Friday, September 30, 2011

Peaking Lights - 936

Sun-bleached dubby psychedelic rock from our friends at Not Not Fun. Peaking Lights is a duo who have been known to refer to themselves as A.C.I.D. (Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis), who hail from Wisconsin, (of all places…) although their radiant trippy jams fit right alongside NNF’s excellent roster of Californian day-glo psychrockers. Highly recommended for fans of Pocahaunted, Sun Araw, Robedoor, Terror Bird, or Topaz Rings.

Crazy psychedelic wanderings through swirly keyboards, crystalline xylophone apparitions, whispers of guitar, and crunchy bass chords thumping from speakers that blew out months ago. Soooo so good.

I believe the cassette version of 936 is sold out, but it is still available through NNF on vinyl or CD.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dust Bunnies - We Are Not Alone

Remember when every band used to have a kickass name? Yeah, me neither. But while it seems like some groups are really lacking in that department (read: Muse), here’s a band that really excels. Dust Bunnies, a four-piece indie outfit out of Chicago, play a unique mutt-like breed of folk-pop that effortlessly blends derivative psychedelia and strummy bar music with the kind of stuff that it is so far removed from rock music that it reminds me exactly why I hate the blanket term “indie” in the first place.

This album totals 18 songs, a full half of them being the scrumptious kind of sub-minute samples, garbled tones, and single-take instrumental ditties that make lonely jerkwater highschoolers wish they had been alive during the original incarnation of Guided by Voices...and then cry tears of joy when they reunite.

The sheer creative firepower and loosely-contained anarchy on this tape is so perfect for the medium that I almost feel bad to people who have to listen to this via MP3s.

Another charmingly-disorganized cassette from Plutapes. Well-played, well-played.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Folja - Pompa Funebris

The debut album from Polish video artist Folja! This release, the second from the brand-new Polish imprint Sangoplasmo Records, muses on the concept of found sound—quite literally-- nearly every song is accompanied by a music video documenting Folja hiding copies of the CD in lonely isolated woods, cupcake shops, burying them in parks, etc. (All these videos are available on his website, which is also peppered with other artsy bits of stuff and fluff). Each of his songs includes some truly superb field recordings—it's refreshing sometimes to remember that the world itself is a pre-tuned, rosined instrument and that you can do some serious damage with a $40 pocket recorder. I must have listened to this thing a dozen times already--irresistible cool midtempo jams with light, airy, sprity/pixyish riffs and complex intelligent songstructures. Dreamy and coursing but with definite goth elements, and a few choice bits of (dare I go there...) "witch house." Recommended if you like jj, ceo, or that one waaaaaaaay-overplayed riff in the Empire of the Sun song “Walking on a Dream.” But seriously, don't sleep on this one.

Unfortunately for most of you, this tape was printed in painfully low quantities (read: 44). Sangoplasmo is completely sold out, but perhaps you can dig one up on a distro or finagle the trade of a lifetime.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Red Electric Rainbow - Homegrown Oscimation

Daniel D. Smith, AKA The Face Melter, AKA Red Electric Rainbow, drops off quite a doozy with this c94 tome from Rainbow Bridge. The c90, otherwise known as the "Trenta" of the cassette world, is reserved for only the most daring individuals, but in bombastic show of grandeur, Smith slam-dunks an extra four minutes on, and raises the ante to unprecedented levels. The cassette itself is lovingly housed in a clear case (perhaps expressly for exposing that thick wad of tape slumbering in there…)

As the executive of both Neon Blossom records and the Neon Marshmallow Festival you can pretty much guess what kind of music he tends to gravitate towards (dazzling, white-hot synthesizer manipulation) but as this lumbering, wobbly tape picked up speed, I noticed how he had effortlessly adapted to the Rainbow Bridge aesthetic—summoning slow-rolling tides of static and sprinkling spotty break-ups into his otherwise sunny pieces. Collaboration at its finest.

Side A in particular caught my attention—all the pistons are firing as he coasts through a magnificent fuzzed-out sea of voices and then nobly self-destructs into the uncontrollable din of an alarm clock symphony. Breathe…breathe… Side B.

P.S. The Chicago A.V. Club recently had an excellent feature on Neon Blossom Records as part of their Tapes 'n Tapes series. Check it out below:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Julia LaDense / Sensible Nectar - Split c62

A charmingly-decorated c62 from 2010 sent to us by Rainbow Bridge records, bringing us the talents of "internet DJ" Julia LaDense and seasoned noise-vet Sensible Nectar (AKA Pregnant Spore, Dementia and Hope Trails, Human Excuse, The Inappropriate King Live, etc. etc. etc.)

Julia LaDense's side is a muddled collage of manipulated foundsound: gloomy distortions, traffic hubbub, and unabashed eavesdropping on the neighbors through the apartment walls. This is probably what radio sounds like in purgatory. As I listened, I heard snatches of rhythmic pulses, mashed melodies... there's even a guest appearance by Akon which should make it a no-brainer, yeah?

Sensible Nectar does what he does best, but in a slight departure from his usual work,
His 30-minute track "Special" explores the musicality of harsh noise, interspersing soul-grating blasts of feedback with gentle ambient landscapes. This immense slab of tape brings the best stuff of Cherried-Out Merch to mind--it toys with riffs and melodies but in an entirely different structural context. Quite a rush of blood to the head.

Rainbow Bridge has been cranking out ultra-limited, top-notch noise projects for the past three years. But with a sprawling catalog topping over a hundred releases, you might want to catch up before you fall behind.

Daughters of the Sun - Ancient of the Ancients

Daughters of the Sun is a Minnesota-based psychedelic project that headlined our very own KZSU Frühling Fest back in the Spring! And they put on a damn good show, believe me.They're known for their elaborate sophisticated sound which incorporates reverb-drenched guitars and vox, layered percussion, and amazing manipulated found-sound recordings. What, you say? Sounds like just about every other project making a tape these days? Well, stop being such a naysayer, you burnout yuppie. Give this one a listen and apologize to me later. Thanks to Moon Glyph Records for shooting us this tape, which contains some of their juiciest, lengthiest jams to date.

Side A: Starts with the gentle sound of running water. Wordly flutes and gently warbling synthesizer gradually enter the mix and blend in a warm lazy haze. 8 minutes in, the piece again gains some momentum with assorted percussion, buzzy Moog and a whirlwind of distorted guitars.

Side B: Begins with a jolting art-rock jam with crashing percussion, muffled vocals and wild keyboard. 5 minutes in it melts down into a dark drone piece and then abruptly transitions into a gentle landscape of keyboards and tinkling windchimes. This soft melody later transitions into a gentle ambient piece with lovely flutes and gently shimmering cosmic synthesizer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Motion Sickness of Time Travel / Tidal - Split

2011 will surely go down in history as the Year of the Split. These past nine months have seen an unprecedented amount of dream-team collaborations--literally too many to name. I personally live for the split: and the digital age has spoiled me so, as it is now easier than ever to shoot files back and forth between people who would otherwise never cross paths in real life.

Such is the case with one of the more recent releases on Tranquility Tapes--the group effort of longtime KZSU faves Tidal and Motion Sickness of Time Travel, (AKA Rachel Evans of Hooker Vision) whose solo project has become one of the quintessential ambient offerings of the past few years.

MSOTT's side is chilly and refreshing. All the colorful electronic elements and gorgeous breathy crooning that we have come to expect in her recordings, but with
a plethora of new and exciting textures. Naturally gifted vocalists are an uncommon occurrence (even more so in a genre dominated by sonic manipulations) and each of her four tracks showcase her far-reaching set of pipes quite well.

Tidal's side opens up in a slow drift--"Shadow Cast" teases the listener with gently ringing shimmers of synth and flutters of static. As the tape rolls on into "Dissolver," this polished surface slowly crumbles away at the hands of the same icy waves of overdrive that we loved so much in 2010's
Fractal Empire. It is harsh and unforgiving, but still retains the strong underlying peaceful aesthetics that makes it such a good fit for Tranquility.

A wonderful split between two greats that once again proves that DIY is even better with a friend.