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Pictures of Lindsey Adrian Knight GALTTA-013

Synths glitter like lights off a disco ball on this, the single weirdest fucking tape of 2014, written by a guy named Adrian Knight. He’s a hep jazz cat, a part of that hep jazz cat scene David Lackner’s been hovering around for his Galtta label’s tape releases in New York. So as you might expect, the performances here are just fabulous, really tasty Rhodes and Wurlitzer work atop some clever but simply constructed electronic drums that set the vivacious vibe you get throughout this album. A lot of the tunes are just plain nice, like in a James Taylor sort of way (that’s good James Taylor, mind you), or reminiscent of Arthur Russell’s stuff with the Flying Hearts, where his love of country, disco, and rock ‘n’ roll all comfortably colluded in the 70s for pop song perfection. But Knight’s compositions are also cut with creepy interludes and often have pitch-shifted vocal hooks which gives this album a surreal, sometimes nauseating quality that plug it nicely into the modern tape weirdo scene as well. Lackner guests with some nice sax arrangements here, and there’s also a cameo from EVI champion John Swana to give some songs a flavor that’s pinker than Pepto. And for as smooth a number Knight most certainly seems to be, his lyrics sure paint the picture of someone who’s anything but: “Scaring All the Girls Away,” which closes the album, is a hilarious and humble spate of self-deprecation set to a flat-out sex-jam that also has me thinking this aligns with what folks like Scammers’ Phil Diamond are doing. The nerds have never been sexier than in 2014, ladies (and gentlemen), scoop these bachelors up while you can. TINY MIX TAPES / STRAUSS

 

Galtta has been a label I’ve long admired so I was thrilled to see their return with two new releases earlier this month. While I haven’t had time to fully digest either, this Adrian Knight album is a glorious mindfuck and I think I’m going to end up loving it. There’s a level of absurdity to Pictures Of Lindsay but these songs are so well-written and there’s a real Arto Lindsay (h/t Crawf) vibe happening that I can’t get enough of. Galtta continues to impress (and totally surprise) and we’re all better for it. Also don’t forget to check out the new David Lackner. BRAD ROSE / THE ISOLATARIUM

 

Easily the most-listened to tape I received in 2014 is one that I ended up calling “The single weirdest fucking tape of 2014” in a review earlier this year. What the hell was I talking about? In fact, there were few that were more obscenely normal this year in a lot of ways, which of course was what was so fucking weird about it. Knight's over-the-top arranging, here complete with saxophone and EVI appearances, screamed self-ridicule, especially when you consider the album is a concept record detailing Kinght's many failures in the land of love, the whole thing this completely jokey schmaltz-fest. But that schmaltz-fest is just so brilliantly composed, performed, and flat-out great, offering some of the catchiest moments of pop in 2014, melodies and themes I still find myself humming in my dreams. Everyone I've shown this to has said "Ariel Pink" to me, and that's fine I guess, although Adrian Knight is like 10000000x better. TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE

 

Synthetic Love Dream David Lackner GALTTA-012

Issued on his own Brooklyn-based Galtta Media imprint, David Lackner's Synthetic Love Dream comes armed with clarifying notes that might strike some as intimidating: “Two long-duration, just intonation compositions for sinewaves, saxophone, drums and tuned bass: each piece consists of a 6 pitch set with a 52 HZ root; all pitches are based off of simple ratios found naturally in the overtone series.” Confronted with such details, the listener unversed in just intonation might be surprised when he/she discovers that the forty-seven-minute recording is, in fact, an easy-on-the-ears and eminently pleasurable listen. If anything, the material might be more generally described—technical details notwithstanding—as long-form, blues-based instrumentals featuring Lackner's multi-layered tenor sax as the lead voice. Recorded and mixed by Martin Bisi in March 2014, Lackner's so-called “Meditations on Death and Love” were realized by the composer on saxophone and sinewaves, Adrian Knight on sinetone keyboard, tuned bassist Dominic Cipolla, drummer Derek Vockins, and lyricist-singer Lydia Lunch, who frames the opening piece with a memorable vocal performance.

Though the sinetone keyboard is the first sound heard on “Synthetic Love Dream I,” the arrangement quickly blossoms with the addition of multi-layered sax, tuned bass, and Lynch's cracked voice. Her vocal delivery and cryptic lyrics situate us within David Lynch-styled territory (“I'm writing love letters to a dead man…”) for the opening three minutes, after which the vocal drops out and the focus shifts to Lackner's sax playing for the remainder of this “stagnant blues” until the singer returns for the coda (“I'm making love to his ghost…”). With Vockins' skeletal lurch providing a slow-motion impetus, Lackner wails with abandon, his bluesy phrases overlapping and echoing one another for minutes on end. In those passages where he lays out, the sinetone keyboard moves to the fore and consequently the just intonation character of the material becomes more evident. But even so, no heavy listening's required for the listener, even if the music is unusual. “Synthetic Love Dream II” presents a purely instrumental take on the piece that grants Lackner even more room to stretch out as an alto sax soloist. He certainly makes good on the opportunity, as evidenced by the way he digs into his endlessly spiraling patterns with a Coltrane-like obsessiveness.

As stated, the music is unusual in the way it merges multiple forms—jazz, blues, and minimalism, among them—and the release itself is enigmatic (what should one make, for example, of the cover image, which shows a person's head wrapped in clear plastic?), though such qualities in no way argue against it. If anything, they make Synthetic Love Dream (issued in a run of 100 cassettes and 100 hand-numbered CDs) all the more appealing as a listening proposition. November 2014 TEXTURA

 

Is New York paying attention to David Lackner yet? His jazz-leaning Galtta label was a bit quieter than it has been in previous years, but that didn't stop the two releases he did put out from both being complete and total knockouts. Granted, Adrian Knight's neo-90s-sitcom jazz-pop tape was a glitzy show-stealer (more on that later...), but Lackner's compositions for this work, beautifully rendered in the cover artwork by his wife Gabrielle Muller, were just as delicately performed and positively oozed with... well, "cool" is close, but doesn't fully capture this one's hypnotic hums and fiery flicker, all set to the pace of something like 40 beats-per-minute. Two minimalist jazz pieces, smokey, inter-weaving tenor sax solos over the droning sidetone keyboard Knight lays down with astonishing poise, and 2014's most patient drummer ever-grooving into this record's black hole of sheer mood. Hey, Side A features some kick-ass vocals by Lydia Lunch, too. If you live in Brooklyn and haven't seen these cats perform yet, you're crazy and I kind of hate you a little. TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE

 

In the Well of Eternal Living and Dying David Lackner GALTTA-011

Having followed Galtta closely since David Lackner called go, I’ve been waiting for the label-manager and core player to press himself onto vinyl. The results are not what I expected. Consider Lackner’s C40 from 2011, ‘My Leader, the Baby is Dead’: proudly mechanical, melodic phrases and recorded speech are made inhuman yet ritualistic, such that the notion of ‘sci-fi psychosis’ feels appropriate for the synthetic stew of copulating tubes and lab-grown feelings. Conversely, the A-side-long title track for ‘In the Well of Eternal Living and Dying’ bustles like a tree of birds with the twittering of flutes and charming honk of sax; bright percussion, bulbous bass, and the taut tones of Rhodes piano layout an always ascending rhythm; all the while, group vocals sing lyrics that seemingly capture the most psychedelic moments of Murakami’s meditation on human scale, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – all to the effect of a more jazzy, less angsty Joan of Arc. In the gaps of the anthem, instruments swirl in Kraut-rock crescendos – a commune of solos – echoing the jubilee of bands like Akron Family and the instrumentalists Anvil Salute. Big, vibrant, and hardly the weirdness we feel from Lackner’s previous work. Then you flip the thing over and the familiar weird washes over you. “Still Inside” captures what I know and love most of Lackner’s outfit, while at the same time dashing silly concerns that the record could not do this and more: fronted by a looping mew with Furby-like emotional appeal, modulated synthesizers and staticky drumming form a ledger onto which hubristic saxophone jives in mockery of the programmed instructions murmuring throughout. Wonderfully weird. Similarly, the bad trip “Send in the Clowns” layers more instruction over a relentless gabber beat with glib effects and quasi-abrasive guitar (?) sounds – similar to the satire of Kylie Minoise – yet still sounding strangely accomplished as a composition. The brutal assault on existence continues by bleeding through the subliminal “Regular People” into the finale “A Semiperfect Number:” reaching the level of sentience and aesthetic spasms of Oneohtrix Point Never’s most recent work, a wild combination of timbrel swatches, rhythmic patches, and vaguely meaningful signifiers squirm with a futurist’s sentimentality. Lackner keeps building, building, and once he perfects this new edition to the complex, there should be nothing but hits to follow. LP limited to 300 copies. ANIMAL PSI

Smooth End Of Summer Swana, Price, Lackner GALTTA-010

What gall, to release something with a title like this one in May of all months. When we are all actually extremely excited about summer’s rise to mighty power in the wake of winter’s slow and gruesome demise. But anything from Galtta Media I will take, and so be it that it’s this totally bonkers, ambient-jazz tape from a trio of talent. This music came to exist over some distance; David Lackner played some noise/saxophone at a session in New York with Mark Price and recorded it. They squished, squashed, chopped, chiseled, charred and char-broiled that sax all down into a soupy stew of chordal-drone and added some beats. Then the two shipped the tapes over to veteran EVI-virtuoso John Swana’s studio in Philly to tickle the mix with his scalar prowess. And that’s it. That’s not it! There’s also baritone marching horn, MIDI keyboards and samplers, and a voice on this album too. Whatever you think all of that might sound like, it probably sounds a lot different. There’s no good way to prepare you for what is here. I want to say that it’s aggressive, but it’s not: These guys, in a tone that is dimly lit, cull cool neon purples and blues from the 80s, and supplant them gracefully onto the surface of Pluto. If there’s any kind of rhythm here (and there is), it’s not based on any Earthly notion of the concept. It’s an aural space where whistles occupy odd nooks, singing off as distant ghosts, and melodies are known to drift like the smoke off a clove cigarette. Add the beats, and you know you are in one hip, holographic zone. As much In a Silent Way as it is Selected Ambient Works vol. II and further is this tape, a snapshot of the future of jazz as we know it. Tiny Mixtapes // STRAUSS

 

fter a relatively brutal winter up north, here’s a pairing of albums to induce the onset of our latest summer: the first a few hairs of the dog, the second a wash of good vibes like wearing swimtrunks around town. United by the distinct sound of the electronic valve instrument (EVI) – a sonic hybrid of Moog and melodica – both albums feature a certain dusky surrealism full of optimism and ease. From the Galtta label, John Swana, Mark Price, & David Lackner celebrate a ‘Smooth End of Summer’: spread over 10 tracks, Swana and Lackner lay down a shady cover of impressionistic sketches with choice embellishments from Price. Saxophone and EVI interweave in a multidimensional mix of resonant swaths and glottal textures, a cozy reality as cavernous as a mushroom trip, and as strange a soundtrack as the most avantgarde films inexplicably dominating Saturday TV matinees. Hand-numbered to 125 copies. $7 from the label HERE. Recommended. ANIMAL PSI

 

Francis Jewel Don't Be Afraid of the Jungle The Phantom Family Halo GALTTA-009

The Phantom Family Halo is an experimental rock band from Louisville,KY. The Legend Of Black Six (2006) was the band’s first official release even though it was written and recorded primarily by Dominic Cipolla. Currently, The Phantom Family Halo is a four-piece band based in Brooklyn,NY. In 2011 the band was signed by Brooklyn based record label Knitting Factory Records and announced their plan to release two albums in 2012: a dark and a light album (source: KF). In February, the band released When I Fall Out and in November they released Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle.

In their latest album the band has utilized a fair amount of grunge and post punk manners of playing as well as many elements of post–rock. These characteristics are especially evident in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle” which is the longest song on the album and probably the most abstract one. This song certainly falls into posts-rock category more than any other song on Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle. It got some intense drumming, changing melodies, heavy riffs and drones.

Some songs such as “Strawberry Blues” have more of a 60s feel to them, with casual guitars, simpler melodies and laid-back vocals. ”This Moment in Heaven” and “A Man With a Twitch in his Cheek” are gloomy, with echoing vocals, softer riffs, slower and quieter drumming and many feedbacks and delays.

Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle is dark and heavy but not in the way that overwhelms you. This ablum’s heaviness comes from its complexity and its intriguing and expansive sound. When I listen to Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle, I keep visualizing a ray of light traveling through the labyrinth of darkness, looking for an infinite escape.

Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle is great album that shows The Phantom Family Halo’s many musical talents and their ability to take multiple directions and yet create a conceptual and diverse album that flows perfectly.

It takes several listening sessions to really appreciate Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle for what it is, a great psychedelic journey into The Phantom Family Halo’s twisted world. I AM NOT A MUSICIAN

 

Lonely House Mark Przybylowski GALTTA-008

 

Mark Przybylowski is a Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist with musical cruses on ambient music, folk, and jazz. All these styles come together on the simple, quaint, and very delicate instrumental compositions that appear on his new Lonely House Cassette. The seven tracks here are extremely touching, managing to conjure a very powerful emotional energy–well, at least from me, anyway. THE NEEDLE DROP

More insanely good music from the highly (and criminally) unknown jazz cassette label Galtta Media, this tape finds honcho David Lackner releasing a beautiful collection of classical- and folk-leaning balladry from the otherwise moderately well-known jazz bassist Mark Przybylowski. The house, grey skies, and bare tree branches on the cover have me longing for the cool winds of winter, though outside temperatures refuse to clock in anything lower than 90° (#FML). Still, the overall feel of the cassette does help to cool things off, at least mentally. Musically, Przybylowski evokes notions of impressionism with the pastel compositional strokes of masters like Erik Satie. Recorded with a single mic in an empty house over the course of a year, Lonely House features skeletal acoustic guitar, singing cellos, double bass, and the occasional vocal inflection. Ultimately, the tape is sold on its ability to break the heart with such an astoundingly soft touch, the airy quality of the tape imagining an armchair’s lulling rock, the withered, paper-soft skin of a grandmother’s brittle fingers, or the last leaf ever-threatening to fly headlong with the chilling winds. An old, sepia-toned photograph. A trembling memory. A devastating sadness. A warm, comforting blanket of beauty. Yeah, all that and probably a lot no writer could even attempt to describe properly. Find your adjectives: TINY MIXED TAPES

‘Lonely House’ marks a sharp, early turn for the Galtta label, their catalog having not yet reached double-digits. Still based in instrumental virtuosity, the tape by Mark Przybylowski diverges from the familiar jazz sounds of previous releases by utilizing stringed instruments alone, and then in a distinctly folk idiom familiar to Kottke and Fahey. Beyond the choice of strings (cello, bass, and guitar), it is the use of space and architecture – the title house, standing empty, utilized for its reverb – which makes the most radical break in concept compared to Galtta’s previous studio pieces, and which brings it back around to reunite with the instrumental novelties/innovations which distinguish each release. The space is both vital and subverted: the reflections of the house make the rich, bold sounds of each strum and pluck, but the house becomes abstract as each layer is recorded and edited together into one piece. That is, rather than present each stringed instrument in a solo piece, and thereby contextualizing the space in the real-time of a “single take” (real or faked), two and sometimes all three of the instruments appear together, overlapping sounds from different moments into one, achieving not just impossible harmonics, but bringing with all the artifacts of each moment and imposing them into one space of the song. This neo-classicism likens the sound to prime Johann Johannsson and Peter Broderick in songs like “Sunday”, which by this process juxtaposes multiple tones across these multiple spaces, materializing the structure of the house through activity. Perhaps the only thing close to uni-dimensional is the theme of the tape – relentlessly melancholy, with titles like “Slow Winter”, “Lamentation”, “The Pain” – but this is not to say flat or uninteresting: the vocals which appear on “Blank Walls” are subdued but youthful, the guitar perky and waltzing across the floors and natural light that cello chords bring. Even the coda, “Rejoice,” reverses this formula only slightly, lacking what would otherwise pass as joy but isolating well those strains of optimism which pass quietly through these seven tracks. Professional cassettes come in heavy cards with art by Przybylowski’s grandfather John Carl Bulthuis, hand-numbered to 200. ANIMAL PSI

Abohm John Swana GALTTA-007

BY CRAWFORD PHILLEO » Jazz just got back from the future

As far as jazz tape labels go... there aren't very many. Currently, there is really only one that I know of, and it's called Galtta Media, a tiny imprint run by a certified jazz geek/saxophonist named David Lackner who is currently based in New York after starting the label some time ago in Philadelphia. Jazz trumpet veteran John Swana carries the byline for Abohm, one of the label's latest entries, and it is... well, it's pretty weird. In fact, Abohm is something of a monster. But it's also a cute and friendly monster. A thing of magnanimous and intimidating presence that shrinks itself down into something else entirely. Something tame, tempered and pretty fun when you actually sit down and get to know it.
Swana combines elements of modern electronic music and jazz in what feels like equal measure throughout the album's 70 running minutes, which actually fly by given the sounds and hyper-brevity of ideas that flood both sides of the tape—35 tracks stuffing the magnetic strip to the brink of sensory overload. But for as eclectic, sporadic and random as a lot of this sounds (not to mention the alarming pace at which Abohm whirs past the ears), much of it manages a cool, collected listenability. Odd time signatures, oblong forms and angular chord progressions aside (elements that appear in damn near every single track), Swana reigns it all into something oddly recognizable and wisely keeps these little experiments neat, tidy and compact. Mini futuristic soundscapes gently lull for brief periods before giving way to more beat-oriented electronic jams that recall vintage Boards of Canada, which are quickly followed by micro-melodic motifs that dance around with childlike wonder, and then later you might be treated to a tasty bossa groove, all of it wound around with psychedelic colorings. You'll also hear the EVI playing. Electronic Valve Instrument. Swana plays it—nay—Swana destroys the Electronic Valve Instrument. With extreme prejudice. He's just so fucking fast at that thing it's absolutely bonkers, flying through enough scales to fill a fourth-year Theory text with incredibly smooth runs, furiously/sensually soloing over impossible chord changes. And he does it all with an astounding grace—jagged in design perhaps, at times aggressive in execution (or at least confident) but the end result comes out soft and pastel, translating to a surprisingly light and airy breeze of a listen.
It should be noted that Swana wasn't alone in the making of Abohm, which represents his home recordings; "What he does ... when no one is listening" says the one-sheet from Galtta. In other words, this is his project for fun. On the record, he's also joined by his daughter Rosalie, Italian percussionist Massimo DeAngelis as well as David Lackner. You can hear sythns, effected voices, electronic and live drumming and various other instruments floating in and out from track to track, all elements that contribute to the album's striking sonic variety and stylistic acrobatics. The biggest draw is Swana's chops, though, and how he uses them. Despite the obvious fact that he's had plenty of legit training on the trumpet, he's still willing to put himself out there try out some weird (very weird) new stuff, display that high level of technical proficiency in very non-traditional ways and have a lot of fun with it all at the same time (see: track titles like "Oh Shit!," "Ode to Star Trek," or my personal favorite, "That's Some Dark Shit!"). All told, Abohm is simply an amazing work of neo/future-jazz from the mind of a true master, and whether or not he's really serious about it, this is still some serious shit. IMPOSE / / / TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE

‘Abohm’ is an immense collection of 35 vignettes over 70 minutes, furthering the utterly unique sound of John Swana’s EVI (electronic valve instrument)- and trumpet-heavy slogans, as microscopic and atomized as the title unit.  Somewhere between Coil’s ‘Themes from Hellraiser’ and the IDM-jazz of Ui, Swana’s gems are Blade Runner sonatas for automatons, haunted by AI like the entirely electronic score from ‘Paprika’, with a precocious DIY evoking the animated slackerdom of Aeon Flux and the Muzak of Duckman.  Swaying, scaling ringtones over sequined beats; twisted arpeggios, MIDI-breakbeats, synthesized Theremins, and clipped-not-glitched horn solos; squirrely voices and phantom jingles; a mythical retroactive sci-fi through and through.  Edition of 100 hand-numbered tapes, with art by James Ulmer. ANIMAL PSI

 

En Nuestros Viajes Matt Davis/ Javier Reséndiz GALTTA-006

Galtta Media is a relatively new label out of Philadelphia looking to bring jazz into the cassette market. Not a bad idea, and I’m sure it’s very interesting as to the socio-musical implications of such releases, etc… ideas I’m not sure I’m willing to extrapolate on for this review of Matt Davis and Javier Reséndiz, who lay out 11 original tunes via guitar and Fender Rhodes electric piano. The point is, the airiness of my cassette deck in my headphones seems to fit well with the duo (and indeed the very style of this music), as the performances sound very open and live. Which they are—fingers sliding up the fret board, a wooden chair creaking in the background amidst a light hiss, etc. are likely not meant to be heard, but they certainly put the listener there, either in the studio with the two as they feed off each others delicate melodies with extended improvisations or inside your log cabin in winter, playing a private performance as you flip the pages of your novel next to the roaring fireplace.
This music is just beautiful—excellent compositions (not sure who composed the material, but the Spanish titles have me leaning towards Reséndiz), which find both guitar and Rhodes alternating lead and supportive (comping) roles, or at times together in unison. The songs have a lightness to them, a soft-sweetness that is warm and inviting and relaxing and overall very comfortable. A featherbed of tunes with a sense of longing; minor-keyed nostalgia fills both sides for the perfect companion to warm up a lonesome, chilly day. And the solos are also excellent, subservient to each piece’s central theme, highly melodic and focused (never “out” or overly complex), and the duo also has a knack for careful comping, one never crowding the others’ style. The two also have the timing of an atomic clock, perfectly synched—even rubato moments feel disguised as the two wade out in a wash of harmony before snapping the piece back into shape. To compare the duo with others in the field is a bit difficult as I haven’t heard much like this, especially recorded, but if I had to, I’d say fans of John Abercrombie or Chick Corea’s work with his piano trio (thinking especially of “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”) should find this right up their alley.
As to my rating, while I’m not sure I’d call anything under the jazz genre released on a tape a “masterpiece” I can’t help but wonder who in their right mind could consider this to be anything less than perfect. This is, quite simply, perfect music. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it, and I know I will for years to come. Even if I gave it a 9 because I found a teeny typo on the sleeve, this one gets a bonus for introducing me to Galtta Media, a label I look forward to digging through in the coming months. 10/10 (review by Crawford Philleo for FOXY DIGITALIS)

I am not really a Jazz music fan (Actually you could call most jazz fans I know fanatics, cause they are really into it and are extremely emotional about it and take criticism as if it is a personal offense). Since I have started reviewing music on Lofiles exactly 3 years ago, I have published 1400 posts, and I think only 5 of which were about jazz music. Sometimes, all that knowledge these Jazz cats do have is too much for me to grasp, the ignorant peasant I am. But why do I exhaust you with the long intro. This is the extremely rare occasion where I Actually wanted you listen to this Jazz record I like, even if you are not a jazz fan/atic. Its called ‘EN NUESTROS VIAJES’, (released 6 months ago) and this is a dialogue between 2 very talented musicians, (I called it a dialogue cause judging by the way this record sounds they really listen and respect one another). (review by Shlomo Sonnenfeld for LOFILES)

 

My Leader, the Baby is Dead David Lackner GALTTA-005

Another from David Lackner and his Galtta label, this time a solo attribution (though lots of friends came along for the recording). The C40 ‘My Leader, the Baby is Dead’ is a combination of Lackner’s staticky transmission of saxophone, broadcast snippets, and synthesizers. Intro’d with the appropriately-titled march “Processional,” Lackner scales over the thin clasp of hydraulic percussion sounds, the performance is laid over a rhythm which never breaks, but rather ebbs and flows like a sizzle from wall to wall. Organ sounds mutate throughout the life of the tape, morphing eventually into the psychedelic belch of Silver Apples-type keyboard madness on closer “Reprise”. In between, these sounds come wedded to verses of sappy sentimentality effaced in renditions of “Oh Danny Boy” (itself a microcosm of deliveries, from the sanguine to saturnine), duets of Stereolab-like monotone (another apt tag, “In the Lab, In the Grid”), and the MIDI-tinged sounds of Japanese credit reel allegories (“Seventeen”). Though not the strongest single track of the lot, “We Give Our Lives to the Purpose” is perhaps the defining moment of the tape, working in wild synthesizer strains among forceful sax drones, a machined beat, and the title chanted ala the cosmic-weird of later Cerberus Shoal. Somehow less-strange than the sum of its parts, Lackner’s latest retains a certain dignity which only comes from the awe-full suspicion that I-the-listener simply does not know what is going on. Hand-numbered to 100 copies with heavy J-cards and pro-pressed tapes.

Also included is the zine ‘Material Morality’ by Galtta resident artist Gabrielle Muller. A glossy, thick-stock booklet (18 pages) bound by string, the zine is a remix of Muller’s previous contributions to the Galtta catalog plus some photography and plundered nuggets. For the average consumer, this is a vital supplement, as it archives Muller’s collaboration with the label at this early stage, her images always at risk to outdo the music inside. Yet the inclusion of the booklet with this particular Lackner release feels funny, as the book stands alone or with all the releases it’s inspired, and seems to have little on the particulars of ‘My Leader’. Nevertheless: quite the bonus. Recommended. (Galtta cassette and zine, $7 HERE) (review by ANIMAL PSI)

 

Symbiosis Syndicate Symbiosis Syndicate GALTTA-004

In contrast, the five-player Symbiosis Syndicate (with whom Swana plays) is an exceedingly traditional meeting of the minds. Not exactly a quintet, the group is lead by Steve Giordano and appears across these five tracks in three different variations of 3 and 4 players. Sourced from drums, bass, piano, trumpet, and the electronic valve instrument featured on Swana’s side above, the group take a measured approach to their improvisation – “cooperative” might be a better term - observing each other as players clearly well-versed in their respective instruments, leading to solid, if too smooth playing, but regularly emerging with some spectacular accidents. For all intents and purposes a work of dark ambient electronics, “Full Moon” creaks and whistles with creepy sustains and exaggerated effects, a harmonic resonance building which really challenges the ear to distinguish synthetic frequencies from humanoid voices. The nocturnal “Meteor Shower” is a fitting sequel, as it shifts the atmosphere slightly with the contoured inclusion of piano song and drum kit, a sort of musicological signifier for the referent of its naturalistic predecessor. Outro “Silver Apples” is a necessary homage, as well as a codex for the subtleties of the album thus far, where the science fiction we’ve been listening to appears less terrifying and more psychedelic: watered by a rainstick and fed by a brightening scale shared by synth and piano, the brief track crests over the dash like horizon and settles the mass of this C40 back down to the ground. Though never having strayed as far as its namesake, the track does service to the anti-pop seriousness of the album and the calculated risks it takes. Pro-pressed cassettes come with pro, color J-cards, hand-numbered to 100. With cover art by Gabrielle Muller. (review by ANIMAL PSI)

 

Struttin' Around With... David Lackner and John Swana GALTTA-001

While I still have yet to discuss David Lackner's awesome solo tape, it's high time I get to this split he did with John Swana which is also pretty awesome in its own right. Galtta Media is an interesting label as it's got at least one foot planted pretty firmly in the jazz-world, and another planted in a place a little more mysterious. (Not to mention the fact that it's a jazz tape label, that's pretty dang unique) What's most interesting to me is, while I call it an experimental jazz label, I'd say no one would ever classify this as a free jazz label--at least not based on the material it has released so far. Often "experimental" and "free" go hand in hand, not the case here. Both Lackner's and Swana's work here tend to be pretty highly structured and melodically driven with an improvisational component. While working from a jazz framework, both Lackner and Swana create interesting and sometimes, in Lackner's case, ridiculously catchy compositions.
With "Layers, Layers" Lackner's side opens with seconds of friendly industrial music, what I mean by "friendly" is that the music is bright and in no way abrasive despite it's mechanized movement. Then Lackner launches into a series of lovely melodies via either horns and synths doubling each or synthesized horns. Victor North contributes a really great tenor sax solo that quotes, dare I say, The Sound of Music at one point or is he quoting Coltrane quoting The Sound of Music(?) Hell of a way to start a show. Another standout for me is "Thirteen" which features a pretty complex mix of interlocking synth melodies and a gorgeous twinge of a countermelody from a downcast saxophone.
Let me preface the next statement I'm about to make by saying I am paying a high compliment, "Study in Clutter" reminds me of some of the music in Disney's Mulan and it's pretty damn great. (Tangent: if you have not seen Mulan, do so it's one of the few modern Disney classics) Anyhow, getting off that tangent, the central melody in the track is this infectious, circular Asian-inspired arpeggio. Can't get enough of it! I do have to say I'm a bit ambivalent about the vocals present in the track though; give me the bouncing percussion, the catchy-as-all-hell Eastern melody and the crazy stereo-panned sax solo at the end and I am good to go--no vox required.
The hits keep coming with the also excellent "Fourteen" featuring synthesizers zipping around, darting between sax licks. Probably the closest the thing I can think of for a reference is Sean McCann's Phylum Sigh but that's far from putting my finger on it. (Maybe Golden Retriever if they thought they were a pop band???? Sheesh, I give up...) Elsewhere, Lackner plays Robert Schumann's composition "Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai" (!) replete with a nice sax solo and vocoder (!!) and closes up shop with the hyper "Fifteen." Pretty stellar side through and through.
Check this Lackner guy out if you haven't, he's doing some great work and in a little different way than pretty much everyone else I've heard in the tape scene.
While Lackner's side features many collaborators, John Swana does every little thing himself on his side from composing and performing to engineering. "3, 2, 1....Lift Off!" features an overload of twinkling and prickly tones before he starts tearing it up on his EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument; more or less a synthetic trumpet.) The more mellow and subtle "Thyme" features a tabla machine (or something) along with a series of idiophones garnished with almost smokey EVI exhalations. Pretty nice piece of work.
Although Lackner has a bit of a pop genius edge to him, Swana fits a little better into the "soundtracking" world; I can hear some inspiration from film and TV scores, and even forward thinking video game scores (on "Dark and Clammy.") It's not out of the realm of possibilty some of his stuff here could work as a (non-traditional) score, though Swana's work is far from the works of Max Steiner and Franz Waxman.
However, on "Major Man," the jazz influence is literal and readily apparent. Other than the facts that this is all composed from overdubs and sounds as if it was created entirely synthetically, this could be something you'd hear from a modern jazz quintet. The finale "Scene" is stranger. There's rustling field recordings and a synth drone creating a sticky little bed while Swana's EVI emulates all sorts of bird calls which are panned every which way. Weird track but I'm certainly feeling the vibe.
This is an interesting tape all around and has good bang for your buck value, with each player essentially contributing a half hour album. I'm more of a Lackner guy, if we're picking sides, but others may prefer Swana; either way both guys are doing some intriguing things. (review byAUXILIARY OUT)

By bringing boutique cassette culture to jazz with his new label Galtta, David Lackner in turn brings jazz to cassette culture. With a cadre of stalwart players centered around the Philadelphia area, the label collects a gamut from traditional to experimental idioms, and ushers these in through joint affinities with the ambient, cosmic, and deconstructive sound design precepts which dominate the cassette scene (more, Lackner has previously crossed-over with a tape on Peasant Magik). Case in point, Lackner’s own split with John Swana constitutes Gallta number one, and eases us into the instrumentality of both (Swana a trumpeter, Lackner a saxophonist) through jazz-minded structures punched into broader plates which emphasize less virtuosic playing than a total music. This relies heavily on the impression of sound itself (and not the authority of the soundmaker) which is taken for granted in the philosophy of experimental music: despite his specialty, Swana’s side contains no trumpet, but at its most vocal, his electronic compositions bring the trumpet-ness of a fusion bop sound to pieces like “Major Man”, in sum reminiscent of the jazzy Chicago postrock of Tortoise and The Aluminum Group. Never adopting a true drone, Swana’s music frequently settles into ornate patterns for solid stretches in order to present each detail in plain sight, as the downbeat track “Thyme” features a complex of percussive beads and brief squiggles tied to a rich, hypnotic rhythm. With a similar effect, Lackner works in what he calls “repeater soundscapes”, layering discretely-wonderful loops of sax, synthesizer, radio noise, percussion, and so on over one another to achieve a dynamic tension which would be simple polyphony without such distinct character. Though the entire side is something to behold, the best example is “Study in Clutter”, which weaves several lines including chorus, hand clap rhythms, and Moogish sequencer into a flute song of far eastern logic, much resembling the joyous sinophile compositions of Damon Albarn for ‘Monkey: Journey to the West’. Though using this repeater model, Lackner doesn’t settle for a formula, but uses this aesthetic device to highlight and complicate the structures he’s working with, at times emphasizing a solo instrument, but always folding this back into the community of sounds to create a swift and dynamic listen. Pro-pressed cassettes come with pro, color J-cards, hand-numbered to 200. Highly recommended. (review by ANIMAL PSI)

I’m not really a jazz guy, so when the new GALTTA tape label sent me the first batch of four releases, I was a little hesitant. But every once in a while something special comes along and shows me what’s up, like some of the Galtta tapes. Some of them were more straight jazz than the rest, but GALTTA-001, the split with David Lackner and JOHN SWANA was definitely weird enough for me to dig into and share with all yous.
David Lackner’s side is packed with some wicked electronics, which gives it an automatic +10 in my book. It’s super cool, not too ambitious or gaudy, and definitely made for couch melting. It does a killer job of keeping it nice & spacey, with radar echoes, arpeggiated bloops, lo-fi static buzzing, glitchy ambience, and robot love songs, conjuring sexy retro sci-fi chicks with white go-go boots & mod hair. There’s also plenty of traditional horns, saxophones, drums, etc, but pulling in some surprises too. One of the tracks, “Study In Clutter” is so out there, with boy-girl Sesame Street vocals and a very solid almost tribal beat with lots of handclaps, flutes, and some numbers station samples. Yeah, I’ve heard that done to death but it really works well here. Lackner’s tracks are pretty fucking rad and totally not your usual jazz fare. Wacky sounds abound on this side, giving me a reason to make a minimal ’60s existential sci-fi throwback because Lackner would be so goddamn perfect for the score.
John Swana is normally a trumpet dude, but his side of Struttin’ Around is completely lacking. Instead there’s classic synthy Moogy electronics, definitely making me think of some of the first jazz synths like old Francis Bebey or something. Swana’s style is similarly spacey to Lackner’s, but a bit darker, maybe more ambient and New Agey. He does a lot of exploring, weeding through exotic alien jungles in the dark without worrying about deadly creatures lurking, stumbling upon a mythical nightclub, lit only by the glow of fluorescent insects, where the celebrities lounge in smokey decadence and John Swana is the house band. Totally pretentious, obviously, but still utterly desirable. Swana kills it every night with splayed electronics boards & the occasional piano/drum/whatever backup, crafting an intelligent weave of loopy melodies, dim crackle, magic sex, and blorpy atmospheres. Chill party CITY.
I doubt Swana’s tunes always sound like this, and maybe Lackner also does some other more traditional shit, but the pairing of their sounds on this split is fucking grand. They just work so well together. And when you mix spacey electronics with jazz, I’m pretty much hooked. Galtta nailed it with their first release. Can’t wait to see where they go from here. Major cool points: STREAM the whole tape on Bandcamp (or grab one of 200 limited copies for a mere $4). (review by ANTI-GRAVITY BUNNY)