Sophomores are supposed to be difficult things, but don’t pay attention to the history books – let’s focus on the present and the outstanding Spring Break Tapes. In these times of no bueno alternative facts, SBT will happily present this second, playful batch to any judge or jury in the country. Released in June, these three tapes feature drunken experiments, pool parties, barbecued guitars and night drives. Let’s enter this musical funhouse!
Power Mystery ~ Nest Broom
Although Side A of Power Mystery‘s Nest Broom was recorded in upstate NY during the insane blizzard of January 2016, the music burns with the startling (and slightly nauseating) hues of a hard-boiled heatwave. The guitars are sweltering at a temperature higher than thirty degrees. An avalanche of deep snow lies just outside, but it remains out of reach, and the music’s fur is like a yeti’s as it’s able to keep nice ‘n warm.
Cooked psychedelic flavors gush out of their hometown, with free-as-a-bird improvisations running on the rooftops and overlooking roaming, spaced-out districts. The music is aflame, a burnt orange glow disregarding the rulebooks and coming close to impeachment. At times the music walks past Itchicoo Park, harking back to the glory days when eclectic psychedelic experimentation was exposed to and accepted by the public. Nest Broom‘s roots are in the lost era, but its chemistry has been altered. It isn’t pop, and it won’t be gracing the charts (which is definitely a good thing!).
Plenty of bends and exotic phrases occupy the music, lifting it up into something all of its own making. This isn’t a neighboring state – it’s a higher plane of existence (which could be a neighboring mental state, but it’s easy to get lost searching for it, and it won’t appear on the road map). Songs majestically transform halfway through, mutating into stunning things with crazy eyes. The music spreads outwards to incorporate wider styles and genres, and this adds to the range of bright colors, influenced as it is by world music and alt-folk on acid.
Gmackrr ~ La Dépendance Électrique
La Dépendance Électrique is a cooler shade of blue. The electronic experiments run at an Olympian’s pace, with bright trills and seductive phrases overlapping each other in what feels like a relay race, eventually reaching a convergence point and striking gold. The more experimental sounds bump into and brush against other sounds, creating accidental rhythms that may or may not be accidents, before blooming into entirely new phrases.
Water-like tones slip and slide around, almost as if they’ve escaped from Wet ‘n Wild or Typhoon Lagoon; the slippery sounds are only glimpsed. It’s a whole new world down there, and frothy vocals float around in the tape, sometimes gurgling, sometimes bubbling, manifesting under the water as a paler, ghostly sibling of Ariel, the little mermaid; a phantom lurking around in the thin reels of tape, the pure electronic textures leaking a human voice. Speedy, cycling melodies give off playful vibes on “She Sheltered Me”, and the recurring rhythm ingrains itself in the mind. You’re sitting at the front, in danger of getting very wet. You’re in the splash zone, but the music is a cooling sound, and cooling down is a good thing when the temperatures bust through forty degrees. “Electricity Is A Woman Travelling For Love” brings to the fore the experimental side of the artist and is gloriously drunk.
Later on, a growling portion of the music sinks its teeth into the ears like a rabid version of Mike Tyson, appearing as the glistening, golden fangs of a trident, a three-pronged attack pulling you under its waves. The notes are in the process of dissolving, turning into nothing but mush. Crushed quavers float on the surface. The only certain thing: Gmackrr‘s identity remains top secret.
M/M ~ Sólo en el Mundo
M/M ‘s music slows everything down. Echoing lines and isolated beats help to sculpt a smooth sound, despite the chirping of midnight insects in an outdoor garden that doesn’t make sense anymore. The sound is manipulated and twisted into something else, turning the familiar into an alien mask, like those six-foot-high blades of grass and the army of gigantic ants in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.
Clear and yet otherworldly sounds of distant jazz emerge from an empty shopping mall, made all the more eerie for it being Saturday afternoon. Zen-like music oozes from a dozen tinny speakers, but there’s no one around. Sounds are constantly displaced, but their whirring dislocations are soft breaks. We are channel hopping: a news broadcast turns into a surreal performance, the anchor’s grin all too fake and artificial, fake news vomiting out of the cakehole. The shopping mall may have been a shopping channel, and “Egyptian Myths 1” presents its alternative viewing on the mummified History Channel. Is this even real, though? These channels shimmer and seem to change on their own, like the nightmarish Candle Cove show from Channel Zero.
Sometimes the sounds appear to be seductive (you don’t wanna know the name of this channel, trust me), but even so, is it really seductive, or is it just the false glorification of the body, a soulless, grotesque circus of flesh? In a couple of ways, the whole shebang is plastic – nothing but an act, nothing like real life. Another case of the unreal entering the everyday.
Glistening arpeggios flow on down the river and the coda’s beats stutter on top of an ambient wash. It’s a slice of paradise, but something is slightly wonky; like the onset of forty-degree heat stroke, or slowly drowning in a swimming pool in California. (James Catchpole)