amusingmusings: Ratskin Records

amusingmusings is a feature from Counterzine contributor, Secat, that riffs and digresses on recent, exciting releases in music, games, television, movies, and more. Today’s amusingmusings covers new releases from independent label Ratskin Records, based in Oakland, California.


Hello hello hello!! Today I’d like to do a little bit of a feature on some recent releases from RATSKIN RECORDS, a very exciting label that puts out noisey, dazzling wonders on a startlingly frequent basis! frankly, this is the kind of label that I would love to be represented by someday; their discography is a highlight reel of some of the coolest, rawest material of the moment. we’ll take a look at two albums out now on their website: TYLER HOLMES’s “Devil” and XUXA SANTAMARIA’s “Chancletas D’Oro”..



TYLER HOLMES has gone and created something here that reads (listens?) as the aural equivalent of a horror film, a fascinating exercise in subversion; the 5-track EP opens with 4 understated, subtle beauties for string and synthesizer (my personal highlight of these being the title track) defined by remarkable tenderness and restraint, such that you expect them to build to a bombastic, beautiful closer; and then, he completely upends your expectations by instead throwing you into a pit full of snakes on “The Promise,” a 17-minute, ear-splitting noise/sound collage piece that evokes the work of Black Mountain Transmitter. “The Promise” is the monster hiding under the bed; it leaps out at you, pins you down, and then writhes in static and distortion on the floor. Frankly I feel a little bad mentioning it in this writeup, almost like I’m spoiling the twist at the end of a movie on my way out of the theater; but, as I can attest from multiple listens, knowing that it’s coming does not diminish its power.

My only criticism here would be that “The Promise,” for all its horror, grit, and excess, does lose a little bit of that power as it continues; after around the midway point, I think the sculptural qualities of its sound turn repetitive and produce slightly diminishing returns.

..also I have little baby ears and some of the high pitched noises in “The Promise” make me make a D:< face: ouch, man!!

Favorite Tracks: “Devil,” “The Promise”

Listen if: you don’t have 91 minutes to watch “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but you DO have 32 minutes to listen to an album


XUXA SANTAMARIA – “Chancletas D’Oro”

Boom!! Thud!! Pow!!! What a knockout this is, what a cool, cool, project

“Chancletas D’Oro” is a clubby, spunky, ethereal record that GLITTERS with passion and excitement; it is contagious; it is so large, yet so small! Every song (+ its accompanying lyrics) has a great deal of ambition and concept behind it and I have probably not listened through the whole thing enough times to divine all the layers that have been baked into the noise BUT..

Even if you leave all of this conceptual loveliness to the side, the sound itself: it is so enchanting! Economical, smart mixing that affords every element the precise space and presence it needs to make the impact that is desired.. the drums are strong and punchy enough to give me a chest cold, the lush synth tones make me astral project, and the vocals move in and out of the forefront so softly, so sweetly, like a puff of confectioner’s sugar (WHAT is that metaphor secat. Go to your ROOOOM!!)

Look, to sum up: I listen to this and I feel as though I am participating in something important; I feel echoes of things past and present refracted. It has all the rough edge and heart of something that is deeply personal, yet it still resonates very loudly and lustrously in my head; and you can dance to it, too. I think that’s very special. Check it out, if you’ve got the time.

Favorite Tracks: “Color of the Dark,” “River Neva”

Listen if: you are seasick on a boat and you would like to be transported somewhere else for a while; if you are a ghost and you would like to set your feet upon the ground.


That’s all for today.. Now.. Go out and GET LISTENING :))


Secat is a musician and writer based in Houston, Texas. To see more of their work, you can follow them on Twitter (@secatsecat) or check out their personal blog at

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