Aseethe - The Armada (live) c45
I must admit to having a bias when it comes to live recordings. Around 6th or 7th grade I stumbled upon a used cassette copy of Blue Öyster Cult's Some Enchanted Evening, and ever since it has provided a gauge for all the live albums I've heard. Even if this weren't held to such a standard, it would still disappoint. For starters, one of the wheels on the recording cassette deck is malfunctioning, causing a very audible clicking noise every few seconds. As much as I love the world of lo-fi, Aseethe is a band meant for opposite end of the audio spectrum; the foreboding mood set by doomy, hushed breakdowns is ruined by constant *chk*chk*chk*. On top of that, only one side contains music. The other side is 20 minutes of the band hanging out and bullshitting, which happens to be better recorded than their performance. An unimpressive release that feels like it was quickly assembled to generate some extra income on their tour earlier this year. Go score the Aseethe/Shores of the Tundra split 12' instead.
Family Treasures – Altar of Ashes c45
I'm not sure exactly how to describe this unlikely combination of wailing sax and plodding electronics. I'd say imagine an experimental Dueling Banjos played on woodwind and synth, but that would be a gross injustice to Altar of Ashes. How about this; it's good, really good. One would expect a saxophone erupting over the slow, densely layered electronic composition to have an unpleasant, jolting effect. But, in fact, it's just the opposite. There's a certain mesmerizing quality about it, drawing the listener in and pushing out all other stimuli. Like I said, it's good, really good...
Tape Drift Records
Flesh Forest and The Elephant Only Zoo – T. Hawk c11
I wont lie, I got this solely because of the ridiculous band name. That's always a risky gamble, but in this instance, one that paid off. T. Hawk consists of four spacey, electronic pieces, with a psychedelic undertone. My only complaint? There weren't more songs.
Felt Cat Records
Orphan – I Don't Have a Home c30
Remember how listening to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas invoked images of frozen Norwegian forests and an overwhelming sense of misanthropy? Well, that's what Orphan manages to do on I Don't Have a Home, conjuring up the foggy bogs of Nova Scotia and feelings of melancholy. Sadness and isolation permeate Orphan's bleak, atmospheric drone. It's really an outstanding release, right down to the handmade cassette packaging.
Sasha Darko/Electric Typewriter/Noon on Neptune – 3 Way c62
Things start off with a single track of ambient glitch from Sasha Darko. Think a poor man's Oval, composed with sounds you'd find in a bad 50's sci-fi movie. Next up is Electric Typewriter with four tracks that sound like they should be receiving frequent rotation on Hearts of Space. While their style of synth heavy New Age stuff about crystal healing and dolphins on the moon isn't my deal, I'll grudgingly concede that the music is well played for what it is. Filling out the B side is a single track from Noon on Neptune, which takes a little while to get into, but ends up being the stand out on this release. Weird, spacy ambient and 60's styled psychedelic rock duke it out for around 20 minutes, leaving you wanting more. A release worth checking out for Noon on Neptune's contribution, and, hey, who knows...Maybe you'll dig the other artists.
Felt Cat Records
Screwtape/Tenshun/Julia LaDense – 35 Ways c92
Screwtape, whose single piece occupies the entirety of the A side, is collaboration between Walter Gross and Bizzart. Based on what I've heard here, tracking down either of their solo releases isn't on my to do list. It's 46 minutes of lo-fi audio cut-ups, tape manipulation, and the like. *yawn* On the flip side, Tenshun is up first with a track that manages to skillfully blend tip-hop, noise, drone, glitch, ambient and other genres. While most of the song is strong and innovative, the last 5 or 10 minutes consists of poorly manipulated sampling. You get the feeling that after recording his track, Tenshun realized it was too short and slapped on this extra material. It's unfortunate, because that last segment really ruins the song. Finally, the B side is rounded out by uninspired low-volume rumblings from Julia LaDense. A rather disappointing release.
Vanessa Rossetto – PDD-NOS c30
Does recording someone dragging a chair across a linoleum floor really qualify as a minimalist composure? What about recording yourself unwrapping a piece of candy or the washing machine on the rinse cycle? Vanessa Rossetto certainly things so. Needless to say, I found myself highly unimpressed with this release. Even the parts that weren't annoying field recordings, like the section of atonal cello, were lackluster.
V.A. - Ukulele, Mekulele, Wekulele c60
As a casual strummer of the ukelele, I'm well aware that it is not a particularly versatile instrument. The sound produced lends itself to folk, indie pop, and occasionally jazz. You wont hear a uke popping up in any death metal or industrial songs. So, it's no surprise that almost all the 27 bands on this comp are pop bands. Not a bad thing, but not being into indie pop, I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy this. After tossing it in for a listen I found this, with the exception of one obnoxious track by the Mill Kids, to be highly enjoyable. My favorite songs happened to be from bands that had an innovative approach to the uke or who's style varied from the standard indie sound. Stand outs were the electronic infused pop of Mother Auxillary, the gritty delta blues of Ruben Diaz, the symphonic indie dirge from I Am Oak, and the jazz of Slashed Tires. That's not to say the more straight forward pop acts didn't leave something to be desired; Yoyoyo Acapulco, MJ Hibbertt, For the Agenda, and Blanket Truth laid down especially memorable songs. This compilation is going to be in my tape deck a lot this summer, providing a soundtrack to sunshine and hefeweizen.
Lost Sound Tapes