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“Since 2010 Chicago-via-Michigan label Already Dead Tapes & Records has been releasing music by an eclectic roster that includes spastic local electronic producer Mario Gonzalez, jittery Italian garage band Panda Kid, and Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. Its 50th release, a sampler called Dead, dropped last week, and the variety of its 22 tracks demonstrates the label’s freewheeling aesthetic. Among the standouts is a stripped-down version of the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” by Indiana bedroom-pop act Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt. Dead is available on cassette and as a pay-what-you-want download from bit.ly/deadcomp.”
“Already Dead Tapes is a tape and vinyl label based in Chicago, run by two guys, Joshua Tabbia and Sean Hartman, who are also mainly in charge of the artwork. Streaming through their releases (and they’re a lot, in almost a year they reached number 43), you can tell that as a label, its artists are carefully chosen to compile an excellent selection of music that’s worth listening to. Varying genres from artist to artist and each release having its own unique package, the aggregate result is as follows: ‘Music made out of experimentation’. When I was asked to choose a release to review out of the total 43, going through the first 20, it was already pretty hard to distinguish just one. Coming across a label whose artists are characterized by their own style but at the same time they all blend together so smoothly is not something that you see every day.”
“In August we introduced you to the Already Dead Tapes and Vinyl label. This month, we get a chance to see some of the label’s bands in action. On Sept. 20, Already Dead — which releases albums on cassette tapes — hosts its second annual Family Reunion Music Festival in Kalamazoo.
“There’s all kinds of music happening,” said Already Dead Producer Sean Hartman. “The label tries to put out as large of a variety of music as possible. There’s pop bands, there’s rock bands, there’s noise, there’s free jazz, there’s experimental, electronica, folk, all kinds of stuff.”
Between Hartman’s No Fun House and Louie’s Trophy House serving as venues, 28 bands will perform, including Emperor X and Saturday Looks Good To Me.
“I think that [music fans] are looking for bands that are playing something they’ve never heard before – something that’s kind of challenging or makes you think a little bit,” Hartman said. “With music being so easy to get a hold of, it’s a lot easier for people to discover that there are all these other genres. It allows for more of a fan base for some of these more challenging connoisseurs of music.”
The first 25 weekend passes are going for $12, which includes all three days and the after party. After those tickets are gone, prices will increase to $14 and then eventually to $16. There are also $7 day passes for those that can’t make it every day. Needless to say, you won’t be breaking the bank, but I can’t promise that you won’t spend your last pennies buying new cassettes and vinyls.”
Spelling Bee – ‘Caterwaul’
“Little labels release all sorts of strange things and Already Dead have done so with the release of “Caterwaul” by Spelling Bee. This St Louis duo – Mabel Suen and Joseph Hess – rattle through these thematically similar songs with little regard for common sense, originality or melody. They are, in commercial terms, banging their heads off a brick wall but does that actually matter?
A good question and one that I shall answer. From “Cat Or Wall” through to “Stretch Marks”, Spelling Bee are nothing less than relentless with what initially seemed like a weakness – repetition – instead achieving a near hypnotic level of angst driven fury as crumbling drum patterns, disconnected guitars and something that sounded like a lost or stolen saxophone capturing your curiosity and simultaneously confusing you.
So, in many ways “Caterwaul” sounds like the kind of thing that two kids with no greater purpose in life than smoking crack and an indulging in some quality shoplifting would sound like if they remade the soundtrack to The Terminator. Big Arnie could fire this album up on his iPod, crank it up to the max and lay waste to Los Angeles. He might even smile while he is doing it.
The answer, in case you haven’t guessed, is…no it clearly doesn’t matter. Turn it up to 11 because we all have nowhere to go.
The album is available from Already Dead and Bandcamp. It’s even available on vinyl.”
Spectral Being – ‘Ritualistic Burning’
“As the artwork suggests, Spectral Being permeates your head with over one hour of kosmische zoners. Ritualistic Burning is a listening experience characterized by immersion. While one could conceivably listen to this while performing other tasks, it would not allow the listener to form the deep relationship that this music deserves. These tracks have the power to transport you to that peaceful place in your head. With each track, the listener can feel this trio of friends – Kyle Landstra, synth and loops; Chris Kondrat, synth and effects; and Mitch Smith, bass and effects – becoming more strong as a unit.
The tape commences with ‘Upon a Circular Dawn’, in which inchoate tones mingle in the shadow of an ascendant sun – a very playful, intimate atmosphere. Without notice, Zawinul-like tones – uplifting, bright and friendly – appear and contrast nicely with the sparkling synth. The mood changes with ‘Decoding Pyramid Transmissions’. This track is very psychedelic, and I did not expect the beautiful shoegaze sound that emanates from multiple layers of synth. Soon, slow moving waves of sound wander without constraint – gorgeous! Next, they proffer music for which to countenance one’s fate. ‘Interfacing with Earth’s Gravitational Hum’ is concomitantly beautiful and unsettling. It presents an excellent juxtaposition in mood. Tones are birthed from the cosmos, then grow tendrils that embrace one with its buzzing energy. The bass supports the overall sound nicely in the fourth track, ‘Ancient Memory’. In some of the tracks, the bass is too loud and obscures the synth – all tracks were recorded live. However, it feels just right on this track. With this type of music, the bass can play an integral role; and, I eagerly await to hear future recordings. With the kush smoke enveloping everything in the room, ‘Tidal Sequence’ kicks off the flipside with bouncy notes and textured synth – similar in feel to the first track. The next two tracks are ‘Ritualistic Burnings part 1 and 2′. In the first, the trio really comes to life and they display a wonderful sense of space. Nothing is forced here and things develop naturally. Elongated tones move innocently in the glistening light – music for gazing inward as one feels the breath moving sinuously through the body, aided by the gentle, friendly tones. In ‘part 2′, a sublime drone extends to the stars while arpeggios swirl in the sweet spirit smoke. The tape closes with the stellar, ‘Forest Cathedral’.
Ritualistic Burning is an excellent first release from this talented trio. The weed tree divined that more sweet spirit smoke could possibly permeate your head in the near future. Ritualistic Burning was produced in an edition of 40, and it is accompanied by the awesome artwork/photography of Jackie Riman with the layout attributed to Joshua Tabbia. Don’t sleep on this tape. One may purchase Ritualistic Burning directly from Already Dead Tapes.”
Various Artist – ‘DEAD’ Compilation
“Since 2010 Chicago-via-Michigan label Already Dead Tapes & Records has been releasing music by an eclectic roster that includes spastic local electronic producer Mario Gonzalez, jittery Italian garage band Panda Kid, and Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. Its 50th release, a sampler called Dead, dropped last week, and the variety of its 22 tracks demonstrates the label’s freewheeling aesthetic. Among the standouts is a stripped-down version of the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” by Indiana bedroom-pop act Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt. Dead is available on cassette and as a pay-what-you-want download from bit.ly/deadcomp.”
Jackie Farrow – ‘One Foot in the Graveyard’
“Jackie Farrow is what I would call underground artist. He is not just a musician, but also a writer and photographer. Apart from photography, he has been a writer for Foxy Digitalis and a music editor for Chasseur Magazine, also contributing words and interviewing artists for various blogs and magazines. On his own personal blog called ‘Mystic Groove’, focusing mostly on experimental contemporary art, he has been featuring short films, photography, graphic design, music and interviews. In the past years he released several releases, but “One Foot In The Graveyard” is his latest and most certainly the best. The album has a very dark underground atmosphere. It’s like a soundtrack for death-ride. It’s really hard to tell what music genre is his music. Let’s say very dark electronic sound. The vocals are very mellow, which adds a lot to the whole atmosphere. The whole album is very hypnotic. The sound itself through whole album is like very modern, but still with “tribal” feel on it. When listening to it I always get an impression of word “underground”. The album was released back in September in a very limited edition of 50 copies on cassettes by Already Dead Tapes. I’m very interested what will be his next release. This one is currently a sell out. I hope the next one will be pressed in more quantities. If I would have just one sentence to describe “One Foot In The Graveyard” I would say: “It’s like walking in some “uber” underground club downstairs and seeing all the freak people around you smoking”.”
-It’s Psychedelic Baby
“Chicago based Cassette label, Already Dead Tapes focuses heavily on the experimental artists with non-traditional forms of making music. ADT member Jackie Farrow embodies that non traditional experimental sound with their “One Foot In The Graveyard” release. It reminds me of a grimier A.R.E. Weapons without all the douche.”
“This starts out a little weird, but its AMAZING. If you give it a chance, you wont be disappointed. I appreciate the pure honesty of emotion in each song. Its dark without being apologetic. It is what it is. He also released this on tape, actual cassette tape. This is cool!”
-Who Needs a Genre
“This guy right here is one reason why I absolutely love getting submissions. I never know what to expect when I get an email with someone linking me to their music but that’s part of the thrill of something new. A few days ago One Foot In The Graveyard, the fifth album from Greece resident Jackie Farrow, landed in my inbox and caught my eye. Seeing that the cassette was released by Already Dead Tapes last week I knew that I’d be in for something that’d throw me off guard and captivate me as well and that’s exactly what happened. “Pistols Crossed” is just one example of the sheer brilliance of this release and every time I listen to it I can’t help but wonder if this song is what might be playing on an elevator down into hell. The bleak, tenebrous atmosphere of the LP goes hand in hand with the eerie, experimental vibes that echo throughout it and if you think that you’ve got Jackie Farrow’s sound pinned down with just one track then you’ll quickly realize that you’re mistaken once the next one starts. One Foot In The Graveyard burrows its way into your head and stays there long after it has ended and that could possibly be the best part of it all. You can purchase the release digitally through bandcamp for $5 or pick it up on cassette for the same price.”
No Monster Club – ‘Posthumous Hits’
“Wow. This is maybe the most surprising audio reveal for me. No Monster Club is not the kind of band I thought it would be. From the tape artwork and photo on the back I was thinking either NOFX type thing or maybe at best something akin to Dinosaur Jr. I was pretty wrong. This is way closer to The Kinks, Beach Boys, Captain Beefheart, and more contemporary comparisons like Ariel Pink, (early) Animal Collective and The Fall-outs. I know that is a wide comparison with a lot of disparate bands but this has a lot of interesting garage and psychedelic comparisons. If you have a music snob coming over, play this and they’re mind will be blown. It’s good. Very good.
I was a little thrown off by the cover artwork though. It looks like a 1990′s garage band cover that would have been on Esterus Records. Comic Book style drawings and live photos in a tiny box. It is something I would have never bothered with.
After hearing the first track I would buy one. Absolutely.”
“No Monster Club, “a one-man symphony of tropical beats, surf-rock guitars and bubblegum pop melodies” was created by the young Irish songwriter Bobby Aherne. Having tragically passed away earlier this year at age 24, Already Dead is about to release a cassette dedicated to him, consisting of 46 tracks recorded between 2009 and 2012. Unearthed after his death, the album has been lovingly mastered by Mark Chester (Grand Pocket Orchestra/Ginnels) and prepared for release by his bandmates, friends and family. May he rest in peace.”
“Bobby Aherne’s No Monster Club band project has been lo-fi rocking in the free world since 2009 and Bobby felt the time was right to compile a collection of bits and bobs, songs and things onto a cassette. Perhaps in an effort to fill up a 90-minute tape, the resulting album Posthumous Hits has 46 tracks in total, recorded between 2009 and 2012.
The blurb story goes that Bobby Aherne “tragically passed away earlier this year, aged 24 and Posthumous Hits was unearthed after his death. The album has been lovingly mastered by Mark Chester (Grand Pocket Orchestra/Ginnels) and prepared for release by his bandmates, friends and family.” Either way, it’s the followup to this year’s impressive Dublin album. Get Posthumous Hits at Big Cartel for €7.”
“A collection of solo material recorded by Irish songwriter, Bobby Aheme, who passed away earlier this year at age 24. Aheme churned out 11 records over the last 6 years, was eventually joined by two bandmates, recorded 4 more records, and embarked on a European tour that saw him sharing the stage with the likes of Sic Alps, HEALTH, Ariel Pink, Wavves, Jeff the Brotherhood, and others. This cassette contains 46 tracks that were uncovered after his death by his friends and family, most of which are sunny beachside pop tracks guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Pick up the cassete over at Already Dead Tapes or from the band’s site.
“Are you in a hurry ? Then hurry more ! THere’s only 100 copies produced of this 90 minutes cassette, you can order them from the Already Dead Tape label’s website, or straight from the band, on Nomonsterclub.com.
No Monster Club is like a laser. You know the story of the laser… Ordinary light just radiate in any directions, while laser light beams are all parallel, they all go in the same direction.
And No Monster Club is going, and pretty much far, in its very own direction.
This release shows a band at its best. I know I will not speak, loud and clear enough, I know expressing how great is this album if beyond my reviewer skills.
If you liked Dublin Duck Dispensary and the first “Tropical Decibels”, this album is for you. If you liked more recent releases from No Monster Club as a trio, this album is for you.
Because it combines both aspects of the project… And as a result, this is also an excellent introduction to the band, and, I repeat, it is at its best, they are incredibly powerful, and if you never heard about No Monster Club until now, I suggest you to watch a few videos on the interweb, and then, maybe, to buy this album.
Because, if you are the kind of person that can enjoy the work of a project such No Monster Club, this particular album is especially recommended. It is highly accessible while also complex… And maybe you are wondering how I can review it while it was released two days ago and I physically hadn’t the time to get my tape ?
That’s just because the incredibly kind guys behind Already Dead Taoes & Records let me listen, very exclusively, to the album in its entirety, and they provided a sufficient audio quality for this to allow me to review the release without having ever received my cassette.
A review that will shortly loose most of its interest, since, judging by how fast the 250 vinyl copies of the previous release from the band got soldout, this 100 cassettes series will be only available for, I would say, two or three dozens of days at the greatest extend, so if I were you, I would hurry up to order. No Monster Club is classical music for the next thousand years, music that will stuck, and your grand grand children will thank you for having bought this tape.”
“This week’s Gossip Wolf has the scoop on the 50th release from Chicago-via-Michigan label Already Dead—it’s a sampler called Dead. Joshua Tabbia launched Already Dead in 2010, and with the help of a growing team has put together an impressive and eclectic catalog. The label recently dropped a number of interesting cassettes, and one in particular piqued my interest: No Monster Club’s Posthumous Hits.
The tape is billed as a collection of recordings “discovered” after the unexpected and untimely passing of Bobby Aherne, 24-year-old front man of Dublin garage-pop trio No Monster Club. I got sucked into the group’s hooky tunes and grew more and more intrigued by the mysterious circumstances of Aherne’s passing—or rather, the lack of any information about it. My curiosity led me through a string of morbid Google searches, but I found nothing.
I went straight to Tabbia to find out more about Posthumous Hits, and it turns out the “posthumous” part is a bit misleading. “It’s like this weird thing, he’s not actually dead,” Tabbia says.
Tabbia first reached out to Aherne about a year ago, around the same time Already Dead released a cassette by Panda Kid, an Italian garage group that’s shared bills with No Monster Club. Aherne expressed interest in releasing a small collection of recordings, and the project ballooned into the 46-song smorgasbord of Posthumous Hits. Tabbia says the “posthumous” idea was inspired by a 2004 Daniel Johnston compilation, The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered, whose artwork depicts Johnston standing in front of a gravestone with his name on it.
The band and Already Dead ran with that concept in the press release for Posthumous Hits, which states that the album’s songs were “unearthed after his death” and it was “prepared for release by his bandmates, friends and family.” Tabbia admits that Aherne is very much alive. “I’m pretty sure they’re playing shows and stuff,” he says.
Posthumous Hits is nearly sold out, and Tabbia is gearing up for a busy release schedule—four per month for the next year, he says.”
The Binary Marketing Show/The New Diet – ‘Split’ 7″
“This 7” release, coming off in an edition of 300, is an essential listen to any Why? or early Band Of Horses fans. With ‘Liquid Lung’ being at first a motive for past recollections, then through a serene passage turning into ‘Oha Cosmonaut’, The Binary Marketing Show tend to slowly shed a light on whatever may have seemed hopeless and wrong before. On Side B, The New Diet’s ‘Van Song’ starts off with a lo-fi aesthetic of reverb, fuzz and nostalgia. By the time drums and distorted guitars make their presence and with the vocals becoming stronger and less clear, its melodic harmonies are gradually losing touch with what’s preceded, finally resulting in an eruptive ending. What better way to welcome autumn for good than with a modern indie approach?”
“I have been trying to figure out how to start this review for a few weeks now. It’s actually created a mental block for me. I want to talk about how both bands play a type of music that would fit well on Anticon records. I want to mention that are serious comparisons that can be made with Why? and that is a good thing. The Binary Marketing Show has amazing beats that really had me impressed. The New Diet is a bit dirtier and harsh but with really lovely vocals. Both bands have their own sound but they work so well together. I really want to express how nice and odd the artwork is but I just don’t know how to start this one… I will figure it out.”
micromelancolié – ‘Owl Eater’
“Once you learn to understand and see things in a different way than you did before, you will constantly be finding beauty and sometimes bliss in places that until now, you weren’t so close to. The same thing happens with words, sound, image and basically anything else that is about to pass through an individual mind-filtering process. Human brain can’t function on its own. It needs time and practice to reach certain levels of perception. And of course, there isn’t only one way of achieving it, or one kind of perception that one can have. Each individual’s way of thinking varies and that by itself makes things more interesting. That’s why experimental music sometimes has more depth and meaning than what we are able to see. It involves thinking, concentration and visualization, all senses focused on the moment, on the sound. This can of course happen with any other sort of music style, but experimental stuff in particular intensifies that process.
The music that comes out of the Already Dead Tapes label always works like a challenge to me, I don’t know what to expect with each release, and I’m not saying it because I’m friends with the guys and I’ll have an album of mine released on their label. I truly admire their work and their interest in what they’re doing and I’m really glad to have come across them. That being said, I do believe that their work deserves every single post that I do on it.
Robert Skrzyński, aka Micromelancolie, is an exceptional artist to me. He can sample almost anything and turn it into a work of art. If you’re the type of listener that falls for strange calm moods in soundscape music, like I do, “Owl Eater” is going to be your ideal afternoon companion. You hear almost everything that comes through your ears in a whole day’s time, from birds, vast church bells ringing, the soft sound that comes from the television when it’s turned on, to electricity and roosters in the morning. And they’re all so gentle, subconsciously helping create a peace of mind, that you strangely fall in love with every part of it. “Dry Run” is a piece that brings on nostalgia at first, but then it’s pure listening joy. Excellent sampled recordings, it’s perfect production work as well. Up to this point, I’m trying to figure out what the sounds that I’m hearing actually are, as mystery invades my thoughts. But at the end of the day that’s not the point at all, the whole thing has amazingly worked for me; I’ve already listened to it four times in a row and I still can’t get enough of it.
It’s a release to be played at night, when there’s room for silence and soothing hours. And you certainly don’t need the perfect audio speakers and headphones to get into it, though something like it would definitely enhance the listening experience. All you need is an open mind, one that is willing to let sound guide it to places of possible wisdom, bringing on subconscious thinking. Breathing in, taking in the present moment, then letting it out along with a part of your existence.”
“Robert Skzyński is the owner of the 49manekinów net-label and the co-owner of 77industry net-label. He has been recording and publishing his music and video art since 2003 under a lot of monikers (about 12 so far). In spite of all these activities, Skrzyński is an artist unknown even to those few who are actually exploring the Polish underground scene with some engagement. One of the most interesting of his achievements as a sound engineer is a project called Micromelancolié (in Polish: Mikrodepresja) whose latest cassette – Owl Eater (C30, limited edition of 40) – has been released recently on Already Dead Tapes & Records, a small American label „established from musicians using non-traditional methods to craft sound as art”.
Skrzyński’s approach to the issue of samples reminds me of going through one’s personal scrapbook – an archive of the most secret, intimate symbols and metaphors which are totally incomprehensible but seem to be driven by some internal order. Lazy drones and funeral strings are layered together with a cackling of cheerful chickens, birds chirping. The most mesmerising piano is having a chat with group of flute scraps and an industrial loop. But what’s most important here: Owl Eater is a collage, not chaos, it’s a subtle symphony made of one’s handy mess. Skrzyński never loses his wits so everything is falling into right place, carefully caressing the ear and lighting up the atmosphere of your reading room. It’s postmodern mysticism, hot and dusty sampledelia similiar to Kurek’s Heat or Basinki’s Disintegration Loops in miniature.”
Chat Logs – ‘Live Crust’
“To be honest, before I started this blog I wasn’t aware of a huge majority of the bands or labels that I am now but being introduced to new things just about every day has made this an even better experience. For about a month or so now I’ve found myself basking in the sounds of a small yet extensive cassette label based out of Chicago and Kalamazoo by the name of Already Dead Tapes, and with easily over a dozen artists signed, they surely have a lot to offer as far as variety is concerned. Regardless of style or overall tone, each band has a way of exploring and incorporating vast amounts of atmosphere into their music, and that’s what captivated me the most as I worked my way through a good bit of Already Dead’s discography. Despite many groups having caught my attention, it was the ominous and mysterious punk influenced sounds of Brooklyn three piece Chat Logs that seemed to be a perfect fit. Though it holds it’s composure throughout each track, their fifth full length, Live Crust, is an amazingly orchestrated work of disaster that’s sure to get your blood pumping and your mind stirring. The vocals are often times indistinct, working to add more of a texture to the overall tone. While the music is mood shifting, heavily distorted, and surrounded by a heavy, tenebrous nature. Live Crust takes listeners to the recesses of their mind and propels them further back until the very end. With that being said, this isn’t an album that you can just pick up and listen to so I suggest giving it your full attention. It’s available on cassette (ADO43) through Already Dead Tapes’ website for $5 and digitally through Chat Logs’ bandcamp for the same price.”
Teenage Tasteless – ‘Bartan Shumak’
“Hailing from Berlin, Germany, the 45 minutes that are in those 6 tracks have the power to urge you penetrate the subliminal thinking. From the first seconds of ‘Strung’, you can tell that he’s improvising but simultaneously keeping it at a desired limit; he’s able to control spontaneity. The schizophrenic playing of the violin, the atmosphere that you just got into, they all make room for ‘Dutch Disease’ that is about to follow. This is where it all happens; mysterious guitar sounds, meditating on experimental percussion, until the whole thing gets looped for a few seconds and a terrifying atmosphere takes place. By visually exploring an inner cave at dawn, coming face to face with your fears until you find something, (which you do on the 4th minute [amazing rhythm and riff structure]), you have practically entered Teenage Tasteless’ world. Now it’s all about you, as the rhythm becomes more intense. The 6th minute is where things start to get serious and next thing you know the trip has already begun. You’ve gone all the way now, no point in looking back. The whole thing feels like running away from something that’s already inside you, until you realize at last that there’s no such thing as escape, only conformity. And you’ll have to make your peace with it as the track comes to an end one way or another. On ‘Griddedness’ there’s a scream, an awakening, as a dirty bassline comes from beyond. A voice finally speaks, a ritual is taking place in the room that you visualized before. And then strange human psalmodies, vicious circles haunting the vision before it all comes apart at 6.40. The cymbals being crashed in the background and the melodic scream on the foreground create a feeling that won’t rest easy. Higher frequencies make their appearance on ‘Dweller On The Threshold’, marking the album’s climax. This song actually has a classic structure (mainly because of its steady beat logic) with old-school-style vocals, commutations and nicely sampled guitars. But surprises exist everywhere on this album. Like ‘Jeremy Goldnull Didnt Know What To Say’; its piano work is an essential listen. Beautiful, dreamy structure and melodies, but kind of strange at the same time (due to its reverbed sound). Simple to its character, this is the album’s highlight, one that you want to rewind and listen to again once it ends. ‘Bartan Shumak’’s ending comes with a drone track; same style background voices, guiding your way down, cause that’s what this album is, a journey, an experience into the subjective unknown, so detailed-worked out on the one hand, not lacking the experimental freedom that such attempts require on the other.”
Dominic Pierce – ‘West’
“Go west young man. Well, there aint no west no more. The Internet is the wild west now, a lawless land of wheeling & dealing and making it up as you go along. The Internet is also responsible for driving many of us to the plastic imperfections of the cassette. Dominic Pierce’s new album titled West is the soundtrack tape to a film of young scruffs driving sleepless towards the Golden Gate Bridge looking for something that can’t be found. Pierce’s album is well-produced and well-performed, but it’s missing something for me. Vocals. These compositions are close to being backing tracks for actual songs. Gimme some croaking empathetic rock singing! My complaints are my own obviously so Mr. Pierce will probably be glad to note that this reviewer enjoys his soundtrack for a montage scene that doesn’t exist, but hopes for more in the future. “Colorful Skeptic” is a tune that represents every other piece on the tape with its acoustic guitar, electronic beats, and keyboard sprinkles. One of the nice things about this album are the guitars. I don’t hear too many shimmering guitar parts, but damn if some non-shitty singer delivered on top of these tracks, we just might have something. For now, I can safely recommend Dominic Pierce’s tape for long car rides out of town – away from the familiar hangouts of yesterday to the unknown temptations of tomorrow.”
Alpha Couple – ‘Covers’
“Alpha Couple is Kristel and Mark, coming from Toronto, Canada. You can find them describing their music as ‘vulnerable noise’, a term that you would agree on, judging by the amount of susceptibility that exists in ‘Covers’. The beautifully created artwork, picturing a couple in different moments in time covered in gentle purple background, implies that this is going to be a rather peculiar album, despite the band’s nicely sounding name. Vocals consisting of heavenly cries on ‘Lucky’, a nightmarish noisy synth, a laid down guitar, all set the scene for a desert place at night, when a kick drum grabs your attention in the end. Sampled voices follow on ‘Mariah’; you can hear a woman saying ‘I would hate to be one of these people…’ that you can’t help but wonder what she would say next, while a slow beat lost in space and a distorted voice (that at first you can bet your life that it’s Gonjasufi himself singing and shouting out his sorrows) are developing a flow accompanied by peaceful guitar playing. As the track title requires, ‘A Walk Through Central Park (With or Without You)’ once again has to do with sampled people on the street. Indeed the feeling that exists here seems familiar to all of us: walking through a city street, alone, searching for that understanding look in someone’s face that’s so hard to find. Strangely though, vocals sound like Cocorosie’s more relaxing songs, expressing that nostalgia and longing for peace in our days. As the guitar gets louder and more notes are being added to its calm strum, making the song even more touching, it takes the leading role, while the voices in the street are turning into a probably live cover of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’. Somehow that walk starts to have a meaning, a symbolic sense. A meaning that ends unexpectedly with the muting of the street noises to find mystery again on ‘Enn Ich Mir Was Wünschen Dürfte’, the album’s last track. With the help of a repeated kick drum pattern, you can consider this as the main theme of a concept album, evolving, setting scenes for a whole story. A sense of curiosity of what comes next takes over you in the end, wondering what Alpha Couple would sound like at a performance, not to mention on their next release.”
Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt – ‘All I Ask Ya, Alaska’
“Way back in 2011, we shared the debut 11 track album, Tweaker In The Park, from Indiana indie folk dorm room project, Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt, which produced one of our favorite tracks of last year, The Town Crazies. Now he’s back with a new 13 track collection of demos recorded between 2006-2012, called All I Ask Ya, Alaska, which include this new track, Bits, which you can stream below. You can check out all this and more on his BANDCAMP page, which we would advise you to do.”
Not The Wind, Not The Flag – ‘Music Gallery’
“Not The Wind, Not The Flag is also a Toronto-based band, more on the blissful side of sound this time. On ‘Music Gallery’, a modern avant-garde piece, getting into a euphoric free-jazz-improvisation technique, the instruments that they use vary from xylophones, vibes, and chimes to a classic jazz-tuned drum-setup, perfectly recorded and mixed to create this 24-minute wavelength. As in 1973’s ‘Faust Tapes’, it’s more like an exercise on improvisation (in terms of artistic expression) including more than one person than just a simple piece of music that will definitely bring you harmony. It’s no wonder you won’t find a single ‘mistake’ in the entire piece when it’s clear that Not The Wind, Not The Flag are completely aware of their instruments and what they can do with them; and the fact that these two guys got together making that kind of music can only be surprising and encouraging. Both for musicians and listeners.”
Ewphoria – ‘Ewphoria’
“Second offering from Mario Gonzalez released by Already dead tapes.
This is the music of fear. Perfect soundtrack for disaster movies like The Road… However it does not depicts. On the contrary it digs in minds and thoughts and reveals the bodiless monsters. What we see is the endless battle between a man and his disgusting desires.
Lucid, harsh and as always well-crafted.”
-Dumpster Diving Blog
WIM – ‘Humming Collection’
“In terms of a proper biogragraphy it’s almost impossible to dig some information on this guy, but please do not let the lack of imformation drift you away from this AWESOME discovery. Wim’s got two releases so far which are available for FREE via SoundCloud and BandCamp. BOTH of them are exquisiste and an absolute must have. Start with [ Saint / Esprit ] followed by [ Humming Collection ].”
Fred Thomas / Radiator Hospital – ‘Welcome To The Jungle’
“Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Radiator Hospital occupy the A-side with some straightforward and honest lo-fi pop tracks (including a Replacements cover) that will certainly appeal to fans of Beulah and Cherry Peel/Early Four Track Recordings-era Of Montreal. On the B-side, Fred Thomas (Michigan native and headmaster of Saturday Looks Good to Me), emerges from the bowels of his basement to bring you some deeply personal lowest-of-fi piano ballads coated in the warmth of cassette tape hiss.”
Ou Oú – ‘Builded’
“Whilst most blown out kosmische styled psychedelia lends itself to the inner eyelid / outer reaches of the cosmos, this tape does quite the opposite.
A lurker… at first sounding unsure, so retreating. During those first distorted moments of opening track ‘Bildung’ it’s submerging itself under the safe, enveloping depths of an nondescript body of water. It could be an ocean, a lake, a sea or even a puddle. Soft piano keys mesh the two worlds together, calling it back out from the deep and sounding like raindrops falling on spring flowers. The minimalist delicate sounds put me in mind of a time lag scene where even the tiniest Eco-systems seem like huge tropical rain forests. There’s tribal and electronic drum rhythms – beating steadily like a heartbeat. A constant – like time, holding both worlds together. Everything here is delicate, beautiful and relevant. As this new world flourishes and the confidence in sound continues to diversify and unfold, so to does the soundscape, growing as tall as the mightiest trees until finally it soars up and out of the atmosphere, heading to worlds unknown and the heavens high above.
What goes up, must come down and the lurker finally returns. The skittery sounds of pavement drains and suburban trains – bleeding out to a total wave of synth induced euphoria. Once again, I’m floating…”
-Marc Roberts, Foxy Digitalis
Forget the Times – ‘Soul Music’
“There aren’t many things in life as beautiful as holding a fresh nicely handmade-packaged vinyl. You get intimate with what’s behind it, watching it taking its spins on the turntable and the sound reaching your ears. It’s easier to focus, not starring at a computer screen, no digital equalizers either. Just sound, two pages of artwork and a description that does a hell of a lot more talking than any page on the internet would do. And of course, the vinyl keeps spinning.
When I received ‘Soul Music’, crafted in hand screenprinted artwork, I played it immediately. Forget The Times is not your ordinary experimental group. Strongly guitar-driven, improvised by blasting drums and a significant amount of fuzz, it demands more than one listen to get to it. In times you find yourself getting into strange drone compositions, before your monitors start exploding fuzz and noise all over. From free jazz to stoner and all the way back, it’s pretty clear that it’s a record made only for the sake of musical expression; not going for that overworked ‘shiny’ production but not keeping it lo-fi either. There’s no point in me going through the record track by track, as what matters most here is the flow. How from the vocal parts on the fuzzy ‘Dead Slint’ you get into that crazed jam on ‘Wash Yr Grippers’ and then finally into the acoustic-based drone of ‘Pillows And Blankets’. And that’s only Side B. The 4 tracks on Side A set the ground for the whole record; starting off with repeated horn patterns, loud fast drumming and guitars that sound like ancient angry bells, those first two minutes go by the title ‘Romans In Storage’, turning into ‘Marion Morrison’ where you can actually visualize the whole recording process (sampled guitar and words probably played backwards). An aggressive 8-minute ‘From The Basement To The Grave’ exploration on guitar noise, a psyched-out impersonation of alarms and voices screaming on ‘Alarm Clock Celebration’ and you already have experienced a lot.
Forget The Times just got back from touring with Problems That Fix Themselves and Batcaves, doing almost 17 shows in about a month. Their upcoming release is going to be a tape coming out on Space Slave Editions later on this year.”
“A new release by Forget the times.
After the cassette released earlier on the same label Forget the times come back with more funky and more avantgarde-directed sound. Juicy percussion stumbles against the guitar seemingly by mistake. And then it somehow appears that they have lots of things to do together! They go to an expensive restaurant, order pizza and find out that they have no pizza in menu. So they begin to think… They order some meat. Meat is tasty but there’s a bullet in it. The waiter assures them that the bullet is actually a part of a recipe and it is supposed to be swallowed in the end as a tablet. But percussion does not agree with this. It seems stupid to swallow a bullet. A guitar pulls out a revolver. It will be a very nice desert! One can hear no shot. One is sleeping. Or maybe hiding under the pillows and blankets.”
-Dumpster Diving Blog
“I’m a sucker for the handmade DIY record packaging. I know the work that goes into screen printing an assembling hundreds of records by hand. It’s a different level of dedication that goes beyond money and its when things become all about the music. Already Dead Tapes have over 40 releases to their name but Forget the Times lp “Soul Music” is the first foray into the world of vinyl for the label. At 300 copies all hand screened it is an impressive looking affair. So how is the music you ask…Well it is pretty great. Noisy, free improvisation leaning towards psych at all the right times. It is surely for adventurous listeners who can handle raw and uncompromising music. The guitar work is fantastic going from lonesome drones to spastic psychedelia and the drumming is fresh and ever changing. It’s a rewarding listen that will stand the test of time better than most records of its class.”
-R.A.D. Vinyl Records
“Something different obviously, but also something on which it was hard to find suitable information was the LP by Forget The Times (which times? I wondered. The good old days of the 80s? After Thought Broadcast?). This is apparently their third LP and it contains the whole array of free music: free jazz, free rock and free improv. Three, maybe four decades of music from the free fringes of free music pass by here, all recorded in the basement. That home-spun quality is something which they obviously share with Thought Broadcast, although here the sound is less muffled, but still notably lo-fi. Actually I prefer this best when they go for the more rockist agenda, like the two lengthy pieces which are on the opening of side B. I wished both of these records were less clouded wit obscurity however. Thought Broadcast is the band to play at home, but Forget The Times seems like the thing to see in a damp basement.
-Vital Weekly (FdW)
Chris Brokaw – ‘I Ace Sociopathic King’
“Are you in a hurry ? Here’s the release page on the Already Dead Tapes’ record label website. You can stream one track there. But beware, while this streamable track is very great, powerful, melodic, well written and with a lot of feeling in its performing, many tracks on this album shows a different aspect of Chris Brokaw’s work, which makes me think – that’s only my opinion – about a male Anna Calvi ; the same incredible talent for songwriting, guitar lines arranging, and vocal and guitar performing. You can also stream the streamable track from Already Dead Tapes’ bandcamp, by the way. The release is available on tape, in a limited edition of 200 copies, and I don’t know how much remains.
What can I say ? During the very first seconds of the first track, I knew I would write a review of this wonderful album, and the more I was listening to it, the more I was sure of this fact. Someone speaking in a song about walking into the woods is the kind of people who would awake my interest, for sure. Then, someone playing so great guitar arrangements, singing so perfect vocals, would makes me consider the idea of writing about his album.
Besides this, such a killer DIY production is among the things that would make me, added to what I previously wrote, makes me listen to the release, looping, for hours – that’s what I am doing currently.
But this is not the end of the story. Because, the real magic of this release resides for parts in the greatness of arrangements and performing, for sure, but also in the outstanding level of excellence in the basics of the songs, the songwriting thing in other words. These songs are just perfectly written.
Talking about the melodies, especially. I like Anna Calvi, for sure, but Chris Brokaw, while having some aspect in common with her, puts into his work a light punk touch, especially in the melodies and the vocal textures, that makes his songs even more valuable that Anna Calvi ones, according to my musical taste.
When I started Underketing, I thought it would be an easy way to help spreading the word about great artists I like. A few days later, I realised that it could also allow me to discover music that would fit to me perfectly, without having nothing to do to achieve this task, just because of nice people who would contact me about such or such album.
And, for the first time, such a thing happened. Thanks goes to the Already Dead Tape team (I told them about the Panda Kid album review, an album that they released, that’s how we got in touch) who carefully hand-picked a few releases they issued and suggested me to listen to them. I met an artist who is incredibly succeeding in the task of creating some music that I would be fond of. I don’t say my musical taste is the canonical standard for what is good and what is not – even if I often tell here that if I review something, this is a milestone in history of music (and this is definitively the case for this release), but there’s a kind of humour that I don’t expect anyone on this earth to understand when I say “This is the best music available, just because I love it”. But, if you are reading this blog, chances are high that, at least for some aspects, we have a similar idea of what is good and what is not. Then, I would strongly suggest you to investigate the Chris Brokaw case a bit.
Just because, if you don’t, you’ll probably continue your musical adventures as a listener without being aware of a pure gem, the kind of record that you would appreciate beyond any limit.”
Mythomaniacs Are Right – ‘There is No Such Thing as Death…’
“The ridiculously long album title and the cover might suggest some inspiration by the LA post-rock dudes from Red Sparowes, but in fact there is no connection at all – because there is no rock at all. There Is No Such Thing… is a sparse, absolutely minimal album inspired (among others) by German electronic music, both old new and new: on one side, there are obsessive tape loops and musique concrete which channel the spirit of late master Karlheinz Stockhausen; on the other side there is an obvious glitch worship element, which make the tracks sound like a more ambient-treated, detailed Alva Noto at times. There’s also an obvious influence of minimalism, somtimes whimsical, sometimes ominous. Disorienting and challenging, just how I like my experimental electronics.”
“The title is so long, is not so? Why? This music is supposed to claim that death does not exist. It means that life does not exist either. So where these sound come from? Well, anyway. I do not care. And honestly I do not give a fuck what philosophical ideas author(s) want to share with us. Track number 3 changed my attitude to this tape. And I decided not to think anymore about such things. The music we are offered is… kind. It is so kind… so nice and so sweat… so LIFE-asserting and optimistic… And of course it is simple. It should be simple. Melodies travel inside my stomach as Bedouins in the desert. They are the only ones who know where to go and why.
Take this from always amazing Already dead tapes.”
-Dumpster Diving Lab
Fear Konstruktor – ‘Spiritual Formation’
“It’s not often that I’m compelled to post ambient or noise releases on here, but I got this cassette in the mail yesterday and was enthralled be this Russian’s dark, damp, and haunting drones. I had the FUCKING BRILLIANT IDEA of listening to this while watching the documentary Dark Days on mute (instant-streaming on Netflix/first 10 mins on Youtube), and I highly suggest you do the same (you’re welcome).”
Matt Maverick – ‘Outsideness’
“There’s under the radar and there’s so far under the radar that you have to be a stealth bomber. Matt Maverick is the pilot of this particular stealth bomber that has also been released on that most archaic of formats, the cassette.
“Outsideness”, perhaps unsurprisingly, does not court the attentions of the general record buying public but neither is it artistically obscure. Comprised of some remarkably consistent musical musings in finest lo-fi sound, Matt Maverick walk that thin line between garage and psych rock with a very decent degree of finesse. “Death Race” and “The Creature” start things off in a pretty conventional way but, as the album progresses, the concept of playing in the surf whilst partaking of a psychological wanderlust seems to take hold with “Tiny Rhythms” breaking left and heading off to play in the dark folk backyards normally inhabited by the likes of King Dude.
Something of curiosity, as much as for the music as its format, “Outsideness” does nonetheless manage to cast a spell over your attention and I did feel more than a bit nostalgic about this album being released on cassette too.”
“Let me set the record straight that I’m about as clueless as anyone about modern surf rock. Give me my experimentalists Secret Chiefs 3 who dabble in the genre on their records or an old Beach Boys or a Dick Dale record and I could probably tell you what they sound like, but I make no claims that beyond that I’m in no way up to date on the genre whatsoever. When I was sent this release though I was a bit put off by the fact that it was a surf rock release, I was still very interested in it. I’m taking a chance on this because like I said, I’m not really a huge fan of this genre.
Depending on what your perception of surf rock happens to be will definitely impact what you think of this record. Unless you happen to be rather well versed in that genre this definitely fits in snuggly within the surf rock and rockabilly genres, I expect that if you are more well versed and invested in those genres you’ll let me know. But what’s on these thirteen tracks is, essentially, solid, rather upbeat sounding tunes, most of which are instrumental. In order to really describe the sound of this record I guess I could sum it up with another made up genre called “basement surf” because essentially these are short, little, lo-fi tunes that jam out their idea for two or three minutes and then move on. It’s by no means complicated stuff on here but they’re, for the most part, well written tunes that are immediate and catchy.
Because most of these songs are instrumental, the melodies do have to be good, and like I said above, most of them are really catchy. I think it’s worth noting that, and this will be obvious for people who happen to listen to quite a bit of surf rock and rockabilly music, but all the instruments have their place in the sound and nothing is really lost on here because of the lo-fi production. It’s great because the guitar, which for the greater majority of the record, carries these songs melodically, but the bass and organ lines are well utilized in certain songs as well. If I had to complain about this record though, it would be that the drums, on certain songs, can sound a bit like someone is just tapping a rhythm on a table. That, along with some of the more noise breaks that are placed on here as well, make up the only real faults on the record in my opinion. Matt’s voice on the songs where he sings, Eric Burdon and Black World being two of the handful on here, isn’t even all that bad, granted it’s closer to him just speaking melodically, it fits with the songs in question and only bring a voice in to reinforce the songs memorability.
I mean, when I first decided to review this, I have to admit that I was a bit worried about it because being described as a surf rock/rockabilly record did kind of put me off it at first. It was nowhere near as bad as I had kind of imagined it being, despite not really being a style I listen to all that often, it’s a solid piece of work. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t like this if you enjoy the surf rock/rockabilly genres or even more bedroom singer-songwriter albums.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: The Creature, Jungle Justice, Eric Burdon”
-Don’t Count On It Reviews
The Blue Dress – ‘These Happy Golden Years’
“Cape Cod’s psych pop stalwarts, The Blue Dress first popped up on our radar last summer with the release of their wonderful debut, Demo EP. In fact, we beat the shit of that release’s 4 tracks on almost daily basis. So when we heard the band would be releasing a new cassette/digital EP via Chicago’s excellent Already Dead Tapes we were more than a little eager to hear the new material. We wrote about the releaseand premiered one of the albums track earlier this fall, but that only upped our anticipation.
For the recording of These Happy Golden Years, the adroit duo of Patrick Tottenham and Timothy Sylvia expanded upon their sound with multifarious instrumentation courtesy of contributions from Ben Raymond (trumpet), Kassie Carlson (violin), Kristie Defastano (vocals), and Rob Kelly of The Soft White 3-Way (keyboards). The EP was tracked by Silvia at Treetops Studios in September and features 3 new compositions and a re-working of the Demo EP’s standout, Deth Ray, re-titled here as My Deth Ray. The set starts with arguably the bands strongest track to date with The Totem, it features driving and distorted guitar lines and a killer, albeit nihilistic chorus, “there’s nothing on the other side”. My Deth Ray has been transformed from an austere acoustic dirge to a triumphant foot stomper complete with trumpet wails and tenacious rhythms. Over Your Eyes finds The Blue Dress displaying their dexterous gift for creating chilling psych pop, with big chords and even bigger hooks. The EP comes to a close with the release’s longest track, Frozen Daughter which comes in just under the six minute mark with not a second wasted, combining drone, noise, bursts of trumpet, and tribal drumming. It brings to mind the early work of Mercury Rev, particularly Yourself Is Steam, at least to our ears.
These Happy Golden Years finds The Blue Dress pushing their sound forward with an engaging and devastating collection of songs, albeit far too short for our liking, nonetheless it’s one of the finest recordings we’ve heard all year.”
-The Ash Gray Proclamation
Panda Kid – ‘Scary Monster Juice’
“At this moment I’m not sure if this review will be of use to anyone, because while Panda Kid is an Italian musician, I on the other hand am an American and like most Americans, only care to speak one language, English. A real melting pot. But anyway, maybe this’ll be lost on most because I know no Italian aside from the titles of Neorealist movies I studied in my World Cinema class, and unless this album warrants references to Ladri di biciclette, Roma, città aperta, or La Strada, you’ll likely be reading no Italian from me.
Luckily however, I was still able to get to hear this album easily enough because it was just released here on AlreadyDead Tapes. Panda Kid is the solo project of Alberto Manfrin, and his first album, Scary Monster Juice can be described in a way as a lo-fi work, but there are a million lo-fi bands born every day and most die unnoticed because they have nothing new to say. But there’s something special, perhaps indefinable, about Panda Kid. Maybe it’s because it’s just so out there and unconventional for lo-fi standards, but more importantly, not is it only so ambitious but Manfrin succeeds wonderfully.
The entire album is an incredibly experimental work of fuzzed out instrumentals and Berlin Trilogy phrasing and melodies, and rarely does anything on this album go without some level of distortion. The album does essentially begin with thirty seconds of pure noise, and the second track “Panda in Space” is just a minute and fifty seconds of Terry Riley ambiance.
However, underneath all the layers of noise and experimentation is actually a batch of really great pop songs. Even though the first track “Junkie Girl” does begin with the aforementioned bursts of explosive noises, when you get down to the real meat of the song, it’s an amazing piece of modern garage, and through enough digging you can find the pure essence of even the most experimental of songs on this record. It’s hard not to believe these songs could all be hits if they were polished, but maybe he never wanted it that way and I must say, I have to agree with him.So, in a way, Manfrin has ingeniously built this natural defense system, filtering out any unwanted listeners so in the end he’s only left with people that truly get what he’s doing, and I think it’s meant to be that way. Actually, while the first side is perhaps his most experimental, by the end of side two, he reaches what can be considered the pinnacle of his most straightforward recordings, at least for his standards, closing with a trilogy of garage at its finest with “Surfer Girl” (not Brian Wilson’s), “Arizona,” and “Cookie Weed.” “Arizona” is actually my pick for the album’s greatest song, and it’s wonderfully daring and clever for him to hide the best song on the entire record so deep with in the tracklisting. So sure, taken for its surface value this is by no means an accessible album and maybe I kept listening to it because I love lo-fi quasi-experimental garage albums anyway, but take my word, give Scary Monster Juice enough of a chance and it will reward you like no other.
It’s on sale here on CD on Dead Dog Records, and cassette on Already Dead Tapes and one of the better cassette labels out now. They’ve really taken some chances, but they consistently have some great releases.”
“Dissonance is the key for this debut full length release by Panda Kid, aka Alberto Manfrin, from the outskirts of Vicenza, northern Italy, but you might ask yourself where are the California girls, actually.
Genuine lo-fi attitude, rancid cacophony, punk and garage, yet wisely dosed with verdant mic saturation, the right verve to surf through an alternative fuzzed wave of noise pop music, a slight 80s vintage touch, with synth, guitars, percussions: – you’ll find yourself on electric shores, armed of out-of-date coconut oil for skin, roasting guitars like marshmallows during a beach bonfire.
Oblique choice since its very hardcopy format: Already Dead Tapes & Records releases a tape cassette version (no worries, mp3 download is included), commercially, a suicidal choice, yet, a cool piece, with 3D graphics and glasses included. For those less nostalgic, the CD version’s released by the Italy-based indie Ugly Dogs.
Maybe not enough brilliant to be memorable, but tracks like Garage on the beach, Arizona, Cookie Weed are alone a reason to yell again save the panda kids, and full respect.”
“One-man experimental lofi beach punk with a little folk thrown in from Italy. Prepare to eat this shit up. Noisy and broken at times, but varied and consistant. I dare you to find a favorite track. Edition of 100 courtesy of Already Dead Tapes.”
“Last year saw Italy’s Panda Kid drop a stellar split with fellow noise-punks No Monster Club, where both acts showed a knack for weaving catchy garage tunes with experimental accessories. The one-man band certainly stood out with his song selections, and it’s no surprise that several of those cuts made their way to his full-length from the end of 2011, Scary Monster Juice. The four tracks on Panda Kid Meet No Monster Club gave the promise of Panda Kid standing out from the pack, and his sound seemed to align him with the likes of garage luminaries such as Ty Segall and Digital Leather. Tracks like “Panda In Space” are pure electronic ambiance, with “Garage On The Beach” and “Surfer Girl” showing PK’s deftness for merging his brittle punk songs with abstract experimentation. It’s these added layers that make Scary Monster Juice so artful, while staying rooted in the bare-bones sound garage music lovers enjoy.”
“Are you in a hurry ? Sorry I cannot help much. This album has been made available on tape only, and is now sold out. There’s a release page on Already Dead Tape, the label, where you can stream a few tracks from the release, nevertheless. Or, alternatively, you can do the same on a little, lesser known website that you probably never heard about, called Bandcamp.
No matter if this album has four tracks that can be found on the previously reviewed split album with No Monster Club. I had big hopes, bigger than big, for this album, since I love Panda Kid’s music since I got the split, one year ago, almost, already. And I was totally and definitively satisfied by it.
Just because, this is a perfectly produced, written and performed piece. But besides this, this is also what I use to call here, a milestone in history of music. The 60′s spirit is highly present, as well as an undoubtedly existing lo-fi touch, for a final result which is among the best cocktails that crossed my path since… Oh, you know, I use to review here, what I think – and this, is only my humble opinion – are the best musical creations ever. Simply. I ain’t have got no time to spend to write about average releases. And this ‘Scary Monster Juice’ is definitively among the gems I consider good enough to have them featured here.
Well, when talking about this release, words can easily become useless. This is the kind of album that actually turns me speechless. I cannot define precisely where its magic resides, nor how it operates, but the aim is reached : Panda Kid achieved one of the greatest achievements in the field of excellence, ever. I know I found something huge. Or something huge found me. In both cases, there’s no way to escape, I simply cannot dodge the colliding, and now I am sure I have one of these releases that I’ll keep on listening for years. The kind of release you simply cannot sleep on.
I feel sorry for you. There’s now almost no more legal way to get it. I am so, deeply, sincerely sorry. Maybe someday you will be able to get your hands on it… To be true, even if I subscribed to the label that released the NMC/PK split, I wasn’t aware of the existence of this album until I reviewed the split here ; then I told NMC about the review, NMC read it (kind ain’t it ? ) and told me about the PK tape (even kinder, would you agree ? )… I rushed to the online store like a racing horse, just to see that there were only TWO copies still available… And, unfortunately for you, when I received my tape in the mailbox during the previous week, I went to check and realised the album is now sold out.
But there’s still hope. 100 copies were produced. That is to say, there’s up to 100 people in the world who currently own it. You can simply try to get in touch with one of them and promise enough money to have him/her selling you his/her copy. It is that simple. There’s harder tasks in this universe. What are you waiting for ? There’s a quest waiting for you !
These tapes are absolute collectors. Cover/booklet art was created by spanish Artist Andrea Barbero, and cassettes are hand painted by Joshua Tabbia. But I said enough now. As I said, it’s time for you to try to get a copy of this masterpiece.”
Problems That Fix Themselves/Micromelancolié – ‘FRACTURES’
“This is a split between two electronic artists. Again, I’d like to say that electronical music is really not my “thing” by any means, but I have been known to enjoy a repeated listen of Aphex Twin’s “Come To Daddy” EP from time to time. The first side of “Fractures” is by Problems That Fix Themselves and it’s very much in the vein of that Richard D. James mini-masterpiece. I don’t really know the correct language to use when describing this stuff, but I can say that Problems’ music is quite complex and utilizes a number of interesting rhythms and textures. Hey now, they even named one track after Jeffery Tambor.
The B side is by Micromelancolié and it’s a lot more slow building, sounding like a room slowly filling with bees transitioning into the dead sound of a record spinning endlessly in its runout groove. Not as instantly ear grabbing as the Problems material, but It’s a good match to the energetic workout you get on the other side.
The tape comes wrapped in a cardboard holder and the graphic design is pretty pro.”
- Cassette Gods
“The title of this tape perfectly describes the contents. A listener finds oneself in the very center of the space ship’s engine system. The cosmic liqueur streams into one’s blood. Metal tendons, buckets and shimmering lamps dance static dances and wink through the wrapped gauze. Harsh noises and trash electronic fall over nebulosities, then fall asleep. That sleep is nervous, unstable. Small tune heads rest on IDM callosities…”
-Dumpster Diving Blog
“Upon beginning to listen to this material, we find ourselves with walls of white noise that, little by little, send us guessing as to where we are being led next. Passages of hypnotic music that explode into a strange form of harmony that touches, for a few moments, something within me. I like to call them ritualistic sounds, when the harmonic repetitions nicely alternate between white noise and distortion. It would easily be possible for us to associate these compositions with the soundtracks in famous movies such as ‘Fando y Lis’, ‘Requiem For A Dream’, ‘Trainspotting’ or videogames like ‘Silent Hill’. The atmospheres heard in this material carry a very good and interesting emotional charge. Recommended for fans of Sun O))).
And moving on, we run into:
Micromelancholie. Relaxing weird static and white noise filled with intrigue. Trance inducing and sublime. The music carried my thoughts to a different place.”
- Axis Of Cosmos
Various Artists – ‘Hello, We’re Already Dead’
“If you’re wanting to get an album noticed, give it a name like this – wrap it up in a beautifully packaged sleeve and let the internets do the rest…
With 21 releases under its belt, ADT specialize in “runs in small editions” brought to the surface world by Joshua Tabbia and Sean Hartman from Chicago, Il. Expect to find hours and hours (or reels to reels) of experimental noise, folk, psych, lo-fi, freeform, & pop flavoured ditties.
Tape #16 is their first-ever compilation. Released as an edition of sixty c60 cassettes, these good folks are also offering up this stunning release as a free download, and as the colder climes start to close in around the UK, this mix of breezy West-Coast surf, scuzz-laden dirge, hypnagogic pop - to the delicate Eno-esque water laden sounds of album closer “Lean” by Ormus this is just what the doctor ordered to keep the winter blues at bay.
Cough Cool appears on this compilation and those who dig his scuzzy vibes can pre-order his next release, a split cassette with Johnny Hawaii, due Jan 2012 on France’s Hands In The Dark Records here.
This label ticks all the boxes for me. Great sounds, great aesthetics, old-world analog cassettes with a nod to the digital superhighway. Fear not, late arrivers & lovers of the non-format, samples of every issue can also be streamed at the labels Bandcamp page. Psychical editions are very, very limited. If you want them, part with your earth tokens now!”
Kyle Landstra – ‘Contemplation through Meditation’
“This might be my favorite. Soothing psychedelic ambient soundscapes for the head.”
-Know Your Conjurer
The Cats’ Orchestra – ‘Coffee Killer’
Equal parts Scott Walker and eerie, melting lounge music, Moscow’s Nicholay Syrov (The Cats Orchestra) is definitely traversing an unusual path in the ever-expanding DIY tape scene. Or maybe it’s just part of this whole ‘New Weird Russia’ thing I keep hearing about. Either way, the slight skewing of instrumentation and recognizable musical elements gives pretty much all of Coffee Killer (out now on Already Dead Tapes) a drunken, zombie-music vibe. The original seed of a song seems to be present, albeit coated in peeling flesh and a rotting odor. To quote the label, you probably won’t come across something quite like this anytime soon.
- Tiny Mix Tapes
“This semi-serious, bittersweet discussion of personal space and the likelihood of lyrical expression is nicely framed by another Moscow project known as The Cats’ Orchestra. Behind that self-deprecating moniker we find Nikolai Syrov, drawing upon what he calls “avant-garde synths, noise, lo-fi [sounds], experimental electronica, and field recordings.” Given that such discord will never be translatable into a decent wage, he admits to earning at least something as a chess tutor. Describing his life further in the third person, Syrov adds: “He spends his time discovering new approaches to music, while writing verse and short plays. He studies early Christian asceticism and Soviet documentary films…”
The effort needed to counter (or merely escape) clamorous actuality has become rather extreme.
Out of an almost charitable desire to archive and care for the smallest, most indistinct music amid the roar of traffic or shoptalk, Syrov also runs the important Dumpster Diving label and related blog. Both are dedicated to tape-based recordings, celebrating the most profoundly amateur sounds of all… come what may.
In the same vein, some recent authorial texts at Vkontakte by Mr. Syrov have pondered the meaning of music – and what it means to engender sounds far from any institutionalized spaces, such as an orchestra pit or studio. With much hope, he reaches the conclusion that “Music does not depend on time or location.” And yet the pressures both of passing time and Moscow’s claustrophobia obviously bring complications. Hence the appeal of asceticism, itself grounded in principles of rejection and removal. Asceticism offers the promise of less.
Some sense of how difficult it can be to divorce penniless creativity from urban custom is heard through Syrov’s fondness for Samuel Beckett’s words, taken from “Worstward Ho” (1983): “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Only through determined, illogical commitment will true opportunity reveal itself.
And, if we look at the reception of The Cats’ Orchestra outside of Russia, the same tensions between life and lyricism are felt by distant listeners. “This is equal parts Scott Walker[!] and eerie, melting lounge music… There’s a drunken, zombie-music vibe. The original seed of a song seems to be present, but it’s coated in peeling flesh and [has] a rotting odor…” Syrov’s US label, Chicago-based Already Dead, places these same sounds “somewhere between experimental [enterprise] and folk.” Between investigation and tradition… between failure and security, even.”
-Far From Moscow
“The Cats’ Orchestra are from Moscow (!) and create a super cool sound of experimental rock with sort of an avant-garde folk vibe. Difficult to describe, but very stunning in it’s originality and beauty. Highly recommended!”
-Know Your Conjurer
“Coffee Killer collects a dozen songs by Nicholay Syrov, experimental musician and poet based in Moscow.
Leaning toward the world-folky side of psychfolk and the majestic side of bedroom avant, Syrov goes one way then another, blending sometimes cute, sometimes somber percussion, plucked guitar melodies, vocals, bells, fuzz and seemingly whatever is on hand into an assortment of tracks that seem very different but jigsaw together completely, gelled by Syrov’s patience, talent, and understanding of space.
The Cats’ Orchestra is bringing something fresh to the indie table: Coffee Killer is reminiscent of the lo-fi, strange-but-sincere, all over the place-ness of early Neutral Milk Hotel, while also baring an enticing element of exotic Russian folk roots. It’s music that comes across as truly refreshing from the first listen to the thirtieth, while bringing to mind a couple of completely out there (arguably unlistenable) 2010 releases by Syrov’s compatriots, Noise Immunity (where are they now? Someone please tell me)*.
Packaged in ornate, transparent slip cases designed by Joshua Tabbia of Already Dead Tapes, a label who made a name for themselves in 2011 as loving purveyors of experimental, well crafted, very limited cassettes, Coffee Killer is meant for those who want something different that’s actually different – something weird but not too weird; gloomy without the goth; fun, but not too fun. As of yesterday only 2 copies of the original 40 remain, so if you want a physical copy, get on this one fast.”
-DJ Aubrey Beardsley
The Binary Marketing Show – ‘Beating an Electric Heart’
“This duo creates an eclectic blend of sci-fi-spaghetti western style rock, fused with experimental electronics. It’s good stuff, definitely check it out…”
-Know Your Conjurer
“I am a small fish living in a small can. I am blind and I love Cocteau. Oh, yes, especially portraits, you know.. Water.. W-a-t-e-r… Well. W A T E R. That’s a vital thing. For everyone. And I say you, water is what I need on a day-to-day basis, you know. WATER. Whyforgodsakeifeelshame??? Now it’s abrupt.. Like the most things we do or care of, or look for, you know. w_a_t_e_r. The life had begun, you know. In a noise. No sounds. Just noise, you know. Just water. A vital thing.”
-Dumpster Diving Lab
Forget The Times – ‘Ver Dis Pond’
“It’s been a few bands ago since we have listened to something a little more experimental. Forget The Times, from Kalamazoo and releasing through Already Dead Tapes, is a collective wall of sound whose noise improvisation is seen through a rotating cast of available musicians with one permanent fixture; Sean Hartman. While listening, it seems as though this band typically has no more than four people screeching and scratching their way to the unforeseen and undetermined end to each song. The first track on Ver Dis Pond, Playing the Tornado Pt 1, starts off with some great ambient and heady noise, but then gets rocky with some off rhythm drumming (which is a re-occurring problem with jam bands…it’s the nature of the beast.) However, it’s not a complete loss as the few men quickly begin to feed off one another and get into a groove that continues into track 2, the part two of track one. It immediately starts with some raw punk noise energy, then slows down into some heavy sustained weirdness that reveals some sporadic simple lyrics, maybe a sample, that wouldn’t be awful had they been through out the entirety of the song. The rest of the tracks, but one, continue the lengthy atmospheric feel with moments of loose math’d acid jazz. The shortest track, More Faster Than You Can Blink, appears to be the only track that could potentially be an organized structured song, but it’s inability to wrangle itself puts it in the same boat with all the others, only much much shorter. Overall, Forget The Times, is a bit sloppy and the drums are much too loud, covering the unpredictable guitar tone (buuuuuut these things are easily fixed with better mixing and some permanent members in the band). So for some uncontrolled, wild, crazy, and loose experimentation take a listen to this band of rotating artists in Kalamazoo and buy a cassette, maybe download it for FREE.
PS. Fairview Island, the last track, is a delicious mouth watering treat of sense-less fuzz, feedback, and drone! Maybe listen to this release in reverse order?”
Mario Gonzalez – ‘SUEISFINE’
“Been meaning to write this one up for a little while now, over-complicating, worrying too much, waiting for something to be more perfect and accomplishing NOTHING, like the idealistic procrastinator that i am.
Sueisfine was sent to me as one of three of the newest batch of Already Dead Tapes, out of Kalamazoo, Mi. and discussed previously in an article on Forget the Times. To be honest, the other two records, a new one by Forget the Times, as well as new releases by Lasso and The Philly Crawlers, but the other records were in .aiff format, and i’m living on borrowed time and borrowed internet, so i ended up getting to spend more time with this Mario Gonzalez record, instead.
A lot of times, i’ll think, ‘o, here’s another tape release. that’s nice.’ or expect to hear another blast of white noise and bowed cymbals, maybe some warbly pop music. There’s a standard of low production, and somewhat low expectations, in cassette culture. Its like, yr a cool dude, i’m gonna buy yr tape, whatever it is.
So i was quite stoked to throw this one on, and have my head pleasantly massaged by fuzzy glitchcore, breakbeats for the late night walk. Ominous, kinda fucked up, and downright sexy, like on [snuff record]. The production, the talent, and the creativity are impressively high, and totally different from the other acts i’ve heard on Already Dead so far. Made me wonder what was going on in Kalamazoo. I was listening to this the night that they had their record release party, and i was out stalking the streets of Portland, Or. Thinking how rad it is that all these folks are getting together, getting their own things going on, sharing with one another. That there is a sense of an archipelago forming, like minded individuals. That there is a common thread. To watch genres and boundaries dissolve, and the huge flourishing of creativity that is resulting, is astonishing.
Sueisfine by Mario Gonzalez is a damn fine record. You should purchase it, in whatever format you most prefer. Its a dark electro late night urban jungle prowl. It is dangerous. It is sexy. It is fucked up. It is brilliant. It is inspiring. If you like things like Third Eye Foundation, or vintage Aphex Twin, you’ll dig this. Seroma (xxx) gets my vote as my official Single of the Month (you didn’t even know i had those, did you?), its spooked, grimy paranoia the soundtrack to feeling homeless in a new city, not knowing many people, where i was, or where i was going.
Soundtrack to dumpster diving.
‘if i’m goin’ down/its with my boots on.’
Expect more detailed reviews of the other records, as i get a chance.
I really love these folks and what they’re doing, and highly encourage you to support them, and any and every rad ass scene going on somewhere.”
“I want to thank Josh for sending this great tape.
When I first heard this record I thought it was too polished. Mario Gonzalez managed to create a work that shows a perfect sound on every stage of its progress. And that’s amazing. Each move is measured, each turn is calculated, each note is in a seemingly one-shot ideal place. Broken electronics and prolate sound waves move under the guise of trip-hop analytics in quite unshaped directions and that puts the whole thing in a field of controversial collisions. At times dance, at times experimental stuff, always ambiguous…
Buy the cassette from Already dead tapes.”
-Dumpster Diving Blog
“Chicago musician Mario Gonzalez jumps from one style to another with amazing ease, crafting harsh, abrasive ambient pop ballads, glitched and zonked out sampledelica and filthy, cut-up walls of sound set to deconstructed, out-of-context hip-hop/dubstep beatz. Already Dead Tapes record label describe Mario’s sound as “young Aphex Twin, with angst and girl problems”. I’d like to add he also sounds like Amon Tobin falling in love with British late 70′s industrial scene and Japanoise (and the fetishistic imagery connected to it).”
Lasso – ‘The Return Of Lasso’
“Incredibly refreshing lofi country music out of Kalamazoo, MI. Layers of reverb and haunting vocals give this a psychedelic vibe that seems pretty hard to come across within such a streamlined genre.”
The Philly Crawlers – ‘Ethnic Pants’
“Ha, this is perfect. Howling guitars, summertime vocals, lo-fi confused drums and beautiful climactic synth unite under this caressing forgiving sky and make you send unfettered smiles to people around. And not because it’s hilarious – it’s not! – but because it’s life-asserting, yeah. Music like this proclaims that everything is possible simply because one’s always gets what he really wants like a stalker near the golden sphere. Music like this proclaims that one more attempt is always worth trying. Music like this - proclaims.
Music like this tells you, See you tomorrow.
grab a cassette from Already dead tapes.”
-Dumpster Diving Blog
William Bowers – ‘Soundtracks #2′
“There’s certain types of music which does nothing but evoke images in the minds eye; be it of a graveyard, a sprawling valley vista, or a bustling downtown ghetto. William Bower’s Soundtracks #2 had me thinking time and time again of an opium den. This may sound morbid, but it isn’t for the depressive sense. The sheer lo-fi grind of several of the pieces made me think of the sheer carelessness involved with getting high, a place where all else fades away and you can stare at a wall for hours without realising what you’re doing.
Beginning with the almost doom sounding grind of “Ene” much if not all of the release wallows in the same lo-fi waters, as if it were recorded with some shitty mic directly onto the tape it comes on. Slowly rolling, barely discernible chords billow and lurch against one another, giant monoliths of noise tumble back and forth. “Partono All alba” begins much the same way, almost as if it’s cut from the same fabric as the track before it. Much of the sound here revels in its own obscurity, and never once attempts to let you in. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it means you need to actually LISTEN if you want to get inside. “Dacies Theiery” employes more of the same subtle panning and overdriven warehouse sized stacks of noise….. this release deserves to be played loud. On “Ix xe”, a piano makes a sombre appearance, playing a drawn out single note melody across an expanse of open space. Closer “The Man Who Fell From Grace With the Sea” is pre-empted by a curious vocal sample at the end of which seems to sum up the whole release perfectly; if you listen to this closely enough, it feels like you’re on the inside of it, and everything around you is moving.
Alot of what i’ve described might sound like i’m ready to shoot myself, but curiously, there isn’t much about this edition that i could describe as “depressing”. Instead, i think i’d describe it as curious, mainly because that’s how it made me feel. Released on cassette, a format which revels in sound of this type, Bowers has set free a collection of incredibly lo-fi closet soundtracks. Clocking in at just over 25 minutes, it’s just long enough to be palatable. Just don’t consider playing it on a sunny afternoon. You’ll be confused as shit.”
- Nick Giles, Cyclic Defrost
“Another one from Already Dead Tapes, a bit different than anything else I’ve ever had on here; this one is an ambient album. The songs leave you in an almost brain-dead state, clearing the mind of all but subconscious thought. Your breathing slows; you float. It’s like a soundtrack to cloudwatching; but hey, the label describes it better than I ever could:
William Bowers works primarily in synthesizer, tape, piano, and musique concrete to form a very desolate, cold ambiance. Drawing heavy influence from composers such as Basinski, David Lynch, Philip Glass, and Silas Ciarán, Bowers focuses on mood and atmosphere versus technical composition.
Already Dead Tapes, from their catalog that I’ve heard so far, has been squeezing out awesome experimental noise/rock/whathaveyou, but being relatively new, I’m getting excited to see what else they’ll have to offer in the future.”
-Toxic Molar Buddha Khan
“An ambiental trip from William Bowers. The first few tracks are incredibly dark and murky, floor-shaking bassy escapades into the world of the uncertain, arousing the fear of the unknown (“Drawing heavy influence from composers such as Basinski, David Lynch, Philip Glass, and Silas Ciarán”). The last tracks are more melodic and lighter, while still staying in the great lo-fi plain. A late night listening session for the seasoned droneheads. Released on Already Dead Tapes & Records.”
- Weed Temple
“First of all, I’m in love with cover arts and package design the guys from Already Dead Tapes make for their cassettes. It’s so minimally beautiful and tasty!
On this nice tape Mr. Bowers presents to us four lo-fi, concrete and even old avant-gard ambient tracks which end up with a fifth one – surprisingly more melodic and drone-based. Fragile and refrangible sound lines are accommodating some kind of fleshy sun energy and put it lingeringly and caressingly in each skin pore of your body.
-Dumpster Diving Blog
“If your ideal summer soundtrack is more “Basinski” than “beach-ready”, then you will feel right at home within the mysterious darkness of William Bower’s brand new tape release Soundtracks #2. On his latest album, Bowers incorporates lurching tape loops and elements of musique concrete to knit a claustrophobic sweater of noise and atmosphere. What makes Soundtracks stand out from most other drone tapes, however, is the sheer beauty and visceral emotion of every movement. Bowers communicates powerfully through these recordings and it is truly in your best interest to listen immediately to this totally killer tape.”
- Zen Effects
John Micah Rapp – ‘Catharsis’
“John Micah Rapp took an incredibly ambitious route to record one song a day over the course of six months. The double cassette Catharsis, released on Chicagoan label Already Dead Tapes & Records is a compilations of John’s favorites from that time. 24 compositions, spanning a vast variety of genres, including quiet intimate folk, psychedelic drone, stoner rock, skewed dub, weird synth rock and an overall outsider bliss. For fanz of distorted guitars and electronic beatz.”
- Weed Temple
Foohgawz – ‘Chapter 7′
“The 5th cassette release from Chicago-based Already Dead Tapes is Foohgawz ‘Chapter 7′, an experimental electronic recording that ventures all over the map in one continuous feed of audio.
Starting out the gate with an eerie wind tunnel of a drone, slowly creep in the electronic beats and rhythms that are present on and off throughout the duration of the program. Cycling pulses and symphonic wails make frequent appearances, with what seems to be real guitar making the occasional pop-in. While essentially one piece of music, as there are no breaks, the mood is ever-shifting and does not get caught up in redundant electronic dub club ennui.
About a third of the way into the tape, seemingly out of nothing, a female voice enters the mix and suddenly we are cast into a Portishead-like trip hop piece for a few minutes, and just as quickly, right back into an electronic drone, never to revist anything remotely this song-oriented again in the remainder of the tape, almost as if this were a cass-single for this pop song with bonus material wrapped on both sides, though not “filler” by any means.
I’m not certain if “Chapter 7″ is a story, but it seems to end violently, with funeral bells, turbulent electronics, and what sounds like a car crash. This is how side A concludes, and there is nothing to be found on side B. This is a very singular and unique release, shrowded in mystery; the cassette itself is plain white, and aside from the artist name and title, the only other information found in the packaging is the address for Already Dead Tapes, rendering the average person clueless as to who, where or what is behind all of this. A little bit of modern-day stalking (i.e. the internet) reveals that a man named Alex Meissner, a former Kalamazoo resident now in Orlando, Florida, is the sole force behind this project. He has been playing around with this style since 1998.”
Forget The Times – ‘Escape From The Planet Of Llamas’
“What are we to do with noise-rock? I suppose ‘listen to it with an open mind’ is one option. Or you can write off the entire genre altogether. Hey, it’s your call!
Okay, maybe we all do it. Everyone is close-minded in some aspects, right? I don’t give that much of my attention to rap-rock. Then again, I probably wouldn’t take it upon myself to review a rap-rock album.
Let’s assume you’ve gone with option A and not completely closed the door on a vast catalog of music that goes back some fifty years or more. This brings us to the newest cassette release from the Kalamazoo/Chicago-based Already Dead Tapes.
What’s important to understand before you pop in “Escape From the Planet of Llamas” is that Forget the Times is a band attempting to turn music on its head, to take from elements of rock, psychedelic, free-jazz, noise, and other experimental forms in order to create something that sounds atypical. The songs this Kalamazoo band creates are largely improvisational, often only beginning with an agreed upon key. From there, it is up to the whims of the three guitarists, Peter Cook, Sean Hartman, and Benji Myers and drummer Jarad Selner what happens next. The four musically free-associate and play off each other for an undetermined period of time and then end when it feels natural.
This isn’t exactly revolutionary. Many, many artists over the years have decided to take this or a similar approach in creating their music. To say that you’ve heard nothing like this before would reveal an ignorance of a sub-genre even greater than that of myself, a relative novice in the world of noise and noise-rock – especially when compared with the progenitors of “Escape,” who certainly aren’t afraid to wear their influences proudly. Track four exemplifies this clearly as the title, ‘Fly V Gtr Made of Real Live Honking Geese,’ is a direct nod to experimental superhero Captain Beefheart and what he himself described as his biggest musical influence.
Making sonic connections like this is part of what makes listening to this tape fun for me. The opening track, ‘Early Morning Rabbit Hole,’ seems aptly titled with its frantic, alarm-like tones. Wonderful visuals can be concocted when listening to ‘Deinonychus Dreamland’ or ‘Here Comes the Wolfman,’ though none of this association is absolutely necessary to appreciate what’s going on here.
What is essential is to keep an open-mind. Forget the Times aren’t claiming to reinvent the wheel. But it’s interesting to hear where these individuals personally want to take music as members of the newest generation of noise-rock architects. Plus, you’ve got to appreciate the audacity of those willing to devote themselves to a relatively unpopular niche genre.
‘Escape From the Planet of Llamas’ comes in an attractive package to boot. I’ve got to hand it to the budding tape and record label for coming up with such instantly intriguing album art and for the super sleek choice of translucent dark blue cassettes. Everything about this makes me want it.
Look out for this album whenever Forget the Times is around to play a show. You can pick it up for cheap. And keep your ears pricked up for their next release on vinyl. These folks keep themselves busy.”
- DIT Kalamazoo
“forget about it, it’s kinda boring”
“Vaguely annoying, but inconsequential.”
-Some Folks On Discogs
“Like a skronk version of Tortoise’s Seneca or Eight Cognition from Six Organs of Admittance’s School of the Flower, the :58 seconds of Early Morning Rabbit Hole heralds the arrival of Escape from the Planet of the Llamas, the most recent endeavour from Kalamazoo, Mi’s Forget The Times. Of course, any band that lists Captain Beefheart, U. S. Maple, Derek Bailey, and The Dead C is probably not gonna give it up so easily, and they quickly dismantle the groove after the funky breakbeat opening of Ponchos and Python Boots. These young men are clearly the type who enjoy the unknown, experimentation, exploration, unexpected surprises and happy accidents.
Let me brief and to the point: you better fucking like improvised music, to give this one a spin. Luckily for me, (and for you), i do, and have invested a few hours this week, getting into the intricacies of these 8 tracks, and have found the experience to be reward, rather invigorating, i must say, a blast of fresh air, so to speak. The patient listener, the adventurous ears, are rewarded with moments of real fucking beauty here, like personal favorites Beausoleil Moon Frye(which gets my vote for song title of the year, so far) or Deinonychus Dreamland, either of which could be a Mogwai guitar work-out, with a ragged backbeat. But over the course of an hour, you will be subjected to funky breakbeats, guitar sturm and drang freak-outs, even the odd moment of humor, like the strange oompah cacophany of Flying V Gtr Made of Real Live Honking Geese which is another excellent name for a track. What really is the saving grace for this album is that these are clearly 4 experienced and sensitive musicians and improvisers, listening closely, and allowing the music to dodge and weave and warble and waft, soar and plummet, ready to dive into whatever challenge or nook or cranny or whatever that may present itself at each turn of the dime.
What is the utterly best thing, for me, about this release, is an exciting de-fibrillation of vital organs of adventurous musicks that have gotten soft and saggy and stale over time. They are able to employ the beauty that we all loved about Post-rock with its symphonic guitars, without resorting to a generic loudQUIETloud cliche, or the anything goes spirit of jazz that seems to have fled, or at least fled underground, for a long long time now.
Let me be blunt, one last time: i fucking love these musicks, and it is a crying goddam shame to see them get so stale and bland and marginalized. I cheer! yes cheer! to see d00ds from Michigan, breathing some fucking life into these Exquisite Corpses.”
- J’s Heaven
“Out of Kalamazoo, MI, come these folks, dubbing themselves FORGET THE TIMES, wielding their swaying rhythms of broken guitar melodies and jazzy swagger. At times completely chaotic, other times slightly more relaxed (slightly), but all the while a feeling of panic and confusion soaks the songs. For free improv, jazz influenced noise rock, these guys is hip.
Escape from the Planet of Llamas was released on cassette by Already Dead, a recently new tape and vinyl label also based out of Kalamazoo, MI, co-run by Sean Hartman of this very band. The first two songs, ‘Early Morning Rabbit Hole’ and ‘Ponchos and Python Boots,’ fully let the listener know what they’re in for; the tight spasms of three layered guitars and a lone drummer, all attacking each other for control over the bystanders’ ears. This in turn moved onto the epic 12 minute jam, ‘Beau Soleil Moon Frye,’ and the most frantic song on the album, ‘Flying V Gtr Made Of Real Live Honking Geese.’ Every now and then you can catch a glimpse of some of their influences, namely U.S. Maple or Captain Beefheart for the off-kilter songs and harmony. A great part of me hears some Gorge Trio thrown in there, with the improv jams of a constructed nature.
The album plays out like a post-apocalyptic landscape, constantly mutating and adapting itself to destroy us.”
-Toxic Molar Buddha Khan
“Otro cassette más de Already Dead Tapes. Noise rock esta vez, aunque es un poco difícil de catalogar. Son improvisaciones más que nada, aunque ni idea, pero suenan muy “libres” los temas, como si no hubiese nada planeado. Pero tocan la raja, el disco no decae en ningún momento. Recomendado si están buscando un sonido más fresco.
Ahora, los links: tres opciones para elegir, mis estimados. La de MediaFire es mi subida, tags correctos, portada en el archivo, lo de siempre. Está en 320 kbps por lo demás. El de Megaupload es el que la banda me dio para ustedes, hay unos temas sin tagear (.aiff, por eso pesa más) y está desordenada, pa’ que andamos con hueás. El link de BandCamp es el BandCamp de la banda (beh), pueden aportarles algo por el disco, pero ahí ven ustedes. Pueden comprar la copia física por el sello si gustan.”
-42 Is The Sense Of Life
Problems That Fix Themselves – ‘Seconds’
“Joshua Tabbia’s Problems That Fix Themselves project manages to explore just about every nook and cranny of bedroom production capabilities. In utilizing so much on his sophomore album Seconds, Tabbia quickly transports from genre to genre; from mournful folk balladry (with vocal accompaniment by his wife, Tori Blade) to fractured IDM to peaking blasts of noise, Seconds salvages a diverse combination of influences– which is not much of a surprise considering that Tabbia has shared the stage with the likes of Daniel Francis Doyle, Xiu Xiu, and even AIDS Wolf.
Problems That Fix Themselves would fall under any of the aforementioned labels if it weren’t for how shrouded each of these dabblings are in their own amateurishly recorded mystique. Luckily, Seconds doesn’t gaudily present its diversity by way of abrupt changes; it smoothly and naturally departures from one concept to the next. Acoustic guitar buried in decaying noise manages to inconspicuously transition into hissy, sample-laden hip-hop beats. Though it may seem like a stretch, the plethora of directions taken nestles itself into the homegrown obscurity that this album’s theme retains.
Seconds shows both plentiful creativity and variety in its minimal compositions. The low and, at times, harsh fidelity adds to the charm of each of these 10 pieces. Its variety lends it an open-ended structure, leaving the listener completely unaware of what will come in the following tracks. Seconds’s unpredictability creates a certain intensity, one that conjures unease within each piece, even at its most digestible moments.”
- Olive Music
“Amateurism may be the only escape from the tyranny of culture. I am not saying that Joshua Tabbia’s bedroom noise manipulations are terribly done or that Tabbia isn’t an ace musician, all I’m saying is that Problems That Fix Themselves tape destructions are do not adhere to any “professional” rules regarding style or aesthetic beyond their limited means of production. There isn’t any attempt to capitalize on being lo-fi, being wasted, being young, being ironic, being ecstatic, being depressed, being hard, being naïve, or being (or doing) anything beyond just creating sounds. With this in mind, Tabbia hits almost every base in terms of what is possible with a tape machine and some scattered instruments lying around a messy bedroom.
Seconds jumps around from surging downer drones, to ridiculous, cracked hip-hop beats from a consumer grade keyboard, to Books-style found-sound sampling, circuit bending aural terrorism and at least two heartfelt passages by guest vocalist (and wife) Tori Blade. With his avoidance of sticking to one idea for too long, Seconds is one of the more intriguing noise records to show up in our inbox this year. I enjoy a good pummeling every once and awhile. A 40 minute full-nelson of cochlear destroying slabs of noise hits the spot every once and awhile. Harsh tones are plentiful on Seconds. They show up, at times, in spurts and fits, completely jarring the listener if the headphones are turned up too high. But Seconds isn’t harsh per se, it certainly isn’t menacing, or violent, it is just…abrasive even seems too intentional. It is just loud. The oscillating tones of “Jesse Duke” and the sand storm guitar squalor on “Song w Someone” get the closest to keeping the listener at arms length. When the noise is tempered just a bit we get downright gorgeous tones. The submerged drone of “JOB” is an excellent case in point. Heavy handed keyboard lines are plunked over submerged drones that lap gently underneath the ocean-upon-ocean of feedback static. “Ladies of Harley” does a similar thing.
In terms of real beauty on Seconds Tabbia has chosen to bookend his album with two overtly gorgeous tracks that feature the vocals of Tori Blade. The opening melody of “Noelle”, with its faux-organ (or melodica) chord progression and Blade’s almost operatic delivery is truly stunning. The melody is later repeated and recycled on the album’s closer “Jason Deeblecourt (seconds edit)”. Tabbia’s decision to begin on end on an otherworldly beauty swirling beneath the pall of tape hiss, simple keyboard lines and buzzing noise encapsulates the spontaneous and eclectic nature ofSeconds, where every idea is a good one.”
- Tome To The Weather Machine
“The third release from Kalamazoo/Chicago-based label Already Dead Tapes is ‘Seconds’ from Problems That Fix Themselves, the focus of former Kalamazoo resident and Rotten Wood Moon member Joshua Tabbia, who recently migrated to Chicago.
‘Seconds’ finds Tabbia (with a little help from Tori Blade and Grow Fangs’ Ray Jackson) exploring a wide palette of sound in the electronic/noise territory, but that double-description unto itself does not do justice to this widely varied release. The instrumentation ranges from synths, samples, and static to acoustic guitars, something that sounds like accordion and maybe a melodica (if they aren’t organ or keyboard imitation), recurring pieces of an oddly-phrased man doing spoken word and even bits of Conway Twitty songs. More often than not, there is a beat, groove, pulse or melody to latch onto, maintaining enough hooks amidst the madness to encourage even somewhat-sensitive ears to come back for repeated listens and find more to behold in the less-accessible sections.
The album begins with a peacefully sparse, subdued lullaby sang by Tori Blade entitled “Noelle”, a complete surprise to me upon first listening. It’s a wonderful album opener and, despite the reappearance of Blade’s singing toward the end of the tape and a reprise of the melody to “Noelle,” this is definitely an anomaly on ‘Seconds’. If this opening piece does nestle the listener into the cozy Land of Nod, their slumber shall quickly be disrupted by the jagged edges of sonic shrapnel which follow.
Despite the abrasive tone of much of the sound found on ‘Seconds’, it should be noted that little-to-none of it feels aggressive or, more specifically, violent. This is FUN noise, colorful and inviting. Even “Gone,” which ends side one and is a bit eerie, is far from threatening. Side two opener “Virginia Woolf” contains the random previously-mentioned Twitty bits bookending the most industrial soundscape found on this release, falling very close to sounding like Nurse With Wound before the electro drum beat kicks in half-way through the piece. This track can currently be heard at Problems website, http://www.problemsthatfixthemselves.com/
An exciting adventure that only gets better with repeated listens, this release shows a man (with a little help from his friends) on top of his game.”
- DIT Kalamazoo