29 September 2011

Dementia and Hope Trails - 2011 - Parts of the Sea

Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5

Here's a tripped-out set that I stumbled on one of the many, way underground cassette tape releases than seem to be all the rage with the bedroom studio hep kids these days. This is a guitar drone album whose press release gleefully states that all the sounds on this recording were made with a guitar. Now, as a musician I tend to be a bit of a synth geek, but I do very much appreciate guitarists who are interested in melting and mangling the sounds of their guitar as you'll hear here. It's sort of like the trippier, medatative moments of Slowdive or Godspeed You Black Emperor, but, y'know, without all of those annoyances like the rest of the band or songs. I swear I meant that last sentence as a complement.

It's almost useless to discuss songs here, as the tracks are all guitar drones and simple but effective riffs sometimes extended to insane proportions. What you're looking for here is texture - choosing the track you're going to play is like choosing the your ice cream flavor. Maybe it's a bigger decision as several of the tracks here will last far longer than it takes for you to eat your 'squid-flavored' ice cream (if you want to try that flavor, head here and look for the Ice Cream City:http://www.namja.jp/):. Anyway, I find myself typically going for the marathon sessions on the second disc where "Sunflower" and "I Miss You, Don't Fall Asleep Yet" space out for around a half hour each. It suits me well as I screw around on the internet, make trippy marker art drawings, and so forth. That said, the first disc does present more of those hardcore drone-y sounds that are akin to sticking your head in the cosmic freezer.

Most of the music labelled 'new age' seems to sort of blow. I don't think anyone's slapping this set with that label, but it's much more likely to teleport your brain to the calm, intergalactic cloud that so-called new age music tends to imply. At any rate, this is not a bad introduction to the strange world of underground cassette tape drones if you haven't already made the plunge.

Head over yonder to download a copy:

22 September 2011

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - 2003 - Sleep/Holiday

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci had very much fallen into a relaxed Brit folk rock groove by this point, and they were pretty much coasting on it. Fortunately, this wasn't so much a dip in quality as in avant garde ambition, and as this ended up being their last album, the band gets an easy pass. Euros Childs great crooning vocals makes up a fair portion of the glue that holds this disc together, but the crisp, warm production and Megan Childs' violin certainly pull their weight as well. For the most part, this is a very relaxing and dreamy set of psychedelically tinged folk rock.

This band had no problem cranking out a bunch of quality tune, and there are definitely some fine examples stowed away in the grooves of this disc. The first two tracks ('Waling for Winter' and Happiness') and 'Eyes of Green, Green, Green' have the band's brand of folk rock down to a science, while the band takes a fine detour into their older, rockin' sound on 'Mow the Lawn.' I hear some serious Beach Boys influences creeping into some tunes as well. 'Leave My Dreaming' comes across like a Beach Boys session at Stax Records at 3am, and 'Pretty as a Bee' goes for the often ignored Dennis Wilson approach, although it's kind of like Dennis trying to record 'Dark Side of the Moon.' 'Single to Fairweather' doesn't have so much of a Beach Boys vibe musically, but its sweet ballad awesomely ruined by a left field punch line reminds me of Brian Wilson's 'I'd Love Just Once to See You.' You'll also have a ball droning out to the extended instrumental coda of 'Only Takes a Night.' The only tune that I could do without is the overly obvious 'Country,' which is trying a few bits to hard to live up to that title.

Gorky's probably could have gone on for years cranking out records like this one, but this one retains just enough freshness to take up a solid place in the band's discography. As this appears to have been their last album, it's a nice way to keep the band's reputation solid. I don't see many references to these guys anymore, but maybe a few of you can rediscover them and spread the word.

21 September 2011

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - 1999 - Spanish Dance Troupe

Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

I believe that this was Gorky's American debut and it's certainly the first time I came across them as I was spinning discs at my college radio station. By this time, the band had toned down quite a bit, and had developed a sort of 'twilight' haze to the music. Things are much folkier and violinist Megan Childs has far more to do. Typically, I would not see this as a plus. I'm a conceited cellist myself, and violins typically don't do it for me (especially in rock and jazz), but Child's violins parts are well thought out and irreplaceable bits of the tunes. While not quite as exuberant as their earlier material on average, their mature sound presents a band that really has grown into their own thing and this is probably their best album.

Now, after going on a bit about the quieting down of the band, the rockers on this disc do put in duty of some of the highlights. 'Poodle Rocking' is just as entertainingly dumb as it's title and will end up stuck in your head forever. It's the only spot on this album where the band rips into the tune with wild abandon. The amps crank up a bit on 'Desolation Blues' as well, and the awesome crunch guitar riff fits along with Euros Child's crooning vocals. The rest of this disc is chock full of folkier tunes, and they don't disappoint. I'm particularly enamored of the blissfully melancholy 'She Lives on a Mountain,' the country folk sound of 'Faraway Eyes,' and the burned out in the Spanish countryside vibe of the title track. The band fares well with some brief instrumentals as well, with the textured 'The Fool' leading the bunch.

This is a pretty subdued collection, but is a top flight set of acid folk. The influences stick mostly to the late 60's and early 70's here, and if the Soft Machine had been more into folk than jazz, they might have comes out sounding a little like this. It'll do you well for your listening late at night or on a particularly golden sun-bleached day.

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - 1996 - An Introduction to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5

Technically, I suppose that Gorky's Zygotic Mynci was part of the mid 90's Brit pop explosion, but happily they make up part of the freaky branch that includes their Welsh countrymen Super Furry Animals. , This music is clearly echoing the psychedelic jazz/folk lens of acts such as the Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers, although the band rocks out with some full-blast punkish guitar as well on this compilation of their early material. The band's not-so-secret weapon is the vocals of frontman Euros Childs, a great vocalist who finds a great warm balance between youth-like wonder and psychedelic knowing, without sound quite like any of his musical forebearers.

This isn't a particularly long compilation, but it is well stocked with awesome tracks. The opening clutch of tracks is great, great stuff, with 'Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd (Girls Doing Each Other's Hair)' leading off with kind of an acid-fried version of the Pixies loud/soft thing, while 'Methu Aros Tan Haf (Can't Wait Till Summer)' is first rate psych folk and 'Bocs Angelica' contains a really amusing chorus which comes across a little like the doom metal Beach Boys. Later on, 'Why Are We Sleeping' does a pretty fair update of the early Soft Machine sound, and 'The Game of Eyes' earns kudos just for being so damn strange. Only 'Miss Trudy' strikes the twee alarm a little to much for my liking, although it does remain perfectly listenable. 'When You Laugh At Your Own Garden' is probably disposable since it is basically a short, stoned psychedelic experiment. I imagine it worked better on a proper album.

Gorky's made their (still somewhat small) American impact a few years later after they'd upped the acid folk ante and dropped some of the louder bits. Some of this set may come as surprise as it's the sound of a band still thrashing about in their sound, but having a fine time of it. I believe there are a few different versions of this compilation drifting around, with somewhat varying track listings. For better or for worse, I believe this version is the briefest of them, but you'll still have a rollicking good time.

07 September 2011

Damaged Tape -2011 - Nude Witchcraft EP

This is the soundtrack for a film that doesn't exist. I made these tracks for Gonzoriffic Productions ringleader (and Glaze of Cathexis drummer) Andrew Shearer. He was on his way to a filmmaking vacation in Hollywood, and I made these with the intention of providing him with some Michael Mann sleaze for his endevours. Somewhere along the line, he had a dream about making a film called 'Nude Witchcraft.' While he didn't make the film, he did come up with a trailer and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a tune for that as well.

The tunes are very much focused through the analog early 80's. In fact, except for a vocoder on the title track, everything here is 100% analog electronics. I applied a bit of Scott Atkinson's poetry to 'Light's Passage.' Meanwhile, 'Harp of the Triple Goddess' comes from some tracks I've been working on with Andrew Bland, whom I worked with several years ago on the 'Paper Tigers' LP (the rest of the tracks will appear soon). None of the original track remains, but I did recreate some of his melodic contributions for this cut.

I considered putting these with some other tracks for an LP, but they work so well together and are so much cut of the same cloth that I decided to keep them as a shorter length collection. I hope you dig what you hear.

Track List:
1. Nude Witchcraft (2:54)
2. Musings of the Horned God (4:35)
3. Raindrops in the Waterfall (5:01)
4. The Molten Universe (3:05)
5. Light's Passage (4:45)
6. Harp of the Triple Goddess (3:22)

Listen to Me:

This isn't especially out of bounds, but you do get at least some of what you clicked for when you click on 'Nude Witchcraft':