Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Cassette Review // Dr. Lowenstein "Mayan Mist"


https://www.discogs.com/release/26565524-Dr-Lowenstein-Mayan-Mist


This begins with the sounds of water, as if we're at the ocean.   Bass strings are being plucked behind it now.   A sharper sound comes through now and it can almost turn into this feeling of a wolf howling in the jungle.   That bass line stays constant as the sound of the water has faded now.   A symphonic whirring now and this has the feeling of magic.   The tones come through now in a deep organ way as well.

As this goes on, the whirring feels more like a MIDI synth way, like The Rentals, and it has the bass behind it still.   There is a sense of this being very solemn, sad even, but it can also feel like it's in that church way which makes it serious as well.   Slowly now, the bass fades and it feels like we're going into more of a death march.   The bass fades even more as these organ tones come through heavenly now.

The flute comes in and it feels ominous.  Before the end of the first side you can hear the ocean come back in a little bit.   I reached out to id m theft able via Instagram to find out if this is the actual cassette it says or if there was some other involvement in it and was told that this is the cassette it says it is-- id m theft able has nothing to do with the sounds on it.   

So, in its own weird way, that's cool because I was listening to this thinking it was id m theft able and it was recorded some time after 2020, but in fact it's from 1987 and sounds this way.  One of the sites with the most info I could find on this cassette was Discogs and they say this is "Health-Fitness, Therapy, New Age" and if you're going to listen to this as a form of relaxation it definitely will work.












Friday, January 26, 2024

Music Review // Black Polish "Forest (Monsters Live In The Trees)" (Riptide Music)

 



If you've been following along with Black Polish, then you will recognize three songs on this album which were released as singles prior to it.    Whether or not that statement applies to you doesn't really matter when you get right into this album.  A pop rock journey through emotions and one person's life, Black Polish draws from various sources but by the end of this the only voice I can hear is of the artist.

As this album starts with the song that is the titular track, the mood becomes ethereal and intense.   Lyrics come out such as: "I see monsters in the trees / I see creatures just like me" and they really set the mood.  A ukulele takes us into nice pop beats on "Birthright" while "Void" has a great rock sound.   On "Void" we also get the lines: "So please refrain from looking at me / While I find my own identity".

This is the theme, lyrically, throughout this album for Black Polish: struggling to find their identity.  There are lines about mixing the pinks and the blues and that just hit home with me because when it comes to the idea of being male or female I've always wondered why blue is for boys and pink is for girls.   That made me question a lot of things about my own gender identity, which this album made feel really reaffirming (I am "they/he" but I don't like confrontation so I won't correct you if you're wrong)

One aspect of this all also comes out with the lyrics: "I was raised in Christianity / but I feared that Jesus hated me".   Isn't it funny how when we learn about God and Jesus we are taught that God loves everyone and wants everyone to love everyone else, and then yet when we get into the specific details of our own lives we are abominations that God couldn't possibly love?   God save to love everyone and there were no clauses but sometimes the church likes to add those little exceptions.

Further into the album though Black Polish confesses that God is their friend now and that makes me feel better.  I think you have to reach a point in your life when you stop listening to others and just start thinking for yourself, especially with things such as religion.   But I don't want this to be thought of as an album about finding your pronouns and religion because there is a lot of quality and substance to the music itself, where you should listen just to hear the ukulele on "Bugs" or those stomps on "Willows".

Like most things in life, there isn't a clear cut answer for any of this in terms of it being a yes or no option.  Is this album pop?  Yes, but also no.   There is much more depth on this album than what I would consider to be pop and yet it still could be radio friendly.  Is this album only for those struggling with their gender identity?  I think if you are (or have) then this will hit closer to home, but even if you've never given it a second of thought you can still press play and find a reason to rock out with these songs.  


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Music Review // Jo Bled "1000 Days"


https://jobled.bandcamp.com/album/1000-days


I feel like a lot of the quality of a New Year can come with the music which it brings.  A new album by Jo Bled on January 1st, to kick off the New Year, is obviously a sign of good things to come, not just in music but in life as a whole.    "1000 Days" just feels like the type of album which is going to set you on your path, be your spiritual guide throughout the year.

Jo Bled is the very definition of a percussionist.  When you think of someone playing ~drums~ you can think of them with a drum kit consisting of bass, snare, toms and cymbals.  But Jo Bled always has some other ways of making sounds with instruments you might forget or not know are part of the percussion family.  There is always this steady rhythm within these songs as well, as if Jo Bled is the compass and the music is set to help you find your way.

The first song has this sound of clicking and pouring while the second is more acoustic with this tribal type of vibe.  Glass / metal type of wind chimes come through next and then that scraping comes with steady beeping behind it on "Alleged Lunatics' Friend Society".   "Shuffle" has this sound like playing table tennis and a plane flying by while you can hear a whisper which sounds like "Daddy, are we done?", which makes it feel like my beliefs are confirmed.  

Tinker toy clockworks with electric water droplets are on "Powerful Symbols of Belonging".  A feeling of tightly wound strings / a music box with ominous drone behind it now.  The last song can bring out thoughts of the rattling of a spray paint can.  I feel like if I saw this being made it'd be the rubbing of those two drum sticks together but it feels much more mechanical and complex than all of that.   

This seems to be the theme of the music- simple on the surface but much more complex behind the scenes- and in that way that all great musicians are like magicians because you enjoy their sounds but don't quite fully know how they are being made, Jo Bled is among the best, never revealing any of the secrets but still leaving the listener fully satisfied.  


Cassette Review // Derek Piotr "Live on Radio 2018" (humanhood recordings)




Right away there is a lot going on.   An ominous tone has a beat behind it, like a heartbeat, but then are also these sharper beeps coming through with this feeling like reverb.  It's a bit of static but feels like it's being performed on hospital equipment.   Deeper vocal sounds come through, but then higher pitched ones do as well.   The beat just trills.   Water drips now through some static electricity and then it's just an error message type synth.

Voices come through like angels with computer glitches and sounds like gagging.  It feels like we're changing frequencies now, going through the radio, and then it's a succession of beeping like an old Atari game.   That feeling of water/gagging returns and then some blasts come from behind it.   This is all quite interesting because I'm not sure how most of these sounds are being made.   They could be vocally, but I also feel like they're something else.   We go into a slipstream now and then notes with more melody come out.

A lot of electronics now make it feel like we're in space, with the laser blasts and such.   This takes us into the flip side which has these same sort of electronics coming through with beats.  It feels like an electronic skramz.   Then there is also singing behind it all in this very uplifting, heavenly way.   A loud bang comes through like a gunshot but it also feels like an ocean wave washing over everything.  

The sound just comes through with this drone now where it feels like it's taking over everything but also like we're ascending up to Heaven.    Some vocals are trying to sneak through now with some slip static.   That angelic ahhh tone vibe continues and as we get closer to the end this glitched feeling of a vocal note comes through where it feels like someone is trying to tell us something but the message is corrupted in the way that a file might skip or just thinking of it as a hologram like Princess Leia it will flicker.  













Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Comic Book Mixtape #4, January 2024 Pt 2 (ft: Mr. Easta, Elvira In Monsterland, Darkwing Duck, Spy Superb, Pink Panther and TMNT!)

 



As I post this second mixtape for these comic book issues right now, in January, I've basically planned out that I can do one more CBMT in February, one in March and one in April, leading us right into May for Free Comic Book Day 2024!  

There are also three different series of comic books that I have multiple issues of and just plan on reviewing as one big review.  As I've been doing individual issues of titles in here, I would instead have one review of all of the issues of Elvira in Monsterland story, for example.   So I will definitely keep mixing it up in that way, as sometimes reviews will be like this and other times it could be an entire series in one review.   But at least I know I have a plan, a schedule, going forward.  



Mr. Easta #2 (Kit Wallis) (Scout Comics)

One thing with the artwork and language in this comic book that I discovered might be why I like it so much is because it reminds me of a more violent Invader Zim.    In this second issue, we are taken back in time to see a story of Mr. Easta went to school at a young age to become a killer and had a best friend named Bob.

As we come back into the present, Mr. Easta has too many questions and so it's time to take him out.   Who else would be sent on such a mission than the former best friend (they had a falling out) of Mr. Easta than Bob herself?   The story is building with a lot of moving pieces and with two more issues to go I'm excited to see where it takes us.


Elvira in Monsterland #3 (David Avallone / Kewber Baal) (Dynamite Entertainment)

When we last left Elvira she was in the Werewolf in London movie, about to meet some werewolves.   This issue takes us through a fun run in different movies based on werewolves.  It has the classic Lon Chaney "Wolfman" film, with debate about a wolfman being different from a werewolf.   This issue also unlocked a memory in my brain, as it reminded me of the Michelle Pfeiffer film "Wolf" (1994), which I almost completely forgot existed.

Thinking that this couldn't get much better after unlocking that nugget, we head right into "Teen Wolf", which is just a hilarious interaction as well.  At the end of this third issue, Elvira finds herself in the land of Kaiju and when I first started reading this I imagined Elvira in the midst of classic movie monsters- which she has been- but I never thought it could lead to kaiju.   Elvira vs Godzilla?  Bring it on.  


Darkwing Duck #4 (Amanda Deibert / Cario Lauro) (Dynamite Entertainment)

As we get into the fourth issue of Darkwing Duck, Drake Mallard is fine with not putting the mask back on but only for a few pages.  As Drake tries to fight off Bushroot by himself, he ends up coming out of retirement and then taking down the plant-based villain.

In some weird way the story of these first four issues, which seems to be wrapped up, seemed to focus around Drake Mallard retiring and then coming out of retirement.  Perhaps it shows that this time Darkwing Duck is going to stick around for good and as such this series will continue on for a long time yet to come.  


Spy Superb #2 (Matt Kindt) (Dark Horse Comics)

In this second issue of Spy Superb the plot slowly begins to unfold.   We have the main character who is somewhat of a genius but referred to as a "useful idiot" and he thinks he's the main character.   Meanwhile, he's being tracked down by different people for different reasons.  The plotlines are colliding by the end of this all though and it makes me excited for the third issue.

What I like about this story and how it is expanded in this issue is that the main character is this sort of lucky idiot.   He's maybe not supposed to be the next Spy Superb but he seems to be doing an excellent job at it anyway.  It's kind of like Mr. Bean but also this guy is just more annoying because he talks and wants to be like that "actually" meme in real life.  


Pink Panther #1 (S.A. Check / Chris Carter) (American Mythology)

I definitely didn't realize this was from 2016 when I picked it up, but that doesn't really seem to change the fact that it's still funny.   There are several small stories told within this one issue.  At first, The Pink Panther is at a kids birthday party and has to figure out what kind of balloon animals they want.   Then there is a fly in the soup restaurant gag that I didn't get.

The longest story in here involves The Pink Panther being unknowingly taken hostage after a bank is robbed and on his way to Mexico.   These are such fun little stories but they also just remind me of what The Pink Panther cartoon was like to watch growing up.  It's just good clean humor and I like it.  


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate (Henry Barajas / Pablo Verdugo) (IDW Publishing)

Just to show how out of touch I am with things- but am taking steps to become more in touch with them- this comic book is a one shot which apparently is the lead in to a video game of the same name.   Now, this video game is available from the Apple Store, so it's for mobile devices like your iPhone or an iPad.   I didn't know any of this existed before I got this issue and so when I read it and it said at the end to be continued in a video game I thought that was kind of neat.

This story involves Splinter being taken through a time portal and now the Turtles must go through the portal themselves to get him back.   This comic book issue itself gives the backstory of sorts which leads up to a game which I can download on my phone and based upon how it looks and after reading this issue I'm pretty sure I'm going to be downloading the game as well now.   This was some fine cross-branding.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Music Review // Eddie Berman "Signal Fire"


"Signal Fire" is the type of album that has a weight which you can feel.   Yes, these songs by Eddie Berman are heavy in the way that their lyrical content and just the mood in general that they set can weigh you down, but this is also a lot of music to digest.   This feels like the type of album that would be released on record, as it has a distinct split between the song "Heartbroken" and "First of Spring (Keira's Song)", where you would flip sides of the vinyl.

At first, there is this rock mixed with Americana and a little bit of country / folk sound to Eddie Berman.   But as the album goes on, I begin to hear other influences.   Everlast, for example, comes through in that outlaw country sort of way.   "Go from Here" seems to channel Lou Reed, as it has that mellow, cool way about it.  Then with "Mare Imbrium" we drift more into the acoustic melodies like Jack Johnson would make.

[4] has a stronger, country type of presence while that big voice / piano combo creates a sweet love song on [5].   "Looking In" says "I was on the outside" and is a fun song, a little like The  Wallflowers.   We reach what should be the end of the first side with the sad ballad "Heartbroken" and then horns come out to start off "First of Spring", which feels like the start to the second side of this album, as it takes on a new life.

The song "Anymore" has this gunslinger country way about it while the rest of these songs come off with the general mood of this album overall.  These songs are mellow, they're spacious and they're powerful.   They're not loud or overly abrasive, but they still have that feeling of wisdom where if you hear someone out there singing them you stop, listen and pay close attention because you might just need to know this type of information at some point in your life. 


Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Spontaneous Jam Session Unveils a Vibrant Musical Tapestry Every Sunday at pinkFROG Cafe in Brooklyn, NY


 Since November 2022, the heart of Brooklyn has resonated with the eclectic sounds of The Spontaneous Jam Session, a weekly musical gathering hosted by Marcelo Maccagnan and Maxime Cholley at the distinctive pinkFROG cafe. This event goes beyond the traditional jam session, evolving into a dynamic platform that not only unites musicians but also engages diverse communities in Brooklyn.


Commencing at 6:30pm every Sunday, the session kicks off with a captivating 45-minute performance by the “house band,” featuring hosts Marcelo Maccagnan on bass and Maxime Cholley on drums, alongside a different guest musician each week. Notable guests from various musical backgrounds contribute to the ever-changing nature of the performances, ranging from RnB and Jazz to Indian, Lithuanian, Middle Eastern, and even tap dancing. Distinguished guests have included Meg Okura, Caili O’Doherty, Sam Newsome, Swaminathan Selvaganesh, Dabin Ryu, Andrew Cheng and many others.


As the clock strikes 7:30 pm, the atmosphere transforms into a fully improvised and spontaneous jam session, welcoming musicians from all corners of the city to join the stage. This unique aspect ensures that every musical creation is born in the moment, with no predefined music or charts. Musicians of diverse backgrounds, including tabla players, Oud players, singers, dancers, and even rappers, converge on stage to create something entirely new for the audience every 5-10 minutes.



What sets The Spontaneous Jam Session apart is the active involvement of the audience, including non-musicians. Listeners are encouraged to suggest ideas or themes for the improvised pieces, resulting in imaginative and diverse musical narratives. The audience plays a pivotal role in shaping the creative direction of the session, making each gathering a unique and participatory experience.


The initiative has gained recognition among musicians, with a growing community on Eventbrite and Meetup. The Spontaneous Jam Session has become a powerful tool for uniting the Brooklyn music community, transcending cultural and stylistic boundaries. Through this project, the hosts aim to continue fostering a spirit of inclusivity, creativity, and collaboration within the local music scene, enriching the cultural fabric of Brooklyn and beyond.


More information on Marcelo Maccagnan can be found here :::

https://www.marcelomaccagnan.com/


More info on the pinkFROG Cafe can be found here :::

https://pinkfrogcafe.com/

Music Review // Lady Queen Paradise "You are everything"


https://ladyqueenparadise.bandcamp.com/album/you-are-everything


Have you ever listened to a piece of music and just had it feel like it punched you directly in the guts?  That's how I feel about Lady Queen Paradise, as listening to "You are everything" had that affect on me.  It's not that this music is heavy, because of that gut-punch as being something a hardcore band might create, but rather it just feels so familiar but new at the same time.   This sound is just this perfect combination of all of the genres that I love, with bits of my favorite artists sprinkled in and I probably don't even realize it fully.

What is primarily lead by the vocals, guitars come in to set the tone in various ways as well.   This album has a lot of sound for those people out there who listen to artists such as Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies and not just for the songs you know from the radio.  It's partly that era of music- that "alternative rock" that came with grunge- but at the same time, it also feels post grunge in the sense that it has a more modern twist.   However, if you told me that Lady Queen Paradise was opening for Juliana Hatfield in 1997 I'd be inclined to believe you.

At the same time as all of this can take me back to the past, it also feels set very much in the present and in a way which can be some sort of genre with -gaze added at the end of it.  These guitars do come through quite dreamy at times, so even to think of this as dreampop but with a dark edge would be accurate.   While it musically reminds me of a band such as Husbands, it also just has that overall feeling I get from listening to Slothrust so I feel they needed to be noted in here as well.

While "Only friend" has this layer of drama, "Because the bells" feels like driving and taking the long way home, but overall this is just powerful.  The music is there and it's this whole other part of the music you have to fully digest only after hearing these powerful vocals come through in so many different ranges.   There is quite a bit to unpack within these songs, but every time I hear something I didn't hear before it feels like another give and this is an album which keeps on giving.  

Friday, January 12, 2024

Robbie Smith // Interview # 233



When I found out that the film "Grieve" was coming to VHS via Already Dead Tapes & Records I got excited.  I also saw that the soundtrack was going to be released on cassette and that made me even more happy.   Saying "Raised by Cassettes" includes both the audio and video cassette side of things, the video being VHS tapes.    This couldn't have been a better way to start the year for me.  I reached out to Robbie Smith to talk about the film before its release and with one week until it is officially released on VHS this is what's up.  

 

1) "Grieve" is currently on Tubi to stream for free.  Do you feel that it is important to have that option, such as how you can stream music on Bandcamp for free but then buy the physical (or digital) to support the art that you like/can afford?


For a no-budget indie film, I believe it’s very important to have the film available for free. It’s hard to get people to spend their hard earned money on a film they’ve never seen and in this age of instant gratification, I think it’s essential. I bucked against the idea at first, based on the sheer amount of content available there, but ad based video on demand is where a lot of independent filmmakers and distributors make their money back.


There is no consequence for pushing play on a free movie.. You’ve got no skin in the game! And in a way that’s a double edged sword, right? When you’ve got no skin in the game you’re twice as liable to discount the work that’s gone into whatever you’re watching. When I pay $7 to rent a film on VOD, I’m not going to turn it off and to an extent I’m going to look for validation in the fact that I spent $7. When I push play on something free I’m going to be a bit more cautious with my time. There’s no fee of entry keeping me there. 


I love Tubi. I've found a ton of deep cut foreign and horror films on there that aren't available anywhere else.

 

2) How did it come about that the film would be released on VHS, as opposed to Blu-Ray or DVD?


I’ve actually contacted several blu-ray and dvd labels in an attempt to find someone to release the film on disc and have not been able to gain any traction there. I’ll more than likely start a small blu label with a friend and self release Grieve and a couple indie gems that haven’t made it to disc.


I had previously worked with Already Dead putting out a VHS of my short films, so it felt natural to follow that up with a VHS of my feature-length directorial debut. Even with the recent boom in retro media, there aren't many labels doing what AD are doing with this amount of care and passion.


I love VHS. I mean, of course I prefer a pristine picture and I’d rather watch a blu of say, Tree of Life, but when it comes horror or anything bizarre, I prefer VHS. There’s something about putting this brick format into a big VCR and it all working together with gears and wheels as it stretches the tape from its casing, whirring along not-so-quietly.


3) What was it like working with Already Dead Tapes and Records for the VHS release?


Already Dead rules. Josh is one of the most open-minded label owners I’ve ever met. Nothing is off the table, ya know? A lot of labels have these very set boundaries or genres they work within. AD does everything. So, yeah, always a joy and I hope I get the chance to work with the label again. 


4) What was it like putting together the soundtrack for the film?


Michael Armendariz (Duck Duck Goose) was on score duties and he knocked it out of the park. We've also got contributions from Nick Reinhart (Disheveled Cuss) and Jay Gambit (Crowhurst). In the film we have Foie Gras, Field Medic, and Blemish. I’d always wanted to use their tracks in a project. Took some work with publishers, managers, etc.. but it worked out! Elated on how well it all came together. I'm excited to do it again now that I know what I'm doing.


5) The soundtrack is also on cassette.  Do you feel there is a need for physical media?


Big time. I’m a huge collector of physical media. Nothing is forever when it comes to digital. Nothing is sacred when it comes to digital. It’s all numbers and chance. And not everything is available online, ya know? Try finding the original Cocoon on any streaming service. You can’t. I mean, I don't love Cocoon, but hey. I also just love being able to hold something physical and going through the small ritual of taking the media source from its packaging and placing it in its respective player. There's something about that.



6) With a lot of mainstream movies being remakes / reboots / et al, do you feel like there will be an uprising at some point in filmmakers creating their own films because the bigger studios only want to do rehash the Smurfs again?


I think there already has been. Superhero movies are currently floundering at the box office while (mostly) original IP claims the numbers. Despite how big Barbie and Oppenheimer are, they’re auteur films from directors who created a name in the indie space. And I mean, horror in general, large and small budget, is absolutely dominating the box office in a way that never seemed possible. Niche horror films like TERRIFIER 2 and SKINAMARINK did huge numbers at the box office and no one could have guessed that. I think big studios see that and they’re going to either attempt to replicate it to a certain extent like they did in response to EASY RIDER back in the 70s. And sometimes that results in brilliant minds being given large amounts of money to make something that'll last the test of time instead of seeking numbers and awards.


And then there were the SAG and WGA strikes that took place in the latter half of 2023. That will definitely slow down the bigger studio’s outputs and I think it’s a huge opportunity for indie filmmakers and smaller production studios to make quality art and show the moviegoing public that it isn’t all superheroes and fast cars. Not that there’s anything wrong with superhero or car movies! They have their place, too.



7) Do you feel, as a society, we don't talk enough about how when someone dies we never really get over it but just learn to live without that person a little bit more each day?


Western society sees death as a bother; another way to make money off of you or your loved ones. Death is as special as the life we’re living now. Once we’re gone, we continue to live through the thoughts and actions of the people who once knew us. I think it’s important not to ‘get over it’ and instead embrace the energy that person left behind. Keep it like a locket. Keep them around. That’s the healthy version.. The dangerous version is portrayed in GRIEVE hah.. 



8) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc ??


Watch Grieve! On VHS through Already Dead or on Amazon Prime, Vudu, or Tubi! So proud of what our small crew did with so little!


I’ll be putting together funding for my second feature, Void Walker, this year. It is a lot different than Grieve and I'm excited to share it.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Find more info about "Grieve" and Robbie Smith here :::

https://robbiesmith.myportfolio.com//


Order the official "Grieve" VHS from Already Dead Tapes & Records here :::

https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/grieve-original-motion-picture

Cassette Review // Erica Dawn Lyle "SYMPOIESIS"


https://ericadawnlyle.bandcamp.com/album/sympoiesis


This is the second cassette from Erica Dawn Lyle that I got at a show almost a year ago and it's nice to space out these reviews so much because it makes me feel like I'm right back at that show and I want to see all of those artists again.   This entire cassette is guitar-based and one of the only modern people I can think who has done this in a similar way- at a similar level- is Bob Bucko Jr.  

There are probably more people than any of us realize out there making solo guitar albums, but this has to be among the best because of the journey it takes you on.   The guitar is very loud and distorted, like Hendrix.  Blistering, this loud sort of bass beeping comes through on the second track.  Dark doom drops and then it's sharp.   The ride takes us up and down.   Now the song comes through in waves which grow louder.  To some extent, this is clanky and deeper bass comes through now.

On the flip side it sounds like distorted percussion to start, but I'm pretty sure this is all guitars with effects and the only other element in here is vocals.   There are some elements of FBMOF in here and then the singing comes through rather high pitched.   We begin to take a wild ride, like a carnival, and then there is a rambling sound.  A sharp distress signal comes through, then it flickers.  

The one thing I hear perhaps the most on these songs is not that they have a sound in terms of their musical qualities but rather they feel like something on a different level than that.  It's easy to think about guitar notes in terms of letters and tempos, but the way these songs come out don't feel like a music class as much as they have vibes.   The songs just send forth these feelings and that's really important because music should definitely make you feel something.  











Friday, January 5, 2024

Cassette Review // Tristan Dolce "Medium True"

 


https://tristandolce.bandcamp.com/album/medium-true


The sound of Tristan Dolce is one of beautiful melodies.   At first, these songs can come out sounding like Elliott Smith or The Lyndsay Diaries, but as they go on I can hear more artists like Death Cab For Cutie and Husbands within them.    Though the songs are not overly poppy, after a few listens this cassette will have you singing along.

While different instruments play their role during this cassette, the song "Reservoir" has that acoustic guitar + vocals way about it which feels very folk and reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel at times.   On the flip side, we start off with the song "Willow Springs" which brings a sort of electric energy with it.   "Ring Ring" is a softer, more complex song and by the end of the cassette, on "I Went Up", there is a feeling of triumph and a big piano piece.

If you count along with the songs as you listen to them on this cassette and recognize that there are four per side, then as the entire cassette reaches its end you'll realize that "Alaska" comes back around again, at the end of Side B.  This is kind of fun in the way that no one would know this from listening to "Medium True" digitally and so as a sort of bonus for the cassette it's a nice little touch.

For me, Tristan Dolce does what a lot of the best songwriters do on "Medium True".  There is a sound in here which can be tied back to the original artist but at the same time it can drift from it with the different styles and instruments.   It just feels like such a diverse set of songs, yet they are al tied together at their core.   This cassette also makes me question whether or not I want to visit Alaska one day and maybe, because of Tristan Dolce, I will.  










Thursday, January 4, 2024

Cassette Review // The Flesh, Full of Black Sand "Forever. Floating. Forever."


https://thefleshfullofblacksand.bandcamp.com/album/forever-floating-forever


This cassette begins with audio spoken about how we're floating and it says: "The Earth is moving without us".   A synth tone pattern is built up behind a cloud of air and this pattern repeats on a loop.   It feels like we're on a magic carnival ride, but it also feels like it's really windy.   I had to stop this cassette a few times to compare its sound with that of the digital on Bandcamp because I thought maybe my tape deck had issues but it's just this minimal and quiet.  

The sounds can also begin to sound like acoustic guitar notes but I think so far the story of this cassette is how it plays tricks on my ears, making me think something is wrong with either the cassette itself or the way I'm playing it, but I'm having a similar experience when streaming.   And the thing is, everything came through clearly when it was speaking in the beginning so I'm not sure why I became so convinced the cassette or my tape deck was experiencing issues.

A warbly sort of synth sound comes through now on the flip side.  It's more pronounced than what was on the first side, but this is difficult to listen to in the sense that it feels like someone is humming soft melodies in a loud and crowded room.   I can feel the synths coming through in the background like a racetrack now as well.   There is a humming, maybe a buzzing, in here now as well. 

Tones come in with a droning sound now and they feel more clear.   That idea of having this sort of fog hanging over the sound has been lifted and as I reach the end of the cassette- the last few moments- I realize what I was hearing was done on purpose and it just goes to show how the cassette itself can be manipulated into the overall sound of a piece of music.  













Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Cassette Review // Japan Review "The Slow Down" (Blackjack Illuminist Records)


https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-slow-down


Cassettes can bring forth a lot of nostalgia because you can remember times you spent listening to them in your younger years.   Right away, looking at this cassette by Japan Review, I see the case is a transparent neon orange color.   This takes me back to one cassette- "State Of The World Address" by Biohazard- as I remember having that cassette as a younger me and this was exactly what the case looked like.   Sometimes it's those little things that can make you feel connected right away.

Japan Review, however, does not really sound like Biohazard.    With steady drumming and dreamy sounds accompanying it all, Japan Review resembles The Flaming Lips to some extent.  I want to call them "slowcore", but I also think of them as being "slow and steadycore".    This isn't really slow as it maintains a medium pace.   It can also become beautifully blissed out, which really adds to the overall sound.

Synths come in during "Go Around" and that gives this overall vibe of the song sounding like Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark".   But then there are also parts of that song which make me think it doesn't sound like Springsteen at all.   The titular tracks has elements of Duran Duran in it and on the whole this cassette reflects that throwback sound, with it feeling more like it's from that Breakfast Club era than it is set in modern times.  

On the flip side, the synths expand as the beats come in like knocking.   This also comes through in a very pleasant way with the synth taking the lead.   We go into a song next which feels like The Turtles, as it has this intense feeling to start off.   Then it goes into a much faster paced synth pop type of song, which is dance era 1980's and the fastest this cassette has gone thus far.  This can be challenged for speed by the next song, "Portable".

The synth comes out on "Portable" in an almost video game type manner while other aspects of the song combine thoughts of the 1980's with The Killers.   A haunted sort of knocking comes in now during the next song and then by the end it really slows down.  The synths which were once upbeat and fun now feel sadder and more solemn.   In that way, this also reminds me of Typhoon, but I really think Japan Review have done an excellent job on "The Slow Down" at creating their own sound out of existing sounds.