Monday, February 28, 2022

VIDEO PREMIERE: "After Hours" by Richard Papiercuts


In an Auxiliary Out first, we are doing a goddamn video premiere (made it Ma, top of the world!) and I couldn't be more excited that the video is good. Really good. An AO favorite, Richard Papiercuts has returned with "After Hours", the first single off of his excellent, upcoming third album Reunion. The LP was written, recorded and performed by Papiercuts himself at home. "After Hours" is an unapologetic banger in the mold of Let's Dance-era Bowie, and visual artist Michael Slatky has fashioned an apartment-bound fantasia around the tune, a kaleidoscopic portrait of a man alone with a song in his head.

Having previously released two LPs (A Sudden Shift and "IF") and most recently 2018's wonderful Twisting the Night 12" EP, Mr. Papiercuts has been called an "American treasure" by Rich Kroneiss of Terminal Boredom and wouldn't you agree? His scruffy mug looks mighty fine standing shoulder to shoulder with Eleanor Roosevelt and Shirley Chisholm. 

Reunion drops this Friday, March 4. Ever/Never Records will be distributing the album on vinyl and digitally via Bandcamp. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022


Abstract Butta Fingas - Lightweight HEAVY Vol. 1 [no label] 
Abstract Butta Fingas - Lightweight HEAVY Vol. 2 [no label] 
Two damn fine cassettes of mid-fi instrumental beats from the most abstract set of Butta Fingas that Southern California has to offer. From the plinking keys of “Poolside Dreamin” to the nylon guitar strums of “Nunca No” to the fuzzy bass thump of “Rider”, Lightweight HEAVY Vol. 1 is real solid. And “The Scheme” is flat out beautiful. The woozy synths and heavily processed piano chords really do it for me. All that said, Vol. 1 is real, real nice but ABF takes his work to another level on Vol. 2

From top to bottom, this thing fuckin’ sings. The way the grimy dystopian stutter of “Pulse”―buffered by speedy harp plucks―segues into top shelf banger “For the Hill in the Haystack”―bristling with crackly horn blasts rubbing elbows with liquid synths―and then slips into “Composure”―which at about one minute long feels like an hour too short―it’s a thing of beauty. ABF brings more crackling horns and stirs in choral samples on “Celestial Boogie” and with that title, he just reviewed his own track. What do you need me for? “Vibin’/Giv Luv” gives me Endtroducing..... vibes, and considering that’s one of my most listened to records of all time, I do not bestow that compliment lightly (or ever!). The concluding two-fer of the stately “Lobelia” and blissful “Platitudes”... Wow. Two abstract butta thumbs up! 

Chaltandr - Numbers [no label] 
It doesn’t take much to overwhelm us over here at AuxOut headquarters, and that’s how we regularly (and quite shamefully!) come across cassettes sent years ago but never reviewed. Just like this here tape from Chaltandr. It’s a real brief affair with a non-real voice chanting “numbers” and “whoa whoa”. Way bitcrushed, a sizzling sample of something or other gets entangled among infinitely echoing percussive clicks. Side B is a continuation and/or remix. Introduces a bass throb that gives the composition a little kick in the ass and gets it off the ground. The shuffle slows to a stumble then slows to a crawl. The voice repeats “zero” and wa la! For fans of malfunctioning robo-calls and stuttering software loops. 

CIA Debutante - Music for Small Rooms [Ever/Never] 
I remember coming across the CIA Debutante name as one of the rare acts Tom Lax has branded with the Siltbreeze imprint as of late. But I’m just now realizing that this duo is French! But at least one of them is Australian? These international waters are murky. Regardless, how my American brethren let a great name like CIA Debutante slip through their fingers and across the ocean is beyond me. We invented the CIA for pete’s sake! 

To these ears, CIA Debutante comes from the Shadow Ring anti-rock tradition. But trading the haphazard for the methodical, Music for Small Rooms pumps along on heavily filtered and tightly LFO’d synth squirts. The “singer” (probably the Australian one) speaks in a deep, languorous drawl seemingly suspended in a vacuum rather than a small room. The opener “Nuclear Holiday” sounds like Excepter during one of the times that they stumbled onto a good song. You get the tingle to dance but, uh, how the fuck can you dance to this? In fact, Excepter is a pretty solid comp except the vibe is totally different. Excepter always seemed like a lunatic’s idea of dumb fun but CIA Debutante actually creep me out! All this talk of “catching females in mating season”? Yeah, that’s sending shivers up my spine. John Fell Ryan never did that. Not even in that Shining doc. “Sink Hole” sounds like a Vince Clarke jam at first, but someone unplugged the drum machine, Alison never showed, Andy neither and we’re left with this skeevy crooner from places unknown to fill in. The muttering about an untidy room over a seasick sequencer on “Corner of the Room” sets up for the grand finale, and the record’s best track, “Faulty Appliances”. Against portamento-afflicted synth slipping back and forth and a clanging drum machine disguised as a trash can, our mysterious stranger spins pure poetry: “Faulty appliances unavailable for refund/Receipts disappear into bottomless jacket pockets”. You can’t trust ‘em, they’re gonna turn on you. 

Fits right in line with those Boy geniuses of Budokon and Ever/Never’s ever/growing stable of weirdos, so if you’ve been paying attention you already have this record, right? Right??

Eyes and Flys - Anxiety Tools [no label] 
Eyes and Flys - Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam [no label] 
Even though I’ve been behind on everything, Eyes and Flys have been chugging along with no problems whatsoever continuing to produce and distribute their own 7” singles. Despite their penchant to rock, I’ve always had a hunch that they’re at their best when they show their softer side. The homey acoustic number “Wait for the Sun” still stands as my #1 E&F song and Buffalo’s favorite sons strike gold again with the jaunty lilt of “Anxiety Tools”. Pat Shanahan’s deep rasp is front and center as usual, this time over a bed of rustic, slo-mo jangle pop bliss. There is some high-quality tambourine work here. I talked previously about “New Way Get It” and my interpretation that it's a statement of purpose, picking up the DIY torch of Desperate Bicycles and others as we enter the third digital decade of the new millennium. Well, Shanahan isn’t even bothering with suggestion now, directly communicating his self-released 7” ethos with the refrain of “getting by, two songs at a time”. And if that isn’t clear enough, see: “smoke mad weed/pet my dog/and play with the tape machines”. The melodious warble of the outro absolutely sparkles, full of yearning. And I don’t think I’m feeling this way just because my old neighborhood gets mentioned. (I miss you, LA.) The instrumental “God’s Management” fills out the b-side, a curious mélange of jostling roots rock-grunge-jam band-post rock moves. 

When was the last time you heard a punk single about asbestos? The last I have is this here 7” Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam featuring, not one, but two sides about asbestos. Shanahan includes his asbestos certification from the State of New York on the insert so you know he’s not a fuckin’ poser. “Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam” is a garage-punk ripper, roaring high, tight and wild. Shanahan’s voice is drowned out by the band but he sticks in the line “I don’t put my boots on for free”. He may be a working stiff but he ain’t no sucker. Side B “Sad Labor” is bifurcated with a rev’d up, rocked out bit of despair (“Can’t stand the midwest/Covered with asbestos/This is your roll/Get in the hole/Grow up and die like a man, boy/This is your roll/Get in the hole”) coming first. The second half is a melancholic extended outro featuring a guitar figure reminiscent of the intro on “In the Mouth a Desert” and field recordings of some industrial operation happening, or maybe just a lot of aerosol being discharged. “Anxiety Tools” is my pick of these tunes, but you can’t go wrong with these guys. 

James Fella & Gabriella Isaac - CCTK Music [Gilgongo]
CCTK Music, a new collaborative LP by Gilgongo head James Fella and Gabriella Isaac, is firmly situated along with the likes of Scuba Death, Embarker and Diagram: A in the Is my stereo broken?! Fuck! genre of music. In fact, the pointed placement of “music” in the album title drives home the point that 30 minutes of harsh static, corrosive klang and ungrounded electrical wiring is music if we say it is.
This thick, face melting slab comes sheathed in a none-more-red jacket because… wait for it… this record lives IN THE RED. 2000’s guitar duo Hototogisu and their bottomless thirst for wreaking havoc/caving my head in came to mind at first blush so that will give you a real good idea of the kind of euphoric punishment in store. Unlike Hototogisu, there are no guitars used here. The accompanying blown out photo shows Issac sitting in front of a MacBook and Fella behind a pair of turntables, so unless Issac is hunkering down to finish her dissertation and Fella is moonlighting as a DJ at Tempe’s hottest night spot, we can assume that’s how they kicked up this godawful racket. Actually, we don’t have to assume because behind that photo it says “cymbal, tape, kalimba, computer”. But that’s just the beginning. Side A titled “Reference Lacquer” is a recording of the duo manipulating each other’s material in real time. This is what gives it that livewire feel. From ear splitting crackle to ear tickling rattle, the performance flows in an organic motion. Capable of turning on a dime but wise enough to settle in where appropriate. The flip side titled “Lacquer Ensemble” expands the concept exponentially. The duo cut six stereo reference lacquers of the recording on the first side and then performed again using those six lacquers as their instruments. Whatever singed eyebrows you have left after dropping the needle on the first side, say goodbye. Fella and Isaac unleash an ungodly fucking firestorm and it is truly glorious. Dynamic but utterly savage. The wretched wail of a skyscraper collapsing in on itself. This is what love sounds like. Recommended

Gabby Fluke-Mogul | Jacob Felix Heule | Kanoko Nishi-Smith - Non Dweller [Humbler]
Any longtime reader of these pages knows that percussionist Jacob Felix Heule has big fans at AuxOut HQ and Non Dweller, released on his Humbler label, finds Heule operating with a new configuration. Joining Heule on Non Dweller is violinist Gabby Fluke-Mogul as well as Kanoko Nishi-Smith (who collaborated with Heule on the 2020’s excellent Brittle Feebling). The trio wrangle together violin, koto and bass drum for an hour of minimalist squirm und drang. Split evenly into two untitled pieces, these are some extended dives into the gorgeous, unsettling sensations that can be wrought from friction and resonance. The insistent whine of Fluke-Mogul’s violin. Heule’s groaning drum. The tap-tap-tap of Nishi-Smith’s koto sounding like rattling bones. This is some heavy haunted house shit. A ghost lurks in the shadows. Or at least that’s my guess as to the meaning of the titular non dweller. By turns fierce and cunning, the trio exhibits ultimate restraint, at times brushing up against the cusp of total freak out, never overplaying their hand. And, alternately, sometimes retreating into near and even total silence. For fans of things that go bump in the night. 

Hidden Rifles - Across the Neighborhoods [Total Life Society] 
Total Life Society sent over a hulking stack of Scarcity of Tanks records which I’m still digesting for publication but they also sent along the sole CD by Hidden Rifles―ah, now that’s a discography appropriately sized for a part-time, part-time music writer. Much like Scarcity of Tanks, Hidden Rifles is centered around Matthew Wascovich’s vocals and, on Across the Neighborhoods, he’s accompanied by guitarist Mark Shippy (a fav from his US Maple days), drummer Jim Sykes (Parts & Labor) and guitarist Norman Westburg who’s also spent time in Scarcity of Tanks. Oh yeah, there’s also a bass player by the name of Mike Watt. 

Hidden Rifles immediately leap off the starting line with the two minute blast of “Thrawnly Lot”. Dual post-Sonic Youth guitar wig outs whirl and crash while the rhythm section lets it rip. It’s brief and brash and stands apart from the album to follow (about half of the remaining songs eclipse the 5 minute mark or get mighty close). “Paranoid Unsaid” simmers and slinks along lead by Wascovich’s raspy speak-sing with an elastic sense of time before waves of noise eventually cascade into one another. The way that jazz is spliced into Hidden Rifles’ DNA makes ‘em hard to pin down, I mean the title track features a walking bassline after all. I keep coming back to the first MX-80 Sound LP but there’s something else going on here. The anything-goes attitude of The Styrenes? Can’t place it, which is the point. Hidden Rifles are on their own racetrack. They can grind to a halt with nothing but Wascovich’s voice and guitar scrape percolating through the silence and snap back to double time in an instant―the chops are on full display. 

The band really taps into something special on “Essential Swearing” twisting and turning at full speed, seamlessly covering about an album’s worth of dynamic changes in three and a half minutes while masquerading as a catchy tune. Really impressive stuff. On the other hand, “Mutant Numerals” fights the urge to flat out rock, gathering tension as it deconstructs and rebuilds its swaggering strut over and over. “Cranial Escrow” and “Obviate Effort” have a bit of the jazz-funk-punk churn that once oozed out the doors of Dischord while “Subway” gets unexpectedly hypnotic. “Wherever” stands apart, seeming to presage Wascovich’s Vicious Fence project, with a lively bounce and more traditional take on rock & roll. Hey, turns out they're pretty good at that too. 

Not sure if this is a one-off or if plans exist for a second Hidden Rifles album, but I hope they do. This bunch of guys have all made a ton of records in their lives but that hasn’t dulled their desire to discover something new and crack it wide open. 

Seth Kasselman - UV Catamaran [UR Sounds] 
Seth Kasselman is responsible for the avant-glam Simon Finn acid-nightmare of Warm Climate, some of the best outsider pop this side of Y2K. Those Warm Climate cassettes (and LP!) were an adventure and this new one under Kasselman’s own name is too. Sadly the pop element has dropped away with the Warm Climate moniker but quality has not suffered. UV Catamaran finds Kasselman in full-on soundscape mode. Kasselman’s penchant to drift off into other sound worlds in between pop hooks was a big factor in attracting me to Warm Climate so it's fascinating to hear him go full-hog here. There’s a lot of water flowing throughout UV Catamaran with Kasselman going so far as to record some of this material underwater using hydrophone microphones. I’ve never gone scuba diving but I’ve watched those movies made by scuba divers and I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound exactly like what I imagine scuba diving to be (including some horrifying I-think-I’m-gonna-die hyperventilating on “Long Time Machines”). I’m drifting somewhere unfamiliar. I feel calm but I’m not relaxed. Wondrous moments pass by my ears, I’m captivated by their beauty, then remember I’m 200 feet from air, vulnerable, and shaken from the infatuation of my surroundings. I hear voices in my head. Unintelligible whispers. Intrusive thoughts. Sounds I can touch. Sounds I can feel. Describing the nuts and bolts of the sonics here does a disservice to the overall work. Kasselman truly takes you on a journey. No bullshit. This is a schooner I want to sail away on. Recommended 

p.s. Perfect “serious art” pairing with the brilliant meditation on the Hand of Food 12” 

Los Lichis - Small Mole & The Flavor Jewel Trio [Ever/Never]
Taking a quick scan over the Ever/Never discography, I don’t think the label has ever gone so “hippie” before. Those crazy bastards in the Big Apple have gotten up to plenty of shenanigans over the years but peace and love, man has never been the calling card. And if you take a look at this album cover, Los Lichis don’t exactly come off as the peace lovin’ types either (just wait 'til you see the whacked out A/B labels). So to my surprise, the first time I dropped the needle on Small Mole & The Flavor Jewel Trio, I hear open tuned guitars, hand drums and chanted vowels. Not so surprising, however, considering who's releasing the record, is that this is real good stuff. 

Reminding me of my younger years when folk-raga revivalists like GHQ or Good Stuff House were all the rage, Los Lichis hail from Monterrey, Mexico and they have their own raga Mexicana take. There are five pieces on the 12” and they all wander and drift into each other, seemingly emerging from the ether. Los Lichis can simmer and smoke with the best of them but my favorite aspect is that they subtly inject a sense of mischief in the otherwise solemn vocation of being a hippie-drone band. Wild-eyed yips dapple the hypnotic, tangled strings of “Electroterrifying the Neighborhood” and the heavy meditation of “Roosters and Loggerhead Turtles are My Best Friends” culminates in a loud burp. This mentality comes to the fore on the buoyant psychedelia of “Charly Morkecho’s Fucking Filthy Pig Skin Needs a Daily Bunch of Body Cream” which would definitely be on the soundtrack at a cool line dancing bar. If there was a cool line dancing bar. It’s a rollicking good time. The perfectly placed finale “Kesos & Kosas Las Mas Horrorosas” marks a fantastic comedown and that track will be playing at the other bar you head to post-line dancing after you’ve been blasted by your fourth rum+tequila cocktail and need a place to unwind. 

The trio recently scored a short film at Sundance, so watch out, Hollywood might come sniffin’ around and try to corrupt ‘em. You know, sand off those strange, lovable edges. Make sure you’re able to look back without regret and say you knew Los Lichis when they were still sub-underground. 

Meadow Argus - II [no label] 
Gather round kids, I have a story to tell you. Long, long ago, back at the turn of the century, a young chap by the name of Tynan Krakoff formed an underground record label Doris Nordic Tribute (named for his grandmother if I recall), better known as the acronymized DNT. DNT stood as one of the finest underground labels of its era running the gamut from neo-No Wave, placid psychedelia, chilling drone and noise, cassettes, CDrs, records of sounds from around the world. (You can read about many DNT releases HERE)

Krakoff retired the label a while back (because goddammit, he deserved a break!) but has since reemerged with his Meadow Argus project. Distorted, processed home videos/field recordings nestle into abstract trickling rhythms (reminding me of his dub work as Tad) and even more heavily processed guitar or keyboards. The cassette is at its best when it's fully adrift, seeming like it’s receding back into your brain even though it never originated there in the first place. There’s a distinctly lo-fi flavor―I may be fooled but I bet Tynan is huffing that pure, uncut ferric oxide baby. II has the vibe of the pre-DAW/Plugin’d era. When it was weirdos alone in their basements, surrounded by old tape recorders, hypnotized by their decaying sounds rather than broadcasting live to Youtube. In an age where you can find out how anything is made in an instant, Meadow Argus harbors mysteries pleasingly unexplained.