FACT Magazine: The 20 best cassettes of 2014 – PART II (Top 10)

A summary of the article published on factmag.com.

For the first part, see here.

10. DE LEON
De Leon
(Aught)
“De Leon’s gamelan-infused techno is minimal to a fault, but finds a way to worm its way into the brain space that won’t allow it to be forgotten. It’s not exactly catchy, but it’s stunning in both form and approach; nervous energy permeates throughout, like someone scrambling to find a way out of a maze that’s slowly closing around them. But really, he/she had me at ‘gamelan-infused techno.’”

09. THE FUN YEARS
One Quarter Descent
(Spring Break Tapes)
“There aren’t many (any?) turntable and baritone guitar duos out there, but the potential novelty of such a setup is utterly irrelevant in such capable hands.”
“The narcotic guitar loops, the lonesome vinyl crackle… it all melds together to become an endless series of soporific interludes, content on massaging out the last knot of tension from anyone willing to listen. Beautiful.”

08. SETH GRAHAM
Goop 
(Noumenal Loop)
” ½ of Cream Juice
“His sample sources are always a bit fuzzy, but Graham pulls sounds from all over the spectrum to create something new and bizarre and wholly his own. This is an artist whose work continues to push boundaries, and will only get better from here.”

07. JEFRE-CANTU LEDESMA
Songs of Forgiveness
(Baro)
“Gaze into the hiss, and imperfect images become clearer, self-reflection becomes vital. Overwhelming to the point of breaking, Songs Of Forgiveness is a way forward without bridges ablaze and inclement destruction left in our wake.”
“Songs Of Forgiveness is a meditation to love lost and lives that never existed.”

06. BEWILDERBEAST
Still/Alive
(Airlines)
“The cut-and-paste nature of these songs immediately stands out, but there’s a cohesive thread that runs throughout the album. Bewilderbeast’s songs are catchy without being slathered in aural syrup. Sinister undercurrents flow beneath the R&B-infused production, but even in the brightest, catchiest moments they’re still there, waiting.”

05. VARIOUS
The Barley Bridge
(Penultimate Press)
“Absolutely stunning compilation of oddball minimalist works from the likes of Graham Lambkin, Call Back The Giants (who continue to be one of the best bands in the world), Moniek Darge, Vicky Langan, and others. The diversity present from track to track makes this an intriguing collection, but the cohesion and flow between songs push it into essential territory. If only more compilations were this well thought-out. Get it.”

04. KHOTIN
Hello World
(1080p Collection)
“Canada’s 1080p Collection has emerged as one of the most reliable labels on the planet, and the quality of all the tape releases they’ve dropped in the past month is testament to that. Khotin’s music is particularly polished, and sounds as if it was beamed back from a future Japanese space station via a hacked Nintendo console. Even the dubbier elements are otherworldly.”

03. THE SPOOKFISH
Living Room
(Singapore Sling)
“Who is The Spookfish, and does it really matter? Living Room is a haunted journey through living rooms and rural alleyways. Album opener ‘Swimming In The Lake’ grabs hold and never lets go – the synth lead is so sugary, so catchy, that the pulsating beat is almost an afterthought, even though it’s really the star of the show. The Spookfish covers a lot of ground, getting acoustic and contemplative on ‘Black Ghost With Red Eyes’ before reviving mid-’90s tape scene vibes on the closer, ‘Snake Song’. Living Room is aptly titled as The Spookfish draws the listener into his home, cooks dinner, and sets the world on fire. Great tape.”

02. SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL
Reconsiders The Vampire’s Curse 
(Boomarm Nation)
“Normally I’d be pretty nervous about someone attempting to “reimagine” such a stone cold classic, but knowing SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL is at the helm, we can all rest easy. Nobody can deconstruct dubs and turn them into some nascent, transcendent form like him. The parts that are recognisably Scientist get stuffed through his soundsystem matrix until we’re left with something wholly, confidently SKRS. For an artist who has such a distinct process, it’s impressive to hear how he’s able to alter said process and push it in new directions depending on the source material, without sacrificing what makes it so memorable. SKRS is the truth.”

01. RANDALL McCLELLAN
The Healing Music of Rana
(Sun Ark)

“While the recent New Age revival has seen a number of mediocre works reissued & celebrated, last year saw the pinnacle of essential spiritual listening with the I Am the Center box set. While this collection from Randall McClellan isn’t quite on that level, it’s wonderful all the same. McClellan was a co-founder of the electronic music studio at the Eastman School of Music in 1967, and The Healing Music of Rana represents the entirety of his recorded works. These deeply meditative pieces are an expert take on how subtleties and concentrated listening go hand-in-hand. There is inherent beauty here, but it’s the deeper aspects that make the biggest impact.”

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