Funny playing field, isn't it, when a cassette release is more of a step up than a CDr, or a download. Sometimes I wonder if it's some odd form of nostalgia at work – but then again, cassettes are a nice format. Maybe it's nothing more than that, or maybe there's some kind of weird-arse cassette manufacturing spot somewhere in Victoria that all these thing are coming from, and it's just about using that service. There's been so damn many recently – I certainly can't keep up, but I like the things, as is possibly clear from the bulk of this blog.
All of which is to say that Aaron Wallace and Tom Hall (the Melbourne one – not the guy from Brisbane, though I have a few things to say about his gear as well, but don't think about that now or you'll get confused) have released a cassette on Sunshine & Grease.
I got the damn thing and it's been getting the treatment alright. I even listened to the sucker in bath, which was totally great. You should get this, get a pot of some sort of weird tea going and get into a tub of hot water and do the low rent float tank.
Okay. The content.
I gotta tell ya, I have had this spilt for quite some time now and I had all but pressed enter on a review that favoured T Hall over A Wallace and that was totally where I was at at that very point, except that I couldn't quite commit to it. Aaron's mourning keen was fine and luscious, but even the loose structure of his song forms weren't quite there for me. I had some idea that he needed something more before he could truly let rip with the song he obviously heard between his ears, and I was eager to hear it as well, it just wasn't on this cassette. However, before I really tease that out, I really need to deal with Mr Hall.
Tom Hall does a lovely meander on his side that starts with a simple pattern and kind of slowly draws a wobbling loop around and around it, as if he is hurriedly drawing an infinity symbol on a piece of courrgated cardboard with a Biro – the image keeps the same basic pattern but the line goes all over the shop. If you don't get that, go get the Biro and a bit of courrguated cardboard (it has to be corurgated) and draw an infinity symbol - and keep tracing it. Do it with some speed, as there's beat you have to keep to and you'll notice that you don't' quite stick to where you started. You over the edge and it roughens the shape, varies it, makes little slivers here and there or other interactions of line and form keep on occurring. That's how Tom Hall's untitled side is – it stays in one place to go somewhere. It's a beautiful, involved evolution of a musical pattern that really drew me in as a listener from the get-go and only enriched itself more with me over time. I was much more impressed by where it was heading than I was with Aaron's side of the cassette and I was all ready to say so in pixels, but then, well I wasn't.
Thing is, I was not quite sure if that was really the verdict and wondered if it was me and left it to marinate. In the meantime, the cassette itself got a hiding; it became the thing with which I largely make risotto – you kn ow how you hang out in the kitchen and drink some red wine and keep stirring and adding stock? You really need music at that point and Wallace and Hall are nearly my best cooking companions – all sorts of ham-fisted metaphors about simmering and slow boiling aside, I found a domestic groove with this, standing in my socks on a wooden floor.
Over time, A Wallace's tunes really opened up, and it all transformed. It's a great recording and there is a distinction and I do ultimately dig what Hall is up but Wallace is a hell of guy whose plastic take on the song and it's borders fascinate and involve. It may all change again, and that's the mark of a good anything - it's depth becomes clearer with time spent, return listens are rewarded with more complex appreciation. Which I get with this.
In the meantime, as I considered, the whole tiny run of this great thing sold out. I'm even gladder than I ever I got one, and I suspect that will grow rather than diminish.
But don't let that put you off as you can stroll over to this here blog that the dudes aforementioned run, or something, and just download it and see what you make of it all.