Heligator records download
Heligator Records is a digital-only label run by Ryan Hall. Each month he gently coaxes a handful of well-chosen tracks from a range of different under-the radar musical explorers into the public domain. “Think Beko, Geographic North, or Sub-Pop’s Singles Club, but on a much, much smaller scale and without the, you know, physical release part,” he says.
Ryan also co-runs the excellent Tome To The Weather Machine site, which spits out top-class write-ups of all manner of weird and noisy releases at a rate that puts my incoherent fumblings on this blog to shame. He brings this this judgement and taste to his label, with the result that almost everything he puts out is well worth the measly pennies it costs to get it on your personal music consumption machine.
Heligator’s first release, from back in September 2013, was a lovely slice of instrumental avant-folk from Lake Mary and Nathan Wheeler. Since then he has put out solo synth works, jangling power-pop, abstract noise and even experimental choral works.
A month or so ago, Heligator took the leap into longer-form releases with Lake Mary Presents: Visit, a collection of tracks curated by Lake Mary – an expanding musical collective led by itinerant string picker Chaz Prymek – with contributions from Prymek and a bunch of friends and collaborators.
The Lake Mary tracks are as lovely as you would expect. Hoyt Street is a gorgeous thing, its rippling guitar riff opening out into a chiming, sun-dappled wave of strings and xylophone.
Petrichor is a more stripped-down affair, its dusty plucked duet gliding slowly into earshot like the sun slowly appearing over the horizon on an early desert morning before subsiding into silence. Significant Human Losses adds a warm bed of pump organ (or is it harmonium?) to the mix as Prymek’s guitar leads us through all sorts of melodic twists and turns.
There are plenty more delights. Sound artist Nathan Wheeler’s offering, Crown Heights 8:45, is a sharp contrast to Prymek’s bucolic calm, a rumbling, humming piece of ambient noise. It’s some kind of processed field recording I’d guess, judging by the title, and it has a gritty, oppressive feel, like standing next to a traffic jam on a humid summer day. You almost taste the metallic exhaust fumes on your tongue.
Silver Antlers explore similarly abstract terrain in the appropriately titled Untitled #1, which opens the album’s. A chorus of feedback howls and distorted, sustained guitar chords, its sequence of rising and falling drones calls to mind some strange herd of beasts calling across a vast empty plain. It’s deep, man.
But, if that’s all a bit too left field for you, there are some tasty morsels of songwriting tucked away between the drift and drones. Topa and Cloud Ships both explore a kind of melodic electronica, deft production balancing some nice hooks. Paul De Haven’s Weatherman is full-on synthpop. The Oblique Remnants band channel a cracked, ramshackle Americana into a see-sawing lament while Freight’s Wing & Claw switch things up with a jaunty cello-and-tambourine-driven country swagger.
This variety makes the album an odd beast. The only thing linking the disparate set of tracks is their creators’ relationship with Prymek, and this lack of a unifying theme or concept can make the album’s flow a bit ragged.
Nevertheless, like a dinner party where every guest brings a dish, this variety keeps things interesting. There’s plenty of morsels to tempt the listening palette, resulting in enough musical sustenance to keep you going for good while.