steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Machete USA

Self-titled C26

Vanishing Hour Revival

Genre: gettin' thrifty

February 2010

I am really digging this Goodwill-esque C26, which comes hand-decorated in a cubist wraparound case, upon which is attached a picture of a dandelion and an Australian postage stamp. And beyond that, the cassette itself is covered in glittery stickers of butterflies and a chicken drumstick, titillating both the eight-year-old aspiring lepidopterist and the ravenous, Hanna-Barbera-esque caveman inside of me!

Now there's a bit of confusion about the track listing here, which I don't want to delineate too tortuously, but to my best understanding there are 4 tracks on side A and 5 on track B – the opposite of what the liner notes attest to – and hence I'm going to naively assume that track 5 on A is actually track 1 on B.


The defining moments on this curious artifact are strewn throughout its twenty-six minute duration, the first one coming in the slow, ebbing loveliness of opening drone track “Common Berries," a lonely and mournful passage which evokes images of decaying silent film strips. Also blissful is the pretty guitar-and-keyboard twinkling of “A Bittersweet Occupation,” which sparkles like the score to some delicate mumblecore love scene or a slow-motion wander through the quiet city at night; it is endearingly quaint, and adorned with vague touches of melody though also almost criminally short.

In addition to the aforementioned tidbits, I adore “A Solid Light to Hide Behind," whose pensively gentle post-rock guitar strokes convey acceptance, resolution, and even weariness. Its moving wistfulness is vaguely reminiscent of the peaceful melodies found on work by L'altra and Windsor for the Derby, though of course this brandishes a more lo-fi spirit. Also worthy of brief note is the terrific Tangerine Dream film score melodrama of very-eighties “Chasing Tales, which turned out to be a black horse favourite of mine. Meanwhile, the rest of the tape maintains Machete USA's curious, piecemeal thrift-store sound, as on such disparate elements as the faint toy-pop of “Candy Wallpaper” and intergalactic “Vapor Memory,” the latter of which conjures up the impossible scenario of sound waves bouncing off planets in space.

I couldn't tell you a thing about Machete USA, as this seems to be the only artifact around that bears its name. However, a brief sojourn with this twenty-six minute treat has won me over to the act's vague, mysterious ways. Whoever you are, Machete USA, I like what you've done here...

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]