Friday, May 20, 2016
Cassette Review: hicksoncompactgroup / shredderghost split
[$3 // Edition of 14 // https://hicksoncompactgroup.bandcamp.com/album/hicksoncompactgroup-shredderghost-split]
It's always nice for me when two artists I enjoy the music of come together for a split. I know that in some ways it's better when it's an artist you know with an artist you don't because then you can potentially discover someone new, but having hicksoncompactgroup and shredderghost paired up is something I hadn't thought about before it happened but now that it has it just makes such perfect sense to me.
On the hicksoncompactgroup side of this we have this ringing drone that seems to encompass the entire piece. It's just kind of always there, like a ringing in my ears. It can seem somewhat eerie and take us to a dark place as it fluctuates. The general feeling of it is one of being hollow, as if there are trapped souls stuck inside the music. Some static can try to come through and despite how quiet it is there are also some guitar notes coming out before all is said and done. By the end, I do hear this louder ringing, like Jay Peele playing with his bowls, but this is a rather calming piece I would use to relax if you can handle it.
The shredderghost side begins with deep string plucks and these sort of mouse squeaking sounds which also might just be string scratching. Western guitar notes come out for a bit and it reminds me of sitting on a porch in some old western town where the tumbleweed goes flying by and everything just seems so calm. This shifts into a synth type space magic feel and I do understand that space cowboys exist. I believe I hear a sitar and then it becomes an almost error type of alarm ringing before it is over.
Regardless of who is involved in a split cassette, I always like to think about why they are paired together. Are they the same? Are they different? In this case, the answer is yes to both. What hicksoncompactgroup delivers could be considered the quiet version of what shredderghost does on Side B. To that end, it can feel like both artists taking a piece and playing it in their own way, which is what makes one side seemingly so soft and the other seemingly so loud.
When people think of ambient or drone they can never quite understand that in some ways it exists as the space between what other music is doing and in that sense what you hear from hicksoncompactgroup might just be the inverse (the quiet times in between notes) from shredderghost. In that way, I feel like these two pieces and perhaps even artists compliment each other well like the yin and the yang. Though, again, they do share their similarities.
If you do not frequent this site and have not heard of either of these artists then this will certainly be a treat for you because this isn't just a matter of "Hi, I'm hicksoncompactgroup and this is what I sound like" and then the same on the other side with the name adjusted. These two sides just work together so unbelievably well that you're going to wonder- if this is you hearing them for the first time- how the two can exist alone.