Thursday, June 25, 2015
Cassette Review: Dead Act "STEAM"
[€7 // Edition of 50 // https://deadact.bandcamp.com/album/steam]
"STEAM" begins with a full head of steam. There are these whispers in the background that make you feel like someone is talking when maybe there really isn't even anyone there. It's a complete feeling of paranoia. In front of that is a certain sharpness that might be coming from horns. Static drops bring about a lot of racket and just all around clanking. The static sounds of channel surfing emerge next and then it goes into a humming/buzzing/deep sea diving type of vibe. This brings about bells, big ones, followed by the dinging on glass, such as to make a toast. It grows quieter, as whirrs come out only, and I feel like it is about to end as it takes a bow for a moment or two, but it does not.
A sample of singing comes on rather loudly. It is then manipulated the way you might press the pause button down on a cassette player but not all the way. Electronic blips and beeps come out in the background of this, somewhat R2D2 like even. The deep strings such as a cello find their way into the background to give us an underwater feeling and as they continue on, with the singing eventually gone, they can just as easily give off an alien vibe. It then turns into some more robotics, with bits of R2D2 and that is just making me think that we are in fact in space now. Whirrs and other electronics take us through the rest of the piece, which clearly has something to do with space. There is somehow both a record scratching and Transformers vibe to it.
The singing returns briefly, and I'm still pretty sure it is an audio clip and not Dead Act doing the deed. Little, almost non-existant beeps come out that are how I imagine R2D2 would whisper. The sounds of horns lead to a xylophone and eventual static which once again has a brief encounter with channels changing. These sounds all get jumbled up and mixed together at different points, feeling like they are songs being shuffled around more than the elements of the song themselves. Someone tries to speak and a drum kit is being played. Cymbals crash and then so do other objects. We are back to banging around in the kitchen, pots and pans and stuff.
I can faintly hear someone talking on Side B (I assume it's Side B, as I just rewound it to one of the sides and let it go) and then it gets quiet. Deep bass strings come out like "Jaws" or some other kind of building and they are soon joined by horns. The cymbal is dinged and bonged. Quiet, softer whirrs appear as those horns make the noises that they make. There is a rather quiet, somber feeling to this side and I'm still not sure which is "A" and which is "B" but I'm not going to use the digital to find out either because I like this as being the sort of calm *after* the storm. As it gets a bit sharp I realize it is not feedback which is the culprit but a horn still. The jazz man plays his ambient number.
A slight ticking, such as a clock, accompanies some whirrs. The sound travels and begins to build like a locomotive. Pinball type of noises come out next- but only for a moment- as the overall vibe otherwise takes a turn for the quiet, for the minimal. It begins to turn into sonar on some level, as this beeping makes me feel like we've been submerging deeper and deeper underwater and now we have finally reached our destination. And it would appear as if we have because at this point it sounds as if we have been sucked into a hollow abyss. Pressure builds as we begin to rise again and there is a combination of static whirrs and tapping on a drum or something otherwise.
Throughout these songs there are electronics and percussion but really they tell the story of something ambient as it is the type of sound which creates images in the imagination. Sometimes I feel like listening to these cassettes and taking these trips is like choosing to take a pill in the Matrix, but regardless of that if you listen to this cassette and don't experience some kind of out of body experience from it then odds are you're doing it wrong.