Music Tapes Music Tapes For Clouds and Tornadoes(Merge Records) Buy it from Insound
It's been over nine years since the first Music Tapes record was released; 1999's First Imaginary Symphony For Nomad, an eclectic, lo-fi indie pop record turned heads with its experimental ways. Fast-forward to now. We're given a more mature record with Music Tapes For Clouds and Tornadoes, but not something that betrays that first release, instead supporting it with further exercise of that penchant for unusual instrumentation.
The latest from Julian Koster presents a musical landscape that is just as varied as one might expect, if not more so. The first Music Tapes record was an experiment in musical diversity, and this is no less so. That's not to say that Music Tapes For Clouds and Tornadoes is necessarily in the same cut as 1999's Imaginary Symphony For Nomad or the narrated, self-released Second Imaginary Symphony For Cloudmaking, but the common threads are readily available for examination.
Of course, it's imperative that listeners don't dive into For Clouds and Tornadoes expecting a cleanly recorded masterpiece. These recordings have been made on "antique" equipment, including an 1985 Edison wax cylinder recorder -- but that's the beauty of the thing! The crackles, pops, and warmth heard throughout evoke memories of turn-of-the-century films and music while still providing the mid-to-late nineties indie pop sensibilities that encapsulated the Elephant Six collective.
All told, For Clouds and Tornadoes is a quality release from a musician that's not afraid to explore outside the usual methods to create extraordinary music. Koster hasn't served up some pop-filled indie record, favouring an adventure in anachronistic musical creativity that sounds oddly modern for its methods. For Clouds and Tornadoes is a glorious return to Merge Records for Music Tapes after 2002's self-released Second Imaginary Symphony For Cloudmaking.