Hunted Creatures – Mogollon Rim (C30, Dynamo Sound Collective)

ambient, Music, Noise, Review

mogollon rimMogollon Rim is an area in Arizona known for its natural beauty near the Colorado Plateau. It’s also known for sitings of a monster that closely resembles Bigfoot. Known as the Mogollon Monster, this beast has been the subject of folklore since the early 1900s, and members of the Apache tribe that live close to the Rim claim to have seen the monster even more recently. As Hunted Creatures’ name suggests, the idea behind this tape seems to be inspired by the Bigfoot-esque creature, and the team of Micah Pacileo, Amy Hoffmann, and Ryan Emmett deliver with a very ethereal set of six tracks. Mogollon Rim has a hazy feature to its songs, and all of them span the course of about five minutes while weaving various guitars, electronics, and violins into the mix. “Whisper Bullets” starts things off with a quiet looping rhythm of ambient sustained chords and percussive elements, adding in the waver of electronics here and there. It builds up into reverb-heavy wallops and whispers, water-droplet blops and bubbles, that heads right into “Interlude”. A soft guitar melody pairs with the clanks and patters of “Whisper Bullets”‘ rhythm section until vibes take over. It seems important to note that the fogginess of each track carries into the next, especially on the first side – what was once important to the percussion becomes the backdrop of a new track. The somewhat melancholy violin on Mogollon Rim is a lovely aspect of the tape, the alternating rhythms in “Hallway” becoming mournful as warped guitar wails overtop. “Dream Snake” has an alluring power electronics vibe to it, the classical violin sounds working as a backdrop to a plucked, exotic guitar repetition. “Human Dust” provides a tribalism with is percussive sounds and synchronous violin/guitar riff. Though Mogollon Rim often feels repetitious, the idea behind crafting these hazy tracks is to highlight the subtleties of change throughout. Hunted Creatures are constantly adding additional noise and instrumentation to the tracks, and the most interesting parts of these songs are the noticeable inclusion of a new sound. It makes Mogollon Rim feel effortlessly fluid, and alludes to the hidden nature of the tape’s Mogollon Monster – perhaps it’s there, if you look (or listen) hard enough. recommended

Dementia & Hope Trails – Ethereal Hurt (C20, Dynamo Sound Collective)

Drone, Noise, Review

I can’t think of a better title for Dementia & Hope Trails’ latest drone effor than Ethereal Hurt. It’s a name that defines the sounds within, which are often turbulent with highs and lows of guitar drones, heady with different layers of harmonious notes that encapsulate the listener. Yet there’s also a sadness to these sounds, a perceivable grief or mourning within. The juxtaposition between these two feelings, both the gloriously ecstatic and the depressingly low, contains a wide range of emotions, and you’ll go through them as you listen to the two tracks on the tape.

Side A captures the feeling first with “Dead”; you might think the title would indicate some sort of dark drones, but instead Dementia & Hope Trails gives us a lot of mixed emotion, often building into a frenzy of sound that might or might not be great for a funeral – it’s transcendental, but it’s not the organ-infused ritual of moping.

Then we get “Go”, which is a subtler, less moving drone with guitar work that sounds multi-layered like a synth. The effect of the sound is intriguing, and the drone continues that same sound from the previous side. This one is staid, however, slowly changing tones without a whole lot of movement. But there is that sense that “Go” is building towards something, and Dementia & Hope Trails elongates the end of it to provide for that minimal climax of sound.

There’s something refreshing about Ethereal Hurt, even as its structure and sound seems to resonate with other drone artists. Perhaps it’s just the feeling invoked when such ecstatic noise hits the ears; there’s a lot of feeling within Dementia & Hope Trails’ sound, and even if it does sound exactly like drone, there’s an ephemeral experience that doesn’t always come through with this sort of noise.

White Reeves – Ultimate Pleasure Til Death (C20, Dynamo Sound Collective)

Drone, Music, Noise, Review

Ultimate Pleasure Til Death is peppered with pictures of David Letterman, the cover being a traditional photo of the late-night host sitting at a desk with a huge smile plastered to his face. The obsession with Letterman is most likely an inside joke between the two artists in White Reeves, although the idea of “ultimate pleasure til death” leads me to wonder if perhaps the artists are riffing on the sexual harassment suits that Letterman has dealt with over the years; somewhat corroborating this theory is the insert included with the tape, where pictures of Letterman are framed around a central photo of Letterman with a woman, but it’s simply a hypothesis on my part.

In any case, the Letterman obsession isn’t really up for review here. There are two ten minute tracks on Ultimate Pleasure Til Death, and both are really loop and synth-heavy, mostly generating beats and drones for a psychedelic wavering of tone. On Side A, simply named “I”, White Reeves take electronic loops of sound and pair them with some percussive elements and some synth work, often allowing parts of the audio to fade out as though each section were taken from a different jam. Sometimes it works, but the piecemeal affect can be too jarring for the style that White Reeves play. However, the digital blips and bloops of this side go nicely with the more rhythmic loops underneath; it’s almost like we’re in some whirring cockpit in space, exploring the nether regions of the universe. Unfortunately, the side ends with an extremely muffled audio clip that I can’t really understand most of the time, although for what it’s worth it seems pretty angry.

Side B, for some inexplicable reason, did not come on my review tape, so unfortunately I had to seek it out digitally. I managed to find it through a blog hosting the clip from Dynamo Sound Collective, so while one-half of this review comes directly from the tape itself, the other half was aided by the Internet. This side starts off with some minimal electronics, often swarms of sound and little clinkings, until it picks up with a synth psychedelia beat that’s strangely peaceful, again as if we’re wandering through space but this time not overwhelmed by the beeping of motors and check engine lights but instead taking in the scenery of pitch darkness and the vastness of emptiness. It’s the better side on this release, not only because it’s not separated like the first side but because of its pleasant, varied loops.

Ultimate Pleasure Til Death is a non-confrontational cassette – it’s not harsh, but it’s somewhat in between, often bridging the gaps between psychedelic music and drone. The first side of this tape is rather underwhelming, but it’s the second half that holds it together – unfortunately, that’s the side of my tape I’m missing.