Without further ado, the last three tapes from DNT Records:
Digital Natives – Long Homesweetened Entry
First off we have another tape from the overwhelmingly prolific Jeff Astin, aka Digital Natives. Long Homesweetened Entry focuses more on this artist’s late sample- and loop-based practice, culling sounds from old funk, soul, jazz, pop, etc. Each side of the tape is made up of one long-form piece, but they’re really collections of ideas all cut together. With its looped samples, it actually plays much like a hip-hop producer’s mixtape. Astin finds the juiciest groove of his source material and extends them to delicious revery. He does integrate some abstraction and experimentation to break down (pun intended) otherwise straightforward funky beats. Some manipulated voice samples are scattered and layered here and there. Even though it comes from outside the scene, many moments in this tape beg the question: is this hip-hop? I would actually love to hear some of the weirder rappers out there spit over parts of this tape. Some moments even remind me of Madlib, especially his work as Quasimoto, though Astin is certainly less crate-digger erudite than that beat master. Side B sprawls out into some of the more unusual excursions on the tape, and it’s all the better for it. The rhythm samples are looser on this side; the great voice samples are more frequent. It gives Side B more energy and a distinct quality that sets the music apart from other similar artists. A really solid, enjoyable listen. Makes me want to take on the daunting task of looking at Digital Natives’ stupidly vast back catalogue.
Bobb Bruno – Black Gel/Years 2
This is the second Bobb Bruno tape of the lot, and this one has new material, instead of being a reissue. Side A starts with some heavy gritty drones that build up to heady undulations, until some cosmic synth stab and echo in to add even more texture. The first drones fade out a little to make room for some analogue Kosmische noodling and layering. It’s a classic synth exploration, too classic maybe. But it definitely holds up as deep, dark and heavy. The second half of “Black Gel,” with a simple monophonic bass-synth line, gets especially into a good groove. Side B, “Years 2,” continues in the same direction. Quiet moments are interrupted by blasts of noisy grit. Abstract drumming, from Sheridan Riley (from Avi Buffalo) comes in to give some rhythm, but rarely stays on one beat pattern too long, giving a nice improvisational feel. When a guitar comes in with heavy effects, the whole thing starts to feel more like a real song, and it’s all the better for it. I was not surprised to find out that Cameron Stallones, the man behind Sun Araw, is the one jamming on guitar, and his style shines through on this track. I was also not surprised to read that this tape started out as some bedroom experimentation and was only later refined for release. It all has that improv/dicking-around feel to it. Pretty good, but still lacks something to really set it apart.
Uton – Kun Korallit Puhuvat Pilville
Another tape from long-standing Finnish Cosmic Drone lords, Uton. The title roughly translate to “when corals are talking about clouds” (or “when corals are talking about marijuana”), either way one can glean the kind of headspace one should be in to get maximum appreciation out of this release. Side A begins with ethereal, droning abstractions. And, well, it stays that way. Each side is split up into several tracks, so it comes off as a collection of quiet, cosmic snapshots. Any of the “songs” could persist forever, it seems, and instead of having any kind of direction or momentum they wander and meander around the spaces that they create. Underlying melody drones make the backbone, complimented by arhythmic analogue synths. Usually one or two more elements, acoustical or electronic in nature, make up the foreground. Abstract. Heavy. Contemplative. Space-out music supreme.
Overall, this was a good collection of tapes. The artwork and packaging is unique and lovingly made for each of them. The music, while not following the most current trends, definitely feels authentic, and it’s enjoyable for fans of the abstract, cosmic, perhaps-best-appreciated-stoned areas of underground music.