Saturday, March 17, 2018

Morgan Garrett
"Spiral and Spiral II” C47
(Self Released)

I once thought that
Xiu Xiu
might have done
too many

I do not.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

LOL - editor

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Boundaries” C46
(Trrrash Records)

Included below, between the Bandcamp link to this specific album and a Facebook link to the record label is an interview with Sarmistha Talukdar, the cancer biologist that expands both her research AND creative expressions through this far-reaching sonic probe, Tavishi. Cagean, but not cagey, “Boundaries” is the crossroads between Western Avant-Garde Experimentalism and Hindustani Classical composition; a thoroughly, intelligently designed documentation of assigned sounds correlating with cancer cell identifiers, planetary observations and, oh, what the hell? Anime? Yup!

To say that this tape is “rife with subtext” is an under(grad)statement, but, hey- we’re all learning here- this just goes to show that a deeper inspection of the W-H-Y///H-O-W only intensifies a given product.

Again, I strongly suggest reading the interview first (and maybe a few others) before listening. Included with the physical tape are liner notes on what math-nerdy processes were followed to yield each track, compounding the already Deeply engaging aural product, rendering it both escapist/spellbinding and edge-of-seat-titillating!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Nobody, Never, Yeowe” C86
(Five Records)

ATTN: Weirdos,

If you’re interested in experimental music, sound collage, audio diaries, and/or pretty much losing your mind, you really oughta read this guy’s manifesto, accessible via the first hyperlink below. Really. Take the time. Even if you don’t get around to the sounds, it’s truly inspiring.

There is no way to really “review” this tape other than to alert you to what it stands for; a general expanding of your consciousness concerning how you feel about certain sets of statistically unrelated, dynamically divergent sound relationships. Well, that and what it sounds like to walk through an art gallery consisting of someone’s random thoughtsketches, but HEARING a lifetime’s differing aesthetics/perspectives instead of just SEEING them. If that didn’t make sense, it will after listening to this.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Appropriate Modes & Zones” C40
(Skin Trade Recordings)

Permanently etched into my consciousness is Dylan Carlson’s assertion that “there is nothing heavier than the drone,” (roughly paraphrased from an interview included with Earth’s  “Hibernaculum” DVD).

LAST truly embodies this sentiment, 200%, with the gold-star niche that Hi-Fi speakers are pretty much required to truly get all of the nuance that has been magnetized to this tape. With a below-low end that varies texture like a good massage, “Appropriate Modes & Zones” may well be the number one hit for the deaf community… if marketed correctly.

I once went to a show where the composer arranged pieces that were all played under 20Hz (for the layperson, that’s below what most mortals can actually hear), and the audience all wore earplugs so that the reverberations from the specially fabricated speakers could better shake our noggins like an empty snare drum (our chests like floor toms and bass drums, depending on our physiques), and this particular tape bridges the gap between that experience and what a longform SUN O))) chord sounds like, wrung out into infinity.

Living in an apartment building,  I couldn’t really give this tape its proper due by playing it through a full stack bass cabinet, but I hope one of y’all get a chance to, soon! Deep tissue massage on all your internal organs, I tell you whhuuuutt!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Von Bock Strasse 18” C30
(Ana Ott)

Michael Valentine West’s sophomore release for the (ground-breakingly badass) Ana Ott imprint is a patient, meticulous, finely nuanced beast. Painstakingly stitching together glitchy tones, blown out field recordings, modular synth swells and dramatic, narrative dynamics, this release is not likely an easy listen for those seeking instant gratification. MVW’s compositions are beyond complex AND well planned out, establishing unique, meditative loops (that could easily stand up on their own) before breathing yet more life into them, just as you’d swear your ears were already super-saturated.

In just under a half hour, and spread across three tracks, “Von Bock Strasse 18” is a hypnotic, hallucinogenic journey through serenity, ecstasy, and nerve-wracking anguish. Strap on some decent headphones and find a quiet spot to listen to this one at least twice in a row, each time.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Monday, March 12, 2018

BR’LÂAB "Molochville” C22 (Ana Ott)

Along the North Western German border labors a freaky dream factory known as Ana Ott, who specializes in shedding dawn on unknown artists who want nothing more but to Keep It Fucking Weird. Seriously, every single artist on this label’s roster is brilliantly innovative and truly left-of-left-field. LOVE IT!

Br’lâab’s “Molochville”, a side project done by a film score composer-gone-batshit, is an all too short collection of hazy dream sequences woven into yet more blurry vignettes, utilizing chopped/screwed samples & loops, field recordings, & semi-virtuosic instrumentation. The result is a warped meeting of several realities and the complete disassociation from time and space. This has to be what Timothy Leary heard as he waded through his bardo. This is for reals something special and not to be missed!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, March 11, 2018

DON GERO "Wizarding” C40 (Crash Symbols)

This album is pretty much the audio equivalent of a strobe-lit inner-city high-speed car-chase. For-serious. Oughta come with a warning for possibly inducing seizures. It’s basically camping porn. Fuggin’ InTENTS!

&In a word, “Wizarding” is relentless. With equal parts focus on hypnotic-tribal beats and unabashed minimalist synth arpeggios that vary slightly with each passing measure, this non-stop aural assault is living proof that you don’t need breakneck speed to get the heart rate pumping overtime.

If you’re suggestible to such visions, consider this the perfect soundtrack to watch a bunch of metalheads thrashing about in a circle pit whilst the elders (read gen X’rs) surround them, lost in lotus meditation.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Black Sea II” C32
(No Index Recordings)

Havre de Grace are a free improv group (read: jam band) that focuses on filling out the entire room with heavy/psych blues rock aesthetics. This is a live-to-tape documentation of one of their earlier meetings, and it’s safe to say there is some pretty good chemistry going on. The moods captured range from peaceful midnight walks in the fog to rush hour police chases though a crowded train station, and plenty of spaces in between. The opening track has a VERY strong tonal likeness to Cave In’s “Creative Eclipses” EP (specifically the 1st track), and it plays like a natural extension/appreciation via instrumental meditation that any fan would dig.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, March 9, 2018

“Music for Cosmic Nights” C32
(Cosmic Winnetou)

Bio-dome life, feel it. Somewhere out there in the wilderness there’s a geodesic dome where scientific experiments are happening and the subjects are isolated to the point of going stir crazy. Except, of course, for the fact that nighttime is the right time, the right time to get your stargazing on, no light pollution, just you and maybe your colleague(s), done with your experiments for the day, checking out the Milky Way and all that other great stuff in the sky. Dry Valleys playing on the stereo, of course, like Night Ranger during coupleskate, as “Music for Cosmic Nights” is pretty exactly the go-to tunage for actual cosmic nights viewed sometimes through the clear roof of the geodesic dome. Drone meets “phone home” as outer space connections are made, the motes of soundtrack fluctuating in place of true communication, but we only want the approximation of it anyway, don’t we? It leaves our imaginations alone, allowing them to spiral off like galaxy arms that those bio-dome subjects are witnessing, blurred into incomprehensibility by the unmooring of perspective. Maybe the time in the dome is doing them good, the days pass, the weeks, the months, the experiments continue, but there’s still the night sky, and there’s still Dry Valleys, and there’s still release. It’s only when the bio-dome inhabitants realize there are stowaways that the spell is broken and the mayhem ensues. Then it becomes a party, the work is forgotten, but “Music for Cosmic Nights” lingers in the minds of those hijacked by the pursuit of personal gratification, a ghost of purpose now past.

And oh my god yes, this was all an elaborate alternate-history Bio-Dome reference. Don’t let my idiotic digressions detract from the magic of Dry Valleys.

Dry Valleys

Cosmic Winnetou

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, March 8, 2018

FURNITEUR “Perfect Lavender”
(Prince George Records)

Omg at first I was like oh dang it this is gonna be a hard one to talk about because I don’t even like 80’s music when it was from the 80’s. But when the second song started and the singer was singing about how American girls aren’t on her radar my attention was piqued. The chorus comes in and the singer talk/sings “I’m a brat, I’m a brat” a few times and it’s terribly satisfying. Like your friend comes up to you at Lagoon and is all “Hey Rickey try this a big bite of cotton candy cloud, you’ll rly like it!” but you know better because you hate cotton candy ever since it made you so sick last time and so you tell your friend no way but she’s not gonna hear it and so she shuvs the cotton candy in your mouth and actually its wonderful! That is an analogy for how I feel about this album when I listen to track 2. The third track I can’t remember v well because it was skipping, or I mean the audio was going away and then coming back so there were some weird lil eras of silence that rly took away from whatever emotions or daydreams the track might have had me explore. Quite the avant garde decision! Side two starts off p good. The whole album sounds exactly like the album art. It’s super sugary like I’m gonna get cavities, but isn’t it fun to get cavities? Not to have them but to get them. It was Halloween the other day and I ate lots of candy but none of it was as sweet as Perfect Lavender. The audio goes in and out again on side two, but only a little bit this time. Nothing all that memorable happens the rest of the time but this isn’t a discredit, I’m still having fun. If this album were a party I would have a tremendous time hanging out on a comfy couch getting drunk on hpnotiq and viniq with red bull. So thanks for having me, it’s been swell.

with love,
Ricky Lemonseed

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

WORN LEATHER “Tape Three” (Reflective Tapes)

This tape grew on me. It is torch-bearing punk in the lineage of Velvet Underground, the Replacements or the Minutemen. They have good songs that utilize the natural strength of a 4-piece rock band, featuring a lot of guitar work and soloing. Raw, frugal, honest, understated—in fact, the main weakness in Worn Leather’s style is that the singer is somewhat emotionally muted and dull-sounding. But the more I listen to them, the more I like them. They seem like nice guys: thoughtful, trying to make something good, filled with sadness and rage and boredom and fear. Actually, Worn Leather remind me of a band I know in Worcester, MA called Gnards. They share that classic punk (with guitar solos retained) style; they are hard-working; and they’re nice guys. I imagine Worn Leather to be among this crew. Maybe they’ll throw in a little glamorous touch from time to time, but mostly what shines through is their common-man quality—simple, raw, good. I give thumbs up to these punks from New Haven, CT, as well as their people over at Reflective Tapes in Olympia, WA. The marker drawing of a rather non-descript duplex on the tape cover is oddly wonderful. Also, one final detail that enhances my enjoyment of this album is in the liner notes: “Recorded by Stefan Christ in a snow storm.” It seems that all records of substance nowadays are done with help from Christ during bad weather. Nicely done, guys. 

-Kevin Oliver 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

LUKE JUMES “The Collected Luke Jumes Vol. 1” C53 (self-released)

When the future comes, there will be an indie folk musician from Massachusetts with a working iPhone and an endless optimism named Lukey, and there will be a beard snake crawling around his chin until it registers to the horrified onlookers that it’s a friendly beard snake. And there will be songs recorded onto the iPhone called “Get My Goam” and “Pee Jazz” (not one but two!), and Lukey will hum you to sleep over the sounds of robots and spaceships. No one will be angry anymore and everyone will hug. The songs will wilt like flowers in the summer, magnetic tape losing its resilience over time and hardening and cracking. And joy will flow in rivers and streams throughout the land, until it pools in lakes and reservoirs and finally oceans, tapped for birthday parties and anniversaries. It will be Nathan’s birthday every day, and Ashla and Nathan will love this music for all time. Even ten billion years from now when nothing but dust covers this planet, Luke Jumes’s songs will be remembered in the calm between the dust storms, hovering still in molecules and DNA strands. But until then there’s a tape, and the tape may be for sale if you can find it.

Luke Jumes

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, March 5, 2018

(Monorail Trespassing)

Walking the finest line between harsh noise and black metal, Slow Tongued Beauty, aka Ryan Scott Kerr, unleashes a maelstrom of highly digitized mayhem that’s truly impossible to ignore. Rhythm insinuates itself under the constant white-hot blaze of electronic aggression, although it tends to drop out suddenly during quieter ambient passages (before, obviously, coming back in and scaring the crap out of me – I have had to adjust the volume [and my pacemaker] while listening). “Sopportare” means “to bear” in Italian (thanks Google Translate!), and if “Sopportare” the cassette is any indication, Kerr’s has been bearing quite a heavy burden for an awfully long time, and this release is, ahem, his release, a primal scream of gnashing demons rotting the very interior of his heart. He also has some other releases, so perhaps we consider this a therapeutic outlet. Regardless of Kerr’s intent, his recordings are as gripping as a Velcro body suit at a fabric convention (clearly don’t know how Velcro works), and it’s impossible to turn “Sopportare” off, no matter how overwhelming or distant it gets (or how broken the “Stop” button on my tape player is). It’s the latest in a long line of solid and sturdy Monorail Trespassing releases specializing in the artistic within the static and the void.

Slow Tongued Beauty

Monorail Trespassing

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, March 2, 2018

MICHAEL CLAUS "Memory Protect" (self released)

Michael Claus (no relation to Santa) is a unique Bay area house artist. Exceptional synthesizer sounds and poly-rhythmic drum machine cascades fade in and out in tight grooves all locked in to a bass drum pulse. With pillow soft synth waves, some morphing basses, and laid back, concise beats; the tracks make for an excellent burn. The tones are familiar but also abstract while the production is crisp and organic sounding. This might be everything you'd expect from a solid house album and more!

"Past Era" has some amazing bubbling synths with canon delay. It brought me to a place of laid back I may not have previously known. The album has a specific flow to it. "Forests" is a beautiful synthesizer cascade forming a large polyrhythmic, modular soundscape. "Dissent" introduces a darker, more mysterious element (which reminded me of Brian Eno's Another Green World or Tangerine Dream) while maintaining elements of filter funk. "Tidal Shift" combines elements of drone with a complex yet heavy tom driven dance beat. "Ocean Side" may  be my favorite tune on the record; its perhaps the funkiest and most house music oriented.

This self release is unfortunately sold out !!

--"Jamband" Josh Brown

Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Heel Flipper” C48
(Small Scale Music)

The Sommes Ensemble toured Europe in 2015 and 2016. Wanna know how I know that? “Heel Flipper” is the result, a document of the “strategic, organized chaos” the quartet blazed through the clubs they visited. Featuring alto sax, guitar, bass, and drums, the ensemble is an unsightly smear of fusion and free jazz and free-form freakouts, a perfect signing for Montreal’s Small Scale Music, a purveyor of the strange and the challenging. Whether the Sommes Ensemble is blasting out shards of anti-jazz or stirring a sonic cauldron of audio witches’ brew with the deepest restraint (we are on the cusp of Halloween as I write, after all), the result is never less than captivating. Or visceral. Definitely visceral, what with all the shredding and slashing and other instrumental violence wreaked upon (probably very willing and totally primed) audiences. You can hear the musicians’ skin lacerating and the blood pouring as they play, such is the intensity of performance. The unholy bacchanal of arterial spray surely whipped their audiences into frenzies so uninhibited that old Freddy Krueger himself would blush if he heard it (and if he had facial skin). But what makes “Heel Flipper” much more than just a live document is the inventiveness and the singular in-the-moment clicking of personalities. The energy is beyond palpable – it’s mesmerizing, and it penetrates you like old Freddy Krueger’s knife hand, scrambling your equilibrium as if it were opening an irreparable chest would. But of course everybody left the Sommes sessions unscathed, and probably more than a little keyed up. But mostly happy, at least until their next brush with violent death at the hands of a fictional monster… Or their next Sommes Ensemble show. Boo! Halloween…

Small Scale Music

--Ryan Masteller