Posted by: on September 4, 2008 at 10:52 am

The Music Tapes, Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes (Merge Records, 2008)

MP3: “Majesty”

Mastering the magic of the singing saw takes a lot of patience. So does being a fan of the Music Tapes, seeing as this is their second album in over nine years. Led by Elephant 6 alumnus and former Neutral Milk Hotel member Julian Koster, the Music Tapes has the feel and aesthetic of a strange slice of cinema – the type of movie that defies all conventions, uses no linear story-telling mechanisms and visually arrests even as viewers sit slack-jawed, wondering just what is happening before their very eyes. The “olden days” feel of the record stems from Koster’s use of antique recording equipment like an actual 1895 Edison wax cylinder recorder. With his odd array of whimsical instrumentation, including both the clapping hands and the orbiting human circus tapdancing machines (yes), Koster creates his own little world where tornadoes long to be free, the ocean falls out of the sky, and singing saws play ping-pong. Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes is the type of record that will leave devotees torn between shouting its praises from the rooftops and secretly adoring every note for fear that too much attention could cause the record’s creator to go crazy and sit for days in his bathrobe in a sandbox. Most will just hope another record comes out before madness sets in. — Laura Witkowski

The Music Tapes will be coming to The Pike Room in Pontiac as part of the ‘Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour’ on October 20th.

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Posted by: on July 3, 2008 at 4:00 pm

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Music Tapes, “Minister of Longitude” (Merge, 2008)

Elephant 6 veteran Julian Koster put out a record as Music Tapes on Merge in 1999, but nothing more was heard from him or the group. Until now, that is. The nameplate is revived with Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, from which “Minister of Longitude” is the lead jam. It’s rattle-trap indie folk, full of what can only be described as whimsy (or maybe just Flaming Lips love), and while that can be a big turnoff — bigger even than the metronome that stars in this clip — Koster and his collaborators keep the hum and grind at the center of “Longitude” churning effectively. Best bit though: the dad dancing at the end of this video. — Johnny Loftus

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