Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nals Goring/No Sound - Split [Feeding Tube]

Feeding Tube is quickly becoming one of my favorite labels due to their dedication to consistently putting out the most amazingly fucked up sounds possible. Each record is an awesome mind puzzle. What are these sounds? What the hell is going on? Who ponied up the cash to put this vinyl? Every release is densely bizarre but curiously (and repeatably) listenable. This head scratcher pairs up projects from the label heads of Feeding Tube and the brilliant OSR Tapes, No Sound and Nals Goring respectively.
Nals Goring takes the first side of the LP with "Watership Down vs. the Robber Baron" and what a total mindfuck it is. The record starts with a bang; some kind of warped 'n scrambled foray into hip hop abruptly shifts to a new wavey keyboard demo after Zach Phillips a.k.a. Nals tells me he's gotta go back to the beginning or I won't understand. Despite Nals's best efforts I still don't understand, at any point in the track, but that doesn't impede my enjoyment. Nals gets into backpacker mode slinging "rhymes" like "A long time ago there were three seasons/One of the seasons was called 'Watership Down'" detailing the whole, non-sequitur-filled history of the conflict between Watership Down and the Robber Baron. The killer, scatterbrained beat shifts into a haunted house ascending organ line as Nals states "it was a horrible mystery." It's not clear but either Watership Down or the Robber Baron "comes back to claim his fortune on the cassette tape in the mansion" which starts some shit. What makes this side great is there are so many things going on at any given moment and they often disappear quickly to make way for more, causing you think "wait, did I just hear seven seconds of jazzy rag piano?" The track gets even weirder when a young child tells a stream of conscious story about a fat guy getting run over by a car. I should note we're only around three minutes into the track at this point so there's a lot of shit going on during the course of the side. There's garbled, tape-pastiched samples and various clatter which cut to a drum solo which cuts to some weird deconstructed vocal/drums duet with tape-manipulated speech and tactile free-percussion. The track shifts again into interplay between someone repeatedly saying "take it from me" and Nals responding "take it from you" over drums and samples. Nals states "remind me why I came on this crazy trip" (fair question) right before it erupts into madness. I don't know what the actual process is here but it sounds like Mr. Phillips cut up 20 different tapes into centimeter snippets and spliced them all together in a possibly genius or possibly haphazard way. That's about the most adequately I can describe what's going on. Phillips reveals Watership Down was beaten by the Robber Baron and apparently "it's a lesson in organics" before launching into an even zanier sound collage culminating with an out of tune brass band. The final bit of the side sees the young child from earlier return to deliver the ending of her story. Awesome but what the fuck?
No Sound fills out the B-side with a live track supremely titled "GayKK." Though the track has its share of idiosyncrasies, its mellower pace is a welcome relief after the manic brain-frying that went on on side A. I know Ted Lee (No Sound) made a movie called "GayKK" and this track is apparently some kind of live scoring of that film. Coming to life with a wheezy accordion and a loop of synth or something, another sinister, wobbly bass loop pops giving the track a queasy groove. Distorted guitar and various objects are shaken, pounded, massaged etc. creating a disorienting environment built on rhythmic pulses of a few loops. Lee does a great job developing the performance organically. Some parts are even a little pretty. He's a drummer which may be why there's always some sort of underlying rhythm to whatever sorts of noises are being vomited forth or chaffed against each other; Lee can even make confusion flow. Some of the best moments of the piece are the quieter ones where there might only be a couple elements happening but they interlock in weird, polyrhythmic and nearly hypnotic ways. Near the end of the side, it cuts from big throbbing waves of distortion to what sounds like a dog whimpering but who really knows. The track dilly dallies with quieter field recordings and crowd noise for a little while before bringing back those big waves of distortion and calling it quits. It's a pretty great track, especially considering it was all performed live.
This is one of a kind stuff, definitely check this out if you aren't familiar with these projects.
The LP is in print but only limited to 100.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #57 (2/28/10)

Thresholders “Fracture Removal” Thresholders [Tape Drift 2010] (CD-r)

Little Fyodor “That Was a Mistake” Peace is Boring [Fox Pop 2009] (CS)

Little Claw “Slow Sticky Tornado” Human Taste [Ecstatic Peace! 2009] (CD)

Lee Noble “Halloween Kiss” Darker Half [Bathetic 2010] (CS)

Noggin “I’m Getting into Dirt, Now” Split with Pork Queen [Trackshun Industries 1993] (LP)

Sean McCann “Scapula” Open Resolve [Stunned 2010] (CS)

Sisprum Vish “Untitled” Twizzler [No Label 200?] (CS)

Nick Hoffman “NWO” Silent Island [House of Alchemy 2010] (CD-r)

Nals Goring “Untitled” Ratan Altan [OSR Tapes 2008] (CS)

hair_loss “Hereditary” The Initial Everything’s Wonderful [No Label forthcoming] (LP)

thenumber46 “Pilotless Airplane” Bleach and Ammonia [Tape Drift 2010] (CS)

Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides “Hidden Woolen Sweat” Carving Ones Void [Golden Lab 2008] (CD-r)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat Killer - Downtown [Speed Tapes]

Speed Tapes seem to be picking up steam. First it turned heads with the Soloing Over Alanis Morissette tape (exactly what it sounds like) then released the guitar concrète jams of Patriotic Window Klings that I covered recently. And now we have Cat Killer, a band name I love but a lot of cat lovers out there will despise, the solo project of Dylan Baldi (Neon Tongues, Cloud Nothings.)
Baldi fills the tape with cloudy guitar and/or synth driven instrumentals. But it's really the cloudiness that wins out, you hear ghosts of guitars and many keyboards but will rarely catch a glimpse with thine own eyes. I tend to be a little wary of rock-influenced instrumentals but the first side of the tape, "Samba," is quite nice. Baldi builds a series of pulsing arpeggios on top of each other, propelling the track through the misty reverb. Midway, Baldi takes the track apart and rebuilds it into another eerier formation with a near-dissonant piano run until all that's left is a lone drum machine kick that I never even noticed in the first place.
Two tracks fill out the b-side and the title track is the first up. It has a noticeably more "pop" vibe. It retains the hazy, lo-fi production values but amounts to a mellow synth-pop ditty hearkening back to The Magnetic Fields' early days. Composed from a simple drum track and a mess of synth lines, I feel the track is definitely aided by its "lo-fi-ness." The production-value obscures the details and reveals the melodic nugget at the center of the track. It's straight up impressionist pop. "Open Package" closes the tape. This jam has a slight Gary Numan vibe but upbeat instead of, you know, paranoid. A staccato keyboard melody is hammered out for a while forming the base of the track until another keyboard contributes a more lyrical melody over top. The tape is nothing earth shattering but it's not trying to be; it's an easy rider, optimized for cruising and nothing more.
100 copies, still in print. You know the drill.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barthel Gadau Kopp Röther Weibel - Radio Student [Hymns]/Hong Chulki - Amplified WC [Ghost & Son]

I'm pairing up these two CD-rs because they're both strange live recordings (each clocking in around 20 minutes) recorded in foreign environments. They each come with their own interesting contextualization as well.
Well, actually, the contextualization is pretty vague for Radio Student. The performance was recorded live in 2003 while on tour in Slovenia. Not much other info is given. Are the artists Slovenian? Don't know and the internet isn't giving me much help. I was curious how many people participated in the performance and according to the generally accurate discogs.com, Barthel, Gadau, Kopp, Röther, and Weibel are all separate individuals. So apparently 5 deranged people were at work creating this sonic mayhem (in the bizarre sense rather than the destructive sense.)
The live piece is bookended with an intro and outro spoken in one of the many hundreds of languages I don't speak so they aren't much help to me. Though they definitely heighten the confusion for me which can only aid the already confusing live performance. The intro also has the man with the harmonica's theme from Once Upon a Time in the Westplaying in the background which certainly sets the CD up for success. Luckily, I don't have to fall back on our mutual appreciation for Ennio Morricone to discuss all the good stuff this CD-r has to offer.
Totaling 21 minutes, the live track is the product of deformed brains similar to ones residing in the heads of ID M Theft Able, the Ultra Eczema, Feeding Tube and OSR Tapes labels and a number of other weirdos lounging in Western Massachusetts. There are all sorts of strange sounds at work here, many seem to be percussive at source (hand drums, toy xylophone) with good amounts of samples and electronic/tape manipulation making their mark. It's a very fast-paced piece due to a constant, pulsing distorted loop. The palette of sound makers seems to expand exponentially throughout the performance, making up an immensely tactile cacophony. I'm impressed (or maybe not convinced) there were 5 people at work here because, while it definitely seems improvised, the pacing and dynamics are well-executed which is difficult to pull off when five minds are involved. Particularly when they're brewing audio anarchy such as this.
This thing is challening to write about because there's so much going on, all the time. It can veer between melancholic harmonium swells, distorted recordings of speeches, tape squeals and jangling pocket change seamlessly with finesse and aplomb. It's certainly one of my favorite recent discoveries. Props to Andrew Chadwick (Ironing) and his Hymns label for finding this and issuing it. I don't know here he found it but damn do I want more. Time to start saving for a vacation in Slovenia.
This 3" CD-r by (edit: Korean) artist Hong Chulki (the first release from Ghost & Son, the new label from Katchmare's Nick Hoffman) is called Amplified WC and that's exactly what it is. Chulki describes his methods in detail in the insert, but he rigged up an empty public bathroom with a piezo mic and an exposed audio cable and tin foil in the ventilation duct run into a pair of feedback loops and let the minuscule vibrations of the room do their thing. This is, as Chulki describes it, "improvised noise without the improviser."
It is interesting trying to imagine what I would think of this not knowing how it was produced, judging the sounds as they are. Though, I can't really divorce myself from that knowledge and I feel the mode of production is its strength and weakness. The strength is the recording definitely has atmosphere. I don't mean "atmospheric" but an actual atmosphere. There's a certain aura about the piece. You can actually hear the cold, empty room in the noise which is pretty cool. I will also say that this "improviser-less" noise is surprisingly listenable (considering that it could be potentially very unlistenable) and a natural, if slight, dynamic arc does occur over its duration which is interesting. The weakness I hear is that the piece establishes itself nearly instantaneously and the piece becomes progressively less interesting from there. Chulki's concept of "improvised noise without the improviser" is interesting to consider, because I have seen people perform sets with many aesthetic similarities to "Amplified WC" but I didn't think much of them. Yet, I cut this track some slack because it was performed by a restroom. I don't want to seem overly critical because it was an interesting listen and I commend Chulki's experimentation but I don't feel there's a ton of replay value for me here. Although, I would certainly categorize myself as preferring music by human beings over music by bathrooms so, depending on your own disposition, I may or may not be the best person to listen to on that aspect.
Amplified WC features great, double-sided artwork by Nick Hoffman and Radio Student has the signature Hymns duo-tone look that belies the crazy shit inside.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ättestupa - 1867 [DNT]

Coming totally out of left field, DNT brings this Swedish crew overseas to share their blackened, famine-inspired racket and I'm digging it. The full page insert is all in Swedish I presume so I'm letting the music do the talking and it's whispering unsettling things.
"Missväxt," the first of three tracks on the 45rpm LP, starts the record off in fierce, serrated fashion. There's bad vibes from across the spectrum at work here. There's a heavy dose of noise (whether it stems from harsh noise or Big Black is anyone's guess) and live percussion that plays like a meat packing plant but what really makes the jam so killer is an even heavier dose of Jesus Lizard-esque loping, dead-eyed intensity. The groaning vocalist is so deep in despair he isn't even trying to be heard above the din. The band establishes the structure of the jam right off the bat and then builds it continually into a greater and greater cacophony until it can't support itself any longer and lapses into weird gnarled loops. It's great; maximum cerebral blastitude or whatever. "Halshuggarnatten" begins with an instrumental intro with some rather nice organ juxtaposed with crunchy percussion loops. Minimal, measured drumming and lethargic vocals enter turning the song into a bizarre, queasy, slo-motion flurry. The seasick vibes continue onto "Storsvagåret" which takes up the full b-side. A whirring organ produces a series of bent-out-of-shape pitches over distorted clanks and whatnot. This section continues for a little bit until Ättestupa shift into a deliberate trash rock stomp, lead by the organ. There's a phenomenal counter-melody with a music box/toy piano timbre that really seals it for me, though it's nearly crushed by the blown out drums. It's totally unexpected and heightens the sinister mood with its duplicitous, "good-natured" melody. For some reason this piece seems even more zoned out than the other side. A continual bleary-eyed trudge through a smoldering nightmare world. That is until the track begins to smolder itself, cannibalizing itself with static-laden, manipulated loops. Excuse me while I flip the record back over.
I'm not totally sure how to classify this, they've got their fingers in a couple different cookie jars. Noise rock is the most inclusive tag you could give it, but there definitely seems to be some inspiration in noise, drone and not-shitty industrial music, particularly for atmosphere. I've never really heard such elements combined in this way, or least they haven't achieved such an effect. The effect, I would vaguely define as, inescapable dread without fear. Something is rotten in Sweden, for sure.
Still in print and limited to 330.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #56 (2/21/10)

Wether “Night Terrors” Split with Pillars of Heaven, Gallows, Deerstalker [Peasant Magik/No Horse Shit 2007] (2xCS)

Mudboy “Freeze” Music for Any Speed [Lexi Disques 2009] (7”)

Theo Angell & the Tabernacle Hillside Singers “Sadie Won’t Come (Am I the One for Me?)” Tenebrae [Amish 2009] (CD)

Helhesten “I Did Not Want to See Another Mountain” Graphical House [Blackest Rainbow 2009] (CD-r)

Christopher Riggs “Live in Pittsburgh Pt. 2” Fat, Sassy and Mean as Hell [Holy Cheever Church 2009] (CS)

Granitkorridor “Untitled” III [Stunned 2010] (CS)

Rib Cages “Lock Horns” Will Beg 4 Money [No Label 2010] (CS)

Mister Fuckhead and Company “Untitled (excerpt)” Mister Fuckhead and Company [No Label 2009] (CS)

The Uzi Rash Group Band “End Times” High & Phree [Freedom School 2009] (LP)

Banana Head “Gang Toughs” In the Tubs [Goaty Tapes 2009] (CS)

The Uphill Gardeners “Goldenrod Sunrise” The Uphill Gardeners [olFactory/Kill Shaman 2010] (LP)

Social Junk “Eight Years Ago (excerpt)” Eight Years Ago [905 Tapes 2009] (CS)

Mean Jeans “Rats Roaches and Jeans” Are You Serious? [Dirtnap 2009] (LP)

Blobs “Side A” Hey Hello [Goaty Tapes 2009] (CS)

Madre Osa “Wegbeschreisbung zum Kühlschrank (excerpt)” Musicá Experimental [Circuit Torçat 2010] (CS)

Barthel Gadau Kopp Rother Weibel “Untitled” Radio Student [Hymns 2009] (CD-r)

mp3: soon

Friday, February 19, 2010

Banana Head - In the Tubs [Goaty Tapes]

Word on the street is Goaty Tapes CEO Zully Adler is Banana Head though there's no mention of it anywhere on the tape. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from a project called Banana Head, to be honest my immediate thought was a hybrid of Buckethead and Melt Banana--though I'm pretty sure that's all due to word associations, as it turns out this debut is a half hour of slo-mo, downer surf music. Though, when I say surf I mean in vibe (lotta reverb, lotta tremolo) rather than songwriting.
"Desk Man" kicks off the tape with a repeated string-bending lick, dimly lit organ and indecipherable slurred vocals. The thing you immediately notice is how slow everything is, it's like an obscure rock n roll 45 played at 33 and somehow without percussion. It's very patient and leisurely without being ethereal or "psychedelic" which, having watched the decent but very bland Moon Duo last night, I'm finding especially refreshing today. Adler caps the track with a very nice bridge at the end. "Desk Man" lays out the album's aesthetic pretty clearly and the title track follows it pretty closely other than being half the length. This jam stands out more and more each time I listen, it's anchored beautifully by a wobbly, detuned blues riff with even more sloshed vocals and organ fluttering about. It's basically one verse like a Madvillain song but definitely successful and one that gets stuck in your head. The immediate stand-out for me was "Phone Call" and I still feel like it's the best song of the album. It packs the strongest emotional punch, not so much from the lyrics cause I don't know what the hell they are except maybe "holding on," but from the melody and passion behind the voice. It also marks the first instance of percussion on the tape: an occasional snare/drum tambourine hit. I took In the Tubs in my Walkman one day and it was amazing how this song (and the cassette in general) made the world seem so serene. It's just a really great song, fantastically well-written first of all and the performance is remarkable. The most perfect and affecting presentation of the Banana Head aesthetic so far, I hope he's got more in him. Wisely, it's followed up by another of the tape's best songs, "You're Mine." Adler's voice is clearer here and damn, either there's pitch manipulation going or this dude can reach some lows. There's a nice rhythmic swing to the track and it's another well-written, well-realized melodic piece with a great guitar fill that just makes the song. "Eat to Death" is another strong one (okay, pretty much all of the songs here are strong) with a well-placed organ part and brief guitar lead. I appreciate that Adler uses his voice as a melodic tool rather than just singing for the sake of pop convention.
"Gang Toughs" (killer title) takes over on the b-side and it kicks on the fuzz for the first time on the record. Adler has really mastered the skill of the "chord change" he navigates between repetitive two-chord progressions and more elaborate combos like nobody's business, finding a way to get the absolute most out of each chord he plays. "The Sisters" is another shorter one, bringing back the organ which sounds almost like a slowed-down siren or something. The arrangement of another favorite, "Monday" nearly buries Adler's voice; he sounds like someone singing deep down in a cavern and what you're really hearing are the long-resonating echoes. "Take it Back" closes the tape in minor key, downer fashion though it somehow sounds a little more immediate despite being essentially the same tempo.
My only criticism of the tape is small. I may just be a conventionalist but I feel like an uptempo number or two would provide a little (beneficial) variety and also I'm just very curious to hear an uptempo Banana Head song, I personally think it would be awesome.
All in all, though, In the Tubs is a really rich tape of which I've been slowly peeling back the layers listen after listen. It's not that what Adler is doing is especially complex in a technical sense, but the songs slowly get their claws in you though you're none the wiser. It was around the third or fourth listen I began to realize (and was surprised by) how well I knew all the songs. Their hooks are unassuming but the songs just manage to seep inside you and stay there. It's a really excellent and, in its way, exciting piece of work.
Still in print. Goaty makes perhaps the nicest looking tapes of anyone so there's no good reason to not check this out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mister Fuckhead and Company - Mister Fuckhead and Company [No Label]

This project was masterminded by Arvo Zylo, unfortunately better known as Mister Fuckhead. The "company" in question is a huge series of collaborators he recruited to produce these 90 minutes. The tape consists of six live recordings and two recorded in a meat locker and the line-up ranges from Arvo and one other to like eight people, all huffing away on brass instruments, manipulating tapes and electronics or just plain out banging on shit. It's one of the most monstrous 90 minutes I've come across, and perhaps a bit too much to take in in one sitting but taken a few performances at a time it's pretty enjoyable.
The tape starts off with one of the strongest performances. It's a live recording from 2008 featuring a quartet on drums, tape loops, guitar, scrap metal and electronics. I can't quite make out the samples from the tapes, it could be some kind of fucked classical piece or folk tune but at times it even seems a little like a 70's disco/funk jam. Anyway, so you got someone messing with samples meanwhile the world is basically collapsing. The rest of the crew gets really heavy and moves like a fucking juggernaut, splintering everything in its path. The drummer hits them like a bastard and the guitar gives it a steady rock n roll underpinning that really ties the jam together with a sludgy bow on top. The quartet builds to such a relentless, unholy racket it's quite staggering. It's phenomenal really. The second piece, recorded in 2007, switches gears with a duo formation on scrap metal, electronics, glass and vacuum. Rather than the monolithic skull crushing of the previous piece, it moves along somewhere in between mild harsh noise and free-percussion crews like Albero Rovesciato. The piece is navigated through jangling percussion, sharp blasts of feedback, synth filter sweeps and electronic rumble. It's a good track, well-paced and the duo definitely have a handle the rhythm of the piece. I'd be curious to see what else this duo formation would come up with. The final piece of the side was recorded under a year ago and it expands the ensemble to 7 people. One or more people are credited to all of these things: baritone sax, electronics, guitar, electric drill, scrap metal, saxophone, modified trumpet, bass, cymbals, blood, coronet and vocals which is pretty insane. Looking at a line-up like that I was expecting another noise assault a la the first track but they actually deliver something much more unsettling. Someone's crooning about temptation against brass and reed squeals, metallic clinks and clangs and fearsome power drill work. There's way more space in this piece than previous tracks making it feel a lot more ominous and disjointed. The second half of it finds lilting brass met with shrieks from a modulated power drill and its real disconcerting.
The second side houses five pieces. The first two are shorter and were recorded by a wind ensemble in a meat locker. Five people play baritone sax, coronet, saxophone and trumpet. The first piece somehow manages to recreate some of power drill-like grind from the last piece. Maybe I accredited it incorrectly before. The piece flowers (or wilts) into polyphonic disharmony. The next piece finds Mr. Fuckhead layering various recordings from the meat locker on top of one another, creating a much more unyielding, dissonant plate of sound than the previous track. Both are cool pieces particularly the second one and they show another facet to the Fuckhead and Co. identity. The third piece of the side is another live performance that expands the ensemble to eight, now including trombone, tuba and french horn(!) It's awesome, a throbbing, swollen mass of resonance. There are nearly imperceptible melodies hidden deep within the swampy brass drones. It's a pretty brilliant piece of creepy horn-blowing. The next track finds the group in a seven piece formation still with many horns in tow but with the addition of electronics (and kazoo.) A couple minutes in, after establishing some core drone waves, a few trumpets and possibly coronet start soloing and it's pretty fucking cool! The ensemble creates this swirling vortex of brass and reeds lead by a great central melody continually contorted and modified by that group of trumpets/coronet. It's odd because out of nowhere on this rather dark and noisy tape there's a fascinating centerpiece of beauty. Around halfway through a really bassy sound starts wiggling around and a few filter sweeps worm their way in as well. That horn melody continues but it's slowly dro(w)ned out by jittery electronics but makes occasional resurgences before the track splinters and slowly sputters to a halt. It's a fantastic 15 minutes, quite possibly the best work of the whole tape. The final piece features three people with tapes, electronics and field recordings at their disposal, kicking off with classical music in a cloud of noise. It's a weird track cause there's this pervasive prickly static but occasional intimations of melodies underneath the white noise. I think the piece suffers from following the previous one because the majority of it comes off as significantly less dynamic. I really like the final five minutes of it though, lots of weird loops intermingle freely with a little melodic undercurrent before bringing the tape to a close.
The thing I like most about the tape is that Zylo has assembled a burgeoning group of individuals with an even larger tool chest to explore the many sonic products possible from their collaboration while simultaneously creating a unified aesthetic over the course of 90 minutes (and a couple years.) Well done.
The c93 is limited to 93 copies, it's a lot of bang for six bucks and the tape looks really nice, with matching labels and matching red shells and cases; you can tell a lot care went into the packaging just as well as the music. There's also a special edition triple cassette version with handmade art and whatnot available as well. Check here or record stores around Chicago for copies.

Sparkling Wide Pressure - Bob Moves Linda Speaks [Existential Cloth]/Aghori - Forced Fate [Existential Cloth]

I got a couple of unfortunately out of print tapes here from Maine's Existential Cloth label.
I'm always excited to hear Frank Baugh's stuff on cassette because a CD-r just can never quite capture the immense warmth of sound he conjures under his Sparkling Wide Pressure moniker. Much like his Stunned tape I reviewed, four pieces are split up pretty evenly amongst two sides of a c30. "Appears and Joins" gets the spools spinning. Swirling keyboards are layered on looped acoustic guitar plucks. The piece maintains an incredibly mellow feel despite a lot of activity. The piece does build to quite a climax however with singing organ and burbling loops of either guitar or keyboard. When all is said and done the track amounts to the most unassumingly forceful piece of music I've heard in a while. All those mellow tones I alluded to earlier? Well, apparently when you stack all of those on top of each other it creates one of the most pleasant squalls around. Props to the loud dub job as well. "Bob Moves" may be my favorite. There's what sounds like a fire alarm ringing distantly and a lovely guitar figure with vocal accompaniment. Synths glisten and swirl their way into the piece turning the whole affair into one big glorious shimmer. It's like a summer day; warm and bright and seemingly endless. Understandably it's garnering a lot of play in the wintry deadlock up here in Seattle. I don't mean to undermine its beauty though; its euphoric eloquence would be just as welcome on a sunny day in June.
"Linda Speaks" starts off the flip side in noisier and disconcerting fashion before sliding into a clean electric chord progression. There's a nice bass melody that could very well be a piano. From there the piece moves slowly but almost haphazardly through a wiry mesh of static, lonesome blues leads and synth sputters unfurling into an astral, deconstructed mess (in a good way.) "Inner Pockets of Love" takes a touch of that blues influence that cropped up in the previous track and marries it with the material on the first side. An elegiac composition of many guitars, many keys and many voices. It's a very good tape, probably the best of Baugh's stuff that I've heard anyway.
I'd never heard of Aghori before but seeing how the project has had a handful of releases on Existential Cloth so I'm guessing it is a local or in-house act. "Cult of the New Sun Moon" establishes Aghori firmly in the drone field. With a bed of short loops with successive additions of more loops. The loops are surprisingly rhythmic creating a detectable polyrhythm in the muddy layers of the tape. Unfortunately, Aghori pull the plug at two minutes cause I would've liked to see where the track could go. The next piece, "Burn Marks of the Victim Pt. 1" fills out the first side. As you may be able to infer from the title the track is brimming with dark, ominous drones. Aghori has a pretty light touch though, there's always just enough going on to keep the listener interested while keeping the various elements in the track well defined and their presence well controlled. The piece moves fluidly as well, constantly shifting while retaining the unsettling atmosphere. "Burn Marks of the Victim Pt. 2" takes over on the second side but its not a continuation of the same piece. It sounds fuller due to a fuzzy feedback drone with disembodied voices and light swells of feedback circling round. It's not as well controlled as "Pt. 1" and doesn't quite create the same eerie atmosphere. The tape wraps with a short piece called "Man With the Ox's Head." It's much more inviting with swirling keyboard and a touch of the new age mystique with a darker, fuzzier undertow that's slowly revealed. Wouldn't have minded a few more minutes of it.
Both tapes are sold-out and it's a damn shame because Bob Moves Linda Speaks was limited to a scant 25 copies and the Aghori tape to only 15. It's like Existential Cloth gets off on being withholding.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Theo Angell & the Tabernacle Hillside Singers - Tenebrae [Amish]

Theo Angell & the Tabernacle Hillside Singers stole my heart in 2007 with the song "Apparently Someone Tried To" and have yet to relinquish control of it. (That song is just sensational.) Tenebrae is Angell's and the Singers' (which apparently, are mostly just Angell) follow-up to Auraplinth, the record that birthed that song I love so dearly. Though no song on Tenebrae quite reaches the near-unattainable heights of "Apparently Someone Tried To," one comes surprisingly close and I'd say this is a more consistent and stronger record.
The album eases to a start with "Wakeling," a guitar-led instrumental featuring subtle and effective violin work by Samara Lubelski, sadly her only appearance. "A Crime From the Vine" is the absolute standout of the album. It's a very oblique and beautiful song. The song is incredibly well-constructed and the arrangement is fantastic. Angell's voice is the center of the song's universe and it's the best it has ever sounded. He pieces together a lovely multi-tracked vocal melody and the only instruments in the piece, piano and drums, both skirt the edges of the track providing important but almost ephemeral counterpoint melodies and embellishments. Angell is really at the pinnacle of his craft with this one. "The Shadow Ring" shifts unexpectedly to uptempo psych-blues with lead guitar by MV whom I'm pretty sure is Matt Valentine ("the bummer road" is in the lyrics after all.) It's pretty good but it lacks the unique arrangement of Angell's topshelf stuff. "Higher Something" also showcases Angell's voice with mellow guitar accompaniment. His singing style is very unusual and can remain somewhat jarring even after repeated listening but that is also very much its strength. Angell's voice, or singing style rather, is something you can continually wrestle with; it continues to feel new and mysteriously entrancing. The song might be a little too loosely structured for its seven and a half minute run time but it takes you to a number of interesting places along the way so one can't complain too much. "Never Heard That Baby Cry," also a seven and a half minute guitar and voice song, follows. It's a good song with an expanded guitar presence, unfortunately though, Angell is singing through a chorus pedal or something which gives his voice a light, cheesy sheen that doesn't totally jive with the stark acoustic guitar. But as I said the song is strong enough to get through that misstep; the final section is particularly pretty. Angell enlists help from PG SIX on woodwinds (mostly flute I think) on "Like A Wind." After an improv-ish intro, the woodwinds, acting somewhat like a small string ensemble, provide stunning accompaniment to Angell's guitar and words. There's a lovely lilt to the songwriting which the woodwinds breath life into beautifully. It's quite a strong piece. Angell adds tape delay to his palette for "Sadie Won't Come (Am I the One for Me?)" and it adds a lot of atmosphere and some strings-esque guitar textures. The song is one of my favorites from the record, even with it clocking in at a staggering eleven and half minutes. Angell paces the tune extremely well as there's a constant rising/falling action. He lets things begin to fray a little and as soon as the song starts to splinter he introduces a new idea or repeats a previous refrain that immediately snaps the song back into form, never allowing the listener's attention to stray. The song ultimately recedes into a hazily, aquatic sound world. Like on "Crime From the Vine," "Sadie" displays Angell's consummate skills as a craftsman in both songwriting and creating simple but immensely effective arrangements. "Salt" is another good track in which Angell further expands his tool set with harp and chloraphist. Your guess is as good as mine as to what a chloraphist is. The track showcases some of Angell's best songwriting on the album, a song that ebbs and flows, seeming to evolve rather than just move from part to part. JOMF (Jackie O Ma'fucka, I'm guessing?) also provides feedback-ridden guitar leads and outro loops. "Masst" is a soaring instrumental with what sounds like a number of layers of voice and guitar and some effected percussion as well. The title track is the finale. After a multi-tracked choral intro, Angell goes about the song in a pretty straightforward way with only a few, subtle embellishments. It's a good choice because the song is definitely strong enough to support itself and any further expansion of the arrangement may have proved to be a distraction. It's one of the most concise songs of the record and an excellent place to conclude Tenebrae.
Angell definitely has one the most unique approaches in, what I guess you would classify as, current folk music. If this record is any indication, he appears to be refining his songwriting and arranging so I'm looking forward to seeing what he and the Singers put together next.
Amish Records packaged the CD with the utmost professionalism and care, the disc comes in a heavy cardboard fold-out sleeve with an accompanying lyric booklet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowstorm - Snowstorm [Breathmint]

This Snowstorm tape follows up the Philly bass/drums wrecking crew's previous Breathmint release, a double c1 release. This release, while lacking the conceptual snazziness of a double c1, makes up for it by sextupling(?) the running time.
Four untitled tracks make up the first side and the first track introduces itself with a short bit of solo drumming before the bass rumbles in. The track skips through like 5 ideas for 5 different punk/hardcore songs in 1:30 with all sorts of rehearsed feedback ruptures and rhythmic aberrations woven in. The next track's amplified onslaught burns out nearly instantly. I really like the third jam on the side cause Snowstorm take a break from being "difficult artists" and just give you a catchy, melodic and still virtuosic speedfreak jam. They can rock with the best of them, you know. The final track is longer than all the previous jams combined. It finds Snowstorm really going for the jugular (or a number of jugulars,) with constant tempo/rhythmic changes and a killer bass breakdown that really lets the heavy Velcro fuzz and icepick feedback tear into your ears. The track is all climax and about as epic as a 3 minute jam can get. Play this shit loud!
The "controversial" B-side threw me for a loop initially cause its basically a remix/mashup of the first side. Snowstorm already had the breakcore influence (if that's the incorrect term, I apologize, my electronic music know-how is not up to par) in their jams and this track takes it a step further for maximum bash-yr-head-in intensity. Its pace is even more breakneck and the structure even more unpredictable than the typical Snowstorm jam so maybe the B-side is the final realization of what was intended all along. And unlike most "remixes" it really retains the spirit of the source material which is vital. I'm down for any further shit to be fucked up by Snowstorm, whatever the means.
I think this is sold out from Breathmint unless it's in the "random box full of releases". The tape looks very nice as Breathmint releases are prone to do. I think the band's full length 7" is still available from Malleable though, so that may be your best bet for checking these guys out. Cause you probably should...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #55 (2/14/10)

Fair Conditioner “Intro” Meth [$elf Record$ 2009] (CD-r)

Yek Koo “Ring of Bone” I Saw Myself [Stunned 2010] (CS)

Kwan Jit Sriprajan “Panatibat” Siamese Soul: Thai Pop Spectacular Vol. 2 [Sublime Frequencies 2009] (CD)

Puffy Areolas “Lutzko Lives” Lutzko Lives [Columbus Discount 2009] (7”)

Albero Rovesciato “Destroyed Statue in Thousand Pieces/Scimitar Radispecchiodidio” Tigers on Acid in the Hell of the Brushwood [Singing Knives 2009] (CD)

Hammer of Hathor “Yucka Drucka (excerpt)” False Teef [Stunned 2009] (CS)

The Sultanas “You’re the One” You’re the One [Boom Boom of Renton 2006] (7”)

Sudden Oak “Tilt” Banquet Years [Stunned 2010] (CS)

Patriotic Window Klings “Guitargument” Guitargument [Speed Tapes 2009] (CS)

Bill Orcutt “Pocket Underground” A New Way to Pay Old Debts [Palilalia 2009] (LP)

Benjamin Franklin “Loupiotes” La Pente/Loupiotes [Lexi Disques 2008] (7”)

The Spits “Army Life” The Spits [Slovenly 2009] (7”)

Locrian “Between Barrows” Territories [At War With False Noise/Basses Frequencies/Bloodlust!/Small Doses forthcoming] (CD/LP)

Sean McCann “Pass Away” Open Resolve [Stunned 2010] (CS)

Ättestupa “Missväxt” 1867 [DNT 2009] (LP)

No Balls “Subsequent Needs” Come Clean [Release the Bats 2009] (LP)

Le Sang Song “Death vs. the Rich” Le Sang Song [Dragnet 2010] (LP)

Oneohtrix Point Never “Betrayed in the Octagon” Betrayed in the Octagon [No Fun 2009] (LP)

Bent Spoon Duo “Side B” Fossils of Slumber [Holy Cheever Church 2009] (CS)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sean McCann - Open Resolve [Stunned]

Sean McCann;
Sean McCann...
Sean McCann
Is the fucking man

That's a poem I wrote for this review because that's the main point you should glean from it. I mean not many people have blogs written about them, other than the ones they write about themselves.
Anyway this is McCann's latest tape for Stunned and third overall effort for the imprint. And you know what? It's pretty goddam fucking good!
A lovely, lilting viola opens "Scapula" with a vaguely Gaelic/folk touch. A bunch more layers of viola creep in obscuring the initial beauty in lieu of a broader, more forceful sound. From there, rumbling mildly free drumming disrupts the proceedings as viola, sax, organ and effects all begin to wig out yet somehow retain that initial lilting beauty in the midst of a free jazz freakfest. It's really incredible. Especially because this stuff is all overdubbed and it doesn't sound like it. It's brisk and very alive and as far as I can tell there are no loops or anything, just a man putting his genius on tape. "Cottage Coffee Patch" brings in McCann's signature lush, glittering synths with an effected viola undertow swirling below. The track is incredibly busy; there is, what sounds like a million layers of synth, viola and who knows what else, but it still manages to maintain a calm center. McCann's on some next level hurricane shit right here. (If he ever enters the hip hop fray, "Hurricane Sean" just has to be his moniker) A moment of clarity is reached where most of the synth facade is scaled back revealing lovingly intertwined viola lines in some sort of starbursting glory. It's wild, wild stuff. It's hard to say which is better but "Broken Replicator" is pretty great too. After a thin, squiggly synth intro the track erupts into a surprisingly heavy burst of fuzz. From there the jam develops a stop/start structure of erupt/subside/erupt/subside etc. always finding a new way to blow the doors wide open. I definitely haven't heard McCann do anything quite like this before; it retains his aquatic "sound world" vibe but he's way more fierce and noisy here than I've ever heard him and the piece builds to a killer climax. The brief "Dissolving Memory" provides a bit of a breather at the end of the tape as if McCann is worried about blowing our minds too hard, too fast. It's a mellow drifter, real relaxing and minor-key.
That brings me to the centerpiece of this whole affair: "Pass Away." For "Pass Away" McCann has basically assembled The McCann Cosmic Family Band. Molly McCann tinkles the ivories, Kellen Shipley puffs on harmonica, Greg Manata jams on electric guitar and Jason Bannon is credited to bass and, rather ambiguously, "sounds" so I'm guessing McCann is holding down the synth/viola/sax/bandleader end of things.
Man, where do I start? This thing is a lovely, heaving massive beauty. Not a single wrong note is played. It's 17:33 of gorgeous, awe-inspiring music. This is the kind of thing you describe as "some alien jam session on the rings of saturn beamed through the asteroid belt and refracted to the dark side of moon where the International Space Station intercepts the transmission and relays it to earth onto this tape" because you have no fucking idea how to even approach it; it's too unfathomable that it exists in the first place. You just know that it's beautiful, that you love it and it's something of a magnitude you've never encountered before. For what it's worth I'll try my hand at a one sentence description: 5 inspired musicians jamming like they've been touched by the hand of God. Everyone involved is on the same celestial plane, it's magical.
Is Sean McCann the next Sun Ra? I don't know. But he is the first Sean McCann and that means a whole lot more to me.
"Still the Same" is given the unfortunate job of following up "Pass Away" but it grabs the reins with aplomb. It's a fast-paced futuristic march with what sounds like a synthetic bagpipe leading the way. It hits a slow dissolve into watery synth pitter patter and that's it.
We've got a true artist in our midst.
The Stunned crew did a heck of job too, packaging the tape in fittingly vibrant/frantic artwork and stunning blue cases. (pun not intended)
Buy every copy you can find, give them to everyone you know and try to heal this world just a little bit. RECOMMENDED.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Patriotic Window Klings - Guitargument [Speed Tapes]

The Patriotic Window Klings are, aside from being one of the best named bands in recent memory, a psych-damaged duo from one of the Carolinas (North?) but their myspace now says London so I'm all confused. Though listening to Guitargument probably aided all the confusion.
This tape is like the fourth shrink-wrapped tape I've owned in my life, the first two were the Space Jam soundtrack and Bad Hair Day by 'Weird' Al Yankovich though so it's more like the second of my mature musical life. What bearing does that have on the music? None. But I feel compelled to mention it cause of how goddam weird it is to see a tape in shrink-wrap. So, Speed Tapes, thanks for making me remember and confront the fact that I owned a Weird Al tape. Thanks a lot...
Alright, enough of this bullshit. Guitargument rumbles to a strong but leisurely start with the two-minute title track. A hypnotic, post-blues guitar riff anchors the jam with a precise tick-tock feeling upon which the Klings pile up a pastiche of fuzzed-out pentatonic solos along with a indecipherable recording from a movie or something. It's one of my favorites from the tape and lays out the vibe pretty well. "Beak Returns" veers back and forth between a noise tape and like Blues Control or something. There's some guitar solo/drum machine action going on but plenty of scraping guitar and whathaveyou disrupting the groove. "Black Ditch Walk" is even more splintered, decontextualizing blues riffage and inserting it into some free floating tape-splice menagerie. "Sauchiehall" has more movie samples and acts like the "Take My Breath Away" of the tape. You know, the default mellow, vaguely romantic, uh, warped blues/musique concrète jam. Lovely piece though. "The Donkey Park" lets two guitars trade mournful licks while "Concrete" flips the script with a buoyant uptempo classic rock riff and chugging power chords that gets pried apart as it goes along. "Endless Smoke" is another favorite. It's hazier than a lot of the other tracks with a great melodic chord progression.
"Dog" starts off the second side. It's another two minute track and probably the most collaged of the cassette. "Walton Towers" brings in some more smoky blues dirge riffs with manipulated effects and random clatter. I think there might even be an organ in here. A surprisingly lovely dual guitar melody/counter-melody bit bleeds over into "Slab of Puce" until it takes up a rhythmic cycle of wah'd guitar groans. "Rabid Shoes" takes things a step weirder with theremin-esque pitch manipulation over some borderline metal guitar riffs. "Dusky" seals things up with more weird groans and pitch manipulation with new blues-rock guitarchitecture underneath (see what I did there?) and breaks into another repeated riff and some weird-ass loop of a kid asking something unintelligible amidst the clanging of jingle bells.
It took me a few spins to get into Guitargument, but what makes it work is, despite its leisurely, wandering pace, is the Klings never take their eye off the rhythm. Furthermore, the rhythmic element of the album rarely comes from things traditionally used to provide rhythm (i.e. drums) which makes things a ton more interesting. The Patriotic Window Klings are giving the standard dudes-jammin'-on-guitars genre a much needed facelift and I'm all for it.
Check Speed Tapes for copies.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fossils from the Sun/Rambutan - Vertical [Tape Drift]

What's better than solo work from one Century Plants member? It's easy question. Duh. Solo work from both Century Plants members on the same tape and that's exactly what the Tape Drift label has delivered.
Fossils from the Sun (also known by his Christian name Ray Hare) fills out the first side with "Circle 3" further delving into his signature subterranean sonics. If I'm not mistaken Hare generally uses just a guitar as his sound source to create the microtonal swampscapes which is pretty rad. Maybe it's just cause I play guitar, but I'm interested in those who take a just a guitar and mold it into some unrecognizable sound concoction. There's a heavy murk that looms along with the track but underneath that constant dark cloud there's a slew of strange, garbled alien transmissions or something going on. It's quite an odd piece because it crawls along steadily with an elliptical rhythm and only very subtle changes; it sort of has the feel a groove turned to molasses. It's a strange trip indeed.
Rambutan (a.k.a. Tape Drift head Eric Hardiman) splits the last side into two pieces. "Alluvial" is even murkier than FftS's side and more distorted too. There's an easily detectable rhythmic figure in there but it's difficult to access through the gritty fuzz. An almost keyboard-like bit appears briefly before the track falls into a melodic grind and slowly drifts away. The second track is the one I'm really excited about though. I still feel like "Sideswept" is the best Rambutan piece yet made (that I've heard anyway.) A couple of delayed guitars roll in along with another percussive layer (possibly still a guitar) and set the room ablaze with their grooves. This is a serious, serious jam. Only the most adventurous DJs would throw this on in a club, but fuck man, this track belongs there or at some warped analog of a club anyway. After building the abstract, tumbling, airtight groove Hardiman expands it with manipulated vocal samples (I think) and siren-like guitar swells (I think.) Hardiman is definitely onto something really unique and interesting with this, and just something really fucking cool. A magnificent piece of work, I hope Rambutan continues to draw gold from this mine.
As far as I can tell Tape Drift is still in stock so pick this mofo up and dance yourself into a bleary haze.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sun Araw - In Orbit [Stunned]/Hammer of Hathor - False Teef [Stunned]

So I've had this epic Stunned review planned, taking on like 12 or 13 releases and, anyway it's become this beast unwilling to be tamed. So upon having the realization that I don't have to write about 12 Stunned releases at once I decided tackle it two by two so here is the first of like six installments catching up on all the amazing shit Stunned was up to the last part of '09.
Despite his immense popularity in the underground, I have yet to write about Sun Araw in these digital pages and In Orbit is maybe his best release so it works out that this is the first mention. This tape also marks the first(?) collaboration of Mr. Araw with Matthew Lessner. Not sure what each of their duties were here but I like the result. The tape is split into two live sessions recorded at the Sun Ark, whatever/wherever that is. "Luther" is the first side and it's great. There's all sorts of pseudo-Carribean ghosts floating about and what really makes the track is how they work jumbled hand percussion seamlessly into the mist. It's got a relaxing tropical vibe but it's much too heady to tag it as simply "tropical." Effected vocals coo and electric guitar provides some counterpoint melodies/improvisation and everything just breathes and grooves in an effortless manner. Would have been great to see this live. The last minute and a half cuts to a great neon-tribal freak out that I sorely wish there was more of.
The flipside is "That Geosynchronous Feeling" which is in a similar vein. Disembodied vocals, organ vibes and insistent percussion. Wah-wah guitar slips in subtly as well. The jam slowly builds on that initial vibe expanding the arrangement to include frantic hand drums and guitar. This culminates in fuzzy swells of guitar which shines an unexpectedly melancholic light on the piece. This is also one of the sharpest looking Stunned releases to date.
One of my favorite things about Stunned is their A&R work. They are always bringing great artists I've never heard of to my attention. This Portland duo is one of those names on a very long list. The duo employs (brace yourself) analog synthesizer, reel to reel tape loops and manipulation, tenor guitar, 5 string banjo, trapset, electric guitar and Hungarian flute captured live and analog to 1/4" reels. The sounds of the tape are suitably varied as well. Starting off with a sidelong piece, "Yucka Drucka" is a weirdly pulsating bed of synth and banjo and whatever else. It sort of reminds me of Sean McCann's tape on Stunned but if a section was chopped, stretched and looped or whatever. It's pretty infinitely fidgety. That section of the piece slides into another with someone going wild with slide guitar. At some point, some weird ass cricket noises crop up and I don't know if it's a tape loop or synth or guitar or what. That Hathor included an instrument list is a reviewer's dream cause I can say with some confidence, later in the track Hammer of Hathor whips out a Hungarian flute and goes to town. Everything drops out save for the flute and some pervasive cricket noises. Drums show up with authority and they're soon joined by a really zonked guitar riff. Totally gong-like cymbal hits definitely put this section over the top making it my favorite part of the piece for sure. It's a slammin' piece of work and they just ride to the end. As they damn well should.
After a creepy, spoken intro sample Hammer of Hathor unleash my favorite track of the tape, the unruly "Bee" brimming with wigged out percussion. At the heart of the track there is a lot of shit being banged on but it's all clouded and garbled with effects, tape loops and whatever the mighty Hammer are doing here. It's relentless, confusing and excellent. I'm a big fan of weird percussion acts but I've never heard anyone do fucked percussion quite like this. "Left Foot, Right Foot" is the final jam and there's another radical aesthetic shift. A pair of stringed instruments, banjo and tenor guitar I think, partake in one of the friendliest duels I've ever witnessed. It's a really simple track, the two instruments keep grooving on the same basic melody throwing in odd little improvisations where they see fit. It's sort of cleansing to find something pristine and gentle like this at the end of the tape after all of the hectic, bizarro manipulation of the previous jams.
The tapes are definitely out of print like just about everything with the Stunned brand. Check the distros? (shrug)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tuluum Shimmering - Flowers of the Honey Tree [House of Sun]/Charlatan - Equinox [House of Sun]

This was my first taste of Canadian label House of Sun and these two tapes certainly left me hungering for more.
I feel like I've seen the Tuluum Shimmering name around but this is my first time ever hearing their sounds and I'm impressed. The first side opens up like a portal into some peaceful dreamworld. There's a few melodies continually cycling through and plenty of soft, ethereal sonic padding. Every so often there's something that sounds like an alien bird call or something so you really feel like you're listening into some other world. Fuck Avatar, this shit seriously transports you into another universe. The track keeps evolving adding more complex melodies, further forming the delicate but buoyant rhythmic pattern. It's pure analog euphoria. The second side is maybe even better. It dials down the sonic haze a bit and ups the rhythmic edge. It reminds me a little of Spencer Clark's best Black Joker stuff. Very abstract and fragmented but unwittingly catchy and insanely listenable. I'm not exactly sure what all is at Tuluum Shimmering's disposal here but there's definitely some kind of wooden flute used prominently, a hand drum of sorts, and a bit of jangly percussion. The thing though is it doesn't really come off as being one of those primitivist revival things; its composition is much too streamlined. The piece gets more and more frantic as it skips along making for a fittingly wild finale to a strange journey and killer jam. One of my most listened to tapes as of late, definitely recommended.
This Charlatan tape is pretty damn great as well. I'd never heard of this project before so I'm really glad this tape found its way into my possession. This is really heady synth stuff of the new agey variety that people have been getting back into over the last couple years and Charlatan is definitely one of the best artists I've heard currently working in that mode. Starting off on its strongest foot, "Titans" is lush and gorgeous. A mountainous example of synthetic beauty, it flows effortlessly, totally enveloping and cradling your mind. It's elegant or elegiac or whatever you want to call it, but for 9 minutes it makes the world seem at peace which is a pretty incredible thing. "Pyramids" fills outs the first side with more gentle keyboard vibes. It marks a change from "Titans" as it focuses unabashedly on melody as opposed to atmosphere; it's great as well. The first of the second side's trio of jams is "From Dust" and it fits somewhere between the previous tracks. Various airy layers enshroud a burbling melody and pitch manipulation making the proceedings extra outer spaced. Another standout, "Delta" is a heavy floater with gloriously broad strokes of synth and the shortest piece "Seed & Light" closes the tape with uplifting, trebly keyboard notes.
The big bummer is both tapes were limited to 40 copies and are out of print. Though I obviously suggest you nab both of them if the opportunity arises. They're perfect soundtracks to your analog dreams. I'm definitely gonna be tuned into these artists and label from now on.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #54 (2/7/10)

Born Under the Sun of Death “Apparitions (excerpt)” Born Under the Sun of Death [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Schperrung “Rite VI” Haxan [Oldturtles Tapes 2009] (CS)

Mood Organ “Untitled” Visiting a Burning Museum [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Banana Head “You’re Mine” In the Tubs [Goaty Tapes 2009] (CS)

Pimmon “Dream the Xerox Dream” Steered in Smash Ascent [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Pimlo “Youth and Youngness” Pray For Whoever Did This [Durable Stimuli 2009] (CD-r)

Excavacations “Untitled” Excavacations [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Waterside Gala “Guest of Honor” Composure & Recreation [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS)

U.S. Girls “O What a Night/I Can Hear Music” Kankakee Memories [Cherry Burger 2008] (7”)

Physical Demon “Pulse Maggot” Pulse Maggot [Atonal Microshores 2009] (CD-r)

Kid Wizard “She Lay Silent, in a Field, in a Dream” To the Stars by Hard Ways [Hidden Fortress Tapes 2009] (CS)

Night of Pleasure “Your Back Pages” Night of Pleasure [Faulkner Tapes forthcoming] (CS)

Snowstorm “Side B” Snowstorm [Breathmint 2009] (CS)

Child Pornography “Untitled” Split with Silver Daggers [JK Tapes 2007] (CS)

Ophibre “Conspicuous” Music For Casio Keyboard + Heavy Objects [Mang Disc 2009] (CD-r)

Offensive Orange “Side A” Brown Future [Bum Tapes 2007] (CS)

Tuluum Shimmering “Side A” Flowers of the Honey Tree [House of Sun 2009] (CS)

Wasteland Jazz Unit “Box Breaker (excerpt)” Split with (d)(b)(h) [Baked Tapes 2010] (CS)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rib Cages - Will Beg 4 Money [No Label]

Rib Cages is a Portland-based duo-now-trio that was brought to my attention via my buddy Jeremy. And dammit, if this tape ain't some great scuzz I don't know what is.
This tape, how I understand it, is the debut recording of the new trio format and includes songs from their 7inch as well as new ones. I haven't heard the 7inch so I can't say if a bassist improves their sound or not but this tape sounds pret-tay good. Oh yeah, I should note the guitarist plays a 12-string. And his name is Nation.
Rib Cages kick things off with one of their best jams "In Wilderness." After a lumbering, borderline classic rock (not really) intro they whip out the breakneck riffage. The saturated tape recording gives each track a thunderous rumble with the guitar piercing through. "Lock Horns" is a bruised and blistered mangling of 50s/60s bluesy rock 'n roll spit out urgently in about 80 seconds, yet it still finds plenty of time for a nice guitar lead. "Blame It On" channels its fierceness into an odd, elliptical structure sustaining tension throughout the song. The recording quality is even more bombed out on "Ain't a Woman Alive" furiously slurring the relentless garage blues anthem. "Right On or Wrong" really lays into a single chord, occasionally breaking it up with a descending progression building to an almost Berry-ish solo. "Broken Finger" might be the best of the bunch though. It definitely echoes "In Wilderness" but it's a sharper, tighter version. It's got a killer riff that's way more catchy than it should be and the band never really rests on their laurels. They're always throwing some kink into the arrangement which should make it difficult for the song to get stuck in your head, but somehow it does anyway. Real easily. "Iowa Jones" (ha!) closes the tape in under a minute, huffing and puffing the whole way. All in all, it's a great set of scum rock from a band you're sure to hear more about. Let's give them a warm welcome.
I think this tape can be gotten at shows, and maybe through the band's myspace, if there are still copies.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mood Organ - Visiting a Burning Museum [Debacle]/Physical Demon - Pulse Maggot [Atonal Microshores]

These are a pair of local CD-rs I've had in the to-do pile for way too long.
Debacle continues to do it's Seattle-only thing which is great cause they dig up artists that I know nothing about. I haven't even seen the Mood Organ name around town (or the internet more accurately) so maybe he doesn't play live much. Or maybe I'm totally out of the loop which is very possible. Anyhow, Visiting a Burning Museum, despite its name, is a relaxing disc. It's not lush or new age or any of that; it's just mellow. The first track maneuvers gentle keyboard pulses into a very singular atmosphere. The piece hovers in near-stasis for half its length so when a few more notes appear making up a slowly forming melody it's a startling and dramatic occurrence. From there the piece, again gently, slides back into a similar but slightly ruptured stasis. The second piece immediately feels warmer due to the static-y field recording suspended ghost-like in the background. There's a looped keyboard melody and another tone that be either a counter melody or a stretched recording of a siren peeking out from the background. Around 3:30 any roughness slips away revealing smooth, gleaming drones. It's definitely a high point of the record because the tones are so simply and eloquently aligned with one another. There's a chilly, consonant beauty to the composition, but still with a lingering touch of tension disrupting the euphoric experience. Track no. 3 changes things up considerably, bringing in a pair of warbling acoustic guitars with a light hum of white noise. At 12 minutes its a bit drawn out for its own good though that isn't to say the piece is without compelling moments. The four minute closer kicks off with chimes and thick waves of static (literally coming from field recordings of waves breaking) before introducing a delicate and beautiful piano figure. What's interesting is the piece throws minimalism to wayside but stays completely faithful to the tone of the album. It manages to be the record's expressive climax and mournful coda at the same. That the heavy static shroud isn't dropped until the final 15 seconds or so, making the impact that clarity brings much more profound. It's really a lovely piece.
Physical Demon deals in less placid textures. This album occupies a strange space because they aren't exactly noise or drone but they carry that vibe into a weird electronic concoction. Pulse Maggot is the perfect name for this record cause it's jittery and heavily rhythmic but at the same time it constantly gnaws away at itself. Basically whats going on in the title track, as far as I can tell, is there are a number of synths in flux, slowly fluttering up or down, one or two drum machines or samplers pumping out sharp arrhythmic webs and a fuzzy bass undertow creeping sinisterly in the shadows. The second half of the jam shifts into a head nodding, downtempo beat thing with a bunch of synths suspended mid-melody. One of the strengths of the piece is that Physical Demon really have things under control. There's a looseness to the sounds but the trio is very measured and particular where they place them. I don't know if this is improvised or not, because it sounds like it but it's hard to believe that it is. The second half of the half hour long record is jokingly titled "Mulse Paggot" and its got a meaner spirit. Burbling synths are undermined by deep, unsettling groans of noise. Around 4 minutes in Physical Demon kicks up the tempo and things get dangerously close to a full-on groove while the second half of the track glides on steady synths and distorted pulsations. Physical Demon is definitely doing their own thing with this release which is admirable and worth looking into if you haven't heard them.
Both CD-rs look nice in their own way. Pulse Maggot has a well-done spray & stencil job while the Mood Organ disc looks refreshing professional for a small-press release. Debacle is definitely at the top of its visual game right now. Both discs are in print and available.