En-route from Attack Nine records in USA, the trans-Atlantic CVJ package took several painful weeks to reach me, but the limited edition, deluxe vinyl, CD, mp3s, t-shirt, bag and badge package was definitely worth the wait. I don’t often write reviews, but with such a great release from one of my favourite artists, a few words might go a little way to paying back the time and effort Erik Kowalski has put into this release.
Night On Tape isn’t an album you can just quickly press play on, skip half the tracks, or just listen to the start. Nope, unlike a few of Erik’s previous albums where i have found myself listening to just a few tracks over and over (my love for Metrobolt on Go Hawaii for example), Night On Tape, is an album listened to best in its entirety.
‘Hello you’ – a subtle introduction with delicate shoegaze-esque guitars, is quickly proceeded by the warm fuzzy and static noises from ‘Flow Of No Go’. It’s not until half-way through this track, that the first melody creeps through, but even then, it’s a raw distorted guitar which gently fades away into heavy muffled noise.
It’s a pattern that continues throughout. Initially lacking any fast stabbing drums or beats which have become a staple sound on many of Erik’s previous albums, Night On Tape grows slow and dark. Content with putting you into a comfortable slumber, it’s not until five tracks in that a glimmer of light creeps through in the form of a marching drum, blanketed by an airy drone, like a welcomed Sunday morning awakening. But you weren’t meant to wake up just yet.
Albums before, many of these tracks may have developed quicker, with more melody and recognition. Despite several sharp moments of loud distortion, the tracks are slowly wrapped amongst glimmering ambient tones, pads and filters. Where lacking in melody, it seems Erik has instead, focused on an array of different ambient sounds, distorted guitars and atmospheres. Creating harsh instrumental landscapes that when fused together, form beautiful thought-provoking tracks. Almost cinematic at times, each track develops without any obvious repetition. The kind of music you can never remember, and sounds new every time. For some, that defines an album which is easily forgotten. For me, it’s the making of an album I come out of, and want to dive straight back into.
The last track, ‘Miano: A Pink Night For The Snowmen’ is the tapes sunrise. After nineteen tracks of night, the textures peak and the rough-edged drums and replaced by a tinkering Piano. A fitting morning, to a Night on Tape.
The album may be a surprise to a few CVJ fans who have come to love Erik’s spaced out, sometimes quirky electronica. The distortions, filters and raw instruments are still there, but the melodies are sleeping. Described as ’20 previously unreleased tracks from CVJ’s recording archives’, this long un-interrupted night has been reserved for Erik’s hidden ambient gems.
I’m not sure if there are any more deluxe packages left (grab it if you can!), but you can get the CD or digital download from the Attack Nine website.