Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cassette Review: faint glow / somnaphon "absolute (0) embrace" (Bicephalic Records)

[$5 // Edition of 30 //]

This is my second cassette from Bicephalic Records (and it came with the third as well) and as I look back at the first cassette I reviewed from Bicephalic I remembered it correctly because it was indeed a split as well.   So here we have three cassettes from Bicephalic (One reviewed, this one and the third in the works) and they are all splits.   I checked the Bandcamp merch page and though there are CDs, a DVD and sold out record, there is only one other cassette release on Bicephalic and it is also a split.     I must say though that I do love split cassettes because each artist takes a side and you can compare and contrast them.    It's also a chance to get to know new artists.

With "Absolute (0) Embrace", I actually have never heard of either artist before and so I was excited going in to experience them both.    I don't really like to review releases by artists I've already reviewed because I feel like they just stay the course (So if I review one cassette by "Artist A", then you should assume all cassettes by "Artist A" are good and listen to them all, as I am even if I'm not writing about them) but to me listening to new artists is like meeting new people, making new friends, only without the human interaction that I am not particularly fond of these days.

Faint Glow begins Side A with a ringing which turns into space whooshes.   There are static waves crashes and sonar blips, so I must say that this seems to be taking place in space.   I know I like to think of the sonar as being on some sort of water-based vessel (a boat) or a submarine, but why couldn't these beeps also be emitted from a spaceship?  Whether it be in water or in space, they still share the name of "ship".  (But don't ask me about friendship or hardship because I wouldn't jump on those if I was drowning or adrift in space)

The sound turns to "Star Wars", with hints of lightsabers and possible beats.   It's growing synth, as if it is becoming a monster and the fact that I can hear this but put it all into space isn't really good for the planet earth because I think of it as the story of a spaceship who got lost in space, found a planet thought to be uninhabited and then the spaceship was taken over by some sort of alien monster which is now coming back to earth to destroy us all.

Synth waves travel in circles, become winding, as static skips like the beeps of metal detectors.   It sort of sounds like crickets but then turns into Transformers and I believe that is the part where our astronaut friend stumbles upon what looks harmless at first but then becomes a monster that overpowers him.   There is a scraping/chainsaw type of sound that I'll let you use your imagination to decipher and we end with the sounds of modems, which only can be distress signals as the creature has entered the earth's atmosphere and we are all doomed.

Somnaphon begins Side B with a hum drone that can bring out that sound of electric clippers, such as used to cut hair, though we are far from a barber shop.   A bug zapper type of alarm comes in next with an Atari "Return of the Jedi" type of feel cutting through the waves.  If you want to think of these two sides as being connected- as them telling stories which go together- then this would be the part where some lucky soul is fortunate to get off earth before being destroyed by the monster alien and is on his or her way to save the earth somehow by stopping the monster via its home planet.

The sound stops for a moment and then comes back with static space whirrs.   It's video game trill and it's frantic.   At this point I thought it ended, and perhaps this was simply a misdirection in the movie as well, to make you believe all hope was lost and our hero would not be saving the day, but alas, slight static rumblings return.   There is a slow build into ever so slight static, such as from a radio station that doesn't come in, and then it ends on quietness.    Since the end is peaceful I can only imagine that there is some sort of closure if not victory.

I will add this up to another split cassette where not only was I exposed to two new artists I am now a fan of but another one of those rare but becoming more common cassettes that has a story to go along with it that I hope one day to put into a film myself if someone else does not do it first.   Yes, retiring from writing about cassettes at age 40 and creating movies which they inspired is sounding better every day.   Somehow being able to find the time to mix the two- reviewing cassettes and creating their movies, or reviewing cassettes by creating movies for them- would be ideal but isn't practical just yet.

So in the mean time, do listen to this split and follow along what I like to think of as a wordless old time radio show.   Imagine "War of the Worlds" as creating all that panic and fear as being read over the radio, but yet there are no words for this one only images you can create in your head.

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