Best of

[Album of the Month] URSULA'S CARTRIDGES / KIZUNAUT - "07​:​15​:​14​:​05 OFFLINE"



Ursula's Cartridges / Kizunaut - "07:15:14:05 OFFLINE"

(Asura Revolver)

Though this split release is described as a nod to industrial electronic music from the late 80s and early 90s, the music found within is by no means recycled. This one is an absolute banger, all the way through.

Unlike most split releases Kizunaut and Ursula's Cartridges are not relegated to their respective sides of the tape, but instead alternately queue their tracks in a call and response that plays out like a futuristic duel. Kizunaut's weapons are powerful rhythms and hooks, while Ursula's Cartridges relies on compositional subterfuge and cleverly chosen ancient earth samples.

The back and forth play between these two varied electronic artists creates an excellent sense of depth, while their collaboration keeps the release on a steady path. A path of grinding, buzzing, dark synthwave future jam that is going to rock you. 

Gray Lee


Ricardo Dias Gomes - “Aa“

(Kill Shaman Records)

Brazil-based experimental artist Ricardo Dias Gomes explores assemblages of fragmented field audio, powerful rhythms, and spoken word to create a compelling release in Aa.

Oozing out of fuzzing speakers with grimy electronic beats and echoed bits of recorded audio, Ricardo summons unnatural energies that flake from the walls of dangerous alleyways onto swiftly moving vehicles in the night. Gravitational forces bend streetlights, causing them to cast unfamiliar shadows. The opening track, Precipio pounds with a dark purpose and a grinding, frayed bass. Near-mic vocals are non-rhythmic and hypnotically conversational. Ambient shards of noise are tossed about, creating misshapen spaces.  The deep heartbeat continues in Tela Parada, as objects scrape on pavement, and the voice intensifies. When an additional beat drops in at the apex of the song, kinetic elements bounce across the audio, leaving pieces behind to spin as the track fades.

Fogo Chama breaks the forward momentum to detail some creative synth composition with brilliantly performed lyrical style. Aa progressively becomes more threatening and aggressive with the heavy drone and obsessive whispers of Partimos Daqui part 1, The crunchy, driving bass line of punk-infused Paranormal, and the thoughtful reflection of Partimos Daqui part 2, and the Cohen-invoking patience and balance of Nenens. Album closer Pre-Revolutionary State offers atmospheric night sounds and a gentle conclusion.

Variety and depth characterize this audio work, and require repeat visits to fully absorb. Ricardo Dias Gomes’ ability to blend action with detail paints a large mural of music here with many brush strokes of experimental sound. Aa is available on LP from Kill Shaman Records.

Gray Lee


[Album of the Month] RECLUSE RACCOON - "Recluse Racoon"


Recluse Raccoon - "Recluse Racoon"

(Citrus City Records) 

Richmond, VA band Recluse Raccoon brings together classic styling, modern sensibilities, and jazzy outsider art rock to create deeply satisfying Americana folk pop in their self-titled debut release.

Catchy bass lines underscore clever writing on tracks like  On a Wire, where a swelling bridge gives way to the picked out guitar, piano and tight harmonies of What You Are - a song that is so beautiful that it betrays the bring-you-down lyrics hidden in soaring harmonized bliss and orchestrated asides.

"You've got me bored/ 

No matter what you are/ 

I'm gonna let you down/ 

You're gonna let me down/

Lay on the ground"

Each track is a quick vignette of life delicately rendered with vocalist Timmy Peele's iconic voice, tight rhythms from percussionist Austin Tekamp and memorable lines from bassist Andrew Murray. Auxillary musicians on this recording help to flesh out the sound adding occasional horn sections and bits of orchestration.

The real strength of this record is the beautiful sense of continuity the artists have built into the release. While each song is powerful on its own, Recluse Raccoon makes an ardent strive here to create a release that begs to be listened to in its entirety. Tracks flow into each other and play against each other to create a larger composition.

Go ahead and add this one to your list of must haves. Recluse Raccoon certainly leaves an indelible impression, earning it a spot in the 'best of'  category. 

Gray Lee




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:

Bary Center

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.

Yorihisa Taura

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. 

Nicholas Langley

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.

Gray Lee