The craziest deal in experimental music returns, only two and a half years after the first mega-installment. Yes, Already Dead Tapes has released 100 more EPs and albums since Document, and they ALL come free with the purchase of their new anniversary cassette. Fans of indie, experimental, psychedelic, punk, fuzz, sludge, screamo, shoegaze, underground hip-hop, and related genres (which is pretty much everything) need not hesitate. There’s so much to choose from here that only a complete curmudgeon would say, “Nope, not worth $10!” And we doubt any such person is reading our website, because what would be the point if said person doesn’t like music?
Document II: A Retrospective gathers some of the label’s “favorite tracks from the last 100 releases,” but only scratches the surface of what one can expect from the roster. While the compilation is lyric-heavy, there are still a couple standouts: the happy, handclappy instrumental “Gascot” by Imbue & Sobright gets the feet tapping, while More Eaze’s “(frail pt. 2)” is built on odd violin strokes and warbled lyrics that end up eaten by a space drone. Should instrumental fans quit here? No way. Remember, there are 100 releases to peruse, and below we handpick a few recent highlights.
Comfort Food‘s Waffle Frolic is just as fun as its title, and includes other fun sub-titles as well: “They Got Minivans”, “Feel Good Fridays”. The band just jams away, throwing in kitchen sink percussion, trumpets, maracas, vinyl samples, yodeling and just about everything one can imagine floating around the house. “Hey, where’s my curling iron?” a family member may ask. Oops, it’s been converted into a fuzzbox. There’s a great deal of funk on display here, some free jazz, some math rock, and a whole lot of partying. Four more frolics await on their Bandcamp page.
Deadbeat‘s Big Forever allows only one traditional song to join the party, and after that, “it only gets weirder.” Deadbeat (Jessica Risker) honors her name by taking risks, and they all pay off. This EP may be short, but one never knows where it’s headed next: breakbeat, synth score, sci-fi pulse, voiceover, Katie Gately-esque layered chant. The drums on “Unstable Influences” and tempo shifts of “Won’t You Meet Us In Vegas?” are the highlight of the set, but for more, visit the artist’s website, My Imaginary Record Label, where a half dozen other releases can be discovered and enjoyed.
Another “Dead” artist, perfectly fitting for a label of this name, is Dead Man’s Lifestyle. On From Below, Jacob Watkins paints a bleak picture of the afterlife ~ or perhaps simply the after-death. This isn’t a flesh-eating zombie from Romero’s films, but a plodding, somewhat sad creature, more like one found in Les Revenants. Ambience turns to drone like a slow half-awakening, Carpenter synths popping up only momentarily (at the end of “Where the Caverns Grow/Haint #3”). A little post-rock even appears in “For Those Who Don’t Exist”; I didn’t believe it when I read the press release, but it turned out to be accurate! And guess what ~ there’s five more where this came from, as a quick visit to the artist’s Bandcamp page will prove, further evidence that Already Dead Tapes is churning out music from under-appreciated artists who are very much alive.
A series of short tracks fills Side A of Monkeey‘s The Starting … while a live set occupies Side B. Side A is the go-to side, offering a mixture of styles, often within a single track. “why is her ghost still here …” echoes From Below by drifting from ambience to drone, but the subsequent track delves into electronics, while the following piece trips into rock and “qq2” to straight-up noise. Monkeey does have other releases, but for now they are working on their website (bad timing, dudes!); if interested in more, go right to their Facebook page.
The strangest of Already Dead Tapes’ 2016 releases to date made it in just under the wire. ADT #199 is a split release between Misery Loves Co. and Watermelon, and each of these is unclassifiable save for the overall “experimental” tag. How else to explain two completely fried-out quarter-hour tracks, one on each side, the first a tangle of field recordings and feedback (two sounds that don’t normally live in the same habitat) and the second a raucous series of improvisations laid over a side-long vintage voiceover, filled with sax and percussion, like a class of kids making fun of a substitute teacher? Best to say that it’s like nothing most people have ever heard. One potential problem with Misery Loves Co. is that despite the existence of other releases, the moniker is also that of a famous Swedish industrial-metal band who returned to active duty earlier in 2016; and don’t lose this Watermelon link, or you’ll be Googling fruit all day.
Don’t like one of these? Don’t like 99 of these? We doubt you’ll have that reaction, but in this case, it doesn’t matter ~ if you like even one, you’ll get your money’s worth here. That’s the beauty of this ridiculously generous release. Congratulations to Already Dead Tapes on reaching #200, a milestone never achieved by many larger labels. Happy Anniversary and many more to come! (Richard Allen)