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)

DECAYCAST Essential ListEning: 2021 Year End from Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully / Difficult Art and Music

Every year at Decaycast we like to invite some guest contributors to contribute end of the year thoughts, threats etc, titled “Essential ListEning”. Excited to share the second of many to drop over the next few weeks. Next up is artist, label owner and composer Daniel Alexander Hignell-Tully

Congratulations – against all the odds, you have survived 2021, and arrive now, somewhat fully-formed, at that pinnacle of human cultural achievement, the ‘end of year list’. A season of musical folly in which utterly vain people with nothing better to do tell you all about the records you missed, enticing your already beleaguered ears with a whole new batch of releases to add to your eternally expanding Bandcamp wishlist. In the spirit of such things, welcome to my list – a smorgasbord of objectively awesome music in no particular order, drawn from across the globe. Some albums, some singles, all wonderful, check out the provided links to listen in full. 


Thomas Ankersmit: Perceptual Geography

If I was to make a list entitled ‘greatest living composers’, or something equally facile, Thomas Ankersmit would be one of about four names on it. Existing in a liminal space beyond the confines of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste, Perpetual Geography instead toys with the very fabric of composition, an arch deconstruction of sonic possibility. Ankersmit’s work is challenging – in a very literal sense – pulling and pushing the ear and the body into new contexts, reshaping the listening environment. Every second exists to further interrogate a core concept – the psychoacoustic properties of the sonic fragments on offer – and as such, this isn’t music but sound art, in a definitive sense. Following on from his previous album, Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, Ankersmit has once again demonstrated a profound capacity for sonic research, weaving the already complex ideas of his muse (in this instance, Maryanne Amacher) into a rich, uncompromising album.

https://shelterpress.bandcamp.com/album/perceptual-geography

Stephan Moore: Stage

A score for Yanira Castro’s dance performance of the same name, Stage relies upon a series of different metallic sound-makers and resonators to create a droning, creaking, euphoric wash. Utilizing sheet metal, gongs, prayer bowls, brass rods, and cymbals, it’s the sort of thing that is, on paper at least, painfully dime a dozen. And yet, Moore conducts his metal orchestra with an audible reverence, teasing gentle, restrained tones from instruments that though ever on the edge of the expected clang and screech, never quite fall into such an obvious voicing. Reminiscent of both Harry Bertoia and Yoshi Wada, Stage succeeds in occupying a well-trodden sonic territory without seeming trite or unnecessary. Rather, it is an album that expertly supports and advances the tradition of which it is a part. 

https://stephanmoore.bandcamp.com/album/stage

Sarah Hennies: Falling Together

Falling together is a work seemingly determined to explore the entire dynamic range of the orchestra. Taking more than eight minutes to arrive at anything approaching ‘music’ proper – the preceding section consisting of the light hub-bub of instruments warming up, before glacially emerging into perceivable rhythm – Hennies manages to both draw upon the atonal stutters and high pitched glissandi of the contemporary orchestral palette, and to frame them within a far more static, laborious aesthetic. If it all sounds (at times) a little like a group of factory workers manhandling The Shining, that’s no doubt deliberate. The composer forcefully articulates the rigor and effort of creation, resulting in a hypnotic and repetitious work that nonetheless evolves from musty silence to a bombastic temperament without ever losing sight of its carefully crafted internal logic.

https://tuskeditions.bandcamp.com/album/sarah-hennies-falling-together

Valentina Goncharova: Recordings 1987 – 1991 Vol. 2

Not previously familiar with Goncharova’s work, I can only assume this constitutes the collated scraps of a fairly healthy career, for Recordings 1987-1991 manages to be both marvellously refined and sonically diverse in equal measure. Whilst nestling up to the realm of free-jazz, there is a distinct academic approach at play, with the tracks seemingly representing extended studies of a given technique. Whilst the first inhabits a minimal, wandering, folksy brass workout (not unlike the oeuvre of Matana Roberts, who I can only imagine is a fan), the later tracks divulge into the more screechy world of Avant-jazz, then on to a vaguely prog-psych aesthetic, complete with snazzy organ solos. We even get some rhythmic drone stuff that sounds like a mix of the early kosmische scene and the (extremely underrated) score to Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Not that Goncharova’s style is in any way derivative – rather, the composer seems to deftly weave together numerous narratives from the broader experimental palette, producing an alluring and challenging body of work in the process.

https://shukai.bandcamp.com/album/recordings-1987-1991-vol-2

Sound Effects Of Death And Horror: Mota Rolla

Artists generally don’t like it when their work is described as ‘a bit silly’, but I’m going to go out on a limb and presume someone called Sound Effects of Death and Horror won’t mind. Blusterous name aside, Mota Rolla is a pretty silly work, riding the current trend of 80’s nostalgia to weave Junoesque synths with GM piano’s, the odd dial-tone and public service announcement thrown in for good measure. The album succeeds, however, by invoking a surprisingly melancholic tone, its elements managing to be at once quite cheesy and genuinely moving. As albums go, it might not be breaking the analogical mold – but by god is that mold shiny, ready to produce perfect little retro space robots to dolefully play out the final act of a lost sci-fi movie that never was, each with just a glint of sadness in their mechanical eyes.

https://hream.bandcamp.com/album/mota-rolla

Pup – Watching / Kill Something

Whilst simultaneously being a sensible adult who likes austere academic music, I also enjoy the sort of pop-punk that would make your Nan-blush, and no-one makes your Nan-blush better than Pup. Having constructed a successful career adjoining Big Hooks to Big Riffs, their latest single continues this tradition, with a slightly-too-cheesy A-side giving way to the frankly astonishing B-side, Kill Something. Presumably recorded under lockdown conditions (and as such lacking the sheen of their prior work), the song ooohs and aaahs its way through roughly fifteen verses and choruses, the whole affair conducted at a stumbling, off-kilter tempo. Throw in some way-too-happy horn synths and an unashamedly melodramatic vocal refrain (‘I just wanna kill something I love’), and the result is a wonderfully fun – and structurally complex – prog-pop-punk ditty. 

https://puptheband.bandcamp.com/album/waiting-kill-something

Christopher Otto & JACK Quartet: Rag’sma

If you’re not yet familiar with the Greyfade label, I strongly suggest you delve immediately into their modest catalog, all of which is excellent. Here, Christopher Otto – who with his Jack Quartet has performed the works of Lachenmann, Adams, and Zorn, among others – offers up a methodical, mathematical study of Just Intonation. Such is the precision of his mathematically-infused building blocks, that Rag’sma sounds not unlike a great work of additive synthesis – yet where we might expect the colliding voices of computationally derived sine tones, we are offered instead the pulsing, organic drawl of a violin. Otto manages to combine laden precision with the sort of physical expression normally reserved for far free-er forms of composition – as such, the result is a seductively involute album as compelling as it is studious.

https://greyfade-label.bandcamp.com/album/ragsma

Raja Kirik: Rampokan

Without doubt the most intense album on the list, Rampokan is no easy listen, actively courting many musical elements that I innately struggle with. Indeed, the artists’ clear love of the more hardcore end of jungle/gabba/techno music scene adds to the overall sense of madness at play, an often unpleasant assault upon my tender senses that is brilliant as much as it is abrasive. Once you push past the ‘hard-dance’ aesthetic, the album reveals itself to be quite unlike anything else I’ve ever heard, employing ‘world-music’ extended techniques alongside metallic drones and industrial bleeps, Javanese traditions and glitching distortion framing virtuosic Gamelan bells. 

https://nyegenyegetapes.bandcamp.com/album/rampokan

Thirty Pounds of Bone: whence, the

Thirty Pounds of Bone (I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t mention he also released work this year under the J.Lynch moniker for my Difficult Art and Music label), has yet again created a lovely, solemn addition to the contemporary British folk scene. Built around voice, guitar, drum machine, and electric harmonium, the album conjures up a visceral sense of longing, almost perfectly replicating the sensation of sitting on a Cornish fishing dock on your own in the rain. There is a certain gothic sensibility to the proceedings, with the reliance on simple repetitive refrains and perfectly articulated lyrical prowess forging a powerful listening experience. It’s a proper album too – more than a collection of songs, there exists a real cohesion and journey through the material, a work that benefits from being approached in a single, undisturbed sitting. 

https://thirtypoundsofbone.armellodie.com/album/whence-the

Bad Waitress: No Taste

Cheesy, slightly glam-infused punk might not seem a likely contender for best of the year, but Bad Waitress are channelling some top-shelf Lunachicks, and it’s nothing short of awesome. Sure, the lyrics are hardly ground-breaking but that’s never been punk’s strong point. Instead, we get a rumbustious throwdown of feminist sloganeering, with just the right mix of faux-sultry passive aggression and proper foot-on-monitor riffs. Whilst sounding for all the world like the sort of thing you would find being played at 2 am on MTV in the mid-nineties, No Taste is peppered with some tremendous pop choruses – I defy anyone to dislike the ludicrously catchy ‘Live in Reverse’, which deserves to be a standard in every dimly lit, pound-a-pint snakebite rock club from this day forward. 

https://badwaitress.bandcamp.com/album/no-taste

Christophe Guiraud: Kutra Bégulma – Unfinished Altar

A gloomy, caustic orchestral work from Christophe Guiraud, who seems to have assembled an astonishingly broad number of performers to bring his compositional prowess to life. It’s all very melodramatic, employing operatic vocals, sputtering electronics, and minimalist, heavy-handed piano, alongside textural, sweeping microtonal strings. Whilst making its bed in the wreckage of atonal music – and occasionally sounding like it’s been torn directly from the 1970s avant-garde scene in doing so – Unfinished Altar manages nonetheless to achieve a certain timelessness, looking both forward and backward with equal vigor. The dense, modern, droning production frames a rich instrumental palette, every sound merging into the next, with distinct vocal parts emerging from an enveloping, atonal soup. 

https://christopheguiraud2.bandcamp.com/album/kutra-b-gulma-unfinished-altar

Siavash Amini: A Trail of Laughter

Given that wider culture seems entirely indifferent to everything I love, I am always faintly baffled that Siavash Amini has any fans at all – such is his remarkable talent as a composer. A Trail of Laughter continues his tradition of creating dense, rewarding albums, albeit by eschewing some of the more recognizable elements of the noise/ambient spectrum that he has historically employed. This is an album very much about tonal relationships, with the timbre of the electronic sounds being tied to their frequency and density. It is a glacial endeavour, a barren cliff face with almost nothing to grip onto – and all the better for it. As would be expected from Amini, the sounds are handled perfectly, framed by an absorbing mist, with no room for latent, extraneous bass build-ups or high-frequency screeches. The real success in the album, however, is in its muted intensity. Nothing ever gets remotely near its breaking point – despite operating in a sound-world that suggests it inevitably will. Instead, the listener is left with a slow and lethargic tension, an ever-present sense of dread that invokes palpable fear by never revealing the creature beneath the bed.

https://siavashamini.bandcamp.com/album/a-trail-of-laughters

PETEY x MIYA FOLICK: Haircut

Yes, yes, this is incredibly, painfully hipster. A song about having a haircut as a metaphor for social alienation, with about as much twee as any three minutes could possibly handle, and sung by a viral Tik-Tok star. And yet, this also has Miya Folick on it, so it is automatically brilliant in every conceivable way – and it really is, a lovely, twee song that somehow seems to cut right to the heart of our lonely, fucked up 2021. It’s not high-art, and you might not want to tell your chin-stroking friends about it, but it’s a cuddly, enigmatic, solemn piece of bubblegum pop nonetheless, and that’s a-ok with me. 

https://terriblerecords.bandcamp.com/track/haircut

Hans Castrup: Constant Imbalances III

A beautifully strange affair from Hans Castrup, Constant Imbalances III marries the sort of protracted pseudo-jazz favored by post avant-garde classical composers, with oddly sinister electronics, resulting in a work as disjointed as it is humorous. Spread over 15 short tracks, the album favors shrill, high-pitched orchestral arrangements, with synthesizers standing in for strings and winds. This is hardly ‘switched on Bach’, however. Castrup is exploring a far more interesting era of classical composition and using his electronic timbres to emulate the overall feeling of acoustic parts, rather than simply replacing acoustic instruments with their electronic counterparts. It’s the sort of thing that would fit nicely on one of those Deutsche Grammophon compilations of early electronic music, the loose experimentation of a boffin in some European radio studio. For this reason, the result is a somewhat more serious effort than some other electronic orchestral music, despite the Kagelian sense of humor that runs throughout.


https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/album/constant-imbalances-iii

M(h)aol: Gender Studies

The perfect riposte to the anti-woke brigade, Gender Studies is the sort of lo-fi, critical post-punk that seems likely to genuinely annoy the sort of dickheads we all wish we had evolved beyond. Juxtaposing striking vocals that hover ever on the point of boredom (a state that charges the lyrics with another level of sardonic wit) with angular guitars and marching, drifting drums, Gender Studies feels almost euphoric. The E.P. inhabits a bracing, artistically rendered naivety that acts as one big ‘fuck you’ to the glossy precision of mainstream rock music. With blunt, timely lyrics – ‘no one ever talks to us unless they want to fuck’ – M(h)aol are the required soundtrack to a culture ham-fistedly navigating the path to diversity, a strong reminder that we’ve got an awful long way to go yet. 

https://mhaol.bandcamp.com/album/gender-studies-ep

Mücha: Fall

Another release that falls into the ‘not really my thing but really quite good’ category, Fall is stuffed full of ethereal vocals and young-person beats – exactly the sort of thing I might otherwise avoid. And yet, despite doing its best to alienate me entirely by including an actual drum n’ bass tune (theoretically unforgivable, but we’ll look past it just this once), Fall is a pretty excellent journey through the hazier end of electronic pop. Bubbling, synthetic rhythms serve as the foundation for Mücha’s drawn-out vocals, with sharp, disjunct percussion breaking through the layers of heavy, cavernous reverb. 

https://moocha1.bandcamp.com/album/fall

Adrian Lane: The Fleet

With the world literally falling apart theres got to be something said for still find some semblance of beauty in the wreckage, and Adrian Lanes finds it in spades. Though occasionally sounding like the background music to a particularly somber episode of Downton Abbey, The Fleet balances its romantic sensibilities with a glacial pace, its soaring strings never quite arriving at their expected cadence. It is all very, very pretty, but so wonderfully rendered that it can be entirely forgiven for not being a tad more adventurous, and stands instead as a near-perfect example of its genre. 

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/the-fleet

Francisco Meirino: a new instability

The first ‘best’ album of the year, this was released way back in January and comprises 30 minutes of the sort of electro-acoustic concrete stuff you will no doubt recognise – a familiar sound-world weaved together with astonishing care. Warbling, high-pitched drones sweep and cut into obtuse field recordings, with no small focus given over to the mechanics of the recording medium itself, the wear and hic-up of tape or hiss enlivening the process. Contrary to some concrete music, it’s a very limited, well-defined palette, with the mildly distorted spools of reel-to-reel tape humming seamlessly between the close held pitches of several sine tones, throbbing synthetics framed by the muted shouts and bangs of some indeterminable street scene.

https://helenscarsdale.bandcamp.com/album/a-new-instability

Eppu Kaipainen: To Grieve One Another

2021 has been quite the year for drone music, a fact that no doubt reflects the endless suspension of the pandemic, a global population waiting for a return to normalcy we know will never come. To Grieve One Another seems topical in name and tone – matching fizzing, gentle distortions with organic tones drawn from a harmonium or some similar instrument. It’s over 30 minutes long, and whilst there is some development, there’s not a lot – instead, we are exposed to the subtle rise and fall of chords of differing lengths, a listless wave framed by the emergence of a formless low drone at its foundation. It’s all pleasingly underplayed, eschewing any great barrage of noise in favor of a more restrained aesthetic, though thankfully without the ‘sea of reverb’ ornaments that has plagued similar efforts. Indeed, there is an inherent liveness to the proceedings, as if we could be listening to a live performance of a single instrument conjuring a loose repetition, whilst the machinery of the world splutters and breaks somewhere outside the window. 

https://eppukaipainen.bandcamp.com/album/to-grieve-one-another

Wrong Life: Dreamer Gait

If there’s one thing better than an obscure pop-punk band, it’s a Scottish obscure pop-punk band. Wrong life – the new band from the singer of The Murderburgers – continues the grand tradition of self-deflating Scottish melodrama, discussing loneliness, addiction, and poverty in a surprisingly lucid manner, all without compromising catchy power-chord choruses and the half-assed vocal delivery upon which the genre relies. The extremely short EP succeeds by not overstaying its welcome, and its habit of engaging with relatable, everyday subjects through a mixture of broad analogies and abstract descriptions maintains an aura of sing-a-long surprise that’s incredibly endearing. 

https://wronglife.bandcamp.com/album/dreamers-gait-ep

Hunki Dori: Reverie

Whilst wielding a ‘just jamming on a bunch of homemade instruments we found in the shed’ vibe, Reverie offers some really quite unusual arrangements buoyed by an incongruously chirpy tone. Cheesy saxophone soars over jazz-inflected guitar, carried by quiet field recordings and indistinguishable vocals. Moments later it’s all reed instruments and handclaps, a vaguely hip-hop beat, flute solos and fiddles, then on to rattles, shakes, and droning harmoniums. The whole affair is conducted in a distinctly lo-fi, wandering manner, as if the pieces have been produced spontaneously – yet with none of the unnecessary fat you might expect from a seemingly improvised work. I don’t know whether Hunki Dori are familiar with the Finnish folk collective Paavoharju, but they’re treading a lot of the same ground – which given the latter group are one of the better examples within the broad ‘music produced by humans’ genre, is certainly no bad thing. 

https://ingrown.bandcamp.com/album/reverie

Marta Forsberg: Light Colours

Demonstrating an astonishing capacity for economy, Light Colours documents a small number of ‘eee’s’, ‘aahh’s’ and ‘ooo’h’s’ overlayed upon one another in different combinations. There really is nothing more going on than that, and yet, it’s a transcendent experience, carrying the listener into an entirely new auditory space as the mind slowly embraces the limited, superbly articulated sound-world with which it has been presented. Small overlaps in the vocal phrasing, the nuance of each tail and attack, chords formed by several voices coalescing at once… the composite effect is not unlike listening to the sea crashing against rocks, with the whole suggesting a complexity absent in the simplicity of its parts. Roughly halfway through the piece changes tact entirely – still acapella, the voice is now drenched in reverb and focussed on long-held harmonies, the introduction of new layers pushing and pulling at the central harmonic content so as to tease out further modes of listening. 

https://martaforsberg.bandcamp.com/album/light-colours-in-jyderup

Quiet Clapping: Air

Quiet Clapping (aka Johnathan Deasy) has had quite a year, offering up (by my count) no less than 10 releases in twelve months. With all that to choose from, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but Air perhaps wins for its superbly-paced dedication to the ambient-drone cause. 40 minutes of gently pulsing synthetic tones, never too harsh or too muted, this is music that benefits from some deep listening, its charms easy to overlook with the wrong mindset. Given the proper attention, however, Air is a rewarding and hypnotic piece, with the initial middle-frequency wash giving way to near-reverent higher-pitched harmonies as the work progresses. It’s all fairly bleak stuff, and whilst it falls comfortably into the well-stuffed category of ambient works, there is a sense of methodic intellectualism here that helps lift things into a far more interesting, far more complex arena. 

https://hream.bandcamp.com/album/arctic-air

Метель Мира: Вселенная Гасто (Russia)

A wonderfully abstract foray into the synthetic domain, Вселенная Гасто paints a rich alien landscape of sweeping noise and reverberant pulses, an electronic tableau of emergent rhythms and nuanced sound design. Rather than courting structure in any traditional sense, the album allows transient gurgles of electrical static to evolve over time, with the line between source and processing, sound and scene constantly merging. Directionless, static arps and distant, malleable vocals come and go, dull, mechanical thumps articulating an otherwise impenetrable mist of synthesis. It’s ghostly, claustrophobic stuff, but wonderfully rendered, its gritty, shapeshifting sonics contributing to a surprisingly emotive mis-en-scene. 

https://holodnayavoda.bandcamp.com/album/–6

Integrity – The Rites of Love and Death

After the year we’ve all had, I’m fairly certain new years eve should be spent sitting alone in our pants knocking back shots of expensive whiskey, wondering forlornly about the limited prospects of the year ahead. While you’re there, I would suggest sticking on this new track by Integrity – a cover of Nothings The Rites of Love and Death. In true Integrity style, its bleak stuff, yet fittingly preposterous, with a whispered fiendish drawl colouring slow downbeat guitars, and a structure so lethargic it seems to constantly tetter on the edge of boredom. Four minutes in, however, and we’re presented with the world cheesiest guitar solo before a screaming voice starts lamenting, in a particularly ugly voice, ‘I’ve fallen in love with darkness and fear, and I wish the world would disappear’. An extremely 2021 sentiment to which we can no doubt all heartily relate.

https://integrity.bandcamp.com/album/the-rites-of-love-and-death-nothing-cover

So there you have it – 25 of the best releases of the last 12 months, according to me and my indefatigably awesome ears. Sit back, relax, take a listen, and raise a chipped glass of cheap prosecco to the awful year to come. 

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 Essential ListEning: Dan Kletter Shares Favorite New Releases 0f 2021

Every year at Decaycast we like to invite some guest contributors to contribute end of the year thoughts, threats etc, titled “Essential ListEning”. Excited to share the first of many to drop over the next few weeks. First up is DJ/community enabler Dan Kletter.

This year was extremely fucked up for me, so I really leaned hard into music to help soothe the pain. In no particular order, here’s some of my favorites:

This Darc Rama was recommended by [Robert Smith](https://twitter.com/robertsmith) and it’s the perfect balm for when you need cheering up. Really captures a certain essence of mid-80’s new wave music. All of his songs are fantastic. This one is my favorite.

Been listening to versions of the new R.K. Faulhaber from Helen Scarsdale for months. Really wanted to say something sooner about this masterpiece. Everything is constructed entirely from digital synthesizers without any external effects or processing.

For the past few years irr. app. (ext.) has been producing a monthly digital single. His Legends of Frogtown series is the most varied and complex. They’re all amazing. This one is my favorite.

Once again Headboggle has topped himself applying a constraint and working his whimsical style within that framework. Everything is composed with MIDI, digital synthesizers, and a Steinway grand piano, hence the title.

I found these shimmering improvisations for prepared 12-string guitar by Jef Mertens by peeking someone’s Bandcamp collection. Helps me get in the zone with my data science schoolwork.

I don’t know anything about Imperial Valley from Other Forms Of Consecrated Life except it’s meant to be a kind of evocative soundscape to accompany Dorothea Lange’s depression-era photography.

I think Claire Rousay recommended this LP by Skirts and, man oh man, it’s some really wonderful summer vibes music that just makes everything feel warm and delightful.

This LP by MARV from the enmeshed label is a real journey of wistful sounds that will carry you on a bed of fluffy clouds. It’s all about how you spend your time instead of the destination.

Can I say Spiritual Exit is Aaron Davis aka Acre? First met at a Noise Pancakes show and was transfixed by the immense drone conjured from a few guitar pedals. Slip into this trancendental bath and relax.

This debut LP by Sweeping Promises is an immense powerhouse duo of driving no wave inflected post-punk meets gliding new wave. Instantly hooked and played on repeat endlessly.

This incredible piece by Shanna Sordahl reflecting on the transformation from hurting to healing after a physical injury must have been as cathartic to make as it is to listen to.

This Yasmin Williams LP is transformative and rejuvenating. There’s depth and layers demanding attention. Or you can also just be vicariously present.

This LP made with hand-built stringed instruments by Ashley Bellouin & Ben Bracken from Debacle Records is a profoundly immersive experience.

This Byron Westbrook LP is thoroughly engrossing. Feels like a reflection of the emotionally heavy times we’re going through without any of the aftertaste.

This compilation from Camp Cryptid Records feels so hopeful in the face of all the crushing despair and overwhelming tragedy. Also, there’s something deviously, beautifully playful about inviting your cryptids to join you round a campfire.

Another random Bandcamp find. I just feel more people should experience this mysterious LP and let its viscous transmission flow and envelope you like a gentle cocoon.

This LP by Raub Roy aka Horaflora weaves a tapestry of resonances from motorized objects and other acoustic instruments, accented by a delightful tour of everyday neighborhood life.

Third installment of John Wiese’s keenly improvisational conversations with various collaborators from overlapping scenes. Because the lineup keeps changing, the result is different yet unpredictably familiar.

Anecdotally, I’ve purchased more accordion music this year than previously. For example… This LP by Walt McClements is a truly exceptional companion soundtrack for real or imaginary travel through the fleeting slices of everyday life.

This LP by Sofie Birch & Johan Carøe from STROOM.tv fills the void with delicate, dreamy sonic prose.

Extremely attracted to this Vanessa Amara LP from Posh Isolation of random microphone feedback (by intentionally placing them wrong) taunting tender, plaintive arrangements with acoustic instruments.

First heard of Guanaco± via [microphones in the trees](http://calmintrees.blogspot.com) about their tape from Sweat Lodge Guru. This LP is like picking up a conversation with an old friend. Beautiful 6 and 12-string guitar arrangements.

Ever since Love of Diagrams broke up I’ve been searching for a band with that driving angular sound and this debut LP by Chimers (also from Australia) is everything you could ask for and more.

This LP of hallucinatory synths and reverb drenched beats by Kristen Gallerneaux from Shadow World is infectious listening. Techno isn’t really my bag but this is simply exquisite.

Below are things released late this year which I haven’t had enough time to really dig into but are currently getting play:

This Ava Mendoza LP of guitar might from Astral Spirits (cassette) and Relative Pitch (CD).

This tranquil EP by Sunken Cathedral from Full Spectrum.

This incomparable LP of bagpipe drone duo by David Watson and Matthew Welch from Room40.

This uncategorizable LP of trumpet playing by the mighty Liz Allbee.

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Dan Kletter loves music, classic movies, fonts, and YOU. Ask him about rabbits! He’s an erstwhile freeform radio DJ and great community enabler at [KFJC](http://kfjc.org) where he booked, produced, and hosted countless live, on-air performances. He also ran 24 Hour Drone with [Norman Teale](http://www.thenormanconquest.net). His acclaimed radio show, [Psychoacoustic Soundclash](http://kletter.us/soundclash) ran from 2000 to 2008.

DECAYCAST Reviews: Crank Sturgeon “Archives Anti of the Bad Triangle Wearer Anthropomorph” (Detachment Program) 

Crank Sturgeon: Archives Anti of the Bad Triangle Wearer Anthropomorph (Detachment Program) 

Crank S(t)urgeon of magnetic confusion, people of the universe.  Mr. Sturgeon is in full dissect and microsecond edit collage on this whopper of an oxide document.  I own about 30 or 40 releases by this project (which is still about a third of what’s been released over the years), and this easily ranks in the top five favorite recordings.  Pissing in a toilet bowl of NWW Sylvie and Babs styles, early Smegma, John Cage, vocal gab, and other pop music fragments, I find myself lost in the rapid-fire juxtapositions that only CS can carry off with pure modern dada flavor.  Certain fragmented speed-change edits brought to mind passages from The White Mice Load Records LP that I obsessed over when it was released in the mid 00’s.  This audio salad is topped with sparkling trash textures,howling feedback, and interspersed with contributions from numerous guests on a bygone radio show, A Butte for Huso, that was on WMPG in Portland, Maine from 1997 to 2004.  Later edited and reassembled with found sound, shortwave, and vocal bitties in April 1999, this recording was found in 2020 and released earlier this year on Pennsylvania label Detachment Program.  Nice liner notes and explanation of the process and contributors(a bunch of unknown names, Sickness was the only name I recognized).  People can complain about projects that release copious amounts of material all they want, but Crank Sturgeon ignores all noise trends and laughs at your pretentious noise board comments, offering sonic freedom and (gasp) fun on this short release.   – Jacob DeRaadt

No online presence for this release.

Check out Crank Sturgeon

DECAYCAST Reviews: STERILE GARDEN “Winter Rituals” (Basement Tapes, 2021)

Basement Tapes has released a collection from noise/sound artist Jacob DeRaadt’s STERILE GARDEN project titled “Winter Rituals” celebrating the fifteen year birth of the project- four cold alienating and low meditations on the ripping cold and isolation of the darkened winter. STERILE GARDEN has always carved out a sonic style all their own and although this release spans many years of rituals, the tones and vibe are unified in their chilling barren presentation. Harsh, creasing walls of crumbling icebergs create cavernous of Shining like chase scene slow motion decay.

White noise gusts envelop hidden textures as glacial distortion melts out of the earths crust. Dark, haunting, and meditative, “Winter Rituals” is isolationist sounding noise/drone for an endless season of frigid messages drying up frozen on an archaic stone. Hauntingly meditative and warmly rewarding for such a dark and sinister meditation. Highly appropriate for the season, now is the perfect time to order “Winter Rituals”. Beautiful cold music.

https://basementtapeseureka.bandcamp.com/album/sterile-garden-winter-rituals

DECAYCAST Premieres: GORGEOUS DYKES DAZZLE IN ‘SWORDS REVERSED’

GORGEOUS DYKES DAZZLES IN BRAND NEW VIDEO ‘SWORDS REVERSED’

Gorgeous Dykes is a dynamic duo from Oakland, CA. Their sound is comprised of new wave, house, post-punk, funk, and synth pop that keeps the dance party going all night and until the sun comes up. Gorgeous Dykes brings the magic girl energy to encourage divine unity in uplifting the spirits in the queer/trans community alike. Their latest album “Swords Reversed” is a powerful statement to keep looking up to what lies ahead. 

Supporting their rousing album Swords Reversed (set for release February 11th, 2022 on Psychic Eye Records), Gorgeous Dykes unveil the music video to their first eponymously named single. Swirling with anime-worthy imagery, the band dances amongst nebulas and falls through cotton candy skies while guided by euphoric, pulsating synths.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Where do you draw your inspiration from musically and artistically?

Lucy: We draw a lot of our inspiration for our artwork from magical girl shows. We’re inspired by a lot of  80’s post-punk bands, but also really enjoy house music.

Ana: I’m really drawn to music that is meant to dance to, to move your body to. I’m always searching for music that gives one a certain frisson and to learn about what elements contributed to that in a song. It’s fascinating and challenging.

Who are some of your favorite artists you’ve performed with and/or would love to see yourself performing with?

Lucy: I would like to play a show with Sneaks.

Ana: Totally. That would be a really cool time. 

Tell us more about your upcoming album release. What led you to write this album?

Lucy: We tried a lot of new things and experimented with a lot of new sounds. We  wanted to write an album where each song felt unique and had space for its own feel. 

Ana: We still have two more singles we’re working on getting out that we’re really excited about. Since a majority of it was written during the lockdowns, I had a lot of time to get introspective and philosophical, ha. We tried to tell stories about isolation and regeneration – coming out on the other end. Some of them are just about us being in love, which whoever would or could have a problem with that, can play in traffic. 

How does the process begin for you writing songs? Is it always the same or different each time?

Lucy: A lot of the times we like to start with a beat that we can jam on/groove to. We always like to start with either a melody or beat and just let the song evolve from there. 

Ana: It definitely has to start out with room for us to mess around and see what sticks first. Sometimes I’ll hear a new melody jump out in my head that couldn’t have come from anywhere but the song and that’s always a cool moment. Lucy is really inspiring to work with – she has damn near perfect pitch. She’s so humble about it, though.

What is your favorite song on the album?

Lucy: I think for me it’s Unsolicited because it has a really fast and fun energy that I’ve always wanted to create in a song. It’s also really enjoyable to play.

Ana: It’s hard because I like them all so much but Swords Reversed was when I  felt we were really in our element. I  actually felt very emotional when writing the lyrics, which while I tend to put a lot of feeling into writing lyrics, I don’t usually get all choked up like that.  

How do you see yourself as an influence to the younger trans/queer community?

Lucy: I haven’t really thought about it that much because I’ve always felt like I was the one looking up to other trans artists for inspiration and motivation but I hope I can inspire other trans people to just be themselves and wear whatever they want and have confidence about it and I’d like to think of our music being sort of a background theme song to that feeling.

Ana: I would hope to be more of a tool or comfort if possible, rather than an influence I suppose. If someone younger found our work and could appreciate it and if it could help get them through a tough time or to stand up for themselves, that would make me happy. 

What advice would you give to someone that aspires to be a part of the trans/queer artist community who has trouble meeting other peers?

Lucy: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try to meet other  queer folks in the community – you never know who can help you or motivate you to get your art  out  there in the world.

Ana:  Reach out to collab with someone whose work you admire, show your support when you can and practice maintaining a strong sense of integrity. Look for kind people who don’t want the world on a platter. As an introvert with a couple of mental illnesses, I would say don’t hide yourself but also value yourself enough to recognize the qualities in others that make you feel safe. Nobody’s perfect but as long as there is love and (clearly demonstrated) respect between you and the other person, connecting with special people is so worth it. 

Do you have any plans to do a tour?

Lucy: Yes, we want to go on one!

Ana: If we don’t get to go on a tour (I’ve never been on one before) I’m going to climb to the top of a mountain and scream, ha. It’s a huge goal.

Trippers & Askers Release Stunning New Video for “Pulsing Place” Ahead of New Album Out This July

“Pulsing Place” is the brand new single and video, which you can watch here for the first time, from Trippers & Askers ahead of their new full length album, “Acorn” . The song begins with distant acoustic guitar and voice which tells a complicated tale with deep underpinnings. The track, much like the video feels very very close; morose and present, laying it all on the line, earnestly connecting with the listener in a very up front and personal style lyrically and recording wise which really serves to draw us in to this soon to be modern folk/jazz classic. I often felt like I was in the room with Trippers & Askers, being sung directly to, almost as if in question form, and the video is a beautiful, cinematic representation of this closeness and humanness that seems to be such an important part of the music of “Acorn” and this track specifically. Pulling equally from Modern Americana Folk traditions as well as modern jazz and literary worlds, “Pulsing Place” is a complex and meaningful investigation through song.

The video itself is a visually arresting story of a fluttering gold being navigating uncertainly throughout the world as the band plays on. The churning of a tide, the gentle flutter of a gust of wind from an undefined direction, the gentle crinkling of dried leaves as we search for meaning and a way out, a way forward all paint a picture of the hope of discovery of something better, of something to take us forward.

“Inspired by the world building, Afrofuturist radicalism of the novel “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, the latest Trippers & Askers LP “Acorn” blends spiritual jazz and traditional styles in ways that pose fundamental questions about the nature of “American” music…..

“Parable of the Sower was written in the 1990’s and set in 2020’s U.S. when society has collapsed for everyone but the super wealthy due to climate change, wealth inequality, religious fundamentalism, and corporate greed. The protagonist – a woman named Lauren Olamina – embodies a kind of radical hope that has nothing to do with denial. In fact, it’s a kind of hope that can only spring from the fact that she understands the severity of her and her community’s situation better than anyone else.”

Make sure to pre oder “Acorn” from Sleepy Cat Records ahead of it’s July 16th release date! And we leave you with these parting lyrics from the single/video here:

“Grab the car and pull around the side

We’ll peel and steal away

All the time we’ve been afraid to take” – Trippers & Askers

TWO NEW RELEASES OUT TOMORROW ON DECAYCAST MAGAZINE!

TWO NEW RELEASES OUT TOMORROW ON DECAYCAST MAGAZINE!

Thanks all for following Decaycast! DECAYCAST is a sub label of Ratskin Records and specializes in small edition handmade cassettes, CDr’s, digital releases and small edition art objects as well as a Online Fanzine (decaycast.wordpress.com)

we’re really excited to present two new albums for release tomorrow both on limited edition CDR with handmade card stock slipcases.

Thank you so much to everyone that preordered! All pre orders have been shipped and any orders placed for Bandcamp Friday or over the weekend will ship out this coming Monday!

HAURAS “Chant For A broken Chalice” CDR/DL

decaycastoakland.bandcamp.com/album/chant-for-a-broken-chalice

AURAS has crafted a lush and foreboding sonic landscape with “Chant For A Broken Chalice”, their first release for Oakland based imprint DECAYCAST. On “Chant For A Broken Chalice” intentional and otherworldly sounds envelop into a whirlwind of a slow churning concoction of beauty and anxiety. Dense choral envocations pulse over a sea of strings, keys, percussion and voice. HAURAS crafts tense and delicate music concerned with the rapid decline of empathy as intensified through the violent throes of capitalism. Both meditative and a warning, like a distant pulse of a lighthouse gently peaking over the fog as a distant warning of impending doom and collapse, scary and at this point completely unavoidable, but wow the beauty and elegance of the message is not something to soon be forgotten.

“My work is concerned with the psychology of society at the end of Civilization.” – HAURAS

The first single “Hold My Hand” takes a psychedelic dubbed out industrial approach to transport the mood and psyche of the listener to a blissful yet slightly unnerving underworld. The vocals glide through the mix like a robotic worm infecting an unknown host. Like most of Hauras’s work; “Chant For A Broken Chalice” holds the listener in an hourglass where time is rapidly and chaotically slipping away. Intentional, heartfelt, and intense.

“You’ve heard of the Music of Tomorrow? This is the Music of the Day After
Tomorrow.” – Chris Ryan (Composer, Cerddorion Ensemble,, Tzadik)

“The sonic equivalent of expired film in my Holga.” – Richard Youngs 

BONUS BEAST “Live at Lewcid Joosebox” CDR/DL

decaycastoakland.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-lewcid-joosebox

BONUS BEAST (Ratskin Records, Coral Remains, Ryan King, et al) always brings a new and modified sonic whirlwind to the table and this recently unearthed board recording of live from Lewcid Joosebox is no different. A complex and psychedelic spattering of amalgamated synths, blasting and curdling mangled beats, with the occasional and sporadic transmission twisted warped vocals patterings peak out ever so slightly from the sampler, but this is no dance party, this is blasted out sonic destruction, controlled chaos, collapsing towers, the rhythms of the machines of the city clang and hammer against each other like a seizing engine about to blow. their first release for Oakland based imprint DECAYCAST and ir is not to be missed. One of the masters in the game. Very very limited

Nearly twenty minutes of blown out acid noise, crunched beats, signwave radio interference, mental decayed sprayed on the walls of the box as BOBUS BEAST blasts forth a sonic mayhem like no other. In the realm of early Robert Turman, MB, Esplendor Gemoetrico, etc

Please consider picking something up as it helps us sustain the project (both the imprint and fanzine) side of things.

Thank you so much for your support.

DECAYCAST Guest Mix: DJ MICOSE “Digesting 2020: Decaycast Edition.

We’re back with another installment of DECAYCST Guest Mixes, this one from frequent mixer and digger DJ MICOSE.

This is a continuation of the “Digesting 2020” series I’ve been posting on the ploque Mixcloud, featuring only music that was released in 2020. It’s a free-form mix with abstract ambient sounds, industrial-influenced electronic songs, plus a variety of loud and repetitive rhythmic tracks. Features artists from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Peru, Poland, Norway, and the US.

The Soft Pink Truth – Go

Racine – Geranium

Ale Hop – La Procesíon

Sébastien Brun – Empty

Tantão e os Fita – Ich Bin Der Fluss

Thoom – Large Fly

Negro Leo – Absolutíssimo Lacrador

Eartheater – Burning Feather

SIKSA – Proste Hasło

Jonquera – Artisou

Golden Oriole – The Granitoid Panics

The End – Allt Är Intet

Arrington de Dionyso – The Mani Malaikat Awakening

Mit Mir Kann – Loop It Yourself

V.E.X./Moira Scar – Dancing At The End Of Time