Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Cassette Review //
"The Ghost of Beauty"
(Harding Street Assembly Lab)

Right away this cassette is involved with some sort of mystery.   It is marked as release "59A" and is only made known here and shows it as digital and not a cassette.   However, this cassette does appear on Discogs and says it is contains "B-sides, early versions, and remixes that serve as a companion to the LP", which of course is in reference to "Beauty in the Ghost", the latest release from TLVS.

The first song is by Good Joe and comes on with dreamy percussion and a feeling somewhat like new wave but also like shoegaze.  It moves in that perfect way between Flock of Seagulls and My Bloody Valentine and the crashing of the cymbals mixed in makes me also think of the band Thursday.  

Up next we have a song by Stilyagi and it crawls with these groove beats and slowly gets louder.   The way it begins with this percussion feels almost like R&B from the 1980's/1990's that you would've heard on cassette, but it grows with these distorted notes and just begins to fill in the entire room the way that a NIN song might, or something along those lines but feeling a bit more spatial.  

This blends almost seamlessly into a long drone of want and desire by asentimentalsong.  This doesn't feel so much like we are lost, but more so like we are drifting purposely without any direction.   It can intensify at parts, but that ambient drone just remains and makes this overall feel quite powerful and poetic.   Drums kick in now and everything just picks up in the echoes.  

Electronics become present now as VKG brings out these tones with an animalistic sound which drive into louder beats.  This becomes dreamy but in that FNL way, where it feels like we're watching old home movies in black and white.   Big piano sounds come in and swirls are in the background which make it feel like we're underwater at the same time.  

Good Joe returns to kick things off on Side B and there is this magical sort of tone sound coming through in drone.   It can feel angelic and possibly because of the church organ feel to it as well.   There are also those "ahhh"s and just feelings like that of being lifted up.   The way singular tones come through now make it feel like pop from the 1980's or early 1990's that you would've found on cassette.   But it is slow moving and somewhat drone, which just makes it feel more impactful.

Stilyagi is also once again at the second spot here.   This song has a sound which reminds me of the grinding of a crank.  There are beats and uplifting sounds along with this, but I just keep hearing that cranking sound and I'm not sure what to make of it.  There is a nice, overall, rhythm to this, as it all comes to an end and feels more somber.  Distorted notes cut through everything.  The crank returns and it's almost something you'd want to dance to.

An audio clip of astronauts comes on next and we are into a honeybrandy song now.   The audio is mixed in with music which makes it feel like we're watching sad old footage and perhaps we long for the days of past or we are watching a loved one who is no longer with us.   They are counting down now.   I very much feel like we're on this flight now in space, but it might also just be something connecting us with nature.

The final song is by TLVS and has a lot of notes doing different things but creating an overall ambient sound.   This song reminds me a little bit of FNL or drone but it feels more like somewhere in between, like they're not in either genre but are somehow in both at the same time.   It builds and builds until the notes just reflect off of each other and take the whole cassette home.

I am not certain how to get this release as a cassette.   I think it could be something included digitally if you order the TLVS album it relates to.   The best way to find out is to contact HSAL perhaps, but otherwise just look for it out on the secondary market and be sure to grab it if you can because it's definitely a soothing and important piece of music all around. 

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