Garden Portal – Spring Batch

Our friends down at Garden Portal Records have a new set of tapes coming out today by some of the most wildly creative guitarists currently performing. Here’s a rundown of this latest batch:

Jeffrey Alexander – Reyes

Our man Jeffrey Alexander, the unstoppable main head behind Dire Wolves, delivers dazed guitar explorations on this, his latest solo venture.

Alternating between electric and acoustic instruments, Alexander keeps to a mostly unhurried pace, which allows for the songs to have a wandering looseness and a pastoral calm. The drifting acoustic jams, like “Perpetual Sunrise,” especially take on a bucolic vibe with the addition of swirling flute-like keyboards and softly jangling bells.

Yet, what gives this album the undeniable Alexander touch is the audio manipulations and hazy distortions. By wobbling the speed and pitch of some of the instruments and then blanketing everything under a thick layer of tape hiss, the music on this record feels creaky and unstable, like something from a fever dream.

Any fan of Alexander’s prior works will surely dig this one, as would listeners of Tom Carter, Steven R. Smith and Pelt.

Peter Kris – No Language for The Feeling

Peter Kris meanwhile makes his guitar howl and groan in electric ecstasy on his entry on No Language for The Feeling.

On this album, Kris slathered his guitar in heaps of icy reverb and other effects, and then overdubbed himself until he created expansive soundscapes. With roaring drones that at times dip into overmodulation, Kris pushes his compositions into post-rock and ambient territories.

With an astral coolness that seeps through every track, it’s easy to be reminded of the work of Magnetic Ghost, Flying Saucer Attack and Roy Montgomery. However, Kris’ own unique style still shines through. Just give a listen to songs like the thunderous “I Undercut Myself From the Start,” and you’ll find them to be completely and confidently original.

Minimalist but still mighty, No Language for The Feeling is a record that you can feel vibrating deep within your bones. What more could you ask for?

Wendy Eisenberg – Cellini’s Halo

On Cellini’s Halo, Wendy Eisenberg proves once again that they’re one of the most inventive and uncompromising guitarists alive.

Eisenberg utilizes every part of their acoustic guitar to unleash a barrage of pops, twangs and cracks amid an explosion of unhinged notes. On songs like the opening track, “a0,” they scrape the texture of their instrument’s strings, shred up and down the neck with some mad finger tapping and even dabble where the strings meet the tuning machine heads. There are some sounds that the artist coaxes out of the guitar that I can’t even 100% explain. It’s a marvel to hear.

However, the one thing that absolutely leaps out from this recording is Eisenberg’s complete mastery of their craft. The casual listener might discern this tape as nothing but chaos, but Eisenberg has actually tamed the chaos, and composed tuneful pieces out of it, much like Jimi Hendrix’s live manipulation of feedback. Every sound, every blue note and every moment on this tape feels carefully plotted out and neatly performed, despite its initial atonal appearance.

If avant-garde and minimalist jazz are your thing, then you have to give this album a try.

Stefan Christensen – Loimaa

Lastly, we have Steffan Christensen’s beautifully stoic Loimaa.

Comprised of loner folk tracks that lean heavily into experimentalism with a touch of psychedelia, this album is a real treat for anyone who loves the likes of Ted Lucas, Tom Armstrong and Tyler Higgins.

Some songs are steeped in the singer-songwriter or folk-influenced mold, like the intense “Loimaa III,” then others take on a more surreal and hallucinogenic quality, like “Loimaa IX,” which utilizes various effects and layers of backwards and bowed guitars.

These outré vibes plus the album’s warm lo-fi production give the entire tape a very intimate and isolated feeling. You get the feeling that you’re a fly on the wall of a vastly intelligent artist as he’s experimenting with songwriting and recording from his bedroom.

If you like your albums to have a great lived-in sort of feel, this one is indeed for you.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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