Stunned is the ongoing, two-year, dual effort cassette label of Phil and Myste French, operating out of somewhere on that American coast that touches the Pacific, serving up even doses of noise, ambience, psychedelic rock, avant pop and all around boundary-pushing music. Phil (the organist of now deceased psych rock band Magic Lantern) and Myste have turned Stunned into a consistent bastion of quality psychedelic music by releasing top notch work from around the entire globe, but they've also earned a reputation for the complex collage work they painstakingly create for their cassette covers. Let’s check out two new releases.
Dire Wolves, Jams And The Giant Peace
Not that I remember the Roald Dahl book, but I don’t think this title has anything to do with the themes or plot. It’s kind of just a stupid pun. So, okay, the first side of this tape slowly lumbers along, very plodding drum abuse from the drummer, the rhythm section holding it down for some somber, fuzz guitar licks and a bit of static behind the repetitive hooks. It has a blown out, melancholy feel to it and it is well done, just kind of inseparable from a lot of other repetitive psych rock, though it is obvious everyone in the band can play their instruments.
So put it on side two and hold on. This jam is the fucking jam. It rocks so goddamn hard and builds so intensely, awash in fiery guitar soloing and complex interplay, that you really can’t deny the label’s statement that, “Jams and the Giant Peace is the kind of psychedelic monster that immediately transports us back to being seventeen again, cruising around town invincible and high while blowing the car’s factory-installed speakers to shreds.” Yeah, I know a lot of music reviews in this scene/genre are guilty of serious teasing, but this is completely right on. They can hit you up with complex line after line of head-spinning, tightly wound catharsis jamming and then destroy everything in a free noise ruckus and make it all sound just as good. Some of the better playing that I’ve heard from the LRD school of japrock psych and guitar based krautrock neophytes. Write a few good tunes to lead into these massive jams and put it on wax, please.
Download Dire Wolve's James and the Giant Peace here.
Warm Climate, Camouflage On The River Wretched
So I guess someone got tired of cutting and pasting all those crazy pictures for this cover. Anyway, while this may be more a collection of songs than an album, those songs rule. As the label points out, a very Los Angeles band is Warm Climate. This cassette foray features that drowsy west coast haze, but also huge doses of inventive, melodic groove, dub fusion, muted trumpets and skronking reeds in murky, back alley noir cinescapes, free associative narratives over free form jamming and some loosely composed, but tightly hooked noise pop gems.
The atmosphere is really created through the spastic, anxious singing, but I love this because it just kicks ass in the drum and bass department. A true head nodder, browned out groover that makes you feel the bass. I miss heavy, heavy drumming and bass in a lot of psychedelic music, so this was really doing it for me. That, and the one or two songs where they use the style of dub are WONDERFUL. I know dub is awesome and I like that more and more bands are trying to take an experimental approach to it, but it’s really hard to do.
I remember when I heard Pocahaunted’s Island Diamonds in 2008 and was like, yes, that is how you incorporate dub into some jams. This made me feel the same way. Acid fried wanderings into cyber-punk atmospheres with an extremely groovy backbone.
Download Warm Climate's Camouflage On The River Wretched</em> here.
These are both out of print. Check a distro or download, and if you do, go back later and buy the next batch of Stunned tapes before they inevitably sell out. Seriously, buy the whole batch, all the shit you’ve never heard of, all the stuff with descriptions that seem to be too good to be true.
Also, check out this bonus c14 they were giving away. It’s called Slam Fucking Dunk and it sounds like Slam Fucking Dunk.