No Rent Records has stacked up a formidable catalog since it’s rehabilitation just few years back. With their upcoming five tapes (or “jawns” being that they are located in Philly now) No Rent will smash through the 100 release mark. The lineup is quite a party:
Listen, if you’re gonna be a baby about this you should just go. Close this tab now and open up some decisively not scary content on the web. Oxen. Is. SCARY! Skeptical? Take a look at the special edition packaging for the Wasteland Jazz Unit tape above. Spikes? Check. Metal? Check. Black Fabric? Friggin check, M8. Thank your lucky stars that sucker was limited to three and definitely sold out. 💀
Oh, and you read that right: Wasteland Jazz Unit! New tape! The Cincinnati John/Jon-Jazz that was so jacked up nature forced it into hibernation for a few years is back. A regular/less scary version of their tape, plus one from Like Weeds (special edition sold out), kicks off 2019 for Oxen!
Wasteland Jazz Unit – Session to Nothing
Wasteland Jazz Unit delivers their brand of confidence-in-chaos and bemused, dizzy gestures into a skidding vortex of unfurling pieces across two sides on ‘Session To Nothing’. For fans of Jon Lorenz and John Rich’s oxygen deprived frenzy they deliver in abundance their daunting, unclassifiable webs of non-linear showers of noise, the duo expertly avoiding any gestures short of an overwhelming roar.
Like Weeds – The Will of the People
Kenny Sanderson’s new project since hanging up the FACIALMESS moniker has been challenging listeners live and on recent releases to join in the expansion and course change of his particular talent to create sublime obsessive narratives in sound art. LIKE WEEDSTHE WILL OF THE PEOPLE obliterates any possible preconceptions of what the master of harsh cut-up noise was up to in 2019. The answer lies in the presentation of Side A’s COME FRIENDLY BOMBS, a deliberate, spacious and highly disciplined array of blasts and slinky entrails of elusive unwinding knots of what might be distant junk entropy or iron structures collapsing in excruciating slow motion. No energy lapses completely before it lathers into a gratifying fracture of any constraint. The ominous staccato of bruising clusters continues until it too inevitably gives way to unfettered abandon by the end of Side B’s UNREAL CITY.
Oooooowww when I catch wind of new Unifactor Tapes [licks lips]!! Ooooooowwwweeee I go batty [licks lips even harder and wetter]!! I start sucking theoretical BBQ sauce off my fingers. Why? Because Unifactor is a bulls-eye clearing house for OG midwestern kush and beyond. They employ a different artist to tackle graphic design for each batch, and have done so since their start in 2016. From set to set the look of their tapes ping pongs from googly-eyed birds to juicy cartoons to 3D wizardry and is always so very on point. [hardest, wettest lip licking ever].
Now imagine how I felt upon hearing of their upcoming batch of tapes, slated for mid-February. It’s so very 😋 and probably the most soothing trio from the label yet: Curved Light, Endurance, and Kyle Landstra. You want a taste? Sure you do. I see you licking those lips. Check out these ₮Ɽł₱₱Ɏ videos!
UF027: Curved Light – Airs of Modality
Heavy on both bristling uneasiness and a more demented rendering of new age tones, Airs of Modality captures Curved Light in a live rescoring of Hoichi the Earless, the third section of the Japanese horror anthology Kwaidan. Embodying the ominous ceremonial intensity and slow moving dread of the film, this re-envisioned soundtrack hovers with all the tension of the best horror soundtracks, detuning an ancient ghost story and even it’s 1965 film counterpart into something more sinister, plastic and panic inducing.
UF028: Endurance – We Can Sleep Now
“We Can Now Sleep” sees Joshua Stefane balancing a complex entanglement of modular synths and processed tapes, arranging a switchboard of destroyed voices and alien sounds with solid beams of tonal melody. The eight pieces wander various wastelands, quietly kicking at fossilized remnants of decayed cities. Throughout, there’s a grasp for memories that are out of reach, impressions that are now mostly dust or shed data. It’s unclear if the echoes of unfamiliar days are even real or just errant crackles rushing by in the emptiness, but the layers of obscured fragments and dark sonics blur into a compelling whole, zoning in from a place of deep isolation somewhere after time.
UF029: Kyle Landstra – Bloom Lake
Migrating to the Pacific Northwest after years in Chicago brought new light to Kyle Landstra’s crystalline sounds. Bloom Lake represents some of the first deeply devised sounds made by Landstra in his new environment, and while it’s not a dramatic reaction to some conceptually new life, you can’t help but hear some clouds clearing all the same. Recorded in real time, these two side long pieces slowly braid strands of reflection and acceptance. Drifting but bright, “Love In A Mist” stirs with a kind of restrained excitement that comes at the beginning of promising times. The title track communicates a darker side of the same excitement, but in a way that again suggests understanding more than fear, growth more than foreboding.
I Hate My Records? That sure sounds awfully negative. I thought Londoners were supposed to be jolly. It’s frigging called Jolly Old London, right? We just did another Mary Poppins, didn’t we? So why the disMay from this tape label, run by Edwin and George from Werk? As an American, and therefore one who knows, I’m pretty sure the gloom has something to do with a thing they call “brexit.” They are tits over pudding for this brexit thing, which I believe is a sandwich that has beans on it.
No beans on the two cassette tapes IHMR released in 2018, which appear to be their first offerings since a 2016 tape by Tourist Fashion + Jake Wyatt. Welcome back! Nope, no beans. Just greasy, massive highways of catastrophe electronics. A double dose of slow-mo death cycles from freshman Bootlicker and sophomore Schwerpunkt (the title of their tape is the only positive take going on here: DON’T GIVE UP YOU CAN DO IT.)
Bootlicker – Burial Practices
Burial Practices is the first release from Bootlicker.
30 minutes of buzzing, droning oscillators; choking; bass pressure; juddering feedback; metal percussion; unidentified mechanical static; Hamburgerisms; digital ebb and flow.
We’re all trapped in the abyss – capitalism has made the world an ossuary. The landscape is haunted by ancestral modes of living that have lost meaning in the post-penicillin world.
Schwerpunkt – Don’t Give Up You Can Do It
‘Don’t Give Up You Can Do It’ is the second solo release from Schwerpunkt.
Following in the mould of previous release, ‘How To Be Saved And Know It’, this tape consists of two extended, freeform, pieces, one on each side. The tape finds Schwerpunkt, AKA George Rayner-Law, continuing the process based approach to sound common between Shwerpunkt relates and his contributions to his band, Werk.
Both of these pieces were improvised. Track A, ‘Don’t Give Up’, consists of a synthesised pulse running through a range of delays to create a dry, harsh, abyssal sound. Track B, ‘Your Success Is Guaranteed’, was made by gaffa taping a Bontempi organ to produce a constant drone, then micing the organ through delay, EQ and straight into a tape deck, to create a hyper-saturated sound – a quavering, dense block of noise. The contrast between the two pieces is very sharp – ideology of approach is the strongest link.
Both recordings sat in George’s archive, until enlivened by a new context – the trip to Tesco. Track A came on shuffle while in Elephant & Castle Tesco, and quickly became the preferred soundtrack to the threatened shopping centre. Indeed, both pieces are rapidly hasten the Gruen Transfer – the moment of confusion in a shopping centre where a consumer forgets their original intention and gets lost in retail. Sound best experienced as a soundtrack to the capitalism’s death rattle.
The artwork is based on a religious pamphlet, drawn from the artist’s extensive collection. The current trend in religious pamphlets is a co-option of ‘wellness’ culture and imagery – ‘wellness’ itself being part of the same death rattle of capitalism. This artwork is part of that trend – originally designed to look like a health pamphlet, then a flyer about God, now a record cover.
Patient Sounds ain’t no spring chicken, bub. 2019 will be the label’s 10th year in existence. That is a full decade of sounds oh so patient, and they are kicking`19 off the same way they have in years past: A couple of preorders and an open call for submissions (plus a few digital optical and risograph goodies). Here we go.
PS108 – Regarding the Music of Others – Shank Trilliams
Cut and lassoed into tightly wound bangers, this wobbly beat tape bobs and skips like a busted jukebox at the nearest honky tonk and it will knock your dusty boots right off. Step into some sneakers and pop across the square dance. Brandon Eckes is Regarding the Music of Others. Here, he takes a stab at an American Icon’s warbly catalog, chopping it into a laconic set of vagrant hustlers and bustlers. There are moments when that branded horse’s hide sticks its ass clear out, but most moments find the whole thing marred, wry and charming. With that fetching hitch in his giddy up, ol’ Shank moves to the city and makes his come up, looking distinctly dope in those streets and shades. Approachably horseplayed. Swagger along and slide in time with proper regards to those rodeo roots.
PS107 – Margraff & Yantis – Ohne Eile
The quality of a walk as determined not by the pace, or the distance, but by the landmarks passed. A leisurely wandering in proximity to infrastructure, vista, rubble. A memory is called up at every crumbling edge. Ohne Eile is the first collaborative work by the duo Rene Margraff (Berlin, Germany), and Cody Yantis (Colorado, USA). This expansive set of compositions explores a tacit dialogue between two remarkable and distinctive musicians. Sauntering into jarring electroacoustic sputter and warped guitar, churning static and tense orchestral stabs, and settling into a lilting and highly textural ambient haze, the compositions on Ohne Eile display dynamic grace, a sense of narrative, and an accessible and casual curiosity. This duo exchanges ideas, harmonizes and disuages, settles, second guesses; their dialog is even and their discourse is balanced. Some moments sprout curiously and tenderly, sticking a head through the grate tender green, others are stubborn and rugged, a bent steel beam of light, intertwining and oxidizing openly with the scenario.
Open Window 2019
“Every year from January 1st – April 1st we open a metaphoric window into our office/ears and let anything in. This is our unsolicited demo window. Please follow guidelines and your music can and will be considered for release on cassette tape in 2019/2020.”
Check out the full details and guidelines for the Open Window here.
Fuck Iowa, right? First caucus having, racist congressman accepting shit hole, right? Right! But also… Wrong. The weirdo cassette crowd in Iowa is totally crucial. Maybe it’s the corn fumes? That I don’t know, but notable among that chill scene is Warm Gospel.
If you can’t identify that hazy Warm Gospel feeling on first contact, please dig into their extensive back catalog then reboot. When or If you can pass that test, be aware of their new batch. The scuttlebutt is that Warm G dropped five tapes, all sneaky like, during the hustle and bustle of Best Of season! So cheeky!!
Did I mention one of the tapes is friggin catalog number 69. 😎
Big Cat – II
“II” is home recordings, sampled sounds and chopped guitar ambience riding over exotica rhythms. Like its predecessor, library, lounge, and ambient musics were the major touchstones for the project. Each frequently share the goal of evoking places/landscapes, both real and imagined, distant or interior. The goal with these pieces has been to draw from those sounds, and bend them back on themselves. Recorded instruments were brought in and sequenced to compliment heavier samples and abstracted guitar drones, as if to live score an ambient travelogue.
Huxley Maxwell – Bummer City, Dude
“Bummer City, Dude” the second Huxley Maxwell release on Warm Gospel continues to explore the self-sampled sound experiments of “Across the Cartoon Smoke,” while settling itself on a more rhythmic foundation of jittery drum machine chatter. It’s loose in its operation, but it plunges forward through cascading walls of mangled guitar loops and drones, both thick and thin.
J Hamilton Isaacs – Tolerance Clock
The four compositions that make up “Tolerance Clock” are experiments in tension and proximity. Modular rhythms are poured like hourglass sand into an empty soundspace, filling as the granules intersect and swirl. The surface vibrates from the movement as it is buried into the mix. Layers flatten into place and settle before the same process takes places in reverse, peeling off the layers and emptying the static back into its individual particles.
g9 – 96
“9g” unfurls as if caught in the illusory crosswinds of a dream. The hardware creating the structure of a city rings out between alleyways and overpasses as skyscrapers are erected and demolished in the length of time it takes to send a signal through telephone wire. Its sounds stretch and pull over gridwork splayed out ahead and behind like time measured as distance. A clock signals 3 AM and the reverberation ripples outward forcing the evening’s occupation of the empty air elsewhere.
The passenger keeps hitting the seek buttons on my old car stereo. The last CD I put in it was scratched and scored. It’s been stuck there for seven years. I think it was a mix from someone, but there’s not enough left of it to be able to tell. It still plays, but it stumbles forward in double-time, triple-time, half-time through digital and physical clips, screeching to a halt before haphazardly spinning itself back up again, mid-song. The stereo itself isn’t in much better shape, and AM talk radio chatter is picked up by the speakers and murmurs underneath the glitchy CD tracks, providing an eerie kind of narration. The seek buttons don’t really work and there is no AUX input.
My inbox is less than exciting, usually sporting corespondents regarding whether or not I have received someone’s tape in the mail, 10% off coupons from The Container Store, or liberal groups I inadvertently gave my email address to asking for money with subject lines like “They Murdered Tony’s Dog Because Of This Law!”
Today was different.
Today I got an email with the subject HOUSECRAFT UPDATE 2018.
If you’re not familiar with Housecraft, they were a sinew of mid-2000’s experimental cassette mythos. Real important stuff, folks. They never actually went away, but operations slowed down considerably over the past few years as Jeffry Astin did whatever it is people do. Work? Travel? Murdering Tony’s dog? I have no clue, and I’m not about to start asking. My focus is strictly on the three tapes the dropped in said HOUSECRAFT UPDATE 2018.
Those three tapes are rich with the power of Astin: J/R (Astin & Raymond Reitano), Digital Natives (also Astin), and Jeffry Astin (this one is obvious, right?)
All editions of 42, the tapes are frustrated collages, truncating concrète warble, AM interference, and whatever was lying around the shoppe into one of Ernő Rubik’s cubes. Gone is the classic gauziness of Housecraft, replaced with no-logic perplexity that sometimes toes right up to a Tim & Eric bit, most ubiquitous on Astin’s “Recognizely Immedeated” C77 as competing voices talk about “your wife’s cleaning” or “jeff’s five favorite things.” (Spoiler: one of his favorite things is listening to sparklers up close. Sounds fun!) The abstract smoochings continues on J/R’s “Assuredly Volatile Iterations” before landing on “Bad Acid’s All the Fun” by Digital Natives. This 2xC40 shows a weakness for structure and network, crafting “songs” out of the surge. Bonkers, all bonkers!
Head on over to Housecraft and pick these up before they go off-grid again. RIP Tony’s dog.
NNA celebrates 10 years with overwhelming box set 7.16.18 by Mike Haley
I played a house show in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, a town south of Allentown, back in 2008 with A Snake In The Garden and Oak, who were on tour together. A Snake In The Garden was a friendly-violent type of project that Mattew Mayer did at the time. Oak was an ultra-chill unit featuring Toby Aronson. The two had just started NNA Tapes and had copies of their first dubs with them, which I quickly gripped. Two splits: Sun Circle / Pregnant Moon (NNA001) and Oak / Pink Desert (NNA003) [picked up NNA002 Duane Pitre – For Loud / For Quiet C30 later I believe]
The tapes looked incredible, with that now infamous folded-circle artwork and hand painted shell labels. It was a definitive “new new age” zone. This was the a peak of hunched-over-on-the-floor-drone and the artists provided quite possible the most relaxed vibes you could hope for. It was like listening to salt lamps melt. NNA followed up that meditative mind drift by releasing one of the best tapes the following year, a split between Caboladies and Oneohtrix Point Never. The split drank a ton more V8 than the catalog up to this point, spiderwebbing NNA’s reach into endless depths.
In 2010 NNA had entered non-stop mode, releasing stacks upon stacks of the most critical sounds and sights. Xiphiidae, Pulse Emitter, Nonhorse, Julia Holter, Hobo Cubes, Driphouse, and an 8 tape box set highlighting the Burlington, VT experimental scene. An EIGHT tape box set! How can they top that you might wonder? I mean, NNA has been a bull in a cassette shop for a decade now. I don’t want to say they are “the best,” because that can’t be quantified, but they are the best. Jason Lescalleet, Astral Social Club, Dog Lady, Golden Retriever. These are the kind of tapes they released, people. Dolphins Into The Future, Drainolith, Quicksails, Max Eilbacher. I could do this. All. Day. Long.
So, while NNA had nothing to prove to you, here we are. At ten years and 100 releases. Here we are with “Centennial.”
What is “Centennial?”
• 66 exclusive tracks from NNA Artists
• 6 cassette format featuring artwork from Robert Beatty
• hand made aluminum boxes by local VT designers Cold Hollow Contracting
• Limited edition of 125 hand-numbered copies
• me, drooling in my beard
The full lineup is as follows…
Sun Circle, Pregnant Moon, Duane Pitre, Pink Desert, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Toby Aronson, Caboladies, Harmonizer, Jeff Astin & Raymond Reitano, Time Life, Nonhorse, Driphouse, Pulse Emitter, Ryan Garbes, Hobo Cubes, Headboggle, WANDA GROUP, Hubble, Ken Seeno, Aguirre, Dog Lady Island, Mike Shiflet, Drainolith, Innercity, Quicksails, Hex Breaker Quintet, Co La, Rale, Lieven Martens Moana, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Ryan Power, Le Révélateur, PHORK, Decimus, Belarisk, Howard Stelzer, Transcendence Orchestra (with Anthony Child & Daniel Bean), Blanche Blanche Blanche, Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier, Jason Lescalleet, Ahnnu, Astral Social Club, Migrations In Rust, Banny Grove, Guerilla Toss, Tredici Bacci, Battle Trance, Sediment Club, Kid Millions & Sarah Bernstein, Wei Zhongle, Olivia Block, Patrick Higgins, Booker Stardrum, Jake Meginsky, AJ Cornell, Nerftoss, Fox/Soper Duo, die Reihe, Max Eilbacher, GRID, Lea Bertucci, and Wren Kitz.
You ready to do this? Preorders are up now with an official release date of 8.17.18.
New Batch – Obsolete Staircases 7.11.18 by Mike Haley
Staircases. They’re friggin’ excellent for ascending and descending floors. Sure, there are elevators, escalators, ladders, ropes, and I don’t want to abate the importance of ramps, but staircases really get my juices flowing. If I’m in a particularly frilly mood I’ll skip every other step like a maniac. Ahhhhhh, old, trusty staircases. But what happens when staircases become a drag? When they are Escher’d into obsolescence? I suppose that is where Obsolete Staircases enters to morph the mess into tapes.
Their latest three are an exceptional set of climbers.
Since obtaining their medical psy jazz card, Crazy Doberman have been on a cassette releasing spree. “2038” is a tinfoil ball of squelch and gaseous rhythmical anointments splattered onto a C30. This is a rust belt crew who play like they are a shuttered factory, all cold and empty and stained by decade old spills. Their sax attacks predate OSHA. Their gentle rifts drift through the old ductwork. Makes one wonder if we’ll see the year 2038. Connor Bell released a Shedding tape on Obsolete Staircases last year that was really good. I am proud to report that this new one, “Wave to the Wind,” is also quite interesting. I recently had a fruit fly problem and used my new Dyson hand held vacuum thing (shout out to Dyson, please send us free stuff) to suck them up. As they hurled around the cyclone cylinder and concussed to an unthinkable degree, a point where the living most definitely envied the dead, I imagined what was going on in their pin point minds. I honestly believe they heard Shedding in the final seconds of existence. An absurdity of ever flip-flopping tones until – lights out -… Psychic Skin‘s “Island Dreams of Two Songs” is a host of loose sound waves and spoken word bits, presenting itself as the most calm and personal of the batch. This is the first installment of something called Stillness Editions. “A release series emphasizing therapeutic ambient music and calming sound” as it says on the Psychic Skin Bandcamp. “Island Dreams” is still, but not totally. More like a slow motion video of a magician pulling the tablecloth out from under a parties dinner, each frame filled with a hidden vibrancy.
According to their Bandcamp profile, Bad Cake Records is a”misfit, non-elitist cassette label with no set aesthetic.” According to Tony Lien, he operates the label out of a tiny mountain town in Minnesota called Bemidji — A town VERY proud of it’s Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox monument. According to us, you should know a little about them…
“I once drunkenly ate some pineapple upside-down cake from a dumpster” Tony characterized his baddest bad cake experience. “At least it was in a plastic clam shell case.” The label Bad Cake is far less grim than rooting through trash for trash cake, despite the logo depicting a cigarette butt put out on a 4 tier cake. Started as an outlet for a crew of talented friends back in Lien’s former home of Lincoln/Omaha, and his own Dere Moans project, Bad Cake released it’s first batch of three tapes in January. A more than solid start.
“The Triangle Man is my best friend Clinton Smith.” Lien said, describing the artists involved. “He and I were in an improv noise rock band Mildred Bonk for years down there. When he started putting his beautiful solo stuff up on Bandcamp (and not even telling anybody about it!) I was obviously blown away. The Eternal is my other close friend Matt Martinosky. “Witness To An Execution” is actually a 15 year old album that might have never been heard had I not asked Matt to send me something for the first batch. And Dere Moans is my project. I made “Doom Royale” as sort of an ode to my high school days—which we’re hopelessly saturated in the poisonous slime that is nü-metal.”
A highlight from the the second batch came in an edition of 25 (still available!) from Boston duo Glove Pilot, reviewed here by Ryan Masteller:
“Thunder Suite” is like God’s love, indifference, and wrath all meted out upon the mortals of earth with severe judgment, just like we learn in the Bible. It should be no surprise to any of you that I’m on the receiving end of the “love” third of this spectrum, but don’t mistake that designation as something I eased into: God’s love is incredibly hard to come by, and you really have to jump through a litany of legalistic hoops to attain it. In fact, you’re probably better off shooting lower, going for God’s indifference, because being good is hard – it’s really hard. Just ask all those people expecting God’s wrath, the worst of the worst, the Ted Cruzes and the Michelle Bachmans and the Richard Spencers of the world. Because there’s no way God’s even remotely indifferent toward those swine.
And because I’m so filled with the love of God, I’m here to present you GlovePilot’s “Thunder Suite (& More),” from which my account takes its inspiration. See, jazz duo (God loves jazz!) Matt Hull (trumpets/pedals) and Joe Hartigan (drums) have basically one-upped Dante Alighieri’s totally bloated and contrived “Divine Comedy” with something more streamlined and accessible, something that most of us normal people can enjoy. The “Thunder Suite,” which appears on side A of this tape, flits through the three different possibilities your immortal soul will inhabit, from the mega-upbeat “Heaven” to the middle ground of “In Limbo” and finally to the terrifying breakneck scribble of “Hell.” All this in about ten minutes – how long did it take you to read “Divine Comedy” in high school? Longer than ten minutes? There, I’ve saved you A LOT of time.
Side B features the “(& More)” part of this tape, as Hull and Hartigan drop the pretense of narrative and spiral off into psychedelia with “Laika” and “Sun Riser,” the former a minimal meditation on, uh, space dogs (sure) and the latter a splatter of tone and percussion across the audio canvas. I’m not sure God likes all that “experimental” stuff though – GlovePilot might have gone a little too far here. Too many “bong hits” if you get my meaning.
Still, if you’re having second thoughts about buying “Thunder Suite (& More),” you should pray about it, and then you should buy one before Bad Cake Records runs out of tapes (or me and the other chosen ones are raptured).
At this exact second Bad Cake has ten releases, the latest being a follow up from Dere Moans called “Future Deli.” A damn perfect representation of the label, “Future Deli” is a wormy, joyous synth recording tangled with ASMR chewing sounds and cooking show clips.