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Published: 2009/01/27
by Randy Ray

Pleasant Obsolescence: Abandon Ship cassettes

Predator Vision II – Predator Vision
Glitter Vomit – Panopticon Eyelids
A Nervous State of Mind – David Newlyn

Abandon Ship Records is based out of New York, spearheaded by Nate Rulli, and offers cool experimental recordings by artists, sometimes in formats considered outdated yet still relevant. Namely, cassettes.

I love the idea of cassettes. Tapes are how many of us got turned on to that secret treasure trove of live whathaveya, mixed artists, and abstract candy we learned to nurture. I also love the way the artists on this New York label challenge the concept of song structure, ambient noise, and lo-fi live improvisational recordings to bring something fresh and potentially vital to an often oversaturated anti-genre.

Predator Vision II features Matthew Mondanile, Real Estate’s Etienne Duguay, and Wavehead’s Ben Daly in an often distinctly lo-fi atmosphere that sounds like it was recorded in the hallway of a space station orbiting Mars. Psychedelic imagery abounds, while guitars shoot out across the mix, hurtling through the headphones until somehow the imagery gels for numerous beats filled with warm reverb, intensifying into harsh jam projectiles. “Eyes of the Demon” fills Side A of the cassette while “This City’s A Jungle,” featuring Jeremy Pisani on bass, and carpet bombs Side B. Both feature haunting preludes that expand outwards into some form of cosmic sombrero galaxy, before terminating as the scenery fades from view. Side B is a bit more ambient, patient, and transcendent while drifting into more sonically-challenging terrain.

Whereas Predator Vision drifts along the outskirts of psychedelic music while maintaining some sort of stranglehold on reality, Panopticon Eyelids throw out all pretenses and jam on a charging martial beat into toxic acid-drenched oblivion. Side A of Glitter Vomit is dominated by a single track, “Electron Headbanging.” The band pounds away into the essence of a trip until you are both bludgeoned and exhilarated. The piece, if one can call this bit of kitchen sink stew something so traditional, appears to contain numerous sections, bending and bleeding each into one bigger sound that continues to thrash and pummel as it dissects its own rhythm. Side B is a bit less ambitious, contains two tracks “Goodbye Booze” and “Hello’weed Night,” and led by a heavy percussion and guitar-fed army, but don’t differentiate themselves as anything too spectacular like its bong-filled brethren on Side Athink Evil Dead I & II vs. Army of Darkness.

David Newlyn's A Nervous State of Mind is an entirely different tapestry as opposed to the previous duo of psychedelic warrior travelogues. Newlyn blends ambient melancholic mood music with experimental textures that either enhance or detract based upon the track. I found “Learning to Swim” to be a bit tedious and noisy, but admire its goals. Side B is where Newlyn turns his ethereal ideas of motifs and imagery into a more focused overall piece that holds together as a unified theme. The passage from “Just Might Fade Away” through “Green Metal” is especially stirring, and offer insight into where Newlyn could shape his framework for further travels into the ambient regions of his muse.

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