Top 23 Tapes Ryan Has Reviewed at #CASSETTEGODS

tape

Hiatus? What hiatus? You might think it’s odd that immediately after I announce that Critical Masses is taking a break, I post something new. If you haven’t been paying attention, and you should have, you’ll know that I’m taking my reviewin’ skills to Cassette Gods for the time being, and focusing on my work there. It’s pretty fun, don’t you know.

So I guess we can kind of consider this a farewell party? Or a see-you-later party, or whatever you want to call it. Or maybe a leap year party – it is February 29 after all. At any rate, I reserve the right to post on the Critical Masses site, whenever I want to, in perpetuity! The point is, you should check out Cassette Gods. Why? Because I told you to. And tapes are cool again, so there’s that. But I’ve been writing there for over a year now, and I thought I’d give you a little treat – sort of a “Best-of-Album List That Ryan’s Reviewed at CG” or something. That’ll do.

So, in no particular order, here’s… well, it is in a particular order, actually. Alphabetically, by title. That way, no one feels like their album is better or worse than anybody else’s. You’re all aces in my book. So, in alphabetical order, here’s the top 23 albums I’ve reviewed at Cassette Gods since the beginning of 2015. Enjoy!

Oh, and remember, these are only reviews from Cassette Gods. I’ll probably do a Critical Masses one at some point, but don’t hold your breath.

  1. National Park Service – 97 Tracer (PSI Lab)
    What I said:
    “Like a bottle rocket that doesn’t really go very fast or very far, or even explode, or in fact ignite in the first place – let’s face it, this bottle rocket is a soggy leftover from some long-forgotten forest-clearing romp that’s moldering beside a tree root – National Park Service refuse to even consider the potentiality of bursting into a great big golden ball of light. Instead NPS, a single psychedelic drone wanderer, is much more content to bury himself in a hole, cover the entrance with dirt, and record his guitar and amplifier and manipulate his effects pedals and samplers in the hollow beneath the earth.”
  2. Adderall Canyonly/Yves Malone – Adderall Canyonly/Yves Malone split (905 Tapes)
    What I said:
    “This tape is the bomb-digga-saurus, the tip top of my favorite tapes that have come out this year, or at least in a while. Adderall Canyonly has released a wacky amount of material. Yves Malone has also released a wacky amount of material. Together, they form a synthesizer Voltron of wackiness, and send me into paroxysms of blissful wonderment.
  3. Thomas Ragsdale – Bait (This Is It Forever)
    What I said:
    “Ragsdale’s Bait is a reworking of his soundtrack to Dominic Brunt’s teensy 2014 UK film of the same name. It’s mostly atmospheric and electronic, but highly cinematic in scope and tone, tapping in to grand capital-F Feelings and delivering remarkable capital-M Moments. Ragsdale seems to have a really easy time doing this. The resulting soundtrack is effortless, charismatic, and kinetic, something rarely encountered in film scores removed from their imagery.”
  4. Various Artists – Dialog Tapes (Dauw)
    What I said:
    “There’s such a light touch among the musicians that although each piece is a duet (across Internet space, anyway), everything sounds singular, like the artists were in each other’s heads while they were working separately.”
  5. Earth/Vessel – Earth/Vessel (White Reeves Productions)
    What I
    said:
    “I’m a glutton for gratification (who isn’t?), and while not every lengthy release deserves its runtime, I could stand a little more Earth/Vessel in my life. So strap in and hop into that warp zone pipe with Earth/Vessel in your ears, or blast off into the cosmos where aliens, as envisioned by our great and eminent sage Adam Sandler, await to turn our civilization into space dust. At least that’s what I think happens, I don’t really know – I’ve never seen that movie.”
  6. Juju – Echo de Gradient (Hylé Tapes)
    What I said:
    “Juju is clearly psychic – they know me inside and out, and what I want, before I want it. Well, either that or they bugged my office (which is where I usually zone, tunewise).”
  7. Steve Palmer – Fables of the Feral Boys (Fall Break Records)
    What I said:
    “…[W]hen I close my eyes and let Palmer’s steady playing flit through my earbuds, I’m reminded how incredible it is when one man and one instrument can connect like that. It takes me places, dude, and that’s all there is to it. At once, I’m camping in a dusty western gulch. Then I’m on a back porch in West Virginia. At some point I’m thumbing a ride in rural Georgia.”
  8. Coin Locker Kid – Hailstorm and Maelstrom (Already Dead Tapes)
    What I said:
    “What a breath of freakin fresh air. This tape’s all over the place. In a good way. Enjoy these kinds of releases that revel in their own madness, because they don’t come around too often. They’re a treat. This is one of those.”
  9. Cruz Somers – Here Comes the Tarp (OJC Recordings)
    What I said:
    “This is LA underground sheez whiz Repo Man style in abandoned buildings and parking lots, doing crimes and melting down in Cold War hysteria…. Cruz Somers is kicking ass and taking names, wearing a turtleneck with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders. It probably looks awesome.”
  10. Takahiro Mukai – The Ideal Ruins (Hylé Tapes)
    What I said:
    “Yeah, this is modern art as recognized and configured in sound waves, and it points to the future. Mukai’s harnessed his synthesizer rig and wrangled it into an abstract wilderness where East meets West in a psionic global showdown.”
  11. Three Fourths Tigers – Indoor Voice (Field Hymns)
    What I said:
    Indoor Voice is jam packed with burbly clusters and taffy-stretched tone, synthesizers roiling through landscapes like magic mist and causing new and interesting flora and fauna to spring forth from the earth in a neon glaze of demonstrative glory.”
  12. Millions – Line in the Sky (Field Hymns)
    What I said:
    “So it’s clear now that I’m only in it for the space bucks, and maybe a ride in a souped-up intergalactic 1973 Dodge Swinger. That’s right, I’m pretty far gone – I’m leaving my street-balling days behind for interstellar space travel!”
  13. Marshall Art – Marshall Art (Ubiktune)
    What I said:
    “Marshall Art imagines a world where Yes decided to pick up Gameboys instead of guitars and keyboards, thereby changing the face of prog forever.”
  14. Seth Graham – No. 00 in Clean Life (Orange Milk Records)
    What I said:
    “What’s Graham using as his instrumentation? Patches? Voice patches definitely, but we’ve got strings and woodwinds and other stuff cut the hell apart and sampled to maddening oblivion. But not maddening in a bad way – it’s the utter unpredictability of this tape that continues to compel me to hit rewind. I’ve listened to it a few times, and it still manages to surprise and excite.”
  15. [PHYSICS] – Only Forever (Constellation Tatsu)
    What I
    said:
    “Wanna know what how his tunage comes across? How do you think, with titles like ‘Fractal Cave’ and ‘Inner Prism’? Those pretty much sum up the [PHYSICS] sound. Modular psych trips, interstellar groove palettes, virtual reality polygon enhancements, extraplanetary landscapes, and everyone can morph like Robert Patrick’s liquid metal terminator.”
  16. Ryan Emmett – Pulling the Wool (White Reeves Productions)
    What I
    said:
    “Emmett builds sound formations using, I dunno, whatever he can find. What comes out is electronic-ish, noise-ish, but melodic, a world of weird possibilities and diversions. Think of Good Willsmith and the Caretaker unceremoniously smooshed together, along with other, equally interesting artists. It’s a milkshake!”
  17. H Takahashi – Sea Mediation (Entertainment Systems)
    What I said
    :
    “…[T]he deeper inside your mind you get and the more you visualize the amazing and mysterious landscape of the sea, the better you’re able to discover new and exciting things. About yourself, about our planet, whatever – Takahashi’s music takes you there. Sea Meditation is a cassette-length submersion experience, and it will make you appreciate life – not just ocean life, but life everywhere – just a little bit more.”
  18. Mortuus Auris and the Black Hand – Strain/Galaxy (Hylé Tapes)
    What I
    said:
    “Did I say “uncompromising” was a good adjective for this? Let’s also throw “expansive” into the mix, because Strain/Galaxy is nothing if not wide open, a vastness onto which you can project yourself and every thought that comes into your mind.”
  19. Rigel Magellan – Succulent Sounds (OJC Recordings)
    What I
    said:
    “[Rigel Magellan] makes with the space alien bleeps and bloops, combining Ed Wood terror with extraterrestrial curiosity and all but assuring us consumers that Succulent Sounds is gonna be all over the place in a good way. If this is how the Grays are coming, they can probe me all they want. I’ll volunteer to be in their space zoo.”
  20. Braeyden Jae – Turnings (Inner Islands)
    What I
    said:
    “…thank me for turning you on to this heavenly stuff, because ohmygodbraeydenjae’ssogood (I couldn’t even type spaces in between letters, I’ve melted!).”
  21. Arklight – Vows (Fall Break Records)
    What I said:
    “And it all works, fundamentally, with heads low and guitars slung – I imagine the Arklight fellows sitting as they record this one. The tunes are wise beyond the years of their creators. Vows is a keeper, that’s my solemn promise to you.”
  22. Power Pill Fist – Werebeard (I, Absentee)
    What I said:
    “So, great news, Werebeard is a total triumph, a standout among this year’s absolute crap heap of tape releases. (Just kidding – there are a TON of cool tapes out there, just click any flipping archive link on the right! Or wherever it is on your smartphone. I don’t even know why I said ‘crap heap.’ Stream of consciousness review writing is for the birds. Where was I?…)”
  23. Matthew Squires and the Learning Disorders – Where the Music Goes to Die (Already Dead Tapes)
    What I said:
    “The jangle should be no surprise – Squires is from Austin, Texas, where jangle and barbecue and [SXSW] rule pretty much every aspect of modern living. And Squires takes his Texan heritage seriously, apparently – or maybe not so much, I can’t tell – in roster construction…: the band is ‘Matthew Squires and a rotating lineup of people who he forces to play with him at gun point. Shows can be pretty intense.’ Only in Texas!”
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