Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cassette Roundup I: Brave Mysteries CQBL23-29

Wisconsinites Nathaniel Ritter and Clay Ruby are busy, busy guys. When they're not making music and performing under their various guises (namely Burial Hex, Kinit Her, Wreathes, Circulation of Light, Wormsblood, and more), Ritter and Ruby dedicate massive amounts of time to their joint label venture, the prolific Brave Mysteries record label. If you aren't familiar with the Brave Mysteries label just yet, have a look at their stellar catalog, with releases by Horseback (I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the Forbidden Planet cassette early last year), Bong, MV & EE, and, of course, Ritter and Ruby's own related projects, for a good...thirty five reasons as to why Brave Mysteries should be a part of your "favorite labels" roster.

Released later last year, secretive Wisconsin duo Rose Croix made their presence known with their first, self-titled release. A rather sensual, effeminate offering of Dead Can Dance-inspired darkwave, Rose Croix immerses the listener in deep, resonant loops and an otherworldly female voice. Sadly, this cassette is 100% sold out, but rumor has it there might be a vinyl re-issue sometime this year. Croix your fingers.

I've had way too much fun listening to this next one: Horrid Red's Celestial Joy is definitely not one for the faint of heart. A delightful "outsider" romp, the only way I can accurately describe Celestial Joy is a raving lunatic fronting the world's greatest post-punk band. Frontman Edmund Xavier's uninhibited ranting, rambling, and overall weirdness acts as a bizarre juxtaposition against backing band Bunker Wolf, Catholic Pat, and Clay Ruby's smooth, almost dancy post-punk. At first this might come off as jokey and comical, but this is absolutely serious music. Horrid Red will be waiting when you desire something "different."

Emme Ya's Erotognosis (Voices from the Void) is an interesting one. Dark, cavernous, inhuman dark ambient, centered around sex magick rituals. I don't find myself listening to music like this very often, so my word isn't exactly the "be all end all" on this subject, but it definitely sounds intriguing. I wouldn't expect such dark tones to accompany the hedonism of sex magick. Definitely worth a listen if you're into "deep ambient" like Sleep Research Facility and the like.

Out of all these releases, Lightning Path's Aspire-{2}-yuggoth cassette has given me the most trouble. A meditation on voodoo ethnomusicological study, Aspire treads the line between relaxing drone and jarring, almost improvised percussion work. I have it on good authority that the men behind Lightning Path are indeed music scholars and this project is the product of intense study, so, as a music scholar myself, I can definitely appreciate the amount of work put in to their transformation of legitimate ritual music into an ambient setting, however, I did not wholly enjoy this release. I'd recommend this to anyone who is either interested in traditional voodoo practice or tired of traditional ambient and drone practices.

Baldruin's Nachfalter takes us out of the Caribbean and into the forests of Germany. A lovely collection of psychedelic folk and post-industrial pieces alike, sole musician Johannes Schebler's dreamy, free-flowing approach to music would appease any fans of Loren Chasse, Glenn Donaldson, or Stephen R. Smith's work. Harmonious guitar loops act as a backing track for percussive violins, chiming bells, and almost inaudible voices; a picturesque effort, bringing forth visions of sunlight through forest canopies and endless meadows. An immensely strong effort from Mr. Schebler, enough to where I've been scouring the internet for more of his music. Get this.

The "ritual ambient" of Italian project Urna's latest album, Larvae, has definitely been an eye opener. I'm normally entirely against anything "ritual" related, seeing as it's normally just a bunch of kids in crust pants lighting candles and playing "flavor of the week" black metal, but Urna's enthralling ambiance has proven me that "ritual" can be used in a positive connotation. Dreamy, pulsing chimes and other prayer implements are used to lull the listener into a sort of trance-like state, with lush layers of bell harmonics bouncing off of each other in a glorious array of sound. Oh, how I would love to be a synaesthete.

Though I didn't enjoy all of these releases, I definitely had a positive experience overall, and I definitely cannot deny how brave Brave Mysteries truly is. Keep an eye out for yet another batch of tapes which are slated for release next month.


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