On this 2014 cassette EP, noise artist Josef Nadek draws inspiration from the ancient folklore of his native Austria. “Wâldgeischta” lures us into the forests, with field recordings of birds singing as dark ambient echoes settle in the trees (T1). This moves into the mysterious, minimal rhythms of “Nimma dâ” (T2) that blossoms into full-on seething noise on “‘s wilde Gfâhr” (T3). The dust settles on the final ambient track “D’ Bluatig’n,” (T4) electronic groans and growls from the spirits as they disappear back into the woods.
Analog transmissions from Head Dress, the project of Ted Butler from Los Angeles (he’s also behind the underground cassette podcast Norelco Mori). This 2017 cassette comes to us from the newish experimental tape label Castle Bravo out of Lafayette, IN.
Three modular synth works with a focus on rhythm and drone. Sonar pings from a black box on the ocean floor, repeating pulses like a code beamed from a distant source. Ringing drones that flow into beats from alternate dimensions mutating into minimal almost-techno by the end of “Blake’s Ridge” (T3). Disappear into the Devil’s Triangle.
cuddly duo of freak folks out of Seattle on an assortment of broken instruments and looping droning and buzzing electronics; extended noise mantras unfold into underwater exotica grooves, squishy rhythms and tribal play toy pandemonium warbled echoes of social ineptitude take form in feral whelps, growls and howls; some cluttered garage hang out ayahuasca hazing
black metal split from the Seattle area: Drakul unleashes relentless death infected blasts of grime and decrepitude; obsessions include the occult, psychopathology and necrophilia so you know its tasty. Sermons On a Moonless Night is like a depressive vampire porno, distant fog laden blood rituals with garbled goblin vocals, hog growls, and digital blastbeats for your amphetamine fueled late night suicidal meme quests
Poly-melodic, hypnotic eastern string jams. Waves of riffs from the rhythmic hurdy-gurdy of Alexis Degrenier; floating seafoam background humming of the electronic Indian harmonium of D’Incise; both tied to the subtle, leading percussion of Cyril Bondi.
wisps of electronic strings,
bring on the wave.
sparse guitar folk narratives from Seattle’s Jesy Fortino; recordings from an era ago, recorded at the Josephine; gentle yet haunting plunges into the weight of a heavy spirit; her voice is rustic yet somber, a real heartbreaker, evocative; live performance so the songs track together, just play them all and weep.
2016 cassette release from the noisecore project of Matt Purse (Fenian, Remainderless, founder of LA’s Oxen, on fire rn now if you ask me), joined here by drummers Ted Byrnes (LAFMS) and Charlie Mumma (Sissy Spacek, in Wood and Metal with Byrnes). Explosive torrents of shattered glass. Searing shards ripping voices to ribbons. Rapid-fire drumming plows through the second half of T1 and utterly destroys T2. Left me bruised, bloodied, and blown away.
Amokian, Igor/ J3M5 / Daze of Futures Passed – “Concerts of The Unknown II” – [Group Theory Recordings]
Cassette collaboration from LA circuit benders Igor Amokian, J3M5 (James Allen, the founder of the label Group Theory Recordings that released this tape in 2017), and Daze of Futures Passed (Mickey Partlow). Both sides were recorded during a live performance from Dec. 2015 at the Superchief Gallery in DTLA. The trio’s collection of custom-built electronics spawns heavy blackness, rolling thunder, sci-fi squiggling, disfigured piano, pounding rhythms, sonic monsters, all rumbling through a space that sounds like a cavernous empty warehouse, or maybe a haunted Toys-R-Us after closing time. Side A confronts the insanity head-on, while Side B is like listening through a pair of those neon foam earplugs, or from the stockroom during a smoke break. Press play for bizarre bentertainment.
Debut cassette from the DIY-electro-noise punk duo of Noa Ver and Zach D’Agostino, released on Crash Symbols. Sea Moss recently came down from Portland to play some California shows, including a set at this year’s Norcal Noisefest that I luckily made it to Sacramento in time to catch. D’Agostino’s drumming (a welcome change of pace from all the static and drones at the Noisefest) can be energetic and wild (T6, T8), angle into a groove (T1, T3, T10), or pour on the sludge (T5), and filtered through DIY devices, the rhythms take on an 8-bit dimension. Ver brings her vicious walkie-talkie vox and teeming tidepool of homemade electronics (spotlighted in T2 and T7), reminiscent at times of Quintron’s swamp tech sound. Weird waveforms that will leave you anything but bored.
Post Mortem Klinik is one of the many projects of formerly Virginia-based, now local musician Chad Davis. His work spans a variety of genres: doom (Hour of 13), psych (U.S. Christmas), death industrial (Subklinik), black metal (Set, Anu), komische (Romannis Mötte), and more. P-M-K seems to be closely related, in name and in concept, to his 20+ year old Subklinik project, but under this newer alias, Davis forgoes the quieter, dark ambient elements of previous work for the extremes of electronic noise. This 2015 cassette EP from Distorted Press holds six tracks, each a heaving mass of degraded sound, like the collective filth of all humanity as it is flushed from our millions of disgusting hovels, coursing through rusted pipes, spilling into rivers, pouring into the oceans. Voices and screams surface and disappear, pulled under by the current of raw sewage. Squalid sounds for a society circling the drain.
Mark Pino’s solo project Infinite Plastic Internal continues on the journey of modern day mantra with “Skyline Session”. Six instrumental tracks of percussion and drone, filled with many moments of silence and pause, this time. Sometimes the sound is what sounds like the hiss of a tape recorder. Other times, Pino’s drumming takes over guiding the listener through an array of rhythms and beats. Exceptional, as always.
This release from NYC’s Compile, one of our first adds from the Boston cassette label Private Archive, holds two sidelong sound collages (supposedly two separate tracks, but I can’t hear the division). “Drone’s on Fire/Ten Wolves End” (A) is a collaboration with Article Collection (C. Latina of the group Private Archive and label co-owner). Chopped and screwed voices – possibly ripped from Youtube videos with views in the single digits or surveillance camera footage – describe survival on the streets and the pathetic daily life of a vlogger broadcasting for the first (and probably last) time. Underneath the samples are synth sketches, heavy bass pulses, tumbling metal, high pitched ringing, hovering drones. The piece degenerates into a finale that is both hilarious and terrifying. In “Compile/Did you really have fun tonight?” (B), recordings of domestic disturbances and an informational video about violent behavior steep in a nauseating brew of chants, drones, metallic echoes, and squirming synthwork. The cameras are everywhere, pointed at you, and the images captured are an infinitely scrolling reminder: there’s nothing in there.
FCCs ON BOTH SIDES
Intriguing trips into the hidden dark ambient recesses of your mind. Two side-long tracks on this cassette, each in the range of 17 minutes long, recorded live at the Luggage Store Gallery in 2010. Joining forces here are Andre Custodio (Say Bok Gwai, Nihil Communication), Dave Ed (Neurosis), and Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen) on Moogs and other synthstuff, along with guitar/amp/noise. Long, extended tones, sometimes meditative, sometimes more outward-reaching, wash over the listener. Reminds me of a subterranean journey through outer space, even though that’s not actually possible… I don’t think.
Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury have been composing analog synth works as Long Distance Poison since 2010. Most of the releases from this Brooklyn duo are on cassette (though the only one we have so far is a 12″ single) including this 2015 tape from Prison Tatt.
Each side of Twin Lights Twin Lights holds a sidelong track. “Mosa” (T1) immediately swells into a vicious surge of sound. At the center of the piece are heavy, earth-shaking pulses, but as it unfolds, subtler details begin to emerge. There’s tones twisting outwards, insectoid flourishes, bizarre melodies that hiss, crawl, breathe. The piece includes hydrophone recordings of the East River. “Infra Viam (Live At Death By Audio, 9/19/12)” (T2, Cearley and Bradbury are joined by Casey Block on a Micromoog), a live track from the now shuttered NYC studio/venue, feels like the afterimage of the first side: we hear settling dust clouds, smoldering remains, piano-like notes blurred beyond recognition, glowing embers, droning echoes, absence. Recommended if you enjoyed getting lost in the void of Zaimph’s latest work.
X Eyes is the LA noise duo of Corissa Viveros and Travis Fargher (aka rehgrafsivart, also in Bastard Noise). They’re occasionally joined by their two talented kids, as in their live performance from the KFJC pit in February 2017. This 2015 cassette from Kitty Play Records finds the pair bending circuits to generate a warped interpretation of a Deep South tent revival. Bubbling up from the muck of swampy synthesis are swarms of giant buzzing cicadas, visions of snake-faced preachers (T1), a sermon from His Holiness Ornette Coleman (T3), the relentless sound of a downpour during a thunderstorm, blasts of crackling ringing and pulsating feedback. Press play and be healed.
This Cloister Recordings cassette is the second release from Sweden’s Den Arkaiska Rösten (“The Archaic Voices”), the project of Girilal Baars and Per Åhlund. Baars is a professionally trained vocalist who has previously worked with the vocal group Äijä, a composer of operas, and a sound engineer. Åhlund has several solo sound art/electronic projects and has worked with Sophia, among other bands.
This cassette holds two sidelong pieces in which the sounds of the voice, in all of its many forms, are used to create a twisted, haunting landscape. Sounds of mouths, tongues, teeth, saliva, and breathing become howling winds and falling water. Deep utterances that resemble traditional throat singing rise from the lowest register, and a chorus of droning chants builds and closes in. Individual voices can be heard singing melodies or wails of regret, but soon disappear back into the fray. While vocal sounds are the main focus, weird electronics and drum beats can be heard humming beneath. The overall effect is like the spirits of everyone that’s ever lived rising from some ancient burial site to deliver us this cryptic message: it was like you said / it was not like you said.
From Russia’s experimental Post-Materialization Music label comes this bizarre cassette of extremely lo-fi “ethnodub”. The album name “Taharrush Gamea” is Arabic for “group harassment”, and usually refers to mass sexual assault. Very little information about this album or the artist exist. Only 31 of these cassettes were produced, and the artist’s other albums have been released on recycled soviet-era reel-to-reel tape, and 3.5″ floppy disk.
The cassette is seemingly designed to make you wonder if your stereo is busted. It’s an hour of international pop music, played at the wrong speed through unreliable equipment, mixed with crunchy record scratches, cut-up tape loop squiggles, and spooky spoken-word. Broken electronics buzz and hum throughout, and the whole thing sounds like it was recorded underwater. Samples (actually entire songs) are appropriated from a variety of sources: Bollywood dance tunes, Eastern Orthodox chants, Thai power-pop, and (as the artist’s name implies) middle Eastern folk. The result is disorienting (to say the least), like a bad acid trip through the depths of the international library.
2016 debut cassette from Cleveland’s Blind Spring, featuring members from several other groups, including the Red Sparowes, Terminal Lovers, Keelhaul, and the experimental jazz project Lost Head.
Deep sea divers experience a condition called nitro narcosis, an altered mental state that arises from breathing air in a high pressure environment. This cassette sounds what that must feel like – a strange, hallucinatory aquatic voyage. “Pilotage” (T1) opens with underwater echoes and distant melodies; later, electronic sounds appear from the depths like fluorescent sea creatures. “Open Circuit Buoy” (T3) is a 15-minute piece that begins with a dark beat-driven section that opens up into a gorgeous jam, with layered guitars, steady drumming, and an abrupt sample at the end. “Rebreathe” (T4) is another long-playing (25 minute) highlight that plunges to the darkest depths – there’s haunted piano, theremin-like bubbling, electronics with the bends. The cassette ends with “Nitro Narcosis” (T5), with drumming, bells, and electric keys finding a quiet, unhurried groove before fading away.
Seattle’s Andrew Scott Young is creeping up to be a heavy hitter in the free improv experimental world, hitting the scene playing alongside Weasel Walter’s ‘American Free’ release in 2009 and steadily giggin around the country since. here we have a 2013 release that strays from his usual extended technique free-scrape for some out-of-genre experimentation. the A-side opening with sawed bass string bird calls and spiderleg piano mashing, a tribute to his HS music teacher this feels a sort of new-classical tribal-ritual; blistering reeds sing a windsong with buzzing voices mumbling along and a Himalayan clatter of percussion explodes into a fireworks finale. the B-side plays around electronics, squelchy circuit beats with a parent’s garage sort of lo-fi feel in an 80s action flick aesthetic. the title track seems to have lost the beat and got fixed on a groove skipping about a bit before catching the glitch again. not enough recorded works yet but definitely a name to keep an eye out for.
This 2016 cassette is the second release (check out the first here) from Gothenburg, Sweden duo Amalthea (Jonas Lindgren of Aether and Michael Idehall). Cloister Recordings describes this tape as a mix of “minimalistic industrial” and “noise pop,” which seems like an impossible combination until you dive into these four hypnotic tracks. On the one hand, there are the sounds of pure dread: in T1, a leaden thud falls on each beat, making the seconds drag by achingly; T2 is a long, lingering drone; T4 heaves with agonized wailing and dissonant, distorted tones. But on the other hand, there’s flashes of beauty that keep the whole thing from being a total downer (no offense, you know I get down with a total downer now and then) – take T1’s repeating melodic bass line, the dappled tones in T2, the brilliant stabs and rhythms of T3, the rich, strange harmonies that murmur through T4. The contrasts come together to create an experience of gorgeous, satisfying pain.