Album Review

Cody Yantis – Resonant Memory (Planted Tapes, 2014)

cody yantis - resonant memory album cover

Cody YantisBrightness III (Planted Tapes)

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Yantis has been slowly digging his own niche in the weird ambient folk scene for a few years (see Box Elder, Cold Scholar), but this new one on Planted Tapes takes things to another level with the addition of warbly tape manipulation on top of his dusty reverbed guitars. Maybe the tape manipulation has always been there, but now it’s undeniable, and undeniably awesome. There’s a bit of a kitchen sink approach to instruments here, but the plucked strings (guitar and banjo), piano, tape work, & field recordings are the foundation, and he’s built a magnificent world of barely there ghosts and distant dreams, a room that you stumble through in the dark, grasping at shadows instead of the real thing, trying to confirm the existence of something concrete, and instead coming up empty, with the silence in between echoes warped until it’s only partially recognizable and the music you expect to hear is decayed, sharp & clear in one moment, falling apart at the next, delicate to begin with and turned to thread bare lace by the end, this is truly incredible heartfelt and emotional music that fills every fold of your headspace with a mysterious familiarity, an album that you won’t be able to shake and will obsess over until the tape itself degrades on its spools. I can’t recommend this enough. Only 100 made, $7 including postage, you can’t go wrong.

Album Review

Preslav Literary School – Echolalia (No-Fi, 2010)

Preslav Literary SchoolSide A

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There’s so much background on this release I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to actually talking about the music. First, there’s the real deal historic Preslav Literary School, which I’m too busy to actually research, so here’s the Wikipedia article. Have fun. Then there’s the contemporary found sound/tape manipulator/drone artist Adam Thomas, aka Preslav Literary School, who lives day to day in waist high awesomeness. And then there’s the 2 day workshop Thomas led in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England (yeah, that’s the name of a town) about making tape loops. A bunch of highly-respectable people showed up, like Machinefabriek & Poldr, and they all made a ton of loops. Afterwards they did a live performance, endlessly fucking with the tapes. Echolalia is a recording of the live show.

Trying to talk about the performance as a whole is hard because they jump genres every half second and use anything & everything as source material. So, obviously, this is rad as hell. There’s squawky electronics, bird chatter, synth patterns, squeaky balloons, hidden arias, ancient TV/radio broadcasts, high pressure crackle & hum, typewriter windchimes, indecipherable voicemail recordings, vacuum cleaners, and tape hiss galore. And that’s just a fraction of the sound sources, which get warped, twisted, rewound, slowed, shifted, and glitched in every way possible. They take tape manipulation to places I never thought of, ambient doom, grooved psych, gauzy pink bliss, debased spaced journeys, all with the help of impeccably juxtaposed random shit.

Echolalia is about as crazy & erratic as a record can get while still being fucking fantastic, exceedingly listenable, and coherent. I think part of my enjoyment of this comes from picturing the 11 people hunched over their own collection of tape loops while I listen to this. I love imaginging who’s doing what, trying to figure out how/if a certain sound has been altered or if it’s just been decayed by time.

This hot piece has ben transformed into vinyl by No-Fi, but only 500 copies were pressed. It comes with a digital download of the album (no biggy) but also an exclusive recording of Machinefabriek’s live solo tape set from the same night. FUCK YES. +10 cool points