wired for sound part four: three more tapes from sanity muffin

May 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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New readers should dip into part two for explanatory preamble about the label.  The rest of you can cut to the chase: 

SM07 Puerto Rican Crime – s/t

This very pleasingly packaged object is perhaps the most ‘tape’ of all the Sanity Muffin releases I’ve heard so far.  To begin with this is sketchy, resolutely lo-fi, and perhaps slightly unhinged.  Reminiscent of Wagstaff, for those of you who know your UK tape underground.  However, just as you start thinking ‘hmmm… I bet these guys have an extensive collection of taxidermy,’ it starts to open out into a spacey collage of blurred blues and ectoplasmic folk.  As the focus slides in and out you are left with the impression that what is whirring in your walkman is a cross between a Folkways field recording and electronic voice phenomena.  That is a good thing.

SM09 Travis Wyche – Numinous Marginalia

This one falls somewhere between the Tristeza outtakes compilation and the Voices album praised below.  It is more ambitious overall than the former but less even and coherent than the latter.  Some of the skull-scraping, fuzzed out guitar is absolutely wonderful but, just when it is kissin’ the sky, it gets inexplicably smoothed out to the point where my attention slipped right off it.  To carry on the 80s film analogy from previous reviews, this gets dangerously close to straight-to-video erotic thriller territory.  I guess it could be a genre ripe for critical re-evaluation but I’m afraid I ain’t the guy to look to.  Anyhow, at the other end of the continuum documented by this release there are some heavily diggable incantations which call to mind cowled priests and tentacled gods.  Speaking of which…

SM08 Voices – Aporia

Now this is something special.  Easily the most coherent, accomplished and ambitious of my current SM stash.  The voice is often neglected or incidental in tape culture but here it is the driving, central force.  These dysfunctional motets appear to meander leisurely from point to point but are in fact artfully constructed with impressive confidence.  So trustworthy are they that you can close your eyes and fall backwards into them, certain that you will be caught and held up.  Simple hooks, repetitious tones and percussive shimmer act as glass scaffolding for choirs of mumbling, chanting, wailing, humming, talking, singing voices.

As I understand it, the title means a state of perplexed bewilderment brought about by considering a seemingly insoluble problem.  However, I think this tape functions more like a koan, the contemplation of which (allegedly) frees you from either/or rationality.  Yeah, I’m applauding this vigorously – but only with one hand!  Ha!

All tapes are limited editions available at the time of writing from Sanity Muffin.

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