Shingles – ‘God First Planted a Garden’ [Review]

a0139537481_2For a couple months now I’ve been cycling through the first trio of tapes produced by Dave Doyen’s newly rebooted 2AM Tapes. Colorful, cartoonish yet highly-defined, each is fully-realized to assemble a formidable new discography. Though a duly triumphant return, a stifling schedule kept me listening but without a chance to write these thoughts to paper. Rather, I would absorb these electromagnetic figurines in the blurry figure-eight of my auto-reverse dual tape deck while doing chores about the house and the segments in between. Having earlier picked a couple which I was keen to write something about, I returned in search of the pair last night: listening now intently, I recognized little from the blur. Instead, I ran directly ashore when I cued ‘God First Planted a Garden’.

The latest longer-playing release from Shingles (Jesse DeRosa from Baked Tapes), ‘God First’ features nine tracks woven into two flowing sides of EVI, synthesizer, and bass – and a typewriter; the last one matters enough to the structure to be stated, but it is really the first, the EVI (electronic valve instruments) which really steals attention across the board. That watery, wavery sound sets the baroque tone to this dystopian journey, supposedly premised on Shelley’s Frankenstein. DeRosa composes cathedrals from these bare instruments. Ballasts, busts, buttresses all emerge ornately from the fugue. Side A would seem to deal with conception (“Spark (from my clay),” “Opening Title,” and “To Himself”), and presents a few unrelated themes which surge and swell with life in a Vangelis detachment. Side B then deals with travels, making a number of shorter stops in heavily affected sketches, less articulated than the themes on the flip, but nonetheless fully-rendered. The bass guitar features most heavily in these dawning moments, consuming the story with the film of media – dusted, pulpy, and static. A tale made doubly classic by this mesmerizing vision. On pro-pressed cassettes in pink bismuth. Highly recommended.

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