daphine & lyndsey - seascape no. 1 (kiks/gfr, 2012)
a somewhat mysterious recording by a "duo" moniker of one ben hallatt, dictator of kiks/gfr, one of my favorite n-th wave pre-industrial tape labels.  coupled with the too-appropriate copy, "no frills... rough and ready zen meditation" and a plethora of black and white images of our seemingly generic subject beach, including details of shells, the package as a whole has a slightly tongue-in-cheek air about it, both a striking example of, but also a pat on the head to, the often too-serious and usually bland field recording genre.  in this instance, we find ourselves transported to the entirely familiar, too expected, sound of crashing waves, gulls, and spray.  a lack of wind screen on the microphone offers further envelopment in the landscape of whooshing white noise in a way that may not be standard field recording; the microphone's presence calls attention to itself.  the intention feels off-the-cuff; unprepared; accidental.  voices mingle with the waves--are they screaming in ecstacy?  desperation?  children playing?  we can't be sure, but there is a story in the land, wind and water.  later in the tape, creaking fences and windswept cloth suggest human absence--the voices are gone but the objects remain.
joseph edward yonker - an entry into something of an exit (suram fortress, 2015)
it could be easy to overlook this tape in favor of joseph's melodic work with willamette, in collaboration with danny clay, or solo under his pasture moniker. but this tape is a necessary contrast to the sighing melodicism and nostalgic patina found in the aforementioned projects, offering instead a glimpse into a crunchy, ping-ponging post-industrial landscape. the sounds explored here are in the lineage of pioneering explorations in electronic sound art: musique concrète and electro-acoustic musics.  but the relative density and texture of the pieces' sounds: slapback-delayed crackling; coiled metal springs; and microphone feedback, and overall attitude bring to mind the freeform tape experiments of primitive industrial music.  nonetheless, an entry... offers a fresh perspective on these related yet aesthetically opposed styles by utilizing the restraint, discipline and sonic detail of the former, as well as the un-classical rawness and isolationist atmosphere of the latter movement.  the tape suggests the elusiveness and relativity of beauty as much as joseph's other endeavors, only from a different, more primal, perspective.


static park - how is the world treating you? (self-released, 2014)
great cdr from julien skrobek, a parisian noise/guitar/beat producer.  this cd breaks many "rules" and sounds utterly enjoyable.  i'm not sure if the selection of pieces and experiments in noise wall julien presents from his bandcamp plays like an album, but i listen all the way through.  material consists of, firstly, standard noise wall of the bassy, crunchy, gritty variety that i like (as opposed to the mid-range roaring variety, which i also enjoy).  sounds like rubbing a scouring pad on your face for 10 minutes.  secondly, noise wall and guitar playing.  the guitar is melodic and not especially "of" a particular genre... maybe a little folk-y or soundtrack-y, but very comforting, neutral (in a good way), and well-played.  this combination is counterintuitive to my ears; given the extremity of noise wall, the counterbalance of "light" music along with creates a unique listening environment.  some pieces feature the guitar run through the noise wall rig, setups which julien documents throroughly on his blog along with comics, recording ideas, general musings, etc.  third and final material type: hip hop beats with wall.  yeah, you read it correctly!  the beats sound circa 1990, possibly fruity loops and some guitar and bass playing on top.  they're really awesome, just perfectly charming, funky and dry, and the wall noise cutting in and out is totally disorienting.  a refreshingly thoughtful and totally progressive approach to wall.


[view] / don haugen split (dumpsterscore, 2013)
whoa.  another huge score from the eugene noise crew.  i shared a bill on my last tour with [view].  he's one of those guys who rolls into the venue with racks and racks of gear but actually lives up to every last bit of it.  moments after his set started, [view] disappeared from view behind his self-built speaker cabinet and medical test equipment, dialing knobs and flipping switches while guttural field recordings of junk metal spat out from an old akai.  on this tape, [view]'s side is a little more synthetic and static and strikes a perfect balance between clinical precision and analog/old machine aesthetics.  the opening bass lurch with fluttering flecks of high end static sets the tone for most of the tape; i can't think of a much better record to rattle your speakers, other than maybe evenings' descending coma (see earlier review).  most of the remainder of [view]'s side is pulsing waves and stuttering drones.  really cool.  haugen on the flip side is much weightier and develops in three parts, the first of which is mostly raw oscillator bass rumble--movement emerges from different beating effects playing against each other.  there's the slightest hint of a choir-like drone.  in the second part, these heavenly drones emerge from the churn and are partially modulated by the sheer volume of the bass.  i'm not sure if it's my bloody valentine through paul stretch or recordings of angels having sex in slow motion, but when it's happening, i'm in no position to care.  gorgeous!  last bit is back to the bass drones, this time a little lighter and more resigned than the first section.  great, great tape for pipe cleaning, house cleaning, and much more.


jeff carey - two fields (banned production, 2013)
the first time i listened to this tape, my walkman was running out of batteries while standing in an office max last week. even though listens 4-ish onward became increasingly faint and buried under crackling distortion, the first few flips blew my mind to bits.  this one hits somewhat harder than jeff's recent 3:30 disc which features more ambient passages and stereo-panned kick drums, but the present item still manages enough stuttering shards, dropouts, glitches, metallic textures, and bottomless bass bursts to remind the listener that, yeah, it is computer music.  as digital as jeff's music is, the distortion sounds great compressed on tape, and the short length (i think it's about a c15) is effective: repeated listens in one session are a must.  having seen jeff play this stuff live a couple times also provides a nice visual--although the guts of the program are buried in a laptop (jeff says he uses supercollider), the controllers are gaming pads and a joystick, which provide a necessary tactile/performance interface.  my friend brendan says this music sounds like acceleration.  i imagine hyperspeed flight through a series of metallic digital wormholes.  not for dudes only.


juice machine & regosphere - trace minerals (control valve/dumpsterscore, 2013)
very nice cdr (!) consisting of two improvised tracks for electronics and bowed metal.  juice machine is fascinating as always, (implausibly) sculpting pure, clinical electronic tones that nonetheless sound playful and resonant at once.  i have the impression that almost any sound is possible within the confines of their system at any given time.  the pacing is thoughtful, focused and meticulous at all times.  regosphere's contributions are a nice foil, adding somewhat of a retro-kosmiche vibe of pulses, arpeggios and filter sweeps, but without feeling heavy handed as much throwback 70s synth music does--a great example of making forward-thinking music with old gear/tropes.  i had to turn down the music at one point to see if the bird sounds i was hearing were part of the disc (they weren't).

being - calming homeostasis (self-release, 2013)
perfectly short and utterly gutteral blast of harsh noise from dayton.  it's completely focused and visceral in a way i imagine only someone with years of experience seems likely to pull off--only the dear essentials are present: screeching feedback, harsh bottom end rumble, crackling mid-high frequencies.  as for distortion tone, to my ears it has an "overdrive" sound rather than the metallic, scooped out mid EQ sound that some harsh noise has (which is also a nice flavor).  even so, it doesn't feel nasty on the ears.  au contraire.  hot!


evenings - descending coma (monorail trespassing, 2007)
a tape i picked up at the suggestion of jon borges (monorail trespassing) on the latest vasculae engagement in oakland.  i'm unfamiliar with evenings other than this tape.  took me awhile to get around to listening to it, as they say.  admittedly, the artwork (mostly black with a woman's face barely visible) didn't grab my attention as much as the other titles i acquired at the show, so it sat patiently for a couple months.  as it turns out, patience is a big part of what this tape seems to be about, and the art aesthetic and titles make sense, especially when one opens to the interior of the tape to find a collage of foliage.  the other day, i threw it on my walkman on a whim with some cheap headphones while walking around my neighborhood.  i was expecting either drone or harsh noise.  this tape is both, in a sense, but also totally unlike either.  the sound is almost entirely comprised of a crumbling, bass heavy avalanche in slow motion--crackling/simmering high and midrange, and extremely low bass sludge underneath, like harsh noise slowed down a few thousand percent.  occasionally, there are wisps of resonant ambience on top but only in passing.  nonetheless, these touches add quite a bit, implying expansive textures that might emerge from the suffocating deluge but never quite do.  the sound constantly develops: sometimes quicker, as when a fault line slips, but mostly slower and geologically.  in fact, geological is the best term i can come up with for this album--while the crumbling tones remind me of the frigid, glacial soundscapes of thomas köner minus the dark ambient keyboards, the sound on "descending coma" has an element of blown out, heaving immediacy absent from köner's work.  it's not nearly as cinematic, musical and "epic" as köner or lustmord, which lifts a burden from the listener and allows for repeat listening (day one with "descending coma" involved least a dozen flips).  i don't particularly feel like i've been on a journey or gone anywhere while listening to this tape, and it doesn't particularly conjure a scene for me either.  the rawness and aggression of the work's extremely dense sonic pressures belie a subtlety and focus that demands less on the ears than other types of noise, giving this tape a functionality i might associate with ambient music, or forms of noise that can exist without active listening.  speaking of listening environments, after listening through 2-3 times on said walkman about town, i did a few spins on my home stereo and thoroughly enjoyed the bass-heavy experience.  later, i tried it on a tiny portable boombox that pretty much cuts everything under 700 hz and still found the noise powerful--the static flecks of dirt fluttering through the speaker implied the heavy churning movement underneath.  indeed, much of the power of this album is the ability it has to create the illusion of sounds that don't exist, either because they are too low in frequency or are glimpses of textures that might exist within the churning storm.  this tape is very functional, begs for creative listening, and offers a highly aesthetic, isolating style of noise that resonates with me deeply.  it might be a fun tape to check out on one of those rumbling gaming chairs, but that's probably unnecessary.