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.

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