I love music that starts with simple tools to create profound effects, both tonally and emotionally. I guess you?d have to if you end up writing for a webzine like Foxy D. But I often wonder if the well will run dry one day. Soon. The idea of simplicity has been taken to such extremes in the underground these days, it begs the question: ?How do you retain an individual sound if your oeuvre consists of one or two tones played on consumer-grade electronics?? But when I get tapes like Slow Listener?s ?Bad Coffee Day,? I?m reminded it?s best to shut the hell up and pay attention for a change.
Yes, the palette is rather simple on this cassette: plenty of feedback from unknown sources, electronic effects, maybe a synthesizer or two I cannot confirm. And while this set-up may conjure images of the latest batch of uninspired pedal noise, Slow Listener lives up to the improbable moniker as his tonal creations unfold with patience and a keen ear for effect.
The A-side is split into two songs which flow together seamlessly for twenty outstanding minutes. ?Terrible Down? begins with a few light tones and a bit of grinding distortion, each element inexorably connected as they are subtly manipulated. For every passing minute, new sounds join into the interplay, as old sounds reemerge, slightly altered, to counteract. Carefully, the mix thickens in volume and as the familiar elements give the composition definition and the new elements push the track forward. This track abruptly cuts into ?Ondras,? which opens with shortwave radio styled electronics that are acerbic to the ear but are soon diluted by humming feedback tones that oscillate to dimensional prominence. There is an incredible sense of balance on the A-side between the abrasiveness and serenity that only unsubtle feedback can create, executed to perfection by Slow Listener.
But the balance on the A-side gradually diminishes throughout the duration of the B. You?d expect a coffee-referencing title to be heavy on the bitterness and that seems to be the modus operandi for these twenty minutes, sounding like a photo negative in contrast to the clarity of the A. Coincidentally, I tried listening to this while drinking bad coffee this morning. The abrasive ambience of ?Roessler K? and Folgers flavor crystals (who bought this shit?) did little to sour my initial impressions. This track is composed with similar techniques as ?Terrible Down,? but comes off just a little harder on the ears. We close with the awesomely-titled ?Holidays Are For People Who Hate Their Life.? It may sound as though your ?? cable came slightly unplugged, but the tones never reach complete stasis before they are chopped into slivers and twisted through space. This track may lack in some of the dynamics that so impressed on the rest of the tape, but still holds weight as expertly-manipulated feedback experiment that produces an awesome array of noise textures.
Props to Salvatore Giorgi, label head for Peasant Magik, for putting together this awesome tape package with nice artwork by cartoonist James Ulmer on heavy card stock insert. You should start buying this stuff now because it looks like Slow Listener is getting up in a big way with a ton of releases slated for the coming year on a ton of awesome labels including Ruralfaune and Celebrate Psi Phenomenon. This tape certainly proves his pedigree as an awesome new talent in the perpetually-engaging, never-endangered sphere of free-noise. 8/10 -- Kenneth Zubiate (27 March, 2007)