Sunday, February 26, 2017

“Slow Motion Groan” C46
(Uuhngreh Schpuggenuh Records)

involves: bells, cello, violin, cymbals, glockenspiel, melodica, tambourine, bass drum, acoustic & electric guitars (w/ pedal’d aide of: tremolo, (subtle) distortion, & phaser)

I’m seriously considering teaching the gooey art of graphic design to 4th &5th graders during summer school this year, & I feel like this tape would make a great soundtrack to use for whenever I want to talk about the principles of texture & focus, and how they are related to timing & groove.

Side one is an incremental crawl across five tracks, beginning with organic, muddy, ritual drones in the forest, then slowly becoming mechanized, colder, yet freer, and finally ending in star-heated, intergalactic ambient transmissions & echolocations. The five stages, though each differing in How they were made, carry with them the constant theme of juuuuust harmonious, but not quite tonal, which sure as shit does not happen by accident.  

Side two is a re-release of last year’s “Indoor Derivatives” 20 minute, formerly “digital-only” release, and though not quite as (inter)stellarly cohesive in its scope (ha!), it certainly can stand on its own. The deftly balanced ratio of tonal & atonal is obliterated right off the bat, with layers and layers of discordantly bowed strings and cymbals, each screeching for the ear’s attention (I count two to three per channel, but keep getting lost) in slow motion. This grandiose resetting allows for the other three tracks to breathe on their own, as unique, independent beasts…as beastly as organic drone tracks go, anyways.

Great with and without headphones. Strongly recommended if you’re looking for a more minimal, ambient bridge between Pelt and Hear Hums.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Saturday, February 25, 2017

“Äquator System”
(Elestial Sound)

Oh yes – this is music for European nomads. I’ve been told that somewhere. Where? Liners. Duh. On the Bandcamp. It’s where you learn everything. But European nomads is the vibe, and the vibe takes you along with it, on its journey, till you end up in Berlin at some co-op and you get involved in the underground electronic nightlife scene, which is all black and goth and nocturnal. It’s just how we understand Berlin, those of us who have never been there, and maybe even those of us who have been there as well. (I fall under the former category, unfortunately, so all my knowledge is secondhand.) But this Eva Geist character, whose real name is Andrea Noce (but no way of telling what she writes when signing in to a national park register), just sauntered into town one day with a laptop full of synthesized music that she just had to share with everybody, and we should all be wildly grateful that she did, because even though a majority of it is downtempo, there’s a lot to be said about the introspective quality of tunage of this stripe when it’s pumped into your headphones on cloudy winter days. Isn’t every day a cloudy winter day in Berlin? I spent many a cloudy winter day wandering around London, and Eva Geist’s music would have been perfect then. (She was probably still in junior high or something when I was in London.) I imagine Berlin takes on a similar aura. Each of Äquator System’s tracks wants to accompany you in its own way; each clamors for the rewind and repeat treatment, and I’d give it to them if I didn’t have to get on to the next track. “No, ‘Vernal Equinox,’ I love you and all, but I really have to push forward to the title track.” Dejected, “Vernal Equinox” sinks into the background, but hey, I’ll get back to it in a little less than a half hour. Because I’m going to press play again on this thing when it’s over, and I may even get into this European nomad spirit and jet off to the continent one of these days. Ah, who am I kidding – I’m an adult, those spur-of-the-moment post-university jaunts have to be relegated to the past. Too many things to plan these days. Kind of sad, really. I’ll live vicariously through Äquator System, then. It’s totally worth it.

--Ryan Masteller

Friday, February 24, 2017

STEMBREO “Yex Dit Jow” (Illuminated Paths)

Stembreo has somehow intentionally made a full-length version of The Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” which is the track on that album that I always skip because I’m never in the mood for it. I don’t fault the fans of “Revolution 9,” and I realize it’s fairly influential as a concept. So – I don’t know, I don’t care if you slag me for skipping it. Whatever. Stembreo doesn’t sample any music, just vocal sounds. One of the samples is the repetition of a male voice saying “Number six,” which makes me think of the “Number nine” sample, obviously.

Oh god, I don’t care. And hey, let’s pad this thing out, shall we? “The album is a track-by-track palindrome; after the 10th, and originally last track, I duplicated the ‘songs’ [that’s right, pop that term in quotes] in reverse order under different titles, just as pretentious as the idea to do so…”

That is the gist. Here is my “review”: “kdsjaofeoiosaefjafoeaisjeoihjfo’hagih’aoihb’naweofji’eijapojhjhv;adajiselfejia’jifh9jadjifoawieag4h’ajslkdj.f”

Palindrome that in less than five minutes, I dare you!

--Ringo’s hovering syllables

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“Large Hadron Collider”
C50 (Hylé Tapes)

It’s all about the Large Hadron Collider. That’s at CERN, son! The Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire! Or, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, if you’re confined to the English language. (Boring. Moving on.) You saw Particle Fever, right? They pretty much made a movie about the Large Hadron Collider so I don’t have to explain that to you. I don’t even have to link to Wikipedia or anything, you can just go watch it, it’s on Netflix. It’s a fantastic documentary. I promise immense levels of geeking out over science-y things.

It pretty much comes down to the fact that scientists smash the crap out of atoms in the LHC. There’s a twenty-seven-kilometer loop through which they accelerate particles, and then they smash them together and analyze the data. They’re pretty much recreating the Big Bang on a miniature scale and studying it to better understand our universe. I’m in awe of them – I mean, for how many of you is it your main ambition to get out of bed before noon? These guys not only do that, they destroy the building blocks of existence with the playfulness of a five-year-old Godzilla-smashing through a LEGO structure.

It’s almost irrelevant to talk about a cassette tape called Large Hadron Collider when all of that is happening underground in Switzerland, but here I am at my computer, serving you, the reader, like I always do. Jefferson Aircrash (cute) is the nom du jour of Italian artist Rodolfo Valenti, bka V/Plasm, and while listening to his tape, I get the feeling that he may have spent some time wandering the halls of CERN after hours, just kind of casing the place, getting the feel of it to inspire his music. Or maybe he just watched Particle Fever. (Seriously, Netflix.) At any rate, Valenti captures the vast, weird idea of subatomic particles crashing into each other and applies it to his clinical brand of dark techno. He’s like a scientist himself behind the boards, an expert in his chosen field, seemingly able to tease out the secrets of the past and reconstitute them into new and exciting forms. Who knows what this Jefferson Aircrash pseudonym will unveil next! Clearly the next evolutionary step, where the molecules of Orbital, Autechre, Underworld, and Aphex Twin are blasted at near-light speeds at each other. Maybe the LHC truthers were right – the result of this collision sounds like a black hole in the making, one that will swallow Earth and then make for the rest of the solar system!

Haha, who am I kidding. Truthers are hilarious.

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

“Transmissions from Boshqa”

Life always seems to find a way. To wit, just recently a baby dinosaur’s tail was discovered preserved in amber, suggesting that our dreams of a world where life can be reignited from mere DNA, just like in Jurassic Park, is a reality is just a centrifuge spin or two away. Dreams, life, the desires of a “Kumbaya” existence where arms are draped around shoulders in solidarity is a real goal. Live and let live. Gaze in awe and wonder at creation. Contribute to it. Reach out to your fellow humans, especially those in need. Push forward the agendas where sustaining life is objective. Just try, for goodness’ sake!

(Poor baby dinosaur, though! I love him. SO MUCH.)

Then there’s Ak’chamel, bloodthirsty god, formerly giver of illness. Death and destruction rises in its wake. Ak’chamel’s psych-folk Texas cult (sure, because it’s so much more than a band!) returns with another batch of defiled wreckage, way freakier than anything David Eugene Edwards could have conjured, and almost certainly recorded with a live baboon in the room, because what out-there desert cult doesn’t employ a baboon in some capacity? (You can’t hear any animal noises on the tape, unfortunately – it’s a very well-behaved baboon.) Each arcane hymn on Transmissions from Boshqa drips with the type of dread that only emanates from minor obscure deities, those hell-bent on complete destruction and subjugation as their chosen form of conquest. Think Angelo Badalamenti in the desert at points, kicking up dust, or Ennio Morricone strapped to a beat-up chair in a basement torture chamber and forced to make a constant stream of music to appease his captors. I really hope Ak’chamel the band hasn’t actually done this, otherwise it would look like I’m complicit or something. (Ennio, I’m coming for you!)

If life always seems to find a way, Ak’chamel always finds a way to snuff it out. There’s no hope, no “Kumbaya,” no release. It’s all tense manipulation, kind of like southern Baptist revivals, but less cloying. Still, I bet you get to handle snakes at Ak’chamel gatherings. I imagine that immunity to venom is a prerequisite for initiation. Maybe, if we’re all really good boys and girls and we get very, very lucky, we’ll even be able to handle dinosaurs someday. Who knows – Ak’chamel will probably spill most of our blood before we get a chance to find out.

--Ryan Masteller