Friday, April 17, 2015

Cassette Review: Supermarket Music v/a (Midnight Special Lab)

[€7 //]

I am somewhat hesitant to call this a compilation because there are five different artists on it with a song each.    If this was a hardcore/metal/punk release they'd probably call it a five-way split.    So I like to think of it as somewhere between those two things, something new created by Midnight Special Lab and why not.

The first song is NICO NIQUO's "Virgo Landscapes" and it has this static feel to it with different tones coming out that are somewhere between guitar and banjo.   They don't feel like they're being plucked as much as they're being pressed though, so it kind of makes me rethink the stringed instrument idea.     This is in a loop, static ever-present in the background, as vocals are softly spoken/sung in the background.   The cassette provides a great source of hiding for the vocals, as the other sounds are more easily drawn to the surface.

Felicity Yang is up next with "Cloud Forest".    It comes in dreamy and blissful, in an almost psychedelic way.    The beats come out full on electronic and this could be chillwave as it is at a relaxed paced.    The drum machine does that roll I like and there are sort of vocals sampled in here as well.   Glass clanking and other sounds come in, but this just remains pretty.   An underwater adventure filled with beats.    Xylophone adapts, laser whirrs create.   It is the anthem for deep sea diving.   It is the anthem for being shot into space.    No matter how the rhythm intensifies, the vibe remains calm and this is quite possibly the perfect example of chillwave (if I'm using that genre tag correctly)

On the third song, OBA brings us to a "Babylon Airport".   There are dark piano keys, like the soundtrack to a silent film.  (Think Buster Keaton)   Crickets quietly chirp and I get a graveyard feeling before the Oriental tones come into play and make me feel as if I am in a Samurai movie now.    It's some great training scene, as it remains someone quiet yet has this still powerful stance about it.   This song is ninja-- silent but deadly.   Tones begin to trade off back and forth and it's like something out of a Danny Elfman score.    Oh please someone put a stop motion animation film to this soundtrack.   It could be so much fun.   I feel a circus vibe, but it could just as easily be something else.    Though if I was going to make the movie I'd go with a freak show instead because that's just my personal preference.   It comes out in an "Ahhhhh" way that could be the opening to the "Step right up" idea, but it is also an ambient blast.   Strings come in with some beats that sound serious and I'm briefly taken out of the feeling I once had as this now feels much more solemn.    It does a sort of quiet and sad fade out to end Side A.

Side B opens with a song called "her (demo)" by Joseph Buchan.   This is confusing because both the Bandcamp page and the linear notes of the cassette say that this should be the last track but it's not, as I've compared the cassette with the digital.   It comes out with those ahhh's as well and then some piano keys.    It's between glo-fi and hip-hop I'd say but I'm not sure where exactly.    The piano keys begin swirling around and we are taken on a wild ride loop.   Audio clips come into play and I can't quite make out what is being said but it is two people talking to each other about something.     It whirrs and whooshes and all comes crashing together at a head before the piano notes spell out an emergency.   Some singing, though not of words, and strings come in the background as well.    There is a spoken word part that goes on a loop and becomes rather rhythmic.    "There's so many things that I can't do / I want to leave myself for leaving you".     It's kind of like how that one song sings about how they want to hate themselves for hating you (or loving you, I'm not sure) but in a different way.   A "Mad World" way.    The vocals do leave for a little bit, but then they return.   It's just that one line on repeat quite a bit though.    It's a good example of how something that seems like such a basic idea can be expanded into something so much more.    In some ways, this does still remind me of The Lyndsay Diaries but I might be alone on that.    Still, I am not certain what genre to put this in exactly but it does sound rather good.

Now, "Just Fake Never" by Elkkie can end out the cassette.   It's skipping beats and then playing in patterns.    Words come in and this has a definite hip hop vibe to it.   The words are chopped up and the such, but it still sounds so good, like a mad rapper.   Cymbal skips bring melody to the vocals and it's turned into something between hip hop and pop now, though I'm not sure how that can be properly compared with something else.   And then it just kind of fades into an end quickly, which makes sense because it's one of the shorter tracks on this cassette.

One of my biggest reasons for not enjoying reviewing compilations is because I feel like I can't do them justice by writing in general and instead need to say something about every single artist.    Luckily, "Supermarket Music" had five artists on it so saying something about each of these songs is rather easy.   Each song stands out in its own way so that if they were to be played for you out of order you could name the artist, and yet something still seems to tie them together other than the fact that they share a label and cassette.

Just make sure that you're aware of which track is by who, as numbers four and five seemed to have switched places on me, but the fact that I was able to pick up on it just goes to show you that this cassette is doing something right.   Definitely a sampling of bands worth having in your collection.


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