Monday, March 19, 2018

Cassette Review: More Eaze "articulate ridge #16" (Personal Archives)

$5 //
Edition of 75 // //

A space organ starts and stops.  Ohms come through as well.   There is this sort of tapping.  Then, vocals come through.   It has a rather delightful sound to it all now.  Static, crashes which sound like drums and somehow this all makes me feel like Phil Collins.   A sound comes out which I cannot explain and must only describe as a broken accordion.    Back and forth tones join it.  A third sound enters as well, which could be a horn.   As this goes on, a single word comes through which sounds like "yup" and it goes on this error idea.

I can't think of the last time I had one of these errors but I always wish I recorded them when I did.   Sometimes when I talk on the phone (Which is rare) the call will cut off the last word said will do this repeating/skipping thing and other times it's just a matter of the laptop having a similar issue with a website not responding if I'm watching/listening to something.   I've always imagined it keeping a certain level of rhythm that it could be in music somewhere and as such I'm glad to hear something similar here.

Space lasers and lightsabers bring on the beats.   There is glitching through what I believe to be a sampled song.  It sounds like whatever this sample might be is singing the words "hello there" and for some other reason it really sounds like Blink 182 to me.  (Is it Blink 182? Do I really want to know?)  It would be interesting to me though if More Eaze ever created this album of rock/pop songs just to pull samples out to use in such a manner.  Imagine that's this short clip of a song from an album which we will never hear.   It'd be like creating these gigantic paintings just to cut out a small piece and use it as album artwork.

On the flip side we begin with clanks and breaks which sound like drums.  Little laser zaps come through before the sharpness and then eventual harshness in waves.   This brings on a Transformers sound with alarms.   It begins to sound like Droids but in a breaking down kind of way-- such as a malfunctioning R2 unit.    These loud air horn-like sounds bring out some sort of urgency now.   It descends into a deep bog, but remains with the loudness as well.    I'm not sure why but this part of the song reminds me of Korn for some reason.  I think if you hid a little "Got The Life" back there it would make sense.

Lasers blast on repeat now.   This truly is the great space war.   The funny thing is, my sci-fi brain thinks of it as a space war with lasers but it could just as easily be a single recording of a record scratch placed in a loop.    It shifts into this video game marching type of sound before going back to the Planet Droid.    It is rather mechanical, robotic in its delivery.   This is the music of machines but without sounding like someone simply pressing a button on a computer and also without (thankfully) autotune.   This sounds more like robots than the pop songs which are made using actual robots.

Oddly, this somehow has a strong Star Wars sound to it for me.   Not because of the soundtrack or score of the movie but because of my experiences playing "Return of the Jedi" and "Empire Strikes Back" on the Atari 2600 as a kid.     Water dripping leads to sort of electronic plucks I guess and then this feeling of robots eating before tones which could be generated by a piano come out as well.   So it keeps true with my Droid theory here, which just puts it as a Star Wars theme overall, but there are still small drum claps and things like that in here as well.

Two distinct tones- such as a baritone sax- come out in an up and down way, which adds some new level to everything else already happening.   At first it's like all the sounds begin meeting one at a time, in a formal manner, and then they all begin to blend together in a sense of chaos.   It begins to sound a bit funky as the beats join that deep sax groove.  I'm nodding my head with the rhythm as it comes out in a non-traditional way but still has this sly feel to it.   It's electronic jazz, some sort of fusion I've not heard before but the percussion makes this stand out as it's just not what you'd expect.  It's two sounds combined which I feel like you don't typically experience together.

Singing brings out the baritone sax again.   Tings come out then there is this plucks/claps/singing combination which is right on.   I feel like this cassette has been more electronic experimenting than the sharpness and harsh noise that I've heard before where it felt like More Eaze was trying to see how sharp of a sound it would take to pierce the human eardrum, to make it something which we simply could not withstand.   But yes, these elements are much more friendly even though they aren't like you're typical electronic/experimental music and as always that just makes them so much better.

Cassette Review: Kinit Her "The Blooming World" (Brave Mysteries)

$10 //
Edition of 77 // //

For a slight while after getting this cassette I thought it was called "Knit Her" and I always wondered who she was and why you would want to knit her.   The idea of "Paint Her" makes sense because you can paint a portrait of her and it sounds kind of like "painter", but can you knit someone in a similar manner?  So then I realized it was actually called Kinit Her thanks to Bandcamp (I have terrible eye sight) and the title "The Blooming World" makes me think of the blooming onion.  Seriously, how many times have you seen the word blooming not followed by onion?

Right away these songs have a feel to them which make me think of old timey radio.   The singing is angelic.   It can sound like hymns but also be sad at the same time.  I realize there has to be some sort of sad hymn, right?  One you would sing at a funeral perhaps?  In this manner and because of the vocal style I think of this as sounding a bit like Dead Western.   Church bells and strings, acoustic guitar strums and an overall sense of this sounding like something out of the renaissance fair.   Fun Fact: I know many people who have gone to ren-fairs and I've been tempted to go myself but just never have.

Though it might seem closely related, these songs also have this feeling to me where they seem medieval.   I imagine a kingdom, a king and queen sitting on their thrones and this music being played before them.    I clearly remember most royalty as having a "court jester" so wouldn't they also have a "court musician"?  This also takes on that feeling of a story being narrated through song, much like the short-lived television series "Galavant".   This also really makes me think of Weird Al.

This idea of the acoustic strumming- which opens up Side B in a rather frantic way- makes me think this could also be a bit folk at its core.    There are bells and I believe a flute at one point as well.    While this maintains a lighter feel based on these songs, as it is somewhat jovial, by the last track it descends into pianos and other horrors as if in a bit of madness.    I like that it ends in this manner because if you can think of this as the soundtrack to something such as "King Arthur" then you just have to imagine it all going down in flames at the end.

Cassette Review: Nick Hoffman "Salamander" (Notice Recordings)

$8 //
Edition of 100 // //

"Salamander" begins with a buzzing as if a swarm of bees is coming after us.   I've seen "My Girl" so I am being cautious.    This becomes a somewhat hollow sound of soft winds on the second track.   It's interesting because it has the feel as if the sound is being generated somehow by an instrument rather than a field recording but I've grown used to people seemingly walking around while recording that it should feel like that but it doesn't.   The sound also takes on this tone which begins to come through in waves but it's ever so slight and really is best experienced through headphones.

The deep, distorted sounding wind comes through now.  This hasn't ever really sounded like a field recording to me but rather something someone would have to generate themselves somehow but I have no idea how.  If you consider the hiss of a tape and then somehow slowed it down a lot (what the kids call "screw it") then this could be an idea of what it's like but not exactly.   A soft sort of squeal comes out in the next track and I like to think of this as sounding like muted rats. 

As the sound I thought of as squeals grows louder it takes on more of a water running sound.   It's not rain but it could be from a faucet, for example, and just running enough to create this sound that is somewhere between loud and quiet: a moderate volume.    The sound begin to fade and then slowly rip through.    While the sound begins to shift to almost sounding like a pur, it comes through in more calming waves now, as if some kind of electronic ocean at low tide. 

What comes next is quite the wave of wind- just as being caught outside in a wind storm- but there is this other sound I don't know quite know how it's made.   You have to imagine the inside of a lightbulb and how if you shake it there can be this rattle.   Imagine that rattling sound only coming through as a scratching.   A higher pitched sound joins this song as it sounds somewhere between seagulls and sped up robotics.    The wind becomes isolated as the track comes to a close along with Side A.

A sound such as dragging a metal pipe across a driveway is heard to open Side B.    The sound which joins this could be the hiss of bugs but I like to think of it as a sprinkler since I'm imagining this as being outside in a driveway.    A dim light buzzing type of sound comes in next- by itself- and for some reason this makes me feel like it could really generate some sort of trauma in someone physically- a headache at least perhaps.   It rises up and then cuts off and becomes somewhat muted what I believe to be words (or at least vocal sounds) with a slight ringing behind it.

This shifts into a distinct sound such as someone crumbling up paper or that sort of effect though I think that isn't quite how it is made.    A little buzzing, perhaps to remind us of where we started, and then something more mechanical comes through: a combination of that pipe dragging and some sort of machine being used on a construction site such as a cement mixer.    As all the sounds combine for one loud concept they then single themselves done to one almost banging sound as the track comes to an end.

Static softly creeps up on the next track.    A little hollow fog joins the idea of a bottle rolling around, such as a loose one having its own journey on some desolate highway.    This turns into a scraping sound which has more of an electronic, video game type of feel to it.    It could also be an electric typewriter and I feel like if you are not intrigued by how these sounds are being made you are not paying close enough attention. 

We go back into that dark and hollow place now.   A slight bottle rattle joins the brooding drone.    This just sort of fades out in the end and I don't think it could have ended any other way.   When I think back to the part right after where I said it could've caused a headache, it reminds me of something I think of often.  If you wear earbuds (I prefer them over headphones) and then take them off you'll notice this shift in volume because you've gone from everything up close and delivered right to your ear to everything being more spaced out and broad.

I've always wondered if there was a name for this sensation but the thing about it is, Nick Hoffman seems to capture it here within these songs.   Not only that, but he also manages to use his sounds to explore the science of what different levels can do to the listener physically and I think that's always a concept people should enjoy if not as an artist then definitely as a listener.   A sort of hearing test, but what else is listening to music really.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Cassette Review: x.nte "CLOUD2" (\\NULL|ZØNE//)

$7 //
Edition of 50 // //

Thus far, the two cassettes from \\NULL|ZØNE// have been different not just in a way that the artists could be picked out of a crowd of songs (such as a compilation) but also just that they span differ genres.   x.nte has a name which makes me think it will be electronic and the title of this cassette as "CLOUD2" just makes me think that even more.   At its core I would consider this to be electronic but it is also somehow so much more and, well, on top of that it's just a different kind of electronic than I am used to as well.

What you have to think of first when listening to x.nte is hip hop beats.   At the beginning there seems to be some rapping/singing and then there are audio clips but for the most part this is instrumental.  I do appreciate the one part of an audio clip that goes "Hahaha loser!" though.    So overall I wouldn't put too much focus on the idea of lyrics or even audio clips in the sense of trying to pull words out of these songs.   I would stick with focusing on the music itself as it has a quality which needs to be appreciated.

Through loops come keys and other electronics.   I would describe it as "bliss hop" but that might not be the correct subgenre just think of it as more of an upbeat hip hop sound like 2Pac's "Changes".    There are mellow moments but I am hesitant to call this anything having to do with "chill" because it really generates a large amount of controlled chaos.   The fast beats don't have to mean that you can dance to them but they do provide a certain amount of energy so you can have them as your soundtrack to get through the day with like coffee.

The other day I found this sweatshirt I wanted to get.   I asked someone whether or not I should and they said that it looked "busy" and so I shouldn't wear it.   While having clothes which look "busy" might be a fashion no-no, when it comes to music I don't find it to be a turn off as I've enjoyed when I've heard music before that has this same feeling of everything all at once.   It's one of those situations where you might be used to hearing one of these sounds at a time- which makes it easier to write about and digest as a listener- but to have them all layered upon each other can feel overwhelming.

But I don't want you to feel overwhelmed by this in a bad way.   I want you to take it as an opportunity to listen to this cassette over and over again, picking up on different little bits here and there each time.    From personal experience I can tell you that on the second and third listen you will hear things come out that you might not have heard for the first time.   Once it all finally comes together, once you are able to put all of the pieces together, this one just feels so hectic but it can be quite soothing.

Music Review:
Margaret the Destroyer
"death did not happen"

$1 to Download // //

Margaret the Destroyer almost instantly became my new favorite artist as soon as I pressed play on "death did not happen".   The first track- "Floored"- has these acoustic strums to it and it seems overall like it is mellow.   Then it shifts into this darker place as it becomes full of distortion.   It hits that acoustic feel again before the end but nonetheless leaves me feeling like this is something I am glad I am listening to now.

The second song is called "Worms" though it repeats the line "Everything is kind of beautiful today".    Now, normally I would think that this line was spoken once, recorded and then played back a number of times but sometimes the way it is said you can tell it is different and sometimes the words even change ("kind of" can be omitted for example)  At some point you can hear what sounds like sobbing in the background.

This all jolts me back into reality as the crying gets louder- it comes through as a scream- and really just takes over the track for a bit.   It is vocals layered on other vocals but that shock of the screaming which leaves as abruptly as it appears is something that makes me wonder why more people are not talking about Margaret the Destroyer.    The vocal layer behind the one I already mentioned says "There are worms in my bed" and, yeah, that might be a problem.

After the harshness these soothing tones come out, almost like a church organ and for some reason between the loud and spoken parts of this it makes me think of Old Grey.   A couple of times the main hook changes to "anything is kind of beautiful today".   This song kind of makes me want to get a tattoo that says "Everything is kind of beautiful today".   Singing comes through now with the church organ sound and it is kind of beautiful.   The way the line is spoken I sometimes feel as if it is with more certainty than at other times.

"Exodus" is a captivating acoustic number that I can't really compare with any other person who has ever sang along to an acoustic guitar as this just doesn't seem so out of place on this album though it does feel different because it isn't surrounded by other songs which sound like it.    The final track- "All the Answers" has singing coupled with talking and some kind of howling which sounds like a trumpet or such but is likely just another vocal sound.   The speaking voice seems as if it is reading from something and it informs us that all religions have condemned wine and liquor to finish what has just been an out of the blue amazing album for me.

Sometimes I might think this but I don't often say it: I wonder why "death did not happen" is not on cassette.  (And the length of the songs is not a good excuse)   This just feels like something I would hear on cassette and I can think of a number of different labels this would fit in with so well.    I hope before the end of 2018 this sees a physical release on cassette but just wow.   This is one of those albums you want to listen to now while it just came out because if Margaret the Destroyer keeps making music you will be learning the name ultimately.

Cassette Review: Heavy Habit "Heavy Habit" (dubbed tapes)

Sold Out //
Edition of 40 // //

This cassette is divided into two different live sets and even though the j-card has song titles it's nice to think of these as being improvised and unique moments captured in time, but hey, even if they are songs you could find somewhere else by Heavy Habit they still have that special quality of being live.   Feedback comes through and then drums follow.   There are quite a few cymbal crashes and then big bass comes out, almost like metal. (Think "Boris the Spider")  The drumming seems to become tribal and as Heavy Habit pause for applause there is one particularly loud person shouting things and, well, if I was them I would do the same thing I suppose.

Big drumming and distant singing brings out the wilder side of this rock music which you could call by a number of different names: outsider, weirdo, art, etc.    As the cymbals continue to crash, this sound comes out that I can't quite place but it's kind of like demons trapped somewhere mixed with scratching a record.  I'm not sure but it adds an interesting aspect to the sound.   I actually looked up Heavy Habit on Discogs and they are a duo.  So you have to imagine one person using things I don't know much about to create "noise" (which is a term I use broadly) and the other is drumming along to it.

As the sound changes to more of a destruction based feel, yelling can be heard and it's just got this feeling of... it's something that if you're seeing live and Heavy Habit is opening for an artist you came to see and you might not be familiar with them, this could make you rather uncomfortable.    And that's not a bad thing because music should bring out emotion in you no matter what emotion it is.  Sometimes music can have that power of fear and I think that should be utilized more often, especially in a live setting.   (I've only really ever been afraid of one band in my life and I saw this other band who tried to be scary but was just comical, but alas, stories for my memoir not here)

I'd feel badly if I didn't mention that at times this has qualities similar to that of Nirvana's "Bleach" album but maybe even more directly the song "Love Buzz".   At one point, I felt like I heard someone in the crowd talking during one of the songs and now whenever someone says something I can't tell if it's part of the show or not- though there are some distinct singing moments- but that just adds to the overall factor of it being live and that differing from if these songs were recorded in a studio (or living room).

I've also come to notice that when a particular piece of music isn't long enough to fill a cassette, Dubbed Tapes seems to put this sound of outside someone's window with cars and sirens on to fill the rest of it so that the original source doesn't come through.    I suppose it is better to hide the original source and for that matter not just leave dead air.

On the flip side (Which is the Heavy Habit side, as I listened to this how it was rewound) there are people talking before the vocals come in and resonate in waves which can become distorted and deeper.   It's interesting how the vocals are manipulated here with the drums and how so much of this influence could be from the psych rock of the 1970's with a modern touch of course.   I checked with the digital on Bandcamp though and am listening to the correct sides.   The one labeled "Heavy Habit" is indeed Side B.

Distorted, fast paced bass comes through with drums in this punk style before things slow down and the bass takes over in a bit more of a Weezer "Only In Dreams" way.   It speeds up a little bit though before the vocals come back.    This becomes a grinding sound.   The drums remain consistent throughout this entire cassette and that really cannot be stressed enough.    If nothing else, you should take away from this cassette the big bass sound, distorted feedback and impeccable drumming, which combined are quite the threat to any live performance.

Cassette Review: Underwater Escape From the Black Hole "Local Culture" (Personal Archives)

$5 //
Edition of 50 // //

It feels like it has been a while since I last heard new music from Underwater Escape From the Black Hole.    What happens, man, life happens, you know.  Last year was a rebuilding year and now I've spent most of my days since Christmas being sick.   But I'm slowly trying to will myself back into some sort of routine where I can become I don't know who yet because I can't go back to who I was before.

The same can be said for Underwater Escape From the Black Hole I suppose.   "Local Culture" opens with guitar strums, as if they are in some giant, open space and then the guitar begins to rattle as well.   It begins to come through with bass and has a distinct post rock feel to it.   Ambient, uplifting tones are mixed in with these sort of beat loops and it just feels so satisfying.    Vocals come in over the guitar and at first it reminds me a bit of Good Good Blood, but then the guitars kick in loud and electric, a sea of distortion and this just takes on a side of UWEFTBH I've never heard before but I like it.

Tone loops bring us back to the instrumental.  There is this sort of shaking feeling, which later I can think of as a slight tap of the high hats.    The further this song goes, the more it builds into a different set of keys.   It starts off in a certain manner but eventually can become this sound which reminds me of that good old "Masters of the Universe" rock.  I still fully believe that "key" they made in the MOTU movie should be an actual instrument by now.

On the flip side we start with these tones which kind of sound like horns but they also remind me of laughing for some reason.    Skip beats come into the song.   Then we get some piano sounding notes that have this Doogie Howser/urgent feel to them.    The final song has this looping sound to it which I cannot explain at first.   UWEFTBH enjoys using certain sounds as one would in a video game style of music- where they just make these little "doot" noises in a pattern- but they are not the instruments of video game music.

Vocals kick in once again only this time they begin with this sound between Tori Amos and Queen (Hey, if Tori Amos sang with the living members of Queen it could be quite rad) and then it just escalates in this way which reminds me of Led Zeppelin's "Come With Me", but maybe even how it was done with Puff Daddy for the Ferris Bueller version of "Godzilla" soundtrack.    As the song expands it feels like something out of "The Lion King" to me, but wow does it just blossom into something beautiful.

I've always thought of UWEFTBH as having this quality of music which goes back and forth between either being underwater or in space.   Having vocals (and not just his) has added a lot to the sound but also just the beats and the way the loops have grown.   If UWEFTBH was still recording the same style of music as when I first heard it, I imagine it could be just as good if not better because if anyone could pull it off UWEFTBH could, and maybe it will go back to that in the future but all I know is right now and how "Local Culture" sounds. 

My best way to describe "Local Culture" would be with books and movies.  Have you ever known someone who said they were a huge "Lord of the Rings" fan, for example, and said "Oh yeah, I love those movies" but they never read the books?   If you've been following UWEFTBH up until now (as you should) then you're going to feel like that fan who read the books then saw and loved the movie as well.   People might discover UWEFTBH for the first time with "Local Culture" and fall in love with this sound, and that's fine, but there is something far more gratifying having heard what I have leading up to this.