Various Artists "Regolith Vol. 1"
The “Regolith Volume 1” compilation has something for everyone interested in current trends of underground music, specifically the type of underground music being released on cassette or vinyl. I’m not sure if all of these acts are represented by the label or if this compilation serves as more of a “what’s what” in contemporary weird American underground rock. Either way, the choice of acts and their varying styles work well and compliment each other. The comp has ten tracks and as many bands. The physical object is great. Pro-dubbed cassettes with full color J card inserts. The audio quality is top notch. Basement jams in hi-fi, wonderful.
Things kick off with a group called Leisure Birds, who borrow a bit of their sonic presence from Animal Collective, paired oddly with a bit of a western vibe. It’s an upbeat track for sure, with lots of reverb on the vocals propelled by a chug-a-lug rhythm section with a clean bass sound.
Skoal Kodiak contributes a track that is about as good as Skoal or Kodiak. My run-ins with chewing tobacco being limited, I’d have to say this one comes off a bit like fresh live IDM-inspired Black Dice with a more dedicated vocal delivery. I’m sure the singer is saying words but they are a bit indecipherable. Still they come across as lyrics and not simple howling or cooing.
Moonstone is a psych-math-rock band. It really sounds like that. I’m not just saying it! Imagine Faraquet (hold the singing) with a black light inspired keyboard sound. Their track, “Exhortations of the Prophet M,” begins with a prelude presumably from the Prophet M preaching of things one generally ignores at street level…you know, normal exhortations, space, afterlife, damnation, student loan payments? Naw! Those are my exhortations. Anyway, these guys are really good musicians, which is evident in their tricky rhythms and dynamic changes.
This compilation is pretty killer, and there is a lot more to it than what I’ve discussed here. I would classify some of this stuff as laid-back-core, which is pretty close to what comes to my mind when I think about moon glyphs or Minnesota in general. Overall the music is pretty upbeat and sunny sounding. A decent amount of the music here borrows pretty equally from psychedelic rock from the 60s and 70s as much as it borrows from country-western and surf-rock song structures. Most of the rock-inspired songs will follow a common time signature and jangly guitars similar to 90s rock stuff. It makes sense. In so many words, this is a great example of what 20-30 year old people are making with the history of music they have grown up with. This could serve as the soundtrack to Wes Anderson’s yet-to-be-produced sci-fi film. Like I said, it’s got a little bit of everything, and that everything comes in varying degrees. 9/10 -- John Collins McCormick (28 July, 2010)