The All Golden – Blue Forty-One

3.24.23 by Matty McPherson

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