Jan 23, 2013



I will be writin' under my real name, so don't go gettin spooked when you notice Wren Reath done stayed put!

Dec 17, 2012


Tis the season to cover yer keisters, meesters, & judgin' by my compatriots' sleighfuls of slayers, I'm hangin' at least half a rump. So here's one I know I gotta sneak in before the year's over, plus the rest of my favorites from 2012. I'll see y'all in tax season!

Letha Rodman Melchior/Tretetam
Moon Mountain cassette
ed. of 75

The most artistically productive household in the country (there should be a golden statue for that) has produced another lil marvel. When one also ponders alla that productivity comin' out of some seriously rough times, well, it's all the more impressive. Letha's past output under her Tretetam bonnet has made the Finns happy (though I've yet to set ossicles on any of 'em), & who can argue with a country that produced Circle of Ouroborus, Kemialliset Ystävät, & a folk record of people impersonating bears? This is a good deal more contemplative than that-there list, though. Much like Letha's paper collages (one of which is the cover to this tape; others have appeared on Dan Melchior's releases), there is a play with nature at work here; a repurposing of familiar aural elements (room tone, distant TV dialogue, birds, rambling nature) with clarinet & keys that makes everybody feel like a kissin' cousin. To further confound & impress, Letha gathers wool from Satie, Appalachia and Yiddish folk songs (and not just cuz there's a clarinet; I ain't so lazy)! I also detect a dialogue with the tape format, as much of this seems to shiver out of the speakers like breath breaking in winter air, which suits the hum and hiss of my tape deck just fine. It's warm & brisk; tentative but not anxious; sprawling & focused. & it's gettin' more use in this house than my pocket knife. Sold! Bring it home, nuzzle it between Idea Fire Company's Island of Taste & the second half of Caethua's The Long Afternoon of Earth, & watch that sucker grow.

Might still be a few left, but this started out as half-a-handful, so you best beat cheeks.
While yer at it, donate to the fund here! It should always be the season.

Lower Plenty - Hard Rubbish (Special Award/Easter Bilby)
Dan Melchior - Excerpts & Halfspeeds (Kye)
Helm - Impossible Symmetry (Pan)
Fabulous Diamonds - Commercial Music (Chapter Music)

Mordecai -  Waste 7" (Wäntage)
Call Back the Giants - Incidents of Travel 12" (White Denim)
Trash Company - Having Fun 12" (Peoples Potential Unlimited)
Circle of Ouroborus - Mullan Tuoksu/Pehmeät Kasvot/Sisään Katsovat Seppelesilmät cassette trilogy (Kuunpalvelus)

X-Wave - Cities on Flame LP (Little Big Chief)
Kenneth Higney - Attic Demonstration LP (One Kind Gift)
Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 2xLP (Numero/Chocolate Ind.)
Coitus Int. - Dead Excitement 7" (Bunkerpop)
Shadow Ring - Remains Unchanged 2xLP (Kye)
Woo - It's Cosy Inside LP (Yoga/Drag City)
Tav Falco & The Panther Burns - She's the One to Blame 7" (Mighty Mouth Music)
Drywater - Backbone of the Nation LP/7" (Time-Lag)

Dec 8, 2012


Call Back the Giants
Incidents of Travel 12" EP
ltd ed of 324

Happy as larry to finally be covering Call Back the Giants here, & this is a solid start. Absent is Tim Goss's compatriot Chloe Mutter, as are the verse-chorus intimations of previous releases. (Makes sense, as these are newly-minted songs; much of the Kye output was complied from earlier recordings.) In their stead are haunted, sweat-soaked debriefings that sound as though they were recited from the ballast of a wayward ship. There are bits of rhythm about, too, as in the hurried, ticking shuffle in the last half of "On the Fourth Day," which coulda cropped up on an ol' Craig Leon LP. The compositions, except the classicly CBtG "Snatch Bats," seem a bit roomier, every section/movement segueing purposefully, and w/o compromising the humor or the anxiety.  Also of note are touches that I can only call vaguely Teutonic; a bit of Eno in Berlin here ("Fever Dream/The Hunt,"), flashes of Irrlicht over there ("Four Hundred Boys"). I'm also reminded of newer-model Coil, sans binge drinking. But really what keeps Goss from gettin' pegged any which way (minimal synth, drone, etc.) is how little anything feels automated. Despite the piles of tech, never does one's awareness of the human at the helm, the touch of keys & the turning of knobs, abate. Errybody's got a rhythm all their own; Scott Foust nailed that about the Shadow Ring crew long ago. (I promise that's the only time I'll bring them up!) Goss ain't quite in front of, on top of, or behind the beat. Time & pitch drift. Sounds move like bodies. Surrendering delicacy to the gear is the stuff of an Asger Jorn migraine. So here's a big "phew" that all is well, though slightly menacing, in Goss's household galaxy. A whole litany of today's players oughta plop down with a steno in front of their 'table & get learned--like, yesterday, cuz we both know his releases dip out early. If'n you sleep, sweat not; there's a full-length slated for 2013 on Kye called The Marianne.

Get sorted over at White Denim, a label that continues to dole out plenty pause. There's a sample up, too.

Dec 6, 2012


The Hotels
self-released CD/download

I'm a recluse in this town, wadded up in a tornado of mess-making in a dank corner, straight-drippin' caustic home-brewed venom. And it's about 86% my fault. I done up and torched almost all the bridges that run to my little island for all kindsa unmemorable reasons. But every once in a while, I do something right.

I know the folks behind this music. And rather than plop down a delineation of the classic strain of power-pop they deal in (see Cheap Trick, Yellow Pills: Prefill, etc.), I have decided to make a public appeal. It be addressed to whatever major labels still bobbin' in the wake of iTunes et al.  
You want these folks. 
They will make good things happen for you. 
There are three minutes and thirty-something seconds of widespread air-time out there that either aren't being used at all, or are gettin' scarfed up by some candy bandit. Unfortunately, you will have to find a way around their application of the word "fucking," I reckon--though, Clear Channel squishes bugs with Benjamins, so maybe they can make an exception. (Said use is so apropos, for the record, it's like the word just got invented this morning.)
Even if y'all execs find everything on this record to be gravy in which the practically-perfect radio single "Summer Sux" floats, you will not regret a second. And I and this foursome of solid humans will thank you.
Seriously, though, you got a cigarette you can spare?


No, this ain't no repost, just me dippin' back into my title kitty. That piece on Southern Comfort done got me thinkin' bout how much time I spend, huddled in the dark, droppin pitch on singles. It ain't always an improvement, but it seldom disappoints. The process also reminds one of a principle difference between vinyl and all other audio formats: you can fux wit it. Where's the fun in a format on which ya cain't leave fingerprints?

Here's to showin' your singles you's goin' steady. Let's begin with a fistful from Peoples Potential Unlimited.

The Campfire
The Heat of Your Love b/w Truely [sic] Love 45
Peoples Potential Unlimited PPU-037

Let the drinks kick in, tip the speakers out the window, and pour one out for good sense gone by. At 33rpm, this 400ft-long Cadillac 80s G-funk synth boogie belches more fog than a Hammer horror film. Head dude of this Illinois act circa '85, Raynard Mayfield Sr., can go on about the heat of her love all he wants; the multitracked rumbles of "YOU GOT IT" beckon like fingers of cartoon stench. A solidly eerie and erroneously erogenous A side. "Truely [sic] Love," on the other hand, gets the carnival spins like back to back ferris wheel rides and a half lb. of fried dough with extra sauce. I'm talkin' nausea's answering machine message, your brain phonin' up to see which way is "down," while yer ass is already on its way. It's an ol' question, but it bears repeating: Who needs drugs?

Shelve (Shelby Hurns)
This World (Vocal) b/w This World (Dub) 45

Anybody named Shelby who expects the whole world to pronounce "Shelve" as "Shell-Vee" and further understand that it's meant to be an amusing (?) play on his given name is clearly workin' with a set of wrenches we all musta mislaid. Ol Shelve do cut a sharp figure on the back of the sleeve in his rented tux and lipstick red cummerbund. But those eyes don't convey the silk sheets and rose petals of 80s R&B or the quick-n-dirty salvation of gospel. It's a listless, aloof gaze. However ajar be the limo door, he's puttin' out dangerous loner vibes here. "This world/is not my home," goes the hook, riding the James Bond melody (no joke), Shelve's voice stuck mid-throat. Maybe he's testifyin' 'bout some theme park in the clouds, or maybe just pining to be back in his home studio. I ain't so sure I wanna ride shotgun; think I'll just call it a night.

Tim Tucker & Freddie Fonk
Love Passed Me By b/w Captured 45
RysQue' Records RR-004, 
300 copies (1st 50 w/ insert pictured)

Tucker and Fonk were part of a budget-funk group called Davinity at some point, and that is where my wispy tracking skills stop the trail cold. Maybe you could do better?
Experientially, there ain't a major difference between Tucker's "Love Passed Me By," at 45 and 33, exceptin' maybe that 33 sets the Nintendo brain-virus florishes in higher relief. A lotta this stuff owes hefty Parliament/Funkadelic back rent, but I detect herein something of a Grandmaster Flash bail-out. No complaints there!
Fonk's side at 33 could comfortably slide into one of the amorphous Not Not Fun subsidiary hagiographic warped-VHS-coveting side projects (clear as dirt?), were it not for its legit weirdness. Ever stumble across those early 90s Mexican-American ninja-cyborg hybrid flicks? Somewhere buried in the 2nd act is always some kind of unctuous sex scene wrapped in mosquito netting and cheap lace, and this is exactly the tone and texture of the music I imagine is playing (until I lean on the FF like it's a hassock). Not an easy pedigree to slam dunk, but there it be, staring back at ya from 7 gleaming inches of vinyl.

Nov 28, 2012


Moon B
Promo/Test Pressing 12"
PPU No Cat #

Advanced, white label copies of this ATL native's full-length debut following a nice private cassette (that's still available over at Earcave). Dis puppy, on the other hand, musta vanished while this review was in draft mode! They call it boogie, apparently, but to these ears this likewise mines mid-80s Ryuichi Sakamoto OSTs and early 90s "armchair" electronic (doesn't that land with half the lead of a term like IDM?) comps like Artificial Intelligence with spare sticks of dynamite in both back pockets. Whodathunk a smattering like that would work? I'd call it "armchair boogie" but that other looney beat me to it. Ambient boogie? I'll get back to ya. No idea on any titles, but that ain't a pressin' concern. Everything muddles a bit what with the short equipment checklist and wounded production, and there is the foreboding sense that at any moment the whole mess'll start vogue-ing next time the cowbell key is struck, but it holds strong and leans on the weird. And that's really the hallmark of it's era: all the jeri-curl eye-roll and crooked sunglasses of the imagined era it evokes (where Bernie Worrell, Wings of Honneamise, and The Black Dog spoon on a sticky dancefloor) have been smudged into tape fuzz amnesia. A lil calculated? Mightcould see it that way. But, more importantly, it kinda slays. Does Dan Lopatin need a touring partner? I sense a shared polygon window on the world.

Nov 21, 2012


Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 DBL LP/Clear DBL LP/CD
Chocolate Industries/Numero 2012

We’re a good 10 months into this pressing ‘n all, but I’ve only withheld because I been in such a solo-donnybrook ‘bout how to address its majesty but proper. But then, as is usually the case ‘round here, I just tossed all the crumpled typing rags over one shoulder and went at it raw. What we got here might seem to some self-explanatory—maybe even obvious. To the rest of us (down here on Earth) this came as a total, wonderful surprise. I don’t wanna shortchange the history of soul music, but I had no idea they got down with Ike Yard and the early Chrome so hard! As much as the 70s and 80s are bloated with improbable methodological alliances (intentional or not); and even when one considers the proliferation of budget electronics and home studio gear; and the private press boom, whodathunk such a wealth lay under such huge shoulder pads?
Personal Space is really the gateway into this ultra-neurotic, twitchy, cockeyed subset of soul records and the PPU label (Peoples Potential Unlimited) a fleshier, meatier expansion thereof. (Imagery! Imagery! –Ed.) I say “ultra-neurotic” cuz, let’s face it: soul is really just shorthand for anxiety, insecurity, paranoia, and depression. Some of these cuts are for the dance floor (Jerry Green’s “I Finally Found the Love I Need,” or Starship Commander Woo Woo), but most are cold lampin’ inside a tangle of Brown Recluse spiderweb smoke (Spontaneous Overthrow, The New Year, Jeff Phelps). There were moments on the first couple spins where I’d think Timmy Thomas had picked up Factrix as a backing band. No kiddin’! But to wrap the whole package in the shells of minds and a bunch of stylistic shockery around a heart bumpin’ with anything other than solid songs would make this a sham. Don’t you worry; deliver they do. I suggest appending Guitar Red’s Hard Times to your session; his cut, “Disco from a Space Show”, is a scant peep down into his strobe-drunk basement galaxy.

I’m finna tackle a stackle of recent PPU releases nextly!