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

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

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

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
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

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. 


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
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
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

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.