So the year is coming to an end... can't believe it's already mid-November. That's some seriously crazy shit, but it's been a good year and I'm thinking 2010 (which doesn't even sound real) is gonna be even better (records from The North Sea & ALTAR EAGLE on Type
puts a big grin on my face). I hope so anyway, fuck yeah!
Quick discussion on tape lengths... I'm curious what people reading this think is the ideal length for a tape? I personally love a good c30. I can get down with c20s too, but c10s push it a bit for me. I mean, do whatever you want, and I guess a c10 is just a cassette version of a 7", but I always want a little more from my tapes. There is such a thing as too long, but sometimes 60 minutes works. We've done some epic jammers (c85!) and the good thing about a tape is you can listen to as much as you want, stop, and then pick up right where you left off, but I'm still pretty intimidated by the upcoming United Bible Studies
c120 that 5nakefork
is doing. Anyway - what say you?
So next time I write this sucker, we'll be looking back at the year that was.. for now? Some more random gems have come through the pipeline and need a little love.
Before individual write-ups, a quick mention of the Skrot Up
label. I'm planning on an entire column (probably #11) on stuff from the label because it's been kicking my ass, but I highly recommend rolling on over to their site and scoping it out. I have probably listened to the tapes from Thetlvmth, Dharma, Cat Gut Strings, & Grave Babies
a billion times. Incredible packaging too. More on this incredible label sooooooon.
Love this band... love love love. The first time I heard them was earlier this year when a mysterious package of CDRs from Smokeland Studios which included their "Beyond Crystalline"
CDR. And yaknow? As good as that bomber was, their latest batch of tapes blow it to fucken pieces. "Negative Space" takes shit to the next level after the next level after the next level. Blissed out synth rockets covered in fluorescence spew into lost 80s anthems. It's like reliving the victory scene in RAD all over again. Loops and samples galore, this shit takes retro bullshit into a place that's actually INTERESTING and zoned. And fuck - Yanni's on the cover. Serious mellow vibes. "vlnvvd" is all about the crystal healing, but more about sticking those puppies in the microwave until explosions are imminent. It's off-kilter and covered in hooks. You can't help but love this shit. Last but not least is "Prophit Kotto." It's another c10 (so is "vlnvvd"), but what it lacks in length it makes up in the fact you just want to listen to it over and over again. Dub-sampled, dirty Jamaica bliss. Sweet god does it transport you to a lazy, fried night on the beach. But this isn't your average, faux-tropical whatever lamefest.. NwG are riding the sauce to some place different. It's a woozy cakefest and you're gonna want some dramamine. The more I listen to these tapes, the more I'm convinced this is my favorite new band of the year.
Lawrence English - Japanese tour tape (Room40)
I don't know a ton about this tape as the packaging is uber-minimal and it was a pretty tiny edition (40!), but it's fucking GOOD. Harmonium, vocals, and electronics spurring you on toward the horizon. English has put out a couple absolute killers the past few years, but this tape is a totally different side of the equation as both side-long pieces were recorded live. They move slow and are highly contemplative - you know early on that this is someone who has a clear idea of what they're doing and knows how to hit the bullseye. "Requiem for the Drowning Solo Swimmer" (how great of a title is that?) - side B - is the cream here... by the time English's voice starts spinning circles around the solid-state harmonium drones and electronic squeals, you're totally locked in and ready to suck down massive gulps of salt water yourself. Totally genius - I gotta see him live!
This is one of those real unexpected surprises that remind me why I love this whole FoxyD biz despite all the work and headaches it involves. The Buffalos are a trio (maybe? quartet? I actually have no idea, but I'm gonna go with trio since it's really not that important) cranking out some seriously fried scuzzpunk jams. It's pretty lofi but that works with the blown-out feel of the music... heavy guitars and drums, some bits of noise and debris... reminds me of a scuzzier, more disjointed version of Eternal Tapestry or something... there's even some vague free-jazz skronk bits (which will hopefully increase as they're apparently adding a sax player. Fuck yeah. Not sure how available this is (as it's supposedly a demo, technically), but drop these cats a line cuz it's worth hearing.
Mossy Throats "DNA Mismatch" (ExBx) + Cardboard Sax "Wreckage Seekers Sought Floor Sills For Leagues Of Human Service Centers" CDR (American Tapes)
Excitebike Dan has had a killer year... dude keeps honing his sound, whittling out the unnecessary bits and turns in one of his most refined pieces of crust so far. "DNA Mimsatch" is a bit of an epic (well, I consider a c60 epic) and it's heavy as shit. It's like being dropped alive in a cryogenic freezer and having your brain turned into a giant popsicle. Thick, sludgy electronic hell slowed to a crawl. Siren songs of death. You will get pummeled and you will enjoy it. Next to last year's triple-dip, "Microelectronics," this is probably my fav. MT jam.
Also, speaking of Dan - we get the return of Cardboard Sax. First new jams since the awesome split LP w/ Wasteland Jazz. The trio of Uneven Universe + John Olzone bust out some of the best, most damaged skronk this side of the Atlantic. Slowed down, sped-up, pushed to the almighty limits.. dueling saxophones (or hell, I guess all three of 'em are blowing down the doors), caustic electronics - all of it mixing together in a senile stew of dyslexic electronic drones. Only wish this sucker was on vinyl cuz more Cardboard Sax on vinyl would be good for everyone. EVERYONE.
Too short excursion from Sean McCann and Kellen Shipley, but even though it's brief, it sings like forever. Supersonic scree that marches in the light - keyboards go full-force whimsy and sax bombs drop like fuscia magic from the skies. Cryptic childlike voices rise from the rivers of haze underneath... this stuff just drips in summer excess... bright and dreamy, totally perfect for late night skinny dipping and gin-drinking excursions through the suburbs. I'm addicted. I need more.
I went all weepy on Driphouse once before, but "Romati & Gains" demands attention cuz it's one of my favorite tapes of the year, for sure. Minimal electro hypnoses, flying through pristine skies with liquid gold dripping off at lightspeed. I'm such a sucker for this stuff... subtle beats galore drive everything from the backseat. Daren Ho is on fire. I dunno what parts get me more... the inspired '70s electronic compositional aspects or the total new age vibes that float on top. It's all mixed-up, it's all beautiful. I love how this tape just flows from one stop to the next, never losing focus and never getting off-track. Ho's got some serious pop hooks lurking under veil here, too - a little something for all the kids. B-side is full of heavy meditation - points of light for sure, but a thick mass of synth mud keeps it grounded in a big ball of tension. Driphouse - love it more and more every day. Driphouse vinyl plz! I need it, damnit!
Whoa whoa WHOA! I went nutty for the Terrors tape on Monorail last time out, so I was pretty stoked to get in touch with one of the Terrors (I'll tell ya, I can't figure out if it's a full-on band (cuz there's definitely a whole host of folks jamming on this one) or a solo project, but what I do know is it rules the land) and swap some garb. He's got some other stuff out there too (nice uber-short split with Taterbug.. c7 ftw!), but "Guard" is where it's at. Two tapes (one c20 + one c22) that strip things down to the bare bones and find new zones to inhabit. Things start off with a bit of instrumental, full-on bliss and grow into stuttered aural trees. Things really cook though when it gets down to guitar & vox. Here's the thing - I've grown pretty tired of most singer/songer biz over the past few years... just too much, too mediocre, etc. But as always - when it's done with a new edge, done right... shit doesn't get much better and Terrors is leading the way at this point. Old Palace vibes run rampant, but I'm also reminded of a couple old favorites i.e. early Fuck and the first Snailhouse record (killer!), especially with the extra bits of instrumentation (mandolin, melodica, synth, drums, etcetcetc). Down to the foundation, though, the quieter, more stripped songs... those moments where everything feels perfect. It's a gospel experience, folks - holy ghost and all that. "Guard" is a bit of a masterpiece, I've gotta say... these cats are just writing some damn great songs... like they keep singing on side C... I'm feelin' wild.
I've pretty much given up on Jeck's 'proper' solo albums at this point since none of them have ever really grabbed me... I mean, there's good moments to be found, but on a whole - eh. Last year's "Live in Liverpool" LP took it to another level, though - seriously one of my favorite LPs in recent memory, it had a lot of the things his album seemed to lack. Well, "Spool" continues on in that mindset. Killer drones, two pieces per side - short & sweet (sucker's only a c20). Simple is as simple does but Jeck is cooking on here. Seriously hope his next album goes this route so I can actually be interested.
Man, I love this new project from HCC mastermind Chris Riggs and the highly underrated Matt Endahl (check some of his solo digs on HCC and you'll see what I mean). But the awesomely named Lifetones grip new ground as Riggs does his thing and Endahl blitzes a Fender Rhodes. As an aside, I dunno why more people don't use Rhodes because they are seriously aweasome. Anyway, one of the things that really sets Riggs' guitar work apart from a lot of others is that his ability to manipulate the sounds emanating from his axe is unreal. On "Cop Time" it sounds like he's torturing a violin through a telephone line. It's incredible. Endahl adds rhythmic punches of Rhodes that eventually morph into hazy high-pitched sprinkles, working as the perfect countermeasure to Riggs' hell. The flipside is actually melodic. Endahl's playing is totally enchanting and lullaby-worthy. Focus too much on it and you'll be nodding off in no time, primed & ready for some cryptic dreams. But Riggs is scratching and clawing his way out of the box after being buried alive. It just blows my fucken mind that he's using a guitar on this. No clue what he's doing, but it sounds sick, wretched and wonderful. Such a killer duo. Scope their "Quivering Mass" tape (which is a pretty epic c62 with a bit more crunch) on HCC as well cuz it's another big time winner.
Dead Black Arms
on Peyote Tapes
is pretty crispy and much appreciated. DBA is a pretty great project. Fucking love the recent tape from Anakrid
on Black Horizons
- it's as good as anything he's done and the packaging is top-notch as always from BH. Andrew Coltrane's
recent "Cyclops" tape on Hermitage
is like getting lost inside a radio signal. Total electronic, claustrophobic buzz. Nice. Matt Carlson's Gift Tape
is one of my favorites of the year. Synth-lovers check it out. "Heavy Removal" by Endless Time
really does it for me, especially the A-Side - nice melodic desolation with a big dose of molasses-hiss and clatter. Excitebike
is a regular breadwinner, but I'm particularly into the Feminine Toner
tape. And check out the House of Sun
label - everything they've done so far is golden, but I especially recommend all the Knit Prism
stuff (if you can get your hands on the KP/Thoughts on Air
split, DO NOT PASS IT UP! Ghostly perfection). Eggy Tapes
too (scroll down and look at the cassette tape cookes! YESS!)