Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Cassette Review //
Phantoms vs Fire
"Modern Monsters I & II"
(Blackjack Illuminist Records)
Edition of 30 //
A darkness looms and there is a "Phantom of the Opera" type of drive behind this as you can hear the footsteps making their way through the damp ground. There is an unsettling doom about this song, which might not appear on your first listen because of the way that the pianos sound in, but it is there. Tones come through now like we are driving in "Knight Rider" or through "Tron". Big organ waves and this has all the makings of a monster. A chorus is singing now to end the first song and then the record warps until it no longer plays.
An acoustic guitar plays now like a dark western. This just slowly builds and then bursts through with cymbal crashes and all of the power of the universe being created. Such a powerful song, I would imagine it being created as an entrance theme for none other than Hercules himself (the god, not the wrestler, though either would be cool) It just builds and builds and makes me think of taking a tour of an art museum as well, seeing all of the sculptures which are masterpieces.
What sounds like a horn comes through now with a drone tone behind it and the drums begin to roll. This one feels like we're on an adventure- through a jungle perhaps- and we just cannot stop moving. As it slows to a stop it gets eerie and feels like we're being caught in one of those alien beams that sucks us up into space. Truly there is a cinematic feel to this one now as it just explodes into your ears.
A deep droning now brings out beats which sound like a cross between "Run Lola Run" and a video game. We just keep moving as this one becomes a bit scattered now- and somehow I'm also reminded of Nine Inch Nails (era: "Pretty Hate Machine") There are electronics in here like beeps which make me think of a video game but there is just a dark air overall to the song and it's somewhat of a wild ride. As it all comes to a head there is a shaking, like a rattlesnake, and then a bird can be heard cawing.
Tones come in now with percussion and melody to create something which isn't quite rock and it isn't quite video games, but it's somewhere in between for sure. Big solos now made by what are possibly not guitars but under different circumstances could be. A definitive darkness comes in now like "The X-Files" and the cymbals just crash down hard. Though it somewhat feels like a march now, it also makes me just want to dance to it. I fully expect to see this in a music video of light and colors, but then quickly switching over to breakdancing.
Somehow it all becomes reduced to the sound of a record player and then you can hear the thunder crashing. Dark strings slowly creep in. A singing chorus and organ tones make me think of church. The more it builds though, the more it makes me think of aliens and I really want to watch that movie "Paul". And dogs are barking to end out that song. An eerie whirr and electric bells bring on the next number. Delicately plucked strings emerge through slow tones and it's a somewhat banjo feel inside a deep drone, which the drone ultimately fades.
A little back and forth like that red and yellow and now it's just dropped off into sad, sad strings. The suspense builds and then the tones whirr as if they are about to sing while the drums bang loudly with them. As it gets darker, strings are plucked (but perhaps they are piano keys) and it makes me think of that NIN song "The Great Below", which really should be an entire genre in itself. Bells softly take the song to an end and then the next one begins the way you open your eyes on a bright new day.
Sharpness accompanies tones which make me think we are in a pyramid. This builds like a movie score and I'm reminded of some huge film, like "Lord of the Rings" but maybe something from Disney as well. As this builds, I also imagine a conductor in front of an orchestra. It's such a strange contrast, like seeing the music of John Williams performed by an orchestra, yet it somehow just works.
On the flip side electronic beats like Pong go back and forth as there is drumming behind it but mostly you can just hear the sticks. That eerie X-Files sound has returned and then it just kicks in hard with the percussion. This really has a strong presence because of the drumming as it feels like it is at the front of the song. The beats can begin to feel like trap and there is just this drone we're lost at sea behind it as well.
Dark and sharp tones now contrast each other. For some reason this song has me thinking about werewolves. As it builds there is somewhat of a ringing and I'm just imagining the suspense of it which could be portrayed in an Alfred Hitchcock film- perhaps if Hitchcock ever did what they call a "creature feature" (Not like "The Birds" but with a vampire or zombie or such in it)
As it builds it can sound both triumphant and tragic. With a few bangs of the drum it comes to an end. The next song has these high pitched squeals behind it but in the front is this video game type of looping with ups and downs. Beats now make me want to move and perhaps this is lost in the woods and we need to move because we need to run. Is it weird that I'm thinking about clipping. right now?
Doors sound like they are opening and closing and then the whirrs drop. There is some crackling and then the tones come through like they're shaking as well. This is going very deeply into that Jay Peele territory now. With crackling comes sharpness and a little of that bug zapper feeling. Some banging and some drowning, this one slowly finds its end with a rest.