CAVE — Allways (Drag City)
Emphasis on vibe—the insistent single-note guitar rhythm, chill backing vox, and deep envelope sweeping of the "San’ Yago;" the insistent bass throb and quasi-erotic wah line of Beaux make it the first CAVE album you could grind to without so much as a raised eyebrow. Some of the relaxed sonic dimensions are attributable to Rob Frye’s flute flourishes and second set of keyboard hands that bridge the gap to he and presumed mastermind Cooper Crain’s other project, Bitchin Bajas, though the deep chill moments here are of a less ethereal bent: another side of the coin, maybe, but to Bitchin Bajas’ celestial aims CAVE is the earthly antidote.
While the Hideout’s release show highlight was the unimpeachable drum workout of “This is the Best” off of 2011’s Neverendless—as with all CAVE shows, Rex’s motorik precision on drums makes these songs that much more of a fucking jam in live context—the chilled-out vibes of Allways’ oeuvre flexed live in a way that made for my favorite CAVE performances since in about a decade, not that they’ve been slouching. A must.
Bonus points on the subtle recording bits that stick out—insistent thwack the gated snare on opener “The Juan;” interplay between guitarists Cooper Crain and second guitarist Jeremy Freeze; the deep dirge of guitar distortion that comes in midway on “Beaux” at the most sludgy, Masters of Reality-esque tone on a CAVE record to date: Coop’s experience as go-to local recordist brings out elements in subtle but sticking ways that reward repeated listens.
Pepper Mill Rondo — EDM (Hausu Mountain)
Which is to say: embrace the chaos. Or maybe succumb.
Decibel levels are the determining factor on whether the results are serenity or psychosis.
Had me at Brandon / Bradley / Nick.
Sug — Only Hidden Once (Baked Tapes)
This release, put out by a year ago by NYC label Baked Tapes, has been out longer than the other releases, which is to say its interplanetary vibes have had a little longer to marinate. Opener "They Change Faces" is the most sublime and droney of the bunch, one of a peaceful yearning belied by the rest of the cassette's contents.
By "Burn Billionaires Not Coal," the neural pathways go bad, existentially speaking, from the get-go: distorted blurps of an off-time synth loop are followed by screamish alien vocalizations, scrapes and scratches that extend throughout the thirteen-minute track, surreal key touches verifying that somewhere on the A-side we've slipped to an alternate and infinitely murky dimension. The almost-title track on the B-side, flowing directly into Found in Space, makes for a terrifyingly slippery comedown on headphones late at night, or an ambiance for reading to at low levels, depending on your preferred context.
The result is corrupted data, hypnotic and deified. Unnervingly alien. Recommended fraternity soundtrack for middle-of-the-night pledge hazing.
X-Files on honey slides
Bucket Brigade - IDX1011 (No Index)
The brief first track gives a statement of purpose: speedy acid o’er supercomputer subway tracks, microdosing the mainframe, all points in the braincase connected. All of which guides the rest of IDX1011 as a logical series of bass rhythms, kaleidoscopic synth melodies, and echoing drum machine pulses dancing over tinkling computerized bits. The glitched twinkles of twilight throughout this release capture equally the joyous optimism of takeoff and of one running on fumes at unnamed adventure’s end.
Floating along the cloudtop of basslines and synaptic melodies is the jovial sense of exploration that buoys each of these synth workouts—driving, taut, never terse. Keep you moving and up. Occasional deep reverb touches reminiscent of early AFX singles but applied to 8 bit crunch, moments which feeling like excitebike run through a modular setup, appropriate enough given its driving quality: the music herein designed for some sort of transport, whether of motorized airport walkways or liminal & lucid dreamscapes.
(5)7.18.17frimorn - Uptempo 6/8 side 1 closer (or face A if you prefer), bouncy & buoyant travel thru cyber-imaginary Tokyo of my mind.
(6)12.3.17final - more contemplative start to the second side where every element feels exquisitely placed and offers a little more space than the rest of the collection; reminiscent of H. Takahashi’s recent Escapism release (well worth checking out in its own right).