Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cassette Roundup II: Land of Decay Records LOD20, 22, 24, and 27

Locrian's "private" label Land of Decay has quietly been churning out tapes and the occasional CDr for the past three years. With twenty-six releases in total, ranging from their own projects to a cassette release of Ash Borer's discography, Land of Decay's eclectic range in music has been home to local friends and bigger artists looking for a quiet release alike. You might remember my coverage of their Servile Sect and Cedars of Lebanon tapes not too long ago (has it really been six months?!), well, now they're back with four new cassettes, as well as a tapebox version of the Bless Them That Curse You collaboration with Mamiffer.

I've seen Scottish experimental duo Wraiths's name floating around the internet in close circles, mostly due to their work with Aurora Borealis, At War With False Noise, and Paradigms Recordings, as well as their upcoming collaboration with R. Loren's Pyramids, yet I hadn't heard any of their material. The abstract sounds on the Edinburgh/Glasgow cassette, Land of Decay's twentieth catalog release, tread the line between noise, ritual ambiance, and Stockhausian electronic music. Though these are live performances, I can't help but associate the sounds with the locations in which they were recorded: gloomy, grey, bleak, rainy, much like any other city on the British isles. Wraiths's slow burning, churning noise is as relaxing and entrancing as it is unsettling and full of malice. An excellent introduction to the project, and a fine precursor to the (what I speculate to be amazing) collaboration with Pyramids due sometime this month.

Chicago duo Number None have been silent for some time now; math says five years. Repeat collaborators with Land of Decay co-proprietor Andre Foisy, Christopher Miller and Jeremy Bushnell would combine both analog and digital source material to create cacophonous, almost euphoric noise and drone, often leaving a metallic taste in the listeners mouth. Strategies Against Agriculture is no different, a grinding, machine-like mass, complete with stuttering gears and a consistent, inhuman hum. Fittingly titled, the stark, industrial atmosphere found on this release sounds like machines plotting to destroy organic plant matter, and it might just be convincing enough.
Now here's something I've been waiting for. After brooklynvegan's premature coverage of New York duo Ithi's wITHIn, I found my patience running thin, and with good reason. Joshua Convey and Luke Kranker's dark, almost gothic take on industrial music, at times treading pop music's waters (don't tell me "Go Forth And Die" isn't infectious) is as enjoyable as it is confusing and exhausting. wITHIn's fifteen minute B-side bruiser "NoWHere" proves to be Ithi's most expansive work, building from harsh alien noise to a melodic, almost doom-like industrial dirge. Wonderfully crafted and a perfect sequel to last year's The Persistence of Meaning, Kranker and Convey's Ithi has vastly increased my appreciation and adoration for industrial music. Also, what's with the deer?

A massive collaboration within itself, it isn't hard to imagine The Fortieth Day (Mark Solotroff and Isidro Reyes from Bloodyminded), Sshe Retina Stimulants, and Terence Hannum (Land of Decay co-proprietor and Locrian analog wizard) meeting up in WLUW 88.7 FM's studio. The product of a group of like minded musicians, the Advent tape is a work based in juxtaposition, suddenly changing from soft, deep drones and quiet drum machine mantras to complete, utter chaos. Synthesizers do relentless battle with atonal guitar work and crumbling laptop noise, sometimes not letting up for extensive periods of time before entirely disappearing without any cue or warning. To be a fly on a wall in that studio, sheesh.

All four of these cassettes (and more great releases) are available at the Land of Decay store, where you can also grab the brand new Eolomea and Kwaidan cassettes.


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