Fluorescent Heights: Tidal Motions
Constellation Tatsu

Greyghost: Memoirs of Dementia
Constellation Tatsu

Like clockwork, California-based label Constellation Tatsu issues a batch of four cassette releases every month, with wonky, lo-fi experiments by analog synthesizer wizards a typical part of the monthly offering. January's quartet includes two such examples, even if they're dramatically contrasting in style.

The brainchild of Stockholm-based Henrik Stelzer, Fluorescent Heights' Tidal Motions is representative of the kind of gloopy synth work one might expect from Constellation Tatsu. Its hiss-drenched, twenty-seven-minute ride gets underway with the sun-blinded swirls of “Day” before making a melancholy stop at “Blue Island” where wheezing keyboards chime out sad and wistful melodies. On the second side, “New Sun” tinkles placidly before “Reaching the Open Ocean” ends the recording with nearly eight minutes of blissed-out synth phantasmagoria. All five pieces on Tidal Motions come wrapped in gauze, which renders the material blurry and feeds conceptually into the kind of half-awake, quasi-hallucinatory state of mind (one piece is even titled “Holiday Mirage”) nurtured by the ocean voyage experience.

Greyghost's Memoirs of Dementia, on the other hand, is a remarkably soothing set of ambient material that was improvised and recorded live by Los Angeles, California-based Brian Griffith. On the thirty-four-minute release, a longer ambient setting is followed by a shorter, more animated piece, making for some welcome contrast. “Purple Dye #5” gently undulates between two tones for ten serene minutes, the music so soft and stripped-down ambient noises at the time of recording can be heard, too—clicks and clatter, and even Griffith humming; the woozy tonal see-saw of side B's “Flowing Spirit Jar” soothes just as much during its ten-minute run. Joining the longer pieces are the warbly ambient-drone “Nectar of the Eastern Gods” and “Beyond the Black Field,” which rises from its slumber with analog queries that suggest thoughts slowly coming into focus. Sonic tinting of the prettiest kind, Griffith's music presents a still and peaceful place conducive to a deeply meditative state.

February 2013