No Fun Festival Logo

I hear that tickets to the NO FUN FESTIVAL go on sale tomorrow, February 15th.  The lineup looks excellent.  Lots of synthesizer action.

FRIDAY 15 at 7pm -Bastard Noise, Thrones, Grey Wolves, Xeno and Oaklander, Carlos Giffoni, Chris Corsano, Axolotl, Raglani, NovellerSATURDAY 16 at 7pmSonic Youth, Bardo Pond, Rafael Toral with C. Spencer Yeh, Trevor Tremaine, Sons of God, Pedestrian Deposit, Blank Dogs, Yellow Tears, Mattin, Pulse EmitterSUNDAY 17 at 6:30pmMerzbow, Skullflower, Con-Dom, Black Pus, Emeralds, Peter Rehberg/Marcus Schmickler, Cold Cave, Jazzfinger, Conrad Schnitzler Con-Cert

Rest in Peace Klaus Wiese

Klaus Wiese RIP

I recently found out that German-based ambient musician Klaus Wiese passed away on January 27th.  From what I was able to gather, he passed away in his sleep at his girlfriend’s house at the age of  67 in Ulm, Germany.  Sad news indeed, but when it’s time to embark on a journey to the spirit world, that is the way to do it.  His legacy as an experimental composer will live on.

Wiese’s music fits into the minimalist ambient spectrum of experimental music.  Inspired by both Sufism and Mysticism, his works often take the form of dense, spiritual dronescapes; they’re peaceful, but they emit an open heaviness that allows the linkage of the earthbound listener’s own soul and the eternal heavens.  His solo discography is overwhelming – just one glance at his Discogs entry will have you reeling – but his collaborative work is also impressive.  In addition to appearing on two Popul Vuh releases (Hosianna Mantra & Seligpreisung), he has regularly worked with Al Gromer Khan, Mathias Grassow & Oöphoi.

I’m amazed by how similar a lot of contemporary works in the noise/new age/experimental scene sound to Klaus Wiese’s work.  Take the Emerald’s for instance, three young musicians at the top of their game, making super minimal drone music with mostly vintage synths.  You could probably take a Wiese track, run it through a filter and distortion pedal and you’d have something sounding very similar to the Emeralds.

I acquired a copy of Klaus Wiese’s Alhambra on cassette for the purpose of reviewing one of his works (you might notice that I only review releases I have a physical copy of).  I’m more familiar with his later work, so I chose something closer to the beginning stages of his solo work (not to mention, you can still buy it on cassette), a release from 1986.  I believe one of his regular collaborators, Mathias Grassow, is now operating the store on

Alhambra is a suiting title for the work.  Wikipedia translates it to “the red one” or the “red fortress” and describes it as “a palace and fortress complex of the Moorish rulers of Granada in southern Spain”.   It is a fortress.  Two deep drone works comprised of synthesized strings and voice, filtered vocals, reverberations, organ and mandolin make up the whole of the tape.  The first, The Violet Rose, is a slowly oscillating drone whose instrumentation hovers around a single note.  It is reminiscent of David Parsons’ Sounds of the Mothership, but seems to access another side of the spirit world, among the dense dark forests hidden in the shadows.   The other piece is titled The Moorish Princess.  It has a similar vibe, but with the addition of passionate female vocals in parts – remember, this is ’86 (this is some serious new f’ing age).  I highly recommend the purchase of this album.  It’s relaxing, meditative and emotional all wrapped into a nice new age package.  Did I mention that you can still purchase this on cassette?

I found some of his more recent music posted online – these two are pretty good: Perfume (2006) & Gnosis (2004)

Mist, Certain Expansion on Pizza Wagon

Mist ~ Certain Expansion

Mist, Certain Expansion, released on Pizza Wagon (#1), C20, Ltd 100

This is an excellent tape by the synth duo side-project of Sam Goldberg & John Elliot… Mist.  I believe that this is Sam’s Pizza Night label & Wagon combining forces (see Discogs entry & Volcanic Tongue pages), both based in the super fresh experimental music capitol: Cleveland, OH.  Both musicians are serious synth shredders, and you will definitely hear that on this record.  The liner notes list electric violin & vocals as well.

Hit play and the tape’s hiss is interrupted by a set of notes, foreshadowing the oncoming progression – a river of notes.  Gently filtered notes resting by the morning dew, soon to become weightless, their anti-gravity properties reaching for the stars.  Just below the steamy morning fields, an emotionally dense melody adds a certain compositional structure that only nature seems capable of, steadily transforming into the soaring feeling of a championship runner within 100 vortices.  It’s speedy synth playing, notey lines, and beautiful droning textures of violin that slowly shift and meld together in super-tight fashion.  Totally locked in… totally tight.  The other side seems to continue where the first side left off, but it’s a slower, more malleable trip, carried by twisting, morphing analog filters and passionate tears.  These dudes have emotions and are not afraid to share them with the world. About midpoint this odd line rises from the depths, emitting crackling, chaffing tones.  At this point it begins to slip into a spacier vibe similar to the sounds of Outerspace (a John Elliot solo project).  From field to space, the 20 minute journey is an expansive ride.

The image on the tape was totally fitting; the cover is a beautiful image of a grassy field meeting a shadowed timberline.  And the inside is an intense contrast, a hand-painted pattern of yellow orange and green wavy lines.  A perfect compliment to the sounds on tape.

Sam Goldberg: | John Elliot (of the Emeralds):

Oneohtrix Point Never & Seagulls

Oneohtrix "Ruined Lives"

Onetrix Point Never, Ruined Lives, C20, Young Tapes

Imagine standing on the peak of a mountain during a storm; the massive geological structure splices the oncoming clouds in two.  Then the sun rises, burns off the fog, and the earth begins emitting steam.  Dense, mineral-rich soil feeds the surrounding trees the nutrients to sustain life on this planet.  And, simultaneously, you hear the sound of a seagull’s thoughts as she plans how to voice her next cry.

Oneohtrix Point Never is the work of Daniel Lopatin.    I think he is from Boston, currently living in Brooklyn – but I’ve gathered this from the internet – I could be wrong.  This tape is out on the ever-so-shreddy new new age label, Young Tapes, yet another fine addition to their catalog.  Daniel Lopatin is also a part of a few other projects including Infinity Window and Astronaut.

The arrangements on this tape are totally smooth.  Three tracks of finely-crafted fluid motions that seem to seep into each other make up the first side.  The first track is ambient, layered goodness, laying the groundwork for what is to follow.  This semi-meditative state is broken by speedy tribal drumming repetitions.  Enter the sounds of 80’s electronics instruments.  This sounds like a Roland Juno 106 and early 12-bit sampling keyboards.  It is a fresh perspective on what can be done with old technology, but more importantly, it adds an icy warmth of sorts, a digital sheen drifting in the breeze.   The third track is my favorite.  This could be a nod to Giorgio Moroder’s theme from Midnight Express, but there’s a certain depth to it that really reaches into your gut, pulls out your innards and launches them into the heavens (innovation is necessary).  Hell yes – this is good shit.  The second side is one track that lasts around 10 minutes; beautifully sculpted waves of sound flow in the wind and hover above the sea.  Delayed arpeggios rise and fall; sifting, sailing, swirling into a vortex from which to view the transformation of the earth’s atmosphere over the past millennium.

Another excellent tape.  Sold out at the source, but don’t let that discourage you.  This is an excellent example of what can be done with vintage synths and sequencers and it makes me very happy to hear this music, knowing it was made now.

Links: &

Dolphins into the Future – Voyage Series pt2

Dolphins - Voyage Series pt2

Dolphins into the Future – Voyage Series pt2 – Taped Sounds

I gotta say… Dolphins into the Future totally kick my ass.  This project is the main focus of Belgium-based musician/tape manipulator, Lieven Martens (If you check the credits… I have to think that Alex Murphy is just another way to confuse identity?).  The dude takes this game to a new level.  He steps it up, mixing tape loops and sounds to create a bizarre glowing atmosphere, one that seems to provide a pathway for it’s listeners to communicate with our animal ancestors.  It’s good weed for those of us that would like to abscond from the earth-bound existence.

Lieven runs a label, or maybe a set of labels (?), that seem to come together under the name Taped Sounds (see bread and animals / cauliflower / taped sounds and I’ve seen Dreamtime Taped Sounds  too).  There is tons of good stuff on this label, with lots more to come.  In addition to releasing all of the interesting current stuff out there, he also re-released a classic LP from JD Emmanuel: Wizards.  I heard that this sold out in 10 days.

There have been a few reviews out in cyberspace-land that seem to mention this guy’s got some sort of super power with regards to altering tape loops in the live show setting.  After seeing this video, I have to say I can’t disagree.  Check it out here (sorry… I hesitate to embed too many You Tubes).  Uhhhh… did i say see?

This tape is weirdo gamelan music from the depths of the ocean.  It’s a mix of “tapes, special effects, synthesizer, sampling keyboard, organ, percussion, kalimba” (that is taken from a strip of folded paper insert stuffed inside the case).    There’s one long track on it that will completely confuse you.  It’s a repetitive track that has this odd vocal sound that comes in and out; it could be a dolphin, it could be someone moaning in their sleep.  After this track you enter into this clinking/clanking  metal sound, as if pieces of cymbals are being tossed around on the kitchen floor by toddlers.  Buried underneath, but rising, a near unintelligible drum circle seems to ensue.  Cut in some more dolphin sounds, this time distant and gurgling beneath the surface.  And then it goes to this dreamy synth track, a magical journey to an uncharted island, ending in a rain forest next to a stream.  This is just one of the sides.  I won’t spoil the whole thing as this is well worth finding an original copy.

So here’s his myspace: and his contact info:  DREAMS.THE.SHIP @ GMAIL . COM

I know you want to hear this stuff so head to this page and download some Dolphins: (then go buy some if you can get your hands on a copy).

And as for his label… I noticed a couple weeks back that the Taped Sounds site seemed to go away… I believe this is the replacement:

The Stairwell is Long Gone

Steve Hauschildt, The Stairwell is Long Gone, Deception Island, Cass

Steve Hauschildt, The Stairwell is Long Gone, Deception Island, Cass (di19)

Listening to this tape reminds me of the slow days fishing with my pops as a kid… staring intently at the red and white float at the end of the fishing line as it bobs up and down on the surface of the calm forest lake.  If you were to imagine you as the bobber, half-submerged, not knowing what lies beneath you… you’re getting closer to what listening to this feels like.

This cassette is layers of thick melodies, constructed with analog synthesizers and probably some sort of looper pedal.  Steve Hauschildt has a knack for the thick sounds.  If you’ve heard any of the Emeralds stuff, you already know this and I’m preaching to the choir.  In fact, all three members of the group have released excellent solo and side project releases.  I’ve heard Mark McGuire’s solo guitar works and John Elliot’s projects: Lilypad, Hot Air Balloon Ride and Outer Space.  All of it I highly recommend.

Steve Hauschildt’s stuff tends to be fairly minimal, mostly drone-based (but not boring), it’s a bit on the heavy side, and it ususally emits positive vibes.  This release is no exception.  It’s ambient energy field music that unlocks the expansive landscapes of the mind.  Excellent stuff.  This was available from (now it’s sold out).

Treetops tape ‘Deep Purple Infinity’

Treetops - Deep Purple Infinity, Taped Sounds, Cass

Just a quick note… the Taped Sounds link now seems to be broken… so I’ve linked to tomentosa’s section.

Treetops, Deep Purple Infinity, Taped Sounds, Cass

Mike Pollard is Treetops.  It’s more than appropriate to give this dude some props.  Just check out Arbor.  This is inspiration.  Originally from Western Springs, IL, this new age experimentalist synth drone wizard started this totally kick-ass label.  I think he is now based in New York.

This tape is drifting layered synth melodies… floating goodness… blowing in the wind… you as the sound of the leaves swaying with every gentle gust.  Flip the tape and at first glance its seems like a static drone.  But the volume fluctuates, textures emerge amidst the swells and a steady rattling ensues.  An unwilling customer might think that there is something wrong with the heater.  Subliminal lifting motions begin to color the seemingly static image.  Things are coming to an apex, but one that we will never reach in life.  And as the drone begins its decent, we find ourselves in a cave, in the company of a furry creature hiding in the dark, its low growl, a set of controlled jolts of forward motion, like the manual winding of a reel; tape upon a tape head.  All of this under an ethereal sea of blue-green light.  I recommend laying next to a candle when you listen to this one.

One last note… the noise level on this tape is substantial.  I am almost positive that this is a Type I tape (complete with single notches to prove it)… but rest assured, this is not a complaint.  I think there are certain works that aren’t negatively affected by a ton of tape hiss.  This instance of a more ambient, drone-based work isn’t negatively affected.  A high standard of sound quality should not necessarily be a priority.  It should be noted that there are tons of Type I tapes out there and they cost less.

Gift Tapes releases due out in February

All Gift Tapes releases will be recorded to tape.  We believe that the analog recording process preserves the integrity and soul of the sound.  This method provides specific limitations to the creator which promote a more hand-crafted music, simplifying the relationship between human and machine.  The nature of analog recording encourages careful forethought for each creative decision and frees the artist from the false digital infinite.  Additionally, the method of production and distribution in the midst of a consumer-based economy requires artful consideration.  We aim not to create commodities, but to enliven a folk mentality… where art is circulated as gift.

Jean-Michel Jarre & the Gakken SX-150


I found out about this little synth fairly recently.  After looking at some youtubes… this seems to be the most annoying one.  I’d imagine it’d make a cool noise toy gift (gifts are good) to give to your most annoying relative’s kid – 50 bones and it’s analog.  Maybe they can work on playing a backing synth part to some Steven Halpern records… fill that shit in a little.  The other cool thing is you could be the geeky uncle that gives him his first electronic lessons – you gotta build it from a kit – check it out: Gakken SX-150.  My uncle Bill gave me my first calculator watch and it changed my life.  Anyone checked out that JM Jarre DVD?

Muntjac tape ‘Warp’

Muntjac - 'Warp'

See Update Below (posted 12/3/2008).

At first glance I was thinking to myself “It’s cool, no cassette case… whatever… 12¢ might be a lot of money to some people”.  Then I thought a bit about it again… “Come on dudes, jesus!  Lets put the shits in some cases!”  But you could say F-it, plastic is bad for the environment, right?  The case will outlast you and I, and the last thing we want to do is contribute to garbage island.  So instead of the tape case, it comes in a zip lock baggy, along with a little fold out piece of paper with some hand drawn animals and little homemade comic book-looking thing.  Maybe this makes up for it?  I should get to the point… When you put in the tape, it all comes together.  In fact… reality becomes so clear you’ll find yourself slipping from it…  like a barking deer.

The first couple song-based tracks are really strong.  They have this nice murky quality to them that sounds too good to be unintentional… simple-minimal, softly distorted beats both programmed or played, thick bass and a subliminal sounding flute and synth, all flowing, winding, and morphing into what eventually becomes the latter tracks on the first side.  These first tracks are strange and catchy… I had to get up out of my seat to do some of the little dances I’ve perfected in my time.  The tracks near the end have a more psychedelic, slightly messier feel to them.  It’s kind of a stark contrast to the beginning tracks, but they still work.  The second side is a little more spacey/ambient… slightly wandering, but gently drifting to sleep in a pre-warmed lamb-skin blanky.  On side 2 most of the beats have gone away, replaced by synthesizer and nature recordings, forming longer tracks that seem to blend together, with occasional rhythms float down from the heavens.  In the end, the tape will soothe your mind – I recommend checking it out.  Here is his page: muntjac site – a quick whois search will pop up an LA address – is that where Paul Grimes is from?

This is just one of many tripped-out records that are coming from Belgium-based  Taped Sounds, but I have to say… it’s a little hard to tell what the name of the label is actually called.  I see them referenced as different entities: taped sounds, dreamtime taped sounds, bread and animals, cauliflower dreams. Either way, they are releasing new stuff, and most of it seems to be headed in cool directions.  It’s a great underground label.

As far as finding this tape… I know it’s sold out at the source.  I was able to get a copy at tomentosa… but I’m almost positive that these are ultra-limited.  Is it out there in the d/l world?  Here are some samples I pulled from his site: Cave Mangaroo (from Side 1) & Jars (from Side 2)



Thought I should make a mention – Paul Grimes contacted me today.  He’s from Washington DC.  He informed me about his original intention with regards to the packaging:

“the original plan was that we were going to put a ton of these 1-inch cartoon squares with the tape.  hence the baggie to contain the intense confetti action.  however, i think lieven was about to go on tour and in a rush to release it and forgot about the squares.  oh well.  i have a bunch of copies with the squares added.”

So that means you are in luck – he’s got tapes!  You can contact him from his webpage here to find out how to acquire one.  Thought you should know.