Monday, December 18, 2023

Road to Saint Petersburg

Available now on the magic internet is Road to Saint Petersburg from the mighty Almost Halloween Time Records. I got the opportunity to collaborate remotely with Allen Callaci and his golden voice, and I think it turned out great. I used my clearance-bin guitar twiddlers and I think there are multiple tracks of flute involved.

Lots of other great collaborations as well from people I've corresponded with over the years. Really solid front to back. Feels like a lost great early-90s tape comp with less tape hiss.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Atmospheric river/Eat Skull

I was standing at the bus stop with the kid this morning, gallons of Pineapple Express atmospheric river moisture dumping onto us, monster lakes forming everywhere, monster trucks zooming through them, no sidewalks, we had to pick a trail between waterways. Oh, unincorporated Clackamas.

It was dark, wet, and miserable. Memorably miserable, the kind I like. From out of nowhere Eat Skull's 2013 epic "Stupid Moon" came into my head, in particular the immortal verse:
Found a seagull somewhere on the beach
Chopped off its head and then it said to me
There is something I need to remove
I don't wanna press the point
But if you're cool then you won't judge me
I may not have an angel's voice
But all you children must listen to me

Interesting to read contemporaneous reviews of this album from 2013. Everyone wanted to put it into the "shitgaze" genre box, when in fact it sounded like a pretty clean break from the genre to me. Such as the genre was. The human mind and its need to categorize things, I guess.

In any case, their label has their album III, which contains said song, on sale, as well as many other examples of the purported shitgaze genre. As a certain poet once said, wait for the news in the history books.


Saturday, November 18, 2023


Writing about the STEVEN RICHARD NEWSLETTER inspired me to get on the Mastrodontic. I'm at and so far I have posted exactly one HELLO WORLD post (in BASIC of course).

The point of having a secret blog (which isn't really secret, there's a link on my actual website, albeit one that hasn't been updated in years) is to not advertise things in the slightest and see what happens. Let's see what happens.

Friday, November 17, 2023


Friend of Tape Mountain Steven Arntson, as previously mentioned on this site, has a new NEWSLETTER and it is as great as you would expect. Subscribing is free and an excellent idea.

Metrical feet/anapests/that indie rock band that blew up

Every year or so I find myself going through the Wikipedia pages on metrical feet after I forget what an amphibrach is. I studied both phonology and poetry in college, so this is where they come together, right? And this is why I make the big bucks [citation needed]. Anyway, in any case today I forgot what a spondee was, and that led me to the page on anapests (or, if you prefer, anapæsts, or if you prefer, antidactylus).

I like the fact that one of the examples they include is "A Visit from St. Nicholas", in anapestic tetrameter:

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

But then a few paragraphs later someone launches into the fact that the title track of a certain album by N**tr*l M*lk H*t*l is in anapestic heptameter (say that seven times fast):

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all 'round the sun

So you can basically sing one to the tune of the other (with some creative license). I like it.

So baffling to me that, for some reason, that second/final album was the one that blew up. I remember strongly disliking the obviousness of their first single when I was a poisonous undergraduate music snob, but their debut album was pretty good and I had some good moments rolling around Southern California in my deathtrap Datsun with their fuzzed-out rambles and wild lyrics and left-field fake-gamelan moments warbling on a C-74 in the tape deck. I even saw the last few minutes of their opening set at Spaceland (I think Brian M. wanted to see the headliners and convinced me to drive up to LA). I then promptly fell asleep when the headliners (Trans Am? Was that even a band?) played. "Sir, you can't fall asleep here," they said, but in my defense that venue was awfully dark and the band was not very interesting.

Then that second album came out and I think I may have acquired it via Nappstyrrr. It was OK, kind of a return to the obvious I-IV-Visms of the debut single. The lyrics seemed to be trying too hard (that bit about semen and the mountaintops) or not hard enough (that bit about Jesus Christ). But then I kept hearing it in the cool kid places and then the less cool kid places and now it's everywhere. What a world.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Catching up Nov. 2023

Here's what I've been up to:

Bemoaning the fact that my CD player stopped working, so I bought this over-the-top pseudo-audiophile CD player on OphrUp. I drive up to Vancouver, Washington where the freeways never end and the light always feels different. A kind older gentleman hands me a pair of headphones and tersely says "Ukrainian music." Indeed it is, hooray! The blue power switch and VFD display come off as trying too hard entirely, but it works and the Ukrainian CD sounds good. I head home and, like every time I head south on I-205 over the Columbia, am gobsmacked by how beautiful the view is. Do I actually live someplace this beautiful? I head home and start connecting wires.

Listening to (The) Method Actors, especially the late-era stuff where they added saxophone and went over the top. I'm always interested in guitar players who later end up playing bass instead.

It's November and Martin wants to do National Solo Album Month. It's been a while - why not? So far I have three songs, sort of. So far the theme has been 12-string electric running into the M-Audio Black Box (underrated) and a collection of crummy DOD fuzzboxes, including the hot pink monstrosity the Thrash Master.

Speaking of the Thrash Master: I've had that thing for twenty years, but back in the aughts I did a number on it by spilling coffee on the foot switch. What kind of maniac drinks coffee while playing a Thrash Master? In any case I was able to trade upright bass services to Jason in exchange for Thrash Master repair. Life goal achieved, and, more importantly, Thrash Master restored. You'll hear it.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Summer 2023 playlist

Now that we're in Fall 2023, it's time to share the tracks I saved in Summer 2023. Playlist here.

Note the appearance of "Blue Light Yokohama," as perfectly featured in Hirokazu Koreeda's quietly gobsmacking Still Walking, a great Dippers video, and the best track off Friend of Tape Mountain Brian M/Friends Below Zero's album, three decades in the making.

Silver Convention/covoover part two/link death

One of the nice things about finally giving in and letting my records go unalphabetized is that now I listen to whatever percolates to the top. This covoover work week, the accidental (?) hit was Silver Convention's Golden Girls. Not as good as their first couple albums, sure (c.f. the Ramones also burning out on their ultraminimal formula around album 4), but the ultra-sleazy downtuned Mutron III (?) bass on "Hotshot" is just awesome, and "Wolfchild" has this great chorus (repeat 2x):
Living in the astral jungle!
The transfer on the YouTube music version of this song has a snippet of "Summernights" at about 00:30, like the audio transfer engineer fell asleep at the console.

The somewhat stilted choreography on their live TV appearances is compelling - it's like they're aiming to be SUPER SEXXY but end up looking a little dorky? Maybe if I were a disco fiend in Munich in the mid-70s I'd feel differently about their weird little hulas. Sadly Youchoob appears to be missing the version of "Save Me" where they perform in handcuffs, which really pushes the super sexxy/super dorky hula dichotomy to the limit. Here's one from TVE[spaña], whose disco video engineers in the mid-70s knew no restraint, as we saw previously in Las Grecas' "Anabalina."

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Covoover times/War and Peace/Slack Times

News flash I got the covoover again but it's not so bad. I'm multiply jabbdeded and natuurlijk immoon after round #1 and so basically it was some mild snifflies and now I'm holed up in the office hoping the kid doesn't get sick. I took the pack-slow-vid since I don't want to mess around this time. Unfortunately I got the side effect where my mouth tastes like I've been chewing pewter. It's not ideal, but at least we live in an era when xylitol mints and Indian food can be delivered to my door very quickly.

So I'm holed up in my office doing work stuff and then reading War and Peace (one of the English profs at my alma mater is teaching an online lecture class for alums etc.) and it's pretty great. Both the book and the holed-upness. I cleaned up the place enough to get my great-grandparents' armchair in here in between the exercise bike and the Apple //c. Not exactly grammable but cozy.

I've mentioned Slack Times here before. Somehow I missed their video for "I'm Trying." A man power lifts a terrier, someone else karate kicks a toilet paper tower in slo-mo, wind-up ducks show up at the best possible moment. It is effortlessly silly, somewhere in that weird intersection between dad jokes and found-object surrealism, so of course I am drawn to it.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Indie pop subterfuge/Jeanines

I'm at the actual office working while the "slurry seal" wizards make my street a little less perilous. (The kid and I shared weird jokes about marine mammals.)  I'm listening to whatever random headphones are here, playing something on YouChoob Music, and then it helpfully decides that I want to listen to Jeanines' first album, which hey, not a bad call, but wait, is there another guitar part that I never noticed on "Either Way"? Same with "Hits the Bone"? "Falling Off of My Feet Again"? Or are these headphones just that good that I'm noticing a 12-string guitar that wasn't there before?

Anyway, not minding the director's cut - if indeed that is what it is - but it does call into question every memory I have from the Sleep Deprivation Years when my kid was super young!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

September shows/country bass/album upcoming

I'm sitting in with Cosmonox Jason's country project the Prairie Benders on the bass at a couple shows - one tonight (Wed 9/6/23 at the Alberta Street Pub) and one next Monday (9/11/23 at the Hostel Café). It's been fun playing thump-thump I-V stuff for the first time in a long time - I think my most recent experience was my all-Lutheran yodeling cowboy band with my dad back in high school?  Anyway, fun stuff. Instructive to see how to do more with less, curb my usual excess. Not something I would want to pursue in the long term, but it is good to see that I can pull it off.

I'm also playing a quick thing with the legendary Jennifer Robin this Friday (9/8/23 at Mother Foucault's). I think it will just be one piece or so.

Also, this Saturday 9/9 I plan on finally dropping the newish Spirit Duplicator album Gelatin Duplicator. A real gnarly one, this one. Nonstop ring modulator. Maybe it will be your thing? 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Dippers _Clastic Rock_/Cargo Bike Summer 2023/big words

The newish Dippers album Clastic Rock has been on frequent rotation on both my cargo bike speaker and my office turntable this summer. Good stuff - the time signatures are irregular, the melodies catchy, the words large* and compellingly assembled. The first four songs are as solid as anything I've heard recently. Could a couple songs be trimmed? Yes, but I can deal. Summer hit of 2023? Yes.

The album cover art echoes the art for the first Wipers record. (I'll need to post pictures a little later.) Coincidence? The song titles are these weird little poems on their own, so I kind of wish they were not broken up in all directions, but we'll always have online streaming to present all fourteen titles in one unbroken unit.

Cargo Bike Summer 2023 is just about done - last day of summer care camp is tomorrow - and I'll miss it. I found a way to school that is beautiful and calm (with the exception of an unavoidable quarter-mile of stroad noise and speed) and relatively flat, and I took it every day. When I was deadheading to or from school without the boy on the back, I listened to albums - the Dippers record for the past few weeks - and their rhythms have overlaid themselves onto the path I rode. "Drop to Inoperant" (good title) will always be linked to this particular intersection, though the long-shadowed October light in the Street View doesn't quite match the full-bodied summer sunlight in my memory.

* OK, I have to say it: There are a couple words that are pronounced... well, I don't want to say incorrectly, but I couldn't find any dictionaries where "amygdalae" is pronounced the way it is on the record.  Maybe it's an Australian thing? Not that I can talk. As someone who is still haunted by his own mispronunciations on long-forgotten CDRs, I know how that feels. I've read a lot of books and learned big words and then sounded like a dope when I went to put said words into action. Ask me about the time I read Childcraft's Guide for Parents and then mispronounced "vagina" with the ladies in my grandma's small-town bridge club, where nothing was ever forgotten. That's why, as the old pin says, we never guess, we look it up.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Cargo Bike Morning (predicted high 105) and "Hijack the Barber"

Speaker algo selects King Tubby, "Hijack the Barber," speaker hijacks bass response, we're left with hi-hat sibilance and echoed flutes and stabs of horns on sunbaked Sandview, unsidewalked, a squirrel bounds in perfect time, its tail well groomed and sinusoidal, turn blind corner, roll through stop sign, Diane is out and watering sunflowers, left on my street, flip the PINpad, garage door creaks and roars to open.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Suburban Saturday

This morning we went to an all-you-can-eat pancake fundraiser at a certain local whole-grain institution. Out of the corner of my eye I glanced a mustachioed individual wearing a "Reagan Bush '84" hat. Instantly my early-aughts lizard brain started making calculations: is this an ironic hat? Said gentleman looked like he was in diapers at most when my boy Fritz lost the '84 election in a landslide. Anyway, we set up with our flapjacks outside, and dude and his family entourage coincidentally set up next to us. The matriarch figure starts telling jokes along the lines of "What do you call a man sitting in a basketball hoop? Duncan!!!!" and absolutely just losing it with laughter. Like, dozens of jokes of this caliber, each one causing more laughter than the last. It was like a performance art piece and I wasn't sure what to make of it. The wheat-free vegan pancakes were excellent though.

We stopped by a yard sale on the way home. One of the proprietors (wearing an NRA shirt) was going on at length about the evils of a certain ballot measure that I voted for and contributed to. By the time we finished looking at their stuff he was still going on about how it was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court. I kept my mouth shut and we bought our stepstool and guilty-pleasure 80s CD.

I rode my bike to another yard sale in an attempt to work off some of the carbs. They had an Inst*nt P*t upgrade model and ours is on the fritz (note the clever double fritzing). Realizing that this appliance would not fit in my bag, I told the seller that I'd be back in a more appropriate vehicle. I rode up the hill and realized that it would be funny if I came back with my cargo bike. So I did. The seller was amused and I burned off another quarter pancake or so. I bought an appliance and petted their pug.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Cosmonox/garage sales/

Cosmonox played the second of its two weekly shows last night (thanks to grandma for babysitting). Jason and I leaned into some Village People-esque identities (I was the "third-string 70s power forward" and Jason the "digital cowboy" - thanks to JL for taking the photo:)

Jason modded my Cardmaster to bring the full speed/half speed switch to the front, and while I miss the visual aspect of digging into the battery compartment to access that switch, I have to admit that it is expressively useful to have it accessible at all times. Anyway, it was awesome, as is the new album Labelmaker.

I biked to a bunch of yard sales yesterday - found some quality stuff, got some exercise. At one of the sales I leaned my bike up against a towering Douglas fir and got a bunch of pitch all over my left handlebar. People at various yard sales had various solutions for the problem, but the best one was, "oh, rub a bunch of peanut butter or mayonnaise on your hands!" When I got home, I tried it out, and I have to admit that it was pretty pleasurable to rub a bunch of Jif on my hands. My kid was not a fan of the way my hands smelled afterwards. (ht: Recomendo) links to a bunch of Internet Archive-hosted scans of design importance. I was glad to see the maniacal kids' book Honeybees included (we picked up a copy at The Clackamas Bookshelf for ten cents and I always try to foist it on my kid at bedtime), plus of course the collection of scanned floppy disk sleeves is right up my alley...

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Desperate Bicycles "Grief Is Very Private"

I made Hot Cargo Bike Summer 2023 a little more interesting by buying a really terrible Bluetooth speaker with a very good handlebar mount. In painfully obvious bicycle listening, I was listening to (The) Desperate Bicycles. Their whole discography is great and totally not legally accessible except through the collector-scum market. Since most of the online anthologies are chronological, I never end up playing their last single as often as the rest. But every time I do, it rearranges my mind. '

Who makes music like this? It's reasonable to call it "post-punk," I guess (a term which I was struggling to define for Cosmonox live-dub enthusiast Jason recently). But what sort of post-punk is built like this? Things are jammed together in totally non-linear and exciting ways, it's all built around some sort of asthmatic organ/Stylophone sound, there are chords I can't figure out on the guitar, and then on top of it the bassist is positively shredding, on an emphatically fretless bass no less. (Important to note that even on their early stuff the bass is fretless and all over the place.) The last song, "Conundrum", is both super catchy and completely bewildering.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

New Cosmonox album, plus live shows

Cosmonox has a new album and I think it's great. We are branching out from our initial four-track-and-language master sounds into something a little more expansive. Getting maximum value out of the Casio CZ-101 and the melodica, sometimes at the same time.

Shows in Portland, Oregon:
July 15: at Turn! Turn! Turn! with The Vardaman Ensemble and Otolithia
July 22: at Starday Tavern with Dr. Something and ///supersun///

Mention the key word "lethologica" to the awkward-looking dude with the squeaky card machine at either show and I will give you a dollar or a mostly-filled-out punchcard for Great American Video and Espresso in Milwaukie. (Side note: I love the fact that there is a fully-functional video store within a few minutes of my house, even though the only videos I watch these days are from the library, and that they serve pretty good Italian ice!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Paul Evans "Lullaby Tissue Paper Company"


I've got a soft spot for high-concept country novelty weepers. The more famous A side of this single, "Hello This Is Joannie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song)," is kind of a high-water mark for the genre, but it's also a sore spot in our household given the title character's name (basically identical to my wife's) and, well, she dies driving drunk and then the narrator keeps calling her answering machine to hear her voice! Morbid! 

So this one, then. A song about "the makers of the softest tissue paper to ever wipe a teardrop from your eye," personally endorsed by the narrator, as they are gentle and strong enough to handle the copious tears brought on by "she left me over some dumb thing that I said."* 

More importantly, the version that was floating around on YouChoob for years has a skip in a really key part of the ludicrous narrative, so now that I'm hearing it without that particular skip, it makes me almost uneasy - wait, that's the spot where my shoulders are supposed to tense up - why am I not tense?

*I really like how he condenses all of the conflict to one concise sentence - let's focus on the tears and the off-brand Kleenex instead.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Spring 2023 playlist

 Dear readers of Tape Mountain Secret Blog, 

Here is my secret Spring 2023 playlist of tracks that clicked. Track listing below for those who avoid YouChoob. The Messendger is a guilty pleasure for which I ask your forgiveness.