Review

Pengo - Climbs the Holy Mountain

Foxy Digitalis

With his Carbon Records imprint, Joe Tunis has been exploring the underground music scene of upstate New York and its environs for over 12 years. Throughout its existence, Carbon has released adventurous music on formats both traditional and obscure – Tunis' own Joe+N project has released music on entire computer hard drives mounted on unique works of art; various series explore DVD-R and MP3 technology as well as the use of recycled materials in handmade packaging. Tunis has played day-tours, in which Joe+N performs at multiple venues around Rochester in a single day; his band Pengo has recorded an alternate soundtrack to the first 31 minutes of Alejandro Jodorowsky's epic film, The Holy Mountain. It seems that Joe Tunis has both an immense love for art and music, and that he is constantly searching for ways to push the boundaries of performance and production.

Taking over a year to compile, assemble and produce, this three-disc compilation collects tracks chosen by Tunis from a large handful of the many musicians he has worked with during his dozen years running Carbon. The packaging is exquisite – the CDs are housed in a DVD-sized case with beautiful full-colour artwork, which is then sheathed in a natural cotton bag that is ink-stamped with a minimalist logo. The dirt/grass motif is explored thoroughly on both the insert artwork and the artwork that adorns the CDs. Each successive disc explores a geographic region of increasing size: disc 1 represents Tunis' hometown of Rochester, and features at least three of his musical endeavours (Joe+N, Pengo, Hilkka); disc 2 reaches out across the United States, while disc 3 explores the entire globe. There is no easy visual cue to distinguish among the three discs, which according to Tunis is to demonstrate "the differences and similarities between artists next door and half-way around the world."

The styles of music represented on this mammoth release range from quiet ambience to full-on noise freakouts, from dazzling guitar explorations to computer-based sonic mayhem. Many of the artists' names will be recognizable (The North Sea, The Davenport Family, Carlos Giffoni, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Dead Machines, Thurston Moore, Antony Milton, Pumice, Neil Campbell, Taurpis Tula), while others should be (the entirety of disc 1, for example). To say that this compilation is highly recommended is an understatement – if you're reading this right now, you should already own it. If you don't, what are you waiting for???



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