Single Review: Cosmic Neighbourhood - "Elf House"

Cosmic Neighbourhood - Elf House
(2016 Kit Records)

The inflatable witch keeping watch over your neighbor's front yard, (standing about eight feet high with traditional green skin and pointed features), keels over on its jointless limbs and lets out a final wheeze before curling up in a mattress of unraked leaves. Its shed shell, limp and rubbery, is prodded by the curious paw of a leashed Labrador making a pit stop on a queasy patch of arid lawn. It is dragged a few feet by a brief bout of violent wind, but remains tethered to a post hammered into the earthy flesh of the suburbs. A few squirrels burrow their way beneath the deflated blanket, hiding beneath its wrinkled folds. The whole block anxiously awaits the emergence of a human figure from the shadows of the home's front porch to resuscitate the fallen Colossus, but the moment never comes. For the rest of October, and through the winter months that follow, the witch preserves its prostration in the snow-draped foliage. On New Years' Eve, when the balloon has been all but forgotten, a trio of elves tiptoe through the yard and hoist the pile of drenched latex onto their shoulders, whistling this tune as they ferry it to the nearest landfill.

Cosmic Neighbourhood is the whimsical musique-concrete project of British illustrator Adam Higton, his latest effort, "Elf House", employing the same unadulterated color palettes and safety scissored constructions that accent his visual pieces. The new tune, which is slated to appear on his upcoming Collages II LP via Kit Records this October, feels like a field recording conducted from the inside of a particularly optimistic picture book, buzzing synth chords billowing like smoke from tape-reel chimneys while springy sound effects litter the aural backdrop. Imagine Beat Happening covering Eno's Music For Airports on a Fisher-Price tape deck.


Review: hypercyute - "sugar solution"

hypercyute - sugar solution
(2016 vore music)

Like the stream of a hot shower on frostbite or a styrofoam cup of coffee sipped a few seconds too early, hypercyute's sugar solution hits one's eardrums with the euphoric numbness of slightly singed skin. Heating saccharine samples on a bunsen burner of violently loud sub-bass, the Chicagoan noise necromancer assembles murky footwork constructions from the carbon remains of powdered synth melodies. The EP cordially invites the listener to remove their jacket and get cozy, opening with a glissando sweep of chimes that might have instructed young readers in the 80s to "turn the page" of a book on tape. This moment of nostalgic tranquility is quickly proven to be a facade, however, as intro cut "nxjnn e e a## red red rib cage" bursts out of the starting gates on a lumbering kick drum blast beat and the squeals of .wav files mangled beyond recognition.

hypercyute's frenetically fractured production gives the sensation of watching an Autechre DJ set on a glitched-out VideoNow system. Shreds of discarded data scrap for superiority, piling onto a scrum that grows increasingly unstable as time moves forward. Following the Amen Break barrage of "kish^^3^^//" and the impenetrable "mesenchymal stem cell waltz", the one-two punch of "zone transfer" and "yellow yellow blue eyes green" creates a sense of emptiness as hypnotic as the pocket of darkness hidden near the foot of a candle's flame. The former pairs surreal, urban ambience with the steady pulse of a kick drum while the latter spins a dizzying Tilt-A-Whirl melody about rattling hi-hats. Stuffed full of harsh emptiness, sugar solution is a work of maximal minimalism.


Review: Ferdinand - "What To Do"

Ferdinand - What To Do
(Self-Released 2016)

Each inhale sticks to your soft palate like an individually wrapped pack of stale peanut butter crackers and the wallpaper is floral. The notations to four short songs are printed on the yellowed inside cover pages of the Heathcliff comics anthology that's spent a few decades wilting in your great-grandmother's basement. What to Do, he third EP release by Nashvillian bedroom pop outfit Ferdinand, is an intimate crawl space outfitted with a leather recliner, the flickering warmth of post-rock pulsations, and a hint of mildew in the air. It's the spare room you ducked into as a child to dodge chattering relatives at a family reunion, a grape Kool-Aid Jammers stain watercolored on the off-white carpet.

Amoebic blobs of feedback and minimal riffage glide across a microscope slide on "Opener" while frontman John Lewandowski whispers glossolalic observations into a tape recorder. There's a sense of organic construction to the tune, as if each translucent guitar note attained sentience and crawled along the song's shuffling marching band beat. "Underbed" is a halftime show performed in secret on the high-school gridiron after midnight, its stray melodic twangs lapping up against the bleachers like firefly flares while the drum line marches into the abyss. Closing cut "Right" is a surprising burst of retro emotive hardcore energy, a sturdy base for What To Do to stand on - its Beach Fossils six-string harmonies tie a Christmas tree to the station wagon while sleety cymbal splashes melt on the windshield.

A cherry Fla-Vor-Ice drips into the grass, a shed reptilian skin in your hand.


Review: Elemantra - "Foreign Breath"

Elemantra - Foreign Breath
(2016 Self-Released)

Unlike 90s-revivalist acts before them - Yuck's delicate wefts of sparkling guitar and early Wavves' walls of incomprehensible fuzz, for example - Elemantra don't craft minimalist deconstructions of late 20th century alt-rock tropes. Rather, their sophomore full-length excursion, Foreign Breath, is an aureate re-imagining of the best that the decade has to offer, all crammed into a blender and poured into an insulated thermos. The first quick sip of this bountiful smoothie, "Peach Fuzz", is instant evidence of Foreign Breath's carefully calculated depth of flavor - tangy proto-emo riffage is threaded around swooping chord changes, tinged with Pavement eccentricity in the form of a twinkling jazz-pop breakdown. The New York quartet channels a vast breadth of influences on a track-by-track basis, yet they're skilled at preventing clutter - beneath the layers of revivalism and ornate instrumentation are solid pop tunes. Case in point: "My Friends" juggles The Cure's citric acid-tinged guitaristry, whispery Smashing Pumpkins bombast, and a few bars worth of J Mascis noise-rock to concoct a cohesive bedroom pop anthem that's cinematic in scope. Even the interludes are memorable - "Boltok", clocking in at a minute long, is an elegant piece of post-rock trip-hop that hearkens back to the shuffling shoegaze groove of Chapterhouse's "Pearl". Foreign Breath is a smorgasbord of hooks and familiar retro-rock textures that refuses to let its listener get too comfy within its borders - the record is constantly shifting focus and mood to brilliant effect, its linear song structures serving up fresh ideas at every turn. It's a musical haunted house that hits you with unexpected bouts of nostalgia instead of jump-scares.


Review: meltycanon - "soft and wet"

meltycanon - soft and wet
(2016 Self-Released)

I've scheduled all my classes for the evenings of this current semester. The tranquility of my weekday morning routine is just too cozy to give up for an 8 AM lecture - hop out of the shower, play some Earthbound on my Wii U, then smooth over the rough patches of reviews I'd left unfinished from the night before while warming my hands on a mug of meltycanon's meditative brand of twee trap. Alchemically fusing King Krule's spartan jazz arrangements with weightless dancehall vibes and a sprinkle of Yo La Tengo eccentricity to taste, his first proper LP release, soft and wet, is best experienced in a state of crusty-eyed drowsiness. It's a watercolor augment to the half-conscious mind, a long soak in a tub filled with languid major seventh chords and frothy tufts of bubbly synth leads. At its best, the record is a fully immersive cloud of late-teenage melancholia, vaporous cuts like the bubblegum-ambient "behelit" or "budew" and its spearmint sting sinking into the listener's aural tastebuds like candy melted on the tongue. A holy union of bedroom pop humanism and the automaton bliss of PC Music, soft and wet is the soundtrack to a laptop's cat nap.

Premiere: Braeyden Jae - "Two Mirrors Looking"

Braeyden Jae - "Two Mirrors Looking"
(Whited Sepulchre 2016)

- crawling on hands and knees through miles of Mario Kart pipeline -

Braeyden Jae's video for "Two Mirrors Looking" (directed by Curtis Whitear) is an excursion to a planet beyond the reach of our own solar system, one whose vast oceans border oxidized shores. The aquatic dronescapes that populate Jae's Fog Mirror LP, tinted with rust and the piquancy of salt, make the perfect incidental playlist to transmit over the PA system of a sinuous system of tunnels that stretches out undersea. Globules of oily feedback float quietly at the water's surface, distorting this alien sun's light as it slices through their amber bodies. "Two Mirrors Looking" records the shimmer of warped luminescence as seen from below sea level.

Enter the bass wave aether via Whited Sepulchre.


Interview: Rei Clone

Rei Clone // Denton, Texas Shoegaze

What brought Rei Clone together as a band? Did you have a clear idea of the sound you wanted to strive for when first starting out?

Yes, we did have a set sound that we wanted to achieve. From the outset we were heavily influenced by 90's shoegaze like Slowdive, Chapterhouse, and mbv. When our violinist Nirmal joined we realized that we could kind of put our own twist on it though. We also knew from the beginning that we wanted female vocals in the mix so that was a factor in selecting members.

What was your first completed composition? Which installment in your discography are you the most proud of? How do you feel you've evolved artistically since your self-titled debut?

Our very first composition for the band was "Junketsu." That one was written and more or less completed before we had a final lineup. As far as which one we're most proud of, I can't speak for everyone (this is Zach speaking) but I think we're most proud of "Ready to Die." It's a simple song but everybody's individual contribution made it the uplifting and dense piece it is now. Artistically we've become more experimental from our first ep. Tracks like "Dreaming of Nagato" and "Facehugger" are examples. We try to have a balance of noise, punk, and dense layering on all releases but we try and experiment more with structuring and harmonies with each song. We also are trying to do more things with synth as of late. We sort of established that with "Sleeping Christian" and "Cat Planet Suicide" which both have some synth parts on them.

"Cat Planet Suicide" is such a solid cut! Very gelatinous. Rei Clone is pretty outspoken on the 'web about their love for anime - you're self-described "otaku shoegazers", your titles reference various series and characters, and you've even included a sample from K-On (I think) in the intro to "senketsu". Do you feel like anime influences your music as much as it does the band's visual aesthetic?

Abe speaking. That sample is actually from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and yes, watching anime really inspires me when I write music.
I take a lot of influence from j-pop and j-rock, even though I don't think it is super evident in our music all of the time.

Hmm, I could have sworn I'd recognized that clip! I do see some of the J-rock influence in the density of the music and swooping chord changes. 
How does your sound translate to a live setting? What bands have you shared bills with that have really impressed you?

We try to sound as good live as we do recorded, though our live shows have their own special qualities to them. As far as our favorite bands to play with, the list goes on, but to name a few:
Smith + Robot
Bad Times
Ghost Data
Big Hand//Big Knife
Better Now
Chris Lopez
Ringo Deathstarr
All bands we have played with/adore.

Also, when playing live, we really want an ocean of noise. It should really surround you.

How were you able to get in contact with Smoked Cheese Records about putting out Wet? Smoked Solid Dairy has been a favorite hardcore outfit of mine for some time.

Ive known Alec (ssd front man) since I was in high school. I used to write concert reviews for his website (txpunk.net). He has supported me ever since my first real project, Anger House. Once we discovered we both loved anime, it all exploded from there. I am very grateful for his support and friendship.

What series are favorites among Rei Clone's members?

Still Abe replying, I can't speak for everyone but:
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Kill La Kill
Steins Gate
Desert Punk
Dragon Ball
Cat Planet Cuties
Squid Girl
Ghost in the Shell
The list could go on

Seinfeld is essential 😎
Any plans in the works for future Rei Clone material?

Absolutely. We are very far from being done. We have more EPs and a full.length coming out in the future. Probably sometime next year. Touring as well.


Single Review: Bunny Boy - "Aqua"

Bunny Boy - "Aqua"
(Granite Tapes 2016)

"...and viewers like you - thank you."

"Aqua" floats in an Ovaltine swimming pool, sunburned biceps girded with a pair of Casiotone water wings. It treads the lactic surface, its bouyant ripples of synth mimicking the warble and wobble of a THX logo creeping towards a static-charged television screen or an intro to a mid-80s episode of PBS Frontline. This mucoid ambience bleeds into tissue paper tape-whirr like the death throes of a particularly nasty fever - it's a triumphant, head-clearing sneeze expelled by the respiratory imagination of Massachusetts' Bunny Boy, his whiskered leporid nose twitching in relief.

The track's looped sequence of music-box synthesizer gradually snakes its way through a densely wooded chord progression that grows more cinematically bassy as the melody ventures deeper inside. Cue the lens flare; let the flashback sequence commence.

Bunny Boy's Shelly drops September 5th via Granite Tapes.