Sunday, August 5, 2018

Nick Stevens - The New Age [Galtta]

Do you like listening to things that sound like Leonard Cohen? Or even Leonard Cohen himself? If the answer is "fuck yeah!" (it should be) then read this review and buy this tape.

Nick Stevens's portrait on the cover suggests a cross between Nick Cave and Dr. Jacobi of Twin Peaks fame. To be honest, that's not too far off in terms of how this brand new cassette sounds. A marriage of baritone brooding and garish, meta-cornball textures.
Mid-period Leonard Cohen, when he transformed the sonically tawdry and tacky into transcendent, is the number one touchstone in play here, and I will be mentioning the Bard of the Boudoir quite often so buckle up. At its weakest, The New Age is a damn good impression of a Cohen album and at its best, it's an arresting re-contextualization of 80s Cohen hallmarks transmuting them into something of Stevens's own.
No effort is made to disguise the Cohen inspiration and, in fact, there may even be a wry attempt to draw attention to it. To my ear, the first few seconds of the opening track, "The Vow", mirror the first few seconds of "I Can't Forget". Considering that these are the first few seconds that someone will hear when they pop in this tape, I assume they were carefully selected. Or maybe this is just some musical Rorschach situation and as a person who used a line from "I Can't Forget" in his wedding vows, it's no surprise that I'm hearing its echoes here.
After "The Vow" closes, Stevens makes his first true gambit, smacking me in the face with the enjoyably kitsch, dare-I-say? Rick Astley-ish intro of "Inviting You (Into My Life)". Stevens stops at nothing, including dropping in a lengthy nylon string guitar solo, to perfect the groovy, easy listening experience.
Escorted by a vibrato-laden synth lead "Easy to Hold" is an early stand-out, and the first glimpse of the heights Stevens and producer and co-writer Adrian Knight are truly capable of. The track is the kind of thing Puff Daddy would have sampled into oblivion in the Biggie days had this cassette dropped in 1988 rather than 2018. A muted sex jam that concludes perfectly with a chanteuse repeating "I may be easy to hold". Prepare to put this one on repeat.
Some of these tracks just feel good to have on the stereo, infusing your environment, like "(Beyond) The Law" and its slinky, operatic groove augmented by wordless "hmmms" and exhalations. I've definitely found my pew in Stevens's therapeutic disco-church.
"Colors of the Sunset" might be a little too Leonard Cohen for its own good—in the sense that I don't recognize enough of Stevens in it. It's not a bad tune whatsoever but it simply hasn't stuck with me through several listens like the rest of the album.
Another one of my favorites "All Night Messiah", more obliquely takes on Death of a Ladies Man (think "True Love Leaves No Traces" but freshened up with Stevens's mellow disco vibe). I would be sorely remiss if I didn't point out the fantastically fluttering lilt of the guest sax and flute work by David Lackner. The classy synth-cheese on the outro courtesy of Adrian Knight is superb as well. Magnifico!
Stevens follows up "Messiah" with another big time banger, title track "The New Age", finding a remarkable sweet spot between Cohen worship, rock solid songwriting, and dark-edged Depeche Mode-style overtones and production before pivoting into finale "Motorcycle", a gently propulsive Smog-gone-synth pop situation with Stevens crooning in a higher register and gliding into the ether.
Even though his name isn't on the spine, producer Adrian Knight has to be commended for his massive contribution. Other than the occasional wind instrument, female backing vocals and Stevens's voice and rhythm guitar, Knight is the backing band. Stevens does his part for sure, but The New Age wouldn't be what it is without Knight; they make a great team with Knight even co-writing a couple tunes as well. I definitely hope this collaboration has a future.
Grab yr tape here before the normals catch on and this thing goes gold.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Doll - Hiss [Big Sleep]/Patrick Cosmos - Tonal Rotors [Big Sleep]

On today's menu: a compact cassette tape twofer from the Jersey boyz at Big Sleep Records.

The Doll - Hiss [Big Sleep]
The Doll is a secretly great sonic moniker (soniker?) because it completely guards against assumptions of what an artist called The Doll sounds like. Some iteration of "doll" I would have at least had a hint. The Babydolls? Doll Face? Doll Eyes? The New Jersey Dolls? But just The Doll? I had no fucking clue. Literally no ideas popped into my head. The red bubblewrap cover didn't prod me in any direction either. Now Hiss was potentially a proper clue, but I don't know, maybe after all this it's just neo-post-neo-nü-shügaze?
Turns out this is a slovenly cassette concrète-ish whirlpool. The curtain raises on "Bubblewrap" a repetitious dirge that sounds like it's composed of the looped snap of the titular popping bubblewrap, a digital glitch and a field recording of a running toilet fully immersing you in the Hiss-y mood.
"Saw" is a bit of a bedroom-version of a 60s horror movie soundtrack, bristling with uncomfortable idiophonic overtones. The Doll is really speaking my language on "Wheel" with a garbled something or other that could be some gnarled-ass cassette tape scraping along the head or maybe just The Doll blowing bubbles in her Coke cup. I'll let the people decide.
"Silence" is not quite that but it's close, capturing the occasional incidental noise in ragged fidelity but with a heartbeat pumping from the far corner of the room. The track lasts a mere 98 seconds and vanishes right as the hypnotic spell is really starting to take old; I would have easily traded the following track, the lo-fi fuzzy strum-drone of "Lean", for an extended cut of "Silence". "Radiator" doesn't start off with The Doll getting behind the wheel (that would be "Static") nor does it feature a honking car alarm for a backbeat (that would be "Home, Sweet Home") but it does feature teenage drum practice dusted with feedback emanating through the air ducts in the living room from the basement. The best thing about Hiss is how it creates very specific environments while listening.  
Hiss is difficult to write about but if you're intrigued by any of the above (you know who you are) get at it and listen for yourself.

Patrick Cosmos - Tonal Rotors [Big Sleep]
And now a tape so nice it was pressed twice... Tonal Rotors is a long player from Pat Cosmos and who knew that Mr. Hilarious on Twitter, a real Ryley Walker meets Neil "DeGrassi" Tyson personality, was out there pounding the pavement, wiring up some synth&sampler contraption and rocking that old Guided By Voices tee?
As a person who (occasionally) writes about music, I try to avoid reading press releases because sometimes that really fucks me up. I did, however, make the mistake of reading the one for Tonal Rotors. It's actually a pretty accurate description so that's not the issue. It read: "a 2000s-era IDM/drill n' bass album condensed into the poppy, proggy, quick-hit format of a GBV record" and that is actually impressively accurate, but when we're talking three letter acronyms, IDM (which I actually don't know that much about) and GBV (which I know much more about) don't hold equal weight in my mind. Unconsciously, I got it fucked around and was expecting "a 2000s-era GBV album condensed into the poppy, proggy, quick-hit format of a IDM record" (nonsensical as that may seem) and it took several listens to unlearn that bullshit and start from scratch. After doing so, I could finally see that this tape is a fun time.
The man of the Cosmos whips through 22 tracks at a rapid pace, modulating his approach from track to track. The first three tracks illustrate this right away. Elegiac opener "Portentious Omen" would slot in quite nicely over a credits sequence in the post-OPN and SURVIVE-as-film-composers world. "Narrowly Avoided Pun-Title" flips into a 20 second chopped/screwed blip of the Yo-Yo Dieting variety and the longest of the three "SX-150" conjures memories of the most raucous moments of Endtroducing... deep fried in synth-batter. That gives you an idea about the parameters of the sandbox that Cosmos is playing in.
Despite the long list of tracks, cassette is a perfect format for Tonal Rotors and I don't think there's a benefit to skipping around the album. "A Helicopter with a Computer in it (for Joe)" is nice to return to on its own but the pleasure of the unexpected thump of the filtered bass thrum is increased when in the context of a mid-side movement. Similarly, the peppy techno-power-pop of "Fear of Heights" that follows immediately is a perfect foil that would lose some impact following another song. All I'm saying is the sequencing is aces and I'm never gonna listen to this thing on "shuffle."
To totally contradict my previous point, the transcendent flutter of "The Blood and the Soil" and virile dog bark 'n groove of "There's Always Something (feat. Squints)" are so potent that they'll succeed regardless of attachment or detachment to the rest of the proceedings.
The second side of the tape gets a little more expansive with some longer tracks, best exemplified by the wordy standout "Maybe My Best Friend is a Dog, and This is My Dog, and I Made My Best Friend a Sweater" which shirks the fragmentary concept of many of the tracks for a steadily mounting dynamic. "Profanity-induced Parity Error" follows as an all-too-brief coda which drops a sick Depeche Mode-styled banger in the last 20 seconds. Hope we get more of that on the next tape.
As alluded to earlier, I don't have any credentials to flaunt with regard to IDM, techno, or whathaveyou. But I can say as a person who doesn't get particularly excited about the prospect of listening to a techno tape, that this stuff is definitely good enough to earn a picky layman's approval.

Hiss dropped recently and is available and, as alluded to, Patty Cosmos is cruising along on his second pressing which is also available. Dank audio squalor or introspective techno-bro jams, Big Sleep is here to serve you so take your pick. Or be cosmopolitan and pick both. There's no wrong way to buy some tapes HERE

Sunday, July 22, 2018

*e* - Red Sammy [Green Tape]/Napoleon Blownaparte - Inside a Tree [Green Tape]

Some longhairs out there are all about them long tapes: "c-60, c-90, c-120, who cares? It just means the trip's gonna last longer" or so they say. But, you know what, life moves fast and some of us got responsibilities—we've got no time to waste so give us the straight dirt. These, here, oxides do that in spades, or more precisely in as few spades as necessary. Enjoy Part 2 of this two part series on short-ass tapes.

*e* - Red Sammy [Green Tape]
Long running Midwest iconoclast Green Tape has been in the short-ass tape game for a while now, with being the pioneer of the c-3 and all, it's probably got the greatest short tape claim to fame of all the short-tapers out there. That's right, 3 minute tapes and total commitment. Barrabarracudas' ode to Yellow Swans, Draft Dodging Sexual Vietnam (for Gabe and Pete), is a classic c-3 and personal favorite and these are the latest c-3 installments from Green Tape by my calendar.
I assumed this tape by *e* was about a "red sandwich" when I first popped it in, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The titular Red Sammy seems to be a person of sorts but I haven't completely written off the theory that it's in fact a "red salmon." Although the question is merely academic, because anyone with ears will tell you "Red Sammy" is a sweet slice of shambling, jingle jangle vaguely reminiscent of, say, the K Records clan. Agreeable female vocals, a walking (or rather stumbling) bass line, and a chiming clean-tone guitar arpeggio over a shuffling mid tempo drumbeat. If this is your thing, then this is your thing. The ditty cleaves midway through as we hit the tail leader on side A—not unlike Harry Pussy splitting up "Nazi USA" (my favorite HP track) into two sides of a 7inch just to punk me all those years later when I discovered it—but the brief interruption doesn't keep "Red Sammy" from getting stuck in your head. Maybe that's the game they're playing. My favorite part is the slight return at the end, when after the embers seem to die the band marches right back into form.
Red Sammy. Green Tape. If nothing else, this is a perfect tool to teach your toddler the colors.

Napoleon Blownaparte - Inside a Tree [Green Tape]
While they are not the Green Tape house band (that would have to be Churchburners who have probably dropped 20 releases over the years) Napoleon Blownaparte is no stranger to Green Tape. Inside a Tree, however, does mark Monsieur Blownaparte's first foray into the world of c-3s.
Can't recall if all M. Blownaparte's recordings feature a duo line-up but this one does. We got one member wylin' out on a gift shop spirit flute and the other kickin' up a racket with every hollowed out thing he lays eyes on. They take turns taking the lead on each side. Side A has the vibe of a 5th grade recorder soloist getting kicked out of the ensemble before the big school-wide assembly for going too Ayler all the time. The pots 'n pans man dutifully supports him, even delivering a rock solid beat at one point. Spiritual unity indeed.
Patience is rewarded as the pots 'n pans man finally gets his shot to wig on the flip, sounding like Animal, the Muppet, the morning after he discovered Milford Graves's Percussion Ensemble. Baby Ayler keeps things close to the vest, careful not to upstage his partner's 90 seconds in the spotlight. These guys sound like best friends.
This is the kind of thing most groups of this ilk would slop onto a 45 minute single-track CD-r you would never finish listening to. But this is restrained-free music, which is no oxymoron. 3 minutes can heal all wounds. More c-3s please. 
Green Tape is perhaps the only org left in the world rockin' a Freewebs url—pro tip: scroll down on the home page—so you have no reason not to visit and check out these tapes and Green Tape's other brews (many of which are available for free download on their blog.) While you're at it, make sure you ask if they still have copies of Gang Wizard's God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc and grab one if they do.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Famous Logs in History - Famous Logs in History [Fuzzy Warbles]/Portopak - Bull Inside the Echo Chamber [No Label]

Some longhairs out there are all about them long tapes: "c-60, c-90, c-120, who cares? It just means the trip's gonna last longer" or so they say. But, you know what, life moves fast and some of us got responsibilities—we've got no time to waste so give us the straight dirt. These, here, oxides do that in spades, or more precisely in as few spades as necessary. Enjoy Part 1 of this two part series on short-ass tapes.

Famous Logs in History - Famous Logs in History [Fuzzy Warbles]
I've never heard of these Famous Logs before but when you're talkin' log, the barometer for fame can't be too tough. I mean we're talkin' The Log Lady's log and the list ends there, right? I think I'll table the subject for when the Ladies in the Radiator send me a tape so I can get on with this review.
The Logs don't do anything particularly "new" on this c-10 but it is a thin slab of fine solid oak. Wound up to a springy consistency, not spiky but still prickly, the whizzbang maestros deliver four twinkling, clean-ish toned power pop tunes in under 10 minutes. "Ground" thumps away with a clipped jangle, and a repeated sax-like bleat seals it for me at the midpoint. Before you know it, that's a wrap. "Crawling for Freedom" is comparatively expansive lasting beyond the two minute mark with an actual repeated verse-chorus structure.
"Slabsides" is the hit of the bunch, with a rev'd up bassline and earworm keyboard line replete with a split-second feedback freakout. Thumbs up to that one. Before waving goodbye, the Logs throw their hat in the ring to be the voice of the Trump generation with the one-minute mantra "(This is) Not Normal". Sing along with them, you'll feel better.
I'm reminded a bit of Montreal's Sheer Agony (who delivered their own brief but tasty delight once upon a time) but the Logs are a bit more single-minded in their aesthetic.
The tape is available at a bargain basement price from Fuzzy Warbles. Check it out!

Portopak - Bull Inside the Echo Chamber [No Label]
Ah, the cassingle, the much maligned and underappreciated format. Feels great to get one of these from time to time and this one arrives via Pittsburgh's Portopak. Portopak comes with the disclaimer of "Gameboy + Guitars = Portopak" and I gotta say I always get a bit of insta-apprehension whenever I read "Gameboy" as an instrument. Portopak is firmly in the 8-bit pop category, but the burner on the first side transcends that innately-limited categorization.
After a frenetic intro right out of the home screen of an unpublished game, "Bull Inside the Echo Chamber" jets off to a hot start. Employing my favorite guitar, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster, Portopak a.k.a. Justin Channell lets it rip shaping the track into vintage video game guitar pop. The relentless fuzzy, buzzy bassline generated courtesy of the Casio SK-1 or the ubiquitous Gameboy anchors the whole damn thing with a viscid energy providing an effective foil to Channell's soft, somewhat distant vocals. The heavily hummable sugar rush is about as perfect as something in this vein can sound, at least to these un-chiptuned ears.
The flipside brings the "The Unfriendly Dreamer" a solid enough instrumental piece that leans into bouncy Nintendo pulse waves in a surprisingly fluid manner. It's not something I'll probably ever reach for specifically but it does its job as a b-side providing you a solid soundtrack while you bask in the afterglow of the hit on Side A. Your mileage will vary based on how enamored you are with those signature beeps and boops.
Three bucks nets you both tracks suspended in oxide coating. HERE

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Garbage Man - Tobacco Bong Rips [Personal Militia/Forbidden Place]/Slush - Frog Water [Personal Militia]

When a package showed up from Sheboygan, WI, I thought it might be some Gus Polinski & The Kenosha Kickers reissues. I was wrong. So wrong.

Garbage Man - Tobacco Bong Rips [Personal Militia/Forbidden Place]
This ain't news anyone but there's a lot of irony in music these days. Not so with Garbage Man. They named their band Garbage Man and they sound like a band named Garbage Man. Tobacco Bong Rips is a double-A-side cassette-turned-sludge barge zippin' down the Mississippi. The guitar player's named Nick Duude, the bass player's named Roach and the drummer's named Jeff, so you know you're in the right place.
This thing is heavy on the bass frequencies, at least on my system. The guitar and bass are nearly indistinguishable creating a thick fuzzy morass on "Hillbilly Kick Squad" punctuated by the pop of the snare drum and Duude trying to shout above the racket.  The 49 second "Dinners" and "Engine" drift more into hardcore territory while "Sea Shanty for Planet Hopping" delves into some straight up metal riffing. Somewhat ironically, my favorite track is the "bonus" entitled "Belinda Would Make a Good Car Aisle" which is less Melvins, more 90s Touch & Go.
The bottom line is simple: Garbage Man lives to pummel. There aren't many hooks here, so only listen if you want to get thumped. Don't worry, the bloody nose is normal.
There is one big no-no here though, dudes you gotta get your spine right side-up next time around.
Nab the tape here or if you prefer your sludge served on a platter you can pre-order Tobacco Bong Rips on a blue and red 7" at the same link. But no "Belinda" on that one so choose wisely.

Slush - Frog Water [Personal Militia]
While we're on the subject of band names, "Slush"instantly evokes the vibe here sounding like some short-lived slumrock outfit that split a 7" on AmRep in '93 and disappeared. That sort of gets you in the general range, but Slush, to their credit, throw a staggering number of curveballs making it difficult to actually identify what the hell they are.
The 80 second blast "Your Place" kicks things off in style, riding a relentless riff that sounds like it's emanating from a battery powered amp. Slush quickly shift gears to a heavily 'verbed organ-driven surf ditty called "Predator" topped off with plenty of ride cymbal. The singer is barely a blur in the midst of everything. Didn't see that one coming.
Much like their brothers in Garbage, Slush shows a hardcore side on "H.O.L.E."--but not content to be merely conventional, I'm pretty sure they've stuck a trumpet in the mix somewhere. The title track makes be think Slush might just be fucking with me with a long-ass intro chugging along on a cello riff and some cackling right out of the 60s spooky surf  genre. If the Bomboras could get a major label record deal, why can't these guys? I didn't even mention that the eventual frenetic riot marking the middle of the track ultimately breaks up into a weird lounge act.
"Losing" is maybe even the most unexpected track (are those 7th chords?) with a surprising bit of Strokes-vibes (circa the one good album they made) with a reasonably compact space-prog conclusion. I don't know what's going on but I'm feelin' it.
"Victim" gets your head throbbing again malformed into a degenerative half-breed of "Zoo Music Girl" and Faith No More-style jitter metal. Sweet. They wrap Side A with a campfire singalong "In the Junkyard" because of course they would.
Opening the second side, "To Mind or Care" dips back into those space-prog vibes lead by echoing piano strikes and militant snare rolls hitting the post-rock power ballad target with ease. The average song length just about doubles on the flip so Side B brings different, more expansive and/or dirge-like vibes than the spunky, agitated Side A. The final track is an unholy collision of 50's doo-wop ballad and arena metal rave up, and, yeah, it's about as strange as that sounds.
All in all, this is a weird weird and warmly welcome dose of mad rock & roll science.
Slurp some Slushy Frog Water here.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Ivy Meadows - Zodiac [Moon Glyph]/Capricorn Vertical Slum - "Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 1: Tourism" [Moon Glyph]

We have a salty/sweet astrological double feature on the docket this evening from the Bay Area's preeminent lunar linguists at Moon Glyph. Let's get to it.

Ivy Meadows - Zodiac [Moon Glyph]
The praises of this one have already been sung by much sharper individuals than I, so I'm not sure how helpful me chiming in is, but that's a question I've asked since AO's inception. Why answer it now?
From the first glimpse of Zodiac my antennas were up: (1) We've got a handsomely packaged tape with a watercolor of a spirit woman (wrong term I'm sure) on the cover with the scrawled subtitle "Magic is life." (2) We've got a heavy dose of the astrology horseshit that I've spent nearly 30 years ignoring in the form of 12 tracks each named for a sign of the zodiac. (3) And, perhaps most importantly of all, this is a long-ass tape. (Hard to tell with pro-dubs but probably a c-90.) I was all ready to write the "how many fucking 90 minute neo-New-New-Age cassettes do we actually need on our cramped shelves?" think piece which I'm sure would have gone over swimmingly. Ivy Meadows threw a wrench in my plans, however, because after a few listens I gotta say this is good stuff. Meadows a.k.a. Camilla Padgitt-Coles is clearly very skilled at crafting these ethereal wisps and imbuing them with gravity (I've heard legions of mediocre drones in my day, so it's easy to spot talent when I hear it.) She doesn't just drench everything in reverb and call it good. Rather, Padgitt-Coles finds the right balance between too-little and too-much nearly every time. And this thing just sounds stellar (props to Zeljko McMullen's mastering as well).
The extent of my criticism of Zodiac is simply that it's too long. "Taure" is nice but I don't need 9 minutes of it. With the most unambiguous rhythms on display, "Géminis" gets the blood pumping near the middle of the album which is welcome but it could stand a bit of editing as well. Yet, because I'm forever the hypocrite, the longest track "Capricorn" may actually be my favorite. Go figure, I'm just a mixed up kid.
 As with all things this comes down to taste, some folks wanna jam out to the dulcet tones of Zodiac for an hour and a half, other folks (me) would rather have an abridged c-30 but the vibes are good ones nonetheless.
Grab the tape from Moon Glyph here.

Capricorn Vertical Slum - "Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 1: Tourism" [Moon Glyph]
Sticking with the zodiac theme, we move on to Capricorn Vertical Slum. The stars aligned for me on this one (is that how astrology works?) as I came across this cassette of an early Moon Glyph vintage (MG13 if you're a nerd) during some bandying about the state earlier in the year. The differences from Ivy Meadows are stark, but I always welcome differences into my tape deck.
In fact, the vibes fit well within the "that's my shit" zone. Buzzy, scuzzy, slob-on-the-outside/savant-on-the-inside hand smeared tunes. Probably a lazy comparison but Psychedelic Horseshit popped to mind, though CVS eschews the against-the-grain, "fuck you" petulance for a more eager-to-please beating pop heart. In particular, "Palatial Estates in Wallpaper" and "The Best Cocaine in the Canyon" are wisely indebted to Marc Bolan's bubblegum stomp and it doesn't take a lot of squinting to imagine a different version of rock history featuring a teenage T. Rex whittling away on his Tascam during the summer of 1989. Even the ballad on the b-side is really a well-formed change of pace in the bedroom genius mold. Eight good songs, zero bad ones, no time wasted, thumbs up. I wish reviewing music was always this easy.
And now for the bad news, according to Discogs, there hasn't been any new music from Capricorn Vertical Slum (or its single credited member, Colin Johnson) in eight long years. Basically, where the fuck is Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 2? What gives, Universe?
You are in luck however, because these suckers are still for sale on Moon Glyph's website for a lowly fiver. Act on your impulse here.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Graham Repulski - Success Racist [Rok Lok]

As is plain to see, reviews have been on a downward trend for the past, I don't know, many years. This is not because I lack great music to write about, but because I'm old and busy now. And because I'm a loquacious blowhard who starts writing (and writing, and writing) a review and rarely gets around to finishing it before some life thing happens that requires my attention. I never seem to get back in the zone to finish what I've started. 

So many casualties litter the graveyard of half-written drafts that I'm scared to whistle past the place. Basically, I don't have the time to write a treatise on a twenty minute cassette like in my younger days. So that means I have to change. More specifically, I have to force myself to change. It will be better for everyone; more artists will get reviews and I won't feel like such an unproductive dirtbag. At least, if things go according to plan--which, in all honesty, has never been my strong suit. 

To focus my energies, I've created a hard and fast rule of 300 words or less for each review going forward. A rule to live and die by. A rule to never be broken. On my first try--this review you're currently about to read--I ended up with just under 500. Which I think is a pretty good start. Rome wasn't built in a day folks.

This is a tape I've listened to (and enjoyed) a lot the past couple years but it's proven quite tricky to write about, alas the radio silence. Success Racist sounds EXACTLY like early Guided By Voices. I mean exactly--this is some Wolfgang Beltracci-level artistry. And, just to be clear, this is not a pejorative statement. The production, the hiss, it's spot on. But the truly beguiling quality of the whole affair is the songwriting. The entire history of rock & roll is founded on out and out theft, so hearing an artist heavily indebted to prior forerunners is an everyday occurrence. If I had a dollar for every time I discovered that a band I thought to have an "original" sound had been beat to it 20 or 30 years earlier... well, you know what I'd be. All that said, I've never heard someone inhabit another songwriter's skin so completely and so triumphantly. I mean the only real explanation is science-fiction. Clearly, through a series of strange, forbidden experiments, Repulski has re-animated the corpus or corpse (if yr into conspiracies) of Bob Pollard from half a million beers ago. If not more.

Even the lyrics are suspiciously on point, the kind of idiosyncratic nonsense I've become so invested in after hours and hours of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes despite never having a clue what the fuck Bob and Tobin are talking about. Case in point, my favorite track: "James Run". I have no idea what the "James Run" is or means, but man, when Repulski sings "Where did you go? Where did you go in the 'James Run?" I really feel it. I couldn't tell you why but I do. Over and over again. Or "Crying Machine Shakes at the Moon" which, I mean just look at the title. The money shot, "And counting backwards from suicide..." just pops up into my head from time to time. And that's the special thing about this, most of these songs can stand shoulder to shoulder with just about any from the classic GBV era. So many of these songs have carved little homes in my brain just like the GBV records that came before them.

Things do go a bit sideways at times, whenever I hear the opening notes of "Elevator Tricks" my brain automatically thinks I'm about to be hearing "The Ugly Vision" from Alien Lanes and then realizes it isn't. Don't know if this is really a bad thing but it is a disruption in an otherwise seamless listening experience.

This is the only Repulski tape I've heard so whether this is a life-long commitment or a one-album experiment, I don't know. But it is a success, that's for damn sure.

Oh and Graham, what's a "success racist"?

The tape can be obtained from Rok Lok here (two copies left!) If you have a proclivity for compact discs you can get one from the artist himself here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sea Moss - Bread Bored [Crash Symbols]

After grabbing my first Crash Symbol at a local cassette retailer (a nice tape by French cruisers Exotic Club) this cassette by Portland, OR duo Sea Moss showed up in the mail a day later, along with a banger by Charles Barabé and Ratkiller. I guess the universe just has my back sometimes.
I'm still a Crash Symbols neophyte but from the few I've heard it seems like they hop around between different sonic territories without skipping a beat which is certainly a favorite quality to find in a label.
The sonic territory Sea Moss fits into is pretty easy to peg in my mind. The duo of Noa Ver on electronics and voice and Zach Agostino on drums would have nestled in quite nicely among early 00s Load Records jammers like Lightning Bolt, Neon Hunk and Friends Forever. So anyone yearning for those simpler days ought to give Bread Bored a whirl pronto.
Sea Moss is at its best when Agostino's grooves swing thick and heavy as on the opener "Diurnal Enuresis" or the dance floor-filler "It's Pudding Time!" building a sturdy, funky trunk for Ver to provide some leafy color to with her electronic whatzits. Ver's heavily distorted and (I'm pretty sure) wordless voice forms the spine of much of her contribution in the duo as in the middle of "Wanna Sea a Trick?" but with her hands on home-made oscillators as well that's hardly the extent of it. Her electronics pump and pulse with abandon and at times it seems like they may be processing the drums as well. "Sea Section" kicks off a kind of Skin Graft-y skronk-punk vibe that seems to balance the three elements with relentless percussion, quivering synth melodies and feverish exhalations finding equal footing.
When it ends, Bread Bored's got me reaching for that Black Pus/Foot Village LP for another dose to keep the party going.
This isn't a criticism per se, but I will note that the tape is not particularly dynamic in its production or composition. Bread Bored sounds like Ver and Agostino doing their thump 'n squelch routine in real time in a dark, moist room somewhere in the Pacific Northwest--the kind of environment where moss thrives, no doubt. There's no studio wizardry here, bedroom or otherwise. The tape's designed to give you a hearty jolt of what it's got and nothing more, and considering Sea Moss is in and out in twenty minutes they do their job mighty well. File this one under the "In the Mood to Jam!" section of your library.
There is one (that's right! one!) copy left for sale so if you're interested hit up Morgantown's finest outpost without delay.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme 2.0: Episode #3

Finally the long, long, long delayed episode 3 is up. This was put together months ago before catching on a technical snag that I couldn't get resolved before the holidaze hit home. The tunes sound even better in 2018 though.

On tonight's episode: whiz bang clatter and profound speech patterns. Enjoy!

"Realistic Binaural Haircut" Steve Flato Simulation of Another Thing [Tape Drift, 2016] (CDr)
"Sunken Wounds" German Army Diaspora of Intolerance [Dub Ditch Picnic, 2017] (2xCD)
"Communication" Charles Barabé Avant-Garde Avorton Romantique/Transrational Suite [Crash Symbols, 2017] (CS)
"Safari, Church Style ('I, the People, Cut Into Squares')" Me, Claudius Reasons for Balloons [Dinzu Artefacts, 2017] (CS)
"3 Points (excerpt)" Bent Pyramid Trio Split with Shouts from the Sea [Eiderdown, 2016] (CS)
"Side A (excerpt)" Bent Spoon Duo Fossils of Slumber [Holy Cheever Church, 2009] (CS)
"Mmória Doç (Intro)" Zarabatana Fogo na Carne [A Giant Fern, 2015] (CS)
"......" Invasive Species Invasive Species [No Label, 2017] (CS)
"Side B (excerpt)" Red Horse Red Horse [REL, 2009] (LP)
"Oliva #92/Oliva #121" Francesco Covarino Olive [Thirsty Leaves, 2017] (CD)
"C" Addleds Mottle [Weird Ear, 2013] (CS)
"Record Collecting" Joe Bussard No Title [No Label, ????] (CS)

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