Cassette Corner is a column devised and constructed by Modern Vinyl contributor Matt Bergeron. Centering on his love for another vintage format, cassette tapes, Matt will be looking at the various and notable tape releases available (or previously available) to readers. This month, he’s constructed a special edition of the column, as it’s Skeletal Lightning themed, with releases from label artists, Brighter Arrows, Scowler, Elesh Norm and Locktender. Representing some of the best tape releases he’s seen throughout 2013, each one is a work of art, while including a digital download.
Brighter Arrows – Dream Life Compendium
After experiencing this b-side mixtape, the first thought that popped into my music loving head was “this is probably the safest hallucinogen a person could take.” The cassette plays like a dream of sorts, the closest comparison being the moment when you wake you up to cold sweats, along with a distorted sense of reality. These high and lows of slumber are brought on by a cohesive musicianship, in which the final product is nothing short of hauntingly beautiful. The overall compositions are well thought out and although a little tough to swallow at first, you’ll eventually realize that Brighter Arrows is truly a gifted bunch. For all intensive purposes, it seems as though this four piece had just slapped together a mix of demos and other b-sides in a sloppy manner. But dig deep enough and you will find a body of work that’s a must-hear.
Scowler – How To Find Light
One of the most wonderfully complex hardcore bands to surface this year, How to Find Light is a 5-track effort from this Milwaukee-based four piece that just doesn’t quit. Vocally, you’ll find bits of Single Mothers and Glassjaw, while musically, you’ll encounter a mix of enthralling math rock and hardcore stylings. As intriguing as this release is, though, the only drawback seems to be its length, as it’s just too damn short. This is easily one of the most recommended cassette releases from Cassette Corner this year.
Elesh Norn – All The Pain I Built Up
Chaos seems to be an ongoing theme with these four releases, as schizophrenia in an audible form would describe Elesh Norn’s All The Pain I Built Up perfectly. Frantic changes throughout — almost too fast to notice — this release painlessly turns your brain into mush. The Texas screamo outfit blends a set of brutal vocal stylings with almost dreamy guitar work, while also holding true to their homage to the late 90’s screamo sound. The longest track on this release, titled “Dead,” is a three-minute punch to the gut that is damn near impossible to ignore. Tearing through your brain like a bullet, this cassette may take a few listens to sink in, but it will eventually become a mainstay in your collection.
Locktender – Kafka
In a fashion lesser accessible to the masses, Locktender’s first proper full length is completely based on the work of Franz Kafka, specifically The Zuraru Aphorisms. The present ambition not only allows for contemplative lyrical content, but this thinking man’s material is more entertaining than most would probably expect. And while the literary works themselves span over 109 aphorisms, Locktender decides to touch on 5 specific ones, while still and effortlessly pulling you through an array of emotions. Musically, the band jumps between the genres of metal and hardcore, the guitar work in particular leaving you in awe. The casual listener may not know the subject matter, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this masterful piece of work.