Hello everyone. Thanks for browsing this website. Unfortunately life has gotten in the way and so I am not really in a state to give anything a deserving critique. I apologize, but thank you for understanding.
lots of love,
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Extra Large Childe – Awesome Bummer
Extra Large Childe is a Detroit-area group featuring Alana Carlson, Mike Ross, Jeff Spatafora, Kirk Van Husen, and Justin Walsh. This cassette release was recorded in Ferndale and Royal Oak Michigan in 2009. “Court Order” begins with a field recording of a group of people in conversation, soon submerged by piercing, dissonant guitar drones and a skittish, free-form drum set. The track has an improvisatory, noise rock aesthetic, and in all honesty, it sounds like a half-assed jam session. The production on “Double Adapter” has a much better quality, and the song is better crafted. It’s not just because it has more of an organized song structure; it’s because it sounds like more work went into it, even if it is simple and minimalist. The funky bass and repetitive, angular guitar riffs feed well off each other. As the tape continues, the music maintains a rather discordant, jangly, off-kilter rock style. There’s a fair share of just plain goofing off (i.e., on “Maybe Tempestuous”). “Extra Love Child” has a more ambient sound much different than most of the other songs. It is composed of a short, looping bell melody, maybe from a synth. A free form acoustic guitar subtly adds textural sounds underneath. A crunchy, oscillating analog synth fades in and out, also joined by another warm, looping synth melody, interweaving with the first bell loop. It is the most intriguing song on the tape. It is followed by “Fight Night”, another good display of minimalist craft. The only melodic instrument in the song is the bass and it only plays one note the whole way through. But the emphasis is on the magic of polyrhythmic playfulness, supported by a propulsive drum set and cowbell.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Ender Belongs to Me – Memory
Crash Symbols 2012
Ender Belongs to Me is a New York based duo, both going by the pseudo-name Peter Wiggin, the violent older brother from the sci-fi novel Ender’s Game. “Kick/Scream” features melancholic, flange-y synth melodies with an experimental pop structure. The melodic hooks are gentle and catchy, supported by drum set and minimalist drum machine patter. “You, Sir” quickly brought to mind Gang Gang Dance, in large part due to the groovy drum machine rhythms and their echo-y textures. It could also be their pairing with the female vocals, which we hear for the first time. The synths keep the flange tinge, and this time they are really in a locked rhythmic groove with the drum machine throughout the song, which sounds great. “Animate” begins with hypnotic, polyrhythmic, metallic bell clatter soon joined by found sound spoken word distortion. The synths enter the mix, sounding slightly more dissonant and more like a piano (no flange). Initially the percussion seems very organic, like a human was actually hitting things (though perhaps not), yet as the song progresses it subtly mutates into a quantized drum machine, which sounds good too. “All Working” is composed of repetitive, minimalist synth layers that are beautifully gentle and rhythmic. When the soft 4/4 bass and digital patter kick in amongst the synths the piece becomes quite cheerful and danc-y. In “Teddymuffin”, the female vocals become more long-form and chant-like towards the end of the piece, joined by churning drum samples and pulsating synths, acting more as a rhythmic bass.
Cassette for purchase:
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Welcome Back Sailors – (Love) That’s All
Crash Symbols 2012
Welcome Back Sailors is the duo of Danilo Incerti and Alessio Artoni based in Italy. “Stronger” is a real slow dance of a tune, with a down tempo drum machine. Slightly cheesy synths drift in and out of chords joined by melodramatic vocals. “(Love) That’s All” has a similar psychedelic pop style and instrumentation. There’s a thumping bass riff that makes the piece a bit groovier, kind of like a slowed-down funk/soul track. The vocals throughout the tape remind me of Ariel Pink. “Flesh & Blood” is dancier, with an up-tempo drum machine and arpeggiating synths pulsating about. “Stronger (Keep Shelly in Athens Remix)” brings out the old school, r&b aesthetics in the vocals, maybe emphasized by the drum machine. “Stronger (His Clancyness Cover)” is a rock interpretation of the piece, with rock instrumentation, maintaining the down tempo quality and emphatically emotional vocals. “Flesh & Blood (Death in Plains Remix)” is a dancier and heavier mix than the original. When it is just the vocals and the lightly bouncing synths I dig it the most.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Featureless Ghost – Biologically Sound Cyber-Bodies
Crash Symbols 2012
Matt Weiner and Elise Trippins formed the duo Featureless Ghost in 2007 in Atlanta. They have also released material on Night-People, Ruralfaune, and Double Phantom Digital. “Brain Case” really translates their theoretical concepts into practice quite well (which, perhaps surprisingly, isn’t always the case between the translation of text/language to a non-linguistic medium, or vice versa). It utilizes retro-futurist rhythm machine aesthetics, pulsating kosmische synth arpeggiations, and lyrics based around motifs of virtuality and cyberspace. They are sung in a sort of cyborg fashion: robotic, mechanical mimicry, yet inherently tied to the limited expressions of the voice/body. The drum machine in “Data Dancer” is a bit more in-your-face and aggressive, joined by layers of repeating synth hooks, and clipping, bubbly (wordless) vocals. The textures of the instrumentation have a more ambient and glitchy consistency. The composition sounds like less work went into it than the previous track (only trying to provide an honest critique here), which in my humble opinion I found to be much better crafted. “Prophet Transmission” consists of similarly lyrical vocals heard in “Brain Case.” This time they more flanged out, which I really enjoy. The synths and drum machine are more subtle and repetitive, acting more as a support for the vocals. In tracks such as “Web Walk” and many of the others, the vocals do a fe/male trade off between Weiner and Trippins, which is often an appealing balance with a duo. The track also does a nice job with the synths, mixing more bass-y and upbeat melodies with shimmering, oceanic ambience.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Power Animal is the solo project of Keith Hampson from the Philly area. We received this tape from Decoder magazine’s cassette imprint Crash Symbols. “Better Water” features swells of synths and vocals being played backwards, a technique which for some reason I often enjoy. Underneath the bed of synths and the vocals enters a skittish drum set, giving the dronier vibe of the tune a more rocking beat to it. “Rough Year (Interlude)” has a more drum machine and glitchy quality filled with intermittent samples. The piece gets pretty groovy around a minute and a half in, when polyrhythms develop on the vibraphone, drum machine, and maybe a synth. “Mold Spores” consists of crunchy drum machine textures mixed with synth and banjo (?) instrumentation. “Bow and Arrow” is introduced by beautiful acappella vocals soon joined by down to mid tempo drum machine distortion. The title track, “Exorcism” incorporates military marching band style snare rhythms mixed with a 4/4 house beat. Hampson’s lyrics give all the tracks a unique pop sensibility amongst all of the sample-delica.
The B side of the tape features remixes of the first five original tracks by a variety of artists. “Better Water (Lushlife Remix)” is kind of a more tripped out, delayed out take with a glittery, descending sample and down tempo, funk/r&b drum machine. “Bow and Arrow (Melting Season Remix)” is also funkier on the drum machine, joined by digital shaker percussion and bassy synth tones. I really enjoy “Exorcism (Spirituals Remix)” for its chopped yet gentle vocal edits, groovy drum samples, and for really doing justice to and maintaining the integrity of the original vocal melody. It definitely represents what a good remix should be. Somehow it even manages to subtly throw in free jazz sax skronk in there as well, and it works.
Cassette for purchase: