Various Artists, ‘DoubleCASS’

Posted by on March 24, 2015


CrackleTimesFavor Cassettes, 1.16.2015

What? Are you kidding me? How do these tapes exist? How have I lived twenty-some whole years of worthless life without this release? How did the universe hold together without these cassettes to imbue each atom with immutable significance? Fuck me, I love this so much I want to cry, rip off all my clothes, and run screaming into the jungle, never to return. Ted Coffey’s side of tape two has me jumping for joy at every second, and I was surprised to discover that he’s in the Music Department faculty at the University of Virginia. I’ve heard pretty amazing music coming out of the academic “electroacoustic” circles, but until now nothing quite so bold, vibrant, and just absolutely monumental. His contribution, titled “Pockets & Holes,” is just that — a collage of open spaces where linear structure seems to briefly congeal, only to blur and buzz into the next incongruous moments. There’s screeching, popping, buzzing, even acoustic guitar plucking, but it refuses to make sense, and it crystallizes the chaos of my dull commuting days more than any so-called “song” I’ve heard before.

Okay, to hell with it, I quit. Now don’t you fret, I’ll still be writing for Decoder — that opener was just for cloying, melodramatic effect. I’ve often come back to the idea that a piece of music, when good enough, should and often does defy any attempt to describe it through some logical sequence of symbols. Nowhere has this maxim appeared more true than these two cassettes of utterly baffling, incessantly chaotic beauty. Ted Coffey’s side isn’t even the first, it’s just my favorite; hatianfieldrecorders’ epic “OCELOT” spurts synthetic bleeps and bloops in a compelling narrative that would hardly sound out of place on a tape by Headboggle. :naem’s “DEN (ONLY) mixtape” inhabits a fascinating borderland between noisy plunderphonics, sample-laden dub-hop, and minimal ambient washes. Finally, droneclone’s side is, by comparison, the most conventional, with lurid synth patterns accompanying creepy subterranean drum machine loops. If anyone has had the good fortune to experience the vivid dreams that often result from Valerian root sleep aids, this is the soundtrack to those dreams you wish would go on forever.

Rarely does one come across such sheer jaw-dropping amazeballs holy-shit-is-this-even-real experiences with an impetus to say something about it, and a complete inability to do so. Similar experiences for me include swinging on a swingset atop the hills of Berkeley while watching the majestic sunset over the San Francisco Bay, or devouring a 1lb. burger with a patty of 60% brisket on a rosemary potato brioche bun. Hopefully you shouldn’t have to think too far back to find something similar in your own experiences. If nothing in your life has achieved these levels of pure incendiary passion, go get these tapes or, I dunno, jump off a bridge or something. (Is life without these tapes worth living? The jury’s still out.)