tapes and tubes - sugarbushey

'sugarbushey' is the brand new album from philadelphia based poet and musician tapes & tubes. it came out yesterday on UK imprint TQN-aut, and the limited edition CD is already sold out. i understand why. i have been keeping up with T&T's many recordings over the years, and 'sugarbushey' is the purest and most ambitious distillation yet of the stylistic elements they have at their disposal. 


the album trades distorted pieces of observational, tactile poetry with warm soundscapes, haunted by tape errors and minimal, floating collections of guitar notes. the earthly details in the poetry and the mystical drift of the music unite the ground and sky in a holistic presentation. T&T uses images and sounds of the everyday to connect with the eternal. there is a feeling of heavy contemplation and of absorption into the swirling energetic tides of the universe. 


'sugarbushey' leans more heavily on music than on words, which is a change from past T&T albums i have enjoyed, but an excellent balance is struck here. the album begins with a short poem about the places in which beauty can be found, and ends with a nearly eight minute snowdrift of tone, hiss and field recordings called 'tape deck', which feels like a perfect coda, like a wordless version of the first track. download 'sugarbushey' here.

buck curran - no love is sorrow

'no love is sorrow' is the third solo LP from american ex-pat guitarist and songwriter buck curran, who is currently based in italy. reflecting its title, 'no love' is a heavy and heartfelt album that draws the listener close to its intimately recorded instrumental landscapes and illuminates the darker corners of emotional experience with its lyrics. 


the opening track, 'blue raga' invokes buck's well know admiration for hermetic fingerstyle guru robbie basho (for whom he curated two excellent tribute compilations) with a fluid dance between two guitars, recorded closely so that the details of fingers and plectrums on strings are present, a technique i appreciated on buck's last album 'morning haikus and afternoon ragas' as well. 


the next track, 'ghost on the hill', sets up the basic range of the album, complimenting the guitar explorations that opened the album with a melancholy, psych-tinged love song. other highlights include harmonies from buck's partner adele pappalardo (check out her tunes here) on the trad-folky 'deep in the lovin' arms of my babe', and the crushing, spaced-out kosmische feedback jam that is 'war behind the sun'.


'no love is sorrow' is available for download and on spotify, and i believe it will be out on vinyl in the near future.

fuck racists, fascists and capitalists and happy saturday from MFOA

horse apples - love and some verses

continuing on the theme of jams that preface some blood-moving pop-type action with meditative synth passages, i thought i would write a little bit about 'love and some verses', the latest track from upstate new york bedroom producer horse apples.


the song opens gently with bird sounds and a bubbling, swelling synth arpeggio, evoking a pastoral morning coffee vibe. before too long, a brushed snare drum and an e-piano melody shift the gears from drone to electro-folk. the arrangement reminds me a bit of late 90's british singer/songwriter david gray, who may not have gotten enough credit for the forward looking production of his hit album. however, horse apples is considerably more THC drenched than david gray. the pop sensibilities are here but they are undermined, in a good way, by shimmering slabs of synth that surface from the mix and hit like sunbeams on bloodshot eyes, and the laid back romantic slacker vibe of the vocals. also, the bird sounds never get potted down, chirping insistently over the titular verses.



horse apples have released a number of songs in the past few months, 'love and some verses' being a highlight for me. i recommend checking all of them out, which can be done easily by copping them in collected form as the album "II", available here as a download and/or a free one-of-a-kind CDR.

andrew weathers ensemble - two songs

something has spoken to me and said "start posting here again". for the first real MFOA post in 3 or so years, i figured what better music to write about than some new stuff from andrew weathers; founder of full spectrum records, the guy who masters everyone's DIY albums, and one of the truest fellow travelers i have met out here trying to think about new ways to make, share and imagine music in the conditions under which we are all obliged to suffer. andrew's latest release is a pair of sprawling "ambient country" (as he calls them) jams recorded with his nation-spanning group of collaborators under the name andrew weathers ensemble. i believe this is their penultimate release as this incarnation, but somehow i doubt the output will really slow down.


this first of the two songs is an expansive rendering of a sweet hymn-like song called 'little tack' by outsider/visionary artist and minister howard finster. it seems to be a celebration of the humble things that keep us grounded, of things that work without fanfare. frustrating the instinct for quick gratification, this arrangement has a slow build with droning accordion and synth sounds accompanying the first verse. the autotuned vocals have the de-personalized personality we have now grown used to from those who use autotune not to hit notes but to bring grit. the effect is to stretch this slice of americana into pure atmosphere, but eventually this song gives in to something that sounds a bit like kraut-rock countrypolitan, if that could be laid back. it swells and taps and becomes ecstatic. the music becomes the celebration of simple work that lyrics imply.



the second song, side B of the cassette, is an original instrumental composition called 'plains of paradise'. in the tradition of ambient music it evokes the landscape in the title, a landscape that is at once bountiful and desolate, that holds all of life and death in the infinitely thin border between grass and sky. the loping, clicking beat and insistently thumping guitar strings keep you bit in ennio morricone territory, which is appropriate. the plains seems to haunt andrew's music in general, and it is where he has set up shop, in the arid expanse of southwest texas.


'two songs' is available digitally here and on cassette from timesuck tapes.

this wouldn't be MFOA if i didn't say that i also released some new music the other day. it's called 'if i could only remember my dog's name' and you can name your price for it here.

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