Bary Center / Yorihisa Taura / Nicholas Langley / Chemiefaserwerk - "Puzzle Time"
This 88 minute monster of a release is one of my favorites of the year. It is easy to look at a four-way split tape and just dismiss it as practically being a compilation tape. And we all secretly loathe most compilation tapes, don't we? Puzzle Time is not a compilation tape.
What Puzzle Time is, is the opportunity to explore the artistry of four truly great artists, without having to switch tapes. There are a wide variety of sounds and moods on this lengthy journey, all quite engaging in their method and scope. Each segment of this release is basically an EP that introduces you to that artist. The artists represented here are:
Electronic artist Bary Center is no stranger to us. His work boasts a recognizable style - a tightly woven blend of ethereal ambient sounds and precisely controlled, intensely compelling beats. Bary contributes six tracks to Puzzle Time - each its own unique balance between cerebral ambient cloud cover, and thunderclaps of throat-punching beats.
Compositional heavy-hitter Yorihisa Taura delivers three tracks of droning guitar loops that sometimes circle in a hazy way, but often spiral up into frenzied intensity that threatens to topple the whole track, only to settle back down into more peaceful movements. Heavy distortion brings rewarding crescendos out of continuous tones.
Third Kind Records label boss Nicholas Langley makes an appearance on the tape with carefully balanced compositions that stimulate the mind and entertain the ear. His four tracks are built from found sounds and crafted synth overlays joining to create beautiful mind-benders that tickle the thought engine.
Sound shaper, Chemiefaserwerk, presents two lengthy avant-garde noise pieces with plenty of tension builds and racket-infused payoffs, that serves as a perfect closer to Puzzle Time.
Each artist represented in the nearly hour and a half of amazing sounds on Puzzle Time offers high-quality musical output that begs to be explored further - and that's exactly what owners of the cassette can do. That is because the cassette edition of Puzzle Time comes with a puzzle, that, when put together, reveals a code to download an additional secret album. This is the kind of stuff I really love! The puzzle is a small stack of rectangular cards with designs on both sides, and features the same type of beautiful artwork found on the front cover of Puzzle Time.
The bonus album, Puzzle Time 2, is a collection of tracks from the same artists listed above that is just as thoughtfully arranged and presented as the main album.
The level of satisfaction of the music included, and the intrigue and creativity exhibited in the physical release, make Puzzle Time one of the best releases I have reviewed this year. I highly recommend this one.