Cassette Corner: January 2014

Cassette Corner / Special Features / February 12, 2014

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 looking at releases from Ryan Harris, Givan Lötz and Youth Funeral.

Ryan Harris – Brick Road Midnight
Dusty Grass

My immediate impression of Ryan Harris’ Brick Road Midnight was that of another droning and boring release by some kid armed with a laptop. When dropping the elitist attitude, though, the multi-layered work may still be nothing new in the electronic music world, but Harris does make the process all his own, impressing at least this listener. The hauntingly picturesque compositions are nothing to ignore; each one seemingly has a mind of its own and tells its own story. Take the standout title track as an example. The impressively deep kick drum sample, pounding its little heart out every so often, adds quite the punch, making it one dreamy trip. The final 22 minutes, a track titled “Eternia,” seems like a bit of a nonsensical idea in its length, but instead, it runs the gamut of emotions and imagery we’re used to in great electronic fare.

Along with the clear cassette comes a download code, while the tape is housed in a fairly standard case. The 3-panel j-card includes artwork that’s perfectly cohesive with the atmosphere that this EP creates. If experienced in the correct setting, Brick Road Midnight could become a surprise favorite amongst anyone that has even the slightest interest in electronic soundscapes.

Givan Lötz – Snarling
Other Electricities

If Bon Iver drank a bunch of absinthe and watched Requiem For a Dream 10 times in a row, Givan Lötz’s Snarling would be the result of a night without sleep after the fact.

Coming all the way from South Africa, Lötz presents us with this compilation of tracks over the course of 4 albums and 4 years.  The amount of instruments utilized on this album is unbelievable; a combination of stings, percussion, samples and Givan’s beautiful vocal stylings makes this one of Other Electricities’ top releases. It seems as though every track is suited for a depressing montage within your favorite indie film and while most never hit the ears that hard, each one has its own way of grabbing the listener’s attention with emotionally-based brute force. Standout track “Without” is a slow buildup, while then evening out into one of the more powerful on the release. If “Without” doesn’t sell you on Lötz, nothing will.

Although not as impressive as our last packaging experience with Other Electricites, we are given an impressive product nonetheless. The four panel J-card folds out to reveal artwork that matches brilliantly with the yellow cassette.  If you’re sold on the music, the packaging from OE will fulfill any desires for a quality release.

Youth Funeral – Symptom Of Time
No Guidance (Sold Out)

New Hampshire isn’t exactly well known for their music scene, but every so often a small, unknown band emerges and shows real promise. Youth Funeral has seemingly come out of nowhere with their latest release, Symptom Of Time, a piece filled with faced paced musicianship paying homage to the late ’90s hardcore scene. One of the more cohesive debuts from the recent happenings of hardcore, each of the 5 tracks flows effortlessly into the next, displaying intricate guitar work and uncompromising (if perhaps a bit gritty) vocal delivery.

“A Dream” is a unique track, laced with a modest guitar that serves as an intermission to the EP. The spoken word experience holds some of the most powerful lyrics within the release, as Casey Nealon declares, “1:09 AM/Woken from a dream where you refused to talk to me anymore/I called to tell you about it; no answer/I left a message and it began to rain/I turn the light off.” Of course, this may seem simple to some, but mixed with the whirring guitars, it has the ability to plant the images of what the writer was going though directly into our heads.  Powerful couldn’t even begin to describe the music blasting from my speakers; Sure, it makes me want to get up and break shit, but it also has the ability to heal, the aggression of every track serving as the liberation we all occasionally need.

No Guidance, a music and art collective, put lots of time and effort into the packaging of this release, as inside the hand-made slipcover is a standard, hand numbered (out of 50) J-card along with a lyrics insert. But the icing on the cake is the hand made zine that comes along with the cassette. Filled with lyric explanations, poetry, short stories and photography, the zine is the best part of this release (other than the music of course).


Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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