My friend Ocasia and I played a show on April 10th at The Tub. The Tub is a big bathtub that floats in the Ohio River where bands and weirdos play musick in the middle of the night. It's maybe not that magickal, but it is a cool place.

Ocasia and I played first. We had a few practices before in which we wore radical hats in two different locations. I played drums and electronics, and Ocasia made loops and used samples. Chun-Li from Street Fighter provided guest vocals to the drums and drones. In the middle of the set, I passed out durian candies to the audience. I ate one myself. Everybody tasted some bad stuff.

Next was Control Point from Philly. She played more pop-ish stuff than I would have expected from a show like this. The songs, played with guitars and synths, were sonically haunting and tonally cool. As others have mentioned, she sounded a lot like Russian Tsarlag with similar melting tones adrift in a video void. Beats and voices and droning sounds lurched back and forth from some cold maze. I really enjoyed Control Point's musick and bought a cassette tape.

The last artist I saw at this show before I had to go was MBD. I have seen his name quite a bit online, but this was my first time seeing him play. MBD took a while to set up and then made industrial power electronics. I think his performance was shorter than his actual setup. Looking like a mad scientist working in an underground laboratory, he created bubbling burbles, whirring machines, and chilly drones. The concoction really bubbled at the end.

I really wish that I could have stayed to see the whole show, but my partner wanted to get going. That was alright with me too. Unfortunately, I left my noise gear case at The Tub. One day, I will find it on the shore of the river, hopefully still working. In reality, this just reminds me to respond to a message from a while back about picking this up. I better go do that. See you later.

I know, I know. These articles are supposed to run every other Saturday, but, when I was writing the last one, I came upon so many cool non-American releases that I knew I would have to write some extra posts. One of the albums I came across was Escapism Path by Sangam, from the United Kingdom. I was intrigued by the cover and the short amount of ambient musick I heard.

The cover to Escapism Path is pretty cool. I like those cool blue lights of the skyscrapers of the city. It's a bit frightening too. That large form lurks straight ahead. What is it? I see black orbs, and perhaps a large aircraft of some sort. As a cinematic, ambient album it works well to have something that really draws on the viewer's imagination like this.

Escapism Path starts with a track of the same name coaxing the listener into this world. Rain falls as synths rise into a skyscape of lights amidst darkness. There's a lot of floating about, too much exposition. "Mineral" begins with the sounds of the street. Then, the tones of crystals appear and are soon joined by beats from a beat machine. Dramatic pauses create tension. "Felt Blue" has more street sounds, more like an alien city of the future somewhere in the sky. Sad tones turn brighter. There are many strings. "Break Down And Cry" didn't make me sad at all, though I can see the scene in my mind. I feel more of a sense of understanding, a solemnity from this, but I can see this in a film with someone walking through dark alleys sullenly into a moment just like the track is called. The sounds are very full here with huge sweeps. "Merely A Phantom" ends the first half. It's more of the same, though there is also more of a melody here. I think the constant rain static, extensive reverb, and wet organ soars really throws it off.

The second half starts off with "So We Say". It sounds a little different, but these pulsing glows are still under the constant wash of rain. It kind of just loops. Rain continues into "Lost Way", which has a spooky whine of a ghost in the fog. The synths are a little harsh here, but I do like this one more than the others. Nearing the end, "Then We Don't" introduces more rain. The musick is nice too. There's not much to say about it really though. "Ancient Plains" sounds the part, and there is a lot more here than most of the rest. I really like the different sounds being used, especially the clearer lead part. The song has a more earthy and, well, ancient sound to it. There's nothing wet here. "Wish Things Were" is decent with more found sounds and interesting, breathy synths.

Despite my initial interest, I don't find Escapism Path to be that interesting. The majority of the tracks are very, very similar instrumental sweeping wet synths and rain and city sounds going on and on seemingly formlessly. It's certainly not a bad release, but I really don't get much from it. I like that a few of the song have beats or are just way different overall, like "Ancient Plains". I understand that there is a concept here, a cyberpunk/noir theme and all, but more can be done than just the same rain-drenched city drains all the time. Escapism Path gets a Neutral.

While delving into the depths of Bandcamp, I recently came across a cool looking album from Santiago, Chile. Tonebank pop, from what I can understand thru my English translation of LAKTIK's page, is an experiment in making a lo-fi electronic album with vintage sounds and toy instrument samples. It looked like a fun listen.

The cover of Tonebank pop is an old pfoto of an actress pasted next to an old comic image of a salaryman. I like the colors of the comic contrasted to the greyscale of the pfoto. The one thing that I am not big on is the text; it's very, very plain. I wish it had an outline or something.

There are only three tracks on Tonebank pop, and "Florida" is the first one. I love the lo-fi instrumental pieces, but the vocals bug me to hell and back. It's just a guy saying, "aw shit" over and over. It's annoying and not interesting at all. Am I being trolled? Haha.

"Abduct me" is like some cool dub with a cheap keyboard and lyrics about aliens. The vocals have a "cool guy" disinterested tone to them. It reminds me a bit of the band Suicide. I really like "Abduct me".

The final track is "New car scent" which has the sound of a church organ and very cheap drum sounds. I like this one too. The vocals are again full of ennui. The organ comes and goes, accompanying a reverb-filled backing drone. The end has some little claps; it's certainly deserving of applause.

Tonebank pop is a cool experiment. I like the toy keyboard sound, the devil-may-care attitude, and the late 80s production. I like that it's a short EP too. Too long and it might get boring. While I like the drone-y nature of the tracks, I am not a big fan of the repeated vocals on the first track. If it was something more than "aw shit" it might not be as annoying. I'm not really sure what kind of rating to give this album. I really like the second two tracks. The first track is fine except the vocals; the vocals dominate though. That first song is one-third of the entire EP. I feel like I might be overvaluing this release, but I give Tonebank pop a Good.

Did you know there is a Pittsburgh-based version of The Residents? The Corn People are a jam band playing synths with a backstory setup about receiving mysterious musick and sightings of strange beings. The, uhh, messengers are delivering these albums that they are receiving from the Corn People each month of this year. Three Sisters was just released this month of May.

Before I wrote this review, I did some background research and discovered that their album before this one, Stay Starched!, has an album cover that looks a lot like the art I did for a game that I was working on called Super Market Brothers. All that art was groceries that I had pfotographed, reduced the color of, and then added some text in the place of logos and such. It's kind of eerie. None of mine had a barcode though. Another weird similarity is that my friends and I had created a character named Cornhead who later became St. Cornhead. The Corn People all have corn heads like that character, but that's clearly the influence of The Residents at work. On to the review!

Nihilson's Black Tea from Super Market Brothers
So the cover is really high contrast and low-fidelity so to speak. I like that the cornstalks kind of look like people. While I don't like how the band's name is displayed (hard to see and poofy letters), I do really like the title font and design. I also liked the strange woodcut look of the woman in the corn; I liked it until I realized it was just taken from a coin. That's just lazy. It also seems sort of questionable to use Native American imagery, but I don't know the identity of this band at all. They are pretty upfront about this album relating to a myth though.

"Mutant Maize" is the first track on here. It has a very nice bubbling sound to the synths with a poppy hook like a Megaman game or something. This track is all instrumental. It's energetic and bouncy, and I really like it. Next is "Yellow Journalism", combining springy sounds in the verse with a hollow tone for the chorus. Just like the first track, this is all instrumental. "Yellow Journalism" is more dramatic and moody, though the heavy tremolo on the main instrument in the verse is a bit much and almost gets in the way. I really like the mysterious voices at the end crying into the darkness, wordless, just another instrument. "Nuclear Rare" is the third track on Three Sisters. This one is my favorite so far. It's a little slower and almost happy-go-lucky. It reminds me, again, of a video game. I like the dissonance a lot and the chorus-y effects. Though the tremolo is still here, it isn't used so much that it becomes tiresome; it is a very strong effect after all. The end has a vocoder doing some very apocalyptic stuff, orders from a machine master. "Karawane" is the fourth track. It means "caravan" in German, and it is also the name of a Dada poem by Hugo Ball. The track on here is creepy. It reminds me of something I did on my Ghost Stories album, ghostly voices carousing into a  cacophony of caverns. Such ends what would seem to function as the first side.

The title track begins the next section. "Three Sisters" has a carnival feel, and it reminds me of musick from the early Sonic the Hedgehog games, though obviously a much clearer composition. A siren cuts through the mix for the majority of the song. I'm not big on that siren, but I do like the replacements that come soon after in fuzz and more hollow notes. "Bewitched" sounds like something from Neu!, a computer journey if I ever heard one. It's very interesting, sounds scattering to static and sweeping winds. "Ten Thousand Years Young" is more a standard song again. It's kind of a carnival again, though I like this better than the title track. The production on the drums also sounds different, cleaner and more prominent. I really enjoy the bass synth here and that saw sound. Some of it is too much though, those wacky circus sounds again. "Subject to Insanity" is the final song. This one has some cheap sounding synth horns that I kind of find amusing but kind of don't care for.

Three Sisters is certainly an interesting album. I'm not really set on it, unfortunately. I do like a lot of the sounds, but I feel like the songs go on too long. They just sort of try out various sounds also, though I guess that's the intention - the Bandcamp page says that The Corn People are like a new wave Grateful Dead. Anyway, they clearly have potential, but I can't give this album more than a Neutral. I'll stop back in the future to see how this cryptozoology story plays out.

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