Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Rotation #1

I'd been wanting to check out Chicago's Catholic Tapes imprint for a quite a while so last November I took the plunge and ordered a chunk of new releases. Through a big ol' nasty fiasco (or perhaps a series of them) I didn't get my order until a couple days ago. That was lame but the contents of the package have certainly made the wait worth it. There's a pair of gnarly ass synth tapes, Section 1 from Alex Barnett's ever growing Section series and The Pylori Program by Elon Katz, a name I was previously unfamiliar with. Barnett's cassette is as solid as ever and features the first "epic" I've heard from him, the side-long "Soldier" which even gets a reprise on side B. I don't know if the tape was recorded before sections 2-4 or how the chronology matches up to the numerology but they're all great tapes so I just plan keep collecting each Section. The Katz ain't too shabby either and features the totally rippin' hit single "Ode to John Connor." I don't even like The Terminator (I will eat my shoe the day James Cameron makes a good movie--fuck that hack) but this shit is bangin' in every aspect. For Terminator and non-Terminator fans alike.
Also in the package was a very drone-ish tape from Michael Vallera, Don't Call This Home. The first side "Leaving at Night" is a moody piece of what sounds like piano and guitar. There's enough fog to obscure pretty everything but it's beautiful none the same. "Safe" on B-side is more percussive and pretty cool as well. Solid.
My two favorites though, are vastly different but each totally bitchin'. Andrew Scott Young (of Tiger Hatchery) delivers a gnarled as all fuck cassette called Slophaus Diver, full of upright bass scrape and clatter--totally up my alley. Tactile, dark, claustrophobic, just killer really. I can't wait to listen to it more. Severely cool. The other stand-out is the 45rpm 7 inch split between Running and Loose Dudes, released by Catholic Male (Catholic Tapes + Priority Male). Running's full-length from earlier in the year was getting hyped (shit, I need to pick that up now that I've heard this single) and this track "Right Lane Leaning" makes good on the hype. Total neo-Jesus Lizard/Big Black savagery, very fucking awesome and very fucking Chicago. After being wrecked by the first side, I was totally blind-sided by the Loose Dudes side which is even better. They're less feral and more melodic than Running but, man, just as good. "Black Preacher" shot to the top of my singles chart within the first 20 seconds. Motherfucker, it is just the most goddam catchy thing I've heard in a while. Killer riffs, killer solo and killer chorus (I've been singing "Black preacher, you have my devotion" all week). The singer might be slightly tone-deaf but dude makes up for it infinitely with his showmanship. "Father's Day" their other song is another good one too. Fast and ragin' just how I like 'em. This record rules, can't recommend it highly enough. I gotta hear more of both these bands.
Also in today's rotation is a really bizarre thing I've been wanting to get a few words up about. It comes from Lighten Up Sounds and it's called Hands by Mole (pictured). It's a VHS release of "Live improvisation for 16mm, 8mm/Super 8mm, magnetic tape, AM radio, adapted machines, electric guitar, amplifier and electronics. Documented directly to VHS." Mole dropped this simultaneously with a mammoth c90 (also on Lighten Up Sounds) so this mysterious drifter has a ton weird shit up his/her sleeve. The majority of this runtime is dedicated to three overlapping frames, one is a white frame that continuously flickers, there's an out of focused video of something (sometimes it seems like it could be a western, a battlefield or people launching their canoes) and another frame that's very dark and there appears to be something crawling around in it. Needless to say I'm very perplexed watching it. The video has a cool feel, very lo-fi and the aural accompaniment is surprisingly melodic. There's some garbled speech in there and it seems like the majority of the sound sources are manipulated loops of samples. It sort of feels a little like a MF Doom or Wu-Tang Clan interlude minus all traces of hip-hop and zonked beyond recognition. A weird (even in this day and age) but enjoyable experience. Edition of 25.

MOLE "Hands" VHS (excerpt) from M.H.H. on Vimeo.

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