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: AMANDA R HOWLAND “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” (No Rent, 2018)
Cleveland, OH recording artist Amanda R. Howland comes with refreshing array of sonic possibilities and strategies with, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” her first tape for the NO RENT imprint, with two sides of mixed-bag, dense, electronics spanning from harsh noise, to musique concrete, to sections accentuating voice, to more abstracted rhythm sections which blend in and out of a gentle, yet very present, bowed, hum. Static, voice, melody, clattering broken rhythms, radio chatter of ancient transmissions and a harsh sense of absence are all present in this short but important release. Tension is another constant theme to the ear as one section may contain a harsh, alienating scraping; a sound nasty pissed and angrily broken, inching across the floor toward its prey as the amplitude and aggression increase and climax into an alarm style buzzing; alerting the listener that, yes, now is your time. Another sound, if even for a moment, may offer a brief, ambient respite to the harsh reality that has encapsulated us all, “Spider, Milk, Batshit, Silence” is, indeed the sound of that. A chaotic, dangerous and aurally thick and swift climax appears and then vanishes leaving only a distant hum of abstracted silence, a slow, subtle, thumping as if the decaying heart has pushed red for its final beat. The silence at the end of side one almost doesn’t seem real as the listener is left with wanting more of this uncertain future the ears and brain have yet to test, yet to experience. If any sonic territories are left unexplored under the “experimental” or “out-sound” tags on side one, we soon learn they will be shredded and eviscerated on side two with as much skill, tension, and carefully articulated abstraction as they were on side one.
The second side, “Batshit, Silence” picks up right where the A side dropped us off, with a high-pitched, distorted and warped melody. Intense shrieks, angry swells, and ancient hymns of bouncing, pulsing sine-wave frequencies gel together like a microbiological fungus slowly transforming into something much greater and dangerous, the thick scraping, shooting radio0 transmissions into the brain grow together, seamlessly providing a ridged and ugly backbone for abstracted layers of thunderous pounding, the a tonal scraping of a ferociously thick winds ripping across the gruesome and confusing scene, pulling tiny, flesh-ridden shards of the listeners inner ear with it, to cascade upon, as Howlands’ dark, grinning, noisy, churning machine glides through the wires and slowly leaks out of the pores offering a new dark reality, endlessly searching for a cave to whip around in, an enormous sound. This scene is eventually evacuated to barren, alien radio transmissions have crept their way in and angst-like shake and sputter long lost messages over the dense, thick walls of bleeding electronics, this like life eventually fades away and we are left with an alienating, deafening silence. Highly dynamic and enjoyable tape for a wide variety of experimental delvers. Pick u the digital HERE and the cassette HERE
DECAYCAST Reviews : Witowmaker “Feather” Cassette (Sleep On Dreams, 2018)
Witowmaker is the project of Bay Area electronic producer and internet cult personality Christopher Danko, also of Stable imprint/collective, and Religious Girls fame. On “Feather”, Danko crafts ten lush, dynamic, emotionally present, fun and heavy electronic “dance” tracks which float the listener to an oscillating plane of lush tone poem arpeggiations, thick walls of decaying synthesizers, heavy, dynamic drum programming, atmospheric flutterings, and concisely layered, and intricately mapped vocal samples. The overall sound of Witowmaker is, at times, surprisingly warm and ‘positive’, with a tinge of sarcasm, and at other times, darker, more dissonant, and even emotionally confusing in an interesting and uncontrived manner. Tension is sonically available throughout the wide range of aural moods on “Feather”, one track is accentuating the bent light sunshine across crashing waves, while the next track descends into another layer of cosmic hell, unsure of the outcome. Refreshing; this is a fun and important release in the arch of bay area electronic musings.
“Feather” offers complex, lush, delicate sonic textures while still retaining a pounding, thick, four to the floor heaviness which pulls from Acid, Dub, IDM and a dense warped version of straight-up dance music. Remnants of influence from Aphex Twin, FKA Twigs, DJ Spooky, Art Of Noise, and later Carl Cox can be heard in the glistening, bright, affront production, yet Witowmaker offers a unique style of dance based electronic music all their own! The B side begins with a fast tempo, funky bass arp track titled “Trick Me Twice” which rings back to 90’s NRG/bass music with an experimental flare all it’s own. A classically trained arp machine spits out climbing cascading rhythms while lush pads provide a warm backbone for chopped and glued vocal slices, offering a dense, warm, funky dance floor banger. Plug my ears with a drill to extract the earplugs that have been stuck for centuries at the club, ‘cause this is the high tempo, low bullshit dance music I’ve been waiting for.
This little tone machine gets funkier and more dynamic with each spin! Other tracks like the B side’s “Contamination” offer a darker, more evil-grin means of electronic stylings, which perhaps might be the darkest and most warped track on the album, pleasing the listener as the acid kicks in and everything changes. Witowmaker is refreshingly honest, dark and delicately crafted dance music for the jokester in all of us laughing to the trap door of life until the doors spin open and we’re left wandering through a world of confusion not knowing what we’ve seen nor heard. Look for more from this project, we will be. Side note: this is one of the best sounding and best LOOKING tapes we have received in some time, and it’s refreshing when the visual look and sound unite to create a beautiful package of lush electronic presentation. Order this tape, now!
Here’s also some free bandcamp download codes for the album: redeem at http://www.bandcamp.com/yum
DECAYCAST Reviews: Katatonic Silentio / Tremco / Neurosplit / Oromë (Biodiversità Records, 2018)
This collaboration shifts honestly between many many different sonic spaces; in the least contrived blending of beat oriented synthesis and, well plants. Riffing off a theme of the releasing label, Biodiversità Records, Katatonic Silentio / Tremco / Neurosplit / Oromë create a dense, special world of sonic possibilities in a structurally rhythmic call and response ping pong of tense, delicate, and complicated sonic events. Oscillating between dissonant beat oriented electronic music which the artists admit could be considered “techno” but the four to the floor mindless speed comedown hooks are left by the wayside for a more atonal, arrhythmic, deconstruction of traditional “techno”, “dubstep” or whatever step” you take away from these quaint but pungent sonic exercises. “Pteris Variata” unduates between slower, cold, tense pulsing rhythms, occasionally backed by more straightforward percussive voices, however the ambient swells and tense array of noises never allows this to become too much of a unique sound; the tracks and sections move swiftly and articulate their space and move on, nothing forces the listener into a corner relentlessly, rather creates a dark and interesting space for the listener to crawl into if they choose and explore a lush, dark, cinematic sound.
Background swells of anciently articulated sawtooth waves swell and wobble under a filter noose and offer an ambience which the percussion rhythms can dance around without dominating the mix. Overall the vibe is minimalist, tense, cinematic, ambient. Clickity, tapping, bass drums drive the rhythm exercises through a full workout of sonic possibilities ending with perhaps the EP’s strongest track, ” Oromë – Athyrium cantem” which speaks to early Phaedra era Tangerine Dream, Wendy Carlos and even references current producers such as Cloudland Canyon or Peaking Lights.
Will be digging more through this Italian based label’s catalog and seeing what other dark, pulsing treats we can find hiding in the brush.