Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Zuma St. Pelvyn - Ampex, Stolaroff, Dogwood, Rain

Tapes like this make me love working for KZSU.

"Ampex, Stolaroff, Dogwood, Rain" is a sort of "holy quadropy" of sorts, a 41-minute audio recording that seems to serve as field notes documenting excursions into a very sparse, minimalist landscape.

While mostly bleak and left-field experimental, it is also delicate in a very pristine, romantic sense--evoking images of the rotten wood bridges, the untouched branches of frozen trees, and the cities that aren't on the map.

And just like the world that surrounds us, this release challenges us and begs to be interpreted. It is a hard listen, but to quote the poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra: "I want a place difficult like poetry." There is something immensely rewarding about dancing in the fringes of the unknown--seeking out meaning and being denied repeatedly. Enduring late nights, with wind blowing out your candles, red eyes, and bleary vision and then finally: in the midst of madness, reaching out blindly and feeling your fingers graze, and then fully grasp, reason and understanding.

This tape, from Minnesota-based Lighten Up Sounds, is further evidence that cassettes are the best medium to ever grace this (or any neighboring) planet. It comes packaged in a clear oversized audiobook case with a complimentary bag of shredded wood, a printed vellum insert, and was apparently recorded in our backyard. Recommended to those of us who love a challenge.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lighten Up Sounds

A huge shout-out goes out to
Lighten Up Sounds, for sending us a truly monstrous package of tapes. Amazing stuff--several of them have already graced our airwaves. Definitely not a label to sleep on. Stay tuned for reviews.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Giant Claw - Midnight Murder

Badass nostalgic electronic jams with some interesting sci-fi elements and 8-bit samples. The band describes it as “the soundtrack to a dystopian children’s book published in 1981.” The tracks are definitely a little left-field but you could still dance to them if you tried. It sounds a bit similar to ROTFLOL, Family Cruise, or Flying Lotus, if he played more video games than he already does.

I can't stop listening to this one--half of the tracks are really catchy dancefloor grooves and the other half sound like amplified Starship Enterprise computer malfunctions. What a trip!

A big thank-you goes out to Orange Milk Records for sending this tape to us. They're a relatively new label, but they've already been getting busy putting out tapes from an all-star lineup that includes Hobo Cubes and thisquietarmy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Joe Foster/Kelvin Pittman - Split

Portland-based label Cherried Out Merch is notorious for putting out some really quality work (Indignant Senility, DJ Yo-Yo Dieting) but every once in a while they drop a release that just tanks. The Joe Foster/Kelvin Pittman split is a great example of the latter. I just can't deal with it. Too much noodling, too many random bursts of static--to much junk in the trunk. I love experimental music but I'm just not sure about this one. At least the artwork is rad. I think I'll make it into a necklace.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Darkhorse -EP 1

The first release from Darkhorse, the ambient bedroom project of Adam Bosse. This five-song EP was self-released in the form of a limited edition CD-R with hand-painted collage covers designed by Dan Stairs. It was distributed through Time-Lag Records and Tomentosa, so you know to take this seriously. It’s definitely a good start, with a nice low-end pallete of sound, but some tracks are a bit subpar and seem rushed. Standouts include the deep sea anthem swirl of "13" and the Kid A schizophrenia of "The Clearing."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Schedule on KZSU

With the new academic quarter beginning at Stanford, we've re-vamped our on-air broadcasting schedule as well. Be sure to check out our new shows as well as all of your old favorites:

For those of you interested in shows focusing on cassettes be sure to check out

Youth Demographic Radio (with HYPRK)
Orangeasm (with the Orangeasm Rotation All-Stars)
Lost Verses (Adam and Luke)
Gilt (with Miss Scarlet)

All times are Pacific. Holla!

3 Moons - Almanac of the Dead

For those of you who are just now joining us: I’d like to call to your attention the fact that cassettes are officially the coolest medium of all time. The prime example of course being “Almanac of the Dead,” one of the more recent releases from Minneapolis-based Psyop Recordings. Minnesota is a bloody cold state—some friends of mine attending the U of M delight in telling me stories of water freezing before it hits the ground, tongues freezing to poles, and the hundred-degree temperature differences that greet you when you leave the dorms to face the blizzard. This two-sided beauty is appropriately bundled up in what has got to be the most creative packaging we have ever received at KZSU. Yes, this two-sided beauty really does come in a sparkly-green hand-sewn pouch with a cardboard cover that has been lovingly stitched onto its stomach. Hell yeah!

The music on it totally rips too. 3 Moons is a psych/folk group based out of Kansas City that prominently features a custom-modified guitar which has been gutted and had more parts swapped in and out of it than your crusty neighbor’s '72 Lincoln. The result is a half-wood, half-metal Frankenstein that is played slide-style with a copper pipe which sounds like a rusted-out banjo. Add some tambourine and cotton-mouth vocals and bring to a slow simmer.

Most songs on this 37-minute chunk of tape are a bit on the gloomy side, but have that friendly lo-fi sound that only the best Mississippi Delta Blues can offer.

With one release officially out 3 Moons is already hungry for more. They are currently gearing up for a second release on Psypop which will be titled “CULTUROMANKOR,” and our best wishes go out to them as they begin an Midwest/East Coast tour tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Hello Cassette Friends,
KZSU NEEDS YOUR HELP! Recently, KUSF 90.3 in San Francisco was purchased and shut down by CPRN, a corporate network owned by the University of Southern California (USC). The new KUSF now plans to move their transmitter into a location that will threaten reception of the KZSU signal, especially in the East Bay and in parts of San Francisco and San Bruno. You can help by writing a letter that we will forward to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Tell the FCC what KZSU means to you and why you don't want our signal to be lost in the Bay Area. We need your letters by Friday, April 15th. Go to our website: to find out how you can help. Or you can send us an email at: Be sure to include your full name, your address, and where you listen from. Please call 650-723-9010 if you have any questions!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tracey Trance - Learning To Your Stuff

How does one begin to describe Tracey Trance? It is a project which is deceptively childish, yet complex and enigmatic. It is the kind of recording that is off the cuff but also bound together by powerful concepts that are undeniably coherent, regardless of how cluttered and jumbled they may be. And it is also a tape that forces me to sit down and seriously consider the question: is chipmunk the new Auto-Tune?

Tracey Trance has put out a smattering of releases recently, including four in this past year alone--most recorded by himself with the help of a few friends in Vancouver, Washington and Brooklyn, New York. (The group performs as a duo when playing live). This latest release is more keyboard-focused than most of his catalog, and features more of his signature heavily-distorted childish vocals than ever. (Think: 12" records on 45 RPM, or your little cousin messing with the pitch knob.) I really appreciated this release for its never-ending grab bag of short blips and experimentation. Spanning a dizzying 16 tracks, "Learning To Your Stuff" covers ground like no other: from 20-second blitzes of reverb-soaked keyboard
to spiraling 10-minute whirlwinds of carousel house jams.

This is the kind of tape that can make music fun again.

This release comes to us courtesy of Eggy Records,
a Portland label run by Raf Spielman which is a KZSU favorite. Cassettes are crystal clear and come packaged with lovely hand silkscreened j-cards, ensuring that no two are alike. An early contender for Cassette of the Year.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cruise Family - Up To Us

Star Wars alternate universe lazer tag soundtracks to burn a hole in your brain. This cassette was sent to us by Stefan Kushima, who runs the label SF Broadcasts, and who is the man behind the projects Bobby Lazar, Cruise Family, Easy Rider, Lars Leerk├Ârper, and about a bazillion others. Despite his incredibly prolific output, all of his releases are great, and this is one of his best. The project Cruise Family is the flagship of the SF Broadcasts label and its electro synth space vibes stay true to the label’s dayglo sci-fi aesthetic. The future looks neon indeed. Both sides are highly recommended.

SIDE A: Electromagnetic pulses and futuristic club music. The first ten minutes consist of sunny splatters of bright keyboard and then the last five minutes melts into the greatest rave ever thrown inside of a Borg cube. Such a trip.

SIDE B: A free-fall of lovely synth cascades into a tour of a dark subterranean Martian colony and then dissolves into an amazing 80’s sci-fi drum n’ bass jam.

Innercity / Cruise Family - H.E.A.D.

Cruise Family finally shares a slab of tape with with Innercity. I know, what a combo, right? These two masterminds of synth soundscapes battle it out on this latest release from SF Broadcasts. Both sides are indicative of childhoods spent watching too much Star Trek and staying up late reading The Martian Chronicles under the covers by flashlight.

SIDE A: Self-proclaimed “future life stimulations” that feature gentle chimes, spacey keyboards, and muffled distorted foundsound dialogue samples. Gently enigmatic. Innercity delivers the goods, but not with the same intensity as "Future Life" or "Visions of Dream State."

SIDE B: Frantic SOS messages from drifting satellites, lost in space and hoping to be saved by the re-re-reincarnation of Vangelis. A very solid 15 minutes--airy, light and sublime.