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.
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.
The longest track on the album, “Signal I” (a remix by Drew McDowall) is truly the album’s centerpiece, although it is interestingly placed as the album’s starting point. The remaining two songs are remixes by Steve Moore and Shawn Parke. Moore (of Zombi) offers buoyant arpeggiated synth melodies laid over pulsing interstellar beats with “Signal II”, while Shawn Parke (who has done remixes for Calvin Johnson and Mirah) closes the album with “Signal I/II”, a much darker affair that sees Parke combining the deep space drone of “Signal I” with the upbeat and driving elements of “Signal II”. The results are space-trippingly fantastic!
As each song plays out, the sounds constantly shift and adjust themselves while they move amongst one another. Darkness plays with and is replaced by light; heaviness weighs you down until it is replaced by liveliness. Ideas go on until they naturally exhaust themselves and then recede, allowing space for some newer idea that keep the momentum going. Climax is eventually reached and the song begins to resolve itself back into nothing. It’s all very spirited and organic. With so much to take in, each listening session opens up to something not noticed the previous time.
As far as all things spacey, instrumentally progressive, and kosmische are concerned, Gliese Translations delivers not only planet-sized epic sound creations, but stays true to the star referenced in its title. At a mere 22 light years away, the star Gliese 581 is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from our own Earth. It’s effortless to hear these sounds as a communiqué beamed out from an extraterrestrial source far away, speeding across the cosmos to our lonely little 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 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.
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.