It had to happen at some point. We couldn’t stave off the inevitable forever, no matter how much – or how little – we tried. And it truly was “how little,” because no one was holding back the Electric Nature but the Electric Nature themselves. And they weren’t even holding themselves back – they were essentially just out there, waiting to carve out some time for themselves to hop in a room together with some recording equipment and lay down some sweet, sweet tracks. Which they eventually did. So – good news, in the end, there’s a new Electric Nature tape (and – gasp! – LP edition on Feeding Tube) for us to gobble and barely chew before swallowing and digesting and disseminating throughout our bloodstream and body in a euphoric rush. Because that’s the effect “Old World Die Must” has on the human person – it goes in fast and intense and results in a massive rush.
You’ve seen it happen, because you’ve seen it in person – the Electric Nature just ripped through a tour for this sucker, so it’s road-tested. Battle-tested, even. Michael Pierce, Michael Potter, and Thom Strickland are the grizzled vets returning from duty, their crushing freak-jazz/earth-scorching noisebient a PTSD-inducing cacophony … or mind-freeing antidote to primitive and insular thinking everywhere. Jeff Tobias (yes, the Sunwatchers/of Montreal/Circulatory System among others guy) plays sax on “Enter Chapel Perilous.” John Kiran Fernandes (yes, the Olivia Tremor Control/Circulatory System among others guy) plays clarinet and violin on “Old World Die Must.” Each side is a wildly different vibe, but there’s a gravity-defying, atmosphere-piercing rocket ready to rip the face right off the sky for fifteen to twenty minutes or so, uniting the two sides in a clear attempt to freak out every square in sight. And there are a million of them, so it’s imperative we get this piping through every loudspeaker in every city before anybody realizes what’s going on.
Loebs is BACK! They didn’t even have a moment to swea–or chomp down a Gatorade for the electrolytes! Coming only half a year after their stellar Orange Milk debut, this new Hyperlink Anamorphosis tape is both new-time shifting R&D as much as a genuine jumping refinement of Loebs’ palette. The liner notes make it clear: about 11 slices of music akin to “second-hand Second Life glitching” or “any % speedrun challenges” across 22 minutes of 2022 live performances from house shows and wherever Loebs was being given full reign of control.
If you don’t know those liner notes, then you may mistake the crispness of these DAW cuts for new Loebs compositions. And the fella’s been seriously figuring out that psychedelic bliss tempo range. Culling from a bag of electronic developments less based in precise rhythms or synchronous drum tempos, Loebs style is ever-present vibe shifts between haptic sounds and what constructivist affect layering instrumentation can reveal. Future funk smackdown here, gabber rail grinding there, a little broken orchestra from just outside the normal, oh and one of those footwork synths that you might as well glide down; this is all just there in the opener Trolley Portal. Every element comes together at the finale, before fizzling out with finesse, enough so that you can seriously lose track of where you are on the tape. This is a benefit to the approach in my opinion, allowing for Loebs to maintain immense hustle and their galaxy brain bag of ideas.
The little fella HUSTLES in compositions like “The Back of the Router” (which its jumpy “HEY!”s) and “Hypertext Reponder”’s major-keg BIG SOUND under sizzlzing drum n’ bass. There’s a progression towards synthpunk sugar rush rushing into the red on (the brilliant fucking titled) “$5-10 Suggested Donation (notaflof),” a cut that fries the bass and turns the synths into subway trains that seem to be just around the corner.
That being said, it’s those pieces near the end that are of immense note. The B-Side itself is a little more airy, with only arpeggios of bleeps keeping a stable reference across the field recording fuckery of “The Word for World.” Even as gamer gabber grab bags light the way, it’s the “Oblique Zing” and “Scenic Overlook” where Andy stretches their noise muscles a tad. You see it a bit during the A-side, when small dispatches of airy synthetic silence pull you out from the mania, but these two together really hit at the haptic overload. Both sound as if Andy just decided to pivot HARD into ZXS Spectrum computer building, but forgot to install the RAM and took a field recorder to whatever alien noises plopped out of there! It suggests a new versatility to Loebs’ bag of tricks.
As much as the versatility of the noise on this tape is such a draw, Hyperlink Anamorphosis’ brevity gives it a walloping punch that also revels in listening repeatedly while on the move. I spent the end of March back in Knoxville for Big Ears, at an airbnb walking distance from Downtown. This became a walking tape on Thursday morning. With cheap headphones in my ears, I quickly realized that there’s incredible potential for Loebs’ sound to bounce off urban zones. The sirens of a real ambulance almost felt within the piece, as did the chipper birds at a crossing, and even the low drone of a car revving or generator a building away. Hyperlink Anamorphosis DOES sounds like 2023 in all its almost-cybernetic glory; a fact that Skye Butchard also brilliantly noted in a piece for the Quietus this month. And I should know! I saw Kate NV performing her own hyperrealist compositions that Loebs equally stands toe to toe with. Could you imagine that?! The russo pop princess and Loebs in a DJ battle of wits? Oh goodness what a dream! I’ll go ahead and get the house show guest list all set up, you can DM me for the address, just $5-10 notaflof.
Pair with a local honey ale and bbq chicken sammich served on a hot dog bun; fries applicable! Edition of 200 available from Jolt Recordings!
Learning about someone posthumously is a messy, beautiful process. It’s happened to me twice over the past year: once when my friend Nick (of the wonderful band Spiral Rash) died and a second time when Sarah “Underhill” Danger passed away. I didn’t know Sarah like I knew Nick, but what little time I spent with her was spent with someone who treated me like I was her best friend even after just meeting in passing a once at Gonerfest. When she died, I regretted not knowing to get her better. I saw the tributes from people in Milwaukee and the people who knocked back beers every year in the Memphis heat with her and felt a strange twinge of guilt along with the expected sadness. That’s obviously selfish on some level, but that’s what’s hard about having a new friend in your life pass away – you end up mourning the person and the friendship that never was at the same time.
Thankfully, Biff (the great bootleg head of Das Boot Tapes) over at Tetryon Tapes released Danger, a tape combining the Mallwalker (Sarah’s band) album that never saw an official release with an incendiary set he recorded live in Buffalo. Another funny connection here – the Mallwalker album was recorded by Eric and Stacy over at Sex Tape Records, who, at one point, tried to court my band Big Clown by telling us that they had the record ready to release. They sent us the album and I never listened to it.
This was the story of my experience with Sarah until summer 2022, when Big Clown made the trek up to Milwaukee to play a show at the fabulous Circle A with the equally fabulous Florida Brothers Band. Sarah was a Gonerfest regular but we never really had an actual conversation. I didn’t see Mallwalker when they played a 4 AM aftershow or when they played the festival proper; I walked in during MOTO’s set two bands after and was told I missed a great set from some band with a wild singer. I filed away the information for later. I saw Sarah, all dyed hair and provocative punk clothes, and knew she had to be cool. I didn’t feel cool enough to talk to her, so I didn’t. She obviously thought my band was cool enough to pump her fist and yell along to our songs at a sparsely attended show (and again at a very chaotic 1:30 AM Gonerfest afterparty that was better attended (we played better in Milwaukee though), so this was totally a me thing. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I wish I had listened to this album while Sarah was still alive. I want to tell her that “Parent Trap” felt relatable in ways that punk songs usually don’t. I want to tell her that laughing about turning into your parents is more worthwhile than hating it. I want to tell her that the sexcapade outlined in the first verse of “Phase” is fucking gnarly and made me wish I could’ve/would’ve raised a Gonerbrau to it at the Hi Tone. I want to tell her that it sounds like this is what she was born to do. Some people just make sense as punk singers. It’s not about the costume (which she rocked, clearly) or the lyrics (which hit the modern punk sweet spot of being funny, gross, and passionate). It’s the venom. It’s the confidence. It’s the charisma. She sings exactly the same as she talked and that’s the kind of energy I crave in my music. So what actually was Mallwalker? Who was Sarah? What did I learn from this tape?
Mallwalker was a good band that absolutely earned their opening slot at Gonerfest.
Mallwalker was the kind of band I don’t think I would’ve appreciated in 2019 if I saw them at Gonerfest. This, again, is a me problem. I have become much more appreciative of energetic performances and opportunities to live in songs than I was in 2019. Ironically enough, that MOTO performance changed a lot for me.
Mallwalker had an absolutely killer bass tone that more punk bands should rip off.
Sarah could front any band and it would be worth listening to.
Mallwalker was clearly special among a heap of other scuzzy four chord floor tom pound punk bands.in my life. It’s impossible for me to separate this band from the context of the tape, its creation, and where I’m at, but I also just don’t want to. This is all I’ve got left of someone who was warm to me and could’ve been someone I got to know better in years to come. It’s worth holding onto that for as long as I can.
Tapes of the fabulous available at the Teyron Tape Bandcamp Page
Alright before I talk shop here about this tape, I need to give a massive tip of my hat to the PR email. I haven’t received a PR email more inventive this year than the one Z. Emerson of Doom Trip Records enthusiastically threw my way after asking “hey is it okay if I send you this PR email that’s really just a big Notes app message?” Finally! Someone meeting me where in 2023 where I resonate most: a giant litany of font colors and links with information that is more in line with feeling like a Web 1.0 page that just blatantly tells me what I need to know and the links worth sharing if I so desire to go further. Wow! PR-heads…take notes. This is how you grab my attention.
Anyways, Doom Trip’s first 2023 tape of the year comes from Heejin Jang. That’s her there central on one of the most evocative and stylish j-cards I’ve seen in a second; a pristine portrait that glistens with a talismanic quality. She trained as a painter but catching a noise performance in 2012 completely shifted what artistic endeavors she was interested in taking up: painting drawn out of noise, more or less. She makes a clear distinction that what she is doing is not rooted in “art” or “music,” but more just general experience. Her work, at least early renditions, were the result of live Max/MSP manipulation (and have been releasing on tape as far back as 2016). And in the past few years has been building in intensity and its capacity for noise textures without being sunk by the sludge, weight, or expectations. The stray dublab session here, an ESS presentation there, and collaborative soundscape work at the start of the decade have been crucial in trying to create a tactile sensory overload. A genuine desire to lose one’s self in the noise.
Me and the Glassbirds caught my ear because quite simply, Jang seemed to have a grip on concise soundscapes that could be abrasively abstract, but also deeply inviting and inquisitive little puzzle boxes of their own accord. That is to say: Me and the Glassbirds is the first real industrial release Doom Trip has curated in their existence as a label. Not a hyper-EBM inversion you’d think the label would shoot for, but an actual legitimate private press noise release that wouldn’t be out of place on Hot Releases or No Rent. Although neither label exactly curates a focus towards the psychedelia that this mode of crafting provides, the bountiful grip on the present experience that with which one can lose themself in. This is perhaps why it makes sense as a Doom Trip release, foreshadowing the uniquely hypnotic and almost-dance characteristics of Jang’s work.
Listening as a full listen as intended and what becomes apparent is Jang’s restlessness. Her palette is one of sensory depraved loops and reverb washed recordings brushed and chiseled down to gaseous states; two matches made in heaven that also could run around like a monotonous carousel if they so desired. They don’t though. Throughout the release Jang seems to be trying to temporally unstick her loops by any means necessary. Mostly that accounts to viciously ascended forms of jamcom’ing. The layering of sounds and beats give the tape a translucent sleekness often missing in industrial of this size. You can barely picture eggs cracking, timers ticking, messages being sent through power lines, and of course the stray cryptid bird noise. But all the while Jang never keeps her foot in one spot long enough to pinpoint and denote a full lineage. Still, her field recordings, drones, or deconstructed club sleights that come through beckon for a novel way of approaching the familiar. An ever present vibe shifts in real time on the release that seems to keep a listener moving.
All of which is confirmed within the central component of this entire release on Our Brief Eternity. It’s a 13:22 track that begs to catch your ear, if only because it is such an upstanding composition of production sleights and asynchronous melodies constructing a universe of its own accord. Part industrial light machine gun pitter-patter routinized and pitch-shifted, another part deconstructed club with tumultuously swinging breakbeats, as much as one giant amalgamation of reverberated bird ambience absolutely off its rocker. A lot of side A teases these pieces, but they do come together into an actual legitimate soundsystem that I’d bury myself under if given the opportunity. Partially because it seems to carry with it its own textbook of influences indecipherable enough into an amalgamation that parallels Twin Infinitives moments of batshit savant electronic wisdom (Royal Trux’s own strung out savant wisdom is one of the closet ancillaries to these sounds). Our Brief Eternity is immensely less strung out than said Trux album, but I detect a similar mania in the razor sharp execution.
If not that mania, a similar deeply ingrained tenacity to chart a sonic roadmap. Me and the Glassbirds does not tell you the name of this place, it merely suggests that alloys and rare earth metals exist here as birds seem to elicit a metallic call. It’s a dimension that always seems to be just between the harmonics of our music systems and the blurs our eyes end up dashing out; a place that really can only be summoned by fucking with Max/MSP and noise as if to tune in to and find a resonate frequency. With that it’s enough to seriously consider that Jang’s unclassifiable style of sound is indeed tapping into various aberrations and specters just outside this world. That is to say, Me and the Glassbirds is one of the strongest listens of the year full stop, and quite frankly the best tape Doom Trip has put out this decade to date. Here’s to hoping for a second edition.
Sold out at the Doom Trip Records Bandcamp! Pester Z to make more tapes because it needs it damnit!
Back in December at Christmas, I found myself inhaling the flawed, but welcomed kranky label history, “You’re With Stupid.” I also found myself immediately making the fawed, but welcome decision to drop dozens of dollars on single digit Kranky catalog titles. You can guess which ones. Actually, you don’t really need to guess which ones: they were Roy Montgomery stuff. I’ve been sort of meaning to finally acquire Dadamah for awhile and spend time with Temple IV, both years removed from cursory radio show plays and an acknowledgement of merit. These releases are haunting and due to their enigmatic fidelity set-ups, practically caught in amber. They are “timeless” recordings that evade easy carbon dating and lucid logic; melodies and nosies that buzz around your head and enact an ancient set of pleasure receptors.
I felt this again recently when I finally turned over to a couple Blue Tapes releases that have been taking up rack space and haven’t been spun in the hi-fi. Blue Tapes is currently up to blue forty-six, but I’m always about half a dozen or so behind, and for good reason: their releases are pretty much timeless and absolute aesthetic gems. If there’s a strength to Blue Tapes’ design rigidity and lack of side delineations, its that the tunes genuinely seem to be reaching out of a linear understanding of music and diving back under the floorboards for transmissions caught in amber just like Montgomery’s guitar work.
Of course, not all of them are going to be guitar or drone. Although, The All Golden’s blue forty-one cassette is! And such a tape is one of the tastiest treats the label has quietly snuck out into the world. Having arrived at the start of December 2021, it was meant to lay dormant and now only be considered now, unfrozen in this moment. And for good reason: this tape is a compilation of tunes 1992-2021.
But what kind of tunes? The work of Pete Gofton of the All Golden, his demos that have been circling various private 4-tracks over the course of those 3ish decades; perhaps originally etched with the name Johhny X. These are the kinds of demos that sound like Dadamah, but with a greater rhythmic pulse instead of a stoned drone, amongst a beckoning lurching omnibus sound of melancholy; when they’re not that they have a rocking stomp n’ swagger to their tone, but still awash in wah-wahs and echoes of voice, not vocals. Bristol psychedelia might be nodded towards, but never outright worshipped. These instrumentals were meant to be filed away and only found now to be overdubbed and finally given the final touches that decades away from time seem to provide.
That is to say, blue forty-one is a genuinely moving set of somber instrumentals that seem to exist in a temporally unstuck sphere; one foot in a bedroom on a 4-track in the 90s and one foot in another room in the 2020s (perhaps on a DAW or the another 4-track?). A momentary lapse of time to color the recordings more completely. It is time well spent away from the project. These 8 recordings are brevity-laden affairs, recorded all those moons ago and finally given the dub-overs and final touches that only seem to reveal themselves eons later. The fidelity of these recordings do feel novel, seamlessly integrating a lifetime of advancements into soundscapes that only existed as sketches; what you hear underneath are those years talking to each other and coming into a sound that catches somewhere between anything Projekt was putting out in the mid 90s and the stray private press CDs of today’s landscape.
“Suzie Sees a Butterfly” is one of the clearest examples of this, a hypnotic guitar chord looping as a droning reverberation underneath stretches out into a near-3 minute rush. It’s one of the longer cuts on the release, with only two stretching above the three minute mark. And that makes the slightness of these songs all the more entrancing. Gofton’s ability to mend such esoteric sketches that could have withered into these ghostly aberrations is deeply touching. When he takes to the microphone on Side B’s Thabks, it feels like a private admission meant to stay put, as his voice fights against a low feedback drone as the washed out jangle makes me think of a sudden downpour waiting to come through the clouds.
Pro-dubbed cassette with all-over onbody printing in maltese-cross packaging available at the Blue Tapes Bandcamp