By now Brady Kendall aka Alaskan Tapes should be known to people through his self released music (and one co-released through Fluid Audio). He certainly isn’t a stranger to these pages with his last two albums being covered. This, has second physical and fifth release overall for 2018, happens to be, consistent with his nom de plume, his first ever release on cassette. This 4 track mini-LP length Ep continues to see Kendall push his music further into different territories, but still have the essence of Alaskan Tapes intact.
“Untitled #1” in an email to introduce the release to me Kendall mentions that the release was mastered by 12k label boss and in demand masterer Taylor Deupree and that was inspired by both Deupree’s and the labels work. The first noticeable feature of the track is how tactile it is. The crisp and crackling detritus covered sounds that mask a swirling sound of varying textures, that over time start to ripple out and show their qualities. Guitar is the most apparent instrument, with other features of sound comprising backwards warping, swirling ambience, field recordings and an almost ominously threatening humming drone. When faced with music like this I find the listener can attach their particular possible feeling towards the piece of music – such is ‘open to interpretation’ aspect of it. For me it feels like its music to sink into, or pardon the pun drift or fall into. It has this laid back , but not saccharine feel, more like a piece of music that you can let wash over you. In the final third of the track you can hear what could be the faintest influence of post rock creeping in which just adds a nice extra element into the piece.
“From Dust” much like the substance the track is named after, “Dust” has a feeling of something that is scattered by the wind. All its components from glitches to guitars, field recordings to ambience, feel like transient (in a good way) sounds that are not necessarily bound to anything. Musically it follows the lead of the opener, but heads in a quite freeform, reduced and lowercase form.
“These Are Our Fears (Part 2)” the experimental nature heard in “From Dust” continues on in this, the longest track of the Ep. Consisting of three main lines of music – spindly guitar, an evolving and moving ambient passage, and loops of scratchy recordings (in some ways sounding like things scraping and at others waves crashing). The track certainly takes its time to evolve out of these main elements, which is a good thing as it gives it an organic and living feeling to the piece. It also exhibits Kendall’s confidence in starting from quite a stripped back or minimal canvas and then adding texture and color to it. The additional guitar that slowly creeps up before being the major element of the last two to three minutes, adds a delightful and almost introspective touch and ends up being a key part of the track.
“The Ocean No Longer Wants Us” beats, but not beats, more like punctuations of sound in a minimal rhythm are paired with a consistent length and weighty drone and a shimmering ambience. The ambience has choral qualities mixed with synths and vocals. It’s the vocals that become central to the track and become a duo of layered male and female vocals. As there are no credits I can assume they belong to Kendall and his long time collaborator and partner, Chantal Oullette. The vocals come out of fragments of dialogue before emerging and captivating the listener alongside some very sublime guitar playing. I am not one for vocals, something I have mentioned many times on these pages. However with this case, the male/female dynamics and the way that the lyrics are sung in an almost chanting style of repetition, I find that they work extremely well together and that the track brings about a nice completion to the Ep
When comparing Kendall’s previous work you can see a resemblance to the tracks contained on “You Were Always An Island”. Without copying that album and just doing a “Part 2” you can detect that they may, to use a sewing analogy, be cut the same person from a slightly different cloth. If you have liked any of the previous Alaskan Tapes releases, then “The Ocean No Longer Wants Us” will not disappoint. The cassette is limited to only 50 copies, but the digital is priced at the very kind $1 CAD which is affordable to anyone.