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Friday, December 8, 2017

Haunted by John Cale's 75th Birthday Celebration

After the Jesus and Mary Chain show the night before and the show at Brooklyn Bazaar the night before that, I was a little tired. I had also wandered around New York City so much in the last few days, searching for old video games, little stores, and remnants of Ramones. Now it was Saturday, November 18th, and I was set to see a true living legend, John Cale, the reason I planned this trip in the first place.

After stopping by VideoGamesNewYork to search for an elusive black GunCon that apparently never existed (at least in terms of me seeing it there in October), I went back to the Airbnb and got ready to head back out. I ate my last Italian bread/Tofurky slices/green sauce sandwich that I had been eating pretty much every day and dropped off all of my camera junk. I took a different train to where I needed to go. This train took forever to arrive.

When I got to the Atlantic Terminal, it was almost showtime. I asked some people where the Gilman Opera House was, and it turned out that they were headed there too. We got there in a minute or two.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is not as rude or thorough at the gate as the security at the Playstation Theater. It was a grand building that is just what it sounds like it would be, clearly designed for things far before rock musick and the like. My seat was on the second floor, mezzanine 1, which I misread as "magazine 1" to the usher. "I guess you need new glasses", she said.

The view was a little blocked. It said that on the ticket, but the picture on the website made it look a little clearer. Still, it wasn't much of a problem for me. The curtain was closed, glowing with a violet light as a drone filled the air and a man memorably yelled out, "Hail! Hail! John Cale!"

I was so excited to see this, even if there was not much to see at the start. As the song progressed, I realized this was "Frozen Warnings" from Nico's The Marble Index. That was quite a surprise. Actually, the whole set was to me.

I had thought that I would be seeing John Cale play The Velvet Underground and Nico. He did not do that. He had played that album the last two nights, but this third night was dedicated to his solo material. Surprisingly, I have never listened to any John Cale solo albums. I know "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores" from Bauhaus' cover, but that is it. The things I heard on this night were not much different than what I expected, Scott Walker sounding stuff. Cale's songs started more droney and dark and melancholic, but they became more rockish and electronic towards the end with three new songs - "Pretty People", "Hatred", and "The Legal Status of Ice". It was all new to me.

Those last three songs stood out to me. They recalled when I saw Patti Smith, her call to younger generations to fight back against evil beings that sprang from her generation. "Rise up! Rise up!", Cale told us on "Pretty People". "Hatred" was harsh and dissonant. The last song might be the most interesting on a lyrical level. ICE is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that has been in the news in the past year due to the actions of the orange man who assailed the highest executive flagpole. How legal are ICE's actions? And also, how long will this last? Orange ice will melt eventually just like normal water. This was a call to everyone in the audience to do what is right.

John Cale's band was huge. I don't know what classifies something as an orchestra, but this had many of the same pieces. In addition to the standard rock drumkit, synth, bass, keyboard, and guitar, there was an entire string section and small choir. In terms of visuals, videos sprang up behind the band, huge and eerily distorted by the cavernous building. It was a place more than just an event.

I felt lost in that place throughout the show. I felt a little drained from all the melancholy of those songs, lost in a darkness with the others around me. When the lights came back on, I felt strange but somewhat relieved. I gathered my belongings and left the building. I walked around a fountain outside and went to the train station to charge my pfone. Then I just went back to the Airbnb. I didn't want to be out all night and have to ring the bell and awaken my host. I also didn't want to be late getting up in the morning.

That night I realized I overpacked my bags. I had bought some cheap vegetables to bring back to Pittsburgh, but I ended up having to cook them right away. I figured I would eat them in the morning. However, I had nothing to store them in or a way to reheat them. I ate a bunch of cooked leeks in the middle of the night. I was still thinking about John Cale's musick. I packed the pineapples, Famicom games, PS2 light gun, Lego sets, Jesus and Mary Chain shirts, and various CDs. It barely fit. Then, in the morning I said goodbye to my host, took the train to Manhattan, and walked to the bus station. I was actually early. The trip back to Pittsburgh was fine, though I still felt lost in that darkness from the night before.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

JMC and Legos

The day after seeing that show at Brooklyn Bazaar, I was set on seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain. I had intended to get a ticket the previous day, but I ended up doing a bit too much shopping around various areas of Brooklyn that I had never been to before. On November 17th, the day of the JMC show, I went to Manhattan with some time to spare. I rushed to the Playstation Theater worrying the tickets would be sold out. Thankfully they were not. I was really excited for the show to start in an hour.

Since I had some extra time, I walked over to the Lego Store in Rockefeller Center. Despite having been to New York many times before, I had only been there once before in October when I was heading to the bus back to Pittsburgh. I didn't get to buy anything that time, but I had a few things in mind now.

a sci-fi serial character, a lycanthropic hippie, and a Warhol-esque actor

a little kid excited about Christmas (I didn't notice the lipstick), a yinzer tourist, and an artist inspired by Agata (Melt-Banana)

a henchman from a horror film who feeds victims to his hounds, a vampire housewife, and a cool rockabilly girl
I got to the store and picked out the things I had seen last time - some small seasonal/holiday sets. Then I saw the amazing little station where you could build minifigures to purchase. There were some unique pieces here, at least to me, like transparent green popsicles, a little Lego Oscar award, and of course a Lego version of the kind of New York tourist memorabilia shirts you see all over Midtown. I made nine figures, creating little backstories and stuff in my head. It was fun to play around with all the pieces, and I helped some of the other customers with finding the pieces they wanted if I had seen something like it.

I rushed back to the Playstation Theater. Unfortunately, my bag was so full of the Lego minifigure sets and some other stuff that I only got to get one of those seasonal sets - a discontinued wedding topper thing. It was pretty weird, but it was the last one in the store. When I arrived back to see the Jesus and Mary Chain there was a bit of a line. There was pretty intense security before entering the building; I had to empty my entire bag, Legos and all. It took a long time and made one of the security people angry. They got really concerned when they saw I had a camera, but I said that I had planned to leave my bag at the bag check, which I had thought was mandatory anyway. It ended up alright.

The inside of the Playstation Theater was huge - I couldn't believe how big it was! There were some Playstation 4s to test out, which I didn't get a chance to do. Even the bathrooms were pretty spacious. The actual stage area was pretty awesome. Just like everything else, it was quite large. I was able to get right to the front since it was still early. Nobody was really sure if there was an opening band, but it turns out there was. I don't think they were listed on the physical ticket.


The opening band was Mark Crozer and the Rels. I think I may have heard of them a long time ago. They were pretty cool, reminding me of the Soft Boys and other things that are sort of proto-Britpop. It was funny when he asked who was a fan of WWE before playing the song used by Bray Wyatt. I enjoyed this set, though it was just the beginning.



After a short break, the Jesus and Mary Chain appeared. The lights were really intense during their set, flashing and displaying their name. It was almost too much at times. The Jesus and Mary Chain opened the set with a song from their new album Damage and Joy, "Amputation". They played a lot of other songs from that album too. I had not heard the album until after the show, but the songs were good - hard and fast and not so edgelord-ish as "Reverence", which I can't believe they ended the set with. Even "Reverence" sounded good live. The Jesus and Mary Chain played a lot of the great older songs in addition to these new ones, stuff like "Cherry Came Too", "April Skies", "Some Candy Talking", and "Darklands", which was introduced as "a song we used to play a long time ago", a rightful way to introduce one of my favorites for sure.

For the encore they opened with "Just Like Honey", accompanied by another vocalist. They played "War On Peace" from the new one and closed with "I Hate Rock 'n' Roll", the first Jesus and Mary Chain song I ever heard from the first CD I ever owned, the American Records Sampler that came bundled with Comix Zone on Sega Genesis. It was a quite a set, emotions ranging from awe to joy to a sort of "really?"

Most of that "really?" was one large distraction. This also made the show more memorable. It might be the most memorable thing of the night. There was a woman who just sort of snobbishly pushed her way into the very front a little after the Jesus and Mary Chain had started. Thankfully I was able to get back to where I was right behind the first row of people. This lady shouted at the band the entire show about how cool and beautiful they were and sang along off-key to the songs. It was somewhat endearing. At a certain point, she put a bunch of drugs into a tote bag with a vinyl record and threw the bag onto the stage. The band just ignored her. I was surprised, though honestly somewhat glad, that the security didn't throw her out. They did confront her, but she somehow talked her way out of getting thrown out. I didn't understand it at all, but I am glad someone was so happy to be at this show.

wearing one of the JMC shirts when I got home
After all that, I found a ticket for the bag check which was quickly handed over to the rightful party. Then I bought some merch, two shirts and a CD, retrieved my own bags, and left into the bright Manhattan night. I was pretty happy. The trip back to Brooklyn was long, and that's fine. I would see John Cale tomorrow.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Late Late Late

Last month, November 2017, I went to New York City again. If you remember, last time I went to see Lee "Scratch" Perry. This time was a similarly big event; I was going to see John Cale from the Velvet Underground. Since I wanted to hang around in the city for a bit, and because bus tickets were cheaper in the middle of the week, I opted to stay for a few days.

On the way to New York, I missed the bus! Wow, that was a terrible experience. There was a ton of traffic, and I saw the bus pull out as we pulled up for me to get on. They never seem to leave on time except for this time! I tried to see if I could get the bus to stop and let me on, but the driver wouldn't do it. I didn't really expect him to. I did get a really cheap copy of X-Men vs. Street Fighter for PS1 while I waited for the next bus. It was terrible having to buy another ticket though.

Anyway, I eventually got on the bus and made it to Manhattan. I was staying in Brooklyn, so I had to take the subway or a bus or something. Unfortunately, the subway I needed to take was not running to Brooklyn that night. I think I could have found another way, but Google Maps is awful at giving directions there. I ended up taking an Uber, which was way more than I wanted to spend. I got to my Airbnb okay, and was able to sleep and everything.

My host was a nice lady, and she was very accommodating to me. Unfortunately, she did not have wi-fi, so I had to go to a coffee shop to use the internet. I actually wrote two posts (this one and this other one) at that coffee shop. I also found out about two shows that were happening in New York on the days before the John Cale show I had come to see.

The first show was one featuring the band Fruit & Flowers that I had heard about at the show with Casper Skulls at Spirit back in Pittsburgh. The second show was for the Jesus and Mary Chain! I would have to get some tickets for that but figured I had enough time.

That night, November 16th, I went to Brooklyn Bazaar. That was after I had a very long and engaging conversation with my host about gentrification, Pittsburgh, "New Brooklyn", and the current political climate. It was good to hear of the efforts being made to fight for immigration rights and against police brutality and racist laws. The bad part about all of this was that I got to the show late. I missed Fruit & Flowers, the main reason I had gone to the show!






I did get to see two other bands - Roya and New Myths. This was some kind of local bands showcase, LPR Presents, so there were no touring acts. I wish there were more all locals shows in Pittsburgh that weren't just organized by Wild Kindness or some terrible Gorilla/Afton thing. Anyway, Roya was first, and they were great. They had a 1970's, Sunset Strip/Doors sound, though the singer sounded a lot like Niagara from Destroy All Monsters. I loved the surf sound produced from the vibrato arm on the guitars. The songs really pushed forward with a sound like what I imagine a desert would be like after dark, a sort of "end of the 60's" Manson cult danger thing combined with a hint of Levi's commercial.




I talked with the drummer from Fruit & Flowers for a little bit and got a CD. New Myths was ready to play. They were a lot different than Roya, much more of a ROCK band like in all caps. New Myths reminded me of The Runaways, a sneering kind of 70s hard rock, especially that guitar tone. They also had some really dancey songs that emphasized the bass and drums. In addition to AC/DC and the like, they recalled that early 2000s sound of The Strokes or the dance-punk of Franz Ferdinand.

After the sets, I talked more with the members of Fruit & Flowers. I found out that the drummer also played with Tall Juan. I knew that both bands would be playing together in December, though I won't be able to see such an awesome lineup.

I should mention here that Brooklyn Bazaar is quite a big building, a bigger version of Spirit here in Pittsburgh. It seems pretty cool, though I only saw some of it. I left soon after everything was done, bought some produce from a little market, and made it back to my Airbnb. Tomorrow I would head to the Playstation Theater to grab tickets for and then see the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Casper Skulls - Mercy Works review

Casper Skulls released an album this month. It's called Mercy Works. I bought a copy of this album at the show at Spirit with One Hundred Year Ocean. I really liked Casper Skulls live set, but what do they sound like on the record?

Well first, let's take a look at the cover art. It's a dream-like drawing of a human and a bat, and it wraps around to the back. It's eerie, reminding me of early 3D computer games like Immercenary on 3DO. There's something incomplete, murky, and cruel about the crudeness. I can't say the same about the musick within, unfortunately.

The first track is a portal into another world titled after the album. The second track comes in somewhat jarringly, the production goes from murky strangeness to extremely clean and poppy reverb-land. "You Can Call Me Allocator" is a good song. The guitar and drums sound awesome. The vocals sound like Lee Ranaldo. "Lingua Franca" is basically a pop song. It almost sounds like Taylor Swift or something like that. It is good, and I really like the chorus. I wish it was a little less of the usual though, a little less clean. Again, I really like the guitars, especially the Neil Young meets Sonic Youth solo, and the vocals. The fourth track, "What's That Good For", really sounds like a Pavement song, vocals and all. It's decent, though it's weird that it sounds so close.  The backing vocals are okay, but it almost seems like padding to a somewhat weak chorus. The fifth track, "Primeval", reminds me again of a Lee Ranaldo-written Sonic Youth song. I'm not sure what to make of it. I like the sadness, the melancholy of defeated resignation. The lyrics sound like what's been going on in Pittsburgh and many other places. Condos will one day surround my house. The song goes on too long.

"Colour of the Outside" has a beautiful intro. It drifts in from some chilled air that isn't quite cold or unpleasant. The chorus heavily reminds me of a Sonic Youth song that I can't remember the name of. It might be "What We Know" from The Eternal. That song has a lot more drive, something that I think is really missing from this album. Also, as you can see here, a lot of these tracks overall sound like later-era Sonic Youth, especially those by Lee Ranaldo. A noise plane lands, and then a jangle pop song begins, "Chicane, OH". This one has a nice dreamy sound, Strawberry Switchblade or The Cure on Wish. I really liked this one, though I didn't expect to. It was a break from the emotional overcast of the last few tracks. This song could be shorter. "I Stared At Moses and the Burning Bush" is alright; it just kind of goes. That is until the latter half and the end, which really make this song. I think this is my favorite from this album.

I love the slide guitar on "The Science of Dichotomies", recalling The Dream Syndicate's "Too Little, Too Late". I also love the drums. This was a good song all around. "Glories" is an awesome song too. Some of it reminds me of "Gooseflesh" by Blød Maud, a Pittsburgh band that had described themselves as post-pop-punk, which makes sense for Casper Skulls as well. Anyway, all the instruments, lyrics and vocals on "Glories" are awesome, and there is a drive to this one that was missing earlier on. I also love the big noise guitar solo. "Faded Sound" ends the album with a vaguely Nocturnal Projections thing, a big epic like the beginning. I still have some of the same issues, but it works.

Mercy Works is an interesting album. I was disappointed for the first half, not that it was necessarily bad. There are too many epics. By that, I mean that too many of the first songs have such huge sweeping emotions like the cloud on the cover of Neil Young's Prairie Wind. It's too much that there isn't room to breathe. Also, early on, I hear such a strong Sonic Youth and Pavement influence, the songs sounding way too similar to those bands' songs. Finally, a lot of these earlier songs are way too poppy and melodic with super clean production that I have previously described as jarring; it is somewhat unpleasant. That said, I did enjoy most of the last half and some of the first half. I like a lot of the lyrics and the guitar solos, when they do happen. I can't say I really love this album, and it also isn't bad. If only it was more like their live sound, this but just slightly less polish. I will give Mercy Works a Neutral. Too bad, but this is a band with a lot of promise. I will await their next release.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Plant Musick and Metal Machines

I went to a show at Howlers on November 14th to see a plant play musick. Oh, the synth player from Carsickness, Steve Sciulli, was accompanying the plant rock star. There were some other people playing too. One guy was even a cyborg or something.



Steve and the plant played first. The plant made many different types of sounds: echoing Electroplankton hollow bells, Ocarina of Time well whispers, sweeping synths of sonic air, and strange rumbles from space. Steve brought these sounds out from the innards of his photosynthetic pal with different methods: fire, water, touch, sound, and light. He even accompanied it on some kind of woodwind instrument. As the set was going on, I figured the whole thing must have been some kind of put on, but Steve confirmed that it was not. It was one of the coolest sets I've ever seen.


Immediately after "Robert Plant", as the flora was called, finished, Ephen Ager started their set. I was a little put off by the sudden shift; Steve and "Robert" hadn't even got off the stage yet. I wasn't sure that anything was really starting until it had been going for a while without stopping. Anyway, Ephen's set was pretty good. They played a lot of different stuff, ranging from fast techno beats to slower psychedelic tunes and harder jungle rumbles. A lot of it reminded me of the video game Wipeout.  I enjoyed the musick, but, as with most electronic artists, I wish there had been more of a visual component to it. I like seeing people play instruments, seeing how the musick is created. Obviously you can't do that with a laptop, but there are other solutions. It would have been cool if everybody danced, but nobody did (that includes me too).


The final performer for the night was Benni, a New Orleans-based musician on Goner Records that I had never heard of before. Before he played, he set up a video of dogs that projected onto the stage. I think it was an old PSA or instructional video. Benni's musick was awesome! It was cheesy, but that was all incorporated into the retro sci-fi aesthetic. He had a metallic cape on and used a vocoder for everything. He combined elements of Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, and John Carpenter to great effect. I loved the song about being more than a man with awesome musical hook and lyrics. "My power knows no bounds!" "I am supreme machine!" So cool!

After Benni's set, I bought a record and talked with him for a bit, talked to Steve, and then walked home. I haven't listened to the Benni record yet, but I will review it once I get the time to visit the "Moons of Almuric". Most importantly, I hope to see more plants making musick in the future.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Anjroy - Sonic Sea review

I was recently sent an album for review, Sonic Sea by Anjroy. I didn't know what to make of it. Anjroy is a pop/rock/electronica band from here in Pittsburgh. The singer, Jocelyn Rent, was in the band Omega Love, a band that a guitar teacher I had, Luke Williams was in. That band had a similar sound to Anjroy. Neither of those bands are my type of musick, but I did finally listen to Sonic Sea.


The album cover for Sonic Sea is not good. Okay, we have a blue-tinged coffee cup full of the titular water floating in a pink void. The title is in a sans-serif font, hugging the edge too closely on the bottom right, hurting the already hurting composition. There's not much to draw the viewer in. It's a strange cover for sure, but what should I take from this? Coffee is the lifeblood of middle-class mucisk? It's true; ads seem to back that up. This cover art looks too phony, too much of a computer manipulated veil over nothing. That isn't far off from the rest of the album. The tools are there but the vision isn't.

Sonic Sea starts with "The Movement". I liked this track at first, but it didn't hold up for me throughout the song. I really like the keyboards, like Casiopea or some old-school anime musick. I don't like the drums; they seem too perfect, somewhat robotic. The second track, "Juice", is pretty good, coming straight in to fill the void. It has some nice energy to it and sounds more natural. Again, I really like the jazz-fusion keyboard parts. "Motion" also comes right in, keeping the album moving forward. "Motion" is a little more laid-back. I like the drums and the keyboard solo towards the end. "Marion" comes next. I don't like that all these tracks have somewhat vague and terse names, but this one is referenced in the song at least. "Marion" gets really high energy at the end with rising instrumental blares. Before that, I felt like it was kinda so-so. "High Dive", the fifth track, is the single. I really like the sort of breakdown in the middle, but the rest of the song is just alright. The singer has some impressive vocals on "High Dive", though for sure.

"Cast Me Away" starts what would probably be the next side if this wasn't a CD. It's a more atmospheric song, and I like this one. It fades right into the seventh track, "Cloud Crusher". I like the synths at the start, the subtle background echoes, and the horns. I don't like the drums and the overall production. This sounds like a Björk track. It is her birthday today, so maybe this was all fate. "Cloud Crusher" has some interesting parts where the vocals are isolated and sound like they are coming through a radio, which adds drama and sounds neat. Now the next track, "As I Trace" doesn't really stand out for me that much. It pushes forward with some cool synths, however, I don't like the vocals. I should say that overall I dislike vocals like on this album. This track also seemed especially turned towards mids and highs. The bass was weird.

"Fabrications" comes in with a new sound. It's more like "Cast Me Away", atmospheric and slower, without the dance drums. "Between Our Thoughts And Isolated Islands" goes back to the jazz fusion sound. I liked this one. This sound works best for these vocals. The production was less piercing too. Some UFOs land in the latter half of the song. I hope the band was okay. "Chasing Waves" is the last track, post-alien abduction. This one isn't anything special. It's fine. It's much more subdued than the rest of the album; sometimes it's best to not have all the bombast. "There's a moment in the emptiness".

Sonic Sea was really a pain for me to listen to the first time. I initially felt much more negative about it, but I gave a few of the tracks another listen. Some of these are really good. Clearly, the musicians put a lot of work into this album. There are still problems, the work put into it being the main one: everything seems too clean and too bright, musically. The vocals and drums are the biggest culprits. The drums seem too perfect and mixed too high. The rest of the instruments are fairly mid-ranged to high as well, so the whole thing ends up kind of tinny. The vocals are too grandiose all the time and sound so separated from the rest of the musick. In general terms, I want to hear the room, not the band, if that makes sense. If you focus too much on the band, it strains my ears; everything just exists in a vacuum. It's not grounded; it just is. It seems to lack a meaning, floating in a plastic coating through a whole in space that isn't space but just a single color like the pink of the cover here, a true Sonic Sea that someone is lost in. If the album had more life to it, less polished production to the point where that polish pierces my eardrums a bit, along with more variation in song structure and vocal performance, it would be a Good album. As it stands, Sonic Sea gets a Neutral.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Casper Skulls Amidst

The other day, a friend of mine made a post about going to a show at Spirit. The date was November 12th, 2017. The show looked pretty cool, so I decided to go. I had not seen any of the bands before.


I missed the first band, the Early Thirties. The touring band, Casper Skulls, was starting as I came in. This was the band I had come to see. They have a poppy post-punk sound. It reminds me of the Birthday Party. The bass was super solid, and the drums were snappy. The guitars had a cold thin sound like my own and could really go off into realms of electrical chaos. Some of the vocals sounded like Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth, and those songs sounded like his songs from Washing Machine. I really liked this band a lot, and I bought a CD that I will review.



After Casper Skulls, I took a quick trip home and came back just in time to see Tremoravia, the next band. Tremoravia, musically, is a garage/grunge/90s indie rock (think Pavement) kind of band. I remember the vocals having that pop-punk/emo sound that I despise, but I don't hear that on my recordings from the show; they sound more like Kurt Cobain or Steve Albini. The guitar sound was okay. I wasn't fond of the bro-y banter between the songs, though there was also a self-deprecating tone to some of those things that made me more worried. The end of Tremoravia's set was cool, with the bassist and guitarist on the floor screaming.


The final band was One Hundred Year Ocean. This band was the most emo/pop-punk, but the musick had a lot of variation and cool stuff happening; at times, you could say it was more post-rock, though the instruments did not include the more unconventional strings you find there. I really loved the atmospheric, instrumental breaks; they had an epic and emotional quality to them. Some of those guitar lines were so cool with Hawkwind-esque space rock sounds. The vocals resembled some of the pop-punk standard stuff, but they could be cold and deathly at times. I liked the variations from fast and furious to sludgey heaviness in one song. I didn't expect to like One Hundred Year Ocean, so much. I'm glad I gave them a chance.

This was a fun show. I went just sort of looking for something to do, and it was a good choice to make. I found some new bands that I will watch for in the future, and I also heard about another band called Fruit & Flowers, a Brooklyn band whose members were at this show to see their friends Casper Skulls. Since I was going to Brooklyn soon, for other reasons, I planned to see if that band might be playing when I was there. We'll see if I made it at a later date.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pay The Rent - Soft On Glass review

If you remember, I won a few tapes from White Reeves Productions at the show with Bill Nace and Twig Harper. One of these albums was Pay The Rent's Soft On Glass. Pay The Rent features members of Pittsburgh's Slices doing something totally different than hardcore. Soft On Glass came out back in May, but this is my first time hearing it. The soft sounds left me feeling somewhat damp, a mild ennui of slight, vague despair.


The album cover follows the White Reeves Productions design template with a rectangle border around an image surrounded by, usually, a solid color. This one is particularly simple, but it is a good design and an eerie one at that. The lizard that adorns the tape really creeps me out, in a subtle way, with its double-tail, headless form.

Soft On Glass starts out with the ambient "Knaut". It's like a small choir of mermaids singing underwater. The next track, "Lower Down", starts droning, turning into a John Carpenter-esque synthscape before moving back into New Age territory. "Two Days In" is a somewhat bleak, sad track, meditative. And the first side ends with the swinging "Calf", which reminds me of a bleak highway, shot in black and white, somewhere out in the high desert.

Side two comes in with another more Carpenter-esque track, "Diana". Waves repeat as something builds in the background. Many echoing voices form this space travelogue. "Corridor" has more watery sounds; I imagine walking through an aquarium with huge windows to peer into jet jellyfish. "Knaut (reprise)" sounds more like the sky, a musick box that you might open to reveal clouds and winged humanoids and other things. The sky would be a pinkish orange in color, not blue. This one also reminds me a bit of some of David Bowie's stuff from the Labyrinth soundtrack. "Knaut (reprise)" really is beautiful and might be my favorite track on the album. Soft On Glass closes with "Soft Silhouette", a scarier track like Coney Island at night, some of the abandoned dark rides beckoning from the gloom. There's the sound of the ocean, a pulse, and various creaks and bells and things. And then that's it.

Soft On Glass is a really interesting album. I'm not sure if I have ever heard something that made me feel quite this way. It's gloomy and brooding but not to any sort of extreme. The title fits the musick extremely well. I enjoyed the small slices of synthscapes that would normally be longer, grander epics. Despite the unsettling feeling, this was a breath of fresh air to what could have been a much more typical electronic album. Soft On Glass gets a Good.