Night Sky Body – Top Down

4.27.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Top Down from Frank Baugh’s Night Sky Body project is the second in the Synapse Series for Nailbat Tapes, a label that I didn’t think would release this kind of acerbic, atonal, electro-no-wave-post-punk-guitar-and-synth-driven project. One that was completely unknown to me at this point.

Side A of Top Down has several songs veering into the tape cut up/drone/abstract guitar zone, what could pass for modular sounding stuff in parts, then completely dives into a shoe gazing area with twittering synths awkwardly on top of echoing percussions.

Some of the noise is “in tune” with synths or guitar, sometimes not. The spoken vocals are quite effective with the editing and processing creating what could be pop version(?) of Alvin Lucier playing with This Heat or early Cabaret Voltaire. None of it feels like a hipster hack job to these ears. I’m always game for this sound when it’s done with experimentation and hooks in the same songs. I found there’s passages that extend from a live band feel into some sort of edited music concrete experiment on parts of this tape that really worked for me. 

Side B’s opener, “Top Down,” has a great guitar riff that drives a dirty chord dirge into swirling disaster and irradiances of guitar drone… great shit right here.  We arrive on the other side with “Tap,” a patient and paranoid, Motorik rhythm affair that sort of drifts for a bit of time, and returns like an errant shampoo commercial. The computer spits out random bits of information and that’s what we get while the results of the bipodal morphed quadruped reptilian elections are beaming back from the mother ship. The TV receptor is a bit on the fritz and has fits of static pulsations, which display across all of the screens in the store display at the Wal-Mart. These sounds are what you get at the end of side B rather than the band you hear on the first side.  A winner for the weirdos.