Friday, March 23, 2018

Spacebomb House Band: Library Music 1: No Space High Enough

Spacebomb House Band
Library Music 1: No Space High Enough

A debut cassette brimming with snippets of wordless vocals, bouncy keyboards, and a thrift shop ethic. All of the best elements of library music are packed into 17 tracks - it's like David Axelrod fell through a timewarp and ended up alive & well & recording in 2018. I am fascinated to hear where this band goes next. 

Here's their bandcamp promo in full. 

Library Music is an anthology of new recordings from the world of Spacebomb, a growing archive of instrumentals, interstitial music and spiritual sound effects collected in Richmond, Va. Each release is intended for practical use and distributed as supplementary material for the good times, the bad times, and the no times.

The surface of the muddy James River, twisting, glistening and opaque, acts like a textural twin of magnetic tape, a parallel ribbon of inspiration, burnt brown river spooling on and on. The skill of the producer is to wade in these waters and lay a net for a track, to catch one before it is gone.

Straight from the Spacebomb House Band, No Space High Enough is the first installment of a serialized sonic venture. Unlike other Spacebomb productions, lyrics and melody are not central here, so mood and texture come to the fore on these largely instrumental set pieces. Four constant collaborators–Matthew E. White the visionary pragmatist, Trey Pollard the pragmatic visionary, Cameron Ralston the navigator of spirits & Pinson Chanselle the spirited navigator–focus their output in a flowing mix of styles and scenes, discrete soundtracks saturated with the soul of an imaginary cinema. Operating through the blurred roles of producer, composer, player, arranger, and dub engineer, these four interlocking personalities combine to form a remarkably singular voice.

A sketchbook of sorts, functioning as mixtape, beat tape, library music, demonstration reel, but with a baseline of quality and thoughtfulness throughout, No Space High Enough reflects Spacebomb’s full life in the city of Richmond. This knotty tapestry of musical energy is the fruit of longstanding relationships with members of the symphony, the jazz scene and the gospel community. The project contemporizes that time when studios could call in strings, horns and choirs with scarcely a second thought, intrinsic tools in the musical process, as everyday as every day. The natural ease of these collaborations lends power and depth to the sound of Library Music.

The tape moves on, through gray archways, rain on a lead roof, a monastic quartet pouring over stacks of illuminated scores. Now red dust clouds swirl through a hot stereo sky, and four horsemen down below ride for home out of range. Voices in the tank, snares rattling and bells towering, analog luster and digital depth. It’s 80s Morricone, 90s hip hop beats, 60s peace chants, 70s AM radio, a party in the apartment next door, memories contained inside an empty bottle, whispers of forgotten dub sessions, smoke in the morning from the embers of last night’s fire. An organ solo wanders off into silence, then click and the tape is cut off.


Pinson Chanselle – Drum set, drum machine, drum machine programming, choir arrangements, string arrangements, horn arrangements

Cameron Ralston – Electric bass guitar, synth bass, choir arrangements, string arrangements, horn arrangements, drum machine programming

Trey Pollard – Piano, synthesizer, string arrangements, horn arrangements, choir arrangements

Matthew E. White – Guitar, synthesizer, string arrangements, choir arrangements, drum machine programming

Additional keyboards played by Daniel Clarke
Additional guitars played by Alan Parker

Adrian Pintea
Treesa Gold
Anna Bishop
Stacy Matthew

HyoJoo Uh
Kimberly Ryan

Schuyler Slack

Strings contracted by Treesa Gold

Taylor Barnett
Craig Taylor
Marcus Tenney

Bryan Hooten
Nathaniel Lee
Benjamin Weisiger

French Horns:
Rachel Velvikis
Stephen Slater

Stephanie Ycaza

Strings and Horns conducted by Trey Pollard

Briana Vaughn
Raven Worlds
Princess Warlington
Brandi Wellman
Jada Evans
Charnise Archie

Choir conducted by Joseph Clarke

Engineered by Pinson Chanselle, Trey Pollard, Cameron Ralston, Matthew E. White and Adrian Olsen
Recorded at Spacebomb Studios and Montrose Recording
Mixed at Spacebomb Studio
Produced by Pinson Chanselle, Trey Pollard, Cameron Ralston, Matthew E. White
All songs written by Pinson Chanselle, Trey Pollard, Cameron Ralston, Matthew E. White 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This Reminds Me: Songs by Linda Smith Reimagined

Various Artists
This Reminds Me: Songs by Linda Smith Reimagined       
Lost Sound Tapes / 2018

In the relatively calm decade of the 1990s, I was listening to all of the indie / hometaped music I could uncover, like a lost man parched in the desert, searching for a phone booth. Pre-internet, all I had for a road map were the monthly mailout catalogues from Parasol Records. I bought many a record sight unseen, solely by intuition and Parasol’s one-line descriptions. Discovering music from Orange Cake Mix made this guessing game worthwhile, as well as buying my first Linda Smith 7” record. Her songs were a bundle of poetic dichotomies, like peering into a handwritten diary of someone figuring out the nuances of life. This Reminds Me: Songs by Linda Smith Reimagined is long overdue recognition of her brilliance as a musician & songwriter. Lost Sound Tapes has assembled a nineteen-song tribute featuring bands as luminous as Silly Pillows & musicians like Rose Melberg, Peter Kirsch, & Paula Strong. The one minor flaw in this collection is a lack of mixtape choreography: the songs are arranged alphabetically rather than by musical flow. Let’s hope there is a second compilation in the works – you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

seventeen years - blueberry

Seventeen Years
Spirit Goth / 2018

Someone has been listening to Abecedarians, For Against and The Dentists & it has paid off. Eight tracks of gorgeous shoegaze indie pop comprise an almost perfect cassette. Watery guitar lines, gauzy vocals, and a time warp back to 1990. Things grow even more intriguing with the two closing tracks “Cassie pt. 2” and “Cassie pt.3” which are piano led, lo-fi songs that feel personal and fragile in contrast to the previous dreampop tracks. Exceptional.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Erik Kramer - A House Floating In The Middle Of A Lake

Erik Kramer
A House, Floating In The Middle of A Lake            
Anthropocene Recordings / 2017

Experimentation for the sake of experimentation pays off when least expected; perhaps our over confidence impedes our forward motion. Let me explain: Erik Kramer’s debut cassette “A House, Floating In The Middle Of A Lake” brims with intriguing ideas, slowly swimming out with the folk-ambient “Other Spaces”.  There is a boldness in this work, yet it feels like one is following a surreal and faded map, unsure of which direction to pursue. This tape is least adventurous when bogging down in the drones; yet acoustic guitar-based pieces soar with clarity – “Face of God on the Forest Floor” rambles beautifully through the trees; “For Bruce Langhorne” sounds like it truly is written in the spirit and memory of Bruce Langhorne; and “Map” is the perfect lo-fi coda as we drift back ashore.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Packer EP

Austin Jenkins
Packer EP            
Punk Jazz Records / 2018

Right up front I have to say that I love every aspect of this cassette release. All you’re going to read in this review are gushing words expressing how wonderful & enjoyable this homemade cassette release by Austin Jenkins is.

The Packer EP included a handwritten note which is much appreciated – we here in the cassette culture are a small, homegrown crew who thrive on communication and sharing music. The tape itself is enclosed in canvas, hand painted, and closed with a sewn-on button. The Packer EP was dubbed onto a used cassette of Alexander Scourby reading the book of Leviticus. Ten out of ten points from ye olde DJ – not only for style but because Leviticus happens to be one of my five favorite books of Scripture. And ... the tapes were bought from a thrift shop!

The music itself is inventive, lo-fi jazz featuring guitar, drums, bass & sax. There are six brief pieces on the EP featuring Austin playing all of the instruments and vocals. Then, the listener is treated to Punk Jazz Radio featuring extended jazz pieces by various bands (how can anyone resist Joy Spring by the First Punk Jazz Quartet?). The radio show sounds almost exactly how I started out in radio as a young teenager – recording my own shows on an inexpensive portable cassette recorder, using only a cheap mic, placing the mic next to my record player’s speakers to record the songs. There are even unexpected goodies on Side B. How cool is that?