Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Fantastic Garden" C46
(Constellation Tatsu)

With this release, Tokyo’s Rhucle joins Constellation Tatsu’s ever expanding, stalwart cat-a-logue of Japanese sound-sculptors who carefully work in meditative drone/ambience, each artist as unique and personal as the human mood-shift, itself.

Temperament-wise, Rhucle dominates the bright and shiney…the most blissful spots of our brains. Straight outta the SOTL* playbook, this ¾ hour exercise in glacially drifting swells of synth/guitar-drenched-reverb** is mixed with such a neon shimmer*** that it’s nearly impossible not to visualize aurora borealis’s ghostly fogs all just intermingling in some galactic, blacklight slowmotion, with at least four distinct layers of hyper-lit accumulations weaving, vertically, to & fro. It’s all so cartoon-esque; a portrayal of what it’s like to frolic amidst Oxygen & Nitrogen-based molecules as solar winds stampede through you, gracefully highlighting their dominance of Earth’s upper atmosphere…

but Rhucle is born of man, & must tether such celestial delights with sonically-buried reminders of terrestrial field recordings, most notably those of our most important liquid life-source (in contact with energetic arousal) as well as the parched vocal chords of many non-human sample of the animal kingdom.

In short, good for to study to, good for to study, good for to zone out to, good for to get guided by, good. Good.

*Stars of the fucking Lid
**that’s right
***really, nearly blindingly metallic in its commanding edginess


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FUTURE APE TAPES “1093” (Fall Break Records)

Obviously “de-evolution as progress” is the mantra of artists calling themselves “Future Ape Tapes,” a cluster of words packed with so much existential meaning that it becomes almost a daunting proposition to improve upon its insinuations with additional text. But that’s where I come in, me, dude at computer, de-evolving along with the rest of you (or e-volving? We’ll see who gets the last laugh there), floppy word combinations of my own slapping uselessly against the sounds constructed to light our passage into decay. Future Ape Tapes. Concise. Not like …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead or I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness. Too much overt guidance there. No imagination. The reality of the path forward is illuminated by brevity, symbolism, and the notion of backward compatibility, or just outright reversion. Revulsion. Revolution? No, revulsion was right.

The future of humanity lies in its past, and its past includes the utilization of cassette tapes on which audio information was magnetically stored. Future Ape Tapes pushes this right to the brink of our perception, forcing the plastic-encased information into our waiting hands to hasten its effect on culture, the “play” button the agent that disperses the plague of de-illumination. Sound flits, appearing, disappearing, building, cresting, like it did when the earth was a formless void and darkness covered its face, before the Word of God divided the darkness and the light. Oh that first literal day! To be there and wonder, reasonless, overwhelmingly amazed at action on a planetary scale. That’s where 1093 wants to take us, to a place where our minds cannot set upon the solid ground of continuity, where thought is unmoored from function and we are buoyed by the current of pure momentum.

Devolution wrapped in paranoia and served coated in a candy Norelco shell goes down relatively easy when administered by Future Ape Tapes, and they have proven and continue to prove that our demise as a coherent species can at least be an enjoyable plunge into the irrelevant. I’m reminded on “Eithernet” of that SNL sketch where Kevin Nealon and Michael J. Fox are in an elevator, and Kevin Nealon keeps saying “Back in time” because of course Fox was Marty McFly in the hit 1985 film Back to the Future. It’s a cue that points to us becoming more senseless by the day, our incessant blabbering barely masking the idiot parrot people we’ve turned into, content to spew back what we’ve seen on television and in other media as personal, rational thought. It’s within the watery psychedelia of 1093 that the last pulsing brain cells of self-awareness dissolve into a carbonated cosmic fizz, and it’s through the pleasantly prickly sensation that we realize we’re encased in our brand new amniotic fluid, our consciousness safe within the brain womb we’ve now concocted for ourselves. Or we’re probably not aware of it – Future Ape Tapes is just piped over our internal PA systems for maximum narcotizing.

--Ryan Masteller

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“Dark Tropicals”
(Entertainment Systems)

Dark Tropicals is a dense vision from African Ghost Valley, the duo irradiating jungle landscapes with their noxious sonics, enveloping territories with complete twilit atmospherics. To remove oneself from the concept of Dark Tropicals would be wasteful – the words have meaning, whispered under breaths as totemic mantras, each syllable a powerful spell cast on listener and vicinity alike. Life creeps, burdened by poisons unleashed by humans. Life recedes, all of it, as intelligences higher than ours increase the concentration of our chemical annihilation so that we, too, succumb to the encroaching uninhabitability. I’m such a downer today.

But dang, turns out if you let all this icky-sticky-ness leak into your mainframe, the resulting output sounds pretty cool, at the very, very least. Maybe this mass eradication is the cure for what ails the ol’ planet, or at least it’s the last gasp before we turn our top-of-the-food-chain-status certificates, the ones we all have laminated and stored neatly in our home offices, over to the hyperintelligent machines doing all that eradicating. The tropics have rotted, life is on the brink. It’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but without the happy ending! (I forget – did T2:JD have a happy ending?)

African Ghost Valley is anticipating the end. Bass bubbles form the foundation, and synthesizers pierce them with impunity. Dark Tropicals decays and rots before our ears. Become enmeshed in the decline.

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, January 16, 2017

"In the Heart of Solitude" C38
(Constellation Tatsu)

Forget breathing “New Life” into an instrument, Stuart Chalmers has taken Laraaji’s cult classic, cosmic-zither aesthetic, and expanded the lungs wide enough for a whole other world to drift right on in there. Themes haze & meld along Primordial beginnings, Call & Response spirit fights; Oh, the Light, Ahh the Dark, Owe the Other…

It’s all concentrated here and innovatively fleshed out, even further/unexpectedly, by a righteously tweaked/abused toy recorder’s natural feedback and some creative tape manipulation/time-fuckery that make and take this outta your “yet-another-spacey-auto-harp-new-age-album” and send it into the “tripped-le-fuck-out-soundtracks-for-dying-star-worshippers realm” that I’ve been waiting-without-knowing-for, for years.


-- Jacob An Kittenplan

Sunday, January 15, 2017

STAG HARE “Velvet and Bone (Inner Islands)

The last time I reviewed a Stag Hare release, it was the overwhelming 4xCS Tapestry, a behemoth of an album that nonetheless felt like the most intimate excursion over its four-hour runtime. Perhaps it was because each track was dedicated to a specific person that it made such an impression on me, its personal touch a reminder of human connection in a time of distance. Maybe it was because I wrote it during a pretty hideous time when gun violence seemed to prevail as an everyday occurrence. To say that I reveled in Tapestry is an understatement. It acted as a balm for my troubled soul.

Velvet and Bone, also released by Inner Islands, is a departure from the Stag Hare sound we may be used to these days. Instead of the thick swaths of dronage – well, more accurately, in addition to the thick swaths of dronage, the addition of gentle rhythmic touches and hushed vocals accelerate the immediateness of the album’s six tracks, the resulting music getting right up in your grill instead of carefully infiltrating your consciousness. I mean, it’s as “getting up in your grill” as a Stag Hare jawn gets, meaning that it’s still a more blissed-out experience than you’re likely to encounter on the reels of a cassette tape.

Tackling the familiar ideas of depression, self-reflection, loss, love, death, and how all that stuff intertwines into the fabric of life and humanity, Stag Hare, perhaps unsurprisingly, presents a convincingly earnest portrait of one person’s struggle through it. Velvet and Bone is transcendently honest, gorgeously rendered, and, weirdest of all, actually catchy. Hum along, I mean it, you can! I know, to a Stag Hare release! This new revelation has me giddily reaching for the rewind button, something that Tapestry didn’t exactly lend itself to (nor was it designed for). The healing power of music never felt so joyously tangible.

Stag Hare
Inner Islands

--Ryan Masteller