Andrew Forell, Dusted
Brooklyn ambient duo Long Distance Poison — Erica Bradbury and Nathan Cearley — release Technical Mentality a new two-track album of droning, twinkling space scapes that unfurl and stretch to nearly 20 minutes each. Using a combination of analog and modular synthesizers Bradbury and Cearley create dense liminal pieces that concentrate on the minutiae of tone and sound. Unhurried and contemplative, they allow their music to develop organically, ebbing and flowing like the tides of the moon.
“Giving Up On Me” develops like a nebula, billowing from the darkness on a bed of enveloping chords as tiny points of light spark and join, refracting off the cosmic dust to recede and cede their place to the next emanation. If the surface sounds random, there seems a fierce intelligence here, shaping a narrative, or more precisely, allowing the narrative to emerge without drawing attention to the creators. The ears are attentive to the process, the coalescence of motes of notes as they form themselves into a whole. Self-awareness brings friction, the jostle for position evolves and deep swathes of minor chords speak of eternal expansion that supersedes seasonal contraction. As the track reaches outwards, a haze of distortion and dissonance sweeps through as if skin is being shed. Momentary, natural discomfort to allow further growth, a declaration of selfhood.
“Sunset In A Server” extends the atmosphere with long microtonal drones that build like a detuned church organ, folding inwards to blossom out with a patient insistence on being. Individual notes develop into amoebic melodies above the drones demanding acknowledgment, staking their place in the vast timeless vacuum then fading into an amorphous silence.
These two epics sound ego-free but nonetheless human. A synesthetic demonstration of insignificance that communicates deep feeling and understanding, a willingness to commit acts of creation that speak in a timorous but persuasive manner of their intrinsic right to exist. Spacey but grounded, vast without bombast, effective without affectation, Technical Mentality is an album of boundless possibility that seems to exist outside both time and space. If gravity gets you down, come float with Long Distance Poison in their world of desolate beauty.
Ryan Masteller, Tabs Out
Long Distance Poison, the synth duo of Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury, have been at it for a minute. This here’s their third release on Hausu Mountain, after all, and if there’s such a thing as a mind-meld – beyond the Vulcan one of course – they have achieved it here on “Technical Mentality.” The gist of this thing is the exploration of “early computing technology,” an archaeological expedition through circuits and motherboards to determine how all that connected on a sociological and anthropological level within culture at the time and how it continues to have an impact now. Sure, we all imagined the pixilated worlds of Commodore 64 code and MS Paint and what have you, but did we ever consider an alternate reality where those worlds came to pass, where future earth and future humanity somehow merged into a theoretical existence?
Long Distance Poison considers it.
“Technical Mentality” is therefore simultaneously an ice-cold digital wasteland and impossibly alive sun-dappled environment. It can easily shift back and forth without warning, the tone and mood flipping like a switch, although one with a dimmer because, well, there’s nothing really TOO abrupt here. The key, though, is imagination – where does your mind lead you while it’s under the influence of “Technical Mentality”? I’m almost always beamed to the worlds depicted in the retro book covers of sci-fi novels. It’s easy to get lost in those, to project yourself into the surroundings and embark on unknown adventures. There’s mystery and intrigue, danger and delight, but the entire experience is always incredibly new and satisfying. Upon these voyages humanity and technology must coexist, must work together to achieve a goal or merely survive. And the trip is always just as immersive as the destination – this very well may be the actual definition of the Hausu Mountain “zone” put into practice.
Paul Simpson, AllMusic
Like many of analog synth duo Long Distance Poison's recordings, Technical Mentality contains two side-long pieces which take their time to slowly unfold and gradually reveal new elements. Unlike some of their releases, this one doesn't contain any sort of rhythmic pulse, and it largely doesn't approach anything resembling noise, although both pieces build up to some sharper tones near the end. Instead, these are sparse, haunting compositions that emerge from the starry void, seeming to cry out in loneliness and despair from within. The pieces aren't especially complicated, but they are mesmerizing, and listening to them on headphones or high-end speakers is recommended, as there's a remarkable amount of sonic depth to them. On "Sunset in a Server," a sort of innocent melody materializes, but it can't find anything to hold on to, so it just drifts about, almost like the remnants of a lost childhood. LDP's music can seem bleak and unforgiving, yet at the same time, it's not hard to find solace in its quietly devastating tones.
Audrey Lockie, Houdini Mansions
The cosmic synth duo Long Distance Poison (Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury) return with their third full-length for Hausu Mountain, Technical Mentality. Cearley performs on a modular rig, Bradbury a set of analog synthesizers: Together, they draw on the sounds of classic kosmische and ’60s–’70s Bell Lab composers for two side-long tracks of mind-melting drones. More than just homage, Technical Mentality outlines a space for itself with a focus on continual musical development and emphatic expression.
After the blipping bits that open Giving Up On Me, the track segues into a section build on big, resonant harmonies with plenty of space between them. This middle stretch is one of the album’s most affecting passages, with each new chord bringing the seemingly endless progression into new territory. It’s as if LDP took one melody and stretched it out into its individual fragmented pieces, forcing every single sound to speak like a revelation of beauty.
Underneath this stoic chorale, though, lies a lingering distortion and dissonance—each heavenly bit of sound is marred by a barely audible note just a few frequencies off-pitch or a swell of noise at the tail end of its fade out. Giving Up on Me climaxes in a massive swathe of synthesizer noise that breaks furthest away from the mellowness found on much of the album. The music’s relative forcefulness imbues the track with a passionate physicality, drawing the expressive capabilities out of these warm electronic tones.
Sunset in a Server is breezier and more unified, focusing much of its runtime on a quiet, lilting melody. Overall, the track feels like a playful comedown after the peak of Giving Up on Me, a pleasant walk in the sun compared to the emotional outpouring of its predecessor. Its progression is more a circular lack thereof. LDP loll around with a simple, upper-register tune atop lengthy harmonies, and the music’s analog hum gives this extended denouement a sense of quiet contemplation. The fervency of Giving Up on Me is replaced by a clear-headed reflection; a whole lot more reserved, but no less potent in its ability to transform a single melodic fragment into an ever-evolving world.
Technical Mentality buries a wealth of variety and intrigue into its two blocks of music, with the duo pulling as much musical and emotional nuance as they can out of the world of square waves, filters and patch cables. With this album, Long Distance Poison meter out the techno-futurist leanings of some of their influences and contemporaries with a welcome dose of pitiful humanity. As these space-age synthesizer sounds explore new worlds, Cearley and Bradbury proudly display a romantic heart and look back on the pleasantries of earthly feeling with nostalgic fondness.
Tristan Bath, Spools Out
In a marketplace awash with kosmische synth music, Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury – aka Long Distance Poison – manage to stand out. Suitably, Hausu Mountain is thus birthing their latest cassette tape Knock Magh.
The Brooklyn duo’s astonishing synth sessions typically ride a compelling narrative arc. ‘Qllow’ is no exception, shifting from lush drift to minor key unease, and finally a demonic bonfire of cursed arpeggios. The music goes beyond mere meditative drone or emphatically cosmic space music, expressing emotive tales and entire miniature universes… to my ears at least. Knock Magh can and should be checked out (and ordered) in its entirety over on Hausu Mountain – so get your hiking boots on.
David Nadelle, Tiny Mix Tapes
The 25th of May is the day when the latest drone throwdown from Brooklyn’s Long Distance Poison comes out to play. The duo of Erica Bradbury and Nathan Cearley have been releasing modular masterpieces on a slew of great labels for years now, so it is only appropriate that they will be putting their best-yet sound-drift Knock Magh out on Hausu. Pellucid analog keyboards and shadowy drones are LDP’s specialty, as evidenced on the intoxicating eight-and-a-half-minutes of “Crop Circle K.”
Grey Lee, Houdini Mansions
Brooklyn, New York-based Long Distance Poison is set to release a new record through UK label Deep Distance. Astro Topoi is a 38-minute journey into a musical dimension that rests squarely between science fiction and space fantasy.
The opening track Ausunya, occupies half of the release’s runtime and is a highly varied journey through several musical zones, from sparkling vistas of wide open spaces to electo-robotic thought patterns that weave in and out of heady drones, ending in satisfying deepness.
Liminal Diamond is a trance-like vision that evokes far-away places beyond our limits of existence., merging patient drone-work with pulsating rhythms. Sol Umbra continues the theme of layering artistically rendered analog synthetic sounds with diaphanous walls of cosmic vibration, punctuated by thumping beats.
Astro Topoi continues its travel through the starry heavens by including an essay by the science fiction writer and poet Peter Milne Greiner.
Included here is a video for Sol Umbra. These striking visuals, created through video synthesis - are a real mind-bender! Enjoy!
Marc Masters, HIGH BIAS / Bandcamp
The duo of Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury conceived of Rheomodes, their latest work as Long Distance Poison, as an audio-visual project wherein “sound controls image and image controls sound,” producing “events [that] can be described as films or as songs but are really less separate objects than different contexts of process.” Yet the sound alone is rich enough to provide a full experience itself. Elongated tones intermingle with sparse rhythms and surreal electronic accents, creating music that feels more like an environment than a composition. As enticing as the accompanying installation (running at Printed Matter in Brooklyn on March 31) looks, filling in the visuals with your own imagination is part of the fun of letting Rheomodes infiltrate your brain.
Ryan Masteller, CASSETTE GODS
Right now I’m working on a project that will allow these words that I’m typing to generate sounds and visuals just by interacting with the encoded data present on the internet. Hopefully by the time this review posts, when you click on it, you will be treated to a vast array of inhuman weirdness that can only be created by the interface of my words with cold, impersonal ones and zeroes. Let’s see if this thing works, OK? Tell me in the comments. I’m all ears.
Long Distance Poison, the duo of Erica Bradbury and Nathan Cearley, has beaten me to it, though. Whereas my expression emanates from my brain in the form of printed language, and the idea of seeing what a computer program did with that when translating it to sound and vision would undoubtedly be cool, Bradbury and Cearley probably have a better idea, knock out that boring old stupid middleman of the English language and get straight to the trippy sonics and visuals. Because that’s what all you acid-heads out there want any. Sound. Visuals. You’re all insatiable monsters.
Defensive (and totally non-serious) digression aside, “Rheomodes is where sound controls image and image controls sound,” a release in three “parts” or stages that confronts the limits of programming in composing – or is that the limits of human input to composing within a computerized medium? You can listen to Rheomodes; you can watch video documentation of the three tracks on Rheomodes as they are being produced, a process “using intuition, pseudo-randomness and self-generating systems”; or you could have attended a live event at Printed Matter in New York on March 31, but unless you’ve got a time machine, you’ll never be able to see this third incarnation of Rheomodes. There’s no excuse to have missed it if you were in New York – I kept bothering you with reminders for it on Facebook, social media cockroach that I am.
But here on Cassette Gods, sometimes you have to strip away the ephemera and straight to that magnetic tape housed in that hard plastic shell. That’s what I’m going to do, because you’re here for the music. And what better way to celebrate experimental electronics than with the sounds that Rheomodes makes when you play it? Over the course of its three tracks, the programming, prodded by its various internal and external stimuli, is remarkably listenable, falling somewhere on the accessibility spectrum in between “albums that wrote themselves” Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 EP by Aphex Twin and Silver Session for Jason Knuth by Sonic Youth. But of course it sounds nothing like either of those – Rheomodes is a dream for electronic zoners, a tape meant for headphones, and if you can stand to open your eyes and actually perceive – read, “see” – the music’s visual representation, you’re likely to find that what’s on screen is remarkably similar to what was just playing behind your eyelids.
Joshua Pickard, The Tape Deck
The work of Brooklyn-based Long Distance Poison...exists in a hazy electronic atmosphere where repetitive rhythms slowly coalesce into a collection of submerged melodies and eclectic arrangements. Through a shared love of disparate influences and musical relationships, their songs feel less like two separate perspectives and more like a unified auditory mechanism, the kind of seamless integration of sound that few bands are able to achieve. But Long Distance Poison makes it seem effortless and reveals their collective musical inspirations through diaphanous rhythmic iterations.
On their new cassette, "Rheomodes," for Oxtail Recordings, the duo embraces an electronic existentialism, reveling in a cinematic sound that quickly pans over barren wastelands and hollowed-out buildings. There is decay and a sense of dissolution that hang over every drone and warbling melody, the result of their investigations into Cold War-era experiments in mind control and warped intellectual philosophies. An examination of the ways audio-visual signals react and modulate in relation to one another, the band’s subtle synth movements possess a strong sense of self, crafting a heady mix of nervous sound and modular determination.
Jarrod Ott, Decoder Magazine
One of the best gifts I received this holiday season was Long Distance Poison’s Signals to a Habitable Zone, my introduction to the duo. For me, it may be the perfect drone album. After the first listen I felt as inspired and gleeful searching Ebay for vintage Moogs as I had as a teenager, thumbing the pages of my first guitar catalogs, so I was excited to hear their latest, Perfect Weather, released late last year and just barely still in print via 2:00AM Tapes.
It is immediately apparent this is a more complex arrangement. The opener “Peal Cobra” is glitchy, atmospheric, and ominous. The drone of Signals to a Habitable Zone reads as a Rothko or Barnett Newman painting by comparison, and the weight of the work is realized in the experience.Perfect Weather still has that balance and abstraction, but the elements are more strictly representational. The rhythms and percussion are organic, and the melodies familiar as though they were handed down by our ancestors. It’s not obvious that all or most of the album was created with synthesizers. The synth “tool marks” that can make so much electronic music so dull just aren’t there. Perfect Weather transcends the genre and allows us to meditate on the art.
Oliver Kinkle, SPIN
Long Distance Poison’s new tape on Chicago-based label Hausu Mountain comes with a description that sounds like body horror. Lama Nada is made up of two lengthy pieces “sculpted with the intent of conjuring abstract physical planes and embodying the shifting conditions of an organism’s state of being.” These are curdled compositions that plague your brain with grotesque images of bodies rended open — the villain from Hellraiser will start to look cuddly in comparison.
Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury are Long Distance Poison, and they recorded the B-side of Lama Nada in an isolated Hudson Valley home in the dead of winter, so their creeping disorientation is the real deal. Although this is their first release on Hausu Mountain, they’ve put out scattered releases on different weirdo labels since 2010, including Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace!, Digitalis, and Constellation Tatsu. Lama Nada sets itself apart from other ambient releases in that it is minimal at heart, but somewhat maximal in fruition. Negative space dominates, but is nicely accented by haunting synth lines, and percussion that sounds like it’s sneaking up on you. If David Robert Mitchell ever makes another horror movie, he should seriously consider enlisting Long Distance Poison for the score.
Sometimes you’ve gotta make it look like you’re doing something in a hurry. ‘Human Program’ is a busily scheduled slice of music in which a suspended ambient backdrop is filled with effects, synth extrapolations and pounding drums made on modulars. The blissful drone that predicates this album sounds nice, but Long Distance Poison break it down with timbres most unwelcome in the ethereal green room -- at turns this record is ugly, hazy and psychedelic, three things that also make up the phases of avant-garde commuting.
Expo 70 will come to mind first as a touchstone for Long Distance Poison’s sound; as with his music, this band drive the chaos of synth-kissed krautrock into their sound, modulating their backdrop until it ceases to exist. There’s strands of Jonas Munks’ unfussy kosmische drone here, too, but Long Distance Poison are more rhythmically compelled, evolving their sound through syncopated beats with enough forward momentum to carry the record.
On the flipside, things get gorgeous, a washy synth drone resting on lovely staccato bass notes and a modest, clicking beat. It’s blissed-out meets foot-tapping in a world where club nights could just be ambient music all night. Long Distance Poison are a restless bunch, though, and the synth eventually trembles, the melodies trundling into the next phase. It’s how EDM should be, if you ask me -- quieter, but also louder.
Lexi Glass, KFJC radio
Each side of Twin Lights Twin Lights holds a sidelong track. “Mosa” (T1) immediately swells into a vicious surge of sound. At the center of the piece are heavy, earth-shaking pulses, but as it unfolds, subtler details begin to emerge. There’s tones twisting outwards, insectoid flourishes, bizarre melodies that hiss, crawl, breathe. The piece includes hydrophone recordings of the East River. “Infra Viam (Live At Death By Audio, 9/19/12)”, a live track from the now shuttered NYC studio/venue, feels like the afterimage of the first side: we hear settling dust clouds, smoldering remains, piano-like notes blurred beyond recognition, glowing embers, droning echoes, absence.
Ray Cummings, Village Voice
A briny, brittle bass broil animates Feorh's (Tusco/Embassy) nearly 40 minutes. Side A presents a trembling slur of drones that revolve separately then mass, Voltron-like, to overwhelm in golden, soaring immensity. To listen with great acuity is to get a little freaked out; to listen in a detached way is to allow the subconscious mind transport into whatever pocket dimension Long-Distance Poison is colonizing for its own purposes. As Feorh progresses, its golds give way to golden browns, the treated textures ever deepening, more filmic and probing, until there is the sense of tumbling slowly down into a bottomless chasm, towards death, magic, the bends. Embedding high, pealing tones - singly at first, then in schools - only underscores how far we've fallen. Side B is decidedly more Mountains in nature, offering a beefy column of swirling pulsations that crescendo into a howling, effects-soaked cataclysm which, nearer to its denouement, develops into a rampaging, high-RPM pulse that threatens to flatten your domicile and your livestock.
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 music above.
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.
Long Distance Poison and Moss Archive occupy a similar space in my head; both are beautiful projects, the Brooklyn trio producing elaborate, mote in God’s eye synth compositions, while for its part, the imprint sports beautiful packaging design and boasts an integral catalog. From a distance, the two have an abstract resemblance. I’ve known Moss Archive longer thanks to their distinctive j-card designs, but my introduction to Long Distance Poison came last year via their excellent Gliese Translations LP, a collaborative effort that ultimately grew to involve the likes of Steve Moore and Shawn Parke (our own Paul Simpson premiered a related video). Their second LP for Fin, this was a relatively special release, multi-pronged and more elaborate than their cassette missives on other imprints, though Mirror Totality still distinguishes itself; announced around the same time as a tape for Tusco Embassy (members of a growing confraternity of devout ascetics willing to handle a tape with Ohio’s inimitable free-form nonsense duo, Moth Cock), this is a somewhat different listen, as Moss Archive point out; “Those familiar with LDP’s previous offerings on labels such as Digitalis, VCO, Constellation Tatsu might be surprised by [the] shift from their usual cascade of meditative shadow, to a new sound that pulsates with a seething energy.” Mirror Totality is less a cascade and emergent identity, than it is a dialogue, what Moss Archive describes as “two dense, throbbing synapse clouds,” resolving themselves to their proximity by periodic shift and sortie, though the name of the tape implies they are reflections of the same active impulses. By the end of its slightly lengthier b-side, all competing imagery seems to reach a detente, or at least a more uniform tone, for the track’s closing moments.
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 look back.
Paul Simpson, Foxy Digitalis
SIGNALS TO A HABITABLE ZONE and 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 over.
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.
The first rays of heavenly light manifest unexpectedly, warming the parched landscape. The nearby body of water shimmers in its presence. Soon, its concentrated energy will reach the apex, giving rise to an archetype. Though billions of iterations will eventually appear, none possess the genetics of this Rare Human - the recent nug from sonic explorers Long Distance Poison on Baked Tapes. Long Distance Poison is a Brooklyn-based trio that makes psychedelic music residing in the electronic realm. Rare Human is comprised of two long-form pieces that underscore the wonderful qualities of this band. First, these pieces are not slabs of music without direction. Rather, there appears to be a unifying theme that, regardless of the position in the track, is omnipresent. Instead of tangents, these adroit fellow travelers explore beautiful, intricate environments, all the while staying on track. Furthermore, they must have an honest bag full of ideas, which is evidenced by the gorgeous textures, juxtapositions and layering of sound that is present throughout. The attentive listener will notice with joy the manner in which the tracks develop, subtly change and, at the end, reflect on the beginning. Faithfully follow the wave as the archetype negotiates its way through this surreal climate.
From the beginning of side A, a mystical drone resonates and envelops the listener, while various sounds circulate in the background. As the sound reverberates, poignant synth expands into consciousness. From here, the sound is decidedly heavier as more elements are introduced. The gorgeous drone from the beginning appears. Soon, a lovely pattern of synth is juxtaposed to piercing noise and opaque sounds. Expansive synth rushes forth with the energy of steam escaping a vent. At this juncture, the piece feels in flux and anything can occur. As one takes a step from the shadow, the nourishing, resonant drone of the beginning permeates the head with its edifying energy. The flipside is just as beautiful. Another facet of this trio appears on the flip: the ability to explore subtle variations within a movement of sound. It commences with an ominous drone and a modulating beam of sound that create a foreboding climate. Emanations from the periphery approach furtively. The playing at this point reminds me of Zawinul's evocative - subdued and mysterious - synth. With each passing second, the energy and unpredictability is enhanced. The parched earth crumbles and from it concentrated sound accelerates. With only occasional stimuli present, light sounds echo placidly. The minimalist feel at this juncture - compared to the other parts of the track - is lovely.
The new batch of Baked Tapes is awesome! Along with Rare Human, the Andrew Scott Young and Opponents tapes have been a constant presence in my cassette deck. The artwork for Rare Human corresponds nicely to the vibe of the music. Produced in an edition of 75, one may purchase a copy directly from Baked Tapes.
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.
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.
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.