DECAYCAST Reviews: Tristan Welch “Asset / Defect” (Self Released, 2020)

 

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On his newest EP, “Asset / Defect”  Tristan Welch explores a timeless dichotomy  of positive and negative expansions and contractions through space, silence, time and sound. Through glassy, shifting drones and tone poem movements ringing present, like a warm blanket after a cold night adrift on the nights moon last beam.  The album opens up with beautifully articulated  mid tempo oscillating synth pulses,  a faint buzzing underscored with a warm bath of tones; a calm yet slightly unnerving  respite; a rest for the restless, for the anxious, and for the forgotten.  This is slow patient, music, for one in a process of uncertainty, as well as one of discovery knows  that things can change, and every once in a great while, for the better, and maybe this time they will, that is the question this music asks, what is  change,  and when will it be cast upon us?

‘Given the inherently political nature of most of his music, “Asset / Defect” is a rare turn inward for Welch. As a person in recovery, “Asset / Defect” is an audio/visual accounting of sorts, a result from tallying up the ledger of negative character defects and positive assets. An accounting feat that is musically reflected in the clear balance between beautiful, ebullient tones and grainy distortion held at tension within the work.”

The A side  “Asset / Defect” seems a bit brighter in sound presentation overall but across the twenty minute EP, Welsh offers two movements which compliment each other in a dichotomy of undulation.  Wet delays and thick intertwined braids of reverberated strings cast doubt to those casting doubt, give hope to those giving hope, and push us all to look inward to a change of fresh air and relief.  The B side offers a similar, more contemplative, introspective place where the listener can identify with these living breathing wave manipulations, like a warm bath, tingling the skin, but never fully encapsulating the full dynamic of touch and pressure. Beautiful music for complicated times.

 

Highly recommended.

 

-Dr. Decaycast

 

 

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DECAYCAST Reviews: Corsica Annex “Doors Outside” (Ingrown Records, 2020)

Corsica Annex from Brooklyn creates delicate washes of ambient hum that will aide to calm even the most nervous and pent up listener.  Beginning  with wishing, weeping waves of  encapsulated warmth; a homely and resounding analog synthesizer din. The  psychedelic sound of “Doors Outside” slowly envelops and drifts away to a different place. Fuzzy, dream like tones gently lift light into the barren, lost eyes like the morning sun’s cast across a frozen, unsuspecting rose from the night before.

The mossy vibe slowly shifts into a repetitive string piece, undulation coupled with a morose progression that leaves the listener in the unknown. Warm organ like tones pulse uncertainty like a shifting leaf lost in the wind. Steve Reich style  string arpreggiations gloss over even more dense patterns of organic sounding  water-grown, nano bots, sonically somewhere connecting  Cloudland Canyon , Tim Hecker “Radio Amor” and later era Tangerine Dream, Corsica Annex have concocted a heartfelt electronic mood  bound to resonate with even the most passive listener.

Buy ‘Doors Outside”from the Ingrown Records bandcamp page, and check out the rest of the tapes from the batch here

 

-Dr. Decacast

DECAYCAST Reviews : Jordan Reyes “Closer” (American Dreams, 2020)

On “Closer” Chicago artist Jordan Reyes taps into the unconscious of sound.

 

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Chicago’s Jordan Reyes is no stranger to sound, or stage, or production, or fitness, or  running a distro, or running. In fact , there doesn’t seem to be much he doesn’t have a passion for, except maybe standing idle. Between documenting music through writing for Bandcamp and his own blog,  as well as a slew of other outlets, running a label (American Dreams) , and a myriad of other projects, including performing in Afro-Futurist Avant Gospel ensemble ONO, whose  brand new record “Red Summer”  Reyes released on his own imprint.  Reyes seemingly lives and breathes sound . and his newest record “Closer” released on  American Dreams, is nothing short of a  stellar dive into atmospheric, minimalist synth compositions that are as mysterious as they are present for the listener. Reyes songs are deep explorations into the unconscious, sub layers of warbling droning howls topped with crisp and  crumbly textures. Sometimes rhythmic, sometimes sparse and stripped down, Reyes blazes his  own path of experimentation without using more than the sounds require.  A study in presence, something this music just bleeds is it’s presence and honesty.

On “Closer” Reyes sounds aren’t over produced or layered into confusion, but rather delicate, conscientious., and open; traits perhaps more needed in the often stale, contrived,  meanderings of huge modular systems, often devoid of their own identity or soul, dare we say. “Closer” sings to the listener in a way that is simultaneously  refreshing , and yet somehow nostalgic, it could even be said that his sounds reference certain “folk-like”  qualities to both their presentation,  and relationship to each other. Even the cover art reads like an old idiosyncratic map, inscribed with traditions of past and glimpses into  unknown futures.

 

“Closer” uses a variety of sonic strategies and compositional tools to tell it’s story, a personal story, a unique story, a familiar yet original story, and we can’t wait to read the next chapter.  The titles give us a clue into the  discovery that Reyes seeks with these compositions “Lost Man” ,  “Slow Walk” , “Stumbling Home”  could all be cues for dramatic turns in a film yet to be produced, or cues for self reflection, a strategy to decipher meaning our of the void we all know is there.  Are we closer to death, closer to a new  discovery? Odds are, it’s both, and Reyes music seems to  embrace  at once both the complexities and simplicities of life. The vibe is present, deep and nuanced as  get closer inside the mind of someone on an uncharted path using sound as the flashlight. Relevant and real music for  very unreal  times.

DECAYCAST Reviews RXM Reality “Blood Blood Blood Blood” (Hausu Mountain, 2020)

DECAYCAST Reviews RXM Reality “Blood Blood Blood Blood” (Hausu Mountain, 2020)

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Midwest mind bender juggernauts Hausu Mountain are at it again with a seemingly endless stream of twisted cuts and RXM Reality “Blood Blood Blood Blood” is no exception.  Splattering Synth, pummeling percussion fly around the room, ricochet roadblocks inside the mind rattle around like drum sets crashing down an endless stairway. For his third Hausu cassette, RXM Reality explodes into dense layers of break core madness,  using sputtering percussion,  accelerated synth tone poem destruction,   alien death accelerated.  Time compresses and expands in a never-ending array of spastic shuttering, clipping, squeezed rhizomes of inexplicable sound. BBBB is an anxious,  rattling machine shedding  it’s parts like cyborg gone awry. Bass drum explosion sets a sudden pressure change inside the skulls abandon, hollow cave, and you feel things begin to crack. Voices undulate to  short sputtered screams truncated by  delayed pitch shifting schizophrenic madness. The sound of  “Blood Blood Blood Blood” is textured and layered in a way that resonates with many of the other  Haus Mo releases, fitting into the labels sonic archeology quite nicely.  At times, referencing a  distorted, acid fueled take on footwork, other times, on “Queen Tiki” – twisted  and turning, mangled interpretations of  trap, and yet again, at other times (seconds later)  frantic  truncated noise walls cascade upon layers of warm tone poem backings referencing early Wobbly,  Autechre on acid in reverse, is that  something that can be referenced, we don’t know, but we do know that we love this tape.  Throughout the entirety of BBBB the  sound continued as the perfect mix of insane, chaotic, pleasing, and indescribable;  a maximalist sonic gem, Haus Mo can seemingly do no wrong. Pre order the album here:

 

DECAYCAST Reviews: Golden Donna “Hush” (Last Faith Studios, 2020)

DECAYCAST Reviews: Golden Donna “Hush” (Last Faith, 2020)

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Electronic stalwart producer and ambassador to the underground Joel Shanahan, aka Golden Donna is  back at it again with a stunning full length for David Last’s Last Faith Studios imprint, titled “Hush”. Shanahan’s  different projects all have their own unique identity however, somehow he is always  able to stitch together these  through lines through all of the  different projects that give the listener a sense of familiarity, belonging, and discovery all at the time time. “Hush” sounds both nostalgic and futuristic, at the same time, oscillating the line of new production techniques, idiosyncratic production and composition techniques, and tried and true pallets of sound and memory. These songs are cinematic, driving, at times tense, but also very euphoric, uplifting, hopeful in way that is both rare and needed.

The lush and symphonic pads of “Without You” create a sound and vibe that is both morose, slightly intensified by the sharp arpeggiated synths skating  underneath the clouds of pads, but also confident, present, it’s living in the moment with whatever that moment brings, charging into meaning and splitting it into a thousand fragments, which will grow together in new ways, to create a rhizome of sound, meaning, and  experience.  Honesty is a feeling that rings through Shanahan’s dance floor staples, and practically every track on “Hush” is exactly that and so much more.

“Transplant” offers a similar array of lush pads , shifting , spattering percussion, waves of washing change, uncertainty, sonic travel into the subconscious of the dream state, exploding sounds of new beginnings, capped with entrails of a  nearly forgotten past- Shanahan’s music is about time and space, and the elasticity of the convergence, at least this is what i feel when I’m immersed in the pulses of “Hush”. Shanahan might be one of the most important and innovative producers of our time, and this album proves it time and time again, absolutely essential 2020 listening, please go buy “Hush” rn.

 

DECAYCAST Reviews : MATT ROBIDOUX “Brief Candies” CS (NULL ZONE, 2020)

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MATT ROBIDOUX “Brief Candies”  is at  first a confusing listen, as it oscillates between several seemingly unrelated strategies but as the cassette spins on, the listener begins to gain an understanding of the nuanced and complex compositional worlds that Robidoux and his band are constructing across “Brief Candies”. Shifting between reed-based post-folk ballads, what can almost at times be described as minimalist-americana,  Robidoux connects the compositional and sonic dots to highly enjoyable effects. The humming, morose minimalism of tracks such as “Little Wall” harkin to early A Silver Mount Zion  with it’s  lush strings planted atop morose and distant  drones.

 

Lush string and piano arrangements compliment the minimalist background events which  give these recordings sort of a timeless aura. Without the press release, one can’t quite place the date and context for these recordings, which personally makes them that  much more exciting.0018786976_10

The tension and breath of the dynamic between the  different voices really brings these recordings to another level for me, at times, hitting on a Merideth Monk “Turtle Dreams” vibe, which we all universally understand as a masterwork in minimalism, correct?  Horns beckon an ancient message  which can not  be decoded, without being slowly and subtly submerged into the crashing waves of an unknown loss, a subtle but omnipresent uneasiness  in the background keeps you relaxed, warm, but slightly on edge,  like the perfect rainy Sunday cassette. The B side offers a more high energy, Kraut-fueled ripper which kicks things up but still keeps the morose and experimental vibe rolling. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

DECAYCAST Label Spotlight: Turmeric Magnitudes – San Francisco, CA

Found this unpublished review from a few years ago, so here it is….

Picking up the pace is a new label started by Greg Garbage of Von Himmel /Donkey Disk fame. Turmeric Magnitudes have been belching out limited-edition home dubbed cassettes of microsounds, tape collage, voice, tape loops, and almost everything under the sun, seeming to come out of the gates blazing with fire. All of the releases thus far are cassette only (a preferred format of Mr. Garbage) and the label, as well as in download formats, in fact, why don’t you go check out some.

The imprint has only been around a few months but has been rapidly belting an eclectic, yet consistent array of audio recorded works, many of his own projects, Black Thread, Dark Spring, Vibrating Garbage, Ester Chlorine, and other local bay area stalwarts such as under the radar artists like Fslux, The Heroic Quartet and much more.

Many of the cassettes I’ve managed to grip this far all focus on the microsound side of things, both in presentation and execution, but this is a good thing. One of the first cassettes I jammed, the self-titled Dark SpringImage

the cassette is a real charmer for the inner ear. This little number may not be ripping loud, or distorted, but it still holds ships worth of weight. The main theme of this cassette seems to be tension and relentless ambiance; as all recording artifacts are left in the mix to boot, contact mic ground hum, globs of tape hiss, play button fumbling, flying four-track faders hitting the roof, subtle moans of frustration and clarity all are given a breadth in the mix. Subtle tape and voice manipulations, crawling, scraping microtextures, subtly crafted ambient textures of a micro drone bug picking at the walls of your inner ear, slowly sucking grey matter out and forcing it back in through different pores and portals. As the tape progress, Dark Spring breaks into richer, fuller walls of ambient hum, weaving an intricate, yet minimal tone poem of tape loops, voice, and field recordings all supporting themselves forthright in the mix. The sources never really quite reveal themselves, and they are obscured through a musique concrete lens of churning cassette motors, the ambient sounds of an imaginary city in the artists mind etched into a 78 rpm record played through a tape head record needle. This Dark Spring could have been recorded in the early 1900’s or 2023, the listener doesn’t quite know or need to for that matter, but despite it’s timeless, old-world style recording techniques and mysticism, Dark Spring is a patient, well-done offering of ambient collage.

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Another release frequenting our ears from the label is the Bonus Beast / Vibrating Garbage “split” reissue, both splits between these two artists (previously not on label) are combined for extra dirge and pleasure in this little package. Bonus Beast tracks range from high anxiety tape collage and arpeggiated washed out analog synth mastery to rolling tape and dense beat mischief. Dense, dark, gangs of oscillators form archaic pillars of menacing tape and synthesizer printed on tape hiss, the out sound of analog debauchery fuzzing brain modulation techniques. There’s a strong presence of masterful edits, one of Bonus Beast forte’s on this little number, and the second track is more representative of his current work. Dense, heavy beats, squirling synths, modulated, mashed, mangled tapes, and four track wizardry. The Vibrating Garbage tracks range from clustered, textured, ambient offerings to masterfully crafted analog influenced EDM/Minimal synth tracks-creating an obtuse offering of the artists chops. , Pre-dating the nostalgia train of Tangerine Dream and Aphex Twin style drum hits engaging in bondage routines, Vibrating Garbage knows what he is doing with these tracks, and more importantly WHY. Each drum hit is accompanied by synth and vocoder textures, unheard in the traditional sense offering of the earlier VG works, but still displays the artists fondness for low fi recordings and analog drum machine mastery. A wonderful complement to each other, this reissue packs some gold gems from each artist. A must have.

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The third tape I’ve procured from the label is the FSLUX / BLACK THREAD split cassette. The A side is an allusive project from Oakland, CA titled FSLUX. dark, delicate homemade electronics, voice loops, scraping sounds, and alalog drone doom meld together a ninteen minute track of top notch drone/musique concrete goodness. Lots of textures and carefully considered track breaks elevate this from just being a drone track, but rather an elequently crafted amalgamation of dark, confusing, electronic sounds mixed with voice. “Lyrics” are unintelligible, but the voice acts as a great backbone for the slow churning, dark, hellish loops. There’s a distinct unique tension between voice, strings??? and electronics in this composition unheard on previous FSLUX recordings, a new and unique direction for the artists. DARK, ALIENATING, TENSION.

The Black thread side opens up with a beautifully minimal drone and scrape composition reminiscent of ENO’s airport works run in reverse through a micro-cassette player, and this is POWERFULLY DYNAMIC AMBIENT SPACE, just like that surreal moment when the plane leaves the runway. The B side slowly builds up into a distorted beautiful caucophany of distorted tape, strings, and field recordings offering a harsh contrast to the ambient swells of the first track, but never strays too far aesthetically to the vast sound that is Black Thread. Top notch tape, highly recommended.

This offers just a small glimpse into the sonic world of the Tumeric Magnitudes imprint, based out of San Francisco, CA, so be sure to keep an eye and ear peeled for more stuff from this busy, unique imprint. You can catch one of their recording artists, Ester Chlorine on an upcoming east coast tour, from 9/4-9/16

TURMERIC MAGNITUDES

DONKEY DISK

DECAYCAST Reviews: MAX NORDILE “Primordial Gaffe” (Paisley Shirt Records 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews: MAX NORDILE “Primordial Gaffe” (Paisley Shirt Records 2019)

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Bay Area punk/skronk/noise-jazz stalwart and member of Bay Area angular Jazz Punk trio, Preening, Max Nordile offers a cassette of short improvisations ranging from minimalist abstract percussion collages, to droning amplifiers, reeds, kitchen sink falling down the stairs type of vibes here via SF label Paisley Shirt Records. Plethora of interesting textures here and lots of start/stop/STOP  going on which often sounds like a full free jazz band about to blast into a ring of chaos but they keep getting stuck in the beginning, creates an edgelike tension which is hard to replicate in a studio/recording, but Nordile accomplishes this quite nicely with raw room recordings rather than overproduced studio isolationist techniques. Some tracks are more raw experiments with often just one sound source, however others are more developed, using multi-instrumentalist strategies where percussive objects clang and bang into each other while strings and a plethora of reeds bleed through in the background.

My favorite track is without a doubt also the albums longest, “Decaying Tab (with Mirror)which navigates more into Mort Garson on acid territory with yelled vocals, womping horns, muted, angular guitar riffs, and a percussion shit storm-  a  true cacophony invoking Trout Mask era Beefhart at times. Highly recommended for fans of  skronk/free jazz with a punk sensibility. 

 

DECAYCAST Reviews: Marlo Eggplant “Loose Footing” (Dubbed Tapes, 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews: Marlo Eggplant “Loose Footing” (Dubbed Tapes, 2019)

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For her newest cassette “Loose Footing”, underground experimental sound artist,  curator, and all-around master of her craft, Marlo Eggplant further refines her minimalist sound discovery practice for a frightening and dynamic sonic offering. “Loose Footing” is a haunting, dark and powerful delve into the deeper trenches of experimental sound and composition. The tape opens up with a twisted and mangled voice piece that turns into flowing water, a distant wind, a failed communication; we’re not really sure, except that it’s a new part of the journey. This work functions sort of as a “mixtape” style release in the sense that it contains lots of short compositions that all gel into an overall vibe, while maintaining their own individuality of experimentation, free from the flow of an “album” but structurally just as completed, and in some ways perhaps more profound and detailed than many noise “albums” where everything is presented as one long track. After the twisted, demonic voices subside,  A more melodic, undulating sine-wave drone piece eclipses from the crumbling fog, like an intense pulsing light escaping from the distant mountain peak at sunrise, warming the inner ear with a comforting din. Eggplant has always worked with a diverse palette of sounds, however this cassette composites so many different styles of composition and techniques that almost no two minute section is the same as the last- we are always led to a new sonic discovery with Eggplant at the controls.

Her sounds hold power and often a cinematic vision, I often found myself closing my eyes and dozing off into an unknown and slightly frightening world of unknown origin. If there’s one person who can transform sound and take us to another place, it’s Marlo Eggplant. The  B side contains more of the same, dark, heavy drone-based works which morph strings, turntablism, voice, and mixed electronics for a highly dynamic, tense,  and complex effect-my favorite listening experience. Eggplant is one of the best in the game and you should follow whatever she’s doing, including her label and distro and LADYZ IN NOIZE series. Also check out an older review we did of Marlo’s last tape  “Head/Rushed”  (Vaux Flores) here 

DUBBED TAPES 

MARLO EGGPLANT

DECAYCAST Reviews : Bran (…) Pos “Cosmic Mushmouth”  CS (Planetary Magnetics, 2020)

DECAYCAST Reviews : Bran (…) Pos “Cosmic Mushmouth”  CS (Planetary Magnetics, 2020)

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Bran(…)Pos‘ new album “Cosmic Mushmouth” may be the most complete overview of Jake Rodriguez’s multi-faceted soundscape composition to date. With his signature vocal-triggered electronics buried under layers of modular and effects, “Space Gelt” seems closest to a lot of the recent live performances I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Jake do. I first saw Bran(…)Pos in the late 1990s in SF and seeing how different each
performance could be and the many concepts that Jake has tried over the years has made him a favorite of mine and many in the Bay Area. It’s great to see him team up with Tyler Harwood (who produced this for his label (Planetary Magnetics) and did the artwork) who you may have seen perform as Anti-Ear or together with Rodriguez as ‘Beandip Troubadours,’ fully engaging both of their hilarious stage performance skills.

The crowning tracks here are the 20+ minute composition “RxR (rocket crossing)” which slowly builds into a stuttering modular synth rhythm with some of Bran’s trademark acoustic tympani playing. The final track “Martian Brine Pool” features an amplified cello;  another instrument that Bran has used off and on and in many configurations over the years.

Rodriguez is now heavily entrenched in the Bay Area theater scene, doing sound and composition. It will be exciting to see what lies ahead for this polymath and true SF original. Albums and acts like this that make me excited to be living and working still in SF. Come aboard!     – Derek Gedalecia