Direct Shadows is the latest Rambutan triple-incher, released on Frank Baugh’s (Sparkling Wide Pressure) KimberlyDawn label. Rambutan is, of course, Eric Hardiman of Burnt Hills/Century Plants/Tape Drift records fame but it’s his solo guise that appears to be really taking flight this year. The disc is cut in half fairly cleanly with “Direct Shadow” taking up the first half. The piece moves slowly, with Hardiman controlling pulsing, strictly minimal tones. It has the feel a deep space transmission you might stumble upon with a serendipitous flick of the radio dial. It’s an isolating, moody piece that feels like it will go on infinitely, whether anyone is listening or not, and somebody just happened to record 8 minutes and 14 seconds of it. “Empty Sleep” takes up my favorite Rambutan mantle which is when Hardiman goes for jittery, tranced out grooves. The piece reminds me slightly of Ren Schofield’s (God Willing) minimal techno project Container. This track definitely isn’t techno, but it has the same sort of repetitive sci-fi pitter-patter that builds and interlocks into a strange, twisted, dripping mass. With a few minutes to go Hardiman busts out this synthish melody (though it may actually be guitar) that comes out of nowhere but is so ingrained in the preexisting rhythmic framework that it seems like the topper the piece had secretly been working towards along. If you don’t know Eric’s work, check it out.
It’s not often you get 11 tracks on a 3” CD-r but that is exactly what Spade & Archer has given us with Sullo Scaffale released on Bloomington, IN's Auris Apothecary. The dude covers a lot of different terrain over those 11 tracks as well. The sub-minute “Purple Tulips” starts things off with a stomping, mid-tempo DJ Shadow-esque intro before moving suddenly into rhythmic full band rock mode in “Judge and Jury” driven by a rumbling bass line and is eventually given a nice send off of atmospheric piano. “Window Business” is more aggressive with more distortion and wild hit-every-drum-as-fast-as-I-can-style drumming which ends up being a keyboard/drum rave-up. “Yeti” has the same feel but it comes off with a “sampled” sounding vibe, which is kinda cool. “Bell Crawl” provide a brief breather of grainy acoustic guitar and, as you might expect, a bell set. “Cool Breeze” has a kind of smooth jazz vibe which is a little jarring and in all honesty I’m not really feeling it. What I am feeling however is “Fifteen Stories High” a little minute and a half treasure nestled in the middle of the album. Looped drums, piano and guitar make this lovely, groovy, melodic Menomena-esque cell that sadly doesn’t live long before the tempo and volume get jacked up and the piece closes out with a rhythmic mad dash. “Faraar Gil” matches thumping drums with sprinting, spacey piano lines that almost takes on a free rock sensibility which is surprising cause everything is so precise. “Floodwaters” is the default epic at 4:23. Most of the album is these brief, little nuggets that establish their point usually in a matter of seconds, “Floodwaters” is a bit more leisurely in establishing itself. It’s pleasant to listen to but also doesn’t really lead anywhere over its four minutes. “The Short Lines” is pretty jammin’ though. It’s got a great low-end piano melody (with a killer countermelody as well) and lively energy about it that makes me miss the heyday of piano-driven rock bands like Pleasure Forever and The Get Hustle. “Yeti Guen” wraps things up with a shuffling drum and sitar loop, the most straight up hip-hop-influenced track on here.
Static and Distance is a single 21 minute track from Brooklyn- based Millions and released on the also Brooklyn- based Obsolete Units. The piece is bathed in thick, shimmering, digital fog. With many, many layers of synth dissolving into each other. An interesting note is that the jacket states “all sounds by David Suss recorded October 2008” and also “Certain elements performed by David Suss and Mike Magill recorded live to mobile phone July 18 2008” I’m not really sure how both those statements can be true but everything in “Static and Distance” sounds pretty single minded and of its own so maybe the former is somehow true. I certainly can’t tell any distinctions between what’s Suss and what’s Suss/Magill. Anyway, let’s not get off the subject. Around halfway through a great, slowly bending synth adds a phenomenally effective seasick vibe to the piece. The track continues to travel deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole into a monolithic mass of buzz and hum and shimmer and sinister effervescence. This thing is so thick it’s incredible. I have to constantly redirect my listening trying to catch all of the seemingly endless amounts of layers here. The last few minutes make it slightly easier as Suss introduces a little breathing room to the piece during its slow fade. It’s interesting how weirdly oppressive this piece is considering there’s very little distortion, any “noise” is pretty mild and static-y, and the palette is closer to new agey synth stuff. Maybe that’s Suss’s bag, killin’ ‘em with kindness.
Build Your Bed in a Burning House by Blackbeard and released on the Dynamo! imprint isn’t technically a 3inch CD-r (it’s a regular old 5 incher) but it contains a single 16 minute track, well within the means a 3” provides, so I’m throwing it in here. This thing is all over the place; it starts with some kid talking before a looped organ and simple drumbeat start up with distorted speech panned back and forth over them eventually fading into distorted tones. Synth burbles, electric guitar, two note keyboard melodies all overtake the track in a disjointed fashion, pairing heavily filtered oscillator squelch and funeral home organ which is in turn usurped by a recitation of the classic Freaks moment (“One of us/Gooble Gobble”) recast as a one-man sports game crowd cheer. A marching din of distorted electric guitar layers that at some point becomes a loose, vaguely new-wave-inspired jam rock guitar solo sesh. A heavily reverbed, sort of creepy, piano and vocal thing that eventually terminates with a minute long playing of automated answering machine messages that I wish I hadn’t spent the time listening to. All you WTFheads out there, this thing’s for you.