Neon Sea, “Fading Light” tape

February 21, 2012
By Crawford Philleo

So this tape was released in August of 2010. It even has a sticker on it, which means it gets priority reviewing within my still-massive Foxy pile I’m trying to catch up with (I am really, really trying, I promise). Not sure how it fell to the bottom of the stack. Am I too late? Why review it now? Well, for one it appears there are still three copies left. Maybe. And if Lighten Up Sounds doesn’t have any, perhaps one of their fine distributors does. Second, the tape is full of some really good drone/noise from a Chicagoan named Dan Kaufman, so hell yeah it gets a write-up. “Fading Light” sounds like it’s meant to represent the impending winter Solstice, that time when the sun gradually fades from prominence only to be dominated by hours upon hours of darkness. And indeed “Fading Light” is saturated with associated bleak feelings as well as signals of a slowly impending state of insanity. A character toiling away at some project while the horrors of cold dark haunt his every thought. A maddening, seething tension that builds to a nervous boil across each side, pulling feverishly at its own hair, stomping violently around the place with forehead veins in full-throb.

I’ve reviewed a few things that fall in line with this that I’ve also enjoyed, like Francesco Mereino, Bob Bellerue, or Nodolby—all easy comparisons. Neon Sky might rank among the best I’ve heard working in the realm of noisiness to this capacity, though. On this work Kaufman uses a lot of what I’d guess are “standard” elements like raspy vocals, some drums, tape manipulations and plenty of that good old fashioned hiss. Blunt percussion sharply stabs and jabs its way into a subtly shrieking sheets of shrieks or guttural gobs of smoldering bass. But there’s also this disfigured accordion in there, grinding, stretching and torturing itself into some truly gruesome groans making for a pretty awesome and welcomed change of texture. Elsewhere, cymbal crashes and tub thumps always hang around to gently keep hammering away at your synapses. Neon Sky’s style has a nice flow to it, never harping on one idea for too long, always adding and subtracting or warping textures and really moving the work through some kind of musical narrative.

So apologies to Neon Sea and Lighten Up Sounds for the delayed response here, but maybe this will make up for it a little bit. If you get lucky, they printed a few of them with this cool dust sleeve around the cover. Happy hunting!

Lighten Up Sounds

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