Digital music is fantastic. It is instantly, globally DISTRIBUTABLE. And it couldn’t be easier and cheaper for artists to collaborate. In short, I’m a supporter.
I am also a child of the 70s who spent countless hours sequestered in my bedroom listening to record albums and gazing at the covers. The music in those days got my full, undivided attention. People don’t necessarily do that in our 21st century world of DISTRACTION.
I am still a sucker for physical product. Three recent acquisitions are poster children for the beauty of music released by artists who put genuine tender loving thought and care into the entire package which is, ultimately, all part of the EXPERIENCE of the music they have created.
This is a tribute to music as something I can hold in my hands while listening. And, in these cases, marvel at the care that went into them. What follows is one vinyl LP, one cassette tape, and one CD. All are also available digitally.
Blood Rhythms – “Civil War” (LP)
I’ll say at the outset that this is the granddaddy of all physical music packages I have seen in years. The LP is pressed on red vinyl, comes housed in a sturdy gatefold jacket, and includes an absolutely STUNNING 44 page glossy art booklet. View the video for a detailed look.
The entire set is a delightful audio art, soundscape, collage, noise excursion. The music excels at simultaneous aggression and tranquil thematic development. I love how the music dramatically twists and turns on emotional and mood shattering dimes. It can be harsh, but there is a LOT going on… much sonic ear candy for the brain to ingest and absorb. I have listened to this LP several times, flipping slowly and intentionally through the art book, transfixed by the images. The imagery absolutely impacts the experience of the sounds on the LP!
Check out the No Part Of It label at https://nopartofit.bandcamp.com
Greathumour – “Hog is Dressed (Cassette)
EC community member Max Eastman’s Tribe Tapes label is new to me. Max got my attention when he posted a picture of this package and I promptly placed an order. The tape comes housed in a ziplock bag with an 8 ½ x 11 cover and credits, which is tastefully adorned with dried goodies from the ground.
This is an excellent set of experimental sound exploration that blends all kinds of fun electronics, keys and effects. The space electronics appeal to me. And I really like the church organ that blends with swirling bee swarm noise textures. The wind tunnel rush of noise and static is punctuated by oscillations and various other effects, some of which can be quite harsh, though it’s tempered at times by bits of groaning organ melody. Later Max blasts off into space for an onslaught of whimsical alien effects that attempt to navigate through a caustic maze of sound chaos. Things even get a wee bit rhythmic at times. Very cool!
Visit the Tribe Tapes label at https://tribetapes.bandcamp.com
Moon Men “3” (CD)
Moon Men is the quartet of EC community member Bret Hart, Bill Jungwirth, Jerry King, and Dave Newhouse. I’ve been following Bret’s music for nearly 20 years and have written about him extensively. And Newhouse was a founding member of Washington, DC based prog-jazz-Canterbury legends The Muffins.
I’ll confess that I only buy CDs anymore if they are by an artist I follow closely. Other than that, I’ll opt for digital if only CD is available. But Bret is not one to be hindered by the physical limitations of the format, which is no surprise because he came from the 1980s CASSETTE world!!
I sprung for the special limited edition. Check this out… The CD is housed in a gatefold jacket, but also comes with a postcard signed by the band members, a poster, and a bonus 3” CDR with accompanying 14 page handmade, PERSONALIZED art booklet. Isn’t it loverly? View the video for a detailed look.
This is the third Moon Men album and, like the others, it’s a crazy but totally seamless blend of avant-jazz-progressive rock… Prog-jazz with an adventurous experimental edge. I like how jazzy horns trip along on ‘Peas & Carrots & Grass’ to a steady jazz-rock rhythmic pulse. After a few minutes the guitar challenges them and the musicians bull and matador circle each other, slowly jamming and finding their way as noise and effects color the proceedings. I love the contrast between the chaotic jamming groove, sweetly swooning horns, and brief punked out vocals on ‘Coeur De Boeuf’. Lusciously clunky!
Other highlights include ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon Is Dark For A Reason’, which has a dreamy melodic vibe that recalls the Canterbury sound of 1980s Muffins. But it’s amped up an experimental notch with scratching effects, clatter percussion and cascading electronics. Dig that lazy, lysergic jazz-blues on ‘Nurse Ratched’. Moon Men get nicely spacey on ‘The Mutt Stars And Cat Planets’, rocking HARD in alien prog-jazz land, but later make a gradual descent into a beautifully melodic Canterbury finale.
Progheads with a taste for the creatively strange will dig this!
Check out this and LOADS of other Bret Hart releases at https://bhhstuff.bandcamp.com
Jerry Kranitz published Aural Innovations: The Global Source For Space Rock Exploration from 1998-2016. AI started as a printed zine (nine issues from 1998-2000) and then went online for the duration. The web site also included regularly broadcast editions of Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio.