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Digital Natives - It’s All Point Blank

Among the high output of releases by Floridian native Jeffrey Astin’s Digital Natives project, the demand for suspended and looping funky, sweaty beats never stops, as if this was the height of the disco era and Astin was the top selling, ultimate DJ selling out entire convention halls and stadiums with his concerts, crafting out one infectious, looped antem after another like it’s always 1977. Somewhere between vaporwave and Amon Tobin, it relies heavily on electronic repetitious revelation as well as slow, narcotic mystery unfolding endlessly before the listener in some sort of a haze emerging late at nigth and fitting late night listening. It’s all about mixing bossa nova with funk this time, trying something slightly new, because there’s a plethora of genres to be explored. Sometimes I think Digital Natives is there in order to check the looping and sampling qualities of all the genres that are there. So we might expect some Digital Natives built on emo punk or black metal in the future. That might be great. Loop all music. Recommended!

Innercity Ensemble - II (Black / White)

The newest album by the Toruń, Poland based psychedelic supergroup Innercity Ensemble was released in two versions (characterized by colors), and are available on CD and in digital form. On both colors of the albums the band takes a different approach and form, going for more amorphous and improvisational, ambient rock approach on White and a more drum-driven and restrained Tortoise-sryled post-rock on Black. Innercity Ensemble is the powerhouse of 7 members, with the additional help by one more creative soul on a few tracks, making it truly a multi-level experience, with each member being an experienced multi-instrumentalist making ripples with their work in numerous Polish experimental bands. This is a tightly woven, richly ornamented and perfectly executed and edited psychedelic rock journey, starting with droney deserts and finishing with glossy math rock halls and progressive electronic phatamorganas. The white disc is good for the introspective journeys, relying on minimal means for achieving soul-enhancing properties, while the black album is meant for more focused adventures, providing a soundtrack for nearly prog-like Ozric Tentacles worship with a bit of jazzy edge to boot. Some of the best psychedelic music coming from Poland right now, check it out!

Tuff Sherm - Shrapnel Maestro

Sydney, Australia based DJ and producer Dro Carey has been exploring the darker underbelly of the techno aesthetic under the moniker Tuff Sherm. On Shrapnel Maestro, a digital album from 2012, he collects the shards of urban paranoia and dark night pulsations into a blackened club mass with a mutated, ragged edge and a penchant for some bassy filth hidden among the skeletal, Octo Octa-like beats. It’s dark and sinister, but it must be admitted that it’s also catchy and boucny as hell at the same time. Definitely not some shrapnels I’d mind getting hit with.

Review: Homogenized Terrestrials / Andrew Quitter / Cruudeuces / Dog Hallucination - The Moon is Hungry

(2 x cassette, Intangible Cat, 2014)

The roads of Illinois may form a perfect grid, but the Illinois-born bastard psychedelia label Intangible Cat is certainly off the grid. Ever since their first akwwardly small 3” CD-R from the fried circuit outfit Amalgamated, I’ve been growing into the sound of the label collecting a bunch of otherwordly weirdos and their other projects, such as Dog Hallucination or Gushing Cloud. And it looks like that Intangible Cat team decided to step up their game and release something on cassette - but not just one cassette, but a double cassette, paired with some rad artwork carrying some signs of a cosmos-gazing Photoshop era Zdzisław Beksiński.

The first tape, the black one, is dubbed “The Moon Tape” and with a sticker showing a satellite panorama of our only natural satellite. Parting sides between Homogenized Terrestrials on side A and Andrew Quitter on side B. The Terrestrials decide to play more on silence than on sound and thus provide a slyly unfolding ambient piece based on tape loops and field recordings. Despite their “earthly” name, the Terrestrials present the more “alien” end of the experimental music spectrum, working on pre-recorded sounds in surprising and often spine-chilling ways, creating a wall of frozen ambience imbued with glitchy loops and fuzzy, intriguing textures whose source can no longer be identified. Andrew Quitter jumps onto the more cavernous, yet earthy primeval folk trip, with tribal drumming continuously beating a raw, simple path through the thick tapestry of electronic drones and darkened ambient aesthetics, with a bit of unplanned genius when the Facebook notification sound springs the listener back to awareness from the half-stupor induced by the psychedelic meanderings steeped in tape hiss.

Another cassette is entitled “Earth Tape” and is white and adorned with a satellite picture of the Earth itself. The Earth Tape is parted between Cruudeuces on side A and Dog Hallucination on side B. Cruudeuces’ Nathaniel Brennan (the owner of the Ghetto Naturalist Series label, btw) offers a murky, truly and absolutely no-fi noisy rambling not unlike the darkest, most chaotic moments of The Skaters, which is saying a lot, knowing how far from normal the work of The Skaters was. These are some post-apocalyptic hymns, with war robots walking the scorched wastelands and shooting the remaining victims, who are infected with radiation poisoning, but are still struggling and walking. Films like Terminator or Threads spring to mind, when conronted with rusted harsh drone of Brennan. The salvation comes with the last side of the Earth cassette, this time from Intangible Cat label owner Dog Hallucination jumping into the cosmic, progressive ambience with the Klaus Schulze feeling and finally some melody, as distorted and glitched out it might be. DH finally brings peace to the rattled soul and mind, after having survived the ragged death zone of Cruudeuces. Here one can gaze at galaxies and unnaturally large moons hovering in the night sky against the silhouettes of the bombed-out skyscrapers of what once could’ve been Chicago. Or Cleveland. Or whatever stood here a hundred years ago. It’s all gone. With a hypnotic, apocalyptic end Intangible Cat stands out with a solid four-way split between four differetn drone-heads.

Tuluum Shimmering - The Sky Tree

Damn, I knew for a while that Inner Islands label was on the rise, but the newest cassette from the master of all rainforest drone, Tuluum Shimmering, is a total monster - 120 minutes (!!!) of inner temple folk and psych meanderings that any contact with the outside world may not be welcome now. This is no light ride - quite the opposite; it’s a heavy, smokey meditation that drills deep into the unconscious and works well on a threshold between the waking world and the world of dreams. This is music conjured by a bunch of shamans under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms ingested in some pre-religious ritual, when animism reigned and every object, tree, animal, and person had a spirit. So the world was a tight patchwork of souls and spirits, all vibrating with life energy - imagine how intense the world must’ve been for a shaman - something like how Neo saw the world in the Matrix series!

The Sky Tree is a monumental cassette hidden within a more-than-modest cardboard packaging hiding its potential. Two sides, each 60 minutes long (who makes cassettes like these anymore!?), sprawling between several different styles - from primeval moss drone to lo-fi piano minimalism in the vein of Super Minerals’ Clusters tape, then starting side B with meditative morning ragas in Hindustani tradition with drawn out sitar drones and flute music-painting. The slow, ambiental jam get slowly transformed into a huge, long piece of motorik drone folk (is that a thing? If it’s not, it should totally be a thing) accented with looping pianos, conjuring some sort of unholy mash-up between SimCity soundtracks, Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual and Neu! circa 1975. Add some Blues Control-styled cascades of jazzy pianos at the end and what you get is a masterpiece of repetition, a crowning achievement in huge, all-consuming psychedelia that could give a lot of potential to 5, maybe 7 good cassettes. Highly recommended, music to get drowned in!

Luxury Elite - TV Party

If you’re still falling for the sleazy artifice of vaporwave in mid-2014, there’s still this narcotic looping sex-pop gem from Luxury Elite, a cassette from Orange Milk Records entited TV Party. This is some perfect slow evening/small house party set-up for the relaxed home environment. A bottle of wine, a relaxing screensaver is set up your Windows 95 personal computer. And a woman of your dreams on your side… Except her name ends with a .jpg. Or .avi. Or .mov. Or .gif. But hey, you’ve still got this amazing cassette by Luxury Elite in your cassette player, or at least the .mp3 or .flac version in your tabletop 2.0 speakers! So don’t worry, get carried anyway with your favorite wine and your favorite Evening Relaxation Sound Setup[tm] from Luxury Elite Sound Systems Inc. Download it to your HDD today!

Orca Life - Modern Living

The former noiseniks and ambient-gazers are getting more and more crafty and tech-savvy, going with the flow of time and the requirements of accelerationism and start in the race to create better soundtracks for consumption and production, which is in result prosumption. Chris Roberts, who is Orca Life, becomes a prosumer, creating music for other prosumers in the endless process of prosumption, making music relaxing enough not to make lot of fuss and too abstract to be merely called vaporwave. It’s more like a deranged, savage synth pop where the circuitry has been fried and the computer went amok. Musique concrete for the Information Superhighway era.

The Michael Flower Band - The Michael Flower Band

The heavy drone rock of Leeds ensemble Vibracathedral Orchestra owes much of it unique hypnotic sound to the skills of Michael Flower, whose own band presents the even heavier and dronier approach fo rock music, presenting their own, mescaline-fueled version of Harley heavy metal. Somewhere between Alasehir and Flower-Corsano Duo, the Michael Flower Band shape a rugged, orient-tinged approach to 70’s hard rock with heavily distorted, dusted muscley edge. The three last tracks take on a more “acoustic” approach - acoustic, as in a “slightly less amplified, but still pretty goddamn skin-peeling”, where a single riff is extended into a series of wildly vibrating feedbacks and jazzy improvisations with a droney marathon style only Vibracathedrals can shape. A must have for y’all drone stoners.

Dura - Silver / Lawns

Brooklynite Matson Ogg sets out again on the ocean of gentle ambient sounds with the endless guitar spray of Silver/Lawns cassette, released via the emerging Polish experimental label Wounded Knife Records. Everything’s laid out here: from the clear cassette, revealing plainly how much tape is on the spools, to the artist and album title right there on the front cover (my fiancee would’ve loved that one), and most imporantly, the sounds are right there in the front, bare and emotional, yet calm and free of violent movements. It’s like accepting everything and knowing it’s gonna be OK in the end. One of the most clean-cut ambient meditations I’ve heard in some time. Highly recommended!

Blue Dreaming Cat - Old Myths

This is the kind of music I didn’t expect to like initially, but as the tracks flowed on, I grew on loving the unique, genre-fusion of sounds by Zielona Góra, Poland trio Blue Dreaming Cat. If you can get past the amateurish cover, get ready for some jazzy and post-rockish soundscapes somewhere between SimCity 3000 soundtracks and lost Tortoise tapes that will unearth in some 40 years via some post-Internet label. If they describe this kind of improvy, slowly unfolding sound as post-rock, then hell yeah I’m all for post-rock of this kind. Truly cinematic and professionally executed on all levels, from musicianship to sound mastering. Good stuff. Recommended!

JCCG - Eje

Originally released on cassette on Department Tapes and later reissued on Aquae label in the number of 50 cassettes, the work of Portuguese guitar impressionist JCCG follows the work of another visionary who painted lush imaginary landscapes with the use of electric guitar and a few simple effects, namely Roy Montgomery. Delicate, reverb and delay ridden soundscapes lead the listeners into areas of great tranquility and calm, where nature is untouched and there is not a single soul around to contaminate the experience. One of the albums that should rather be played outside, in the shining sun than listened to at home, in a room. So make sure to bookmark this Bandcamp page, it might come useful during your next trip to some wild, undiscovered location in your area. Highly recommended!

Alosi Den - Live from the School of Disembodied Poetics

The Boston based sunshine hunters Alosi Den follow the utopian footsteps of early Eternal Tapestry with a bucolic, droney kind of communal psychedelic rock that lights up the mood and shines a light even on the gloomiest of mornings. Sometimes it’s a shimmering slow jam, like getting freshly stoned during a hot summer day in the middle of the woods and watching the sun shine through the leaves. Other times the songs become slowcore-y, nostalgic sepia-toned emanations with a post-rock delicacy packed into Tortoisian sophisticated beauty. Something heartwarming out of something very simple. Recommended!

Baseball Cap - Idiot’s Smile

Voyeuristic ambient? A concept electronic album based on the experiences of watching stereotypical college bros during a long period of time? Whatever that is, the album by Christian Michael Filardo’s new project, Baseball Cap, based in Baltimore stems from the experience of living next to the college students’ house for quite a long time. The results are slightly annoying droning electronics that unveil a hidden beauty within a house ravaged by party-starting party-animals jumping and prancing around, looking for booze and drugs and then spacing out when taking everything at once, the white and the green and the pills and the blotter, you can’t do that! Oh wait, now you’re floating to the afterlife. And you’re carrying an idiot’s smile. So it goes.

Among the newest crop of cassettes from the Polish psychedelic cassette powerhouse Sangoplasmo Records is a release by the Polish duo Kapital, consisting of Kuba Ziołek (Hokei, Alameda Trio, Innercity Ensemble, Stara Rzeka, T’ien L’ai etc.) and Rafał Iwański (X:NAVI:ET, Hati). As the sample suggests, together, those two psych juggernauts conjure some major guitar magic via the means of a heavy Ray Montgomery worshipping riff floating among the droning, ascending electronics a’la Acid Mothers Temple, except with a soft, ambiental edge that stems from the raw minimalism of the piece’s beginning. A solid release by a solid duo. Get the tape on Sangoplasmo!

Oh by the way, thanks to Gacougnol, now I’m posting the Bandcamp link to the full album!

Niemoc - Prawie

Niemoc is a duo of Michał Drozda (guitar & fx) and Filip Awłas (synthesizers), hailing from Zielona Góra, Poland. The self-proclaime “post-wave” sounds of these future gazers lie somewhere between Endless Endless Endless and Heatsick, a.k.a. two bands no one knows & gives a fuck about but still sound cool on a blog résumé. Dreamy, super-synthetic synthest pop filled with psychedelic, warped ambient and dreamy, slowly unfolding melodies that walk a fine line between innocent and seductive. Deep cosmic zones with a slight New Romantikk edge to screw with while you’re surfing your Tumblr in search of new gender-ambiguous floral print unisex clothing.