Tape Review: Houdini Mansions’ ‘House of Cake’

Houdini Mansions/Various Artists

House of Cake

(Houdini Mansions)

Houdini Mansion’s House of Cake is a sinister amalgamation of misfits, a creeping chimera of bizarre spare parts graciously donated by the oddest of artists to be tossed into a mix and baked by cackling chefs into one evil, delicious cake. Blurring the lines between compilation and mashup, House of Cake is comprised of original, unfinished musical thoughts from some of the most brilliant and demented minds in the far, dark corners of the niche experimental music community (minds including qualchan., Petridisch, Cryostasium, and more than twenty other mad geniuses), filtered through the artistic lens of Houdini Mansions to create a focused concept album out of, by nature, wildly disjointed material. The execution feels effortless, floating and looping through vaguely connected snippets of nightmares one might have after watching a campy, yet unsettling B-horror flick when too young, running the gamut from dark ambient, vaporwave, noise, industrial, jazz, Bizarro World 80’s style horror synth radio pop, and more. The sheer artistic ambition for what in some ways amounts to a novelty project is astounding. It’s off-the-wall nuts, and one of the least boring things you’ll ever lay your ears on.

Beyond the music itself, House of Cake is as inspiring as it is inspired. We often see artists submit their own songs to compilations, and this is no doubt a positive thing, but the willingness to go out of one’s way submit bits of one’s art, bits of oneself, to a cohesive, singular auditory collage, with a greater theme and purpose, without one’s further input is not a particularly common practice. House of Cake goes beyond pulling together tracks for a sampler, or one individual splicing city pop of days gone by: it’s a community of beautiful nutjobs combining like Voltron to form one freakish, charming, funny, frightening, unstoppable behemoth of a record.


Favorite tracks: “The Craving”, “Preheat Blue (Fever of Love)”, “Empress of Eclair”


Rating: Essential 


You can purchase Houdini Mansions’ House of Cake here.

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2 thoughts on “Tape Review: Houdini Mansions’ ‘House of Cake’

  1. I usually like these kinds… really like Land of the Loops and 9 Theory, but… a little too much for me.

    1. That’s cool! It is really, REALLY out there haha. When I mark a tape as ‘essential’, it doesn’t mean that it’s for everybody, but moreso that it holds enough artistic importance to be particularly worthy of note. I think “House of Cake” is many things, including being potentially overwhelming and abrasive, but I also personally find it absolutely fascinating and certainly never dull, and it represents a complete lack of artistic compromise and a community pooling together to display that spirit. In that sense, I consider it an essential release for the tape community. I am of course not an arbiter of taste, I merely share and provide my own thoughts 🙂

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