Monday, January 23, 2017

SCALLIWAGS “Spring of 1938 EP”
(Auris Apothecary)

This is another beautifully packaged release from Bloomington Indiana’s Auris Apothecary label. It is a blue cassette in a nice stitched bag with colorful, vintage looking graphics and a classy clear snap closure. The liner notes are on thick cardstock with a pearlescent gloss. I expect nothing less from this label with their creative and thought provoking releases. The album itself could be longer, with three songs, which are repeated on Side B, but it is overall an extremely pleasant listen. The single microphone recording of what sounds like a group of friends exercising their musical chops together on a lazy afternoon. While this folksy, sincere, achingly heartfelt music is not really my style I couldn’t help but be caught up and enjoying immensely listening to this cassette. I listened to it three times on my lunch break and felt calmed by it. I would definitely recommend this release.

- - Jeremiah Paddock.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Somewhere Beyond The Sea"
(Cheap Recordings)

This ten track cassette offering struck me as nothing unusual as I, perhaps naively, popped it into my deck. Boy, was I in for a shock. This two- piece knows not a major chord. Mix that with drum machine, piano, clarinet, zither and pretty much anything else they could harness including field recordings and you begin to navigate the landscape here. This is not The Beach Boys...or Fun more like The Postal Service does the soundtrack for Supernatural. Now you see don't you? Don't come here for sympathy or consolation...

All that said, this is great stuff. The group avoids a major pitfall of electronica by making brief statements and moving on. You won't find lingering synth explorations or even solos for that matter. But don't be mistaken. This is hardly synth-pop. Cheap Imitation isn't that at all. This album is a fine document of a solemn perspective. Maybe one of the best overall tapes of the year. Hell, maybe one of the best albums of the year.

-- Bob Zilli

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ROSE "Exile" C31 (Constellation Tatsu)

There are several street performers in downtown San Francisco who make a living by beating the ever-loving shit out of various empty paint buckets and empty liquor bottles with drumsticks. Just to come near one is a sonic adventure, in itself, as their echoes can be heard from blocks away, those tribal rhythms bouncing off dozens and dozens of buildings, parking garages, buses, & the like, all intermingling with the stops & starts of heavy traffic, pedestrian marches & chatters, various barroom jukeboxes, sirens & the faint boom of distant airport traffic & trains. The hustle & bustle itself was already rhythmic, but this explicit pulse adds an element of purpose to the chaos that bewitches and entrances.

In this way, I have come to not only accept the 4/4 metronomic bass* that snakes in & out of this album’s thriving-metropolis-dense atmospheres, but I can deeply appreciate its support in accenting the otherwise blissful mayhem**.

Fanfuckingtastic for headphone-hiking in rural and urban spots alike, though the results will certainly differ widely.

*an infamous beat I usually dread like a clown on the front porch at midnight)
**y’know, as far as ambient-drone soundscapes go


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Friday, January 20, 2017

"In Arboreal Whispering" C33
(Constellation Tatsu)

The sound of plighted mountainside breaking way; networks upon rooted network giving up the ghost, muddy topsoil pushing mercilessly at bedrock’s timid edge, the surrounding fog lining up to give what it can to this violent transition. All of this, but from an ant’s eye view, in slow motion, two feet below.

Japan’s Hakobune has countless (and stellar!) guitar-based ambient-drone albums under his belt, all of which are lyrical and meditative in their own special way, but this newest one via Constellation Tatsu is a bit darker, heavier, slower, thicker; something like a boiling mudflow that refuses to harden, scalding everything in its path. The balance between dissonance and consonance, just like the task of isolating the (nearly) independent layers (and their synchronicity) is a challenge for the most accomplished ear, and one sure to harvest myriad outcomes, depending on depth/mood of listening.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Fantastic Garden" C46
(Constellation Tatsu)

With this release, Tokyo’s Rhucle joins Constellation Tatsu’s ever expanding, stalwart cat-a-logue of Japanese sound-sculptors who carefully work in meditative drone/ambience, each artist as unique and personal as the human mood-shift, itself.

Temperament-wise, Rhucle dominates the bright and shiney…the most blissful spots of our brains. Straight outta the SOTL* playbook, this ¾ hour exercise in glacially drifting swells of synth/guitar-drenched-reverb** is mixed with such a neon shimmer*** that it’s nearly impossible not to visualize aurora borealis’s ghostly fogs all just intermingling in some galactic, blacklight slowmotion, with at least four distinct layers of hyper-lit accumulations weaving, vertically, to & fro. It’s all so cartoon-esque; a portrayal of what it’s like to frolic amidst Oxygen & Nitrogen-based molecules as solar winds stampede through you, gracefully highlighting their dominance of Earth’s upper atmosphere…

but Rhucle is born of man, & must tether such celestial delights with sonically-buried reminders of terrestrial field recordings, most notably those of our most important liquid life-source (in contact with energetic arousal) as well as the parched vocal chords of many non-human sample of the animal kingdom.

In short, good for to study to, good for to study, good for to zone out to, good for to get guided by, good. Good.

*Stars of the fucking Lid
**that’s right
***really, nearly blindingly metallic in its commanding edginess


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FUTURE APE TAPES “1093” (Fall Break Records)

Obviously “de-evolution as progress” is the mantra of artists calling themselves “Future Ape Tapes,” a cluster of words packed with so much existential meaning that it becomes almost a daunting proposition to improve upon its insinuations with additional text. But that’s where I come in, me, dude at computer, de-evolving along with the rest of you (or e-volving? We’ll see who gets the last laugh there), floppy word combinations of my own slapping uselessly against the sounds constructed to light our passage into decay. Future Ape Tapes. Concise. Not like …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead or I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness. Too much overt guidance there. No imagination. The reality of the path forward is illuminated by brevity, symbolism, and the notion of backward compatibility, or just outright reversion. Revulsion. Revolution? No, revulsion was right.

The future of humanity lies in its past, and its past includes the utilization of cassette tapes on which audio information was magnetically stored. Future Ape Tapes pushes this right to the brink of our perception, forcing the plastic-encased information into our waiting hands to hasten its effect on culture, the “play” button the agent that disperses the plague of de-illumination. Sound flits, appearing, disappearing, building, cresting, like it did when the earth was a formless void and darkness covered its face, before the Word of God divided the darkness and the light. Oh that first literal day! To be there and wonder, reasonless, overwhelmingly amazed at action on a planetary scale. That’s where 1093 wants to take us, to a place where our minds cannot set upon the solid ground of continuity, where thought is unmoored from function and we are buoyed by the current of pure momentum.

Devolution wrapped in paranoia and served coated in a candy Norelco shell goes down relatively easy when administered by Future Ape Tapes, and they have proven and continue to prove that our demise as a coherent species can at least be an enjoyable plunge into the irrelevant. I’m reminded on “Eithernet” of that SNL sketch where Kevin Nealon and Michael J. Fox are in an elevator, and Kevin Nealon keeps saying “Back in time” because of course Fox was Marty McFly in the hit 1985 film Back to the Future. It’s a cue that points to us becoming more senseless by the day, our incessant blabbering barely masking the idiot parrot people we’ve turned into, content to spew back what we’ve seen on television and in other media as personal, rational thought. It’s within the watery psychedelia of 1093 that the last pulsing brain cells of self-awareness dissolve into a carbonated cosmic fizz, and it’s through the pleasantly prickly sensation that we realize we’re encased in our brand new amniotic fluid, our consciousness safe within the brain womb we’ve now concocted for ourselves. Or we’re probably not aware of it – Future Ape Tapes is just piped over our internal PA systems for maximum narcotizing.

--Ryan Masteller