mascara – Budapest/Chicago (CFX 3)

mascara - Budapest/Chicago

I love receiving tapes! This cuddly tape, with artwork by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, is mascara’s album Budapest/Chicago.

Artist: mascara
Title: Budapest/Chicago
Label: Centipede Farm Tapes
Cat#: CFX 3
Keywords: Noise, Experimental, Ambient, No Wave
Reviewer: Alex Spalding

Youth. Laying on an uncomfortable floor next to a boombox listening to tape noise. Displaced lights, inhaling incense and cigarette smoke. I feel like it’s been too long since I’ve done this. mascara is the solo project of Sara Sci-fi, who was so nice as to send me two tapes for review. This is one of them. As a scientist of the fictional variety myself, I figured this would make for a good experiment: see how the tape effects me in the sensorial vat of my living room on a Tuesday afternoon. Here are my findings…

… the first track on side a is titled ‘of this, i am sure’. An electronic buzzsaw hums into focus, accompanied by a beautiful arrangement of synthetic sounds that create a bizarre ambient feel. I am reminded of Metroid… if there were possible a respectable film made inspired by that game, this would have to be the soundtrack. I’m just in love with the sound of this. The sounds are spacy, cold, trickling, like a lovely analogue data feed.

Then it’s ‘duckland (ukrainian village)’, which takes a rock loop and places electronic noises over it, some of them heavily distorted, white-noise-laden, intensely modulated, digital bell-like. Really fun to listen to, and slightly reminding me just a little of the first time I listened to Skin’s album Ten Songs For Another World, or a lot of Michael Gira’s work, in that these looped portions feel like the flickering, corroded objects turned around and around within a global brain with a one-track mind. Heavy, cosmic; a post-death experience in which fired synapses like neurocellular syntax errors become commonplace experience until self dissolves into universality.

‘St. Istvan Day’ is like a hyperspeed fast-forward bit of time travel, to which is then added a slo-mo rhythm. This is absolutely brilliant music. I’m feeling as if I’m traversing the whole universe in reverse from the big bang as further electronic sounds are washing over me. The bits of music and rhythm begin to slow, speed up. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore, but it’s incredible! Time is a loop, damaged.

Next is the loud powerdriver ‘Death by Moskva Ter’. Arcade whirring soundscapes over walls of noise phasing in and out with a distinctly audible ambiance.

Soon after comes ‘antimeta (i see things before i’m even there)’ which has a lofi droning ambient texture into which percussive and alien bits of noise drip through. My favourite part is when you hear suddenly this loud, bassy sound like an elephant scream rip out. Long, rumbling sounds like Leviathan or Dagon are lurking low in the mix. Then there’s a nice vocal sample.

‘Viktor Hugo utca’ features more pitch shifted sounds, some in fast-forward mode and others, rhythmic, pitched to sound very slow and heavy. The sped up samples move so fast they sound like they could cut you if you got close enough to touch them.

The final track on side a is ‘dirty mojito on Liszt Ferenc’, featuring a slow motion breakbeat with lots of gritty sounds exploding into the mix. There is irresonant filtering and many bizarre, smooth periods in which sounds seem to enter and leave without us really knowing when or how. It ends with a caterwaul of speeding up sounds before drying out into more of that beautiful synthesis of sounds that began the album. So great, these abstracted melodic modulations.

Side b begins with ‘going to Chicago’, a lovely, deranged rhythmic noise piece with analogue computational sounds. It warps in and out a bit, the sounds seemingly refracted at times. Electronic chiming, like a half-remembered abduction scenario complete with alien implantations. DMT machine-blob communications. Frightening time-travel, like waking up and attempting to run, and feeling yourself slowing, eventually to the point that you find that you are moving backward, muscles efforted and tight with all your concentrated desperation. It’s very beautiful, though, and contemplative.

After this is ‘night tram (marget sziget portal)’, which brings back the familiar fast forward-style sound samples, and spinning more sounds over them… like spaceship movements, slight bell tones, train station humming, a blur of conversation here and there. Taking acid and riding a train, mind blowing with an overload of minute awarenesses. Suddenly at the end we stop, calm, and disboard.

Next is ‘lost in a Cesky castle’, featuring a deep bassy drone and several gorgeous synth bits ringing out overhead… I love these sounds so much, and I’m always happy when they return. This is amazing though, when the sucking warp lfo rhythm comes in I was spellbound. This is probably my favourite piece on the album, made all the better just having gotten through the rest of the album so far. It’s one of those tracks that necessitates having played through to get to it, it wouldn’t be properly understood if you hadn’t. Even better, more rhythmic elements unfold! I’m so happy to have had this experience, laying around on the floor. I could just melt here forever, maybe return to the singularity. Everything drifts away, and there’s now, in the vacuum left by the rhythm, filling up the void, a bass tone. It’s so great. Cosmic ambient vibe.

After that beast comes ‘one way across’, which is perfect for the moment. Something akin to an abstract ’80s rock loop with shimmering tracings of shrill chimes. Then the guitar comes on, we get a tom roll, then a return of the looping. It’s for the best, as more synthetic abstractions come up in the mix, but then it fades.

Last track is ‘book ends’, which is just magical… bright and abstract neo-folk-rock with chimes, bizarre electronic noodling. It’s really nice, feeling like the requisite trailing glow left after such a mind-bending hallucinogenic album as this. The chirping electronics coalesce before the eyes, affecting colours and shapes indescribable. I hear a voice then, unexpected, and the mixing shifts for a little while. So amazing! Everything gets experimental, ambient, then some more loops of rock music play after sufficient time has passed. The synths become far more frenetic.

This is a great album for any time you feel like going on an audio voyage of the psychedelic noise variety, and I really enjoyed it! You want “proof”? We scientists do not speak of “proof”; I can only provide evidence that supports my conclusions. Exhibit A (hyperlink) to where you can get a copy, though unfortunately the tapes seem to be sold out… scratch that, there is a very limited supply still left! Trust me, you’ll want the tape, though if nothing else the digital copy is also great, and you can contact the artist direct at this email:

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2 Responses to mascara – Budapest/Chicago (CFX 3)

  1. Reblogged this on Tunnel to the Underground and commented:

  2. Pingback: Nyhos – Nyhos (None) | Yeah I Know It Sucks

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