Veteran Aural Innovations readers will know Book of Shadows, which includes ST 37 founding member Carlton Crutcher. Their latest is a 4-way split cassette with three bands who are new to me.
Book of Shadows contribute four tracks which for them are relatively short. The first two were recorded by the trio of Carlton, Sharon Crutcher and Aaron Bennack. Invocation of the Archangels is a dreamily melodic synth and bass driven tune with ghostly chant vocals by Sharon. It’s very song-like and even catchy. I like it. Pressing Sweet doesn’t flow quite as smoothly but I like the playful guitar and whooshing synths, augmented by Sharon’s space whispery chants. No Source of Power in the Bushes adds Lori Varga on theremin for an experimental space exploration built around a number of guitar patterns. The last Book of Shadows track, Spirit in Boo’s Eye, is improvised and adds Eric Archer on guitar and electronics. This is really cool, having a lo-fi Pink Floyd feel and a rolling One Of These Days rhythmic pulse, but with a spaced out experimental edge.
The rest of side 1 consists of two 10+ minute tracks by Harridans Of The Harvest. I did a Google search which turned up nothing revealing as to who these folks are. Unabashed is an experimental, minimal, spaced out soundscape and effects exploration. It has an interesting combination of electronic patterns, atmospherics and efx’d voices, making for a haunting yet alien vibe. Corn Dolly Lover is different, starting off as a drugged avant-chamber music piece with what sounds like guitar and bass. We’ve got a strangely repetitive off-key melodic pattern, over which freaky drunk psych guitar solos, plus efx’d vocal narration that I can’t quite make out, and later introduces grungy electronics and acoustic guitar. The overall vibe is both dark and whimsical. Interesting and strangely intriguing.
Side 2 starts with a 22 minute piece by Nectar Of The Moon. The tape notes list a Bandcamp site (nectarofthemoon.bandcamp.com) which includes several albums and says they’re from Nepal (really?). The music consists of slowly evolving electronica that is robotically orchestral and deep space drone/ethereal, with moods ranging from highly intense to playfully spirited. These guys do a good job of blending contrasting moods and bringing together elements that could easily result in chaos but instead make for a challenging listen and sometimes harrowing ride.
The label web site says that 14 Graves Of Interest are from Blackpool and describes their contribution, the 19 minute Acid, Blonde as Rainbows, as “the first of their sinister tributes to ’70s/’80s trash horror movie wonderment”. Sinister indeed. And definitely on the more avant-garde end of the horror soundtrack spectrum. The music progresses through a variety of themes, from noisily turbulent, to bowels-of-the-space-station sci-fi, alien tribal, space-industrial, and some bits that bring to mind lo-fi John Carpenter. Well done.
For more information visit The Golden Gronk web site at: http://thegoldengonk.wordpress.com
Stream samples and order at the Shack in the Barley Productions Bandcamp page: http://shackinthebarleyproductions.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz