SYNSEN002 liner notes/credits

Since everything came down to the wire for Cassette Store Day, we weren’t able to make any liner notes or credits for our split City Electric/flatland release.  Here are the details!

Also, the cassette is now available via our Bandcamp page:
https://synsen.bandcamp.com/album/synsen002

City Electric (“Skin In The Game” EP)
A1. Cacas Caliente

Not much to say about this track, other than it is one of a few tracks I’ve finished very recently and, as such, is a pretty good indication of where I’m at musically, production-wise, etc… right now.

A2. Dub For Gussie-I 
Another fairly recent track. One day, I was visiting my “nephew” Augustus (aka Prince Gussie-I) and decided to show him the software I’ve been using and how I make patterns, and let him play with it and maybe turn it into a track. It turned out that the patterns he made worked pretty well, so I made a tune around them.

A3. Skin In The Game
A track I started probably 2 years ago…always sort of reminded me of an Italo 007 theme.

A4. Drawing Down The Moon
A track that I probably started about 3 years ago. I joke that apparently, I decided to try and get out all of my Chris & Cosey worship in 1 track. I recall riding around on my bike, listening to rough mixes of this at 4am on the streets of Chicago during a very mild, somewhat rainy summer. Somehow it fits. I saw why Kraftwerk were (are?) all about cycling.

 

flatland (Archive I)
B1. Brahmin Sunrise
A cassette 4-track experiment recorded in Chicago in 1999.  Obviously, if you reverse the audio, you hear how the track was recorded.  That version is “Brahmin Sunset”…it is almost as good as the backwards version. Almost.

B2. Parasite
Another 4-track experiment recorded around the same time…at this point, I was heavily into playing with just reversing parts of the track.

B3. Ship Of State I
Somewhere around August of 1997, I was starting to want to explore different directions from the band I was in and I made the acquaintance of a guy named John Furmanski, who was a carpeting contractor by trade but who had a warehouse in the “West Bottoms” in KCMO where, in addition to carpet, he had a bunch of synths, drum machines, a reel-to-reel, and a massive guitar pedalboard. We would just hit record and do these weird instrumental jams, but we only really did 2 sessions. He was kind of haphazard in his methods. Ship Of State, as it exists on the mixdown tape I have, was 1 track (with what is Ship Of State II on this release actually coming in first with this big reverb on the whole mix and then, suddenly, the reverb disappears and you have what is this fragment.)

B4. Butterfly Bruise
Several acts of complete randomness here…at the last second, John put a 9v battery on one of the synth keys and left it on the whole time we were recording. I was too busy filling the warehouse with wailing Fripp-y guitar to notice. Then, at a certain point, the bass drum in the track gets reversed. Strangely, it isn’t an abrupt thing where one notices right away…if at all.  Toward the end, there is some buried guitar shredding that is definitely John, but I can’t remember if that was left from another track or if he just went off on the guitar with no regard to the rest of the track and buried it in the mix.  Recently, I recalled that the title came from some vampire book and we had actually recorded me reading an excerpt from that book over the track, but either he mixed it down without the “vocal” intentionally or he just forgot to un-mute that track.

B5. Ship Of State II
The original 1st part of the 2-part track known as S.O.S.

 
Thanks to Mike Schneider at Indigo Iguana Studio for layout assistance.
Thanks to everyone at Groove, especially Chuck aka “The Architect”.
Thanks to Augustus W. Mullen and John Furmanski for their musical contribution.
Thanks to my mom for being my mom (and my dad, for that matter).
Thanks to Leona Webb for slowly but steadily pushing me to pursue music.
Respect to everybody releasing weird fucking music on cassette!

-Will

The source tapes for the flatland tracks:
IMAG1051_1

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Thoughts on Cassette Store Day

We’ll start with the personal:
I’ve always had way too many cassettes. I’ve weeded out the horde
several times and always ended up with more shortly thereafter.
Somewhere around 2009, I was working at a record store in Kansas City and
had a friend who was always in about 3 bands and always had a new tape for
me to listen to. I had also begun recording over old tapes again, rather than
throwing them out, to have something new to listen to in the van I was driving
at the time. It was through the aforementioned friend I became aware of the
new crop of punk/psych bands who were releasing cassettes left and right.
In the great punk tradition, most of these bands were playing shows in
somebody’s basement or wherever else they could. Bands and members
would come and go quickly. These bands (and the noise they made) were
hungry…they didn’t have time to wait 3 months or more to get a
record pressed. If they wanted to make any money whatsoever beyond
the split of the suggested donation at the door of said house show,
they had to have something to sell but, more importantly, there was
legitimately a culture of trading tapes and zines. What’s more is a
lot of these bands were not just your run-of-the-mill punk bands…a
lot of them were quickly finding and exploring their own particular weirdness.
A lot of the tapes I’ve bought or have been given over the last 5 years or so
have contained some of the more compelling music I’ve heard in that time.
The cassette release Synthetic Sentiment is doing for Cassette Store Day – a
split from City Electric and Flatland – was conceived as a love letter of sorts to
the “golden age” of experimental cassette labels (i.e. the 80s) as well as out of
respect to the culture of anarchic bands currently releasing weird and
visceral music largely on cassette, and largely for very pragmatic reasons.

So then…the slightly more objective approach:
It is the 3rd year of Cassette Store Day. Just like Record Store Day, it is
quickly becoming increasingly more of a hype machine. Now “cassette
culture” is a hashtag. Urban Outfitters has gotten more heavily involved in
CSD than I realized at first…it all makes me feel a little dirty. As with vinyl, a
relatively small number of people kept the format alive for a number of
reasons while everyone else assumed it was “dead”. Then, somebody thinks
there’s money to be made and everybody jumps back on the wagon.
Cassette reissues from major labels are inevitably right around the corner.
Cassettes may be the latest retro novelty for the much-maligned “hipster”
but, unlike vinyl, people can make cassettes themselves and so I have faith
that there will continue to be a healthy underground scene that will outlive the
retro fetishism.

Making SYNSEN002

Here are a couple of photos of the process of making SYNSEN002.  I wanted to keep it looking handmade and old-school and I think I succeeded!  I duplicated the tapes locally (did about half of them myself!), used stamps and paint markers, and even had a reason to bust out my old tape case that had been sitting in the back of the closet until now.
SYNSEN002collage2

City Elektrik “Skin In The Game” EP

The A side of our Cassette Store Day 2015 release is also available as a digital EP (SYNSEN003) on Bandcamp…it features another track not available on the cassette!  In addition, on Saturday 10/17/15 (Cassette Store Day), we will be making the cassette (SYNSEN002) available on the Bandcamp page…until we run out!  This is a limited, numbered release and most copies have gone to shops already!

http://synsen.bandcamp.com/

SYNSEN002/003 playlist

Greetings!  We’ve made a Soundcloud playlist of all the tracks on our Cassette Store Day 2015 release (SYNSEN002), which is a split release from City Electric and Flatland.  The B side tracks are exclusive to the cassette, while the A side is also available on Bandcamp* with an extra track that’s not on the tape!

*this is SYNSEN003