Changeling - Deep Reflections / Anakrid - Live July 4th (Black Horizons CSs)
Black Horizons is just four releases young, and these are the two latest. It's super refreshing to see a new label not relying on the tried-and-true CD-R format, which can produce great results but inevitably grows tedious for the buyer...how many slimline jewel cases and spraypainted discs can a household carry? My point exactly. BH's first two releases were 7"s (from A Sleeping Irony and Oscillating Innards) and these two are on the choice format of cassette, replete with excellent packaging. And I quote the Black Horizons website: "3-panel J-card on gray cardstock with smoky green interior marbling. Edition of 66 hand stamp #'ed copies on hi-bias chrome tapes." (for the Changeling one) and "Packaged in marbled cream art paper, with a color transparency, riveted together in three places, each looks unique, and color labels. Edition of 80 hand stamp #'ed copies on hi-bias chrome tapes" (for the Anakrid one). As if that wasn't all nice and good they've got some sweet treats in their distro too...hard to find documents of weirdo new noise from the likes of Bastard Noise, 16 Bitch Pile-Up, Death Chants, Thames, My Cat is an Alien, Skullflower, Roxanne Jean Polise and others. I'm gonna get myself a spoonful myself before you guys have at it!
Information is desperately scant re: Changeling, Google searches turn up nothing and the Changeling website (found through the Black Horizons website) is decidedly minimal to say the least. I have to figure that it's a one man project but don't hold me to that, it could be two. Or three. Or...you get the picture. But I think it's one. Or two. Or three. Or...again, you get the picture. But regardless of who/what he/she/they is/are, "Deep Reflections" is a real stunner of a tape despite its semi-comical title which conjures up memories of Saturday Night Live and Jack Handey delivering his "Deep Thoughts". Anyway you know with a title like "Deep Reflections" it can only be about the everlasting drone and Changeling nails it ten different ways from Sunday. Both sides contain a floaty ritualistic/secret-society drone vibe like playing the innards of a vacant cathedral and channeling the spirits of all those who have prayed and have been prayed for. No shit! I myself was cowering in the confessional booth. But really now. This is a ludicrously great slab of post-Theatre of Eternal Music (minus the percussion) contemplation as well as an exquisite investigation into the realms where recent drone heavyweights dwell such as the Double Leopards, Kolumkilli, Drunjus, My Cat is an Alien, even Spacemen 3. Certainly more on the celestial end of the spectrum than most drone music lands, and delivers the kind of levitation rites previously only attained in dreams. My best guess is solo spectral vox and guitar (with loads of syrupy effects) but I'm no pro, I just play one on the internet.
Anakrid (that's Dirkana spelled backwards for the record) are considerably more visible than Changeling and are from the unlikely stomping ground of South Carolina, according to their MySpace. They've got a couple LPs out already on Stereonucleosis (theirs, I believe) by the names "Father" and "Rapture of the Deep", both on 180 gram wax so you know these dudes are serious. And, by the way, "these dudes" are named Chris Bickel, Rob Cherry and C. Neil Scott who is preparing to duke it out in court with C. Spencer Yeh over the use of the coveted "C." prefix in a noise artist's name). I haven't heard any of their other albums and their names don't ring any bells to me so I was going into "Live July 4th" colder than a witch's tit but sometimes there's just no other way. After listening to it I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it, but it is nice. And very well put together; despite this being an electronic/noise release (although it isn't at all harsh), it sounds coherant and composed like all the best stuff does. The tape opens with some weird electronic/organic brain-trawling, lots of dry ice heavings, junkyard rattle and synthy/UFOish rhythm n' bloops, although like I said it never sounds too disorganized or haphazard. If I had to get all blendery on you I'd say it's equal parts Coil, Sunburned Hand of the Man and Sun Ra minus All That Jazz, which is a pretty tantalizing mix indeed. All instrumental though, no Balance/Maloney/Blount hooting and/or hollering to be found here, although maybe the human vocal chords do show up some place and I just can't tell. The electronics are a little too "chintzy" for me at times but it's all good. The flip picks up exactly where the other side left off although the electro clanking is more like a beat than anything else...or at least kind of like the unintentional beat or rhythm you hear in clockwork, heavy machinery in motion, moving trains, and the like. Vibrant, cold and kinetic, dosed with equal parts feedback and squirrely dissonance. The rest of the tracks moves away from the quasi-quirk and into more sinister turfs but it's no less groovy. Book it!
Black Horizons reminds me of another one of my favorite new labels Twonicorn: relatively new, lovely packaging, and lovely sounds to match said lovely packaging. The tapes are $6 a piece and you can nary afford to miss out. Plus the message on the label's website reads "Please buy some records, I could use the money". If that doesn't melt your heart, you're some kind of stone-golem beast. Start giving, Scrooge. After all, tis the season!