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Killing the Music Industry (One Tape at a Time)

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In this second edition of our irregular overview of cassette culture, we turn our ears towards new music from some of our favorite tape labels including works by Deceh, Lunar Miasma, Reptile Brain, Basillica and Kyle Bobby Dunn amongst others.

Ireland’s Munitions Family have been releasing some great electronic and noise releases over the last few years and the latest two tapes from them are no exception. The split between Red Electric Rainbow and Reptile Brain is particularly nice; Red Electric Rainbow’s side explores some of the same ecstatic mind melting rhythms on "Audio Drugs" as Coil did on their track "Red Birds Will Fly Out of the East and Destroy Paris in a Night." On the other side, Reptile Brain (a.k.a. Andrew Fogarty) creates another dizzying, kaleidoscopic piece that is even more satisfying than his previous solo recordings.

Also on Munitions Family is Godwit Songs by Paul Vogel. Vogel is a regular performer in Ireland’s small but committed improvisation scene and this tape is a nice slice of strange percussion and electronics. It gets a bit samey as it goes on but overall Godwit Songs works well, especially when listening back to back with the aforementioned Red Electric Rainbow and Reptile Brain split; it represents a cutting edge compared to the others’ comforting blanket of sound.

Important Records’ sub-label Cassauna continues to impress with two more releases from Ryan Gregory Tallman and Deceh. Tallman’s Haunted Tapes sees the Californian composer explore timbre and space using finely focused beams of sound. "Aching Dusk" slowly builds into a steady central column, composed of what sounds like the decay of piano notes and cymbal strikes. "Husked and Shucked" follows a similar trajectory but feels more solid with the piece seeming to hover low across the floor of the room like low-lying cloud.

The second of Deceh’s tapes for Cassauna, 3, is not quite a stumble but it certainly is not as engaging as the group’s other recent cassettes (see the last edition of this feature for more details on those). It is a nice bit of analogue ambience but it lacks the magnetic centre of other Deceh recordings. I expect to be sucked in and become completely immersed in their music but 3 never reaches the right intensity or hits the right frequency to drag me under. Perhaps with repeated listens it will open itself up to me but for now it is a good but hardly stellar effort.

Out on The Tapeworm is the utterly bizarre Cast-offerings: Visitations, Fetches, Revenants by Peter Hope-Evans. Cut from the same cloth as Daniel Johnston, these songs feature Hope-Evans alone with a microphone, a guitar and a variety of instrumental miscellanea. Deconstructing classic songs into his own little worlds, his delightfully un-tuneful singing voice is both annoying and a source of strange attraction. I cannot decide whether I like this or not but it certainly sticks out as either a work of genius or a bit of a joke. Or both.

Thanks to Peasant Magik’s hugely prolific release schedule, there are a slew of new tapes to fill up my time with representative music from Lunar Miasma, Pet Milk, Kyle Bobby Dunn and Basillica. Lunar Miasma’s Heavy Mist sees them continuing to develop their explorations of neon-tinged electronics. The two pieces that make up side A explore a lot of the same ideas as on previous releases but the title track (which takes up all of side B) shows that they are pushing this approach to its limits. "Heavy Mist" is absolutely intoxicating.

A self-titled cassette by Pet Milk provides a short grungy blast of noisy pop rock that does not sound dissimilar to the likes of early Foo Fighters (although with more balls) or pre-Isn’t Anything My Bloody Valentine. The six songs are refreshingly immediate after all the minimalist and electronic music reviewed above. The aforementioned My Bloody Valentine get covered on side B ("Paint a Rainbow" for those keeping score) but songs like "Pictures of You" and "So Bored" could easily have been outtakes from Kevin Shields' songbook.

On Pour Les Octaves, Kyle Bobby Dunn ventures deep into Stars of the Lid territory with long, slow chords emerging out of the void. Both sides explore similar ground with Dunn taking a beautiful but seemingly aimless wander through these lovely tones. It is only towards the end of "Remnants" at the end of the album does he lock into any sort of commitment with a stunning finish as he creates a constellation of keyboard notes around the gravitational center of a sublime drone.

Basillica is the alter ego of Bong's Mike Vest and his latest cassette Black Delights sees him again summoning all sorts of dark matter out of his guitar and amp. This is a lot better than my last exposure to his solo work (2009’s The Correct Ritual) as I feel Vest is less self-indulgent in his approach. However, Black Delights is still too bloated to work properly and a good third could have been trimmed off this release. There is no piece that is bad by any means but it is too similar and too much for one cassette. Listened to in installments works best so I wonder would this had been better as a number of shorter cassettes.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 May 2011 03:02  


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