19 June 2017


shaking box 2017, edition of 70

"Three extended pieces from Bitter Fictions, among the last Tascam 244 recordings made by Devin Friesen before moving out of longstanding recording haunt The Library. Lushly blown-out feedback solitude caught on tape, one more hopefully hopeless new age conspiracy from the bummer basement. The 22-minute opener 'Jaywalking to Avoid Families' sets the tones, by the end of 'Stitch (Ten Years a Stranger)' the reflection has slowed to a numb crawl. Measure steps between longing and dread. // gtr / tapes played / recorded by d.f. in the library basement (calgary ab) w roommate's tascam 244 july / august 2016, my last months before moving out and getting my own 4-track, these are some of the last pieces I recorded with that machine in that basement which honestly looks a lot nicer now" - SHAKING BOX

each new work from FRIESEN is an impressive improvement on what he came before, so it's not particularly shocking that this is his best yet, without any question or hesitation - last year's JETTISON [REC #136] was a subtle yet crucial revelation, for the artist as much as the avid listener, i think - it was like something clicked - before XXVII, even and especially on criminally underappreciated JETTISON --in a vinyl edition of 100 still available from SHAKING BOX and just barely missed the cut on my non cassette top ten-- FRIESEN sounded like he was honing his sound, live fire exercises, if you will - XXVII is the resultant work, the end product, the summit, endowed with a striking sense of accomplishment, of arrival - well at least that's my twisted weirdo cassette worldview interpretation

a case in point - last year's "morning in yr eyes" was like FRIESEN discovered fire - it fits and flows on JETTISON, but even in the context of a really good album it's clear to me that "morning in yr eyes" is a stroke of genius, it's the ace in JETTISON's ace high flush, an all too brief holy respite that caught my attention in a hurry as i noted it "plays like a glorious FRIPPIAN desert fried sunrise symphony" - well XXVII takes that five minute prayer and turns it into a 45 minute sanctified mass for the ages - as i said, there's appreciable improvement via revisitation and re-examination, particularly on this deep diver which coulda shoulda been titled something like THREE MORNING VARIATIONS a la ENO's DISCREET MUSIC side two

speaking of, XXVII is like the bite sized expositions on ENO's AMBIENT 4 and APOLLO and the final seconds of TWELLS & CHRISTENSEN's COASTS stretched out like taffy, infused with the kosmische goo seeping through the rivets on NEU's motorik propulsion system, perhaps duly informed by FLYING SAUCER ATTACK interludes and DAVID PEARCE's avant guitar revitalization on INSTRUMENTALS 2015 [REC# 67], and/or a devout disciple of LOREN CONNORS and ROY MONTGOMERY, or perhaps FRIESEN developed his sound entirely through self guided trial and error without any overt emulation, self taught in meditative isolation - no matter the extent of the roots, the fruit here is bountiful, XXVII is a boon born out of a well studied obsession with the guitar as an instrument of atmosphere and texture - FRIESEN fantastically conjures chordal reverberation, howling feedback and scorched earth scuzz, then alchemized into a gorgeous harmonic spiritualized sonic journey, a post no wave (?) aria for guitar, kinda like BRAEYDEN JAE re-envisioning VANGELIS' BLADE RUNNER score

on that note, some contemporary comparisons to consider - aforementioned JAE, AMULETS, CLOUDSOUND and SKITTISH ARM - the usual suspects for this sort of thing, but they're the best so what else can i say really - there's also some correlation with the soft -or rather the less harsh- underbelly of the euro post industrial dark ambient noise scene a la IVORY TRADE and SOFIA OZDRAVOVNA, but titled more toward composition, or at least the impression of, not too far removed from SEAN MCCANN and his own RECITAL imprint (which just reissued an album by CONNORS) and AARON MARTIN and WILLAMETTE's JOSEPH EDWARD YONKER

11 June 2017


stankhouse 2010, edition of ?

"Haunting, soulful, and honest, Paul Cary has stripped down garage rock to its purest, most vulnerable form, and created a truly amazing piece of work. This record will break your heart and shake your legs." - STANKHOUSE

"Chicago's Paul Cary knows a thing or two about grit. In his Iowa days, Cary was the front man for the seminal In The Red band The Horrors (not the UK band, the gritty garage rockers from the depths of Iowa). During that time, Paul Cary drove taxis, hopped trains from Iowa City to San Diego, worked the door at local dive bars and toured Europe with The Horrors. While on In the Red, The Horrors released two albums: 2000 self-titled recorded by Mike McHugh at the Distillery and 2004 Vent, recorded by both Mike at the Distillery and by Doug Easley and Greg Cartwright at Easley McCain Studios.

In 2005, Cary woke up, wised up, and moved all of his worldly belongings to Chicago. Once there, he buckled down, apprenticed with a carpenter, and continued to work on songs. With no band to support him, he enlisted the help of percussionist and engineer Johnathan Crawford (Head of Femur, William Elliott Whitmore, Grey Ghost, Tim Wehrle), and together they began to work out arrangements of new material. In late 2007, Paul and Johnathan set out to record Cary's first solo album, Ghost of a Man, with Mike Lust at Phantom Manor Studio, and Toby Summerfield joined on bass.

Ghost of a Man was later self-recorded and completed at Clown Town Studios in Chicago – basically a small room with some old mics and a tape deck, just the sound they were after. In total, the album took two years to record. Upon completion, Portland's Stank House Records offered to release the album on vinyl, Chicago's free music label Candy Dinner released it as a download. Stank House recently released a split 7" with Paul Cary and Thee Oh Sees, and it quickly sold out." - PAULCARYMUSIC.COM

there are discrepancies between what i know and what the internet says when it comes to GHOST - i was driving the hype train well before it hit the shelves, though i suspect it didn't hit many shelves - GUESTROOM OKC was probably one of a handful of shops that stocked the vinyl in the spring of 2010 - don't let discogs et al fool you on the physical release date - the STANKHOUSE vinyl wasn't available until CANDY DINNER offered a $12 pre-order (and free dl) in late march - i got my copy in early april - if i recall correctly it was briefly distributed by MIDHEAVEN that summer, but by the time we needed to restock it had already dried up

but if you dig around you will find that GHOST apparently existed as early as march 2009 as an abandoned digital only album on amazon via RECORDED RECORDS (?) - all i have on that is what PAUL CARY briefly summarized in an email that november - "my label and i had a falling out and i took the album off the web for a while"

"take my hands off the wheel / throw away my maps / give me somethin I can feel, honey / tie my hands off behind my back / drop me in the desert, baby / you can take off all my clothes / i wanna feel alive now, honey / i want to know where the coyotes go" - coyote

back it up a bit -- i had never heard of PAUL CARY until that emergent split ep with THEE OH SEES via STANKHOUSE in late 2009 - at the time i was a helpless JOHN DWYER fanatic - i had been hard selling THEE OH SEES to anyone who would listen for the previous year and a half - i bought that split without care or consideration for the flipside, then i -heard- the flipside and it seemed like the ground shifted beneath me - "coyote" very quickly became and still remains one of my favorite songs ever - i must've played CARY's side of that split fifty times before the year was out

"Formed when they were all just 18, The Horrors found a cure for their midwestern boredom: making obnoxious, intrusive rock n roll music. In your face and fucked up-this shit is harsh. They draw on the sounds they dig – Leadbelly, Sabbath, Dr Dre, Pussy Galore, Prince – the list goes on and on. The Horrors just wanna make a racket, kick ass and clean house. Hopefully they can make some people get up, shake their butts and stomp they feet too – this happens sometimes. Mostly people back away to the rear of the room to avoid physical injury or just stare dumbfounded." - IN THE RED

CARY's stint as frontman of the HORRORS -a raw bluesy garage punk outfit in the early 2000s- sets the scene for GHOST quite nicely - i was a big fan of ITR at the time and i still am to some degree, but the HORRORS were five years disbanded and all but forgotten by the time i found em, and probably not all that much unforgotten now, which is a shame because those HORRORS records are killer, in the vicinity of loud blistering (blues) punk legends the GORIES and the MUMMIES, but the HORRORS pursued the style to its implosive conclusion with such psychotic farm boy rock n roll fervor as to challenge everything this side of the the KEGGS "to find out" and TRASHMEN's "surfin bird" and the LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY's "paralyzed"

"this Cedar Rapids terror unit was the beast to be reckoned with before Black Lips flower plowered their way through the 00s. a safe bet that this self-titled LP is probably responsible for getting John Dwyer out of his pink pajama/art-school noise bands and off emulating the BFTG series, more than anything. The band seemed so broken, tired and pissed, I feared that they'd phone it in or pack it up. Not the case. Front mouth Cary was yelping away over a creaky blues chord, barely facing the mic. Guitarist and drummer held back, awaiting Paul's command to explode. A full thirty seconds or so into that first song, it blew up - real good. The small crowd backed up for fear of losing teeth. This is how the evening rang out. Every song was a verse / chorus / collision, then pray enough gear was left working in the rubble to make it to the bottom of the set-list. This is not an exaggeration. One of the greatest and most terrifying show-going experiences I've ever had." - ROB VERTIGO, TERMINAL BOREDOM

but the HORRORS in all their overlooked glory weren't enough - so as i mentioned i contacted CARY that november concerning GHOST as found nominally on amazon - he briefly explained said limbo and mailed me a cdr of GHOST under one condition - "i could burn you a copy if you promise to play it for everyone you know" - so i did

"all those punk rock lies i told myself / wish i would've told em to someone else" - the curse of china bull

i was floored when i first heard GHOST - it vastly exceeded my cursory tagline "country fried TY SEGALL" as if CARY desert-wandered and soul-searched in the aftermath of recording some of the best sides ITR ever cut, then emerged with this sound of a hard headed snot nosed punk who is older and wiser and has the scars to prove it - what stands out about CARY's solo recordings is how much he pours into it, perhaps inspired by copious amounts of SON HOUSE and HANK WILLIAMS - to be sure, CARY's sound is such an earnest expression of roots music that to some extent it -becomes- roots music - like CCR's instant nostalgia and SPRINGSTEEN's intimate reflection on NEBRASKA, those songs existed in spirit long before they were ever recorded, and that same spirit haunts GHOST

"i've been playing with magnets, thinkin bout things that i can't see" - iryna

"slow-burn rockabilly with Cary's sneer pasted all over it, then this raggedy-ass sax solo comes skronking along in the middle like a drunken noir soundtrack, rough, dirty and full of bitter soul, running on fumes, blistered-fingers blues, all ruckus and drooling static, electrifying without losing that ragged songwriter's heart. he takes the spirit of the music that influences him and filters it through the aesthetic he knows and loves, resulting in these bloody-edged songs that sound alive and essential. It's the same trick that Greg Cartwright pulls off time and again, and it's no small compliment to say that Cary's work on this album is right up there with the best of Cartwright's." - SAM OLSON, BEATS PER MINUTE

sure, CARY gives favored clever, rugged and wry songwriters GREG CARTWRIGHT (of REIGNING SOUND and OBLIVIANS fame) and JAMES TOTH aka WOODEN WAND a run for their hard earned hard luck money - CARY's breathless rambling and woozy howling runs on a similar mixture of heart, soul and booze, strained through a mud-covered mic - GHOST was an undeniable instant classic to my ears, and apparently ripe for the taking - a lost album of sorts in search of a label - i tried and failed to get GUESTROOM to seize the opportunity - shortly thereafter GHOST landed in STANKHOUSE's lap - i never found out how many they pressed, maybe 500, maybe less, i'd probably take the under - still, i was a bit surprised to find the last one on discogs sold for $100 - not that i wouldn't pay that

"punk rock started dyin on the day day she started tryin / but i never really cared much at all / cause i'll be singin in my casket, stompin my foot and fingers snappin / no i never really cared much at all / yeah sometimes it seems it's just the same with all these scenes / and it don't matter which one you choose / soon as somethin starts a happenin, you better make room for the chain reactions / oh yeah good ideas get bought and abused" - yes machine

thing is, there never was a happenin - consider split juxtaposition with THEE OH SEES, who have a rather popular lineage of influences, predecessors, contemporaries and followers, some courtesy DWYER's label CASTLE FACE, as part of a scene that helped shape DWYER and vice versa - on the flipside, music like CARY's is scarce, isolated and disparate - i've long been searching and have little to show for it - there's WOODEN WAND, but that comparison only goes so far - GREG ASHLEY's MEDICINE F*CK DREAM and MARK ALEXANDER MCINTYRE's GRAPES and DONOVAN QUINN's YOUR WICKED MAN cut closer in some ways, as does IRMA VEP's recent masterpiece NO HANDSHAKE BLUES [REC# 186] - more weirdo stuff like DAN MELCHIOR and SPENCER DOBBS [REC #116] and JOE KILE [REC #78] can help fill out a riyl profile but that's already pushing it - there's no scene, no chain reaction - hell, BISHOP PERRY TILLIS is third on CARY's last fm similar artists page -- it's this anti-legacy of sorts -unfortunate though it may be by some measure- that i think helps make this stuff exceptional, discouraging those who lack conviction and fueling those who do while protecting these vulnerable outsider sounds from getting "bought and abused"

"it's a classic tale of good versus evil / and it starts and it ends with just two people / and i wouldn't blame y'all or stop you from snoring / if it wasn't for the devil the bible would be so boring / can you imagine for a minute what it would be like / if everyone was good and everyone was nice / they'd say 'how's your day', 'just great, why do you ask' / 'they're all pretty much the same, just the same as the last' / so burn your books and put your movies on magnets / think i already know just how it's gonna happen / in a town so hard to touch, tell me, how does it feel / if it stings and it burns then you know it's real / bad people make the world go round" - bad people

GHOST's exhibition of busted-up garage rock, drunken rockabilly stomp and countrified blues punk came and went for most who bothered to noticed, i'm sure, maybe earning a spot on a year end list then out with the old and in with the new - i imagine few were still regularly blasting their STANKHOUSE vinyl the following spring - i went to sxsw 2011 with CARY at the top of the list - it was a gold mine of cool free shows - OH SEES, TY, MOON DUO, SUN ARAW - a good year to see those bands for sure, but i have forgotten most of that trip except CARY's performance at TRAILER SPACE, which remains crystallized in my mind

there were maybe 20 people there, including employees and the band -an anti-power trio of sorts with CARY on guitar/vocals, dude on hammond (?), dude behind a bare bones drum kit- it was so damn good that we were painfully disappointed when we listened to GHOST on the road back to OKC --thankfully that faded as time wore on-- if i ever had to pick a least favorite song on GHOST it would have to be "yes machine" and yet they made it sound like the best song on the album that day - and then there's no words for how good "coyote" was - they dragged the tempo extra hard, the drums were explosive, CARY slowly backed away from the mic as he howled, intuitively using the acoustics of that stuffy claustrophobic shop - you could have heard a pin drop on the hot cement floor

he played three new songs, eventually appearing on CARY's sophomore album COYOTE, which rather coolly does not reprise the eponymous song which ignited this whole thing - he ended the set with "don't kiss me" (title unknown at the time), which i described as "a killer down-and-out ballad, he said he was gonna get personal, standout lyric 'all the tail i'd been chasin' / turned out to be my own'" - a perfect song to close a perfect set

there aren't many live shows that rise above "drink a beer, have a cool time" level -- SLEEP spring 2013 at 35 denton (hangin with EXPO 70 and PALLBEARER) was downright religious, MT EERIE fall 2012 at the opolis during a thunderstorm was rapturous, EXPO 70 spring 2013 at stash was transcendental - CARY spring 2011 at sxsw is right there with em

after the show i talked with CARY a bit - he said a new album was in the works, three years later COYOTE was released digital only - in january 2015 CARY's facebook said COYOTE vinyl and a GHOST repress would happen that summer, with a new album shortly after that - sadly none of that came to pass - sometime between then and now CARY moved to portland i think - to be honest i haven't closely followed since COYOTE came and went, a fine album in its own right, but he might have used up all his magic on GHOST, which is quite alright by me - most never manage a song the likes of "coyote" let alone an album the likes of GHOST



26 May 2017


antiquated future / inanambulance 2017, edition of ?

"Led by songwriter and sound-experimenter Tucker Theodore, Buffalo Voice's Pilgrim Takes His Spill is a series of ten perfectly destroyed anthems. Psych-sludge garage-punk from another universe." - ANTIQUATED FUTURE

PILGRIM is a hell of a leap forward from where 2015's HUGE DARK MOUTH left off, which is a plenty strong twenty minute missive in it's own right, seeming here gutted for parts to help construct this fully realized full blown masterpiece, which, the more i listen to it, the more i think it just might be TUCKER THEODORE's best yet, at the very least it gives one of my all time favorite tapes in 2013's TO MAKE THE SUN HURT a real good run for it's money

THEODORE brazenly pushes his moody outsider folk style to its limit, channels the GRATEFUL DEAD and NEIL YOUNG by way of MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO's TRIAL & ERRORS and MV & EE's ECSTATIC PEACE sides like GETTIN' GONE and BARN NOVA as well as concurrent heralded HCA gems GUITAR BARN and IRON BREW - but there's more to PILGRIM than crunchy jams - it's an outsider rock opera of sorts, a potpourri gleaned from a diverse array of high priority targets ranging from PINK FLOYD to THIN LIZZY to the REPLACEMENTS to DINOSAUR JR to CODEINE

there is plenty of "MASCIS plays NEIL" here i think, not just referentially where MASCIS's white hot guitar reinforces those aforementioned MV & EE records, but reverentially as THEODORE employs that distinctive sound tactfully and to great effect, not as a gimmick or a prop, but also not sparingly, actually reminding me of BARDO POND more than once or twice, and not just as part of some epic guitar lineage, but as an elemental sonic reference as PILGRIM pours it on with impressive and rather unexpected flashes of BARDO POND esque heady oomph

if THEODORE's trajectory over the past three years wasn't indicative, it's now quite clear that he has not just separated himself sonically from folks like JAKOB OLAUSSON and TERRORS, but qualitatively as well, i mean no slight to that favored cluster of underappreciated weirdo folk'ers, it's just that PILGRIM is on another level - that said, THEODORE doesn't abandon folk - while carving out this swath of bizarro classic (loner stoner) rock he manages to maintain a considerable force on the outsider folk front - there's contemporary synergy with IRMA VEP's recent masterpiece NO HANDSHAKE BLUES [REC# 186] and WOODEN WAND's BRIARWOOD - even though the cement hasn't quite dried yet on IV's NHB i'll go ahead and say both of those are top echelon favorites of mine this decade, and PILGRIM looks to be right there with em


24 May 2017


whited sepulchre 2017, edition of 200

"Midwife is Madeline Johnston. Known for her minimal ambient work as Sister Grotto, Midwife finds Johnston and collaborator Tucker Theodore creating powerful anthems of dislocation and loss under the weight of reverb buried power chords and swelling choruses." - MIDWIFE bandcamp

"Under the name Sister Grotto, Denver based artist Madeline Johnston explores the limits of minimalism in transcendental drone-pop. With 'Like Author, Like Daughter' Johnston uses the Midwife moniker to craft triumphant, fist-in-the-air anthems that tackle themes of dislocation and falling in (and out) of love with a person, a home and yourself. ...a portrait of Johnston's last year as a resident of Denver's famed diy venue Rhinoceropolis which closed in a rash of politically motivated assaults on creative spaces across the United States. The album internalizes loss, addiction, abandonment and wrings them through distorted power chords, powerful leads, sheets of drone to create building, aching monuments to past-selves and lost relationships into a positivist statement of resilience and self-love. Performed, recorded and co-produced by Tucker Theodore (Buffalo Voice), recorded in Denver at Rhinoceropolis and INAMBULANCE in Olympia WA." - WHITED SEPULCHRE

recall almost a year ago when i hyperbolically boasted that JOHNSTON's "heaven metal / soft gaze" outlet SISTER GROTTO had achieved all there was to achieve, if not on her stunning slow burning collaboration with BRAEYDEN JAE [REC# 106] courtesy ANTIQUATED FUTURE then most certainly on her split cassette with YARROW [REC# 127] co-released by TERRIBLE PLEASURES and JOHNSTON's own in house imprint TINYAMP - i posited the question- "what's left for her to conquer in the weirdo cassette world, what's left but to break out to a broader audience with a righteous vinyl debut"

well, it happened - this is her righteous vinyl debut and to my ears it has the appeal to make waves beyond the weirdo cassette world - i would be a little surprised if WHITED SEPULCHRE's run of 200 copies lasted the summer - speaking of the label, a brief intro-- fellow weirdo blog TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE honcho RYAN HALL runs it, a "small-run vinyl and tape label out Cincinnati focusing on experimental and ambient music" that launched last year with JAE's vinyl debut FOG MIRROR (another title i criminally failed to properly recommend) - HALL also finds time to run HELIGATOR RECORDS which "exists to continuously fund the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka Swaziland" - wow - to quote CROW T ROBOT, "i feel so insignificant, then again i -always- feel insignificant"

MIDWIFE is a maximum equilibrium of JOHNSTON's musical capacities, an ideal synthesis of everything she previously accomplished, now honed and harnessed to develop a fertile middle ground between SG's droned out bliss and MARIPOSA's hushed balladry -another tributary of JOHNSTON's incredible talent- to strike a drool-worthy-when-done-right balance between "experimental" and "pop" pushing the underground toward the surface without making a mess of things, similar in this regard to all time list crasher IAN WILLIAM CRAIG's CENTRES [REC #167] and GROUPER's DRAGGING A DEAD DEER UP A HILL - the former is less a viable sonic comparison but the latter is undoubtedly an influence on JOHNSTON's music

LIKE AUTHOR is a pensive and wistful understated work, never wavering from it's measured pace, a slow motion elegance pulled from the waters where ballpark contemporaries EKIN FIL and GROUPER and RAAJMAHAL submerge themselves - there is a sense of forward momentum -albeit subtle- that separates from that pack, no doubt in part owed to crucial collaborator TUCKER THEODORE [REC# 59], but not so much as to stomp out that hypnagogic haze that gets me hook line sinker every time - at times it echoes the nostalgia of earliest/best BEACH HOUSE (i'm a sucker for that first BH record, the hidden track at the end is as good as it gets) juxtaposed with ethereal-ized regurgitations of cool BLACK TAMBOURINE hooks, which were always lurking in JOHNSTON's music, waiting in the wings - just listen to "song for an unborn sun" as heard on that split with YARROW then listen to the reprise here on LIKE AUTHOR

i hope i'm not too forward in stating that it stretches toward SUN RIAH's (formerly PSI LAB's KING MARY) "slow motion lucid dream pop ballads dusted with playful experimentation and hauntingly beautiful otherworldly songcraft" where JOHNSTON swaps crystalline harp for distorted guitar, naturally - for more typical comparisons i might say something like "WINDY & CARL meet MAZZY STAR" or "GROUPER meandering through languid COCTEAU TWINS covers" - and to be fair, the most important ingredient in LIKE AUTHOR might be "throw THE MOON AND THE MELODIES in a blender and hit puree" but if you try this metaphor at home you will most certainly get inferior results because there is a crucial proprietary blend of intimacy and je ne sais quoi that is JOHNSTON's alone

07 May 2017


unknown tone 2017, edition of 10

"Written, performed, recorded and mixed by Samuel Regan (early 2016) / Photography by Samuel Regan, Violin on 'centuries' by Sarah Reid, Vocals on 'centuries' by Sarah Nawotka / Thank you for listening, even if briefly. / thanks to Mark and Lindsey Kuykendall, Sarah Reid, Sarah Nawotka, Jake Alvarez, and Amy Erickson. / Mastering by Mark Kuykendall / Highly limited 1st pressing of 10 copies / 45rpm / lathe cut / includes three 35mm Photographs by Samuel Regan " - UNKNOWN TONE

UNKNOWN TONE, a "Midwest label exploring the surreal", a husband-and-wife team out of tulsa, an audio engineer and a metaphysical scientist / classically trained violinist - that's a hell of a team it would seem, an ideal operative pair perfectly suited for their mission - "avant-garde blended with film noir as expansive and isolating as the Oklahoma prairie"

the operative ordinal number here is "1st" as A WARM ROOM is begging for a more abundantly distributed cassette issue or even a proper vinyl pressing to placate likeminded listeners sure to want/need it before they even finish hearing the first track for the first time

also, a behind-the-blog note - SARAH REID was one of the local artists i approached when assembling the inaugural PSI LAB batch more than three years ago -wow that's somehow already three years ago- i liked what i had heard but it didn't pan out

ENO's APOLLO by way of STARS OF THE LID is a proven formula no doubt, though one could make the argument that there's plenty of that already out there and/or it's a league where the greats separate themselves from the pack too much to fairly consider the not-quite-as-greats - all of that might be fair -then again it might not be- but like folk guitar music, for me, if the execution is on the money then i gotta have it and REGAN is absolutely right on the money here - A WARM ROOM challenges KJ's WAKE [REC# 138] for the best "classic ambient" album i've heard in the decade since SOTL called it quits or went on hiatus or whatever, right there alongside all time favored cassette DAVID ANDREE's IN STREAMS

there's neatly incorporated and brilliantly reserved embellishments akin to ANDREE & MASON's CALL RESPONSE or some of UNKNOWN TONE labelmate DANNY CLAY's work, echoing the peculiar style of "oklahoma minimalism" as heralded throughout UNKNOWN TONE's catalog as well as fellow tulsa label SCISSOR TAIL particularly early titles before they congealed into an overtly folk enterprise, like GOLDEN PAWN and NEW HONEY SHADE -aka MARK KUYKENDALL- and head honcho DYLAN AYCOCK's output as TALK WEST - given the pedigree a hundred miles northeast, it is a bit curious that this sound emanates from norman where the experimental scene in general seems more brazen and moody, perhaps more receptive to oklahoma's proliferation of weirdo pop/psych/punk - DEBRIS, CHAINSAW KITTENS and of course the LIPS whose influence despite half life dissipation may be forever inescapable - then again SARAH REID and LAINE BERGERON aka SHAMELESS FRIEND are based in norman, and other likeminded folks i'm sure - this just seems a bit more counter to the (counter?) culture and to me sounds more at home on a tulsa label -- but i won't pretend that i know the ins and outs of oklahoma music scenes - i don't go to a lot of shows, i don't actively seek out local music in particular, i just seek out music tuned to my wavelength, and A WARM ROOM is most certainly that