Got two more installments from the great Canadian label House of Sun. The last tapes I heard from them were total dreamers (Tuluum Shimmering and Charlatan) and so I was suprised to find these to be such a pair of murky guitar lurkers.
The first up is by a band I'd never heard of before. Gasoline Gathers Hands, Gathers Friends is a bizarrely christened wandering murk affair. I was just listening to my Maths Balance Volumes LP the other day and now that I'm listening to this, GGHGF definitely reminds me of them so it makes sense why I always dug Tail Light Fever Forever. They seem to move with dronier, more extended brushstrokes than MBV though. The first side is a totally warbling affair with some dude howling in garbled angst while blurry guitars pick and strum around him. I like how they start with a conventional base (a song) and stretch it and contort it into something strange and mysterious. There's a really pretty instrumental passage in the middle of the side. It drifts along in the same awkward fog but sticks to a melodic framework making it a nice oasis in the sea of alienated loner muzak. Once the strangled vocals show up its back to creepdom though. I think there's some tape manipulation towards the end as the jam seems to get more and more feral and loopy. The second side is immediately more placid and well adjusted. Sounds like some organ, moaning vox and guitar all in a thick, reverb-laden din. A lovely little guitar arpeggio emerges with relative, but surprising, clarity. The sound shifts to slightly Grouper-esque on this side which you know I'm behind. More or less wordless vocals accompany the guitar with faint fragments of sound floating about too. I can't quite tell how many people are behind this; it's pretty minimal so it could be one person or perhaps as many as three all sitting tranced out, cross-legged, focused intently on the single element they are contributing. The piece turns into quite a pretty song with plenty of vocals a-swirl; it's an unusually upbeat ending even if its still in shades a grey. This seems like a cool project, I'll be keeping my ears out for 'em.
From an unknown project (to me anyway) comes a well-known one from Jeff Astin. Laying down the law in 20 minutes flat, Slowing Atrium reminds me of Astin's tape last year on Cabin Floor Esoterica under the Abolicao tag. This is much less rustic sounding, which I liked about the Abolicao tape, but I'm not gonna hold that against it. On the first side, there are dual guitars spinning their cobwebs in separate channels with a thick coating of crusty field recordings. I swear there's a few keyboard stabs floating around but maybe its just guitar, as the guitar also makes a time of imitating chimes. Guitar gradually becomes less of a focus as the drones seep into the murky tapes of Astin's favorite hikes or whatever. Sticking with the whole hiking idea, this is a nice little "ramble" in the woods which is big praise coming from me, a confessed hater of "rambles." Maybe I like this ramble because I can do it from the comfort of my own home or maybe its just because it's, you know, music.
"Side B" separates itself from the first side and all the various images of forest fungi that litter the case by delivering an ultra-sparse guitar-centric piece. The two main elements here are guitar strings and silence. It sounds like there might be some tapes or something else present too but its not much more than a whisper. A guitar figure repeats in various permutations, widely spaced out. Around halfway, a tape of a creek gently trickles with faint windchimes as well. Stuttering half-melodies appear at the very end making it the loveliest part of the track. The side is definitely a meditative piece and a very good palette cleanser; I hadn't heard Xiphiidae in some time and I like the direction its headed.
The Xiphiidae tape is still in print, but it seems like Gasoline Gathers Hands, Gathers Friends is all gone from the label. Check the distros, I suppose. Both come in recycled cardboard arigato packs for cassettes, so you can save the environment while jammin' some sweet tunes.