Intense, surreal, remote, dynamic. Come along with us as we chronicle the adventures of the soul through psychedelic, drone, noise, experimental, pop music based around Chicago bands in particular and local bands everywhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coming soon...

New projects coming soon!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Label Update: December

Heads up, a new set of Vital Sound I tapes landed at Permanent Records Chicago. The tapes are also available online, support your local store! They also have copies of The N.E.C. B-Sides, The Sunny Muffdivers, All Half Evil, and our sold out Cinchel drone.dump.

If you're not near Ukranian Village, all Reckless stores have the Vital-Sound compilation, and the Milwaukee Ave. shop has The N.E.C. and Cinchel tapes. You can also find The N.E.C. at Loop Reckless. Again, be sure to support your local stores!

NEW CASSETTE! HOME-MASTERED TAPE MANIPULATION! 'Spective proprietor, Nicholas Zettel, presents Emporium, Vision, a summertime drone/guitar affair. Opening with ethereal atmosphere, this set of four songs meanders through two-channel follow-and-response folk, followed by reverb circuitry manipulation and backwards tape exercises. In order to amplify extreme echo patterns and manipulate decay time, these tracks were recorded in the red and mastered loud. Two-channel interactions showcase disparate stories and opposing sounds, invoking conversation/silence, soul/body, surreality/reality.

Each tape will be home-dubbed onto commercial tape for now; between $3.50 US PPD and $5 US PPD donation recommended for American orders. International shipping negotiable. Please contact [spectiveaudio] at [gmail] dot [com] if interested.

Please email [spectiveaudio] at [gmail] dot [com] to inquire about any year end deals or cassette packs. Cinchel's tape is sold out, but we still have copies of The Sunny Muffdivers, The N.E.C., Vital-Sound, and The Leavitt Ours.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Update

Happy up-coming Thanksgiving everyone! I am thrilled about how this year turned out for personal and musical reasons alike. I'll say it's a great sign for the number of quality records released that I continually trade back my old music and find ways to get as many new LPs as possible.

'Spective Audio News
(1) If you're interested, I am releasing a set of semi-improvised tape manipulation/reverb-circuitry manipulation recordings on limited, hand-dubbed (commercial grade) tape. These recordings were compiled on my nearly-dead Tascam and featured intensely textured experiments with infinite decay and infinite echo, along with lots of backwards droning. These will be $5 PPD US (international shipping negotiable), or other offer. As always, email spectiveaudio [at] gmail [dot] com.

I will be more than happy to negotiate shipping, prices, and trades.

(2) The N.E.C. have been busy with dates and their new LP, Pineapple, available from Pretty Ambitious and fine record stores. This one showcases the band's power pop sensibilities as much as their ability to dive into exceptional droning textures, and at their best, they combine both. The N.E.C. place yet another notch in their psych belts, but the driving backbone and soul sensibilities are never far from the group's strangest excursions.

Copies of the group's B-Sides cassette remain available, featuring oddities and rarities recorded over a several-year span from Million Minks and Is. The tape is full of extended wild, noisy breakdowns, short rockers, and surprising ambient segments -- it spans the full spectrum of N.E.C. sounds, and you'll hear a lot of the band's current elements in utereo. C45, translucent red tape, artwork by Cyrus Shahmir, $5 PPD US (international negotiable).

(3) The Vital-Sound groups have amazing music out this year (or on the way).

As mentioned, The N.E.C. just released Pineapple, and the Great Society Mind Destroyers' Spirit Smoke received its rightful vinyl incarnation. Soft Opening produced a mind-bending instrumental journey.

Killer Moon's Tunnel Vision is on the way, and Rabble Rabble followed up Bangover with their ripper, "Why Not" b/w "Long Hook." Implodes' much-anticipated Black Earth also saw the light this year, following the group's visionary cassette from a few years back.

All The Saints' next LP Intro to Fractions will be released in January 2012, following their life-changing Fire on Corridor X (that LP probably opened the door to more than half of my psych obsessions).

Brainworlds continue to release cassettes at a furious pace, and The Sunny Muffdivers introduced their tape All Half Evil, also on 'Spective.

Copies of Vital-Sound are available for a suggested donation of $7 PPD US (international negotiable)

(4) Cinchel has a handful of copies of drone.dump remaining, as do Milwaukee Ave. Reckless, Permanent, and Discogs.

Cinchel also has many other recordings available, including his Feedback Loop release Ritual Habitat.

(5) The Leavitt Ours are now officially in Cleveland and New Orleans, after many individual journeys across the United States this year. Travis Bird toured with Evan Lindorff-Ellery and Jaap Pieters, and also put together a solo tour earlier in the summer. Dense Reduction, the pastoral, textured noise duo of Travis and Evan, come highly recommended, for obvious personal and musical reasons, and so does their label, Notice Recordings.

Copies of Return by The Leavitt Ours are available for $7 US PPD suggested donation (which includes the tape, artwork by Evan, and individually sewn, handmade cases by Kelley Crawford).

Thank you for an amazing year, everyone -- bands, friends, and everyone who ordered tapes, reviewed them, and sold them at stores. I never dreamed that these tapes would be across Europe, Canada, and the United States -- but it still feels like a close-knit group of people who like psych, outsider, experimental music.

Recent Obsessions
(1) Notice's Ben Own tape, Birds and Water, 1, totally kicked my ass. There are some serious depths of frequency captured on this cassette. One of my year-end favorites for sure.

(2) Bad Drugs produce some of the best heavy music I've heard this side of Cacaw. Rotted Tooth have had an amazing year of releases, but Raw Powder is blowing my mind continuously with shifting structures and brutal noise.

(3) Thee Oh Sees are going to make me go broke. Obviously everybody loves Carrion Crawler/The Dream, and so do I. Exceptional acid rock; I feel like Thee Oh Sees are rewriting chapter after chapter of the Sonics/Nuggets/freak folk tradition in American rock.

(4) Sloow Tapes blew my mind this year, from The Great Society Mind Destroyers tape, to their compilation of Belgian psych, to their recent batch of traditional folk/psych tapes. Those tapes really took a lot of time away from the "Phono" setting, but when my belt and needle work beyond their expected life, I'll have these tapes to thank.

(5) As for Foxy Digitalis material, I've been re-listening to a bulk of material I reviewed earlier this year, and there are a lot of standout releases this year. Jasper TX Black Sun Transmissions and Phaedra The Sea remain among my favorites. Recent material I've heard by Food Pyramid, Cut Hands, Moonwood, Muscle Drum, and Blue Sausage Infant is going to make end of year lists nearly impossible.

(6) Old music obsessions: Echo and The Bunnymen, Ocean Rain, The Beatles Yesterday and Today, The United States of America, The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man, Tegan and Sara Sainthood, U.S. Maple, etc., etc.

Thank you for reading! I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving...let everyone who needs peace have peace, and let's continue to share music for the rest of this year and all of the coming ones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dense Reduction Retrospective / Jaap Pieters Tour

From their considered aesthetic at Notice Recordings, a meticulous assembly that signifies an endless tranquility, a peaceful unfolding, captured as an immediate artifact, Travis Bird and Evan Lindorff-Ellery develop focused squalls and textured ambiance as Dense Reduction. Two of my closest friends and collaborators in all things music, food, and culture, I want to reflect on their music as a stranger with a familiar face, an ideological mate who nevertheless roams mostly outside of the noise realm.

The calm, unfolding artifacts produced by their aesthetic sits patiently beneath their squalling signals, often providing the oxygen for their compositions and preying on the listener's mind while their ears are focused on singular lines. Dense Reduction often record their music by focusing on one major element while developing the background with cues and hints as to the direction of the main piece. On their very first release, Notice Recordings' first release as a label, their B-side hints at this coming calmness, as a weary signal wrapped in a haze succumbs to errant feedback squeals and pitching shifting. This screeching, a sense of urgency to communicate, a sense of forbidden transmissions or lost messages, blast through the speakers with the sharpness of a knife while the textures surrounding the message or transmission salve the wound and restore a disquieted calm, the layers of a message in a bottle subject to the current.

Everyday communication is shrouded by intentions, missed links, poor listening, personal interest, aloofness, etc. The desire for a commanding communication, transmitted clearly and without delay is the tension that sits beneath the most recent Dense Reduction releases, a tension that fights against the calm forlorn disposition of that bottle floating at sea. Tape manipulation, clicking cassettes repeated, distorted sound clips, loops, implied choral arrangements, busy noise implying a crew of workers populate both sides of the duo's Digitalis cassette, Fictive Agriculture, one of the duo's most recent releases that thoroughly provides a textured matriculation of the promises of their very first tape. Agriculture itself is the defining point of culture in many regards, and breaking that dirt with our shovels is a necessary precursor to support and develop our communication, sharing, ideals, and expectations. Those lost transmissions regain strength as we investigate the very foundation of our communication, our sharing, and move forward with a endeavors of culture that depend not on our commerce of bodies alone but on the strength of music that fully assembles the hustle of everyday life, obscuring beyond its daily existence in order to frame its truth and finally, its successful delivery -- I hear the culmination of this theme on the A-side of of the duo's 2:00AM Tapes release, Shifting Interior.

Labor surrounds and defines many of our pursuits, framing our transmissions and enveloping our being in codes and structures that build and interact mechanistic, routine, rhythmic versions of ourselves, moving forward in the world for the sake of commerce, bread, accomplishment, boredom. Reclaiming work is a complementary theme to recovering lost transmissions, and I hear this theme mostly in the group's Notice Recordings release, Shadows of Shipwrecks in Napkins on Shore, as well as their recent live sets. Both Travis and Evan assemble everyday objects that typically hide in our closet or in back of our nightstand, amplify them through contact microphones, creating a drone that follows their hum of activity, which stands beyond our basic comforts, defining our daily existence or the framework of it, so that we may march forward. A fan to keep us cool while we sleep, a toolbox that sits unused. This dirge of materials is most evident on the B-side of this Notice Recordings tape, which follows a swarm of amplified electronics, indiscernable noise, hypnotics wells and pulses, and echo tape manipulation and background fluttering. Obscuring daily objects or objects of commerce is one of the very best variations of noise music, and Dense Reduction execute this theme with the same patience and sense of unfolding that frames their transmissions, lost communications, messages wayward.

Through the individuated noises, the focused lead lines amplified above the fray on nearly all of their recent tapes, and also through their calm textures, Dense Reduction engage with the disquiet and foreboding sense of nature that contrasts our daily lives but ultimately provides us with a sense of longing or desire for something different. Through exploiting labor, embracing forlorn messages, mourning lost transmissions, and developing a severe sense of patience, the everyday objects, synthesizers, percussion, and crutches of Dense reduction reveal a profound, lasting peacefulness for the listener. An abode -- truly situated, of this world, entirely material, perfect for disguising interactions both ritual and spiritual and transcendent.

Recent tapes:
Shadows of Shipwrecks in Napkins on Shore (Notice)
Fictive Agriculture (Digitalis)
Shifting Interior (2:00AM)

Dense reduction will be touring with Jaap Pieters, providing support on several dates for Pieters' silent Super-8 films. Dates from Notice Recordings:

Oct 5 & 6 – Anthology Film Archives (Pieters' films only) - New York City
**Oct 9 - TBA - New York City (No films... Dense Reduction with Ben Owen, Anne Guthrie and Yellow Crystal Star)

Oct 10 - Dogstar Arts - 277 Spruce Knob Rd, Middletown Springs, VT 05757

**Oct 12 - Obrien's Pub - 3 Harvard Ave., Allston/Boston, MA 02134 (No films... Dense Reduction with Xela, Veiled, Amobriax and Double Awake)

Oct 13 – Spectacle – 128 Brookside, Boston, MA 02130

Oct 17 – Melwood Screening Room @ Pittsburgh Filmmakers – 477 Melwood, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Oct 19 – Robinwood Concert House – 2564 Robinwood Ave, Toledo, OH 43610

Oct 21 - Cinema Borealis – 1550 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60622

Oct ?? – TBA, Madison, WI

Oct 28 or 29 – UWM campus, Milwaukee, WI

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Forget the coming soon -- everything is pressed, and I have approximately 40 completely ready to go. The rest will be ready by the end of the weekend.

Suggested donation of $7 ppd/US orders, $5 minimum, contact PayPal: [spectiveaudio] at [gmail] dot [com]. International shipping negotiable / case by case, please email.

September 26 Update: Copies are available in Chicago at Reckless Records locations! As always, please do support your local record store!

Release Information

Artwork is handmade, either insert or j-card, including:

-12 leftover cinchel j-cards (watercolor)
-8 cuts from a map of Thomas J. Diven's subdivision lots with old water department billings (Harding and Iowa, Chicago)
-15 "city horizon" illustrations
-10 inserts cut from a hand-painted pattern
-15 cuts from an old Beckers Deed copy, Cook County
-6 cuts from a Zoning Ordinance copy (Central and Hirsch, Chicago)
-6 cuts from a Hirsch Deed copy, Cook County

44 Atlanta copies will have special art. Not even I've seen it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Label Update

First things first, I know that I've had a "sold out" label on Cinchel drone.dump for quite some time, but tooling around the internet it appears that copies remain available elsewhere. Cinchel himself is selling a few and Permanent Records and the Milwaukee Avenue Reckless Records have remaining copies. Support your local drone artist and support your neighborhood record shop!

You can find audio and tapes for sale at Cinchel's page.

Secondly, the Vital Sound compilation is being pressed; the pressing plant is currently working on the audio. There were some slight delays, but everything is back to working order.

Third, there is a new page at Discogs for 'Spective. I have available tapes for sale there, and all releases listed for the purpose of keeping a catalog. Once the releases are voted to be correct, I can add more label information and artist information -- if you're reading this and have a Discogs account, you can help.

As for purchasing a tape, send a Paypal to spectiveaudio [at] gmail [dot] com. Domestic shipping is included in tape prices, which is $5 for CS1, CS4, and CS5. $7 is the suggested donation for CS6 tape and artwork, although we can always work something else out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Leavitt Ours tape is being pressed as we speak, and will be available approximately mid-June. Holding the cassette will be a handmade case and artwork by our good friend Evan Lindorff-Ellery of Notice Recordings.

Vital Sound 1 is one song away from being completed, it's going to be a full-on psychedelic enslaught with the Atlanta side featuring All the Saints, Sovus Radio, The N.E.C., Sunny Muffdivers, Soft Opening, and Brainworlds. That side is full of ambient, driving psych, and some serious drone. The Chicago side features Rabble Rabble, Great Society Mind Destroyers, Killer Moon, and The Leavitt Ours thus far, along with one further guest on the way. Mind bending hard psych and no nonsense acid blues is the flavor of this side, with some eccentric aspects to boot.

Please feel free to inquire about either release at spectiveaudio [at] gmail [dot] com.

While you're at it, check out one of the most recent installments of A.V. Club Chicago's Tapes'N'Tapes series. Leor was nice enough to stop by and interview yours truly, and here's the result....enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SPCTV6: The Leavitt Ours Quartered / Distance Audio

Beneath the shadows of Chicago's fuzzier and heavier psychedelic sounds, The Leavitt Ours perform experimental pop in the private press tradition. In order to develop and produce their own reflective spaces and musical statements, the trio embrace aggressive ambient soundscapes, synthetic guitar tones, eclectic percussion rhythms, and driving keyed bass and synthesizer backbones.

This release celebrates a return from hiatus that scattered the band members across the globe for a few months, with some factions hiding in Chicago, others engaging in experimental music projects across the United States, and another writing in exotic corners of the universe. After working on opening gigs around town for the latter half of 2009 and early 2010, the group recorded for the remaining months of 2010. The recordings for this cassette are drawn from those sessions, marking a transition from that raucous, scattered group you saw at Ronny's, to a more expansive, experimental, ambient future yet to be realized.

The audio from SPCTV6 (and a couple of other tracks) is now available on SoundCloud: Please feel free to enjoy the audio.

The Leavitt Ours will be appearing on WNUR May 7, early evening.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The N.E.C. In Chicago!

April 23 and April 25, there are two events in Chicago with the N.E.C.:

April 23, Permanent Records
The N.E.C. in-store
5 PM, free

April 25, Beauty Bar
The N.E.C., D.J. Moniker
10 PM, free

This event features psych/rock group N.E.C., part of the rich Atlanta rock scene, and D.J. Moniker, of Moniker Records and Permanent Records. D.J. Moniker will be spinning psych, kraut, punk, and everything in-between, and the N.E.C. will be bringing their driving brand of smart, indulgent psych.

The N.E.C.
Double Phantom
Moniker Records
Permanent Records

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Lurks Beyond

(Review with spoilers)

For as long as I have known David Morris Kelly, I have had the distinct privilege of watching his eye for storytelling develop, often unfolding complex human emotions or relationships in a matter of minutes. David frequently accomplishes this without words, frequently turning the story towards the unexpected, thoroughly examining the fragile human psyche.

Both installments of David's What Lurks Beyond project portray his talented eye and devotion to the story-at-hand. By utilizing basic, immediately recognizable human relationships -- husband and wife, longterm couple sharing an apartment -- David provides a clear, undistorted foundation onto which he builds the otherworldly. Parallel to the earnest human relationships, even the otherworldly appears to be woven intricately into our everyday experience. A rogue radio/cellular signal transmitter on the roof of an apartment building in the first installment, and the bogeyman in the second.

In the first installment, we are introduced to a bored couple of relative newlyweds, celebrating an anniversary with dinner and drinks that just cannot capture the romance and exotic experiences of years past. The husband, in this case, poisons his wife, but cannot effectively kill her due to that pesky transmitter tower; the radio waves penetrate their bodies, and after a couple of brutal fights, both husband and wife awaken to their reality as strangely undead creatures, certainly doomed for a lifetime shared in their peculiar fate.

In the second installment, an eager and excited boyfriend finds an armoire for his girlfriend, a beautiful antique that she is stunned to see again. She recognizes it from her past, as the home of a bogeyman, and immediately requests that it be returned; he does not believe her and notes that he had to pay the delivery men a handsome tip to get that thing delivered to the apartment. After a night of restless sleep, during which she battles the armoire and eventually is taken by the bogeyman, he discovers the frightening truth that there is such a thing as the bogeyman -- and of course, the bogeyman taunts him with his own disbelief -- "there is no such thing."

Both installments feature their share of tasteful gore and psychological suspense, placing What Lurks Beyond in a clear tradition of horror that is built from within the viewer's mind, playing on the viewer's fears and expectations, rather than preying on the viewer with base violence and extreme gore. Perhaps David's best accomplishment is his portrayal of monstrous human relationships in both installments; on one level, it certainly is the otherworldly that is responsible for the deaths of those involved, but on another level, the otherworldly is penetrated by poor human relationships.

In the first case, the couple's lack of communication and interaction results in a marriage that is void of any real feeling develops from the romantic idealization of years past and innocent love. In the second case, a severe lack of trust and empathy pierces the relationship, and in many ways that first act of disbelief -- "there's no such thing as the bogeyman" -- ensures that the relationship will be over before the bogeyman even gets his say in the matter.

Monsters, in David's intense psychological shorts, are as metaphysical as they are visual; if you are expecting that the otherworldly succeeds in his series, lurking beneath human relationships waiting to wreak havoc, you might be surprised when you find that the monsters are complacent humans going through the motions of their lives and relationships, and what lurks beneath their calm surface is otherworldly mistrust and communication breakdowns.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cinchel at Tomentosa

I know it's been a while, but there is going to be an excellent cassette on the way, and in the meantime, Cinchel tapes remain at Tomentosa. Check it out:

Tomentosa 'Spective Audio

I am definitely sold out of Cinchel tapes. There are copies remaining at a couple Reckless stores, Permanent Records, Tomentosa, and I believe the artist himself still has a few....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spirit Smoke / White Noise Sound

One of the valuable results of the recent embrace of psychedelic culture in independent music is the residual focus on 1980s and 1990s trends in psychedelic music. Behind the outbreak of punk and alternative recording and songwriting trends in those decades, psychedelic influences were played down somewhat; perhaps they were hiding in plain sight at the time, but the development of heavier aesthetics in recording and songwriting kept whimsical, wet, and repetitive sounds to a minimum. Those sources of psychedelic sounds in the 1980s and 1990s are receiving their due during the last few years, providing listeners with a library of sounds to dive into, in order that listeners might understand the skeleton of contemporary psychedelic music somewhat better.


I have absolutely no idea how I missed White Noise Sound when their debut record was released in the United States last September, but I am making up for that now by wearing down the wax of their United Kingdom release in 2011. Hailing from the U.K. themselves, this group combines heavy and driving sounds from the Jesus and Mary Chain revival with symphonic or progressive elements from Echo and the Bunnymen (at their most symphonic). That heavy revivalist sound results in exceptional industrial distortion tones, completely distinct from the usual germanium fuzz attacks of psychedelic acts. Resulting from this sound, along with heavy dancey beats is a group attack that is not unlike the Welcome to the Monkey House Dandy Warhols, with the teeth of A Place to Bury Strangers.

On each side, the band starts with a fast and heavy rocker, retreating to introspective songs immediately thereafter. Here the listener has the privilege of diverse instrumentation that is executed in a sufficiently dark and reflective manner; from here the songs meander to their eventual conclusion, and the album itself is completed with one of the best symphonic psychedelic passages of recent years. Not unlike the swells that accompany Darker My Love's "All the Hurry and Wait" suite on their second album, White Noise Sound execute their symphonic passages with more dissonance and less logical conclusions, allowing for heavily emotional involvement in the closing moments.

This is obviously a record that I love because I enjoy the repetition of the Jesus and Mary Chain's fuzz cycles, and their logical conclusion in The Raveonettes and A Place to Bury Strangers, and I have a soft spot for bombastic progressive psychedelic sounds to boot. Needless to say, this disc executes progressive sounds with a succinct vision, and even though I feel like this disc could be twice as long, I appreciate that it is a release that leaves me wanting more. Overall, this is one of the best contemporary releases I have heard that includes psychedelic and progressive elements.


Not too long ago, I sent PayPal to a nice man in Belgium who happens to run a cassette label. Yesterday I received my copy of Great Society Mind Destroyers Spirit Smoke in the mail, and was immediately driven to a land of blistering fuzztones, stomping rhythms, and ethereal vocals. Having my mind sufficiently blown the first time I watched these guys play live over a year ago, and following the progression of their live demos and Dark Fog split 7", my mind was yet unprepared for the comprehensive attack of this new cassette.

In complete contrast to the White Noise Sound review above, this release accentuates certain aspects 1990s psychedelic production (some of the moments remind me of the heaviest and most psychedelic elements of the Smashing Pumpkins when they are at their very best), but the group itself sits more firmly in the traditional stream of psychedelic music originating from the 1960s (especially San Francisco's acid rock). This traditional slant includes organization of events that promote psychedelic culture in Chicago, promote independent psychedelic bands in the city, and also embraces the spiritual possibilities latent in psychedelia (not unlike The Pyschedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators).

When Great Society Mind Destroyers are at their best, they remind me of the complex instrumental arrangements of the original Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the disgusting, saturated tones of that classic acid blues (think "Ball and Chain"). Riffs are at the center of most songs on this release, rather than repetitive, meandering passages, and the execution of these hooks is perfect, bathed in effects, with varied rhythmic approaches from the bass and drums. Typically, the rhythmic section drives the songs in a rather subtle manner, clearing the way for the up-front guitar sound and dreamlike vocal sound. At various points the songs are raving-up or completely controlled, providing the release with diverse sounds and approaches.

One of my favorite things about psychedelic music is the basic template that allows groups to work within familiar conventions while presenting their own unique vision and their own attempt at providing spaces for the mind to reflect and explore. In this regard, Great Society Mind Destroyers pay homage to tradition while commenting on it with relentless, saturated passages.

Even if you're not into psychedelic tomes, this tape straight up rocks. Part of me wondered how this new release would relate to the development of the Chicago sound, and the group turned in a striking statement.