First, a point of clarification: This oddly named album is not a split tape, but rather the work of one person, who happens to use a slash mark in her musical moniker. Not surprisingly, that one person is Philadelphia’s Jen Paul, who creates dreamy, guitar-based instrumentals. This album is an assemblage of several tracks from her old digital releases, which you can check out in more detail, here. With a total of twenty-two songs clocking in at about fifty minutes, this tape is quite an introduction to Paul’s aesthetic.
Even though the material for this tape came from different places, it really falls together nicely. Honestly, it’s hardly even worth dissecting individual tracks, as they all function as part of a larger whole together, regardless of where they came from originally. As I mentioned, the music is centered around Paul’s guitar, which has a bluesy, dusty, reverb-heavy sound to it. Still, this is not blues in any strictly traditional sense, but relies heavily on the slightly dark moods of that music. This is more abstract, ambient Western soundtrack blues with some shoegaze-type haze thrown in for good measure. Within this loose framework, electric, and occasionally acoustic, guitar sounds are multi-tracked leaving interwoven layers of guitar riffs to take in. And every once in awhile, ghostly vocal noises or a crackly sound sample creep adding additional depth to the sound. With all of these elements, the songs maintain a sense of melody and even lyricism at times, even as instrumentals.
There is a very consistent mood to this tape, which really lends itself to dark, quiet evenings. The slow, mysterious sounds here are just soothing enough to let you really sink into it, while the subtle layering and melancholy nature of the music will keep you from consigning it to the background. This is definitely a strong tape from Jen Paul / No Lakes and one worth digging into deeply.