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 : SHADOWS “Bruce Spills The Pills” Cassette (Polar Envy, 2018)
Cleveland, OH mainstays SHADOWS continue with their darkest Knight investigations of the conceptual underpinnings of Batman interpreted as dense noise, beats, industrialized rhythms and haunting spacial decay. Shadows is the duo of David Russell and Wyatt Howland (Skin Graft) and the sound on “Bruce Spills The Pills” represents aspects of both of their sonic styles well, however it gels to create a sound still different than either of their solo output. Composition wise, this cassette oscillates between more formalized sharp, cutting, harsh rhythmic works that Russell has become known for as COLLAPSED ARC and the DAVID RUSSELL SNAKE, mixed with Howland’s crude, disgusting, fuzzed out blasts of high pitched noise and squelching feedback. With three tracks on the A side and three on the B side, all offering their own take on the sonic mayhem contained within Of “Bruce Spills The Pills”. Personal favorite would be “Freak” from the middle of the A side.
Despite being a “noise” album in some instances, there are clear distinct tracks on this each with their own breath of sonic investigation, and despite their uniqueness and form and sonic palette, they flow together quite well, never leaving the listener bored or annoyed, rather on the edge of the speaker cone begging for bleeding frequencies to ooze from the cave into the inner ear. Shadows is highly recommended for all of your crude and dirty noise and industrial needs.
DECAYCAST Reviews: Somnambulists “From the Field To The Factory” CS/DL (Zum, 2019)
Slow, morose guitars begin to dust the cobwebs off George Chen’s ZUM imprint with a fresh new ambient guitar release from Somnambulists “From the Field To The Factory” begins with lurking guitar drones casting subtle, unsettling modulations, that run across the ear like a bead of sweat escaping down the face, onto the ground which sprouts a tree.
Thick washes of reverb and delay turn strings into echoes of malfunctioning machines, churning, turning and eventually sputtering out. The track ‘Circular Ruins ” harkins early washes of MONO, Godspeed You Black Emperor etc, but the climax never comes in the same way, leaving the listener on the edge for more. Somnambulists leaves us (me) yearning a more chaotic sphere that never materializes, instead it sinks back into itself, like the worker in the field who has since run themselves devoid of motion and fluids. Perhaps the perfect sonic representation, we do not get what we want, we simply balance on the edge until the last sound can no longer be heard. Capitalism destroys the spirit and the body and this is the perfect morose soundtrack to it’s unnerving, guaranteed decay. Other tracks offer more looped spring movements , reversing, folding and collapsing on themselves, but never really moving too far from the structural or sonic reference of a guitar. Background layers of chirping drones create a ambient wash which the guitar elevates over just long and wide enough to create a lush, dynamic space to lose time in.
– Meniere Zappone
From the label.
“From the Field to the Factory is a conceptual cycle of instrumental works that reflect on labor and struggle, repression and revolt, history and forgetting, abstraction and meaning. They are meant as memorials to the invisible, the unwritten, and the unvoiced; to an inner experience existing out of time. They are hymns to an idea of the ahistorical as the lost voice of anonymous resistance echoing like stains across the battered walls of memory.”
Warren Ng is an experimental musician based in Brooklyn, NY and originally from San Francisco who has performed and released numerous recordings under the names Somnambulists and This Invitation, all linked by an interest in minimalism, string drone, and the hidden internal hum of the electric guitar.
DECAYCAST Reviews: Sabriel’s Orb / John Atkinson “Split” Cassette (Whited Sepulchre Records)
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.
DECAYCAST Reviews: Proud/Father “Symbolic Exchange & Emptiness” (Orb Tapes, 2018)
Proud/Father creates a tense, murky unsettling of ambient din on the A side of their newest album, “Symbolic Exchange & Emptiness” on PA’s ORB TAPES. The side begins with a slow, gentle pulsing ambient tone which slowly evolves over time into washed out, thick waves of sonic fog. “The first side is a reflection of isolation, both physical and emotional, from depression and similar mental health disorders. ” quotes the releases bandcamp page, and the subtle, harmonic shifts seem to oscillate moods ever so slightly without ever jarring the listener out of a meditative, hypnotic state. Several layers of drone eventually give birth to lush, washed out, undulating vocal tones, or are they even? Proud/Father seamlessly blends multiple sources into a singular harmonious, but still unsettling buzzing, like the buzzing inside your body when anxiously awaiting a phone call where every second seems like an eternity and every far away sound oscillates as a precursor to something your unsure about and you can’t place your brain on why. P/F has mastered keeping us in a sonic stasis, whilst their shifting tones dance around an aura of confusion, with even a dab of resolve.
The B side “Al alejarme de casa recuerdos débiles se apagan” , according to the bandcamp page ” is an exploration of the fading Boricua culture and the history of Puerto Rican independence movements.”, and it begins with a choppy tense transmission, the sound of a message in a bottle being dragged through an underground cement tunnel ever so swiftly and softly as to not detect the unknowing above. The choppy radio static like noise transmissions quickly fold into more undulating, thick walls of ambient drone, a thick fog casts itself inside the ear and modulates our mere understanding of the sound’s orgin, we are left with an increasingly angrier and more aggressively articulated drone of unknown origin. What was once a singing drone has turned into an angry, whipping, radicalized wind, devoid of mission and geographical direction, just a thickness of tension and intention. Proud/Father continuously oscillates between drone, ambient, and soundscapes with swiftness, however compositionally things never seem rushed, always blending into each other with care and precision, P/F has crafted an ambient soundscape strategy to call all their own. For fans of The Shadow Ring, Tim Hecker, Beast Nest etc. Tapes are apparently sold out, though you can get the digital here, highly recommended.
DECAYCAST Reviews : Expose Your Eyes “Brain Pan” Cassette (Aphelion Editions, 2018)
“Brain Pan” is a compilation album of sorts spanning nearly three decades of the Expose Your Eyes moniker via Paul Harrison. This long-form cassette explores harsh, heavy manipulated noise/voice, a myriad of field recordings, slow moving and cavernous drone and ambient works, low-fi voice manipulations via cut up and distortion methods, glistening warm synth poems clamored against harsh noise mayhem; the stylistic shifts throughout the release exposing the listener to a mixtape style of experimental styles.
Standout track “Rend” blends heavily delayed percussive events with a mid-toned whirring, slowly building tension and anxiety and almost seems to crawl out of the speaker into an unsuspecting nervous system. Other tracks such as “Red River 2” offer a more sombre, melodic approach, while still retaining elements of experimentation and loose compositional structure. The label describes the process of choosing from the vast sea of material presented to them by the artist, “For this album, Paul sent me a whole stack of recordings that I then carefully sifted through to select the pieces that would finally be presented here, and I’m really pleased with the results we’ve achieved.
Go ahead and delve deeper into the vortex for a whirlwind of (un)easy listening.
It will leave you washed up on a distant shore of your consciousness, perspectives altered.
Curious, bizarre and wonderful… “
All in all “Brain Pan” explores a wide variety of experimental sounds and really theres something for everyone on this cassette from the uneasy, nauseating sounds and sights of one (cough cough) Smell & Quim (who Harrison was a member of) to the lush, hypnotic, Organ and synthesizer forward dronings of early Tangerine Dream. Pick it up on limited edition full color cassettes or CD’s from the label HERE
Washington’s longstanding experimental stalwart William Rage returns with a heavy, cinematic offering for the Mondo Anthem imprint titled “II” or “Mondo Anthem II“. On this release, Rage crafts two slow, churning, heavy, dynamic works blending what sounds like synthesizers, field recordings, and noise sources to an interesting and unique sonic end. Overall, the sound of Happiness Forever is heavy, yet varied, textured yet articulate. A low ominous drone oscillates throughout the first side while seething, weighted atmospheric textures glaze over the drones in a hypnotic nuanced mixing style. The A side quickly builds with intensity as sine wave communications cast themselves far beyond the listener into the inner workings of the brain; something is wrong, I’m feeling uneasy.
The B side, titled “I Left My Electronic Heart In San Francisco (Recreation Of A Live Recording Of A Performance That Never Happened)” begins where the A side left off so to speak, with dense, field recordings and ominous crawling synths, which seem to sputter in and out like a rumbling, thirsty dying motor. Slow arpeggiations sing next to a thick, resonated clicking with background swells which create the perfect texture; the perfect song of alienated confusion. Mutated and garbled voices peak through the murky swamp, enveloping atop themselves and then decaying into the darkness, a different, warped experience every time. Truly beautiful sound composition.
“II” never becomes too much of one feeling, it’s always mutating while maintaining an overall fluency to its sounds and composition that make “II” a dense and refreshing listening experience for fans of many styles of electronic music. From musique concrete, to drone, to more cinematic styles of electronic composition, Happiness Forever is a which heavy fog we all must get lost in for the duration of this tape.
Follow MONDO ANTHEM HERE