Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fossils – Fly By Night [Ley Line Magnetic Tapes]/Fossils – All the Homicides [JK Tapes]

Here are a couple double-oh-seven tapes from Canadian junkyard thrash unit, Fossils. Fly By Night came out quite a while back on the impeccably mindblowing Bread & Animals imprint, billed here as Ley Line Magnetic Tapes, and the other dates back to late summer on the auspicious JK Tapes label.
For as much as stuff as these Fo$$il$ dudes put out (A LOT) I’ve only heard a wee bit of it. I remember hearing their Cut Hands CD-r a while back and I just heard their split tape on Pendu Sound with Ghost Moth but, in general, I’m not too accustomed to ‘em. Anyhow, I don’t know what that has to do anything but you know I’m a straight shooter, even when it don’t really matter. The one-sided 30plus minute monster, Fly By Night, is certainly my favorite of the few I’ve heard. There’s no info about it but it sounds like there’s four “tracks” on the tape and the first is longest. The first few minutes bring some odd clanging sounds randomly detonated and run through a delay pedal. It kinda has a cut-up type effect though I’m pretty sure it’s recorded live. Fuzzy lows creep into mix and things start to ramp up a bit everything cuts out and there’s a return to the minimal odd sound thing. This time though there is a lot effects and old computer sounds and they do a better job spreading the sounds out. Again after a while things drop out and AM radio guitar clank takes over. Sounds like there’s maybe two dudes on guitar and one guy processing. Out of nowhere, the track turns into a catchy little ditty. Weird but rad. A subsequent, mild feedback-laden vox/effects session and dogs barking end the track. A short, livelier track follows with scrambled effects and scrambled contact mic-ery as well (I think). Near the end some vocal transmissions break in too. The piece is real jagged and scuzzy but not harsh, which I kinda like. The third “track” sounds to me like a Fossils rendition of a soundscape type track. At least at first. There’s some mellow pulsing and slummy atmospherics with interjections of noisy electronic bleats and on occasion a lucid de-tuned guitar. The fourth track sees the group all sticking to one idea for a little while with a simple rhythmic loop and mounting layers of fuzz. Sharp toothed, stuttering loops compete through a good portion of the track before some heavy delay manipulation swoops and smears. The thing I dig the most about this track is the use of short loops, which gives the madness a hint of structure and, at times, even a little melody. At one point some dude gags on the mic and it sounds like it gets sampled and fucked with as things get pretty intense and wind down as dogs bark to the beat. Perhaps Fossils’ biggest strength is how hard they are to pin down. They’re like those sharks that are always on the move. The greatest strength of Fly By Night is that Fossils manages to make sense out of their nonsensical attack. Only problem with the tape is it’s a one-sided c90, which doesn’t really make sense to me cause there’s a little over a half hour of material, split pretty cleanly down the middle into two segments. Maybe there was a sale on c90s or something.
While I’m being a little complainer I’ll say this too; even though All the Homicides is billed as a c30 there is about 17 minutes of music on it. 13 minutes on the A-side and three and a half on the B-side. I’m confused how there wasn’t enough material to fill up the second side, especially when Fossils is putting out a thousand plus releases a year. Side A has a distant, reverberating sound. There are a bunch of short stretches of repetitive sounds that eventually putter out. Just when things start to squelch and thump, appearing to get going they come to a sputtering conclusion. Around a third of the way through the group maintain some semblance of forward motion and things sound pretty good. The side has a pretty muffled, unthreatening tone which is a nice contrast to the jumpy thrash of Fly By Night. There’s some really great, even sort of pretty, moments on the side. Though Fossils never really sustain those moments for very long, always moving forward to silence and constructing a new set of sounds. The final bit brings some coherent guitar along in the fuzzy, pulsing feedback muck. Overall, a pretty cool track despite a few points that drag a bit. Side B again has the same muffled lo-fi vibe. The track is dominated by crackling scratching sounds that don’t really do much for me. There’s some cool static-y stuff going on in the background, but it’s pretty hard to discern.
Art-wise, the tapes are class acts. Bread & Animals packaging pretty much always rules and Fly By Night is no exception. It has an awesome tropical wraparound cover and a teal/mango splatter job on the tape. All the Homicides, features the best artwork I’ve seen yet from JK. A totally epic history book collage on a fold-out insert with grey sprayed and labeled tapes. Each tape is sold out at source but, I’ve seen them around distros pretty recently so have a look there.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ajilvsga – Thorazine to Infinity [Peasant Magik]/Ajilvsga – Sacred Arrow [Arbor]

Ajilvsga is a project of Mr. Foxy Digitalis himself, Brad Rose, and Nathan Young. Just so we’re clear, Nathan Young is not Nate Young, at least as far as I can tell. In conference with a few close friends we’ve decided this new Ajilvsga stuff (these two and the double cassette on Not Not Fun) is the best Mr. Rose has put his name on. Is it a coincidence they are all on tapes? I think not. Furthermore, I’ve heard rumors that his upcoming label is gonna be doing a few tapes. Is it that the proclaimed hater of cassettes, Mr. Rose, has finally seen the light? Let’s hope so, both for his sake and our own, cause these little suckers—released on Peasant Magik and Arbor—are total domination 2 tha maxx.
Thorazine to Infinity begins with the hum of electricity, certainly a fitting beginning. There’s some thick dirty guitar (bass?) going down and maybe a bit of synth or effects too. It kinda has a drone-doom thing but you know, not mind-numbingly boring. I tend to be a fan of low frequencies so I wish they were mixed a bit louder for full on quaking effect but they still do a damn good job as is. It is tapes like these that make me wish I was one of those dudes whose hobby is his stereo; you know so I could play this way too loud on huge fucking speakers and go deaf and get kicked out of my apartment. It’s a good thing I’m not one of those dudes though cause I wouldn’t want to be deaf and homeless. I don’t have the balls for that. “I am Your Charred Remains” is easily my favorite piece on the tape. It’s more actively droney/noisy than the mildly lethargic opener. Again, the Ajilvsga dudes are playing with raging thickness/sickness. It sounds like there are lots of loops/tracks stacked on top of each other, shuddering under the wait of it all. Short repetitive loops are contrasted with the protracted fuzz giving the mass a good dose of rhythm/momentum and ending with some dude cackling. Total daze of thunder.
The twelve minute tremor, “Asphixiation”, starts slow with an insistent revving and loopy synthtones. Almost halfway through a weird percussion type thing starts going down. I think it’s a handdrum of some sort and it comes out of nowhere. Somehow the bizarreness of the hand-drum-on-tremulous-electronics action works, don’t ask me how though. The piece takes on a strange, sauntering psych vibe. Man, what a peculiar ordeal that was. The short closer, “Lex Talions”, goes even further into psych territory with more drums and other percussion, a bowed/blown instrument, guitar feedback and a thumbpiano/musicbox device of some sort. These guys sure turn the tables with style.
Sacred Arrow isn’t as colossally crushing. “Salt Plains” sounds like might just be two guitars a-droning. Well it’s not necessarily droning cause there’s definitely some strumming going on, yet it still has that effect. It’s a nice simple track that doesn’t get old despite a relatively small amount of change. There’s some theremin-esque sounds at the end too. Strong but subtle (it’s oxymoron day!) sense of melodic structure too, so it sounds real nice on the ears without being obvious. My only complaint is one guitar has too much of a transparent flanger thing going on. “Wolves Standing in Water” brings back the rumble; well I guess for the first time on this particular tape. There’s an elusive melodic loop buried underneath the murk that’s pretty fun to chase. It’s a pretty solid wall of low-end too, which I like, consuming everything like a black hole or the blob. The final minute sees the blob get briefly upturned by a couple pulsing rhythmic loops before blasting them away and everything ending in Armageddon. “Fire Builder” takes the entirety of the B-side and, soundwise, it fits somewhere between the two on the previous side. It’s also the most straight “drone” to my ears. Woven in between the long heavy layers are different bits of manipulation, originally, I thought a field recording of some sort but now I’m not so sure. More eerie theremin sounds pop up too. Yeah, eerie is a pretty good way to describe to the track. It reminds of the more sluggish (not in a bad way) work of Family Underground and other acts. Though perhaps a bit too protracted for its own good, “Fire Builder” is excellent way to, as that one Oscar-winning m&m guy put it, lose yourself in the music.
Each label has done a fine, classy job packaging their respective cassettes. Thorazine to Infinity comes with a textured slip cover, printed j card and the whole deal. Sacred Arrow comes with a double-sided full color printed/screenprinted j card and sprayed case. Both are still available but limited. 100 copies of Sacred Arrow and only 75 of Thorazine to Infinity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peoples Parties – Peoples Parties [Cut Hands]/Tusco Terror – Mapping a Burial [Cut Hands]

Apparently there’s some serious shit going down in Ohio. I haven’t really been keeping up on the old Buckeye state but I guess Joris at Cut Hands has been keeping pretty close tabs. He’s brought us these recent CD-rs by new Ohio luminaries Tusco Terror and one of Emeralds’ solo divisions, Peoples Parties.
I’ve only heard a bit of Emeralds’ insanely large discography but I wasn’t really expecting the aesthetic of Peoples Parties. Steve McGuire is credited to guitar and tapes. “A Trivial Pursuit” has an extended intro of pervasive, digital sounding distortion and a loop kinda sounding like a seagull or something like that. After awhile the guitar is somewhat discernable though buried under the avalanche of fuzz. Long sustaining, synth-like drones emanate from the guitar giving Peoples Parties a sound-sculptor type vibe. It’s heavy on the drone, but, to me, painted with a Fennesz-style palette of grainy panned distortions. And it actually works real well. “Setting a Rat Trap” comes out of nowhere with an almost glitchy sequence of heavily auto-panned guitar notes. It has a cool effect at first, but plays out for much too long. After a certain point nothing more can really be added to the glitch thing so it feels a bit stagnant. It ends pretty nicely with a subtle drone and an auto-panned melody over top. Definitely some cool parts but at nearly 10 minutes it feels overlong. “Sand Bubbler” is half the length and does a better job integrating the auto-panned guitar with waves of crisp distortion. The former adding a rhythmic element and the latter providing the “melody”, driving the track. It ends with echoing Gown-style strums. The strongest track, “Peoples Parties” (who’s ever heard of a title track on a self-titled album?), is an excellent ten minute piece. McGuire is operating in the same aesthetic as the previous tracks but this one has a special something to it. It begins very ominous and apocalyptic sounding but transitions into the sounds of angels singing the song of sweet salvation i.e. a seriously catchy guitar strum/lead bit. The transitioning is outstanding; you don’t see it coming or even really detect it until yr foot is tapping and yr head is in the clouds. It’s a tremendous piece, one of those that just helps you keep your faith in the world. It ends with mechanized panning which seems a little out of place after the sweetness, but you gotta do what you gotta do. The last song “A Cousin a Ways Away” is an interesting, pretty piece. It’s relatively clean toned arpeggios accompanying clips of a couple being interviewed about an alcoholic someone, who I assume is a cousin, a cousin who lives a ways away. The speech recording over music thing doesn’t always work out but McGuire pulls it off. The recording and the music work with each other rather than one drawing attention away from the other. The voices drop out and a very synthy guitar shows up with a swelling counter-melody. The piece reaches an extended but radiant conclusion. And for the record, it also contains the gem, “For a birthday present, Brent, could you please shut up”. While the tracks are a bit samey, Peoples Parties is ultimately a cool record, and I definitely see lots of potential for the project to become totally rad.
Rather than stroking gleaming rays of light from their instruments, Tusco Terror plays in the same junknoise minefield as their Cut Hands “labelmates” Fossils. The pseudo title track “Map a Burial” begins with tape recordings of something but I’m not sure what. At one point it sounds like there’s a couple banjo notes. Halfway through there’s a break a slightly better quality recording comes in. There’s feedback, percussive rustling, tape manipulation, guitar beatings. The track is pretty unfocused and comes off as a random pastiche of old practice tapes or something. It gets slightly more coherent towards the end but I guess I’m not sure what the listener is supposed to get from the piece. “Beat a Dog” follows with slowly plucked detuned guitar notes. There’s garbled sounds of guitar, percussion probably some other stuff too but very lo-fi and distorted. It’s pretty impossible to distinguish what instruments are making what sounds cause they’re all smashed together in the limited-frequency muck. There’s a real great part towards the end where I’m pretty sure it’s guitar, but it’s a pretty slammin’ catchy riff and I wish it went on for a bit longer or more parts like it populated the rest of the track. “Smashed Psyche” is quite a bit more confrontational with cymbal/sheet metal pounding on some really great looming guitar drones. It also sounds like there’s a world of sounds going on that I can’t make out, though I’m pretty sure I’m hearing a vocal sample at one point. The piece ends with a vomiting voice/feedback duet. “Rags (Cut Hands Mix)” is the final track and, from what I can tell, the single. It kinda sounds like “Smashed Psyche” with primitive noise but given a tape manipulation makeover like “Map a Burial”. Other than that it doesn’t really cover any new ground or leave much of a mark. While Mapping a Burial has some great moments, I can’t help but feel the release is a bit slight. Not in the quantity of material, but, to my ears, it sounds like there’s a lot of filler mixed in with the good stuff. Though I should also mention, the junknoise thing isn’t my forte either, but if it’s yrs you’ll probably be down with Tusco Terror’s array of clicks and warbles.
Both CD-rs come packaged in slimline dvd-type cases with pasted on CD labels and insert and wraparound cool/weird artwork, Tusco Terror’s being particularly sweet. Both are limited to 75 copies and are still available from the Cut Hands mansion, so check ‘em out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kevin Shields – Cavity Fever [Arbor]/Kevin Shields – Human Wider Experience [Tanzprocesz]

So after I discovered the greatness of Eva Aguila’s Kevin Shields project in the lovely summer of ’07 with the massive mind ripper/contender for album of the year The Death of Patience, I had snapped up some current (at the time) Kevin Shields frequencies right away. So now it’s almost the end of the year and I’m finally getting around to reviewing them, but hey, it’s rare when something I buy gets reviewed at all.
Starting with the Cavity Fever tape first, cause haven’t you heard? Tapes rule! This cassette is a bit more sedate than some other Kevin Shields work, but keep in mind that term is relative. The first track “Homely Straw” is a couple bass tones pulsing at various speeds and a slowed down alarm bell. There is some delayed contact mic’d stuff going on as well, almost chiming as the bass pulse gets more sinister. The track to me, actually occupies more of the drone realm than noise. “Lovely Day is a Hike Day”, however, gets noisy. There are plenty of high pitched sine tones against roughly manipulated waves of feedback. The thing then dissolves into to a strange keyboard part. Not a ditty, but close. The last track on side A, “Coarse Truth”, sounds like an extension of the previous track. The keyboard part is still present but jagged shards of fuzz being worked and kneaded dominate the track. On the second side, “Gaming Ritual” brings back the keyboard slowly adding layers of distortion. Eventually the keyboard is phased out leaving a vast shitstorm of electronics washing over me like the plague. For the all the noise, it’s a pretty moderately paced piece that builds to a great sputtering, spitting climax of charred circuitry and gnashing teeth. The oh so truthfully titled “Because I Know You Can’t Get Enough” closes out the tape, operating like everything heard previously condensed into three and a half minutes. The noise, the keyboard, the scrambled rhythms; they’re all there.
The magnificently titled half-hour of power Human Wider Experience is coarser and more forceful. After the one minute opener “Catalyst”, “Covenant Grunt” takes the stage. With a sustained bass note with actually some really sick beats. Well it’s not “beats” so much as just the way Aguila cuts up the tone but it works and little by little succumbs to a barrage of flames. After the frayed, 91 second inferno “Frecke Wrist”, comes the most interesting and best track “Children’s Court”. I’m not sure what the sound source here is but it sounds like a brittle clanking toy guitar or something. It sounds like there are also some soft vocals in the background which add an interesting “human” counterpoint to the ear piercingness of the other noises. Out of nowhere the whole thing coheres into relatively solid brick of sound (for a moment anyway). There is a lot more manipulated filter/synth type sounds that actually work really well with the harshness, both opening up the sound and adding a bit roundness to the serrated static. Aguila’s knack for composition really comes into play here but because the track, lasting nearly 17 minutes, never gets tired. She constantly adds new sounds and ideas, whether she’s building on previous ones or growing a whole new garden of sound. One of the things I marvel at most about Aguila’s work is how well she controls the chaos. A lot of noise stuff I hear sounds like the gear is running the show not the artist, but with Aguila’s work the effortless construction and grace of her style is unmistakable. As much as I love The Death of Patience, “Children’s Court” may be her best work; that I’ve heard at least. Utterly amazing. The short fifth track, “Shat & Boney Enjoying a Little”, features some help from Amy of Yuma Nora. Though I’m not exactly sure what she’s operating in the track. It’s probably the most harsh and heavy piece on the record. Unrelenting torrents of feedback. “Slug Mouth” really did a number on me because of its sweetness. After 25 minutes of noise, I was thrown off by the extended, clean solo keyboard piece. I kept expecting to be lacerated by a brutal feedback squall, but was even more thrown off when it never came. Just five minutes of twee keyboard plinking. I’ve got to hand it to Eva; she knows how to keep me guessing.
While neither are as brain collapsing as The Death of Patience both are totally sweet in their own right. Cavity Fever is sold out at source but you can probably still get it at a few distros, Human Wider Experience is available however, though limited to a hundred. Both releases are aesthetically pleasing as well which is a trademark of both labels. Arbor did a classy job as always. Cavity Fever features killer artwork by George Myers (Breaking World Records), a double sided j-card and the most beautiful, blue-green sprayjob I’ve ever seen on a tape. French label, Tanzprocesz has been responsible for some of the most innovative packaging ideas I’ve come across. The packaging of Human Wider Experience, while not particularly ingenious, is certainly out of the ordinary. A recycled fold-out, sprayed LP cover with pasted on art and info and the CD-r is floating on of those little numbs. Definitely nice to see when most labels are just doing the standard CD-r-in-slipcase thing. Collect ‘em all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Medroxy Progesterone Acetate – We’re a Monotonous Band [MusicYourMindWillLoveYou]

Australia’s MusicYourMindWillLoveYou label has been diversifying their roster a bit as of late, adding noisier brethren The Holy See and Darren Bauler’s Iowa-based Medroxy Progesterone Acetate to the fold. Haven’t heard that particular Holy See release yet but I did get a hold of the latest Medroxy album which I was pretty excited about.
Back in the summer, I reviewed Something in the Weeds, a killer CD-r of droney noise or noisy drone depending on yr predilection. Anyhow, at the time I said it was the best I’d heard from the MPA project but, I don’t know, that throne may have a new successor with We’re a Monotonous Band.
In somewhat typical MPA style, the record kicks off with its longest track, “The Yoke”. After a short spoken intro (“They threw the yoke upon me, all of the days my life”, I think), electronics start a-buzzing. One of Bauler’s strongest traits is his ear for electronic textures. It seems like almost every track of his features every waveform imaginable. There’s stuttering, creaking, pulsing, shining, scraping, rumbling, rustling, spitting, crumbling and any other adjectives you can think of. His other strength lies in that he can stack all those sounds on top of each other and make cohesive batholiths of heaving frequencies. “The Yoke” is relentless. It just keeps coming at you with more and more sounds. Though, it sounds like there are a couple key loops coursing through the whole thing, particularly the glistening, wavering sine wave that’s exposed at the end. “Paleyellowpurple” matches airy drones with a synthetic tone being slightly pitch-shifted and modulated. A woman’s voice begins speaking though it’s pretty unintelligible, due mostly to the answering machine quality of the recording. She sounds very distressed and that comes through despite her unknown words. Interesting pairing of anguished humanity and placid synthetic-ness. “Circle of Salt” within the opening moments already sounds classic. Again there is a vocal recording, this time male, and buried underneath a ton of electronic debris. The thing that makes the track so killer is the ghostly sense of melody Bauler imbues the piece with. Sure there’s nothing “melodic” about jutting shards of noise or the crackling/rumbling dropping in and out, but the piece sounds meticulously structured and arranged, so even during the attack of the machines there’s a vague underlying warmth. At the end, as the piece breaks down the man’s voice becomes slightly clearer and says something about “hearing things”, which is what I feel like whenever I hear this track. I mean, of course I’m hearing things but you know, I not sure if I’m hearing what I’m actually hearing. Anyway, not describing that well at all so I’m moving on to the Smog referencing(?) “Teenage Basement Spaceship”. After a brief a pitch manipulation of another voice sample, the track gets going with a continual astral ascent. “Spaceship” has more open space than the previous track. Particularly at the end. There’s actually a great bit for the last 15 seconds where a heavy, bassy sound periodically thuds over a smooth sine wave, really wish it carried on a bit longer. “Slaughterhouse Champs” is more active with noisy synth manipulation against a beautiful mellow/melancholy backdrop. Reaching a great, subtle build until someone pulls the power. “How Does the Skin Man Get His Skin?” it’s a brief, unsettling piece with a bunch of electronic sounds resembling bird noises, a gong, a violin and voice.
“The Story of the Solehn Sisters, Who Were in Love with Each Other” features a bit prettier arrangement with echoing pulsating synthstreams. There is also a man (Bauler?) telling the eponymous story, saying things to the effect of “since no one would write stories about women who aren’t beautiful, she was beautiful” and the sisters, at one point, kill “all the trust fund princes”. Interesting story to say the least. The thing is a lot of time the voice/story over music seems gimmicky to me but Bauler pulls it off somehow, maybe it’s the incredibly bizarre tone of the delivery. The finale, the even more unwieldy titled “The Necropsych Snowblind Blues Band Presents Overdriven Liturgical Dirges For Lotte Reiniger” is somewhat similar to the amazing closer, “The Pig Who Stood Upright”, on Something in the Weeds; though it’s a less straightforwardly melodic piece. There are two main layers of sound going at it, a pretty synth wash and an uncouth bit of stammering noise augmented by squirming filter sounds and effect vocal clips. The piece actually lasts for 9 and a half minutes, though you’d never be able to tell. It’s easy to get lost in the façade; that is until it’s broken up rather abruptly and the album is over.
The CD-r comes packaged with black and white art on fold over cardstock with velvety redness lining the inside. Real sweet. It comes with an insert too. Copies are still available from the label but if you can, it’s always better get a copy from Darren himself. He elaborately packages his releases to the nines and his bundle for We’re A Monotonous Band is no different. First and foremost, the album comes with a bonus CD-r entitled Vons Serin Exchanging Frequencies With Cicadas. It features an excellent 39 minute opus of the same name as well as “Unrequited” a placid, 27 minute live set from last year. It comes with a classy looking double-sided, fold-out cover and a bunch of scraps of text crammed inside; it also reads at the bottom “MPA ’08: we’re coming to your town, we’re gonna burn it down”. That better be a promise, nay, a guarantee. The whole thing comes tied with a ribbon and sealed with wax, with a lensless Polaroid and an old ‘Lesson Picture Card’ slipped between the two discs. So whichever way you can, definitely pick this one up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Slasher Risk – Triple Jesus [Kass/Jamps]

Slasher Risk is a unit out of Brooklyn made up of Andy and Sara. I’d heard the name around the net but had never had privilege hearing them. They remedied that though with their first LP Triple Jesus.
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the name Slasher Risk make you think violence? Anyway, I wasn’t sure what I was in for but figured it’d probably be pretty noisy. To my surprise however, the “helicopter” side of the LP is a wandering dual guitar jam. Excellent! I love noise and all but I really love dual guitar jams. This particular one is a warbly, glistening bout of clean toned tanglings. The best reference I can think of is, Tom Carter projects, Sarin Smoke and Spiderwebs. This Slasher Risk jam though is a bit more consonant than those. Despite the long track length the jam is never stuck spinning its wheels. There’s always a momentum pushing things forward mostly due to the well-employed rhythm/lead style. The guitars trade off playing more coherent/rhythmic parts and more free/textural parts. This track because of its length had to be improvised, which is amazing to me cause Andy and Sara ceaselessly turn out spectacular arpeggio/interplay/whatever after spectacular arpeggio/interplay/whatever. There are lots and lots of beautiful breaks where they’ll build rhythmically to some point where it all dissipates into a beautiful melody. Things get a bit rougher and more menacing towards the end without really changing their sound at all, which is always a thing for my ears to behold. This piece just keeps on ruling and ruling, never getting old never getting boring. So yeah, this jam is totally killer. Slasher Risk are occupying an interesting space in the guitar-duosphere because a) their guitars are totally meant to sound like guitars b) they use traditional tactics in an interesting way, marrying the long psych jam with good, compelling guitar playing and well composed melodic interaction. Well done.
The “security camera view” side sees a bit noisier confrontational side of the duo. I can’t tell if they are rolling in dual guitar format. There is one guitar definitely, but other person could be guitar or just effects or something. It’s an ominous sounding ride and difficult to pin down. Again, like the first side, Slasher Risk keeps forging ahead running through different portions of sound. At one point there’s a guitar strum and then noisy squiggles made from effects or synth or guitar maybe. At another there’s a pulsing guitar drone interrupted by flashes of static noise. While the movements don’t gel as well as they did on the first side, there’s still a good momentum to the proceedings. Not so for the last half of the side though. There’s a break and a new track begins. Unfortunately, the last piece is a bunch of random fumbling and never coheres into anything really meaningful, ending rather anti-climactically. Nonetheless, Triple Jesus is still three fourths of a great record.
The LP is limited to a hundred copies, which ain’t that much if you think about it. Other details: black vinyl, printed labels, screenprinted sleeves and a numbered insert. It’s released on the band’s Kass/Jamps label so check here for info.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Widening Horizon – Widening Horizon [Arbor/JK Tapes]/Laissez Faire – Asylum [Abandon Ship]

The subject(s) of this review could rightly be described as “the future”. Mike Pollard and [name removed by request] are two teenage kids from Illinois (how sick are they of reading that?) who run two killer labels Arbor and JK Tapes, respectively, and play under solo guises Treetops and Laissez Faire, also respectively. The bros collaborate as Widening Horizon as well. I reviewed a Treetops a tape a little while back and now I’ve come full circle (triangle?) with debut cassettes from Widening Horizon and Laissez Faire.
Popping in Widening Horizon my ears are met with a bright but murky mess which is what I like to hear. Mostly sloshed vocals, feedback, and keyboard drone. There is also flashes of drums and cymbals, probably the work of Mike. There’s a post-Skaters vibe about the whole thing, which I personally dig. I like how totally drenched the thing sounds too. It’s hard to adequately describe, but the tape is just drenched in sound. The heavy floating here is really rooted by the drums, which are played pretty tastefully never really dominating the overall sound, but making their presence felt amongst the oscillating tones. The phantom melody that flows through the whole thing is key. There’s no one element that’s providing it but somehow all the sounds cohere in one big blurred meditation.
The B(elligerent)-side comes out a lot a more aggressive. I’m not too sure what the dudes are playing here, lots of distortion (though not harsh), flute-like feedback, keyboard sounds, and whatever other shit was around for them to bang on. There’s not much to grab onto here. The thing that’s interesting is that even though it’s fragmented, there are so many fragments piled on top of each other that it sounds rather full, even as the sounds shoot past you. Towards the end of the first side there is some slightly discernible vocals and militant drumming which sounds real nice buried under all the delayed feedback. Overall, a real cool tape, especially for a debut. There’s supposed to be more on the way from Widening Horizon (a series or something?) and my ears are looking forward to that for sure.
It’s interesting listening to [name removed by request] solo debut on Abandon Ship and comparing it with previous Treetops knowledge because I can start discerning who brings what to the Widening Horizon jams… sort of. Mike appears to bring the drums, [name removed by request] brings the keyboard(?) and they both deal pretty heavily in feedback/vox/whatever. Anyhow, the first of the four tracks on Asylum is, if I’m reading it correctly, “Afgan”. Beginning with some looped organ/rumbling, it’s got a more meditative feel than the Widening Horizon stuff. Feedback is present but mostly kept at bay, leaving the beauty (relatively) un-obscured. There’s a constant activeness to the sounds (on the WH tape too) which I can’t really figure out. The sounds never stay in the samespot for long, though it’s not like they’re darting around everywhere. Possibly my favorite track on here is “Platypus”. It starts similarly to the previous track with billowing waves of reverbed fuzz. Things increase steadily until there’s a thick layer of fluctuating noise that would seem harsh if it weren’t for the mellow pretty rays dappled over everything. Everything drops out at the end leaving a brief but striking keyboard bit. “Pomegranate”, though a bit rougher, has the melodiousness consistent through the tape, for the most part at least. There’s an excellent moment, where against a droning keyboard loop [name removed by request] lashes out with measured brief bursts of harshness. Very nice. Maybe that one is my favorite actually, or maybe it was the first track. It’s hard to choose. Anyway, the tape ends somewhat anti-climactically with “One Wiseman” which is a slightly manipulated recording of some dude being interviewed/talking about an Asian woman’s sound exhibit at an art museum and Michael Jackson (“another interesting personality”) and “losing your edge”. I don’t know dude, it was weird.
Both tapes come packaged nicely. Widening Horizon comes in a double-sided, wrap-around card plastered with psychedelic geologic/ecologic collages and sealed with a sticker. Totally killer. The Laissez Faire tape comes with a fold out j-card with very blue artwork. It should also be noted that the colors used in the artwork is totally the color of the sounds. Widening Horizon was limited to 40 and all sold out at source, so if you see a copy, snag it. Asylum is still ready and available from Abandon Ship (though limited to 50) so check that one out before it’s too late.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Helvetica is the Perfume of the City – Swallowing Stars [La Belle Dame Sans Merci]

I rarely get to start out my reviews with intro-anecdotes so I’m taking advantage of my opportunity here. French artist Florian Tositti, one of the nicest dudes around, sent me this release, his second for his new label La Belle Dame Sans Merci (the first was the massive triple cd-r Frannce compilation co-released with Ruralfaune). Anyhow, this release got to me fine, no hang-ups. But when Florian tried to send me his next three releases, they never came. He kept sending more packages which never came either, and neither did a package from Ruralfaune, and neither did a package from James Ferraro and maybe other’s that I don’t even know about. (keep in mind this shit was all mailed out in September) So I guess the moral of this story is fuck you central European postal services! Yeah yeah yeah, you guys were striking or something, whatever. I don’t care. I just want you to know that you have failed European people, American people, probably some Canadians too and, most importantly, you failed me. I hope yr enjoying my music… bastards. Anyhow, this term is over, just finished finals and ready to get back to my crammed-to-the-brim box of submissions. I’ve given up hope that this little guy will be reunited with his LBDSM siblings, but he’s pretty sweet on his own so he’ll just go it alone for this review.
Helvetica is the Perfume of the City is a super group of sorts featuring Phil Todd (Ashtray Navigations), Andy Jarvis (the First Person label), Ben Reynolds and David Hayword, which google tells me is a doctor on an American soap opera. So what happens when you throw three psych superstars and a fictional character on a cd-r? A rambling, clanging, soaring piece of greatness.
The first of the four tracks here (ranging from 6-11 minutes) is “A Perfect Explosion” which begins slowly with synth burbles and synth drones. Halfway through, this astral surfing is met by improv’d guitar and drums. The guitar playing isn’t totally my style, a bit too “solo-ey” at times but it’s got some nice moments. And otherwise the group has a real nice drifting vibe going on, making the title kinda ironic. “First Impression of the Master (Part I)” sees an electric and acoustic guitar rise from a bed of shakers and synth squiggles. Drums come in and things get going. The acoustic/electric interplay, which I’m usually a bit wary of, works really well here. My favorite part is the last minute, where somehow they totally transition into a different sounding “song” without being jarring or awkward or anything. Even after multiple listens I still can’t figure out how they do it, but damn, respect to those guys, it’s an incredible moment. “First Impression of the Master (Part II)” gets going a lot faster than the previous tracks. Based on some long repeated guitar figures, the guys mess around with dynamics, shifting tempo and so on—without sounding wanky though. This is my favorite showing for the guitar players, they lock in pretty well and turn out some cool guitar lines. Also whoever’s doing all the oscillator stuff in the background is a nice addition, keeping the background from remaining static. Things really get going around the 8 minute mark, first they get really jamming all of a sudden and just as quickly drift out into the syntho-stratosphere until the tracks end. My favorite piece here is the last, and excellently titled, “Cobweb Infinity”. Wow, I just listened to the track and totally zoned and got lost in it, forgetting to write anything. Listening again, things start out real chiming/rattling/jangling/clanging/whathaveyou with disembodied sounds floating around too. There’s a nice slow synth pulse keeping the track moving as the drummer goes nuts. All the droning/shaking comes to a head halfway through, leading to an amazingly great moment of intertwining guitar lines unwinding (say that ten times fast). The guitars unfurl until they fade. I really dig how each successive track one-ups the piece before it. And the group's strong sense of melody is a plus as well. Whoever mastered it did a good job making everything sound cohesive since the material was recorded at three different places in 2004/2005. Anyone down with psych-improv stuff or any of the artists involved should find plenty to love here.
The CD-r is limited to 80 copies but still available as far as I can tell. The lightly sprayed CD comes in a cardboard slipcase with art by Jaakko Pallasvuo and a hand numbered insert. Check it out and pray for my packages (JKJKJKJK).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #9 (12/9/07)

“Upon” Steven R. Smith Owl (CD) [Digitalis, 2007]

“The Last Song” Mudboy Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors (CD) [Digitalis, 2007]

“Birds Fucking Outside My Window” K.P. Getting Rid of the Glue (LP) [Pendu Sound Recordings, 2006]

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

“Golden Gate Blues” Grey Daturas Dead in the Woods (CD) [Crucial Blast, 2007]

“Untitled 5” Yes Collapse Final Diagnosis (CD-r) [Crucial Bliss, 2007]

“Spectral Transmissions” Luala Raelon Into the Void (CD-r) [Crucial Bliss, 2007]

“Talibam! Eat a Sound Soup” Talibam! Getting Rid of the Glue (LP) [Pendu Sound Recordings, 2006]

“Sonja” Excepter Getting Rid of the Glue (LP) [Pendu Sound Recordings, 2006]

“Untitled 4” Menstrual Chinese Dream Menstrual Chinese Dream (CD-r) [Nature Tape Limb, 2005]

mp3: Show 9

Friday, December 7, 2007

Ghost of an Octopus – Two [First Person]/Ys Trys – Cy Clo Path [First Person]/Culver – The Psychic [First Person]

This is the second half of UK label First Person’s latest batch of releases. In case you’re unfamiliar, First Person, run by Andy Jarvis, rolls exclusively with 3” CD-rs in printed clear acetate slipcases. I hadn’t heard any of the three artists featured here until these releases (though I’d heard of Culver). Anyhow, I’m gonna get right to ‘em.
First up is Ghost of an Octopus. The only info given is Stuart Octopus plays electric bass and Ghost of Joincey plays electric guitar. I don’t know if they both operate solo and this is a collabo or if this is actually a bonafide band. But you never hear about many guitar/bass duos so I’m always eager to listen if I come across one. Things start out slow and droney with hi-pitched guitar+fx scramblings turning up after a little bit. I like what the bass is doing here, low key sustained riffs and occasional feedback bends; I just wish it was a bit louder. The guitar I’m a little ambivalent about. It does some cool stuff but a lot of the time it doesn’t feel like it’s interacting with or aware of the bass at all. It’s too far off in skronk shred world for its own good. I guess the problem is just that the track is really lacking dynamics. Anything up until the 14th minute is pretty indiscernible from the first couple minutes. About 2/3rds through things get better, the two players lock with each other a bit more. There is a long sustained sound, sounding suspiciously like a cymbal, that I’m enjoying. There’s a winding comedown of protracted bass notes against stuttering guitar feedback. I hope I don’t come across as a jerk but the piece as a whole iss kinda underwhelming. While there are certainly interesting moments, on the whole the duo's meandering just kinda results in dullness. I don’t know, I’ve listened a few times and nothing has clicked yet, maybe next time…
Next is Ys Trys which apparently shares some relation to Stuckometer, who I haven’t heard yet but read good things. Judging by the first track “Cy”, this is a guitar/drums affair with someone yelling random shit occasionally as well. The drummer on this disc is a killer. Moving between quiet lulls and total free rock eruptions. The guitarist tastefully mixes in raygun sounds with his riffage. There is a good sense of communication between the two, they make each other better ya know? Synergy, that’s the term right? So sweet beats and monster riffage (though I could do without the monster voices). The second track “Clo” is six seconds long and not really worth mentioning. The final track “Path” features many strange pitched shifted music box type noises echoing back and forth until an ominous drum roll approaches. The piece slowly coheres with classy drum pyrotechnics and looped and panned guitar gathering intensity. While on “Cy” I was impressed with the drumming, I’m really loving the guitar playing here (though the drums are great). The guitarist knows when to take it easy and build complex patterns of delayed tones as well as when to get aggressive and disruptive, the drumming complements the guitarwork nicely—mostly playing it straight but giving a few key percussive outbursts. Overall, I really dig this disc. Sometimes free rock acts can get stuck in a rut but here Ys Trys show they have a variety of styles and approaches up their sleeves. Cy Clo Path has gotten better each time I’ve listened. Final entry from First Person is a twenty minute track by Culver. Culver is the project of Lee Stokoe who if I recall played on the awesome Skullflower CDr Abyssic Lowland Hiss. Save for that record, Stokoe’s work is new to my ears. The Psychic begins with a couple crackling layers of muffled, looping drones. This track is very hard to pick apart. It sounds like there are different things going on beneath the hissing murk but it’s impossible to tell for sure. For all I know these could all be closed loops and Stokoe is just tricking me into thinking differently. There is a semi-rhythmic bass pulse that carries throughout the length of the track, keeping things from getting too esoteric. If yr into radios with bad reception you’ll dig the aesthetic here. Around halfway through a few semblances of new sounds materialize, maybe keyboard or vocals. The piece gets noticeably more active as it nears its end. A few founds break through the bog but they're gone in a split second. This piece is reminiscent to me of Slow Listener’s stuff but with a bit darker demeanor and less melodic sensibilities. Sorry I can’t be more descriptive, but words for this piece are kind of eluding me. There’s a cool evil dormitory photo printed on the cover which can probably do a better job explaining the piece than I can.
As mentioned all these are packaged in First Person’s signature printed clear acetate slip cases and look awesome. The white CDrs are hand numbered and serialized. Each limited to 75.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #8 (12/2/07)

”City” Belly Boat Dear Robert Handy (CD) [Not Not Fun, 2007]

“Side A” x04 Lost Signals (LP) [Ultra Eczema, 2007]

“Lead Chorus (Nikki)” Jacob Smigel Eavesdrop: a Wealth of Found Sound (CD-r) [No Label, 2007]

“Ritual Terra Continuii” Mrtyu Ritual Terra Continuii (CS) [Tipped Bowler Tapes, 2007]

“The Drake” Sic Alps Strawberry Guillotine (7”) [Woodsist, 2007]

“Live At Permanent Records, Chicago, 3/17/07” Binges Return to Whatever (CD-r) [Arbor, 2007]

“Green Solaris Month” Social Junk Dirty Cloud (CD-r) [American Grizzly, 2007]

“A3” Family Thinkers Split with Bart Sloow (CS+Book) [Dreamtime Taped Sounds, 2007]

“A3” Monopoly Child Star Searchers Gitchii Manitou (12 Step Retrance Program For Troubled Dream Warriors) (CS) [Pacific City Studios, 2007]

“Platypus” Laissez Faire Asylum (CS one-sided) [Abandon Ship, 2007]

“Side B (excerpt)” Nirvana Malanyang Nirvana Safari (CS) [New Age Cassettes, 2007]

“Apparently” Kevin Shields The Death of Patience (CD) [Deathbomb Arc, 2007]

“Descending Form” Xenis Emputae Travelling Band Gamaaea (CS) [Beyond Repair, 2007]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cones – Ice Skating Elephants [Ikuisuus]

Cones is a German duo of Datashock members Marcel Turkowsky and Ulf Schutte (who records solo as Diamond Lemonade and runs Tape Tektoniks). This CD-r is their debut for Finnish label Ikuisuus (who’s responsible for the early ’07 gem, Salt of the Sun by Family Underground) and their first release to meet my ears.
From the beginning, Ice Skating Elephants is heavy on the looping which is a good thing to me. The guys put their best foot forward with “Waber Bouncing with Dante Flavour”. Short hi-pitched glitchiness leads way to swirling but synthetic keyboards and a stuttering loop of something of electronic origins. You’re hearing a lot more things than you originally think which certainly engages me. After some close listening you can pick out subtle melodic phrases underneath the static, though their presence is felt with or without conscious recognition. That’s probably what I appreciate most about this track, the complexity of the arrangement. The track is constantly evolving though it’s particularly apparent. It’s hard to describe but every so often I’ll have a realization that “this sounds different than a minute ago” though I didn’t notice how the track got to its new place. As the track begins to wind down, Cones deconstructs the sound, ending similar to how it started with a glitching cacophony. It’s a real nice track, synthetic but with a soul. “Grusel on Ice” is the second piece. It reminds me a bit of some Non-Horse stuff but working from more digital sounding source material. Ikuisuus suggests that “Contact Mics, Tapeloops and Goes, Memorytapes, Fieldrecordings and Electronics” are in the mix, which makes sense because these guys seem to be more about processing sounds than the sounds themselves. This makes it tough on me to accurately describe because the track feels like its moving at light speed. Not that the tempo is fast, but most sounds appear/disappear in a flash, giving the listener little to grab onto. Which can be detrimental in some cases, but not really on this album. The pieces despite their heavily fractured nature are still satisfying to listen to. The shortest track at around 6 minutes is “Ran Style”. It’s a tad more minimal and structured than the previous “Grusel”. Half of it focusing on a looped keyboard line. After that drops out, garbled vocal samples and processed percussion hits takes its place. Though the track is wobbly it has a slow methodical pace. The epic finale semi-title track “Ice Skating Elephants of Frozen Morellas” rolls with a central see sawing keyboard melody as sounds spit, crackle, clink, swell, beep, and stumble around it until it fades. This track is similar to “Grusel” in that there are too many things going on to name but there’s a noticeable (and welcome) bit of lucidity and consonance that works as an excellent foil to the scattered, hyperactive aesthetic. There is a sustaining synth loop buried underneath everything that anchors the stammering squiggliness of the ordeal. This all results in the most pleasant, zen-like moments of the whole CD-r and I, for one, am loving it. A frantic amalgam of beauty and audio psychosis.
This CD-r comes in a slipcase with a cool two-color doublesided design and a cardstock insert. And the good news for everyone is it’s still in print and available from the label.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dolphins of East Belgium/Edgar Wappenhalter – Split [Cauliflower Dreams]/Benjamin Franklin – Takes Time [Dreamtime Taped Sounds]

The Bread & Animals label has been one of my favorites for some time, both for the ‘out there’ but consistently awesome jams and its KILLER aesthetic, both in packaging and attitude. Anyhow, these are a couple tapes from the B&A teepee that I’ve been loving for awhile now and my praise is long overdue. Better late than never, right?
It took me what feels like forever to track down this Dolphins of East Belgium/Edgar Wappenhalter tape. I’d finally given up thinking the tape was long gone when I spotted a copy in the Release the Bats distro. When I finally got it I was not disappointed. Starting with the Edgar side, the guy runs through 12 tracks in what I’d estimate to be twentysomething minutes. I’ll be damned if I can read the scrawled tracklist so I'm just gonna act like the songs have no names. After a short intro piece, the second track is an instant stand out. The track is pretty simple but ragafried; a couple tracks of guitar (and a sitar-like sound that may just be guitar) and excellent hand drum accompaniment. It sounds a tad like some GHQ stuff but less brooding and more percussion oriented. It’s a real lo-fi zoner. Things get weirder with a brief interlude of moaning, intertwined vocal loops. A few rather beautiful tracks follow; the first is short and sung by a female with a somewhat traditional folk vibe. The other features vocals so ghostly, I second guess whether I’m hearing them at all. It’s reminiscent of Grouper’s LP from earlier this year and is much too short. Elsewhere on the tape are more guitar based instrumentals, sometimes strummed sometimes plucked and one track features those shrill, squirrelly sounds you get when you play with a slide right over the pick ups. The eighth track (I think) sees a return of female vocals as well as percussion. For some reason it reminds me of a medieval folk song or procession, though I can’t figure out why. The piece is not in medieval style or anything like that but it sounds like a wonderful, lost relic. The ninth track is another favorite, with gorgeous melodic interplay between two guitars and wordless vocals. After another guitar rumination, Edgar (I assume) takes the mic for two plaintive acoustic ballads, the first being very rough and rudimentary though affecting while the second is more refined and features a keyboard of some sort providing counter melody. Though I’d never heard of Edgar Wappenhalter before, he is supposedly part of the outstanding Silvester Anfang funeral folk crew, so the greatness of his work here isn’t much of a surprise.
Dolphins of East Belgium is some form of Lieven Martens’ Dolphins into the Future/In the Eye of Vision project which appears to be on the verge of blowing up with a bunch of releases on the way including one on the coveted New Age Cassettes label and a European mini-tour in a month. I’m not sure if there’s any difference between the projects but this tape is Lieven and someone named Wietske Van Gils (who I read somewhere is his girlfriend). Anywayyy, onto the music. The Dolphins side is totally rad; peculiar, hypnotic transmissions composed of looped keyboard, spirit flute and plenty of reverb. Their myspace page claims “THESE ARE NOT SOUNDS CREATED BY OURSELVES. THESE ARE SIMPLY A TRANSCRIPTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM ABOUT THE PAST AND FUTURE OF EARTH. WE RECIEVE THIS CONTENT THROUGH EMOTIONAL-EMPHATIC CONTACT WITH DOLPHINS. THESE ARE HOLOGRAMS OF BEAUTY AND POSITIVISM.” And you know what? These “holograms” are just dreamy and extraordinary enough for me to believe them. The second piece on here is my favorite it’s a mesmerizing, repetitious, shimmering deep sea keyboard that if I had my way, I’d listen to this baby for days. It is entirely soothing and pure and just… it’s just fucking brilliant! After that (unfortunately) ends, a new piece begins featuring echoing, wandering thumb piano sounds and a low muffled hum akin to a wind’s howl or waves crashing on the beach crossed with an alien spacecraft. It also has a soothing effect though in a different way; there is a lot more open space in the track. A synth, sounding like a slot machine that has permanently hit the jackpot, dominates the next short piece. A mellow J.D. Emmanuel-esque piece follows, its melodic overall but there is a slightly menacing undercurrent. I have no idea how they were able to achieve that effect with their placid palette, but they did anyway and I like it. There is an incredibly brief aquatic outro that I wish had been stretched out about seventy five times longer, and that’s the end of the tape. Both sides are great and cover a broad range of ideas each with relatively limited palettes. I particularly dig the Dolphin’s transmissions but that’s no slag on Edgar’s side. My only bone to pick is a small one—the tape is on a c-90 although there’s probably 40ish minutes of material so it’s kind of annoying to have to fast forward forever after the end of each side to hear the flip.
Next on the list is Takes Time by Benjamin Franklin (who plays in Buffle and R.O.T.) which was one of my favorites to jam in my van over the summer. The tape is one-sided, but there’s still almost thirty minutes of material so I’ll let it slide. The first two pieces “Histori” and “Objecti” are two minute guitar-based pieces. The former is clean toned but rather skronky, Mr. Franklin does a good job imbuing the piece with melodic sensibilities despite its fractured nature. “Objecti” (which appeared on last years Graag Trag Sloow Tape) is an a bit more straightforward strum and jangle affair with a banshee slide guitar bit at the end. It’s much too short. The final two tracks are the real gems here though. “Vlige” (also appeared on Graag Trag) sees a steady echoing guitar joined by totally lush synth cheese. A great job is done creating a nice ambient atmosphere without drenching the whole thing in effects. A beautiful piece and that synth just sounds amazing. The final piece is a live recording titled “17 Min” and I’m sure you can guess why. The track commences rather spaciously with a wandering guitar. Ethereal keyboards join. Until a bit of high-pitched sustained guitar or synth take over. A pretty arpeggio emerges in the hi-end sunbeam until an effected drum machine starts up. The drum machine goes it alone for a little bit until the keyboard comes back the whole jam turns into an urgent space march. Awesome. That section fades and a flighty keyboard bit goes for a little while and Benjamin ends with mellow rumbling akin to the a processed crackling of an endgroove, receiving extended standing ovation-type applause. A really cool tape overall.
Each tape’s packaging must be mentioned as well. The Edgar/Dolphins tape came with two inserts (one with killer drawings of a turtle, a monkey, and dolphins all playing with beachball-type orbs) and the whole thing was wrapped in a piece of fabric and tied with a pipecleaner. The Benjamin Franklin tape comes in a plastic bag, also with two fold out inserts. The cover opens up into a full page with info, drawings of a bear, paper airplanes and lots of dripping pizza. There’s a cool ‘killer whale’ stamp too. The second insert is smaller and features pictures of Benjamin’s crashed car on one side and cute little tiger cubs on the other.
There is no label out there like Bread & Animals, and both these tapes are textbook examples of its eternal coolness. Both these are sold out but if you find them elsewhere I recommend picking them up, I hope to hear more from all these projects in the future. Also keep your eyes and ears locked on B&A, cause they are looking to make the next year worth living with audio and video cassettes by The Eye of Vision, a Tomutonttu 7”, tapes by Orphan Fairytale, Gas Shepherds, Fricara Pacchu, Maths Balance Volumes, Auk Theater, J.D. Emmanuel, etc. LPs by Watersports and IDM THEFT ABLE, a Uton book+3xCD and on and on and on and on. So get yr minds ready.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #7 (11/18/07)

“Breathing Your Face” The Skull Defekts Skkull (CD) [Release the Bats, 2007]

“Moths Eat Tope Light” Chora Moist Friends (CD-r) [267 Lattajjaa, 2007]

“So Blind” Dragnet Dragnet (7") [Tuesday Records, 1986]

“Start to Dreaming” Wooden Shjips Loose Lips/Start to Dreaming (7") [Sub Pop, 2007]

“Bobby’s on the Phone” Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Underground (LP) [Vinyl International, 2007]

“Antihistamiinimatkaaja” Kemialliset Ystävät Alkuhärkä (LP) [Beta-Lactum Ring, 2007]

“Rectums Merging” At Jennie Richie Rectums Merging (LP one-sided) [What We Do Is Secret, 2007]

“Stinking Memory” Brainbombs Stinking Memory (7") [Anthem, 2007]

“Side A” Slasker Risk Triple Jesus (LP) [Kass/Jamps, 2007]

“My Bird is Dead” PWRFL POWER Injured Fruits (CD) [No Label, 2007]

“Little Weeper” Larkin Grimm The Last Tree (CD) [Secret Eye, 2006]

“Marie's Hair” Elephant Micah Frannce (3xCD-r) [Ruralfaune/La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 2007]

“Side A” Widening Horizon Widening Horizon (CS) [Arbor/JK Tapes, 2007]

“Waber Bouncing with Dante Flavour” Cones Ice Skating Elephants (CD-r) [Ikuisuus, 2007]

“Track 2” Edgar Wappenhalter Split with Dolphins of East Belgium (CS) [Cauliflower Dreams, 2007]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Capricorn Wings – Precenc [Abandon Ship]/6majik9 – Sinister Kindness [Abandon Ship]

I noticed that it’s been much too long since Nate Rulli’s Abandon Ship label has graced these pages, so I am here to rectify the situation. Here we have the foreign chapter of the second to last batch on Abandon Ship, tapes by France’s Capricorn Wings and Australia’s 6majik9.
Capricorn Wings is the “more acoustic” alter ego of the French duo Ghost Brâmes. It really doesn’t sound all that acoustic, which I’m actually digging. This hour long tape is a menagerie of accordion, guitars, cymbals, melodica, tape, organ, microphones and 7” vinyl. The first of two side long tracks is “Black Words”. There is a dense, undulating swirl/rumble that is pretty much impossible to sonically decode. You can hear guitars, organ at first and then cymbals jamming over top of the audio jumble. Despite its mellow pace, and the track being nearly 30 minutes in length, it goes by pretty quick. While it’s usually the guitar or cymbals leading the track, I find all the stuff going on lower in the mix to be the most interesting. It morphs so subtly throughout the track, that it’s a rare occasion that you notice it changing. Towards the end there is some totally excellent tambourine/rattle playing that puts the whole thing over the top for me. There are also sweet bassy jellybone organ type sounds as the fellas begin to break down their sound construction. The guitar and organ come back along with an odd swooshing loop for a pretty, extended comedown.
“Green Woods” takes up the span of the second side of the cool green tape. It is a more straightforward, composed piece, with most of the action taking place in the left channel for some reason. There are a couple loops of gleaming organ, delicate guitar accompaniment and tambourine percussion. Like the previous track, there are subtle shifts in sound as the duo slowly adds melodica to the party. At some point a stuttering feedback drone type sound emerges, it sounds like it might be a loop but I’m not sure. It overwhelms the proceedings a bit, unfortunately. It drops out eventually though revealing a very nice bit of interplay between acoustic guitar and something else I can’t put by finger on. The organ (or maybe its accordion) comes back with beautiful sustained tones amidst strange multi-instrument clatter as the track floats away. Overall, the side has some really great moments but doesn’t have the depth of sound that made the first so great. Still a nice piece though.
A while back I was chatting with my friend about Michael Donnelly’s projects, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood and 6majik9. He said he didn’t care for BotOS but liked 6majik9, I respectfully disagreed telling him that I really like the Sisterhood stuff but had only been occasionally impressed by 6majik9. Which lead me to wonder if it’s one of the things that you have to take sides on (like during the east coast vs. west coast rap war, or something). But in a swift 60 minute kick this tape straightened me out. This might be the best overall 6majik9 release I’ve heard. It has the trademark bizarre, incongruous clatter but in these two ever moving pieces, the arrangements are fleshed out and sound about as coherent as possible which is a good thing. Other than a few vocal moves, the sounds are pleasantly strange. Weird cricket-esque noises, synth sputters, hand percussion and clanging, with my favorite probably being (auto?)harp plucks. Side A, “Sinister Kindness”, midway through has an absolutely great soft groove, based around a mellow guitar line. After a little while, a bit meaner fuzz guitar comes in and disrupts things a tad. That plays out for a pretty good length of time, until the percussion players change up a bit and everything else drops out but a guitar. Free form percussion rolls along against slow sustaining swells until things stop and a full band excursion begins. Nomadic guitars over an uptempo percussive base until things shift into psych freakout mode. I appreciate that they keep the psych freakout to a few minutes at the end, it helps the freakout retain its impact rather than when bands freak out for a half hour and things just get boring.
”Sister Kindness” takes up the B-side. This piece begins much more conventionally, with steady pounding on a drumkit and rock song structure then there is a strange sound and a brief a capella sing along ensues. I don’t know dude, but it was weird. Then almost as immediately yr shot into a tunneling free form jam force. Lead by fuzz guitar but sprinkled with bits of drums and acoustic guitar. Things transition into a rattling gypsy jam, with vocal loops popping out amidst the clutter. There is enough forward momentum to offset the randomness of the arrangement. Once again, there is another shift this time 6majik9 is thick and mostly electric, getting pretty close to “drone”. Then once more a transition back to an acoustic set-up. This one I’m not really feeling too much though, there is cello which I’m liking but also a really annoying reed instrument of some sort that I’m not liking so much. The section, unlike the previous ones, feels pretty aimless. A more delicate section takes over with sampled vocal babble, pretty flute accents, minimal drumming and sustaining low notes from an organ or synth. The totally angelic “voice setting” keyboard at the very end makes the journey worth it. This tape appears to be stitched together from various (live?) recordings made along “the east coast” between 2006 and 2007. They did good job putting the sides together with only a few sections lagging behind the rest.
While both tapes operate with different palettes, they are similar in that they are both roaming across the vast plains of half hour sides and doing a good job of it too. You know I’m down with the Ghost Brâmes crew, but 6majik9’s tape caught me a bit off guard in how much I liked it. Both tapes are a good place to start investigating either squad, especially with Abandon Ship’s low low prices (plus it seems both groups dabble in CD-rs a lot of the time, so I recommend grabbing them on cassette while you still can).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Time Life – Double Blackberry [Meudiademorte]

Time Life is a project I’d been wanting to hear for a while and I finally got a hold of this one-sided c70 from the Meudiademorte label in Germany. The duo can be seen as a pared down version of Vanishing Voice, featuring members Heidi Diehl on guitar and vocals and G. Lucas Crane (also of Non-Horse) doing whatever he does with tapes. While, I’ve never been too big on the VV, something about the guitar/tapes combo intrigued me.
Crane and Diehl cover a lot of ground in their thirty-odd minutes. The tape begins solemnly, with a dark but airy repeating guitar figure. Strange, trembling sounds cascade in and out, which can only be the work of Crane. It’s a sparse arrangement but the atmosphere is thick. There is a counter melody on something that sounds like an unamplified electric guitar, which works really well against the round, electric tone of the main figure. The guitar fades a bit as a cassette cacophony takes its place, weird bits of delayed sound scrambling and brushing up against each other. The guitar comes back in a much more minimal mode as Diehl takes the mic, providing Grouper-esque vocals over a shuffling bed of tape loops. That, at first, sounds passively discordant but begins to sound more complete as it develops. It actually, strangely, reminds me of Portishead. Not in any sort of trip hoppy way, but it features a plaintive female voice drifting over a rustling of samples. Anyhow, the duo keep pushing forward, moving into more tripped out territory. An abstractly lush bit of guitar/tape interplay, which is eschewed much too quickly for my tastes. There is a brilliantly haunting part where a heavily reverbed guitar looms, sounding like thunder, as Crane casts almost dissonant violin type tones with his tapes. The fog drops, leaving Diehl’s lamenting voice almost completely unaccompanied, as a Skaters-esque loop of vocal or a tape or something drifts in the background, nearly duet-ing with Diehl. More tape noises and feedback pile on that loop, and Diehl begins improvised, wordless intonations. The repetitious cacophony gets to sounding ritualistic except for sharp quick blasts of noise occasionally exploding. When that bit runs it’s course there is a nice comedown with a soft, ambient loop of keyboard type sounds—though it may just be voice—and more cut up tape squelch. I am often extra critical of really long tracks, but Double Blackberry is an excellent example of when everything is done right. There is so much ground and sonic variation covered that it never feels long or dull; at the same time though, it doesn’t feel like a bunch of separate pieces smashed together, each point the duo hit upon is smoothly transitioned to and from. It as effortlessly assembled piece. It also sounds like the piece was probably recorded (and improvised?) live too, with no overdubbing that I can ascertain, which makes the piece all the more incredible. I’m hoping Time Life is becoming a regular thing, because this tape is the best stuff I’ve heard from both parties involved. It seems like I may get my wish as the duo has new/upcoming releases on Arbor, Blackest Rainbow, Not Not Fun and I imagine other labels as well.
This tape is still available from Meudiademorte, I’m not sure but I bet it’s limited with few copies remaining. It comes with a paint splattered label on a black tape, with a red sparkly 4x6 “folder” with involved, nearly invisible artwork printed on it and in a zippered plastic bag.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #6 (11/11/07)

“Actaeon” Axolotl Prophetic Ass (CD-r) [Chocolate Monk, 2007]

“Poco Da Morte” Tropa Macaca Marfim (LP) [Ruby Red, 2007]

“Side B” Armas Huutamo Aurinko on Kaunis Asia (7”) [Lal Lal Lal, 2006]
*played at 33 rpm

“Death’s Seed Runs From Her Thighs” Apple Snails Split with The Mighty Acts of God (CS) [DNT, 2007]

“Glass (excerpt)” Century Plants Sound System Sound (CD-r) [Tape Drift, 2007]

“Side B” Treetops Serene Dream (CS) [JK Tapes, 2007]

“Extra” Blue Sabbath Black Fiji Lazer Saber (CD-r) [JK Tapes, 2007]

“Cobweb Infinity” Helvetica is the Perfume of the City Swallowing Stars (CD-r) [La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 2007]

“My Night with the French Resistance” Black Forest/Black Sea Frannce compilation (3xCD-r) [La Belle Dame Sans Merci/Ruralfaune, 2007]

“1000 Shut Downs” Maggoted 1000 Shut Downs (3” CD-r) [Cut Hands, 2007]

“Side B” Tomutonttu Tomutonttu (LP) [Beta-Lactum Ring, 2007]

“Blood of Kings” Quintana Roo Temple of Self Decapitation (CS) [Dreamtime Taped Sounds, 2007]

*some technical problems happened during the show but I'll let you discover them on yr own...

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Friday, November 9, 2007

JK Tapes Cassette Round-Up

In an effort to pour one out for my homie, I’m borrowing Outer Space Gamelan’s convenient “round-up” style review for this handful of newish and oldish JK Tapes, which unfortunately are all in varying states of sold out and long gone-ness. Still want to give props where props are due though.
Tape numero uno, is perpetrated by none other than Arbor label head Mike Pollard. His Treetops project is in the preliminary stages of blowing up into mega-stardom it seems, with releases on Ecstatic Peace!, Blackest Rainbow, DNT and Jelle Crama’s Zeikzak, as well as splits with Villa Valley and the Sick Llama-related Cygnus. Anyhow this tape is called Serene Dream and it begins with not quite droney guitar ruminations and a second guitar track that comes in sounding like a weird primitive flute. Pollard establishes a pretty strong sense of rhythm even before the entry percussive instruments. The rhythmic vibe is fleshed out with a drum smattering, coming in for a brief bout as the guitar is put on a second long infinite loop. The A-side ends there, setting up the main elements of the piece, guitar, drums and vocals. The bummer is the end click/tape flip kills the momentum. Once you get the spools turning on the B-side the sweetness returns though. Distant, distorted Skaters-style vocals take over and lead the track for a spell as free drumming returns. The final minutes of the tape feature drumkit/vocal interplay in the classic crescendo/decrescendo style. My favorite part of the tape is the comedown after the climax; this is the point were Pollard really locks into some magical zombie ritual sounds. My biggest complaint is that the single piece is split onto two sides. I much would have preferred a one-sided c-20 but whateva, ain’t my decision to make. This tape has piqued my interest a bit, not mindblowing as a whole but has some great moments. I’ll have to pay closer attention to this project, cause I could see it blossoming into something really great down the road (maybe it already has and I just haven’t heard it yet).
Moving on, we have Nataraja, a Warmer Milks side project of sorts. To be totally honest I’ve never dug the Warmer Milks style but I like this cassette. The name of the tape is Venetian Blinds, as is the 15 minute track on side A. Nataraja is the work of two people both playing double duty, Travis Shelton on guitar/electronics and Thad Watson on bass/percussion. A sustaining guitar dominates the audiosphere, sounding almost like an organ, as faraway cymbals clatter. This intro segment lasts for a few minutes until the guitar and percussion get a little more interactive. They roll along in a sort of half-climax mode, where they constantly sound like they’re on the verge of lashing out. I like the mellow outro, bringing to mind a bit simplified Gown just a tad in the style of playing. The guys have an odd sound because it’s somewhat based in the psych-improv style but really doesn’t sound psychedelic, the aesthetic is much more akin to drone. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the sound exactly, but I’d say something along the lines of guitar/drums improv’d drone minus the possible noisy connotations. The B-side has two tracks, the first of which is “Reservoir”. This piece is relatively mellow drone, with the guitar again front and center. There is bass (I think) and a nice chiming loop circulating that drifts in and out of the mix depending on the intensity/volume of the guitar. That’s only real problem I found; when the guitar gets too loud, it overwhelms and drowns out the other elements of the track. The second piece “Circadian Rhythm” is, as alluded to, quite rhythmic. The arrangement is pretty simple drums and percussive uses of the guitar, sometimes resulting in distorted feedback swells. Both guys sound like they’re trapped in a giant reverb tank which I like. The track is strange because it doesn’t change too much in demeanor but still transforms soundwise; it stays active consistently building in intensity to point that individual hits are indiscernible, just clattering clouds of feedback. I’m not sure if the project is a one-off or not but the tape is pretty nice and I’d say there is definite potential to develop the project further.
Exhibit C, is a split from Portland based sound manipulators, Acre and Honed Bastion. Never heard either before this tape, though I heard of Acre, who has had releases on Yarnlazer, DNT and others; Honed Bastion I know nothing about other than the dude also goes by the name Dead/Bird. There aren’t any markings on the sparkly silver sprayed tape but I think Acre takes the A-side. I’m having some trouble writing about it. The piece has a strangely soothing but mechanical nature, based on a low throbbing drone and static ping-ponging across the left and right channels. The trouble comes with the fact that the piece never really changes too much. If I really listen hard I can detect some subtle movement/manipulation of the repeated loops. It’s a piece that to really get something out of it I had to put on the headphones. I’ve liked the piece a bit more each time I’ve listened but I’m still not feeling it 100%. I’ve never really been able to get lost in it, though all these soft machine pulsations are still doing a hypnotic number on my brain. On the flip, Honed Bastion shows his stuff. The piece is much more arrhythmic than the previous side, built around stuttering distorted tones, feedback and other kinds of effect wizardry. The track is very textured; lots of very jagged, bristly sounds. I wish the stuttery-ness was toned down a bit though the track but it drops out after a while so no problem. The placid “breakdown” actually ends up sounding a little like Warmth to me, with washes of digital noise, using silence as a weapon. Somewhere down the line, there are a few singular swells of elektronotes and a keyboard sample or something slides in at the very end. There is a pause and then a heavy and heavily auto-panned bout of noise rules yr ears. There is no info on the insert so I don’t know if it’s part of the first track or a new one or what. Either way it’s pretty satisfying to have a more composed bit of roughnecking after the previous fragmentation.
Our grand finale is Lazy Rivers by the Horse Head-related, Tan Dollar. I’m not sure what the title refers to, but my guess is those “rivers” at waterparks you can float on in those big colorful intertubes. Weren’t those called lazy rivers? Anyway, it’s weird to name yr album after a waterpark attraction but I wouldn’t put it past these guys. This is total weirdo music. The first part of Side A is full of hollow drum hits and a way too phased/modulated guitar. They just jam and groove along sloppily as two dudes do mildly annoying stream of conscious rants a la Elisa from Magik Markers, but intentionally goofy. Things get more frantic for the next two “songs”, raucous pounding and weird effected vocals. The vocal effect thing continues on for the next part against more jumbled guitar (bass?), drums, wind chimes and occasionally fingersnaps. The vocal fx actually are a plus because you can’t discern what the dude is saying, he just has a weird echoey presence in the track. Side B has more of the same, sloppy drum/guitar riffage and annoying vocals by whomever that dude is. Seriously, these guys are way too in love with this chorus/flanger whatever it this pedal of theirs is. It sounds like the guys only have one and the vocalist and guitar trade it back and forth. Anyway, the second track on the B side is one of the best songs on here with excellent music and even the vocals aren’t too bad except for that damn modulation pedal he’s singing through. Track 3(?) is just creepy detuned vocal slurs. They bust out the bass for the next track, giving the track a grooving back bone as someone sounds like they’re playing the kitchen sink and the “singer dude” is telling some story through a delayed microphone. The next track is actually pretty sweet, rumbling free drums and wisely wordless vocals circling round. That is until “lyrics” come back and it’s ended with an utterly stupid monologue (which you can read here). The vocals range from (nearly) unbearable to just another element of weirdness from Tan Dollar, understandably the songs that fit into the latter category are the stronger ones. I don’t know, it’s a little bit like Horse Head, but like a version that only knows how to fuck around. The musical part of the crew turns out some cool parts which makes me wish all the more the vocalist would ditch the mic and do something else (preferably play an instrument).
So there you have it, all tapes as I mentioned are sold out from JK Tapes but some are still available at distros (like here). It’s fun to see the evolution of the JK art style from the black & white printed inserts to the current ‘Heavy/Fuck It tapes filtered through MS Paint’ aesthetic. Can’t wait to see what Peter rolls out with next.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Warmth – Warmth [Arbor]

Warmth is a project I’ve been a little on the fence about. I’ve heard a handful of releases and while I found them intriguing none of them really stuck. Until now that is. Warmth is an LP reissue/remixed/edited version of a self-titled(?) CD-r on the now deceased X Died Enroute Y label. The CD-r featured a rare duo formation, consisting of Warmth main man Steev Thompson and Branden Diven of Quilts and a bunch of other cool things. So anyhow, let’s get this review poppin’
Side A starts out quietly with a submerged glistening something. There is a rhythmic crackle that I can’t figure out if it’s part of the music or a skuf on the LP. Intentional or not, it adds a steady forward movement that works out real nicely. That submerged glistening synth or whatever it is rises in volume and drops. The volume swelling and tapering becomes a motif throughout the side. What sounds like a heavily reverbed guitar comes in with other kinds of looped electronics and subsides. A lush synth swell emerges for maybe fifteen seconds and abruptly fades. Then the guitar comes back for a moment and then the synth with a more fleshed out, ethereal, echoing ice caverns bit which wanes revealing a gusty whining wind type sound. After comes one of my favorite parts a brief bit of thick, almost shuffling looped two note synth melody. Low in the mix, there is something that sounds like a faraway church choir, while static white noise and mild mannered feedback dance and crawl over top. The piece is incredibly hard to pin down. Every time a beautiful loop or melody materializes it slinks away almost immediately, leaving the quiet base warble. There is a crescendo at the end which is really fantastic, and much more extended than any other the other parts. It builds into a gorgeous cacophony, ultimately receding back into the ether while a lone guitar feeds back and a synth wobbles on its last legs until the end groove. The piece is strangely composed, the continuous rising and falling of a slew of sonic fragments. It reminds me a bit of those old haunted house rides; not in the sense that its “scary” or “ghoulish”, but rather that you are taken on a ride through a bunch of short-lived events that together assemble a unified experience, but without direct transition between them. Sometimes fragmentation or holding onto an idea too briefly before moving on can be frustrating to listen to. Somehow though, Warmth makes it compelling. Maybe it’s because you want keep revisiting it and take the ride again or perhaps it’s just because the fragments all sound so good. It’s probably both and more. A very cool side.
The B side has a rhythmic crackle as well, which makes me wonder if it’s intentional or if my stylus is messed up (hope not). It begins with a slow burning drone as some Medroxy Progesterone Acetate-esque rustling white noise enters. The piece moves in a style not unlike the first side, but a bit more subtly. There is a strange alien transmission halfway through, though most of the time the track glides along on glacial tones. That is until some shrieking echoing guitar or synth comes roaring onto the scene. The placid atmosphere is shattered by a downpour of exploding feedback which sticks around for a bit until fading into looped organ tones. Which, of course, fade too, as swirling jet streams and moaning guitar swells take the track to its final conclusion. As mentioned, the piece works in a similar way as the first but a bit sparser and more subtly, I prefer the first I think but Side B is a cool little number in itself. One note though, my bass speaker is pretty much to the point of coughing up blood, so I can’t discern much of the low end business that’s going on, it sounds like it would be pretty cool though if I could hear it.
So Warmth remains as enigmatic as ever. This is a really great release and makes me want to hear more of/revisit their other stuff. I’ve yet to come across anything quite like the project, which, at the very least, makes it worth delving deeper into their discography. I say this every time but the LP comes packaged in Arbor’s trademark classy and capable aesthetic, with a printed/screen-printed cover by Roy Tatum and Mike Pollard and also a 8.5x11 insert by Steev. The crowning achievement/sweetness/whatever is the cool citrus-y creamsicle vinyl and a-shade-darker-than-lime green screen-printed labels. It’s a total package and still available from Arbor but limited to 300, so get it already.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Black Monk – Flowstone [Arbor/Not Not Fun]

Black Monk was a duo consisting of Roy Tatum (Changeling, Quintana Roo, the Buried Valley label) and someone else whose name I cannot ascertain. They kept a pretty low profile only releasing two cassettes over their lifetime, one on Buried Valley and one on Maim & Disfigure. But now the crew is given the “box set” treatment. While Flowstone is an LP, it collects the out of print tapes and offers unreleased material just like those expensive box sets in the locked glass cases, but way more affordable and with 100% more analog sweetness.
Side A consists of the previously released material. It starts with “Murmur” which apparently collects the entire cassette of the same name. Black Monk establish their sound right from the get-go. Heavy, low-end drones and free/tribal drumming. There are no credits, but the drones sound like they're coming from guitar. Not e-bow style though, slow singe strums letting the drone swell and taper based around a few chords. While the guitarwork is pretty simple and repetitive, it’s effective. It also balances the hyperactivity of the drumming, which is a constant, though varied, barrage. Whoever the drummer is does a good job of not falling into the standard role of drone drummer (i.e. basic, measured drum hits) or the role of rock drummer sitting in on a drone session, which always ends terribly. I don’t know very much about (describing) drumming, but the guy moves from frantic to emphatic rather easily. The drums are mixed pretty low in comparison to the dronemaker, which gives the whole track a really odd disembodied vibe. The audible but utterly indecipherable “background” noises going on certainly help that cause as well.
The second half of side A is an untitled track originally released on the V cassette on Buried Valley. Immediately, it establishes a totally haunted, wobbly seasick vibe. Unlike “Murmur”, the guys are working entirely in unison on this one; forming like Voltron to create some of the most effortlessly eerie, pulsating drone I’ve come across. It’s much harder to pick up on individual elements than in the previous track. There is a main loop that sounds to me almost like a slowed down locomotive whistle. That loop is surrounded my heavy fuzz fog, and various subtle changes occur throughout. There isn't much (any?) drum presence that I can hear, sometimes it sounds like there might be some buried under the miles of murk and other times it sounds like there is none at all. Maybe you can tell me. Sweet track though.
The B side is the previously unreleased title jam. “Flowstone”, in some ways, is a marriage of the two styles on the other side. The drums are pushed to the fore-front. Showing off some serious free jazz chops. There is expansive, low-end smog that coats the rest of the track, providing a subtle, groaning bed for the drummer to shred some heads. The dynamic between the two elements is interesting because the drone is pretty much unchanging; however, depending what the drums are doing, it kind of takes on those characteristics. I'm not sure, I think there might be two guys jamming on the drums. There is no way a mere mortal could pull this stuff off all by himself. Maybe it’s possible, but there is frenzied cymbal bashing and intense tribal tom-tom torture at the same time that I just can’t fathom coming from one set of hands. I really dig how the fiery, primal percussive assaults offset the cyclical drone cloud. You get the best of both worlds, the raw, physical high of witnessing someone just kick the shit out of their instrument and the buzzing, hypnosis of looped fuzz infinity.
The LP is pretty well organized, in that each successive piece takes it up a notch (there I go sounding like Emeril again). They all have the same DNA, but each takes a separate sonic approach. It’s a bummer Black Monk is done for, but maybe the release of Flowstone will warrant a reunion tour, any takers?
The LP comes in typical classy Arbor/Not Not Fun fashion. A stark design lay out, a fold out crazed-scribble poster by Black Monk and black labels on a black LP, which is the coolest black vinyl has ever looked. It’s like a twelve inch black hole. It’s sold out on the Not Not Fun end, but Arbor still has copies. You know what to do.