Splixtape is one of an opening trio of tapes from new Alabama label Hypnic Jerk, featuring the talents of psychedelic soundscape artists Prana Crafter, ragenap, Tarotplane, and Horse Apples.
The A-side belongs to Prana Crafter and ragenap. If you follow independent psychedelic music, Prana Crafter’s attachment to this project is likely to be the first thing to stand out about Splixtape. Having swelled up a decent cult following the release of Bohdi Cheetah’s Choice and Enter the Stream last year, he stands as the ‘big name’ here and turns in a couple of predictably great tracks in “Creek Born Mind” and “Daydream in the Arvo Sun (Vision of Captain Trips Cruisin’ Shotgun in Sun Ra’s Ship)”. “Creek Born Mind” has floated around for a while since 2016 as a single and in 2017 as an inclusion on the For the Love of Chris Tressler digital compilation, finding a home on Splixtape nearly three years later. Its age has done nothing to wear on its atmospheric beauty: balancing reverb-soaked electric and acoustic guitar work against each other, awash in ethereal ambiance and the sounds of a running creek, it induces a peaceful, meditative high. “Daydream in the Arvo Sun (Vision of Captain Trips Cruisin’ Shotgun in Sun Ra’s Ship)” plays with many of the same elements, but is a looser, more overtly experimental piece, particularly when morphing into a off-kilter organ solo around the four minute mark which brings to mind an acid trip at a carnival.
ragenap is Joel Berk of sweetblahg, but this project itself is a bit of a mystery. However, that doesn’t preclude him from having what might just be the best track on Splixtape, “mag-nette drags thru”. It opens with warm, relaxed post-punk guitar, intermittently punctuated by twinkling synths before building into an ambient/post-rock piece, and then further mutating into Eastern-flavored psychedelia.
On the flip-side, Tarotplane and Horse Apples contribute a couple of spacey ambient works in “The Hallelujah Rain, Or Sky Mountain & Masking Tape in Endless Agreement” and “A, C, A, C, A, C, A, C, B (x4)” respectively. Tarotplane’s track aims straight for the stratosphere with its wild guitar solo emerging from the clouds like a rocket towards the end of its runtime, while Horse Apples’ replicates the effects of a fistful of mood stabilizers: gentle, steady, and precise.
Perhaps even more striking than the individual allure of each track is how well they all play off of each other, remaining distinct while still forming a cohesive whole that’s rare regarding four-way splits. They feel a bit like scores to scenes from the same film.
Splixtape hits on just about every note a compilation should hope to, introducing the listener to new artists (in the case of ragenap, in the truest sense: I can’t find any other music under the moniker), working as an introductory overview of the types of sounds you can expect from label Hypnic Jerk, all the while coalescing into a release you could easily mistake for collaboration rather than compilation, achieving uncommon sonic unity. A great tape for those looking to take a sprawling, drug-induced walkabout through the forests and the skies.
Favorite tracks: “Creek Born Mind”, “mag-nette drags thru”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
You can purchase Splixtape here.