Review: Faces of Death – 1977 (Sour Tapes, Dec 31)

December of what is now last year ended up being a formidable month music-wise, but I think my highlights were reasonably well-represented in the end-of-year coverage (thanks to everyone who read or shared, by the way), but my 2022, for better or worse, begins with one last decrepit relic from the rotten past. I’ve been a fan of Sour Tapes ever since I picked up Slacking’s Tape Cramp and Mallard Theory’s Duck Soundtracks, both entries in the label’s excellent ongoing Pittsburgh Noise series, in a random Discogs spree, but two new pairs of blasts from fresh-out-the-oven project Faces of Death, specifically 1977, have me more excited than anything else they’ve put out. Extreme stereo-field fuckery is something I’ve come across a lot of recently, and it’s something that’s so easy to mess up (and so often is), but both sides of this tiny tape totally make it work: the first sends percussive industrial blasts screaming from the left-confined void to counter the piercing squall of the right, while the second decays from a mesmeric sheet of full, high-pitched harsh and what sounds like distant vocal sources into a bifurcated, left-favoring nightmare. It feels so much longer than the less than eight minutes it is, and yet it’s so endlessly replayable, somehow always offering up new undiscovered quirks. $10 is a bit much for a tape in my opinion, but it is only a run of eleven, so if either or both of your connection to this music and your wallet are larger than mine, I say go for it. Satisfaction guaranteed.