12 February 2017


digitalis 2010, red vinyl edition of 100

"collaborating in various forms for years, but this is their first fully-realized work. made with vintage gear and recorded to 8-track in Chicago in 2008 and mixed at Twells' Seventh Door Studio outside Boston. a spectral odyssey in two parts. Darkened passages shift and fall apart while keeping the piercing sun at bay. Faint song structures lurk beneath the rolling black waves, but only get an arm above the surface during those rare moments of light. Rattling tones crawl out from underneath swirls of electronics. Lines are crossed but blur together and everything ends up sounding like a desperate, beautiful collage of sound. Crunching guitar chords bowl into you at full-force, moving slow but piling on the pressure. Tension rises to the point of no return as they desperately search for a breaking point. Things finally settle down and gently fade into oblivion. In the end, the seamless nature of the collaboration is what really leaves its mark." - DIGITALIS label blurb (i think?) by way of FORCED EXPOSURE

i figured this was as good a title as any for my RETROSPECTION series launch -- COASTS was and remains crucial to my musical taste development and consideration, not only helping to spark interest in what was and what is, but also what can be, in challenging any given notion of what music is and is not, and moreover what such music can mean to the listener or rather what the listener can independently discover with little or no apparent cues, with or without regard to artistic intent (or lack thereof)

i was well on my way exploring these ideas and sounds before COASTS and others arrived seemingly via a singular deep vein that pulsed in the latter half of the previous decade, cultivated and curated by a select group of labels, blogs and distros, facilitating a critical inflection point along my musical continuum of which COASTS is most emblematic alongside concurrent revered works like EXPO 70's SONIC MESSENGER, SEAN MCCANN's THE CAPITAL and YELLOW SWANS' GOING PLACES

tulsa oklahoma legend DIGITALIS was one of the big movers and shakers of that era, taking root in the early 2000s, issuing as various imprints and in various formats titles by ILYAS AHMED, BARN OWL, ETERNAL TAPESTRY, NATURAL SNOW BUILDINGS, ROBEDOOR, SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE, STEVEN R. SMITH and ZELIENOPLE, just to name some of the more readily recognizable artists, many now established as major influences throughout the weirdo music world - PSI LAB regulars will clearly recognize the influence DIGITALIS had on my ears

as the golden years of that era waned, this december masterpiece came and went, most unassumingly and mostly unnoticed -as perceived then and still apparent with cherry red vinyl copies (limited to 100) abundantly available on discogs and presumably black vinyl copies still in stock at FORCED EXPOSURE- despite glowing contemporaneous reviews by entities like ANTI-GRAVITY BUNNY championing "Coasts is fucking spectacular, they should make it a regular thing, Put out records like a normal band, make everyone happy, maybe become Drone Gods in the process?" and earning "album of the year" distinction from THE RADIANT NOW (there's a name that will take experienced heads back), not to mention T&C are better known as TYPE head honcho aka ZELA and ZELIENOPLE frontman, respectively

the abridged label (?) blurb above doesn't leave a whole lot of room for me to work with regarding my typical metaphoric hyperbole, but i will give it a go - a pair of dynamic dark ambient drone passages, two sides of the same coin, brooding and contemplative, dizzyingly immense, bubbling, coagulating, swirling eddies of harmonic structures, the perfect amount of goosebump inducing dissonance coaxed from an array of guitar, analog electronics and voice-as-instrument, man and machine as one, kinda like ENO and KLAUS SCHULZE entangled and tumbling through space, and to drive it home for folks riding the same wavelength, the last 90 seconds of of this album is maybe thee ultimate play-through payoff in my collection

also, the cover art is top ten all time for me, easy -- owning and cruising around in a 1970 dodge challenger with "coasts" on the front license plate is on my shortlist of things i would like to enjoy before i die