Recommended Gift Alert! Looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-please indie music / art fan in your life? Your prayers have just been answered. Usually by the time we tell you about a sweet limited edition, it’s sold out, but this one is still available, so act now!
When this one arrived as a digital submission, it sounded too good to be true, so I went ahead and bought both versions of the physical copy. (We do that sometimes.) If it was going to look as good in person as in the photos, I didn’t want to miss out. And boy am I glad I did. For those on a budget, the standard edition is a nice find. The tape comes in festive red, along with a download code and double-sided 2.5 inch squares of cover art, tied in thin red string. Once it arrives, recipients can choose their own cover. But the Viewmaster Box Set ~ wow. It’s been years since I peered into a Viewmaster (early pre-orders received the actual Viewmaster as an unadvertised bonus, but the toy is easy to find; I saw them on sale for $6 at 7-11 last night). I’d forgotten how neat the depth of field is; a little like sitting in the rear of a theatre. These are some very durable reels, professionally made, not the cut-and-paste effort one might fear. And Nate James’ collage art is superlative. (ACL’s Nayt Keane, sorry we didn’t get this to you in time for the cover art feature.) $28 is a bargain for this unique blend of art and music.
Oh yes, music, we didn’t forget about that. Truthfully it wouldn’t matter all that much if the music were only okay, but this is a fine cassette as well, completing the package and knocking the good will through the roof. Justin Hopkins (Rarebit) and Nick Larson are Goblin Cuts, and Global Cuts [vol.1] is an intriguing blend of guitar, fuzz, funk and experimental sonics that ends up being just as fun as its packaging. The closest relative to this release on our site is the compilation Greetings from Spring Break Tapes Vol. 1, which also possesses a mixed-genre, throwback vibe without sounding old. But this tape, being the work of a single act, impresses even more. It’s encouraging to see the “Volume 1” tag on each, implying that more releases are on their way from each entity.
The first side of the tape is the melodic, groovy side; the second delves into abstraction while preserving a thread of accessibility. An old school drumbeat launches “Yellow Feverling” straight into a funk-inflected porch party, while “Endless Milk” provides the thrill of Aim-esque jazz-tinged cold-hop; the future is both forward and back. More than a few heads will be bobbing by this point in what comes across as an eclectic mix tape. “Dream Girl” is 50’s strums and sitar-sounding plucks; “The Big Quiet”, as expected from the title, takes the form of an ambient drone. The ability to cross genres with aplomb is one of Goblin Cuts’ most remarkable features; another is the fact that they do it so convincingly. By “Frozen Ghost”, which leads off Side B, the duo has us leaning in to hear what will happen next; and by this point, having won our admiration, they begin to wander farther afield. The active maracas and seemingly improvised guitar lines of this piece speak to an instinctive musical intelligence, a riffing normally associated with free jazz. The “Apache”-referencing drums of “Hectic Budnick” spar with stuttering patterns until they themselves begin to break. “The Great Wave” possesses the sweet nature of a bedtime story; and the final quartet of sub-two minute songs brings the cassette to a satisfying close, like little dreams beginning to pop into the unconscious mind.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably bought the gift set by now, either for yourself or for a loved one. You haven’t? What are you waiting for? (Richard Allen)