steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Mahpiya Ska In: Path to Nowhere Plateau" C40

Rotifer Cassettes

Genre: atmospheric vortex chicanery

New York

March 2010

With tapes and vocals as his only sonic doo-dads, Ian Najdzionek (recording under the mystical Gitche-Anahmi-Bezheu guise) converts this 40 minute stretch of magnetic tape into a wholly ominous underworld of murky, echoed audio. Mahpiya Ska In sounds as if it has been recorded from the far end of a massive warehouse, an enchanting effect which results in an impeccable sleepscape of a tape, meshing tranquility with a somehow unsettling underbelly.

Side A begins with a trail of bass-heavy, cassette-manipulation drone overlaid with what sound like alternately slowed-down and sped-up electronic twinkles. The track slowly comes out of its shell, introducing a spacey eighties vibe reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder and Tangerine Dream, yet wrapped up in drone. The piece conjures up swirling neon signs, dark city nights, 3 A.M. epiphanies, and slo-mo eighties music videos played in reverse. In short, quite the doozy.

Side B is distinctively similar to its flipside, but it also reveals certain indubitable differences. Over twenty minutes, it ebbs and flows in a somewhat menacing timbre, employing vocals strangely akin to monastery chanting. This side is somehow less eventful than the last, employing a more continuously brooding, even doleful demeanor throughout most of the track. Latent within it, however, is a curiously biological, vital quality that emerges from the free-flowing structure of the piece. Slowly drifting up from its vaguely sinister beginnings, the side is rescued by Najdzionek in truly Alighierian fashion, swelling up to end on an uplifting note -- Empyrean heaven, possibly, though I'm certainly reading to far into the matter. Nevertheless, an angelic influx of resplendent synths swoops in before the track winds down into a strangely quiet, frothing loop. This is what tapes were made for.

Interview with Ian Najdzionek:

how did you first become interested in the drone / psychedelic / etc scene?
i became interested after first hearing early minimalist and avant-garde composers, but i wasn't interested in the intellectual aspects of it all. i finally stumbled upon this whole new world of limitless imagination and passion.

drone acts often have arcane names, but what is your attraction to the mythological underwater panthers (thanks wikipedia) that share your namesake?
i think some things are best kept secret. there's a definite feline attraction though.

when did you start recording, and when/what was your first release?
i've been recording for years, can't remember my first release. it's all very hazy... and irrelevant anyway. i've found what i've been searching for.

describe your performance set-up. in other words, what is responsible for the sounds we hear on your releases?
tapes and vocals.

how did you get connected with david toro of rotifer cassettes?
i contacted him after seeing some covers of releases he was responsible for--they're all spectacular and i really enjoy some of the artists he has worked with.

what sorts of images or feelings does 'mahpiya ska in' evoke in you?
mahpiya ska is a completely deaf, almost completely blind albino buffalo. the significance is that the journey is completely aimless and the destination does not matter (if there is even in fact a destination).

tell me a little bit about this new project you're just starting up. how is it different from your g-a-b work?
the new project is called "water lily jaguar." the two are most definitely connected, but wlj is based around keyboard. sometimes i just feel like focusing more, even if it's just on nothing.

g-a-b website

what happens when you search for "gitche-anahmi-bezheu" on youtube:

Michael Tau

[Vitals: distributed by the label, released 2009]