Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cassette Review:
"Грезящий Город - Подручные Материалы"

€5 //
Edition of 20 // //

This cassette begins quietly, with scattered sounds that appear to be in a large area with great acoustics.   It has to have a large ceiling and I can think of a place in my mind where I went once- I think it might have been the capitol building in Austin, Texas but I'm not sure.   Darker guitar riffs come through with spoken words now which I can only assume are audio clips.   A banging comes in as well but it feels more industrial than anything else.  Aside from the audio clip this could easily turn into a NIN song ("The Fragile" era) at any moment and I'd see it coming.

A lot of the sounds seem to fade and it gets quieter as the spoken words continue.   Outside, an ambulance starts its sirens up and somehow seems fitting to the piece but is something which cannot be done again.  Do you ever get those moments in music?  You'll listen to something and an outside force just seems to blend in with it so well- maybe your neighbors arguing or a link you opened that started playing a song without you clicking on it- but you can't make it come back because it was so random?  I love moments like that.

This has become rather quiet and minimal now.  A sense of darkness still, words spoken quietly, and it has that boiler room feel to it overall.   A ringing drone comes in and begins to build now.   There are some odd noises as if someone is stumbling around a room but that drone persists.    An audio clip now is talking about a love letter.     And then a sample of a song which sounds like Elvis Presley as well.   The audio clip and song are somehow combining and the actual music (such as the drone) has faded now.  This makes me want to watch "3000 Miles to Graceland" now.

As the audio clip seems to be anything but dead, it sounds as if it has grown sexual now... and violent.    The words go back to the original part and Elvis continues to sing.   He says: "You know what a love letter is?  It's a bullet from a gun".   Google has made it so that I can see that this is a quote from the movie "Blue Velvet", which I saw once but it was so long ago now I feel like I want to watch it again.   A different kind of audio clip comes through next with a different style of music to accompany it.   It almost has a carnival feel to it.

Static begins to come through as a radio frequency and it also sounds like heavy breathing.   This goes on for a while but then beats come in followed by more words I feel are an audio clip.    This brings Side A to a close and it had some momentum going with Elvis but seemed to kind of fade out there, which is a good way to go because this was a lot to take in for just one side of a cassette.   I like to think of the flipping of sides here as a sort of intermission.

Side B opens with a slow drone and then there is speaking, which I believe to be in Russian.   This takes on the sound of a woman moaning, which brings me back to that sexual idea from earlier.    As we stay in that abyss drone, some rocking beats come into the sound and this one has been quieter than most anything on the first side up until now but it has this build now like an old air raid siren.     The beats fade, that dark drone in the background continues and I hear some definite X-rated moans.    There is also this singing in with everything else and it's quite the combination. 

We are now taken into the sound of water.  It sounds like water dropping into more water, but also like someone kind of moving around in it as well.    Sirens from outside mix with it again and I kind of live near the center of the city but not in too bad of an area right (Right??)   There is a hollow aspect to this as well.   Church bells tone now, as if on the hour.   As it did to end the first side, this also just sort of drones out and fades away as it ends overall.

While this cassette has many drone qualities to it, a more minimal and quieter approach to things, there are enough other aspects of it to engage a listener who might not like drone.   From audio clips to beats to the sounds of pleasure, this is definitely a new take on a genre (or perhaps a combination of genres) which has seemingly seen it all.   Just when you think you've heard it all though, you'll listen to Burlestor and be proven otherwise.

Cassette Review: Imbue "Ghost Stories" (Already Dead Tapes)

$5 //
Edition of 100 // //

"Ghost Stories" begins with this grinding sound which has talking and a drone sense mixed in with it as well.   Beats begin to set the tone for what I initially thought was going to be instrumental hip hop, but as it turns out there is a song on here (the title track) which has a guest spot by iAlive and Carl Kavorkian so one of the songs does have words.   I had tried to place this in the world of hip hop though-- I tried to imagine if it had words over the beats who it might sound like and could come up with no comparison.

There is a nice rhythm in these songs.   They are somewhat dark and can take you into this pulsating beat which sounds like the Tell-Tale Heart.   As it  gets quieter it begins to give off more of a horror movie vibe which also has me thinking of that soundtrack to "Judgment Night".    As we get into the titular track though it feels less haunted in the sense of ghosts floating around and making ghost sounds (Which, to be fair, I have heard in music before) and this turns into straight up murder music like Ice T.

Quieter beats get a slightly faster pace as we close out Side A and flip it to Side B.   The talking to open up the flip side is somewhat alien, somewhat like Donnie Darko.    Synths come through in drones and whirr in and out.    This maintains these synth-whirrs and the beats are seemingly gone now which has the fact that this is where the split between sides took place as seemingly making a lot of sense.   But as soon as you begin to think that, the next track returns us to those beats.

Tones which come in with these beats now though are like something straight out of the 1980's.    Have you been watching "Stranger Things" on Netflix because this song could be straight out of that show.    This brings us into a track with static, beats and straight up screams.   Yes, we have entered the funhouse and this is a lot of fun for me but probably not so much for those who are scared more easily.   The last song features Cop Funeral and if you're trying at all to figure out what to call this one: don't.   My early ideas of instrumental hip hop were shot down so just sit back, enjoy the ride and try not to get too freaked out.

Cassette Review: Kirsty Porter / C. Reider Split (dubbed tapes)

$7 //
Edition of 40 // //

When I saw this split cassette from C. Reider I kind of knew I wanted to hear it as I've reviewed the music of C. Reider before.   After some time I ended up on the dubbed tapes Bandcamp page and saw this deal where you can get their previous releases as a bundle (the cassettes which came before this) and such that sort of started this whole adventure of reviewing music from dubbed tapes.    It's just amazing that I often times expect a split to introduce me to a new artist if I already know one of them (which is the case here) and yet this somehow introduced me to an entire cassette label.

This cassette starts off softly with what sounds like a bass guitar.    Guitar notes come through in that wah way, like Frampton.   It can float back and forth between this hollow place and outerspace but remains fairly trippy nonetheless.   I can almost hear a voice now.   There is definite singing now and it just adds to the overall psych qualities of this song.    Hollow, glass-like tones begin to sound as if they're playing scales in space.   There is a definite drum banging now as I also can hear cymbals doing their thing slowly.   This also is combined with another bass riff- different from the one at the start- and this has turned into an almost rock number now, like "Bleach" era Nirvana.

A dog can vaguely be heard barking in the background as the slowed down rock continues.     It's grown into an ambient feel really.   I feel as if we are drifting carelessly through time and space.    After a slight pause the drumming begins to come in quite heavily and I think this is the third song.    It's just this flurry of percussion that makes me feel like I'm drowning now.   Tones are mixed in which also make me think of the "Jeopardy!" theme for some reason, but these banging drums will likely be all you will hear over everything else.    Radio frequency whirrs and other electronics grow to a true sense of loud before it all comes crashing back down into a quieter place.

Acoustics come back in with vocals and these magical keys.   Somehow, as it breaks down, it begins to remind me of The Doors which, yes, means it has brought me back to that trippy place after all the chaos of the percussion.    As this cassette nears the end of Side A (not a lot of dead air on this one) I can only feel like I'm only halfway through, I've only experienced one of the two artists on here, and it already feels like it is worth the time taken to listen to it.

A swirl of electronics begins Side B.   It's this weird almost helicopter whirring sound with these other electronics behind it which resemble owls to me.    A slight beat coming through now, perhaps not a drum but a bass note.    That all fades out as a swarm of bees can be heard now with higher pitched tones that might make a dog run out of the room.   It almost sounds like a modem at one point as the beeping gets heavier.   But then it can also somehow mimic a bird call, which is odd with the sound behind it sounding like bees so it's, you know, the birds and the bees like you've never heard them before!

Louder tones come through now which make me feel like we're somewhere between an electric razor used to cut hair and an airplane.    Higher pitched tones come through the background as well.    Magical tones come through next and it has that MOTU movie keyboard feel to it, even though those higher pitched sounds remain in the void of space still.     It really starts to open up when it sounds as if it could be a field recording of a busy highway with cars passing by and great speeds.    This begins to just turn into the sounds of a giant windstorm.

It all quiets down now.   These whirrs come through in descents, as if some form of electronics is dropping off of a cliff.   This gets into a drone now with a beep that could be sonar.    More beeps make me feel like we're really onto something here.    It grows into this crumbling static sense which then has me feel like we're in some sort of field recording where a lot is going on that we can't see and I'm not sure how to describe it exactly either.   A switch seemingly flips and I can briefly hear the sounds of passing cars outside which means that this cassette has reached the point of its filler.

Music Review:
Awkward Geisha / Theo Nugraha
"Rockin' and Rollin' with Theo Nugraha"

After listening to the select works of Awkward Geisha from 2017 via Attenuation circuit, I found myself venturing down that proverbial rabbithole as I wanted to not only more music by Awkward Geisha but all of the music by Awkward Geisha.   It's exciting to me.  They have 35 releases on their Bandcamp page as I type this, several on cassette which are either in my stack to review or on their way to me.   They also seem to have this sort of floating cast of characters, where sometimes someone might appear on a piece and sometimes they might not.  This is noted with "On this recording Awkward Geisha is"; so they're not always the same.

As this is a split I would imagine this could be on cassette- a C20- but it would also serve well as a 7" because that was what 7" singles were originally made for hosting.   Awkward Geisha has a seven and a half minute track which begins with a strong bass line.  Drums, guitar, sax and vocals make their way into this song as well.   It's interesting because this is one long song rather than anything else and it has a trippy feel to it like The Doors.  When I say it is like "one long song" that is because it seemingly has no beginning or end even though it obviously does both.   It doesn't have that verse/chorus/verse feel, which could be seen as ups and downs, but rather more of a straight line across the board.

Theo Nugraha begins what would be the flip side with ten minutes of a harsh noise wall.   It has this loud static sound just like wind blowing in your face and never letting up.  I've been in this type of windstorm before and it is not fun-- you literally feel like you will be knocked over somehow.    The way that this is just unrelenting amazes me and even more to the point this goes on for ten minutes and yet it feels nothing like it.   This seems as fast and to the point as a gunshot and that is the true measure of doing it right.

While I think of the first Awkward Geisha review that I wrote as being a sort of "Greatest Hits", I didn't know where to go from there.   The physical releases I can obtain and the splits only seem fitting because I can listen to other artists as well.   Will I listen to all 35 of these Awkward Geisha releases one day?  Absolutely.  I'm just not sure if I will write about them all.  At the same time, I will now be checking further into Theo Nugraha and as I like to often say: music is the gift which keeps on giving.

CD Review: Death Index "Death Index" (Deathwish Inc.) [Deathwish Inc. 10/$10 #04]

Copy & Paste Intro: One thing we at Raised by Gypsies love is a good deal.   Deathwish Inc. offered up ten compact discs for ten dollars and I could't help but jump on it.   I have received promos from Deathwish Inc. in the past, but between moving and just life in general I'm not sure how many I still have- the only CD I can tell you I still have for certain is by The Dedication.   So take a trip with me, shall you, as I explore ten compact discs for ten dollars.

The music of Death Index comes blaring out of my speakers as soon as I press play on this CD.   A distorted sounding Misfits, dark punk could be a way to describe this.   It could be somewhat post punk, while marching drums and killer guitar riffs cut through the noise.    There is an energy to this and it reminds me of some kind of strange combination of TSOL, Stone Temple Pilots ("Tiny Music" era) and even The Kinks.   This could be Elvis Presley with some sort of modern distortion added in to make it much louder and more closely related to punk.

For a band that hits as hard as it does quickly, it is difficult to write a lot about this.   It seems to come and go within the blink of an eye.  My favorite song is "Lost Bodies" which has this slower, electronic drone sound to it.   It becomes trippy like The Doors or that one Bush song from "The Crow" soundtrack.  "No, I won't leave you here" is sung while there is also talking, drum machines, static and overall just that drone sense.   While it is not the most straight forward of the songs, it does feel as if it could be the heaviest in other ways.

This whole album comes to a close with a lot of distorted destruction which is more instrumental than with words.    I looked up Death Index on Discogs (And I highly recommend *not* doing a google search for "death index") and it appears as if this was their last release which is from 2016 and so I don't think they're still making music.   It's kind of sad in a way, but that's how life goes and if nothing else this album should remind you of just how fleeting life can be. 

On Bandcamp:
In The Deathwish Inc. Store:

Music Review: Gwenno "Le Kov" (Heavenly Recordings)

If you still think that you need to understand the language in which music is being sung than you do not understand music.    "Le Kov" is the second album from Gwenno and while the first album was in English this one is not.   So, in some ways it is a first but also a second.   I suppose it is a matter of perspective.

The music on "Le Kov" is pleasant and upbeat.   At times it can sound like jazz and at other times it can feel like something from a coffee shop.   It has pianos sometimes and at other times there is an electronic synth feeling, so it really does go from one side of the world to the other.    Overall, musically though, I would say this is pop simply because of the mass appeal it should have.   It does not feel overly threatening and yet at the same time it isn't that overly pop type that annoys me (I always go back to that crazy frog when I think of this)

In terms of comparisons there are few to be made.   Austra?  Kimbra?  "Daromres y n Howl" is full of stone cold grooves while the opening to "Hunros" makes me think we're about to venture into TLC's "No Scrubs".   The final song, "Koweth Ker", breaks down into a lot of horns and it just leaves me feeling like this is also something which would appeal to fans of that certain style of rock like Death Cab For Cutie.   Though, overall, if I had to name one influence I could compare this with most I'd say "Odelay" era Beck.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cassette Review:
The Hell Hole Store (Darko the Super & iAlive)
"Return to the Hell Hole Store"
(Already Dead Tapes)

$5 //
Edition of 100 // //

Let's be real with each other: sequels rarely live up to the hype of the original.   From that new Bladerunner movie to "S. Darko" I feel like they get compared too much to the original and that hinders them, but at the same time, yes, there have been a number of sequels I have enjoyed but they are usually part of a larger series (Like Star Wars, what Marvel is currently doing, etc)  I mean, I liked "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" but not nearly as much as the original.   (Then again, that could be part of a series because there is also a movie where Ace Ventura is a kid and it's unintentionally hilarious)

I feel like what can be said about movies and them having sequels or remakes can be said for music as well.   I've had this conversation recently but having this be the "Return to the Hell Hole Store", it will be compared with the original cassette and anything which comes after this likely will as well.  It's that struggle to not create something that sounds exactly like the album before it yet also keeps your listeners engaged because sometimes they're the most stubborn when it comes to accepting the evolving style.

Luckily Darko The Super and iAlive have enough music and pop culture references to keep them busy seemingly forever.   (And it should be noted they have a 7" after this so obviously this is not a typical sequel as it is part of a series of albums now).    The first reference that I really liked in here was to Chris Jericho wearing a scarf.  I thought that was funny, even though "Green Ski Mask" talks about robbing a lot of places I don't think exist anymore.

"Cow Tippin'" reminds me of Afro Man for some reason but after that it goes into that R&B fused hip-hop I feel The Hell Hole Store is best known for creating.   Sounds like A Tribe Called Quest, Das Efx and, well, you get the idea.   Though I also like that they diss both Kanye and Future on this cassette because radio rap sucks.    There is also a song called "Mellow Yello 2" and I've loved Mellow Yellow ever since I saw "Days of Thunder", though it wasn't always as easy to find in Connecticut as it has become more recently.

"Hell Hole Cafe" is one of my favorite songs on this cassette, and in life in general.   They basically tell you not to visit them there because they play The Spits self-titled second album too loudly for you (Which is an odd reference because that particular album came out back in 2002 on Slovenly Records and here I sit, readying a review of an album on Slovenly by The Cavemen) but then they say to make sure you do stop by for movie night on Fridays-- the cover is $15 and they show "Buckaroo Banzai".   Wow.  "Buckaroo Banzai" is one of the most underrated movies of all-time though.  In an alternate universe somewhere, Darko The Super is likely named "The Great Banzai".   Maybe.  I don't know.

There is also a line in here about how choosing Blanka in Street Fighter is bad and I still don't understand why.   I loved Blanka and always did choose him, but I mean, I guess I didn't really win a lot either looking back at it.   I just thought he was the most visually appealing I guess because he's bright green.    Does anyone else remember when Street Fighter characters were made in 3 3/4" style to match G.I. Joes?  I had a ton of G.I. Joes as a kid (Not the aircraft carrier though, I wasn't that kid) and my favorite to go with them from Street Fighter was always Blanka too.

While The Hell Hole Store might not appeal to everyone, it appeals to me and really that's all that matters.   I like to think of it like this.   You can be like me and hear references to things such as "Buckaroo Banzai" and go "Yeah!! That movie fucking rules!!" (I actually own it on DVD and am always considering whether or not to get the Blu-Ray) but I realize not everyone is going to get all of these references.   So if you don't want to be lame, you'll listen to the music because it's fucking great and then when you hear something you don't understand, you'll google it because at the end of the day having seen "Buckaroo Banzai" makes you a little bit cooler.