Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Cassette Review //
Jason Willett, Jad Fair, Gilles Rieder
(Crass Lips Records)

$7 //
https://crasslipsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/s-t //

This cassette begins with a sound which is somewhat trippy but it's instrumental rock with some vocals which don't make words.   There is this driving bass line and it reminds me of Butthole Surfers.   The bass comes back even stronger on the next song and it speeds along like a punk rock version of Primus.   This drops us off into the next song though, as we're back into words being spoken now but not really understood and then just that driving bass with swirling guitars and drums holding it all together.   On some levels, this is like a psych version of Nirvana, like if Nirvana had gone more that way than garage-ish on "Bleach".

We have a song next which has little video game like beeps and it sounds like it could be the opening to a show on MTV back in the day when they had Sifl and Olly, which of course makes me now want to go and find that show and watch all of its episodes again.   The next song is a sped up version of that and then we get into a song with not quite singing and not quite screaming but it's loud and screechy.    These songs can be short and they sometimes just get so wild I can't even begin to describe them, they're just that good.

Through drums banging there are words spoken.   This feels more like a warning than a song.   A lot of times there are these super-sonic sounds which come through with the bass and drums, in the form of guitar, and in that way it feels like the guitar is more of a weapon than an instrument of music.   There is also a bit of that weird rock in here, which once you get into that label to describe music it can mean any number of things and just mostly means it's not easy to describe or put into a specific genre.

As the drums are being hit, words are being shouted now but this one also expands and just feels left in the air like smoke.   A more upbeat song now and it reminds me a bit of R. Clown and not just because it does have a circus/carnival feel about it as well.    We're walking through the next song now with ba-ba-ba ba-ba type of sounds and yet it also feels like yelling and-- there is just a lot going on here.

Sometimes these songs just sound like pained singing while everyone plays as loud and fast as they can, yet it somehow still comes out feeling like it has some sense of structure.   It's definitely getting trippy now and for the first time I can say it sounds like Flaming Lips as the lyrics are about "sweet nothing / Roberta".    The next song sounds like it is also singing about Roberta, but they might be saying murder and the fact that you can kind of hear things as you want to hear them makes this cassette rather brilliant.

We come into the flip side heavy and hard.  It sounds like we have a sax squeaking out notes now as the drums almost sound like they're marching.   This one is fast and in your face.    The singing can seem high pitched and then it can get deeper like a dog barking.  In this song now he's asking what's new pussycat and it has a somewhat surf structure to it although it is heavily distorted.   This continues into the next song and I did hear him say that his car broke down in southern Georgia. 

As the vocals are distorted around now I am reminded of the Beastie Boys.   There is a lot of static in here though.    Through an instrumental song now we seem to be singing more than ever before, a sped up version of Pac Man in some ways I think.     As the lyrics come out now, after each line he says "yeehaw" with quite a bit of passion.   Perhaps my favorite line is "I'm as happy as I am evil".

The closer we get to the end of this cassette, the more the lyrics to these songs begin to feel like poetry.   Right up until the end when this becomes so distorted and heavy.  It must be noted that these three artists combined form Half Japanese (which you can read about that on the Bandcamp site) but Jason Willett himself is part of The Attitude Robots and The Jaunties, which can also help explain a little bit more as to why this sounds the way that it does.

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