Friday, November 7, 2008

Monthly Cassette Reviews (October Edition...Belated)

Dozal bros "UFO22" (Self Released)
I caught the Dozal Brothers a few months back when they came all the way from El Paso, Texas to play the Emergency Room and Pats Pub (not sure on that last venue, they did play two shows that night. Can't remember where the other one was supposed to have been). Anyways, the duo brought their lo-fi version of Crystal Castles to Vancouver and had most of the crowd pogoing away that night. I scooped up this self released tape from their merch table, which came with 3D glasses to view the cover. Again, like I said above, these guys are a primitive, lo-fi version of Crystal Castles; garbled vocals, broken keyboard melodies and dance floor-ready beats. I suppose if you are sick of Crystal Castles by now (who the fuck isn't?) then these guys are for you.

Blank Realm “The Returner” (Not Not Fun)
Blank Realm are an awesome, damaged-improv group from Brisbane, Australia who have been quietly pumpin' out releases on under the radar labels like MYMWLY and Barnacle Rodeo, not to mention Not Not Fun, who, by the way, just released a brand new Blank Realm tape. The beginning of this tape starts with a cracked lock groove of warm and fuzzy vinyl crackle but soon shares the space with super-submerged guitar squiggles and piano tinkling. Fans of Blues Control oughtta take note here. The volume needs to be jacked up on this one for it to wash over the room. Later, a hypno-bassline breaks through and rides along with some monolithic drums and cough syrup-ed feedback wrangling. Pretty subdued but stunning stuff from these Aussies. Here's a great interview with the group, their page, and some uploads found via WEHAVENOZEN.

Pink Luminous Invocation “Sings The Blues” (Not Not Fun)
Another amazing looking/sounding release from the kids over at Not Not Fun. This time around we have Danish quartet Pink Luminous Invocation, who have released a small handful of tapes and CDRs over the last two years, including a CDR on NNF. Each successive release tends to be quite different from the last. This time around the group goes for a moody Evol/Bad Moon Rising-esque soundtrack, in fact, their singer comes off a bit like Kim Gordon, which, surprisingly, is an influence you tend not to hear too often in contemporary female singers. Anyways, most of the tracks have a repeating vocal line backed up by eerie, high pitched guitar squeals, seesawing and fluttery viola and cello drones and many other creepy FX. This is definitely a group yr gonna wanna hear more of if you spent as many late nights with those early SY records as I did. Again, stunning package on this one; thick, brown wraparound card sleeves with multi-colored spray painted stencils on the front, and a "prayer" bell attached to the bottom. Those small batches of tapes that NNF consistently put out are usually scooped up within the first week. Time to start paying attention.

Eternal Tapestry “Seas Of Silk” (Digitalis Limited)
Various members of Jackie-O Motherfucker, Heavy Winged, Plankton Wat and many others have combined for this super psych group. The tape in question--released by Digitalis Limited--is an epic kraut jam, leaning more on the dark side of the kraut ala Guru Guru. Features some seriously crushing guitar riffage that battles it out with cyclical guitar wah-age. Overwhelming, says I. This is the first part of a planned triptych of tapes with the next one out now on Night People and the third due out any minute on Sloow tapes. Time to catch up. Bonus: Live on KDVS download.

Meth Teeth “Indian Sprits Demo” (self-released)
One of the best out-of-town bands that I was lucky enough to see twice last year, and was also so kind as to be selling a brief but amazing tape of demos. First and best track, Failures Selected By God, feature some rabbit thumping drum rolls, neck snapping riffs, twangy geetar and those now trademarked jubilant Mark E. Smith-styled vocals, but everything here is covered in a blanket of over thee top distortion. Similar in vibe to those other sonic-minded bands over at In The Red. These guys, however, have a bit more of that pop sheen shining through. Full length LP due out relatively soon on local label Sweet Rot. Check out some tunage on their page, which also includes the above mentioned track. Listen to it NOW.

Good Old Fashioned Sinners "Digitalis Man" (self released)
Picked this one up at Permanent Records in Chicago on the recommendation of the woman behind the counter. GOFS come off as a midwest version of Godspeed You Black Emperor, complete with trumpet and twangy-ridden guitars, crescendos and ominous snippets from the news. Most tracks start off as a kind of country/psych hybrid and end up in full gallop mode after several minutes of build up. Vocals pop in every once on awhile but I found the group is a little better off without them. Overall, not bad.

Culver and Karst “Bass Volcano” (Turgid Animal)
The title really says it all on this one; a slow and low bass rumble with a few explosive spurts of static and doomy grinding. Each side of the tape is a continuous rumble that gets shakier and more violent over time. Long tape with a decent payoff, if you choose to stay with it. Released on the forward thinking Turgid Animal label, who have just released an amazing looking 3CD set of Skullflower material. Drone on!

ASWARA "s/t" (Fuck It Tapes)
Sweet side project from Rafi of Phili-based cosmic folk group Death Chants. Most of the tape strays pretty far away from his current group's leanings and instead favors multi-layered John Cale-esque (Dream Syndicate era, natch) drone outs coupled with some bongo build ups with the occasional synth blurp. Again, this ought to appeal to any Blues Control nut who just can't wait for their next release. Another fine release by the prescient Jeremy Earl of Woodsist/Fuck It Tapes labels. Special bonus: 5 Death Chants uploads from WEHAVENOZEN. Thanks again, fellers!

Jerusalem and Thee Star baskets “The Howling” (Self Released)
Another tape picked up on the recommendation of the lady behind the desk at Permanent Records. The sticker on it said "Shoegaze Twang" and I just couldn't help myself. The Howling is a lower than lo-fi album that uses several layers of distortion heavy guitars, adds some of that twangy shoegaze and, overall, has a very warbled Elephant 6 quality to it. Incidentally, Unforced Peace is covered on the tape, which was also covered by Elephant 6 mainstays Elf Power.

Changeling “Into Great Peace” (Not Not Fun),

Beyond The Edge of Dreams (Night People) and

Absolutely Free (Abandon Ship)
A trio of Changeling tapes have landed in the mailbox in the last few months and they are all quite stunning. The group consists of Roy Tatum, who's better known in groups like Deep Jew, Black Monk and Quintana Roo and he also runs Buried Valley tapes. However, instead of continuing his noise mongering endeavours, Tatum has been focusing on ambient music, each release building on the last. Most of the tracks feature very restrained guitar work, loaded with heaps of reverb, echo and delay, and some of it being very similar to Daniel Lanois' playing on Eno's ambient records. The vibe here is also similar to Stars Of The Lid, but, unlike SOTL, there is rarely a spine tingling crescendo at the end of the tracks/sides. Instead, these tapes drift aimlessly on a sea of pure content. These tapes float along so lightly that the listener can tend to forget it's even playing, which, to some, is the definition of ambient music. Very good stuff here. I foresee an amazing full length in the near future. Time to press some wax...

Emeralds and Dilloway "Under Pressure" (Hanson)
Odd team-up for this one; Ohio synth trio Emeralds and infamous noise monger Aaron Dilloway combine their powers for this release. The Emeralds brand of watery kraut synth work is the main feature here but end up floating above Dilloway's sinister electronics. The band plays on while Dilloway adds his loops of garbled noise, giving the normally blissful Emeralds a serious edge. Kiddies, this one is still available!

STARVING WEIRDOS “Spirit Activity” (Root Strata)
Phew, this was one chaotic listen and not at all what I was expecting from these weirdos. Instead of their "normal" brand of shamanic folk fuckery, Starving Weirdos sound like a 70s Sun Ra improv squeal fest, complete with crashing drums and wailing brass. The flip side is a little different, however, and is a clank 'n' drone-athon soundtracking your worst nightmares. Howling and whistling stand side by side with rusty chains being dragged across a wet cement floor. Do not play after midnight. Do not get water on this tape.

Apologies for the delay on this one. Next month (errr, later this month) will be an all local edition. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Tom Whalen said...

I got that Dozal Bros cassette! Great high-nrg stuff for busrides with coffee. Plus I think one of their 2 shows that night was at Pub 340, with Twin Crystals. Nice blog!