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Mitten [State] Transmissions - 4xCD
Are you ready for some scuzz? Good, 'cause what we have here is a 4CD set of every musical urchin, lunatic, mad scientist and peeping tom that the state of Michigan never offered up. Mitten [State] Transmissions is a collection of experimental, noise and space rock from Michigan musicians, the proceeds from which benefit WHFR, a non-commercial, student-run, radio station blasting out speakers around Detroit and Dearborn. The collection is chock-full of exclusive tracks by tons of bands you may have never heard of; well, tons of bands I've never heard of before. But not all of it is hopelessly obscure to me. We've got tracks by Hive Mind, Allen Bryant (of MEV), Wolf Eyes, Cotton Museum, Windy and Carl, Dead Machines and a few more. And either way, many of the 'obscure' tracks are amongst the finest on the set.
Allen Bryant of MEV turns in the oldest piece on the set, a prepared guitar piece from 1967 that sounds like a hive of bees heard while underwater. Grand stuff. The Wolf Eyes contribution is a skull-scrapping chug from the old school line-up of Dilloway, Young, and Olson. It's much less bombastic than more recent outings but surely as fucked as ever. Gygax turns in an epic track, Lethe, River of Slumber, which is 22+ minutes of total scourge. And it opens up Disc 2, one hell of a way to start off. Spuzzz. Windy and Carl cast their patented ethereal drone spell while Fred Thomas contributes a cut of spastic solo percussion that manages to sound stiff and swank all at the same time. Interesting. The Hive Mind track is a sonic fog that gets thicker and thicker over the course of eight+ minutes, spooky stuff, like two elderly computers slowly mating. It's followed by a delicate little piano space-out number by someone called Point Towards Texas. Very dreamy and brief, big score for me personally and perfectly the polar opposite of Hive Mind's static from the far-reaches. Cotton Museum fries brain cells and electrical circuits with an untitled cut. Something called Violin & Microphone by Jason Voss is just that, violin played through a cheap-sounding microphone that seems to be feeding back. I dig! And Delta Waves lay down some of the more straightforward (for this set) space rock and it's highly listenable.
The set runs the gamut of outer-type sounds. It's not just all noise or glitchy electronica or all stoner riffs, it's a little bit of all that and much more. The sequencing is almost perfect and, shit, it's $20! For four CD's of basically all-unreleased music and a DVD-r of live performances by Dead Machines and Hive Mind, amongst others, how can you go wrong? Plus, it's for a crazy good cause: to support the dying existence of commercial- free radio n this country. There are so few stations like this around the country and when they make it this easy to support, how can you pass it up? If you don't live in the area, tune in on the website and hear why it's such a worthy cause. I doubt you'll find a collection of damaged sounds that is this vast and thoroughly satisfying for 20 bucks anytime soon. Dive in and enjoy.
- Adam Richards | 2006-07-12