Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Lost in Those Dunes

Luke Carrell

Listening on:

A Panasonic RX-CW 42, with original speakers. Or, at least, I’m pretty sure these are the original speakers. Either way, this is one of the louder cassette/radio only units I have. The RX-CW 42’s main assets are an overly enthusiastic five channel EQ and a high speed-dubbing mode that’s perfect for old school piracy. It’s by no means a huge system, but judging by the Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits tape that was in the right side deck when I found it, this machine has been rocking hard for a long time now.

The band:
Thousand Foot Whale Claw is yet another highly conceptual project to come out of this synth-centric corner of the Austin scene. The current incarnation of the group features members of SURVIVE, Pure X, Lumens, and Troller, most of which local tape label Holodeck Records has issued or is planning releases for. Lost in Those Dunes is their debut release.

The music:

With Lost in Those Dunes, Thousand Foot Whale Claw take an almost maximalist approach with this heavily textural, loosely structured drone based music. Both sides of the tape – each a single ten minute+ track – feature a big sound that defies the classical norms of ambient music by refusing to be sublimated into the background and insisting on expanding to occupy all available space. Just how it reshapes that space once it’s there is highly subjective, as bass, guitar, and synths invite listeners to do a little deep listening and interpreting of their own. Oceanic, celestial, and more terrestrial metaphors could all work, but I’ll leave you to figure that out. I’m busy talking about tapes right now.

How it sounds:
These recordings have a pretty stunning range of frequencies going on at any given time, so the translation onto tape gives certain elements a noticeable distortion, even as it ties them more closely back to the track as a whole. Listening on headphones may let you pick out each part and closely follow the non-linear evolution of each track, but playing this out loudly over speakers lends a buzzing energy that helps create a more immersive experience.

The full package:

The packaging juxtaposes a fire engine red cassette with a monochromatic landscape, dominated by wreckage and the inverted hues of the skyscape above it. It’s well executed and simple, but not as simple as it seems at first.

Listening:

The title track, “Lost in Those Dunes,” compounds upon a subterranean churn to create an expansive and thoroughly non sequitur groove.

“Fleshwave” is a more harrowing, free form trip, complete with screaming guitar and the sound of your own brain cells popping.

Thousand Foot Whale Claw's Lost in Those Dunes is available now on Holodeck Records.

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