F/i - Meridian Channel, 1987 (.zip archive, 52MB)
Years before the proliferation of postmodern space rock bands, Milwaukee's F/i were perfecting their blend of 80s-style power electronics and chunka-chunka-chunka Krautrock-cum-Hawkwind-style rhythmic freakouts. As with France's DDAA, highlighted earlier in this series, F/i were a band that unquestionably released some fine LPs (Why Not Now?...Alan! (RRR, 1987) and the split LP with Boy Dirt Car (RRR, 1986) come immediately to mind), but also issued some of their best work exclusively on cassette. Meridian Channel was one such tape, an early release for SSS Productions, a Pittsburgh-based label with an impressive discography. F/i are still at it, though if I'm not mistaken, founding member Brian Wensing now steers the ship, with founder and original guiding light Richard Franecki having moved on sometime in the early 90s (though he returned to the lineup for the 2003 release A Question for the Somnambulist.) The CD Out of Space and Out of Time (rel. 1993) is a comprehensive collection of tracks from the above-mentioned RRR albums, and a great starting point for those unfamiliar with the band's work. Outside of F/i, Franecki has also released some excellent material, both as a solo artist and with the band Vocokesh.
Sinister X - cassette "single," 198? (.zip archive, 17MB)
I found this tape in one of my many crates of unsorted cassettes, remembering on sight that it was something good. If there was an insert, or a note with the tape providing more info, it has been lost to the ages, though I seem to remember that it came to me as depicted: artist's name and titles on each side, and nothing more. The two tracks are clunky D.I.Y. dub, in the vein of Jah Wobble's Bedroom Album. The first piece, "Sy. Farber's Freak-Out," is there to remind us how much we miss the sound of a cassette rewinding while still in play mode.
Caltrops - 4-song cassette, 198? (.zip archive, 34MB)
Caltrops were a frequently featured artist on the Lo-Fi show, hailing from Fords, NJ. They sent me quite a few tapes over the years, each, like this one, with only a handful of tracks. Their style mixed melodic electric and acoustic guitar work with occasional audio snippets and pick-up percussion. Caltrops' sound has one foot firmly planted in 70s rock, while also anticipating later work in a similar vein by artists like Andreas Martin and Jim O'Rourke. The track "Sick Day," with its hummable Manzanera-isms, has always been a personal favorite. Plus you have to love the mustard-colored cassette case.