This is my remaining stash of stuff from rad weirdo West Mass labels OSR Tapes and Faux-Pas recordings. There’s a tape and CD-r by OSR, a 3” from Faux-Pas and another tape that is a co-venture between the labels.
Having put out one of my favorite records of the year, the Horse Boys tape, I expect incredibly high quality from cassettes with the OSR brand. This tape by Sord, called Rebuking the Despoiler, does not disappoint in the least. Not sure who’s behind this tape but I’ll hazard a guess that OSR CEO Nals Goring is involved. There are seven tracks on the first side whose titles are scrawled and barely discernible on a small insert. The opening title track is basically just a 15 second intro of movie/TV dialogue samples, it’s pretty hilarious: “Handcuffs are a lot more comfortable than a casket, you know what I mean Pete?” “Thank You” is actually music though Sord often pushes the limits of the term as many in West Mass are apt to do. This track throws together a mellow piano workout with some sort of a wolverine vs. a trashcan noise. It’s a really clear track cause it has a lounge jazz feel while still sounding straight up home taper. “Kabuki of the Gods” is more samples, noise and strangled singing. “Jiggery Poker” is an odd concoction of looped noises with old horror movie organ. I can’t tell if the organ is sampled (could be) or they actually own a bitching organ like it. Continuing the haunted vibe there’s a few bit of whimpered shrieks. The track is a mess but totally great. The challenge, where Sord exceeds admirably, is that the track with all its randomness is constructed to be coherent and listenable. “Mommy Life” is another weird interlude of scratching contact mic’d whatnot. “Why this Court Keeps Rebuking” is extra warped with tape warble and sounds being made from mouths but that’s about as far as I can go to describe it. Totally fucked. “Defending the Realm” closes the side. It has an almost rock vibe to it which throws me for a loop after all the weird shit that precedes it. It sounds like it might be live or it was recorded on a Dictaphone in another room. It’s a great foggy, fuzzy haze of drums, guitar and someone freaking out on keyboards. The real jewel of the tape is the B side, a single pastiched piece called “Made in Ecuador 10-07.” It seems like its probably a mix of performed material and then material that was just recorded around Ecuador. One of my favorite parts is at the beginning which is a recording of some band combining traditional Ecuadorian music with jazz. It’s really brilliant. There bits of TV and radio spliced in as well as solo acoustic guitar work recorded in bustling places. It’s a fantastic side because a unique, lively vibe permeates the whole thing. The Ecuador tourist board should just start sending out this tape instead of brochure’s and people would start lining up to come. Another standout is a bitching solo accordion performance but there are so many awesome moments on here of all varieties you just gotta hear it. The whole side is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Worth picking up the tape for this side alone. Seriously.
Delving into even weirder territory is …Are Roan Stars (WTF is a “roan star”) by Nals vs. Nals. This CD-r as far as I can tell is a concept album, the concept being that Nals Goring and Nals Gorman are fighting through music. After the funny/creepy intro “We’re About Fight” where the two guys listen to a tape made by a girl named Bev. Contained on the tape is a long message that she is breaking with both of them. And then apparently they fight… So, what in the fuck is going on??! I have no idea but things only get weirder, some 8 year old kid talks indecipherably as Gorman has a conversation with him. I don’t know, it’s weird. As far as the musical content goes this album is pretty rad. It’s nutty and frantic and often extremely hard to wrap your head around but by the same token it’s full of great inventive shit. Probably hundreds source recordings are chopped splice with such a madcap frenzy that its nigh impossible to make sense of. The CD is surprisingly listenable such as the J Dilla/Ghostface referencing “Whip You with a Strap (Gorman).” “Suck My Kiss (Goring)” is the only track (of 20) to make it past 4 minutes. Its much more low key (though still plenty weird) than the rest of CD but there’s a nice passage that moves like a loping hip hop beat with looped drums and brass and a renegade piano before spiraling off in a static skronk direction. “Suck My Kiss (Gorman)” by contrast is a quarter of the length and is an acoustic strum and sing affair being eaten away by plunderphonic termites. Recommended for anyone that likes their music scrambled beyond recognition.
Shamrock (co-released by Faux-Pas and OSR) is a c-21 split between Stonedwall Jackson, credited as Rusty “Heroin” Spoons and Sam “Huffin’” Gas Can (the perpetrator of the Faux-Pas label) and Heat Wilson, which weirdly isn’t credited. My guess is that Nals Goring is part of this too cause its got the same kind of scrambled tape mash he’s usually up to. Heat Wilson’s track is on the first side. It begins rather nicely with an amazingly catchy looped acoustic guitar jam and some latin-ish sample before getting into slurred tape warble. It eventually finds it way out of that forest with a woman trying to wake up someone up (“It’s time to wake the fuck up now”) only to find its way right back in. There’s an almost gamelan pitched-down rubber band percussion thing. There’s garbled conversation and god knows what. Weird fuckin’ cartoonish Native American-styled drums and flute chants, kinda like the alternate path The Skaters could have taken 5 years ago. It ends with a lullaby of all things. The side is just all over the place.
Stonedwall Jackson’s side is less sample driven but still works with the sound collage style. Their side starts off with various guitars and bells and a flute. Before long, they’re a ramshackle family band with a nice little thrift store stomper reminding me a little of Seattle act Forrest Friends. A new guitar/harmonica jam sprouts from the ashes of the previous. A bit rudimentary but pleasant enough to listen to leading to the next section which is mostly percussive with chimes and such save for a sloshed voice slobbering all over the tape and gets really urgent all of a sudden. I think there might be an autoharp in there too. The next is a guitar and glockenspiel duet, some says something about corn chips and poof the tape is over.
The last release to get to is The Story of Artificial Peace, a solo work by Sam Gas Can. I guess Artificial Peace is some made up punk band from the 80s or something and there’s a bit of text telling the story of them with the 3” CD-r but as far as I can tell the CD-r doesn’t really have much to do with Artificial Peace. But maybe I’m missing something. Anyway the first of the five tracks is “Political Song” which begins slowly with chiming percussion and rattles along tactilely for a while. Before being rudely interrupted by a blaring keyboard and distorted voice which cuts out leading into a capella song about hating Christmas, being happy, impressing other people and “knocking on the door of suicide.” Bizarre in a whole different way than the other stuff in this review. “You are Not a Good Friend” is percussion rattle, backwards recordings and a muddled voice singing. This switches to an organ interlude, some whispering “You son of an asshole” and then another a capella thing but this time it’s a falsetto singing “Ooh, I love the baby” over and over and the speed of the tape is messed around with. “Cut the Shit (Out of my Fur)” sounds almost like The Microphones at first except everything is played backwards. Then there’s some backwards screaming and whatnot that gives me flashbacks of Twin Peaks. The first three seconds of “Oops! I’m at the Wrong College” are seriously amazing. Its just this brief beat but it sounds so rad I always hope its gonna pop up later in the track for longer than a couple seconds but sadly it never does. Though the ghost of it pops up during a minimal electronics workout during the rest of track. The track is pretty much straight up electronics the whole way through except for live drums that join up in the final minute. Things get really jammin’ when that happens. There’s a nice interplay with the live rhythm and the rigid rhythm the electronics are pumping out. “Hostility is like a Psychic Boomerang” is a short coda of weirdness compiling a lot of the previous styles of the CD.
I think that everything is available still save for the solo Gas Can release. Shamrock is available from both labels but you’re gonna have to hit up just OSR for the other two. I like the tapes best probably, particularly that Sord tape but whatever you get from this crew is sure to intrigue and befuddle.