You know a lot of bands, labels and outlets have embraced the cassette as a viable format again, and while I love the economy and accessibility it provides to smaller artists, as a release from a larger indie it sometimes seems indulgent. Not so much for Bitchin’ Bajas, though. I see the release of a double cassette version of Bajas Fresh as tantamount to who they are – the front edge explorers of the new new age and warriors of a freer jazz. They’re not only looking to springboard off of the dusty thrift store tapes found cluttering up your aunt’s forgotten rec room during her meditation phase in 1988, they’re turning that rec room into an aesthetic, that need to center yourself into a right, and crafting a synth religion all their own
They’re fresh off a few collabs, most notably with labelmate Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, so this is the first time in three swings around the sun that we’ve gotten a chance to hear them undiluted, unencumbered and chasing the same flawless bliss that they’ve so often driven towards. That bliss is here, channeling the glowing chyron euphoria of public access library tapes melted into a puddle of incense wrapping and happy little trees with an unsettling rot inside. Be wary, because that rec room vibe they’re inhabiting is packed to the drop ceiling with the discarded interests of more than one relative. It seems that someone may have scotch-taped those old relaxation cassettes and dubbed on a free jazz primer in their spare time.
The group has sought to put forth seamless listening experiences before, creating drops out of time that pull the listener down a half-step to a floating world parallel to our own, but here they achieve that goal far greater than in any incarnation they’ve yet attempted. They stitch synths to flutes and droning horns in a way that feels like they’ve always just fed off one another in a life cycle we can’t see. Cascading down from their first two tracks, they incorporate a Sun Ra cover as if it were canon to them, letting the master’s drones thrum alongside their own in perfectly scratchy bliss. And that’s the core of Bajas Fresh, it’s opening the chakras and then pushing them too far – glowing serenity corded by time and dust until its something new, something more alive than before. This is why you don’t jump the gun on declaring what’s best for any given year. Who knows when a masterstroke is lying in wait at the end of November?
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