Sex Death Cassette

Rafter

There’s been a whole lot of good music released in the first half of 2008 and because it’s been a little while since I’ve updated this blog with any semblance of regularity, I’ll probably be playing catch up with some of my upcoming posts. But, it’s only fair, because a number of these releases are not getting as much attention as they deserve. And that includes one of my favorite albums of the year so far, which comes from yet another prolific San Diego musician and songwriter, Rafter‘s Sex Death Cassette.

If this latest opus from current Asthmatic Kitty recording artist Rafter Roberts is anything, it’s appropriately titled. Perhaps most apparent in this 19-track patchwork of bedroom-pop is the distinctly lo-fi, collage-like quality that permeates the album. It really feels like Rafter just sat down with a 4-track, an eclectic handful of instruments and crafted a mixtape of sparse, fragile, sweet, and often short, pop gems… then dubbed a cassette especially for you. Whole segments of Sex Death Cassette seem like they were conceived in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, as if he was simply collecting his ideas in their rawest states and submitting them to us for our approval. Yes, the aesthetic is enjoyable, but also impressively effective at making the record very personal, like we’ve been given a private look into Rafter’s creative process. And yet, the notable presence of such simple ideas have led some to suggest that this element of his songcraft gives the album a bit of a “half-baked” feel. While they may be right to an extent, there’s also a real concept at work here… one that’s engaging and downright charming.

Made up of quirky, honest meditations on compassion, love, sex, frustration, loneliness, depression, and death, Sex Death Cassette runs a fair gamut, yet the title reflects the basic thematic poles it’s centered around… sex and death, the bookends of life, if you will. And though Rafter may spend more time on the darker side of things, he often does so in a light-hearted (even farcical) way to help balance out some of the more brooding tunes. Even better, on the standout track “No One Home Ever'” he manages to simultaneously touch upon both themes by recreating a conversation in which he’s asked about his perceptions on how his life began and will end:

She asks me ’bout how I think I was conceived
How my mom’s egg met up with dad’s seed
I tell her the truth, I’ve nothing to hide
They fought and made up and made out and made me alive
And that’s where I came from… I’m a reconciliation

She asks me ’bout how I think I’m gonna die
And gives me the choice to tell her or lie
I tell her the truth, I’ve nothing to hide
I know how I’ll die, I know how I’ll die
I’ll get shot in a robbery, I’ll get run over by a train
I’ll get lost at sea… die in a terrible way

Basically, this song is analogous to everything that’s great about Sex Death Cassette. Rafter’s narrative is personal and direct, relaying this intimate conversation to the listener as if we were another curious friend. He’s pensive, but he also makes you smile while he indulges in his melancholic contemplations; be it with a clever little phrase or his overly matter of fact way of stating some pretty depressing conclusions. And then he successfully frames it within a short, catchy pop song, using very simple instrumentation with a little distinctive flair (the woodwinds at the end are a nice touch).

The guy works hard: he’s put out three albums in about a year and a half and appears to have completed his “Song a Week” project with photographer and girlfriend Lizeth Santos. Spawned from a “one art project a day” personal challenge, this weekly endeavor spanned over 20 weeks on the Asthmatic Kitty website. On top of that, he’s already readying a new EP, titled Sweaty Magic, for release in September of this year! With “Tom Ze, Prince, Clipse, Zapp & Roger, Mr. Fingers, and D’Angelo” all mentioned in the press release, we should be in for quite a dancey treat. But, for now, make sure you check out Sex Death Cassette… you shan’t be disappointed.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download: Rafter – Zzzpenchant

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download: Rafter – Chances

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download: Rafter – No One Home Ever
Buy: Order Sex Death Cassette from Asthmatic Kitty (for $10!).

2 thoughts on “Sex Death Cassette

Comments are closed.