I’m very confused, I thought Kowloon Walled City was a hardcore band. Turns out this is something different, hence the underscores in the name. This tape is on a Jersey-based label, and it seems to exist somewhere between new age and not-harsh noise, with a yoga instructor meditating around a thin veil of static. The second side has some distant, slowed-down loop that could be from a doo-wop song, joined by more shadowy singing and a rainy atmosphere. The lovely singing continues, and it’s joined by trickles of noise, and at some point some more scrambled noise just gets dumped on top. After some manipulated music box sounds, the tape gets quieter and starts to sound like it’s unspooling a bit. Then there’s some slow whispering, returning to the meditative speech of the first side, but it ends with more fragile (possibly in Japanese) singing accompanied by escalating noise. Even though the entire album is pretty short, it’s split a cross two sides of a 60 minute cassette, requiring lots of fast-forwarding (or rewinding, because it’s too short and mysterious to process on a single listen). Its Bandcamp gives it the dreaded “vaporwave” tag, but like recent, brilliant albums on Dream Catalogue by Immune and 2814, this one seems far more personal and moving than most of the jokey, groan-inducing output with foreign characters and garish artwork that’s clogging up Bandcamp.
This is the second in a trilogy of aural movies by Riggio. As expected, there is a high level of suspense and widescreen sound design. It’s definitely a lot stranger and more abrasive than a big-budget movie soundtrack would be, though, with lots of intense sound manipulation, oddly tuned acoustic sounds, and fuzz-engulfing industrial technoid beats. There’s vocals, and they even seem to be making out words, but they’re more shadowy and textural than lyrical most of the time. “TTTT” seems like the type of stock techno track that would be in an action film, except there’s instruments like clarinets poking through the buzzing, muscular synths, and other intriguing touches like that. “Elesdee” is more of a subtle, hypnotic Jon Hopkins-type track with some sighing vocals which really burrow the track in your heart. “Flying Psyche II” is a really impressive interlude of fuzzy, granular noises which I wish were expanded into a full song. “M90 To M108” is another supremely fuzzed out lurching groove with some rapidly fluctuating melodies twittering away in the corner. “Sickexcess” has a wet, slippery beat and an electrified fuzz melody, and it sounds exactly like the type of post-dubstep tracks Planet Mu was putting out back when Floating Points was on the label. “Back From Presentism” is a brief track which brings together a lot of the elements of the album: manipulated acoustic instruments (is that a koto?), reversed sounds, spooky vocals, slippery beats, and controlled distortion. The final track (“Deathobsess”) has a bit of a false ending, with a brief passage of glowing static slowly fading in before cutting off abruptly, making one wonder if that’s supposed to segue into the third album of the trilogy, whenever that surfaces.
OK, so this duo immediately attracts attention with their silly name, which is as much a play on their actual first names (Lynn and Jozef) as a goof on the piano man. Their music is really strange, inventive, and often lovely, and the novely of the group’s name pretty much disappears once the album is underway. The duo uses Fender Rhodes, Casio, effects, found objects, and ethereal vocals, creating improvised dronescapes and haunted avant-pop songs. The vocals are scattered, lost, drifting, and sometimes glitched out, but then at times they snap into focus. A few tracks have bright Rhodes chords, but then others are formless, sometimes spiced by ringing bells and other clanging objects. There’s also lots of heavy Oval-like glitching, but it feels coarse and rough, like you can actually feel the machine malfunctioning. There’s a surprising amount of bass to these drones. “A wheel in the Palm of Your Hand” has a crunchy pulse to it, and the vocals gradually go from fragmented, skipping, and sample-like to full-fledged singing. “Thaw” also starts out timid and aloof, but it eventually seems to settle into a focused mindstate (not quite a rhythm), with some vague horror movie suspense cues evident, and there’s more intense glitching at the end. “Ruben’s Tree” begins with some slowly pulsating backwards tones, and when the shadowy vocals come into focus, there’s somewhat of a Broadcast-like feel to them, before the glitch elements take over and go haywire. “I Can See You From Afar” is one of the album’s clearest, most directly emotional moments, with glistening keyboard drones and wispy vocals, which eventually dovetail into backwards effects, strange vocalese sounds, and small handheld instruments like kalimbas. These continue on “Today a Small Bird Died Due to Sadness (He Was 6 Years Old)”, picking and pulling against waving, reversing, glitching Rhodes. Final track “Dew” is calm, sorrowful, and shimmering.
This one seemed like a pretty average drone album on first listen, but the title, cover, and packaging made me listen again. The CD packaging is presented so that the amazing cover art of a joyous porch singer is framed, and there’s a unique photo inside of the booklet (mine has three women throwing snowballs in front of a house in a suburban neighborhood, probably sometime during the ’50s or so). And there’s an additional insert with a small translucent photo of a mountain and lake inside some sort of computer chip-looking thing. It has “AGFACHROME” printed on the back, Wikipedia suggests it’s some sort of film slide from the ’30s or ’40s? So, very mysterious, personal, handmade packaging. Musically, it’s three long guitar pieces with keyboard-mashed titles. They seem to consist of reversed guitar loops, and they’re actually quite prickly and rough, definitely not the type of fluffy cloud drone that these releases turn out to be sometimes, but I’ve fallen asleep to it easily a few times, so it’s definitely functional that way if you don’t turn it up too loud. But it’s really detailed and fascinating if you pay attention to it. And of course the packaging makes it feel like an artifact or a work of art, something you’d find encased in a museum.
PHORK: Disappear in Raveland LP (Time No Place, 2015) + Time is the Instrument tape (Pastel Voids, 2016)January 30, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
This guy has released two tapes and an LP on NNA Tapes, and more cassettes on Opal Tapes, Orange Milk, Noumenal Loom, etc., and here’s two more from him on lesser-known labels. This album takes quite a while building up drifting, syrupy noises before the beat drops, and even when it does, there’s still a detached feel to it. There’s lots of clear-sounding, neatly arranged tones and rhythmic patterns, but it’s not straight-up dance music. It’s more like looking at rave music from another angle. The second side gets a bit more immersed in it, though, with footwork-like tempos and vocal loops, but still a bit spaced out and drizzled with synth gloop. His tape on the currently unstoppable Pastel Voids goes even further left field, but also further into the abstract dance zone, and it’s the most stunning of the two releases. This one has clearer 4/4 beats, but also colder, more melancholy synth pads, and longer tracks (two are almost 10 minutes), and it just takes it into a dark, hypnotic zone and stays there. “Zubu (Thbp – Fleshy Sinking Sound)” is in fact built around a weird squishing sound, and it thumps along with a sad hint of melody, before starting to hover off the ground. There’s also some playful pinging sounds and choppy vocals on some of the other tracks, so it doesn’t seem entirely lost in sadness and alienation, but even when it is, it does so in an affecting manner.
2:01 am Swans ~ “The Unknown” ~ White Light From the Mouth of Infinity/Love of Life (Deluxe Edition) ~ Young God ~ ?
2:08 am Irmin Schmidt ~ “Balance” ~ Electro Violet: Filmmusik Anthology Volume 2 ~ Spoon/Mute ~ 1982
2:11 am Blithe Field ~ “Bottoming Out” ~ Face Always Toward the Sun (new) ~ Orchid Tapes ~ 2016
2:22 am Christopher Bissonnette ~ “The Rate of Delay” ~ Pitch, Paper & Foil (new) ~ Kranky ~ 2015
2:27 am 555 ~ “The Magician” ~ Arcosanta (new) ~ Moon Glyph ~ 2015
2:32 am Hollowfonts ~ “Three to a Cage” ~ Black Brass (new) ~ Masters Chemical Society ~ 2015
2:43 am Longmont Potion Castle ~ “LPC 12 Medley 2” ~ LPC 12 (new) ~ D.U. Records ~ 2015
2:53 am Beat Detectives ~ “Sample Party Version” ~ mp3 (new) ~ Soundcloud ~ 2016
3:00 am Lord Raja ~ “Stars (Intro)” ~ Para (new) ~ Ghostly International ~ 2015
3:03 am Rabit & Dedekind Cut ~ “R&D-iii” ~ R&D (new) ~ Ninja Tune ~ 2016
3:06 am (703) 863-4357 ~ “Debutante Ball” ~ Shine Operator (new) ~ Pastel Voids ~ 2016
3:10 am Alpturer ~ “Taikonaut” ~ Taikonaut (new) ~ Component ~ 2016
3:16 am Daniël Jacques ~ “Lost Count” ~ Discovery Change (Part 3) (new) ~ Jadac Recordings ~ 2015
3:20 am Linafornia ~ “Nagchampa (In the Vortex) / Beat F” ~ Yung (new) ~ Dome of Doom ~ 2016
3:22 am Letta ~ “Polar” ~ Testimony (new) ~ Coyote ~ 2015
3:27 am Moro ~ “Libres” ~ San Benito (new) ~ NON ~ 2016
3:30 am Immune ~ “Las Vegas” ~ Breathless (new) ~ Dream Catalogue™ ~ 2016
3:33 am Innsyter ~ “Cut 11” ~ Poison Life (new) ~ LACR ~ 2016
3:38 am Solvent ~ “King Vincent” ~ New Ways ~ Suction ~ 2014
3:43 am Void Vision ~ “Vulgar Displays” ~ Sub Rosa ~ Mannequin ~ 2014
3:47 am Benny Boeldt ~ “Living Dream” ~ 8 of Cups (new) ~ Carpark ~ 2016
3:51 am Evil Robot Ted ~ “Overkill All Over Again” ~ Hints About the Sick Room (new) ~ Scolex Recordings ~ 2015
3:54 am Roly Porter ~ “Mass” ~ Third Law (new) ~ Tri Angle ~ 2016
3:59 am Rapoon ~ “A Light Divides” ~ Downgliding (new) ~ Carpe Sonum Novum ~ 2015
4:03 am Burnt Palms ~ “Never Met You” ~ Back On My Wall (new) ~ We Were Never Being Boring ~ 2016
4:05 am Charlie Hilton ~ “Long Goodbye” ~ Palana (new) ~ Captured Tracks ~ 2016
4:08 am Cross Record ~ “Two Rings” ~ Wabi Sabi (new) ~ Ba Da Bing ~ 2016
4:12 am Camera ~ “Ozymandias” ~ Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide ~ Bureau B ~ 2014
4:18 am James Welburn ~ “Shift” ~ Hold ~ Miasmah ~ 2015
4:24 am Teeth of the Sea ~ “All My Venom” ~ Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (new) ~ Rocket Recordings ~ 2015
4:32 am In Camera ~ “track 1” ~ Open Air ~ Robot Records ~ 2006
4:37 am Gloria Ann Taylor ~ “World That’s Not Real” ~ Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing ~ Luv N’ Haight Records ~ 1973
4:41 am Lilly Joel ~ “Thaw” ~ What Lies in the Sea (new) ~ Sub Rosa ~ 2015
4:47 am Moskitoo ~ “untitled” ~ Tasogare: Live in Tokyo ~ 12k ~ 2010
5:03 am Frank Riggio ~ “M90 to M108” ~ Psychexcess II – Futurism (new) ~ Hymen ~ 2015
5:09 am Masami Akita & John Duncan ~ “side B track 2” ~ The Black Album ~ Tourette Records ~ 2014
5:20 am The Albert Lerner Trio/Longmont Potion Castle ~ “Carla (Coltrane Mix)” ~ The Albert Lerner Trio/Longmont Potion Castle 2LP (new) ~ D.U. Records ~ 2015
5:23 am Billowing ~ “Uphill” ~ Modifications D’Éclairage (new) ~ Life Like ~ 2015
5:34 am Le Berger ~ “sgfoj;dfsgoj;bdgafe” ~ Music For Guitar & Patience (new) ~ Home Normal ~ 2015
5:49 am Lubomyr Melnyk ~ “The Amazon: The Lowlands” ~ Rivers and Streams (new) ~ Erased Tapes ~ 2015
Ukrainian composer and musician Lubomyr Melnyk is the fastest piano player in the world, and a pioneer of a form of extremely rapid and complex piano playing he calls “continuous music.” He’s been releasing records since the ’70s, but has mostly been under the radar until recent years, with albums on labels such as Important Records and Unseen Worlds. This is his second album for Erased Tapes, and it’s a prime example of his beautiful, delicate yet intense style. The pieces here are all nature themed, specifically water and rainforests, and they have an appropriately natural flow to them. For someone with such impressive technical abilities, he doesn’t sacrifice subtlety, grace, or heart. The pieces seem simultaneously minimalist and maximalist, with a limited palette of sounds cascading and overlapping each other, but without sounding cluttered or random. On this album, he’s joined by guitarist Jamie Perera (on “Sunshimmers” and “Ripples in a Water Scene”) and Korean flautist Hyelim Kim, who adds a haunting dimension of sound to “The Amazon: The Highlands”. “The Amazon: The Lowlands” ends the album with another waterfall-like piece. Highly recommended.
This one appeared in my inbox a few days ago and as soon as I heard it I immediately had to post about it. There’s no shortage of instrumental hip-hop beat tapes out there, but this one is a concentrated burst of energy, with loud, dirty beats, grubby mind-transforming echo effects, and lots of sharp, caustic glitching. It flashes back to the type of boom-bap ’90s hip-hop with jazz and funk samples, but it pulls it apart and adds new dimensions and twists, making it feel like it’s melting and short circuiting. This is absolutely the type of music that deserves to be heard on a tape, but the rapid buzzing and glitching keeps it from sounding too stuck in the ’90s. “Xtrctions” starts out with some scratching, but it feels more like trying to get a conked-out turntable to start working again rather than trying to rock a party. But then the last track does just that by remixing Busta Rhymes with a bunch of backwards beats and flanged-out echo. Easily the best beat scene-type release I’ve heard in a while.
I was unaware of Pastel Voids before their newest batch, but everything I’ve heard so far has blown me away, especially Jonny Oso, this one, and another one I’m planning on reviewing soon. Of course the label has a Bandcamp with more free downloads than I have time for. But this new batch is all worth checking out. This tape stands out not just because of the fact that the artist name is a phone number (I don’t dare attempt to call the number, but it’s a Northern Virginia area code and the album makes it seems like the number for a sort of radio station), but also because it’s full of cheap breakbeats and gabber kicks. It’s about time the tape-releasing ’90s fetishists start embracing early gabber and happy hardcore. I’m waiting for a full-on Mokum Records revival, myself. Anyway, this tape has kind of a gray, poorly designed wedding album-like cover, but it has some nice stompy beats and a few rave-y melodies. It’s not stuck in the past though, there’s some concessions to recent forms of dance music, some trap beats and juke jitteriness here and there. I think more than anything this just makes me wish Knifehandchop was still making music.
Longmont Potion Castle: 12 + The Albert Lerner Trio/Longmont Potion Castle: split 2LP (D.U. Records, 2015)January 24, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
It’s a good start to the year if there’s not one but two new Longmont Potion Castle releases. LPC 12 is more Skype and voice modulator terrorism, and while he’s still calling people up asking about ridiculous products and demanding payment, the people he’s calling still fall for it and it’s still hilarious. He’s calling from the Ho Ho House, and all the calipers on his Daihatsu Blooper are ruined. His record store calls are as ridiculous as ever; he asks about a band called Hobo Barf and keeps throwing his voice around. He also claims that he’s in a band of musical gnomes and wants to sell his album on consignment. There’s also the saga of when he’s been hired to photograph the Little Miss Clackamas pageant and he’s been told to pixelize the film, and he just won’t give up whenever the guy tries to reason with him and tell him how to go about fulfilling his ridiculous requests. And then of course he threatens the guy: “How ’bout I pixelize your teeth?” His later albums have more of his own voice, because his voice just keeps getting funnier, but there’s a couple moments like on the earlier LPC releases where he repeats some of the more flustered responses from callers, and I think he might even cut his own voice out just to leave the confused-sounding callers. And he’s definitely cutting some space out of the calls to make them more rapidfire on a few tracks. The limited CDr version of the album was sold out by the time I found out about it, so I grabbed a digital download, but there was a tape version still available. Anyway, if you’re well versed in LPC, you know you need this in your life. If you haven’t heard LPC before, you need it anyway. The other new LPC release is a lot different, in that it’s one of the project’s few entirely musical releases. Basically the only other ones before this that have little or nothing to do with prank phone calls are the split 7″ with Hatebeak and a collection or two of just the metal interludes from the albums. This double LP collection (which also had a limited CD release which I think has sold out) starts out with an LP by the mostly instrumental Albert Lerner Trio (which lists two different drummers, I assume they appear on different tracks) who play a sort of twangy, thrashy spaghetti western rock. There’s moments that get pretty heavy which dovetail into sprightly country without missing a beat. The album’s 17 brief tracks all feel like the soundtrack to scenes of a trippy, surrealist film set in the scorching desert heat, so it’s all too appropriate that Longmont Potion Castle provides remixes for the album’s second disc. He adds plenty of exaggerated echo and effects to the drum and guitar tracks, as well as lots of spoken snippets, some of which are from his phone calls, but most of them are likely from movies or TV or other sources. It’s definitely fun and playful, even if it doesn’t go for all-out hilarity or ridiculousness. His sample placement is impeccable; his sense of timing is excellent no matter what he does. Everything fits together in a more musical way than it ever has for him. On “Birds (No, Sorry Mix)” he surrounds the atmospheric post-rock with bird sounds, and then samples one of his calls where he asks someone at a store if he can bring his bird into the shop because it helps him to see. A musician caller excitedly talking about mixing different style of music appears on both this album and LPC 12, and his enthusiastic rambling is bolstered here by LPC’s drum echoing, spiraling-up bass, and sporadic piano and sax bursts. Whoever this caller is, he could end up being the new Tight Bros. This definitely feels like a sort of vanity side project for Longmont, but it’s a good showcase of his musical side (it wouldn’t be accurate to say his “serious” side).