Microcassette Quatrains

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Sean Brooks' debut album as Minmae first appeared as a cassette in 1998, which, five years later, got cleaned up and reissued by BlueSanct with two extra tracks from the band's first single. It's a lovely album in either version, very much reflective of its influences (Brooks' own reference points include Hood, Grimble Grumble, and Sebadoh, but Flying Saucer Attack is really the overarching lodestone) while still making for an enjoyable listen. That the album starts on "Perpetual Shift Introduction" is a fine thing, although possibly a bit unsettling for those looking for conventional songs, since Brooks' FSA fetish, in particular, runs rampant here -- heavy feedback processed into haunting drones for ten minutes. Perhaps logically, the next cuts barely last a minute and, from there, the album wends its own particular schizophrenic path. Many of those shorter songs sound more like random fragments from larger jams, quick smears of guitar, and vocal sound (and, in some cases, drums) that might not attract conventional song fans, as such, but which effectively call up dank and mysterious moods. At longer times, as with the drum clatter and mournful wash of "Minmae Opens Novella," the greater space allows for an even more entrancing atmosphere. Where things are more straightforward -- the comparatively stripped down "Sound of One Hand Clapping," the acoustic guitar/vocal mix of "The Understatement of the Month," the low murky lope of "Long Wave," and "You're a Spider" -- the often inspired blend of influences results in dreamy and strangely beautiful work. Various random collages of sampled TV and movie broadcasts add a further air of chaos throughout the album. The bonus tracks, "Poltergeist Over England" and "Macross Dub," fit in well enough with the sound of the album while still sounding a touch more clear in the mix.

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