Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Cassette Review: Becs / Yellow Dragon Split (dubbed tapes)
Sold Out //
Edition of 50 //
My local library has this cart inside of it full of things which the Friends of the Library cannot sell. It could be a book that they have too many copies of or maybe it's just been sitting there for too long as they have limited space. But this cart is usually full of VHS tapes and cassettes. I once purchased a number of books on tapes for reasons I am still unsure of myself because I could get something like six tapes in a box and they were only ten cents each. I somehow got twenty, thirty different tapes for forty cents. I always thought I could dub over them if I started a cassette label and, well, it seems like that is also an idea Dubbed Tapes had, so hats off to great minds thinking alike and all that.
When this cassette begins, Becs informs people (I assume it's a live performance) that everything which they see in front of them are both household items and can be used as musical instruments. On some level, the nerd inside me goes "Spoilers!" because I like to listen to sounds with as little knowledge of their origin as possible. Luckily, as the first piece on this cassette- "Monogamy"- continues it still leaves me with a lot of questions in terms of how it was made (which is always a good thing)
These loud, deep growls come out at first and then you can hear these lighter taps as well. This begins to turn into the banging of pots and pans, complete with the percussion type rhythm. You can hear that aspect of it as being perhaps pots and pans (or something similar in density) but there is this drone which remains throughout, like how they used to get those thick giant sheets and shake them to create thunderstorms on old timey radio. But I have no idea how this sound which accompanies the pots and pans is being made but that's okay with me.
Applause comes at the end of "Monogamy" and we go right into "Open Choir" by Yellow Dragon. Since these are "dubbed tapes" I was wondering how the time on each side would be accounted for because you could have a split that's twenty minutes per artist but end up dubbing it onto a cassette which is maybe 90 minutes in total leaving you with a lot of dead air on either side. At the same time, for this particular cassette it is curious because the first song is by Becs, the second by Yellow Dragon and then there is a third which features them together. This is when it'd be neat to have a cassette with three sides.
Organ drones are joined by pianos at one point to create this blissed out sound that changes slowly. For some reason it really reminds me of someone playing a church organ. As the notes come and go, the piano and other sounds are added in and then eventually bring it back to being the solo organ. Sounds like waves crashing, streets full of horns honking and cars driving and other things which could be field recordings in a sense come out next as what I believe to still be a part of the Yellow Dragon piece. Sirens can be heard so maybe this is less outside on the street and more inside but the street is off in the distance.
Side A stops seemingly abruptly and brings this to an end. Side B opens with what I know is the collaboration between the two artists called "Endless Door". It has the sound of a door being opened on a loop. These tones which could be a guitar or a bass guitar come in as well in a pattern. I feel like by listening to the first two tracks you should be able to distinguish the screeches and whirrs as Becs and the bass (?) tones as Yellow Dragon but I could be wrong. Listening to the first two songs though definitely had me wondering what the two could sound like if played at the same time. In some weird way, "Endless Door" is an example of that.
Hollow points come through as the church organs can be heard once again. It feels like two different types of drone overlapping with other taps and it is somewhere between chill and sad. The doors of course continue to open as the notes (Which I still think are higher bass guitar notes) return as well. There are also sad strings- a cello perhaps?- and somehow both Becs and Yellow Dragon manage to create such great music on their own, but then also together as well. I like the concept behind this idea of having two artist showcase their own skills first and then linking them together. I wish more labels were doing this.