Vanity Press Records megapost

January 21, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Charles Trees: EP 12″

Vanity Press Records gets an enormous amount of love from this blog, as it consistently delivers some of the best new underground dance music from Detroit and beyond. The latest round of titles, all of which are (or will be) available digitally from Bandcamp and physically from the label’s site, is typically excellent, and pushes the label’s scope a little further than previously hinted at. On his Vanity Press debut, Ann Arbor resident Charles Trees continues to explore hip-hop-influenced house, which is surprisingly only his second vinyl release. “Feels” has rough, choppy bongo drums and brief, blippy vocal samples with a gyrating bassline surging things forward during the last couple minutes. It sounds like there might be some jazzy vibraphones tucked away in the mix, also. “Matern” is a bit more dramatic, with tense synth-strings and a percolating acid bassline. Best of all is the B-side, “Flex”, which turns an infamous Funkmaster Flex rant (the one where he tells Jay-Z “Your website is trash!”) into a fun, furious club banger. His words are often edited and repeated to emphasize particularly biting lines and hype things up with the beat, and it ends pretty viciously.

Force Placement/Val G: split 7″

Continuing with the hip-hop/house tangent is the label’s first 7″ release. Detroit’s Val G released one of Vanity Press Records’ first releases, containing edits/reworks of tracks by Aaliyah and NIN. The mysterious producer’s second release takes on a ’90s LL Cool J hit, endlessly looping and filtering the hook into a splashy pool party jam. On the other side, Los Angeles’ Force Placement provides a more relaxed cut, “Play On”. I’m not recognizing the sample, but it’s not quite as upfront as the track on the other side, it’s more of a hazy drift. This one’s still a summer record, but it’s more for relaxing and cooling off from the heat. The simple piano notes help push this into a more contemplative zone.

Expletive: EP 12″

Moving away from party-friendly house, the second release from Boston producer Expletive (properly spelled !@#$%) is one of the label’s most experimental releases yet. The A-side is taken up by “Static”, a stunning track which filters digital static into some sort of rhythmic hook, and fuses it with fast, thumpy beats and ghostly ambient synths, and some haunting voices. You wonder where it’s going while it’s happening, then when it’s over you wonder where you’ve been taken to, and where else you can go from there. On the second side, “Sorting Data” has a tech geek’s voice constantly interrupted by rapid arpeggios and electro beats. The sounds seem very basic and lo-bit, but they’re arranged into something that manages to gradually become more momentous. “Big Shift” is a continuation of “Sorting Data”, traveling the same beat but going in a more dramatic direction, turning into some sort of bubbling bitwave acid trance with a relentlessly pounding kick drum. Truly a record that does a lot with just a few simple sounds, and an exciting left-field surprise.

Color Plus: EP 12″

I’ve been admiring Color Plus for a while now (or at least what I’ve heard), so it’s exciting to hear the experimental club producer on local favorite Vanity Press Records. Five tracks of vastly forward thinking beats that shun typical rhythms or structures but still have the fire to burn up a club. “Keygen” is a constantly flowing ripple of stuttering beats, obscured vocals, and soothing synth pads; heavily trippy but also steady and club-focused. “Medical MF” is a bit more fun and cheeky, with flickering machinery and an echoed voice repeating “the prozac seems to be working.” “Powercell” is more tough, hyped-up club music, with ’80s rap scratches and a slyly fluctuating, shimmering melody. “Da Back” (featuring AceMo) is more uptempo and ghettotech-inspired, with club-prowling lyrics and punchier snares. Totally on a different level than the other tracks on the disc is “Fade 2”, a leftfield pop gem sung by VXO and produced by Color Plus. It’s a sort of U.K. garage throwback with airy synths and loads of trippy effects, and it’s the type of track you’ll feel like you’ve heard before but can’t remember where. It’s astoundingly good. This and the Expletive EP are in tight competition for my favorite Vanity Press releases so far.


Paul Steven Ray’s BlueBlack Dream: Maps (OVRG Records, 2017)

January 21, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Paul Steven Ray’s BlueBlack Dream: Maps

The first part of this dream, “Prerevmoon”, starts with cooing, whispering, warbling, hushing, and a heavy fog of churning guitars. Eventually it gathers some more demented voices, a crunchy, skipping beat, hand percussion, and upfront guitar soloing. And then eventually a flurry of frantic Spanish chatter. It’s pretty dense and chaotic, but it doesn’t seem tethered to anything (even with the skipping-record-style loop) and floats like an apparition. “Map Before” has some guitar drifting, but it’s mostly ever-evolving layers of scattered vocals, with some fast, choppy techno beats constantly being interrupted towards the end. “Northern Boys” adds some theremin to the sinister fever dream of uttered thoughts and guitar plucks, creaks, and exhortations. “Seven Corners” is much shorter than the preceding tracks (4 minutes instead of 10 or 11), and it’s more of a straightforward free jazz freakout, but there’s still a dark spaciness to it.

Show #428 – 1/20/18

January 20, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Hour 1
2:01 am Laraaji ~ “All of a Sudden” ~ Vision Songs Vol. 1 ~ Numero Group ~ 1984
2:09 am FP-Oner feat. Minako ~ “Light Years” ~ 7 (new) ~ Mule Musiq ~ 2017
2:22 am VXO ~ “Fade 2” ~ Color Plus EP (new) ~ Vanity Press Records ~ 2017
2:26 am Negative Gemini ~ “Infin Path” ~ Bad Baby (new) ~ 100% Electronica ~ 2018
2:31 am Steven Halpern ~ “Presence of Mind” ~ Sound Healing 2.0 (new) ~ Inner Peace Music ~ 2017
2:36 am Mount Eerie ~ “Distortion” ~ Now Only (new) ~ P.W. Elverum & Sun ~ 2018
2:47 am 1970s Film Stock ~ “Victory Repeating” ~ Birds (new) ~ Fire Talk ~ 2017
2:56 am Graham Repulski ~ “Soft As Shit” ~ Permission to Love (new) ~ Shorter Recordings ~ 2018
Hour 2
3:00 am Balmorhea ~ “Slow Stones (Jon Porras remix)” ~ Clear Language Reworked (new) ~ Western Vinyl ~ 2018
3:04 am Hanz ~ “Root Words” ~ Plasty I (new) ~ Tri Angle ~ 2018
3:07 am Meat Beat Manifesto ~ “Impossible Star” ~ Impossible Star (new) ~ Virtual Label ~ 2018
3:11 am Steve Murphy ~ “They Are Controlled Pt. 1” ~ Skream: Fabriclive 97 (new) ~ Fabric ~ 2017
3:14 am Expletive ~ “Sorting Data” ~ 12″ (new) ~ Vanity Press Records ~ 2018
3:20 am Pablo R. Ruiz (local) ~ “Crawlin” ~ Bad Hombre (new) ~ Portage Garage Sounds ~ 2017
3:28 am тпсб ~ “Pacifier Habits” ~ Sekundenschlaf (new) ~ Blackest Ever Black ~ 2018
3:34 am Panda Bear ~ “Sunset” ~ A Day With The Homies (new) ~ Domino ~ 2018
3:39 am Equiknoxx feat. Alozade ~ “Fly Away (Dubbed by Gavsborg)” ~ 7″ (new) ~ Swing Ting ~ 2018
3:43 am The Aggrovators ~ “Give Me A Dub” ~ Aggrovating the Rhythm At Channel One ~ Jamaican Recordings ~ 1979
3:46 am Charles Trees (local) ~ “Flex” ~ 12″ (new) ~ Vanity Press Records ~ 2017
3:53 am Force Placement ~ “Play On” ~ 7″ (new) ~ Vanity Press Records ~ 2017
3:58 am Scratcha DVA ~ “Square Off” ~ mp3 (new) ~ Soundcloud ~ 2018
Hour 3
4:02 am She’s Drunk feat. Sho Madjozi ~ “Amadoda” ~ Subclubsciously (new) ~ Through My Speakers ~ 2018
4:06 am Russell Haswell feat. Sue Tompkins ~ “Special Long Version (Demo)” ~ Respondent (new) ~ Diagonal ~ 2018
4:16 am Nathan Fake ~ “Sunder” ~ Sunder (new) ~ Ninja Tune ~ 2018
4:23 am Daniel Avery ~ “Slow Fade” ~ Slow Fade (new) ~ Phantasy Sound ~ 2018
4:28 am Profligate ~ “Black Plate” ~ Somewhere Else (new) ~ Wharf Cat Records ~ 2018
4:33 am Intrusion ~ “Amongst the Stars [Variant’s Etherscape]” ~ Amongst the Stars (new) ~ Echospace [Detroit] ~ 2017
4:39 am Hannu Karjalainen ~ “Love, Unconditional” ~ A Handful of Dust is a Desert (new) ~ Karaoke Kalk ~ 2017
4:43 am John Wall & Mark Durgan ~ “Ntrapt” ~ Contrapt (new) ~ Harbinger Sound ~ 2017
4:46 am The Sprawl ~ “Burning Chrome” ~ EP2 (new) ~ The Death Of Rave ~ 2018
4:50 am Hisato Higuchi ~ “Girl Sister” ~ She ~ Family Vinyard ~ 2003
4:54 am Paul Steven Ray’s BlueBlack Dream ~ “Seven Corners” ~ Maps (new) ~ OVRG Records ~ 2017
4:58 am Shells (local) ~ “Leaves Pt. II” ~ Shells 2 (new) ~ Ginkgo Records ~ 2017
Hour 4
5:00 am Sannhet ~ “Sapphire” ~ So Numb (new) ~ Profound Lore ~ 2017
5:04 am Sun Ra ~ “Untitled Outtake” ~ Discipline 27-II ~ El Saturn Records ~ 1972
5:12 am More Eaze ~ “Spin the Kn1fe” ~ bodiezNcode (new) ~ Self Sabotage ~ 2017
5:16 am Design Default ~ “Wood Carving” ~ Dawn Chorus (new) ~ Fragil Musique ~ 2018
5:20 am L4-E ~ “Helium Reactor” ~ Future Phaze (new) ~ Eco Futurism Corporation ~ 2018
5:25 am Dengue Dengue Dengue ~ “Cobre” ~ Son De Los Diablos (new) ~ Enchufada ~ 2018
5:32 am Ueno Takashi ~ “track 1” ~ Smoke Under the Water (new) ~ Room40 ~ 2017
5:37 am Answer Code Request ~ “knbn2” ~ Gens (new) ~ Ostgut Ton ~ 2018
5:41 am Dust-e-1 ~ “4 the Thorough” ~ The Dust in the Dance (new) ~ Collect-Call ~ 2018
5:46 am C-Schulz ~ “Barbapapa” ~ Frühe Jahre ~ Unseen Worlds ~ 1991
5:50 am A Certain Ratio ~ “Bootsy” ~ Force ~ Mute ~ 1986
5:54 am Robert Haigh ~ “I Remember Phaedra” ~ Creatures of the Deep (new) ~ Unseen Worlds ~ 2017

FP-Oner: 7 (Mule Musiq, 2017)

January 19, 2018 at 10:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

FP-Oner: 7

Fred Peterkin has been crafting some of the most exquisite deep house on the planet for over a decade now, either as Black Jazz Consortium, Fred P., FP-Oner, or a handful of other names. His second FP-Oner album, 6, crept up on me after it came out in 2016, and its sequel is just as lush and immersive. His brand of house is calmly euphoric, taking pleasure in simple things (“Smiles” is filled with children’s laughter) and reaching for a higher level of understanding without losing sight or awareness of the present surroundings. It’s incredibly dreamy, but it maintains a consistent rhythmic focus and progression. Apart from the brief intro, the tracks are generally quite long, although “Follow the Sound” is a more concise 5-minute track which is also one of the poppier ones here, due to its sugary vocal hook. “Light Years” is a fantastic 11-minute daydream featuring Minako, who sings longingly in English and speaks in Japanese. “Beyond Understanding” is filled with harps, brushy drums, and rising/sparkling synths, coming close to Four Tet or Floating Points territory. Some of the later tracks seem to get a bit more gaseous, but there’s still strong kick drums on “Simple Things”.

Crush Collision 1/18/18

January 19, 2018 at 9:39 am | Posted in Crush Collision | Leave a comment

This was my first time mixing Crush Collision since I got my new laptop completely updated so that it doesn’t click or pop anymore. Unfortunately the WCBN archive was down so it didn’t record. At least my laptop totally works now, so expect plenty of better-sounding mixes from now on!

10:01 pm Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka Hutchings ~ “The Doctrines of Swedenborg”
10:08 pm Golden Teacher ~ “Shatter (Version)”
10:11 pm Kapote ~ “Curation”
10:15 pm Hanetration ~ “Air”
10:18 pm Intrusion ~ “Amongst the Stars [Intrusion’s Extended Dub]”
10:20 pm Angel 1 ~ “Volunteering”
10:25 pm Funkadelic ~ “Undisco Kidd (Gary Marvine Edit)”
10:30 pm Ian Blevins ~ “Roland’s Rat”
10:35 pm Project Pablo ~ “Evening Call”
10:38 pm Kuniyuki Takahashi ~ “Cycle”
10:44 pm Superpitcher ~ “Brothers”
10:51 pm Cassy et Demuir ~ “Please Me (Fred P Broken Vibes Mix)”
10:55 pm J Deep ~ “Low Rise”
11:00 pm Marco Lazovic ~ “In the Jungle”
11:04 pm Prins Thomas ~ “Bronchi Beat”
11:09 pm Stereociti ~ “Reflexions”
11:16 pm Plush Throw ~ “plushwhosback”
11:20 pm Lauer ~ “Tyco”
11:25 pm Moutier ~ “MOU002”
11:30 pm SCB ~ “Test Tubes”
11:36 pm Lakker ~ “Table Rave”
11:39 pm Special Request ~ “No Phone Calls”
11:45 pm Neue Grafik ~ “Moutons Electriques”
11:50 pm Christian Tiger School ~“If You Want To (Edmondson Version)”
11:55 pm Alex Arnout ~ “Jupiter Love”

C-Schulz: Frühe Jahre (Unseen Worlds, 2017)

January 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

C-Schulz: Frühe Jahre

Carsten Schulz has recorded several albums of abstract collage music for Mouse On Mars’ Sonig label, as well as Australian label Extreme. This CD is essentially a reissue of his first LP (1991’s 10. Hose Horn) plus several other tracks from other releases dating from around the same time. Very heavily inspired by H.N.A.S., this is a series of surrealist collages using animal/nature sounds, strange voices, oddly recorded instruments, and occasionally some groovy rhythms. There’s some parallels to Nurse With Wound’s knack for sound design and infatuation with easy listening/exotica, but this is still very much its own entity. “Meister” is probably the best introduction: 10 minutes of a coiled, buzzing rhythms, uproarious applause noise, buzzsaw guitars, and yelling in German. Aside from the first two 10-minute tracks, most of the pieces on the album proper are short vignettes, painting a brief scene and focusing on one or two samples or moods. “Tri-Top” mainly consists of an evil distorted voice straight from a disturbing sci-fi movie, and then “Barbapapa” is a finely sanded ’80s drum machine rhythm with some sinister synth pads. Following brief tape experiment “1972” is “KreuzChor”, which may as well be the Residents singing in German. “Kurze Flitze” is a brief but fun trip with a racing rhythm, scratched-up CDs, and free jazz saxophone blurts. “Aus” is a minute of silence with a brief, sudden burst of sound at the end. The non-album tracks at the end of the disc are longer, more involved pieces. “Wir Beide Sind Verwandt” is more of a free-floating soundscape with children’s voices and flutes, but “Schwellen” is more of a locked-in industrial rhythm. “Meisterschaft” has more of a fun spy groove with what may or not be kazoos on top, and German speaking mentioning new wave and rock’n’roll. “Spacer” is a more hi-tech track with early ’90s dance beats mixed with cartoon sound effects and vocals which sound like the Shamen in German.

Robert Haigh: Creatures of the Deep (Unseen Worlds, 2017)

January 13, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Robert Haigh: Creatures of the Deep

Somehow I was completely unaware that the guy behind atmospheric drum’n’bass project Omni Trio had actually been making avant-garde and modern classical records since the early ’80s, and even contributed to some of Nurse With Wound’s best albums. He retired Omni Trio in 2004, but he’s continued releasing work under his own name. Most of the tracks on this album are relatively short, compact, and melodic, although “Koto Line” and “Sunken Pavilions” are longer and drift out more. There’s enough implied rhythm here that you could imagine heavy rolling beats backing them up, but here they’re left to float free and weightless. “Birds of Cadence” is clear and direct, and definitely the highlight for anyone who loves “Avril 14th”. “From the Mystery” has a gentle layer of reversed notes surrounding its effortlessly pretty melody. “I Remember Phaedra” has more of a sad mystical forest atmosphere to it. The album doesn’t last too long (about 40 minutes), and it ends pretty faintly and unassumingly, making for an easy tansition back into the real world.

Show #427 – 1/13/18

January 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Hour 1
2:01 am Nabihah Iqbal ~ “Eternal Passion” ~ Weighing of the Heart (new) ~ Ninja Tune ~ 2017
2:06 am Sad Lovers & Giants ~ “On Another Day” ~ Where the Light Shines Through 1981-2017 ~ Cherry Red ~ 1983
2:10 am Sad Lovers & Giants ~ “Things We Never Did” ~ Where the Light Shines Through 1981-2017 ~ Cherry Red ~ 1981
2:14 am Profligate ~ “Needle In Your Lip” ~ Somewhere Else (new) ~ Wharf Cat Records ~ 2018
2:18 am Night Burger ~ “No Connections” ~ Burnin’ Fast ~ Not Not Fun ~ 2012
2:23 am Night Burger ~ “Profligate” ~ What Happens Next? ~ Deception Island ~ 2011
2:29 am Ueno Takashi ~ “track 2” ~ Smoke Under the Water (new) ~ Room40 ~ 2017
2:39 am Shells (local) ~ “Field” ~ Shells 2 (new) ~ Ginkgo Records ~ 2017
2:42 am Graham Repulski ~ “Staring At Zero” ~ Negative Highlight Reel (new) ~ Shorter Recordings ~ 2018
2:44 am Graham Repulski ~ “Especially Neat Lives” ~ Permission To Love (new) ~ Shorter Recordings ~ 2018
2:45 am Brak ~ “Institutionalized” ~ Dr. Demento Covered In Punk (new) ~ Demented Punk Records ~ 2018
2:49 am C-Schulz ~ “Kurze Flitze” ~ Frühe Jahre ~ Unseen Worlds ~ 1991
2:51 am LOFT ~ “shouldn wouldn couldn leavv” ~ NEW YR NEW US 2 (new) ~ The Astral Plane ~ 2018
Hour 2
2:59 am Sote ~ “Musick” ~ XOXO ~ Dielectric ~ 2003
3:04 am Brothomstates ~ “Untitled” ~ Untitled (new) ~ Misc.Works ~ 2017
3:18 am Venetian Snares ~ “She Spoke To It Through A Clock Radio In A Dream And Woke As A Cloudburst Obliterating Her Civilization” ~ She Began To Cry Tears Of Blood Which Became Little Brick Houses When They Hit The Ground (new) ~ Bandcamp ~ 2018
3:21 am Noah Creshevsky ~ “Strategic Defense Initiative” ~ Reanimator ~ Orange Milk ~ 1986
3:34 am Superpitcher ~ “Sleepy Head” ~ The Golden Ravedays 11 (new) ~ Hippie Dance ~ 2017
3:40 am Monster Rally ~ “Giant Leaves” ~ Flowering Jungle (new) ~ Gold Robot ~ 2017
3:43 am Fyvr (local) ~ “Demagogue, Sir” ~ Almost Happy (new) ~ Young Heavy Souls ~ 2017
3:45 am Synkro ~ “Automatic Response” ~ Hand In Hand (new) ~ Apollo ~ 2017
3:49 am Diamond Terrifier Cipher ~ “Not Lit (Celestial Trax Remix)” ~ Chapel Master (new) ~ Styles Upon Styles ~ 2017
3:54 am Funkadelic ~ “(Not Just) Knee Deep – Part 1” ~ scratchy 45 played at 33 off-center ~ WB ~ 1979
Hour 3
4:00 am Strange U ~ “Mr Kill” ~ #LP4080 ~ High Focus Records ~ 2017
4:03 am Sean Price feat. Buckshot & Steele ~ “Apartheid” ~ Imperius Rex (new) ~ Duck Down ~ 2017
4:06 am Spellling ~ “Black Wax” ~ Pantheon Of Me (new) ~ Bandcamp ~ 2017
4:08 am Age Eternal ~ “Temples Are Burning” ~ Wash Away (new) ~ Instruments of Discipline ~ 2017
4:12 am Sutekh Hexen ~ “Pareidolian” ~ split LP with Hissing (new) ~ The Flenser ~ 2017
4:25 am Mika Vainio + Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto ~ “Movement 4” ~ Live 2002 ~ Noton ~ 2002
4:35 am Gregor Schwellenbach/Erol Sarp/Daniel Brandt/Paul Frick/John Kameel Farah/Hauschka ~ “Steve Reich – Six Pianos” ~ Steve Reich – Six Pianos/Terry Riley – Keyboard Study #1 ~ Film ~ 2016
4:40 am Robert Haigh ~ “Birds of Cadence” ~ Creatures of the Deep (new) ~ Unseen Worlds ~ 2017
4:43 am Würden & Pfeiffer ~ “Panorama” ~ Pop Ambient 2018 (new) ~ Kompakt ~ 2017
4:49 am Ian William Craig ~ “On the Reach of Explanations” ~ Durbē (new) ~ Recital ~ 2017
4:58 am Anto ~ “Untitled” ~ Air Texture Volume V ~ Air Texture ~ 2017
Hour 4
5:01 am Chapelier Fou ~ “Animaux Flexibles” ~ ! ~ Ici D’Ailleurs ~ 2007
5:05 am Fabrizio Rat ~ “Rubinstein” ~ The Pianist (new) ~ Blackstrobe ~ 2017
5:09 am Steffi ~ “Mental Events” ~ World of the Waking State (new) ~ Ostgut Ton ~ 2017
5:15 am Second Storey ~ “Ajunlei 8” ~ Lucid Locations (new) ~ Houndstooth ~ 2017
5:20 am TSVI & Wallwork ~ “Jaguar” ~ Rambo (new) ~ Nervous Horizon ~ 2018
5:25 am Mariel Ito ~ “Process7” ~ 2000-2005 ~ R&S ~ 2004
5:31 am Pauline Anna Strom ~ “Morning Splendor” ~ Trans-Millenia Music ~ Rvng Intl. ~ 1982
5:37 am Catharsis ~ “Perception Through The Circle” ~ A Purging of Demons (new) ~ Zhark Recordings Berlin ~ 2018
5:43 am Karen Gwyer ~ “He’s Been Teaching Me To Drive (Ron Morelli Remix)” ~ Rembo Remixes (new) ~ Don’t Be Afraid ~ 2018
5:49 am Wetware ~ “Frequent Dreamlands” ~ Automatic Drawing (new) ~ Dais ~ 2018
5:52 am Sun Ra ~ “Discipline 8” ~ Discipline 27-II ~ El Saturn Records ~ 1972

Ueno Takashi: Smoke Under the Water (Room40, 2017)

January 12, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ueno Takashi: Smoke Under the Water

On this solo instrumental album for Room40, Ueno Takashi (current member of Tenniscoats, once of Maher Shalal Hash Baz) plays guitar in such a manner that it’s hard to tell he’s even playing guitar. It’s hard to tell if Takashi is meticulously overdubbing and arranging guitar parts or if this is all done live with looping stations and other devices, but he constructs lush, flowing sound tapestries which can wash right over your ears if you’re not listening carefully, but are extremely intricate when you do pay attention. At times, it seems to resemble the cascading maxi-minimalism of pianist Lubomyr Melnyk. The pizzicato spirals of the second track are a bit closer to Dustin Wong, but not quite as buzzy, ecstatic, or high on life. Tracks 3 and 4 are a bit more eerie, and would make good soundtracks for haunted house levels in RPG games. 5 is like some sort of twisted, inverted carnival theme, while 6 seems to branch outward a bit more, and has some sort of demented rootsy bent to it, with a softly humming drone underneath. Each successive piece seems to hint further at different sorts of madness, but never pushing over the edge. It is exceedingly difficult to name any other guitarist who sounds like this, and it all sounds fascinating.

Graham Repulski: Permission To Love tape + Negative Highlight Reel tape (Shorter Recordings, 2018)

January 10, 2018 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Graham Repulski: Permission To Love tape

Philadelphia-based lo-fi artist Graham Repulski just released two 10-minute tapes, both of which contain unique artwork for every copy, seemingly cut out from a book or magazine. Judging by the “Good bye” and “Good night” messages on their Bandcamp pages, these might be the end of the project? He doesn’t appear to have a Facebook page anymore. Anyway, Permission To Love is described on the artist’s Bandcamp page as “7 tracks of funky fun”. His music is a sort of fun, but not in an obvious, crowdpleasing way. This is extremely cryptic, lo-fi tape-collage rock, with big, tuneful melodies stretched out, obscured, distorted, and rearranged. He can very obviously write straightforward power pop songs if he wanted to, but other people do that, so he contorts them and screws them up. Songs that could be proper anthems are cut to shreds, cut off after a minute (the opening title track seems like an anthem in the making that was half taped over), howled under fuzz, and just otherwise fucked around with. The longest track is “Soft As Shit”, which opens side B and consists of 3 minutes of a simple piano pattern with stacks of raucous guitars dancing around. Sometimes lyrics are included on his Bandcamp page, but not for this one, so it’s mostly impossible to make out what he’s saying, but the melodies themselves are likely to stick in your head. Of the two new tapes he’s releasing, this one seems to be the more musical, and maybe the more humorous of the two (titles include “I’d Buy That For a Dollar” and “Malcolm’s Ex”), but the music itself doesn’t contain any obvious jokes or punchlines. But at the same time, it feels like some sort of absurdist performance art, and it’s hard not to find some sort of humor in it.

Graham Repulski: Negative Highlight Reel tape

Negative Highlight Reel is definitely the more experimental of the two tapes. There’s hints of melodies and some rocking out (especially the title track), but lots of abstraction and obscurity. “Staring At Zero” is soft singing and faint strumming masked by abrasive backwards loops. The entire second side seems like the decayed, dried out remains of rock songs, with no discernible lyrics or hooks. “Bad Mop” is entirely backwards, and “Eureka Slink” is just a faint shred of a tune sung over what sounds like the worst phone connection ever, yet there’s a few other layers of beats and background noise patched together. Then “Kimp Notch” is a hair-raising coda of guitar feedback and yowling. This almost seems like a miniature version of Jandek’s “The Electric End”, and if this really is the end, there’s no more fitting way for this project to go out. But then, “The Electric End” wasn’t the end of Jandek, so who can tell, maybe I’m just projecting here. We’ll see!

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