Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat Killer - Downtown [Speed Tapes]

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

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