Wednesday, January 04, 2017


DAS TORPEDOES and RAKE KASH have records out now on the Omaha-based Gertrude label. The Rake Kash was recorded over the past couple years, while the Das Torpedoes was recorded fifteen years ago, possibly even pre-9/11. Both are projects by (former?) members of that city's fin de siècle (that's the 20th siècle to you, daddy-o) sound/noise/art band Naturaliste. The Das Torpedoes record is called The Madness Inspiration, and was initially a cassette released in 2002 on the Animal Disguise label, under the alias Charles Lareau. Animal Disguise was one of the great cassette labels of the early 2000s, and hearing this Madness Inspiration murkily issuing off of magnetic tape and out of my speakers in that already futuristic palindromic early 21st-Century year was the perfect soundtrack for my own private feelings as they glanced off of the 1990s mass-media alternative rock explosion into an increasingly inward early-onset middle-age Phildickian reality. I'm sure many of you have had, and are having, similar moments. The whole Animal Disguise label was good for these weird introspective moments, and still is (check flagship artist Mammal's 2015 release Lake & Sand), but there was something about The Madness Inspiration that really stood out. It was polite noise. Dark and depressing, but well-behaved. Power electronics that never yelled. Crude electronic recording experiments that all just kinda sat there and worked, grinding away like air conditioning, electrical current, room tone, internal human consciousness. Kudos to Gertrude Tapes for pressing up 250 of 'em, as well as of the new Rake Kash LP (co-released by Unread), which leads off with a track called "Stonecutters," and has a drawing of stonecutters on the cover, but is apparently self-titled. Either way, they continue their increasingly distinct brand of late-night red-wine underground-cinematic instrumentals, first heard on the the Herr Tambourine Mann LP from 2011 (also on Gertrude Tapes) and a self-titled cassette from 2013 (on, you guessed it, Animal Disguise). This new one is more arthouse neo-noir than ever, with bandleader L. Eugene Methe laying down delicate themes on synthesizers, bass, piano, electric guitar, violin & organ, joined by two drummers, cello, clarinet, harmonica, a full-time tambourinist, and most notably some superb noir sax playing by one Ian Simons. I'm not joking when I use that hoary chestnut "cinematic"; Rake Kash pull it off, and when it occasionally starts to sound a little too nice, the perfect electronic burble or menacing synth tone is right there to upset the illusion and land you back on the ground/street/planet.

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