Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cassette Review: hicksoncompactgroup "An Empty Phrase"

[$1 // Edition of 10 //]

"An Empty Phrase" is the third cassette by hicksoncompactgroup to be available through their Bandcamp page for only a dollar.    I feel like I got the email about "Timbres" before this, and then when the Bandcamp email came for this one I thought it was perhaps a duplicate because I don't remember getting an email about "An Empty Phrase" but rather just found it because of looking up the link for "Timbres".

"An Empty Phrase" begins with a quiet string drone.    Some synth comes out and it has that little bit of Darth Vader sort of ship feel to it.   It's minimal static and somehow even feels like it could be underwater.  (Ever since hicksoncompactgroup released the guide to building your own spaceship though I've always thought of their music as being in space)  Through static bursts there are some boiler room chills as this just becomes fairly eerie and haunted.

A slight scraping comes through with waves of synth and then there are bubbling water sounds complete with sonar, leading me to believe this really is underwater as I had suspected earlier.    As we approach the end of Side A it becomes minimal and barely audible (A once through with headphones is a must here) and then it turns into a static build which brings out the drone and some "Tom Sawyer" blasts.

On the flip side we have space synth drone with banging and guitar notes.    It's generating a rhythm, a beat and it somewhat comes out like Jay Peele (Haven't referenced him in a while)   As this began with space (but so did Side A, right, with Darth Vader) it then also shifts into the sound of the ocean as a horn can be heard blaring like that of one from a large barge.   I might have watched too many television shows about this (There is an episode of "Batman: The Animated Series" I watched most recently), but I do like to think of the giant ship as carrying garbage, just to give you a better picture.

We return to the synth drone and it becomes deep in tone but also just all around dark.   Ambient bliss brings out the sounds of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" (which I, admittedly, probably hear more often than others because I have a cat named Baba O'Riley) and then pipes begin clanking followed by some sharp feedback.    Space lasers with sort of Transformers whirrs take us back into space and the sound we end on is that of a didgeridoo.

I'm still not convinced hicksoncompactgroup is making any money off of these cassettes because it seems like they'd lose anything they'd potentially make on shipping alone (Take Note: People who "can't afford to send me a free tape") but the one thing I did notice with "An Empty Phrase" is that as both sides come to an end that is also when the cassette stops.      There is just not a single second wasted or taken for granted here it would seem and I do love that about hicksoncompactgroup, who you should also love by now.

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