Thursday, July 27, 2017

PHERN “Cool Coma” (Fixture Records)

Cool Coma is the debut album by Phern, a five piece band out of Montreal, Canada. This band is really great and really strange. I listened to the entire cassette while I was walking to get dinner a few nights ago. After the first listen, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think. Most of their songs have ghost like vocals with guitar that isn’t exactly twanging, but it’s close. Their songs get going the second they start, and they don’t stop for anything until it’s done.

I can’t quite put my finger on a way to describe their sound because it’s really something I haven’t heard before. They use typical formulas for the composition of their songs, but the instrumentation makes it sound as if they might be using thousands of dollars worth of amps and pedals, or it could be the oldest, cheapest, worst gear they could find. I truly can’t tell. What I can tell you is that this band has a very unique quirk in their sound that makes me keep coming back to try to figure out what it is. Whatever it is, I’m on board.

- Garrett Douglas

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

VARIOUS ARTISTS “Kind of Funny, Kind of Strange: the ONLY Donnie Darko Companion Tape” (Bee Sides Tapes)

“Kind of Funny, Kind of Strange: the ONLY Donnie Darko Companion Tape”
(Bee Sides Tapes)

I’ve held off on writing about this cassette for a very long time because this album is really a mystery to me. This cassette came with a small magnifying glass taped to the front of the case, and when I opened it I found a long and detailed booklet with words so tiny that I couldn’t read them without using the magnifying glass. Inside the booklet, there were four interviews with people all discussing why Donnie Darko is not only their favorite movie, but how it also “incited a throng of soon to be revered movie soundtrack compilers into action.”

I was starting to wonder if this would just end up being a cassette of the movie’s original soundtrack, but it turns out that it’s covers of the soundtrack by this labels artists. It’s such an interesting idea, but my biggest problem is that they seemingly let the artists pick any song that they want to cover. While that might sound like a good idea, what you end up with is a bunch of covers of the same songs. Even with that said, it’s actually really interesting to hear the insane differences in what two different bands will turn a song into. I’ve always been a big fan of Free Cake for Every Creature so I’ve got to say that their cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was my favorite.

This love letter to Donnie Darko is one of the strangest cassettes that I’ve gotten while writing for Cassette Gods, and I dig it.

“The children have to save themselves these days because the parents have no clue.”

- Garrett Douglas

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

YERD (Wee Space Tapes)


If you are old enough to remember The Twilight Zone or somehow latched unto the late-night reruns, then you know about places that are not quite the destination. Other places, places that are not places at all. Or in this case music that’s not music at all.

Is all sound music? Maybe to someone…but here we have balloon and voice. Nothing more. Yerd doesn’t share much either. Side one is Yerd Jacket, side two is Yerd Jacket pt. 2.  It was recorded at Wee Space in NYC and it is for his (her?) mom. That’s it. That and the sounds.

Yerd, (may I call you that?) in all fairness, does a lot with few tools. This short tape is interesting, at least once through; and you gotta wonder why…

-Bob Zilli

Monday, July 24, 2017

“Moonday Tides” (Data Airlines)
“Boneblack” (Tymbal Tapes)

Strap on that tank helmet, redshirt, and get ready to enter the fray, because Yves Malone is back, big time, with two new tapes, one on Marseille-based Data Airlines and the other on Tymbal Tapes out of Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s almost a guarantee that the result of your listening experience will be your reconstitution as a puddle of goo on the floor of your apartment, nothing left for the CSI team to comb through except the pool of viscous fluid and the empty tank helmet in the middle of it. That’s seriously what you get for wearing that shirt to a Star Trek theme party – one that you even threw! That was bad planning.

Anyway, I haven’t even listened to the new tapes yet, and I’m already 100% sure I’m into ’em. Yves Malone has a pretty vast catalog, and it just continues to grow. What’s weird is that, once these bad boys hit my inbox, I was like, “Huh, we haven’t heard from Yves in a while – glad he’s back.” Then, to fact check (or in this case totally debunk) that thought, I did some research, and it turns out that Death House 4 came out back in December – five months ago! I even wrote about it! After realizing my internal gaffe, I took a long look at myself in the mirror and considered once and for all that stumbling into middle age isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Is there some sort of memory-enhancement medication I can take as I age? I mean, I’m totally going to counteract it with my enthusiasm for craft beer, but still, I could use some assistance, apparently.

So maybe I should listen to these things, and as I’m typing this, I’m already neck deep, so my responses and reactions here are valid and true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Malone’s a synth maestro, that’s Italian for “master,” and whether you say it in English or Italian (and we’ve adopted maestro into English anyway, so it’s almost redundant to say it both ways [and would you even begrudge me some redundancy?]) it still applies to Yves. There’s a spectrum covered throughout Moonday Tides that would leave many other electronic purveyors insanely jealous of the skill on display here – Malone’s able to craft vast and fantastical narratives from wordless synthy-tronica, often packing in multiple parts into amazing and vibrant suites, such as “Dromedary Wet Nap” and “The Court of the Whore Queen.” And “The Mark of Saint Gildud” ends the tape with ten of the most ecstatic minutes you’ll ever hear on a cassette. Did I say “ever”? I meant “ever.” In italics.

Boneblack is one of the first releases by Tymbal Tapes in about a year, so there’s a welcome return. But scoring an Yves Malone release is the equivalent of winning the lottery – actually, I think my math is off on that one. But still, it’s a cool match, artist and label, and we’re better for it. Foraging through the more remote thickets of the synthesizer’s capabilities, à la the more downtempo The Unfortunate Occurrence of Memories Not Our Own and the Hole That Fills Them (2015), Malone crafts ambient and kosmische soundscapes, taking cues, perhaps, from one-time split buddy Adderall Canyonly. (That 905 Tapes split is, like, one of my favorite cassettes of recent memory.) Over four tracks, the shortest of which misses the ten-minute mark by fifteen seconds, Malone takes us to outer space and back, an astral trip of great intensity, whose magnitude can only be measured by instruments that haven’t been invented yet. … But will be.

Haha, “Kill Kirk” is one of the song titles. Probably why I started this on a Star Trek kick. At least I didn’t say “Set your phasers to fun!” Oh wait, I just did. I meant it too.

--Ryan Masteller

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Pharaohs Serpent"
(Grants Tomb)

In Michigan a worn out cliche continues a healthy life about the weather changing every minute.
This is often the case with electronic music. In fact, while some tapes go on and on, never shifting far from the initial pretense, others rapidly jump from concept to concept. A balance somewhere between is comfortable listening and hence I finally bring you to this tape.

Bodega System, from New York, would appear to be the brainchild of but two people. They've been at this awhile with releases going back over ten years, mostly on the Grant's Tomb label.

While the tracks are, of course, all electronic, they lean heavily on themes and while the first couple titles are nearly upbeat, the tape progresses toward a more sinister approach such as what you hear on "Dawn" and "Termagent"

All in all, Bodega System, on this release, display masterful technique and writing capabilities. This tape is highly recommended to all electronic music fans.

-Bob Zilli

Saturday, July 22, 2017

“Seltrac” C60
(Third Kind Records)

I’m going to give this tape a really high recommendation. A really high one. Start there, go backward into your thought process, begin evaluation, go back to sleep. I don’t know why I’m approaching this from the wrong direction, but it doesn’t matter. I think I know why I like International Debris, aka Ross Baker, so much. First of all, on the Bandcamp page, it simply says “Horizon music” under the artist description. I like that. You can lose yourself in a horizon, dreaming of the vast swath of real estate it encompasses, the people who inhabit it. It’s where the sun rises and sets, so it takes on celestial properties at certain times of day. You can lose yourself in International Debris’s music too – its mix of propulsive minimal electronics, leavened with easily digestible beats and timbres. The second reason International Debris hits all the right spots is that I’m reminded at points of the Octopus Project/Black Moth Super Rainbow collab album The House of Apples and Eyeballs, which I love. It takes the rough edges of both bands and kind of smooths them, for the most part. Seltrac has that House vibe, not too in-your-face, but not remotely operating at a distance. From start to finish it’s an absolute treat. Chew it like gum and huff the horizon with your third eye.

--Ryan Masteller