Monday, February 16, 2015

Cassette Review: Will Guthrie "Stepped Stoned" (Astral Spirits / Monofonus Press)

[$7 // Edition of 150 //]

While I have been proven wrong before by assuming that a first name + last name combination implies something that it really does not, I'm really hesitant going into this thinking that it might be some sort of folk rock based not only that but because of the last name.    And for the record, despite the fact that this sounds nothing like him I do still love the music of Arlo Guthrie.   And yes, my opening paragraph really is about the same last name deal because I don't feel like Guthrie is too common of one.

This begins very quietly and as I feel it's been on for a while I start to suspect something is either wrong with the cassette itself or worse my tape player because by all checks it's playing and I'm hearing nothing.   A slow, static sound emerges like a hollow basement and I am set at ease as this is coming through just minimally.    Through deep, dark synth comes some rattling.    Slow cymbal progressions, tapping on them ever so slightly, and tones of sorts bring us into a virtual sea of cymbals.  

At this time we also venture into some sort of sound that crosses over between sonar and xylophone.    It also needs noting that throughout this all there are these ever present background noises that are the bass-sounding croaks of a frog which make me think of a bog for whatever reason.   It just takes me to a swampy place and that's okay.    As Side A ends we have something like bottle rattling and it is only then that my train of thought is shifted to that of Jay Peele.

Side B however brings out a lot of Jay Peele.    From the banging of pots and pans to the symphony of percussion this is the soundtrack to a major car crash.     To further feed my speculation- which always runs wild no matter what I'm listening to- there is applause and the such on Side B to indicate that the side was performed live.   Now is it fair to say that it was also improvised?   Well, there are no indications of that (It could be spelled out somewhere and I'm just not reading it, but I like to be surprised on these things anyway) and the same can be said for Side A on the whole.

Really the beauty for me in this cassette is that it starts off as something so small, just literally from nothing to the closest thing to it, and then it evolves, even within Side B which could seem completely seperate, into something that is just louder and bigger than anything ever before.   It's that gradual build from 1 to 100 and to be able to capture that is just creation itself.

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