steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Stars & Butter

"First Steps" CD

The Magic Plastic Cassette Factory

Genre: instrumental rock, experimental rock, lo-fi

Aug 28 2008

First Steps is the instrumental work of Orietta Chiusamonti (of Dedelectric) and Michael J. Bowman (a.k.a. hometaper extraordinaire MJB), assembled and pared down from two recording sessions into a twenty-five minute collection of song fragments. The results are in line with MJB's D.I.Y. past, comprised of short semi-songs that could be described as experimental instrumental rock, but are noteworthy for their impressive melodic sensibility. Indeed, as far as contemporary cassette releases go, this is among the more accessible recordings to be found.

The most noticeable thing about Stars & Butter's tape is it eclecticism: First Steps erratically bounds from sludgy metal to formless ambience to zippy, Pell Mell-inspired instrumental pop - all in the first few "songs." On a more conventional album, this might make for a confusing and all-over-the-place listen; however, as a cassette release it's strangely fitting. In fact, the quixotic nature of the record makes each listen a strangely cognitive experience: "hey, that sounds like it belongs on an eighties camping movie soundtrack," "this is college roadtrip music," "this must be what mutants listen to," etc. What ever the experiences may be that these songs conjure up, First Steps' unconventional and adventurous approach makes for a wacky and entertaining relic from the cassette underground. And all in glorious D.I.Y. cassette sound. Great fun!


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 25 minutes, distributed by the label, released 2008]