The latest batch from Spring Break Tapes is a novel idea, and a great one at that: they’re a complete and utter mystery. The initial submission we received only went so far as to say that the tapes were by new artists who hadn’t released any music before. Other than that, no public information about them exists.
So often, and usually to the detriment of the music, people choose to focus their attention on the individual artist rather than the music herself. That isn’t available here, and not knowing who the musicians are or where the music has come from isn’t a hindrance. Quite the opposite, as the lack of information is liberating – and not only as an idea, but for the music herself. The mystery enhances the music.
The opening (green) tape starts off as a moody, darker affair, tainted by an obstinate covering of cloud, but as it progresses it soon starts to alternate between cooler climes and more promising temperatures; the tone could be a long lost sister to the tropical Radio Amor. Tears of rain fall from the sky and land in front of the gloriously muddied notes. A chorus of birdsong dapples the sound. What at first sounds like rain turns out to be something else; it intensifies, gently beginning to roar, transforming itself into the sound of a waterfall. Is this a jungle, then? A secret place home to crumbling pyramids and the scaly skin of tanned pythons. The second side adds in some clanking beats that have a darker, electronic underbelly, but things calm down as the leafy path winds around to a beautifully sedate ambient clearing. The thick tones loop slowly as they leave the rhythms – and everything else – behind. It’s a truly wonderful, peaceful ending.
The blue tape is another brilliant excursion. Shaded tones enter and then digest the space as a light, percussive tinkling echoes in and around the dark chambers of the music. The electronics carry an X-Files flavour, of something disturbed and glimmering just beneath the surface of its dank, tribal heart. Mixed in with a scattering of electronics, the slower rhythms rattle along, and about halfway along you can faintly hear the wonky sound of a touring circus creeping into town. Something just isn’t right; the stilts are too tall and the body reflected in the mirror too thin. The largely electronic melodies project slightly hazy images that constantly shift and morph; at one point, the melody dissolves suddenly, taking you aback as it does so. The music has a subtle kind of dislocation that mushrooms outwards, and then the swampy tones enter a surreal clearing where everything is just off its axis. Plants hang at strange angles, and up above the rays from the two dazzling suns watch over you. The production is excellent throughout; they don’t sound like new kids on the block, and that’s really the most impressive thing about these tapes. And it’s fun! So, are you feeling adventurous? (James Catchpole)
Note: both of these releases sold out within 24 hours, but a limited amount of leftover tapes will be made available from the artists’ websites. Check the Spring Break Tapes site for today’s big reveal of artists, tape titles, sound samples and purchase links, and sign up for the Spring Break Tapes mailing list to receive news of upcoming works!