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.
WAXY TOMB is the work of multimedia artist Jules Litman-Cleper. We’ve been following the work of WAXY TOMB here at Decaycast for many years and after a splatter of homemade CDR’s over the years it’s nice to see her work presented in proper LP format, as well as adorned with the nuanced, futuristic, cyberpunk influenced digital art that they have come to be known for through video, live performances and 2D works. The LP is also accompanied with an art book containing expanded variations on a theme of the cover art. The other-worldly visuals are the perfect compliment for the music; dark, nuanced, intricate, alien, and complicated.
The sound of “Imminent Fold”continues where previously homemade releases have left off, with conceptually dense, yet structurally often minimal and stripped down electronic compositions, though there is structure; these exist as “songs” in the traditional sense, however they gel and mutate within the lexicon of Waxy Tomb’s visual and aural landscape to continue to tell a part of a larger story. The voice has always been an important aspect of Litman-Cleper’s work, and this LP is no exception, pushing her extended vocal techniques in effected ways further than they have existed before; blending beautifully with the dark, throbbing chirps of synthesizer explorations and static noise crumblings. Litman-Cleper’s sound is at once alien, and robotic, yet natural and “comforting” in a way. She is able to ride the tension of creating simultaneously a record, that, in a sense is both an experimental electronic record and an electronic pop record, and one pinned together through the visual and aural alien language that the artist has come to define within her aesthetic set. Pulling from assumed influences such as Laurie Anderson, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Tara Cross, and Bjork, Litman-Cleper creates a style of experimental electronic , left-field music all her own which speaks an alien language that with “Imminent Fold”, we just begin to understand and are all the more rewarded for it. Highly recommended.
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.
If “True False” doesn’t destroy the world, it might just save it. I’m not one bit sure which would be worse. I dare anyone to listen on headphones walking through San Francisco’s Twitternob at twilight as socialmedia workers disperse and sidewalk-blanket markets roll out. Embracing the eviscerated stupidities of consumer society and then fighting to get free of those same idiot entrails now draped across your brain could make Negativland your solo silentdisco dance craze. Inside your head will be not only the sounds of marketforce lunacy, but the ghost traces of three Negativland members who’ve already shuffled off this mortal coil, Ian Allen, Don Joyce, Richard Lyons, kicking their heels at the Earth, the butterfly’s butterfly effect, and members still enfleshed, Mark Hosler, David Wills, Peter Connheim and Jon Leidecker with contributions from Ava Mendoza, Nava Dunkleman, M.C. Schmidt and Prairie Prince but their work is swept into a torrent of sampled language and sound, the electrocuted-elephant effect.
Since we’re all of us asleep all the time and find ourselves only occasionally awake on top of that, it occurs to me Negativland works the same way the human subconscious does. Both are made of always-on memory and an involuntary urge to chew up whatever isnt already pink slurry, gnawing in search of that single calorie of nourishment. The transcendental moment may be when you recognize it’s all going down the hatch anyway, out of sight, out of conscious mind. Like the gut, the subconscious isn’t built to chuck things back up for inspection. But barfing is underrated. Like food industry slurry, the ideology industry perfected its methods, designed to evade inspection, no eyes on the kill line, packaged for volume consumption. Negativland is underrated, their music serves as spectacular emetic, geysering your feed to sandblast the monolith of fiat happiness.
“It is Californians’ God-given right to water their lawnsYou know, there is no way to argue with thatPrint the manifesto print the manifestoDo you own research.No way to argue with that.Except with explosives.”
Of the multiple contexts Negativland evokes, mid-20th century ad-man polish has become their arch brand. The smiling voice that locates us in inert collective conscience, situating us in the vacuum space of capitalism’s dominant cultural mode: the con. Having seized pop music and advertising’s means of production, Negativland have long been masters of the weaponized ear worm. Each wriggler is impaled on a barbed hook of dense wordplay, segmented samples sourced from the mediasphere are always-already persuasive, wriggling mashups that compel close-reading at first just to hear the slogan, but then to anchor the preposterous and political contexts from which each source has been sampled. Unabashed about dense language and conceptual complexity, those who refuse to listen will still find their minds on the hook. They may suffer, commercial jingles rendered undigestible by semantic clusterbombs, their preferred identities and rationalizations perpetually stranded between disbelief and stalled rebellion. Close listening requires a doubling of cognitive dissonance, the line, the sources of the line, infrasectionality with the world before you. This doubling is itself a survival strategy for life under late capitalism, to ditch habituated scripts and act in the incomparable present.
“My life in the woods has been ruinedStand by.Pending final test.This noise!Wonderful isn’t it.The sound of American inventiveness.I may go mad.But think of the future you have. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about? Stand by. The question is lost in the sound of the explosion. Unfortunately. We. You. We are not destroying anything. We. And the creatures that assemble your phone. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world.”
The album includes a booklet that warns “Play twice before reading.” Inside, the crafted lines are transcribed as lyrics so reading without listening separates each verse from the aural context of each sample. Pulling sources out of context is the most basic method of propaganda, but Negativland makes poetry from propaganda inviting us to another possibility entirely. The poetry of “True False” asserts a politics that doesn’t need to preach or cancel when it can surpass by wide margins of wit and a call to run, hide, then fight back. “True False” bears vital witness to floundering habitually disingenuous simplistic cons that paralyze collective action. Desire and derision may yet survive the slurry to congeal again, the Golem of post-consumer conscience.
Ok so once in a while something so twisted, mutated, alien and sinister lands in the inbox and what a rare joy this situation is, and that’s exactly how we would describe the new album “AXIS” from Brooklyn based producer Bonnie Baxter, which, by the way is out NOW on the esteemed and never disappointing Hausu Mountain imprint, and you should go buy it right now! On “AXIS”, Baxter blends chaotic electronic blasts of sputtering, broken IDM rhythms with chopped and mutated alien vocal transmissions. The pacing and intensity are both set on high as Baxter belts forth a scattering array of tempo, time, and timbre changes seemingly on the neckline of a dime, all while creating a dark, unsettling yet unifying and coherent collection of tracks. This is maximalist music for an alien invasion where the beings slice open the ear, amplify it and reconfigure the soud intake structure; it is now inverted and begins omitting violent, brooding, and cynical laugh tracks for the apocalypse. Some tracks such as, “Spirit Enema” focus on more minimalist, albeit twisted takes on IDM/House music percussion with ominous shifting tones backing childlike vocal tone poems. Despite the often whimsical yet twisted vocal presentation, the electronics hold their own and never stalemate, every sound within every track is a now sonic discovery that adds depth and complexity to the album overall and the track within itself.
Other tracks like the later “Celestite” offer lush undulating muffled brass like textures which give breadth to complex yet minimal percussion tom lines as well as wells of elegantly placed reverb and delays, all sitting beautifully and elegantly in the mix. The sheer range of sonic explorations sound wise, percussion and vocal wise is impressive in itself , but the fact that composition wise, this album flows so well, despite it’s wide chaotic reach and conceptual points of entry, drops it in the highly recommended category for us, don’t sleep on this, A+ twisted electronic jams!
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: 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.
GOLDEN CHAMPAGNE FLAVORED SWEATSHIRT “Human Animal Chimera”
With “Human Animal Chimera”GOLDEN CHAMPAGNE FLAVORED SWEATSHIRT offers a blistering, slow-building rhythmic forward synth and drum track with various unheard and unique textures churning heavily in the background to create a thick, warm, but slightly unsettling blanket to cloak your ears in as the track progresses into a darker, more sinister climax. The drums are sharp and steady, militant, and pummeling, sitting perfectly in the mix to create a high tension blend of industrial, dubbed-out industrial forward banger. The bombastic drums create a stabbing and calculated backbone for the synth and other sonic parts to rattle this heavy and brooding sonic machine just as it’s ready to attack. Pummeling bass drums and toms hammer away as a symphony of buzzing synthesizers creating a refreshing concoction of dissonant, yet unified and very well gelled sound. The sound of GCFS is both dark, and complex, while retaining a unique cinematic edge, which is often missing in more traditional forms of dance and industrial music. Sputtering and groaning synthesizers, chirping sharp noise blasts and mangled voice samples create the sounds of animals and humans being glued and stapled together in a twisted, primitive lab, which sounds morbid, and yet, I can’t turn it off, I just want to hear more, and this is the fifth go around for this track for me in writing the review. This sounds great in headphones, but I can only yearn for this track to be blaring in a club akin to the blood rave scene from Blade. I wasn’t able to find much on this project but follow their bandcampand pick up the tracks that are there, you WILL NOT be disappointed. Heavy electronic music tracks are a dime a dozen, these days, but Golden Champagne Flavored Sweatshirt bring hope for those of us who want our dance music, dark, heavy and uniquely heavy. A really refreshing listen, will be back for everything this project releases.
Another short but powerful offering from the PACNW’s Happiness Forever, titled “Primitive Dimension”, which is aptly titled for this minimal but powerful sonic offering, A dark pulsing arpeggiated square wave synth opens the track, slowly and effortlessly edging the listener to the edge of the cliff out of the gate. Hard stereo panning madness ala Phedora era Tangerine Dream when the tech left too many fuzz pedals in the chain in the best way. Lower pitched synths slowly undulate as the panoramic view widens and we are left confronting out demons. Pulses slowly phase and undulate across the spectrum of rhythmic militancy, shifting ever so slightly to create a psychedelic fuzz of confusion. Long drawn out bell-like sounds breathe in the background creating tension and thickening up the form to a dense, stew of synthesizer sludge.
Perfectly timed, the A side gives breath to a more subtle and sparse (but equally dark and unsettling) B side which begins with murky, basement synthesizer swells, ringing inside the cochlear with beautiful collapsing sine waves, radiant, insect-like buzzing sounds, throttled tones of a disharmonious and gray sunset. Happiness Forever creates peaceful yet slightly unsettling and dissonant tone poems for fans of drone, ambient and synthesizer music. All the individual synth voices sprout equal trees within a sonic forest of psychedelic electronic explorations.
Stay Strange SD Collective artist Esteban Issac Flores brings eight heavy, dissonant and atmospheric guitar based worlds oscillating between drone , noise, metal and industrial under tbe MONOCHROMACY moniker . Flores elegantly creates haunting and dissonant cinematic spaces for a wall of destructed waves of swelling chaos, choked screams decay into walls of thick oppressive fog of tone, climax and eventually swell back down into dreary, pulsating tones. Sine waves shifting into the horizon encapsulate a distant haze of confusion and dread.
On “Living Posture” , Flores creates a deep and complex tension between the various sonic elements, which really doesn’t ever falter throughout the eight tracks of dreary doom. Some of these atmospheres could call back to Times Of Grace era Neurosis (my favorite period of one of my favorite bands ) , SUNN O)))) , Earth etc but that would be sort of a lazy comparison as Flores has clearly refined his sound to something not heard before in the tropes of heavy music.
Monochromacy leaves the “tough guy” bullshit of extreme music far away in the trash for a delicate and intelligent experimental offering. Flores has clearly honed a unique philosophy and approach to present the listener with a tense, yet refreshingly present decaying burning structure of mammoth and intimidating take on noise-influenced, drone-metal. The plethora of unique territories covered on this record while maintaining an overall dark and dreary cinematic vibe is rather impressive to say the least.We are never left without a tight sonic line pulled taught across our reality/neck wth ever shifting tone, pulse and intention. what is going on? Where did he leave us atop this fog ridden, dank mountain of dissonance and confusion? What is GOING ON! Wow and just like that it’s over, what a listen.Absolutely essential ride for all fans of the heavier side of noisy guitar works and heavier dissonant, cinematic music in general.