Monday, September 29, 2008

James Fella - Salvaged Tape (21:18) (Gilgongo Records / C-Salt CD-R)

Just got an awesomely generous package sent to me from James Fella over at Gilgongo Records, one of the best realized labels around; their whole output has killer sounds galore (not to mention lovely artwork) and this is no exception.

Culled from what James says are "15-25 out of 50 cassettes found during a recent move into a new home, recorded anywhere from 2003-2007," the release is a quick jaunt that proves that careful pacing and solid source material can culminate otherwise disparate material into a most interesting whole. The piece opens with the sounds of crickets and distant doggy yaps which is then sped up and slowed down over some beautiful chime-like melody and odd glitched drum patterings, some string instrument melding its way in like light through glass. It's a beautiful moment and stunning opening that ebbs along before some ultra-crude lo-fi metallic clanks signal the entrance of far noisier and more chaotic territory. Fella can let the noise juices rip when he wants to, and this is no exception, cutting off that peaceful bit with such immediacy that it becomes that much more effective, startling rather than numbing. Odd paper-crumpling electronic blip-outs are overshadowed by heavy oscillating mayhem. Some weird vocal melody hides behind the murk before more high-end madness leads into a mellow psyched out guitar workout, droney and sparse. Some nice folk meanderings to be sure.

The next section includes some quirky, Skaters-style loops complete with guitar twangs, fuzzy cave drips, and reverb-drenched blats. That cuts too, leading into a kind of kitchen-sink gamelan number, killer little section, nice and sparse and blatantly a spoons on sinks on pots on pot deal. Some nice electro-buzz follows before more of the gamelan thing slows into a muddy, car starting wind clogged mic thing. It all blurs together as a string melody that might be played on koto layers itself over again until its halfway between Nepal and Detroit.

Ok, I could give you the rundown all the way through (half way there ain't bad), but really I don't want to spoil it. There's a long period of looped bird call duets with turntables that starts to meld into one big rain stick. There's the sound of screeching swings and hollow caverns of warm tape hiss. Organ drones happen, musique concrete happens and vomit-inducing, dirty blurty blats of cosmic sci-fi refuse happens. A lot happens. The remarkable part is how much sense it all makes, and how masterfully Fella weaves these worlds together. You've got to appreciate the presence of the raw tape wrapped around the case too, right? The medium is the message. Part of the C-Salt series, though I'm not quite sure whether that's its own operation or just its own thing within the Gilgongo framework. Either way, it's super.

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