Fossils - Fly by Night / Edgar Wappenhalter/Dolphins of East Belgium - Split (Bread and Animals CSs)

Only recently found out about the shapeshifting/name-changing Bread and Animals label outta Belgium recently, so it was up to me to order some tapes and get caught up. I think they may have been known/may still go by Cauliflower Dreams, but I didn't have any stuff with that brand on it either. I chose to talk about the two weirder entries here but the other two I got along the way (Fricara Pacchu and Uton) are great and worthy of their place in the sun for sure. I think if I spent anymore non-ink on Fricara Pacchu I'd pretty much be his/it's unofficial P.R. agent, so I let that one slide. And everyone knows by now how great Uton are, so that went without saying too. In addition to these heads, BaA have also been responsible for releases (mostly tapes) from groups and folks like Frozen Corpse, 6majik9, Orphan Fairytale, Tomutonttu, Death Chants, Ben Reynolds, and Christina Carter among many many others. Geographics aside, they seem to be pretty kindred spirits with the always fun Sloow Tapes, what with the artists they deal with and the incredible attention to aesthetics. Sure even your grandma is spraypainting her Bing Crosby tapes these days, but Bread and Animals go way over the top with wraparound sleeves, painted cases, hand-drawn art, baggies, paper napkins, you name it. Someday these'll be in a museum somewhere, even if it's only me running the museum, and even if by "museum" I mean "my basement". But shit won't they look good.
This Fossils is a pretty active unit out of Canada but I don't think I've ever heard em. It's okay though, I've now got this and their recent Cut Hands CD-R release to learn me up, and they sound like pretty interesting cats. At least, on "Fly by Night". Dude, I think there's another Canadian band who rock an album called "Fly by Night" and to be honest, I was kinda hoping for a cover/deconstruction, or at least a shot at that goofy fucking owl that's on the cover, but no such luck. Anyway all the action here takes place on one side which is kinda nicde, and it's also some fortyish minutes long which is real nice too. These guys start things out pretty touch-and-go, for a while almost sounding like space aliens plunked down in front of strange new machinery and have to poke around for a while just to find what's up. Which is cool, it gives way to some pretty neat, trashy electro twinkling, like diamonds and emeralds splintering in the sky. I'm hearing a decidedly Scandinavian bent here, like along the lines of Buffle or Avarus, or anybody else who dedicates themselves to early morning post-stoned jamming...later they lock down into a more intense snarl and they actually beat out pretty startling tidals of static and noise. Startling because I got to the point where I wasn't expecting them to consistently live up to (or proceed with) the flashes of aggression they showed early on, but colour me wrongo. By the time it all ends it's well frantic and somebody's regurgitating a microphone, but it still sounds rightly gnarled and free and not nearly as paradisical as the snap on the sleeve would lead you to believe, but I've come to terms with that.

This other one was a real curve, if not a knuckler, because I know nothing about anything involved and could barely read the wrap-around hand-rendered insert so I had to go in cold turkey. Only afterwards did I do a bit of reading, and discovered that this Edgar Wappenhalter fella is part of the Belgium Funeral Folk collective and his "solo thing is both based on loose structures and improvisation, and lo-fi song writing", according to their website. I do believe he also plays in Silvester Anfang, but when I Google him, I'm told to try "Edgar Wippschalter" instead. Sheesh. Whoever the internet thinks he is, his side of this split is an absolute smash from beginning to end (30 minutes maybe?) with his droning, smokey ragas smelling like musty Sandy Bull bootlegs, particularly when Sandy plays along to tapes because Wappenhalter's got a tabla thing going here that's just totally in tune. There's a couple of other magnificently minimal solo guitar think-overs and even some nice tunes with dazed, murky (female?) vocals. Elsewhere he peppers a dark acoustic number strangely reminiscent of "Stairway to Heaven" with tightly-wound electronic squeaks, drags out a ghostly bummer of a folk song that sounds like it was sourced from twelfth-generation recordings, and contemporary-sounding death chant-ed loner mantras. Talk about your all kinds of fucked sides, this is super that, but the songs (in the loosest sense of the term) are great too, so I'll highly recommend digging up some of Edgar's work and experiencing it for yourself, while I try and track down some more of his work. Dolphins of East Belgium, on the other hand, are a duo featuring members (un)known from releases under the names Wietske Van Gils and Pulsating in the Eye of Vision. I also know that Lieven, who runs the Bread and Animals label, is in on this too. What you get is another splended side, this one featuring individual-sized portions of gentle looped drones, generated via synthesizers and keyboards and tape players and the like. At first I was in Kathmandu with Angus MacLise but as the tracks came and went I was even picking up more Spacemen 3 feels, don't ask. Another reference point immediately jumping out was Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Twonicorn tape, but I was too busy being lifted off to dreamland to really pull out the critical blender and get to work. No matter how you splice it, this is chock full o' really wafted pools of warm and fuzzy sonics, just perfect for me because I needed a bath anyway.
I was under the impression that Sloow Tapes and Lal Lal Lal had cornered off the overseas mostly-tape labels after my heart markets, but Bread and Animals make a whopper of a case here with these (and other) treats. So far I've got four to pore over and that would really do me for the rest of my life if I let it, but I'm sure I'll be back for more as I see from their website they're about to drop a new batch of whatsits any day now. It's all gold indeed.


Anonymous Alex said...

Great review again Matt!
Totally right about the Bread and animals/Cauliflower dreams/Imvated label. Doesn’t have the exposure other tape labels have but each release delivers in a way or another. Lieven is such a nice guy, last time I ordered 4 tapes from him and he sent me one more as a gift. All 5 of them are amazing.

Don’t know what’s happening in Belgium right now with all these amazing labels poppin’ here and there but man… Also check Jelle Crama's Puik label if you’re interested in some great and good-looking tapes by the likes of Frozen Corpse, Benjamin Franklin et al.

5/05/2007 11:40 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Yeah actually I totally forgot to mention that the Wappenhalter/Dolphins split was a freebie; I couldn't remember exactly which ones I'd ordered from him until I checked the original order I wrote him. Way cool.

I'll look into that other label, thanks. As if I needed another place to spend money... ;)

5/06/2007 1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the whole thing smacks of Rush to me

5/06/2007 9:43 PM  
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