Monday, April 30, 2012

Komatoserzustand "Koma" cdr


The audio on this was apparently inspired by the artist's intoxication on dichlorvos, which is an insecticide, and the coma that followed. As far as the audio goes I think it illustrates that very well. Long barely audible and rarely changing synth drones that move like a specter through the fog. It's really well done. I didn't have the highest hopes for this based on what I will talk about next but I was pleasantly surprised.
     The packaging on this is pretty forgettable. It's not horrible or anything. In fact it's fine but I honestly have to keep picking it up to literally remember what it looked like. I get dark, green, words…  and that's about it. Also, the name is upside down on the spine, which isn't a big deal but it bugs me. I think it's also these slimline cdr cases that just scream boring to me. It's probably not fair but in the end I don't think it matters because the audio is super good. I recommend finding this if you can. It was limited to 95 copies and is probably almost gone.
     Would I buy this? Yeah, I guess I would.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

En Nihil/Gnawed "The Fall of Humanity" cs

En Nihil/Gnawed
The Fall of Humanity
Nil By Mouth

More awesome HNW from En Nihil on the first side of this split. Heavy spinning noise that almost retreats and attacks over and over. This could be what is going on in the mind of one of those horrible monster things from The Mist. It's dark and fearful and full of hatred. It's like mother's milk. It's nice to hear something so grim from the same town that produced Strife. Gnawed takes it's own horrific destruction a lot slower. Industrial sounding loops of machinery and gloom rhythmically plod while heavily effected vocals add just enough texture and terror. It's pretty scary. 
     The packaging of this is pretty much turned up to 11. A regular j card in a case that is then packaged in a grey plastic bag with a sticker on the cover that has a nail driven through and affixed there. It's totally 90's in it's idea but it's pretty rad. The j card itself is not the best type treatment. In fact it's kind of a mess. I think the designer had an issue dealing with both bands logos and I think this is one of those cases that ignoring a logo for the sake of the overall design would have been a good move. I enjoy logos but you have to get away from them from time to time as well or else you are pretty much the artist formally know as… 
     Would I buy this? Yeah. I wouldn't be able to help myself based on the packaging alone. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cex "Presumed Dead" 2xcs

Presumed Dead
Automation Records

Fascinating. I guess this is less of a Cex release and more of a collaboration between Cex, who offers two full length cassettes of music, Elizabeth Youle, who writes a story that fills a small book inside the double cassette package, and Rebecca Fin Simonetti who does these excellent illustrations throughout the story that have a look of Steve Bissette. But first to the music. Cex has been an enigma to me in the past. I really wasn't a huge fan of the first few things I had heard. I can barely remember what they were really even like but let's just say that he has really started doing some amazing work. This release starts off so cold. Very low frequency bass that is almost inaudible and crushing at the same time accompanied by these subtle drones that come in and out. The first track sounds like the greatest FM3 Buddha Box track ever. It's really well done. After that, it's basically two hours of music on these cassettes. It's supposed to compliment the booklet but the story will be finished before the first track. None the less, this is fantastic music.  It moves all over the place. Sometimes it's jangled ukulele loops and the next track is almost harsh noise. I honestly think this may be Cex's masterpiece. I think the next step after this is a Bjork/Cex album. 
     The packaging is in one of those books on tapes packages that you have probably come across before. Big and heavy with spots for two cassettes and space for a booklet. In that way it is really well done. The booklet contains a short story about Henry Hudson, an explorer sent adrift in 1611 with just a few companions and never heard from again. The story is excellent. Sad and slightly psychedelic and the illustrations really work well. Very strong. The cover looks great. Nice type treatment and it totally works. Maybe not very cohesive with the story inside but it still looks good. The type treatment on the back cover are a little rough but it still works okay. I think they got a little italic happy and the whole thing starts to feel like a pamphlet. They also indent their first paragraphs of each chapter and that is not correct but in general this whole thing works. The tapes are nicely imprinted and I can tell the whole package was probably made at National Audio Company. The best yet the slowest place to get your tapes made. 
  Would I buy it? Yes, absolutely. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Barfly cs

Worthless Recordings

This is exactly what I had hoped. It's the audio from the movie Barfly about the life and writing of Charles Bukowski. I love this movie and never get tired of watching Frank Stallone beat on Mickey Rourke. It sounds just how you think it should. Great.

     The packaging is stellar. it's in a type of cassette case that I have never seen before. I am not even sure how the cover art goes into the cover. Inside the case is a couple Charles Bukowski poems folded up and no other real information. It's fucking great. I love that Worthless Recordings does this. 

     Would I buy this? Absolutely. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cold Lake "Better Living ep/The Red Tape" 2xcs

Cold Lake
Better Living ep/The Red Tape 2xcs
Trench Art Records

Holy shit. I have seen Cold Lake live and it's always awesome but this is like having a microscope on that awesomeness. Cold Lake is heavy, noisy hardcore/rock in the style of Black Flag and Scratch Acid. Screamy vocals, super noisy guitars and very heavy bass are driven by intense hardcore drumming and it all works perfectly. You will hear a few Gravity Records influences here and there and of course a cover of Body Count's "Cop Killer". So yeah. Fuck the Police.
     The packaging and cassettes were obviously manufactured by National Audio Company. I love them, but I wish they took slightly less than 3 months to get my tapes back to me. That might not seem bad but it used to be 14 business days. I guess the cassette revival is swamping them. Good. That artwork is a huge array of icons from clip art, Tom of Finland and various other sources. Reminds me a little of the 1990's in the best possible way. The type is fine but what I really notice with this packaging is the care put into it. Not only is the cover nicely designed and printed but a lyric sheet and a tiny poster are also included inside the double cassette box along with a Cold Lake box cutter and a couple buttons. It's very fucking cool. Not sure how many were made but you should order one right away. UPDATE: There are only 100. Good luck. 

      Would I buy this? Absolutely. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Churchburners "Already Done Did" cs

Already Done Did
Friends and Relatives Records

Churchburners is the solo work of Zach Ippen and this cassette is a collection of many tracks from a ton of different releases. It's a totally varied sampling of his spaced out work. Some noise, some folk, some strange spoken word stuff and all of it is very strange. It's not really my thing. I know a few friends that would be way into this but this though and you may as well. It's weirdo music for weirdos and I heavily respect that. The spoken word tracks are probably my least favorite but the most interesting. Zach Ippen does what he does very well but it's ultimately not my bag.

     The tape itself really works with Churchburners aesthetic though. Reclaimed cassettes that they had the good taste to put labels over and simple double sided j cards. Nothing too amazing but pretty solid.

     Would I buy this? no. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Julia LaDense & Endometrium Cuntplow "New York Artists Are So Underrated" cs

Julia LaDense & Endometrium Cuntplow
New York Artists Are So Underrated 
Love Torture Records

The audio on the collaborative cassette are very slight. The music is as subtle as the title is ironic. Slowly bubbling drones and tiny waves of textures spill across your tape heads. It's ugly and moist sounding and I like it. Good sounds from some great artists.

     The layout is pretty simple but also underwhelming. The cover art isn't bad and the type is fine but the little insert is kinda cruddy looking. Not horrible but it just looks like something I may have done in the 90's. Badly layered type and low resolution images. Limited to 27 copies and you may want to check it out based on the music alone.

     Would I buy it? Um… I probably would if I could hear it first. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Emme Ya "Erotognosis" cs

Emme Ya
Brave Mysteries

Wow, this is really excellent. This is a mash of whispery, haunting drone from the bottom of the ocean. It sounds like the music you would hear if you were keelhauled and your ghost was never able to stop replaying it's demise. Sad, distant drums and howling swells of music slowly rise though miles of reverb. You should buy this as soon as possible. 
     The artwork is excellent if not a little naive looking. Full color j cards with pretty competent type treatment. It's all very simple but excellent. 

     Would I buy this. Yes!

So the logo is still being worked on...

and by that I mean that with school, label, work and family I haven't had a chance to work on it...  But changes will keep happening slowly. But I can't wait to post things so I will start tonight and try to get a new review up everyday. I have a bunch of new things to review and I will get to all of them. If you are wondering were the hell your review is please email me and I will make sure it didn't fall through the cracks...

Sunday, April 8, 2012


In the next few weeks you will start noticing some changes on Dead Formats. I will be revamping some of the ways that the blog looks. I will be adding a logo, trying to mess with the type a bit more.

I will also be removing the number scores.

The numbers I’ve been giving have often had less to do with the quality of the release, and more my enthusiasm level for the release. In other words it hasn't really been a critique and this has been more of a page to hype releases. I know that's not a bad thing necessarily--Hammer Smashed Sound is a great blog that basically does little write-ups for upcoming releases and that works great--but that is not really where I am trying to take this. I feel that I have been trying to have the best of both worlds. Trying to be critical of releases while at the same time not allowing the scores to reflect that criticism.

I have decided to take a suggestion from a friend and basically give each review an up or down. Each review will have the question at the end: Would I buy this? I will answer this after each review and try to explain my reasoning.

The last little bit of change will be the frequency of posts. Instead of posting 13-15 reviews one day and then nothing for a week and half, I plan on having something much closer to one a day so you’ll have a reason to check back more often and won’t be as torn on which review to disagree with most.

Thanks so much for reading my questionable writings. I really appreciate it and also love the feedback I get from time to time. A huge thanks to the artists and labels that send in items for review as well. I know none of us make any money off these endeavors and we often make only a handful of copies, so sending one to some fat idiot to hear whether or not he would spend money on it can sometimes be hard to justify. Just know that everyone making cassettes, cdrs, vinyl, flash drives, floppy disks or whatever is keeping this whole thing alive.

Actually getting your shit together and making something in the first place is hugely commendable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stuart Chalmers/Robert Ridley-Shackleton split cs

Stuart Chalmers/Robert Ridley-Shackleton
Hissing Frames

I am not sure if it is because my two year old got to this cassette before I did or just because of the sounds on it but Stuart Chalmer's side of this cassette is disorienting. It's like listening to a clown repair a steam ships engine while there is a storm outside, backwards. It's pretty fucked up. The loops are almost melting on this one. It's pretty awesome. Robert Ridley-Shackleton, who is becoming one of my favorite artists lately, does some awesome minimal synth manipulations and squelches. I recommend turning this up loud because it disappears from time to time. The tape is a little on the long side. It's a c52. I love listening to cassettes but I am starting to think a c30 might be my limit… That's not really true, it's really just because of how much I have to review lately. This is actually a fine length. As far as the artwork goes Robert usually gets real out there but this one feels a little thrown together. It's nice but I feel like he could have gone a little farther with it. Either way this is a good release. First release on Hissing Frames.