Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cassette Review:

$5 // //
🎧 //

If your first thought when seeing the name Bending doesn't take you to Futurama then I'm afraid we cannot be friends.   That's right- Bender's middle name is Bending.   Bender Bending Rodriguez.   And when he reveals that on an episode of Futurama it is one of those moments I'll never forget.    My mind immediately jumps back there as soon as I see the name Bending here and yours should too. 

"Curls" begins with quiet, ambient synth which comes through like a calm ocean.   A little bit of this rattling, like a guitar jangle, follows as it picks up in volume but not speed.   We are still just floating, drifting.   The next song comes through with an ambient sound droning behind this sharper yet softer whistle.   There is also this vocal sound as if someone is about to speak but then is quickly cut off.    There are some electronics in here now as well, but it still has this overall relaxing feel to it and somehow remains minimal.    Much of what could be considered to make this anything other than ambient sees itself out and this takes on a tone of total relaxation.

Organ type tones come through next in a way which one might use for the radio frequency changing as they cut through in pieces.    Uplifting ohms come through in waves and have this slow alarm sound to them.    Electronic beeping can also be found in here as well.  In between my apartment and the next there exists a hallway with stairs and there is  smoke detector in there (I believe) which is dying and has been slowly beeping so the faint sound of it fits in well with this part of "Curls".    If that smoke dectector could talk it would DM artists on Twitter like "Yo, collab?"

Accordion type sounds bring about what sounds like crying but I'm sure is not being made by human voice.    It's this glowing yet sad song.     This eventually fades out and we're flipping to the next side.   A humming sort of buzzing comes through as if it is trying to speak words but I can't quite make them out.    This drones like organs.     As it continues to ring out an acoustic guitar can be heard strumming through the beauty of it all.    Electronic shots are fired now, somewhat to sound like glitching but also like a pinball machine in general perhaps.    This begins to sound like an all out space war.    It appears as if the song glitches itself out, but then this guitar melody like a walking western comes in.

Static as if radio stations are changing makes way for these sounds which feel like ducks quacking.    This eventually sounds like someone trying to talk through the static.  It ends in an ambient and relaxing way, which has really been the story for this cassette.   While it had its moments of getting louder, it primarily maintained a quieter tone, more relaxing and while that might be only the correct word to describe it a part of the time I'd say it is even more reflexive.    You might find this one to be too loud at times, but I enjoy putting it on and just feeling at peace.

Cassette Review:
Magnetizer "Town Morpheus"
(Eternal Bleep Bloop)

$20 // //

Someone gives this cassette a proper introduction and then drum beats bring in synth which give this somewhat of a dance feel.    The cymbals and drums come through and make me start thinking of C&C Music Factory.    It also has this driving video game type of feel to it as well.  Electronic pinball loops come into play as well.   It slows down though, drags out the notes a bit and just feels like it's going to break down before it makes this little skip and it's nice to hear those merry-go-round broke down elements in music.    Static skips come in as well and add another level to this all.

The tones slow down and get a little bit longer.   It's a different sound now- less fast paced, less urgent.    An electric rattle sounds like an alarm or perhaps morse code.   The tones in the background of this are darker though, sad like "Donnie Darko".   They become the only sound you hear for a moment.    Then synth tones come through like droplets of water.    Synth tones like something out of the '80's come in as well and this song just has these two different levels to it and yet they work together so well.   A third element is briefly added in and then big drum beats begin the next song with what sounds like an audio clip on a skipping repeat.

Drums clap add to the head-nodding on this song.    Modular synth comes in which almost makes me think of something related to Casio.   This brings about faster beats which remind me of Adult Swim but then there are these tones inside of them which could be from some sort of funeral or something like that-- it reminds me a bit of The Undertaker having his theme song in 8bit form.    Everything then breaks down into just this solo drum beat.   Someone is talking in the background but it is buried deep back there.    For a moment there it gets deeper, almost demonic, and then the words being spoken seem to be sped up briefly before Side A reaches its end.

Side B opens with a song that has that synth which reminds me more of the "Run Lola Run" sound, which takes me back to the Magnetizer cassette prior to this one.   The beats on the song after this get big and heavy.   It's serious; you can tell it's going down.    Even as the tones switch, a whistle comes out here and there, it still has this serious side to it that you do not want to mess with.  (It also has some serious bass)  This could sound great coming out of the speakers of your car in the trunk.    This brings us into a much more robotic song in its electronic delivery.    Solid unce unce bass brings on what I like to now think of as being vintage Magnetizer. 

We go from "Alias" into something a bit more fun that I can't quite describe but has those elements of possible ping-pong or pinball mixed in.  It gets faster with more beeps as if it is some kind of video game and we are into the next round so the enemies have become sped up (which I think is in Space Invaders, right?)   Though it might slow down by the end it just has that feeling like we have defeated the bad guys and one-- the game is over but we are victorious.

Throughtout these three cassettes, you will hear different sounds so that you will be able to recognize them if you were to play them out of order for some reason.   They remind me of a trilogy of great movies where together they are better but if you do decide to watch one and not the others it is also okay.   The only movie series I can think of like that off hand is "Lethal Weapon" but there are four of those and I usually watch the fourth one first.   If you do have the time though to sit down and listen to all three cassettes in one afternoon (or overnight) I'd highly recommend it but otherwise, yes, these are some defining pieces of music in a genre I wish to know more about.

Cassette Review:
"Moon Palace"
(Midnight Circles)

€5 // //

I've actually reviewed Chemiefaserwerk twice before.   I tend to look up my past reviews through Blogger and when I put in Chemiefaserwerk nothing came up and yet when I looked at my "cassettes.html" page I found both the review.   There was a cassette on Self-help Tapes and also "Trajet" which I did not call by name in my review.   Still, Chemiefaserwerk has been somewhat busy with singles and EPs but according to Discogs there has only been one album since the one on Blue Tapes and that's not been two long so it does kind of make sense.

"Moon Palace" is split simply into two different parts called "Moon Palace A" (on Side A) and "Moon Palace B" (on Side B) unless it was just meant to be something like "Moon Palace - Side A" and it was shortened but I like this idea better.   This begins with somewhat quiet whooshes and whirrs, fading in and out, sounding kind of like we are at an airport listening to the planes take off and land but in a muted way.    Scrapes and laser drops slowly begin to come into the song now and it has a distinct feel to it, as if something is happening all too entirely on purpose but I cannot figure out what.

It's like using a metal detector to find something, perhaps the way they search a plane crash site for the black box.  This brings about a lot of squeals which intensify to the point where it all comes to a head, stops and sounds only like a dripping or perhaps foot tapping.    There is this soft droning static mixed with what I can only think of as tapping now and the two together form this rhythm which is hypnotic and as we reach the end of Side A it fades off into the sunset.

Things calm down and get quite quieter on the flip side of this.  There is a minimal amount of static coming through, a small amount of that tapping and then even some sharper pitched tones but they seem buried behind this all as well.  It is an experience best fit for headphones and I really feel like I should just start putting a little headphone emoji next to my reviews when I feel like they are best experienced that way.  It does grow a little louder, with the sharpness becoming a little sharper as well.

Squeals and darkness make me feel like we're in a sewer with robotic rats and that is pretty much one of my nightmares so why isn't it a horror movie yet?  Imagine you see this giant rat coming at you, like the size of a small dog, and you fear for your life so you try to stomp on it with your boot or pick up a pipe and smash it but that just rips the fur off and exposes its metal underbody and you realize you're a goner.   Granted, this music doesn't create such terror in a direct way but sometimes it's more about the things which are left unsaid by the songs.

A little back and forth type beeping brings about a sound which almost reminds me of "The X-Files".   This could very easily be minimal electronics now.    It gets quieter again and I hear waves crashing as if the ocean has gone out to sea but I remember the sewer and think about how sometimes water flows down tubes more than other times and am beginning to wonder if that would be the only way to defeat the ratking.   This brings out a guitar piece now, which is a series of notes and just seems to be so random and yet so fitting for this cassette.

CD Review: Cold World "Dedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First" (Deathwish Inc.) [Deathwish Inc. 10/$10 #08]

Copy & Paste Intro: One thing we at Raised by Gypsies love is a good deal.   Deathwish Inc. offered up ten compact discs for ten dollars and I could't help but jump on it.   I have received promos from Deathwish Inc. in the past, but between moving and just life in general I'm not sure how many I still have- the only CD I can tell you I still have for certain is by The Dedication.   So take a trip with me, shall you, as I explore ten compact discs for ten dollars.

For some reason I thought this band was called "Cold War Kids", which is an actual band as it turns out.   Nope.   And they're not even "Cool World" like that movie.   Ah well.  Cold World has a unique take on hardcore music.   At its roots, it has the same type of in your face brand of hardcore as a band like Shut Down or Bane.   Outside of that though... I'm not sure what to make of Cold World. 
As this CD begins and ends it has hip hop beats the name "Cold World" repeated like "Cold, Cold World" and the such.    These hip hop aspects appear throughout the album as well, which only reminds of me bands like Skarhead and E Town Concrete.    Other times, there are pieces of metal patched in which sound like Motorhead or Tool.  The placement of it all is kind of strange to me, but in some ways it works.  I mean, I'm not opposed to the people talking over beats in between songs but sometimes the way this can shift from sounding like Strife to Tool is a bit odd.

On the song "Whagman" there is this airhorn and then someone starts singing- as per the credits it is Warrior Queen- and it turns into a reggae jam.  I'm not saying hardcore kids don't listen to reggae but hearing the two together feels weird.   Perhaps it even feels weirder because these two styles seem as if they would clash more than the hardcore and metal I previously heard but the hardcore into reggae on this song felt much more natural.   A weird electronic type of singing skip comes out in the next song and this album is just not your typical hardcore and not your typical anything.

This album is from 2008 and they followed it up with "How The Gods Chill" in 2014.    In some ways I feel like I need to listen to this more for it to grow on me.   Maybe it's just a matter of time.   But then I feel like maybe I'm a hardcore purist and I don't like other things mixed in with it, like how I could never get into Folly.   I'm going to listen to their second album which is hopeful but I'm not sure this is what anyone expected the first time they listened to this one.

Music Review: Scraps of Tape "The Will To Burn" (Denovali Records)

As someone who has been listening to rock music for as long as I can remember, it's refreshing to hear a band like Scraps of Tape.   There are several factors within this album that are to be considered and the first one is really about how looks can be deceiving.   "Album? But this isn't as many songs as there usually are on an album.  Don't you mean EP?"  If you make a single track over an hour in length, I'll consider it an album.   As such, I consider "The Will To Burn" a full length album not because of the number of songs and maybe not even because of their total length but because of their weight.   These songs just feel like albums in themselves, the type of which music historians will try to break down and analyze individually in years to come.

It's kind of funny I thought of they as being weighty (Is that a real word? Who knows) because in the song "Negative Architect" there is the line "Everything breaks under enough weight".    And here is where things get mixed up again.  One of the next aspects of this album you should enjoy are the lyrics.   The title, for example, does come up during a song.   But even to say you could quote these lyrics and such. Scraps of Tape somehow manages to create an album which is heavy on the music.   Yes, this music is heavy in the way that it sounds but there is also more music than singing.    Seven minutes into a song that's over ten minutes is when you'll first hear singing.  It just kind of has that effect where you feel like you're hearing more music than lyrics even if sometimes you aren't.

The music itself is really why you should listen to "The Will To Burn Though".   I'd use the tired cliche of "Not a lot of bands make music that sound like this" but the fact is that bands try to make music which sounds like this-- bands just can't seem to make music which sounds this good.   Perhaps the biggest influence I hear right away in these songs is Chevelle and, God, I love Chevelle.   Sometimes in the music alone (And not the vocals) I hear Audioslave, which is weird.  I think of this as sounding like some of the heavier rock I listened to in the early '00's as well.  The bands who were on the cusp of hardcore but not truly hardcore.   The Beautiful Mistake perhaps the biggest comparison among them (with a small nod to Lorene Drive)

So odd how this album is heavy but not in a double bass drum way.   It's full of insightful lyrics and yet tends to favor the music over the words.  The length is also more than it appears in both real time and the number of songs, but despite the weight of it all this album does fly by when you listen to it.   I still remember the first time I put it on, I knew the length and kind of looked up like, "What? How is this over already? That can't be right", but I suppose it could just be a matter of music going by faster when you are enjoying it, much like anything in life. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cassette Review:
Shia The Other
"My Flower Diary"
(Mount Seldom Records)

$6 //
Edition of 25 //  //

If you've ever felt like you needed a reason to listen to cassettes Shia The Other will provide you with many.  One of these reasons can be found at the end of this cassette so let's fast forward a bit, shall we?   There exists a sixth song on "My Flower Diary" and it is exclusive to the cassette.   It is not listed on the Mount Seldom Bandcamp page, so it came as a bit of a surprise to me (as close as we can seemingly get to a hidden track these days) but it is on Shia The Other's Bandcamp page which is good for clarity.

Acoustic melodies create the songs of Shia The Other.   Perhaps described only as an acoustic guitar and a voice could be accurate but it wouldn't be the full story.   This gets you into one of those moral arguments of whether or not it is lying if you simply do not disclose certain things.   I've always said that has been seen as being not fully truthful and in this particular case you wouldn't do any justice to the music of Shia The Other to think of it as simply being a voice and a guitar.

With synth lasers that sometimes sound like birds at other times they sound like the type of vibe you'd get from a song by the band Schatzi.   It's not that the tones themselves change-- it's just that sometimes I hear them differently than other times, which might seem odd but whoever said sound had to be linear?   Some of these songs are instrumental, even though they are all around the same length and that is around a minute and a half each so they are shorter than standard songs.

Musically, this might be one of the most impressive collection of songs I have ever heard.  What these songs do is manage to combine so many influences that the end result is something completely new.   Though these are not the only influences and maybe not even the biggest ones, this reminds me of something like Lushloss in a modern sense and to throw it back in time the song "Keats' diaries" has a certain vibe of "Under The Milky Way" by The Church to it.

The fascinating thing about music to me is that you can take two instruments and create such different sounds.   If you gave someone a box of pasta and a jar of tomato sauce you would likely get the same result each time.  But with music that just isn't the case.   Don't get me wrong, you could browse several different genres on Bandcamp and find artists who all sound the same that fall under the guitar + voice song structure, but I feel lucky to have been hearing some of the stand outs recently and even more fortunate that Shia The Other is among them.

Cassette Review:
The Widest Smiling Faces
"Milk Garden"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$5 //
Edition of 100 // //

Back in 2013 I did an interview with The Widest Smiling Faces via email.  Go ahead.  Click the interviews button on the home page.   You'll find it.   Now I'm not saying that some five years later it's a matter of "making it", but to think of where we both were back then (And obviously on the same page since I had the thought to do the interview and The Widest Smiling Faces were so kind as to oblige) and where we both are now is just one of those things you cannot describe.   This isn't the first time something like this has happened and hopefully it won't be the last but it's still a friendly reminder as to why I write about music.

"Milk Garden" opens with these organs and acoustic strums which make me think of Joe Cocker and specifically like we're going to begin the theme from "Wonder Years".   This could be some of the most complex folk/bedroom type of music I have ever heard.   At times it reminds me of the Flaming Lips and at other times it reminds me of The Lyndsay Diaries.    It's dreamy and full of bliss but at the same it's not poppy like a garage rock band might sound if you were to use those words to describe them.  It's not a get up and bounce around type of bliss, but more of a being outside in the sunshine type of feeling.

The songs on here will also mess with your concept of time.   There are a few instrumental songs and while most of them maintain a traditional song length the instrumental ones tend to be shorter (under a minute).   Though this doesn't always hold true as some of the songs without words are longer and some with words are shorter.   Confused yet?  I told you this was complex.    And here's where it gets even weirder.   These songs are generally slow- not as slow as you typically might expect from what breaks down to its core as being acoustic guitar + vocals and yet not as fast paced as punk either.   it's maybe a step or two above that normal pace for "this type of music".

Despite the fact that the pace moves faster and the songs are all of a normal length, they just feel long, weighty.   It's not a bad thing though.  You could have a song that's three and a half minutes and it feels like six or eight minutes.  But again, wouldn't you rather eat less and feel full than eat more and feel bloated?  The Widest Smiling Faces manages to fill you up and not have you feeling bad about it afterwards.   But still, it remains one of those audio illusions as it is one thing on paper but makes you feel something else when you're actually listening to it.

The lyrics also play a key role in this cassette.   It isn't just a matter of what is being said, it's how it's being said.   You don't hear this a lot in music because people tend to kind of not drag their words out but just kind of space them in a longer time frame than this.   It's not that it's wrapping or even singing really fast it's just that the lyrics come out in a manner where it feels like every second is important.   Again, some of these songs are instrumental and there are times when the lyrics aren't there in songs with lyrics, but again, this is also a complicated cassette.  It's just a unique delivery in the lyrics and when you hear it you will also understand.

That combination of music and lyrics is really what makes songs what they are.   When it comes to The Widest Smiling Faces, I could argue that based solely upon these lyrics you should be listening to this cassette and at the same time the argument could be made solely based on the style of the music.    Combining these two forces will have you listening to that lo-fi bedroom/voice + acoustic guitar style in a whole new light.  So expand your cassette collection, expand your favorite artist collection and most importantly expand your mind.