Friday, October 20, 2017

DAVID CHUTKA "EP One" C20 (Albert Street Records)

Lawrence, Kansas’s David Chutka really outta be on PIXAR’s soundtracking payroll: his minimalist, sustain-heavy, mid-slow tempo piano mantras aren’t just “emotionally evocative”, they’re downright manipulative! All it’d take is to slap an animated visual of a dog watching its owner (though a window) leave for work after giving it a kiss on the nose and everybody in the house would be choked up in absolute, perfect unison.

This tape is criminally short, clocking in at under 15 minutes of music, with an extra-lovely American Football-esque vignette “hidden” at the end led by a gorgeous, richly timbre’d trombone line (layered over top the piano); Just, WOW, does it rrrrreally drive home how damn good it feels after a good professionally rendered cry? You be the judge, if you get the tape? Yup!

I’ll be looking for more good stuff from DC, and checking more movie score credits, too.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Thursday, October 19, 2017

RAZORLEGS "Bloodshot" C40 (Self-Released)

This tape sounds like a guitarist and a drummer from a rock band got tired of the lead singer and bassist and threw them out of the dive bar they were playing a 2am gig.  The guitarist, PD, looked over at the drummer, Andrew, and said "We did the right thing man. Those posers were holding us back." Andrew only nodded slowly and emphatically, and then began to drum with renewed vigor, his frenzied arms swinging down faster and faster, exploding in crazy, tribal kick drum insanity until he entered a percussive trance known as "the monster drums."

PD let loose with the most horrific screeching wail he could produce from his tortured guitar, the amp vibrating with strain, shaking the tiny, poorly lit stage where the duo thrashed about in their own pit of sonic fury. The rafters shook frightfully and dust sifted down on the shoulders of the small crowd of onlookers who had gathered to find out what the horrible noise coming from the stage was all about.

Feeding off each others energy, PD and Andrew created an avalanche of sound incomprehensible to the human mind. They savagely thrust spears of pure avant rock in every direction. As layer upon layer of jet-engine flange was hurled from the amplifier like scalded demons, and the ominous drums continued their ceremonial death march, the crowd began to grip their ears and scream in pain. It was just too much rock and roll! Suddenly a guy near the edge of the stage dropped his beer bottle and it shattered. No one could hear it. The bottle turned to dust on the floor, as the broken pieces were vibrated apart from the deafening wave of sound. Even people writhing on the gritty floor in pain had to admit to themselves that no matter how catastrophic it seemed, it was never aimless. These lads knew how to rock.

It took the local police some time to arrive at the dive bar, because the noise ordinance complaints had come from all over town. As they stepped out of their patrol cars, the front doors of the dive bar blew off of the hinges and the surviving crowd members rushed out into the cool night air, blood running from their ears.

"What is that godawful racket?" Screamed Sargent Jones. But no one could hear him.  Before the officers could rush inside, another tidal wave of sheer treble bolted through the air at them like lightening, the rumbling of the monster drums shaking the ground. The venue owner and the barkeep scrambled through the open doorway just as the entire building exploded, the roof flipping over on a couple of cop cars and crushing them.

Soon every human capable of motion was running from the epicenter of the blast. Every window  shattered as the auditory onslaught continued. One by one, the major cities of the earth were reduced to heaps of debris. As the sun rose that morning, it rose on an entire world ravaged by sound. The only two people left alive were Razorlegs. PD looked around at Andrew, blood and sweat upon his brow. "I think they're all dead man. What do we do now?"

Andrew looked out over the ashes of the world for a minute, and then began to beat the drums in one last primordial rolling of thunder.  PD cranked the amp one last time, and the little blue planet known as earth dissolved into a cloud of dust in the Milky Way.

Presented for you in a red high-bias cassette, with white stamping on both sides and a fold-out U-card. Edition of 100.

Gray Lee

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MAN BARTLETT "Space on Earth III"
C60 (Self-Released)

According to the j-card, the world is doomed to end soon through any one of a number of imminent disasters. As discouraging as that sounds, the artist offers some well-crafted sounds for the big goodbye, what he refers to as ìa hymn and a dirge for our little blue marble.î  Each side of the tape is a half hour titled simply by the dates they were recorded.

Side A  - "2070510" is the hymn.  Drone out to this korgtastic volume of minimalist warmth. It rises, it falls, it soothes the weary soul.

Side B - "20170605" is the dirge. Though much more atmospheric and menacing, it is no less intriguing.

Upon repeat listening, I found myself playing the second side first, then following up with the first side. 

Presented for you in a white cassette with blue stamping on both sides. Edition of fifty.

-- Gray Lee

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE JULIE MITTENS “Soundcult” C43 (Barreuh)

Jeez, I expected something much twee-er than this, maybe indie rock or something. Narp big fella, you’re in for some heavy psych with The Julie Mittens, a trio recording for Dutch label Barreuh based out of Eindhoven. I wouldn’t want to live next door to The Julie Mittens, because they’re really not interested in keeping it down. Everything is pushed straight to the red, and that’s exactly how it damn well should be. The guitar/bass/drums outfit functions like a Cerberus of outlandish improv, volume clearly their fourth member, the four lengthy tracks here careening at a nonstop pace and intensity throughout the cassette’s runtime. Is it exhausting? Only, again, if you live next door and The Julie Mittens are playing at three in the morning (or, you know, if you’re OLD and SQUARE). Otherwise, there’s lots to dig into here, lots of beefy guitar meat and not a whole lotta gristle. That reminds me, did Led Zeppelin ever release that instrumental jam sesh that’s like a total legend in their catalog? No? Did I dream that? I probably dreamed that. I probably dreamed that because I listened to this here SOUNDCULT first. You don’t have to live in a world where Zep broke up if you’re listening to SOUNDCULT. Instead, you can pretend that they freaked out and played like their life depended on it somewhere around “Heartbreaker,” ditching Plant and jamming for days on end. You can experience every waking second of that monolithic entity if you only had The Julie Mittens in your life. (Well, forty-three minutes anyway.)

The Julie Mittens

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, October 16, 2017

GERMAN ARMY “Te Ano” (Opal Tapes)

“Never tell me the odds!” growled space pilot Han Solo to the taller of the two robots, the yellow one with the British accent. The odds are always stacked against you, I’m here to reiterate and confirm, and the odds of me catching up to German Army via Cassette Gods review submissions is approximately 41 to 1, or something like that. Because I was never good at math, I’ll round that up to “long shot” and just enjoy my time with the GeAr tapes that do end up in my pile. I think there are 41 GeAr releases overall too, which is where I get that number from. I’m probably off by fifty or so, though. They’re all good too. This one’s good.

In Tape 36 (or whatever), GeAr-heads and the general public alike will find lots to enjoy, mainly because those who turn on the Discovery Channel, or whichever one it is, during “Shark Week” will like the cover. Te Ano, translating to “the ano” when wrung through the old Spanish-ometer (just kidding, it means “I love you”), glistens in the rain and blisters upon contact, its white-hot molten tribal industrialisms a lurking school of megalodon in the midnight sea, and you oh listener of music, are shipwrecked and adrift, awaiting the rescue that will never come. The ear becomes attuned to the GeAr, the monsters become attuned to the light, and we all fight through the chum for the best hunks. We have become the monsters, the famished sharks always eating, constantly swimming, the sun and the beach and the air our only enemies. We are master hunters, and we deserve music to hunt to. What are your chances, alone, in the water, do you think? I’m pretty sure they’re 41 to 1.

Have you delved into the vast German Army catalog yet? Child, you should get started, you have much to hear, and much to accomplish.

German Army
Opal Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, October 14, 2017

G & DORO "If I See You" (Palm Tapes 2017)

These are some pretty well crafted freestyle dance tracks evocative of nineties light house music. What really stands out here is the vocals by Dorothea Pass and the hooks laid down by her and producer Graeme Stewart; a duo from Montreal, Quebec. Upbeat tempos, soft synths, fascinating drum machine patches/patterns, and complex vocal harmonies tie together the 4 roughly five minute songs. The third track "No Looking Back" combines Cocteau Twins-like synth and vocal work with a rough/tough Amen Break, taking me by surprise! Definitely my favorite track of the bunch.

If you're thinking of hanging in a Buffalo Stance, this might be for you!

--"Jamband" Josh Brown

Friday, October 13, 2017

“False Omega” (Gubbey Records)

This is the soundtrack to a trip through a haunted barn in southern Indiana at dusk in late October. It is a moody, spooky tape, and despite its being a tape of “songs,” it is vibe-oriented rather than song-oriented. There’s a rotating ensemble of woodwind players backing up a bandleader who sings in a whisper and plays acoustic guitar and breathy organs. There’s a lot of warm air flowing, a lot of wind flowing through cracks and bellows. The production is highly effective in capturing all this organic sound variety and spooky ambience. Once I got to “On and On” at the end of the b-side, I was hooked in. I consider that song to be the highlight and the climax of this elegant little tape of dark moods.

Gubbey Records
PO Box 7481
Louisville KY

-- Kevin Oliver

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SUN RAD “No Cover” C20 (Property Tapes)

Maybe black suits Sun Rad best. Forget about the vibrant see-through red tape his music’s housed in this go-round, it’s the black you’ll remember. NO COVER has no cover, the Norelco case comes in a PITCH BLACK leatherette pouch affixed with a 1-inch button, mine depicting a child with his or her tongue out, catching snowflakes? Or maybe coughing after breathing in industrial pollutants. Isn’t that a swell picture, a harsh reality? Keep that stupid comment in your pocket: Every Sun Rad release is a collapsing stellar event, gravity finally getting the best of all matter and time and space within its event horizon. That movie was pretty dark too, but man was it just as entertaining as NO COVER, replete with horrific passages where terror in minute increments overwhelms each individual sensory receptor. I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe because the ten minutes of “Black Square” on the B-sizzle make the relative head-nodders on the A that much more of an escape hatch to actual human emotion. See, “Black Square” is the low-ass frequencies all up in your area that are the sonic equivalent to the impassive security video of a nightmare come to life, not unlike the found footage on the EVENT flipping HORIZON. But that A-side, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” makes its way through scientific permutations until somebody figures out what’s going on, then saves the day. But I’ve got it backward – “Black Square” is the ultimate transmission, the last thing you’re going to hear. And come to think of it, “R181 / Jettison / Untitled” is pretty dank too, just with a teensy bit more melody and some beats. Oh man, Sun Rad is really freaking me out right now. That’s a super good thing.

Sun Rad
Property Tapes

--Ryan Masteller

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"American Demon" C75
(Illuminated Paths)

As of September 2nd, 2017, Illuminated Paths has released/promoted 395 albums (per Bandcamp), mostly involving stock 90’s techno breakbeats (back when it was called “techno”, in fact) in mantra loops, some vaporwave midi arpeggios, and heavily processed guitar licks sprinkled in. saneLIV’s “American Demon” album falls right in line, but with an ivory-tickler’s finesse, here and there, that breathes some lively fun throughout this hour and a quarter mishmash of a release.

Mostly instrumental, these tracks hold no continuity or signature style, giving the release a mixtape sort of vibe, and it’s a pleasant “get to know your co-worker” kinda feel; nothing too daring, but not somber or timidly milquetoast, either.

Personally, I’d like to hear more fleshed out/explorative piano compositions and less reliance on beats for energy, but what the hell do I know? Have a listen for yourself below, knowing all the while that the first song is probably the best one, and not available via bandcamp. J

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CREEPING PINK “Parliament of Trees”
(Magnetic South)

Bloomington, Indiana brought me some interesting slightly psyche-y slightly noisey rock with sweet vocals and smooth transitions from track to track on this tape. The nice blend of effects, droney parts in combination with more formal structure and buzzy guitars remind me of a good mescaline experience, though i've never tried mescaline. “Those sympathetic to the UK comedown between psychedelia and punk should find comfort in Parliament of Trees.” “Parliament of Trees” would pair well with the desert, whether it be in mixed reality or real reality - if that makes sense. This has been the first tape i've listened to with guitars in a hot minute, why? Because technology is taking over of course. You already knew that though.

-- Lucas Martinez

Monday, October 9, 2017

“s/t split” (What’s for Breakfast?)

If you like fast short songs, and you like them loud, and you like to party, then maybe we should hang out together. While we are hanging out we can listen to a split EP that dropped on my lap the other day.

The first side starts with four fast, loud and short tracks from The Speed Babes, a Chicago garage-psych outfit led by Jesse Ewan. All four tracks have vocals dripping in reverb and loud guitars. These four songs are off of their full length album “Yellow”, which you should check out.

On the flip side is three fast punk rock tacks from Arsene Obscene. They are what I would call a garage punk band from Nice, France. Francois Ibanez screams his head off as he heavy handedly strums his guitar through a cranked amp. these songs are also featured on the full length album “Guitar Trash”. Another album you should check out. The great thing about punk is that you don’t have to understand the lyrics, it’s about the emotion conveyed.

I also want to mention the cool cover design by Nick DeMarco. I would party with that armadillo, wouldn’t you?

Cassette includes download codes and “What’s for Breakfast?” sticker.

-- Charles Wolfe

Sunday, October 8, 2017

“ICE AT 1991” C48
(Personal Archives)

We do indeed plunder your phonics, repurposing them, making them better than they ever had any right to be. I was shaking like a shitting dog listening to DJ Wally’s The Stoned Ranger Rides Again the other day, and while DJ DJ Tanner is a bit more Copelandic, I’m still fidgeting like I’ve got the DTs with the bliss missiles from yonder cassette tape rocketing through my ear canals. I swear I didn’t look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse, but maybe my ears did? Shoot, if that’s the case, I’m in big, big trouble, Joey Bada$$ trouble, but earwise. It’s like I KNOW “Bent Altar” and “Horrible Rally,” the two sides of YONDER CASSETTE TAPE, in some deep and unknowable way, long before I ever hit that play button. But I don’t, because they keep surprising me, keep making me turn my head away from what I’m doing (none of your BUSINESS), literally snapping my neck every thirty seconds or so as a new and newly warped fragment of tunage flits across my speakers. That’s what DJ DJ Tanner seems to want to do to me, to you, give us all some sort of arthritic condition in the vertebrae near the top of our spine, because, look, we’re all on the threshold of 40, we can’t keep doing this. Jon Fine said as much in Your Band Sucks, and he’s older and more tinnitus-y than I am. But he was in Bitch Magnet and therefore susceptible to the amplitude, whereas Tanner-ramma-lamma-ding-dong simply grooves the groove, as laid back and pineapple-y as a piña colada on the pool level. It is never less than COOL here, than SUAVE, we do this, we make it all work, we know it’s really the 1970s, the 1960s, it’s not a joke that we’ve become unstuck in time and are fidgeting at the effects. We take in our surroundings and nod accordingly, because this is how it’s supposed to be. But what’s to become of ICE AT 1991 when the party’s over? Where do we, and it, go to come down from the evening’s events? Well, I’ve got the solution – let the good times roll. They’ll never end, not while you’ve got this tape on repeat. And that’s the secret – you can pretty much party forever with a good DJ DJ Tanner set all up in your headspace. Heck, you can probably live forever. Why not give it a shot?

DJ DJ Tanner
Personal Archives

--Ryan Masteller

Saturday, October 7, 2017

THE JOURNALS KEPT "War Trails" (Cassetteland)

The Journals Kept is a duo from New Hampshire that keeps 90's alternative alive. Reminescent of acts like Bob Mould or Counting Crows, they bring their own interpetation of 'amped folk rock' or 'fuzzed out pop'.

Think Wilco meets Alanis Morrisette.

War Trails includes 16 full length songs of varying tempo and topics.

Cassette features full color j-card, with yellow pad printed cassette.

-- Chuck Wolfe

Friday, October 6, 2017

split C60 (Outward Records)

Cold Clouds and Misled Navigator have both given up checking the map or the blueprints or the GPS or the instruction manual, content instead to wing it and figure it out on their own. Fine by me – It’s worth it just to be lifted by these two ambient visionaries and allowed to levitate in stasis, rules discarded, reality slipping away like layers of haze upon emerging into the light. This split on Outward Records is a clear indication that the label head just shrugged and was like, “Whatever these guys want to do, it’s their thing.” Totally, man, and if I had an hour to kick back and let their synthwork wash over me, I would. Turns out I do, which is why I’m reporting to you from beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere, or at least beyond the reaches of the limitations of my consciousness. Cold Clouds, aka Sam Hatzaras (aka Petrified Heart of an Air Whale), has the A-side all to himself, and, speaking of levitation, unfurls “Levitation for Dummies,” the first of two half-hour tracks that simply sprawl to their conclusions. “Levitation” is a gently shifting masterpiece, gradually taking on characteristics that subtly change the mood and direction of the piece. Seriously, just go with it – close your eyes and be transported by the Cluster-y goodness. Misled Navigator runs in parallel to the ambient cloud formations before embarking in a more proggy direction, incorporating percussion and organ (patches?) into “Let Yourself Evaporate,” itself a thirty-minute interstellar workout. Indeed, during the passage of the B-side I felt my molecules loosen and ascend before joining a passing cirrus formation. I am, as a human, almost entirely made up of water anyway – what is it, like 95 percent? I don’t know, I could be wrong about that. Regardless, why don’t you make like Cold Clouds and Misled Navigator – throw down your compass and just let it ride?

Cold Clouds
Misled Navigator
Outward Records

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, October 5, 2017

MILLIP "Talk to Me"
C32 ([d]-tached Records)

You are riding in a crowded subway car, when the coolest guy youíve ever seen steps onto the train. Heís got crazy spiked hair, rings on his fingers, and a long white coat. You stare, with jealous eyes, at his mirrored sunglasses and his finely manicured goatee. The word Sprinkles! is loudly splashed in gold ink across the black muscle shirt heís wearing.  This guy is so cool, man. Heís like an emissary from the future. You really want to be this guy! You want to sweep into a metro station like you own the place.

Suddenly, you hear the most amazing electronic music fill the air. All the people on the subway car look around trying to figure out where it is coming from. Man, it's some good stuff, too. A great beat, perky synth rhythms. Never too repetitive. Just the right groove. You want to dance to the music, you want to be the music! Just as everyone is about to give in to the urge and jump up dancing, the amazingly cool guy reaches inside his flowing white coat and pulls out a futuristic looking phone. The music is coming from his phone! And it stops as soon as he answers, saying in a deep baritone, "Talk to me."

People lower their heads and return to being tired, empty people on a train headed nowhere. But deep inside of each of them is a dancing little robot that will never die.

Presented for you in a green glitter prison tape with a double-sided J-card. Edition of thirty. Four fantastic tracks, repeated on the reverse side.

-- Gray Lee

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"My Grandmother Actually Made This/Azimuth"
Split EP (Sledged Infant Records)

Sledged Infant Records and Prudent Master team up to release an upbeat vaporwavish psychedelic onslaught of weirdness in a split EP form.

So, acid wave is a thing, and it perfectly describes this tape.

Production is top notch, insert is full color, both sides, and the cassette shell is a sultry ruby red.

Gertrude side: comparing this with the acid rock bands I am familiar with I would describe them as the Butthole Surfers of electronic music

Head nodding beats mixed with odd voice overs conjures up some sort of Pink Floyd remade for the new millennium (do we still care that we are in the future).

You probably should not actually take acid and put this album on, I am pretty sure that is a bad trip waiting to happen.

It is weird from the start and cranks that shit up at the end

Space Butter side:

Space Butter side consists of a bunch of old songs going back to 1972. It starts off with a really cool jam from 1990 called "Clovis".

It's my favorite track form the album!

It shares a common wiredness with Gertrude, while being a little bit more accesible. I suggest if you are still deadset on taking acid

to listen to this side.

-- Charles Wolfe

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

BUFFET “EP” C15 (All You Can Eat Records)

SST-indebted punk rockers from Anacortes, Washington, Buffet, a 4-piece, probably have no inkling at all that they share a hometown with Phil Elverum, as far from Buffet on the rock spectrum as you’re likely to get. Doesn’t matter – they don’t care, and they likely also don’t care that Elverum’s presence is the only thing I know about Anacortes, so … we good? Anyway, yeah, the 1980s hardcore scene birthed some great bands. Buffet, despite its goofy cover (DIY though, and Mr. Head-Smacky has an American flag on his shirt, so there’s a message?), would sound right at home during the period. They could open up for Black Flag and not even blink an eye. Four of the six songs here are super short and fast, recorded and executed perfectly for the style. “Nick #2” and “Family Dinner” slip into My War territory (see what I did there?), sludgier, grimier, more tortured, each lasting quite a bit longer than everything else. These songs are for making mischief to, doing petty crimes to, harassing “the man” to. The Buffet boys probably have driven by Calvin Johnson’s house (I imagine everything in Washington state is like twenty minutes from everything else) and flipped it off, maybe throwing beer cans at it or whacking his mailbox with a bat. You know, punk stuff, hardcore stuff, eighties stuff. Whatever. Get bent, losers, Buffet is more fun than they ought to be, and I recommend them.

All You Can Eat Records

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, October 2, 2017

MAZES “The Violent Tapes”
(Sanzimat International)

Mazes—not to be confused with “the British wankers who stole the name”—is a Chicago-based band with ties to far-flung cities like Buenos Aires, New York, Italy, Moscow, and San Fran. The Violent Tapes, the band’s third album, was written, performed, and produced by members Edward Anderson, Federico Bramanti, and Charles d’Autremont, with the help of numerous guest contributors.

The Violent Tapes is full of sunny, breezy, 60s-indebted psych pop. It’s territory that’s been well explored, and while Mazes don’t necessarily add anything groundbreaking, here they’ve produced a solid album that is certainly never bad. In fact, its best moments are really, really good. Songs like “West Coast Revolution” and “Subversive Glove” grab your attention but feel effortless. “Missing Numbers,” “Twinning,” and “White Faces” feature interesting change-ups that are surprising but never disjointed or unnatural.

To me, the main flaw of The Violent Tapes lies in its running time. “Det Är Lugnt” could be cut without much detriment to the album as a whole, and “Theme for Violent Tapes” seems like an appropriate closer. “Reuñion,” “International Waters,” and “No Hay Cambio” are all short, solo acoustic numbers that provide some variety when contrasted with the more straight-forward pop songs, but aren’t really noteworthy on their own.

All in all, The Violent Tapes is an interesting, accessible album that shows that Mazes are capable of outshining their psych contemporaries with tight arrangements and catchy hooks. When it works, it really works; when it doesn’t, it’s never worse than average. Buy it for “West Coast Revolution,” “Subversive Glove,” and “Pilar.”

Sanzimat Int'l
Sanzimat Int'l Bandcamp
Mazes FB
Mazes Bandcamp

-- Brandon Spaulding

Sunday, October 1, 2017

EVA GEIST “Aquator System” (Elestial Sound)

An excellent entry into the wide world of synth music. It makes me remember the first time I heard Kraftwerk, that thrill of new sounds and textures. The artist manages to evoke the history of this music while still building a solid bedrock of new and innovative sounds. The album has excellent clean production values that really highlight the coldness of electronic music. Big warm bass contrasts nicely with the effervescent stabs and thick pads. Very dancey and fun. The artwork fits the music perfectly and I feel like what you see is very much what you get.

- - Jeremiah Paddock