Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NASA - High Cube [Baked Tapes]/Driphouse - Romanti Gains [Baked Tapes]

Got a blistering package from Jesse DeRosa's (of the inimitable Grasshopper) Baked Tapes imprint awhile back and I took a particular liking to these two burners.
The last I heard from Orlando's NASA was a tape a couple years back on Not Not Fun. Haven't listened to it in forever but I remember it having sludgy riffs galore. High Cube has that and more.
The first of two tracks on Side A, finds a bluesy riff materializing in a fuzzy feedback fog. The trio rolls along evoking mellow classic rock haze amidst the gnarly distortion. The jaunty noodling guitar lines are ditched for some synth sustain and pitch-shifted metallic percussion. Without warning they launch into a slamming groove with potent cowbell and disembodied vocals. The band jams along seemingly semi-improvised with more thick fuzzy riffs. The effected vocals take center stage for a while. The second track is pretty close to a straight up song. A grooving fuzzy jam with nice riff and barely there vocals. They ride the groove for a while throwing in the occasional curveball. Once again without warning there's an abrupt shift into some kind of amazonian 80s jam with buoyant drums, squiggly electronics and what sounds like a hybrid of a keyboard and a guitar. This abruptly shifts into a heavy marching jam, with multiple percussionists (I think) and some ray-gun histrionics in there too. Sousa eat your heart out. Hell of a jam.
The second side tops the first though. Starting out with some rock n' roll riffs pushed through thick fuzz, the rhythm section gives the track a nice swing as it gradually builds in volume. The jam gets gnarlier by the minute, shifting into a minimal stomper, while NASA continue to ride the groove hard. They can actually be a pretty tight band when they want to be. There isn't much variation to the riff which is the beauty of it. From there they move into a cloudier bit with plenty of effects and layers of guitar and drums burbling underneath. A last minute change-up brings a surprisingly clear-headed blue rock tune which NASA goes out on nice and easy.
I dig how NASA takes the heavy psych thing and flips it a little fitting it into a collage tape. I'm headed to Disney World in May, hopefully I get a chance to feel these guys' jams in person.
I feel like I've heard Driphouse before though I can't say for sure. I do know that it's a project of Daren Ho (formerly of Trash Dog/Raccoo-oo-oon) and when I popped this tape in it was love at first sight. The A-side "Romanti" is just tremendous. There's a gliding synth that makes you feel totally weightless. Ho marries the smooth interspace love theme he's got cooking with a mellow, hobbling drum machine set to "downbeat tape mode." Ho further layers and expands the keyboard melody and the spacey sound effects. Elaborating on the repeating theme Ho dips his fingers into cosmic filter sweeps and wandering synth-strings. The jam wraps unexpectedly by phasing out the theme for an even more tripped smattering of keys and blips. A hypnotizing stunner to say the least. Bask in its glory.
The flipside, as you might glean from the title, is "Gains." Unlike the previous side, "Gains" takes a couple minutes to cast its spell. It doesn't hold the same rhythmic emphasis of "Romanti" instead opting for wide open outer spaces. Alright, enough with the space stuff, you get the point. Over glistening, glacial waves of synth, Ho meanders on the keys with variations of the same melody. After shifting the pitch at various points, he hits on a great section of a nearly-tinkling barrage of keyboard stabs and slowly introduces stuttering drum machine throbs. This makes for a potent bed on which Ho tinkles the synthetic ivories with more melodies/solos. Swell stuff. I will definitely have to keep an eye on the project.
Both tapes are still available and each is an excellent pickup depending on your disposition.
Both in editions of 60.

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