Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Heather Leigh - Empire (KSE #210)

Heather Leigh's voice will lead you to the land of nugs.  Peace and love to my good friends at Humboldt Relief :)

She's back - and you better be prepared to rock!!  After the stunning Not Not Fun lp's, Jailhouse Rock and Devil If You Can Hear Me, Heather Leigh returns with Empire, on Kendra Steiner Editions label.  This is a one-track cd-r, but almost feels like two tracks.

 The first sixteen minutes produces a maelstrom of sound, as Leigh shreds wildly on the electrified steel guitar, only tempered by her bluesy, angelic voice.  The beginning sounds like sweet-leaf lovin' Thurston Moore going nuts at a live gig, and the overall sound is reminiscent of Bridget Hayden.  Leigh runs her soul through the steel guitar, producing passages of strident sonics and fraying tones.  At one point, it feels like she is channeling Hendrix' version of 'Star Spangled Banner'.  Every few minutes she introduces a transition, but the ferocity of sound does not abate.  The last six minutes - prior to a transition in sound and feel - are ecstasy.  Leigh's guitar screeches and squeals, while her majestic voice moves to the fore.  It's the best part of the track.  Rock and Roll for the high heat of summer.  

Subsequently, there is a transition in feel and tempo.  The last nine minutes produces something more akin to a Charalambides track, as Leigh's emotive voice washes over soft, solitary notes that echo.  While the first part of the track was incredible, the last nine minutes is preferable as one can clearly hear Leigh's voice move in tandem with the solemn notes.

Another reason this glows among the others:  Empire was recorded by Matt "MV" Valentine in Spectrasound.  Also, the beautiful artwork by Bob Bruno comes in a wide variety of papers and inks.  Limited to 123 copies, purchase your hand-numbered edition directly from Kendra Steiner Editions.  No soundcloud clip for this one, but trust me: this smokehound would never lead you awry.  

peace to you, friends :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grant Evans - Tactical Gamelan (HIV115)

Keep your head above the murk with Skywalker!  Peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

Tactical Gamelan, the first post Nova Scotian Arms release for Grant Evans on Hooker Vision, is equally ethereal, spiritual, heavy, foreboding and ominous.  Whether he creates majestic paeans in Quiet Evenings, with wife Rachel Evans (Motion Sickness of Time Travel), or beautiful tapestries of sound in Nova Scotian Arms, the ideas and execution make Grant's musical output analogous to top shelf nugs: very rare and thus highly valuable.  Some of his latest output including Cult Spectrum, NSA; Winds over Silmäterä, NSA; and Sacred Drift illustrates this nicely.  Where as side A's warmth shimmers like trichomes on your best bud, one is ensconced in hash oil and murky tones on the flip.  According to the description of the tape, Grant accomplishes this with tape loops and electronics.  

Blissful warmth slowly rises from the meandering noise.  Side A - more similar in sound to Winds over Silmäterä -  is the lighter of the two sides, and one of my favorite tracks this year.  Heavy tones appear sporadically, but they do not impede the ascent of the serene sound, which grows in intensity before turning introspective towards the end.  Side B by comparison is heavy and foreboding as murky tones attempt to communicate through the tape hiss and layers of sound - more like Cult Spectrum.  Even with these darker sounds, through all of the hiss, one can detect uplifting tones.  Sometimes they reside so deep in the mix as to be nearly undetectable, like a flickering candle.  Grant's wonderful ability at crafting sound is conspicuous on side B as murky tones become cohesive, growing louder, until ebullient, warm sounds appear from the deluge of suffocating tones.  The manner in which he juxtaposes these different elements is perfect.

Another glistening nug from the fecund Hooker Vision tree.  Tactical Gamelan - black cassette shells with designs, and awesome artwork - is nearing oop status.  Thus, secure your copy at Experimedia.

peace to you, friends :)  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Aphid Palisades - ii (ft022)

Fadeaway Tapes and indica - the dream combination! peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

Immediately after receiving this tape, I stared for some time at the artwork - designed by Lee Tindall.  I was mesmerized by the pastoral colors and imagery.  It reminded me of the Impressionism movement - one of my favorite periods of art.  However, the other side was completely different - warped colors representing a barren landscape. Behind the stunning artwork on ii,  the latest release from Aphid Palisades - Ryan Connolly and Lee Tindall - on Fadeaway Tapes, is a collection of alluring, poignant tracks.  The music on this c44 moves nicely from shorter tracks on side a, to pieces on the flip, which have more room to develop.  Regardless of their form, one cannot help but be astonished at the actualized beauty emitted by Ryan and Lee.

Admittedly, I have yet to hear i, which was recorded in 2010.  ii was recorded live to tape in the summer of 2011.  According to Discogs, the tracks are full sides of music.  However, I sensed pauses in the tape, and therefore will describe this music as individual tracks.  The first track is pure bliss.  Layers of ambient sound float gently and are joined by sharp synth notes.  In the middle of the track, a beautiful transition occurs where a Twells/Christensen wall of sound gently creeps into the mix, growing stronger until the track fades.  The second track is pure celestial drift, where elongated organ-like tones are nicely contrasted to sharper sounds - music to illuminate sparsely populated lands.  The fourth part to side A - the last track - is one of the warmest on the tape.  A buoyant mix of Hecker/Fennesz layers of sound produce feelings of tranquility.  Towards the end of the track, voices are adeptly added to the background of the mix - perfect!

The flipside presents tracks of longer duration.  The first track is ritualistic electronic music - a very nice contrast to side A.  Deep tones full of character echo in the sanctuary, while vacillating electronics morph, becoming progressively louder.  Track 2 is particularly moving, and it is one of my favorite tracks on tape.  The sound could be some type of futuristic funeral music.  Very powerful tones - processional, mournful, contemplative - dominate this track.  It kind of reminds me of meditation, when one attempts to peer down on themselves from a high perspective.  Ryan and Lee take a state of sound and develop it in a special way - elegiac music.  The last track is more minimal than those which precede it, as the glistening guitar notes fade into the beckoning night.

After hearing three-quarters of the January Fadeaway batch, this tape is an absolute keeper.  ii is stunningly beautiful in all respects.  Also, this tape deserves your full attention.  There are too many beautiful things happening here for one to relegate this to the background.  If you're looking for background music, then I suggest Flumina, from Fennesz & Sakamoto - nonetheless incredible music and highly recommended.  The samples from the new batch of Fadeaway Tapes sound ascendent.  When you buy the new batch, pick up a copy of Aphid Palisades ii directly from Fadeaway.

peace to you, friends :) 

      samples from the new batch!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hakobune - Whispering in Their Presence (SUN013)

Here comes the sun.  Peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

This is a bittersweet review.  First the good news: this cassette by Hakobune has the potential to recalibrate your brainwaves through sonic awareness.  Unequivocally, Whispering in Their Presence is one of the nicest ambient tapes of the year.  This should sufficiently quench the thirst of those which seek warmth, contemplation, and depth in experimental sounds.

  The bad news is that Sunshine Ltd., a label of unparalleled beauty and the one which released Whispering in Their Presence, has recently announced that it will be on an indefinite hiatus.  If you are a reader of Zen Effects, Weed Temple or this blog, then you are likely aware of the effusive praise that regularly accompanies a Sunshine Ltd. release.  And if you are not willing to trust my account, then perhaps that of Matt Howe, proprietor of Discriminate Music, will suffice.  Matt referred to Sunshine Ltd. tapes as, "Some of the nicest, cleanest, and most well produced ambient tapes around."  From that statement, one may infer that these aural treasures represent an expression of sincerity.  For the past two years, Sunshine has released some of the finest ambient tapes including gems from David Andree, Smyth, Andy C. Jenkins, Phos Hilaron, Josh Mason.... you get the point.  Given that, allow this last ray of sunshine to nourish your soul.

Hakobune and Sunshine Ltd. are a match made in heaven, and this tape is the manifestation.  On this release, Hakobune uses guitars bathed in effects to create two long form pieces of music. The first track, 'Whispering in Their Presence', enchants the listener with glowing drones.  The music ascends to a great height, until it finds stasis, and then hovers gently.  This tape is made for headphones.  The music, intimate and enveloping, fills the head with enriching tones.  'Catenary' presents soft, elongated tones and hazy textures.  The undulations are pleasing to the soul - sounds ascend, come into focus, and move to the background, only to be reincarnated.  Being somewhat familiar with Hakobune, these tracks radiate beauty due to Takahiro's skill with the instrument and penchant for layering sounds.  No movement stays for too long.  Just when a sound reaches its zenith, other layers begin to produce aural depth. 

Music such as Whispering in Their Presence feels transcendental - it presents a profound listening experience through the emotional intensity of the soft, hazy sounds.  If you need some aural beauty, then invite Hakobune into your life.  Most people that enjoy this type of music will want to ride this wave to the horizon.  I remember the first time Sunshine Ltd. bathed my ears with its signature ambient warmth.  It was one of those ebullient experiences when you think, "I'm grateful to be able to span time with these people."  Buy this tape from Discriminate.

peace to you, friends :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Soft Mirage - Ionian Dream (KNN001)

soft sounds and green dreams.  peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

Whether it serenades the day with hope, or assuages your pain from a day of regret, Soft Mirage, the duo of Norm Chambers (Panabrite) and Christian Richer (Element Kuuda, Haiduks, Kinnta), is the venn diagram personified.  Incredible as stand alone artists, the duo proves irresistible.  Ionian Dream, the second release on Richer's Kinnta Records, serves up ten tracks that are both serene and engaging.  Soft Mirage is a perfect moniker, as the music, whether synth hymns or psych pop nugs, is delicate and light.  Delicate in the sense that there is nothing strident about the diffuse, bright tones. And, light in the sense that it doesn't feel overpowering or heavy. There is a natural feel, informed by alluring artwork, evoked throughout.

'Colorsound' commences the tape with warm, bubbly synth.  The smiles abound upon hearing this pleasant track.  'Courtyards of Atlantis' follows, and it provides another perspective of the Soft Mirage image.  This track is imbued with the psych pop tendencies of Richer. The track opens with serene acoustic guitars and synth.  Instantly, it reminds me of Breathing Flowers, until the bass groove and percussion manifests.  The synth and guitar work on the back-end of this track are introspective and wonderfully performed.  'Feathers on Fire' starts with bright synth, and travels to the next level as the various layers undulate in the head.  'Dripping Sentiments' is an enveloping track - introspective and hopeful, it is one of the best tracks on the tape. 'Obsidian', starting off the flip, presents many of the same elements as 'Courtyards of Atlantis'.  The sounds from these tracks find Chambers and Richer at the top of their game.  The latter tracks, too, are quite impressive.

Ionian Dream is beautifully represented with paintings by Marc Knowles and photography by Jessica Hébert and Mathieu Sauvé. One can only hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful endeavor.  After listening to this repeatedly, one gets the sense that these two guys were born to make music together.  Ionian Dream may be purchased directly from Kinnta.

peace to you, friends :)


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tracey Trance/ Run DMT (CGI Fry 006)

$4.20 - I love CGIFriday!!!

Tracey Trance and Run DMT emitting blue, crystal-covered dreams.  peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

The artwork and sticker price - $4.20 - proved to be a harbinger of sorts for this split release from CGIFriday.  Tracey Trance and Run DMT, respectively, created side-long tracks for this c30 tape.  And, what a split!  Tracy Trance/Run DMT is the soundtrack for your herb-encrusted dreams. 

Tracey Trance rules over side A with, "Little Retreats".  The title is informative as the track feels anything but monolithic.  Instead, Tracey Trance presents lo-fi vignettes run through the green machine and then transmitted over mutant frequencies.  Tracey Trance gets down with it from start, playing woozy, uplifting melodies.  A nice "little retreat", prior to exploring other terrain.  The other parts of this side are great: submerged synth; aquatic tones; jams for the beach-head.  Near the middle, strands of aquatic synth  become increasingly cohesive, then fracture before reemerging from the ubiquitous hiss.  It's one of the things I love about Tracey Trance:  one is unsure about that which will occur next - the sounds morph, reemerge, dissipate and are then reborn.  The side ends with a succession of pleasing sounds - punctuated by an interesting sample of a conversation about death (it sounds like Woody Allen in analysis) - followed by breezy, tropical synth.  Overall, a very strong side.  The parts that approximately bookend "Little Retreats" are a great strength of Tracey Trance.  The vocals - prominently featured on Fountain - are not present in this track - it's one of my favorite things about Tracey Trance.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next release!

Unlike Tracey Trance, I was a newcomer - and now a convert - to Run DMT.  "The Road Soda" is similar in structure to side A and displays Run DMT creating alluring melodies constructed with hazy, engulfing tones.  The flip commences with an interesting monologue about the contents of the tape, before gently fading in to crystal-covered blue tones and buzzing synth.  Next a conversation, ostensibly a driving lesson, leads into a loop, over which alluring, introspective tones echo in the room - shades of Boards of Canada.  Next, deranged synth, barely keeping it together, spreads over the expanse.  The dread of those sounds leads into a beautiful eastern-tinged loop. Later in the track, something akin to surf music, inculcated with effects, stays for a short duration. The side ends with an alluring amalgamation of ritualistic synth and bass.  A great side of music.  The sounds at the beginning of "The Road Soda" are absolute gold!!

This music is made for the gas mask bong - it would be profligate to not consume this entirely!  Here is another bit of information: Tomentosa sold out of this tape within one day of his update.  The first run is comprised of 100 tapes for $4.20.  The artwork was created by Tracey Trance and Run DMT, and the tapes are professionally duplicated and imprinted on white cassette shells. Secure your copy now - and the new tape by Gem Jones - by purchasing directly from CGIFriday.  Also, the future releases, including one by Ensemble Economique, look great!  It's going to be an excellent year for CGIFriday.

peace to you, friends :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Raajmahal - S/T (Kelippah009)

only the finest nugs for the dream machine that is Raajmahal. peace and love to my good friends at Humboldt Relief :)

Even with the mild winter, Celandine was analogous to resting in front of the fireplace with whiskey and bowls after a rough day of manual labor – the skin cracking, limbs red from exposure and muscles fatigued.  Lo-fi gems inculcated with ethereal vocals and psych guitar would rise over the embers, filling the room with aural warmth and taking you to a beautiful place.  Raajmahal is the psych trio of Pat Murano (NNCK; Decimus; Key of Shame), Carla Baker (Baba Yaga/Flower Orgy), and Santa Wolanczyk (Flower Orgy) .   

They should start to sell this stuff at the corner dispensary, next to all of the top shelf nugs.  Raajmahal's self-titled lp, on Kelippah Records, is psychedelic beauty at its zenith.  Before the summer is over, these languid, shimmering hymns will have you kneeling in obeisance at the altar of Raajmahal, and this lp is destined for your 'repeat listening' pile.  Ringing guitars with heavy effects ascend beyond the palpable lo-fi murk, combining nicely with the mellifluous voice of Carla Baker.  Baker's voice is heavenly.  The overall feel and recording gives one the notion that the songs are on the periphery, yet they are proximate - and that is due to the intimate feel to this lp.   Each track is special. 'Perihelion' is an apt manner in which to begin the record.  Everything, from Carla's saccharine coated voice to the beautiful guitars, exudes warmth. This track is a little brighter - and that could be my perception - than most in the Raajmahal catalog.  Another great track is 'Orgone' which starts off the flipside.  The track fades in nicely, as the sounds shimmer through the hiss - it reminds me of a rainy day in verdant Eugene, Oregon.  For me, the finest track is 'Unknown Metals' - this is Raajmahal at its peak. 

Accomplished psychedelic music, in this vein, just doesn't come around that often -definitely in the year end list. The self-titled lp is extremely limited - only 300 copies were pressed, and the beautiful, psychedelic sleeves were silkscreened by Phil Franklin (Sunburned Hand of the Man) and Christine Shields.  One can purchase this lp either by sending an e-mail to Kelippah or via Forced Exposure.

peace to you, friends :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Misty Hush Revival - Your Heart is Broken (Guess097)

gettin' by with a little help from my friends...peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

NUG LUV 002: Misty Hush Revival

Again, all praise to Nemo Bidstrup, of Time-Lag Records, for turning me on to a true treasure: Misty Hush Revival.  The last Time-Lag update had a bunch of interesting vinyl, including the lovely King George Discovery lp.  However, after reading Nemo's description and listening to a track on You Tube, it was imperative to act quickly.  Glistening beauty like this is ephemeral. The plain artwork made me curious: what is it exactly that resides in these grooves?

 Lovers of music rejoice:  it is not often when a rare 70's lp is recovered and reissued properly.  Guerssen Records, of Catalonia, is responsible for this sticky, crystal-covered nug.  Misty Hush Revival was a club band based in Staten Island.  Initially, the band collated the tracks for this this album, Your Heart is Broken, in 1972.  The track listing included older studio recordings and more recent live tracks.  Only 100 copies were pressed, and for many years an aura existed around this extremely rare album, with only one copy known to exist.

 Your Heart is Broken consists of originals songs, with no covers.  This one covers a lot of ground from saccharin-coated teen-beat, to psych-pop, to fuzzy jams with a heavy psych bent.. And the sound is heavily set in the 60's - more so than the 70's.  This album cannot really be compared. A few tracks may sound like The Bachs, and the opening to a few tracks reminds me of the Beach Boys.  However, the more I listen, i'm intrigued that Dungen, in a few ways, sounds similar to Misty Hush Revival - and that is a great thing because this album is incredible!

Your Heart is Broken is essential summer listening.  One whiff of this stuff will send your head spinning. Once again, Guerrsen exhibits wonderful awareness to detail with this first time reissue. It has everything one would expect of an excellent reissue: it was remastered on 24-Bit, and has original artwork, along with a nice insert that has rare pictures and liner notes by Jack D. Fleischer.

This review was made possible by researching and synthesizing information and media from a few wonderful sources.  The sources for this review are listed below.

peace to you, friends :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marehelm / Diosemeia - Release the Klonkus Split Series 2 (Klonkus 2012)

float gently through the star field.  peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

One of the nicest facets of this blog is occasionally receiving beautiful music from a label in its inchoate stage.  A few weeks ago, I received a message from Klonkus Records about a tape.  The samples sounded nice, but i needed confirmation from the stereo.  With that, i'm here to write that I recommend picking up a copy of this cassette before it is OOP.  The first release from Klonkus is a split between Marehelm and Diosemeia. 

Marehelm, from Denmark, presents four tracks on side A.  The debut release from this artist presents dark ambient vignettes in the vein of Miasmah Records and Thomas Köner.  The tracks are short in duration - the longest one clocking in at 4:40.  Short duration tracks for this type of music is an intriguing idea.  Overall, I think it is executed successfully.  The first track wafts through the room serenely, as sparse layers of haunting sound serenade the approaching night.  The incorporation of soft rhythms endow the music with a sense of urgency.  The second track is lighter, and full of opaque sounds.  However, the third track is my favorite.  Also, it is the shortest track - only 1:40.  This track has a lot of potential, and would benefit from having more time to develop.  An excellent debut.

The flip presents Diosemeia, which resides in Los Angeles.  Diosemeia's side-long track is exemplary and a beautiful track of warm ambient music.  It is full of ethereal soundscapes, but it is certainly not uniform.  Rather, it moves in different directions and the timing of the transitions is excellent.  For example the track opens with a beautiful drone, in which voices are added to the mix.  However, soon the track becomes more minimal, creating a feeling of inertia.  Diosemeia proves to be adept at the placing of elements and creating specific moods within their music.  And, this is borne out as the track grows with energy, projecting you through the star field.  I definitely need to hear more from this artist.  

Euro 2012 commences tomorrow, yet Klonkus has already scored the first goal of the tournament!  This wonderful debut is presented with nice artwork, an interesting mission statement, and a photo.  Regarding the aforementioned exhortation, this release is limited to 25 copies.  Buy your copy directly from Klonkus.

peace to you, friends :) 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Andy Futreal - Before Knowing Remebers (TD54)

gentle medicine for an inward journey.  peace and love to my friends at Humboldt Relief :)

While one might perceive Andy Futreal's discography as brief, it is brimming with quality and diversity.  Ophelia Wanders, in 2007, presented beautiful improvised acoustic guitar and percussion.  His gentle touch on that release reminds me of Tape, the Apestaartje label, and Rick Tomlinson.  Subsequently, On Wrack: Oud Improvisations, Reactions, and Abstractions, Andy plays the Oud, along with lapsteel, shortwave radio, noise and piano.  The Oud and shortwave radio create otherworldly sounds.  Wrack is a true Sloow tape.  Before Knowing Remembers, released on the venerable Tape Drift, finds Andy at his finest, creating a beautiful collage of sounds - the type of stuff that makes you want to click repeat.  In its execution it feels like the confluence of many postcards - memories hang delicately from gently plucked strings; introspective moments weave through the shortwave radio and field recordings; and the sonic elements of the recording allow one to be in touch with the moment.

Before Knowing Remembers, a single sound collage, was recorded between 2009 and 2011, in Cambridge UK.  On this recording, Andy utilizes acoustic guitar, piano, sugudu, shortwave radio, lap steel and computer.  The field recordings are from Asia, the UK and the US.  The piece moves at a pleasant pace and is punctuated with noise, fractured songs and field recordings.  The gentle plucks of the acoustic guitar are coupled with field recordings, which imbue the surroundings with light colors at times. Andy's style sometimes recalls the softer moments of Ben Chasny.   However, this sound collage is not uniform in neither pace nor feeling.  Passages of acoustic guitar give way to bells, noise and other instruments.  Some parts of the track are introspective, exploratory, celebratory - a true journey.  As with most of the music on this site, I recommend experiencing this release without the presence of external stimuli.  Therefore, it should be enjoyed alone and in its entirety.  The end of the collage is entirely different, in sound, than the preceding 25 minutes.  In the final minutes, various instruments, computer and piano combine to create some of the lightest, most introspective moments experienced this year....the gentle piano combines nicely with the field recordings of children voices and shortwave radio.  A strength of this release is the tempo and construction of the collage.  In this sense, the track ends perfectly as shortwave radio and field recordings close out the experience.

This is the first cd-r reviewed on the site, and one of the best recordings of 2012.  A lot of people try to pull this type of stuff off; yet, there are not many that can match Andy.  Before Knowing Remembers is a sincere statement about time, space and culture - a celebration of life.  Support this beautiful effort by purchasing the cd-r through either Tape Drift or Flipped Out.

peace to you, friends :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Crippling - Fleeting Talisman (HIV114)

the talisman may flee, but this nug is glistening with fidelity.  peace and much love to Humboldt Relief :)

The title alone, Fleeting Talisman, made me curious.  And my curiosity was immediately overwhelmed with abstract, sonic beauty on this c27 from the new batch of Hooker Vision. The sound of Crippling is opaque, murky, always threatening to disintegrate; yet it is concurrently beautiful, fascinating and consoling.  In the process, the sounds ascend, descend, and throb; however, hope manifests throughout.

 The Hooker Vision website describes this tape as being the product of the grimiest records and crudest equipment available in west Georgia thrift stores.  The person behind the project deserves high marks for their skilled construction of this tape  A close listen will reveal the omnipresent beauty that struggles to breath under a veil of tape hiss.  For example, the first part - the tape appears to be one track over two sides - emits a vibe from a Miles Davis fusion era live show, when the sound of his trumpet would descend among the backdrop of Jarrett and Corea.  Even then, the intermingled sounds of the band would produce an uplifting sound, a feeling of hope.  That feeling is eerily present throughout the rest of the tape: dense, tangled sounds follow the introduction, existing under the hiss before breaking through, descending and reappearing.    Side B finishes the trip properly as flailing loops and broken sounds imbue the environment, refusing to depart as the mood vacillates.

Fleeting Talisman is another sticky, glistening nug from the Hooker Vision discography.  Their tapes tend to sell quickly - The Grant Evans and MSOTT tapes are already gone.  I purchased this tape directly from Hooker Vision.

peace to you, friends :)