Vintage space-rock is a finite resource. No matter how deep you dig, there are only so many fuzzy riffs and analog synth squelches that can possibly be exhumed from the 1960s and ’70s. If only for this reason, Cave have a purpose in the world.
Like Bitchin Bajas, their Drag City labelmates (with whom they share members Rob Frye and Cooper Crain), the Chicago-based quintet do their best to expand the world’s limited supply of old-school zone-out sounds. The Bajas’ work pays tribute to the spacey and meditative tones of early minimalist composition and new age music. Cave’s music takes heavy influence from the gritty and repetitive sounds of krautrock and obscure global psychedelic music. Very often, both bands’ efforts provide a superior experience to the steady stream of era-appropriate reissues with which they must compete. After all, they have the benefit of hindsight. Cave can deliver all of the good stuff—the hypnotic grooves, the cosmic atmospheres—with less of the yodeling.
Release collects out-of-print material from a number of the band’s non-album singles, cassettes, and limited edition CD-Rs—originally released on labels like Trensmat, Static Caravan and Important—onto one LP, with the earliest material stretching back to 2007.
On its most recent full-length, Threace, Cave refined their approach and stripped down their sound with great results. Where some of the band’s earlier work sometimes sounded as if it had been haphazardly jammed into existence, songs like “Shikaakwa” and “Slow Bern” were elegant and tightly focused, getting maximum mileage out of minimal melodic information. Like the music of Neu! and Can, Cave’s songs implied motion and stasis simultaneously through the use of repetition.
The music on Release is a little rougher around the edges, but don’t interpret that as “worse.” Some of the tracks included here stand above the LP cuts the band was releasing at the time. They’re looser, but also grittier and headier. “Bobby’s Hash” showcases Cave at its heaviest, with screeching guitar solos and pummeling, distorted drums. It’s well executed, but free and freaky abandon isn’t necessarily the band’s strongest position. Unlike their pysch-rock revivalist forebears, Comets on Fire—who lived and died by glorious freewheeling and freaky guitar solos—Cave’s music is most distinctive when the band is exercising restraint. On “Butthash (Harsh Mellow Mix)” Cave slowly expands upon a fuzzy, cyclical guitar riff, gradually fading in synth murmurs and additional percussion. Both drawn from the same 2012 single, “Party Legs” and “Thai I Am” find the band moving toward the more economical sound they would employ on Threace, switching from a hypnotic improvisation to more tightly structured compositions.
Release is not Cave’s strongest record, but it’s not a bad entry point. An odds and ends compilation, it provides a clear picture of the group’s evolution from free-form psych-noodling toward its more sublime and trance-inducing current incarnation.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1uyRWIC