Friday, April 10, 2015

Cassette Review: Shit & Shine "Chakin'" (Astral Spirits)

[$7 // Edition of 250 //]

The first thing that you hear when you press play on this cassette is a story being told while music is played in the background.   The music is a combination of strings, horns and pianos.    The words spoken are in a way that reminds me of Sam Elliott narrating "The Big Lebowski" but it could also be a piece out of the book of Charles Bukowski.   ("The Big Bukowski" anyone?)   At first it felt like a radio show but I did later realize it felt more like a spoken word presentation, some sort of open mic night where you get up and tell your story as the band plays along behind you, and this just immediately has me engaged.

It switches into what the rest of the cassette, "Chakin'" becomes, but boy does it start with a bang.   Thre are hip, piano jive vibes coming through in these instrumental numbers that you might find at 2am in some smoke filled night club or bar.    It's cymbal crashes and slow electronic tones.    The music builds from AWOLNATION type of tones to cymbals crashing.     It sort of goes into beats and it sort of reminds me of The Beats.    By the end we're back into the spoken word aspect of it but not like it was at the start.   No, this time to voice is being disguised, like a ransom call.

While Shit & Shine seems to grab you by the hand and pull you from that which you are doing into their world, much like that movie "Cool World" where you go from real life into animation, they only tend to be your guide for so long and then they let you out there, to explore it on your own.     Most of the cassette is still filled with ideas that you must create for yourself and otherwise interpret and that's fine.    It's just that this opening spoken word bit is so compelling.

I know that I've used the comparison of that smoke-filled room with that sort of jazz band playing before, but I also begin to realize that the very idea of that can mean any number of different things.    What I picture in my mind- as I do not have a specific scene from a movie, for instance, to compare it with- can differ greatly from that of what someone else might see.    This just leaves the general idea of it open to further interpretation by the listener, rather than pegging it into one specific movie scene, and I do feel that is the way that Shit & Shine intended for it to be.

I could listen to "Chakin'" a hundred times and get a hundred ideas from it, much like the way you can read a great book over and over, picking out the hidden gems you missed the first or second time around.    Even though that might seem to make it complex or hard to pin down, the fact is it just makes it that many more cassettes even though it's only really one.    There's nothing wrong with having something one dimensional in the sense that you hear the same things the third or fourth time you listen to it, but something about these layers upon layers really says a lot about the talent of Shit & Shine.

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