Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blue Shift – Ghost Singers 3 [Breaking World]/Pak – Pak [Breaking World]

A couple more jams from George Myers's phenomenal Breaking World Records label.
Ghost Singers 3 is an odd little tape. I hadn’t heard Blue Shift before this but it turns it’s Providence’s Cybele Collins's solo violin mistreatment project. The first time through I wasn’t sure what to think of this tape but after having listened a number of more times I’ve gotten into it. The tape runs through 12 tracks in 25 minutes and things blur together a bit so fingers crossed I match the right names to the right piece of music. Beginning with “Whistle Run” Collins is doing, I guess, what would be standard playing with a bow and such but the result is a kind of wispy sound with as many overtones, incidental noises, and percussive strikes as there are recognizable violin sounds. “Bored Gun” sounds denser; there’s some layering/looping including what I think is reversed violin. I dig the layered effect because the violin fulfills many purposes filling out the sound, contributing a rhythmic element, general clatter and fleeting melodic touches in the track’s too $hort 30 seconds. “Having a Conversation” has weird multi-tracked manipulated vocals with stuttering violin accompaniment. I certainly wouldn’t call the track “melodic” but there are flashes of melody in the warble and scrape affair that add an odd beauty to the piece. The title-track reminds me of Carter Burwell’s score of Fargo a bit with some eastern (European) influence maybe? It’s a rather pleasant, too-brief piece. “Feather Duster” returns to some vicious sawing and scraping getting some really sharp edged squealing tones from the violin. “Belonging Pit” is similar but much less frantic and features a breakdown of sorts with 3 or 4 tracks of violin all moving in seriously different directions. It’s a really interesting listen, especially with head phones, and I have fun attempting the probably impossible task of following one of the tangled tendrils through the course of the song. “I Want an Accident” closes the first side with a legitimately groovy (jeez do I need a new adjective for that sort of thing) backwards loop and violin overlaid. Actually scratch that. Cause another track just came on, so I fucked up the track names somewhere in there. Sorry about that, but I’m not about to go back through and figure it out right now. I’m having too much fun listening. The second side starts off with my favorite track, and probably the most “normal”, “Pin Dance”. The song is pretty coherent and knowingly pretty. Despite tying up most the of loose ends she lets hang in the other tracks, Collins doesn’t sacrifice interesting texture in the least. I’d actually be curious to hear her arrange (and/or write) a traditional classical piece because she has unique skill for forming melodies in unexpected ways. “Warnings” follows with strange skronk more akin to stuff that comes out of Chris Cooper’s guitar than a violin. The track even wraps with a short eastern jig. “Long Underwear” is pretty mellow by comparison marked by a constant bubbling of lower notes with no noticeable hi-end skree. “Ravaged Plains” is another violent sawing exhibit and the finale “Sandpaper Walls” features a lone voice caught in a web of violin clacks and runs before slipping off a reversed violin line. While, admittedly, it didn’t click immediately, Ghost Singers 3 is a unique tape that has rewarded me generously upon repeated listens.
I know next to nothing about Pak other than he’s from the Netherlands apparently. This 3inch CDr is a 15plus minute track of an unrelentingly noisy assault. Not harsh but pretty damn noisy still. Amidst all the static and squeezed/stretched tones, there is a vocal sample that pops occasionally which is one of my favorite parts of track. At least I'm pretty sure it’s a vocal sample, it’s an ecstatic yelp but there’s something about it that feels a bit inhuman as well. Pak keeps the track briskly paced with oscillator whine broken by powerful blasts of hot white noise. There actually may be more vocal samples in here cause the sounds being manipulated have a bizarre vocal quality to my ears. A bit later it definitely sounds like some distorted screams sliced up by the barrage of noise, but who knows what the source actually is. Just when the squealing oscillator stuff is wearing thin Pak breaks it up with a block noise which definitely had some almost chorale sounding vocals. The bummer is that lasts for like 8 seconds and we’re back to the squealing oscillator stuff. I like this but it could certainly stand to be a few minutes shorter and probably a bit more varied. And I’m sure that squealing oscillator thing will have a penchant to drive some people out of their minds, though maybe that's the whole idea.
George Myers made some fantastic artwork for this Blue Shift tape with a melancholy, melting lizard monster on the front cover and a colorful illustration of some weird hippie prayer ritual on the inside. The Pak CD-r comes with a white card board cover with a crooked row of smiling teeth imprinted on it, a little bit creepy. I couldn't get that to scan so I scanned the back cover FYI. The Blue Shift tape is still in print not sure about the Pak cd-r since it came out quite a while ago. I’d email George if yr interested.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brave Priest – Precious Summers [Stunned]/Predator Vision – II [Abandon Ship]

I never really cared much about Cream but it looks like psych power trio thing is still going strong and maybe, just maybe, I should have been paying more attention all these years to see what lead up to these tapes. Both these acts are much different than Cream though and (obviously) much much better. Funny enough, each group features a Matt I recognize, Portland-based Brave Priest features Matt McDowell on drums while on the east coast Matt Mondanile (Ducktails, Traum Ecke) plays in Predator Vision. Ehhh, enough of this aimless introduction already…
This Brave Priest tape comes on Long Beach’s Stunned imprint. The tape begins with “No Blood”, mellow wah’d guitar notes materializing in the misty tape hiss before a lethargic bass groove starts up along with minimal drumming. One of the three is singing but it’s not credited so can’t say who the voice belongs to. The song maintains a loose leisurely vibe for most of it’s duration but a drum-led rave ensues near the end of the track with some sinister bass notes before dropping back into the original groove and ending on dry, sparse percussive hits. “Vampire Canyon” follows and kicks the tempo up a couple notches. The band plays strictly as a unit here all following the same rhythmic pattern until they slip into separate suits, the guitar contributing a wah-fried lead, the bass creates a heavy-as-shit presence with only one note and the drumming keeps the whole thing afloat. Things get a bit faster and sludgy which you know I like. Probably my favorite song on the tape “Give You Bone” closes out side A. This one forgoes the guitar for a heavy bass/drums groove and barking vocals, a tad like the Jesus Lizard but with a jammy elasticity instead of “Gladiator”-style pummel. The guitar is used sparely and perfectly, providing an occasional bleating exclamation point. Great song, three to four minutes of bad vibes. Flip the tape for the side long jam “Yellow Revolution”. The piece features all three members going full throttle. Some really excellent guitar skree here and a thunderous thrashing from the rhythm section. Really dig McDowell’s detailed stickwork too (is stickwork even a term??). It sounds like there’s a little keyboard trill in there somewhere but maybe it’s just the guitar, the brief melodic glimmers provided by the guitar and bass are key to the track’s success. That the jam stays vicious, never getting boring, is a testament to the power of the groove and the group’s performance. Brave Priest quiets down near the end bringing in the first appearance of vocals on the side before bludgeoning the jam home.
II is receiving the reissue treatment from Abandon Ship after an initial release on Future Sound. The A-side contains “Eyes of the Demon” which is a groovy, good-natured psychedelic workout. There isn’t any info on who plays what but it sounds to me like drums and two guitars. Even when the drummer speeds the track up Predator Vision retains the buoyancy of the initial moments. There’s an effortless fluidity present here which is kinda rare in “rock” ensembles, at least in my experience. The guitarists use their wahwahs to great effect, sometimes with long strung out notes and sometimes with quick melodic riffs. The drummer must be given his due as well, who keeps things interesting rhythmically while always propelling the track forward. That isn’t to say the guitars don’t contribute anything rhythmically; their constant, precise interplay is possibly the strongest element of the tape. “This City’s a Jungle” fills out the second side. The track fades in rather gradually with a bubbly arpeggio and occasional space ship landing type sounds. Predator Vision (such a great name) lets the casual groove simmer as it shuffles along unhurried. A guitar produces some nice drawn-out synth-like passages as drums thump along methodically. Anchored by the drumming, more airy arpeggios give way to distortion and cymbal crashes. There’s a great, compact riff near the end that sticks around for maybe twenty seconds, I can’t really describe it but you’ll know it when you hear it. The jam winds down very slowly before an abrupt end.
Stunned did an excellent job packaging this Brave Priest tape as they always seem to do. Fantastic double-sided, beardo weirdo artwork by Cameron Stallones and pro-dubbed yellow tapes with an awesome logo imprinted on both sides. Abandon Ship adapted the previous artwork of II to a more pristine look with black tapes and cool printed label with Predator on it. Brave Priest is sold out at source but the Predator Vision tape is still available.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sudden Oak – Sudden Oak [Bezoar Formations]/Radiant Husk – Beyond an Endless Swale [Bezoar Formations]

Sorry about the unannounced holiday break. I'm buried in a bunch of great records and I'm gonna start digging my way out with a couple of excellent tapes from San Francisco's Bezoar Formations label, which if I’m not mistaken, has roots in Western Massachusetts.
I was excited when I found out both these tapes are heavy on the sax. I’m a big saxophone fan, though a fair amount of the time when I hear underground sax-based stuff I’m disappointed. Not so here, the sounds are just tremendous. Sudden Oak is a duo of guitar and amplified sax. Beginning with sounds that don’t sound super guitar-like or saxophone-like the tape rolls to a start. The thing I like most about this tape is how the two vastly different instruments sound so unified. That isn’t to say they’re indistinguishable, the first piece on Side A features a number of moments when one member will briefly go off on his own but they always find their way back to a singular sound. The sound itself is distorted and blurry, not quite scorching, but not a mellow droner either. The second piece features a repeated two-note sax figure for a while with a relentless, pervasive hi-end guitar drone. Things continue in a just barely stable way before breaking apart into a strange cacophony of sustain and squelch before ratcheting the intensity down gradually to an almost whispering buzz. Side B sounds foggier with what sounds like a rhythmic loop of super distant hand drumming. Who knows what it really is. Guitar and sax both start in with simultaneous whines. Again, the duo cultivates an uneasy stasis where the sounds teeter on becoming melodic or becoming violent but are instead caught kinda wavering in between those two poles. It’s an interesting balancing act. Towards the end there’s a great honking flutter emanating from the saxophone giving the track a momentary rhythmic kick that’s matched by a siren-like guitar part. This idea is developed further with both instruments moving in bizarre seesawing patterns. The guitar dials down the distortion a bit and starts grooving in percussive fashion—which is a style certainly worth exploring further. That guitar part continues into a shriek out that ends the tape. I think this might be the first Sudden Oak release, in which case, these guys should be an exciting act to watch develop.
Radiant Husk is a solo project by Matthew Erickson who I’m pretty sure is the same Matt that played on the Sudden Oak tape. According to the liner notes the palette at work here is saxophone, drum, electronics and keyboards. The approach is pretty immediately different than Sudden Oak’s (though there are definitely some similarities in sound). The Sudden Oak tape is pretty raw and this tape certainly isn’t pristine but it has a hypnotic, entering-a-temple effect. The tape is fantastically layered with slowly unfolding sax melodies over a strangely feathery, hovering bed of sounds. Erickson makes excellent use of looping; every once in a while a rhythmic loop (often of sax) starts up and it pushes the whole craft further into greatness. There is a quick segue into another part/track that is a glistening, twisting, beautiful piece of sax mangling. A lower register sax part pops in briefly near its finish. There’s a short rustling interlude leading to a really beautiful bit of uneffected sax playing over an unobtrusive bed of keyboards. The keyboards drop out and Erickson creates a wonderful architecture of looped saxophone. That part ends all too quickly but it’s replaced with another more confrontational sax construction that ebbs and flows to the end of the side. On the second side, there’s a shamanic, ritualistic type thing going on at first. I must complement Erickson’s ability to make his saxophone sound otherworldly without burying it effects or making it not sound like a saxophone. I’m trying to go back through my sax experiences and I don’t think I’ve really heard one used quite like this. This is really effortless gorgeous stuff; just wave after wave of sound. The only bummer is it ends abruptly and too soon. The next part is more minimal and I can’t really tell if what I’m hearing is sax or synth. I’m leaning toward the latter but I could very well be getting tricked. This leads to another minimal arrangement, this time assembled out of sparse keyboard hits and quiet wandering saxophone. Closing out the tape, Erickson generates another beautiful (sorry for all these instances of “beautiful” but I swear they’re warranted) section based around a looping keyboard melody and screeching but tempered saxophone before a shiny drone grows bigger and bigger enveloping them both.
Both tapes are very nice looking. The Sudden Oak one has green screenprinting on a double-side fold-out J-card with info and a root formation or brain synapses or whatever it is printed on the front cover. Beyond an Endless Swale features an extra long fold-out j-card with x-ray visioned hot air balloons on one-side. The other side is even cooler with a weirdly psychedelic collage of dozens of colorful fish. If I had to pick between the two I’d probably go with the Radiant Husk one but Bezoar is selling these for so cheap I recommend you just pick up both.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

U.S. Girls – Kankakee Memories [Cherry Burger]

When I first threw this on the turntable I played it at 33rpm, in my defense it’s not labeled, and all the low fuzz sounded real good to my ears. It wasn’t until a little while later I figured out I’m an idiot and it’s at 45 (the big hole in the center should of tipped me off.) Anyway, it was a happy mistake cause I figured out this thing is like two records in one, one by U.S. Girls and one by U.S. Creepy Older Males. Enough of the tomfoolery; the review starts now.
Of the U.S. Girls stuff I’ve heard, this 7inch Kankakee Memories immediately strikes me as their best material so far. Each of the four songs, here, is interesting in its own way, as well as containing plenty of replay value.
The leadoff track “So Ladder Strong” is a minimalist garage anthem; pounding drums, indecipherable vocals and plenty of fuzz and feedback to go around. Other than a bit of pitchshifting, that I can make out pretty much only when the drums drop out during a brief breakdown, the only elements here are drums and vocals. It’s impressive that they can pull off pop hooks with such a limited. seemingly amelodic palette. “Come See Lightly” finishes up the first side. The minimalism continues here switching up the drums for a simple descending guitar melody. I really love the dual vocals here, which create a beautiful cascading chorus. So brief but so good.
On the flipside, things get changed up again. After some reversed babbling baby talk, there’s a lilting piano line backed by sparse percussive hits and vocal note drenched in cavernous reverb. Though epic, this is only an intro, leading to a great roughhewn, abstracted 50’s/early 60’s piano-pop ditty. I’m pretty sure, excluding vocals, that this is the first time there are two instruments playing simultaneously on the record. This makes the track, “O What a Nite”, sound absolutely lush in comparison to the first side. In the grand tradition of the Beach Boys and Freddie Mercury, the U.S. Girls cover The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music” for their last track of the record. Coming full circle, it’s a drums and vocal affair. The drums have probably the raddest “drum sound” I’ve ever heard, fat but hollow and strangely melodic. The vocals do a great job carrying the song along as they do throughout the record; it’s actually a pretty risky style that the U.S. Girls work in because if only one of the elements is off point the track would probably collapse. To recycle an earlier comment, this 45 is so brief but so good.
This is the first release from Cherry Burger records and they’ve done a fine job here with black and white artwork (which strangely looks like a goth version of my girlfriend when she was young) and an insert with plenty of info.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

AFCGT – AFCGT [Dirty Knobby]/Slicing Grandpa – Big Monster Canadian Coat [Goaty Tapes]

I had so much fun repping Seattle in my Dull Hexen Knife review last week I figured I do a little bit more.
A pretty epic supergroup, AFCGT is A Frames, an excellent act I guess you might call noise rock but that label seems woefully inaccurate, and local experimental weirdo mainstays Climax Golden Twins. A Frames Climax Golden Twins  AFCGT, make sense? Anyway, I saw these guys play a few weeks back and it was one of the most pummeling shows I’ve ever seen. Totally raw face melting triple guitar + drums and bass onslaught. This ten inch (which happens to be the first time I’ve ever owned one, weird; thanks to my friend Jeremy for the present) isn’t as monolithic as the live show. Instead it splashes in a number of puddles. The first side embarks with a fast fuzz workout anchored by a grooving gypsy-ish guitar in between traffic jams of noise. Things changeup, delving into psych freak out territory featuring some slamming, heavy drum playing while the rest of the band gets lost in stuttering wah-wah wilderness. The third track “Submarine Gun” has an utterly awesome, stomping groove while a couple of the guitarists spit out ray gun noises and skronk-with-a-plan. It’s a raucous, crushing number. “Lost” closes the side based around a hypnotic detuned acoustic guitar figure. All the instruments are playing various rhythmic-oriented lines which create a fuckin’ cool polyrhythmic effect. The first side is real good, but the flip is my favorite of the two. “New Punk 4” is just that, great punk shit with sludgy bass and feedback riddled guitar leads until it hits a pseudo locked groove and “3 New Punk” starts up. It’s a pretty blistering chunk of hot white noise/fury. “2 Legged Dog” has a killer not-quite-lethargic groove supplied by the rhythm section. Really great guitarwork here too, all the soloing stays melodic and relevant, turning out some really great lines. “Return of the Leper” ends things on a weird note. The three previous fuzzbombs are matched with a weird sort of back alley jazz vibe. I half-expect Tom Waits to hop on the mic and start barking and crooning. Again, great guitar interplay here. The guitars play parts in unison occasionally which works real nicely placed next to their individual adventures in various directions. Things get pretty rockin’ by the end, with a blissfully intense bassline and sensational drumwork before ending with a relaxed eastern-influenced guitar melody before a full band assault. A great record that tiptoes between sludge punk, psych meltdowns, free folk type stuff and the aforementioned back alley jazz vibes; if you like any of those things this record is worth hearing.
The only other Slicing Grandpa release I’d heard prior to this was a real weird ten inch I don’t remember all that well. So when I popped in this cassette from New England label Goaty Tapes, I was prepared for some more weird shit. And for longest time I read the title of this tape as “Big Monster Canadian Goat” (until I realized that the “C” in “Canadian” looked the same as the supposed “G” in “goat”) which added to the bizarreness. What I got was tremendously thick, mid tempo fist pumping metal vibes with echoing kraut jabber and guitar mangling over top. The thing that piques my interest the most about this, or I should say that I respect most about it, is that this tape is about 48 minutes long and both sides are full on 24 minute metal groove attacks. Totally unrelentless, moreso in a fun way than an intense way. It’s like if you saw a band and they hook you with powerful, triumphant riff and then they just drive that riff into the ground for 24 minutes. That isn’t to say this stuff gets boring or something, because it stays dynamic and engaging and awesome for its entire duration. Props to whoever’s playing drums because they stay concise and thunderous way past the breaking point of most dudes. There’s a great unhinged, whammy bar heavy guitar solo, if I can call it that, in the second half of the side too. On the second side, they pull the same trick. It could be an alternate take of the song on the first side for all I know. Actually, I’m pretty sure it is. Or is it the exact same version even? It somehow seems more spacey and loose than the other side. though I may be projecting that on it. I’m not sure what to really say about this stuff, other than it’d be a great soundtrack to something fun and intense you have to do, not really sure what that’d be, maybe hang gliding or killing aliens. It’s actually a bit like that Burnt Hills CD I reviewed earlier in the week but more rabid and foaming at the mouth.
The ten inch comes on clear red-magenta vinyl with a small insert and the Slicing Grandpa tape comes with creeptastic dental-obsessed artwork (with an infinite amount of chicken carcasses on the inside of the j-card) in the typical classy Goaty tapes style (pro dubbed, imprinted tapes, insert, pro-printed j-card cut in a weird shape). Check both out and bath in the sludgy sounds of Seattle. Both are available as far as I know so hit up the labels.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yellow Crystal Star & Redbird – Pre-eminent Dissolution of States of US [No Label]

Yellow Crystal Star hails from Portland, OR. Don’t know too much (read: anything) about Redbird though. This CD-r is the fruit of a collaborative recording session between the two way back in 2006.
The first track “Initiation” begins with a fervent hi-mid drone that sinks into bassier territory momentarily. There’s a lot of delay and fuzz here and also some really pretty movements as well. A relatively clean-toned guitar appears a little way in, giving the drones a focus point to creep around. Even a moderately violent feedback tantrum maintains the friendly haze about the piece. The next minutes bring on heavy, oozing drones and unintelligible vocals. Things sound like there are two guitars which you know I love, but it’s possible it’s guitar and effects/keyboard or something. There’s some loop/sample that sounds like factory machinery that crops up, and though it’s totally buried it still has a piercing effect. Underneath all the relentless murk there’s a really beautiful bit of guitar strumming, I think it’s just one chord but man, what a chord. The sound splinters and freaks, entropy-style, until an “attempt” at a nice outro melody goes awry and then eventually succeeds. I’m a little biased here cause I go crazy for all kinds of noisy guitar drone, but this is great shit. Great title too, I feel totally initiated after that fire bath.
If you thought the album title was convoluted, check this out. The CD-r case has 3 things on its track listing (numbered: 1, 2, 1. FYI) but the CD-r has 10 tracks. So anyway, I did some snoopwork (i.e. asked YCS) and how things work out is the second piece “Dissolve(wemadeit)” is actually spread over 8 tracks, 7 of them short tracks under the name “Dissolve” and then a longer track called “We Made It”. No idea, why I just went through that with you, but I did, so just deal man. The “Dissolve” tracks are all weird groans and cavernous loops with multi-tracked female vocals speaking no discernible sense whatsoever. If you guys set out to creep me the hell out, congratulations, you succeeded. Ambivalent feelings about all the dissolving, but “We Made It” is a real rad track. After a hollow, spacious intro there’s hardpanned guitar played alternating channels. The distant, reverbiness is retained but the guitar and more prominent vocalizing comes back. There’s a breakdown with a repeated guitar figure that seriously reminds me of the opening chords of “Take My Breath Away” but good. The piece rambles along on crunchy, rhythmic loops with electronics scribbling and vowel-like vocals drifting about. Two more “Dissolve” tracks come afterward, bringing the female vocals back over a ringing, repetitive loop that if listened to for too long could surely make someone go nuts. The epic 20 minute closer “Regressoftheegressofouregret” begins with clean guitar chords, resonating in their unadulterated loveliness. The track gradually builds in intensity piling on more and more layers of distorted, slashing guitar. The track is dynamic enough to maintain interest while still logically developing one idea, which over twenty minutes, is impressive enough. I think one of the keys is that the artists at work here are constantly supplying new melodic ideas throughout, so the track doesn’t collapse due to the same-drone-for-way-too-long syndrome that others sometimes do. Around three quarters in there’s a heavy, metal-influenced riff played with reckless abandon. I’m all for more of that. The last four minutes get a bit weird cause a skronk attack is interrupted with a real loud siren-esque loop, that cuts in and out a number of times for the remainder of the track with different recordings of guitar inserted in between. Some of the playing is pretty phenomenal, wish they had a bit more room to stretch out.
For those of you into molten guitar drone (there should be plenty of you) this disc would be a good one to add to your collection, especially since the two acts involved seem to be flying under the radar a little bit (my radar at least). The CD-r comes in a slim-line DVD case with two inserts. It's self-released so hit up the Yellow Crystal Star website if you’re interested.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fossils From the Sun – Somebody’s Gotta Lose [Abandon Ship]/Rambutan – Fallen Smoke [Abandon Ship]

This pair of 3inch CD-rs, from the Abandon Ship label, documents two solo efforts from the members of the Albany guitar duo Century Plants. Eric Hardiman (also of the Tape Drift label and Burnt Hills) is Rambutan and Ray Hare (also of Burnt Hills) is Fossils From the Sun.
Going by catalog number, I’ll start with Fossils From the Sun. Somebody’s Gotta Lose features some thick guitar playing. I don’t know if there are loops here or what (doesn’t necessarily sound like it) but Hare has a really expansive, robust fuzztone at his disposal here. And he uses it real well. A few minutes in there are some multi-tracked and/or looped layers of guitar. I like the sound Hare has created here where it feels pretty whole and unified but all the while he remains very active on his axe. He seems to have melodies going in every register; I particularly like the evocative, gliding tones he creates higher up on the neck—shimmering isn’t the right word, but I’d say they sound full of electricity. Later, Hare introduces some percussive vocal type sounds. Not beat boxing, just so we’re clear. Though that sure woulda thrown me for a loop. The vocals add an interesting, stammering dimension to the heavy sustain of the guitar. Roughly halfway through, the track takes a sharp left turn. The guitar drops out (vocals too), leaving a pulsing, crusty feedback loop. It seems like there are a number short repeating loops here all offset a little making for strange cross-pollinated rhythms. Vocal fragments and effect manipulation is introduced a bit later. It’s interesting that the project is called Fossils From the Sun, cause this moment reminds me vaguely of a milder hypno-junk noise session by Canada’s Fossils. It’s a head scratching but successful changeup going from full on fuzz riffs and drones to a freaky bit of basement squalor.
The Rambutan disc is called Fallen Smoke which I’m pretty sure doesn’t make any sense in physical contexts but it seems pretty spot on here. Hardiman offers no help as to what he was playing during this live performance so I’m gonna guess guitar, vocals and some other gadgets for right now. With the first disc I could see the Century Plants resemblance pretty easily; the opening of this took me a moment to place though. In a way, this sounds like the point when one of the Century Plants guitarists goes off and freaks out, but isolated and terribly more mysterious. There’s a few relatively steady drones here, which a number of strange percussive guitar(?) sounds encircle. It may be the live setting, but the piece as a very spacious, foggy sound—almost like you’d hear it creeping in the window or something. It slowly gathers steam, pushing the ethereal mist to all corners. Occasionally you can barely hear a short loop of guitar which is a nice touch. An invisible rhythmic push springs up around halfway through and man, the piece just starts to rule. Very subtly there is a spreading out of sound where a bunch more loops are piled on making for a really multi-dimensional drone. Like the FFTS disc, there’s a big left turn here. Everything drops out and, over a single droning loop, an acoustic instrument of some sort (dulcimer? mandolin? guitar?) is strummed. Unfortunately, this section is marred by a really transparent phaser pedal or something akin to that. The heavy use of that effect takes me out of the track, which is too bad cause I like what Hardiman is doing otherwise (going to town on whatever he’s playing). I guess it just doesn’t work for me in the context that he set out in the first 15 minutes. Despite my uneasy feelings towards the last bit, the first 3/4s are pretty phenomenal.
Both are cool discs, that in tandem may work as a little decoder ring to figure out who’s doing what in all those C-plantz jams. It was cool to see that these discs didn’t sound like “half of Century Plants” as duos sometime sound when they go solo. Both Hardiman and Hare brought something interesting to the table here. Both are still available, but each is only in an edition of 50. Hit up Abandon Ship for one (or two).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Burnt Hills - Tonite We Ride [Flipped Out]

Here is the latest full hour of power from the Burnt Hills clan. Quick recap on Burnt Hills: an amorphous unit out in Albany, NY who’s membership ranges anywhere from 4-11 people (usually landing on the larger end of the scale) and is responsible for destroying everything in its path on numerous occasions.
Tonite We Ride is about the most badass, fitting title that anyone could give this CD. The line-up on this recording features drums, bass, xylophone and four guitars and altogether sounds pretty monstrous. As alluded to earlier, “Tonite We Ride” is a single, hour long unedited jam. The record eases to a start keeping things relatively loose but maintaining/creating a focus. The rhythmic section holds things together nicely; the drummer knows when to mix things up and when to strictly lay down the beat. Eric Hardiman (also known for his work in Century Plants and as Rambutan) offers some righteously gnarly and hypnotic bass lines while the guitar quartet acts like a unified hovering mass of fuzz. This is the thing that always boggles my mind about Burnt Hills, there are a lot of people playing here and it sounds like a lot of people playing but at the same time it sounds like there’s only a few people playing. Catch my drift? Probably not, I’ll try to phrase it more coherently. Here, these 7 folks play with the same focus/unity that a good trio has. Even with all the frayed wires here there is always a consistency to the jam. It’s interesting too because occasionally the Hills will drop into some long lost rock song where things aren’t even psychedelic anymore just catchy. I really like things around the 18 minute mark, everyone begins to freak out a bit with some nice free drumming and I can even hear Sick Llana hammering the xylophone amidst the feedback. There’s a yelp in the left speaker and everything slows to a devastating lope. After the flayed freak out, an almost militant blues rock riff is introduced and deconstructed. There’s some guitar in here with a vocal-like quality to it, I don’t know if it’s just some precision wah wah playing or what but it sounds choral and awesome. Maybe it’s actually vocals for all I know, but I don’t see it in the liner notes. This is probably the best sounding Burnt Hills release I’ve heard yet; aside from the xylophone getting buried a lot of the time, everything sounds pretty clear so you can hear the nuances of all the players. Probably the next best thing to being in the room during one of their jams. After a sonic pile-up and an extended comeback, everyone reconvenes with a chugging riff which they ride momentarily before whipping up more shitstorms of feedback. I have to complement the drumming once more, cause not only does this guy play the drums like a bastard for an hour straight, the dude is constantly spitting out new rhythms—my favorite one being a nice little rave up about 3/4s through the jam. Getting to the 50 minute marks, the sounds get stretched out and, I’d say, spacey if they weren’t so fiery and immediate. That gives me a good idea for a metaphor. Burnt Hills are the sun. Somehow all the feedback radiation and sonic mass ejections balance each other out, finding a collective stability in aggressive, unstable processes.
This is a pro-pressed CD with sweet, minimal artwork by Bill Nace, which makes me think, when are Nace and the BH gang gonna team up. I have name for it already, Bill Nace and the Burnt Hills Orchestra. Sounds classy, right? Get on it Northeasterners. Still available from Burnt Hills member Jackson Ziamaluch’s Flipped Out label, and worth snapping up if you’re down with the Burnt Hills manner. If yr unfamiliar, this is a great place to start too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #32 (12/7/08)

Last show of the year thanks to anyone who listened at some point throughout the year. The first part of the show through the Nobunny song, is business as usual. From the Ducktails side on, I just played selections from some of my favorite records of the past year. Hope you dig.

"Kutter" The Unholy Two Kutter (7") [Columbus Discount, 2007]

"Rural Moon Haze" Warmth Split with Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (7") [Phage Tapes/Small Doses, 2008]

"Pin Dance" Blue Shift Ghost Singers 3 (CS) [Breaking World, 2008]

"Fuck Jess Power" Embarker Untitled (LP) [Malleable/Send Help, 2008]

"Dawn of the Black Hearts" Yuko Chino Yuko Chino/Sasqrotch Split (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Drift When You Have No Gravity" Medroxy Progesterone Acetate Split with Warmth (7") [Phage Tapes/Small Doses, 2008]

"Jan. 22, '08 Pittsburgh" Teeth Mountain Teeth Mountain (CS) [Night People, 2008]

"Birdie Flies" Bromp Treb Twins (7") [Breaking World/Yeay!/Apostasy, 2008]

"The Show" Handglops Handgold (CD) [Gulcher, 2009 (forthcoming)]

"Termite Prayer" Wasteland Jazz Unit Ecstatic Jazz Duos (LP) [Thor's Rubber Hammer, 2008]

"I am a Girlfriend" Nobunny Love Visions (LP) [Bubbledum, 2008]

"Beach Point Pleasant/Pizza Time" Ducktails Untitled (7") [Breaking World, 2008]

"Untitled" Angel Snake Split with Monopoly Child Star Searchers (CS) [New Age Cassettes/Pacific City, 2008]

"In a Web/They Said" Blank Dogs Untitled (7") [Daggerman, 2008]

"Godard vs. Truffaut/Caesar's Palace" Night of Pleasure Night of Pleasure (7") [Columbus Discount, 2007]

"Side A" Maths Balance Volumes Information is Pain (CS) [Taped Sounds/Zeikzak, 2008]

"Come Home" Mudboy MUDMUX Vol. 1 (7") [DNT, 2008]

"Snowstorm" Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CD-r) [Sentient Recognition Archive, 2008]

"Dream Damage" The Hospitals Hairdryer Peace (LP) [No Label, 2008]

"Swinsons" Bulbs Light Ships (CD) [Freedom to Spend, 2008]

"The Black Whole" Black Pus Split with Foot Village (LP) [Deathbomb Arc/DNT, 2008]

"Whoever Invents" Gang Wizard God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc (LP) [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olfactory/Tanzprocesz, 2008]

mp3: part 1 part 2 The first track (The Unholy Two) was cut off again, sorry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dull Knife – Untitled [Epicene Sound Replica]/Du Hexen Hase – Dark Slobby Cave [No Label]

Always happy to rep the sounds of Seattle. Here are a couple tapes by my two favorite local drone purveyors. The connection between the two attacks is a man by the name of Adam (awesome dude, meet him and be friends) who gave me this one-two punch we have here at a show a little while back. Time to jump in.
This untitled tape by Dull Knife is actually a bunch of recordings from a while back from when they were a four piece—they are currently melting minds as a two-piece, saw them a month ago and their set was like entering a temple; full body drone. I’d only heard the Knifers in the duo and trio format so I was psyched to complete my education and hear them as a four piece. One of the first things I’m struck with is how solid they sound. Solid in the sense that the four of them are totally unified. The first piece, whose title I can’t quite read but I’m gonna go with “Cog Bank Account”, features lots of low frequencies wandering purposefully if that makes any sense at all. For a while there’s a short bit of effected guitar or keys that gently nudges things along but for the most part the track is spotted with strategically placed transmissions from space. “Vespers”, my favorite track here, is HEAVY in probably the most mild-mannered way possible. There’s nothing harsh or even that loud here but the piece is robust and dripping with menace. One time I played this too loud and everything on my desk started vibrating. It was an intense experience. There’s a constant cross-pollination of sounds here coming probably from guitars and/or something with keys; the two seemed to be the weapons of choice for these guys. Each of the instruments at work offer very slight hints of melody throughout keeping the track totally engaging during the course of it boring holes through your eardrums and slowing boiling your brain in heavy audio plasma. Monolithic shit.
The other side holds two more tracks. “Morske Orgul…” begins with a lone organ, which gradually meets up with another organ or two. Or maybe it’s all on one organ. The piece is pretty minimal. There’s something like a flute in the background contributing a few muffled shrieks, all the while the track is slowly filled out with more sustained tones and slurred guitar swoops. There’s an odd rhythmic trickle buried way down low that I’m excited I just locked into. Stammering high pitch tones contribute a vague melody just before things switch over to “Squirrel Church” in the final stretch. “Squirrel Church” is a quick, pretty coda to the tape featuring an obscured but present and pleasant melody coming from an organ off in the distance. 30 minutes of blurry meditations does a soul good.
Dark Slobby Cave collects final jams from Du Hexen’s old practice space at the S.S. Marie Antoinette (r.i.p.) Luckily, Du Hexen Hase survived the demise of SSMA and gave the public this little beauty. The sound is much clearer than the late night murk of the Dull Knife tape. “Entrance” is the first track here and it features I think two or three fuzzy guitars all going to town, along with splatters of percussion and effect manipulation. With the two releases I’ve heard from these guys I’m always impressed how they find such a solid melodic center in every track. There aren’t any melodies really being played here far as I can tell but the way the guitars overlap and interact creates an interesting harmonic patchwork. “Entrance” rolls along relatively smoothly for the most part but by its end things get pretty unstable with a guitar barely maintaining a wobbly sustain while another indulges in a metallic freakout until the track’s end. “Obstacle” opens with the ding-dong of various chimes, a sign of the percussion oriented times to come. Distant tinkling bells, bass-guitar-as-a-drum playing, a few sporadic notes of piano and various rustling all make appearances at some point making it a righteously weird track. The flipside holds “Cave Animal Revolt”, my favorite piece of the tape, where Du Hex really gets their dark slobby cave dwellin’ on. A flurry of voices is set against a rhythmic bass loop. Total shamanic spirit ceremony. Lots of ephemeral sounds float through, particularly like this one brief vocal loop that sounds a little like a violin. There’s a real pleasant chorus of voices somewhere near the back but it gets overtaken by the angrier ghost howls. Between guitar and delay pedal feedback and a bunch more voices piled on, the track reaches its urgent breaking point and dies down.
The Dull Knife tape is still in print at Epicene but limited to a scant 30 copies (come on!). It features a drenched and dried J-card in honor of the jams being recording in the rainy season, though I live in the rainy season so it’s possible some the watermarks are from being in my pocket. Dark Slobby Cave is self-released (so check their myspace for one) and limited to 50 copies. I don’t know who did the artwork but it’s bitchin’—and there’s more on the other side of the J-card. It’s printed on cool red-orange cardstock but my scanner rejects that color for some reason so pay no attention to the image.
Also, for anyone reading this who resides around Seattle, Du Hexen Hase along with Wet Hair and Peaking Lights and some others are playing at the Josephine this Friday. Come by, say hi and live the jams. Should be a rad night.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Maths Balance Volumes – Information is Pain [Taped Sounds/Zeikzak]

I haven’t checked in with the Bread & Animals label franchise in a while but leave it to them to create a new addiction in my life. The name of this addiction: Maths Balance Volumes. Information is Pain, at least I’m guessing that's what this tape is called cause it’s the only thing somewhat resembling words here, besides “Maths Balance Volumes”, has spent a great deal of time in my player this past week and continually calls me back for more.
I’ve heard accounts that this duo is tapes and guitar as well as tapes and tapes. The guitar/tapes thing sounds pretty right here but I wouldn’t put tape on tape action past these guys either. The first of two songs on the first side is hyperactively sloshed. Jumpy tape loops of… I have no idea are paired with a three/quarters formed guitar riff. There’s a breakdown with distant echoing percussive sounds until a finger tap/morse code type figure starts ruling (could be guitar or tape I suppose). There may be some vocals in the muck too. I don’t understand it but this audio clusterfuck creates an appallingly great groove with touches of ethnic blues rock poking through near the end. The track is cut off mid stride, total bummer until the next piece starts up. If I assigned a genre to this tape, I’d say “Tape Blues” which is probably accurate for about a third of the material here. The piece is a rambling swamp stomp wobbling along on a catchy Velcro guitar riff against constantly reeling, stretched tape moans. There’s super sparse percussion here that I’m assuming is coming from a tape loop. The oddest thing here is that there’s a great lead vocal, actually singing words (though I can’t tell what they are) and I’m fairly sure it isn’t coming from a tape. This is a total pop gem constructed in the strangest way possible.
The first track on the flipside is a few minutes of utter WTF moments. There’s a one-note organ loop, sax bleats, drunken harmonica and some explosive dry heaves. All lead by some dude sounding like he’s Tom Waits battling a tyrannosaurus rex. By the end there’s some flute, and hand drum/tin can sounds. The next track sounds way tape-gnarled/bit crushed with a delayed, manipulated chipmunk voice over a drum machine and maybe a keyboard. The third track is a real short interlude and has the same contorted sound of the previous jam but it’s a sample of a lounge jazz piano run. The final track is my favorite on the side and goes straight for the muddy blues jugular with a crunchy, low-slung guitar riff and unintelligible but soulful singing. Interestingly enough, the song is played relatively straight with not much by way of weird tape sounds. This is one of those tapes I just keep flipping over every time it ends. An addictively wild ride.
Tape is packaged in typically great Bread and Animals/Zeikzak style. The cover of the case has weird bluish globules resembling old Gushers fruit snacks. The tape case itself came painted shut; drenched in magenta, with some yellow rays and more of that blue slimer. This came out in the summer if I recall so it’s been long sold out but I got my copy at Tomentosa and it looks like they’re still in stock over there. Buy it as fast as you can! But if you can’t find a copy of this, however, I saw Maths Balance Volumes have a self-released LP out. I’m most definitely gonna look into that when I get some more extra cash.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trapped in the Closet: Volume 1

This is the first of a "feature" I'll be doing--and stupidly calling "Trapped in the Closet". The basic idea is that over the year and a half I've been doing this, I have been sent so much great music, way more than I ever could have expected when I started, actually still pretty amazed people ever sent anything. Anyway, I play something from every package I receive on the show at some point but finding time to review everything is trickier. I started cleaning out the closet and looking through stuff I got but never actually reviewed. My apologies to all the labels/artists that sent stuff that I haven't gotten to. Hopefully, doing these periodically will help make up for it.
Diamond Lemonade – Diamond Lemonade [JK Tapes]
I’ll start things off nice and easy with this Diamond Lemonade cassette that came out on JK Tapes earlier in the year before the label closed its doors and rose from the ashes, phoenix-style, as the quarterback/space obsessed Young Tapes. Diamond Lemonade is Ulf Schütte, who knows a thing or two about labels with his Tape Tektoniks imprint. The sound source here, I’m guessing, is just bells or chimes but they are chopped, screwed and looped creating a constant flutter of frequencies. Things don’t change too much but the track zips off rather quickly, never outliving its welcome. The second piece is longer, and sounds similar but is much heavier on the murk factor. Tones rise and fall and flit around. There aren’t really “melodies”, per se, but through repetition and the overlapping, all the layers create weird little rhythms and pseudo-melodies, all concluding with vintage radio blips. Cool stuff, wish there was more here, though I remember seeing a Diamond Lemonade tape on Bread & Animals so I’ve got a hunch we’ll be hearing more from this project. Same jams on both sides.
Arklight – Welcome to the NHK Wasteland [Little Fury Things]
I was curious about this crew since I saw the name popping up across a bunch of very different kinds of labels. This disc showed up from NY label Little Fury Things and this disc is a mess in a good way. The title track evokes earlier Smog type stuff with sleepy monotone vocals and fuzzy guitar, and then lo and behold, a sample of “Bathysphere”, my favorite Smog song, kicks in. At first, I thought I somehow had two songs playing at once but nope. That track encapsulates the general sound of this CDr, if you can make the argument that the CDr has a “general sound.” “Store Lights” continues this blurry but propulsive style of bedroom rock. As far as I know this is a group, but sometimes it seems like just one dude sketching out any idea for a song that enters his mind. Maybe it is at times, or maybe everyone is just so connected it creates that vibe. Arklight, even in rock mode, walks a weird line between hooky chord changes and skronkiness, and finds it totally natural to switch to playing funk guitar riffs mid-song. “Cycle” switches up the style with heavy auto panning, filtered vocals and it’s driven by a drum machine-like beat and this weird sample/loop of electronic screeching. It all wraps up with 30 seconds of beautiful reversed guitar strums. “Wind Me in Grime” sets blues rock licks against a slow but pummeling drum machine (or is it live drumming?) and various effected sounds (one of which sounds like someone hammering). “Field of Motion” returns to that Wild Love-era Smog style but way more fractured/weird than Bill Callahan dared to get on that record. “Stolen Revolutions (Night Shuffles)” introduces a legitimately grooving drum pattern over which, various guitars and vocals float over. The potential is fully realized with the next track “Micro Mesh”, in which Arklight boldly wears its Miami Sound Machine influence on its sleeve. “Micro Mesh” is the best song on the record hands down and according to my girlfriend, “this song is awesome!” I’m inclined to agree. There’s a heavy Latin vibe here but that’s crossed with sitar runs and drones. The piece is propelled atop this short loop of electric piano, while acoustic guitar, delayed violin and vocal shouts are all introduced at different points. It’s a magical song. “Spit on a Queen” wanders along against twinkling keyboards until drum beats and organ loops come in, and maybe I’m psyching myself out but I think I’m hearing a U2 sample somewhere (a la “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”). I think my mind’s probably playing tricks. “The Plague Years” is the resident folk ballad here but it’s still got a heavy drum beat and creepy recorded-in-a-cave backing vocals. “Death has No Imperfections” is the counterpart to “Micro Mesh”; it’s totally grooving, busy as a city and brings back the sitar too. Welcome to the NHK Wasteland has 15 songs and not all of them stick but there’s plenty of good stuff here to make the album worthwhile. And I do like that the record feels like this guy’s/these guys’ brain put on a piece plastic. Still in print.
6majik9 – Ritualisimo Putrido [Music Your Mind Will Love You]
Of the handful of 6majik9 releases I’ve heard through the years this is the one that has best fulfilled the group’s potential. They seem to push things just to the precipice of totally falling apart. All sounds, percussive/melodic/amelodic, are scattered everywhere but each track, for the most part, feels entirely focused. The album is well paced, keeping everything moving along at a decent clip, letting the sounds stream by you and leaving it up to your ears catch them all. My favorite, the album opener, “No Sense Being” compresses the mindset of the album into two minutes and forty five seconds. A hollering saxophone and stumbling percussion lead to a deliberate beat that guitar feedback, sax and other instruments are molded around. “A Beauty That Needs of Blots” creates and maintains a subtle groove mainly due to two dueling acoustic guitars along with flickers of percussion and keys. “Outsider Basement” works with an entirely electronic palette (I think), resembling an even more sloshed, instrumental Excepter. There’s a heavy synthbass that nudges the track along for me. Various blips from keyboards and drum machines skate along on top of that bass pulse. At least until somebody hits the “waltz” setting on their rhythm programmer and the band slowly coheres around the beat. “To the Inverse One” is eerie. Featuring a slow hand drum pattern, a great sax part and organ and other creepy swells. A solid disc of rambling, Australian gangly jangle and packaged in the trademark, tactile MYMWLY style. Still in print.
Cursillistas – Wasp Stings the Last Bitter Flavor [Digitalis]
This is a beautiful little disc of folky drone. “Drone (Groan)” opens with a minute or so of drones/groans before authoritative tribal-ish drumming takes over. Totally suspenseful; the track then segues into a pretty track of layered guitar and I think maybe a wooden flute somewhere wayyy in the background with “Caves Carved in Golden Light.” There’s a touch of wordless singing before segueing into the next track, “Larks on a String”. The tracks creeps along for nine minutes with eerie clanks, faraway whistling, a minimal guitar diddy, looped percussion and spaced vocals. It’s a bit like a lovechild between the scores of a horror movie and a spaghetti western; taking its tonal direction and ghostly presence from the horror movie but with an interesting, somewhat sparse arrangement not dissimilar to ones in Italo-westerns. With less than a minute to go, there is a drastic shift to a lonely acoustic guitar strumming, leading to “Treestain”. The guitar continues before being joined by others, spare percussion and eventually a main vocal. Again, sounds wordless to me but maybe it’s another language or something, I’m certainly not the one to ask. The song builds to a rather lush, brooding cave-addled crescendo. “Moccasin Tramp” increases the tempo just enough for foot tapping to ensue, vocals and acoustic guitar are ever present there’s also a synth providing a simple melody. It seems a synth might not work with the organic sound of the album, but surprisingly it does and is rightly soft and unobtrusive. This segues into “Happened in the Sun/Moccasin Stamp”, creating the second suite of the album. This track reminds me a bit of that Panda Bear record from last year, lots of looped layers of percussion and vocals moving pretty quickly. Not really a straight Beach Boys vibe though, more like just what was going on earlier in the album but with the “catchy” switch engaged (not a slag to the rest of the album so we’re clear). Around halfway through the 10 minute track length, the drumming slows down continuously and the vocal layers come through a little clearer along with some quickly strummed accompaniment, leaving the track floating like a cloud. Beginning with the tinkling of a bell, “Show Them Love” finishes off the album in fine style. It develops very slowly; making it the mellowest point on the album. Backwards guitar (I’m guessing) is introduced to the usual cast of characters operating with a very simple, deliberate melody. Very pretty multi-tracked vocals show up at the end singing words this time, though all I can make out is “show them love”. I really appreciate the care that was taken in constructing this release as an “album” as it is sequenced very naturally and logically, and it’s cool that the two halves of the albums work as suites as well. Still available from Digitalis and definitely worth your time.
Andy Futreal – Orphelia Wanders [Harha-Askel]
This is a CD-r of pretty acoustic picking released on the Finnish Harha-Askel label. This is a nice intimate album. It’s really great to relax and take it in. “Laterite Road” appears very early on and is one of my favorites. Futreal has a wonderfully gutsy style of playing. Sometimes when I hear solo acoustic guitar stuff it comes across as too smooth or even sounding, but Futreal isn’t afraid to use the guitar’s overtones and its odd, incidental sounds. That isn’t to say he can’t pull off plush, florid playing as he does on the title track. “Christmas04” has a magnificent melodic refrain which is altered ever so slightly each time it appears. “Frontporch” is a recording of just that, wind gently on chimes (on a porch I’m assuming). “Over Across and Down” has a tenser vibe, while “Minus5postbenadrylslide” is a tranquil, lighthearted slide guitar romp. “Occasional Rain” has a great, slightly musty feel. It’s a rather simple melody but played so expressively by Futreal that it’s quite gorgeous. “Chickenwing” is another standout. I’m pretty sure there’s multi-tracked guitar here, and if there isn’t then I’m very impressed. The track moves between fuller, strummed passages and sparse, brittle breakdowns—all of it beautiful. “Timezone II” surprisingly reaches for some heavier low notes and a noticeably “rock” vibe, but Futreal even skews that. Most tracks on the album fit into the 1-3.5 minute spectrum but Futreal unfolds “In the Failing Light” little by little over 12 minutes and pulls an amazing trick where he’ll slowly let his listener drift away before reeling him back in with an unassuming refrain; and he pulls this trick throughout the piece. Oh yeah, apparently these pieces are all improvised, which makes the playing all the more amazing. At 56 minutes, I think the album is a little long but there’s a lot of great material here and Futreal certainly has an interesting voice in the solo acoustic guitar sphere, and if you have any interest in that sort of thing you should definitely check him out. CD-r still in print at Harha-Askel as I write this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ducktails – Untitled [Breaking World]/Bromp Treb – Twins [Breaking World/Yeay!/Apostasy]

I’ve been waiting for this 7inch from Matt Mondanile’s Ducktails project for a long while now. Maybe, more specifically, I’ve been waiting for “Pizza Time”, probably the single of ’08, to have a legit release. I’ve spent more hours on myspace than I care to admit just playing that track since I discovered it earlier in the year. Over all this time, my expectations had grown to astronomical levels. So, does this little record deliver on all its promise?
Answer: yes.
The first side kicks off with the breezy “Beach Point Pleasant”. Effortlessly feel-good-about-your-life music. There’s a twangy, super-surfed guitar whipping up wonderful lines against a multitude of hazy keyboard layers. There’s a looping slot machine keyboard jingle that the whole track is built upon. Oxymoronically, it’s cloudy and sunny at the same time. I’m not all that sure what to write about this. It’s just… good. Really really good. “Pizza Time” is what some might call “da bomb” and they’d be right. My girlfriend and I listen to it every time we eat pizza (every other day probably). I listened to this track hundreds of times and the piece has not lost one molecule of its charm. Truth be told, it’s one of the catchiest things ever written/played/recorded/whatever since the beginning of time. It features one the grooviest guitar parts in recent memory and the best use of an auto-wah pedal I’ve ever heard, killer drum machine beat, the works. When Mr. Mondanile reaches for the low notes in the bridge, it’s pure heaven. The second side features “The Gem” in two parts. This side represents an a little spacier area of the Ducktails sound. Heavily flanged keyboard and drum machine build and build through the length of “Part 1”. “Part 2” continues in the same vein but jacks up the tempo a bit. All the little melodies and counter-melodies come through clearer in the second part and you can really catch all the intertwining lines. The ever pumping drum machine gets erratic towards the end but still jams like there’s no tomorrow. Fantastic record.
Though I’m always happy when George W. Myers peddles ear candy like this Ducktails record and last year’s Cherry Blossoms LP, Breaking World Records made its name on zany Western Mass stuff like this Bromp Treb 7inch. Co-released with Yeay! Cassettes and Apostasy Recordings, Twins is all over the place. All the source material comes from drums apparently and there’s some sort of tape manipulation/tape collage thing happening with those sounds. Some sounds sound rough and percussive and some sound like voices and dogs barking and some sound like popping bubbles. He must be using every part of the drum here just like the Indian used every part of the buffalo. Because, shit, I don’t understand how all this stuff used to be straight drums at some point. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent “structure” here just a vomiting forth of sound if you can dig it. Flip the record over and you get “Birdie Flies”. The sounds here are (surprise!) recognizable as drums. A drum duel ensues with lots crash, whiz and bang. The drumming sounds a bit more ragged and sharp edged than other drums-only groups. There’s a looser feel that works for this guy. There’s a great part at the end where things come together very nicely in semi-rehearsed fashion; a mid tempo tom-tom stomp where both drum tracks almost double each other but keep things interesting with slight diversions and nuances. For fans of drums and weird noises.
As always the best thing about a record on Breaking World is the artwork by Mr. Myers, the finest pen in the underground. The Ducktails artwork is soft and mellow, perfect companion for the music. The labels are cool too. I like the front cover of the Bromp Treb, but it’s the back cover that’s really happening; pseudo-symmetric, psychedelic Where the Wild Things Are shit. Totally great. Cool labels too and all the album info is printed on the inside of the cover. Both are cheap and still available from their respective labels.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bo Knows/Katchmare – Split [Scissor Death]/Nick Hoffman - How To Make Things Happen [Scissor Death]

I’ll let you in on some little known (online anyway) facts about me. 1) My favorite color is yellow and 2) my favorite dinosaur is the brontosaurus (fuck you veloca raptor). So I was psyched when I opened up this package from Nick Hoffman’s Scissor Death label and saw this tape. It pairs Bo Knows and Hoffman’s Katchmare project, two initially disparate seeming artists, through their mutual love of making weird sides of cassettes.
Bo Knows presents an anomaly with “Xylene”, the sole track on Side A. There is a total lo-fi bedroom rock vibe going down here, a very catchy guitar and drum machine composition which is mixed with plenty of multi tracked weirdness. So, that’s not uncommon, but it’s more the way the sounds are presented here. For one, the track is twenty something minutes long. It teeters on the line of standard, playing-melodies-in-time-with-the-beat and then times where the beat and guitar are out of sequence or the track will change up mid riff. A lurching drum machine sequence drives a new portion full of guitar scribbles and a looped keyboard hit. This section is transitioned to seamlessly somehow because I don’t really remember hearing when this new part began. The current section slowly cannibalizes itself by way of a haywire drum machine and guitars following suit. That one mellow, gonging keyboard note is still playing and starting to creep me out a little. Things take a turn back to the initial guitar riff, sounding familiar but very different for some reason. Some of the drum machine work here almost reminds me of drum ‘n bass tracks where the drum machines essentially take solos, skewing time. The track wanders on with something akin to the second portion but with more space left in and a sleepier vibe. The track’s pulse slows until its death.
Comparing Katchmare’s track “Greenhouse” with his Ghost Frequency I CD-r is interesting because both pieces work with glistening, static tones but do so in entirely different ways. Ghost Frequency I is an expansive, sustaining zoner while this track is erratic and all over the map in more ways than one. Beginning with fizzy, Velcro crunch, there is a bout of near silence while diffuse white noise drifts in and out. A sputtering, nearly rhythmic tone inconsistently pushes along underneath the sheet of noise. It returns with a steady blip, cuts out, returns, cuts out, and then returns joined by the inaugural Velcro noise. There’s a smooth synth-y tone and for the brief bit that all three sounds play together, it’s an appealing mix of textures. There is a huge range between the loudest moments and the quietest on the tape so I have to listen with my speakers cranked and then my ears occasionally get effusive spikes driven into them. This section is actually my favorite part of the tape, making me think Katchmare should push things in the harsh noise direction more often (he may and I’m just unaware.) There is a relentless torrent of icy feedback in the right channel and nothing in the left channel and then an alternate tone picks up and comes in and out of the left channel. After the madness quiets down, I’m left with a creepy/placid barely there noise drifting along, that is (not so?) strangely unsettling. This attitude continues, but with a bit louder, more confrontational sounds. At some point there’s an almost catchy loop coming from a function generator or something like that. That dies down all too quickly and then I’m hit with another ice pick of sound for a second and then it disappears. I’m discovering that noise is at harshest when surrounded by silence. Near the end there’s a steady beat and a fierce loop of distorted yells which, as you may be able to predict, gets pitchshifted, cut up and just generally fucked around with. I’m still not sure what to make of this side, Nick Hoffman’s abstract master plan has be along the lines of keeping the listener constantly off guard, either that or he has simply laid out sounds exactly how he wants them and the listener has to keep up or be left behind.
This booklet How To Makes Things Happen was also included and I’ve never written about an art book on the site before so I figured I’d say a thing or two. Not really sure how to “review” this, per se, but I enjoy looking through it and thought I would share a couple of favorite moments. The booklet is printed on neon paper of varying colors and there is a mix of mostly illustrations and a couple comics. There’s basketball playing, UFOs bound to rainbows, a prehistoric “skeletoon” taking on a tsunami and then some really bizarre ones like a sad monster-ghost with wearing a star of David that is hooked to strewn about tomatoes. My favorite is called “Dangerous Rain” which is people and an animal of some sort fleeing knives falling from the clouds. The comics “Monster Bus” and “I Live in a Box” are both “funny cuz it’s true!” affairs (stealing that from The Simpsons as you probably know). The former features the universal experience of a young person waking up (“I hate school… This sucks…”) while the latter features the universal experience of crazy-ass bums on the street (“Got any change? “Not for you.”) Awesome. (p.s. the cover is actually red-orange; my scanner just hates that color for some reason)
The tape is still available but the book is not. Nick seems to keep busy with Scissor Death though so I’m sure they’ll be another booklet before long.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blood on Tape – Untitled [Softland City]

Blood on Tape hails from Austin, TX. This is their first release as well as the first release on their label, Softland City. The duo is not audio-violent as the name implies but is instead relentlessly mellow and full of space.
The tape’s first piece, “In Sea”, sounds great stretched across the side of a c48. Relatively little “happens” but everything is done with such a sense of purpose that it’s captivating. There are a couple gently swelling looped sounds that last for the entire track and various elements are sprinkled throughout, mainly sparse percussion and splashes of guitar that are added or stripped at just the right moments. Impressive for a first release, because the duo have a firm handle on drone, both how to construct it as well as knowing what they want to do with it. There’s a definite emphasis on melody in the piece but it isn’t shown in any overt way; there is a willingness to stretch that skeletal melody as far as it will go. The confidence in restraint works wonders here, the result being effortless and spacious, gentle but half hidden in gloomy shadows. Great piece.
The flipside contains 3 shorter tracks and less of a focus on minimalism. “Feelin’ Fine” features a guitar neck-deep in tremolo and either an accordion or chord organ of some sort. The piece is mostly a straight duet between those instruments though at a few points there appear to me some overdubs/loops. Again, the melodic sensibilities are the strong suit of the track. “By Design” is my favorite track from the second side. It works as some combination of “In Sea” and the previous piece. That reed/keyed instrument playing over a slow swelter of drones with flute-like swoops and percussive scratching (not on turntables) and well placed cymbal crashes. A guitar slides in and mingles with the reed organ in the track’s second half. And begins a brilliant movement with a simple arpeggio and additional acoustic slide guitar which unfortunately signals the end of the track; it’s a wonderful ending though. “The Land is Great” is the tape’s finale and marks a return to the temple for Blood on Tape. The piece is much more maximal than the first side, with a few shrieking cries and echoing breaks of static against a solemn, tightly wound bed of sustain. There’s a little bit of vocals too which is their first appearance on the album I believe. The voices split their time between melancholic moans and semi-joyous whoops. All in all, a strong debut and a sign of good things to come.
The tape is limited to 50 copies so hurry if you’re interested. The black tape comes wrapped in a suitably ghostly shroud with an insert.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #31 (11/23/08)

"Micro Mesh" Arklight Welcome to the NHK Wasteland (CD-r) [Little Fury Things, 2008]

"Oh God; You Devil" Neck Hold Mash Mansum (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Punks and Cops" Trash Dog Garbage Eater (CS) [Virus Tapes, 2007]

"Side A" Cyquoia Cyquoia (CS) [Housecraft, 2008]

"Phobia" Leper Print Coma (7") [Die Stasi, 2008]

"Oops! I'm at the Wrong College" Sam Gas Can The Story of Artificial Peace (3" CD-r) [Faux-Pas, 2008]

"World Military Madness" Woods Some Shame (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Waiting for the Bus" Hunting Lodge Mash Mansum (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Jacob's Fight" Cheveu Cheveu (LP) [S-S, 2008]

"Inner Mind Mutations (Mix)" Uton Attack of the Aether Sun (CS) [Housecraft, 2008]

"Untitled" Sudden Oak Sudden Oak (CS) [Bezoar Formations, 2008]

"Untitled" God Willing Different and Worse (CS) [Monorail Trespassing, 2008]

"Side A" The Pope Do You Wanna Boogie? (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Burying the Carnival" Locrian Split (with Continent) (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Summer Ice Cream" Peaking Lights Clearvoiant (CS) [Night People, 2008]

"Forever Young Ever One" Wet Hair Wet Hair (LP one-sided) [Night People, 2008]

"Cave Animal Revolt" Du Hexen Hase Dark Slobby Cave (CS) [No Label, 2008]

"Part II" Cursillistas Expanses Growing (CS) [Sloow Tapes, 2008]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2 The Arklight track got cut off, sorry about that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gang Wizard – God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olFactory/Tanzprocesz]

In the small press, "under ground" way of doing things there really doesn't seem to be any particular place for “landmark albums”. Things move so fast with so many artists, so many releases and so many labels; not to mention the whole “limited to __ copies” thing. An artist can define themselves much quicker/easier because they are able to put out so much material so quickly but releases themselves rarely (if ever) are widely defined as a singularly amazing work. This isn’t a bad thing, partially because many records considered “landmark albums” aren't all that great(Loveless, Slanted & Enchanted etc.) and without them we can sidestep the whole bickering mess of “love it/hate it/like it but its overrated.” This makes sense, though, because the nebulously identified small press universe seems to be about unity through dispersion, where everyone can do whatever they want, define themselves how they see fit and there’s no centralized voice saying this is good or bad or classic or whatever—no taste making command center. That’s all positive but sometimes there are records that make me think “this is a landmark album” and I get kinda bummed that they (most likely) will never be seen that way. This Gang Wizard LP is one of those records. I couldn’t be a taste making command center if I tried but for the hell of it I’ll say it: God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc is a landmark, totally classic album of the free rock sector.
Alright, sorry for the pontification; I’ll get down off my high horse and back to review mode where I belong. Apparently, there are three flavors of Gang Wizard recordings: live, mic-to-4track and studio. This LP is the first entry into that last category. I, myself, have only been privy to Gang Wizard in the live setting through the DNT 7inch I reviewed a while back and some split CD-r with Yellow Swans from forever ago. That was the point I used to be at in my Gang Wizard odyssey, then this record arrived. For the past couple weeks I’ve been listening to this thing at least once a day. I am gonna try to communicate why this record is so good that, for the last however many days, I’ve been coming home and immediately putting it on before doing anything else. And I’ll let you know right now, I will inevitably fail. My recommendation is to stop wasting your time with this way-too-long review, get the record, play it a few times and witness the unforgettable, endless love affair between the sounds and your brain.
The first side of the record is noticeably a bit more “rock” than the flip. “Whoever Invents” goes first opening with a flurry of drums and guitar and electronics/keyboard. There are some vocals, but they wisely play second fiddle to the music, the main show here. The best and largest part of the track is when the fury dies down settling into a remarkably mournful passage. There’s Racebannon-esque mumbling over a bed of guitar and synth that, as my girlfriend pointed out resembles the Radiohead track in that shitty Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo Dicaprio. The whole thing has the vague feeling of a vintage brokedown Godspeed You! Black Emperor monologue. These are the fucking weirdest things to be comparing to a Gang Wizard record, and I’m aware of that. But it’s all true, and somehow utterly amazing. The Gang takes the last ten seconds to remind you they still like to fuck shit up with a final, bursting-at-the-seams freak out. Beautiful track. “Bad Teacher” is the album’s longest track and closes the side. Beginning with an addicting, squelching manipulated chime sound, scattered yells, practice-mode guitar and drum noodling. Even though it seems unfocused, it totally is and anticipation builds gradually from the track’s first second. Tempo is ramped up and I’m totally surfing on sound along with the band. They break off the momentum for a strange meandering passage with electronics that sound like squeaky, cooing baby babble with a great brief keyboard line that gently drives the track to its end as well as a menagerie of other sound. At one point, one the members says “You gotta do it right.” I’m not sure who he’s addressing specifically, but it might as well be the listener cause everyone in the group is for sure doing everything right. The track ends up resulting in total free float. What’s most interesting is that they achieve it without any reverb, or smooth sounds or even really that many sustained sounds. It’s constantly moving and dictating its own leisurely but focused pace. Ending in a downright lovely slow fade of repeating guitar and keyboard exchanges.
On the second side is “Why Pharoah Hanged the Baker” and it’s so good it gets it’s own side. I don’t want to commit to anything but this piece is probably the record’s pinnacle. It encapsulates what is so incredible about the record: that there seems to be this random occurrence of sounds but they are all very intricately and perfectly placed, regardless of how composed or improvised the process was. The first couple listens were intriguing but after a few spins I felt like I “got it”, that I could see the big picture or whatever and take in all the sounds as a complete whole. Not a single sound is out of place on this record. This is why “Why the Pharoah Hanged the Baker” is so fucking brilliant (I apologize for all the “fuckings” (and “totallys”) but, I don’t know how else to explain just how good this record is). Like, “Bad Teacher” there is a seeming mess of sound that is slowly resolved and shaped. The key player here for me is a brief flourish from what sounds like a keyboard on the “Harp” setting. It’s really the catalyst for the formation of the track, it cues a steady drum rumble and the other ingredients trickle in and find their place. The track continues to twist and morph, never losing the initial feeling but never sticking on one part. There’s an effortless, wandering flow to the piece and just makes me melt almost. I’ll close my eyes and it can take me wherever it wants to go. After totally reaching zen, Gang Wizard gets feisty before the track putters out. Oh man.
The whole record is fucking transcendent.
It’s anti-mystic and still totally mystical, anti-hippie and a total psychedelic trip, anti-meditation and one of the most fucking zen things I’ve ever heard. One of the best fucking records of the year, probably of the decade, maybe even my life. It’s so good that I, the super cheap bastard that I am, actually bought this LP to give to someone (never happens, friends). I’ve never heard a record this complexly psychedelic; and so absolutely, immaculately effective. A serious work of art. And a total “landmark album” too.
Limited but I’m not aware of the exact digits. This monster was put out by four labels spanning the Atlantic: Green Tape, Lost Treasures of the Underworld, olFactory and Tanzprocesz. So hit up your choice of those four or a distro or anyone else who’s selling it. Get it, hear it and cherish it for the rest of your days like I’m planning on doing. Props to the cover artist Zeloot as well, the artwork is slamming and, in a certain way, quite fitting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Uton – Attack of the Aether Sun [Housecraft]

Since all Housecraft items appear to be in a perpetual state of flying off the shelves I wanted to weigh in on least of one of the tapes I have that isn't sold out yet.
I know I covered this in my last review of Housecraft materials, but I'll do it once more, Housecraft is a label based in Gainesville that specializes in all sorts of euphoric drones and has really come into its own this year and as you can see people are noticing and buying up tapes about as fast as Jeffry Astin puts 'em out.
Astin reached across the Atlantic for Finnish project Uton which has been putting out releases for years on top labels. This tape is about a half hour, split between two side long tracks. The first side’s piece “The Aether Cosmic Sun (CS only version)” begins with astral buzz saws. This sound pretty much dominates with a few tones, possibly keyboards, trying to poke their faces through. This is given up on fairly quickly and everything goes the way of the fizzy, spiky drone. For as much relentless feedback and whatnot going on here it doesn’t feel that forceful. The noisiness is relatively diffuse which is probably why the title “The Aether Cosmic Sun” was bestowed upon it. Makes sense to me, though personally I think the track could benefit from a little gravity. The drone begins to breakdown a little toward the end letting a few previously buried sounds run free.
The flipside is the one that’s really interesting in my opinion. “Inner Mind Mutations (Mix)”, unlike the singular sound of the first side, moves through a couple different ideas throughout its course. Once again, a fitting title. The droniness of this side also contrasts greatly because it’s very busy, vibrant and active. There are weird vocal globules, sputtering electronic sounds and shiny, digital sounding pseudo-shaker noises. A much enjoyed flute-like keyboard arpeggio pops up briefly. Much of the sound fades, leaving an eerie space with effected acoustic guitar plucks and a mellow cyclone of various echoing frequencies. I don’t see the instruments listed here so I’m not sure what I’m hearing but there’s a seamless transition to (what sounds like) an autoharp/flute face off backed by minimal percussion. A cool tangent. A very electronically colored piano replaces it with a sparse half-melody. Before a pretty bit of reversed tones and springing toy keyboard sounds lead to legit acoustic piano playing with a new Monk-ish keyboard ditty but less sparse than the High Priest often played. And that’s all folks; a nice, varied but cohesive little side.
The art matches the sound of the tape well, with a kinda exploded Sloow Tape vibe. The j-card is double-sided and it comes with an insert with blue-purple ink on see-thru paper, all in a paint flecked case. A class act. There are 120 copies (2 or 3 times the typical run of HC releases) of this making it the Housecraft tape most likely to enter your collection, statistically speaking. It’s been out for a few months though, so there can’t be that many left. So don’t sleep if you’re interested. It’s cheap as always too.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mudboy – MUDMUX Volume 1 [DNT]/Mudboy – Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors [Digitalis]

Two releases by Providence’s Mudboy here, the first a 7inch where he “muxes” two preexisting tracks by other artists and the other is a full length which appears to be considered, by many, his opus.
I’ll start by saying that this 7inch is absolutely phenomenal in every way. The music, the art/packaging—all top notch. Now that is out of the way, I can get to the music. Side A is titled “Lil John Carpenter Tribute Song” which is a pretty great name because it describes the song perfectly. Eerie organ/electric piano riffs but with a major groove. The pristinely constructed keyboard parts are offset by trashcan percussion rumblings courtesy of someone called Jeremy Lazy Animal Magnet Harris. If that person is also Lazy Magnet then I saw him play a long time ago, if not then I don’t know who he is. That’s beside the point though. This track is somehow a resurrection of a MIDI file of an Extreme Animals’ song “RockRapPopRocks” that was recorded onto a floppy disk. I’m not familiar with Extreme Animals, but somehow I feel that even if I was I would have no idea how the whole MIDI floppy disk thing translated into this.
This track is amazing. It’s moody and catchy as hell and through the 100 times I’ve probably played it’s never gotten old. Things start with a grouping of keyboard lines and the track just builds through its duration piling on more and more warbly, grooving keys, weird electronic sounds, cut up percussion, the works. Totally brilliant. The flipside is “Come Home”, which is based on a song by a band called DarkDarkDark. Vocals and main accordion are credited to Nona Marie Dark, so I’m guessing this isn’t a “remix” and she recorded her part specifically for this piece. This song is much different than the A-side but just as great. First of all, this appears to be a wonderfully well-written song so credit to Dark for that. She has a beautiful, expressive voice and the loping, smoky accordion is a perfect accompaniment to her voice. Mudboy plays it very minimally to his credit here. He places the vox/accordion front and center and then places little details throughout the track and subtly manipulates the voice and accordion. The track vacillates between folk/pop song structure and extended, almost drone-like passages. It all culminates with Dark’s electronically colored vocals over pulsing electronic loops. Another brilliant piece that, after all the times I’ve listened to it, is always fresh and inspiring and gorgeous. One of the best releases of the year.
Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors kicks off with the title-trackish “Hungry Ghosts! (Intro-Induction)”. It’s a pretty minimal piece with a few looped not-quite-beats and occasional whispery vocals. About halfway through, the track takes a left turn into fuzzier, almost cackling territory, a texture that really drives the rhythm home before another left turn into bells and what sounds like backwards babytalk. This segues into “Swamp Things”, featuring Larkin Grimm which is quite cool. It’s a pretty droney piece with many layers of sustaining organ parts. About five minutes in, a guitar made of light materializes in the ether and Grimm provides a few vocal touches. Mudboy follows this elongated piece with the brief “The Wisher Man”. Beginning with electronic squiggles and reversed percussive sounds, the piece morphs into a lovely bit of organ and chiming bells. “The Last Song” comes next though it’s not the last song actually. A slow walking organ line is augmented with little melodic flourishes until it becomes a big shimmering mass—always changing, always the same. Quite possibly my favorite track here. “Wwhirlpool Wwindow Liight Nightt” marks a shift in tone. Louder and lead by a vaguely Arabian organ line, backed by a drum machine, and with all sorts of reverbed, effected vocals flying in between; it’s the records rock anthem if you wanna talk in relative terms. “The Quiet Song” is cut from the same cloth as many of the other tracks (layers of organ lines) but it stands out because it has a rougher tonality then the smooth, bell-like organ sounds of other tracks. And it has a particularly great final minute. “Shockwave!” continues the overdriven sound, but has almost an industrial-lite vibe; it’s repetitive and driving but still manages to float and before the end of the track things switch white noise and waves breaking. It has me perplexed. “In Which the Sea Hag is Lead Away or We are Lead by Her?” closes the album on a strong note with a great toy keyboard demo-esque part but it sounds legit and mesmerizing cause it’s played on organ. There’s some whistling that pops up occasionally before a man sings “Run away, run far away” and disappears. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes it so, but the piece is very pleasant, distant and a bit ghostly. It reminds me of standing on the beach in the cold.
This is the third time this record has been released, a CDr and an LP on Not Not Fun came before; I’m not sure if this album is that good to warrant so many releases but it’s definitely a cool record. Very nice, very mellow—easy listening, in a great way.
Both DNT and Digitalis did unbelievable jobs with the artwork. MUDMUX Vol. 1 has a foldout 4 pass silkscreen cover by R. Lyon and Kevin Hooyman with a radiant, fitting color scheme and it comes with a very informative insert. The 7inch itself is crystal blue with cool silver/graphite grey labels. Utterly fantastic, and only 5.50 postpaid. Likewise, Digitalis did an incredible job with the Hungry Ghosts! CD and, not that anyone was competing, it visually blows away the NNF LP. The CD comes in a super intricately laser cut sleeve that’s even burned around the edges a little and stuffed with a double-sided insert and CD that fill out the design. Probably the best packaging job I’ve seen on a CD, definitely one of best I’ve come across on any format. And coming from a known CD packaging-disser, that’s a big compliment. Additionally, it’s an enhanced CD with a video by Mudboy that pops when you put it in a computer, if yr into that sort of thing. Mudboy really inspires the best in labels I guess.
Both releases are still in print and available from the labels, the 7inch is limited, though, to a generous 535 copies. Don’t sleep on it.