Friday, June 22, 2012

Ekhein Summer 2012 Tape Batch Part 2 - Geoff Mullen / The Accidents / The Compass Rose | Label Feature

Welcome to part two of a feature on the Ekhein label's most recent batch of cassette releases. The LA based label operated by Matthew Sullivan (aka Earn) has been exploring the depths of contemporary composition with a special focus on cassette releases has quickly become home to a large swath if contemporary music's post-noise underground. You can find the first half  of the feature here.

If the dull metallic clang of some factory nearby makes you stop and listen then this one will be a scorcher. Geoff Mullen's cassette Alone and In A Room is a strong brew of live instrumentation and tape collage all mixed up in an improvisatory precision. The music is taken from a variety of live performances but by the sound of things it would be hard pressed to separate the live and prerecorded sound.

This is not necessarily miles away from what Matthew Sullivan and Sean McCann have been up to. What makes Mullen's work stand apart is his seeming obsession with the gritty side of things. Throughout the album swells of percussive chaos continuously bang about in  every direction & the electronic hiss resonates through out. Almost like listening to a condensed version of the industrial revolution.

The Accidents Demo Color may be the further removed from the rest of Ekhein's current group of releases. It is miles away from the sonic sludge assault of Matthewdavid, Geoff Mullen's purcussive industrial din, or Matthew Sullivan & Sean McCann's new music ambience. Blasting off with synthesizers & drum machines at full blast sequenced into a sci-fi new wave paradise. This is not all a kosmiche journey though as spoken word collage pieces and some general sonic mischief follows in due course.

Somewhat surprisingly some rather pleasant sounding new age-esque guitar work enters the picture. Sure it is mixed with a variety of effects loosing up the proceedings with dashes of "weird" here and there detracting any notions of playing it straight here. Most surprising are the easily digestible track lengths averaging around 2:30 minutes, a first in the rest of the releases being discussed.

The Compass Rose may be the perfect bridging gap between The Accidents and the rest of Ekhein's summer 2012 releases. The cassette is soaked in the mythology of cyber punk literature and the bleak dystopian future put forth by Industrial music. I'm not going to necessarily say I follow whatever narrative there is to be had here, but it's probably not too far off from the last transmissions from a poetic scientist on the precipice of disaster.

This is some heavy stuff and in the times (or is it always like this?) of "dark" this and "wave" that The Compass Rose stand apart. It is as far as I can tell the overall industrial attitude that sets it apart, almost vintage in it's feel. I don't think many would argue that Monte Cazazza meets J.G. Ballard. At one point sinking into a mantra that could define this entire batch of releases;"It consists of a variety of colorful arrangements intended solely for my aesthetic approval". This may in fact be the certain mantra which has guided Ekhein's progression as a label, though I would venture to say the only color present here is grey. 

Ekhein's summer 2012 batch of tapes is available now via their website & select distributors,

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