When this column is finally published, we'll be but a week or so away from the kick-off of the World Cup. Suffice to say, I'm fucken stoked. Obviously I root for the US, but I never expect they'll win it in my lifetime. I do think they've got as good a shot to get out of the group stages as they've had recently. I just hope they fucken beat England (sorry guys) and that fuck Wayne Rooney gets a straight red just for being such a dbag. But alas, these things won't likely happen. I also, obviously, love the Dutch and am hoping for a big tournament from the Oranje but especially Robin Van Persie who is the object of one of my serious man-crushes (the other being Michael Essien who is, sadly, hurt). So yeah, World Cup Fever is in full-effect here at Digi HQ. Eden & I will be spending countless hours in front of the TV watching footie while folding tape and record covers, assembling packages, etc. Good times indeed.
Summer is in full-bloom (first 100+ degree day this weekend!) so lots of beer and, more importantly, lots of time to blast through some new tapes:
I'm still not quite sure how I ended up the myspace page of Lace Bows some months ago, but I know that I am better for it. I will admit that I know very little about this project (though he/she is based in Portugal, if I've done my homework) though I've had a few exchanged emails with the person responsible, but all that being said - this is a glorious, tripped-up ride through crunchy guitar fields and synthetic drips. The label description aptly mentions "gamelan-like textures." A real WTF until you hear it... swimming under tremolo'd to the moon guitars is a river of flowing sonics that I can't figure out. AT ALL. BUT "gamelan-like" is spot-on. Seriously mind-blowing and perfect for the heat of summer. Processed field recordings of children singing stretched to death and drowned in echoing shimmer adds some excellent organics, just in time to send synthesizer sequences into outer space. I am in love with this.
No doubt about it, the Cambridge Mass-based Reuben Son is one of 2010 biggest and best surprises. On his first tape (last year's "Glowing Departure"), Son flirted with acoustic elements and organic textures (and did so with aplomb). But with "Sensual Square," we're already going to the next level. Decaying heaps of overblown madness are totally removed from his first effort. Son pummels his guitar into submission, crashing wave after wave of tape manipulation on top so that all you can hear is a sadistic mass of aural damage. Side B soaks up the flutter and gets totally melodic. More picked guitar action but still constantly shifting under layer-upon-layer of tape hell. It's like a lone troubador playing on until the end as a the storm of the century brews outside. Totally cryptic and totally magnificent. Reuben Son is on a fucken roll.
Solid slab of grey-glacial drones from this Vancouver project. Surface-wise, this is all slow bones and bleak but if you dig deeper, crank it up loud and let the tones wrap around your face - it gets DEEP. There's some seriously understated melodies happening in total contrast to the obvious. By the end of the a-side, you are almost ecastatic. Really quite watery and beautiful. The flip side is too short but cements Solars as the real deal. Barely-there tribal stomp and cabe-laden acoustic guitars throw themselves on the pyre, ready to be overtaken by more glacial whir... reminds me quite a bit of some cross between Barn Owl and Cursillistas' last stand. Hello Canada.
We're not leaving Canada yet, folks.... you've got to get a grip of bliss before you go and the new duo of Michael Pouw (aka Knit Prism) and Scott Johnson (aka Thoughts on Air, Hunting Rituals, etc) are happy to provide it for you. Backed by a field recording of singing birds, Pouw and Johnson unleash the hypnotic beauty from the get-go. Delicate guitar tones etch out forgotten lovers names in rose petals, trying hard to keep the tears at bay. There's something totally beautiful and heartbreaking about the sporadic sounds the two mutate. Playing off each other, the pieces come together like crystal candy. Haunting stuff. Rain clouds and decay move in on the flip - there's something ominous just off in the distance coming at you so slow that it might not be real. Guitar shards echo like discarded dust while Pouw's electronics churn methodically underneath. Elements of tape flutter and other forms of subtle manipulation add to an already excellent set of recordings. Basked Unit may only be making their debut here, but trust me when I say there's a lot more greatness yet to come.
My affinity for Dan Smith's Red Electric Rainbow guise is probably pretty obvious, so when I say that "Poltergeist" is some of the absolute best work he's done it's for good reason. Totally blissed-out new age vibes hit you like the first morning light. Paradise pads send the whole thing into overdrive. It's total syrupy goodness. Melodic and hypnotic all housed inside a frosted-pink bubble. The thing that makes Red Electric Rainbow so good, to me, though is that it's not just another of the many 'nu age' synth projects showing up lately (and don't get me wrong, there's a bunch of great ones). While Smith's compositions may start in familiar territory, there's murk and depth to the proceedings that help set it apart. Add in various samples and field recordings and it's music that, while obviously _serious music_, doesn't take itself _too serious_, if you get what I mean. At times this feels a lot heavier, more depressed than his other efforts. There are conflicted emotions finding their way through the synthesis, leaving a multi-colored trail in their wake. And if that's not enough. these are dubbed on totally awesome pink tapes that I am obsessed with. Great art too.
Perispirit & Brendan Murray s/t (Semata)
This tape is the natural next step after the absolutely stellar split LP these two shared earlier in the year. Perispirit has never failed to impress (their recent Hospital tape being a real high point) and Murray's track record speaks for itself. Oftentimes when collaborations like this happen (i.e. ones that look awesome on paper), the results can be underwhelming. Luckily, this is not the case here. The first side was compiled via mail while the flip is a live, unprocessed recording. The two are quite different, but when paired together paint an entire, exquisite portrait. Slow moving signals cross wires and stare straight into the sun. Guitar echoes and electronic, subharmonics blast back & forth before settling in for the night, edging closer and closer to the edge of melody. It all falls apart on the live recording in the best possible way. Naked waves of guitar drones shatter like they've been frozen in liquid nitrogen reaching its eventual climax under the weight of sonic detritus. In a time when 'drone' is being done to death you are unlikely to find anyone doing it better than this (sold-out from the label, but head on over to MMS).
Goodwillies/Theo Angell split (Ikuisuus)
A split that was a long-time coming and really needed to happen. This tape is totally fucken epic. Ninety minutes, 45 from each - holy shit. Goodwillies are all over the map like I hoped and expected. Skronk freakouts of the highest order devolve into space-race exercises that flutter in the grass. Creeping pop melodies that all feels like it was born in a carnival house of mirrors flirt with kraut-y destinations but spurn them in favor of no wave minimal horror. I still obsess over the "Greenmachines" tape of theirs I did years ago, but this is up there. There's so much to digest here, I'd have been happy with just the side alone. But we still have the mighty Angell to contend with and contend he does. Lofi minimalst creep that seems aimless and confused until you've sat through the entire episode and realize that this is Theo Angell's dreamstate. These are the falling-apart halls where the master dwells. It feels so hopeless and burned-out, desolate to a fault. But that's why it works, especially paired with Goodwillies' "Revenant Sun." He is the darkness, they are the light. Get on the bus.
"Meditatie Kassette" on Trilogy Tapes
is completely fucked-up... weird moaning and minimal electronics make the world go round. Killer art (as expected) from the TT crew. While in Chicago, got a stack of great Irma Vep
tapes from Madalyn Merkey
... one of my faves is her "Goddess of the Horizon" tape. Sluicy tape loops rumble along drunkenly toward a blue horizon with zonked casio ambience and drum machine catharsis. Pretty fucking brilliant. I'm a little obsessed with Eggy Tapes
, the label run by Polyp & Golden Hour-er, Raf Spielman. This new jam by Street Gnar
is helping push that along. Pop breezes that stick in your skull like bubblegum in your summer hair. I need more of this in my life. Perfect summer tape. From Canada (again!) comes the awesome Sundrips
duo. Aptly named, their cosmic sonics feel totally liquid and on fire. They've got a few self-released
live jams and "Basejumping at Cliff Clavin" not only has an amazing title, but floats divine and sends you on a dreamquest. Great introduction to a very promising group. We get a lot of promos from the Beach House
label and for that I am thankful... really seems to be an underappreciated purveyor of killer tape sounds. Two recent ones that I especially dig are the Gaze
"1" tape and the Slaughtering Dolphins/Night Burger
split. The former is all over the place... synths and keyboards spurt out space dust like there's no tomorrow. Weirdo drum loops drive forward aimlessly. I have no idea what's happening here but I like it. A lot. Space junk, hell yes. The split rules. Night Burger blast off some caustic electronic headrushes and warped vocal creep complete with hypnotic rhythmic minimalism that will put you straight into a trance. Violators need not apply. Slaughtering Dolphins bring it full-on with an electronics binge-and-purge that will keep you static for ages. Not exactly harsh but not easy listening either. Flesh Coffin's
name seems to give it all away... you have a pretty good idea what's coming when you put Andreas Brandahl's latest 2:00 AM Tapes
release, "In the Woods," into the deck. Things are totally bleak. Sounds like a tornado hitting a metal worker's studio with a billion pieces of steel caught in a massive blender. In other words - fucking great. It's not as harsh as it sounds - it's totally listenable and at a shade under 30 minutes, the perfect length. Well done. Another new name to me is Foxdye
. We ran a review of a recent album of theirs that made me real damn curious, so the "Close Hearts Over Far Hills" tape on Corpus Callosum
was nice to see and it certainly lives up to expectations. A little digging shows this to be the brainchild of Amina Kirby and based on this tape alone, I am totally hooked. Seemingly sad rotary-infested ballads that are soupy in all the right ways. Ghost vocals and melodic keys fly you straight to the dunes. Really, really good.
If you want to submit something for review specifically for this column, send it to the Foxy Digitalis address ATTN: Long Decline. I won't be able to get to everything, but I'll do what i can. thx.