Monday, January 30, 2012

Virgil Caine - Virgil Caine aka The Great Lunar Oil Strike, 1976 (Time-Lag 054)


UPDATE: VIRGIL CAINE IS AVAILABLE FROM INSOUND.  THEY PROMPTLY DELIVERED THE RECORD AND THE VINYL LOOKS PRISTINE: VIRGIL CAINE AT INSOUND

This review is somewhat of an anomaly, as I do not have the record.  The opportunity, however, to share this with other sonic travelers is too much to pass by.  The Great Lunar Oil Strike, 1976, by Virgil Caine, represents the cross-section of sincere lyrics, crude lo-fi folk-rock, Appalachian aesthetic and a gorgeous southern drawl.  Time-Lag comes to the rescue again and has reissued this extremely rare 1971 rural Virginia private-press folk gem.

  While there others from the day that might sound similar, the vibe and feelings released on this one transcend a lot of other releases.  Some of the tracks contain pure grit - heart-wrenching stories expressed in inimitable fashion.  Tracks such as 'Honey Don't Believe', come alive with the mix of heart-breaking lyrics and vocal delivery.  'Biscuit High' is a lovely story about a meeting between a widow and a stranger that comes to her farm.  She needs a man on the farm and cooks a meal of meat, potatoes and golden biscuits - laced with rum.  The man never got so high drinking from what he ate that night! 'There's an X in the Middle of Nixon' is a deeply affecting story about a family welcoming others to their home, making sacrifices to put the town on the map.  The lyrics remind me of the days in which community and the collective vibe were more celebrated, rather than eschewed.  'Pilgrims Progress' lays it all on the line - not for the weak of heart.  The Great Lunar Oil Strike, 1976 is extremely empathetic - songs of joy and sorrow.  Some songs are so mournful that you want to embrace the singer. Overall, the range of expression is powerful.  The Great Lunar Oil Strike, 1976 is the type of music that, after a few listens, feels like a trusted companion.

Time-Lag has sold their copies, while Eclipse, Insound and AQ records are showing copies in stock.  Ebay and discogs are another option - some of the prices (in the mid $30's) are not outrageous.  For others that don't have the cash, you can find this on mediafire.  Listed below are tracks from the album.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Inspired School of Astral Music - 10:10 Opening the Digital Door (PSR005/SM037)





10:10 Opening the Digital Door, by Inspired School of Astral Music (ISAM), is a meditation on Internet Consciousness, The Cybergenetic Fugue State (CFS) and Numerical Synchronicity as memory recovery in the digital age.  The aforementioned is explained in an essay that accompanies this intriguing release.  CFS is inherently problematic, acting as a blocking interface between the Electronic and Biological brain.  10:10 and other binary computer codes seek to awake the spiritual self from CFS.  10:10 Opening the Digital Door is packaged in screen printed covers on heavy cardstock; it is co-released by Psychic Sounds Recordings and Sonic Meditations, two of my favorite labels.  

A few days ago, I read a wonderful interview of Derek Rogers by Steve Dewhurst, of Foxy Digitialis.  Steve wrote about the idea that emotion can be channeled through the use of drones and ambient soundscapes.  Later in the day, I listened intently to this ISAM lp.  What happened throughout this meditation was nothing short of spiritual discovery - tantamount to recovering visual perception by taking the hands away from the eyes.  ISAM makes me feel euphoric, and a man among beautiful people residing in a state of equanimity.  Opening the Digital Door is music that breathes.  Within a few minutes of dropping the needle, the music would swell and recede. Thus, there is an inherent warmth to the placid sounds which emanate from the speakers.  These are the sounds of friendship, of companionship.  In sum, this is the type of music that you want to invite into your home.

In a complicated world, I yearn for the connection provided by this type of music.  Throughout the release, I remembered the way in which Basinski's drones would wash away my tears of grief.  Needless to say, I highly recommend 10:10.  This one is still available from places for which I have great admiration:  Discriminate, Tomentosa (restock soon), Psychic Sounds and Sonic Meditations!  
     

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Michael Vallera - Divisions of the Source (LDE 019)



Michael Vallera, one half of Cleared, is a musician and visual artist from Chicago.  In the past few years, Michael's solo work has appeared on great labels, such as Reverb Worship and Catholic Tapes. His latest work on Los Discos Enfantasmes (LDE), Division of the Source, is twenty-three minute journey of slowly forming and shifting ambient wonders.  It was not until I read Brad Rose's label interview with Jean-S├ębastien Truchy, in Foxy Digitalis, that I decided to delve into the LDE world.  A wonderful label with a distinct aesthetic, not only is LDE releasing alluring music, they also have some of the best packaging in the cassette biz.  LDE tapes come with die-cut front covers and great artwork.


  Recorded over a series of late nights during Summer 2011 in Chicago, Division of the Source is a tape that I often allow to repeat.  The first track has the feeling of an oppressive summer night - the instruments create a drone which has beautiful depth and subtle changes.  The next track commences with gorgeous piano notes, soon accompanied by percussive sounds - almost like the sound of steam rushing through a grate.  The combination of sounds creates an environment of anticipation, as the piano struggles to make a space for its mournful notes.  The flip side starts off with a buzzing drone that pulses forward and back, coming in to focus and quickly going out - slowly changing in night heat.  The last track feels like an undulating electronic movement, sounds moving into the foreground and then retreating in the ambient glow.


I was fortunate to procure this tape from Discriminate.  Discriminate has an excellent selection of LDE titles, including the David Kristian tape, which I highly recommend.  LDE is making heads turn with their distinct approach to creating art - check them out today!

Michael Vallera - Bedroom Painting (from Division of the Source (LDE 019)) by losdiscosenfantasmes

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Corum - Never Use The Same Door Twice (PSR 006-a)












Just like the good doc opined, anything worth doing is, worth doing right. When it comes to an engaging, cumulative experience, it is difficult to match Never Use The Same Door Twice, by Corum.  The record is accompanied by a book of drawings.  Initially, I listened without referring to the drawings; however, lately I cannot listen without looking at the drawings.  Psychic Sounds Recordings is responsible for this star, which burns brightly across the night sky.  To those which approach this record with an accepting mind, there is an unparalleled spiritual experience. Corum utilizes drums, clarinet, bamboo flute, delay pedals and other instruments in guiding the listener.  Side A opens with rhythmic drum beats, interspersed with a thick sounding horn.  As Corum glides through your mind, the side ends with a heavy drone, which sounds like a machine heaving back and forth.  Soon, an echoing synth spirals through the heavy fog of drone, the body ascending.

Sold out at Tomentosa and the source, pre-orders are being accepted for the next pressing, which should be released in the beginning of February.  Also, Psychic Sounds recently co-released an lp by Inspired School of Astral Music, with Sonic Meditations.  Great label, great sounds.  Only thing left to do is ascend with the celestial sounds.

   

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raajmahal - Celandine (Digitalis Ltd #224)





Celandine, the debut from Raajmahal, on Digitalis Ltd., prompted me to remember the reasons that I listen to music.  Besides being my favorite form of art, good music is beautiful and therapeutic.  Throughout years of suffering, in my own manner, music has been the closest thing to a panacea.  Music has a potent ability to assuage suffering.  A few nights ago, beat down by the day, I received a package from Discriminate.  Each tape radiated beauty, but the Celandine tape made me curious. The previews sounded great.

  Nothing, however, prepared me for the aural waves which would blissfully unfold and ascend.  It must have been tantamount to smoking a dollop of hash oil.  Just like a healthy bong rip, within a few minutes of the opening track, Bridge of Temptation, I was transported to a special place: the place in which the message of music fuses with the listener.  My body was ensconced in Carla Backer's distorted voice; the ambient psych of the guitars from Pat Murano and Santa Wolanczyk providing refuge from the elements.  The subsequent six tracks would only serve to solidify my feelings for Celandine.  It is only fitting that Digitalis - the label that would re-introduce me to cassettes through Brad Rose's thoughts on Stunned Records - would release something that literally saved the day.  After experiencing such alluring music, one can only feel better.

Within days of ordering, Discriminate had this tape rolling in my cassette deck.  The new batch of Digitalis Ltd tapes sounds great!  Seven dollars is a paltry sum compared to the enlightenment which awaits.    

                 





Raajmahal "Curly Locks" by foxydigitalis Raajmahal "Bridge of Temptation" by foxydigitalis

Monday, January 16, 2012

Von Himmel - Space Communion (Humito 002)





Strap in and load it up - you're gonna need it for this kosmiche journey into the aether.  There is not much known about Von Himmel, nor Humito.  Lately, this lp and Never Use The Same Door Twice, by Corum have dominated the turntable.  Initially, Space Communion was released by Sloow Tapes.  Going out of print quickly, it reappeared in 2011 as the second release on Humito. The artwork for Space Communion, especially on the Sloow tape, is a homage to Schwingungen, from Ash Ra Temple.  One should be careful though, as to not deduce that this is a copy of German experimental music from yesteryear.  Yes, there are nods to the likes of Popul Vuh, Ash Ra Temple and Tangerine Dream.  The review by Mimaroglu, of the Sloow tape, says it aptly, " it captures the dark psychedelia that is so prevalent on those classic LPs without falling victim to being a straight rip-off or throw-back."  

Moon Moss... blast off!  The echo of cosmic synth sounds announce that exploration has commenced.  Astronomer begins with some a conga jam, which is soon joined by the flute and synth.  The flute is alluring, floating on the drum beats.  Sun Spots is a guitar/bass/synth tune, with heavy bass vibes that overshadows the guitar and synth - a different track than the other five.  Mantra closes out the side A with a nice collage of synth, field recordings and tambourine, which is barely audible. Strawberry Hill starts off the flip side with a menacing drone accompanied by bellows of a singing bowl, bells, voices, percussion, guitar and other effects - one of my favorite tracks and a journey of sound. Country Bog is the last track, which floats on tape hiss, until the sitar appears.  Unexpectedly, synth and effects envelop the sitar complete with electronic twitches, bubbles, and pulses.  The track ends with percussion and voices.  

Though this is currently unavailable at the usual distros, word has it that Tomentosa might receive additional copies.  Also, Time-Lag and Eclipse had copies earlier in the year.  Space Communion has imbued my days - allow these psych masters to take you on a trip.

        

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perspectives/Basked Unit (House of Sun 031)






House of Sun has become one of my favorite labels.  Zen Effects - one of my favorite music sites - introduced me to House of Sun through the Pink Desert tape, Daytime Series.  Soon enough, the Lake Seeds Vol. 2 tape, by White Fir became best buddies with my cassette deck.  Mike Pouw - the man behind one of my favorite projects, Knit Prism - runs this venerable tape label and his master touch is palpable.  Everything involved, from the Stumptown Brad Pak to the mind-altering tape sounds, is aesthetically pleasing.  

House of Sun 031 is a c20 split featuring Perspectives and Basked Unit.  Perspectives is the combination of Royallen and Do Tell.    Piano and guitar are used to create minimalist structures.  The sounds here are ones which, after repeated listens, swell in the head.  The A side commences with haunting piano notes and guitar, which dance on a floor of  warm tape hiss.  Next, scraped strings crawl through the recesses of the mind.  This part particularly, for me, evokes a moment that occurred during the Miles Davis set at Isle of Wight, 1970.  Perspectives ends the A side with guitar and piano patterns that constantly morph.  Really great stuff on this side.  Perspectives have an unavailable release on Permanent Nostalgia.  According to the site, new stuff and re-issues will occur.

Basked Unit is comprised of Thoughts on Air and Knit Prism.  Though only in January, Thoughts on Air has already released two mind-melters: Paleo Sails, on Avant Archive and Psongs of Retrospect Vol 1., on Hobo Cult.  For this track, two guitars are joined by contact mics and patch cords to create alluring sounds.  The guitar warbles and creates an ominous setting, similar to that of Joy Shapes, by Charalambides.  The sounds which emanate from this sonic stew, have a percussive feel - kind of like Airto Moreira.  Basked Unit has releases on Calypso Hum, Digitalis Ltd., Housecraft and a few other labels.

There is only one thing left to do:  Support these artists and House of Sun.

   


Perspectives intro tease by houseofsun Baskedsplitpreview by houseofsun

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

April in The Orange - When a River Meets The Sea (Sloow Tapes 2011)




When a River Meets The Sea, from Michigan-based April in The Orange, is a cassette containing celestial drones and reflective folk songs.  Sloow Tapes from Belgium put this one out and it aligns nicely with their other releases.  Also, the artwork is stellar.  Sloow has some of the best artwork in the tape scene.  


Throughout this c40, the listener becomes ensconced in the heady drones and folk nugget reveries.  The arsenal for this tape is heavy: Andrew Barrett on acoustic/electric guitars, mandolin, wrench chimes and vocals; Samantha Linn on acoustic guitar and vocals; Michael Collino on violin.  The playing and songwriting of Linn and Barrett is strong.  Linn's vocals on the title track, B2,  are very impressive - soothing and reflective.  There are some beautiful moments on this cassette, such as the interplay of acoustic and electric guitar on B1 - things get pretty heavy and the tension propels the listener to the zenith. 

According to their website, When a River Meets The Sea is somewhat of a departure.  The web site describes the music as something new: "long-drift textured drones interwoven with acoustic melodies sharp and true -- all recorded under the hazy July sun.".  The Volcanic Tongue review mentions Roy Harper, the spirit of which is present on When a River Meets The Sea.  Aside from this Sloow release, everything else appears to be self-released.  

As a listening experience, this is a versatile release: I often find myself taking long walks with this music or sitting in the sun.  The experience of listening to this under the sun is stunning - the sun radiates energy, which warms the soul and this music reciprocates, serenading the sun with heartfelt hymns.  

Eclipse Records is one of my favorite distros.  Ed, the man at Eclipse, is extremely friendly and will ensure that this cassette arrives quickly.  Send Ed an email: ed@eclipse-records.com



    

   

When A River Meets The Sea by April in the Orange

More reviews soon

My apologies to those which frequent the blog, regarding the infrequency of reviews.  The frequency of reviews will increase, starting with tonight's review of a Sloow tape.  Tonight's review is a harbinger, as more reviews will be posted in the upcoming weeks from the likes of Time-Lag, 12k, House of Sun, Hooker Vision, SicSic and many others.  Thanks for visiting, and in staying with the ethos of the site, remember to change the water :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Warm Climate - Pigeon Brides Weigh In (Stunned no.136)






This is some really heavy shit.  My buddy McKinley introduced me to Warm Climate a few years ago and I have been hooked ever since.  A tape with style for miles and miles, initially Pigeon Brides Weigh In was supposed to be the final Stunned release - the subsequent Plantkton Wat/Super Minerals split was actually the final Stunned tape; and while that tape is incredible, the Warm Climate cassette represents something special - the pinnacle of Stunned releases, the crest of wave that leaves a high water mark.

Publicly declared as the "best band in L.A.", Warm Climate pile it on thick with their brand of psyched out rock.  Their discogs profile suggests that while the cast is variable, this is the project of Seth Kasselman and various collaborators.  On this release, Kasselman's ringing guitar is joined by Caitlin C. Mitchell's drumming - which is one of the best aspects of the tape - along with Jake White on Bass and Josh Kasselman on harmonica.  Stunned states it aptly: "this tightly rehearsed L.A. group fires one psych groove and infectious hook after another".   

Warm Climate creates the type of music that makes one bypass the other things on offer.  Seriously, my  favorite rock lps/tapes/cds in the collection - Sonic Youth, Can, Pavement, Jennifer Gentle, etc.. - are covered with dust due to my strong feelings for the music contained in this tape.  Warm Climate has two other tapes on Stunned - Edible Homes and Camouflage on the River Wretched - both of which radiate Kasselman's vision.  Here's the deal: grind up the indica, pack it tightly and watch as the smoke meets the high water mark.   


warm climate - pigeon brides weigh in (album preview) by experimedia

Warm Climate by user6399600

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Angelo Harmsworth - Untitled (Bathetic Records 47)



The sounds on this cassette echo throughout the soul and make one realize the unadulterated beauty of the present moment.  The untitled cassette from Angelo Harmsworth, on Bathetic Records, is an elegant statement.  It has the feel of music dedicated to the reciprocity between nature and humans.  There is a good reason that this cassette has received regular play for the past few weeks: Angelo Harmsworth creates music that assuages suffering.   While that might sound hackneyed, a few listens should change the curious mind.  More so, the artwork complements the music perfectly - double panel jcards printed on handmade Wildflower seed paper.

The opening track combines guitar, piano, synth, a horn and some heavy tape hiss.  The guitar and piano combine nicely, with what sounds like a horn - it feels reassuring.  The second part of the track uses distorted notes, which gives the guitar a Bibio or Boards of Canada feel.  You could hear this influence throughout, as well as nods to Fennesz, Sean McCann and Black Eagle Child among others.  The next track on side A, Sundance, begins with blurred piano notes.  The atmosphere created is one characterized by lightness.   Soon enough, acoustic strums, voices of children are introduced into the mix.  The last track on side A starts with a low rumbling drone, a contrast from the first two tracks.  Soon enough, the synth shoots colorful notes through the low rumble.    Side B starts off with the colorful synth and distorted guitar shining through the chugging hiss - much like the sun finding space in the clouds.  The last two tracks travel a similar path.  Angelo Harmsworth leaves one with a smile.

Bathetic has already sold their stock, as did Tomentosa.  Discriminate, however, still has copies in stock.  Parting with seven dollars should be one of the easiest decisions of 2012  :)

Angelo Harmsworth - Untitled C30 PREVIEW by dscrmnt