Five Cassette Picks From JS Aurelius of Destruction Unit & Marshstepper

JS Aurelius’ Top 5 Releases of 2013

1. Ukiah Drag, Jazz Mama Is Cryin’ (Ascetic House)
Possibly the best rock band in the world right now, if not tied with CCR Headcleaner. You don’t listen to this tape; you mainline it straight into your arm. It will be the only rock record released in 2013 that your children will be begging you to give them when they finally get to that age where they realize you were actually pretty cool when you were their age and that there’s probably a lot about you that they don’t know. And you won’t give it to them because you know the path it sent you down and all you care about now is protecting them from that.

2. Vanilla Transmission, Administrasjon (Mount Analog)
A brilliant tape by all standards. The synth textures here engulf you like an opium zephyr. Unlike their last single, neither of these tracks have traditional beats, but the rhythms are so hypnotic I could see Dettmann buying a tape deck to jam this at Berghain.

3. Forme D’Illumino, Cut Bell Expiraments (Sonoran Bazaar)
A compositional drone tape based on acousmatic and reduced listening theories. Essentially, if you remove certain key elements of a sound, you lose the ability to identify its origin. Complex fingerpicking becomes unrecognizable as guitar playing, a scale on a piano melts into a bell ringing which melts into the resonance of a floor tom. To me, it sounds like a lysergic orchestra from Mars.

4. Stunted Architecture, One Way Conversations (Posh Isolation)
One of my favorite labels, hands down. This tape is named exactly how it sounds. It is the sound of material progress ceasing to a halt and crumbling under the weight of debt and war and luxury. You no longer have a chance to respond, as you are no longer part of the discussion. But in my ears it’s not frightening or evil or dark. It is only truth.

5. Birds of Appetite, Immune Beyond Calamity (Chondritic Sound)
A legendary label that had its best year in 2013. This release came completely out of left field for me, in the best possible way. If you’re wondering where experimental music can even go in 2014—what waters haven’t been tested or if noise has really just run its course—look no further. If there was one piece of music I could have written this year, it would have been this.

JS Aurelius is a founding member of Destruction Unit, Marshstepper and the Arizona-based Ascetic House collective. Check out some of his music and video work below…