August 22, 2011
Serfs – Sha La La – La Later On
Despite its sunny sing-along title and the fact that it features covers of songs by Jerry Garcia and Curtis Mayfield, Jon Collin’s latest album of ambient-guitar music under the name Surfs is a pretty lonely and lackadaisical affair. Rather than using significant atmospherics or looping, Collin relies on a completely clean electric guitar and an empty room to create a beautiful and singular work, sounding like an even sparser version of Matthew Mullane’s still-fantastic solo acoustic LP from earlier this year. Great end of summer transitioning tunes. Purchase this, and the rest of Cabin Floor Esoterica’s gorgeously packaged new batch, direct from the label.
August 17, 2011
Smyth – Senescence
In today’s world where most ambient tape releases are inspired by the depths of space or the distant future, Senescence stands out as an album whose focus is set squarely on the earth beneath our feet: its composition, its history, and its beauty. That Smyth is able to take these elements and convert them into music so wide-eyed and fascinatingly vast is certainly a credit to him and his ear for sound and texture. The eight pieces on Senescence work together and form an album with no discernable narrative or structure but one that still manages to leave a lasting and powerful impression. In other words, it’s a deeply spaced-out and down-to-earth tape.
August 5, 2011
Fallen Axe – Moments Together
A simple glance at the tracklist of Moments Together reveals Fallen Axe to be the most romantic outlet for Frank “Hobo” Hoboullette. With song titles like “Matinee Love”, “Old Letters I Kept”, and “Your Breath Revives Me”, it is obvious we aren’t dealing with the dimension-bending sci-fi fodder we are used to from the Cubeman. Anything but sappy, these are strange and formless bits of breezy summer psychedelia: warped and distorted echoes of good times, reverberating in a foggy, underwater garden of memory loss. How’s that for romantic? Grab this for a conveniently reduced price over at Carter “Conifer Enthusiast” Mullin’s Calypso Hum label site.
Fallen Axe – “Told You To Remember” (video by Moduli TV)
August 4, 2011
Dry Valleys – Movile Cave Sojourns
Canadian fledgeling tape label Old Frontiers truly brings the goods with its first official releases: tapes from guitar-synth mainstays Sundrips and also ice crystal overlords Dry Valleys. On Movile Cave Sojourns, Dry Valleys creates an impeccably sparse and haunted landscape. You can practically hear a cool winter wind rolling through the chilly synth overtones that comprise both sides of the tape, and you better believe it feels refreshing and liberating. Even when things get darker on the second side, Movile Cave Sojourns makes for a highly spiritual and rejuvenating listen.
Dry Valleys – “Movile Cave Sojourns (excerpt)”
August 3, 2011
Calypso Borealis – Ore Bowal
I can’t tell you much about the French sound-wizard who goes by the name Calypso Borealis, but I can tell you that this is the second release of his to really hit the spot for me this year. Admittedly, I was hooked instantly by Grant Evans‘s gorgeous avian-themed artwork donning the cover, but the music on the tape is what keeps me coming back. Listen to both sides of Ore Bowal‘s buzzing drone and wobbling psych and your mind will be reduced to a substance as fluid and intangible as the Calypso Borealis name itself. Dig in.
Calypso Borealis – “Woendwal”
August 2, 2011
Oxykitten – The Streets Were Paved With Circuit Boards
Believe it or not, I don’t get to use the word “swagger” too much when writing about music on my blog, which is only one of the reasons I am so happy that I’ve heard this Oxykitten tape on Field Hymns. Because, oh man, does this tape have serious swagger. These sleek, street-smart synth nuggets saunter around like video game villains about to vandalize a parking lot and then proceed to cover everything in a thick haze of spray paint. Honestly, it’s like a synthed-out Madlib doing video game music in 1984 and that just scratches the surface of what Oxykitten is capable of. Big recommendation on this one.
Oxykitten – “It’s All Over Now Anyhow”
July 27, 2011
Aranos – In Snow on Ice Cabbage Dances
Besides featuring arguably the best artwork I’ve seen on any cassette release all year, Aranos’s In Snow on Ice Cabbage Dances is a ferociously visceral and sophisticated work of art. Featuring two sonically-stupefying pieces of ominous dark ambience that might as well be the soundtrack to an episode of Breaking Bad, Aranos (delightfully pronounced Aranyosh) delivers an hour of heart-stopping darkness that sounds like literally nothing else being made right now. This incredible release comes courtesy of Polish tape gods Sangoplasmo and is recommended to anyone hungry for a healthy dose of winter in July.
Aranos – “Overborne Continents (excerpt)”
July 21, 2011
Élément Kuuda – Flight II
In the world of cinema, sequels usually signify the glorified rehashing of a commercially successful film that probably wasn’t all that great in the first place (Rockys and Godfathers aside). In the world of hip-hop, it’s usually a “return-to-form” PR move for artists whose careers have gone off track. Thankfully, neither of those rules apply to Élément Kuuda, whose first Flight tape was a pretty flawless and singular release on its own. On the sublime sequel, Kuuda’s Christian Richer has simply raised the stakes and made a massively melodic and transportive work of art. Honestly, some new worlds kind of music. An essential release: let’s hope it’s a trilogy. Grab this – and the rest of the impossibly good July batch – over at the Fadeaway site.
Élément Kuuda – “Flight II (excerpt)”
July 20, 2011
[n.] – Ein Klagelied für 3f
If conjuring dark spirits in the dark is your kind of thing, then here is some urgent advice from your friendly neighborhood Zen Effects: grab yourself a copy of Ein Klagelied für 3f, find a poorly lit room, and crank up the volume. Featuring two sides of some of the darkest sounding music I’ve ever heard, Jen Marquart’s brand new tape under the [n.] monicker is also a work of intense beauty and built for endless re-playability. Look out for spine-tingling moments where Marquart’s ghostly vocals rise into the mix, creeping among the noisy passages of dusty drone. But most importantly, be safe out there.
[n.] – “Costae Verae”
July 19, 2011
Banana Pill / Calypso Borealis – Split
There is something to be said for a tape that just dominates the space in which it is being played. And when listening to this fantastic split – released by Full of Nothing, the hardest working tape label in Russia – I recommend that listeners take a break from whatever they are doing and simply absorb the mind-blowing sounds coming from this cassette. On Banana Pill’s side, sparkling synth drones morph into modern-classical-style arpeggios and guitar-led washes of ambience. On the flip-side, Calypso Borealis inflates a virtual inner tube of ethereal weirdness. The tape is complemented by a hand-folded zine containing label co-master Ivan Afanasyev’s illustrations, which are as beautiful and original as the music itself. A true work of art and a journey worth getting lost on.
Banana Pill – “Norsu Puusssa (excerpt)”