celesteville - "invisible tape"
jake anderson, of the yak & delivers a strange 30 minute cassette of bleep, blip and tape oversaturation. songs for tender hearts, and the ghosts that come back to haunt them. first 100 come in handmade packages!
"youth for mondale"
"when the batteries drain"
Jacob Anderson, who also goes by the more mundane monikers Celesteville and the Yak Brigade, has put together this rather impressive eight song noise-fest. Most of the songs, such as the dischordantly grand "A Tableau", have a simple sequencer pattern at their heart, but this heart gets buried under layer upon layer of sound. Interestingly, this oversaturation works. By using the technical limits of his recording medium, Anderson fills every inch of the speakers with sound, creating a sensation of facing an overwhelming obstacle. Combining this sense of vulnerability with shy vocals makes for impressive, if uncomfortable, music. Once the tape ends and the ringing leaves your ears, you'll be left with a disconcerting feeling that things are quiet...too quiet. Whether this was Anderson's goal or not, it works nicely. - splendid
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A collection of songs written and recorded here and there between 1996 and 2000, Invisible Tape captures, however unintentionally, Anderson's switch from Yak Brigade to his later artistic identity. Indeed, one of the songs, the fragile, quietly creepy "Celesteville," provided the name for said identity, while the collection itself appropriately appears on tape only. Given that everything was recorded on Anderson's trusty four-track, it only makes sense to stay in that medium here. Overall Invisible Tape tends toward the subtle; there are not many attempts at rocking out (in the conventional sense, at least) and the lo-fi flow of everything doesn't sound like affectation, as it does on so many overly precious releases by others. His appreciation for many musics around the world makes for some captivating results, as when the open-ended guitar chords on "Try" seem to hint at sitars playing gamelan. The opener is one of his best — "A Tableau" — with a waltz-time rhythm defining the murky, dreamy combination of overdubbed vocals, roughly chiming guitars, and rustling drums. The feeling is very intimate and close even as his singing seems to slip into the mix, making a gently disorienting start. "Nocturne" is another hands-down winner, soft but distorted keyboards and drones quietly playing descending, dying notes amidst a swirl of echoed electric guitar bits and unidentified noises. Anderson's ear for never just trying for the one-person-with-guitar approach serves him very well throughout — check out the squirrelly moans and whines mixed with drum box on "Mercury" or the sputtering beats and heavily treated guitar clangor on "Youth for Mondale," topped off with soft singing and flute. "When the Batteries Drain" is great as well, Anderson finding his own way around a glitch rhythm, continually interrupted and abused with other sudden stops and starts. — Ned Raggett - All Music Guide
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If you didn't notice in the previous Gang Wizard review (I don't blame you, ya can't read everything), sometime Gang Wizard member Jake Anderson, who lives (lived?) in Tualatin, Oregon, records solo music as Celesteville. This project has released a tape called Invisible Tape on Omaha tape etc. label Unread Records.
I've listened to these two Jake Anderson-affiliated tapes back to back more than just a couple times in the last couple-a weeks, and ya know, I just can't help but think of them in comparison-contrast terms. (I'm such a geek.) Though Invisible Tape does feature extended sections of instrumental freenoise that definitely are in the "Gang Wizard aesthetic," this is a more restrained music, with words like "yowling" and "shrapnel" not coming up nearly as often as they do during Gang Wizard. The first song ("A Tableau") is just that, a song, but it's still black-tunnel music, a very slow, somber song, with strange guitar flare-ups on the chorus and in the zoned-out solo sections. Sort of like Gang Wizard crossed with Codeine (the band, not the drug).
There are several more songs, and even what might be called "Lou Barlow-influenced bedroom psych" type songs, but they're much less confessional. In fact, I don't even really notice the lyrics...this tape really fits the Unread lo-fi aesthetic, as if he's not only singing in his bedroom but actually singing from under the covers on his bed, and the words are often drowned out by the distorted electric rock pulse he's usually singing with and the way it overloads the tape. The key to the songs is the atmospheres, which are more Kraut-y than you usually hear from Barlow-ilks. For example, on the second track, "Mercury," Anderson's vocals are swirled into an overdub stew featuring a cheap electronic drum-machine pulse, droning cheap-organ chords, subtle percussion, and sci-fi synth whoops and whorls. Jake's song-forms sink just under the surface of this electronic tide and float there, almost imperceptibly. And by track three, "Try," there's no sight of a song anywhere, it's just two free-form guitar improvs dubbed onto a four-track one right after the other, the second one while listening to the first one. It's good! I dare say it's right up there with "Lee is Free."
It's followed up with another nice murmured ballad that sits in that sweet spot somewhere between Neil Young and the Dead C. And, throughout the tape it's never too long before the song-forms are abandoned entirely for long instrumental improv tracks that clank and burrow and hang in the air, like a sparser version of the stuff on the Gang Wizard tape. This is especially true on Side Two, which contains an amazing burrowing improv noise piece in which all sorts of fumbling sounds fall around a lurching retarded robotic casio loop. Here and there Jake cuts in some other tape entirely, sounding like him or someone doing wild tape-distorting piano improvs, but he always cuts back to the defective robotic casio loop. And then, just when you're totally convinced this is an instrumental, he starts singing a sad folk song over the loop which works pretty well. Then all of a sudden the music stops. End of album. I had to take it out and check to see if the tape didn't get eaten, because it sounded too abrupt to be correct. But it was correct, and I ain't gonna argue with ol' Celesteville Jake, 'cause he's pretty good... - blastitude