I had a tiny stack of my favorite kind of CD-r and I decided to lump them all together for a super fun round-up...
Bearses – The Prettiest Girl I Ever Saw [Hymns]
Not sure if this band’s name is pronounced like “bare-zees” or “bee-arses” but that’s beside the point. This 3incher, from Florida label Hymns, is a crumpled up mass of static spread across five tracks. There are samples of stuff buried deep down but they’re mangled beyond recognition by incredibly thick, saturated distortion and pitch shifting. Near the send of the first track a bit of carribean dance/pop stuff (maybe?) is barely audible through the muck leading into flashes of slowed radio DJ babble, heavily rhythmic crunching distortion and garbled vocal tones in the second piece. It’s nice having bands like Bearses to remind us just how much a fuck-ton of fuzz can morph one sound into something entirely different——namely magnanimously crusty squalls. The third track brings up the curtain a bit letting shards of distortion interact with the source material (a slowed down, rambling folk tune) instead of smothering it. It’s a well-placed melodic break in the middle of the record. The fourth track is interesting as well. There’s plenty of distortion but bits and pieces of gongs, bells and ethnic percussion poke through at certain intervals. The fifth track uses a lot hi-pitched freakouts amongst sloshed zombie slurs——a nice little kick in the teeth to remember them by.
For people, like me, who keep the radio dial placed equidistantly between stations or for fans of listening to records at the wrong speed played through twelve Metal Zones.
Arklight – Nolo Contendre [Ruralfaune]
A nice companion piece to that last CD-r is this Arklight 3”. Two tracks making up 24 total minutes of relentlessly chugging, bludgeoning noise. This is my first introduction to non-song-based Arklight and it’s pretty damn good. The title-track builds and builds on a pummeling loop/drum machine, while specks of static stagger in and out. They play around with the tempo a bit and offset the bass pulse with brief, searing jets of feedback. The track just keeps slumming, being tweaked here and there but mainly just riding the domineering beat. With about four minutes to go friendlier instruments are introduced——mellow, dirty guitar and live drums——and the track unwinds. “Rakkasans” starts up with a speedy, nearly techno drum machine. This track isn’t quite as noisy as its predecessor but it dishes out its fair share of feedback blurring the drum machine into a seizuring piece of equipment. Human shouts are coming from somewhere but they’re almost sensed more than they are actually heard through the putrid, filthy layers of fuzz. Traces of live drums are evident but they’re drowned in the bog like everything else. Straight up mildewed fury.
Single Indian Tear – The Black Category [No Label]
Moving into the easier-on-the-ears stuff, Single Indian Tear (the name ostensibly referring to the crying Indian/litter monitor from the PSA) are an Iowa City based duo and this 11 minute track is heavy on the synths. Not dreamy synths either, they seem to work with a bit more of a Kraftwerk mindset of loving their machines for the machine sounds they make rather than trying to disguise them as the ocean or the heavens. A variety of synth-tones are employed here from squelchy, filtered bass and tinkling belltones to static-y pulses and ray gun sounds. The track hits a nice stride around four minutes in where it settles into its skin and slowly cycles through the array of sounds at its disposal. There’s a three note motif that starts the track out and it returns in the second half but surrounded by creepy, “cat meow” sounds. Weird, dude. The last minute is a toy piano melody plinking across inter-galactic deep space synth and radio waves.
Sean McCann – Background Sound Two [No Label]
This 3” is another long, lovely piece by San Francisco’s Mr. McCann. I know his stuff is always lovely but this thing is one of the lovelier ones. This would be meditative if it wasn’t so immediately, palpably beautiful and in a strange way, saddening. There’s a wonderful mournful quality to the sounds here. A pretty melody twinkles, emanating from a far corner of the stereosphere as you just kinda drift along in a synthy sea. Not too much to say about this other than I’m enjoying the ride. McCann shifts incredibly subtly between ideas keeping the piece entirely engaging over its 22 minutes. I like how the melody at the beginning drifts away but makes a sly, unexpected comeback in the last couple minutes.
But why am I telling you this? This thing was given out with orders from McCann’s label Roll Over Rover and is all gone. Furthermore, it was limited to an utterly ridiculous 22 copies. That almost makes me angry there’s so few of these around. This piece deserves a reissue as a side of a split LP or tape or something like that. Hopefully some good soul reads this and takes it upon him or her self to do just that. It’s too goddam good to drift into obscurity.
KRGA – Thousands [Debacle]
The theme of this double 3” is the first disc concentrates on predominately acoustic arrangements while the second disc brings on the electronic elements. The first track “Thousand Armed” is rather nice with plenty of layers of acoustic guitar and hand percussion and then bits of flute and pump organ flowing by underneath. It doesn’t establish too much atmosphere but it’s really melodious and easy on the ears. “Thousand Headed” is more brooding with a lot reverb and an effected acoustic guitar and patches of vocals and other sounds stitched in. The first disc’s final track, “Thousand Hearted,” exceeds the combined length of the previous tracks. It’s a real nicely unfolding piece with a couple of dueling guitars over chiming bells and a reed organ that quietly leads the track. That reed organ is the real key here cause it glues all the clanging, jangly percussion, random bits of whistling melodies and other sounds with the acoustic guitar digressions making a real beautiful, dynamic and effortlessly flowing track. My favorite piece here.
The second disc opens with its longest track “Thousand Beaked” which after a minute of oscillator doohickery steadies itself and glides along with burbling tones. You can see some similarity between this disc and the first. Both feature multiple layers of sounds and use ever changing clusters of notes on top of sustained tones. The piece shifts often throughout its 11 minutes, hitting upon some nice, even pretty spots, but it doesn’t quite have the invisible guiding hand leading it coherently, seamlessly on its course as in “Thousand Hearted.” The second half is a quite a pleasantly buzzing bed of synths. “Thousand Eyed” is also a bed of buzzing synths but not one you’d want to sleep in, and the buzzing is more akin to angry wasps. “Thousand Horned” has some pseudo-bowed sounds and a pairing of slippery, blipping melodies. A digital fog fans out and overtakes the piece by its end.
3” CD-rs get the shaft a lot of times when it comes to packaging, but the Thousands packaging is clean and classy with two printed CD-rs mounted on the inside of double-sided cardstock that folds closed like a book.