Frozen Corpse - Dance of the Insects / Samara Lubelski - Quartet (Sloow Tapes CSs)
When the most recent Sloow Tapes mailing list update arrived in my inbox, the subject was "The Fall of the Sloow". My heart leapt into my chest - say it isn't so Bart! But thankfully, it wasn't. Sloow Tapes weren't falling like an aging empire; it was just a play on words you see! Phew. They may be expensive but I'm telling you each tape is worth its weight in gold. Most of the time I have no idea who the artist is behind the project Bart's releasing and I'm all the happier for it since it's always quality releases and usually means I'm discovering something new...my two favorite things, you could say. But I actually do kinda vaguely recognize those involved on these two new ones, if only be indirect association. Frozen Corpse is a duo with Orphan Fairytale and Carlo of Audiobot Records fame while Samara Lubelski has played in groups like Hall of Fame, the Tower Recordings, the Bummer Roads as well as going it solo and recording some of your favorite records ("Halve Maen", "Blueberry Boat", "Arrived in Gold" and "Out of One, Through One and to One"). The three have never been photographed together.
The Frozen Corpse tape is a one-sided c60 so you get about a half hour's worth of whatever kind of brew they're stirring in the cauldron...totally tough to get a grip on who's doing what. I know that Orphan Fairytale does a lot of stuff with keyboards, synthesizers and organs but I'm majorly ignorant as to Carlo's weapons of choice. Whatever's around, maybe? The sounds on "Dance of the Insects" don't offer up many clues at all...sounds like junky sub-aquatic percussion clatter, pretty reminiscent of the recent No-Neck Blues Band collab with Embryo albeit wayyy more lo-fi and abused tape mannerismed. Sometimes the rhythms the duo blurt out lock in sync (it almost seems accidental) and sometimes they don't. It's kinda like playing in one of those huge ball pits you see at McDonald's or what have you only filled with billions of marbles instead, and you've stuck your head under. A whole load of droney kerplunking sounds to get caught in your earwebbing. There's a small cut-off and the direction changes slightly as the two meddle in some kind of crumbling drone sounds akin to a construction site somewhere off in the distance. It's got a way New Zealander vibe for some reason, making me think of early Birchville Cat Motel as well as the Dead C/Xpressway form-annihilating quasi-rock gestures with disintegrating melodies being forced out of heavily damaged equipmentry. Nice. Confusing, but nice.
I'm also unsure about the membership of this "Quartet" referenced in the title of Samara Lubelski's cassette (another one-sided 60). The juciest tidbit I could dig up about this recording is that there's four violins involved. Maybe they're all played by Samara and it's an overdubbing job? I doubt it. One day I'll crack the mystery. Anyway it's a good thing I found out beforehand that there were guitars involved because I never really would've guessed it from listening alone, which is probably the ultimate Invisible Jukebox failure on my part. I went in there expecting Tony Conrad's layers and layers and sharp, stringy sheen...or even C. Spencer Yeh's recent works for the violin: dense and noisy. What I got was different but no less engrossing. Samara's served uo a thick, woozy undercurrent of "home recorded cosmic ambience" (according to the Sloow bloog) underneath these beautiful, stretching violin strokes that are almost too ghostly and wispy to be imagined as even coming from a known instrument. Have you ever heard of the glass armonica? Benjamin Franklin is generally credited for inventing it in the 1700's. I won't get into the whole schematics of how it works (you can read up on it here) but the noises Samara (and co.?) draw out from their Strads is almost exactly like what I'd imagine the armonica to sound like. Pure, pristine, glistening and sun-spotted. Except...you know...without all the death and mental illness associated with the maligned armonica. Read the Wikipedia, buy the tape, and see for yourself! Very highly recommended and not yet sold out at source! Run, don't walk!
As is the custom with Sloow Tapes, both these babies are beautifully rendered artistically. The Frozen Corpse tape is sprayed blue and features very apropos insect-themed art, not a single space wasted. Samara Lubelski's tape is particularly eye-catching because it juxtaposes a transparent mylar insert (with artwork courtesy Samara) against a reflective insert, with a tape and cassette box sprayed orange. What this means, of course, is that the tape doubles for a pocket mirror...so you can tote around heavy jams in case of emergency or just use it to powder your nose. Sprechen sie sassy?