Friday, January 19, 2018

BE; “At the Start” (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

“We Must Be Ourselves.” Exist, amorphously. Create instructions. Follow them. Divest from them. Stand, amplified, the Boat in Oakland, in California. Unleash hellish racket. Revise hellish racket. Divest from instructions. We are water, almost 100%. 100% liquid + dust + magic. So 90% water then. Express yourself. Cover Madonna unceasingly. These are all covers of Madonna songs/none of these are Madonna songs. Stand, amplified, screech, scrawl, effervesce, perhaps nude. Word sludge. Amplified, still, and there are spectators. Wisdom, chaos. One snake eats tail, the other eats shit. Infinite garage. Typo. Infinite garbage. Typo. Finite gristle. Roll in it. Writhe, wriggle, vomit. Such babies!

--Ched Chunder

Thursday, January 18, 2018

K^REN “NoT BaLD” (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

Since when did the NBA logo become a shitting cartoon ghost man?

--usually a Blues Traveler/Spin Doctors fan

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

OZEAN “Ozean” C15 (Lavender Sweep)

Simply gorgeous. Ozean recorded these three songs in 1992, forming in the wake of a RIDE/Lush double bill and a fortuitously placed flier seeking a guitarist and singer. Yeah, this is right in my wheelhouse – you want a Cocteau Twins/Lush/Slowdive hybrid? Look no further. Originally released as a demo, these three songs have been remastered and released now, in an era when pretty much every shoegaze band is reforming and finding newfound success. Too bad Ozean was fifteen years too early – they would have been huge now, probably. Gauzy and heavenly, melodic and distorted, Ozean fits right in with their contemporaries. God only knows what might have been.

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Cinematic: “of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures”

A modus operandi becomes apparent for Voice of Canvas upon the very first note of the very first track – strike that, before the very first note of the very first track is even played. “Cinematic by Definition” serves both in title and execution as a mission statement, following which SEMAPHORE EKKO is easily understood and appreciated. Similar in scale and scope to film soundtracks that capture the grandeur of location (and it helps when the film is set in a location that becomes an integral part of and potentially overwhelms the action), SEMAPHORE EKKO almost fully becomes a film in itself, not even needing the crutch of a visual medium to establish its plot. It doesn’t hurt that the jcard is adorned with mountain, though. There’s a grandiosity about that snow-covered peak photographed in black and white, monolithic in its presence and conveying a heightened sense of the dramatic to any who view it. Turns out that Voice of Canvas is awfully good at soundtracking mountains.

It’s good that VoC is back, then – not much has emerged from the Swedish artist’s camp since 2010, and if that time was spent gestating the ideas that would become SEMAPHORE EKKO, then bravo. Not unlike Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannson, whose FORDLANDIA is simply breathtaking (and who I wish was providing the music to BLADE RUNNER 2049, but hey, if you wanted Vangelis, why bring in Jóhannson in the first place?), VoC, using all the studio tricks he can muster, creates a huge sound out of stillness. Part ambient, part electronic, solo but with an ear for enormity, SEMAPHORE sneaks up on you, drifting through “Cinematic by Definition” and emerging into the sort of trip hop excursion “Solid Venue (Edt).” It’s “I Call You,” though, that solidifies the whole endeavor, as VoC adds spaghetti western acoustic guitar and ratchets up the spectacle of expectation as if following a gunslinger who wanders into an arctic frontier town under an aurora borealis. From there the sparseness of keys and frigid atmosphere take over, and VoC never loses his vision as he progresses. The music halts these imaginary moments in time, allowing your mind to take the narrative over and build its own backstory and resolution. In this way, Voice of Canvas is maybe more of a cinematographer than a musician – maybe even a director, bringing together the pieces of his singular vision and presenting them as a unified whole.

Voice of Canvas
Do You Dream of Noise? (hope you can read Swedish)

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, January 15, 2018

"Only Human…Only Machine" C53
(Dystopian Caveman)

Long Beach’s “Namo” churns out late 20th century hip-hop beats with production-aided ambiance and texture that only the 21st century can provide (well, from a bedroom’s laptop, anyway), and this long-running document is surefire proof that jungle-beats, expertly-tweaked bass presence, and good ol’fashioned hip-hop bass-snare scaffolding can be interwoven to host a diaspora of classic themes that promote productivity, increased heartbeat, and maybe a li’l chair-anchored exercise. Coming to a cubicle near you!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, January 14, 2018

STORCH INTERIOR EXTRACTS “Remote Assistance Failure” C40 (Cellar)

Not on this Earth, you don’t. REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE is a cosmic signal. That is all. There is nothing suggesting that Storch Interior Extracts is from this arm of the Milky Way, not even the fact that its transmission is recorded and encoded and released by Prague-based Cellar Tapes. You can’t make these noises on this planet, it’s just that simple. Well, maybe your computer can make them – they’re sort of variations of the clunks emitted when you try to perform a function that doesn’t work on it. But your computer certainly isn’t smart enough to rile those tones into infinitely clustering patterns that shift and evolve over time! (OK, maybe it can. Dang, computers are smart!) Point is, the more you listen to REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE, the more you’ll understand that the soundwaves billowing at you are some sort of mathematical communication from another part of the universe. Maybe the source has obscured its coordinates within it? Regardless, hiding a message in a file marked “Home Electronics Tutorial” that only emerges once the conditions are met is a pretty neat extraterrestrial trick if they’re looking to narrow their human contact down to someone who meets specific criteria. I mean, I think it is – how else would an advanced alien race attempt to contact a potential new space buddy? I mean, besides just showing up and announcing themselves like adults. If it was me who had just discovered these guys, I’d be way more forthcoming about it. Because I’m not a whiny space baby. Storch Interior Extracts are probably not whiny space babies either, I’m just saying. What I’m also doing is enjoying the hell out of REMOTE ASSISTANCE FAILURE. I think it’s resolving into clarity, and resolving pretty nicely, if I do say so. Message received – now I’ve got to decode this thing. I’ve wasted enough of your (and my) time, anyway. Now I’ll just run this thing through my trusty Texas Instruments BA II Plus. That’s a calculator. I doubt anything’s going to happen.


--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, January 13, 2018

GERMAN ARMY “Pacific Plastic” (Seagrave)

Let me read into this.

First, that cover is what, a … cross-section of something? Looks like it, and judging by the release on SEAgrave and the term “Pacific” in the title of PACIFIC PLASTIC, I’m going to go with a cross-section of ocean, no matter how alien it actually looks. Maybe it’s an alien ocean. Maybe it’s the Pacific Ocean after generations of evolution. Why else would it contain odd polygons? Because aliens use polygons in the oceanographic studies. DUH.

I mean, I’m obviously wrong. Most of the track titles point to places that don’t even come close to the Pacific Ocean (actually having more to do with Africa), so let’s talk oceans in general, and civilizations that border them, rely on them, etc. Or let’s not – you need a break from me doing that, don’t you, digging down into some rabbit hole to follow a red herring or other crammed-in animal metaphor that will only bring ruin and frustration? Eff it, let’s just listen to this thing.

Maybe you’re expecting this, but tribal exoticism wrapped in proto-industrial electronics is the German Army way, and PACIFIC PLASTIC is no different, for the most part. And even though that sounds like a distinctly active description, the mood is a languid one, borrowing from equatorial summer afternoons. This is as relaxed a vibe as GeAr is likely to get without going full Peter Kris ambient on us (save for a couple spots, like the title track and “Svaneti in June”). What we get are meditations on scenic vistas stretching to the seas, of national parks and tiny islands, ancient kingdoms and towns bordering safari camps. The sounds could easily complement a nature or anthropology documentary or a film set in a location mysterious and unusual to Western eyes. Regardless, GeAr tap into indigenous wavelengths, reveling in the environments that humanity hasn’t fully destroyed yet.

Where does that leave PACIFIC PLASTIC? Is it a call to reassess modern civilization through a different lens? Is it an admonition of our reliance on the manufacturing sector? I wonder, then, if it’s bad or not bad that I have this plastic tape in my possession. I guess if I don’t throw it in the ocean, I’m in good shape. Enough – I already said I wasn’t going too deep here. And Alien polygons… what an idiot.

German Army

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, January 12, 2018


What's for Breakfast Records is a punk rock cassette label that tends to pair up an American band with a foreign band.
Their latest EP features Mala Vista from Brooklyn, New York
and Charlie's Stripe supporting the other side of the tape with their Italian punk rock licks.
The Mala Vista side rocks us back to 1977 with
"Locked Away". They then bring us into what could be an 80s rock song with "Shake", it's got kind of a of a Gaza Strippers feel to it

On the B side, oh wait a minute, there's no b-sides! Just two more solid rock songs. anywho, Charlie's Stripe gives us their poppy upbeat song "Jay".
I feel like love is around us too.
They then close the EP with "Waste Your Time", another upbeat punk rock song.
Though, I feel like the EP could have been mastered a bit better, due to the volume being way lower on the Charlie's Stripe side.
I suspect if you are getting this you are supporting one of the bands and will just listen to the mp3 versions.

Cassette comes in a red colored shell, and includes stickers.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Leisure Time" C57
(Crash Symbols)

Estonian synth-psych beatmaker, genre-blender, and all-around goodtimes-provider Luurel Varas finally serves up nearly an hour’s worth of even-keeled neck-waving soundtrackage for the bad-ass Crash Symbols label, and it’s pretty much perfect for zoning out, computer work, and/or barbequing. While listening (on repeat), whenever I’ve let the music fade to the backburner of my mind (doing something besides focusing on the various, rich layers) I’ve consistently ended up feeling transported back to A Tribe Called Quest’s hey-day, feeling those grooving, jazzy themes all over again, but this time with a more subtle, texture-driven bent (via synthesizer manipulation) that gives this release a quality not yet explored (exploited?) just yet. At other times, I’ve felt Bill Leeb’s remote presence, recalling ethereal atmospheres reminiscent of turn of the century Delerium (think “Karma” or “Poem”), and all of these things are not only good, but pretty great, especially since one genre’s flavor doesn’t get the spotlight for too long.  Tape is nearly sold out already (and rightly so), so keep an eye out at your local shop.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, January 8, 2018

(Astral Spirits / Monofonus Press)

I’m immediately enamored of the names on this release: “More Eaze,” “Jones & Flato,” “Bhob Rainey.” They flit across the edge of my mind like “astral spirits.” As the More Eaze side begins, I’m looking at the cover art and I feel like I’m in the world of Academia-meets-Street-Rapper. I’m mesmerized by the juxtaposition of strange names and the ambiguous punctuation marks that separate them. Steve Flato is a beautiful sounding name, so beautiful that it must be a fake, an alias of some sort, but it isn’t.  “All instances of synthesis and sound captures…” Yes, this is a true instance of synthesis and sound capture—a true rattle from the bottom of the well. Jones & Flato sound like a haunted grain silo. More Eaze sounds like a spaceship. Then Jones & Flato and Bhob Rainey (another beautiful, fake-sounding name) put me to the test with a long, high-frequency segment. Ouch! Steve Flato is interested in the use of music “as a therapeutic tool,” but to me, this last part was just painful.

--Kevin Oliver

Sunday, January 7, 2018

3 MOONS “3WordSword” (Sonic Meditations)

“Meditate and destroy,” goes the saying, and 3 Moons follows it across the dusty wilderness. In the midst of the landscape the duo draws power from extrasensory sources, each breath in and each “Om” out a consolidation of strength and force they keep in reserve. Jefferson Zurna and Dena Goldsmith-Stanley use that power to transform psychic spaces, terraforming your very innermost being as if it were physical topography. Like Trinity in the Nevada desert as viewed from a distance, 3WORDSWORD contains all the intensity of a nuclear explosion but muted, its low rumble only the tip of the iceberg of the supernatural force contained within. 3 Moons are thus shaman, using telepathy to draw you ever further away from civilization to places where spiritual upheaval can truly occur. The drones improvised with “rumbling sheets of feedback, guitar figures, hypnotic reeds, and cryptic electric piano” penetrate every fiber of your being, coursing through your body and mind and interacting with the basic construction of your DNA. You different yet? You should be – I feel like every second 3WORDSWORD is playing is a second of sonically induced evolution. Pretty soon I won’t resemble a resident of this planet anymore, a human being. Then something like “E.T. Drone Home” will be more than just a cleverly worded song title—it’ll be a portal to a new plane of existence. How cool is that going to be?

3 Moons
Sonic Meditations

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, January 6, 2018

BE; "At the Start" C60 (Tingo Tongo Tapes)

BE; be an improv group that uses looped guitar (generally treated as percussion and occasionally drone), voice (also looped), percussion and pedals to achieve maximum chaos. At times minimal, but mostly maximal, these folx bang and clang out anti-rhythms for the…well…what’s the opposite of “masses”? It’s an acquired taste, and one that’s really needed to get into a live recording that wasn’t mixed via soundboard. The tape’s mastering is looooow, so you’ll get your dosage of tape hiss, for sure. Was that intentional? Who knows! One thing is for sure, Tingo Tongo Tapes gives zero fucks about tonality, cohesiveness, or pretty much anything to do with pop appeal. If that’s your thang, you’ll fucking love what they have to offer. Explore via the link below.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, January 5, 2018

HOLIDAY "Holiday" (Wiener Records, 2015)

Matthew Sweet fell through a fuzz box and hit a couple of shoegaze bands on the way. The drums are in my mouth and that synth came from somewhere in the 80s.

Driving rock beats with some seriously gorgeous male voices singing harmonic leads (presumably this is one vocalist, layered.) The fuzzed-out drums, droning organs, and urgent guitar perfectly underline these melodies. In places ("Made by Youth") there's a slightly lunatic slant to that vocal line, and the wheels feel like they might come off once in a while, as on "Weeks Collide" where the drums are threatening to blow up the player.

I'm feeling this pull, a powerful drive here. The songs may occasionally lack a center, a little bit of a style-over-substance problem peaking from around the corner. But there's enough strong material in the album's short playtime that the ebb and flow works.

Both sides start with absolute killer tracks; side 2's "Natural Calm" reminding again of Matthew Sweet, its repeat chorus of "you were here, you're dead, you missed it" laying a dark backdrop for the rest of the side.

There's a little Weezer on side 2, too, albeit with a little bit of David Lynch thrown in, a circus of sound like we might hear coming out of a radiator in a fever dream.

No harm in the obvious shout-out to us oldsters who bought cassettes when the covers looked like this, the little picture of the album cover in a box on a white background. Like finding some forgotten piece of our past in a bargain bin somebody forgot to throw in the landfill in 1991.

Highly recommended stuff here.

-- Kingo Sleemer

Thursday, January 4, 2018


King Mental is a UK band that has been around since the late 1990’s, releasing acid-tinged techno on various record labels. But just this year in 2017, they finally got around to releasing a self-titled album. The album, coming on a pretty clear-green cassette, is a four-track EP and its songs are purely instrumental. The first track, “8th Floor Madness”, starts off with a catchy electronic danceable beat and thudding bass that will make your speakers vibrate. “Blair Bitch Project” continues on with a faster energy to it.

Side B’s “When Ya Move Out Of Control & Run” features real drums as the beat (as in non-electronic) and is a slower tempo track, and is accompanied by muffled lyrics for the first time in the album, differentiating it from the previous tracks. The final track, “I’m George Ryan”, starts with a quick beat once again and features voice samples from the titular George Ryan. Out of curiosity I tried to find the source of these samples, but the only “George Ryan” of note I could find was a former governor of Illinois who was arrested on corruption charges, so unless that’s him I am in the dark as to who the subject of the song is.

In all I found the album quite enjoyable, being a fan of electronic music myself. If you’re looking for some good instrumental electronic music to dance to, this is not an album to overlook.

-- Suren Oganessian

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

STILL IMAGE "A Finite Line" C30
(Throne Heap Devotional Music)

A Finite Line C-30 is the debut album of Still Image, headed by musician Shane Church of the bands Hostage Pageant, Crooked Necks and Glass Half among other bands. The album, a brief 30 minutes in length, consists of experimental ambient music that would have been right at home in the psychedelic 1960’s alongside bands like Cromagnon.

The album begins with a series of what I can only describe as predictable noises that start to form a pattern, reminiscent of a washing machine accompanied by a chime, but this eventually transitions into something more melodic. What could be considered the next track or section (it is hard to distinguish where one ends and another begins, thanks to their transitional nature and the cassette format itself) reminds me like a heavy storm, with wind billowing. At this point in the album, I decided it was best to listen to it as a whole rather than search for different tracks to review individually; or alternately, each side of the cassette could be considered a 15-minute track onto itself. Soon enough it was time for Side B; this starts with what sounds like the engine of an airplane going through turbulence, transitioning into sections that are more melodic, albeit static-sounding and filled with background noises.

In all, this album may appeal to a very niche market, but if you are a fan of experimental ambient music this album is sure to offer something new.

-- Suren Oganessian

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

ANTHONY VINE “Remnants” C64 (Galtta Media)

You’re an idiot. It’s nothing you can help, I understand that. You just don’t have the vision that someone like Anthony Vine does. REMNANTS is a brilliant encapsulation of Vine’s collaboration with a variety of musicians, from soprano saxophonist David Lackner on the vast, twenty-minute opener “Duo” to the six-piece fourteen-minute piece “North.” These sounds are fully contemplated, fully realized, and the result is a modern classical/modern jazz/ambient slow burn that requires your undivided attention to fully suss the whole thing out. The tension inherent in the four tracks is almost unbearable, as Vine and cohorts stretch their sessions to the breaking point, and you’re left wondering, hoping, that they’ll resolve into something you can wrap your head around. But remember, you’re stupid, you’re an idiot! No resolution for you. And this is how it should be, your breathing and your circulation tied explicitly to REMNANTS. You’ll need an EKG machine to monitor whether you’re able to handle the deep, subtle changes Vine and crew hit you with throughout this tape. In fact, are you even breathing? Or is it Anthony Vine’s guitar doing the breathing for you? I wouldn’t open your eyes, you’re in an iron lung, and REMNANTS is guiding you toward the light. Go toward it. You have no purchase here on this plane of existence any longer. You’ve suggested, in your will, that your descendants should buy this tape, though, right? If not, I’ll tell em.

Galtta Media

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, December 31, 2017

“Windscale Pile No. 1”
(Do You Dream of Noise?)

As I contemplated “Windscale Pile No. 1,” I marveled at the coincidence surrounding my receipt of this tape and its subsequent review. First, Do You Dream of Noise? must have some exclusive European rights, as this tape was “released under exclusive license” from Burnt Toast Vinyl, a Philadelphia-based label with whose releases I’ve had some interaction in the past. Second, Soporus, guitarist Matthew Stone and bassist William Stichter, performed together in the band Saxon Shore, a really good post rock band who I’ve sadly only encountered on compilations. (Really good compilations.) Saxon Shore has deep connections to the corridor from Central Pennsylvania to Philadelphia, a corridor I’ve often traversed during my time living just south of Harrisburg, driving the two hours or so to Philadelphia and back for shows, Phillies games, family visits, etc. It should come as no surprise, then, for anyone familiar with the area that Soporus has a deep connection to man’s attempt to harness nuclear power, as the infamous Three Mile Island lies not far from where I lived and Stone grew up. In fact, the track “A Clear View of Three Mile Island from on Top of Governor Dick Tower” is as obvious a paean to this topic as you can get, and it strikes me just right as I, myself, as a college-age whippersnapper, once climbed a water tower overlooking Harrisburg and TMI in the distance. As Stone, Schichter, and I approach forty (and damn you for dragging that out of me!), I’m overwhelmed by history and memory that such biographical details and the music of “Windscale Pile No. 1” conjure.

This ruminative attitude is reciprocal: Soporus plays it, I reflect on it, and thus the circle is complete. That’s what Soporus wants us to get out of this anyway – reflect upon the meditative passages of “Windscale,” get deep into the currents of the past and how we relate to it, and let the sonics break over us like waves on a shore, or drift upon us like snow on a path, or rise and ascend with us like luminous beings. Listening to “Windscale” is the equivalent of being back on top of that water tower in the dead of night, adventure ahead, life brimming, nothing to stop forward progress but our own flaws. And where we are now in relation to that matters only to your innermost secrets. Coincidence from past to present drives “Windscale,” reflects it, causes you to react to it, but meditating on that experience will unlock the secrets.

Let’s end, then, on a recap of the strange path this tape took to get to me: a label from Sweden sent this tape to me in Florida, but I probably lived no more than 20 miles from the band in a past life in Pennsylvania.

RIYL: Stars of the Lid

Do You Dream of Noise? (again, this is in Swedish)

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, December 30, 2017

“articulate ridge #16” C36
(Personal Archives)

Marcus Maurice seems to be everywhere these days, and I’ve had the privilege of catching up on a couple of his recent releases as More Eaze, first with “firesid3 ch@t r00m” on Orange Milk, then with his split on Astral Spirits with A. F. Jones and Steve Flato. There’s so much more out there though. So much. Including “articulate ridge #16” on match-made-in-heaven label Personal Archives. Why is this such a divine conflation of ideology? Could it be the mutual embrace of sonic exploration? A singlemindedness of independent vision? A vast love of the everlasting weird? Yes, yes, and double yes, or “yup,” if that is indeed what “the #h1tz of 2dai” is belching in its MIDI glory as I’m typing this sentence right now. It’s good to question the basic building blocks of what you’re listening to – how else are you going to imprint your own self onto it? Belch-barf yeps aside, “articulate ridge #16” continues the unlikely marriage of More Eaze’s focus on the overt and the avant-garde, the in-your-faceness of the harsh synthetic composition a key unsubtle component to the intricacy of the work. Because More Eaze is doing his thing all up in the electronic spectrum, there’s a sense of familiarity in that melodies certainly seep through, as do rhythmic elements, setting his tracks up as suites of “songs” in a sense, though “Banger: Impossible” may well be the title of his next record (do it, for some stupid reason, do it!). But they’re so much more, so deeply enjoyed that taking in any of this in bite-size pop fragments is fully impracticable. I say this with a smirk creeping across my face as “the #h1tz of 2dai” utilizes an ACTUAL pop hit at the end of it to bring it to a close. I’m weighing whether or not to spoil the surprise, but who cares, you’ll listen to the whole thing anyway.

Hahahahaha Blink-182.

Anyhoo, “albuquerque necktie” has to qualify for some kind of award handed out to awesome album titles, and it lurches as violently as its title would suggest, ending in a liquid puddle of post-necktie viscera. Perhaps it’s simply the logical precursor to “L8 capitalist ax13ty 2k17,” the idea of that title a psychological “albuquerque necktie” (if not a literal one). The sickly processional plays like a decaying parade float as it simultaneously gets wet and melts from electrical currents coursing through it. Life doesn’t have to be that way, not if you’re not part of the festivities in the first place. Don’t be part of those sickening festivities. Follow More Eaze instead, down the “articulate ridge #16” until your gears seize and your pistons quit firing. Something like that, if you’re following.

More Eaze
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, December 29, 2017

“The Invincible” / “The Vacant Coast”
(Pyramid Blood / Otherworldly Mystics)

Stanislaw Lem’s THE INVINCIBLE. Got it, Joshua Stefane, added to my list. I mean, I’m not kidding, SOLARIS is in the mail for me right now, and can’t wait to start. Like seriously – it should be here next week according to Amazon’s shipping notification. I’m an insatiable science fiction junkie, much like Stefane, it sounds, and we’d probably get along just fine, being that we’re both writers too. Anyway, you’re here about these tapes aren’t you, not the little aside I’ve got going on here? (Well, a one-sided aside anyway.) (And really, it sometimes seems as if my music writing comes off as science fiction snippets anyway – at least that’s the POINT.) (Do I detect a hint of dissatisfaction?) (Never, music is my first love. Sci-fi’s a close second, probably. Books are, anyway.) (GET ON WITH IT.) The whole science fiction connection comes from THE INVINCIBLE, which is intended as an “unofficial soundtrack” to the book. I’ve been meaning to get into Lem for a long time, as SUMMA TECHNOLOGIAE, while nonfiction, has been on my reading list (which is insanely long) forever, but maybe I can ride the wave of Endurance into my first foray. I’ll take my chances with these two tapes.

First, on THE INVINCIBLE, Stefane crafts patient approximations of deep space upon the advent of humanity’s venturing into it. He molds, effortlessly, sonic sculptures that conjure the awe of the infinity facing such a finite creature as man, as well as the terrifying uncertainty of first contact. He depicts space as indifferent and hostile to humans and magnifies their insignificance within it. The ambient passages of THE INVINCIBLE serve to further, ahem, alienate mankind in the vastness of the universe, seeping into the subconscious and burrowing into the back of the mind. It asks the questions that Lem would – what is a hostile entity, and how do we perceive it? What makes something hostile toward us anyway? And could it be that our humanness is projecting that hostility? Are WE in fact the hostile entities? (Again, haven’t read the book yet, hope I’m close.)

The story behind THE VACANT COAST is a different one, but no less intriguing. Stefane, who now resides in Japan, spent time in Kinosaki “during a period of convalescence,” and this release was conceived and recorded there. The town, not far from the southern coast of the island and about a hundred miles from Tokyo, is renowned for its hot springs, and therefore is conducive to deep meditation and spiritual and physical healing. All of this is basically a description right in the Endurance wheelhouse, whose sonics perfectly soundtrack YET AGAIN a narrative, this time of an earthly place, but one no less deserving of reverent, inspired composition. A place like Kinosaki allows one to get inside their own head, and Stefane’s imagination was deeply fired by his time there. He also discovered some photographs from the 1960s, two of which adorn the j-card of this tape, and the photographer is unknown. Each evokes a time and a place, and it’s easy to see why Stefane found them so absorbing that he used them for his album artwork. Both images portray a quintessential moment in life, and Stefane’s connection to them, perhaps enhanced by his location, is deep and unknowable yet expertly expressed in THE VACANT COAST.

In the end, whether the plot takes you to the furthest interstellar reaches or simply a mysterious, unusual place here on Earth, there’s always a story to uncover, whether you follow it or write it yourself. Endurance does both here, and expertly.

Pyramid Blood
Otherworldly Mystics

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, December 28, 2017

WE ALSO LET BLOOD “Eclecticism” C30
(Personal Archives)

Harrison Phillis tries to keep up the appearance of an unruffled outlook, but once you get beyond the surface, there’s a vast reservoir of psychic crud that’s causing ripples and glitches in his positive façade. Not that it’s surprising – a perusal of his discography and a sampling of the wares has me all tense and junk, as if any relief from sheer panic is going to come in the form of jittery, caffeine-shot vibes that will only serve to amp the tension even if it dials back the dread. I’m a little more paranoid than I used to be, and We Also Let Blood feeds that paranoia. But, as Phillis himself says, WALB is like Charlie Brown cooking up an HNW, and OK, I get the downtrodden nerd vibe a little bit here on ECLECTICISM, especially on the specifically non-HNW tracks that use – gasp! – melody as a building block within the sonic structure. “You Can’t Reach Me Here,” “I’m Sorry, I Wasn’t Listening,” and “No, What Did You Say Before That” utilize very similar tones that flit and bleep amid swoops of violent distortion. I’m partial to these tracks as they’re really unusual within the idiom, especially when set in relief against the rest of this tape and, indeed, the rest of Phillis’s oeuvre. These excursions off the well-trod noise path, sidesteps though they are, are the most striking things about it. But that’s not to suggest that the rest of ECLECTICISM is ho-hum – quite the contrary! The nihilist streak lurking behind the We Also Let Blood mask is unleashed in force for the most part, as serrated metallic sheets of noise, ear-splitting klaxons, and rumbles so subterranean they sound like seismic shifts comprise the majority of the tape. And if you’re a noisenik, you know that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Still, the tonal shifts of something like “Logistics” will have your stomach dropping and heart thumping like you’re trapped in a plunging elevator, such is its effect. I think that’s the absolute perfect sensory description of what We Also Let Blood does to you.

We Also Let Blood
Personal Archives

-- Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Solar Schematics Split" C20
(Tingo Tongo Tapes)

On this short split, Igor Amokian explores a relatively beatless stringing of glitch, bleep, and dying machine drone. Hummable phrases pop up here & there, some even repeated, but this is by and large a robot’s stream-of-conscious transmission, recorded to tape.

Following in a similar vein is Psychiceyeclix, with this side utilizing more loopage, creating a syncopated bloop-beat to sway along to. Both artists could very well be starting a new sub-sub-genre called Modem-Core, as I’ve heard pretty much every electronic phrase used within these twenty minutes while waiting for AOL to connect, some twenty years ago. This could be their manifesto. If that’s your thang, strap on them headphones and give this a spin. A hard-drive spin, that is!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

4 Way Split C40 (OJC Recordings)

Like some unholy quadforce forged in the heart of Mt. Doom (and shut up I can mix up my fantasy references if I want to), 4 WAY SPLIT seems to be OJC Recordings’ attempt at total domination. Not to be confused with the CSNY classic 4 WAY STREET, 4 WAY SPLIT packs a quartet of OJC’s wackiest heavers onto one tape, each displaying the violent power they’re apt to unleash at any given, unpredictable moment. You’ve got Ropal Jagnu’s gut-busting synth warble, Stephen’s Lorikeet’s lo-fi guitar tunage, Rigel Magellan’s uncompromising synth pop, and more lo-fi guitarrage from DDM. Personally I’m a Ropal/Rigel fan, and you can catch some of that collaborative wave on the newest Galaxie Deluxe release from OJC. But all four artists prevail in their gloriously debauched idioms, each leveling an uncomfortable amount of “personal expression” at us audience members until we’re MK Ultra’d into doing every bidding of our new OJC masters. Or at least a little seasick from the passage. Either way, it’s hard to shake the disconcerting recordings contained herein, and it’s almost certainly because of the rough edges on each of these tracks. Ropal and Rigel sound like they’re drenched in maple syrup, and SL and DDM come off like they’re playing on the inside of a shoebox. That’s OK for this crew, although it would be interesting if some of that synth drippage leaked into the Stereopathetic Soul Manure–era Beck interlude sounds of the guitar dudes. Whatever your poison, you’ll sure to at least BE poisoned by partaking in this toxic mélange. And you should already be used to that, person reading Cassette Gods – that’s pretty much all we do around here: poison our bodies by listening to toxic sonics performed by sick puppies who get off on our discomfort. And then there’s us, getting off on our own discomfort. Where does the circle end? Maybe it won’t, and that’s just fine by me. Fine by OJC, too, as they’re an important link in the chain.

OJC Recordings

--Ryan Masteller