15 January 2018


cozy tape label LILY --self proclaimed "purveyors of good sh*t" with TUCKER THEODORE's all time instant weirdo classic TO MAKE THE SUN HURT on his bandcamp "recommendations" page commented with the simple yet crucial plea "please listen to this" which i wholeheartedly echo-- starting off 2018 right with a stunning one-two(-three) punch

lily 2018, edition of 60

"For our latest batch of releases, Lily Tapes & Discs reaches across the Atlantic for the first time to welcome vierzig skizzen of Kiel, Germany to the fold. Partly inspired by a recent move away from home, travels in public translates the nervous optimism of leaving the known behind and embracing the new into a collection of road-weary journal entries. It's music that radiates from the overlap between wistful recollection and hesitant beginnings, like watching tracers of late night scenery on the other side of a bus window, or imagining familiar faces emerging on unfamiliar streets. It's a lonesome soundtrack to what we see when unknown surroundings make us feel like spectators to our own lives. // Edition of 60 pro-dubbed metallic gold chrome tapes. Packaged with full-color j-cards, numbered and assembled by hand at LTD Headquarters." - LILY

VIERZIG SKIZZEN ("forty sketches") is emergent soundscapist DANIEL STUHR who describes TRAVELS as "the first VIERZIG SKIZZEN album" despite digital and physical titles that predate, perhaps demarcating his first non-self-released album or perhaps a commentary on "album", perhaps shedding light on how he approached TRAVELS from inception

in any case, STUHR delivers the goods, a soothing iv drip, part hypnotic melodic undulation of SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE, part textural heaven of BITTER FICTIONS - it's not easy to discern which instrument is which, where one note ends and another begins - a sonic palette where hum, feedback and distortion are not mere effects employed to enhance other elements or else left as unintended artifacts, rather these colorful sounds are aptly applied to both stand on their own and aesthetically compliment the totality of the music, both at any particular sliced moment in time and from a panoramic perspective - but TRAVELS isn't the perfect sum of it's perfect parts - the real beauty of it is that, say, much like ENO, for all the attention to such aural minutiae, there's -something- there that wasn't recorded --though intended, no doubt-- that is so easily able to obliterate all else and allow the close listener to soak it in, to escape through it like a hidden door - if there's somethin beyond the horizon of this existence and it doesn't sound somethin like this i will be rather disappointed


lily 2018, edition of 50

"seventh entry in our long-running series of split releases brings the tape debut of Cla-ras, a new musical project based in Providence, Rhode Island. 'I Could Taste Iodine in the Drinking Water' is a subtle but impactful introduction, a transportive work of deceptively rich guitar playing that slowly fills the room like steam off a pot of broth, with spoken word adapted from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley emerging from the haze. Opposite Cla-ras's performance is the first new transmission from Lung cycles since 2015, a loose constellation of slow meditations on quick ideas, left alone to simmer while we wait for the room to heat up. // Edition of 50 pro-dubbed gold chrome tapes. Packaged in Brad Paks from Stumptown Printers with artwork designed, printed, and assembled by Jeremy Ferris, numbered by hand at LTD Headquarters. Includes a copy of 'Above Bridge Water' an illustrated booklet that serves as a companion piece to the tape." - LILY

LUNG CYCLES split cassettes are a real treat, fresh yet familiar, wandering yet welcoming, and perhaps easier and less daunting for the featured artist to just focus on half a tape's worth of material and to know that LUNG CYCLES will pick up the slack on the flipside - not that CLA-RAS leaves much slack to pick up - "impactful transportive work of deceptively rich guitar that slowly fills the room like steam off a pot of broth" - sounds delicious, and it does

"transportive" is an operative word for this batch, but CLA-RAS's execution is on a grander scale, a nineteen minute sidelong suite, delicate fermatas sustain and dissolve above and below the sound floor, forming elongated loop-like structures that reveal minimal almost subliminal melodies, further out past ENO toward KRAFTWERK's "harmonika" and even further - really, CLA-RAS is like the finest iteration of late 70s early 80s private press new age, but with a certain longing or forlorn undercurrent that betrays that vibe, echoing in a STARS OF THE LID record run out groove, in a headspace not too far from DAVID COLOHAN at his most zen, perhaps not too distant from DAVID ANDREE's all-time favored IN STREAMS, then as it winds to a close things turn toward a decidedly folk-ified ambient zone, somewhere between MARISA ANDERSON and that NEVADA GREENE / SCOTT TUMA split, finding some overlap with PSI LAB's own SHAMELESS FRIEND cassette [PL03]

LUNG CYCLES picks up where CLA-RAS leaves off with a cluster of elegant hypnotic passages embellished with minimal self accompaniment, sometimes in the form of a subtle yet crucial dynamic ambient backdrop, other times courtesy blurry field recordings of people, muted faceless conversations and some of the clutter that comes with that, here filtered, strained and retrained into an immersed atmosphere - intimately recorded and emotionally invested, enamored maze-like circular melodies and pensive soundscapes, improving and expanding on some of those "slow meditations on quick ideas" that surfaced on his split with YLAYALI [REC #44] - i might be more inclined to the "moody drone psych" styling of the miniature odyssey presented on his side of a split with OCEAN CHARTER OF VALUES [REC #57] as highlighted by standout "sparklers" but i'm also inclined to say that this is his best side yet, cultivating a sublime zone adjacent to a host of upper crust contemporaries from ILYAS AHMED to OJERUM, from LOST TRAIL to TALK WEST, and recent phenoms ERIK KRAMER and JACOB SUNDERLIN

2018 is certainly off to a stellar start

03 January 2018


same deal as last year's list, a bunch of good stuff didn't make the cut, a bunch of good stuff i just couldn't find the time to sit down and recommend, and that many more that i probably slept on or otherwise missed, still i think i got out more recommendations this year than i might have first guessed - i think about half of the tapes and most of the non tapes are still available from their sources and/or usual distros


RAISING HOLY SPARKS - search for the vanished heaven (eiderdown) [#192]
DANNY CLAY & GREG GORLEN - birch (midnight circles) [#173]
BITTER FICTIONS - xxvii (shaking box) [#190]
SARA SOLTAU - series 1.2: in parts (auralgami sounds) [#199]
ERIK KRAMER - a house, floating in the middle of a lake (anthropocene) [#204]
JACOB SUNDERLIN - hymnal (null zone) [#205]
STARBIRTHED - citrine dreams (flower room) [#203]
LINDEN POMEROY & LONESOME BLOOD - maybe it's our january heads (illuminated paths) [#171]
BUFFALO VOICE - pilgrim takes his spill (antiquated future) [#189]
SOMESURPRISES - serious dreams (eiderdown) [#180]

non cassettes

SARAH DAVACHI - all my circles run (students of decay) [#207]
JON COLLIN - the glorious licking (singing knives) [#206]
ALEXANDER - alexander (self released) [#202]
EXPO 70 - cleverly mystique (5nakefork) [#182]
ASH & HERB - northern lights (child of microtones / flower room) [#203]
MIDWIFE - like author, like daughter (whited sepulchre) [#188]
YERBA MANSA - untitled (deep distance) [#170]
IRMA VEP - no handshake blues (faux discx) [#186]
SAMUEL REGAN - a warm room (unknown tone) [#187]
ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE - build a mountain where our bodies fall (full spectrum) [#196]


31 December 2017


students of decay 2017, edition of ?

"fourth full length release by Montreal-based electro-acoustic composer Sarah Davachi and her second outing for Students of Decay. In a move which may surprise followers of her previous output, the five compositions on this record eschew synthesizer entirely, each focusing on a different instrument, including strings, voice, organ and piano. What remains consistent however is the striking attention to detail and commitment to investigating tonal possibility that characterizes all of her work. The sinewy 'For Strings' opens the album, with keening overtones stretching out in all directions to form a mass of slow moving, radiant sound. 'For Voice' charts an even more celestial course, as wordless vocals ebb and flow to awe-inspiring effect. The stunning, melancholic 'For Piano' closes the record and is something of a high watermark in Davachi's oeuvre to date, with plaintive piano figures nestled atop a shimmering string drone to create a richly emotive, reverent atmosphere. Ultimately, a confident step forward from an exciting artist whose compositional and aesthetic tendencies steer her steadfastly towards both the subjunctive and the sublime." - STUDENTS OF DECAY

bigger label stuff isn't as easy for me to tackle, i guess i feel like 1. i'm a weirdo cassette bottomfeeder so not only do DAVACHI and SOD not need my "press" in any way, i figure folks don't even come here lookin for high(er) profile stuff to begin with, so if i bother then 2. i figure i gotta make it count somehow, which is irrational, because 1. i like what i like and 2. i just do what i do, and if i didn't then i'd just be boring myself which is more than enough to make me not bother in the first place

DAVACHI has been on my radar since her 2014 sophomore (?) tape AUGUST HARP courtesy IMPORTANT's cassette imprint CASSAUNA, which showed me a lot of promise - she's extremely talented and established, now more than ever as an SOD mainstay, which i suppose carries nearly as much water these days as saying "TYPE mainstay" a decade ago, but for whatever reason i never fully connected with her music until last year's VERGERS lp also via IMPORTANT, where she turned a corner, but everything VERGERS does, ALL MY CIRCLES RUN does better

AMCR is absolutely stunning, prodigious, transcendental, leaps and bounds above and beyond her previous works by my measure, dare i say the best pure drone record i have heard since FIVE GUITARS FOR TONY CONRAD [REC #88], and i'm not so sure this isn't even better -though they are most certainly different beasts- as i can't easily think of somethin that outright bests this most elegant unassuming minimal drone masterpiece, other than an impossible all timer like ZEIT or somethin - it's the best non-cassette thing of 2017 to my ears, and it easily has what it takes to challenge shoo-in top tapes by CLAY & GORLEN [REC #173] and RAISING HOLY SPARKS [REC #192] for straight up favorite album of 2017


28 December 2017


singing knives 2017, edition of ?

"A six-part live electric guitar set, recorded to reel-to-reel tape in the cellar of a Prague coffeehouse. Comes in an oversize four-colour risograph-printed folding outer sleeve with full-colour postcard insert."

why not, one more COLLIN rec before year's end, just in time, and it's a doozy

this sounds like LOREN CONNORS tensely focused in a minimal-maximized third eye lagrange point of profundity, TOM CARTER at his most austere yet freakishly inspired, making BURNT MONDAY sound like a dress rehearsal --goddamn, JANDEK could have conquered the known universe if his guitar sounded like this-- as COLLIN's possessed improvisational style moves in-and-out tangential to an all time favorite cassette in FIVE GUITARS FOR TONY CONRAD, at times almost locking in like an isolated thread of that epic one-in-a-million missive, only to veer into once-in-a-universe territory

by now i'm sure i sound like a broken record going on about COLLIN's music, but he's kinda thee alpha and omega in my tiny corner of the weirdo music world, and has been for a while

i listen to -a lot- of new stuff, even in a down year - not down in quality - it was a down year for me because i scaled back my rampant obsession, more on the buying side than the digging side, even so i tried to spend less time unblinkingly searching for new stuff - i try to avoid using the word "best" when "favorite" is much more interesting to me - i don't separate the two except in an attempt to connect with those who do by translating "best" as "an arbitrary quasi objective measurement of quality often favoring critical and/or popular consensus and/or some other arbitrary significance (artistic, cultural, historical, number of copies sold) while often discounting one's own opinion vis a vis 'favorite'" - if that sounds boring, i agree

far be it from me to claim what is "best" by that measure, hell i'm probably too far gone to even claim my own surefire favorite, as by year's end i've likely boasted some twenty titles as "stone cold top ten" --though i have tried to shore that up a bit-- also i'm just too much of a fanatic at times - in that, COLLIN joins the nigh impossible rank of artists i can't possibly judge with any fairness or objectivity --an active group i can probably count on one hand-- where my favorite is simply the last one i listened to - still, it seems quite clear to me that this is the best --my favorite-- with COLLIN's name on it, if you don't believe me then just wait for "part six" to reach through your speakers and slap some sense into you

SINGING KNIVES is selling it on their website and also on discogs


audio samples



26 December 2017


null zone 2017, edition of 50

"Recorded at home, 2016" - NULL ZONE

cassette label out of athens georgia "focusing on homegrown experimentalism" - well i can definitely get behind that, and SUNDERLIN fits that narrative perfectly, alchemizing his own unique blend of drone folk, a brilliant follow up to last year's (debut?) DEATH RANCH [REC #148] cassette courtesy CASTLE BRAVO that further develops and expands his technique and sonic territory, built on traditional american primitive and old guard new weird american elements, now more closely aligning in both sound and mind with concurrent greats in DOC DUNN, WILLIE LANE and ANDREW WEATHERS, sometimes particularly zeroing in on that sweet spot inhabited by GLOVER/PERREAULT's one-off masterpiece FREIGHT 1110 THROUGH GREENSBORO [way way back REC #9] cassette courtesy WEATHERS' in house imprint FULL SPECTRUM, right alongside ROCK & ROLL CAN & WILL HEAL US [REC #135] - this is avant folk minimalism paying dividends on FLYING SAUCER ATTACK's "rural psychedelia" tagline with fuzzy fringes that creep up and seep in, gloriously shifting toward LOST TRAIL territory one moment, then dissipating and floating away like an extended BIG BLOOD interlude featuring BITTER FICTIONS possessed by the ghost of FAHEY