Von Hayes: You Vape? (self-released, 2018)

May 17, 2018 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Von Hayes: You Vape?

Ten years ago, Von Hayes released Evident Eyelid, one of my favorite lo-fi rock and roll albums of all time. A brief EP soon followed, but the group seemed to disappear, and one of the members went down a very strange path with a long string of releases under the name Graham Repulski. Unbeknownst to me, the group’s members, now spread out between Philadelphia and Delaware, have been sporadically recording songs in their basements, and several singles have made their way to Bandcamp over the past couple of years. You Vape? is the culmination of these recordings, and it’s very much in line with their older stuff, with in-the-red guitar feedback sharing space with more introspective songwriting, and bizarre, fragmentary pieces carrying just as much importance as songs with proper verse-and-chorus structure. It doesn’t tip quite into the realm of dadaist sound art that some of Repulski’s work does, but there’s still loads of weirdness abound, such as the distorted, evil-sounding noise collage blaring in the background of “Ass Candy”, or the acid-trip vocal processing on “Tar Lob”. Good luck deciphering most of the lyrics, but some of them are more straightforward, such as “Exclusive Monk”‘s nostalgic refrain “I used to be cool a long time ago”. Longtime GBV associate Todd Tobias mastered this release, but don’t expect it to sound clean and polished; it’s as blown out, hissy, and confusing as can be, and all the better for it. Sometimes… you just gotta vape!

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Köster: MASC tape (Crash Symbols, 2017)

May 12, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Köster: MASC tape

This tape contains the soundtrack to a solo dance performance about hypermasculinity as viewed from an LGBTQ perspective. Even without visuals (other than a few photos in the tape’s J-card), it sounds provocative from the beginning, with plenty of wet, drippy sounds and sensual percussion rhythms. “Drag” gradually unfolds with wam organ chords and sampled pop vocals which slowly reveal themselves, and a beat which sets everything in motion. “Club 1” is industrial techno for the dungeon, but with a graceful touch to it, and it’s easily my favorite track here. “Club 2” continues the vibe, but adds a pitched-down sample from a certain mid-’90s alternative dance single (I recognize what it is, but I’ll leave it a secret… I’ll just say that it seems to make more sense in the context of this track than its original source). Following the cloudy house track “The Hook Up”, “Rituals” is all ghostly murmurations, fluttering scraps, and cyber thunder. The beats return on “Hypermasc”, which seems like an intense physical workout as well as a busy factory.

Dialtone / YU//F: split tape (self-released, 2017)

May 12, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dialtone / YU//F: split tape

My tape deck is producing a hum again, and sometimes it swells up into a screech. I got it fixed once before, but the noise is back. It’s not always so bad though, especially if I turn the music up really loud. And for a tape like this, it kind of enhances it. Dialtone’s side is a blizzard of harsh psychedelic noise with occasionally glitches and combusts, and at one point morphs into a quite relaxing jazz sample. It definitely feels like it’s breaking through chaos into some sort of peaceful, transcendent state. YU//F’s side is a bit louder, more junkyard-y, and a bit more harsh/piercing, yet there’s also some windchimes twinkling through the bulldozering. Eventually it sort of clears out and forms into some sort of blurry, sooty drone, and the layers of darkness and heaviness are slowly removed.

Joey Molinaro: Live In Sweden (Gold Bolus, 2018)

May 7, 2018 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Joey Molinaro: Live In Sweden

If you’re familiar with the name Joey Molinaro, you already know that he’s a living legend. Constantly touring DIY venues throughout the country (and apparently the world, based on this release), he plays a fiddle like it’s on fire, screams, and stomps on the floor like some sort of manic tap dance. He plays either acoustic or electric, but he’s definitely plugged in on this date. Some of his best known work is his interpretation of the classic album The Inalienable Dreamless by grindcore pioneers Discordance Axis, and excerpts from this begin and end this disc. Everything else he does is just as complex and brutally intense. “Love Song” is the longest track, and showcases his clean, theatrical singing. “Infinite Midnight Suite” might even be a bit crazier than the Discordance Axis interpretation. Yes, you need to see him live, but if you haven’t experienced his performances yet, even this live recording sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Lockbox: Free VDV Prayer tape (Hausu Mountain, 2018)

May 5, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lockbox: Free VDV Prayer tape

Many years ago, I reviewed one of Lockbox’s early tapes for Foxy Digitalis, recorded when he was about 17, and I liked it, but it definitely reminded me of some of the embarrassing tapes I recorded around that age. Unlike myself, this guy never stopped making music, and his work has only gotten better. Free DVD Prayer is his third Hausu Mountain tape, and easily his magnum opus so far. His youthful exuberance is still intact, but his beats are sharper, and he’s only gotten more adept at switching genres, from twitchy techno to micro-managed breakbeat collages to gonked-out psychedelic hip-hop. Some tracks custom fit hours of sound into a few minutes, without sounding too chaotic or overstuffed. Then there’s the epic “headcasegarbage”, a smooth but intensely glitchy 11 minute ride which couldn’t possibly be summed up or shortened. None of this album really sounds unhappy, but there’s a few spikes of extremely concentrated sugar which stick out. And then there’s mellower techno tracks like the last one on the tape. A truly remarkable sprawl.

Arian Shafiee: Beauty Tuning tape (Hausu Mountain, 2018)

May 5, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Arian Shafiee: Beauty Tuning tape

Guerilla Toss guitarist Arian Shafiee leads what’s practically a one man Branca/Chatham-style guitar army on his debut solo tape. There’s some guest strings (harp and violin) on some of the tracks, but even when there isn’t, he plays his guitar less like a rock instrument and more like several instruments in an orchestra. Or like an electro-acoustic tape composition. Or like a divining rod to infinity. After starting out with two abstract, minimal pieces, the album centers around two 10-minute compositions, which are dark no wave mini-symphonies. Lastly is “I Am Tripping In A Room”, which condenses an entire rainforest into a studio apartment.

RXM Reality: Panic Cycle tape (Hausu Mountain, 2018)

April 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

RXM Reality: Panic Cycle tape

This debut Hausu Mountain tape from a Chicagoan wielding an untold amount of hardware expresses both paranoia and joy, with a FOMO rearing its head on occasion. The track title “I Haven’t Been Invited In” implies being shut out of both a club and society in general, and the music follows suit; highly energetic and intelligent, but not populist or DJ-friendly. Very broken and non-liner, sometimes sounding more collage-like, other times with more of a progression to it, as on the longer tracks. There’s dub pressure anchoring “Your Problem”, but it develops a nervous footwork twitch before plunging deep into deadly bass drops. Sometimes it seems like once he finally gets into the club, he can’t decide which room to stay in, so he just rages hard in all of them during the same short timespan. Eventually it all crashes into the matrix with “Under”, a ruthless loop of destruction which continually erodes, winds itself back up, short circuits, and breaks down all over again. It takes several listens to piece all of this together mentally, but it all belongs, and is it ever strong. Powerful.

Severed+Said: Incorporeality tape (Not Not Fun, 2018)

April 28, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Severed+Said: Incorporeality tape

Psychic dreamwave which high-tails it into chase scenes at key moments. Repetition induced by possessed states. Dream flashes. Energy psychosis. Recorded in a garage near the Florida swamps, this one buzzes and shocks. It most definitely sounds like a Not Not Fun cassette release, but there are some sinister premonitions here. Sometimes, like “Dimensional Drifter”, it lurches towards techno but doesn’t quite connect with the rhythm, so it pulls back. Other times it starts steady and then explodes onto the killpath, like “Psychic Incision”. There’s lots of mood-setting interludes too. This could easily just be the soundtrack to a low-budget horror film made in someone’s living room and the forest next to their backyard, but it’s so much more than that.

Benjamin Finger: Scale Of Blindness (Eilean Rec., 2018)

April 28, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Benjamin Finger: Scale Of Blindness

Somewhere between fluid waves and electrical currents, Benjamin Finger’s fuzzy, formless sound constructions lapse into rhythms of their own devising before spilling out into pools of static. It’s often chaotic and dense, but even when a track seems sparse, there’s still several layers operating at their own paces, but still connecting to form a whole. Extended closing piece “Vanishing Faces” is one of the more evenly layered, paced out tracks here, and it gets broader (but not necessarily heavier) near the end, with some particularly striking strings making an impact. Not crazy about the track with the long monologue, but the rest of the album is alluring.

Birds Of Passage: The Death Of Our Invention (Denovali, 2018)

April 28, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Birds Of Passage: The Death Of Our Invention

Alicia Merz makes music you travel to and inhabit, rather than simply listen to. It seems easy to describe any music with lots of reverb and intimate, precious vocals as sounding like it’s coming from an enchanted forest or the heart of a vast glacier, but she absolutely nails that type of sound. The second track, “Haunt My Existence”, is over seven minutes, and it’s easy to lose track of time and not even notice that many minutes slipping away. Other tracks are frozen, isolated love songs dedicated to strangers, and to the unknown itself. Pianos sound like they’re vibrating from under an ice floe, and guitars are like melodic rustling leaves. I remember last time I listened to a Birds Of Passage album, Grouper had released something new around the same time, so that grabbed my attention more. This time, however, the new Birds Of Passage is far more captivating than the new Grouper, which is underwhelming to me so far.

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