Vacation Man Adrian Knight GALTTA-025

I wish I was Adrian Knight. I mean, not even a little bit – I WANT to be him, like BE HIM be him. That unflinching coolness is something to aspire to, and no reviewer worth their salt would ever omit the term “smooth operator” in a write up of one of his albums. I wanted to get that out of the way so you know I’m serious. I’m not joking in any way at all. I want to – no, I MUST attain a modicum of that lifestyle in order to truly feel like I’m a complete version of myself.
But to dismiss Knight’s laid-back cocktail funk as a put-on, as some kind of nu-yacht rock is a little disingenuous. This isn’t the Swedish expat’s first rodeo, as he’s got a couple other releases on Galtta, both of the solo variety and as part of Blue Jazz TV, and elsewhere, as part of Private Elevators and Synthetic Love Dream Ensemble. He’s an unstoppable force of dreamy, self-reflective and utterly streamlined songwriting, and he continues to hone his craft into amazing disco-pop-funk reveries. Kind of like if fellow countryman Jens Lekman ended up fronting a live vaporwave band, or something along those lines. That’s not even close to a perfect description. But it sure sounds fun!
“Vacation Man” will convince you that you need a permanent holiday from everyday business life, as if the boardrooms and the corner offices don’t hold the secrets to success that you once dreamed of. I feel this way too – I’m with you guys. But even though this is exactly the kind of situation the music of “Vacation Man” seems to shove into your imagination, it’s actually – and, shhh, it might be a secret – kind of a condemnation of it. See, the title track itself even goes “Stand down, Vacation Man, no one can save you now” on its chorus. Whaddayou mean by that?! Does that mean that every hope sprung forth by Adrian Knight here, every desire, is just a wisp of nothingness that’ll leave me hollow inside?
I don’t know what to think – I don’t even know who I am anymore.
No, wait – I’ll just press play on “Vacation Man,” then I’ll feel good about myself again. Well, until I realize what the lyrics are telling me, that is. Get your own copy (of 125) from Galtta!    -Ryan Masteller, Tabs Out

At first blush, this cassette made me think it had fallen through a space-time vortex from 1979. Heavy influences range from Steely Dan to Alan Parsons Project and other late night rotation AM radio hits. As the music progresses, however, a vague sense of unease sets in. Nostalgia morphs into moden anxiety and the despair of unfulfilled relationships. Adrian's lyrics are edgy and spare no dark emotion: Lost a whole week stuck in bed, I couldn’t get up even if I tried, Called in sick to make some space inside my head, Karen at the pawnshop said, you can’t just keep paddling on in the dangerous tide,Lucy’s gone but you’re still alive.... and that's some of the lighter stuff. The last track, Radiogram, even sounded depressed, like it was recorded deep within the recesses of an abandoned factory at midnight. Vacation Man is no vacation. Musically, however, Vacation Man captivates with a surreal retro sensibility. 
-DJ Frederick, Why The Tapes play

Vacation Man, please do not despair, your dignity is still on the top of the charts. Listening to this massive testimonial to life and friends, your sorrows resonate with the drizzling rain outside the window. The years have gone by so quickly, remembering these tones and timbre from parents records and childhood radio. Adrian Knight shows how existence is cyclic, what was smooth and silky, discarded then found again. A polyester jacket, sewn with a large collar and zipper closure, sits in the closet. Removed from the hanger and worn again, still fascinating with bright multi colored patterns, but somehow out of place in modern fashion. These tracks are flipped from white to black, played in a hazy minor scale and radiating a melancholy beauty.
Adrian Knight has dialed the rotary phone and read poetry from his pocket notebook. Verse connected to emotion, thoughts of friends and their actions conveyed in composition. In order to impart these messages, the band is back together. A revolving mixture of GALTTA's studio band, Michael Advensky, Alice Cohen, David Lackner, Nick Stevens, along with Adrian Knight. All reveling the turn of the radio dial through temporal space. Stereo signals flicker as sounds from the Bee Gees, Carol King and Wings hold keys to both accord and sentiment. Taking cues from both harmony and sleek delivery, this well honed group of musicians finds grooves in the most special manner. A place where sound has gone, and no one until now has the channeling ability and talent to begin to match it. The beauty of Vacation Man is the connection to the past, and it's coconut butter twist on the future. Relevance is left for music scholars to figure on and they will ponder arduously...
Released on the GALTTA label from Brooklyn. Vacation Man is in an edition of one hundred and twenty five. Very importantly, the lyrics are available with download after purchase. Copies are currently available.
"Salt in my heart again, and in my soul, It’s in my ragged brain, and it consumes me whole"
Your radiogram is amazingly clear.
- Robot, Lost In A Sea Of Sound

Like the yacht rock daddies of yesteryear, Adrian Knight is here to take you away for a while. The Brooklyn-based Knight dropped this one just before the new year, drifting out of the shitshow of 2018 with a well-tailored grace matched only by Lewis Baloue, piña colada in hand, all fucks firmly ungiven. The Van Goghian waiting room portrayed on the cover, idyllic beach blaring up the wall over a dimly greying carpet, does well to summarise the music on Vacation Man. This is music cut from the most tasteless, tawdry and tacky of tools. And it’s somehow all the more blissful for it.
.The irony isn’t ladled on as heavily as one might expect for an album of postmodern soft pop issued by a Brooklyn tape label. Tunes like the six-minute ‘Looking For My Love’ trace jazzy melodic routes around oddly complex structures, replete with flute licks and sax accents behind Knight and backing singer, resting happily on the song’s genuinely hooky refrain.
The main effects of the tape (to my ear) are two-fold. Firstly, deploying vintage yuppie syntax in an era when it holds no currency has a strange allure. Listening to this, I’m essentially enjoying the sickly sweet taste of commercialism without any of its moral drawbacks. Secondly, the sheer inoffensiveness of these tunes is some warm relief from the cold cynicism and evils of new modernity. Simply put, the synth bounce, rich vocal harmonies, BBC Radio 2 vibes, silky smooth guitar twangs, and root-note basslines of this are utterly undemanding. There’s arguably also a veiled melancholy behind everything here: the very idea of the proverbial ‘vacation man’ is kind of downbeat – a troubled man in need of shelter and relief from the world outside. But taken in earnest, Vacation Man is as rich, relaxing and sunny as a Floridian beach trip, that is to say, thoroughly imperfect. - Tristan Bath, Spools Out, The Quietus


Energy Star Energy Star GALTTA-026

This one was tricky, because words are symbols, and the meaning is abstract. Not only is Energy basically a walking concept, it’s also a source of renewable power. One listen to this self-titled cassette on Galtta and you’ll be driving that hot new Prius with the tape deck plugged into the battery. That’s how Energy intends you to roll.
Each of the five lengthy tracks (well, two are shorter) is a succession of tilde symbols, “~” to “~~~~~,” representing the flow, the current, of Energy ’s, ahem, energy. To call the music of duo Camilla Padgitt-Coles and Bryce Hackford effortless would be an utter understatement. Each tilde-y wave undulates frictionlessly out toward infinity, and would continue toward it if time constraints and the shortage of Chrome tape stock didn’t put a damper on the party. These delightfully laid-back electronic tunes skip like stones across space and time where gravity and physics don’t exactly conform to what we’re used to here on Earth. It is why the Toyota Prius is powered by an endlessly looping tape deck in this scenario. Also because my imagination put it there.
The utter joy bubbling out from my speakers lifts my spirits like an effervescent cloud, ever expanding, ever advancing. The soft-focus ambience lifts the pulsing rhythms as if they were landscapes in a utopian science-fiction fantasy. Maybe we’ll figure out how manipulate time in that reality; maybe infinity music can occur; maybe we won’t even be driving Priuses anymore.
Grab a tape from Galtta, edition of 100! - Ryan Masteller, Tabs Out

Camilla Padgitt-Coles made one of 2017’s best tapes under her Ivy Meadows moniker, and her thoughtful approach carries over to Energy , her duo with Bryce Hackford. Each track—all of which are titled with increasing tildes—employs a simple, sturdy beat, upon which Padgett-Coles and Hackford layer sonic accents. That could be a formula for overload, but the pair are pretty minimalist, so even as the sounds build up, everything stays transparent. It’s almost as if you can see through the skin of these songs to see the blood pumping through their veins. Each piece becomes a kind of meditative mantra, something to hold onto as you let everything else go. - Marc Masters, Hi Bias, Bandcamp Daily


Purelle Purelle GALTTA-024

You can never be too clean.
Germs are everywhere, and because you touch everything, you get them all over you. If you were to place yourself on a microscope slide and lie prone while a scientist observed you, that scientist would rush to the nearest receptacle and vomit out of sheer disgust. You are a living pile of microorganisms jockeying for position with your white blood cells. Sometimes your body’s defenses win. Sometimes the germs win.
That’s why you gotta have Purelle. With Purelle, the chances of immune system emerging victorious increase a thousandfold.
And … who knew sanitizing could be so sexy?
I mean, not just sexy but, like, literally and overtly sexual.
Hands caressing the dispenser and gently ejecting stream after stream of the sanitary gel. Forward, reverse, doesn’t matter. Hands coating themselves with clear goo until they glisten. Hands sensually contorting within the context of rhythm and mood. Hands writhing and intertwining in unflinching close-up.
Clean, glorious hands.
Ten-minute nastified slow-jam soundtrack by Purelle, aka Adrian Knight and David Lackner. Perfect for the hand sanitizer/finger fetish connoisseur. Gotta Have It! cassette available from Galtta. Ryan Masteller, Tiny Mix Tapes

Adrian Knight and David Lackner fire off a smooth missive as Purelle. These two have been at it under various names, mostly on the Brooklyn-based Galtta label, peeling off electro-jazz movements somewhere between Co La and Novoline. Gotta Have It! strings together four ten-minute smooth jazz journeys, with dominant flute lines, blistering synth, and recordings of waves, animals (crying dogs?), and an offhand voicemail. Shuffling percussion—kit-based and hand-drum heavy—keeps the four pieces turbulence-free. It might be easy to write this off as snoozy muzak, but there’s too many weird house bits sloshing around this gazpacho to do that comfortably. It’s almost like a discovered dialect of Mr. Fingers. Gel jazz for the sanitary. - Ian Forsythe, Boston Hassle

Purelle is the duo of Adrian Knight, who handles synth, rhodes, guitar, and percussion, and David Lackner, who holds down sax, flute, EWI, and percussion. Together their 45+ minutes of music spans just four tunes. Both of the players have had their hands in plenty of other bands and projects (although the hands on the cover art here belong to Alice Cohen), and their experimental ideas have always resided somewhere between jazz fusion, art-punk, and carefully constructed noise.
“Bahia Honda” starts the listen out with hazy, lethargic ideas over the sounds of waves crashing, as it builds into an ambient, textured and mesmerizing display of jazz-lite tendencies. “Over Easy” follows and is a bit darker in scope with more attention to percussion, as the warbling and elegant sounds keep us enthralled for the entire 10 minutes.
“Gotta Have It!,” a more dance rock oriented track, brings us soundbites and a dreamy quality with an ultra-stylish approach and plenty of club friendly beats before “Love Dream” ends the effort with over 12 minutes of mysterious, glowing, surreal landscapes that unfold like a late night drive through the desert that you can't figure out was fact or fiction. There's an eerie, hypnotic feel present on this standout song that is occasionally interrupted by the distant brass, which only further punctuates just how unusual this album is.
If you're going to want a physical copy of this one, it is only on cassette and is hand numbered and limited to just 100 copies. Much like everything on the Galtta label, it's an iconoclastic, highly atypical environment and just bleeds creativity from beginning to end. While some people may find this a little too niche for their enjoyment, fans of all things unorthodox will absorb every second of its unpredictable nature. - Tom Haugen, Daily Vault



The New Age Nick Stevens GALTTA-022

Not gonna lie here, I loveeeeeee sophistipop. Be it Scritti or Tears for Fear or Prefab Sprout. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Knight seemingly has a license to print sophisti-pop gold and this new Galtta Media release by Nick Stevens is noooooo exception. Steven's hypnotizingly deep voice lends to the intricate songsmithing and unique arrangements but this is really pressing on something deeper and more realized than much of what I've heard in a while from pop music in general.
Reliablely steering clear of 80s pastiche, there is a unique smoothness, especially in David Lackner's saxophone solos and the crisp drum machine accented by hand percussion. Knight's keyboard playing is unbelievable and hard to define in its uniqueness and the chord changes are jazzy, sweeping, and unpredictable throughout.
"Inviting You (Into My Life)" is a truly remarkable track. At almost seven minutes long, it borders on Steely Dan grooves, Paul McCartney melodies, Beach Boys harmonies, and Yellow Magic Orchestra timbres. There are lots of exciting harmonic jazz jumps in the chord progressions on this album. Every song has finally tuned keyboard and guitar hooks. "(Beyond)The Law" is a smoove grooving instrumental with almost a tinge of the Residents in Alice Cohen's airy background vocals.
"Colors of the Sunset" could draw comparisons to "I'm Your Man"-era Leonard Cohen not only in the baritone vocal delivery but the deep hues of lyrical content. "All Night Messiah" is a serious take on pop with a convincingly deceptive melody and funky bassline. The title track is another standout with its strikingly complex counterpoint and icy synth parts. The final track, "Motorcycle" is almost suitably Abba-esque in its grace and mesmerizing pop-disco drum & bass groove.
All and all, every Galtta Media release I've heard thus far strikes me as fantastic (especially Knight's solo album "On The Prowl Again" and Blue Jazz TV featuring Billy G. Robinson's two releases on the label). If you like pop, old or new, this is for you!! --"Jamband" Josh Brown, cassette gods

Do you like listening to things that sound like Leonard Cohen? Or even Leonard Cohen himself? If the answer is "fuck yeah!" (it should be) then read this review and buy this tape.
Nick Stevens's portrait on the cover suggests a cross between Nick Cave and Dr. Jacobi of Twin Peaks fame. To be honest, that's not too far off in terms of how this brand new cassette sounds. A marriage of baritone brooding and garish, meta-cornball textures.
Mid-period Leonard Cohen, when he transformed the sonically tawdry and tacky into transcendent, is the number one touchstone in play here, and I will be mentioning the Bard of the Boudoir quite often so buckle up. At its weakest, The New Age is a damn good impression of a Cohen album and at its best, it's an arresting re-contextualization of 80s Cohen hallmarks transmuting them into something of Stevens's own.
No effort is made to disguise the Cohen inspiration and, in fact, there may even be a wry attempt to draw attention to it. To my ear, the first few seconds of the opening track, "The Vow", mirror the first few seconds of "I Can't Forget". Considering that these are the first few seconds that someone will hear when they pop in this tape, I assume they were carefully selected. Or maybe this is just some musical Rorschach situation and as a person who used a line from "I Can't Forget" in his wedding vows, it's no surprise that I'm hearing its echoes here.
After "The Vow" closes, Stevens makes his first true gambit, smacking me in the face with the enjoyably kitsch, dare-I-say? Rick Astley-ish intro of "Inviting You (Into My Life)". Stevens stops at nothing, including dropping in a lengthy nylon string guitar solo, to perfect the groovy, easy listening experience.
Escorted by a vibrato-laden synth lead "Easy to Hold" is an early stand-out, and the first glimpse of the heights Stevens and producer and co-writer Adrian Knight are truly capable of. The track is the kind of thing Puff Daddy would have sampled into oblivion in the Biggie days had this cassette dropped in 1988 rather than 2018. A muted sex jam that concludes perfectly with a chanteuse repeating "I may be easy to hold". Prepare to put this one on repeat.
Some of these tracks just feel good to have on the stereo, infusing your environment, like "(Beyond) The Law" and its slinky, operatic groove augmented by wordless "hmmms" and exhalations. I've definitely found my pew in Stevens's therapeutic disco-church.
"Colors of the Sunset" might be a little too Leonard Cohen for its own good—in the sense that I don't recognize enough of Stevens in it. It's not a bad tune whatsoever but it simply hasn't stuck with me through several listens like the rest of the album.
Another one of my favorites "All Night Messiah", more obliquely takes on Death of a Ladies Man (think "True Love Leaves No Traces" but freshened up with Stevens's mellow disco vibe). I would be sorely remiss if I didn't point out the fantastically fluttering lilt of the guest sax and flute work by David Lackner. The classy synth-cheese on the outro courtesy of Adrian Knight is superb as well. Magnifico!
Stevens follows up "Messiah" with another big time banger, title track "The New Age", finding a remarkable sweet spot between Cohen worship, rock solid songwriting, and dark-edged Depeche Mode-style overtones and production before pivoting into finale "Motorcycle", a gently propulsive Smog-gone-synth pop situation with Stevens crooning in a higher register and gliding into the ether.
Even though his name isn't on the spine, producer Adrian Knight has to be commended for his massive contribution. Other than the occasional wind instrument, female backing vocals and Stevens's voice and rhythm guitar, Knight is the backing band. Stevens does his part for sure, but The New Age wouldn't be what it is without Knight; they make a great team with Knight even co-writing a couple tunes as well. I definitely hope this collaboration has a future.
Grab yr tape here before the normals catch on and this thing goes gold. - Drew Dahle, Auxilary Out

Nick Stevens.... you have been eluding description. Listening for weeks now and there you stand. Like a deer, ahead on the trail, both seen and seeing back. Getting close and through the woods you go. The New Age feels like it is from ages ago. A subdued and surreal journey meant for the super chill, the after party with location only known to the few. Thank you for the invitation, although still mildly out of place, the repeated listens have opened thoughts to a sonic landscape evading whereabouts.
The New Age takes time to infuse smooth rhythms and clever vocals. A composure definitely attributed to the skilled writing and experienced musicians behind these tunes. The most pertinent question after the first play through, how did you get here? The path back, filled with influences and comparisons, seems so apparent, but vanishes when any thought is applied. Hints of new wave music resonate with some accord, briefly heard like seeing smoke from fireworks in the night. Like the Cat from Red Dwarf, evolving from feline to human over millions of years, Nick Stevens has been cloistered in a Holiday Inn lounge, writing and playing for unimaginable lengths of time. This cassette contains eight long tracks that are anything but protracted. These patient melodies sprout, bud and blossom in the thoughts of all who listen. Amalgamations of sounds, perfectly proportioned, creating superlative sonic smoothness. Handing this cassette over to the music scholars, the only way to escape the Nick Stevens temporal loop.
Released on the label GALTTA, from Brooklyn, New York. Cassette editions in a run of one hundred and twenty five. Copies are currently available from the label's bandcamp page. The New Age is an excellent composition and only asks for predispositions to be left on the mat before entry. - Robot, Lost In A Sea Of Sound

Nick Stevens is in great company here with Adrian Knight of Blue Jazz TV handling the rhythm section and the legendary Alice Cohen lending her vocals on four tracks.
David Lackner rounds out the team on saxophone and flute, and together the four birth an experimental pop listen with plenty of jazz influences, reverb fun, funky moments, and warm, quirky ’80s synth.
The two songs that Knight co-wrote are among the best, one with New Wave feelings, the other hazy and layered, while the remainder of the cassette has deep vocals from Stevens navigating us through electronica, psyche-rock, and variations of minimalism that are both unclassifiable and difficult to resist. - New Noise



Eulogy Family in Mourning ft. Lydia Lunch GALTTA-021

Former no wave pioneer turned spoken word artist Lydia Lunch returns with an astonishing set of funereal ballads, backed by new group Family In Mourning. On Eulogy Lunch reflects on the thin line that separates life from death. The music accompanying these meditations ranges from moodily piped jazz to simply strummed acoustic guitars, but the most harrowing example here is “Dust And Shadow”, which acts as the album’s moving finale. In essence it is Lunch at the bedside of her dying lover, beseeching him to go towards the light that is beckoning him to the other side, where he will be set free from the pain of existence. Despite the anguished subject matter it is a beautifully performed piece, one that ranks alongside Patti Smith’s “Birdland” as a piece of pure vocal art. Edwin Puncey -THE WIRE

Lydia Lunch and a Fully Operational Funeral Collective Is Peak Goth 2017
You can throw away your Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Christian Death records. It's impossible to out-Goth Lydia Lunch when she teams up with Family in Mourning, which is also a fully operational funeral collective dedicated to serving the global community in all their death-related needs.
The video for "Loser," a track taken from their upcoming album Eulogy, features footage of Aileen Wuornos, the Florida serial killer who was characterized by Charlize Theron in the film Monster. Lunch, an ordained reverend of the Universal Life Church, known for her eulogies, delivers a haunting vocal on the track and the acoustic gothic of Family in Mourning adds a chilling touch to the footage of Wuornos in prison scrubs.Family in Mourning is available to perform pre-mortem and post-mortem events, and offers a variety of services with Bronze and Silver packages starting at $5,000.


Family in Mourning & Lydia Lunch Recall The “Last Time We Met”
It’s strange that following the immense popularity of the reunited Swans there wasn’t an equally renewed interest in the rest of the no wave scene that birthed them, particularly the work of Lydia Lunch. Maybe it’s because Lydia Lunch is harder to pin down: she’s been just as active as a spoken word artist, and a willing collaborator as a musician, working with everyone from Omar Rodriguez Lopez to A Storm of Light. Even her newest project Eulogy puts her as second billing behind Family In Mourning. Our inattention is our folly. “Last Time We Met,” the newest song from the collaboration, is a haunting meditation on living through loss. Singing over little more than a sine wave and a collage of saxophones, Lunch recalls final moments and last words, pushing the song to a place of spiritual catharsis.
The song’s video, which you can watch below, feels like reliving a memory. On top of signaling to the viewer that this is a strictly goth affair, the video’s grainy black and white, slow-moving footage give it the feel of a fading recollection, gradually wearing down under the stress of time. “Last Time We Met”‘s sparse instrumentation is equally as weary, hovering over each bass note as if trying to hold onto the smallest details of a bygone day. Fear over those details slipping away hangs over Lunch’s performance as well. “I’m writing songs that will be set in stone,” she sings, implying that the dead man she remembers will live on in those carvings. Through immortalizing him, Lunch is able to reflect on her own mortality, and in replaying his last words to her, she re-experiences the sublime, ending the piece by “making love to his ghost.” Her voice wavers, the chorus of saxophones is lifted off by drummer Derek Vockins, and the song drifts away into oblivion.

As concept albums go, Eulogy is among the less whimsical of its kind. With no wave poet Lydia Lunch, a minister with the multi-faith Universal Life Church, fronting the bulk of the 10 tracks the mood is not so much sombre as reflective.
Family in Mourning describe themselves as a funeral collective, and number among them an undertaker, a funeral director and a psychic adviser, and they have authored a debut LP that speaks tenderly to and about an experience common to every human being who ever lived while making such a sublime noise you wonder why nobody has ever attempted such an undertaking (sorry) before.
Besides such hypnotic songs as Dust and Shadows and Last Time We Met, a two-chord threnody garlanded by circling sax and ambient tones, Eulogy finds space for poetry of sound, climaxing in the intro to I Fell from Grace, wherein a disembodied choir emerges from noise and insistent organ, the cumulative effect one of rhapsody.
“Death is just a shadow,” Lunch repeats over and over as this record arrives at its final resting place. If you find yourself in need of light, there could be no better place to start than this peculiarly therapeutic offering.


Death and its subsequent impact on the living has always been a subject of great interest and inspiration in music, making for brilliant fugues and beautiful requiems, and maybe the occasional emo song. It’s more rare, however, that the morbid, the macabre, the funereal, constitutes an entire project and influences its every move. Lydia Lunch, an ordained reverend in the Universal Life Church (among other things), has taken a lifelong fascination with the funeral arts and transformed it into a “fully operational funeral collective/service,” otherwise known as the band she now fronts, called, Family In Mourning. Lunch is joined by Dahm Majuri Cipolla, Ben Lord, and David Lackner to create immersive, melodic eulogies in which the living can take solace and look forward to an afterlife. It’s a beautiful art.
Their music videos are no different. Take, “Lover Have Mercy,” for instance, which is premiering here today. Directed by Jasmine Hirst, it’s a surreal and dilapidated drift through train terminals and city sidewalks, through troubled pasts and desolate nows. Lunch floats through it all, like a forgotten soul unsure of where she belongs. The skyline penetrates, ever present, through memories of embraces from a lost or left loved one flickering in and out of the forefront. Closeups of Lunch show a face as exasperated and lonesome as the song itself, woefully imploring us or whomever to “please search” for her. The whole thing resonates with the weight of speaking to friends and family after the burial of a loved one; you’re unsure of where to go or what to do. You’re lost.

Featuring Lydia Lunch, an early No Wave pioneer and purveyor of all things noisey and anti-commercial, this debut LP is literally labeled as songs for the deceased or those in mourning by members who refer to themselves as a funeral collective (rumor has it an undertaker, funeral director and psychic advisor make up the band, and Lynch is an ordained reverend of the Universal Life Church).
With that said, this isn’t the most uplifting album, obviously, but spawns very eclectic, morbid creativity. While some songs are merely interludes of bells or broken glass, others are fuller folk songs with dual gender vocals and saxophones, flutes or organs. Even sparse songs like the piano and subtle strings of “Soon I’ll Be Gone” emit plenty of dark beauty, while the ambient jazz of “Last Time We Met” is a dizzying display of well controlled chaos. Though no 2 songs here resemble each other, all possess a poetic touch, are reflective and with attention to mood, and Lunch’s iconoclastic spin and cryptic tendencies ensure you won’t find a listen like this anywhere else.
Tom Haugen NEW NOISE

As concept albums go, it barely needs saying that Eulogy is among the less whimsical of its kind. But that is not to suggest it is a collection of songs burdened by the weight of their subject matter. With no wave poet Lydia Lunch, an ordained minister with the multi-faith Universal Life Church, fronting the most potent of the 10 tracks that make up this record, the overall mood is not so much sombre as reflective and feline, unafraid of allusions to the carnal impulses that can remain once a loving relationship is severed for ever.
Family In Mourning themselves are a funeral collective among whose ranks are an undertaker, a funeral director and a psychic adviser. They proudly tout their services for pre and post-mortem events starting at $5000, with prices for the higher end of their performances available on request. If you’re wondering how much of this is tongue-in-cheek, time spent with Eulogy should provide you with the answer.
It will also acquaint you with a sporadically devastating suite of songs that speak tenderly and eloquently to and about an experience common to every human being who ever walked the earth ­– loss – while making such sublime musical strides that it leads you to question why nobody has ever attempted such an undertaking before (sorry). This is music touched by echoes of Miles Davis, Swans, Johnny Cash and even glam rock. You might argue it is gothic in spirit, but sonically it is in a world of its own.
For an illustration of the sensitivity and acuity of Eulogy’s approach to death and mourning it is hard to see past Lunch’s lyrics on Dust And Shadows.
“What would you say to somebody who only had 30 days to live?” she purrs. “What could you say?/ That in this land of illusion/ We’re all just transitional creatures/ Peeping toms at the keyhole of all eternity/ That the past is only the present cloaked by invisibility/ And that the future is a murmur of a memory we will never possess.”
Thus she begins the 11-minute finale of Eulogy, a track fuelled by David Lackner’s keening saxophone, humid bass and jazz drums that builds in parallel with Lunch’s increasing distress, culminating in her promise to a departed loved one: “I won’t forget/ I won’t forget.” Questions of irrelevance, the cosmic hierarchy, purpose: all these and more are intrinsic to the grieving process and thus fair game for Lunch to mull over.
While Dust And Shadows is the highlight and emotional climax of Eulogy, the tracks that precede it only fall short by a whisker. Last Time We Met, a two-chord threnody garlanded by circling sax and ambient tones redolent of Oren Ambarchi’s sumptuously minimal In The Pendulum’s Embrace, gives Lunch’s mantra – “I’m making love to his ghost” – a suitably coital warmth, the introduction of queasy, off-axis drums merely adding to the low-level giddiness of the song.
Prey, which follows, finds Ben Lord posing as the Angel of Death armed with an acoustic guitar: “Come into the promised land/ Come into the promised land for you/ You are the prey that I have come for/ I wanna take your soul right now/ Push it in the fires that burn below.” Soon Lunch is repeating this reaper blues in a snarl Michael Gira would be proud of, psychedelic flute soaring and flipping like a leaf above a blazing pyre.
There’s also a poetry of sound at play within Eulogy that it would be remiss not to applaud, not least the opening Bell Tone, 19 seconds of crisp plangency that serves as the curtain raiser. The vignette Broken Glass pairs the sound of a broom on shards with portentous drone bass, while the apex of non-verbal grief therapy comes in the short intro to I Fell From Grace, wherein a disembodied choir emerges from heavily modulated noise and insistent organ, the cumulative effect being no less than euphoric, albeit at odds with the glam-rock ballad cum gospel of the song itself.
“Death is just a shadow,” Lunch repeats over and over as Eulogy arrives at its final resting place. If you find yourself in need of light, there could be no better place to start than this peculiarly therapeutic offering.


The Royal Scotsman Synthetic Love Dream GALTTA-020

Three years after organizing an ensemble to record his album Synthetic Love Dream, Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist David Lackner is reviving that name for a new ensemble and an unusual concept, once again produced via his own Gallta imprint. For their debut, the new Synthetic Love Dream ensemble — with Adrian Knight, Max Zuckerman, and Derek Vockins — imagines L. Ron Hubbard on his flagship the Apollo, itself renamed after he acquired the boat as the HMS Royal Scotsman, “drinking rum and cokes and smoking cigarettes on the forward deck . . . feverishly writing decrees and memos, and throwing devout followers overboard to ‘purify’ them.”
Composed of two side-length sequences, “The Royal Scotsman” and “On This Day,” The Royal Scotsman is a noirish, watery fantasy, dominated by Lackner’s tuned horns but keyed in perfectly to the bizarre imagination of Sea Org — the organizational name for Hubbard’s  personal favorites and Scientology’s ostensible leadership class. “The Royal Scotsman” is a mellow launch, cut through with field recordings of “ocean surf taken at Belleair Beach, FL, the very same waters that the enterprising crew would have traversed.” The album also features a cadre of collaborators from Gallta’s orbit, with Genevieve Kammel-Morris on viola and Mike Advensky handling percussion, though Billy G. Robinson’s vocal turn for “On This Day” stands out.

Review by Dwight Pavlovic / Decoder Magazine


The backstory to Brooklyn-based outfit Synthetic Love Dream's latest opus adds an interesting dimension to the hour-long set's material. HMS Royal Scotsman, you see, was the original name for the Apollo, the ship owned by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and upon which he spent days drinking, smoking, writing, and, apparently, throwing devout followers overboard to purify them. As the recording's two lengthy pieces play, it's easy to visualize the ship lazily drifting with Hubbard and company aboard, swilling cocktails and lolling about, especially when a field recording of ocean surf accompanies the musicians' playing, a recording, in fact, captured at Belleair Beach in Florida where the Apollo and its crew sailed.

Performed by saxophonist David Lackner (tenor and soprano), pianist Adrian Knight, drummer Derek Vockins, and Max Zuckerman on guitar and bass, the half-hour title composition emits a rather narcotizing glow when waves of bluesy tenor sax, rippling pianos, and reverb-drenched guitar textures fill the air for minutes on end. That aforesaid field recording adds to the music's sundazed character, as does its metreless presentation; stylistically, one might describe the music as a rather cocktail-like, slow-burning mix of ambient, jazz, and blues that advances organically through different phases without ever deviating too dramatically from its originating style. As ripples of multi-layered sounds undulate slowly, Lackner plays with a kind of controlled ecstasy, his lead soloing supported throughout by Knight's Steinway L Baby Grand and Zuckerman's shimmering guitar chords.

Expanded to a septet, the quartet featured on “The Royal Scotsman” (Lackner now on soprano) is augmented on the second setting, “On This Day,” by violist Genevieve Kammel-Morris, percussionist Mike Advenski, and, in the biggest change-up, soul and R&B singer Billy G. Robinson (BT Express, Apollo Theater). “On This Day” perpetuates the drowsy sprawl of the opener for its first nine minutes, after which a two-note bass riff announces a shift to a vocal-driven modal blues form. During the seventeen-minute sequence, Vockins grounds the track with a heavy pulse, Advenski adds colour using shakers and other instruments, and Lackner solos extensively, sometimes behind the vocal and sometimes alternating with it. Robinson's appealing croon enhances the material, though whatever particular meaning cryptic lines such as “It was one year from today / There was so much I needed to say” possess is up to the listener to decide. Things generally remain at a composed level for the majority of the performance, though Lackner's playing grows wilder as the piece approaches its fade-out.

There's an appealingly relaxed feel to the playing that perhaps can be attributed, at least in part, to the recording process: both performances were laid down at Knight's then-residence in Brooklyn with the musicians recorded live within a large living room space. A few overdubs were done as well as a modest degree of editing, but in general what's heard on the release is what went down at the pianist's home on Lefferts Avenue in December 2014.

July 2017 TEXTURA


Remnants Anthony Vine GALTTA-019

You’re an idiot. It’s nothing you can help, I understand that. Youjust don’t have the vision that someone like Anthony Vine does. REMNANTS is a brilliant encapsulation of Vine’s collaboration with a variety of musicians, from soprano saxophonist David Lackner on the vast, twenty-minute opener “Duo” to the six-piece fourteen-minute piece “North.” These sounds are fully contemplated, fully realized, and the result is a modern classical/modern jazz/ambient slow burn that requires your undivided attention to fully suss the whole thing out. The tension inherent in the four tracks is almost unbearable, as Vine and cohorts stretch their sessions to the breaking point, and you’re left wondering, hoping, that they’ll resolve into something you can wrap your head around. But remember, you’re stupid, you’re an idiot! No resolution for you. And this is how it should be, your breathing and your circulation tied explicitly to REMNANTS. You’ll need an EKG machine to monitor whether you’re able to handle the deep, subtle changes Vine and crew hit you with throughout this tape. In fact, are you even breathing? Or is it Anthony Vine’s guitar doing the breathing for you? I wouldn’t open your eyes, you’re in an iron lung, and REMNANTS is guiding you toward the light. Go toward it. You have no purchase here on this plane of existence any longer. You’ve suggested, in your will, that your descendants should buy this tape, though, right? If not, I’ll tell em.

--Ryan Masteller CASSETTE GODS


On the Prowl Again Adrian Knight GALTTA-018

This Adrian Knight fella’s pulled it off. He’s got everything stacked against him, pretty much, from a stylistic perspective. Optics are straight from the Har Mar Superstar sleaze wallow, the all-in look, the feel, not giving any wiggle room for interpretation of whether he’s sending himself up or 100 percent serious. Yeah, Adrian Knight acts cool, but in a Doogie Howser kind of way, ill-fitting blazer over white mock turtleneck on the cover, khaki slacks, turn-of-the-1990s sunglasses. The cool rocked is of the junior-high variety. And weirdly – that’s OK. The music is a soft-rock/synth-pop hybrid, somewhere between Tears for Fears and Hall & Oates, but with a few Jens Lekman touches thrown into the mix as well. And here’s how Knight has accomplished something worthwhile – he sells this sound, this lifestyle, way better than he probably has a right to. (That’s where the Har Mar comparison comes in, not remotely in the music itself.) Normally, I’d look at this cassette and not give it a second thought, but it would be a mistake to do so. Yeah, it may seem like Knight’s a kid playing grown-up crooner to the lucky ladies in the audience, he pulls it off nicely. The ladies in the audience truly are lucky, because Adrian Knight gets them – he’s sensitive, and he’s oh-so-clearly a grownup. That’s the key. Be a grownup. - Ryan Masteller CASSETTE GODS


Pictures of Lindsey Adrian Knight GALTTA-013

Synths glitter like lights off a disco ball on this, the single weirdest fucking tape of 2014, written by a guy named Adrian Knight. He’s a hep jazz cat, a part of that hep jazz cat scene David Lackner’s been hovering around for his Galtta label’s tape releases in New York. So as you might expect, the performances here are just fabulous, really tasty Rhodes and Wurlitzer work atop some clever but simply constructed electronic drums that set the vivacious vibe you get throughout this album. A lot of the tunes are just plain nice, like in a James Taylor sort of way (that’s good James Taylor, mind you), or reminiscent of Arthur Russell’s stuff with the Flying Hearts, where his love of country, disco, and rock ‘n’ roll all comfortably colluded in the 70s for pop song perfection. But Knight’s compositions are also cut with creepy interludes and often have pitch-shifted vocal hooks which gives this album a surreal, sometimes nauseating quality that plug it nicely into the modern tape weirdo scene as well. Lackner guests with some nice sax arrangements here, and there’s also a cameo from EVI champion John Swana to give some songs a flavor that’s pinker than Pepto. And for as smooth a number Knight most certainly seems to be, his lyrics sure paint the picture of someone who’s anything but: “Scaring All the Girls Away,” which closes the album, is a hilarious and humble spate of self-deprecation set to a flat-out sex-jam that also has me thinking this aligns with what folks like Scammers’ Phil Diamond are doing. The nerds have never been sexier than in 2014, ladies (and gentlemen), scoop these bachelors up while you can. TINY MIX TAPES / STRAUSS


Galtta has been a label I’ve long admired so I was thrilled to see their return with two new releases earlier this month. While I haven’t had time to fully digest either, this Adrian Knight album is a glorious mindfuck and I think I’m going to end up loving it. There’s a level of absurdity to Pictures Of Lindsay but these songs are so well-written and there’s a real Arto Lindsay (h/t Crawf) vibe happening that I can’t get enough of. Galtta continues to impress (and totally surprise) and we’re all better for it. Also don’t forget to check out the new David Lackner. BRAD ROSE / THE ISOLATARIUM


Easily the most-listened to tape I received in 2014 is one that I ended up calling “The single weirdest fucking tape of 2014” in a review earlier this year. What the hell was I talking about? In fact, there were few that were more obscenely normal this year in a lot of ways, which of course was what was so fucking weird about it. Knight's over-the-top arranging, here complete with saxophone and EVI appearances, screamed self-ridicule, especially when you consider the album is a concept record detailing Kinght's many failures in the land of love, the whole thing this completely jokey schmaltz-fest. But that schmaltz-fest is just so brilliantly composed, performed, and flat-out great, offering some of the catchiest moments of pop in 2014, melodies and themes I still find myself humming in my dreams. Everyone I've shown this to has said "Ariel Pink" to me, and that's fine I guess, although Adrian Knight is like 10000000x better. TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE


Synthetic Love Dream David Lackner GALTTA-012

Issued on his own Brooklyn-based Galtta Media imprint, David Lackner's Synthetic Love Dream comes armed with clarifying notes that might strike some as intimidating: “Two long-duration, just intonation compositions for sinewaves, saxophone, drums and tuned bass: each piece consists of a 6 pitch set with a 52 HZ root; all pitches are based off of simple ratios found naturally in the overtone series.” Confronted with such details, the listener unversed in just intonation might be surprised when he/she discovers that the forty-seven-minute recording is, in fact, an easy-on-the-ears and eminently pleasurable listen. If anything, the material might be more generally described—technical details notwithstanding—as long-form, blues-based instrumentals featuring Lackner's multi-layered tenor sax as the lead voice. Recorded and mixed by Martin Bisi in March 2014, Lackner's so-called “Meditations on Death and Love” were realized by the composer on saxophone and sinewaves, Adrian Knight on sinetone keyboard, tuned bassist Dominic Cipolla, drummer Derek Vockins, and lyricist-singer Lydia Lunch, who frames the opening piece with a memorable vocal performance.

Though the sinetone keyboard is the first sound heard on “Synthetic Love Dream I,” the arrangement quickly blossoms with the addition of multi-layered sax, tuned bass, and Lynch's cracked voice. Her vocal delivery and cryptic lyrics situate us within David Lynch-styled territory (“I'm writing love letters to a dead man…”) for the opening three minutes, after which the vocal drops out and the focus shifts to Lackner's sax playing for the remainder of this “stagnant blues” until the singer returns for the coda (“I'm making love to his ghost…”). With Vockins' skeletal lurch providing a slow-motion impetus, Lackner wails with abandon, his bluesy phrases overlapping and echoing one another for minutes on end. In those passages where he lays out, the sinetone keyboard moves to the fore and consequently the just intonation character of the material becomes more evident. But even so, no heavy listening's required for the listener, even if the music is unusual. “Synthetic Love Dream II” presents a purely instrumental take on the piece that grants Lackner even more room to stretch out as an alto sax soloist. He certainly makes good on the opportunity, as evidenced by the way he digs into his endlessly spiraling patterns with a Coltrane-like obsessiveness.

As stated, the music is unusual in the way it merges multiple forms—jazz, blues, and minimalism, among them—and the release itself is enigmatic (what should one make, for example, of the cover image, which shows a person's head wrapped in clear plastic?), though such qualities in no way argue against it. If anything, they make Synthetic Love Dream (issued in a run of 100 cassettes and 100 hand-numbered CDs) all the more appealing as a listening proposition. November 2014 TEXTURA


Is New York paying attention to David Lackner yet? His jazz-leaning Galtta label was a bit quieter than it has been in previous years, but that didn't stop the two releases he did put out from both being complete and total knockouts. Granted, Adrian Knight's neo-90s-sitcom jazz-pop tape was a glitzy show-stealer (more on that later...), but Lackner's compositions for this work, beautifully rendered in the cover artwork by his wife Gabrielle Muller, were just as delicately performed and positively oozed with... well, "cool" is close, but doesn't fully capture this one's hypnotic hums and fiery flicker, all set to the pace of something like 40 beats-per-minute. Two minimalist jazz pieces, smokey, inter-weaving tenor sax solos over the droning sidetone keyboard Knight lays down with astonishing poise, and 2014's most patient drummer ever-grooving into this record's black hole of sheer mood. Hey, Side A features some kick-ass vocals by Lydia Lunch, too. If you live in Brooklyn and haven't seen these cats perform yet, you're crazy and I kind of hate you a little. TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE


In the Well of Eternal Living and Dying David Lackner GALTTA-011

Having followed Galtta closely since David Lackner called go, I’ve been waiting for the label-manager and core player to press himself onto vinyl. The results are not what I expected. Consider Lackner’s C40 from 2011, ‘My Leader, the Baby is Dead’: proudly mechanical, melodic phrases and recorded speech are made inhuman yet ritualistic, such that the notion of ‘sci-fi psychosis’ feels appropriate for the synthetic stew of copulating tubes and lab-grown feelings. Conversely, the A-side-long title track for ‘In the Well of Eternal Living and Dying’ bustles like a tree of birds with the twittering of flutes and charming honk of sax; bright percussion, bulbous bass, and the taut tones of Rhodes piano layout an always ascending rhythm; all the while, group vocals sing lyrics that seemingly capture the most psychedelic moments of Murakami’s meditation on human scale, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – all to the effect of a more jazzy, less angsty Joan of Arc. In the gaps of the anthem, instruments swirl in Kraut-rock crescendos – a commune of solos – echoing the jubilee of bands like Akron Family and the instrumentalists Anvil Salute. Big, vibrant, and hardly the weirdness we feel from Lackner’s previous work. Then you flip the thing over and the familiar weird washes over you. “Still Inside” captures what I know and love most of Lackner’s outfit, while at the same time dashing silly concerns that the record could not do this and more: fronted by a looping mew with Furby-like emotional appeal, modulated synthesizers and staticky drumming form a ledger onto which hubristic saxophone jives in mockery of the programmed instructions murmuring throughout. Wonderfully weird. Similarly, the bad trip “Send in the Clowns” layers more instruction over a relentless gabber beat with glib effects and quasi-abrasive guitar (?) sounds – similar to the satire of Kylie Minoise – yet still sounding strangely accomplished as a composition. The brutal assault on existence continues by bleeding through the subliminal “Regular People” into the finale “A Semiperfect Number:” reaching the level of sentience and aesthetic spasms of Oneohtrix Point Never’s most recent work, a wild combination of timbrel swatches, rhythmic patches, and vaguely meaningful signifiers squirm with a futurist’s sentimentality. Lackner keeps building, building, and once he perfects this new edition to the complex, there should be nothing but hits to follow. LP limited to 300 copies. ANIMAL PSI

Smooth End Of Summer Swana, Price, Lackner GALTTA-010

What gall, to release something with a title like this one in May of all months. When we are all actually extremely excited about summer’s rise to mighty power in the wake of winter’s slow and gruesome demise. But anything from Galtta Media I will take, and so be it that it’s this totally bonkers, ambient-jazz tape from a trio of talent. This music came to exist over some distance; David Lackner played some noise/saxophone at a session in New York with Mark Price and recorded it. They squished, squashed, chopped, chiseled, charred and char-broiled that sax all down into a soupy stew of chordal-drone and added some beats. Then the two shipped the tapes over to veteran EVI-virtuoso John Swana’s studio in Philly to tickle the mix with his scalar prowess. And that’s it. That’s not it! There’s also baritone marching horn, MIDI keyboards and samplers, and a voice on this album too. Whatever you think all of that might sound like, it probably sounds a lot different. There’s no good way to prepare you for what is here. I want to say that it’s aggressive, but it’s not: These guys, in a tone that is dimly lit, cull cool neon purples and blues from the 80s, and supplant them gracefully onto the surface of Pluto. If there’s any kind of rhythm here (and there is), it’s not based on any Earthly notion of the concept. It’s an aural space where whistles occupy odd nooks, singing off as distant ghosts, and melodies are known to drift like the smoke off a clove cigarette. Add the beats, and you know you are in one hip, holographic zone. As much In a Silent Way as it is Selected Ambient Works vol. II and further is this tape, a snapshot of the future of jazz as we know it. Tiny Mixtapes // STRAUSS


fter a relatively brutal winter up north, here’s a pairing of albums to induce the onset of our latest summer: the first a few hairs of the dog, the second a wash of good vibes like wearing swimtrunks around town. United by the distinct sound of the electronic valve instrument (EVI) – a sonic hybrid of Moog and melodica – both albums feature a certain dusky surrealism full of optimism and ease. From the Galtta label, John Swana, Mark Price, & David Lackner celebrate a ‘Smooth End of Summer’: spread over 10 tracks, Swana and Lackner lay down a shady cover of impressionistic sketches with choice embellishments from Price. Saxophone and EVI interweave in a multidimensional mix of resonant swaths and glottal textures, a cozy reality as cavernous as a mushroom trip, and as strange a soundtrack as the most avantgarde films inexplicably dominating Saturday TV matinees. Hand-numbered to 125 copies. $7 from the label HERE. Recommended. ANIMAL PSI


Francis Jewel Don't Be Afraid of the Jungle The Phantom Family Halo GALTTA-009

The Phantom Family Halo is an experimental rock band from Louisville,KY. The Legend Of Black Six (2006) was the band’s first official release even though it was written and recorded primarily by Dominic Cipolla. Currently, The Phantom Family Halo is a four-piece band based in Brooklyn,NY. In 2011 the band was signed by Brooklyn based record label Knitting Factory Records and announced their plan to release two albums in 2012: a dark and a light album (source: KF). In February, the band released When I Fall Out and in November they released Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle.

In their latest album the band has utilized a fair amount of grunge and post punk manners of playing as well as many elements of post–rock. These characteristics are especially evident in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle” which is the longest song on the album and probably the most abstract one. This song certainly falls into posts-rock category more than any other song on Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle. It got some intense drumming, changing melodies, heavy riffs and drones.

Some songs such as “Strawberry Blues” have more of a 60s feel to them, with casual guitars, simpler melodies and laid-back vocals. ”This Moment in Heaven” and “A Man With a Twitch in his Cheek” are gloomy, with echoing vocals, softer riffs, slower and quieter drumming and many feedbacks and delays.

Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle is dark and heavy but not in the way that overwhelms you. This ablum’s heaviness comes from its complexity and its intriguing and expansive sound. When I listen to Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle, I keep visualizing a ray of light traveling through the labyrinth of darkness, looking for an infinite escape.

Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle is great album that shows The Phantom Family Halo’s many musical talents and their ability to take multiple directions and yet create a conceptual and diverse album that flows perfectly.

It takes several listening sessions to really appreciate Francis Jewel Don’t Be Afraid of the Jungle for what it is, a great psychedelic journey into The Phantom Family Halo’s twisted world. I AM NOT A MUSICIAN


Lonely House Mark Przybylowski GALTTA-008

Mark Przybylowski is a Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist with musical cruses on ambient music, folk, and jazz. All these styles come together on the simple, quaint, and very delicate instrumental compositions that appear on his new Lonely House Cassette. The seven tracks here are extremely touching, managing to conjure a very powerful emotional energy–well, at least from me, anyway. THE NEEDLE DROP

More insanely good music from the highly (and criminally) unknown jazz cassette label Galtta Media, this tape finds honcho David Lackner releasing a beautiful collection of classical- and folk-leaning balladry from the otherwise moderately well-known jazz bassist Mark Przybylowski. The house, grey skies, and bare tree branches on the cover have me longing for the cool winds of winter, though outside temperatures refuse to clock in anything lower than 90° (#FML). Still, the overall feel of the cassette does help to cool things off, at least mentally. Musically, Przybylowski evokes notions of impressionism with the pastel compositional strokes of masters like Erik Satie. Recorded with a single mic in an empty house over the course of a year, Lonely House features skeletal acoustic guitar, singing cellos, double bass, and the occasional vocal inflection. Ultimately, the tape is sold on its ability to break the heart with such an astoundingly soft touch, the airy quality of the tape imagining an armchair’s lulling rock, the withered, paper-soft skin of a grandmother’s brittle fingers, or the last leaf ever-threatening to fly headlong with the chilling winds. An old, sepia-toned photograph. A trembling memory. A devastating sadness. A warm, comforting blanket of beauty. Yeah, all that and probably a lot no writer could even attempt to describe properly. Find your adjectives: TINY MIXED TAPES

‘Lonely House’ marks a sharp, early turn for the Galtta label, their catalog having not yet reached double-digits. Still based in instrumental virtuosity, the tape by Mark Przybylowski diverges from the familiar jazz sounds of previous releases by utilizing stringed instruments alone, and then in a distinctly folk idiom familiar to Kottke and Fahey. Beyond the choice of strings (cello, bass, and guitar), it is the use of space and architecture – the title house, standing empty, utilized for its reverb – which makes the most radical break in concept compared to Galtta’s previous studio pieces, and which brings it back around to reunite with the instrumental novelties/innovations which distinguish each release. The space is both vital and subverted: the reflections of the house make the rich, bold sounds of each strum and pluck, but the house becomes abstract as each layer is recorded and edited together into one piece. That is, rather than present each stringed instrument in a solo piece, and thereby contextualizing the space in the real-time of a “single take” (real or faked), two and sometimes all three of the instruments appear together, overlapping sounds from different moments into one, achieving not just impossible harmonics, but bringing with all the artifacts of each moment and imposing them into one space of the song. This neo-classicism likens the sound to prime Johann Johannsson and Peter Broderick in songs like “Sunday”, which by this process juxtaposes multiple tones across these multiple spaces, materializing the structure of the house through activity. Perhaps the only thing close to uni-dimensional is the theme of the tape – relentlessly melancholy, with titles like “Slow Winter”, “Lamentation”, “The Pain” – but this is not to say flat or uninteresting: the vocals which appear on “Blank Walls” are subdued but youthful, the guitar perky and waltzing across the floors and natural light that cello chords bring. Even the coda, “Rejoice,” reverses this formula only slightly, lacking what would otherwise pass as joy but isolating well those strains of optimism which pass quietly through these seven tracks. Professional cassettes come in heavy cards with art by Przybylowski’s grandfather John Carl Bulthuis, hand-numbered to 200. ANIMAL PSI


Abohm John Swana GALTTA-007

BY CRAWFORD PHILLEO » Jazz just got back from the future

As far as jazz tape labels go... there aren't very many. Currently, there is really only one that I know of, and it's called Galtta Media, a tiny imprint run by a certified jazz geek/saxophonist named David Lackner who is currently based in New York after starting the label some time ago in Philadelphia. Jazz trumpet veteran John Swana carries the byline for Abohm, one of the label's latest entries, and it is... well, it's pretty weird. In fact, Abohm is something of a monster. But it's also a cute and friendly monster. A thing of magnanimous and intimidating presence that shrinks itself down into something else entirely. Something tame, tempered and pretty fun when you actually sit down and get to know it.
Swana combines elements of modern electronic music and jazz in what feels like equal measure throughout the album's 70 running minutes, which actually fly by given the sounds and hyper-brevity of ideas that flood both sides of the tape—35 tracks stuffing the magnetic strip to the brink of sensory overload. But for as eclectic, sporadic and random as a lot of this sounds (not to mention the alarming pace at which Abohm whirs past the ears), much of it manages a cool, collected listenability. Odd time signatures, oblong forms and angular chord progressions aside (elements that appear in damn near every single track), Swana reigns it all into something oddly recognizable and wisely keeps these little experiments neat, tidy and compact. Mini futuristic soundscapes gently lull for brief periods before giving way to more beat-oriented electronic jams that recall vintage Boards of Canada, which are quickly followed by micro-melodic motifs that dance around with childlike wonder, and then later you might be treated to a tasty bossa groove, all of it wound around with psychedelic colorings. You'll also hear the EVI playing. Electronic Valve Instrument. Swana plays it—nay—Swana destroys the Electronic Valve Instrument. With extreme prejudice. He's just so fucking fast at that thing it's absolutely bonkers, flying through enough scales to fill a fourth-year Theory text with incredibly smooth runs, furiously/sensually soloing over impossible chord changes. And he does it all with an astounding grace—jagged in design perhaps, at times aggressive in execution (or at least confident) but the end result comes out soft and pastel, translating to a surprisingly light and airy breeze of a listen.
It should be noted that Swana wasn't alone in the making of Abohm, which represents his home recordings; "What he does ... when no one is listening" says the one-sheet from Galtta. In other words, this is his project for fun. On the record, he's also joined by his daughter Rosalie, Italian percussionist Massimo DeAngelis as well as David Lackner. You can hear sythns, effected voices, electronic and live drumming and various other instruments floating in and out from track to track, all elements that contribute to the album's striking sonic variety and stylistic acrobatics. The biggest draw is Swana's chops, though, and how he uses them. Despite the obvious fact that he's had plenty of legit training on the trumpet, he's still willing to put himself out there try out some weird (very weird) new stuff, display that high level of technical proficiency in very non-traditional ways and have a lot of fun with it all at the same time (see: track titles like "Oh Shit!," "Ode to Star Trek," or my personal favorite, "That's Some Dark Shit!"). All told, Abohm is simply an amazing work of neo/future-jazz from the mind of a true master, and whether or not he's really serious about it, this is still some serious shit. IMPOSE / / / TOME TO THE WEATHER MACHINE

‘Abohm’ is an immense collection of 35 vignettes over 70 minutes, furthering the utterly unique sound of John Swana’s EVI (electronic valve instrument)- and trumpet-heavy slogans, as microscopic and atomized as the title unit.  Somewhere between Coil’s ‘Themes from Hellraiser’ and the IDM-jazz of Ui, Swana’s gems are Blade Runner sonatas for automatons, haunted by AI like the entirely electronic score from ‘Paprika’, with a precocious DIY evoking the animated slackerdom of Aeon Flux and the Muzak of Duckman.  Swaying, scaling ringtones over sequined beats; twisted arpeggios, MIDI-breakbeats, synthesized Theremins, and clipped-not-glitched horn solos; squirrely voices and phantom jingles; a mythical retroactive sci-fi through and through.  Edition of 100 hand-numbered tapes, with art by James Ulmer. ANIMAL PSI



En Nuestros Viajes Matt Davis/ Javier Reséndiz GALTTA-006

Galtta Media is a relatively new label out of Philadelphia looking to bring jazz into the cassette market. Not a bad idea, and I’m sure it’s very interesting as to the socio-musical implications of such releases, etc… ideas I’m not sure I’m willing to extrapolate on for this review of Matt Davis and Javier Reséndiz, who lay out 11 original tunes via guitar and Fender Rhodes electric piano. The point is, the airiness of my cassette deck in my headphones seems to fit well with the duo (and indeed the very style of this music), as the performances sound very open and live. Which they are—fingers sliding up the fret board, a wooden chair creaking in the background amidst a light hiss, etc. are likely not meant to be heard, but they certainly put the listener there, either in the studio with the two as they feed off each others delicate melodies with extended improvisations or inside your log cabin in winter, playing a private performance as you flip the pages of your novel next to the roaring fireplace.
This music is just beautiful—excellent compositions (not sure who composed the material, but the Spanish titles have me leaning towards Reséndiz), which find both guitar and Rhodes alternating lead and supportive (comping) roles, or at times together in unison. The songs have a lightness to them, a soft-sweetness that is warm and inviting and relaxing and overall very comfortable. A featherbed of tunes with a sense of longing; minor-keyed nostalgia fills both sides for the perfect companion to warm up a lonesome, chilly day. And the solos are also excellent, subservient to each piece’s central theme, highly melodic and focused (never “out” or overly complex), and the duo also has a knack for careful comping, one never crowding the others’ style. The two also have the timing of an atomic clock, perfectly synched—even rubato moments feel disguised as the two wade out in a wash of harmony before snapping the piece back into shape. To compare the duo with others in the field is a bit difficult as I haven’t heard much like this, especially recorded, but if I had to, I’d say fans of John Abercrombie or Chick Corea’s work with his piano trio (thinking especially of “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”) should find this right up their alley.
As to my rating, while I’m not sure I’d call anything under the jazz genre released on a tape a “masterpiece” I can’t help but wonder who in their right mind could consider this to be anything less than perfect. This is, quite simply, perfect music. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it, and I know I will for years to come. Even if I gave it a 9 because I found a teeny typo on the sleeve, this one gets a bonus for introducing me to Galtta Media, a label I look forward to digging through in the coming months. 10/10 (review by Crawford Philleo for FOXY DIGITALIS)

I am not really a Jazz music fan (Actually you could call most jazz fans I know fanatics, cause they are really into it and are extremely emotional about it and take criticism as if it is a personal offense). Since I have started reviewing music on Lofiles exactly 3 years ago, I have published 1400 posts, and I think only 5 of which were about jazz music. Sometimes, all that knowledge these Jazz cats do have is too much for me to grasp, the ignorant peasant I am. But why do I exhaust you with the long intro. This is the extremely rare occasion where I Actually wanted you listen to this Jazz record I like, even if you are not a jazz fan/atic. Its called ‘EN NUESTROS VIAJES’, (released 6 months ago) and this is a dialogue between 2 very talented musicians, (I called it a dialogue cause judging by the way this record sounds they really listen and respect one another). (review by Shlomo Sonnenfeld for LOFILES)


My Leader, the Baby is Dead David Lackner GALTTA-005

Another from David Lackner and his Galtta label, this time a solo attribution (though lots of friends came along for the recording). The C40 ‘My Leader, the Baby is Dead’ is a combination of Lackner’s staticky transmission of saxophone, broadcast snippets, and synthesizers. Intro’d with the appropriately-titled march “Processional,” Lackner scales over the thin clasp of hydraulic percussion sounds, the performance is laid over a rhythm which never breaks, but rather ebbs and flows like a sizzle from wall to wall. Organ sounds mutate throughout the life of the tape, morphing eventually into the psychedelic belch of Silver Apples-type keyboard madness on closer “Reprise”. In between, these sounds come wedded to verses of sappy sentimentality effaced in renditions of “Oh Danny Boy” (itself a microcosm of deliveries, from the sanguine to saturnine), duets of Stereolab-like monotone (another apt tag, “In the Lab, In the Grid”), and the MIDI-tinged sounds of Japanese credit reel allegories (“Seventeen”). Though not the strongest single track of the lot, “We Give Our Lives to the Purpose” is perhaps the defining moment of the tape, working in wild synthesizer strains among forceful sax drones, a machined beat, and the title chanted ala the cosmic-weird of later Cerberus Shoal. Somehow less-strange than the sum of its parts, Lackner’s latest retains a certain dignity which only comes from the awe-full suspicion that I-the-listener simply does not know what is going on. Hand-numbered to 100 copies with heavy J-cards and pro-pressed tapes.

Also included is the zine ‘Material Morality’ by Galtta resident artist Gabrielle Muller. A glossy, thick-stock booklet (18 pages) bound by string, the zine is a remix of Muller’s previous contributions to the Galtta catalog plus some photography and plundered nuggets. For the average consumer, this is a vital supplement, as it archives Muller’s collaboration with the label at this early stage, her images always at risk to outdo the music inside. Yet the inclusion of the booklet with this particular Lackner release feels funny, as the book stands alone or with all the releases it’s inspired, and seems to have little on the particulars of ‘My Leader’. Nevertheless: quite the bonus. Recommended. (Galtta cassette and zine, $7 HERE) (review by ANIMAL PSI)



Symbiosis Syndicate Symbiosis Syndicate GALTTA-004

In contrast, the five-player Symbiosis Syndicate (with whom Swana plays) is an exceedingly traditional meeting of the minds. Not exactly a quintet, the group is lead by Steve Giordano and appears across these five tracks in three different variations of 3 and 4 players. Sourced from drums, bass, piano, trumpet, and the electronic valve instrument featured on Swana’s side above, the group take a measured approach to their improvisation – “cooperative” might be a better term - observing each other as players clearly well-versed in their respective instruments, leading to solid, if too smooth playing, but regularly emerging with some spectacular accidents. For all intents and purposes a work of dark ambient electronics, “Full Moon” creaks and whistles with creepy sustains and exaggerated effects, a harmonic resonance building which really challenges the ear to distinguish synthetic frequencies from humanoid voices. The nocturnal “Meteor Shower” is a fitting sequel, as it shifts the atmosphere slightly with the contoured inclusion of piano song and drum kit, a sort of musicological signifier for the referent of its naturalistic predecessor. Outro “Silver Apples” is a necessary homage, as well as a codex for the subtleties of the album thus far, where the science fiction we’ve been listening to appears less terrifying and more psychedelic: watered by a rainstick and fed by a brightening scale shared by synth and piano, the brief track crests over the dash like horizon and settles the mass of this C40 back down to the ground. Though never having strayed as far as its namesake, the track does service to the anti-pop seriousness of the album and the calculated risks it takes. Pro-pressed cassettes come with pro, color J-cards, hand-numbered to 100. With cover art by Gabrielle Muller. (review by ANIMAL PSI)



Struttin' Around With... David Lackner and John Swana GALTTA-001

While I still have yet to discuss David Lackner's awesome solo tape, it's high time I get to this split he did with John Swana which is also pretty awesome in its own right. Galtta Media is an interesting label as it's got at least one foot planted pretty firmly in the jazz-world, and another planted in a place a little more mysterious. (Not to mention the fact that it's a jazz tape label, that's pretty dang unique) What's most interesting to me is, while I call it an experimental jazz label, I'd say no one would ever classify this as a free jazz label--at least not based on the material it has released so far. Often "experimental" and "free" go hand in hand, not the case here. Both Lackner's and Swana's work here tend to be pretty highly structured and melodically driven with an improvisational component. While working from a jazz framework, both Lackner and Swana create interesting and sometimes, in Lackner's case, ridiculously catchy compositions.
With "Layers, Layers" Lackner's side opens with seconds of friendly industrial music, what I mean by "friendly" is that the music is bright and in no way abrasive despite it's mechanized movement. Then Lackner launches into a series of lovely melodies via either horns and synths doubling each or synthesized horns. Victor North contributes a really great tenor sax solo that quotes, dare I say, The Sound of Music at one point or is he quoting Coltrane quoting The Sound of Music(?) Hell of a way to start a show. Another standout for me is "Thirteen" which features a pretty complex mix of interlocking synth melodies and a gorgeous twinge of a countermelody from a downcast saxophone.
Let me preface the next statement I'm about to make by saying I am paying a high compliment, "Study in Clutter" reminds me of some of the music in Disney's Mulan and it's pretty damn great. (Tangent: if you have not seen Mulan, do so it's one of the few modern Disney classics) Anyhow, getting off that tangent, the central melody in the track is this infectious, circular Asian-inspired arpeggio. Can't get enough of it! I do have to say I'm a bit ambivalent about the vocals present in the track though; give me the bouncing percussion, the catchy-as-all-hell Eastern melody and the crazy stereo-panned sax solo at the end and I am good to go--no vox required.
The hits keep coming with the also excellent "Fourteen" featuring synthesizers zipping around, darting between sax licks. Probably the closest the thing I can think of for a reference is Sean McCann's Phylum Sigh but that's far from putting my finger on it. (Maybe Golden Retriever if they thought they were a pop band???? Sheesh, I give up...) Elsewhere, Lackner plays Robert Schumann's composition "Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai" (!) replete with a nice sax solo and vocoder (!!) and closes up shop with the hyper "Fifteen." Pretty stellar side through and through.
Check this Lackner guy out if you haven't, he's doing some great work and in a little different way than pretty much everyone else I've heard in the tape scene.
While Lackner's side features many collaborators, John Swana does every little thing himself on his side from composing and performing to engineering. "3, 2, 1....Lift Off!" features an overload of twinkling and prickly tones before he starts tearing it up on his EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument; more or less a synthetic trumpet.) The more mellow and subtle "Thyme" features a tabla machine (or something) along with a series of idiophones garnished with almost smokey EVI exhalations. Pretty nice piece of work.
Although Lackner has a bit of a pop genius edge to him, Swana fits a little better into the "soundtracking" world; I can hear some inspiration from film and TV scores, and even forward thinking video game scores (on "Dark and Clammy.") It's not out of the realm of possibilty some of his stuff here could work as a (non-traditional) score, though Swana's work is far from the works of Max Steiner and Franz Waxman.
However, on "Major Man," the jazz influence is literal and readily apparent. Other than the facts that this is all composed from overdubs and sounds as if it was created entirely synthetically, this could be something you'd hear from a modern jazz quintet. The finale "Scene" is stranger. There's rustling field recordings and a synth drone creating a sticky little bed while Swana's EVI emulates all sorts of bird calls which are panned every which way. Weird track but I'm certainly feeling the vibe.
This is an interesting tape all around and has good bang for your buck value, with each player essentially contributing a half hour album. I'm more of a Lackner guy, if we're picking sides, but others may prefer Swana; either way both guys are doing some intriguing things. (review byAUXILIARY OUT)

By bringing boutique cassette culture to jazz with his new label Galtta, David Lackner in turn brings jazz to cassette culture. With a cadre of stalwart players centered around the Philadelphia area, the label collects a gamut from traditional to experimental idioms, and ushers these in through joint affinities with the ambient, cosmic, and deconstructive sound design precepts which dominate the cassette scene (more, Lackner has previously crossed-over with a tape on Peasant Magik). Case in point, Lackner’s own split with John Swana constitutes Gallta number one, and eases us into the instrumentality of both (Swana a trumpeter, Lackner a saxophonist) through jazz-minded structures punched into broader plates which emphasize less virtuosic playing than a total music. This relies heavily on the impression of sound itself (and not the authority of the soundmaker) which is taken for granted in the philosophy of experimental music: despite his specialty, Swana’s side contains no trumpet, but at its most vocal, his electronic compositions bring the trumpet-ness of a fusion bop sound to pieces like “Major Man”, in sum reminiscent of the jazzy Chicago postrock of Tortoise and The Aluminum Group. Never adopting a true drone, Swana’s music frequently settles into ornate patterns for solid stretches in order to present each detail in plain sight, as the downbeat track “Thyme” features a complex of percussive beads and brief squiggles tied to a rich, hypnotic rhythm. With a similar effect, Lackner works in what he calls “repeater soundscapes”, layering discretely-wonderful loops of sax, synthesizer, radio noise, percussion, and so on over one another to achieve a dynamic tension which would be simple polyphony without such distinct character. Though the entire side is something to behold, the best example is “Study in Clutter”, which weaves several lines including chorus, hand clap rhythms, and Moogish sequencer into a flute song of far eastern logic, much resembling the joyous sinophile compositions of Damon Albarn for ‘Monkey: Journey to the West’. Though using this repeater model, Lackner doesn’t settle for a formula, but uses this aesthetic device to highlight and complicate the structures he’s working with, at times emphasizing a solo instrument, but always folding this back into the community of sounds to create a swift and dynamic listen. Pro-pressed cassettes come with pro, color J-cards, hand-numbered to 200. Highly recommended. (review by ANIMAL PSI)

I’m not really a jazz guy, so when the new GALTTA tape label sent me the first batch of four releases, I was a little hesitant. But every once in a while something special comes along and shows me what’s up, like some of the Galtta tapes. Some of them were more straight jazz than the rest, but GALTTA-001, the split with David Lackner and JOHN SWANA was definitely weird enough for me to dig into and share with all yous.
David Lackner’s side is packed with some wicked electronics, which gives it an automatic +10 in my book. It’s super cool, not too ambitious or gaudy, and definitely made for couch melting. It does a killer job of keeping it nice & spacey, with radar echoes, arpeggiated bloops, lo-fi static buzzing, glitchy ambience, and robot love songs, conjuring sexy retro sci-fi chicks with white go-go boots & mod hair. There’s also plenty of traditional horns, saxophones, drums, etc, but pulling in some surprises too. One of the tracks, “Study In Clutter” is so out there, with boy-girl Sesame Street vocals and a very solid almost tribal beat with lots of handclaps, flutes, and some numbers station samples. Yeah, I’ve heard that done to death but it really works well here. Lackner’s tracks are pretty fucking rad and totally not your usual jazz fare. Wacky sounds abound on this side, giving me a reason to make a minimal ’60s existential sci-fi throwback because Lackner would be so goddamn perfect for the score.
John Swana is normally a trumpet dude, but his side of Struttin’ Around is completely lacking. Instead there’s classic synthy Moogy electronics, definitely making me think of some of the first jazz synths like old Francis Bebey or something. Swana’s style is similarly spacey to Lackner’s, but a bit darker, maybe more ambient and New Agey. He does a lot of exploring, weeding through exotic alien jungles in the dark without worrying about deadly creatures lurking, stumbling upon a mythical nightclub, lit only by the glow of fluorescent insects, where the celebrities lounge in smokey decadence and John Swana is the house band. Totally pretentious, obviously, but still utterly desirable. Swana kills it every night with splayed electronics boards & the occasional piano/drum/whatever backup, crafting an intelligent weave of loopy melodies, dim crackle, magic sex, and blorpy atmospheres. Chill party CITY.
I doubt Swana’s tunes always sound like this, and maybe Lackner also does some other more traditional shit, but the pairing of their sounds on this split is fucking grand. They just work so well together. And when you mix spacey electronics with jazz, I’m pretty much hooked. Galtta nailed it with their first release. Can’t wait to see where they go from here. Major cool points: STREAM the whole tape on Bandcamp (or grab one of 200 limited copies for a mere $4). (review by ANTI-GRAVITY BUNNY)