Russian TsarlagHouse Rules
Gel Stations Past
Released: 27th July 2018
Beautifully rendered, with letterpressed sleeve and hand-stamped labels.
Resolute outsider Russian Tsarlag is madly prolific, hand-dubbing cassettes at a scking rate, selling out to a hardcore of followers and then moving on. Thankfully, House Rules (the Goaty Tapes vinyl imprint) has compiled a best of the last few years and it's striking listening. A kind of downer blues for the edges, much of these songs are howled straight into a broken mic, straight out of a warped consciousness, not unlike a rawer The Rebel, or a more tuneful Jandek.
This record consolidates the great pieces of crooner dejection that typify Tsarlag’s recent music. These are his saddest and slowest-burning songs, drawn in dour guitar, sweeping keyboard, and sedated vocals that teeter well below mid-tempo. Many share a somber two-chord schema that slips in perfect doses of dissonance and distortion. The results are at once refined and totally ragged, seductive, woozy, and smeared in Tsarlag’s shapely four-track atmospherics.