In The Tape Deck this month, Nooga.com spends time with new cassettes from More Eaze, Ziggurat, Asymmetrical Head and SLEEPiES.
More Eaze, “BodiezNc0de”
More Eaze is the moniker through which Marcus Maurice (AKA Marcus Rubio) crafts perfect pieces of abstract electronics filled with undulating rhythms and looping melodies. In his past work, he’s often hid these catchy bits of tone and texture under a host of frayed effects, but if you listen closely, their spiraling musical threads are eventually revealed. Mixing both acoustic and wired patterns, he distills his influences down to their bare melodic elements before reassembling them in a fashion that proves their ecstatic utility. He skips around through genres, laying out a complex and interconnected web of sounds and emotions that can’t easily be traced back to any specific aesthetic.
On his latest cassette, “BodiezNc0de,” he approaches his past from a pop-oriented perspective. Make no mistake, however, these are still wildly inventive songs that buck any idea of traditional structure. The production is as meticulous as always, even when the sounds seem to be warring with one another. But this collection feels far more song-centric than his prior releases, which always felt more impressionistic than purposely regimented. We’re still privy to the weirdness from time to time, but in general, he opts for a more ordered euphoria. Warm string melodies play against the spokes of his electronic tendencies as each song unfurls into a series of complicated examinations on political differences, conceptual ideas of the body and the persistence of physical form.
Ziggurat, “Ritual Miasma”
Black metal has long been shaped by howled, unintelligible vocals and shearing waves of guitar noise, all brought together with drums that seem ready to tear apart mountains. The unrestrained emotions and perpetual musical forces are a big part of why so many people respond to these sounds, even when others can’t understand their value. For a band like Ziggurat, this colossal roar isn’t just the release of volume—it’s a coherent mass of dark shadows, dense licks and booking percussion. And it’s all so perfectly constructed that you begin to see the intricate layers beneath the squall on repeated listens. The underlying patterns are meticulously crafted so as to conjure a deeper emotional language than you might be expecting.
On their debut release, “Ritual Miasma,” the band holds to their death metal roots but finds clever ways to upend our expectations. Songs such as “Death Rites Transcendence” and “Blind Faith” even manage to sneak in memorable melodies awash in darkness and impenetrable emotion. But like the best bands wandering these night lands, Ziggurat finds a harsh tranquility in the roar of oblivion, a gasp as the possibilities reveal themselves in waves of searing riffs and broken drumheads. Their attention to detail is fascinating, as you can hear them mulling over the smallest nuances of their metal devastation as each song cries out to the emptiness that seems so intent on swallowing them whole.
Asymmetrical Head, “Information World Remixes”
For well over a decade now, Asymmetrical Head (AKA musician William Rosario) has been creating glitchy, ambient soundscapes that crackle and hum with an electric heartbeat. Working within this IDM environment has given Rosario a unique perspective on the assemblage of fractured beats and warbling melodies. Distortion and deconstruction seem to be his preferred methods of exploration, delivering a wild and feral circuital noise through which hissing rhythms, jittery electronic manipulations and bouts of down-tempo percussion rumble and dissolve. And with his past work, specifically 2014’s “Proper/Random,” he offered up a clanging, blip-filled collection that subverts our assumptions.
Earlier this month, he released an EP consisting solely of remixes of “Information World,” a fascinating track from “Proper/Random.” With variations created by Valance Drakes, Zander One, Randonform, QBLA, Cd.db.sn and Sonic D, the track has been repurposed and reinvigorated through different rhythmic approaches. Balancing between minimalist affectations and bass-heavy movements, these artists have given the song its own weight and motivations. Mutant hip-hop beats and clicking percussive sounds move and stutter as “Information World” is broken down and rebuilt. Not simply a throwaway collection of remixes that add very little to the overall mood and feel of the track, this set digs deep to reveal a whole world of possibilities.
SLEEPiES, “Melt to You”
The wiry post-punk roar of Brooklyn quartet SLEEPiES hasn’t dimmed since they began making music together almost 10 years ago. They still know how to assimilate and reshape those early ’80s influences into a sound both familiar and alien, drawing on classic influences to build a racket that feels sharp and jagged in its execution. Crawling with punk vitriol and indie rock determination, their sound is one of absorption and evolution, of blending shades of sounds in a blur of rock-indebted rhythms. The guitars still evince an air of serration and rough-edged production, but the music never seems like it’s pulling away from you. It’s a welcome abrasion, the kind of bruising density that you don’t really hear much anymore.
On their latest EP, “Melt to You,” the band continues to refine their post-punk flourishes but are also venturing out into some deeper waters where they can experiment with their own practiced noise. It’s impossible not to notice the impact that bands like The Fall and Wire have had on the band, but they’re able to contort and twist these influences until nothing is left but a mass of astringent notes and delirious guitar riffs. They pounce on a jangly bit of creativity one moment and roar through a cover of “I Wanna Holler” by Gary U.S. Bonds the next. This is not your typical throwback post-punk but is a new and altogether refreshing version that adheres to the spirit while carving out a distinct identity all its own.
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.