Julian Cope, Head Heritage
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE
Another extremely rich essential that should be added to the personal
library of every 21st century motherfucker is SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE
ZONE by the American trio Long Distance Poison. Released in a sumptuous
clear vinyl edition with accompanying CD and DVD, this ensemble truly
knows what deals are required in order best to win the Gurdjeffian
hearts of their potential audience, and Long Distance Poison delivers
its querulous pulsing sonic emanations like three Godlike beings
attending to the slow ritual roasting of some titanic sacred calf. Sonic
catering? U-Betcha! Released on Fin Records,
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE succeeds because it dares to deploy all of
the appropriate bleeps and whirrs calculated to send listeners spinning
into a deep trance, yet achieves this all with enuff personal style to
bring forth an entirely refreshing sonic Weltanshauung. In other words,
they don’t sound like anyone but themselves. Bravo, indeed so very
bra-very-fucking-voh that we gotta coupla copies of this LP/CD/DVD right
here on the Head Heritage Merchandiser. Righty Ho!
Side-Line Music Magazine
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE
The American trio of Long
Distance Poison is not exactly a familiar name. The project has already
released a considerable number of productions, but clearly seems to move
in very distant corners of the ambient fields.
“Signals To A Habitable Zone” definitely sounds like music for outer space galaxies and unknown stars. Inspired by the work of astronomer
Stephen Vogt this 12” feature 2 long during pieces entitled “Signal 1”
and “Signal 2”. The sound is quite recognizable as signals, a kind of
ambient soundscape for the stars made by vintage electronics. Both
tracks build up in a very progressive
way. Long during sound waves are progressively joined by some bleeps
and discrete electronic sequences. The work is quite intriguing,
fascinating and chilling.
On the DVD you can experience the visuals on top of the music. The
images and the sound of Long Distance Poison are quite remarkable and
intriguing as well. “Signal 1” is made of complex loops showing
equations and other mathematic formulas. “Signal 2” shows images of
water (waves), clouds etc that
have been treated by visual effects. The images were put in loops
creating a kind of enigmatic experience with the chilling vibes of the
This kind of synthetic and astral ambient music is a poignant experience
that will absolutely move ambient lovers. It all sounds like Brian Eno
on an imaginary music planet.
Brad Rose, Experimedia
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE
It’s great to see New York’s Long Distance Poison get the opportunity
to spread their wings on a delicious slab of wax. “Signals to a
Habitable Zone” is a slow burner that takes multiple listens to fully
appreciate it. This is deep music. Long Distance Poison carefully craft
these synaptic journies, dropping in a drifting melody unexpectedly or
sustaining a slowly-mutating droning passage to lull you into a false
sense of serenity. Minimal rhythms eviscerate the fog, crystallizing an
already potent vision. Over the course of these two side-long
compositions it’s easy to get lost. Currents flow forward before
reverting back on themselves. Dizzying sequences fit alongside baroque
chord changes as Long Distance Poison continue inventing new ways to
breathe life into these sprawling pieces. “Signals to a Habitable zone”
is a great record and one that will definitely start to get Long
Distance Poison the attention they deserve. Sink your teeth in and don’t
Paul Simpson, Foxy Digitalis
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE + THE BOG NEBULA
LDP moves up from the cassette world with their first 2 vinyl releases, taking their sound further into space. In
fact, Signals To A Habitable Zone is just that; two transmissions aimed
at communicating with other stars or planets. The LP even comes with a
gigantic blueprint, which involves Biblical imagery, candles, cologne,
crushed aluminum cans, and the LP and DVD. These can be played
separately or simultaneously, along with preparing the items mentioned
in the blueprint, in order to send out signals for extraterrestrial
communication. The music, as ever, is slow-moving and evolving,
measured, and highly scientific. Sometimes there’s a pulse guiding
things, but it’s clear and minimal and doesn’t distract from the
droning. The DVD includes films for the two side-long transmissions, and
the first one surprisingly goes for sensory overload, flashing a series
of glyphs and graphs along with neon colors, sometimes getting
scrambled and almost mosaic-like. The second film is darker and
slower-moving, and closer to what you might expect for the music.
Also just released is a 1-sided LP on Wm. Berger’s Prison Tatt label.
“The Bog Nebula” is another majestic space exploration, guided by a sort
of bright synth sound you might expect certain Krautrock bands to do
something more groove-based with, but LDP simply lets it float and bliss
out. Eventually it melts away and a more sinister electro-pulse takes
Ophelia Necro, KFJC
THE BOG NEBULA
Long Distance Poison is trio Nathan Cearley, Erica Bradbury and Casey
Blockout of Brooklyn, New York. This is very spaced out droney stuff
bringing to mind meditation albums of the 70s and 80s but with a creepy
soundtrack feel like Tangerine Dream meets H.P. Lovecraft. The album is a
one sided 12 inch track on the Prison Tatt Record label meant to be
played at 33rpm and the track would be great to use either in a mix with
something else or on it’s own. The perfect thing to listen to if
trapped in a frozen chunk of ice travelling through space. Predominantly
keyboards, synthesizers and effects with no vocals.
Jeff Daily, Cassette Gods
IDEOLOGICAL STATE APPARATUS
How many times have I been stuck in the thick molasses air of humid
human drudgery? I couldn't wait a week to continue writing about
Constellation Tatsu's releases so I went ahead and finished 'em off.
Two tapes, played one after the other, bled into my memory eye as I
slept...(finally asleep). The drama of a flickering eye shut. The sloth.
The slow motion sickness of going nowhere. Two tapes could have been
one if it weren't for the division of sides and the stop POP of the
stereo when Side A suddenly ceases. Long Distance Poison is eternal
music. Titled, Ideological State Apparatus, I have the unnerving
sensation of Philip K. Dick deja vu. Tune one is called, "The Three
Voices of Tawuse Melek" (very PKD right kids?) and it's the long slow
burn of an astral plane vacation. D-R-O-N-E...twenty minutes later I
flip the tape and dive into, "The Government Spawn Seek the Tomb of Her
Stars." LDP's brand of mystical ambient/drone is a damn journey.
Celer is the craftsman behind Lightness and Irresponsibility, the
fourth of four tapes sent to me by the good folks at Constellation
Tatsu. This cassette is more fun, at least in presentation, than the
Long Distance Poison release. The music is not that different however.
MORE. DRONE. Good stuff, but I've done tripped the light fantastic all
afternoon, what else can I find out in the ether? CT is a label of high
quality and I definitely appreciate the production of the music as much
as the pro-design of the tapes. Just buy any and all tapes from these
California freaks if far out spins the juice, you gotta drink.
Christian Carey, Signal to Noise
Brooklyn based analog synth performers Long Distance Poison craft two side length drone-based compositions on this cassette out on VCO.
Both “The Meadow” and “Aethelred” contain drones with an edge – no
mushy ambience here. What’s more, the static connotation one can
associate with the term ‘drone’ gives little idea of the pliability and
motility of the held tones here. Overtones abound, gradually
accumulating; but the group holds off on punctuating the sound
environment with melodic or noise-based interjections until a sense of
the spaciousness of the grounding material is firmly established. The
belated arrival of contrasting elements, many in the treble register,
creates pointed interjections and a rousing response to the already rich
sheen that has accrued. This is music that one is glad to have linger
in the air and sad, at its conclusion, to have evaporate all too soon.
Those who think that, in our digital rich age, cassette must be a
compromised medium with which to share audio need to hear this: it will
likely disabuse them of that notion. Analog synths thrive in this analog
medium. Long Distance Poison proves that their gear and its method of
distribution needn’t, despite this tape’s title, seem ancient. What is
old makes decidedly new sounds on Ancient Analogues.
"Brain Melters" - Long Distance Poison
Nat Roe | Noisey | 2011 Dec 22
Though a lot of folks might consider drone and sound art to be the
least musical music you could make, I often find that freaky
experimental improvisers are the ones most knowledgeable and
wide-ranging about all kinds of pop. It’s like they pushed so far into
music nerddom that they popped out on the other side of the wormhole and
then channel sounds from a musical bizarroverse.
Long Distance Poison member Casey Block’s playlists with East Village Radio
should be proof enough of the huge musical appetite that underlies the
band’s meditative drones. Likewise, member Nathan Cearley first began
playing around with synths when he worked at a record store as a
teenager and, “my boss got me into early Tangerine Dream and Popul Vuh
and stuff. My youthful origins in drone music came about because my boss
was a weird 70s prog guy and I listened to a lot of sludge metal.”
Casey, Nathan, and Erica Bradbury (armed with an arsenal of with
massive vintage synths) are one of Brooklyn's best emerging drone bands.
Their newest tape, "Gamma Graves," was just released on Ecstatic Peace.
Long Distance Poison’s sound comes not from playing a melody on the
keyboard but by manipulating the texture of individual tones over the
course of time. Every sound in the physical world is composed of a
massive amount of frequencies and pulling these frequencies apart and
modulating the “partials” that make up a sound is Long Distance Poison’s
route to anatomizing sound.
Deep listening concentrated on these partials unfolding over time is
the key to LDP’s aesthetic. A few months ago, standing outside of the
synth blowout that was this year’s Neon Marshmallow Festival,
Nathan complained that a lot of the bands were burying really good
synth work under a beat. This is a common tactic for sound artists – if
you simply throw a beat behind your textural explorations, no matter how
poorly sequenced that beat is, you’ll instantly get more heads nodding
and pull a wider audience.
But for Nathan, this was taking everything good about the night's
synth explorations away. The whole point of interest to him is that
nothing is there to distract you from the subtle transitions of pure
synthesis. Two of Cearley's major historical influences complained about
the same thing - “Both Delia Derbyshire and Robert Moog expressed their
regrets with the direction electronic music took in the 70s...that is,
the enslavement of synthesis to rock and dance. I feel their pain
today...just look, nine out of ten projects that use electronics force the
electronics into the dancy or poppy formats...that’s sad, cause you can
do pretty fucking much anything with synthesis. It’s like being offered
the chance to go anywhere in the world by a genie and deciding to then
“Drone music is not about "playing" in the traditional sense, it’s
more about learning when not to play. It is learning about how to
compose from a single note via all the partial waves that constitute the
note and can be modulated. There is more possible sound in a single
sound than there is in a series of played notes.”
Christian Carey, SIGNAL TO NOISE
Gamma Graves is a prime example of the kind of release that has helped to fuel the cassette resurgence on the indie/experimental music scene. Produced by a variety of sources, from bedroom DIY collectives and small tape-only
labels to established imprints like Ecstatic Peace, the audio
cassette format, long thought extinct, is back. Tapes have been
unassumingly encroaching their way onto the shelves of connoisseur
collectors and music critics (no less than Steve Smith is a devotee): even record sellers such as Insound and Other Music have made room for them again.
The Brooklyn triumvirate of synthesizer performers Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury and prepared guitarist Casey Block comprise Long Distance Poison. Armed with vintage gear by Moog, Arp, and Roland, they create experimental soundscapes with a sense of history, referencing everyone from David Borden and early Philip Glass to Keith Rowe, Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, and Derek Bailey. Drone-based foundations are overlaid with coruscating ostinato loops and distressed with pointed interjections.
Gamma Graves is the type of music that would have been just fine to distribute digitally (or via CD). Indeed, some purists might argue that cassette is an inherently inferior audio format to hi-res digital played through good equipment (by no means do most consumers play their MP3s through good equipment). So, why do I like having it on cassette? I find the noise imparted by tape and deck to do no harm to this music: in fact, it adds another, subtle, layer of
drones to the proceedings that is consonant with the musical intentions
of the work.
The tape as artifact yields something important too. Limited runs of
handmade cassettes are often lovingly attired with artwork more
expansive and, obviously, more tangible than any JPEG can provide. They
are a reminder of a bygone era in which the physical release WAS the
release, in which tape-trading and digging in bins for rarities was a
hobby to enthusiastically pursue: not something simulated in online
forums and furtively grasped at brick and mortar outposts now few and
far between. Long Distance Poison (and Ecstatic Peace) acknowledge their
debt to history not only via musical reference points, but through the
resonances found in a cassette as relic and artwork. Try finding all
that in a computer file.
Paul Simpson, FOXY DIGITALIS
Yet another excellent tape by the always amazing LDP, this time stepping up to release a tape on Thurston Moore’s label. “MesaGhost” takes up the A-side, beginning with a deep-space synth sequence which slowly warps and twists, before being crushed out. Some more synths buzz and shriek, a few patterns emerge before fading away, and finally a slow, sinister pattern creeps in along with some slightly queasy textures before the piece ends.
“Centers (Earths And Heavens Meditations)” takes up side B. This one
leads off with some treated guitar, adding a bit more of a reflective
texture to the droning synths. The piece stays rhythm-less for its
duration, giving it free reign to stare into the cosmos and ponder
infinity. Both sides of the tape are around 10-15 minutes, providing a
bit more compact dose of LDP, but no less awesome.
Paul Simpson, FOXY DIGITALIS
Another excellent tape of analog synth jams from one of my favorite new
bands. “Hydrogen Hand” takes up side A, building a thick toxic cloud of
smoke for the first few minutes, then gradually getting a bit more
electric. Some bubbly sounds erupt underneath, and something resembling a
bassy melody flickers for a bit. The tone stays dark, but somehow
continually becomes more blissed-out and immersive. After 11 minutes or
so, things start to calm down, and then the real suspense begins. A
miniature flanged-out horror-theme melody weaves its way through the
drone, and then a loud knocking kick drum drops, and everything gets
even more ghastly. The piece ends with a few minutes of truly
otherworldly Italo-horror.Portland’s Shawn Parke helps out on the second
side, “Centers (Nervous Remix).” This one’s another slow unfolder,
although Parke punctuates it with some mutated, blown-out breakbeats
here and there. Lots more dark droning, some metallic sparkling sounds,
and some cheap electro drumbeats point out some sort of action scene.
Things almost seem to get a little brighter towards the end, but it ends
up just as dark as ever.This tape definitely shows a few different
layers of depth to LDP. It’s not as bliss-droney as the first tape;
instead it points to darkness and horror, and emerges with a different
type of transcendent drone. Very excited to hear what’s next.
Paul Simpson, FOXY DIGITALIS
Side A, “Baby Ghosts,” starts out with bright, chiming synth drone that somehow feels a bit nervous and lost. This gradually shifts as new elements (some melted guitar, lots of delay) are added and subtracted. Eventually we end up at a plateau of sunny, natural sounding drone, over which a steady rhythmic pulse and some quiet reverbed guitar start to build. Finally, the synths and guitars blend perfectly in an explosion of heavy psych-drone.“Day Bats” takes up side B, and isn’t quite as long as the A side. This one also starts with queasy, chiming synths, but also a steady, bashing rhythmic pulse. Eventually a melody perfect for braving the forest with a sword and slaying dragons emerges. Then the bashing rhythm goes away and we’re left in a blinding haze of guitar noise and evil synths. This dies down over a wavy synth-bass rhythm and the piece ends, and with it, a transportive and very promising tape.