Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back Magic - Dream Lover [Pilgrim Talk]/Veyou - Carcass in the Mist [Pilgrim Talk]

You gotta love Chicago's Nick Hoffman. Dude's constantly droppin' knowledge in various audio, print and label-running forms. The subjects of this review are two very nice cassette releases from two of Hoffman's duos.
Back Magic is a lo-fi drums/guitar duo of Nick Hoffman and his brother, though they're billed on Dream Lover as Terror Trans and Hair Exp.
The first side starts off with "Garage Goons" after a bit of a drone intro the track jumps into a circular riff and vocal bit broken up every so often by guitar runs and snare hits. "Fever's on Me" is pretty awesome, mingling sprightly guitar riffs and humming vocals with sampled machine gun fire. "Haunted Lantern" bumps things down to a lower, muted register for a short interlude but it mostly features a creepy dude speaking unintelligibly, probably recorded at the Chicago Vincent Price Impersonator conference. A vaguely middle-eastern hammer-on riff anchors "Suns" and multi-tracked "dueling" guitars add a new dimension to the tape's lo-fi demeanor.
I think the second side is a little stronger and the opening track "Tomb Legions" sets the bar high. There's a "Turning Japanese"-esque faux-Asian riff, ghostly faraway coos with big power chords on the chorus and plenty of marching band-style drum fills. Way too short--I could have used a track a good five times longer. "Labor Day" is a slow loper with simple guitar melodies and thudding drums. "Summer Dive" features a spoo-oo-ooky ghost transmission and some silly guitar riffs with random echo-drenched exhalations into the microphone. "Summer Dive (Redux)" features the same riff but in a different key. And it features someone jamming on a keyboard on the "dog bark" setting. Another highlight, "Rainy Dog" is an upbeat number with a really nice guitar melody. It just feels good man. A warbly cover of "Paranoid" crops up at the end as a "Bonus!" track. True to Back Magic's sloshed mentality, the vocals sound more like current brain-fried Ozzy than 1970 Ozzy and there's even overdubbed guitar leads! The boys outdid themselves here.
Veyou is a duo of Hoffman and Stephen Holliger (who flies solo as Swim Ignorant Fire) and Carcass in the Mist is a very nice cassingle. Veyou dropped an amazing tape a couple years ago and while this one sounds a bit different it still keeps me salivating for more.
The material from this tape was recorded at Metal Shaker in Chicago, apparently Veyou's only show to date. The first side is the title track and it's pretty damn gorgeous, in a blurry lo-fi kinda way. It may just be as simple as guitar and delay pedals for all I can tell, but the hypnotic loops lull you into a place of such comfort. Everything feels so warm and so right; for only being a half of a cassingle you can get pretty lost in it. By the end of the track when they flip a few switches and start beaming you up you don't even notice. This is the kinda thing you could put on a 7inch. Lovely.
The B-side "Metal Shaker" is much more spacious featuring patient but squirrely electronics and is a little similar to Hoffman's work with Aaron Zarzutzki if you're familiar with that. It's a fun track that covers a fair amount of ground in a short amount of time but it feels a little too much like a snapshot of a much larger, more satisfying whole--I wanna see the big picture.
Both tapes feature fantastic artwork as is typical of Hoffman's releases, though my scanner did not do justice to the Carcass in the Mist cover. Hoffman's got one of the more visually and aurally interesting labels out there and there's lots of good stuff to be had, including these tapes. Get 'em here.

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