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Spring 2017

Greetings:

However you found this site, I'm endlessly grateful for your early interest. This endeavor is almost entirely constructed as a service to myself and others with the same obsessions, and has been an idea incubating in my brain for a while. On the contrary, networking with individuals and building the site has occurred over a very short span of time (by my standards anyway—I committed to the project in early April), and considering how unusually eventful life has been since then, I have to regard the fact that this thing is even here as a major success. That said, I'm still working to get everything up and awaiting some stock. If I'm pouring you a bit short right now, don't worry—titles will be added as I give them all the attention they deserve, and I'll be topping you off in due time.

There are a number of ways to browse the site; my preference would be on this page right here, which is kind of a commerce-based microzine. Click the title to be taken to an individual product page. If you just want to get the goods and go, step into the Store. The latter option may show more titles than the former if I haven't had time to write about them yet—but as I indicated before, I may withhold additions until they've been given the deluxe treatment. For me, therein lies the fun and purpose, so you'll have to indulge me.

Mark Groves' Index Clean of Australia has been a fascination of mine since I found out about it, and honestly one of the main reasons I started this endeavor. The fact that no one in the States was getting copies of Absurd Cosmos Late Nite seemed criminal. I'm pleased to offer all three CD compilations on the label this far, which function as Chain Reaction style retrospectives for the original cassette versions, so you have no excuse to not get caught up. 777 Was 666 has been around in Japan for a while, recently resuscitated with the all-star Found Secret compilation (which I ashamedly still need a copy of). Since then, they've been kicking out some fine cassettes—including an out of nowhere reissue of the '80s mailer relic, Ut Fona Res. I've got that and some other fine releases from the beast for you to consider. Mantile put out a dazzling release by Yearning Kru this year, and Mr. Scarr was kind enough to hook me up with that and some fine selections reaching into the back catalog. I've made a point to grab Mantile tapes whenever I see 'em, so I definitely felt like I hit the jackpot when my local postal clerk checked my ID and handed me the box. Deviating slightly from my selection process so far, I've got some goods coming in from Miami's City Medicine/Hologram Label. I've enjoyed all the CM I've heard, and was happy to strike a deal with Chris as a sidepot in some extracurricular purchases. Sean Tatol is another fellow I came across in my collector's feeding, and when I stumbled on his work I was more than intrigued. To be honest, I wish I had gotten more from him, but I hope to rectify that in the future—and to all: more books/print objects please! Hit me up!

I'm appreciative of everyone who's been helpful in correspondence and for generously supplying titles, but perhaps the organization I'm most proud to offer releases from is Korea Undok Group, a label very close to my withered heart (and I suspect yours, given the e-mails I've gotten thus far). A lot of blurred, contemplative tape music with ‘ambient’ tendencies seems to be fixated on ideas of memory and nostalgia. Korea Undok Group almost always produces material that is concerned with the present, documenting something that is a vital ecosystem through an atypical lens. If there’s ever an implied recollection of a place, I get the sense it’s one that could easily be revisited, not just a wistful portrayal of somewhere long gone, waiting for a maudlin voiceover. If it’s in the past, it’s a recent past. There’s a cast of players, but what they choose to present to the world is greater than the sum of their individual contributions. I was surprised to learn that Angel’s Egg was a real band in the traditional sense—of course it was! They’re creating a living archive of their thing/aesthetic. KUG has constructed a scene that exists as an abstract offshoot of what appears to me to be an bona fide Winnipeg scene, which is a rare thing these days. Guided by an ethos and humility that has become a signature in their presentation, the work is truly inspirational from top to bottom. All that aside, the execution and technique is often second to none. Streams of varied concoctions bear the common traits of an unconventional appeal to musicality and an ear for the finest textures. They’ve approached their craft in a manner unlike almost anyone in the field today, and have it down to a T. The newest batch should be up here before the second week of June rolls around, at the latest.

Elsewhere around town: I highly recommend the Spoils & Relics Threadbare Adult Life quadruple cassette box on Second Sleep. I haven't heard half as much S&R as I'd like to, but this ranks high among the works by these boys that have hit my mailbox. If a 4xCS sounds intimidating, it whizzes right by and every side brings something different to the table. Darksmith, who graces us with his surly yet lovable presence in widening intervals as we roll further into the apocalypse, has popped his head out with a new tape called Time To Die. (Void? Hmm...maybe not—but if Tom wants to step into the expanding Void art rip-off racket, I see no better candidate.) The Golden State heavyweight diversifies quite a bit on this one, hinting at many of the styles played with on his triple CD-R run from a few years ago in a condensed bout. Definitely some of his finest work to date, marked by a new tendency towards fragile sounds and swirling spatialization techniques— this is Darksmith at his most composed. High level musique concrète that ain't hung up on technology or fossil worship. And even though it's not exactly new, this Culturcide related set of absurdly blown out hijinx from Mark Flood and Dan Workman has been given a second life in the form of a download by Lost Frog Productions, with the unfortunate name of Stabin Cabin (but I suppose it's on-brand). If you've gone this long without picking up Gabi Losoncy's vinyl debut on Recital, get your priorities in check—go fork some cash over to Mr. McCann, pick up some reasonably priced Slowscans while you're at it, and sit yourself down with the raw emotional rigor and triumph of Security Besides Love.

Tip for the thrifty: I picked up a nice-price copy out in the wild of this Voice Crack record form 2000, Shock_Late. A real action packed sizzling pinball game of unusual electronics and amplified scrapes. It looks like you can grab one for a similarly low risk investment—of course, there’s a good chance you’re much savvier than me and I’m just preaching to the choir here—but if you're in the same boat I was and somehow never came across this one, it's an unexpected steal. The only thing I don’t like about this guy is the weird textured sleeve Entenpfuhl and Sonig LPs often seem to have have. Probably because they remind me of handling a pocket folder in school, but don't let that make you feel like this is a homework assignment.

I'd also like to note that this is operation is very much a love letter to the fine distros and and publications who've contributed to the overcrowding of my own personal shelves, and yeah, floor. I have the utmost respect for those that are still active, and consciously try not to encroach on anybody's turf. Hopefully I've created something that is at least a little different in the process. I'm totally open to suggestions for where to go next, so don't hesitate to contact me.

I'm also seeking original recipe contributions (preferably no animal stuff—if not, I guess I could take liberties and face the challenge of tailoring the recipe to my needs, which may actually be more interesting); I'll make it worth your while, and will document my trial on the site. Seriously. The late Mika Vainio devised a similar idea for the Touch website, and I'd like to fry something up as a tribute to the master.

Thank you.

–Dan

(Head Idiot, Careful Catalog)

dan@carefulcatalog.com

 


Sean Tatol – Black Pin
10.00

Self-Published/19933.biz

Year: 2017

Format: Book

Sean Tatol directs his artistic output via a number of different literary and sound practices, most notably in the assemblage of alluring, artfully broken text that falls somewhere in the realm of poetry. I’m pleased to offer his most recent publication in the form of a slim, nicely pocketable book of puzzling and enticing forms. Much of Black Pin is like having words predigested on the page, approximating how the skimmed version of an unknown text might be processed in one’s brain. I found myself disoriented enough to experience the sensation that I was reading through someone else's shifty eyes, much like the way Graham Lambkin’s work employs diegetic music to create a similarly mind-altering experience of listening to someone else listen—the sense of being a fly on the wall that eventually lands in someone’s drink. This is likely not the author’s intention at all; nevertheless, I found my reading enriched by being able to frame the seemingly inscrutable fragments through the lens of a lurking persona that exists in an unseen stratum of the book. Tatol strikes a difficult balance by stitching together a work that’s very much spliced and folded, yet still fluid, readable, and mellifluous. A tasteful layout delivers the goods in eye-catching, playful, floral text arrangements, tucked into niches along a well-lit hallway sporadically adorned with clipart. In terms of content, my personal tasting notes: flawed YouTube auto-captions that still achieve some level of coherence in their absurdity; screen caps explored in microscopic detail with a mildly voyeuristic tone; origami; lyrical field surveys; concrete poetry sourced from technical manuals; chopped and screwed semi-romantic prose excerpts; a smashed vase, glued back together, bearing only minor semblance of a vase. There’s also kind of a twist ending, so let's say a 'dry finish'. I road tested my copy linearly, and also cherry-picked pages at random to pass the time on public transit; both have been equally satisfying, but the cover-to-cover option offers a panorama conducive to plotting the scattered dots of curiously recurring characters. Sean has been leaving a trail of understated artifacts around the internet and in small publications for what looks to be a few years now. I’ve only had a chance to familiarize myself with what’s been offered on his equal parts transparent and enigmatic website, but I think it’s safe to speculate that this is his most significant and aesthetically representative work to date. I look forward to giving my already tattered, coffee-stained copy many future perusals. A lovely, singular addition to any shelf. Straight from the bottle.

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City Medicine – Catch Me [CS]
5.00

Label: Not on Label

Year: 2016

Format: Cassette

Out in the world findings of a covert observer, mixed with electronic interruptions that cohabitate the juxtaposed recorded environments in a separate third space contained in the listener’s mind. Putting your head up real close to that window unit with the worn out belt, losing consciousness and slowly fading back into the world around you. Soundscapes in the R. Murray Schafer sense of the word, acoustic ecology. A fruitful study of the noises that precede emotion, rather than expressions thereof. Acknowledgment of the human voice’s ability to be as concrete and malleable as other animal or mechanical sound byproducts; recognition of the claustrophobia and disharmony in its multiplication (too many humans). Effectively short and to the point. Probably best summed up by what the artist says right there on the card: audio opportunity. An exquisite tape that would work even better as part of an LP, so cough it up.

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Network Glass – Vault [CD]
7.00

Label: Hologram Label

Year: 2016

Format: CD

Network Glass is a pretty far cry from the Earth Crown set I saw nearly a decade ago, and while I haven’t taken a full inventory of all Daniel La Porte’s activities since then, it seems like he simultaneously managed to hone his brainier computer chops and avoid a possibly regrettable entry into the homogeneous noise-cum-techno gold rush. Not to say that the laboratory/art gallery vibe of his current project is smarter or better by default, but growth is always an admirable trait—although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the man was crafting this material in the same exhumed, peasant garb I saw back then. The primary through line is the focus on physicality; while previous endeavors may have been a more full-body affair, Network Glass goes straight into the ears, touching parts of the brain and cranial structure that are hard to scratch—you know, Amacher, Toshimaru Nakamura style. On Vault, La Porte grates up and mandolins a haul of clean, narrow beams of neuron-zapping synthesis and mic’d abstractions, then plates ‘em up on a shiny, reflective surface in geometric arrangements. Frequencies tend to occupy the more extreme ranges, and keep a safe distance from one another so the listener gets an unobstructed hit. Audio that’s not purely electronic is mostly unrecognizable in it’s processed state, either washed in the same chemical Risset used to blur the line between real and synthetic audio on Sud, or reduced to fragmented spikes to trigger resonances. As a skillful construction of a contained, raw audio environment, Vault leave the door open for the listener to drop in and out at any point, free to receive the same aural acupuncture at any time.

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Hostage Pageant – Barren Terminals [LP]
10.00

Label: Hologram Label

Year: 2016

Format: LP

Cautious to avoid the pervasive threat of monotony in noise music, Hostage Pageant mixes it up with welcome regularity on the two sides of Barren Terminals. One might suspect this to be a pretty straight-up harsh noise affair, however, Shane Church must've felt he didn't have much wax to waste; this is a nicely varied mélange which encopasses a wide breadth of suspense and pyrotechnics that can be coaxed out of basic objects and electricity. Plot-thickening diversion tactics are utilized, switching between full on wake-the-dead noise blasts and softened basement creaking—grabs you by the ears and shakes you silly, then wanders off into a corner to dig through some scrap, leavening you even more unnerved by the sudden aloofness. Kind of a more verse-chorus approach of Pedestrian Deposit’s (for a time) often used method of slowly charging up the raw materials and then unleashing an unfettered assault. Mr. Church has been doing it a while, and thus seems capable of delivering material that seems to occur in a natural acoustic setting without the baggage of any identifiable name-brand electronics hoisting up the proceedings. When Barren Terminals goes for the throat, it’s of a rusty, layered variety that makes me think of a beefed-up Meiosis. The amorphous photo on the sleeve resembles a rough terrain or treacherous waterfall to me, which would be in step with the way these two sides move like a splintering vessel down river, hitting a series of steep, life-threatening cataracts at irregular intervals. Thoughtful execution, full of queasy tension and wild turmoil. Get that gambler’s adrenaline going for the low price of premium burrito.

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Drowning The Virgin Silence – Monument [CDr]
5.00

Label: Hologram Label

Year: 2016

Format: CDr

I’ll be forthright here—I was ready to to not be so into this the moment I deduced that it was primarily a drone disc. I’ve already got stacks of unopened Kevin Drumm downloads named after months piled up in my inbox, so It’s safe to say I have not been in the mood for some long, sustained tones for some time; it’s rare that I want to sit down and get lost in a sea of immersive drift—I’d prefer to be working the oars a little more, doing some on-the-fly cartography. You, on the other hand, may be in the market for some slowly evolving, electrified cloud ambience. Having given Monument a couple honest listens, there is a little more going on here than I was willing to see at first. Rougher textures shuffling beneath the surface and acoustic resonances come into play which push this closer to an elongated version of the most cascading part of one of Luc Ferrari’s electronic compositions, or Rafael Toral’s early, performer-driven sustain pieces that modulate frequently and have a similar aura of aviation. Divided into three phases, each occupying a distinct space and becoming increasingly more active, there's a narrative journey ghosted in the close frequencies. Drowning the Virgin Silence avoids being an absentee manager by introducing enough new elements that I’m convinced there must have some vision in mind, as opposed to an endeavor based on simply setting up the oscillators and letting them go play. However, Monument does have some undeniable traits that put it in line with a lot of sleep-centric, meditative drone works. Even though I, personally, may not have the time to feel as if I’ve lost time, you might be in need of such a lift. Here’s a nice one.

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Chris Donaldson & Robert King – Liminal ZINE/CDr
3.00

Label: Starved Relations

Format: Zine/CDr

Year: 2015

Quality print volume of photo collages and abstractions by Chris Donaldson (City Medicine, Hologram Label), bagged and boarded with a CDr of thick tape loops by Robert King that occasionally ventures into machine drone. Brought to mind a slightly more aggressive version of Andrew Deutsch's Loops Over Land.

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Absurd Cosmos Late Nite – 2016-17 [2CD]
13.00

Label: Index Clean

Year: 2017

Format: 2CD

Mark Groves’ most recent project treats us to an addictive format that imparts the sensation of tuning into a strange and beguiling radio broadcast, complete with bed music that often evokes the limp jazz and new age indigenous to the modern open air shopping mall experience—but in a good way. Ever fallen in and out of sleep while listening to a worn out tape of Chris Morris’ Jam? Each track presents a fuzzily rendered aural animation, synthesized from sources such as petty restaurant, product, and shop reviews; ad copy and radio nonsense; tidbits gleaned from staring at tabloids while waiting in the checkout line; the brief snippets of dialogue from passersby that seem solely for your benefit. The tipsy backing tracks have a warped in-the-room quality, peppered with stumbling piano and some shuffling rhythm box. The results are as relaxing as they are funny and disorienting. When delivered from a pleasantly dosed voice, consumer grievances are disarmed and snake-charmed into a neutral state. Omnipresent, bitter, smug online grousing that makes the internet a wasteland is magically transformed, encased in amber, doused in soft blue lights, and placed on a rotating pedestal. From where I stand, this is a crafty backdoor approach to creating so-called ambient music that exists comfortably outside the confines of sleepy field recordings and held synth chords. Overt instances of humor are not too hard to find—“Cool Ranch”, complete with dueling chip munching, is bizarrely hilarious and plays like the tape music version a rap skit. It’s difficult to sidestep the superficial similarities between the general getup of Absurd Cosmos Late Night and the muted backdrop, tight delays, and sputtering consonants of Robert Ashley’s Automatic Writing; however, more significant comparisons could be drawn to Ashley’s later works like Dust and Concrete, where street talk and banal chatter are finessed into carefully metered librettos. ACLN falls somewhere in between, as it’s neither stream of consciousness, nor is it meticulously locked into tight patterns or rhythms. The pacing of the text is similar to the way anecdotes are conveyed over meals, replete with long pauses for a swig of Farmers Union (check me out, learning about other cultures!). What’s especially fun is the way we’re ushered along between autonomous supersize song length tracks, almost always delightfully punctuated by the reels firing up or coming to a halt. I’ve listened to these tapes more times than I can count, so to have them all here in one place ripe for overindulgence is an affordable luxury. Five stars.

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Red Wine and Sugar – Chattels + The Confidence and Humour of John [CD]
11.00

Label: Index Clean

Year: 2016

Format: CD

Red Wine and Sugar stood out to me amongst the stacked line-up on The First Thing that you want is the Last Thing that you Need, a fantastic double cassette compilation that turned out to be one of the last Mazurka releases. I probably checked in on some of Mark’s other projects while snooping around the A.G. Picks website, but I believe "The Confidence and Humour of John" was the first thing I got to hear in full. After that, I fell head over heels with the vibe of the then newly launched Index Clean—so much so that it eventually spurred me to finally get this very site going. A collaboration between the aforementioned Mr. Groves and Samaan Fleck, this project is remarkably discreet and sober. It's impressive to hear a duo work with such barely-there sounds for long stretches and not go off the rails when they do decide to turn to more piercing and powerful backdrops. The dusty sound design is truly astounding. “Flushing of the Face” sounds and feels like being trapped inside a nervous stomach. “Often Burns Rarely Tans” and “Bitter Almonds” turn high drama tape selections into internalized neuroticism, and the former is cut with shrill yet desirable ear-cleaning feedback. “Tenderness of Scalp” has a swarming, burnt, reanimated Radiophonic Workshop tone, and “The Confidence and Humor of John” churns out hacked granular shifting by means of last-legs tools. RW&S don’t get complacent in set-up—the vocals have a different quality on every track to suit the rest of the composition, with varied breath, amplitude, and mic techniques (the elongated whisper on “Often Burns Rarely Tans” is really something else). I sense a lot of the lifting of the text here is probably done with a menacing wink—but goddamn if I didn’t find these words to be genuinely assuasive. Failure, doubt, anxiety, fraudulence, embarrassment, stress: it’s all here. There’s an LP in the works, for which I could not be in greater anticipation. I may have to qualify this as my favorite new 'band', so in this instance, do not steer clear of Red Wine and Sugar.

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Von Einem - The Von Einem Tapes [2CD]
13.00

Label: Index Clean

Year: 2015

Format: 2CD

True crime aficionados might be familiar with Australia’s claim to more than a few particularly gruesome cases. A recording project that upon first assessment: (a) takes its inspiration from one of said horrors, and (b) has “Power Electronics" in its Discogs entry, would normally be something of a red flag. Fortunately, for his Von Einem recordings, Mark Groves eschews the myopic view of a gore-obsessed stompbox jockey in favor of an approach that’s more akin to late night research and amateur sleuthing. There’s no pretense of a cheap persona that begs the listener to imagine he’s in some way closer to the carnage than he actually is. Granted, there’s an abundance of text and artwork pointing to the motif throughout the whole package (the two pills inside the digipak being a particularly nice touch), the project isn't exactly married to the events surrounding Bevan Spencer von Einem. Groves casts a wider net for source material while sustaining the mood of combing through unsettling local newspaper clippings. Facts are disseminated in a cold, matter-of-fact tone that steers clear of any ghoulishness. The text is arranged in a way that only raises more questions for the listener: a warbled voice draws one closer, cryptically doling out information in measured increments, leaving us to ponder what's being left out. Tape wrangling, synth-padded backgrounds, well-governed feedback, and a drenched rhythm box populate the setting—all texturally dynamic on their own, but often times in service to the corrupted voice transmissions. Speech is gracefully woven through rising and falling noise elements, giving the impression that someone’s always dutifully manning the controls, and total cacophony is rarely indulged—but the segments nearing that pack a mean punch. Tracks like “Vigil” and “Scripted Phrases” lean on a click-driven groove for a nice change of pace, highlighting the natural tape compression and hiss factor that forms a really satisfying mechanical breathiness. I don’t think it would be as engaging to hear Von Einem one tape at a time, so this comprehensive retrospect is the perfect way to go. Aside from the difficulty in procuring every micro-edition, the aesthetic wouldn’t track as well as it does here. Top it off with a quality mastering job by Joe Talia, and you've got yourself a finely directed tour of South Australia's most lurid, mysterious, and dark corners.

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Hideo Nomo – Dire Aging [CS]
10.00

Label: 777 Was 666

Year: 2016

Format: Cassette

Hideo Nomo is the partnership of Mike Collino and Knox Mitchell, both from Michigan, found here operating under the auspices of a Japanese label. Japan is the original home of the duo's namesake pitcher, and I can easily imagine seeing either of these guys' names on an old Topps card—so the stars have aligned for this one. Dire Aging creates an atmosphere that could either be meditative or cause for dread, depending on how deep the listener chooses to investigate. Much of the first side is centered around an interplay of calmly abrasive textures over some stark violin whimpering, channeling the more soothing side of what it would be like to observe a group of people build primitive weapons from a distance. Pitched down string/bell/chime tones add an element of continuity and something vaguely approaching an abandoned melody. There’s also a fair amount of raw electrical throb that never gets out of hand, nor does it undercut the organic qualities comprising Dire Aging's aesthetic strong suit. On the flip side is a longer piece entirely dedicated to a piano performance subject to a dour recontextualization. Minimal gestures manage to corrupt the tonal elements enough that it's as if the performer of an otherwise 'nice' piece of music is becoming slowly cognizant of the undeniable signs of food poisoning. The unusual added harmonics and stray artifacts make this a more interesting scene on a purely sonic level, although what exactly is going on here remains unclear. I’m curious to hear what the first side would sound like with the veil (or rather, dust-covered tarp) lifted slightly to offset the murkiness factor a few degrees, the results thus far are plenty satisfying. If another recording emerges with a less obscured take on the creaking, seasick M.O. of this one, it’d certainly be welcome. Assembling the first side as a tasting menu of brief passages was a savvy move; one can only hope this is intentional, and that we haven't been given a scant handful of ripe plums from an otherwise unsavory tree of basement jam sessions (I have faith, though, particularly in Mr. Dog Lady). The Darksmith artwork is what initially got my attention (anything Tom touches is a must-have). Fortunately, there’s an abundance of intrigue and shadowy ambience contained in the sounds of Dire Aging to make it far more than some finely rendered drawings of the Tornado, perfect for you to to display alongside your other sports memorabilia.

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Lieutenant Murnau | Oxidized Man – Ut Fona Res [CS]
11.00

Label: 777 Was 666

Year: 2017/1982

Format: Cassette

Here’s a reissue that’s easy to get behind: an Italian mail-art recording from 1982, heard by only a handful of individuals upon its original release, swept into obscurity—not even a Youtube clip to document its original existence—quietly reintroduced into the world 35 years later in its original cassette format. Lieutenant Murnau was an open source performance and recording alias that could be adorned by anyone who wished to adopt the moniker, with the binding precept being the encouraged use of borrowed material. Vittore Baroni, co-founder of the Trax label, is credited with the concept, however he proudly let the Lieutenant run free, pledging not to contribute any content or action beyond the idea itself. One such individual who took to plundering in the name of Lt. Murnau was Daniele Ciullini, working here as Oxidized Man. Ut Fona Res employs the use of plenty of pre-existing sound materials, but is free of any potentially cartoonish trappings, such as shuffling small bites of copyrighted material at a herk-jerky pace, or dropping in too many bombastic effects. Instead, Ciullini opted for transparency, getting as much juice out of his chosen sources and three recorder set-up as he can before moving on to the next phase. Recordings of public spaces mingle with old soundtrack fare and television reports, interspersed with stretches of free-improv clatter and piano antics. The first side closes with some surprisingly moody synth loops that sprout up quite nicely—dare I say, almost stepping into Fripp & Eno territory. The liner notes (collaboratively supplied by Ciullini and Baroni, finely illuminating and not at all coy with the origin story) classifies Ut Fona Res as essentially a private live recording, but it’s contained within movements that point toward responsible compositional choices. What we get is ultimately a cohesive grab bag of tactics and concerns pertinent to the ’80s cassette network of the time, a unique document that reflects the world at large as much as it does the world constructed at the hands of stamp-wielding tape freaks, vampires that feed on and repurpose the oppressive culture that surrounds them.

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D.D. Dobson – A Halo of Affectation [CS]
10.00

Label: 777 Was 666

Year: 2016

Format: Cassette

D.D. Dobson is the long-running free space project of Jim Goodall, who—as I’m sure others have pointed out—has a CV that ranges from The Flying Burrito Brothers to Whitehouse. A Halo of Affectation does indeed corroborate that he’s a man of multitudes, as nearly every track is an isolated experiment based on a wager with a particular set of tools. Goodall’s background as a percussionist is alluded to in the opener, before launching into some high current fizz, commingling with a thumpy bassline and radio gating. Along the way, there’s some whirling psychoacoustic panning that keeps the listener engaged over noise that follows an on/off vacuum cleaner curve. If you’ve ever wanted to hear the scratchy dub plate sounding part from a Von Oswald/Ernestus production extracted and filtered—but stripped of echo—you’ve even got some of that here, layered over a muted public field recording. Is that a corrido I hear?  Plenty of weird speech mangling too; nothing goofy here, however. Quality electroacoustic recreation that knows when to change its playing style, in the context of what I perceive to be a relatively pro recording situation. Jim’s bandmate from Medicine—a band I’ve admittedly only ever heard of—Brad Laner, assists in a technical capacity and a creative one I suspect as well. (This guy I know, of course—who else put out an IDM record on a major label in the ‘90s, by the way? Autechre on Nothing doesn’t count. I guess Photek does.) It’s inspiring to imagine two lifers searching for new sounds in the lab together and hear the results turn out this dynamic and fresh. Goodall is still offering tapes new and old by the handful; I intend to do some catching up, so consider yourself advised to do the same.

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The Bohman Brothers & Blood Stereo – Live at Wilton's Music Hall [CD]
11.00

Here we have a top-tier doubles match between two long running collaborations, making this something of a Jetsons meets the Flintstones affair. Hard to say who’s who—although Nyoukis’ trademark Neanderthal tongue might align Blood Stereo in the latter camp, it’s relatively toned down in what seems to be a pretty classy performance atmosphere for this one. The recording is ensconced in a medium sized hall ambience that formed an image of a rather posh venue in my mind, which turned out to be pretty spot-on after some quick research. A lot of improvisation frames the participants in a collaboration where they’re attempting to build something. Once they’ve constructed some likeness of house they can share a roof under, inevitably the players will decide it’s time to blow the fucker up and sift through the detritus for another fifteen minutes—or however long until they feel they’ve fulfilled their obligation to the audience. For the first part of Live at Wilton's Music Hall, we get something that’s more of an exercise in communication: four different players speaking two slightly different languages in a game of mind-meld. Metallic, springy, full frequency range call and response sound object work, starting from opposing corners in an effort to arrive at the center. Of course, they never quite reach it, but the listener is a privileged passenger for the sinuous journey. I’ll concede that this ain’t a perfect metaphor, as there’s also some found sound interjections and lovely mood-setting bowed instruments towards the end—but for the most part, this does feel quite different your usual electro-acoustic jam session. Part two (which is verbally demarcated and introduced, to the audience’s amusement) is a delightfully chaotic voice exercise featuring disparate texts cueing off and devouring one another. Karen Constance starts laughing more than once amidst the insanity, which is a refreshing thing to hear in contrast to the frequently too buttoned-up world of sound poetry. Obviously the Bloods always have a strong component of humor in their work—ditto for the Bohmans (my god, that Back on the Streets cover)—but even the biggest of goofballs can sometimes get caught up in themselves when intoxicated by the stuffy air of performance. This is also a good opportunity to hear Blood Stereo outside of their normal direct-line recording situation, really getting a chance to soak in the opulence of the hall and diffuse some crud into it. Pristinely captured and exquisitely mixed, the document preserves the spaciousness of the original happening in a rendering that’s a real treat for headphone listening. 

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Yearning Kru – Swumpengelf ‎[CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2017

Format: Cassette

This happens to be the most recent release from Mantile, but the layering of cracked, stuttering, digitally refracted samples could have fooled me into guessing it’s a Mille Plateaux or Mego release circa 2001. I submit that in the most complimentary way possible—I’m a sucker for this era of homemade computer music, and it comes as a pleasant surprise to find someone mining such territory in the context of today’s small edition cassette culture. Swumpengelf is teeming with airy spectral traces, shifting partials, and floating, augmented bass resonances, all swimming around one another like a school of fish, implying a unified texture in their profusion. The remnants of a dismantled trap set (or an ad hoc stand-in for one) and an off kilter ticking pulse imparts a not-too-comfortable rhythmic component. Yearning Kru taps into the same spirit as any artist one might find on the Magnetic Detritus compilation, offering an alternate take on the aesthetic via DSP techniques I’d wager are as outmoded as four track, Walkman, and dictaphone exploits. The results exude as much charm, playfulness, and authenticity of tape-based sound works in a noticeably tidier work environment. While the sound tools are idiomatic of a dusty sort of early 2000s abstract electronic music, YK’s work feels fresh and not bogged down by glitch/clicks and cuts tropes; the approach is more freewheeling and bold—not unlike Sakana Hosomi’s underappreciated work as Maju and Neina that was less prone to the overly gentle demeanor of his peers. I’m now in the unexpected position of having a Planet Mu LP on my to-buy list, so hat’s off to all parties.

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Culver – Prophecy of the Black Spider [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2014

Format: Cassette

Culver exercise some admirable restraint to great effect here with two impressionistic streams of ominous gloom. The first side of The Prophecy of the Black Spider is consumed with what sounds like an endless flow of rubble, a rush of billowing flames, or having one’s head shoved out the window of a vehicle speeding down a dirt road. The unrelenting debris evolves into the image of a ship coming into a harbor, ignoring the echoes of a cautionary foghorn; thousand-yard stare, hypnotized by the surrounding maelstrom. After the break, droning strings are pushed to the forefront with an urgent, dark magnetism—as if from a mind’s eye perspective of the tumultuous scene we saw previously. Two trancelike views of something from which no good can come. Have at it.

 


Posset - Goose That Shat Silver Dollars [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2013

Format: Cassette

Posset unleashes a lengthy smorgasbord of trademark slithering, spontaneous, good-natured mucking about with whatever he can get his hands on. My mental image is of some drunken kitchen clatter in that cottage from Withnail and I. Our guy’s in no hurry to find a comfortable spot, perfectly content to squeal until the saliva runs dry or pluck at an untuned instrument until it’s time for dinner. The voice work is often the most pleasing part of a Posset tape, and there’s no shortage of that here. Plenty of zippy, fried charm. This one often confines itself to a narrow band of sound that renders the output more digestible in contrast to the clamorous input. We also get to tick the box of top-notch song titles from Joe Murray. The Standard cassette on Spam perhaps remains the high-water mark for the half dozen or so recordings I have, and not just because it features a voice early on that sounds very much like power-child Amanda.

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Brood Ma – Fission [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2012

Format: Cassette

Brood Ma’s already made a name for himself among more visible circles in the five years that have passed since this cassette’s release, but I’m more or less scanning this one with blinders on. F I S S I O N is sample based, hyper-edited, hard-hitting, kaliaidescopy electronic music, likely too adventurous and frenzied to be neatly classified as any specific brand of techno. My first thought is actually just ‘laptop music’—which seems like a ridiculously broad catch-all term in 2017, when most music is made with laptops—however, I posit that it’s still an applicable term; to me it connotes a strain of music characterized by enlisting software as a Vitamix for sound, with readymade chunks of music ranking high on the ingredient list. F I S S I O N has the chaotic, frenetic energy resultant from such processes, along with high-tempo bouncy kick and clap patterns that lay the track work for the ride. The degree of technical proficiency and sound clarity is high—off the charts for a tape of this ilk, actually—which may be a turn-off for some, but is irrefutable evidence of the time and effort put into crafting this kind of work. I imagine this tape would work pretty well in car; at times it functions as the aural equivalent to seeing the world around you blurred behind glass. While we’re on vehicles, F I S S I O N also paints a surrealist picture of walking around a crowded street in a hallucinatory state and hearing short bursts of songs spew out from panting SUVs and street vendors’ speakers. I was revisiting the Gum anthology around the time I listened to this, and in the afterglow, I ended up finding some of what Brood Ma does here to be not far removed from the lineage of their teenaged industrial turntable abuse (barring all the beats and such). This tape is considered long gone (the copies offered here were a surprise find from Mantile HQ), so best not wait around if you wish to grab this piece of the puzzle.

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Burd - Wild Saloone [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2012

Format: Cassette

The Burd & Scarr tape that came out a few ears before this one—my only other encounter with the former—caught me a little off guard, as I was not expecting so much drifty, placid synth work on a Spoils & Relics affiliated outing. Here we have yet another surprise, as Wild Saloone seems partly indebted to an unfiltered sampler-less house music aesthetic, with maybe even some classic sidescroller influence drizzled in. Some unflashy synthesizers (or plain old ‘keyboards’?) make up the lean cast of characters with which Burd builds loops that are rough enough around the edges to keep the listener paying attention—lots of big, jazzy sliding 7th chords and bloopy drum sounds. There’s evidence to suggest our man is operating within some self-imposed limitations, namely working without the net of an undo/erase option. Scarcely any effects are to be found, and there’s a closely adhered to formula of bringing one pot of phrases to a boil, then putting it on the back burner and starting fresh with another. Initially I thought things were getting so dense that the first track would mesh into a solid wall of noise, but that’s right when the slate gets wiped clean. I’d have been happy if Burd leaned back after the second or third layer is introduced, but to each his own (this might just be more fun than I’m willing to have, and I’m a less-is-more guy when it comes to any electronic music with a steady kick drum). Side B deviates from the pattern a bit, reintroducing chord structures and bass lines subjected to different modulations; it functions more as one long piece, as if Burd is doing a rework of his own track in real time. The live-from-the-bedroom presentation and unassuming fidelity help develop a sense of personality that keeps Wild Saloone from being an approximation of a budget gear demonstration. A good time to be had (if you’re looking for one).

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Kayaka ‎– Operation Deep Freeze [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2012

Format: Cassette

Kayaka is definitely guided by her own personal compass; I was not expecting to hear glassy, clean, budget GRM synth tones over the hand triggered 80s industrial drum and guitar gnashing that introduced “Operation Deep Freeze”. There’s an instillation quality to most of the tracks, given the way large chunks of varying fidelity and tone are separated into their own hard-panned corners. Take this for whatever it’s worth, but while listening, I was driven to watch, yet again, the clip of AF and Murphy’s Law being featured in Cremaster 3. Domestic field recording mutations, solo DAW-based instrumental Slugfuckers, hiccuping firecracker electronics, exploded sludge dub. Equal parts thuggish and cerebral sound design. I imagine the artist has made considerable strides since this tape, but for the uninitiated, this seems like a fine place to start.

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Simon Werner – The European Manga Demon Looses His Head In The Face Of Flowers And Other Suspicious Anthropomorphism [CS]
7.00

Label: Mantile

Year: 2013

Format: Cassette

Simon Werner is (and has) quite a unique voice. He serves up eloquent, rankled rap-adjacent spoken word essays and takedowns from the perspective of a passionate and articulate fan. Werner demonstrates a command of language and knack for analysis you’d be hard pressed to find on any social media, distributing his vitriol in measured increments as not to repel the listener or hit an early peak. The backing tracks are lengthy excerpts of moody, reverb soaked head-in-the-clouds beats that are much more digestible here in a uniformly time-stretched stutter. Music isn’t just an afterthought though; Werner waits for cues and is keenly aware of where his texts sits in the mix: the way he delivers the titular line during a beatless lull is exemplary of this. The “(Acapella)” tagged on to the second side isn’t just for laughs—hear that headphone bleed? As previously alluded, Werner’s voice is really something to behold: a strange, croaky, fried regional accent I’m too dumb to detect. It’s jarring to hear at first, but only a minute or so in and I was fully on-board—an indicator of merit for any music of a more challenging variety. Someone let a genuine weirdo into the cloud rap party—he sure is pissed off, but clearly wants things to better, to strive to be as good as the things that fuel his own creativity. If there’s anything on this site that took me most by surprise. with respect to how many points it won with yours truly, it's this guy.

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