REVIEW: Notso – “MicroCassette Project”

MicroCassette Project

Imagine for a moment an album recorded entirely to your answering machine. Not the one on your 21st century cell phone, but on a classic, micro-cassette recorder, vintage, but not necessarily in the best ways. This is tinny and highly compressed music, boxed in by the limitations of the recording in a way that adds an almost dustiness to the music, like this was found in a vault stored there since the dawn of recording technology of any stripe. While the text that comes with this album suggests that Notso used a handheld device, it brings with it a sense of nostalgia for the pre-internet days of calling your friends and playing for them over the phone, which I am certainly guilty of. It’s a wonderful feeling to have something that you love so much that you’re feel it necessary to share however you can, to put out into the world warts and all, ergo many a teenaged Syd’s decisions involved sitting down my LAN line phone to play a riff for one of my bandmates or friends; I just had it like that.

The music here is easy breezy, by and large, playing well within the confines set by the process. If there were too many layers, this would not work, as it would constitute too much for the condenser mic on the recorder to handle. It takes until almost the halfway point, Look to the Sky, before the music shifts from single riffs to anything effected, here with delay and possibly some samples. Here, Notso taps his inner Robert Fripp and Brian Eno from their work on No Pussyfooting, changing it up from the almost Beach Boys inspired melodies that carry the earlier part of the tape. Is this presented sequentially? Because it seems like Notso develops his courage to add abstract or experimental elements into the mix as he goes.

Tracks like the Sea Cries or Approaching Doom seem fleshed out in a way that would certain improve from a broader aural spectrum, again limited by the confines of the format. For both, he taps his inner Sunn 0))), unexpected for sure, but a welcome influence all the same. In a lot of ways, it’s interesting to see how he engages the formatting issues, almost as if he’s daring the listener to imagine a richer experience. Or maybe he just doesn’t care. Not about the music per sé, but about the presentation of such; this could just be an exercise in exorcism, of scratching the ultimately unscratchable itch of artistic expression.

Listen below and get weird with it.