Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Black Earth—Diagrams of a Hidden Order cs

Black Earth
Diagrams of a Hidden Order
In Solace Publishing





Holy fuck, this rules. A swirling, nightmare, migraine piece of black metal from Spain. It’s completely confounding and brutal. This is a fever dream and may actually do damage to you but it as has this subtle beauty of a deadly flood watched from 10,000’ above the earth. Gorgeous.


The packaging is great. Letterpressed Brad packs with small letterpressed inserts in a anti-static bag (full disclosure: I printed all the letterpressed elements on this one). It’s an amazing package and you must find this. Good luck. 

Lather—Guitarsenic & Bowed Bass cs

Lather
Guitarsenic & Bowed Bass
Bob Heavens Records




Whoa. This is fucked up. I guess the title is part of the description but there is this weird sampled element that sounds like haunted family movies peaking through the squealing and scraping. It’s very unsettling. The artwork is simple and understated but handled nicely. This music kinda gives me the creeps though. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Tereshkova—Fog and Other Memories cs

Tereshkova
Fog and Other Memories
Already Dead Tapes



This is great but the best part is in the first 30 seconds. There is this cool little beat and then this tidal wave of distorted synth just come crashing on it. This has a cool My Bloody Valentine meets Guided by Voices meets Meridian Arc meets Depeche Mode meets Ariel Pink thing going on and I clearly cannot classify it. It’s really worth a listen. I think it’s made by a mad person.
The art is pretty great. The painting is fucked up, the type is well-handled and I am pleased. 



The Kendal Mintcake—Insignificant Digits cs

The Kendal Mintcake
Insignificant Digits 
Big Sleep Records



Pretty rad synth music. I think. Tracks really switch from here to there throughout this strange experimental album. This reminds me a bit of some of the stuff that was once on John Zorn’s label. I think I really like it. There are moments that are almost dance but others with super-subtle movements that just hover overheard like overcast clouds made of sampled oboes. It’s really odd. 

The art is cool and the type is fine. Nothing too crazy but totally fine. The music though… It’s really growing on me.

Charles Barabé + Roadside Picnic—National House Milk cs

Charles Barabé + Roadside Picnic
National House Milk
Wounded Knife




Um… Weird. Yes. Very different. I really don’t know how to feel about this. I kinda love it but it also feels like it is so disjointed that it isn’t really ready to be heard yet. Like a collaboration between two people that never heard each other’s work. I like the spastic nature of the crazy drum programming with the beautiful swelling samples but there is no real cohesion here. Hmmmm. I may need to hear this more. 

It looks great. This label is really killing it with doing a lot with very little. Clearly there is a strong designer on the other end of these releases. 

Lore City—Absence & Time cs

Lore City
Absence & Time
Already Dead Tapes



Huh, this is cool. Kinda on the Zola Jesus meets World Serpent Records circa 1993. Driving and dark with some haunting vocals that swirls around a persistent beat. Reminds me a bit is The Arid Sea had a female voice or maybe some of the Death in June stuff with Rose. It’s great. I’m glad to have heard this.

The cover art has that cool 90’s look as well but the type inside is total throw-away. It’s fine just not fun to look at. 

Laughter—Ain Soph Aur cs

Laughter
Ain Soph Aur
Belief Mower




Well, I have one big issue is that this cassette is mastered super quiet. That’s a bummer for me. That aside it’s pretty cool. Super heavy, blackened prog. The vocals are a bit much at times and slide towards Queensreich for me a bit but in general this is a decent band. I just wish that the cassette was mastered correctly. It sounds like a decent tape that sat on a magnet for a month.

The art and type is great though. Handled really well.

Third I—Nice Collection (2008–2016) cs

Third I
Nice Collection (2008–2016)
Centipede Farm







Fuck this kinda rules. I had never heard of Third I but this is some interesting stuff.  Sometimes it’s very brutal, crushing industrial noise and other times it’s this beautiful, restrained drone pieces. Never too long and rarely self-indulgent. This is impressive. I would love to search out some full lengths now if this is what a collection of rarities sounds like. Nicely done. 

The art and layout don’t really work for me but they don’t ruin it either. I really like the abundant use of yellow but the typography looks like it was an after thought and the cover art has that unfocused pot-head art feel that reminds me of what an unfocused pot-head I used to be. I’m too old. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lake Mary & Nathan Wheeler—Also cs

Lake Mary & Nathan Wheeler
Also
Wounded Knife






First of all, this is gorgeous. Please take note everyone. Nothing here can’t be done at your local copy shop but by using smart design and good typography you can elevate the presentation of your music to a point where when you put this in you sit up straight, stop playing minecraft and really pay attention. You will be glad you did too. This electrical/acoustic drones on this album are sincere and intimate. This is a really beautiful piece through and through. Probably one of the best things I have heard this year by far. I’m very impressed and I hope to hear more from this group and see more from this label. Excellent work. 


BADNRAD—Deep End cs

BADNRAD
Deep End
Last Triumph




Ok, I am not going to lie. I totally thought I was going to hate this but it’s actually pretty fucking killer. The name is ridiculous, the art is silly and the song titles are a special kind of dumb: Atomic Teenage Trash, So Bodacious, #Thirsty. Hashtag. In the song title. Jesus… Then I put it in and it was really fun. The music knows it’s silly but also understands that it’s also pretty catchy and a total blast. It’s not at all something I would normally put on but now I think I have to. This is basically a danceable version of being self-aware and having a decent sense of humor at the same time. Nicely done. That name really makes sense. 

SBTDOH—DTH6 cs

SBTDOH
DTH6
Shrouded Recordings




So this is the second pressing of this sweet, short one-sided cassette. I don’t know how much you know about SBTDOH but it’s probably more than me. All I know is that they are pretty great. It’s super fucking dark and distant. I love this. Not a giant fan of one-sided cassettes but oh well. The layout is simple and xeroxed to fuck. It could maybe be a little more over the top in that way, even if they xeroxed black onto the back sides or something but I still love this. Good luck finding this. 

Blue Movies—Muffy cs

Blue Movies
Muffy
Centipede Farm



Im not really sure what’s happening here. It’s weird. I like that part but it basically just sounds like someone lives in a strange country with only weird music on the radio and they are so to scanning through the channels. It becomes a bit more focused and at it’s best moments has this lo-fi, lo-fi, lo-fi version of At Jennie Richie that I certainly enjoy but it isn’t resonating with me like I think it should Maybe this is a good thing. It’s certainly more challenging that some noise tapes I receive. I’ve listened all the way through and I think as I went I liked it more and more but it still feels pretty unfocused. Maybe that’s the point… I think I am out of my league. 


It looks pretty cool. Simple and straightforward with some effected photos. Not bad. 

Spiteful Womb—Postpenitent cs

Spiteful Womb
Postpenitent
self released




This is good. Really cruel and dark electronics that sound like the horror you experience being in the room next to the worse thing you can imagine. There not much more to say than… fuck….  Simple and focused. I like this. The layout has the only real issue. I hate when the type on the spine is upsidedown. Drives me nuts. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bell Stray—Scribble the Pink cs

Bell Stray
Scribble the Pink
Self Released



I love this. A lot. You will too. I almost don’t want to describe this. It’s precious, small and beautiful but it speaks to something bigger and more personal inside you. Bell Stray sings in a way that almost sounds like a child but like a child that has been a child for eons. It’s tragic and homemade and sounds like the kind of music that may have never made it outside a bedroom but luckily for us it is here. I am pretty obsessed. I would recommend listening to this right away. It’s on band camp and you can decide if you agree.


The tape itself is pretty underwhelming. It doesn’t have any of the meticulous care that went into the music itself. That’s okay but it’s a bit disappointing. Of course at this point i think each Bell Stray release should come with epic books that rival Henry Darger’s entire life’s work. So maybe I am being unreasonable. 

Lather/Sommer Duo—A Sygil Bob Heavens Joint cs

Lather/Sommer Duo
a Sygil Bob Heavens Joint
Self Released?



This is quite an adventure. A spaced-out noise/jazz trip that really is quite expansive. I love it. It sounds like what the 1960s thought hell would sound like if hell were supposed to be in space… and in your mind. Does that make sense? Fuck it. It’s rad. I would definitely check this out.


The tape is not the nicest looking thing. The text and layout aren’t handled very well and the picture of the dudes inside is kinda goofy but the cover art is great. It totally looks like how this sounds. Messy, creepy, psychedelic madness in a glorious handmade style. Nice. 

Bobby Peru—2 Live Peru cs

Bobby Peru
2 Live Peru
Self Released




So if I wanted to explain what this sounded like I would say the band is called Bobby Peru and there is a mummy smoking with sunglasses on the cover. I think that covers it. It’s actually pretty great in a lo-fi 60’s garage way. This isn’t my favorite genre. I have a few records from bands that borrow from this world, Oblivions, Girl Trouble, The Fall-outs, etc. but I don’t have a very extensive vocabulary. It’s pretty rad though. Kinda more pissed than most of the stuff. The singer sounds like they just poured him on stage and he’s probably covered in some blood from somewhere. I think if this band comes through your town you should probably go see them. Bring a knife. 

I.G.M./Lugweigth—Seven of Clubs cs

I.G.M./Lugweigth
Seven of Clubs
Pidgin Records



I’m not sure if I love or hate the cover art… I think I love it. I know I usually don’t start with this but I keep staring at it. The colors are great and the design is nice… hmmm. Yeah I think i love it. That said I hate the type on the spine. It’s really an unattractive font. I guess I get it but everything is handled really well. I guess it’s just a taste thing. Not for me. But let’s get past that.



THE MUSIC IS AWESOME. Really. This is great I.G.M. sounds like elephant dreams of conquering. It’s spectacular. Just massive. It sounds like if you saw SUNN0)) and they were standing miles from each other and somehow filling the space and enveloping everything inbetween. Or something. I don’t know it’s just great. Wow. Lugweight is very similar but more intimate. Like it’s right in your face. Take the same amount of sound but trap yourself in a basement with it. You’d have to create new worlds in your mind just to fit the sensory stimulation or else you’d probably die from it. Fuck. 

San Kazakgascar—Twice-Baked Coma cs

San Kazakgascar
Twice-Baked Coma
Lather Records



Yes!!!! Talk about a journey. Middle Eastern influenced psychedelic rock that lives somewhere in the same part of my brain as Master Musicians of Jajouka (and Bukkake). I don’t know much about this artist or even this genre exactly but I love it. When I was younger I might have said :ugh, I hate world music” but this is something totally different. You know when you’ve taken a ton of mushrooms for the first time but you are also being chased by cops in a country you don’t understand? This is what that sounds like.


Tape is cool. Looks good, Appropriate design, type treatments and all that. Not super exciting but it’s fine. It’s a solid little package.

Eggs on Mars—On Hold, On Hold cs

Eggs on Mars
On Hold, On Hold
Self Released



So I used to be in a band called The Action Suits. It was with a couple of my friends that worked with me at Fantagraphics Books and Peter Bagge, the cartoonist. It was this pretty sweet, jangly pop band. This band reminds me a lot of what we did in this sad little basement in Ballard 20 years ago. It small, sweet, intimate and earnest. I really dig this. I don’t know if many that read this blog would care for it much but I really enjoy this. Just lovely. 


The tape itself is not very attractive though. It’s not quite handmade enough to hit that sort of Daniel Johnson vibe it could have and it’s not “nice” enough to really be compelling. I wish they had tried a little harder on the layout and artwork. That’s just me though. I think if you don’t care much about that, and wonderful broken pop songs are your jam you will love this. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Lower Echelon—Come to the Loud cs

The Lower Echelon
Come to the Loud
Unpossible Records



This takes me back. If you were ever a fan of early Jawbreaker, Crimpshrine or any of those early, great Lookout Records releases you will probably find this as fun as I did. It’s punk, it’s pissed, it’s catchy as hell. They may not like this comparison but I think I hear a touch of Fear in there as well and I dig that. It has this drunk, angry, happiness that I just love. 


The layout and artwork aren’t really my thing. The drawing is pretty cool but the whole layout, especially the type, feels like an afterthought. I would have loved to taken a stab at this because I can see ways that I feel this would have been more attractive to me but it’s fine. Don’t let that stop you. This is worth it for the killer Jam cover alone.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Endurance—City of Signals cs

Endurance
City of Signals
Self Released



Wow. This is really great. Endurance is Joshua Stefane (Witting?) from Japan and he creates some really beautiful and thoughtful drone. This album has a sort of narrative that is as tragic and melancholy as it’s audio sounds. You know how sometimes you spent a little longer than one might staring at some picture from the Hubble telescope that shows a supernova, exploding with the brilliance of 10 billion suns? You just let your gaze fixate on that before thinking about the other starts and systems nearby that have a front row seat at the destruction and beauty and how none of it matters while it all really matters? Well, this is what that sounds like. 


The art is great and the type is handled well. I think the word I used above, thoughtful, is a good way to sum up the whole release… Find this if you can. 

Lace—Supine cs

Lace
Supine
Prime Ruin




Dark as fuck. I love this minimalist audio electronic horror stuff. It’s m\just drenched in reverb and tickles that part of my brain that is truly insane. I love it. This whole thing, while moving around sonically quite a bit, is still pretty fucking creepy. The awesome xeroxed layout and packaging is kvlt as fuck as well. Into this terrifying tape. 

Arrows—Voyage cs

Arrows
Voyage
Crash Symbols



First of all I want to give it up for the super restrained and minimal layout. Very cool. I appreciate that much control. It’s great. The audio is also pretty restrained. Lot of disturbing audio loops that have an almost subtle dance quality in their rhythms but only if you are one of those super fucked-up serial killers that poses their victims’ corpses as if it’s at that prom, your prom, that started everything and you can dance with everyone this time. No one can say no this time. They can all love you. Forever. 

Gross. 

Anyway. It’s not all like that but it’s pretty rad. I recommend this for sure. 


Knoll—The Social Flirt: A Harsh Soundscape in Two Parts cs

Knoll
The Social Flirt: A Harsh Soundscape in Two Parts
Step Pepper Records




Well, we all know how I feel about samples. I am not usually too into them but this is pretty good. It has a sort of laid back late 90s sort of noise vibe. Closer to when people had started doing noise after they first discovered Throbbing Gristle. Not that this totally sounds like that but there is some serious pedal manipulation going on here. I hear flanger, delay and reverb sort of crashing in together. It’s a little refreshing. Reminds me of why I started this journey. The layout and artwork is pretty killer. I like the handling of the type and the art itself is cool… Reminds me of Muslimgauze for some reason. Not aurally but in it’s simple aesthetics.

Dark Tourist—Arc of Visibility cs

Dark Tourist
Arc of Visibility
Cinderblock People




I was not expecting this. This is some super dark techno. Like full on dance but made out some super strange sounds. It’s also, for what is essentially dance music, incredibly aggressive. It is just barreling at you and it’s not giving a fuck how broken you might be after it’s done with you. Pretty cool. Not really my thing but this was a lot of fun to work to while I was printing. The layout is great. Simple, clean, with a little random color that worked for me. 

Shalwar Kameez—The End of the Life cs

Shalwar Kameez
The End of the Life
Cinderblock People



More dark and fucked up techno from Cinderblock People. This time it’s a bit more minimal but this has a real interesting narrative to it. There is a strange conspiratorial slant to the art and some of the samples that are in to music. It’s real weird but I bet if off-putting techno with enough fear to make this HNW guy stay interested this might be right up your alley. 

I really appreciated the artwork. It’s very focused and tell a great story. Well done guys.


Trevor Ransom—Glimpses ep cs

Trevor Ransom
Glimpses ep
Outset Recordings

i stole this photo



Nice. I didn’t know what to expect when I put this in. I honestly thought it might be some singer/songwriter stuff but nope. This is really interesting and emotional electronic soundscape/modern composer stuff. Really emphasizing the emotional part there. This is great and super melancholy, which is my very favorite way to feel. This captures that wonderful combination of beauty and anxiety very well. Really excellent piano and organ work throughout with just enough percussion to give it an immediacy. If you told me this was part of the film score to some new movie I have to see I would probably believe you. Highly recommend. The artwork is beautiful and I am pleased with that.

https://trevorransom.bandcamp.com/album/glimpses-ep

Arvo Zylo—Sequencer Works Vol. 1 cs

Arvo Zylo
Sequencer Works Vol. 1
Out of Body Records




This makes me feel like I am going insane. I don’t think I enjoyed it but I have a feeling that was the idea. Have you ever heard André Popp’s Delirium in Hi-Fi? It’s like but a million times crazier and louder. It’s good for clearing out your brain of whatever is bothering you though. The layout is not terrible but the dark blue on black is almost illegible. Then the for used on the inside is awful and hard to read. The art itself is cool and I love the transparent overlay but all in all it’s kind of a failure to me. Still the insanity of the audio demands enough attention that you will soon forget all about the layout. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hillboggle—Live in Columbus cs

Hillboggle
Live in Columbus
Crash Symbols



This is described as noise-grass and it’s exactly as fantastic as you might think it is. Well, assuming you think that sounds cool. I think it’s great. Noise and banjo. Together again. For the first time. For me. This is a live collab between a father and son and it’s fucking adorable while still being legitimately awesome. I don’t think I can really describe this so I am just going to type NOISE-GRASS one more time.


The layout didn’t do it for me but I did like the cover art. Once I knew the type of music the layout made a little more sense but the inside has this script font that i find especially hard to read at the size of a cassette j-card. It’s not horrible or anything just not really working for me. 

Leaver—Head Home cs

Leaver
Head Home
Amek Collective/Serpent Ever Records




Very eclectic. It starts with this beautiful sad piano thing that will break your heart then moves into these almost John Carpenter-esque synth swells with these little guitar licks over it. It’s almost like a soundtrack score or maybe a collection of short musical vignettes. It will then move into some neo folk that has a cool Current 93 sort of feel. I like this. Haunting is a good descriptor. I almost said creepy but it’s much more sad than that. I’m going to have to sit with this for a bit… Good work. It have a nice simple layout. Nothing too mind-blowing but nice and dark. It really fits with the sad music and the type is handled well… 

Nadir—Deffektegg cs

Nadir
Deffektegg
Amek Collective



Gorgeous. Beautiful modern minimal drone that holds onto your attention in a surprisingly thoughtful way. The pieces aren’t particularly long which makes them more fascinating to me but also they seem much more focused. It’s just beautiful. I know I use that word a lot to describe stuff like this but I see so much beauty in this work. 

The layout is amazing. The type treatments on the Jcard and the cassette itself are stunning and the layout itself is perfect for the audio. Well done. 


Brothers—s/t cs

Brothers
Tapes of a Neon God




As I write this I am thinking about how Tapes of a Neon God is most likely shuttering their business. It’s a bummer. I will probably write about what a loss this is to the world of cassette releases. Every single thing that has been released on TOANG has been excellent. Thankfully this release by Brothers is no exception. This is phenomenal. Imagine if Bitch Magnet had kept with the direction they were going with Star Booty but just got better and better. That is what I am hearing here. The vocals are amazing and work so well for me. It’s a really solid release. Sad post punk that is somehow fitting that it’s one of TOANG’s final releases… 

Les Hommes-Chiens/Actuary—Le Vide Méditatif cs

Les Hommes-Chiens/Actuary
Le Vide Méditatif
GBS Records



Soundtracks are all the rage right now. I love that. There have been so many killer scores put to vinyl that were never initially intended to be heard lately. This tape isn’t exactly a soundtrack but it has all the hallmarks of a great score. It’s narrative, it tells a story without words (maybe a quiet sample here or there) and like the best scores, it is haunting. Both acts on here give us some much to pour through that I think it’s going to take a few listens to really understand this dark, broken beauty. It’s truly epic. 

It’s looks fantastic. The design is so strong and it also sort of brings to mind a great 1960’s Italian horror movie poster. The type is handled expertly. Its great. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dried Up Corpse/Distant Relative—split cs

Dried Up Corpse/Distant Relative
Enemata Productions




Thank fuckingchrist this showed up. I love most of the stuff I get but this is life-sustaining for me. Two sides of just fucking noise. I love this so hard. Dried Up Corpse are always amazing and this is no exception. This is a bit different from the usual HNW though. This is most of wave after wave of sliding, grinding waves of noise. The first track is called Black Sand and I think that is a pretty good descriptor. The Distant Relative side is more of a sputtering, exploding HNW and it’s great. Distant Relative is Dustin Johnston (no relation to me, Demian Johnston, but some people thought it was me) from Actuary so you know it’s fucking killer. This whole thing rules. Find this. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Odor Orienting—Ratkiller cs

Odor Orienting
Ratkiller
Crash Symbols



This sounds like music that an alien would make if that alien wanted to pass for a human. “Come on friends! Let’s dance to this human music i made! Then rest in this not space oven over here!” It’s pretty fun. 

The type is insane and the art is bonkers. It makes me pretty happy.


Young Statues—s/t cs

Young Statues
s/t
Run For Cover Records/Doghouse Records



Huh. This is different. Well, different for me. It’s actually kinda sweet. Reminds a little of a male-fronted Sundays a lot. I kinda like this… Don’t tell anyone. Anyhow… I feel like I should say something else about this. I guess fans of REM, the Sundays, the Smiths, Get Up Kids, Soul Asylum and maybe a little Pedro the Lion might be into this. I kinda like most of that shit so it works for me. The layout is fine. I am not a huge fan of those covers that I think National Audio Company provides that are almost perforated at the folds. It just destroys the artwork. Oh well… 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Women of the Night—s/t cs

Women of the Night
s/t
Manic Records




So, I am not sure how I am supposed to feel about a male-fronted band using a name like Women of the Night. Part of me doesn’t care at all. Bands don’t have to identify the members. I didn’t think the Animals (who this band reminds me of a bit) were claiming to be actual animals but there is a weight to using male and female terms with your band. Especially using the term “Women of the Night” which implies a time and era when woman’s sexuality was treated as something negative and that “loose” women were somehow immoral yet exciting. It’s a bullshit term but maybe this band is aware of that and is turning that on it’s head. I can’t count out irony. The name of a band, I think, is more of a narrative. The only thing in regards to this is that I don’t know if there is enough here to support that narrative. Then again… maybe. This is a tough one. Musically this is described as proto-punk but I am not sure what that means. To me this reminds me of a lot of great 60s rock and pop with a bit of that 2000s-era nyc hipster stuff. I think, ultimately, I liked it. There is enough here to enjoy. I am sure this entire band would make me feel bad about myself if I saw them but that’s cool. The layout is fine. The pictures of scantily clad women with film noir style photography adds some negative weight to the possibly sexist narrative but then again I am not going to judge because I could be very wrong here. I say you check it out and be the judge. Oh, real quick. There is a small die cut on the back of this cassette that is pretty cool but it’s so subtle that I really wonder why they spent the extra time or money to do it. Really strange.

Q///Q—Jardim cs

Q///Q
Jardim
Self Released?



I think…

I know the group Q///Q and I know they have a track on a previous record called Jardim… but this could maybe be a split with a group coincidentally called Jardim… Maybe? I don’t know. Anyway this is pretty great minimal experimental. Not totally something I would pop on normally but this totally ruled while I was drawing. I am super into this. The packaging is also minimal, which is normally cool, but this time I found it just plain hard to understand. Still. It’s a good tape. 


Oltron—Doze On cs

Oltron
Doze On
Self Released



When I first heard this I wasn’t that into it but after a few listens of this sort of vaporwave/electronic mix I was totally hooked. This is fucking great. It’s like the music rad miniature aliens would listen to if they lived in a small, beautiful, eternal night version of Venice Beach. Does that make any sense? It’s great.

I will say that the way they did the type had me a little confused as to what was the group’s name and what was the album name. Thankfully discos came to my rescue. 


Super chill. 

Plebeiangrandstand—False Highs, True Lows cs

Plebeiangrandstand
False Highs, True Lows cs
Tapes of a Neon God



Holy fuck.

This is great.