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 : 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 : SKY “Lullabies” CS (Pop Nihil, 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews : SKY “Lullabies” CS (Pop Nihil, 2019)

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Hauntingly lonely, booming caverns seem to be the backdrop for SKY’s “Lullabies”  cassette EP on the refreshingly diverse Pop Nihil imprint. First off, the  stark design caught my eye, and I enjoy the minimalist design theme that runs across of these releases, it really helps to gel them together in a special and unified way. The voice, synth, and drums all blend perfectly on this EP, creating a morose, and lush cloud for the  uncertain change of the future to be birthed upon. Cavernous reverb on the drums, and strings (synths?) cast a hollow but intentioned place for the voice to dance upon into the night.  Favorite track of the A side is “ILIKELIES” though, they all really present a focused and uniformed sound. Like the  voice and  rhythm section of early Cocteau Twins, mixed with the delicacy and nuance of contemporary avant -garde  megastars like FKA Twigs nodding to the softer side of Witchhouse.  popnihilSKY paints a blissful portrait of an unknown place where the next step is to be taken, the  only thing that’s certain in uncertainty.  The B side is a little  more  driving with a ear forward bass and  drum rhythm that escalates the pacing and tension from the soft and intricate spells cast by the first side. Closer to tara Cross or a chopped and  screwed TuxedoMoon the big percussion and thudding bass create a nice, angular tension for the voice and delicate droning synths to skate off lightly but boldly into the distance, a truly beautiful and nuanced listen.

 

DECAYCAST Premieres: Experimental Artist OUTPUT 1:1:1 Shares “Retroactive Rock Record” Video/Single

Output 1:1:1 is currently preparing for the release of his upcoming EP “Retroactive Rock Record”, due out on November 1, 2019, and has been kind enough to share with us the premiere of the second video, Directed by Elias Campbell and single from the album under the same name, “Retroactive Rock Record”. The track blends slow moving hypnotic vocals, dark plucked ethereal synthesizers and strings, and lush, ominous and lonesome sounding electronic background sounds. The sound of “Retroactive Rock Record” tells a dark and confusing story about confusion, loss, the unknown. The tones blend together perfectly to create at once a hopeful, albeit slightly unsettling sonic vibe. Take a look at the video below and make sure to pick up the album on November 1.

: “Writing this song was incredibly freeing, despite the central idea of it being a complete lack of control. I wrote the lyrics of the song the night of the 2016 US election. I felt a sense of helplessness swell as Trump’s election became inevitable-Canada seems to follow US election cycles pretty closely. I think helplessness can really encourage shame-the sense that I’m terrible and I am in this mess because I deserve this. It takes a lot more than reinforced positive thinking to work through, and writing this song was an attempt to redirect my helplessness into creating something.

watch the video here:

DECAYCAST Reviews: qualchan “Goodbye To All That” (Houdini Mansions, 2019)

Back from a little break to review the newest release from Houdini Mansions, from Cascadian producer qualchan, titled “Goodbye To All That”, and it’s a rather fitting title as the short, bending, warbling loops come into our lives like short lived, lush experiences that vanish into the haze as quickly as they appeared on the horizon. on “Goodbye To All That” qualchan focuses on subtle shifts within these micro compositions that span ambient, post rock, muzak/library music and more. Some of them operate as escaped breaths from larger compositions, perhaps to be expanded upon, while others are self contained and don’t seek anything outside of themselves. Warm, trippy, fuzzed out loops for a moist walk through an all but abandoned forest. Beautiful release.

DECAYCAST Reviews: “Layers” by BÜCKLE / VOGT (Editions Furioso, 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews: “Layers” by BÜCKLE / VOGT (Editions Furioso, 2019)

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From French label  Editions Furioso comes a debut mixed electronics EP from BÜCKLE / VOGT, blending lush, morose vocal melodies, shifting, fluttering beats. “Layers” is nostalgic and new at the same time, without compromising it’s sonic palette or compositional strategy. Swift, shuffled percussion skates underneath a swath of warm sine wave tone poems, while a voice will  ascend  into the mix akin to a barrem , shivering, wind  tunnel across your back and up your neck,  in a stark contrast to the warm, humming harmonic synthesizers and strings which uniquely gel into undulating, shifting loops of  ambient, sonic bliss, without losing the rhythm or  pacing of the track overall.

 

On  “Layers” the swing of the drums and slowly escalating synth pads create a lush, but dark forest of  fuzzy confusion, alienation, and sadness, all while not falling into any of the tropes those could represent.  BÜCKLE / VOGT offers a fresh take on mixed style electronica, refreshing, honest, and nuanced in a universally appealing way. Can’t wait to dive into the whole EP and will without a doubt be searching out future releases from the artist.

LISTEN / BUY The  Entire Album Here

– Meniere Zappone

 

 

DECAYCAST Reviews: Sabriel’s Orb / John Atkinson “Split” Cassette (Whited Sepulchre Records)

DECAYCAST Reviews: Sabriel’s Orb / John Atkinson “Split” Cassette (Whited Sepulchre Records)

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Sabriel’s Orb,’s side on this tonally deep and sonically diverse split brought to us by Whited Sepulchre Records’s split series begins with powerful, cinematic synth breaths of arpeggiations harkening back to early Susanne Ciani and Phedora-era Tangerine  Dream, but her deep exploration into meditative synthesis doesn’t stop there, Willow Skye-Biggs who has been making experimental music for over a decade pushes the  sounds and phrases past the confines of their own limit into a beautiful, tone poem of meditation and ritual. Distant pulses, blend with warm lush synthetic  adventures through the air, into the ear, through the brain, into the heart and out through the feet like a nostalgic chill that is  gone before we can even pinpoint it’s origin. Willow Skye-Biggs music has always seemed  fixated on ritual, and the tones of her side of the  split act like a guiding light through a cinematic, landscape unknown to previous inhabitants.

From the label: “For the fourth in WSR’s split cassette series, John Atkinson is paired with SLC-based artist Sabriel’s orb. Willow Skye-Biggs has spent the last decade exploring the intersections of identity and ritual through her ambient, experimental and techno projects. Most notably, she created soaring, beat-oriented experimental-pop under the name Stag Hare and bedroom techhouse under the moniker ariel. “

For his side, experimentalist John Atkinson offers two ambient meditations which compliment the other side beautifully and offer a similar but unique on minimal ambient / dronescape music. Atkinson slowly and meticulously crafts slow moving pulses like the  first rays of  sun  coming over the  walls of  fog on an early morning barren landscape, unwitnessed and un-manipulated by humanity. Atkinson, through his various soundtrack work and  work with NY group  Aa  (Big A Little A) has clearly come rather close to enacting complete control over what are ultimately  natural and organic sounding drones.  We never hear the human hand, and it’s quite beautiful.  On the second track, “First Rain of the New Year ” Atkinsons’ cresendo peaks with a noisy, fuzzed out climax which is the perfect ending to this minimal yet powerful release.