Tape Haul: Vwyrd Wurd

I came home to a pretty massive tape haul from a label and several bands sending out amazing music from somewhere out in the woods of Nowheresville, PA. My wife hails from this part of the world, and let me tell you, there is NO ONE putting out this kind of weirdo, lo-fi tape cassette destruction from her small town of 1,500. I think there is still a cover band there pumping out Rage Against The Machine hits from the early 00's. Lemme check on that. Vwyrd Wurd came to the Tome's attention when Crawf got his hands on an equally beguiling tape from the blackened, neo-folk Nocht the Only Ghouls. That tape was only the tip of the iceberg when it came from amazingly weird music coming from the outer Fracklands.

The Shotshell Wads - S/T

This tape could easily be one of my favorite finds of 2013. The Shotshell Wads live and writhe in hummable melodies and irresistible pop-hooks all buried beneath a sun-blocking swarm of analog distortion. Think self-titled Women album tempered by 90's slow core acts like Ida, Secret Stars or The American Analog Set banged out by a central PA bar rock band with Masters Degrees in Theory. There is everything here: mid-tempo burners with guitar solos, swirling casio keyboards sputtering out a soft patter of programmed snare-hits and affecting little folk numbers whose tensile strength is always under danger of collapse from a shit-ton of distortion piled on top of a gossamer cobweb suspension bridge of tender feeeeelings. My life has been infinitely better since I received this tape.

The Handsome Pants - Rubble Country

From what I can gather The Handsome Pants is a solo project by Shotshell Wads member Chad McGraw. On this tape, even If the distortion keeps you at arms length, once deep inside the choppy waves of tape hiss (warms as bathwater but still vast and endless), there is this really sweet, sad voice that starts to emerge. It is almost not worth mentioning the obvious touchstones. Both Handsome Pants and The Shotshell Wads owe a lot to Isaac Brock/Calvin Johnson/Robert Pollard's early work on 4-track as well as contemporaries Lee Noble and Noah Wall scratching their name into magnetic tape. Inherent in all of these recordings is a real sense of melody and song craft announcing themselves in spite of terrible recording equipment. Rubble Country is adept in swimming between the two. There are some really beautiful, restrained songs sung onto, what sounds like, answering machine tape and then played through a shitty walkman hooked up to really huge amps. These are the best moments. The bass is featured prominently on this album, usually one of the few things immediately audible it does everything from anchoring the melody to sending Rubble Country into fits of lo-fi disco. Otherwise, Rubble Country is full Sweet nostalgia and post-adolescent ennui tempered by moments of harsh noise and cassette manipulation. These are other best-moments.

Broken Key/Daywand

The Daywand side of this split is comprised of two really interesting post-rock/classical tracks akin to the stuff Aidan Baker has been putting out in the past few years. Anchored by a steady drum beat, looped violins, electric guitar and a scattering of synths and samples circle each other wearied and waning hunger. Other parts are propped up with heavily distorted hip-hop percussion and electronic programming. The second part of Daywand's split is a foray into atmospheric synths capes via John Carpenter/Vangelis creepshow nostalgia for 90's made-for-tv horror movies replete with manipulated vocal samples and…wait for it…wolves howling. The track is called "Wolves", get it. Broken Key side. Broken Key is comprised of several sexed up synth bangers that are half warm, buzzy, golden sine-waves of compressed noise enveloping everything in a hazy half-film. Beats sound like distant waves breaking on an unseen shore. Broken Key also dabbles with deep, substrate bass layered under high pitched synth squeals and a beat, that if at a higher BPM, could be a banging juke track. Keyed up and chopped vocal samples abound. Broken Key is an interesting tip of the hat to early experimental Hip-Hop DJ's and sound artists.

Ryan H.

Vwyrd Wurd Homepage

September 12th, 2013