NNA Tapes

NNA067: Great Valley – ‘Lizards fo Camelot’ LP
Nestled in the lush greenery of southern Vermont on the banks of the Connecticut river, lies the bizarre haven of Brattleboro, home to the chivalrous rock and roll duo Great Valley. Comprised of Peter Nichols and Jo Miller-Gamble, Great Valley have been kind enough to bestow their latest opus, “Lizards of Camelot”, to their northern neighbors up here at NNA. “Lizards” manages to cross over from a mere concept album into what we would call more of a “journey” album, by creating a vivid tale of a reptilian-led escapade through lands unknown. Peter and Jo weave this folklore with the classical palette of guitar, drums, vocals and keyboard, resulting in a warbly, technicolor flavor of rock that stands alone in terms of sonics and atmosphere. Tastefully twangy guitar lines flutter out over fat organ bass lines and ultra locked-in drum beats, with a unique concoction of bombastic drum triggers and synthesizer filigree bringing it all together. At times resembling The Cure playing a heated game of D&D,Lizards” mixes up all the tastiest facets of rock into a cohesive whole, with elements of New Wave, progressive rock, surf guitar shred, and classic Sixties psychedelia all thrown into the mix. Peter’s slithery, love-soaked crooning narrates the adventure, like a bard’s song unfolding over a technical assemblage of rock-blocks. The strong, groove-laden songwriting is reinforced with warped, nitrous balloney interludes melting throughout, with plenty of digital flutes, chimes, and keyboard solos accentuating the odyssey. While hard to categorize, “Lizards Of Camelot” is soaked through with the unmistakable “Brattleboro sound”, fitting in nicely alongside like-minded freaky friends such as Blanche Blanche Blanche, Happy Jawbone Family Band, Chris Weisman, Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth, Big French and so on, many of whom have lent loving contributions to these recordings. Although DIY at heart, “Lizards” has all the makings of a well-conceived and executed proper Album, assembled at home by po ring imagination into an 8-track, like a punk mentality shining through a Brian Wilson-esque lens to create the ultimate bedroom fantasy.

NNA068: Wanda Group – ‘A Slab About Being Held Captive’ LP
Washed up on the shores of Brighton UK, we find “A Slab About Being Held Captive” laying there quietly in the sand. This soaking enigma is the latest creation of Louis Johnstone, following up an influx of recent vinyl on Opal Tapes, Notown, Where To Now?, and Svetlana Industries. Since their debut release “Bass Urine” on NNA in 2011, Wanda and the girls have matured to a new point of refinement, sinking deeper into the careful organization of disconcerting sounds. “A Slab” truly is a seasick collage, with a pervading aqueous essence flowing throughout the two side-long pieces, carrying along with it fragments of field and domestic recordings and sample clutter. Syrupy waves of sound meld into one another with cinematic pacing, forming a gelatinous backdrop for hard cut interjections of concréte style sample manipulation, lending themselves to an air of confusing tension. As the liquid bath abruptly turns to slate, a group of gulls squawk at a bubble filled with muffled porno moans as they glide by. Body sounds and animal conversations are drowned out by the mechanical purrs of an industrial assembly line, sputtering and choking their last breaths as they struggle to stay afloat. Maddening tones seem to permeate from within, sizzling their way through the stereo field like two magnets dancing, drilling through the headspace. This hypnotic phenomena forces the mind inward, reducing it to a skull full of opiate brain mush and half-cooked soggy memories. These collections of moments may fall shamelessly into near-nothingness at any given time, eventually refilling themselves with sound in a cyclical rising and falling, perhaps acting as an abstract reflection on mental states of indifference, alienation, or just general life terror and bleakness. Wanda’s ability to maintain compositional fluidity throughout such a dynamic range of materials is reinforced by an original sense of movement and pacing, and the ability to form a creative symbiosis between cold sterility and organic warmth. Although ultimately, it’s probably best left to the artist’s own words: WANDA GROUP IS OR COULD BE OR WANTS TO BE A GROUP IT IS NOT I SHOULD BE BUT I AM AFRAID IT NEVER BECAME ONE EITHER DUE TO A LACK OF FRIENDSHIP, KINDNESS OR POUNDING HUMAN REGRET ? WHO KNOWS ? WANDA GROUP TRIES TO MAKE EARTH MUSIC THIS COULD BE INSIDE OR ABOVE OR RIGHT ON THE LAND I THINK THAT YOU SHOULD LOOK AT CONCRETE OR MOUNTAINS TO TRY AND MOVE YOURSELF ART GALLERIES WORK BUT SOMETIMES I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO LOOK AT THE STUFF THAT IS GROUND OR SHOVED RIGHT INTO THE EARTH OR HAS BECOME THE EARTH ALL IS ONE SORT OF THING ETC WANDA GROUP DOES TRY TO LOVE IN A MASSIVE WAY IT IS ALL VERY SERIOUS AT POINTS AND SOMETIMES I NEEDS TO BE WANDA GROUP REALLY SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO FUCKING SPEAK OR TYPE (MAYBE ONLY EXIST IN A STATUE  ?)” Mastered and cut by Lupo at Calyx Mastering in Berlin, Germany. LP comes with free MP3 download coupon. Digital version available December 10th, 2013.

NNA069: Guerilla Toss – ‘Gay Disco’ LP
Birthed from the depths of the sweaty basements of Boston, Massachusetts, deranged rock outfit Guerilla Toss is nowadays considered to be a New England underground staple by the freaks and weirdos that inhabit the region. The band has churned out numerous cassettes, records, and CDs in the past two years on on labels such as Feeding Tube Records, John Zorn’s Tzadik, Sophomore Lounge, and Digitalis Ltd. By touring relentlessly and providing their audience with an unforgettably intense live show that demands, and encourages, ravaging physical body movement of the listener, ‘Gtoss’ has quickly garnered a cult following of loyal servants. Their newest record, “Gay Disco”, is an album that draws influence from new wave and no wave dance music, extreme dementia, drug problems, and absurdist humor. However, in the midst of the chaos, it is clear that the compositions are well-crafted and spout from the minds of educated individuals while avoiding the common esoteric pitfalls that could be associated with their sound. Kassie Carlson’s ferocious vocals run the gamut of the human voice, blasting with jet engine shrieking and boiling over with urgency, while at the same time presenting a demented and direct spoken narrative with surreal conversational lyrics. Peter Negroponte’s full force drumming spews forth alongside her like a tentacled beast, battling off fits of rage and panicking between four-on-the-floor dance beats and controlled, pounding trashcan thrash. Guitarists Simon Hanes and Arian Shafiee duel to the death with angular and jagged riffs ping-ponging between each other while keeping pace with dancey stabs of clanging string shrapnel. As messy as it sounds, Hanes’ fuzzed and scuzzed bass jamming still retains heaps of thick, gooey funk in the purest sense, which perfectly compliments Shafiee’s masterful axe work that manages to shape-shift seamlessly between hardcore rawness, jazzy meanderings, and squealing noise rock pepperings. That glue that binds is Ian Kovac’s synth work, which adds a healthy dose hyperactive danceability and electronic flourishing that contributes to the album’s overall doped-up disco flavor. Gtoss succeeds in using the power of dissonance, aggression, and disorientation to derail the dancefloor in a record that captures the essence of a high-energy live band in its loudest, rawest recording to date. Mastered and cut by Lupo at Calyx Mastering in Berlin, Germany. LP comes with lyrics sheet + free MP3 download coupon. Digital version available December 10th, 2013.


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