Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Album Review: "Hibernation" by Lightsabres

Cassettes were my introduction to the world of rock.  When I first got into music in 1986, vinyl had just gasped its dying breath and compact discs had yet to appear.  This was the era of going into the mall record store, picking up Iron Maiden's "Somewhere in Time"  and slapping down your unspent lunch money so the shopkeep would free this masterpiece from its excessively long shoplifter proof package.  

Or better yet, joining one of those mailorder tape clubs, where for very little money they would send you a box of 15 cassettes of your choice, plus 4 more for signing up a friend, plus a free one with every purchase thereafter.  How did they stay in business ? Turns out it really was too good a deal, and none of them did.  

I amassed hundreds of cassettes in the last four years of the eighties, which would fundamentally alter my perception of the universe. Sure cassettes wore out way before I was tired of listening to them, sometimes played too fast, sometimes played too slow, and were prone to being devoured by the always hungry tape deck. Still, I am not alone in having a sentimental attachment to them and a regret it is no longer a viable medium.  Releasing albums on vinyl has become a trendy thing, so when will cassettes once again see their day in the sun?  Lightsabres is here to make it so.
Gloriously, in a trend I hope continues, Lightsabres has elected to rerelease their latest album "Hibernation" on cassette ! On July 1, 2016, the album will be made available on high-bias cobalt tape and limited to 100 copies in three different variants: Golden Dawn version (Limited to 15 copies), Iced Lake Blue version (Limited to 25 copies), and the Wintergreen (Regular version) at 60 copies.  So you better act fast if you want to support this wonderful decision.
A small portion of the author's epic cassette collection.

Alas, format alone does not a quality product make, and there is plenty of quality on this album.  “Hibernation” by Lightsabres is the solo project of John Stromshed, singer of Swedish rock band Tunga Moln. 

It is a unique sound which can be described as a mash up of psychedelic, alternative, indie, hipster, stoner, grunge, and garage rock.  The sound is fuzzy, with rumbling guitar passages which sound like they are being played through a grizzled amplifier, recently dropped down a flight of stairs, only to survive sounding better than ever.   The vocals are distant and slightly haunting as though they are being sung through a megaphone.  The combined effect is unique and trippy. 

The album struck me as being the perfect soundtrack for a moody, independent film about college angst.  There are heavy tracks as well, the highlight being “Throw It All Away” which chugs along with a sound reminiscent of proto-metalers Blue Oyster Cult.

“Hibernation” would sound best emanating from a Walkman on your way to class, and now can be obtained on the requisite cassette.  Hopefully, a functioning Walkman still exists.

Cassette Release: July 1, 2016
Genre: Alternative Stoner Grunge
Label: Medusa Crush Recordings


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