Wood N Head – s/t (Rano)
It’s great to see Rano back releasing music after a lengthy gap, the label last putting out ‘Anti Gravity Tea Ceremony‘ by kuxxan SUUM in 2015. The label returns with a self-titled tape by Wood N Head as weird as anything Rano has ever unleashed. ‘Maid of the Mist’ is wobbly whistling flu-rave with a snoozy fugue fade out. ‘The Importance of Dreaming’ is a soundscape evoking the episode of the Simpsons with the Guatemalan Insanity Pepper. ‘Totem’ has aqueous bass hum in conversation with a voice coming and going, issuing instructions aiding your space travel in the manner of the soft blur of a meditation tape, before morphing into pulsing dubbed-out echo-step packed with radiation fuzz and whispering wet-voiced monk chant; a blown-out collage mixtape approach, like some of Burial’s later releases. Welcome back Rano!
Marlo Eggplant – Callosity (Fractal Meat Cuts)
This superb tape came out towards the end of last year. The album notes points out that the word ‘callosity’ means a piece of skin rubbed thick. The sounds made by Marlo Eggplant will scour you paper-thin. The album opens with the haunting ‘Roots’, a fuzz-drenched rising and falling moan-hymn, blasted and desolate, buried by layers of peaty tape murk and sonic fog. The voice is an abiding presence on ‘Callosity’, stripped of language but full of meaning and emotion. Sighs almost cosmic in extent fill the tape, big pixellated winds of yawn. Sharp desperate exhalations lean you in, concerned. Sighs widen into cavernous echo depths. An engulfing ‘arrrrrrrr’ is heard on ‘Cautionary’ along with what sounds like tapped contact mics, fumbled guitar strings and the whirr of an air conditioning unit.
Other sounds thicken the audio-field. Stuttering glitching repetitions. Ringing clear guitar notes. Mysterious rummaging. Stones clattering into deep wells. Footsteps in empty echo chambers. Marlo Eggplant is a fascinating sound manipulator; especially good at the fleeting use of echo opening up sudden fleeting trapdoors unexpectedly, before snapping shut and rooting about closely in squelches, scrapes, slurps and rattles. Faulty fleshy tired machinery. Tape loops as blood circulation. Exhausts as respiration. Crunching synth snaps as crackling synapses. The body and its processes made audible but mysterious and fragile. ‘Callosity’ sounds tenuous and temporary, a bio-art object with auto-destruction designed in.
Mysterious, intimate, beautiful music. ‘Callosity’ repays repeated and close listening. The tapes are gone, but the full suite of sorrowful abstract songs remain here.