29 November 2017


self released 2017, edition of ?

"Alexander is the solo guitar project of New Haven, CT native David Shapiro (Kath Bloom, Headroom, Nagual). After spending most of 2016 and 2017 touring behind an on-going series of improvised cassette releases that document the various locations Shapiro has lived, he settled down long enough to offer up a full-length LP of fingerpicking tunes. The nine tracks that make up Alexander are bound together by a melancholy sweetness that evokes a performer's wandering lifestyle and the characters they meet along the way. Sonically tied to the 'American Primitive' school of guitar playing, Shapiro distuinguishes himself with an exacting, almost academic focus, manipulating tempo and harmony with a confidence far beyond his young years. Where masters like Fahey and Basho drew from earlier musical lineage, Alexander incorporates a contemporary pool of influence, broadening the fingerstyle palette with patience and self-assuredness. Recorded on a guitar that Shapiro built himself, Alexander is an earnest and substantive debut that gives the listener a window into the player's intimate devotion to his instrument and the language it speaks. // Cover text by Cyd Goodwin. Recorded at Key Club Recording Company by Bill Skibbe. 180 gram vinyl pressed at Erika Records." - ALEXANDER's website

"Alexander's keen grasp of both intricacy and minimalism cement him as a top player in a time of heavyweights. A preview of what promises to be one of the most compelling albums of the year." - C/SITE

C/SITE predicted that a couple months back when they released DAVID ALEXANDER SHAPIRO's split single with ROB NOYES, both worthy of some "best new purveyor of new american primitive solo guitar music" award as i see it, with NOYES earning it last year with late-in-the-year bombshell -and my #1 overlooked album of 2016- in THE FEUDAL SPIRIT and SHAPIRO coasting to the front of the pack this year with this self titled full length vinyl debut, which exceeds my lofty expectations

i dig all these ALEXANDER tapes i have but none of em prepared me for the profound impact of this unassuming modern day private press masterpiece - SHAPIRO straddles the deceptive simplicity of earliest FAHEY strokes of genius in BLIND JOE DEATH and DEATH CHANTS and the more overtly complex structures and themes of his early 70s spiritualized refinements in AMERICA and FARE FORWARD VOYAGERS

but the above write up is right on the money, there's a forward looking facet to ALEXANDER, as with all of SHAPRIO's music, really - there's a wild hair woven into all of his work -listen to NAGUAL or ELEXTRIC 1 for the most unabashedly ambitious demonstrations of this- but it's best incorporated here as an accent against a perfectly executed traditional backdrop - it's an absolutely brilliant less-is-more approach, moody yet meditative, bold yet reserved - a lit candle flickering in the dead of night, exposed and sharply defined with pockets of infinite darkness all around, capable of attacking with a brooding intensity akin to JACK ROSE's RAAG MANIFESTOS, but at half the pace and with a tenth of the notes, putting that much more emphasis and focus, lending that much more weight, not only to each carefully considered fingerpicked note and coolly strummed flourish, but also the awe inspiring spaces between, where, like the candle, it's as if SHAPIRO's guitar plays tricks on listener

contemporary vibe comparison is less in line with, say, GLENN JONES or WILLIAM TYLER, and much more in line with moody min-max'ers like MARISA ANDERSON -particularly THE GOLDEN HOUR- and CHUCK JOHNSON -particularly BLOOD MOON BOULDER- and to some tangential extent perhaps OJERUM's single line acoustic offerings - but i'm not sure i've been this reeled in by this style of music since i first heard FAHEY

tis the season for year end lists and thus letting stuff fall through the cracks, so make doubly sure to not let this one pass you by, it is a no brainer top five lp of the year in my book

pre-order here:

05 November 2017


patient sounds 2017, edition of ?

"Peter Kris -- a primary force in the German Army faction -- cuts out solo on this burnt offering. Oh the flat earth! So scorched and ragged! The desert yawning a million flecks of roasted sand in every direction. Wailing walls of guitar roast at the nugs. Tight and bright in points, and loosely expressive in others. A passing flare in the red night, or the sun catching flame." - PATIENT SOUNDS

sonic meditations 2017, edition of 65

"Peter Kris makes music with German Army, Q///Q, Final Cop, and other projects from the forsaken confines of the Inland Empire. Like the beauty of mountain ranges, beaches, city lights and skylines under whose shadows so many toil away their days, may the music of Peter Kris serve as a respite, a few moments of joyous inspiration, to all who need a little more happiness in their all-too-fleeting private hours." - TYMBAL TAPES / SONIC MEDITATIONS


KRIS's pursuit of dark ambient guitar drone seemed fully realized right out of the gate with SPRAWL AND SKY [way way back REC #11], which i blurbed as "right in my wheelhouse, GA's post-industrial attack is scaled back, dismantled, diverted and channeled into a sprawling mixture of ambient, drone, noise, rhythm and riffs that recalls FLYING SAUCER ATTACK, FRIPP & ENO and late period SPACEMEN 3" --back when my buzzed blurbs were single fragmented lines, which, i do occasionally consider reverting back to that "hundred words or less" model, but more and more i feel like more words need to be pondered and invested toward the music that is becoming ever more important to me

that description stacks up rather well against KRIS's entire solo discography to date, with last year's LABRADOR double cassette courtesy NEVER ANYTHING -who have quietly amassed quite the roster in and around the zones i hone in on- having a couple twists and turns that deviate some from that modus operandi - but if you're into FSA, FRIPP and/or ENO and SPACEMEN 3 then i don't see why you wouldn't dig any given PETER KRIS tape, and if you haven't bothered to listen to any PK yet then i figure you might as well start with these two since they are his best yet, without question

forget upping the ante, DUTCH FLAT shoves all in with moody brooding atmospherics, ecstatic shredding and slow burning inexorable desert fried riff repetition, earning comparison to TOM CARTER's glorious cosmic blues deconstruction as heard on ALL AHEAD NOW and LONG TIME UNDERGROUND [REC #74], bleeding into those heady rural psychedelia improvisations and meditations scattered throughout FSA's catalog and revitalized on INSTRUMENTALS 2015 [REC #67], occasionally overlapping the chilled out stoner incantations of EARTH's HEX

CARGO ROAD is more dismal, distressed and urgent, further echoing some of CARTER's more hushed efforts while drifting deeper into the murkier waters of LOREN CONNORS and STEVEN R. SMITH, but not without bouts of ROY MONTGOMERY esque soaring reverberating bliss - it may be just the power of suggestion in the label being SONIC MEDITATIONS, but i hear plenty of EXPO 70 synergy, more so than other KRIS tapes - there's a curiously twisted kosmische thread here on a bad trip and lost in space with an internal battle of numb tranquility and disconnected turmoil, and in that i suppose CARGO ROAD travels a more ambitious and winding path than DUTCH FLAT, but they are both righteous weirdo expositions of potential and kinetic energies, of contemplation and exertion, of provoking and obliterating thought

31 October 2017


not not fun 2017, edition of ?

"French fabulist Canada Effervescent follows up a few Bandcamp collections with a fleshed-out full-length, Crystalline, tracing his unique hallucinatory mode via interstitial new age and intuitive brainwash electronics. Laid out in vibrant vintage graphics by Mr Donnie Ka. // Discreet French synthesist Denis Tremblay's latest offering spirals further into the recesses of refracted relaxation music and interstitial new age which have come to define the sound of Canada Effervescent. Sun-bleached tones phase, dazzle, and decay against shimmering vistas of synthetic harp and piano, layered with raga drones, meditative mist, field recordings of running water, wood chimes, and nocturnal insects. Inspired by the canonic healing music of Steven Halpern and David Naegele as well as 'wood-and-carpet covered studios, forest moons, and humid love songs,' Tremblay's touch is ambient but expansive, unspooling in fragile arcs of inner space reflection. An immersive and softly psychedelic sound spa of tonal voyaging by one of today’s more attuned Next Age conduits." - NOT NOT FUN

constellation tatsu 2017, edition of ?

"Tremblay channels the moving forces of the Pacific again, through 7 tracks of cinematic New Age forming an ideal soundtrack for these mornings where the sun begins to warm up the water and the sand. Bowed down in a humble reverence before the masters Joanna Brouk, David Parsons or Hiroshi Yoshimura, the french musician gives birth to layers of psychedelic organ shrouding synthetic flutes and arpeggios, slowly shaping a vast space for meditation. A soft early 80's reverie, this album evokes the pure quietness prevailing in beach paths, on islands where nothing ever happens, in smoky crash pads where light pokes only through louver windows with peeling paint... Hidden behind the entity Canada Effervescent, Tremblay continuously pays tribute to the healing power of the ocean, of music, and of daydreaming, and invites you to take a step forward in your own journey." - CONSTELLATION TATSU


wow it doesn't feel like three weeks since i last posted a recommendation -- it's no surprise that NNF's write up gets me goin as it goes above and beyond in all the right ways, worthy of being copy-pasted verbatim into a crucial TIP OF THE TONGUE provision, which i will do my best to supplement here

TREMBLAY, apparently, has also been at it for a while - not only does he sound a lot like top shelf new age ambient old guard, i suppose he's a member of that prestigious corps (or else some of his early release dates are a head-turning ploy) - he strikes a harmonic chord with NNF's west coast weirdness bias, but leaves most in the dust, hearkening back (or perhaps contemporaneous to) aforementioned HALPERN and his tenure with/as SPECTRUM RESEARCH INSTITUTE, "an educational and experiential resource center for 'Sound Health' based on years of research and field testing into the healthful application of sound" - yeah that sounds about right, paralleling the philosophical (spiritual?) mission of fellow off-the-beaten-path visionary old guardian RANDALL MCCLELLAN, who enjoyed a righteous four tape boxset reissue via NNF alumnus SUN ARAW's in-house imprint SUN ARK, which provides a single degree of separation from J.D. EMMANUEL, another veteran seeking to "enhance deep meditative or altered states" through new age music, further advancing an obscuro trend in (re)discoveries a la JORDAN DE LA SIERRA's GYMNOSPHERE courtesy NUMERO, BIL VERMETTE's and DENNIS (ANDREW) YOUNG's essential new old stock offerings courtesy PERMANENT

for all the affinity to the old guard of ambient, kosmische and new age, there's just as much a knack for the new guard of apparently so called next age that permeates an ever larger chunk of the weirdo cassette world as i see it, made obvious by two tapes in nearly as many months via NOT NOT FUN and CONSTELLATION TATSU, the latter especially indicative of what i might now describe as the tip of the spear in weirdo next age tapes, or at the very least right there among the very best hubs for such music - TREMBLAY simultaneously sounds as much a profound predecessor a la FRIPP & ENO, TANGERINE DREAM and VANGELIS as he does a crucial contemporary of favorites like MATTHEW BARLOW, BLUE COMMUNION: ISAM and KYLE LANDSTRA - tape vs tape, it only took ten seconds of "rayon solaire holistique" to convince me that i absolutely had to have CRYSTALLINE, but there's not that knock-out punch on RIDIN' AMERICA, it's more subtle, with a sixteen minute slow burning opener that gradually blooms like a flower in the spring - they're both amazing, but if one is gonna make my year end top ten -and this late in the game i think it is safe to say that one will- it has to be CRYSTALLINE, and if i was more ambitious i woulda coulda shoulda put it out myself

bubbling, churning, cycling, repeating, shifting, shimmering - these are keywords that might help zero in on TREMBLAY's music, if "new age" is a turn off and "next age" doesn't mean anything to you - i might throw in MCCLELLAN's "drone box" and FRIPP's "frippertronics" into the mix, but if that moves the needle any then you are probably already intently listening if not outright buying - speaking of, there's a handful of RIDIN' AMERICA available via CANADA EFFERVESCENT's bandcamp with plenty more direct from CTATSU for the absurd price of $6 postage paid in the usa - seriously, i don't even know how that is possible - CRYSTALLINE is sold out at the source(s), but it looks like MIDHEAVEN still has a stash so best grab one while you can or forever sleep without rest


10 October 2017


auralgami sounds 2017, edition of 50

"Sara Soltau is rooted in classical music but constantly curious. Blurring genres and traditions, she experiments through her violin to understand the sonic world around us." - AURALGAMI SOUNDS

in their three years, AURALGAMI have accumulated an impressive range of sounds and styles - there's little that doesn't at least toe the line of weirdness -which is quite alright by me- but other than that there's no tellin what's next, their roster is a potpourri of garage punk, synth pop, world music, quirky techno - one tape sounds like it belongs on IN THE RED, another is a twenty-piece ensemble performance of TERRY RILEY's IN C - in contrast, tributary SERIES -an aptly minimalist title for their sub-label esque "solo compositions and chamber work"- runs a straighter course with a distinct vibe connecting the dots - carefully considered exposition of composition, experimentation and excellence, kinda like ENO's OBSCURE, catering to a close listening experience, outright rejecting the passive notion of "ambient" or "furniture music"

it's been more than a year since SERIES launched with inaugural cassette TEN SIMPLE PIECES FOR PIANO [REC #123] by ROB COLLIER, a most unassuming grand slam, and i would be lying if i said i didn't think there was a chance that SERIES might wind up a one hit wonder with a tape -that- damn good right out of the gate - but that was not my predominant sentiment, and certainly not my hope - i hoped for another tape half as good as TSPFP, but what i got was a tape that is -at least- as good

like COLLIER, it's on that immersed side of listening where SOLTAU wins big with her SERIES entry IN PARTS, a seamless patchwork of intimate interludes and stark stirring renditions of already stark and stirring works like BACH's SONATA NO. 2 and SAARIAHO's NOCTURNE, which, if you plot those two points you can determine the general heading, but there are crucial well executed deviations that include a revolutionary war traditional and DYLAN's HARD RAIN, both incorporated neatly into this surprisingly multi-dimensional masterpiece channeling a wide swath of "violin music" - not that SOLTAU is a chameleon on IN PARTS, but there is a host of influences drawn from centuries of classical composition and folklore, from BACH and SHOSTAKOVICH to BUDD and BRYARS to ATLANTIC's SOUNDS OF THE SOUTH and HARRY SMITH's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC - she's kinda like an american roots music informed COCKPIT ENSEMBLE of one, with a little help from her friends

there's not a lot i can point to in terms of my usual contemporary comparisons - there's some moody atmospheric saxophone overlap during the interludes with PSI LAB's own A MELBOURNE NOCTURNE [PL13] courtesy DAVID COLOHAN aka RAISING HOLY SPARKS, and perhaps some listening synergy with SOMNOROASE PASARELE's DEMO [REC #194] and some of OJERUM's most recent works (more on those later, if i can just find the time) - on the guitar side of things, i might point to JON COLLIN's THE NATURE [REC #197] and the ROB NOYES / ALEXANDER split [REC #195], perhaps BITTER FICTIONS' XXVII [REC #190] - but all of this is more in context of the high yield close listening experience - there is something at work behind the notes in all of these which i cannot fully explain - SOLTAU has the same quality, she just gets there by a path less traveled around these parts of the weirdo cassette blogosphere

i am most grateful that SERIES -and these artists- are there to deliver a no brainer top five tape each of the past two years, and i desperately hope they keep it goin - i'm surprised that this tape sold out as fast as it did - i turned around and it was gone - i know that COLLIER's was twice as many tapes but there are still a handful of that one left at the source, which, if you've bothered to read this far and you don't already have then you should absolutely snag while you can - anyway, i urge you to experience IN PARTS any way you can - stream it, or buy the download, or politely pester the label and/or artist directly -which i've done a time or two over the years- or GUESTROOM LOUISVILLE might even have a tape with your name on it

21 September 2017


endless 2017, edition of ?

"Various numbers recorded between then and now in various houses" - ENDLESS

a most impressive curio from one mr HOUSE, apparent head honcho of ENDLESS digital and diy lathe editions out of brighton (i think), who i'm thinkin is more likely than not THOMAS HOUSE, member of ass-kickin stoner power trio SLOATH courtesy home base RIOT SEASON where i first took notice, but they have a lathe cut via -you guessed it- ENDLESS, and also member of now defunct (?) CHARLOTTEFIELD, which, i'm listenin right now and it has a strong 90s vibe, via cursory perusal i identify some FUGAZI, KYUSS, SHELLAC and SLINT as likely influences, which also feed albeit in less linear ways into his weirdo tendency that by my estimation is quite deeply rooted and runs rather rampant, and for which ENDLESS is the outlet, or the relief valve perhaps

ENDLESS didn't ping my radar until rather recently, but before this one, with IRMA VEP's THE CAKE WON'T EAT ITSELF EP, which i very quickly discovered in the wake of year long year end heavyweight contender NO HANDSHAKE BLUES [REC #186] - at that time i only briefly perused some of the available catalog, and though i heard plenty of stuff that i liked, nothin reached out and punched me in the face - i guess HOUSE was just saving up for a late round rally with the incredible flurry here on A HORSE AND I MUST KILL

sonically this is kinda all over the weirdo map - in typical fashion, i might try to simply the equation by narrowing likely influential confluences, as A HORSE AND I MUST KILL sometimes falls somewhere between THE FALL and SLINT, other times somewhere between DOCK BOGGS and JANDEK, armed with some (un)holy scuzz that splits the difference between DINOSAUR JR and EARTH - it looks rather scattershot on paper, i know, but it works - a potent cohesive alchemical compound that separates from the pack of outer limits song-driven weirdness - DAN MELCHIOR might be a fair not-too-distant contemporary (and predecessor), but that only goes so far here - AHAIMK echoes weirdo singularities CHARALAMBIDES and PUMICE, channels post XPRESSWAY kiwi dementia akin to MAD NANNA (though they are from melbourne i think), invades a headspace vaguely triangulated by RAFI BOOKSTABER, HERBCRAFT and BLAINE TODD, with some proximity to current year outsider songwriter frontrunners BUFFALO VOICE [REC #189] and IRMA VEP [REC #186], but AHAIMK is further off the deep end, for sure

worth noting- it's a lathe cut to order, only available this month, which is cool, but it's $60 postage paid to the states - admittedly i had think about it, but after a few spins it's easily one of the best things i have heard all year so i said what the hell and went for it