In The Tape Deck this month, Nooga.com spends some time with cassettes from Lost Trail, Rootless, Deadman’s Ghost and Nicholas Langley.
Lost Trail, “What If This Was All a Twilight, Trembling On the Edge of Darkness?”
The work of Zachary Corsa (AKA Lost Trails) is steeped in a dark and prismatic electronic experimentation. There’s noise, of course, of a filtered and raw nature-the kind that growls and hisses in your ear. But he also imbues his songs with a deeply emotional foundation, a grounding force that balances out the more rugged artificiality of their basic construction. Within these fractured spaces, he creates puzzling and unnerving collections of movements designed to fray your senses while revealing a deeply affecting depth of emotion.
With “What If This Was All a Twilight, Trembling On the Edge of Darkness?,” his latest cassette under the Lost Trails moniker (and likely one of the last), Corsa ventures into some truly disorienting and wondrous landscapes of sheared noise and gorgeous distortion. Each track slowly unfolds and reshapes itself, giving us both a glimpse into its birth and subsequent resurrection. Fragments of darkened rhythms and cacophonous creations bleed into one another, forming a mesmerizing assortment of apoplectic sound and fury. But there’s far more happening here than just your usual grab bag of broken musical connections and atonal electric castaways-he manages to build something that works as both the movements of a single detailed experience and that of a lifetime of experimentation.
Rootless, “Distant Cities”
Brooklyn-based artist Rootless-the alter ego of Jeremy Hurewitz-explores the weight and relevance of the past through some truly innovative music. By dissecting past experiences through a mass of spoken word samples and bent synthetic rhythms, he pieces together an abstract but affecting portrait of history by examining the result of disparate sonic reclamations. He focuses on specific musical aesthetics to inform his expansive look into the events that shape us as individuals. He looks at various emotions in terms of how they allow us to develop and how best to form an aural analog within his music.
On “Distant Cities,” Hurewitz constructs hypnotic guitar loops, synthesizer grooves and a lyrical exposition that favors vague dreamlike states over tangible experience. These four songs bend, delicate and lithe, into dozens of expressionistic electronic environments. His ability to evoke a natural cadence within these artificial compositions is nothing short of a miracle and allows us to hear the pulse and deep breathing with which he imbues these sounds. Experimental but never distant, these tracks embrace their skewed perspectives in a way that suggests that there is far more going on beneath this cabled exterior than we might have assumed. There are grace and unrelenting joy here, and Hurewitz draws out these emotions with an unassuming familiarity.
Deadman’s Ghost, “Hypocritical Oath”
Deadman’s Ghost is the moniker of Belfast, Ireland-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Jason Mills, and through it, he seeks to combine a long lineage of sonic experimentation. Working from within a digital and analog mindset, he builds a vast tapestry of rough-hewn melodies and ingenious rhythms. There’s a sense that it’s all driven by a need for discovery, of a need to explore and illuminate even the darkest corners of our collective creativity. Mills is merely working through the sounds that pour from each of us on a daily basis-it’s just that he knows where to look and listen for these concentrated tonal responses.
On his latest cassette, “Hypocritical Oath,” Mills blends a striking collection of electronic arrangements with various live instrumentation. The resulting collage is beautiful, unique and completely disarming. Dozens of textures are broken down while melodies are pulled apart. Awash in darkened ambient rhythms, field recordings and sinister electronic impulses, this tape scrapes together a handful of influences and smashes them against the wall. But it’s less the product of vicious musical movements and more the organic resolve of his disparate musical inspirations. Aided by several unexpected instrument cameos (you can hear accordion and banjo in different places), “Hypocritical Oath” feels like a bold and confident exultation from an artist finding the wonder and power within his own imagination.
Nicholas Langley, “Thinky Space”
From running Third Kind Records out of Brighton, England, artist Nicholas Langley knows his way around the more experimental sounds of various electronic landscapes. His label specializes in musicians who don’t bend to a common musical categorization, and so too does his personal work stretch well outside the homogeny of mainstream music. By adapting different aspects of the dance, house and ambient genres, he coaxes new and deliriously memorable circuital noise from a place known for its synthetic adherence to tone and modulation. And that comes to define his music as well as anything, a sense of outsider exposition that places him squarely at the forefront of a new electronic frontier.
“Thinky Space,” the new cassette from Langley, doesn’t impose its varied ambient perspectives-rather, it allows you to approach them at your own pace. It’s a blissfully casual affair at times, one that offers an experimental heart sheathed in ambient decoration and droning melody. Langley digs down deep into these sounds and discovers dozens of atmospheric changes within the slightest musical alteration. “Thinky Space” is built upon small moments of electronic clarity that stack, bricklike, until a great edifice has been erected, a grand home for music that seems frozen in time. Lit by blips, bloops and a gossamer repetition, these tracks evolve and layer their substrate while burying you with their enormous emotional connections.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.