Christmas is coming in July this year, because I’m finally getting around to reviewing Tusco/Embassy’s Christmas tape from last year. I know I say something like “I’m finally getting around to reviewing this” every other review, but that’s how swamped with new music I am right now. No complaints! Anyway, the first 2 Tusco/Embassy christmas tapes in 2006 and 2007 were splits between Emeralds and Tusco Terror. I’m not sure if they put out any other christmas tapes since then, but this one is a compilation, and it’s massive.
The tape gleefully shifts between different styles and textures, with each track sounding entirely different than the next. It starts out on a meditative note with Watchword, but then cuts to a completely brain-frying track from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Totally scrambled, spastic analog synth noise that batters your brain in the most enjoyable way possible. And then after that is a nice, calm, echoey, melodic techno track from Touchscreen called “Visual Matrix”. This tranquility is entirely interrupted by Dead Peasant Insurance, who make an unholy racket hell bent on destroying everything in their path. It sounds like an entire room full of people bashing away on their instruments without any concern for anything. Next up is another track with “Matrix” in the title, Trogpite’s “Nature Matrix”. This one starts out minimal and measured, with slow tom-heavy beats, but gradually gets invaded by creepy, haunted synths. And then this is followed by The David Russell Snake, with a great splittered, throbbing track called “Halo(s)”, which turns into an incredibly pretty Quicksails track called “Shorter Steps”. Shimmery analog synths along with some cymbals and hand percussion. Next is a short, mysterious Moth Cock track, and then an appropriately brainspinning track by Headboggle. Coagulator’s “Transient Shot And Killed By BART Cops” is some dirty guitar noise with some sort of loudspeaker voices in the background. This abruptly cuts into an absolutely perfect new age/Kraut synth track by Radio People called “A Gift Nearest To Whole (Accordingly)”. The side ends with Collapsed Arc looping some bells and an old Christmas carol.
Side B starts with a long, meandering improv track from Alley Vision. Very choppy, sputtery, nervous-sounding jamming, along with some delay-covered howling, and sour horns. Next is a typically fantastic track by John Elliott’s project Outer Space, and then a Leslie Keffer track which ends up being the most straightforward dance track on the compilation. It takes a moment to find its footing, then it launches into a 4/4 beat and heavy bassline, and really gorgeous synthwork. It looks like she did a Kickstarter to release this on vinyl, which is a good move. After this loveliness, of course, is a really spastic, crackly noise jam from Howland/Russell, and then a clear, tranquil new age drone from 56K. This tranquility is interrupted by some raw harsh noise from Tusco Terror, and then finally some more Christmas-related content, Hot Air Balloon Ride chopping up some Pearl Jam Christmas songs and a few old Christmas crooner standards, and a Christmas PSA from Scott Weiland. And then the tape ends with another Collapsed Arc christmas loop, this time a line from “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
Silk-screened cover art. Lots of wide-ranging artists that you’re probably unfamiliar with who have plenty of other releases to check out. Still appears to be available from the label.