yes selma - the koker ballads

i came at the koker ballads not knowing what to expect. the discography of baltimore-based multi-instrumentalist and experimental recording artist yes selma is vast and varied, so i had no idea if i'd find fucked up indie-pop fragments or some kind of industrial free jazz. what i discovered was music made from and for our fraught times; bleak, minimal, introspective drones created with nothing but a casio, a microphone, and a tascam 4 track. 

my first thought listening to this blast through the speakers of my stereo was that this is what 'no pussyfooting' would sound like if it was made with absolutely no budget (and no guitar), and that's a great thing. YS placed a microphone against the window during the lonely, self-isolated process of recording the instrumental drones, and mixed these field recordings in with the hazy layers of the compositions. the sounds of life going by, laughing kids and casual gatherers especially, are heartbreaking in this context. 

this is high-end quarantine rock, a prophecy of harsh wind eroding the sharp corners off of a dead civilization. this album can comfort too, however, because within the pain of its detached documentation of the normal world, there is a warm nostalgia that matches the soft hiss from the all-tape recording process. get it on limited cassette or digital from KMAN 92.5 tapes.

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.