New Batch – Czaszka
7.19.17 by Ryan Masteller
Czaszka. What does it mean? Where’s it from? How do you even pronounce it? You guys – you’re totally in luck, because I have answers to all those questions, maybe even a few more if you read far enough! The Edinburgh-based label is run by Polish expat Michał Fundowicz, and “Czaszka” means “skull” in Polish. Look at me putting two and two together, as if the internet didn’t help me write this whole thing anyway! That’s two questions answered. Here’s the third: ˈt͡ʂaʂka. Now you know. And now you should also know that Czaszka, “raw ideas since MMXVI” (and that’s 2016 to the rest of you, because didn’t they take away Roman numerals in our schools? Or was that cursive writing? Doesn’t matter – all our kids will be illiterate in a generation or two), is at the forefront, the cutting edge of experimental music. Or at least the label fits itself in just super nicely with the other niche performers across multiple genres. They’ve got a nice cross-section of releases spanning electronic, ambient, drone, field recording, etc., and you should do yourself a favor and check them out. In fact, read about a couple I wrote about already. You’ll probably like them. Now where was I? Oh yeah, summer batch!
Raw ideas – it doesn’t get more raw than Giovanni Lami’s field-recorded compositions. Scratchy tapes play found sounds, manipulated through mics and magnetized back onto tapes, an ouroboros of sonic friction carefully composed by a dude who knows his way around recording equipment. Look, I’m not going to pretend to know what Lami’s doing, I’m not a gearhead – I’ll let you go read it for yourself. Suffice to say that it’s pretty cool. Oh, and did I mention? (I didn’t, I reviewed what I wrote just now.) “‘Hysteresis II’ has been recorded on the volcanic site of Solfatara, Pozzuoli (Naples).” On a volcano?!? Take THAT you amateur musique concrètists! You think your ambient reflections of abandoned factories or forest-at-night sound collages are any match for a freaking volcano? They’re not. (They’re still cool though – Giovanni Lami’s just got you beat.) “Hysteresis II” is two sides of this, each literally titled “10:00,” the length of each track. There’s even weird muffled yelling at the end of side B, as if the volcano suddenly erupted and everyone was about to become engulfed in lava. Or maybe they just saw something worth exclaiming about, who’s to say. The words are slowed down and muffled. Everybody’s probably OK. In fact, I know they are – there’s video to prove it!
We continue our (admittedly now-volcanoless) journey through these three tapes with lopness, annoyingly lowercase just to mess with me in case I want to begin a sentence with “lopness.” Let’s see how I do. (And if you’re thinking “I wonder if there’s a lopness monster,” you’re REALLY not the only one.) This collabo between Bruno Silva (Ondness) and Pedro Lopes (Deadact) was fully improvised during a recording session in Berlin. It sounds … weird? But good weird, fun weird, weird like there’s a lot of backmasking and other manipulation and it’s hard to find footing among the weirdness, and since Lopes plays “turntables like they’re full-fledged instruments,” pretty much anything goes. (Silva does “sound processing,” like that’s a “thing” or something. Actually, whatever he’s doing is pretty damn cool too.) “Cena Holding” is certainly a tape that keeps moving, keeps flickering, keeps shifting, tones and moods quickly emerge and just as quickly submerge, and the result is a surprise of unsteadiness whose movements are the main attraction. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving (…you vertigo)! In a manner destined to have you hitting the rewind button, that is.
Like Lami, I’m not a stranger to Új Bàla either, having covered Gabor Kovacs’s “Butcher’s Tears Dry Slower than the Average One’s” (grammatical errors like nails on a chalkboard still) as part of a cop-out “Lightning Round” in November 2016. And I want to quote myself here, because I’m allowed to, and also because I think this is still a pretty apt description for an Új Bàla release: “Squirrelly, gutter-dwelling sonics spew through the monitor of my computer, drenching the virtual ‘desktop’ (as it were) with foul seepage.” Ooh, it’s like a super gross party, and now my keyboard doesn’t work! Kovacs continues to hurl heavy-beat-ed electro clusterbombs in our general direction, hoping that the sonic shrapnel embeds itself in our ear canals and causes us to shake what our mothers gave us. Yeah, “Breatharian High Society” totally succeeds in getting itself stuck in your head – as the relative “party starter” of this batch (and it’s barely relative – Lami and lopness are for bookworms, essentially, but make no mistake, in a good way), it’s an excellent entry point into what Czaszka’s got going for it. Don’t worry, it still squiggles and lurches enough that those turned off by “accessible” will still have something to latch on to. So come for the corrosive dancefloor catnip, stay for the mind-altering experimentalism.
Each professionally duplicated cassette comes with “trippy cover printed on super nice paper” and a “special blue case.” You’ll really want to … LOOK AT THESE TAPES! (Maybe.) Purchase here (Definitely)!