Existentia Cicada - S/T
(Swan City Sounds 2013)
("Breezy pluckings of clean guitar and droning chords")
If Lakeland, Florida's cassette imprint Swan City Sounds is one big happy family, then Existentia Cicada is the slacker older brother of My Own Retard, who I reviewed in October. Like its counterpart, Existentia Cicada is a guitar-based ambient solo project, only instead of using bleary, fuzzed out effects to achieve instrumental nirvana, breezy pluckings of clean guitar and droning chords are employed to massage one's eardrums. It's a sound much less indebted to My Bloody Valentine than to surf-y acts like Real Estate and Beach Fossils.
I received the tape in the mail yesterday, packaged in an empty box of white chocolate cooking squares; an ingenious touch. The album artwork here is the best I've seen yet from Swan City Sounds, with an orange/maroon color scheme. It resembles a late 70s kitchen motif. In the liner notes, there's a shout-out to my favorite video game hero, Phoenix Wright. The album's track titles are split between obscure references to video games and the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.
Each track on the album is a short, melancholy affair that lopes about with a bit of a limp, not really getting anywhere but basking in its own warmth. Vocals are rare, and when they do appear they merely add a feeling of weightlessness to the already gossamer atmospheres. Existentia Cicada is one of those acts that subscribes to the philosophy of beauty over depth, and I love it. My favorite tracks are the bouncy, yet rhythmless "Apologies to Dean and Randy" and "Chew", which has some New Age influences and reminds me of the band Reedbeds. The next time you cozy up with a worn copy of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason or some other work of Marxist Existentialism, pop this tape into your cassette player. If such a book isn't within your grasp, the Sunday comics may suffice. No matter what setting you listen to this tape in, its dream-pop bliss will enhance your experience. Sample the album below.