In The Tape Deck this month, Nooga.com spends time with new cassettes from The Eargoggle, Birthing Hips, Zurkas Tepla and a collection of artists who contributed to a charity compilation from Third Kind Tapes.
The Eargoggle, “The Beautiful Creatures Really Are So Cruel”
The Eargoggle is the way Brooklyn musician Ezra Gale makes sense of the world around him. In its ambition and wildly eclectic attitudes, he sees a way to merge the seemingly disjointed perspectives that fill our lives. Filled with afrobeat rhythms, skewed pop explosions and jazz-influenced structures, his work is a confounding and fascinating mixture of experience and inspiration. He brings a lot of themes from his previous band, Aphrodesia, but it doesn’t take away from the insular nature of his solo music. Instead, all the clashing noises build to a cacophony of altered-state genius and melodic strangeness that reveal why he’s become such an important figure in Brooklyn’s bizarro pop landscape.
On his new cassette, “The Beautiful Creatures Really Are So Cruel,” he brings it all back home, recording most of the 19 tracks on a four-track recorder in his home. The album veers between broken jazz implosions, indie rock solemnity, electro pop and beats-first trip-hop, all within a confined space. His ability to make these often-disparate sounds feel part of a much larger world is impressive, almost maniacal in its insistence on its own normality. Who am I to argue? The album is a grand statement on musical inclusivity and how we use its winding sounds to create an intangible barrier against the darker realities that surround us on a daily basis.
Birthing Hips, “Urge to Merge”
Massachusetts art punk band Birthing Hips have broken up. And while fans have been rightfully lamenting the end of their brief tenure as a band, the breakup surely becomes a catastrophe after hearing the songs on their second and final album together, “Urge to Merge,” which is out now on NNA Tapes. The band was nothing if not unexpected, contorting their vision of punk, damaged pop and fractured indie rock into something that refused to be ignored. They combined the complex interactions of a band like Deerhoof with the [email protected]$%-all swagger of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and came away with a spirited perspective on how all these sounds could be successfully linked together.
The songs on “Urge to Merge” don’t follow any preset programs or adhere to any fashionable methodology. They’re monsters and beasts that howl from the shared cathartic creativity built into the band. You can practically see the seams stretching as they tear apart genres and mix the resulting pockets of sound to their hearts’ content. Bristling with punk ferocity one moment and wobbly no wave serration the next, they weave this hypnotizing latticework of abrasive melodies and abstract rhythms that dig into the marrow of your bones. It’s a glorious mess of creation and destruction.
Zurkas Tepla, “Permanent Research”
Zurkas Tepla is a Russian electronic artist whose work possesses a grand dose of dark dystopian rhythms and swirling melodies. This is not dance music—this is music for soundtracking the end of days, for watching civilization crumble. Under his careful direction, his music manages to hold together just long enough for us to witness its tattered designs before they fade back into some circuital ether. Known for his cryptic and mesmerizing arrangements, the enigmatic producer finds a way to connect all these scattered tones and patterns into a weirdly cohesive perspective that defies easy characterization.
On his latest release, “Permanent Research,” he doesn’t ease up on his apocalyptic musings, offering us another set of frayed electronic songs that speaks to the wordless disintegration of humanity. He unleashes a shadow-filled ambiance that seems to consume anything it touches. He does take a few moments to lay back and enjoy the destruction that he’s wrought, but it only lasts for a short time before the music begins its inevitable march of consumption. You never really have time to catch your breath, as he quickly jumps from one ragged moment to the next without giving you time to adjust your senses.
Various artists, “THIRD27”
Christmas is sometimes seen as a crass commercial holiday, but it also brings out the good within some people’s hearts. And that extends to people who run record labels. Third Kind Records will donate all the money made (minus shipping costs) from the sale of a new charity cassette called “THIRD27” to Shelter UK. Shelter UK helps millions of people annually who struggle with inadequate housing or homelessness by providing advice, support and legal services. The label asked a handful of musicians who had released albums with them before to contribute songs for the compilation.
With artists such as Dakota Blue, Hattie Cooke and Peter Hoggarth (and a dozen others) lending their support, “THIRD27” takes the commercial taste of Christmas out of your mouth, even if only for a little bit. Ranging from IDM to pop to indie rock, these artists tackle holiday-influenced songs and manage to instill a good bit of goodwill in the process. This is certainly not your typical Christmas album and isn’t filled with upbeat ruminations on tinsel and trees. But if you’re looking for something a bit more experimental—or for something that helps others—this is as good a deal as you’re probably going to get.
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.