To be released on cassette, CD, and digitally on 4/26/20. C80 – silver tape dubbed and imprinted at A to Z Audio. CD packaged in a 6-panel triple-gatefold-LP style jacket. Design by HausMo Max. This is the catalog page with album information and artwork. To view the store page, click here.
As the old adage goes: another arbitrary period of years, another HausMo Mixtape. Doug Kaplan and Maxwell Allison, heads of the Chicago-based experimental label Hausu Mountain and members of projects like Good Willsmith and Pepper Mill Rondo, scroll back through the label’s recent catalog for the second installation of their compilation series. While 2018’s HausMo Mixtape I sourced music from around 80 releases from the label’s first five years on this big ole blue ball, HausMo Mixtape II culls from the pool of releases that have appeared from 2018 to mid-2020. With the HausMo biscuit factory churning out the goods at a more competent and prolific rate than ever, it’s no surprise that this relatively short period contains untold depths of freak magic. Cooked up by a stable of artists both deeply rooted in the label’s catalog and new to the family, the compilation’s 22 tracks lay out a body of far-flung styles and idiosyncratic visions that manage, like all of the label’s releases, to make some twisted sense when framed together. Featuring everything from progressive avant-electronics to fried free-jazz noise to gonzo pop deconstruction to ornate jazz fusion to to pure ambient drift — to as many possible descriptors as there are numbers in the catalog — what HausMo releases share is the same as what drives Kaplan and Allison: a “chaotic good” motivation to entertain their listeners while challenging them in equal measure. Like a nice return to a familiar routine, listeners know that their next trip to Hausu Mountain will yield music consistent only in its unpredictability, committed to a benevolent strain of confusion.
The 2018-2020 period sees threads central to the Hausu Mountain mosaic teased out and sent unfolding off at new angles. Producers like Bonnie Baxter, Tiger Village, RXM Reality, Lockbox, and Khaki Blazer, all at least three albums deep in the HausMo catalog at this point, continue to explore the space between structurally crumbling electronic experimentation and dancefloor-ready bangers. Seasoned heads Pulse Emitter, M. Geddes Gengras, and Long Distance Poison plumb the far reaches of ambient and drone music at varying degrees of cosmic drift and softly percolating rhythmic presence. Brass and electronics duos Moth Cock and BANG! BROS hold down their unique brands of gonzo carnival-core noise/free-jazz improv, while Andrew Bernstein’s sax flows into spiraling, minimalist sheets of sound. Nonlocal Forecast and Euglossine offer up hyper-detailed Weather Channel jazz fusion compositions, and Dustin Wong expands his similarly luminous guitar-based style into the realm of dense electronic arrangement. Music from HausMo mainstay artists Fire-Toolz and Quicksails appears here in the form of previews of their forthcoming 2020 LPs: the former maintains a commitment to radically chameleonic composition and complete genre overload, while the latter sinks deeper into the sweet spot between austere synth work and percussive post-jazz atmospheres. Experimental / plunderphonic legend and Negativland member Wobbly turns in a glitched-out opus of garbled melody and app-focused electronic alchemy. Simulation and Machine Listener join the catalog with their distinct permutations of the US noise underground, keeping one foot planted in textural disfiguration and another foot in body-animating groove. Mondo Lava’s bedroom four-track recording slides its way through Afro-Brazilian rhythms, video game music timbres, and stoned synth psychedelia. Perhaps the biggest “?” moments arrive in the form of Kaplan’s and Allison’s own experiments, including the culture-in-a-blender sample hell of their duo Pepper Mill Rondo and the free-associative hip hop anachronisms of Allison’s collab with legendary underground rapper Sharkula.
In their approach to the curation of Hausu Mountain, Kaplan and Allison insist on abolishing distinctions between high- and low-brow art, and reject any generational or preconceived value judgements that slot genres and styles into hierarchies based on their “coolness” or “cheesiness” at any given moment of assessment. The continuum of music history has shown that nothing is constant, and the accelerating rate of cultural regurgitation and recursive trend-chasing has become more fickle and arbitrary than ever. To exist outside of that realm is to allow only your personal interests as a listener to guide you, and to acknowledge that unexpected delight or complexity can be found in any mode of creation. As culture collapses into itself, new forms are created from the synthesis of seemingly diametrically opposed ideas just as easily as they spring to life seemingly with no precedent. Previously hated styles or tonal palettes provide a productive shock or a rush of joy when placed by the right hands in the right contexts. More than ever there really are no rules, other than those that artists impose upon themselves, and moments when even those limitations snap can yield truly exciting deviations. More than the musical traditions or production touchstones that Hausu Mountain artists choose to nod to on their path to self-expression, the vibrant personalities of the creators themselves shine brightly before us.