DECAYCAST Reviews: Robert Schneider “Songs For Other Worlds” (Cloud Recordings, 2022)

mynameisblueskye reviews Songs for Other Worlds by Robert Schneider

The Elephant 6 collective: let’s discuss the legendary psychedelic pop collective for a minute. As the story goes, Elephant 6 is a group of artists and bands who come together to share their love of making music inspired by bands in the 1960s. Elephant 6 is filled with bands who have their own creative spin on the psychedelic pop genre. If i were to ask you which artist is the standout, which one would you say? of Montreal for the endlessly prolific Kevin Barnes tackling idea after idea, genre after genre on a yearly basis? Neutral Milk Hotel for releasing an album that is the most unanimously loved in the inside rock/lo-fi genre, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea? The Music Tapes for Julian Koster’s ramshackle and decidedly lo-fi compositions using instruments such as the banjo or the saw? Any answer will do, but my pick would be that of Robert Schneider.

Robert Schneider is a leader of the power-pop band Apples in Stereo who released an album named New Magnetic Wonder years ago. On said album, Robert Schneider introduced a new musical invention: music composed using the non-Pythagorean scale. To get a better explanation, I suggest searching “Non-Pythagorean Music Scale” where Schneider himself not only breaks down the music, but also demonstrates with a song named “Sun is Out”. (On the same channel, you will also see him composing music using prime time signatures, but I digress.) This year, Robert Schneider himself put together an album of music that uses said non-pythagorean music scale, and  your enjoyment will depend upon your curiosity concerning the many things you can do with music. An curious and experimental ear, if you will.

Out of the gate, “Space Song of the Blue Sky” sounds exactly like music you would imagine if aliens were to have created the music, but is made with circuit bent synths. Largely, the music ranges from atonal ambient (“Composition No. 6”, the classical/synthwave fusion of the title track) to almost the dark end of new age (“Song for Whales”, the droning “Non-Pythagorean Prayer”, which sounds like a more tuneful version of when your ear rings in complete silence). A song like “Clouds on a Mountain” sounds like it would really soundtrack a suspenseful video game, if the opportunity presents itself with how dissonant it all feels and sounds. Oftentimes, such invention does yield bright and uplifting results, such as the luminous and calming “Song for Sea Vegetables”.

Albums like this is likely to be dismissed as a curiosity for those used to more conventional practices, but if you are willing to open your ears up, Songs for Other Worlds will expose to you some interesting musical treasures.https://cloudrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-other-worlds-2

-Mynameisblueskye

Advertisement

DECAYCAST Reviews: Giovanni Marks “2 Plaza 2” (2022)

Giovanni Marks’ 2 Plaza 2

l

Every artist has a set aesthetic that adds to their art, and no one proves this better than rapper/producers. Whether you are the newscaster, the emo kid, the gangsta or anything, rap music has a tendency to have artists that box themselves in and make it hard to really allow complexities within that. Giovanni Marks is a different animal.

Those who hopped aboard the train either during the subtitle or Giovanni Marks phase, whether he was on Briefcase Rockers, Gold Standard Laboratories, or his own Get Crev Labs, will notice his aesthetic/role is of the cyberpunk, the scientist, the afrofuturist, the nerd with the Kid n’ Play haircut and Dracula cape. If hip hop is currently in its punk rock phase, Giovanni Marks is the New Wave/synthpunk with colored hair, jumpsuits and plenty of electronic instruments to hook up on stage. But while that aesthetic can give way to ideas of being introverted or reclusive, 2 Plaza 2 suggests that this spacey, futuristic aesthetic that Marks has been cultivating for years during his time as an MC is a universe that anybody can take part in.

2 Plaza 2 is a project that finds GIovanni Marks taking a backseat from rapping to assist friends like Juan Huevos and pink siifu with the avant-garde production he is known for. Take the opener, for example. A slow red siren rumble of synth bass giving way to an anonymous rewound sound all adding up to a sound that is as musically unsettling as it is fascinating. That is just “Alternative C”, which bears the subtitle of being the “nox-vox version”. While you are busy working out how the vox version would be delivered, singer Joseph Squire transforms a stomping noiresque beat into a seductive R&B track that leaves before you find yourself really falling into the groove.

Friends from art-rapper/multidisciplinary artist Koreatown Oddity, Pink Siifu and Mason Williams all come in to give color to Marks’ production from the rallying “Baby Teeth” to the intergalactic stream-of-consciousness delivery in “all night long” (which is delivered as both a regular track and a “space dub”) to the bounce of “Samuraid Hott” that will surely have trouble evading Shabazz Palaces vibes. They all may sound like fragments of ideas underneath a half-hour, but the shift from style to style is fascinating enough not only to keep your attention, but to likely leave you wanting to revisit such world all over again.

2 Plaza 2 can be described as a front row seat into Giovanni Marks’ world of spacey production, but what is different about this project, it’s that it insists that this electronic/avant-rap universe he has been building for years now isn’t only for him.

Listen/Buy here https://getcrevlabs.bandcamp.com/album/2-plaza-2

– Mynameisblueskye

DECAYCAST Reviews: Mark Tester “Tumbleweeds” (Unifactor)

https://unifactor.bandcamp.com/album/tumbleweed

Mark Tester’s previous band Burnt Ones was unknown to me before hearing this tape, or any of the other projects he’s involved with now, Unifacitor a label I’ve heard about a lot but not gotten any physical releases until now. I like the uniform aesthetic of this batch of tapes very much, a series of brush stroke images.

Warm, limitless spaces with soft textures constantly receding into the background, great use of negative space and silence to create compositional intrigue and feel like live takes simultaneously. There is a balance of light and shadow on this tape that shines through the reverse  four track elements lurking behind soft patches and occasionally slowly pacing drum beats. 

Tester doesn’t shy from melody or other traditional forms while keeping the experiments, whether they be post production edits that push the material into psychedelic dub territories or phrasing interactions of the synthetic elements that begins to echo “Discrete Music” in some melodic passages from n the first side of the tape.  Tester works with ambient melodic guitar(?) and synth processing that moves around too much too be considered ambient the way I think of it, but damn if there aren’t some beautiful moments of bliss on this slab of oxide as I listen to this tape for the second time after an 11 hour shift.  

  There’s some uniquely compelling textures in this tape that make it a repeat listener for me. It feels like an album over flowing with ideas, but executing the right amount of curatorial succinct approach that keeps the playing techniques moving in different directions.

https://unifactor.bandcamp.com/album/tumbleweed

Worth your listening time. 

-Jacob DeRaadt

DECAYCAST Interviews: Jacob DeRaadt interviews Northeast Artist & Experimentalist Seamus Williams

Seamus Williams Worcester, Massachusetts is one of the most singular artists in the northeastern American experimental sound that I experienced while living there for five years.  Detritus and negative space conspire to make odd jabs at your senses when engaged with one of his recordings as TVE.  Audio diary and lo-fi are throwaway terms that I would hesitate to use, but the sounds themselves always pop up in unexpected ways.  In much the same fashion, Seamus’ visual mixed media collages accomplish the exact aesthetic urge in a perfectly complementary format.

  I had the pleasure of having Seamus’ visual work up at a visual gallery in Portland, Maine in 2019.  We had a couple beers, I put on some Human League record, and we talked about his perspectives on his own processes and compulsions as an artist.  – Jacob Deraadt

Listen to the interview here:

Photo: Tim Johnson
Photo: Tim Johnson

DECAYCAST Reviews: MAYA SONGBIRD “Cats From Venus” (Psychic Eye Records, 2022)

“Cats From Venus” is the newest full length offering from Bay Area stalwart and all around magical musical hybrid presence MAYA SONGBIRD, who between runnings her own label, Wired Weird Entertainment, The Magic Shop – a brick and mortar retail space in Oakland, CA as well as producing events, and meticulously handcrafting merch of a myraid of shapes and sizes, including a custom candle line which has garnered a cult following around the bay area, has found time to give us another stunning full length record of her signature style. “C F V has all the signature Maya Songbird musical stylings; retro, sexy synthesizers which create movement in the mind and body for even the most sour wallflower. “C F V” gives track after track of unmatched vocal performances over her queer and funky brand heavy electronic post punk / disco. A collection of ten soon to be favorites dance numbers which will last through your next three breakups.

“You let me know I’m not appreciated”

The songs on ” C F V…” are powerful, quirky femme anthems and demand their own space and time from each other and other works in the “genre” as a whole. “C F V” is a special and beautifully honest and unique album which only Maya Songbird can create. On “I Don’t Ever Have to Be Nice” the artist belts out the empowering, lines of self actualization over a heavy, hypnotic beat and stirs a pot of seductive sweets and spices for the perfect recipe of self empowerment.

https://psychiceye.bandcamp.com/album/cats-from-venus

“Cats From Venus” is Songbird’s most fully realized full length project to date. Released by Oakland, CA’s Psychic Eye Records “Cats From Venus” combines queer disco beats ala Patrick Cowley’s productions for Bay Area disco legend Sylvester, funky, sweaty, sensual, funky post-punk freaked out numbers topped with iconic vocal performances from Songbird on nearly every track. “Cats From Venus” is the queer party album packed with anthem after anthem lined up in a row for this fall 2022 which has left us in a world that’s both at once gifting beauty and breaking apart at the seems. We need Maya Songbird’s “Cats From Venus” now more than ever, but do we deserve it?

Via the artists website maysongbird.com, the artist states about “Cats from Venus” –

“This album I got a chance to really speak my truth and heal especially on human life/Live Again. I honestly can say when Live Again was recorded I was going through something tough. Promise me you will listen to every word I wrote on this song ok? Its really dope how Amelia the producer had driven up to oakland from la and we recorded I think “Live Again” and “You should be dancing” in my living room space.”

“Disco Bill” is one of the albums creative peaks, as it has the potential to move a room of thousands all the way down to driving a singular dance party at the end of an earbud. “Seduction”, another banger that’ll have you take over the steering wheel from the bus driver and crash the bus into a pond filled with LSD and neon pool noodles as you scatter away to the party, set a cop on fire to light the room just to make love on the dance floor.

Available on Cassette and CD from Psychic Eye Records and Wired Weird Ent now!

DECAYCAST Reviews: Flesh Shuddering “Heroin​-​Hooked Hound” (Cruel Symphonies, 2022)

This album is packaged with great intention and effect, complete with a chic track booklet (I actually handed these out in middle school at a mall once with a Christian youth group), fold out poster and liner notes inside a medium sized garbage bag with a picture of said opiate crazed canine displaying full doggo junkie madness.  Excellent use of silence and quiet interruptions of the harsher bits. Synth, blasting harsh noise, fucked up tape loops and samples dancing around one another. Whispering maddening phrases in the apartment above you, while other parts are fillies with wanton bashing of scrap metal as screeching vocal loops disintegrate into violent thrashing feedback tones.  

This album gets psychedelic with the tape editing and post production effects guiding the recorded sessions into interesting and unexpected directions. Lots of approaches and moods presented on both sides, some tortured vocals that sound like they were recorded in the ventilation system of an insane asylum shine through in rather awkward ways, whether it be one of the three members of the band or a sampled phrase. Side two gets into some demented surrealist darkness of slurping synth tones and acoustic sounds.  But right back into piercing harsh noise squelching, the hound needs more and is coming back for more .  A real highlight from this project. I expected marconympha worship and instead find this collective making an extremely music concrete album with elements of harsh noise and industrial synth and tape manipulation driving things into odd spaces of fragmented chaos this one come highly recommended for the weirdos.  – Jacob DeRaadt

https://cruelsymphonies.bandcamp.com/album/heroin-hooked-hound

DECAYCAST Premieres: Karl Vorndran’s Psychedelic “Re-Enter the Orthogonal Phase Shift” Video – Watch Now!

We’re brushing the cobwebs off to bring you a beautiful new video from Karl Vorndran in collaboration with artist/director Eucarya. The video has a folk and experimental feel combining raw, unmanipulated footage with bright, and resilient animation overlays. A blue-ish, purple-ish amorphous shape hovers and bleeds into a background of blue sky and trees as the soundtrack belts out pyroclastic walls of noise and transmission. The orb seems to blend and meld with the sky in an organic way that gels wonderfully with the sound. As the track crescendos, so does the imagery as these distant worlds slowly merge into one, and then in an instant, poof, we are back to our reality. The video is simple, elegant and impactful, just like the accompanying track. The visual efx are just enough to stimulate the narrative imagination, while still leaving room for interpretation while remaining grounded in “reality”.

The music video for “Re-Enter the Orthogonal Phase Shift” was made by Eucarya using footage shot in the woods of Akron, Ohio, computer generated 3D imagery and effects, and original artwork by Nathan Bowers of Tusco/Embassy created for the Cathartic Automation cassette. This masterful blending of video art/folk art technologies with the rawness and natural beauty of both the track and the environment the video was made in make for a wonderful and psychedelic synergy, but see for yourself below, and make sure to pick up the cassette as well!

“Re-Enter the Orthogonal Phase Shift” is a track from Karl Vorndran’s second solo cassette album Cathartic Automation, which was released in February 2022. Cathartic Automation consists of modular synthesizer patches that were recorded to tape in 2014 by Jeff ‘Fej’ France (Imperial Emporium) in Akron, Ohio and mastered by Chris Koltay at High Bias Recordings in Detroit, Michigan. The master tapes were lost for several years before being found and digitized for cassette release.

Karl Vorndran is a co-founder of Rubber City Noise, co-founder of the CAVE (Center for AudioVisual Experimentation) in Akron, board member of the Big Noise Candy Mountain festival, and the Sales Manager at EarthQuaker Devices. He has released and performed in a variety of projects such as Nervous FutureFringe CandidateArea Man, XXX Super Arcade, and Cane Swords.

DECAYCAST Reviews : GRST “Container​+​=​object EP” (2021)

DECAYCAST Reviews : GRST “Container​+​=​object EP” (2021)

GRST ‘container​+​=​object EP’’s pleasingly adjunct description states only that it relies upon  ‘a variety of electro-acoustic techniques and physical modelling’, eschewing any form of wild conceptual structure in favour of a more detailed sonic study. Connoisseurs of physical modelling synthesis will no doubt recognise its presence – we’re not dealing with bold new territories here, but rather some extremely pensive, rhythmically free wanderings that travel from additive washes to organic plucks and rattles. The absence of any measurable pulse is perhaps ‘Maracaibo’s’ strongest feature – its textures are allowed to ebb and flow between various synthetic states without ever feeling pressured to reveal a defined compositional logic.

In contrast, the second track, ‘aruba’, invokes a distinctly modular tact, tying bursts of reverb to the gestating clangs and urgent bounces across glass and metal. We get some nieve stabs at melody, too, meandering repetitions that dance back and forth like the song of a sinister, cartoon music-box. Theres no development proper, nor does there need to be – ‘container​+​=​object’ works precisely because it sets up a limited palette and then proceeds to meekly explore its affordance, the listener invited to observe as GRST tests the sonic properties of each corner in turn. 

Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully

Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully is a composer, video and performance artist from the UK. He produces work under the Distant Animals moniker (www.distantanimals.com), and runs both the production company 7000 Trees (www.7000trees.com) and the Difficult Art and Music label (difficultartandmusic.bandcamp.com). He holds an actual proper grown-up PhD in contemporary music, and currently lectures at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 

DECAYCAST {Track} Reviews – FOURTH WIFE “Attic” (Culture Vacuum Recordings 2021)

Cincinnati Ohio’s Fourth Wife has released an electric high energy mixed genre album on the newly formed Culture Vacuum Recordings, titled “Head Fell Between Two Horses” and for our Decaycast {Track} Reviews section we’re focusing on the second track from the album “Attic”. The track is a high energy, high anxiety explosion of indie rock prowess oscillating between early Radiohead, Drive Like Jehu and Elvis Costello although it doesn’t 100% totally resonate in any of those reference points and carves out it’s own clanky, spastic, and energetic path. The mix is boisterous in a rewarding and almost noise rock way; egging on and amplifying the intensity of the clanging of guitars, synths?, percussion and vocals in a layered and enjoyably chaotic way. Frantic percussion, fuzzed screeching guitars, and layers of shouted vocals provide the backbone of Fourth Wife’s sound, and “Attic” is a great representation of the album overall. Fun and chaotic, and for all of the layers the mix is surprisingly very well executed, tune in and listen today.

DECAYCAST Reviews : PAN DAIJING “TISSUES” (2021)

DECAYCAST Reviews : PAN DAIJING “TISSUES” (2021)

Let’s go ahead and call this ‘noise-opera’, though enthusiasts of both disciplines will no doubt balk at the suggestion. This is not a lazy application of a loose monikor, however. ‘Tissues’ is a rarity in so far as it seems to engage with opera – and specifically the libretto – in a manner that extends far beyond pastiche, with a precise, meticulous vocal engaging with recognisable operatic techniques and extending them. The voice is used here both as a traditional instrument and a versatile sonic tool, not shedding the past but embracing the wealth of avant-garde composers – the likes of Maricio Kagel, or Esa Pekka Salonen – whose work has managed to puncture the future and straddle the past simultaneously. Nor are we treated to a cursory, dumbed-down invokation of noise-aesthetics. Between the driving, angular synthesis, and the muted distortions that underpin them, the listener is left with a pleasingly refined soundworld, and whilst it is by no means ‘noise’ music proper, it certainly calls upon that horizon, forging a hidden intensity from elements that might simply be functional in the mitt of a lesser composer. Theres probably loads going on here that I’m not picking up, and probably loads I’m getting wrong, but I don’t care – this whole album is awesome, inspiring stuff, the sort of thing you don’t want to get, or might never get, such is its fundamental depth and beauty. If it sounds like I’m smitten, I am. ‘Tissues’ walks a very tricky path – a journey littered with sonic devices that are used often and badly in incalculable inferior works, yet rendered here with precision and granduer, succeeding by virtue of an audible dedication to the minutiae of its material. It’s all excellent, but Part 3 in particular soars, with angry, staccato piano chasing a measured howl through a windy terrain, a brewing storm of buzzing distortion rising to euphoric crescendo, broken only by the emergence of the voice, descending into a dense fog, monotonous and playful, theatrical staccatos balancing against the dying ebb of a fractured tone, the artificial labour of a cello or broken radiator. No one description fits any given sound, each part bleeding into the next, a constantly evolving intensity. 

– Daniel Hignell (Difficult Art and Music, Distant Animals, 7000 Trees)