Hoffman’s Scissor Death label and saw this tape. It pairs Bo Knows and Hoffman’s Katchmare project, two initially disparate seeming artists, through their mutual love of making weird sides of cassettes.
Bo Knows presents an anomaly with “Xylene”, the sole track on Side A. There is a total lo-fi bedroom rock vibe going down here, a very catchy guitar and drum machine composition which is mixed with plenty of multi tracked weirdness. So, that’s not uncommon, but it’s more the way the sounds are presented here. For one, the track is twenty something minutes long. It teeters on the line of standard, playing-melodies-in-time-with-the-beat and then times where the beat and guitar are out of sequence or the track will change up mid riff. A lurching drum machine sequence drives a new portion full of guitar scribbles and a looped keyboard hit. This section is transitioned to seamlessly somehow because I don’t really remember hearing when this new part began. The current section slowly cannibalizes itself by way of a haywire drum machine and guitars following suit. That one mellow, gonging keyboard note is still playing and starting to creep me out a little. Things take a turn back to the initial guitar riff, sounding familiar but very different for some reason. Some of the drum machine work here almost reminds me of drum ‘n bass tracks where the drum machines essentially take solos, skewing time. The track wanders on with something akin to the second portion but with more space left in and a sleepier vibe. The track’s pulse slows until its death.
Comparing Katchmare’s track “Greenhouse” with his Ghost Frequency I CD-r is interesting because both pieces work with glistening, static tones but do so in entirely different ways. Ghost Frequency I is an expansive, sustaining zoner while this track is erratic and all over the map in more ways than one. Beginning with fizzy, Velcro crunch, there is a bout of near silence while diffuse white noise drifts in and out. A sputtering, nearly rhythmic tone inconsistently pushes along underneath the sheet of noise. It returns with a steady blip, cuts out, returns, cuts out, and then returns joined by the inaugural Velcro noise. There’s a smooth synth-y tone and for the brief bit that all three sounds play together, it’s an appealing mix of textures. There is a huge range between the loudest moments and the quietest on the tape so I have to listen with my speakers cranked and then my ears occasionally get effusive spikes driven into them. This section is actually my favorite part of the tape, making me think Katchmare should push things in the harsh noise direction more often (he may and I’m just unaware.) There is a relentless torrent of icy feedback in the right channel and nothing in the left channel and then an alternate tone picks up and comes in and out of the left channel. After the madness quiets down, I’m left with a creepy/placid barely there noise drifting along, that is (not so?) strangely unsettling. This attitude continues, but with a bit louder, more confrontational sounds. At some point there’s an almost catchy loop coming from a function generator or something like that. That dies down all too quickly and then I’m hit with another ice pick of sound for a second and then it disappears. I’m discovering that noise is at harshest when surrounded by silence. Near the end there’s a steady beat and a fierce loop of distorted yells which, as you may be able to predict, gets pitchshifted, cut up and just generally fucked around with. I’m still not sure what to make of this side, Nick Hoffman’s abstract master plan has be along the lines of keeping the listener constantly off guard, either that or he has simply laid out sounds exactly how he wants them and the listener has to keep up or be left behind.
This booklet How To Makes Things Happen was also included and I’ve never written about an art book on the site before so I figured I’d say a thing or two. Not really sure how to “review” this, per se, but I enjoy looking through it and thought I would share a couple of favorite moments. The booklet is printed on neon paper of varying colors and there is a mix of mostly illustrations and a couple comics. There’s basketball playing, UFOs bound to rainbows, a prehistoric “skeletoon” taking on a tsunami and then some really bizarre ones like a sad monster-ghost with wearing a star of David that is hooked to strewn about tomatoes. My favorite is called “Dangerous Rain” which is people and an animal of some sort fleeing knives falling from the clouds. The comics “Monster Bus” and “I Live in a Box” are both “funny cuz it’s true!” affairs (stealing that from The Simpsons as you probably know). The former features the universal experience of a young person waking up (“I hate school… This sucks…”) while the latter features the universal experience of crazy-ass bums on the street (“Got any change? “Not for you.”) Awesome. (p.s. the cover is actually red-orange; my scanner just hates that color for some reason)
The tape is still available but the book is not. Nick seems to keep busy with Scissor Death though so I’m sure they’ll be another booklet before long.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blood on Tape – Untitled [Softland City]

Blood on Tape hails from Austin, TX. This is their first release as well as the first release on their label, Softland City. The duo is not audio-violent as the name implies but is instead relentlessly mellow and full of space.
The tape’s first piece, “In Sea”, sounds great stretched across the side of a c48. Relatively little “happens” but everything is done with such a sense of purpose that it’s captivating. There are a couple gently swelling looped sounds that last for the entire track and various elements are sprinkled throughout, mainly sparse percussion and splashes of guitar that are added or stripped at just the right moments. Impressive for a first release, because the duo have a firm handle on drone, both how to construct it as well as knowing what they want to do with it. There’s a definite emphasis on melody in the piece but it isn’t shown in any overt way; there is a willingness to stretch that skeletal melody as far as it will go. The confidence in restraint works wonders here, the result being effortless and spacious, gentle but half hidden in gloomy shadows. Great piece.
The flipside contains 3 shorter tracks and less of a focus on minimalism. “Feelin’ Fine” features a guitar neck-deep in tremolo and either an accordion or chord organ of some sort. The piece is mostly a straight duet between those instruments though at a few points there appear to me some overdubs/loops. Again, the melodic sensibilities are the strong suit of the track. “By Design” is my favorite track from the second side. It works as some combination of “In Sea” and the previous piece. That reed/keyed instrument playing over a slow swelter of drones with flute-like swoops and percussive scratching (not on turntables) and well placed cymbal crashes. A guitar slides in and mingles with the reed organ in the track’s second half. And begins a brilliant movement with a simple arpeggio and additional acoustic slide guitar which unfortunately signals the end of the track; it’s a wonderful ending though. “The Land is Great” is the tape’s finale and marks a return to the temple for Blood on Tape. The piece is much more maximal than the first side, with a few shrieking cries and echoing breaks of static against a solemn, tightly wound bed of sustain. There’s a little bit of vocals too which is their first appearance on the album I believe. The voices split their time between melancholic moans and semi-joyous whoops. All in all, a strong debut and a sign of good things to come.
The tape is limited to 50 copies so hurry if you’re interested. The black tape comes wrapped in a suitably ghostly shroud with an insert.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #31 (11/23/08)

"Micro Mesh" Arklight Welcome to the NHK Wasteland (CD-r) [Little Fury Things, 2008]

"Oh God; You Devil" Neck Hold Mash Mansum (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Punks and Cops" Trash Dog Garbage Eater (CS) [Virus Tapes, 2007]

"Side A" Cyquoia Cyquoia (CS) [Housecraft, 2008]

"Phobia" Leper Print Coma (7") [Die Stasi, 2008]

"Oops! I'm at the Wrong College" Sam Gas Can The Story of Artificial Peace (3" CD-r) [Faux-Pas, 2008]

"World Military Madness" Woods Some Shame (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Waiting for the Bus" Hunting Lodge Mash Mansum (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Jacob's Fight" Cheveu Cheveu (LP) [S-S, 2008]

"Inner Mind Mutations (Mix)" Uton Attack of the Aether Sun (CS) [Housecraft, 2008]

"Untitled" Sudden Oak Sudden Oak (CS) [Bezoar Formations, 2008]

"Untitled" God Willing Different and Worse (CS) [Monorail Trespassing, 2008]

"Side A" The Pope Do You Wanna Boogie? (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Burying the Carnival" Locrian Split (with Continent) (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Summer Ice Cream" Peaking Lights Clearvoiant (CS) [Night People, 2008]

"Forever Young Ever One" Wet Hair Wet Hair (LP one-sided) [Night People, 2008]

"Cave Animal Revolt" Du Hexen Hase Dark Slobby Cave (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Part II" Cursillistas Expanses Growing (CS) [Sloow Tapes, 2008]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2 The Arklight track got cut off, sorry about that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gang Wizard – God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olFactory/Tanzprocesz]

In the small press, "under ground" way of doing things there really doesn't seem to be any particular place for “landmark albums”. Things move so fast with so many artists, so many releases and so many labels; not to mention the whole “limited to __ copies” thing. An artist can define themselves much quicker/easier because they are able to put out so much material so quickly but releases themselves rarely (if ever) are widely defined as a singularly amazing work. This isn’t a bad thing, partially because many records considered “landmark albums” aren't all that great(Loveless, Slanted & Enchanted etc.) and without them we can sidestep the whole bickering mess of “love it/hate it/like it but its overrated.” This makes sense, though, because the nebulously identified small press universe seems to be about unity through dispersion, where everyone can do whatever they want, define themselves how they see fit and there’s no centralized voice saying this is good or bad or classic or whatever—no taste making command center. That’s all positive but sometimes there are records that make me think “this is a landmark album” and I get kinda bummed that they (most likely) will never be seen that way. This Gang Wizard LP is one of those records. I couldn’t be a taste making command center if I tried but for the hell of it I’ll say it: God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc is a landmark, totally classic album of the free rock sector.
Alright, sorry for the pontification; I’ll get down off my high horse and back to review mode where I belong. Apparently, there are three flavors of Gang Wizard recordings: live, mic-to-4track and studio. This LP is the first entry into that last category. I, myself, have only been privy to Gang Wizard in the live setting through the DNT 7inch I reviewed a while back and some split CD-r with Yellow Swans from forever ago. That was the point I used to be at in my Gang Wizard odyssey, then this record arrived. For the past couple weeks I’ve been listening to this thing at least once a day. I am gonna try to communicate why this record is so good that, for the last however many days, I’ve been coming home and immediately putting it on before doing anything else. And I’ll let you know right now, I will inevitably fail. My recommendation is to stop wasting your time with this way-too-long review, get the record, play it a few times and witness the unforgettable, endless love affair between the sounds and your brain.
The first side of the record is noticeably a bit more “rock” than the flip. “Whoever Invents” goes first opening with a flurry of drums and guitar and electronics/keyboard. There are some vocals, but they wisely play second fiddle to the music, the main show here. The best and largest part of the track is when the fury dies down settling into a remarkably mournful passage. There’s Racebannon-esque mumbling over a bed of guitar and synth that, as my girlfriend pointed out resembles the Radiohead track in that shitty Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo Dicaprio. The whole thing has the vague feeling of a vintage brokedown Godspeed You! Black Emperor monologue. These are the fucking weirdest things to be comparing to a Gang Wizard record, and I’m aware of that. But it’s all true, and somehow utterly amazing. The Gang takes the last ten seconds to remind you they still like to fuck shit up with a final, bursting-at-the-seams freak out. Beautiful track. “Bad Teacher” is the album’s longest track and closes the side. Beginning with an addicting, squelching manipulated chime sound, scattered yells, practice-mode guitar and drum noodling. Even though it seems unfocused, it totally is and anticipation builds gradually from the track’s first second. Tempo is ramped up and I’m totally surfing on sound along with the band. They break off the momentum for a strange meandering passage with electronics that sound like squeaky, cooing baby babble with a great brief keyboard line that gently drives the track to its end as well as a menagerie of other sound. At one point, one the members says “You gotta do it right.” I’m not sure who he’s addressing specifically, but it might as well be the listener cause everyone in the group is for sure doing everything right. The track ends up resulting in total free float. What’s most interesting is that they achieve it without any reverb, or smooth sounds or even really that many sustained sounds. It’s constantly moving and dictating its own leisurely but focused pace. Ending in a downright lovely slow fade of repeating guitar and keyboard exchanges.
On the second side is “Why Pharoah Hanged the Baker” and it’s so good it gets it’s own side. I don’t want to commit to anything but this piece is probably the record’s pinnacle. It encapsulates what is so incredible about the record: that there seems to be this random occurrence of sounds but they are all very intricately and perfectly placed, regardless of how composed or improvised the process was. The first couple listens were intriguing but after a few spins I felt like I “got it”, that I could see the big picture or whatever and take in all the sounds as a complete whole. Not a single sound is out of place on this record. This is why “Why the Pharoah Hanged the Baker” is so fucking brilliant (I apologize for all the “fuckings” (and “totallys”) but, I don’t know how else to explain just how good this record is). Like, “Bad Teacher” there is a seeming mess of sound that is slowly resolved and shaped. The key player here for me is a brief flourish from what sounds like a keyboard on the “Harp” setting. It’s really the catalyst for the formation of the track, it cues a steady drum rumble and the other ingredients trickle in and find their place. The track continues to twist and morph, never losing the initial feeling but never sticking on one part. There’s an effortless, wandering flow to the piece and just makes me melt almost. I’ll close my eyes and it can take me wherever it wants to go. After totally reaching zen, Gang Wizard gets feisty before the track putters out. Oh man.
The whole record is fucking transcendent.
It’s anti-mystic and still totally mystical, anti-hippie and a total psychedelic trip, anti-meditation and one of the most fucking zen things I’ve ever heard. One of the best fucking records of the year, probably of the decade, maybe even my life. It’s so good that I, the super cheap bastard that I am, actually bought this LP to give to someone (never happens, friends). I’ve never heard a record this complexly psychedelic; and so absolutely, immaculately effective. A serious work of art. And a total “landmark album” too.
Limited but I’m not aware of the exact digits. This monster was put out by four labels spanning the Atlantic: Green Tape, Lost Treasures of the Underworld, olFactory and Tanzprocesz. So hit up your choice of those four or a distro or anyone else who’s selling it. Get it, hear it and cherish it for the rest of your days like I’m planning on doing. Props to the cover artist Zeloot as well, the artwork is slamming and, in a certain way, quite fitting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Uton – Attack of the Aether Sun [Housecraft]

Since all Housecraft items appear to be in a perpetual state of flying off the shelves I wanted to weigh in on least of one of the tapes I have that isn't sold out yet.
I know I covered this in my last review of Housecraft materials, but I'll do it once more, Housecraft is a label based in Gainesville that specializes in all sorts of euphoric drones and has really come into its own this year and as you can see people are noticing and buying up tapes about as fast as Jeffry Astin puts 'em out.
Astin reached across the Atlantic for Finnish project Uton which has been putting out releases for years on top labels. This tape is about a half hour, split between two side long tracks. The first side’s piece “The Aether Cosmic Sun (CS only version)” begins with astral buzz saws. This sound pretty much dominates with a few tones, possibly keyboards, trying to poke their faces through. This is given up on fairly quickly and everything goes the way of the fizzy, spiky drone. For as much relentless feedback and whatnot going on here it doesn’t feel that forceful. The noisiness is relatively diffuse which is probably why the title “The Aether Cosmic Sun” was bestowed upon it. Makes sense to me, though personally I think the track could benefit from a little gravity. The drone begins to breakdown a little toward the end letting a few previously buried sounds run free.
The flipside is the one that’s really interesting in my opinion. “Inner Mind Mutations (Mix)”, unlike the singular sound of the first side, moves through a couple different ideas throughout its course. Once again, a fitting title. The droniness of this side also contrasts greatly because it’s very busy, vibrant and active. There are weird vocal globules, sputtering electronic sounds and shiny, digital sounding pseudo-shaker noises. A much enjoyed flute-like keyboard arpeggio pops up briefly. Much of the sound fades, leaving an eerie space with effected acoustic guitar plucks and a mellow cyclone of various echoing frequencies. I don’t see the instruments listed here so I’m not sure what I’m hearing but there’s a seamless transition to (what sounds like) an autoharp/flute face off backed by minimal percussion. A cool tangent. A very electronically colored piano replaces it with a sparse half-melody. Before a pretty bit of reversed tones and springing toy keyboard sounds lead to legit acoustic piano playing with a new Monk-ish keyboard ditty but less sparse than the High Priest often played. And that’s all folks; a nice, varied but cohesive little side.
The art matches the sound of the tape well, with a kinda exploded Sloow Tape vibe. The j-card is double-sided and it comes with an insert with blue-purple ink on see-thru paper, all in a paint flecked case. A class act. There are 120 copies (2 or 3 times the typical run of HC releases) of this making it the Housecraft tape most likely to enter your collection, statistically speaking. It’s been out for a few months though, so there can’t be that many left. So don’t sleep if you’re interested. It’s cheap as always too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mudboy – MUDMUX Volume 1 [DNT]/Mudboy – Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors [Digitalis]

Two releases by Providence’s Mudboy here, the first a 7inch where he “muxes” two preexisting tracks by other artists and the other is a full length which appears to be considered, by many, his opus.
I’ll start by saying that this 7inch is absolutely phenomenal in every way. The music, the art/packaging—all top notch. Now that is out of the way, I can get to the music. Side A is titled “Lil John Carpenter Tribute Song” which is a pretty great name because it describes the song perfectly. Eerie organ/electric piano riffs but with a major groove. The pristinely constructed keyboard parts are offset by trashcan percussion rumblings courtesy of someone called Jeremy Lazy Animal Magnet Harris. If that person is also Lazy Magnet then I saw him play a long time ago, if not then I don’t know who he is. That’s beside the point though. This track is somehow a resurrection of a MIDI file of an Extreme Animals’ song “RockRapPopRocks” that was recorded onto a floppy disk. I’m not familiar with Extreme Animals, but somehow I feel that even if I was I would have no idea how the whole MIDI floppy disk thing translated into this.
This track is amazing. It’s moody and catchy as hell and through the 100 times I’ve probably played it’s never gotten old. Things start with a grouping of keyboard lines and the track just builds through its duration piling on more and more warbly, grooving keys, weird electronic sounds, cut up percussion, the works. Totally brilliant. The flipside is “Come Home”, which is based on a song by a band called DarkDarkDark. Vocals and main accordion are credited to Nona Marie Dark, so I’m guessing this isn’t a “remix” and she recorded her part specifically for this piece. This song is much different than the A-side but just as great. First of all, this appears to be a wonderfully well-written song so credit to Dark for that. She has a beautiful, expressive voice and the loping, smoky accordion is a perfect accompaniment to her voice. Mudboy plays it very minimally to his credit here. He places the vox/accordion front and center and then places little details throughout the track and subtly manipulates the voice and accordion. The track vacillates between folk/pop song structure and extended, almost drone-like passages. It all culminates with Dark’s electronically colored vocals over pulsing electronic loops. Another brilliant piece that, after all the times I’ve listened to it, is always fresh and inspiring and gorgeous. One of the best releases of the year.
Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors kicks off with the title-trackish “Hungry Ghosts! (Intro-Induction)”. It’s a pretty minimal piece with a few looped not-quite-beats and occasional whispery vocals. About halfway through, the track takes a left turn into fuzzier, almost cackling territory, a texture that really drives the rhythm home before another left turn into bells and what sounds like backwards babytalk. This segues into “Swamp Things”, featuring Larkin Grimm which is quite cool. It’s a pretty droney piece with many layers of sustaining organ parts. About five minutes in, a guitar made of light materializes in the ether and Grimm provides a few vocal touches. Mudboy follows this elongated piece with the brief “The Wisher Man”. Beginning with electronic squiggles and reversed percussive sounds, the piece morphs into a lovely bit of organ and chiming bells. “The Last Song” comes next though it’s not the last song actually. A slow walking organ line is augmented with little melodic flourishes until it becomes a big shimmering mass—always changing, always the same. Quite possibly my favorite track here. “Wwhirlpool Wwindow Liight Nightt” marks a shift in tone. Louder and lead by a vaguely Arabian organ line, backed by a drum machine, and with all sorts of reverbed, effected vocals flying in between; it’s the records rock anthem if you wanna talk in relative terms. “The Quiet Song” is cut from the same cloth as many of the other tracks (layers of organ lines) but it stands out because it has a rougher tonality then the smooth, bell-like organ sounds of other tracks. And it has a particularly great final minute. “Shockwave!” continues the overdriven sound, but has almost an industrial-lite vibe; it’s repetitive and driving but still manages to float and before the end of the track things switch white noise and waves breaking. It has me perplexed. “In Which the Sea Hag is Lead Away or We are Lead by Her?” closes the album on a strong note with a great toy keyboard demo-esque part but it sounds legit and mesmerizing cause it’s played on organ. There’s some whistling that pops up occasionally before a man sings “Run away, run far away” and disappears. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes it so, but the piece is very pleasant, distant and a bit ghostly. It reminds me of standing on the beach in the cold.
This is the third time this record has been released, a CDr and an LP on Not Not Fun came before; I’m not sure if this album is that good to warrant so many releases but it’s definitely a cool record. Very nice, very mellow—easy listening, in a great way.
Both DNT and Digitalis did unbelievable jobs with the artwork. MUDMUX Vol. 1 has a foldout 4 pass silkscreen cover by R. Lyon and Kevin Hooyman with a radiant, fitting color scheme and it comes with a very informative insert. The 7inch itself is crystal blue with cool silver/graphite grey labels. Utterly fantastic, and only 5.50 postpaid. Likewise, Digitalis did an incredible job with the Hungry Ghosts! CD and, not that anyone was competing, it visually blows away the NNF LP. The CD comes in a super intricately laser cut sleeve that’s even burned around the edges a little and stuffed with a double-sided insert and CD that fill out the design. Probably the best packaging job I’ve seen on a CD, definitely one of best I’ve come across on any format. And coming from a known CD packaging-disser, that’s a big compliment. Additionally, it’s an enhanced CD with a video by Mudboy that pops when you put it in a computer, if yr into that sort of thing. Mudboy really inspires the best in labels I guess.
Both releases are still in print and available from the labels, the 7inch is limited, though, to a generous 535 copies. Don’t sleep on it.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #30 (11/16/08)

“Stabot Mater” Powdered Wigs Split (with Pedestrian Deposit) (CS) [Hate State, 2006]

"Untitled" Sean McCann Dreem Ordeal (CD-r) [No Label, 2008]

“The Great Sylt Dyke” Single Helix The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog (CD-r) [Screeching Snowflake, 2008]

“Animals Act Natural” The Hospitals Hairdryer Peace (LP) [No Label, 2008]

“Side B” Super Minerals The Piss (CS) [DNT, 2008]

“Why Pharaoh Hanged the Baker” Gang Wizard God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc (LP) [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olfactory/Tanzprocesz, 2008]

“Some Girlzzz” Lateral Hyetography Some Girlzzz (CS) [Really Coastal, 2008]

“Ain’t Never Been Down with OPP” Brian Miller & Kevin Shields Virgin Passwords (LP) [Weird Forest, 2007]

“Loss of Appetite” Deaf! Deaf! Mash Mansum (CS) [DNT, 2008]

“Fanfare for the Left Behind” The Death Convention Singers Corrido (CS) [SickSickSick, 2008]

“Untitled” Ducktails Summer of Saucers (CS) [DNT, 2008]

“Vespers” Dull Knife Untitled (CS) [Epicene Sound Replica, 2008]

“End Time/Accident Prone” Mincemeat or Tenspeed All Critters (LP) [Deathbombarc/Big Monies Tapes/Malleable, 2008]

"Beach Demon" Wavves Beach Demon/Weed Demon (7") [Tic Tac Totally, 2008]

“By Design” Blood on Tape Untitled (CS) [Softland City, 2008]

“Untitled” Fabulous Diamonds Fabulous Diamonds (LP) [Siltbreeze, 2008]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2 The first couple minutes of the show are missing sorry about that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mincemeat or Tenspeed – All Critters [Deathbomb Arc/Malleable/Big Monies Tapes]

Mincemeat or Tenspeed is the stage name of Davey Harms, who according to the press release, wanted to make techno music with rock ‘n roll style but had no synth or sampler or sequencer or drum machine or computer or any instruments either. But he apparently did have a bunch of guitar pedals which he used to make this LP.
Beginning with a distorted pulse that never lets up, “End Times” introduces Harms’ music to your ears like you would introduce a buzzsaw to a piece of wood. It’s amazing how dynamic this music really is and how well Harms controls his array of pedals. Furthermore, it’s also amazing that these really are techno-punk songs. There’s a mechanized rhythmic drive and melodies that build and evaporate. Maybe it’s not quite danceable but it is seizurable, if you are willing to accept that as an actual term. I’ve listened to this record a bunch of times, and I still can’t figure out how this dude pulled off this impossible task. I know there’s tons people out there making noise with pedals (which is rad) but this guy makes melodies and rhythms and songs with them. The end of “End Times” is a perfect example of this where everything breaks down slowly to its base state it becomes apparent just how much manipulating Harms is really doing. The beginning of “Accident Prone” is fuckin’ beautiful. A skittering, lilting bit of frequency shifting before he hits the fuzz and starts knocking heads. Even then though, the beauty of the composition shines through. He continues to ramp things up unleashing all sorts of little melodies and piling them all on top of each other. There’s also a groovin’ “duh duh-duh duh” (bad impression) that keeps things going and fingers snapping. At the end there’s even some stuff that reminds me of good crunk tracks, weird little counter melodies and shit. I don’t how he does it, but he does it.
Side B follows the same path as the first—the fiery barnburner in front with the quieter contemplative-ish piece bringing up the rear. “Root Furs” is the first of the two tracks on the second side. Beginning with a cybertronic, continually glitching melody. Things start blasting with a relentlessly fast throb of fuzz on top of which the melodies dance like brain fried fireflies. Things get their gnarliest on the record here with heavy crunch overtaking everything. Then—poof—it’s gone and the final track “All Critters” begins. With an extended intro it takes a moment to cast it’s spell. Upon of the entry of a resistant, twisting melody I’m hooked. Harms chops this up a bit and messes with speeds, fragmenting the track. Despite this the track always has a center so the fragments are just flickers of beauty and ugliness but never disrupt the track in a problematic way.
I've never heard anything quite like this. I’ve heard pedal noise and electro-punk but never so integrated and precise. I hope this guy plays my town so I can see him in action. It’s gotta be a mindblower. This LP is still available from all three of the labels that co-released it (Big Monies Tapes, Deathbomb Arc, Malleable) and it comes cheap and with fantastic artwork of animals moshing at Davey’s last show by Mark Price, beautifully rendered as a fold-out, double-sided, multi-color screenprint job. A visual beauty to match the tunes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blank Dogs – Untitled [Daggerman]

So I was thinking about how I’ve never written anything about Blank Dogs and how this record is still in print and how, if this is at all limited, there’s something wrong with that. If it’s not limited, then Daggerman has my total respect for keeping this landmark achievement in music history in print. Blank Dogs is a pseudo-anonymous person, I’m told, and he writes lots of really good songs with a huge portion of them being good enough to call really fucking good songs. The dude is prolific as shit even though he’s only in his second year of releasing stuff, I wouldn’t bat a lash if some dashing label put out a Blank Dogs greatest hits triple LP. To paraphrase Dirk Diggler, his stuff is that good!
Anyway, this 45 is probably his most solid release in my eyes. I’ve heard it called “In a Web” as well as “Stuck inside the World” but since the record doesn’t say I’ll play it safe and leave it without a title. If this record was just a one-sided 7inch with “In a Web” on it, the record would still be worth your money. With a wobbly, ramshackle and catchy as hell guitar riff and a synth beamed lo-fi radio wave-style straight from the cosmos this song just fucking kills it. Sniper’s fuzzed baritone voice is designed perfectly to ride the sonic wave he’s created. This song is like candy, pure pop hooks and all that but done in this brilliant, gloriously wiped out home-recorded way. There’s even something off about the way his guitar sounds. Although it’s probably like picking a favorite child, I’m officially crowning the song my favorite Blank Dogs track. “They Said” finishes the first side. It works like a mini “In a Web” but with a super chilly, walking-home-really-late-at-night vibe. The track’s lifespan barely reaches a full minute, which is tragic, but it’s a fantastic song nonetheless. On the flipside, “Stuck inside the World” takes over. This is Blank Dogs in ballad mode. It’s a mid tempo affair, a trotting chord progression and rhythmic keyboard stabs all building to an anxious chorus. The track sounds as messy as ever but quite melancholic as well.
I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent listening to this and the total run time is like 6 or 7 minutes I think. So in short, if you don’t have it, you need this record. Daggerman sells them for 4 dollars so buy one. Totally. Fucking. Amazing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Single Helix – The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog [Screeching Snowflake]

Single Helix is the solo guise of Andreas Jonsson of Lanterns. This record is guitar-centric if not nearly all guitar which I’m thumbs up for, for sure.
“Deep Mountains of Vanity” eases the album into motion with slow burning guitar drones. The piece unfolds at a very gradual pace allowing sounds to shift or simmer while quietly welcoming new sounds to the fold. I’m pretty sure this is all guitar and Andreas does a hell of a job imitating a shrieking flute on the way out. “The Great Sylt Dyke” works well as a counterpart to the first track because it was the layered guitar thing going but in a totally different way. I’m actually quite impressed with this track because somehow Jonsson has made looped/layered guitar drones totally groovin’. The tracks skips along quickly with jaunty blips pushing the track forward and other craggier sounds resisting the rhythm a bit. It reminds me vaguely of the Bulbs album I reviewed a while back but mellower with less of a penchant to fuck with its own groove. “Even Colours and Sweet Perfume Will Eventually Fade” is the default epic here at 10 minutes. I’m pretty sure there’s bells or chimes on here in addition to guitar but if Jonsson made those sounds with a guitar, respek. This piece has more of a psychedelic float to it. There’s lots of weird bird-like sounds on here—almost like Andreas was dronin’ his heart out in the forest and someone luckily enough hit the red circle. The track wraps with Jonsson wandering out the forest for a bit of improv’d arpeggiating. “Fear of the Bark” jumps out as one of the better tracks here, though that’s coming from me and I love the sound of a pile of guitar tracks stacked on top of each other. Like a less frosty Gown, Jonsson walks the line between gentle guitar fuzz and freaking the fuck out. Particularly like the swooping guitar that comes in with a couple minutes to go and the frantic feedback in the final stretch. “Floodproof Drilling Machine” adds shakers to the mix against cascading guitar and maybe a harmonica? The briefest track, “Flying Snipes Will Soon Rest on Soft Grass Beds”, closes the record. It’s a fitting conclusion because Jonsson really hits the guitar drone mark better here than anywhere else on the record (that excludes the rad little “Sylt Dyke” track though). Waves of guitar ebb and flow, drift and float—sometimes they’re airy and sometimes they have a bit more gravity. The push and pull is the whole track, no climax or resolution or nothing and it’s beautiful.
The CD-r is limited to 75 and is still in print from Lanterns’ house label Screeching Snowflake so hit up Single Helix’s myspace to order. The CD-r comes in a textured cardboard foldout slipcase with rad artwork by Adam Harries printed on all sides. Worth checking out, for sure.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sean McCann – Gall Flood [No Label]

This tape showed up mysteriously in my mailbox quite a while back. No note or anything. It turned out to be a great surprise and Mr. McCann can certainly feel free to send me tapes unannounced any time it strikes his fancy.
This cassette is basically an hour of swimming through sound. There are no track titles and the sides aren’t labeled either (except for a butterfly sticker on the A-side). This makes it difficult to really present an organized review so I’m just gonna go for it, play the tape and write/describe whatever I can through it’s duration.
The beginning of the first side has a wondrous groove. Simple percussion and looped vocal and keyboard or flute. There’s analog fuckery occasionally but none of it can stop the effortless breezy groove. There’s kind of a hand drum solo thing and then a piece pops up with a loping drum beat and squiggly effects laden vocals. It’s cut from the same cloth as the first chunk of sound which is probably why every piece is all mashed together rather than listed as tracks or something. Next bit has a very faraway sound; looped drum and vocals but with an extra dose of hypnosis and probably recorded by a fire in a cave somewhere. Then there’s a tape fuck up and a new piece with a looser vibe rambles along taking a moment to cast its spell. But it does, and the less ardent repetition is a nice contrast. I really dig the free jazz flute or keys or whatever it is bleating the occasional skronky bursts. Without a break the piece extends into a totally lo-key but jamming’ piece with twinkling keyboard, “aww-ohh” vocals and live hand drumming. Even when the drumming gets fast and intense and some weird pitch-fucked vocals come in the tape stays in total free float. A testament to the zoner conjuring these sounds. There’s lots more great stuff on this side; all of it similar, all of it good. Some stretches get more aggressive; though keep in mind that’s relative, which work well. Unannounced the side wraps with a few seconds of chimes.
The B-side continues along the same path but more distorted and skewed. McCann is filling the space a bit more and the pieces seem more extended than the previous side. I find myself getting lost in the sounds and forgetting to write. McCann surfs the cosmos a bit with a synth soaring low over shuffling drums and echoing vowels. The thing that impresses/surprises me about this tape is that McCann works with a pretty small palette but even over an hour it doesn’t really wear out its welcome. Even by the end of tape my head is still nodding and my foot is still tapping to the mellow pulse. The ending, in it's shimmering goodness, is among the prettiest moments on the record. It’s an infinite, endless jammer.
Comes with sandblasted artwork of super imposed somethings and an insert. All gone according to McCann’s myspace but it looks like he’s been sending his mysterious tapes to the right kinds of people cause he has a DVD, a bunch of releases on Sound Holes, Cloud Valley, Offices of Moore & Moore and others currently as well as self-released stuff as well as tapes on DNT, Digitalis, Peasant Magik and Softland City in the works. Shit, I get tired just listing all those, can’t imagine the gallons of sweat that went into making them.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #29 (11/9/08)

"Extinction Fantasy" Sunroof! Split (with Kemialliset Ystävät) (LP) [Fat Cat, 2008]

"Ellipses" Kill and Eat Green Bushes (CD-r) [Alright Now, 2008]

"Poor Sons/The Way" Zola Jesus Poor Sons (7") [S-S, 2008]

"Gaysted Love" Shit Eagle Girls in School (7") [Florida's Dying, 2008]

"Vagina Cocktata" Way of the Cross Mind of the Dolphin (LP) [Phoenix, 2008]

"Fallen Smoke" Rambutan Fallen Smoke (3" CD-r) [Abandon Ship, 2008]

"Bebey/First Communion" Gang Gang Dance Saint Dymphna (CD) [The Social Registry, 2008]

"Side B" Sam Goldberg Cycles (CS) [905 Tapes, 2008]

"Tassa Maassa Kun Nain Makailen" Kemialliset Ystävät Split (with Sunroof!) (LP) [Fat Cat, 2008]

"Heir of Serpents" Expo '70 Split (with Be Invisible Now) (CD-r) [Kill Shaman/Boring Machines, 2008]

"Somebody's Gotta Lose" Fossils From the Sun Somebody's Gotta Lose (3" CD-r) [Abandon Ship, 2008]

"Abraham's Theme" Vangelis Chariots of Fire (LP) [Polydor, 1981]

"Destroy Your Style" White Savage Destroy Your Style (7") [Hozac, 2007]

"Eternal Bathwater" Paedophile Flowchart Eternal Bathwater Head Submerged in Guidance (CD-r) [Wetnursedirectory, 2008]

mp3: part 1 part 2

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Death Convention Singers – Corrido [SickSickSick]

It’s been a hectic week and in between jamming my election ’08 theme song (“Floatzilla” by Black Pus—awesome!) I’ve been playing this tape a lot which I received from the, formerly unknown to me, SickSickSick label in New Mexico. This is the first tape by this act which, according to the liner notes, is made up of 7 people; a rarity for this variety of music so I find that to be pretty sweet. And in case you’re wondering, the person with the coolest name in the bunch is Ipytor G. Machislav.
It’s a strange brew down there in New Mexico; I’ve listened to this tape a bunch of times and never could quite a handle on it. I’m gonna go for the review anyhow, because reviewing is understanding right? (maybe?)
The tape starts on its weirdest foot, “Fanfare of the Left Behind”, the coolest track on the tape in my opinion. There’s a vague junk noise feel but more sophisticated. Like rather than a mic’d piece of metal everyone’s using real instruments here. There’s distorted growls, fingertapped guitar (I think), someone going apeshit on the drums and some poor soul soloing on a trumpet trying to be heard above the din—he/she mostly succeeds, so, props. Hand drums come in later providing an awesome loopy groove to the maddening nuthouse. It’s a supremely bizarre track but also a supremely good one, it never fully reveals itself to you which makes you want to revisit it. The title track fills out the side and it’s very mellow. A solo acoustic guitar is pushed into the forefront with garbled muck playing just underneath it, not exactly sure what that is all made up of but I hear violin I think and maybe loops of vocals or something and who knows what else. The piece builds to a slight climax before subsiding and letting the tape run its course. Like the first one I can never quite get a handle on this one even despite the pretty simple arrangement.
Side B’s sole composition, “When, O, When Staid Monolith?”, has kind of a doom Skaters vibe to me. Though maybe Double Leopards would be a more apt comparison since there are a lot of people here partaking in the collective drone. It’s a pretty massive sound that erupts from this side. I can make out at least one voice but I can’t vouch for anything else. Since these guys are called Death Convention Singers though I kinda hope this track is everyone singing at a death convention, whatever that is. The big drone fades a bit and a bit heavier, fiery set of drones overtakes it. These guys pull off the noise-drone thing pretty well because they create a massive unified sound as mentioned before but little individual sounds still slip through the cracks and meet your ears. It’s monolithic not monotonous, and sometimes bands confuse the two.
This is an unexpected little gem. The group navigates easily through different styles while retaining a singular sound and, in general, has an interesting take on collective noise jamming. Packaging is totally classy with a double sided j-card and a labeled tape. Apparently you get different liner notes depending on whether you order in the day or in the night… Your guess is as good as mine on that one.
Still available but limited to 50. Definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gay Beast – Disrobics [DNT]/Talibam! – The Excusable Earthling [Pendu Sound]

I’ve been floating on a cloud of great LPs and here’s a couple more to add to the cloud. Disrobics is DNT’s first foray into LPdom, while The Excusable Earthling is the second LP the Pendu organization has put out following the rad NY-based comp long player Getting Rid of the Glue.
Gay Beast hails from Minnesota and is a trio of drums, keyboard and guitar I believe. “What You Want” sets the tone for the rest of the record. Gay Beast play very angularly, almost mathy. Though the mathiness doesn’t sound “prog” at all, it’s more akin to a band like Ex Models where songs are complex rhythmically but come off as seeming tightly crafted rather than showy. “What You Want” is one of the better tracks on the album and is a great example of what I like about Gay Beast, that is they know how to hit the sweet spot. After a frenetic flailabout they lock in and play a really fantastically melodic chorus. One of the things I like is when they hit their choruses it doesn’t feel like a different song. Instead of something like “let’s play a jerky verse and then play a pop song chorus” where the result seems awkwardly mismatched, Gay Beast’s tracks always remain consistent and authentic no matter what sorts of musical tricks they pull. Anyway, sorry for the digression. “Cock” has been in a head to head battle with “Good Government” (which I’ll get to in a minute) for favorite track on the album, and it probably has the edge. “Cock” has a stronger bass presence than the other tracks which really works, the pairing of the guitar’s and keyboard’s lead lines is perfect and there’s a rad chorus that’s catchy as hell. It’s a fantastic song, and at under two minutes it never ceases to leave me wanting more. “Mama, Wrap My Coffin in the A.I.D.S. Quilt Cuz It’s Cold in Hell” is another standout but in a much different way than “Cock”. It’s probably the weirdest track on the album to me because the arrangement and rhythms are quite off-kilter and all the directions the track goes in are hard to follow but, inexplicably, Gay Beast pulls you along making the lack of hooks totally catchy. “Good Government” closes out the A side and is, for sure, one of the best tracks on the record. It takes about 20 seconds or so to cast its spell but after that, man, am I hooked. Keyboard and guitar play unison lines to great effect before an absolutely beautiful keyboard lead jumps out and grabs you by the head. They then proceed to deconstruct their track, before giving the fans what they want and sneaking in a quick chorus before the groove runs its course.
“Cyclops” opens the second side and it’s a jittery affair anchored by a guitar arpeggio in the track’s second half. “3 Pairs of Eyes: Brown, Brown, Blue” would almost seem bouncy if it didn’t obliterate my brain. There’s great guitar parts in here but none of them seem to last for more than a few seconds. “I.D. Politic” is a relatively straightforward track and Gay Beast sound awesome playing the role of the straight man (no pun intended). Regardless of all the changes the track moves through, it’s just a strong, well composed rock song at heart. The same could be said for the next song “Cry” though it barely lasts long enough to write something down about it. The title-track closes the record in frantic fashion. That reminds me, “Disrobics” is the perfect title for this record because it’s relentlessly on the move but only in a way adverbs starting with “dis…” can describe i.e. “disjointedly”, “discombobulated-ly” etc. It’s a cool record, and definitely one that sinks its claws in you a little deeper each listen.
Talibam! hails from New York and is also a trio; drums, synth and sax & electronics (see these reviews are vaguely themed) though they since have downsized to drums and synth. “Explosive Soul” takes the length of the first side. These guys appear to do everything improv-style so you really get to witness something birthed from nothing. There’s weird squelches, loose drum rolls and whathaveyou before things begin slowly to take shape. There’s a lot of convergence and divergence where the group still start down one path only to abandon it for another. There’s this one part that’s so rad where everyone starts groovin’ to this chunky organ line. Props to the organ dude because he’s full these great out of this world, vaguely b-movie inspired keyboard parts. The drummer finds a nice balance between following “the beat” (if it can be called that) and telling the beat to fuck off. I’m not really hearing any sax on this track so I think that guy is pretty heavily involved in his electronics, which cast a smoggy, noisy cloud over the proceedings.
The flipside is also 17 and a half minutes and features “One Way Foot”. It begins the same way “Explosive Soul” did, but from ragged beginnings a flowering of great material shall bloom. The sax seems to make more of an appearance here which, being an appreciator of saxophone, I like very much. The keyboard interjects this really bizarre riff which sounds a little like something you’d here coming from an ice cream truck but sped up a bit. This proves to be a catalyst as the other guys get in on the action. My favorite bit of drumming comes here because, while refraining to bust out a full free form solo, the drummer drives the track without really repeating anything. This jauntiness fades and gives way to a smokier, lo-key passage which is a style that really works for these guys.
A lot of this “total psych freedom” stuff can be in danger being kinda boring and not that great, and though they can move somewhat slowly Talibam! is never boring and they dig up a bunch of neat little nuggets of sound along the way.
The Gay Beast record has fantastic artwork/screenprintwork (I dig the sparkling gold) and comes with an insert and LP labels, Tynan did an excellent job with his first LP. Pendu put together this Talibam! record with the utmost professionalism, with pro-printed sleeves and so forth and it even comes wrapped in plastic. Disrobics is limited to 500 and I’m guessing The Inexcusable Earthling is limited as well, though I can’t locate an exact number anywhere. Both are still available for cheap from their respective labels. Check ‘em out.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #28 (11/2/08)

"Planned Parenthood" Klondike & York Baby Head (LP) [S-S, 2004]

"Tunnels" Social Junk Concussion Summer (LP) [Not Not Fun, 2008]

"Shadow of My Breath" God Eater Future Fun (CD-r) [Scissor Death, 2008]

"Absolute Freedom" Starving Weirdos Absolute Freedom (7") [Abandon Ship, 2008]

“Draft Dodging Sexual Vietnam (for Gabe & Pete)” Barrabarracuda Draft Dodging Sexual Vietnam (for Gabe & Pete)/Wise Incisors (CS) [Green Tape, 2005]

"Lemonade Folly" Gang Wizard I Remember You from the Party in Long Beach (7") [DNT, 2007]

"It Must Be/On Black Mountain" Bone Awl ...So I Must Take from the Earth and Make it My Own… (2x7") [Hospital, 2006]

"Malignant Coronation" Hototogisu Under the Rose (LP) [Heavy Blossom, 2008]

"Jumping Jack Flash Drive" Dead Luke Record Two (7") [Sacred Bones, 2008]

"Genius Loci" Peter Stenberg Let’s Go/So Far Away
(MP3) [Merzbau, 2008]

“Asleep Within the Awake” Peonies Infinity Has No Exits (CS) [Sloow Tapes, 2008]

"X-mas at Wounded Knee" El Jesus de Magico Funeral Home Session (7") [Columbus Discount, 2007] 2:30

"Butler Hospital" Lady Doctors The World’s Lousy with Ideas Vol. 2 (7") [Almost Ready, 2008]

"Side B" AFCGT AFCGT (10") [Dirty Knobby, 2008]

"Messed Up Man" Coconut Coolouts The World is Lousy with Ideas Vol. 4 (7") [Almost Ready, 2008]

"XX Spectrum" Black Orphan Circuits (7") [UFO Dictator, 2008]

“Untitled” Lilypad Imaginary Softwoods (3xCS) [Wagon, 2008]

"Good Government" Gay Beast Disrobics (LP) [DNT, 2008]

"Baby Talk" The Suspicions The World is Lousy with Ideas Vol. 3 (7") [Almost Ready, 2008]

"Teeth" Little Women Teeth (LP one-sided) [Gilgongo, 2008]

"Untitled" Dull Knife Apophenia (CD-r) [Debacle, 2007]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2