11.26.19 by Ryan Masteller
I don’t wanna be the bearer of bad news, but it seems like Ingrown Records might not be around for much longer. In fact, next year’s going to be their last in operation, unless of course they feel the tug of nostalgia to open up their doors again somewhere down the line – let’s set the over/under to 10.5 years. Was this news officially announced somewhere? Who knows. Maybe I’m telling tales out of school, and I apologize if I’ve hurt your feelings, but all good things must end. Entropy and so on. Death. Decay.
But let’s do like they do at funerals and celebrate a life, OK? Let’s celebrate the life of Ingrown, which has released countless (you can probably count them) tapes and records, etc., by a wide variety of crazy experimental artists, all pushing the limits of composition and utility, all meeting at some central point where awe meets delight. If it weren’t for Ingrown, I wouldn’t have discovered Meme Vivaldi, Plake 64 and the Hexagrams, Corsica Annex, or Marc Aubele, not to mention the four artists releasing tapes this fine autumn of 2019. Thanks to Ingrown, we’re allowed to have this special treat. In fact, I offered my son the choice between this new Magic from Space tape and some of his Halloween candy that’s still somehow sitting around. He chose the candy. But still!
MAGIC FROM SPACE – 🎶 4 HSP ć ASMR vol. 2
It is made clear at the outset that the tracklist for Magic from Space’s “🎶 4 HSP ć ASMR vol. 2” is NOT in alphabetical order like vol. 1 was (not to mention those old Pixies live sets!). Doesn’t matter – we wouldn’t get it anyway. When I waxed rhapsodic about that previous tape I mentioned Chevy Malibus and Everlasting Gobstoppers and Chuck E Cheese ball pits (aka disease factories) and extraterrestrial intelligence, but all cloaked in the guise of “magic” from “space” because understanding anything that we can’t stumble against or fumble with or drop things on is just too much for us modern humans. Enter MAGIC FROM SPACE (all-caps added by me), the grooviest MIDI popster(s) this side of an Andy Loebs release, ready to wow us all with glowing, fluorescent, beeping funk bombs that we can’t possibly turn our attention from. We like shiny glowing things, we drooling humans, our intellect and capacity for understanding the abstract a massive disappointment to not only whatever Magic from Space really is but also to us ourselves, because, again, we can’t be bothered to understand tricky phenomena without plastering it with terms like “magic” or “fantasy,” or “demonic.” What we CAN do is move in spastic activity, our arms, legs, and heads jostling to rhythms as they pulse through the floor we’re slouching on, the involuntariness of it all an actual frightening phenomenon as treble notes arrange themselves like candy to our earholes. Magic from Space has us right where they want us: in a dazed thrall so they can conquer us. And we deserve it!
OARIANA – A Pear on the Wind
A pear on the wind goes “splat” at some point, once it hits an immovable object or loses its energy as it resistance takes its toll. “A Pear on the Wind,” on the other hand, soars continuously, like the musical equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, and somewhere Newton turns over in his grave and also does a little jig to the sauce that Oariana’s slinglin’. Perpetual motion machine! We will NOT be suggesting that the hallowed laws of thermodynamics are threatened here, but gang, Devin LeCroy is a friggin’ madman. This fractured one-person synth-prog opus is a study in a baroque synthesizer mastery, one where Bach made his way back through Bill and Ted’s phone booth and got locked in the Moog lab at Cornell. Wouldn’t that have been something! Or maybe he just cruised San Dimas with Socrates and Napoleon and the rest of them, and went bowling and ate ice cream and found a piano store. At any rate, “A Pear on the Wind” is a melodic treat, a light and airy confection that belies the density of its composition. It sounds like its j-card cover: colorful, full of shapes, going in crazy directions, not really from this planet. In other words, a perfect Ingrown release.
GUT FAUNA – Magicicada
If there’s any fauna in my gut, it’s of the hamburger variety, am I right? High five! Seriously though, Gut Fauna’s a somber affair. It starts out like that “samurai movie where the samurai kills a guy and then figures out he has a cat and falls in love with it and is holding the cat while he fights guys all the time. It’s a very fun movie with a name I forget. I’m also playing the new Star Wars video game.” So says my friend John, who was discussing the first episode of “The Mandalorian” with me via text. But it was all happening simultaneously, while I was listening to “Alexa Daydream” open up this sucker, this “Magicicada,” which, I hope, is NOT in my gut, because who wants a magicicada buzzing around down there when you’re interviewing for that dream job at Capitol Records? Not me. I don’t even want it down there while I’m sitting here on the couch with a computer on my lap. But the eastern vibe of “Alexa Daydream” spreads out to encompass much more, like the afrobeat-meets-Space Needle vibe of “Original Sin Forgiver” and the surprise acoustic folk number “Hesitation Blues” (the traditional tune). The freak folk flags continue to fly through static and synths and samples, but all grounded in an earthiness and that acoustic guitar. Gut Fauna’s got toes and thumbs and heads shoved all up and in so many various genres and inspirations that it’s virtually impossible to pin them down. Fortunately, there’s no need to when the music’s as vibrant and interesting at a constant clip – you just ride along with it and don’t care about that categorization stuff after a while. Now, when’s episode 3 of “The Mandalorian” out again?
J HAMILTON ISAACS – Circumzenithal Arc
Oh thank god! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks about light when they’re listening to (or contemplating or composing) music, wondering how it interacts with each note as if the music itself was a physical construct that could, indeed, actually interact with light. J Hamilton Isaacs “became fixated on an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as Sun Dogs. You’ll see them when there are ice crystals in the upper atmosphere and light from the sun is reflected and bent to form a halo at 22º. At the top sometimes an arc of light that looks like an upside down rainbow is visible. This is called the circumzenithal arc.” Sometimes you just gotta calls em like you sees em, and J-Ham does a mighty find job calling it for all of us. The synthesizer blazes an arpeggiated path for twelve minutes, leaving you hanging on the edge of your seat as everything around you converts into energy and energy converts into matter and vice/vice versa, all up until the point where the narrative completely changes. Which it does. The second half of the tape consists of “musical interpretations to 5 large outdoor sculptures selected from [the Denver Botanical Gardens’] Spring 2019 exhibit entitled Human Nature.” Equally compelling, these short passages are self-contained sonic structures interpreting every nuance of the physical construction they’re meant to represent. As such you can almost see the electricity of the music flit around in 3D space and suggest geometric forms as you listen. Do those forms look like the outdoor sculptures? Who knows, but somebody better get cooking on making whatever it is I’m seeing in my head right now – it’s glorious!