Saturday, August 27, 2011

throuRoof - Feathers & Blood

Italian-based producer throuRoof takes his name from the flowing, transient sensation of drifting through the ceilings and into the realms of the imagination—leaving reality and slowly sublimating into the world of dreams. We enjoyed listening to his Tarot Session a few months back, so we already had high expectations when we opened up the package from Rochester-based imprint Cae-Sur-A.

Side A greets the listener with a warm embrace—gentle nascent hums of accordion and the chirps of birds muted by the sounds of swaying grasses and vibrato string melodies. Certainly not entirely synthetic--and not yet all the way foundsound/field recording, the track flirts with both and settles on a happy medium that manages to concentrate the best of the two worlds and blend them together in a hybridity of magical realism.

The title track, spanning the entirety of Side B, revolves around similar notions of nature, but seems to muse on the tangibility of mortality. How does physicality exist as a player in the greater continuum? How does existence depend on the fragile, delicate foundation of body? These questions remain unanswered, but resonate deeply throughout the golden buzzy writing of electronics.

Thanks to Cae-Sur-A for sending this tape our way. Be sure to also check out the music video for Side A’s “Birdism.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sky Stadium - Palmae

The latest tape from East Coast dreamweaver Sky Stadium. This chipper orange cassette (the ninth released by the whippersnappers at Goldtimers) is notable for its heavy swollen riffs and deep undulating rhythms. This is seriously some cool stuff, with a variety of peaceful effects that separate it from his earlier material—great for layering or as a soundtrack to tranquil early morning hours. Most of these rubbery, low-durometer tracks are minimalist and lulling in their repetitive nature, but they are by no means simplistic or scattershot-random. Rather, they resonate strongly with the emotions, like those numbing out-of-body experiences of sheer realization: the serenity of a free-fall, the weightless exhalation of confusion during a bike crash, or extending a tentative hand over the edge of an abyssal oceanic drop-off.

Sky Stadium has been on a tear lately, putting out releases faster than I can keep up. So if you're a fan of this tape check out his recent jam on Sacred Phrases here or his Lava Church Records C20 here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Black Math - Black Math

The second pressing of the debut LP from Chicago darkwave trio Black Math. Originally released on vinyl, the band decided to re-release it through PlusTapes when fans started scalping the originals for $120. Although staying true to their morbid shadowy moniker, it’s nice to see them branch out from all the played-out goth themes and overdone “Now That’s What I Call 80’s Synth Pop” meanderings. Rocking riffs, basement production standards, and bouncy synth anthems. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

HMS - Cascades

HMS is a lively free improvisation trio made up of an impressive team of veterans: Joe Houpert, Nathan McLaughlin, and Erich Steiger. Their debut release "Resolution," was released on McLaughlin's Panda Fuzz netlabel and after each pursuing a variety of solo projects, they have reconvened once more to record a blistering one-hour live set for the forward-thinking Avant Archive label.

Right from the get-go their interplay is exquisite and precise. The rumbles of "Centralia" are hooking from the first squeals of noise, and things only get better from there. Side A slowly drifts away in ominous snaking tendrils and then returns on the flip side as an assault of clattering pipes, growling synthesizer and insistent buzzing--the kind of swinging-lightbulb-in-the-unfinished-
basement nightmare that runs rampant during the witching hours. Fifteen minutes later, the trio blasts across the finish line in a gutsy krauty ending peppered with great jazzy elements. Just in time! Seconds later, the tape winds down to a halt and the ever-perky "play" button on my Walkman springs up mockingly.

As is previously mentioned, all of three contributors are highly-accomplished musicians, and I recommend you seek out their other projects. Nathan McLaughlin has released some great tapes under his
Echolocation series, and he and Joe Houpert also have a great duo project called Loud and Sad. Eric Steiger has some pretty legit improv piano releases that are also noteworthy. Check out his free release on Panda Fuzz here and grab the first HMS recording while you're at it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sky Stadium - Tile

New CD-R release from Jeff Roman’s excellent minimal project Sky Stadium. I first heard his tape The Lodge last year and have been hungry for more ever since. (NOTE: Although this blog is dedicated to the art of the cassette tape, I've been traveling for the past week and didn't have anything but digital music players to keep me company. Luckily, I checked the mail before I left and found this CD inside which was too good to not review. So sorry, but not really.)

Jeff took a short break from analog formats to hatch this lovely new disk with the help of the goofy guys at Animal Image Search. (Although he’s no stranger to digital formats as evidenced by his online label TealFX). This 7-track trip has some great stand-out moments all woven into its cozy, drifting swirls of synth, 4 AM profoundness and incredible feelings of contentedness. Loose scatterings of gemutlich envelopments and woozy tides of sound that promise the type of clarity that can only be achieved via expensive allergy medications.

A great, atmospheric release with plenty of moody, imiginitve themes: a colorful sunrise amplified by the chemicals in smoggy skies. Imagining you see the stars twinkling when it is a mere illusion caused by the random refraction of the turbulent atmosphere. Asymmetric gyrations, holocrystalline formations, and seeing right down to the bottom of a very clear pool. Optimistic yet a tad bit forlorn.

Thanks Jeff for sending this one our way!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kevin Greenspon - Paradise A.D.

Excellent ambient compositions from Bridgetown labelhead Kevin Greenspon. Often referred to as one of the hardest-working musicians in the scene (his 20+ recordings and lively label speak for themselves). Greenspon records all of his pieces without the usual electronic crutches—there are no synthesizers or laptops used on this album. Instead, he prefers the warm tones of guitar, and a dizzying assortment of analogue tape manipulation. His carefully-crafted melodies shine especially bright on A.D. Paradise—his latest release which collects 15 recent tracks originally released on limited edition cassettes tapes from prominent labels like Bathetic and Existential Cloth.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trapdoor Tapes Update

Great things are brewing in the land down under. A big shout-out to Trapdoor Tapes for sending us a great carepackage of crunchy noise jams. Included were the following (pictured left-to-right):

Mshing / Sick Llama CS: Collaboration release between Trapdoor Tapes and their buddies at Magik Crowbar. Mshing's side is all skull-crushing abrasive washes of noise, while Sick Llama provides a bleak blizzard of drone to zone-out and lose yourself in. Sick Llama is the solo project of Heath Moerland, the operator of Fag Tapes, so if you're familiar with their catalogue then you will probably really dig this one as well.

Mshing / Psychward CS:

Another collabo with Magik Crowbar, this one is some serious scruffy noise. Staticy and demanding with raw blasts of corrosion. I had to play it loud to get into it and I left my door open because it was hot. I think I may have lost some friends...but it's all good.

NOTE TO READER: as soon as the tape was finished, the return to reality was...jarring.

Ded Stix - S/T:
Pleasantly-adorned CDr consisting of one nine-minute meltdown of spazzy guitar noodling, and the clanging sounds of your sanity bouncing around in the trunk of a car.

Armpit - Tron II: Ambling noise project made up of New Zealanders Clayton Noone and Sugar John. 10 tracks of boggy lo-fi rock, all nicely distorted, with refreshing blasts of harsh noise. A bit bluesy too! Varied stuff showcasing a diverse platter of stylistic influences (peep their respective Discogs pages to see their impressive resumes if you don't believe me).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wether - Walking Through Black Prisms

The solo project of Mike Haley, the maestro behind the label 905 Tapes. One half is dark levitating drone and the other is the light at the end of the tunnel. Really pleasing dark murky stuff that sludge-swimming droneheads will love to lap up.This tape comes to us courtesy of No Kings Records, a Nashville/Los Angeles based experimental cassette label known for taking no prisoners and having a general balls-to-the walls attitude.

Side A: Sunn O))) taking summer school welding class. Tweeter-busting high frequencies, black opaque waves of drone, and slithering tendrils of light punctuating the darkness.

Side B: Florescent day-glo enlightening experience. Synth blasting into uncharted territory, soaking up the sun and reproducing.

Eagle Chalice - Hot Glue

Berkeley-based electronic producer and also the man behind the now-defunct Hidden Fortress Tapes. (NEWS UPDATE: HF had been declared "comatose" and not dead, implying that we might see some sort of Michael Jordan comeback!) Hot Glue is full of great loose glue-themed textures with an unmistakable sci-fi inspired interstellar tie-dye vibe. Trippy and zoned-out, but firmly in the electronic category with influences ranging from UK 2-step garage to fish tank eavesdropping. Most tracks are slow-building and almost bashful of their sonic prowess. Really original stuff. Available for free at Eagle Chalice's bandcamp.