AUTO1 fall 1995

luster interview

broca's area interview

anomalous records interview





2206 SE Taylor, Portland OR 97214 USA
It comes on like chimpy cartoon carnival music with someone speaking about "our free market economy" laid over. Storm clouds appear in the form of suspenseful noize and overtake the carnival in diabolical fashion. This is where the fun begins. Then the clouds part, the sun shines through, and we are taken to another rainsoaked land. Or is it just another part of this vast carnival? Iso-electro loop sounds. The aural pictures shift slowly but with great contrast. The themes on this short cassette would benefit from being drawn out to album length. Overall this is a well-produced cousin of Future Sound Of London. Perhaps.
Ian C Stewart

First Of The Day PO Box 6591, Grand Rapids MI 49516 USA
Music that has no set agenda, and that can't be compared to anything else has always appealed to me. That's the case with BACCHUS JIHAD. This CD is really relaxing, and very emotionally absorbing. The vocals, especially on the first track "Cranial Bedfellows," are absolutely beautiful. This CD contains a lot of machine samples, a little chanting and other fun-filled effects. There's a lot of unmasked potential here, and I hope everyone who reads this will give them a true listen. If I had to throw it at a certain group of listeners, I would recommend it to anyone who likes a cross between industrial and gothic and has a sense of humor.
Kim Rizzo

Eli, 6 Marshall Dr #241, Camp Hill PA 17011 USA
Nothing at all particularly stuck out on this tape for me to want to listen to it again. I hate to compare bands but in this case it's unavoidable. They seem to be in the vein of your typical Philadelphia/NYC locals that spend too much time playing the sounds of 1980s heavy metal. It's a monotonous tape. I felt like I was listening to someone speaking in the same voice for an hour, just waiting for them to either show some emotion or shut up! There would be potential if there was a little more emotion, a little more excitement in the music. Lighten up, guys! The devil on the front of the tape is a little much.
Kim Rizzo

Luna Bisonte 137 Leland Ave, Columbus OH 43214 USA
This is the latest mail collaboration featuring the words and voice of John M Bennett and the music of Rotcod Zzaj (Metcalf). Both are well-known for their long-time involvement in the cassette networking scene. Bennett's delivery of his poetry is mesmerizing, seemingly simultaneously always on the verge of hysteria and collapse on the one hand and ecstasy and idiot glee on the other. Cascades of coruscating non sequitured bird-words flown from the brain into buzzing, chirping flocks of tongue-flung, teeth-tapped brutalized phonemes. Bennett's' words take on lives, interactions and intercourse of their own design, outside of daily usage or expectation, colliding, getting tangled up like a messy ball of yarn or a kitchen sink stew. Metcalf's electric keyboard work weaves patterns in around and through the words, at times intersecting then passing through. Other times it swirls and whirls and curlicues around the words, tracing ethereal arabesques in the atmosphere of the recording. At times Metcalf's music conjures up an image in my third ear of the razor-cloud from LE CHIEN ANDALOU sliding through the open spaces in big letters spelling out words set aloft by Bennett's tongue. Anyway, I'm just so pleased with this work because the artists have nearly as perfectly as possible collaborated in a real sense. This kind of thing always runs the risk of falling flat on its face, but here there's a sense of unity, togetherness and cohesiveness that makes it a real treat. A unique experience and one you'll want to repeat.
Hal McGee

EctoTapes 5912 NW 62nd Terr, OKC OK 73122 USA
Amped up Tex-Mex, southern-fried punkabilly complete with grubby slide guitar and harmonica. Or is it "harp"? The lyrics are just slightly sarcastic, probably making this band a big hit in bars. The production is good. 'Love Is Blind" could sneak onto the radio behind Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt etc with no problem. Kicking their worthless asses and beating them at their own game. "Lineman" shifts gears a bit, straying toward a weird screaming rock vibe. Someone has a sampler on this track and is just jockeying it. Yes. I would too. "Mexican Deathrag-Eastwood Dub" closes the tape nicely, just in time to save old Billy Joe Winghead from being "launched" through the far wall. Dub is good. Slide guitar is bad. Let me know if y'all find that cheeseburger dripping with cervical mucus.
Ian C Stewart

PO Box 243, Highland Heights KY 41076 USA
The music on this I liked. There's a lot of good instrumental talent and I get the feeling that they would be really good up close and personal in an intimate setting. The quality of this tape isn't 100% and honestly I think that's what's holding me back from saying it's GREAT. I didn't enjoy the vocals or lyrics as much as I did the music. It has a sort of swirly pull-you-in feel to it. The vocals need to be a little less Offspring and a little more Depeche Mode, and then I'd say it was great. But definitely worth half an hour of your time.
Kim Rizzo

Fried Eggs Productions 15 Charlotte St, Rochester NY 14607 USA
"Ugly" is right! Yikes! This song's intro recalls Exciter while the rest of the track is from the Biohazard school of ugly metal. The chords sound fairly huge, so I don't know why this song doesn't hit like it should. The "fuck-sleep-fuck again" chorus should make this a family favorite. "Vandewater" suffers from the age-old heavy metal dilemma of what to do when the volume gets turned down. Sensitive metal. Yeah. With Geoff Tate's plumber on backing vocals. "Liquid Carnival" is so terrible I don't even want to think about it. This competently played but ultimately ill-conceived generic metal. These boys need to listen to Celtic Frost and Voi Vod, get a new singer, and never EVER repeat the horrors of "Liquid Carnival." Nice guys I'm sure, but this disc is for friends of the band only!
Ian C Stewart

EF Tapes PO Box 14013, Minneapolis MN 55414-0013 USA
Sometimes I fall in love with a cassette because of its pure obnoxiousness. For its downright sheer infections obstreperousness THE FINE ART OF ANAL INTERCOURSE wins hands down in my book. From the crew at EF Tapes comes half an hour of in-your-face blistering, caterwauling, screechy noise dreck that kicks the listener in the aural ass. The sounds are rich, colorful, and well-recorded and the composition is nicely accentuated with a start-stop style. So-just before those endorphins kick in, Cock-ESP changes it up, messing with your head and your ears. There's a likable sense of humor underlying all of this which keeps it interesting. And to top it all off, the cover depicts a couple engaging in a variation of the title's subject matter that appears to be more trouble than it could possibly be worth in pleasure. Such is not the case with this recording!
Hal McGee

Surreal Geese Service Box 8, 113 Hartington St, Bedford MK41 7RN UK
This tape is a really fucking good mix of styles and a very entertaining listen. Electronic rhythms and death metal guitars meet witty vocal bits and silly samples. And a Chameleons reference on "Bacteria" will make this my favorite tape today! Experimental and fun and punk and stupid and weird. "Fade Out" : yes! Takes the piss out of "feel good" pop. "Turn To Me" is what a soul record on Earache Records might sound like. This tape is inspirational. Reminds us all (okay-me) what it's all about. ".104" features a Napalm Death-approved guitar tuning over a dance beat to unusually interesting effect. "10x10/Jennysong" is an interesting slow sludge workout with cool vocal harmonies. The drum machine, moderate use of distortion on the guitars and the overall humor keep this tape from lapsing into straight death metal. I could go on all day about its brilliance but instead I'm going to go listen to it. Piss off and write away for this thing already. Damn.
Ian C Stewart

Waking Dream PO Box 7003 NY, NY 10116 USA
This is the tape I was dying to receive, from a previously unknown group who comes from out of nowhere and kicks my face in with a damn-near perfect tape. This is the real thing. Pro production with an ear for variety. Sort of organic emo industrial Cranes meets early, earthy Reznor with an acoustic guitar and some real pain. The singer's voice is a cross between Chris of Luster and the guy in Fade (for those who know). Honest and gentle and abrasive and pissed off and hurt all at the same time. Definitely a contender in this realm. The next time you hear about December, it will be when they sign with Geffen for 2 mil or some shit. Or if you get the Permission magazine CD compilation of TV series theme song covers, they do the theme from "The Prisoner." HOPE FOR NOTHING is essential listening. You shall buy two copies and a shirt.
Ian C Stewart

Regicide Bureau 8701 Crocus Ln, St Louis MO 63114 USA
Side one is "Jobbin' For Joujouka," a layered improv of mostly electronic sounds (synths, loops + a voluptuous Dr Rhythm) plus distorto guitar wanking. This track would be improved by slowing the tape down all the way, losing the guitar (or treating it beyond recognition) and giving the Dr Rhythm a break every so often. The synth burbles mightily but the guitar distracts and the drum machine adds little. This track has potential. Remix it and edit some of the top layers and then it'll be in business. Side two follows a similar pattern. The synth sounds are best, and Mr Nucleon obviously isn't afraid to experiment. The problem lies in the editing. Or rather in the lack of editing. "Cancel My Flight" breaks the mold somewhat with a prefab hiphop beat under e-bow noodling and synth groping. "Ethnic Cleansing" continues along these lines. The raw materials are there. The sounds and the flair for experimentation are good signs, but ultimately this tape is a long trip nowhere.
Ian C Stewart

FDR Tapes 1258 E 25th St, Des Moines IA 50317 USA
Impure noise overload here. Most of this is VERY LOUD WANK. Layers of rolling, coarse distortion. Crashing. On side one I like "Religion 101" and "The Cut Off" best, the latter a somewhat calming loop with keyboards overlaid. Nice. Over on side two "Road Weary" is too much noodle and not enough edit. And "Frustration" wears out its welcome quickly. Definitely a graduate of the University Of Sonic Abrasion. My speakers are now very angry. "All Alone" is all untreated keyboard sounds, including the rhythm track. It's fun to see what can be done with the presets on Casio/Yamaha keyboards sometimes. At home. In private. "The Web" would've made an excellent starting point for this tape. I'd like to hear EHI do more of this kind of thing. It wanders inoffensively a bit, with treated spoken vocal bits. "Destroying Traditions" rounds the tape out with 4:48 (says here) of noodling with a distorted keyboard loop. Next time: better songs, less wank.
Ian C Stewart

ASR 2632 Florian, Hamtramck MI 48212 USA
If the singer is a prancing git onstage we may have ourselves a new Suede. "Poison Pals" is an uptempo strummy rock song which on the surface appears pretty tame. Until Christian Burke's lilting voice saves the day. Interesting lyrics too. One day arenas will sing the "la la la"s on the fade. When Morrissey opens for Ethos! "Swollen" would be a mind-destroying ballad at half speed, but its more uptempo bits just kill the mood. The breakdowns are best. Both songs go nicely on a mix tape. This one's staying with me. Y'all oughta consider a tour. I need an excuse to dress like a ponce in public.
Ian C Stewart

Sick Muse PO Box 28664 Bellingham WA 98228 USA
The track "Audio Hurricane" is a looped sample which provokes the listener in the same way a car alarm during sleep might. Harsh noise. This is electronic sound provocation and if being irritated by the sounds coming from your stereo sounds like fun to you… "Dragged Away" is a strange, distorted beat. A blunt, tribal sample. The rest, though, sounds like stuff I used to record when people would loan me equipment (delays, keyboards, etc). Tentative, experimental and filtered. This genre seems to thrive off making annoying tapes, so the fact that this one bothered me in a rather unpleasant way is probably a good thing to them. Cool. I guess.
Ian C Stewart

Autumn 1995 brings another perfect recording from Eyelight. This is taken from a performance for a radio show. The pieces all intersect and are laid out in "mega-mix" stily. These could be Eyelight's "Greatest Hits." If you're lucky like me, you hear Eyelight when you dream. Mortals will weep. A Frippertronic a capella work for gorgeous solo female voice. There's no arguing with perfection, you can only lay yourself at its feet and be humble. It's impossible not to get carried away by Eyelight.

Chuck 1809 W Grand, Chicago IL 60622 USA
A hard-hitting collection of tunes on this tape. "Tough Bronco" hits with Sonic Youth chords, Seattle drumming and Paul Westerberg's illegitimate nephew puking his lungs out for the vocals. Yeah. It works. And it's hard. Good pro sounds. You'll want to turn this on real loud and then leave the room. Go get a banana. The drummer rules. If this was 1988 these guys would rule Sub Pop and would be teaching Soundgarden a thing or three. "Said Nothing" is musical Seattle Vs Minneapolis but in a good way. Uptempo and menacing. Rock Star Club features some of Flatbush Foot Brigade's membership and also the same sense of dynamics, mixed with more humor and variety. Very engaging banana rock. The singer sounds like Chris Cornell's pre-stardom lower register. Hook up with this tape if you need to rock like it's 1990. The Snoop Dogg cover is indispensable. These bands should be a big hit with all the kids in Chicago. If they know their asses from their elbows up there.
Ian C Stewart

818 N Dekum St, Portland OR 97217 USA
Songs comprised of fretless bass and upper-register male vocals over minimal backing tracks with silly lyrics. The bits between songs are very trying sound collages of looped samples. People laughing, people singing children's songs, people being annoying. Scores very low on the Girlfriend-O-Meter, somewhere around "What The Hell Is This Crap, It's Not Very Good." Sounds like it was fun to record though. The songs themselves hinted at capabilities greater than wank like this. Really.
Ian C Stewart

Pogus Productions PO Box 150022, Van Brunt Station, Brooklyn NY 11215-0022 USA
For more than a decade, Al Margolis has recorded works that plumb the murky depths of the subconscious mind. Evoking images of times, paces and events that are at the same time alien and yet somehow strangely familiar. This CD is dream music in the most profound sense. Every time I've listened to it I've noticed my mind drifting in and out of the music, to and from different levels, from foreground to background, to a forgetfulness of the present. I won't even try to describe the music itself, however I will say that it transcends the CD medium itself to create a work that is unique, individualistic and highly personal. Nothing else sounds like it. 33 BIRDS WENT gets my vote as best recording of 1995.
Hal McGee

31-37 34th St #2C, Astoria NY 11106 USA
Painfully earnest voice/guitar songs here. Spare arrangements and barely-in-tune vocals make this a somewhat distracting collection. "Tears In The Rain" is the best of this brief tape, but these songs sound like side project material. A bit unfocused. And in the end this tapes makes me uncomfortable in the same way as seeing someone cry or shoplift.
Ian C Stewart

Boy Blue Records PO Box 133 Prince St Station, NYC NY 10012 USA
I've listened to this tape for weeks in a feeble effort to understand it more fully. The ingredients: breathy female vox, layers of guitars & feedback, interesting songs, good production. Hm. Twelve songs here and they're all decent. Standouts include "Doubt" (wisely tapped as a single, on blue vinyl no less). Overall I'm mostly reminded of Curve, so my hang-ups with that band carry over to this one. Like I said, the songs are interesting, decent… but not always memorable. Sometimes the style gets in the way of the substance here. All of the sounds are there but the songs don't always stick like I want them to. And I'm really pulling for these guys. They rate very high on the Girlfriend-O-Meter, right around "Can I Take This To Work With Me?" I give this group points for getting the luscious Dr Rhythm drum machine onto vinyl, something I've never heard before. My verdict is: these guys will be ready to rule the world in another two years, maybe after they tour a bit and tighten up. Really they're just one outstanding drummer away from beginning the process. Keep me updated, guys.
Ian C Stewart

Psychotribe Records 420 S Aiken Ave #B5, Pittsburgh PA 15232 USA
An awfully bassy release, this one. The music is techno-industrio-electro-guitar rock with an over-the-top singer and a catchy tune or two. "Little Whore" could be a club hit if the vocals were distorted. "Flexible" is 80s as fuck and will have all you former new romantics pining for your blush-caked glory days. "Parasite" features the requisite porno samples but is otherwise unremarkable. The Girlfriend-O-Meter says: "Is This Nine Inch Nails?" Oooh, taken! "Dread" is good, with more of that patented phat bass and monstrous beats with the icky metal guitars. "Pull The Trigger" sounds like a Christian Death outtake with its fake religious imagery. To all the dudes out there: if you want club girls to think you're a fly-ass daddy then play this tape in your Jeep as you roll past. Guaranteed ho-sandwich time for sure.
Ian C Stewart

FDR Tapes 1258 E 25th St, Des Moines IA 50317 USA
A fairly engaging sound collage. Layers of synths, TV sounds and faux "toy" music abound. The vibe is spacey. Repetitive and experimental with hallucinatorily familiar voices dropped in (Sesame Street etc). "Acidheads In Toyland" is the best cut here, with its indifferent beat and soothing 1980s synth motif. Head music for relaxation or something.
Ian C Stewart

Orangutang Records 12001 9th St N #2711, St Petersburg FL 33716 USA
Inoffensive, polished guitar pop recorded at Morrisound in Florida, where many of my favorite death metal records were done. Shut up, I'm serious! It's good to know that Glenn Benton's venom hasn't done any permanent damage to Morrisound's gear! "No Time To Waste" has a delightful chorus and some good guitar playing by Mr Tim, who also wrote and sang all eleven cuts on this disc. "Window Of Society" starts like a Sting track with that rimshot and moody vibe. The brief chorus of "Panther's Escape" is wonderful, but sequestered beneath this nondescript shell. "Algorithm Of Love" sounds like a single and would be right at home on AAA radio or some movie soundtrack. "Less Afraid" is uptempo pop with acoustic guitars and a very dark bridge. Yes. "Live In Peace" cops an XTC "Yacht Dance" feel, though the lyrical sentiment is a tired rock cliché of the "let's all get along everybody, there's no time to waste" variety. Unfortunately the bright spots of this disc are obscured by recurring reliance ona by-the-book approach. Unchallenging. Even the Chapman Stick couldn't put the edges back. Bottom line: not bad, but not great either.
Ian C Stewart

BETA 2.0.1
PO Box 2803 Laguna Hills CA 92654 USA
Noise Level 9 tells in their "Mission Statement" that they want "…to provide the listener a release and be a legitimate contributor in today's industrial arts." Mission accomplished. Their well-produced tape contains three very promising, really good songs to be thrown into the stew that is the simmering industrial genre. All three tracks have a somewhat dark and danceable feel to them. Much like most of the young new industrial bands these days. But I think there's just enough of a unique sound to them to deserve your undivided attention.
Kim Rizzo

310 E 44th St #1224, NY NY 10017 USA
Demo from a band that is trying too hard to "make it." Despite all of their efforts, however, somebody forgot that the point of having a band should be to play good music. That should be part of the whole process. Unfortunately for this band, not one song on their turgid demo stood out for reasons other than being utterly banal and unworthy of my time. Yeah yeah, they can play well and they got their demo looking all nice and shrink-wrapped and they do all the "right" things… Which won't get them anywhere, I can guarantee that right now. The drummer had one or two tasty fills on this demo but the rest is the pits. Music as commerce. Just say "Hell No, Major Label Dildo" and demand more from yourselves! Crap.
Ian C Stewart

Zzaj Productions 5308 65th Ave SE, Lacey WA 98513 USA
Boring improv for Rhodes piano and distorted guitar on side one. Sounds like they're doing everything they can to not play together. Distracting at best, the rest is just formless and uninteresting. The instrumentation isn't complimentary, nor does it clash in a meaningful manner. Just goes to show that not every cassette collaboration spawns fascinating results.
Ian C Stewart

Dagger Records PO Box 380152 E Hartford CT 06138 USA
Comes on like a surf record… Uptempo rock, or is it punk? That's not a philosophical question, I'm really just curious. Overly reverbed distorto guitar over a driving bass 'n drums beat. "Hot Foot" is fast and has your favorite surf elements: tremolo guitars, fast ride cymbal work. Makes me think of loud cars and old rockabilly guys trying to keep their hair from going flat in the sun. We surf a lot in Ohio, so this is like soul music to me.
Ian C Stewart

AuralArt PO Box 83 Forked River NJ 08731 USA
This tape is a well-produced bore. The music is edgeless, indistinct guitar rock. The singer is out of tune and sings accusatory lyrics to someone who has obviously done him some wrong. Pity that money was paid for the studio time to record this sonic Sominex. Some things are just better on a 4-track… this tape isn't necessarily one of them, but at least Scherer could've saved some money to hire a proper singer and lyric writer! This tape is an example of why singer-songwriters have such a bad image, the tunes aren't catchy and lyrics are self-absorbed to the point of being impenetrable. Back to the 4-track, dude… and NEVER waste my time like this again! Come back when you get a singer and your own style.
Ian C Stewart

Euphoria Records PO Box E, Scottsdale AZ 85252 USA
If this band named itself after the Chameleons track then sign me up for the fan club. This tape is an interesting twist on the usual gothic rock themes. The overly emotive singer is sure to be a hit with the ladies. And he probably freaks out at shows. Second Skin makes liberal use of acoustic guitars and synthetic percussion + strings and it works well. An excellent soundtrack for feeling misunderstood. "Misery Loves" treads familiar terrain with piano and e-bow guitar but steps off the path in grand style with unlikely tempo changes. Cool. "Eden" shows that these guys aren't afraid to write a million parts into a song. Calling them the gothic Metallica may be premature but they definitely can arrange. This is an excellent, high-quality release which all of the Goths shall devour.
Ian C Stewart

S Perley 39 Mo-Sett Ave, Goffstown NH 03045 USA
Straightforward rock that will have you asking which Molly Ringwald movie these guys were in. Playing at the big dance. They have a definite 1985 John Hughes movie/Hooters (the band, not the restaurant) slant. Back in the day this stuff was called college rock. The first three tracks are decent enough, but track four, "Chrysanthemums" is the worst, ugliest word to repeat over and over in a chorus. Yuck. The title track is a country+western-like bit of slander about the singerdude's exgirlfriend. I mean, I hope he's not with her anymore, talking all that smack about her! Who now "turns tricks" in a park. After dark. Yep, that's the level we're on. Good production though the songwriting could use some more edges. More XTC, less Bryan Adams, chaps. And the lyrics are crap. This band is probably very energetic live. Bottom line: explore tempos and topics and never try to be funny again! Skeg on!
Ian C Stewart

Dive Records PO Box 4218 Sunnyside NY 11104 USA
The latest release from Jim Santo's label is apparently part of a series. This record features an enjoyable Syd Barrett cover which stands up to repeated listenings, unlike some "novelty" cover versions which wear thin instantly. Any furthering of Syd's music is a good thing and this is especially well recorded. The flip is called "My Limbic System (Is Fucked)" and features Mr Santo on vocals. The song itself is a weird mix of psychedelia and urban scumrock. The music bed is all flowery and paisley while Sir Santo's vocals stylings are more reminiscent of a New Yorker with … well, with a fucked up limbic system. This record is good but it should've been on colored vinyl!
Ian C Stewart

PO Box 85363 Seattle WA 98145-1363 USA
This two-sided ribbon comes from Seattle, but don't expect distorted guitars with trash can drums. This is electronic music, that is, for the most part excellent. Let's begin with the so-called b-side, since the best stuff is to be found there. "Tincture #1" is the kind of ambient music that I'm always longing to hear, but rarely find. A magnificent 15 minute dreamscape that creatively explores and otherworldly sonic realm. With sine waves rising and ebbing in an utterly natural and seemingly effortless way. The interweaving and multilayered synths are further enhanced with a variety of well-though-out and well-placed embellishments. Some sounding percussive, others like synth effects. It's a real pleasure to hear a work of music that avoids falling into a predictable routine. In feel and tempo, the sensation is of extreme slow motion. The entire production is seamless. Quite simply a masterpiece. Immediately following is "Tincture #2," which appears to be an alternate mix of the previous piece. Subtle differences are audible, making the perfect compliment to what came before. A whistling, near insect-like sound becomes prominent in the mix early on. Distant marimba shots also surface, focusing the listener on its percussive characteristic. This piece has even more texture than the first, giving it a denser feel. Combined the two make for the most enjoyable 30 minutes of music from and independent recording artist I've heard in quite some time. Tacked on the end is a bonus 1:15 of music not listed on the label. It's a wonderful intermingling of synth strings and bells. The chord structure shows and advanced command of major, minor and sevenths. Really a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, the a-side, titled "Half The Length Of The Chamber" does not fare as well. Although it sounds like the basis of a good idea, it never evolves or develops. Clocking in around 30 minutes, it's way too long. It actually sounds to me like a 7-10 minute loop that is repeated 3 or 4 times. The only bright point is the seamless blending of the loops. What prevents it from being anything more than a tedious experience is that it goes nowhere, and never rises above the most rudimentary level. I once owned an old refrigerator with a dying motor. Lying in bed, all I could hear was the dull repetitive hum. That's not unlike listening to this. Once through each cycle we actually hear something else. A fast sequence of sax-like sound, for about 3 seconds. If there had been more of this kind of coloration it would have improved the piece dramatically. KJO credits himself on synths and "tape saturation." And once through each cycle, it does grind down to a low flutter. This comes as a delight to the ear because at least it is some kind of break from the monotony. For the most part I could gain a similar listening experience by running my washing machine, lifting up the top, and focusing on the sounds inside. A quick word about the packaging: it has to be one of the nicest presentations I've ever seen on a self-released cassette. Wrapped around the outside of the box is a waxpaper sheath bound together with a preprinted sticker, listing the title of the work, catalog number and label affiliation. The j-card itself has graphic images that KJO creates as being "…downloaded from Virtual Human Project web page." The whole thing comes in a closeable plastic bag. Really exceptional. So despite the shortcomings of "Half The Length…" the brillians of "Tincture" 1 & 2 should not be overlooked. If you share my passion for lengthy, intelligent ambient head music, then write to Tinty Music.
David Holusha

PO Box 85363 Seattle WA 98145-1363 USA
"No Escape From Time" features jarring percussive sounds pitted against cool sequenced rhythms. The whole track is then overtaken by a storm of treble just after an AM radio meltdown. Distorted telephone themes abound in the distracting "Theory Of Miscommunication (Collage #1)." "Tincture #3" is nighttime outdoor soundtrack music. The sound of the dark sky opening on the clearest night of autumn. Easily the highlight of this tape.
Ian C Stewart

Ectotapes 5912 NW 62nd Terr, OKC OK 73122 USA
Distorted pop majesty here. An overdriven no-fi spectacle. The recording technique suggests Loveliescrushing. All needles go beyond the red into "permanent damage" terrain. The songs are mysterious pop gems, which had me on the edge of the floor awaiting the next rack. Very exciting. Mostly guitars and male vox trot down pleasant paths alone, joined occasionally by a pained organ sound. This tape is short, stunning and sexy, which is what everyone should aspire to.
Ian C Stewart

Via Castiglione 91, 40136 Bologna Italy
This is a full-length release which Franco is currently shopping to labels in Italy. 20 majestic, uplifting songs here, stunningly recorded. The tape is laid out nicely, with good contrast between the tracks. Franco's songwriting is from the school of intelligent pop, appealing to the XTC/Crowded House fan in each of us. Several songs stray from the path and go techno… one even sounds a bit like Primus, in a fun and completely over-the-top way. A person could be forgiven for thinking that Franco Turra is already a massive pop star in Europe, but he's still one of us for now. Until Sony or Virgin sweep him up and give him the audience his incredible songwriting talents deserve. This is mandatory listening for all of you. You'll be thanking me for months after you hear it.
Ian C Stewart

Mother Savage Noise Productions 1180 Colgate Dr, Monroeville PA 15146 USA
Unit-M is a collaboration between American hard noise bands Macronympha (Pittsburgh) and Crawl Unit (Sacramento). This is a surprisingly rich and complex work, the kind which reveals new aspects and dimensions upon each listening. Most recordings of this genre lapse into an electronic pain-by-numbers formula with sounds that are thin, gray, washed-out, dictatorial and unimaginative. The compositions of Unit-M are meticulous and precise, building in intensity through the proper balance of dynamics and contrast. There is an underlying tension in the work, a kind of sonic pushing and shoving which propels and incites the vibrant, moving sound colors. The music itself seems to be alive, writhing, undulating; hideous and beautiful. The long pieces on this tape build in intensity, welling into a titanic harsh-ambient symphony, brimming with majestic power and raw beauty. Certainly not an easy listen, it is challenging and abrasive. But as an alter ego of mine once remarked, "No Pain: No Gain."
Hal McGee

My Pal God Records 47 Hardy Dr, Princeton NJ 08540 USA
Galaxie 500 Velvet Underground Luna Dean Wareham. There, I said it. I like this stuff, of course, so it's okay that they nicked a page or two from the above book of tricks. As if I needed to spell it out for you… Reverby coy male vox over thin guitars and solid bass backed by slightly erratic drumming. It really is that simple. Simply good. "Petrolio" lifts up a bit in spots but it's mostly reverb coma bliss. Yes. Yes. "Power Tools." You know the drill. Ha! A fucking pun! Yeah! All right… Anyway, here we have more Kramer-ist minimalistic pop. "Power Tools" is a slow song with some dynamics (you know, a quiet part or two), while "King Kan" is a bit faster, has cool breakdowns and is marginally less Shimmy Disc. Especially that spooky part in the middle of the song where it slows way the fuck down. Yes. Maybe they could throw in some vocal harmonies next time. Fuck it, I'll do them for free if y'like. Or not, really these records are fine the way they are. Buy them both from the splendidly named My Pal God Records!
Ian C Stewart

Ishnigarrab Recordings 1205 Jupiter Rd #223, Plano TX 75074 USA
This tape opens with loops of growling animal noises (leopards? Oh, okay. I get it now.) mixed with some faint drones. This could be the soundtrack for a zoo behind Dracula's castle. Or not. "The Black Wind (A Howling Darkness Of Helpless Discomfort)" pretty much writes its own ticket with its title. Spooky, slo-mo haunted house noises. "Dam Fortune (The Grim Jousts Of The Fourth Circle)" is the standout of this tape. Slow, repetitive minimalism. Can't beat that.
Ian C Stewart

Zidslick PO Box 4730, Louisville KY 40204 USA
In March 1994 Zan Hoffman traveled to Spain for a series of collaborative performances with Spanish cassette artist Francisco Lopez. They performed their CONCERT FOR 300 MAGNETIC TAPES twice in Madrid, with one show in Alcala De Hernes and once in Dijon. Utilizing seven cassette decks, a mixer and effects, Hoffman and Lopez wove a magnificent sonic tapestry of snippets from hundreds of tapes from their personal collections of homerecorded works from cassette artists around the world. On this tape all fours shows were blended together onto a 16-track tape machine to create an entirely new work. I admire this piece for several reasons. It seems like the majority of electronic/experimental tape works I receive contain cut-ups and manipulations of recordings lifted from mass media sources (yawn). Zan Francisco instead taps into the vast, vibrant, colorful hometaping subculture for its sources, creating something totally new unto itself. The sounds are astoundingly beautiful, inspiring and beyond the power of mere words to describe. The second side is a collaborative work between Hoffman and Mike Honeycutt of Mystery Hearsay. Hoffman and Honeycutt recorded HI-LO ICE SLAM in a gigantic ice house where they mixed radio noise and other electronics, samples of "ice house percussion," and a hideous, maniacal tape contribution by Don Campau. Zanoisect achieves a kind of dense noise-sculptural depth lacking in most noise artworks. The listeners' ears and mind are drawn into the work, rather than just being dragged along in the torrent or bludgeoned into submission.
Hal McGee

1619 SE Flavel St, Portland OR 97202 USA
The a-side of this ribbon starts with "In The Gut," a collage of voice clips from TV, movies and elsewhere, slightly processed and effected. Next is "Winding You Up." This kicks off a repeating 2-note twang that lays the bed for wind rushes across the top. A percussive undercurrent is felt, along with bass that becomes more prominent during the end. Side b opens with "Drift." Eight minutes of low analog synth rumbles. Chains clanging and voices droning, cutting in and out. Effects changing from up close to distant reverb. A rising machine takeoff. Bells and hammer clangs with digital delay. Another analog synth rise. Followed by extremely sparse blips and blurps. Finished off with much unschooled drum and cymbal throttling. That's followed by "Alienated" which showers us with air raid sounds. Followed by singular rising synth arcs and "tick, tick" percussion. Random vocal snippets and tempo shifts round out this puppy.
David Holusha