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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!

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!

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.

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!

Can Can Heads - Butter Life

The Finnish noise rock veterans Can Can Heads have been around since 1993, which makes them old enough to drink beer. And with age they bring the experience needed to play the kind of garage-ridden, lo-fi infested angular noise rock with the help of a skewed, skronky saxophone, Flying Luttenbachers-style. It’s often toxic and super-distorted, but sometimes it gets floating and exposes some strangely psychedelic energy bulbing from underneath the amphetaminic noise rock. Somebody on Bandcamp has written about this album: "The world would be a better place if everyone owned this LP. A "Trout Mask Replica" for the iPhone generation. Favorite track: Breakdiscodance." I agree with the first part. For the second part, it lacks the proper vocals. Anyway, deliciously damaged shit-rock for y’all.

Hear Hums - Malaise

It’s obvious from the first seconds of the opening “Veil”, that Malaise, the newest album from the Gainesville, FL based duo Hear Hums have grown more refined and mature since their 2012 album Opens. Since the previous album was whimsical and carefree in nature, almost childish, strongly reminiscent of early Animal Collective with their fluorescent psych folk, their newest release is much darker, with the disturbing artwork almost bordering on horror aesthetics. The meticulous sound design reminds me of Amon Tobin’s Foley Room, combining field recordings with droning mysteries, turning fever dreams into nightmares, where wonder meets dread and the faeries have turned into demons. Playtime is over, time to wander the dreadhalls.

Oddgrad - Treatment

The Madrid based label Go Finger collects the fresh and the undiscovered in the Spanish techno underground, ripping throught he surface with a new album by Oggrad. Treatment is an explosion of warehouse sleaze pumping forth among the smeared Tulpa-like bloops and bleeps. It provides a spook with its elongated, suspended dark ambient dynamics progressive forward at a plodding pace. The ghost of Andy Stott looms all over this album - this is dark, cold techno at its finest. Concrete alienation. Recommendation.

Karen Gwyer - Kiki the Wormhole

The work of the Iowa-born, London-based electronic producer Karen Gwyer has been hypnotizing ever since discovering her debut LP Needs Continuum about two months ago. From the first seconds of the opening "Sugar Tots" I knew I was in love. Droning, monotonous melodies crawl up and down while the deconstructed & slowed down techno/house beats unveil into a nearly Gas-like hypnotic, dazed state. This release by Karen was released via the leading mutant techno label Opal Tapes. Three lengthy tracks evolve and grow around slowly, like the fungus in the corner of the room over time. Or mold. The sounds of this tape are paradoxically clear and murky, the endless two-note shuffle in the background gives a propulsive, while the main melody expands and mutates into a sort of ever-repetitive, minimalistic version of Amber era Autechre (or a similar work from early Warp Records). Each track is longer. The time gets stretched, the sounds grow busier and more enveloping. One keeps listening until their entire body is disintegrated within the ambiental drone techno. Higly recommended!

Wifi Calisthenics - Wave Paint

The bouncy, weirdo pop of Wifi Calisthenics' Wave Paint might be an indication of what James Ferraro could possibly sound like if he dropped the anti-social, basement dwelling weirdo bullshit and actually approach the music creation from the joyous, outspoken side. While the all-caps tagging of the album might seem too much in-your-face to be enjoyed, the album still works with joyous distorted pop of tracks like “Body in the Night” or the digitally soiled soul of “Lost Mazes”. Wave Paint cleverly conceals catchy pop melodies under layers of crunchy distortion and digital clipping to achieve the status of the perfect super-bedroom pop album nobody ever heard about. Expect a 180 gram vinyl reisue in some 30 years or so. For now, let’s just enjoy the free download and try to make heads and tails out of this somewhat chopped digital mess, which hides a lot of promise under a lot of murk and glitch.

Hobo Cubes - Apex Ideals

If you’re familiar with the work of Montreal based synthesist Francesco De Gallo and his Hobo Cubes albums, you probably remember him for his endess summer style beatific mind beaches of Timeless/Mindless, where warm drones washed all over the place like fragile ocean spray. Well, with this year’s Apex Ideals (released on Debacle Records) it would be wise to change your flip flops and swimming trunks into a lab coat. Or even a radiation suit. On the newest release, De Gallo eschews slowly unfolding pastoral psychedelia for a cold, sterile algorithms that jut out brutally from the metallic, ominous ambience bubbling underneath. There are certain echoes of Confield era Autechre shining through the formaldehyde glitchyness reminiscent of John Wiese's least spastic moments. Innocence is over. Go back to work. Your laboratory is waiting.

Christopher Merritt - Imaginary Colors

Great fractured, multistory fried electronics from the forward-thinking Brooklynite Christopher Merritt, who’s doing his damn best to one up Sean McCann’s game before he went all symphonic and compositional and shit. Imaginary Colors - originally released on cassette on Orange Milk Records is a stack of seemingly dissonant, yet smoothly working together enlightened, acidic synth notes that play together into a glitched & whacked out ambience somewhere between Caboladies, Sunroof! and Tim Hecker. There is a certain delicacy, even fragility of music between the roughed, razed edges that bear signs of heavy usage and frequent sonic, sensory overload assaults. Imaginary music for imaginary music videos with imaginary color palettes.

Geist & the Sacred Ensemble - Beyond This Vessel

The latest release by the Seattle based dark haunted folk unit Geist & the Sacred Ensemble was released on Moon Glyph on a cassette back in November 2013. It continues the path the ensemble have started on their debut tape In Search of Fabled Lands in the form of nearly gothic, swampy hymns that combine smokey, oriental-gazing psychedelia with almost funeral-like, plodding manner of the band that recalls the darker, more pagan acts of the freak folk/New Weird America movement - comparisons with Wooden Wand or Jackie-O Motherfucker might be irresistible. Walking a fine line between songwriting brilliance and freeform occult journey. Your body is just a vessel - go beyond it!