One of my favorite sounds in the world is hearing a crow’s wings beat against the air over my tent as it flies past. It’s usually just a couple of flaps and then it is gone. Just hearing that sound at all is notable because certainly these things happen all the time in the city, but there’s too much noise or too many distractions to notice them. It isn’t something you can point out or predict either – those brief whooshes are a surprise. In my short time with cassette culture I’ve often wondered how many limited edition tapes have passed me by like those crow wings. New tapes are constantly being released, shared, stacked and shipped. This tape came out in January of 2012 and has (quite unbelievably) yet to sell out.
It is hard for me to describe how much I love this album. Part of the adoration I have for the beautiful hazy blues guitar sounds of Jen Paul / No Lakes tape may be the association I now have between these songs and the wilderness of Utah where I played the tape incessantly. I’m sure that won’t be my only connection between this tape and a place. One of the things that I find makes an album great is that the list of associations you have with that album expands over time. Right now, each time I hear it, this red cassette brings to mind the rusty orange dust of the canyons of Utah. Next year you and I, dear reader, will have new experiences for which this tape will soundtrack.
It appears that the artists also had landscapes in mind while titling these songs; “Buried Farm,” “Julian’s bridge,” and “Summer Road” are just a few examples. There’s also a reference to Twin Peaks (“White Lodge”) and some more descriptive titles like “Home Drone”. The sound could also be compared to that iconic David Lynch series. That being said, “†” doesn’t sound as sinister as “Fire Walk With Me” or as goofy as a lot of the missteps of the second season. It would probably be closer to that scene of Audrey Horne swaying to the jukebox in the diner (“Isn’t it too dreamy?").
These brief songs unfold gracefully. The mostly instrumental album is lo-fi, full of reverb, and generally percussion-less. As one might expect, the videos that accompany them are full of slow motion washed out vintage footage. “Valentine grove” has a gorgeous soaring shoegaze guitar line over slow-dance paced washes. There’s not much in the way of vocals here and the ones that do appear are buried within layers of guitar and field recordings. That makes sense though – this release isn’t about clarity as much as it is about blurred edges.
I wasn’t a contributor to TOME when the 2012 lists were being compiled, but if I was this Jen Paul/ No Lakes tape would easily be my favorite release of 2012. You can still get it here: