Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cae-Sur-A Update

We got a new batch of tapes in from the ever-faithful Cae-Sur-A! Check 'em out:

Science vs. Witchcraft – 300 Useful Sound Effects

Rochester-based four-piece Science
vs. Witchcraft busts out this raunchy, live tape, which captures several crowd-favorites performed during a 2010 concert at the Western New York staple Bug Jar. On this release, they shrugs off all seriousness and kickoff songs like “200 Useful Sound Effects,” “Too Big for Pants” and the lewd “Sweatpants Boner.” This is obviously just rock for rock’s sake, but its lightheartedness seems to really allow them to loosen up and lay down some quality thrashing jams. It’s the kind of stuff that really works best in a live setting, which is refreshing in an era where too much production polishing can often result in some disappointing live shows. While the ringing guitars are really captured well, I only wish that the tape format was a little more forgiving for the drums. But in the live setting, I would want to be front row and center for this one, that’s for sure.

P.S. The artwork for this one is particularly charming. Enumerated on the cover are all 300 sound effects. If you can't see it here, you can check out a bigger image on their website.

P.P.S. Band name of the year?

These Feathers Have Plumes – All Cats Are Grey by Night

Short and sweet, this release from London’s very own Andie Brown is all dark drone atmospheres and smothering washes of overdrive bass peppered with some choice field
recordings and even vocal loops. Always “active” and never lulling, this brings the best of label mate ThrouRoof to mind, along with contemporaries Wether and the bad boys over at Sonic Meditations. Overall, a top-notch drone release with some really intelligent song structures and masterfully-executed dynamic shifts.

Mold Omen – Blacktop

I listened to this tape first and it’s stuck with me the longest—it very well may be my favorite of the lot. Baltimore’s Mold Omen have brewed up some really quality compositions that are instantly likeable although they fall far towards the end of the experimental spectrum. Thatching themselves together with churning, rhythmic scribbles of sound these multi-layered instrumentals are made from only the finest in colorful synths, the rawest percussion, and subtle blasts of noisy power electronics. I found Blacktop to take a novel approach
to noise music—one which coils, and builds itself up step by step, instead of instantly alienating you with run-of-the-mill penetrating blasts of static.The countless layers and overall refined details somehow work really well with its general lo-fi aesthetic. Ultimately, it's a release where the results are more organic that mechanical, and make you want to start looking up phrases like "bioelectronics" and "saltatory conduction" on wikipedia. Don’t sleep on this one.

While you hunt this one down, you can stream/preview/download a lot of their stuff here. Count your blessings.

Novoe Tsarstvo - Voda Naidet Teply Dim

International collaboration effort between a flexible group of forward-thinking Russians (including members of Love Cult, who run Full of Nothing) and their Finnish counterparts across the border. This release is very loose and open-ended, reminding me of the expansive releases of artists like Pine Smoke Lodge, Indian Weapons, and Ous Mal. It seamlessly integrates elements of drone and folk, and also has a nice spotlight on some Albert Ayler freakout sax and some truly gruesome percussion. Damn! Challenging, but so worth your time.

Their website is a real treat too, and has live performances and artwork, as well as side projects in dance music and film scores.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Electric Rainbow - Come and Melt Your Face Off

The face melter strikes again! If that doesn't make sense to you, let me go ahead a redirect you a previous Red Electric Rainbow Release here.

Another gem from
Sacred Phrases, this tape is certainly a stand-out of 2011. While Red Electric Rainbow sticks to his usual arsenal of spacey vibes,strobe lights, and cracking open glowsticks to huff their innards--this release is markedly different in it's varied use of throbbing percussive lines. I could really get used to this new sound.

There are 4 jams on this tape,clocking in at just under half an hour, and the repeated flipping is satisfying in a strange sort of way. Side A features a well-composed 2-song title track suite and the flip B-side is home to the 15-minute "Mayan Forest" which is so massively epic that I believe I used it as the closing song of my radio show for three consecutive weeks. I was on the Sacred Phrases website the other day, and I noticed that although it's been limited to a scant 100 copies, this tape was still in print! Which means that less than 100 people have heard this. Which is absurd.

(Side Note: okay, so it's charting at the station, so at least other people are hearing it--but still, the fact that less than 100 people have the actual tape, boggles the mind--this one should have sold out in a heartbeat.)

Fabrica Records Update

Our buddies at Fabrica Records have been holding it down over on the other coast with an awesome crop of tapes. I listened to these a few weeks ago on a spooky night while waking around Lake Laguinta (on my way the CCRMA concert) but I haven't had a chance to write anything up until now.

The first one I popped in was the "Dwellings" c20 by EarthMasters. It came with some explosive supernova j-card artwork and was housed in a lovely diaphanous purple shell. (Now that I write this, I don't think I've yet to review a purple tape that I didn't like...) I was instantly greeted with warm wooly pulses, chopped and screwed layers of synth and drawn-out guitar grinds that reverberated somewhere in my lower vertebrae. Gelatinous vocals whispered forth distorted fragments in throbbing pulses that I couldn’t understand. I flipped over to side B and listened to bubbly synth brooks gurgling colorful melodies and string instruments gently recoiling and winding down. Ambient washes gently shifted in tides that barely disturbed the surface, like the flutter of papers restless rearranging themselves in the garbage bin. Bliss.

You can find EarthMasters on facebook at the above link, or the ever-popular myspace and their goofy bandcamp, where you can indulge in their two posted songs, available for a combined sum of $80. (I'm not kidding)

Next up to bat was the self titled c30 by A Full Cosmic Sound. Having had the same redwoods forest desktop background for nearly two years, I was instantly hooked by the artwork, and the stellar song titles printed on the j-card, which had names like "Comandante Chupacabra Acelere Y Entregue El Mensaje" and " Hippis En Alerta, Estrategia En Rediseno" (which later made me laugh out loud when I read them on air).

A Full Cosmic Sound (AFCS) was formed in Santiago, Chile by members of a La Banda and
Du O des Etoiles, and the inspiration was apparently a sharing a mutual "casual UFO sighting." (Unsurprisingly, my family has a similar history of UFO sightings in South America...) Channeling the energy from this experience, AFCS unleashes a onslaught of psychadelic noise that sounds fantastical, open-ended and wholly unhuman. If I had to guess instruments, I would say keyboards, guitars, and drum machines, but by the sounds of it, there are a good dozen or so that I'm missing. Even from their very name, it's apparent that A Full Cosmic Sound is trying to deliver just that--a palette of sounds representing a radical departure from the human experience. And in just five songs, they'll do it.

It's incredible how accessible this music is given the fact that it has very little human elements. Little is recognizable, and what is is soaked with distortion and is only a fleeting apparition in the crowd. To heighten the experience, I highly recommend speakers rather than isolating headphones. This is music which commands the kind of transformative properties that are best felt in an environment.

Marvelous work.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lava Church Records Update

We got an excellent package in the mail a while back from Lava Church Records, a newish label operating out of Sarasota, Florida. So far they've had a great year: they’ve put out a handful of cassettes and as of a few days ago, began venturing into the realm of limited CD-Rs.
Each release comes packaged snugly in a jewel case and each tape has been hand crafted to perfection. The J-card is printed on one side and handwritten on the other; glittered with little tidbits of philosophy like: “See the Dawn Before the Rest of the World,” “The Differences Between the Artistic and the Intelligent are Negligible at Best,” and my personal favorite: “Don’t Wait for the Translation,” which is followed by a line of Russian text that just seems to be taunting me every time I look at it.

We got a total of 6 tapes in this package, and here’s a brief rundown of each one:

Patrick McBratney – Lovebrrd

This tape is from the “High Priest” of Lava Church himself—a super cool guy who attends USF and runs the label and a handful of other art projects on the side. His latest release Lovebrrd is a collection of sorts, Side A was recorded in April ’11 and the flip was taken from assorted recordings he made from 2007-the present. Many of his songs are written off the cuff and banged out on a Casio with deep growling vocals blanketed with distortion and soaked with that ineffable reverb that proponents of the DIY movement have come to cherish and love. His lyrics tackle subjects big and small, with songs ranging from ballads about a children’s arts and crafts kit to love, hate, and disappointment—this one’s definitely got some emotional depth.

Spires – Puzzlebox

I spent a lot of time with this tape, mostly leaving it on while I was trying to do work, but I never ended up getting anything done. I’ve heard that classical and ambient music are supposedly the best to do homework to, but this tape was just too interesting and I found myself constantly nodding away from my homework and zoning out to these smoky mystical expanses. It was apparently produced by an army veteran from Colorado who is currently studying music composition. He’s been working on music for 20 years, but bandcamp has only been around for a couple. But to our luck, he’s posted three albums of electroacoustic goodness. Check it out.

Alto Jeffro – Songz (Sad Manther 1987)
Alto Jeffro – Songz USSR (1983)
Alto Jeffro – Echo Together

This batch included three tapes from Alto Jeffro, the tag team efforts of a certain "Jeff and Barney" who hail from Northern Massachusetts. These three albums sport some great artwork with full-color J-cards and metallic tape stickers that got glittery 'errewhere. These tapes are completely different, but all stick to a common theme of charming one-take bedroom pop songs. A lot of the bridges and interludes are great, with plenty of goofy antics, guitar bashing, and circusy sound effects. A lot of this stuff is even better than that Arial Pink guy I hear all the cool kids gush about all the time (hold on to your pants everybody).

P.S. On their, they claim to have recorded 455 songs in 3 months. I can believe this. You can also check out many of their other goodies on the Internet Archive.

Sky Stadium – Ancient

If you've ever read this blog before, you know we're big fans of Jeff Roman here at KZSU. This tape is no different: solid shimmering ambient washes--a dazzling display of rainbow colors swimming in a cohesive unity, like a light reflections in a pool of oil.

Tile –Universal

Tile is Jeff Roman’s new “pop” project. it has similar vibes as his other work, but with vocals (!) and more prominent melodies. You should check this one out. It’s like if Prince ever made a folk album—of course you would buy it. But seriously, this one is great...the first time I listened to it I ended up playing it 4 times in a row without swapping it out.