AUTOreverse Issue Two: REVIEWS

Cybersanctum PO Box 3208 Skokie, IL 60076 USA
Prog-goth (did I say that right?). Sort of All About Eve + Rush armed mostly with synthies, and with a mostly Irish twist. When listened to in small amounts it sounds pretty decent, complex and diverse in its influences. After a more prolonged listen to this very Iong tape, the complexity seems like contrived cleverness, and the diversity begins to sound like a very forced effort to pull out multicultural sounds...And diversity isn't really the word to use, since the melodies change so little from track to track that this feels more like one 90-minute song. We're talking about a very limited palette of key, tempo, melody and sounds. While certainly very musical and undeniably competent, the tricks get old quickly (especially that tacky, overdone vocoder effect on the voice). On top of all that, it's also mixed somewhat tinny and strident. Um, ok, I guess it's good in small doses, but unless you want to be driven to murder, press stop after about 15 minutes. I warned you. I guess this has been released on Projekt's sub-label Relic. You decide what that means. (I guess it's supposed to mean something.) I want to like this band, really! The potential is there for something really cool. Tips for next time: less trickery, don't fuck with that beautiful voice of hers ... and give us more BASS! Please! And, do you have to repeat the chorus THAT many times???
C Reider

9825 Old 22 Breingsville PA 18031 USA
I was pleasantly surprised to find the music a bearable listen. While sequencer/synth heavy, this was recorded in real time, which I appreciate. The music is melodic and repetetive, but not pejoratively so. While not groundbreaking or mindblowingly original, I notice few cliches or style ripoffs. I could cite as reference some of the more calm, docile moments of early 80s Chris & Cosey or Cabaret Voltaire. I'll probably go back for another listen.
C Reider

8805?93 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T6C 3T2 Canada
A C90 with pieces named after seventeen airports in British Columbia, Alberta and other Canadian locales. The instrumentation includes two old Concertmate keyboards and the venerable Realistic MG-1 synthesizer, so there's a definite old-school feel to the proceedings. Most tracks feature minimalist, yet very melodic (often downright lovely) arrangements. The recording quality is crystal-clear and one might well compare these pieces to the instrumental tracks from DAVID SYLVIAN's "Gone To Earth" album. The last track, "Memorial Universe," is a whirling, kaleidoscopic collage of chugging industrial samples, processed radio broadcasts and analog pulsations. Cyberpunk muzak, anyone?
Thomas Sutter

Darren Bentley 74 Monteith Cr, Boston, Lincolnshire PE21 9AY, UK
fairly engaging sound collage. incessant looped samples and noises.
Ian C Stewart

Luna Bisonte 137 Leland Ave, Columbus OH 43214 USA
"Resolute, dissolved, but space in the sand like styrofoam loose and resonant like gas, his stairways wave smooth out and's.feet sprays spats up, slithers, so's dissolute for hers rocky pasts, sucked out, as that's point of stone sunk in him, anchor's but to's wash so's paycheck'll sluice past spin, so's restless dirt's rinsed off socks, and cycled pacings wound back in..."
That's a quote, as near as I can render it, from the beginning of Bennett's epic poem (or series of poems, I'm not sure which) "Bone Flag." the opening is full of images of laundry and oceans which make for an intriguing combination but the meaning of which remains maddeningly obscure. It doesn't help that no titles are given for the different poems or verses. Bennett recites his poetry over Metcalf's music--a big, soaring, synthesized sound, which would be interesting on its own. Variances in the music indicate mood changes somewhat, but Bennett delivers the whole poem (or each poem) in the same wild-eyed, frantic, apocalyptic voice. Interesting at first but monotonous after 60 minutes. Bennett often uses a kind of Shakespearean contraction: I s, apparently to mean "he's" or "she's" or "it's." so in the end he might be King Lear raging vainly at nature's fury as in: "Blow winds blow, and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow!/ You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout/ Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks." Or, he might be the, er, gentleman Macbeth alluded to, telling a tale "full of sound and fury/signifying nothing." Maybe he's a bit of both.
River Pearl

UBUIBI 1333 Grove, San Francisco CA 94117 USA
All in all, robo, dAS, Rob Wortman, Kemi Pidnow, Jon Arnold and Hamish Dobbs have put together a competent sampler of surreal ambience. "She's All My Fancy Painted Him" has layers of strange female vocals--singing, chanting, whispering, speaking--over a strangely noisy background, with minimal instrumentation. "Stanchezza Soundtrack" is seven minutes of industrial noise, almost insect?like sounds in intense, threatening, pounding combinations. Stanchezza is Italian for "tiredness". Just thought you'd like to know. The least accessible track, "Well Developed Sentinel Pile," goes consists principally of various drilling noises. This goes on WAY too long. Like getting a root canal of the brain. Ironically it's followed by the most accessible track, "Ode To Spot." yes, it's Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" reciting a poem to his cat, with a light percussive track added. Cute and fun. "Taenia Solium" rounds things out, mostly with a variety of voices saying "carawane," then reciting nonsense words, then just making noises. Boy, that gets old fast. I don't know what carawane means, but did you know that taenia and solium are words meaning "tibbon" and "throne, bathtub or coffin"? I didn't think so. So there it is. So much stranger than pop.
River Pearl

Nut Music box 5033 Herndon VA 22070 USA
The a-side is a silly FALL-style rock song with trumpets and a guy talking about a work crush, occasionally saying "there are no good men" in a falsetto, echoed by several other falsetto males replying in kind. "Dirty Hands" is a similar rant about a handwashing obsessive-compulsive disocrder. "Thrift Store Chic" is a purely trashy live recording of more unbridled raving from these attention hogs.
Ian C Stewart

Loser Records po box 14719 Richmond VA 23221 USA
Old-fashioned homespun pop in a late XTC/early Beach Boys vein. Nearly every song on this tape would make an excellent single. The songwriting is topnotch, proudly displaying its sunny late 60's catchiness at every turn. Nice nice nice. Put this bloke in a proper studio with a decent budget and some pricey session musicians and he would be massive. Which is not to suggest that "Everything You Write Sounds To Me Like Death," "In My Hometown," and "It Ain't Me, Obviously" don't kick tall here, because they do. The sugary harmonies are clear and abundant and the musicianship is good as well. "Then You See Her" strays into XTC's ENGLISH SETTLEMENT (precisely "Knuckle Down") for its rhythm, which is always a sign of good things. More. More, I want more. Fans of intelligent pop take note, and send away for this gem.
Ian C Stewart

Mudball Records PO Box 1054 Salem OH 44460 USA
horribly recorded trash rock with a drum machine. There's a little spy-theme riffing but the LA GYPSY singing style destroys any quirky quaintness this recording may have retained. If the song titles don't tell you what you're in for ("Methedrine Penthouse," "Voodoo Love Child," "Rise Up Into U"), perhaps the bright pink tape cover with the xeroxed-to-shit photo of our hero Mr Butler on the cover. Sneering glittery headband-wearing...
lan C Stewart

Lonely Whistle Music PO Box 23952 San Jose CA 95153 USA
This is a collection of mostly solo recordings done by Mr Don. Classic homey pop. "Right Now" would be a lounge favorite in Parrothead bars if Parrotheads had brains (but then they wouldn't be Parrotheads, would they). The S&M/whips and chains and leather lyrical slant on the remake of "Love Will Keep Us Together" is witty and ironic. The chimpy Yamaha drum box rattles along with a punchy bass and single guitar accompaniment. This tape is surprisingly varied and infinitely hummable. The silly "Helter Skelter" cover aside, the strength of the material transcends the quaint sound of the recording. Very good stuff. I've been waiting for stuff like this. Peace to all of the bedroom Syd Barretts out there. "It's Raining" is a great song.
Ian C Stewart

Lonely Whistle Music PO Box 23952 San Jose CA 95153 USA
Donald's 20?year?old daughter's precocious vocal stylings get backup from the man himself on this collection. Nicole seems to be influenced by Lisa Gerrard a little (esp on "Cantata IV") but also has a style of her own. Keeping it in the family and all that. "Loss Of Self' is my favorite, an unhappy samba/swing.
Ian C Stewart

Homepop all the way. Casios, drum machines and guitars with (usually) doubletracked vocals. Side one seems catchier, possibly due to all of the vocal harmonies. "When You Walk In The Room" has some almost BYRDS?like guitar action while "Rain On The Road" slows things down to ballad speed. My favorite is "Going Home," pensive instrumental. Nice.
(Pop! po box 8864 Canton OH 44711 usa) ian

... back to the days of MISSING PERSONS. Which isn't a bad thing because those were good days. "Fun" music, that skims the top of the intellectual surface. As I was listening to it I couldn't tell where one song ended and the next one began. If you're into cutesy, mid?80s tootsie pop rock, you will like this. I guarantee you will be listening to it saying "I've heard this somewhere before...' (Justin C. 4446 #314 Mobile Dr, Columbus OH 43220 usa) kim nizzo

Proto?metallic goth with big wanking guitars and straight, somewhat calm vocals. To be optimistic, I could say that they just need a lot of maturity ... even in the most restrained, quiet song ("The Last Night In Lubeck") the performer seems uncomfortable and unsure. Maybe with some stronger material he'd feel more confident. This was recommended to me very strongly as holding a lot of promise... it didn't work for me.
(Guy Adams po box 15124 Odessa TX 79768 usa) c reider

5-song ep from this German band which sings in Spanish and English only. Weird. the vibe on the record is a nostalgic post?punk look back at life in the early 80s. Like most of the punk of that era these songs all have catchy, singalongable choruses and most feature guitar solos. "La Gente Decente" ganks its intro directly from THE DAMNED's "Love Song" but after the beginning drum fill, the similarities end. The chorus is so damn infectious, I guarantee everyone within earshot will be singing "ay yai yai yai ha haaaaa la gente-hey hey." the brief punkpolkapop "I Wanna Be Alone" playfully bops out the rest of your teeth before the end. Awesome.
(C Ramos Engelbosteler Damm 3, 30167 Hannover Germany) ian

The music of this well laid out, professional demo reminded me of an episode of the comic Sandman if it was put to music. It's on the gothic side with a light showering of industrial and pop. The vocals of Rogue are a little forced at times- which I felt was the only real weakness of the whole tape. Still a very enjoyable demo. Each of the songs seem to have a lot of thought put into them. It's nice to see intelligence and depth put into music again as opposed to people going out of their way to be weird.
(po box 2002 Tallahassee FL 32316 usa) kim nizzo

Picture Einstein in his study, concentrating on the molecules in his head while his neglected spouse frets. Is he devising something brilliant for the benefit of mankind? No! "He was theorizing patents for disposing of his wife, in some strange emotion science can't define." this untitled, very amusing cassette starts off with a totally twisted philippie on the genius whose theories led to the development of the A bomb. "Einstein did you ever once think about that?" From there it's nonstop strangeness from Tom Dark and his cronies. Musically, they're all over the place. We get a mumbling Elvis impersonator passionately emoting "I'm a genius and I must suffer" in true Vegas style; a little ditty that goes "the better you feel the better you feel, the worse you feel the worse you feel," set to a tune of Disneylike catchiness, bippity boppity boo; a Barry White impersonator backed by a belching chorus. Normally I would dismiss the belching as so much adolescent moronacy, but it's executed so smartly you have to laugh. Likewise a folk number about a kid who's not allowed to (rude noise), done in fake Irish accents. Or are they supposed to be Scottish? I think they're not even sure.
(Tom Dark, Wilseyville CA 95257 usa) river pearl

When reviewing new releases of electronic/ experimental music, pundits frequently fall back on the hackneyed phrase "this album could be the soundtrack to a film which doesn't exist," or some blather like that. Well, for once I'm glad to report on a new C60 by Canadian artist W.A. Davison which consists of fifteen pieces of aural sculpture composed as accompaniments to Super-8 films that Davison has created from 1986 to 1995. He is kind enough to supply us with detailed liner notes, a complete filmography, and a manifesto describing his concept of "ritual cinema," which frames this work. The tape is a cornocopia of unleashed strangeness: the first two tracks are pure abstractions, crafted with a good ear for arranging small sounds into powerful synergies; thereafter, the listenener encounters some whirlwind audio collages, clever use of tape manipulations and discreet sampling, industrial moodpieces, and one track on side B that recalls Ennio Morricone's theme for "A Fistful Of Dollars," but with a gentler take. My fervent hope is that Davison might someday collect his Super-8 films with their soundtracks onto a video tape compilation, and make it available to the discerning mutant public. Such a thing would score extremely well on the Hepster Scale!
(po box 26086 Kitchener ONT N2G 4V8 canada) thomas sutter

Impeccably recorded full-length monster opus by this venerable scenester. Very crafty rock arrangements that have frequent Zappa-like twists and embellishments. The songs are entertaining and immediately engaging, though not always memorable. I quite like "Fn* ends Who Never Call Again (I'm One Of Them) "--the feel, the acoustic guitar sound, and the layers of errant noises going on. "Old Bald Men Trying To Start A Rock Band" is pretty fucking funny. Smell that? That's IRONY. Also enjoyed the cover of Don Campau's "That's How I Feel."
(DiMurotapes 7652 Chimenas Ave, Reseda CA 91335 usa) ian

More audio madness from Canada! What's up with these syrup?catchers lately? Better put all of your preconceptions about musical harmony, tonality and good taste on the back burner--then toss a Molotov into that same metaphorical stove. The DIMWITSPIRITCHUCKERS play with standard rock instrumentation and add saxophone and other horns and a Dr Rhythm and then they whip themselves into a frenzy of hideous caterwauling, while the microphone captures each live jam that spews forth for a dubious posterity. The guitarist tries manfully to lay down a solid groove from time to time, but the rest of the band is too smart to fall for that! Everything else flies apart from everything else, while the singer walls about vitally important issues like human rights, bodily appendages, and ejecting Bruce Lee from his rehearsal space. "The torture never stops," as Zappa would say, until the cassette runs out. It's a masterpiece, so get your copy now before these guys become members of the Canadian Parliament. (Placebo Tapes 274 Arthur St, Acton ONT L7J 1M3 canada) thomas sutter

Maniacal modern grind. This is the logical extension of early NAPALM DEATH, SORE THROAT, etc-hyperspeed metal riffing with an inhumanly low?voiced singer. This tape was recorded in a pro studio so the blasting is very clear and precise. All 13 songs have a coherent mood and feel they don't break out a ballad or anything. It's all 10OOmph riffage with an occasional brief mosh part, though even those are a little too VOI VOD to actually mosh to. "Carcass Dweller," "Newborn Corpse" and "Sea Of Vomit" are the best tracks, with their numerous time changes and over-the-top syncopation. For everyone who thinks the Earache label has gotten too commercial.
(14740 Oak Park #55, Doylestown OH 44230 usa) lan

Noisy improv mail collab. Sixty minutes of hissing and honking with looped samples and indifferent prefab beats. Layers of unrelated sounds shift and hedge slowly forward. Keyboard/sampler noodling, the occasional treated guitar and saxophone and a casio beat careen thoughtlessly into one flatly recorded bowl of sonic gruel.
(Thespian Tapes 128B Alice St, Guelph ONT NlE 2Z9 canada) ian

Sounds like an amped-up Jimmy Buffett. Faux-solemn delivery makes this look like a vanity project, the songwriting rarely does anything noteworthy, and when it does ("Hell On Earth") it's just for being more insultingly cliched than the rest of this MOP, wank. "Angst for fun and profit" it says here. Profit? You really think so? Not to worry, Timster ... no one's gonna steal your songs. God. (Sublime Carnage po box 80684 Minneapolis MN 55408 usa) ian

"ELEMENTAL CHAOS" aka The Mud Compilation #2
This compilation is all over the map, in more ways than one. Bands from Italy, Finland, Germany, Australia and England contributed, and there's some homegrown product too, with Florida and Ohio particularly well represented. Musically it ranges from reggae to death metal to pretty straightforward radio-ready alternative rock, almost always erring on the side of grinding guitars. It's a sometimes excruciating but mostly fun mix. CHICKENSHIT from Australia get the tape rolling with two mercifully brief audio assaults titled "Hang The Scum" and "Fuck Knows," which were apparently recorded during a live performance. The second track ends with the singer yelling "Fuck you, we're fuckin' insulted, we're going on strike," and the band apparently walking offstage, pissed off at the audience. The act is followed by LARRY'S TEARS from Cuba, NY on "Raging Sea Part." Larry must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare during a National Geographic special. He screams "I don't think he'll ever die! He's still alive!! Jacques Cousteau will never die..." over grungey chords. JAMES LANTZ drifts along on "Mega Reggae" which is kinda pleasant. LikeJohnathan Richman on ganja. Later on Lantz is back with "Do To You." It starts with a storybook recording of "The Three Little Pigs" and ends in utter chaos, with him screaming "bastard of disaster, you know what I mean, I get nasty when I get plastered, then I get obscene..." We believe you, James. But the angst champ is the aptly titled NUT SCREAMER, with "I Don't Fucking Care" and "Kill Me." That guy's pretty upset about something. You've got to admire the purity of his, ahem, artistic vision though. Just when you think he must have blown out his vocal cords on the first tracks, he ends by reverting to a normal tone to say "see ya next time." what a nut. Three European bands go for a screaming metal wall of sound: ENDLESS HATE from Italy, with "Krung," BREW MONGERS from Finland with "Crust Machine Rulsion" (spelling? the liner notes are handwritten and sometimes hard to read.) and "Visions," and WORLD CHAOS from Germany--"Soldiers" and "TV Idiot." I can't even tell what language these guys are singing in. They end up sounding virtually indistinguishable. They could learn something from NUT SCREAMER. TUOB from England quiet things down across the pond with "lbt," an enigmatic little instrumental featuring a brooding beat, three repeating notes and a background sound like a cross between an engine trying to turn over and a horse's whinny. Equally engimatic but more sinister is "Thesis" by AURA AURENTE, with its big, electronic noise, droning like a jet engine or maybe a short wave radio between signals. Then there's SANITY ASSASSINS and the semi-coherent "Visions From A Twisted Mind." ASBESTOS PLAYGROUND does "Yard Job," a hardcore hoedown in honor of some cranky old guy whose yard they dug up. Maybe the band members have day jobs as landscapers. MADONNA'S NIPPLE engage in a Beck-ish rap, maybe about postal workers as 90's icons of psychotic alienation. Later the Nips are back with "Hate." The vocal is mostly incoherent, except for "hate, hate, hate..." which I guess is the point. The most successful tracks are those that rely on a more melodic and full band sound: "Pictures On The Wall" by THE TANTRUMS, "Spiral" by AUGUST SPIES, and "Empty Space" from SOME HOLIDAY are all power pop with a bad attitude. Unfortunately the vocals on "Empty Space" get lost in the mix. Another favorite: SEVEN AGAINST THEBES provide a change of pace toward the end of the tape with "This Isn't Hollywood," a simple, slow ballad to disillusionment or something. Each side of the tape ends with a few amusing seconds of ORPHEUS doing "Sleep," some avant garde audio filler that sounds like some giant robot guy snoring. (Mudball Records po box 1054 Salem OH 44460 usa) river pearl

This triumphant single is, astonishingly, ECC's first outing on vinyl. Here they've taken two songs each from PUBLIC ENEMY and HERB ALPERT and then Frankensteinned them together to form something new and altogether more fucked. It's the revolution of the season. (revolution, geddit? vinyl "humor.") "Rebel Without A Pause" is the best, most adventurous PE song never recorded. The already hyped lyrics get a pure funk injection from the Alpert backing, and the lack of TERMINATOR X's increasingly overbearing scratching places this ECC record in line with Dee-Lite/Pizzicato 5/whoever else is doing that retro-kitsch thing now. Ie-your girlfriend will probably like it too. "By The Time I Get To Arizona" gets similar treatment on the flip, and is similarly fucked and funky. This single is a masterpiece, typically high quality from ECC.
(Eerie Materials po box 420816 SF, CA 94142 usa) ian

"comfort hiding crime" CD
This is an ambitious, modern, mechanized, throbbing, tense excursion into rhythm; an exploration of dark lyrical themes. There's no polite way of saying that at first this disc comes off like a more completely realized descendent of PRETTY HATE MACHINE. The first track, "God's Screen Spoken" mimes Reznor's early dynamic sense (quiet verse, quieter bridge, LOUD chorus) and damned if J ELIOT GOLDBERG doesn't yell Just like old Rezzie. BUT, farm animals, THIS is just the first song. MY favorite track, "Intentions In The Making," avoids such easy comparison. It's a catchy romp with the melodic hooks coming from the guitar harmonics and the vocals. The breakdowns are quite elaborate, which is par for this disc. The production is deep and all-encompassing. "Immunity" is a spooky, moody, goth-industrial-metal synthetic overhaul that has to be played at top volume to grasp the precision of its depth. Dude. The acoustic guitars offer nice contrast to the mechanical rhythm. "Bloody Nail" is fairly straight industrial: a kick-ass beat, metallic guitars and 'no one cares anymore' distorted vocals. Well done. Synth fans (me) will love all of the extra sounds going on. Dense like MBM or Skinny Puppy for the verses, stark like early NIN or Eno for the verses. With a bunch of other weird shit going on too. "Birth On" is Skinny Puppy to the Hilt (ha! a pun! fuck you all), check the freaked, carnival-like intro and tell me it isn't so. From then on, the disc is like a compilation of about 5 different bands. Quickly: "In Search Of Her Son" is a soundtrackish acoustic guitar ballad with some ambient swirls in the background and even a JAMC-like hook on the end. "Mosaic" is pure synth burble and sounds like SEEFEEL or Aphex Twin's older stuff Brilliant-repetitive and vivid. "Newspaper" appears to be constructed of a bed of several looped samples and synth tones with lots of flanging and shimmering on top. Too oblique? Fuck you, it's good. "Pin" is 808 mothergrabbing STATE, reborn. This track is one blue laser-fish lightshow away from pure Massey. OH YEAH. "Stand There," the 9:25 closer, is a power workout with throbbing bass and what appears to be a dub version of "Bloody Nail" (the vocals anyway). Do I win the prize, guys? The BPMs are high and the bass is low. Synths noodle a la Goettel and the pissed-off guitars flex a bit. Much ground is covered on this 76-minute disc and it's a mighty rewarding journey.
(Second Threat To joy 4205 Winston Dr, Hoffnian Estates IL 60195 usa) ian

"I lied" CD
This Boston band comes off like a cross between the Cure (1989) and RED HOUSE PAINTERS that isn't afraid to kick your ass when the time is right. Soaring, atmospheric and slightly wounded vibes drool from this disc like so many breakup tears. "I'll Visit," "Her Face," and "I Lied" are the catchiest tracks while "I Know I'm Right" and "Stare" are the kind of anthemic barnburners that go over really well with stadium crowds. "Today Would Be The End" is a low-key (mostly) atmospheric number- it's all toms and flanged bass and keyboards. And "Black Swan" would be a hit single if they released it on its own. This is music for sensitive or recently rejected souls. Bedroom music of the highest order. Buy 2 copies now (leave one sealed) and thank me in 1998 when fade blows the fuck up for real.
(spill records 9 farrington ave, allston ma 02134 usa) ian

"I lied" CD
Rich but bleak. The beat is ponderous but the guitars and keyboards sometimes soar. It's not slow but it's funereal in spirit on songs like "I'll Visit," "Stare," and others. The vocals are anguished and convey a sense of gloom reminiscent of The Cure. These are love songs and lullabies for the Age of Prozac. Even on a relatively optimistic lyric, from "Her Face, 11 there's a morbid sense of hopelessness in the words: "You're the one I've been waiting for, you'll be the one to last. I've had this feeling once or twice, but that's all in the past..." fade even conjures the sad spirit of AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB on the title track with "I guess it's finally gone too far to deny it, I have embraced the very things that I hate. But it was safety from the start that betrayed me. I pray i'm not too late. "
The song still manages to take on a sinister overtone of self-loathing all its own. This disc goes all 40 minutes without breaking its mood. listening to it is an emotionally draining experience.
(spill records 9 farrington ave, allston ma 02134 usa) river pearl

"...AND FREAKS WERE THEIR NAMES" Despite such promising song titles as "Slaughter The Goat" and "Army Of Darkness," we have in FAMILY OF FREAKS not the second coming of VENOM but a silly mix of M.O.D. and CANNIBAL CORPSE. And when I say silly I mean TOTALLY FUCKING RIDICULOUS. The guitar playing is massive and precise and the bass playing is at least competent. But the drumming is weak and tentative and the vocals ... my man sounds like he coughed up a lung and just kept rollin' anyway. Whoever wrote these lyrics deserves to be killed instantly--and that goes double for the neurosurgeon who decided to print them on the cover. Give me a fucking break.
(Burt Beo Wolf po box 442 Eagleville PA 19403 usa) ian

Tight BEEFHEART/ZAPPA-like rock that goes flying all over the place just like the effected-to-hell vocals on the opener, "The Tension Relieve Me." It gets almost deathly metallic on "Hell Toupee"?all that grinding and screaming. Crazy shit. Random, chaotic, often nonsensical mayhemic noise rock. Cool. FLICKER is sex. Especially "Pressure By Billyjoel." Holy mama. They're freaks and they know how to rock. Sign yer ass up now and grovel for this tape. Killer song title: "I'm A Flag."
(422 Admiral St, Providence RI 02908 usa) ian

"Acoustic Ambience" / "Wurlitzer Inn" 7" Opens with discordant keyboard notes and a comparatively uptempo drum pattern. A spare, near-dub bass answers as an antimelody is pecked out on the keys. The dischord continues throughout the side, which ends as it began. The flip adds a female voice sighing melodies. More slow, steady rhythm. Layers of keyboards. The vibe is mellow and pleasantly spacey. (Fuzzy Box 35 Horseshoe Dr, Mt Laurel NJ 08054 usa) ian

Soothing, vaguely loungey atmospheric pop. The instrumentation (layers of clean guitars, live drums, moogs, piano, vibes, etc) makes the overall sound of this disc almost nostalgic. The lovely female vocals are double tracked and usually only sigh monosyllabic phrases. The melodic sense suggests a more fleshed?out UNREST. The epic "Metro Survey" (10:46) is like a sad surf song. Dynamic, with vibrato guitar and pure-cheese organ. "Laser Printer Workshop" should be a hit single. The breakdown bit is pure sugar, where the unrest comparison rings even truer. "Shun To Wonder" is nearly nine minutes of 4ADish melancholia. The moog?heavy "Do Oscillators Have Wings" brings it all home after 10:11 of noodling. An excellent, warm-sounding disc. (Carrot Top Records 2348 N Lincoln Ave, 3rd Fl, Chicago IL 60614 usa) ian

A cross between THE FALL and your mom. Three songs in, "Oh Well" gets a little sensitive, but its brief atmosphere is throttled by the fake jazz intro of "Don't Worry About It" when Michael Gorgei lets us know that he's a "fucking asshole" in finest band geek style. Good lyrics. Smart ass basement four-track fun stuff. "Speed Up Death" fakes more sensitivity--a minor key ballad about delaying the inevitable. This tape is like the greatest hits of a band you never knew existed. These guys are fucking with you. These songs convey a suburban, teenage angst and unrest which may not translate to non-ohioans. I mean ...I don't know about anyone else, but I think I get it. Probably.
(po box 128 N Lima OH 44452 usa) ian

This disc by the enigmatic sound-artist Anx.scan features a collection of the most brooding pieces you're likely to hear this side of SCORN. Most tracks are characterized by minimalistic synth textures, slowly churning sequences, sparse guitar timbres and the occasional tintinnabulations of hand-held bells. A few tracks are punctuated by Anx.scan's husky whispers (reminding me of Thurston Moore's vocals in his more low-key moments). Favorite tracks are "House On Royce Road" and "The Final Song About…". The use of reversed tapes on tracks 1, 5 and 6 seemed a little overdone to me. Other than this quibble, "SET" establishes an uncompromising atmosphere of melancholy despair. These are the sounds of the long dark night of the soul, of inescapable delirium and cold, distant places. So what more can you ask for? (1512 Canyon Run Rd, Naperville IN 60565 usa) thomas sutter

Monotonous dirge for prefab dance beats, solo flanged guitar and inaudible male vocals recorded through a ghetto blaster. The fact that it sounds like it cost $.47 to record wouldn't be so bothersome if even one of the tracks stood out. The cover of MAGNETIC FIELDS' "Strange Powers" wasn't very funny either. (po box 161024 San Diego CA 92116 usa) ian

Slightly off-kilter smartass jazz pop rock. Happy and morose at the same time. Party music for hermits. If this band is a salad, the organ and the sax are the cheese on top. Uptempo spy music. Sounds like a ska band doing rock songs. Tom and Anne's voices are weirdly similar. Remotely deadpan, occasionally hiccupy delivery. "Corner Diner" is a 60s James Bond soundtrack punk/polka hoedown. These guys seem to know too much. "Cops Never Win" is a syncopated bum shaker. Slippery and death-defying sax lines saunter over the churning, organ-driven rhythms. I say "hell, fuck yeah."
(149 College St, Buffalo NY 14201 usa) ian

A collection of 4-track recordings by "bedroom bands" strewn together in typically incoherent (but charming) style by Alicia of FUNERAL zine. Sonic Youthisms abound and there are several lapses into metal riffing, giving the tape a very loose feel. The track with the chick singer doing a death metal growl cracks me up. DAVID DIDONATO turns in the precocious "Angel" while CHRIS ADLER's "Untitled" gets into a little Morse-code precision riffing. Eclectic and interesting.
(Funeral po box 4403 Richmond VA 23220 usa) ian

More sonic exploration here, this time the live band sound is augmented by the pristine sounds of a moog. Gentle instrumental pop leanings abound, pleasantly moribund. Music for waking up. Ambient moog blips take the first side to its end. The b?side features more 'unexplained transmissions' but the lazy, loping rhythms are replaced by a polyrhythmic percussion groove. Excellent. (Astro Lanes po box 545 Trenton MI 48183 usa) ian
"Somewhere"/ "Some Air Disturbances" split 7"
FUXA's track is more laid-back guitar layers with a slow groove. And some bongos. The guitars cut out about halfway through and the percussion ensemble continues unadorned for two minutes. Nice, clean, honest analog. The FLOWCHART track comes on all squelchy and noodly but eventually yields to the guitars and organ, which don't stick around long. Four chords repeat a few times before fading out. NICE NICE.
(Astro Lanes po box 545 Trenton MI 48183 usa) ian

A set of quiet (but not sleepy) tunes from this purveyor of "acoustic punk." What you'll hear is Craig Gates singing and playing acoustic and electric guitars, drums and other percussions. This collection of earnest songs and strange sound samples (incidentals and rambling voices here and there) is diverse and pleasant but not always memorable. The tape seems to switch back and forth between melodic, composed songs and more chaotic jams, a formula which works in this case- everything is listenable despite its not-always-great sound quality (we're talking DIY here aren't we?). While he doesn't always hit highs like he does on the weighty "Stare," I'd feel safe enough recommending this.
(8878 Old Magnolia Way, Montgomery AL 36116 usa) c reider

A seriously fucked affair. "Powder" is catchy in a SKINNY PUPPY kind of not-really-catchy-at-all-but-you-still-sing-along-anyway way. The rolling, bass-heavy instrumental backing is indistinct while a distorted guitar and double-tracked vocals go on about "pow pow pow powders" until you can take no more. You nod to the speakers in agreement and you say "pow pow pow powder" in defeated glee. By will power alone this song will kick your ass. "Another Song" is pure smarm, acoustic guitars and piano and double-tracked sappy vocals. The title track is a distorted exercise for Casio presets with faux mystical vocal ramblings. "Mystery History' is fiddly acoustic guitar with a vocoded casio beat and a spooky backward vocal track. "For The Love Of Marie" has a nondescript chord change with samples of numerous old women on the phone saying "I love you." Very distracting. (Taped Rugs Prods 4312 Telegraph Ave #2, Oakland CA 94609 usa) lan

"El Morocco"
This brief, brilliantly realized tape brings to mind a sexy mix of Nick Cave and that one Michelle Pfeiffer movie where she sings on the piano (grease 2?). Ms Hamburg's vocals are breathy and sexy and are the focal point of these four songs. Apart from a photo credit on an OF CABBAGES AND KINGS cd I got in 92, I'm not familiar with her other work. And I'm not happy about that... The use of brass and strings makes "Louisiana Lovers (Doin' Time)" swagger and sway like a drunk whore. Martin Bisi's production is typically flawless. "German Wishes" should be a Neubauten B?side (could be for all I know). In fact, why Sandra Hamburg isn't on Mute alongside Neubauten, Nick Cave and Miranda Sex Garden is a complete mystery. And kind of a shame too, well for her anyway. I'm fine with this four song tape ... for now. Consider yourself a lucky fucker if you can score a dub of this wonderful tape. This will be staying in my walkman for months, guaranteed. Please ... please won't you send more? And keep me posted, esp. when Mute comes a-knockin'.
(568 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211 usa) ian

Mysterious sound collage stuff. Think of the instrumental jams on the Beatsie Boys' last two records, only redone with a better drummer and a bunch of fucked up synths and samples on top. Weird. The live drums are the blood, the life of this tape. The layers of samples, noises and wholesale reappropriations of children's-story records are scratchy and obscure. fFor about an hour this mix mutates and blends and stops abruptly only to begin again on a different idea. Space sample improv groove freak scary one-man jam. Homey can play the drums as well. All of the freaking continues uninterrupted as part of one grand movement, there aren't any individual songs or pieces. Nice and not too noodly.
(H Lyman 125 W Westover Ave, Colonial Hts, VA 23834 usa) ian

a pile of possibly random unconnectable sounds, yammering loops, the plunking of a tortured, cheap guitar, singing of squeaking balloons. Lightheaded and pointless in some of the right ways. Entirely unmemorable, but not bad for half an hour of DIY distraction.
(Taped Rugs 4312 Telegraph Ave, Oakland CA 94609 usa) c reider

From the chilly heart of British Columbia comes this C30 blast of hard noise, sure to find a warm reception with fans of MERZBOW, THE GREY WOLVES and other monsters/masters of ultrasound. The sound sources seem to be HERMIT's over-amped voice and controlled feedback processed through an old-fashioned "sound on sound" sampling system (Electro-Harmonix perhaps?), which permits the noisician to either loop individual sound-events (and mess around with their playback speed), or to build layer upon layer of shrieking, grinding roars--like listening to Godzilla rip off Rodan's wings in your backyard, while a fleet of Markalites bathe the combatants in lightning bolts. It's the post-modem evolution of John Coltrane's sheets of sound, bringing forth dark seed. In other words, an indispensable tape.
(5410 Bergen?op?Zoom Dr, Nanaimo, BC V9T 2M2 canada) thomas sutter

This is just wicked. Finnish death metal with some great Glenn Benton grunting and classic Euro guitar parts. Tough, meaty and very well produced. "Misanthropy" gets a little grind going and the vocals are even more unharnessed than usual. They give the obligatory props to Satan, so they're okay with me. And who could ever find fault with a band rad enough to name a song "Capture Of Fire"? Fuck you all, this stuff rules.
(Pasi Uotila Aapelinkuja 4 as 1, 21420 Lieto Finland) ian

This rather insane cehicle for Mike Chlasciak's guitar-genius-gone-awry virtuosity offers a throwdown to Vai, Satriani, etc. And he kicks all of their geriatric asses. HOLY CHOPS, Batman. This tape could've been a joint release between Earache and Shrapnel, if they were both ten times cooler. Which is to say that this is definitely a guitar album, but it's far heavier than the usual output in this style. No hard rock posturings or choreography (not on the tape anyway), just mad chops. Non-guitarists may not be so interested in this (hey, I don't know) but those of us afflicted with the guitar-playing disease will admire Mr. Mike's absurdly accomplished technical applications here. The songwriting isn't always totally memorable, but that seems oddly irrelevant in the face of his six-string craftsmanship. Celtic Frost with special guest Yngwie? Napalm Death with Steve Vai? Cannibal Corpse ... oh you get the idea. I suggest that all of the collectors out there get this tape now, so you can have bragging rights when Mike Chlasciak is on the covers of all of the major guitar mags this time next year. Bonus points for the Adam Sandler sample. I'm going to go practice now.
(Beyond Flat Nine 92 W 13th St, Bayonne NJ 07002 usa) ian

Very, very, very, very high-quality electronic ambient excursions into hissing fields of wintry purple spines that rise like rockets and sink themselves into the inside of your skull, and peel it away, fold it flat and store it safely, allowing the brain to spread its velvet wings and fly as it was designed to do.
(John Gore 247 Sullivan St #403, Oshkosh W1 54901 usa) c reider

KLV (stands for "Kehltvsvammaisen Lapsen Vanhemmat" in Finnish) is a weird power trio consisting of Jari Lars Johan Pohjonen on drums and electronics, SA Hynninen on bass and Ayye Saarela on guitar and vocals. All songs were recorded live to 2-track, probably in somebody's basement. Atte's vocals are drenched in the same hilarious reverb that Jerry Lee Lewis loved so, and Mr. Hynninen displays some pretty deft basswork, even on the really fast pieces. There are 62 tracks featured on this C60, so it's no surprise that most of them are less than 30 seconds long. The listener is assaulted by ultra-fast death-metal thrashes and grindcore dirges, several ending abruptly with the band members collapsing in laughter, as well as fully developed (yet happily whacked-out) songs and extended instrumentals punctuated with off-kilter synthesizer bursts. There are even a couple of acoustic pieces for guitar and multiple voices, making this tape one of those genre-busting delights that one can only find in the global underground network.
(Mikko Kuorinki Karhuntie 16 A 3, 96500 Rovaniemi Finland) thomas sutter

Synthetic descendents of DEAD CAN DANCE (no, I don't mean EDEN). This disc is moody, stylish, remotely ethnic and more than a little stiff. The opening cut, "Lisa" is dedicated to Lisa Gerrard and sounds like a lost cut from "Into The Labyrinth." A flanged goth guitar swirls in the background. "There Goes Everything" is morose synth pop--the singer sounds like a sad Robert Wyatt. Nice song. "Blue Ink For Fountain Pens" is a sequencer-driven dramatic instrumental with hits and flourishes and volume swells--Windham Hill for the late 90s. "Spending The Nights" treks across similarly dramatic terrain, eventually sliding up a slight guitar-dominated plateau. EDEN fans take note.
(po box 40112 Providence RI 02940 usa) ian

Modern punk. Very loud and fast. They have the requisite two-singer thing going, sounds like they're spitting all over each other in "Rushville." The sensitive parts are bogglingly incongruous (Punk? sensitive?). "Clarisse" features syncopated guitars and shouted vocals and also establishes this band as able songwriters. The last time I saw MTV, this kind of shit was everywhere, so these guys could go places on the strength of their songs alone.
(Rhetoric Records po box 82 Madison W1 53701 usa) ian

Not funny. "Everything Sucks" indeed.
(c/o jeb 606 Wire NUB Rd, Stamford CT 06903 usa) ian

This is an ambitious collection of solo recordings by Chip Symonds. Drum machine, guitar, keyboards and the occasional flute back the vocals. The songwriting is very spotty and though the performance on the tape is competent, it's not enough to support this full?-ength project. I'd rather have heard four brilliant songs than 13+ bland, indistinct ones. Give him props for the effort.
(320A Ashland Dr, Greensboro NC 27403 usa) ian

"THE GRAVE'S DEEP NIGHT" compilation
Mike Tetrault's got something going on. At any given time, he's compiling an armful of compilations of underground musics, each put together with its own theme, or sound. You send something to him, and as per his discretion, he will probably include it on one of his comps. I must be honest and say that in some cases his comps don't work as full tapes, the flow, the magic isn't there...but here we have two winners, each with a cohesive feel and flow. "Like Wind Or Empty Dreams" is especially excellent, featuring music inspired by dreams. When there is singing, the lyrics are usually not in English. To be sure, this one definitely has some nice music on it, including M. Nomized, Ken Clinger, Ataraxia and a great piece by Kirchenkampf "The Grave's Deep Night" is funeral music, or music about death. A twisted, scrappy, fuzzy sound to this one, with excerpts from a long weird piece by Tentatively, A Convenience in between each track. If this wasn't a comp of different bands it could be one of the spacier, more tinkering Pink Dots albums. It works. Absolutely. Some of the artists appearing are Nihil, Tohu Vabohu, Bubble Eyes...Mike's comps are a great way of finding out what's going on in the cassnet, a great source of contacts (though you'd have to ask him for the inserts because they're not printed on the insert). Oh yeah, and if you do a cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", send it to him, he's doing a comp of "Paranoid" covers. 90 minutes of that annoying song over and over again, guess I'll pass on that one.
(Epitapes po box 458 Sunderland MA 01375 usa) c relder

Finally out on disc after a half-year of analogueness, Artie's Colony make their broadest statement yet. In a word, INDUSTRIAL. Layers of beats fight with swarms of guitar samples. The vocals are harsh and unrelenting. "Spiral Killer + the Killing Man" opens the disc with its cruel, vast beat. This song is an early focal point. "Carbon Core" opens just like SKINNY PUPPY's "Worlock", but a churning, distorted bass guitar offsets such easy comparisons for the rest of the song. "Skyhole" emphasizes the techno element. The song's closing sample assures us that "There is nothing to fear" but who can be sure anymore... "Cold" is an uptempo instrumental of gurgly synths and fucked samples. "Chemical Angel" is hit-single material with it aggro guitars and screaming, zombie-like vocals. RAH RAH RAH WE'RE GOING TO SMASH THE OIKS. Fans of modern Cleopatra, Wax Trax, etc will do well here.
(Magnolia Thunderpussy Media 1591 N High, Columbus OH 43201 usa) lan

A mail collab between BROCA'S AREA and Grainfield. Percussive sequenced backgrounds with a monotone, drawling poet speaking over the top. While well done, it's just not the sort of thing that interests me.
(1819 N 5th #6?116, Niles MI 49120 usa) c reider

Mostly sunny one man pop circus. Songs end randomly only to be usurped by others, some songs have early fade-outs. The live drumming is quite good as is the guitar playing but the thin, reedy vocals stray a lot. And the keyboard playing (love that casio Tone Bank) seems really grabbed at times. Mike Bowman has obviously been at it for a long time because at least half of these songs like sound like a full band (like, with more than one person in them, I mean). When he falters he can sound as stiff and contrived as any of us. At 90 minutes this is a stretch, but a promising one. Just not in one sitting.
(11 Orchard St, Cold Spring NY 10516 usa) ian

Highly twisted underground sound collages and burping chunks of "song" owing a lot to predecessors like Zappa and the Residents. I'm told some of this material was rambling 2-track experiments later added to and congealed with 4-track. The MARS RADIO ARCHIVES are presented as a "best of' while "Hyena Love" has a story holding the tracks together. Of them all I recommend "MRA Vol. 2" (subtitled "Symphony For Eleanore") with its trance?inducing loops and bubbling blooms of sound. (Joel Sotelo/Vague Industries po box 456 Citrus Heights CA 95611 usa) c relder

A delirious peek into the mind of a twisted suburban nightmare nutcake. Random imaginary snippets of the base thought process of some guy who couldn't get over Vietnam. Bruised blues music with warbling harmonicas and injured screaming, damn I keep thinking I hear machinegun fire and supercharged swarms of Vietnamese voices squeaking into my ears. One moment in the guy's life stuck in his mind for so long, it's gone rotten. If their subject matter isn't fucked up enough, the MONSTERS themselves smell like they're fresh outta' the joint, and approach their music as an act of vandalism. Good job on a portrait of a fuck up, but it takes you to an unpleasant place that you don't really want to go
back to.
c reider

Hyperactive modern punk. "Trailer Park Queen" is an ode to sexy trailer trash. "I don't care if she smells like gasoline..." the lyrical rocket science continues on "Couple Skate," a mid-tempo fistpumping rocker about the Sunday afternoons of adolescence. Ah yes, the horrors of an afternoon at the skating rink. I can still hear "Maneater" if I think real hard. "Ugly" is the mandatory 'fuck you' rave up.
(Rhetoric Records po box 82 Madison WI 53701 usa) ian

neXt rAdio
If you slowed a Primus CD down a lot, you'd get this strange tape by neXt rAdio. Seems to be surreal, fantasy, somewhat tribal music that gets more upbeat as the tape moves along. They describe themselves as "terrorfunk," and that about says it all. (Regicide Bureau) kim rizzo

neXt radio
The CD opens with a dramatic, electronic, tension-filled intro and the atmospheric mood is sustained throughout the whole recording pretty consistently. But the short instrumental "Effrontery" leads into "The Direction" in which the vocals are so murky it sounds like the singer has a bad cold. It's intriguing enough to make you want to keep listening through and overall the recording has a full, in-depth feeling. neXt rAdio tunes you in with highly charged, dissonant dance rhythms; underwater distortions; hypnotic, staticky bass lines; crystalline melodies; and a quote from the lounge lizard classic "Feelings." The high point is "A Hurt In The Night," with its dark, dark basement sound and background walling like distant lost souls, like a horror movie soundtrack. (Regicide Bureau 8701 Crocus Ln, St Louis MO 63114 usa) river pearl

Stunningly competent live rock band showing delectable traces of XTC, early Primus, Zappa, the Police (the drum/bass interplay) and maybe even CAN. "I For An I" has a mysterious verse bit but the chorus is pure sunshine. The drummer has done his homework. He gets lots of tasty fills and embellishments. Parts of "Arnold's Monster" have been layered with so many guitar and vocal harmonies it's almost Allman Bros. if Dickey Betts went through Guitar Craft and then saw a ghost. The singing is wordy and clever throughout. The bass playing is spry and deft. "Ersatz Love" is my favorite, a quirky, near-atonal, catchy booty shaker. Awesome.
(K Hanlon 220 W State Athens OH 45701 usa) ian

The title track opens with a few Timothy Leary samples and continues with drum machine, bass + guitar and treated vocals. The Leary bits make this sound like a Nike ad, with a techno Danzig doing the soundtrack. "open the door/escape. " "Peaking In Babylon" is sort of industrial metal. Riffs repeated over machine gun drum machine with trash talk show samples about LSD. "Majestic" continues the theme and closes the tape. Dark, repetetive, mechanical.
(Ishnigarrab 1705 Jupiter Rd #223, Plano TX 75074 usa) ian

A collection of folk songs. More S+G than Dylan, but... "Ribbon Bow" is vaguely evocative of master Nick Drake, a winsome ballady type of thing. This track is all finger-picked acoustic guitar + the ace vocals of Robin. "Song Of The Seals" is mostly a capella with a few bells thrown in for brassy good measure. Touching. And Robin is singing her heart out too. "Testimony" is an all-vocal arrangement that is quite lovely.
(Lonely Whistle Music po box 23952 San Jose CA 95153 usa) ian

This exotic recording brings to mind HUGO LARGO, LISA GERRARD and HIS NAME IS ALIVE in equal degrees. The music consists mostly of synths and sequenced loops and is damned ethereal in spots. The airborne, emotional vocals of Robin O'Brien are given lots of room to wander and explore, lending this tape a childlike innocence and dream-like quality. The lush arrangements make these songs almost torch-like. Much wailing. The mix is delicate and sensitive, giving the material fuel to wrench the listener's heart...and I'm definitely losing objectivity. Brilliant. (Lonely Whistle Music po box 23592 San Jose CA 95153 usa) lan

Omaha Girl-jangly git pop punkish sort of probably recorded in someone's garage with a ghetto blaster. 5 Cent Refills-another garage band with slightly better songs and worse sound quality (someone step on that boombox once too often?) and then--suddenly the sound quality gets better (GASP! A MULTITRACKER!?!) It's not outright BAD, but I sure could've spent that half-hour in more worthwhile ways.
(Bad Cabbage 1544 NW 20 St, Homestead FL 33030 usa) c reider

Strange, off the wall music. It's a little on the funky side, with some spoken word thrown in. If anything, give it up to hear songs such as "John Henry Has A Hammer And The White Man Is A Mountain," "Higgledy, Piggledy, Wiggledy Girl," and "Smile, You Flamingo Bastard."
(po box 2071 Wimington NC 28402 usa) kim rizzo

94-95 Home Demos
Fifteen destined-to-be-classic songs recorded in Andy's shed at the bottom of the garden, which is outfitted with a digital 8-track studio among other delectable bits of machinery. These songs are different from previous demos- the moods are more extreme, often being very sad and damn-near-giddy within the same song. For those keeping score, there's more emphasis on orchestral/ acoustic/ drumless songs (see "Rook" from XTC's NONSUCH album). It's absurd to consider these recordings 'demos' since they're fully realized and fleshed ou--?besides, two of these cuts have already been released by the HELLO! CD Club; the excellent Martin Newell album "Greatest Living Englishman" was also recorded in Andy's home studio. The patented XTC studio gloss will add much to these songs, but they're already shit-hot. I hope XTC's former A&R guy at Virgin has heard "You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful," and that he's been throttling himself in the neck ever since. Fuck Virgin/EMI and may the next XTC record go quintuple platinum just to spite them. The overwhelming beauty of "Easter Theater" is quite unlike any previous Partridge composition. "I'd Like That" is a sunshiney mix of MUMMER and SKYLARKING feels, with the happy ghosts of the Dukes of Stratosphear reappearing to harmonize on the "sunflower" bits. Ahhhh... "Knights In Shining Karma" is an oddly dour finger-picked number- almost like Nick Drake for electric guitar. "The Last Balloon" is a patented Partridge joyous bummer track in the vein of "Chalkhills And Children" (from ORANGES AND LEMONS), with a heartbroken swing feel. Sigh. Fab. Where does it come from? How can this stuff be so paralyzingly excellent, even in demo form? If Andy Partridge could piss out his brilliance and bottle it, he might be a rich man yet. "Dame Fortune" is a playful, up-tempo number with acoustic guitars and penny whistles. "The Green Man" is a massive, radio-ready Peter Gabriel-style world-music anthem. Andy's painful divorce left him with "Dictionary Of Doubt," a jilted folk tune. This track would make excellent b-side material. "I Can't Own Her" is another giddy downer, like "That Wave" after being kicked in the nuts by its true love. Wounded. These tracks are massive and amazing. Can't wait for the album, though these demos will make the wait a fuck of a lot easier.
(contact: YOU WISH.) Ian C Stewart

Typically flawless pop from Franco Turra and his band of merry noisemakers. The holiday overtones of this xmas single are minimal, especially for those of me who don't speak Italian. The wonderfully rendered tunes on this tape are tight and brilliant. "Cometa Kamikaze" is a flashy, up-tempo affair with fast drumming and layers upon layers of singing, guitars, synths, etc. It is to the detriment of the world at large that Franco Turra still has no major recording deal. It's about time somebody made his music widely available. My man should be MASSIVE. So, this is my little hint to those with big corporate money: GET ON IT. Now. (Franco Turra via Castiglione 91, Bologna 40136 Italy) lan

A collection of musics from an underground sound artist I've had minimal contact with. The story as I understand it is that he's done sound in the underground for many years now (working with Dimthingshine and a space rock jam band called Stillborn in addition to his solo work under the moniker Quanio) but now he's retiring from the cassnet, finally releasing this collection of pieces from 1980-91. The scenario: white boy sound nerd (aren't we all? it brings a tear to the eye...) alone, improvising stuff to tape in real time, largely without multi-tracking. While you have your analogue synthie blips & grinds, this is better than average fare. Menconi brings a keen compositional ear to these calm, minimal pieces, creating some moments that are so good, you swear they must've been premeditated. Sure, you've got yer noodling, but this stuff has stood the test of time (on my desk anyway) and it grows on me every time I hear it. One qualm: the A-side and the B-side should be flip flopped. Extra brownie points for the song title of his 1981 recording "Indiscreet Pussyfooting."
(Paul Menconi 361 Garland Ave, Fortuna CA 95540 usa) c reider

Marc of VICKLOGIC's 4?song cassette xmas card. "Ugly Child" is an inspired strum-a-thon for acoustic guitars and voices, and features cool lyrics, especially the ending. "Faith Soup" is a 2-chord stomp with a noisy middle bit. Um. "Homeland 95" rounds the tape out with a hall of stormy, distorted guitars. Better than a friggin' Hallmark card and tastier than fruitcake.
(po box 31618 Philadelphia PA 19147 usa) ian

The kind of hazy, psychedelia-infused lofi drone rock that quickly propelled the Stone Roses to stardom (who then quickly faded from memory). I guess the "Seattle Sound" is so much more memorable than the "Manchester Sound"? Aside from a load of buckshot and Kate Moss in flannel, I can't remember much about Seattle. At the time it annoyed me to incalculable ends that suddenly everyone's band (and everyone's brother's band) sounded like the Stone Roses. Well, I'll bet you a pound that the Roman Candles have shed this sound for something more "now" (maybe a NIN wannabe band). Do you want to know what the truly annoying thing about this tape is? The thing that really pisses me off? What really pisses me off is that this tape sounds really good, every song, all the way through. It's enjoyable. I can't help it...Doesn't that suck?
(Neon Ray Recordings 118 S 9th St #3, Lafayette IN 47901 usa) c reider

From deep in the heart of England comes this C60 by Phil Rhoden. The tape's awkward title made me hesitate a moment before popping cassette into player, but my fears were unfounded. Phil does a very nice Job of juxtaposing irregular percussion lines with a broad palette of jarring samples and electronic tonalities to keep the ten tracks moving ever-forward. Imagine an armor-clad elephant walking on stilts through a street carnival filled with tipsy Highlanders (complete with bagpipes!), and you'll have a good mental picture of what's shakin' through this tape. sort of reminds me of a user-friendly, hula-wearing version of LAIBACH, if you can fathom that. Phil has at least three other tapes available, all filled with interesting ideas and arrangements, so write to him. (132 Amblecote Rd, Brierly Hill, West Midlands DY5 2YE uk) thomas sutter

Crunchy, freaky technical rock like LIVING COLOUR, with more pronounced politics in the lyrics. "Liberation Day," "Abu Jamal," "Breakfast In Amerika"--RICANSTRUCTION is definitely pissed off. Musically it's all hard riffing and unpredictable time changes. The drummer is especially monstrous. The production is crystal-clear, indicating that these guys are probably destined for greater things.
(po box 205 NYC, NY 10012 usa) ian

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL:mail collaboration: experimental music
The "band" name here refers not to the famous Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs Ferguson, but to the fact that all of the collaborators (Tom Furgas; Dan Floretti; Don Campau; Ken Clinger; If, Bwana; Big City Orchestra; John Wiggins; Jeff Yih; Larry Ruhl and Charlie Mendoza) are geographically dispersed but they all contributed well, equally. Actually Campau seems to be the guiding force behind this cassette, since his name is the only one listed on every track, mostly paired with one or two others. The result is a sometimes densely woven series of ambient tracks. Each side starts with some short, mostly interesting pieces-duets or trios from Campau and friends. "Abstract Nitrousetude" features crazy laughing. "A Hint Of Ginger" is dominated by percussion. "Three Way Tangle" has meandering, quizzical sounds. "An Encouraging Item" is built around a "found voice" news snippet about sludge from Chicago's sewage treatment plant being used for topsoil. The one that appealed to me most was "Thunder & Hall," consisting of pizzicato notes set against reverberating distortions, sounding just like the title. The second half of each side gets down more to the heart of the matter with parts 1 and 2 of the title track. Campau may be more equal than the others but on "SB=" the sounds merge easily from one collaborator to the next, like an interlocking Escher pattern. Electronic moaning and trilling gives way to a tense carnival of nightmare jangling, then to playful percussion, later to noises like cartoon dogs and cats yipping and yowling abstractly at each other--then, at turns what sounds like an ambulance, Japanese music, variations on the Ren & Stimpy theme, backward masking, a trombone like a lazily belligerent elephant, maybe an alarm clock, some slamming doors, and there's definitely a typewriter and some Indian chanting in there. One of the guys muses for a while in a "2001" HAL kind of voice: "I originally thought that there really wasn't any reason for me to think that there was anything to know, it really could have been that strange..." Yes, sometimes it is that strange, but "SB=" has the power to surprise.
(Lonely Whistle Music po box 23592 San Jose CA 95153 usa) river pearl

This tough 4-song single is full of pounding drum machines; distorted, neck-shaving guitars and bullhorn vocals. A metal/industrial crossover. This will do well with fans of late 80s Wax Trax stuff and in industrial clubs. "Stillwarm" has a nice, sequenced bass sound overlaid with syncopated guitars and extra-distorted vocals. It's pissed off and cool. "Feeding The Flame" clocks in at 2:42 (a little Trax humor?) and features a punishing chorus dominated by a nice double bass run. Black leather jacket music. "Plague" is slower and more menacing, with the same base elements as the other tracks. I'm off now to kill something.
(SOW 1 Church Lane, Horbling Lincs, NG34 OPJ uk) ian

60 min of spooky homespun goth. HEXENHAUS begins with "Crimson Dream," which is all piano, drums and synths with a vocalist covering typical goth ground---sleep, beauty, graves, horror, shadows, etc. PHARAOH gets all ambient on the intro to "Of Ceremonial Dances"--the song is violin-topped, bass drum?driven-evoking a middle-eastern feel. AKHKHARU does a little chanting/spoken word on "Ascension de Lunis Sanguinis"--horror movie ambience with octaved spoken bits. Spooky. TK ALUMNI offer "The Equinox," an indifferent sequence of beats and synths. ANCIENT RITES continue the chanting and then get all percussive like DCD on the end of "Ritual Mysticism." SHORTWAVE offers a Gary Numan feel on "Monogenetic" before FURNACE gets all death metally on "Cremated Souls." A little techno grind with distorted vocals and spoken samples. Crazy shit, this stuff is cool.
(Ishnigarrab 1705 Jupiter rd #223, Plano TX 75074 usa) lan

Warm, funky rock band. 24-7 SPYZ minus the speed metal. Ronzo's vocals are smooth and cool. The production is professional and sounds excellent. The bass and drums sound especially nice. Glen the guitarist comes on like he wants to be Hendrix (let me guess--tobacco burst Strat?) but it suits the music. Overall it's the ghost of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN jamming with P-FUNK. Very promising.
(1810 Holly St, Nashville TN 37206 usa) ian

On four of the seven songs on this tape, Susnara produces a real fine Brit pop sound with English-accented vocals (despite his Chicago mailing address). "Elite Sunshine Corpse" poses the rhetorical question "You seek the seeker and the seeker seeks God. Wouldn't you rather ask God?" to launch a rhythmic, keyboard-driven track with some nice contrapuntal melody. "3D Sex Offender In Stereovision" is an extended guitar track dedicated to sexual dissatisfaction. "You're every girl since school who walked away," he sings, "underneath your dress is a riddle I can't hope to guess." All that earnestness dissolves by the end into a little tribute to "Dominique". Yes, the swinging 60s Singing Nun single. That "Dominique". "Brain Cell Loss" is a merry little romp about getting in touch with the other side of your mind and travelling astral planes. Sounds like he even uses the phrase "rubber soul" at one point. Ends with a man describing manic behavior-buying $2000 worth of books at a time or staying out all night and only need one hour of sleep. Draw your own pharmaceutical conclusions. Susnara tacks on a bonus track, handwritten on the printed-card, called "Phoamykralc. It's a hard-edged, rhythmic recitation with the lyrics enclosed. He calls it "my open letter to the Unabomber: KILL UGLY RADIO FIREBOMB B96 TODAY..." I've never been to Chicago, but I'm guessing B96 is a radio station. Must be pretty bad.
(7806 Kilpatrick, Chicago IL 60652 usa) river pearl

TENEBRAE compilation
This will make the goths smile (?!): a 90minute, 19-band compilation of gothic-dark wave-ethereal-industrial music from new European acts. It features amateurs and established bands. As with all compilation tapes, you'll love some songs and loathe others but the variety of genres is interesting anyway. Some songs are shameless copies of more established bands which means that one could listen to them and think they're Bauhaus or Death In June outtakes. Other songs are very original though. My favorites: ARTICA "Indomita" (Italy) a strong, dynamic, melodic song in the best style of Italian alternative rock. Uplifting.LUCIE CRIES "Vers Les Mines Du Golgotha" (France) dark and gloomy, obsessive and repetitive, unfortunately, a weak vocalist ruins it a bit. He should've screamed more. DEVIATE LADIES "Mirror My Love" (Italy) these guys are great (I should know, I've got all their demos) and they could become the next Big Gothic Thing if only they could find a label brave enough to sign them. Their outrageous, raving mad frontman Asmodeus G Volgar (yes!) is a really talented songwriter and singer. The song they chose for this compilation only partly reveals their considerable talent. Anyway, it's a funny, energetic "trashgoth" romp which you'll find quite pleasant. ERMENEUMA "Inquietdine" (Italy) an electric, slightly Tuxedomoonish thingie. TOMBSTONE "The Blue Girl In The Crypt" (Italy) elegant, sinister melodics in a 4AD style. Written, oddly, by the same blokes from Ermeneuma.ATARAXIA "Fountains" (Italy) Dead Can Dance, Italian style. IN MY ROSARY "Twilight Of The Gods" (Germany) more 4AD, more elegance. KIRLIAN CAMERA "Ars Moriendi 11" (Italy) eeek! Sparse, menacing, eerie noises! Sleep with the lights on! LACRIMOSA "Flamme In Wind" (Switzerland) I personally yawn to death when I listen to this song, but these blokes are HUGE in the Euro goth scene, so I felt compelled to mention them. They're a real curiosity. This song is a big, fat, pompous, six?minute dirge, sung in German, rather tuneless, and featuring very unlikely instruments for a gothic song. All of Lacnimosa's Cds are like this, yet people buy them in droves. Beats me. SMALLPEEK "Mirror" (Italy) aaaah. My very favonite. A pretty, dainty new wave song that Robert Smith would give his hairdo for. Nice and sugary like The Cure in the best songs of the "Kiss Me..." or "Head On The Door" period-all this and lots more come in a stylish, bilingual package, featuring contact addresses for all of the bands and for the three zines that produced the tape. And it's cheap too.
(M. Bonato, via S Paolo 5, 56125 Pisa, Italy) paola sorrentino

KJO is fast becoming a leader of the isolationist sound, on par with LULL, FINAL, etc. the new NOISE UNIT releases focus on the harsher aspects of TINTY MUSIC's already machinistic sound. Well done. "Meprobamate" reminds me of sitting in a car going through a car wash. Rolling, cascading sheets of noise that hum past like machinery. Excellently rendered and presented. Typically high quality stuff.
(po box 85363 Seattle WA 98145 usa) lan

Minimal sound paintings that whisper or swell, an insect or an orchestra. Very nicely done, down to the excellent packaging. Often emotionally affecting in the way that music should be. I don't know about you, but this guy is a must contact for me. Oh, this is a limited edition of 20, so jump on it today, not tomorrow.
(po box 85363 Seattle WA 98145 usa) c reider

TUOB/GREENman split tape
TUOB: loops, voices wandering in and out, generally repetetive, but also generally enjoyable. The act of selection gives the group its flavor. GREENman: instrumental bits of melody and atmosphere which may or may not be distorted into oblivion, changed and rearranged until they are not what they were before... interspersed with bits of narration. (yet another Residents-esque group? yes.)
(Doomsday Trans po box 26086 Kitchener, ONT N2G 4V8 canada) c reider

Full of noisescapes and sound collages: floating space noises, high voltage vibrations, electronic growling, suggested and actual voices emerging from the cryptic mix. "CRK=Asshole" leaps out as Terry Burke's "public service to other home tapers." Must be heard.
(Anarm Ysvargh Music po box 1204 Lyons CO 80540 usa) river pearl

Yawn-o-matic 4-track mess from a guy named Marc and one of the STRAPPING FIELD HANDS. Sounds like it was an acoustic guitar/ Casio /singing along rockin' good time when it was being recorded, but with only one really tuneful song in sight ("Children's Anthem" is it a cover?) this tape comes off kind of dull and smug. I wanted to like it, really I did. I'm always pulling for nice guys but this shit isn't their best work. I hope.
(VickLodge po box 31618 Philadelphia PA 19147 usa) ian

Fucked up sound manipulations. Samples, loops, uh ... your mom. There's a weird a capella piece 1/3 of the way in. Lots of animal samples. Birds. Lions. Belligerent humans. Easy listening for homes with high radon levels. The "six-six-six clear entry" bit was good.
(72 Roseneath Cr, Kitchener ONT N2E 1V9 canada) ian

"MECHANICAL FLUTTER/ UNDER THE BRIDGE" Both tracks on this tape are extended improvisations for solo guitar, recorded live. On "Mechanical Flutter," you'd swear two people were playing shimmering, cascading textures on synthesizers, but it's just John alone, showing what marvels a craftsman can achieve with his instrument. The second track, "Under the Bridge," resembles a conversation heard through filters and ring modulators, but again it's purely real-time manipulations of the guitar which produce a host of anthromorphic timbres. Somebody give this man a pile of money so he can put together a full-length album!
(8 E 44th St #9, Kansas City MO 64111 usa) thomas sutter

WINDY + CARL/FUXA split 7"
The W+C track is pure atmosphere, a pleasant song submerged in honey. Washes of guitar and keys blend with delay-soaked female vocals in one massive exhaling motion. Like the LUSH b-side "astronaut," this track is sexy and colorful. The FUXA flip "dream landing" is a pleasant real-time jog through space. Drums, guitars and bass all pulled way back, playing very understatedly. The bliss repeats its chord changes for several minutes before finally breaking down somewhere near the label.
(Astro Lanes po box 545 Trenton MI 48183 usa) ian

4 song preview
Appropriately noisy rock group. The coyness of the lyrics to "Yes, yes...hey, hey" (and the unnatural fascination with Aimee Mann) suggest that these guys are in the same line as WEEZER and the band that did that stupid "she don't eat meat but she sure likes to bone" song. The performance and production are tight and professional. Commercial, even. The harmonies and tendency to rock out at opportune moments will find WUNDERBAND favor all over the country. Especially when the CD comes out (it's called "Johnny Platonic," out this summer). Look out all you old school Lollapaloozers, I just found your next favorite band.
(424 W 46th #4B, NYC NY 10036 usa) ian

The A-side of this hour-long cassette features four tracks by JTY, a man coming to grips with his tape recorder in some interesting ways. The first piece, "Drowse," is an expansive sound-field, suggestive of standing in the middle of a rock-crushing quarry, with deep tectonic rumbles matched by high-end mechanical twitterings--it really seems to fill the room with its enjoyable density. The second track is my favorite of the tape. This is a long, endlessly mutating hyper-collage, which reflects a ton of patient tape-editing and hard work (I know, I've been there), all to terrific effect. For a historical predecessor, check out John Cage's "Fontana Mix" through your local library. NEGATIVLAND wishes they could still do stuff this cool. Over on the flip-side, MAMMAL HOLIDAY (Julia Gilman) also uses the tape recorder as the main instrument, apparently dragging her deck through piles of leaves, trash and metal scraps; down echoey hallways where children are playing. This kind of abuse produces some mighty visceral audio-disruptions, sure to rattle your fillings loose. The funny thing is, since each of these three tracks seems to focus on a particular environment or process, one begins to develop a comfortable familiarity with the noises therein, and the harshness gradually becomes almost ambient.
(JTY 98?085 Puakukui PI, Aiea HI 96701 usa) thomas sutter

Side one is the best part of this tape. It is a breathless lo-fi collage of snippets from four hundred thousand different slabs of vinyl. I appreciate the appearance of DOCKSTADER and ZAPPA. This would be remarkable if I were sure that the recording actually documents a performance as the title indicates, rather than something done by editing and multi-tracking. The b-side is an annoying barrage of screeching, treble-heavy noise and sped up voices.
(JTY 98?085 Puakukui PI, Aiea HI 96701 usa) c reider

Angry hardcore punk played by some really pissed off youngsters. FAULTLINE screeches and bellows and vents through the first two tracks. A bit of speed, a bit of doom, a bunch of crunch. COUNCIL OF FIVE NATIONS' "Black Belt Jones" is a quick rock song with a freak on vocals. Homey is losing it. Vocally, I mean. The pair of FACELESS tracks wade through metal clichés but slow things down to sludge quite ably. The female vocalist is an interesting twist. Nice nice. EMBERSCENT's vocalist sounds like he's trying to shout his kidneys out. Cool. Their pair of tracks continues the aggression. "Fall End Me" sounds like JAWBOX, sort of QUADILIACHA are like speedmetal punkpop. Green Day jams with Exodus or some shit. ELEMENT 33 offers a bogglingly demented pair of songs. Musically it's all buzzing speed and crunching riffs but the vocals are where the entertainment is. A male vocalist is shrieking like a homicidal muppet while a female vocalist speaks the lyrics in unison with the dude. Weird and novel. The rest of the CD is a bunch of crap spoken word wank. Someday these kids won't be 18 anymore and this stuff won't seem nearly so urgent.
(Earth House po box 1332 Redding CT 06875 usa) ian