Thursday, May 7, 2009
Blood on Tape - S/T (Softland City CS)
The inaugural release for both the band and the label, this tape was sent to me by Kevin and has been eagerly awaiting review treatment since. Nice minimal package here, especially considering the obvious potential that a name like Blood on Tape calls to mind. Didn't go the obvious route though, and stuck with an ultra stark little package which better suits the music within.
The first side consists of only one piece, "In Sea," whose lilting drones drift beautifully about while the occasional guitar strum enters and dissolves. Very blue atmosphere here, nice and shimmering and patient. Starts to take on an almost songy feel even as it lulls out, cymbals splashing against sheets of tone. A heavy reverberant quality pervades all of this, even as percussion enters and exits, grounding the floating drones momentarily with a steady and ritualized pulse. Really nice and spare, without ever tapping into the cliches that such raga-inflected approaches often dip into.
The flip side immediately lifts off from the placid waters of the first side with "Feelin' Fine." A pulsing tone is soon accompanied by harmonica drones (me thinks) that slip a minor chordal pattern into the mix, driving the work forward without ever decreasing the fluidity that the tape contains. "By Design" follows with am ore ambient offering that again incorporates the harmonica moves and spacious visual sense into an eagle-soaring mountain treat that keeps growing toward the clouded airways. Beautiful stuff, and met wonderfully by the closer, "The Land is Great," whose title, in contrast with the first side's, encapsulates all that the more cacophonous track suggests, with woodland critters and thick muddied drones waving about. It's an eerie close to a beautiful tape; really a wonderful surprise here. Limited to 50 and likely still available, so grab one and keep your eyes out for more over at Softland City headquarters. They seem to have the right idea.