Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cassette Review:
Bret Berry
(Obsolete Staircases)

$8 //
https://obsoletestaircases.bandcamp.com/album/gestures //
🎧 //

"Gestures" opens with this big band feel of a song which has that feeling of something which might have brought "Macho Man" Randy Savage to the ring back in the day.   Synth tone drones come in next.    Manipulated words come through and then they are joined by dialtone glitch.    It's this cross between Transformers and Wall-E there for a minute.   Quieter static comes shifting through now.  A bug zapper or some sort of electric sound to feel as if something shocking has happened.    Dings and beeps now.  It's robotic yet hollow.   A steady rhythm now yet it sounds also like the dinging of a tugboat.

Pianos come through with starts and stops and the sound of sand.    There is an eerie calm to this darkness now and then clanks and bangs come in.  It kind of sounds like someone is kicking over folding chairs.   Then a thunderstorm comes in.   A brief audio clip on repeat of someone saying something but what I have no idea.  More thunder.    Electronic start ups like Conky 2000.   Static engines.  Machine gun fire.   A quieter, underwater bliss feel now.   A cash register now.  Some feedback.   Beeps still, and they drone.   Church organ drone now.    Then into more of a franctic electronic pulse.    Pauses.     Transformers into moaning drone.   The moaning almost sounds like E.T. talking.

Electronics like Transformers take us into this mumbled part of "bah bah bah" type sounds which sounds like someone talking but the voice almost says "Breaker breaker" at one point so it's as if it's coming through with a bit of distortion on that type of drive-thru speaker feel.   Quieter now, some rippling static and the sound of a car accelerating.   More delicate plucks bring about angelic vocals.   Glitching electronics again have a certain amount of harmony this time.   Ambient tones lift me up.   It gets deeper, darker now.    Vocals kind of trying to come through the glitch again.

Science synths now and this one is really touching on a bit of everything.   A slight Casio feel to it as well, magical.    Triumphant tones and trill bring us to the end of Side A which almost has this feeling of a gasp as the last sound you'll hear.    Side B begins with a jackhammer of electronics.    Doors creak open.   Cymbals crash into loud singing, operatic and I can't make out any words still (keeping true to the spirit of the cassette thus far)  Pianos.  More distorted words. 

Big cymbal crashes make me feel like we're back at the beginning now.  Or maybe Jock Jams.    But it speeds up and gets glitched out.   It's quieter now, as shooting stars seemingly pass through the sky.   Start and stall electronics.   A buzzing hiss.    Now into ambient drone.    Now strums on an acoustic guitar perhaps but it also has a harp quality to it.    There is a buzzing with it but it sounds sweet.  Then softer, quieter electronics come through in that microphone buzzing way like feedback.

Transformers sounds really bring out the loudness now.   This can easily shift from the softer, somber side of things to the louder, more chaotic sound and it just somehow works with what happens in between.    Big church organs again, but different from the last time.   Vocals try to come through once again, with pianos this time and a bunch of other sounds all at once.    A gameshow feel now with rapid fire drumbeats.   Quiet beats form a rhythm now.   More of that boat bell ringing now, but it has a definite groove to it.   A buzzing now.  Harder to hear whooshes behind it.  A pop. 

Pianos are back and they are flipping through the radio stations.   A gong?   A typewriter and bells now.  Those pianos come back hard.   Waves now, as in literal waves from the ocean.     Beeping comes through now in a glitching way as well.   Sadder sounding tones come through with birds singing before we get into this darker destruction.     Ambient tones bring it to an end as we fade out in a rather peaceful manner.

One of the biggest things you need to know about this cassette is that it's one hour long and has 55 tracks.   So, yes, each track is near a minute though of course some are longer and some are shorter.    I've always wanted to do something like this: create these types of songs and piece them together.   But what no one understands (or at least not me when I tried to do this and have since abandoned it after only creating a handful of songs) is that this is not easy.

You'd think that making short songs would be easier than ones which go for two or three minutes but it's not.   It's also difficult in trying to find a way to fit them all together so that they flow smoothly.   You don't want them to feel like however many songs so much as one constant piece of music.   Bret Berry does this and he does it so well that he kind of makes it look easy to the point where I want to give it another try, but alas, I will leave the music to the professionals and if you are like me and ever wanted to do something like this just listen to this cassette instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment