The Russian Submarine

by DAS TORPEDOES

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about

"Captained by Charles LaeRau, an eternal outsider based in Omaha with ties to “psychedelic junk-folk collective” Naturaliste, Das Torpedoes chartered the early ’00s vague and esoteric waters. Evidenced by only a handful of cassettes and CD-rs on fringe institutions like Animal Disguise and the Seagull Label, the project’s bleak but sublime aesthetic plays out with dingy charm, equally disfigured and composed. Now, Gertrude Tapes embarks on a campaign to revive Das Torpedoes’ relative mystery with a handful of reissues, starting with “The Russian Submarine.”

The Russian Submarine is a concept album, reportedly inspired by the sinking of a Russian submarine. Throughout the tape, conflicting sounds are always at odds. Simple, floating beauty is undermined by some foreboding sense of danger. The calming drift of wading in the ocean always aware of some distant, unseeable doom. “The Last Goodbyes/Leaving the Port of Mumansk” starts the journey with slow and steady propulsion, keeping a keep eye on the horizon and slowly pulling away from harbor. Lo-fi synths seemingly recorded on a boombox or hand-me-down four-track recorder play out with joy while flecks of rhythm and texture bloom under the water.
“Off the Coast, Submerging” presents the first sense of the eerie otherworld quality of diving deep under the waves. Darkness falls and all you hear is the random hums and oddly calculated music of machinery and anonymous engine parts. “Dreaming/Sounds of St. Petersburg” is full-on industrial drone, as though the entire crew is asleep and dreaming amidst the strange sub-aquatic amplification.

“Alarms Sound Emergency” is a nightmare of sorts, waking in a flash of glitching and drowning machines. You can almost hear the vessel taking on water, trying to escape in a futile and tragic display. “Last Letter Written” offers a moment of reflection — not a hopeful one but an honest one. “The Last Voyage” closes out the tape with oddly dreamlike and slow motion movement of tones.

The first edition of The Russian Submarine may have come and gone without much notice, but its a thrilling revisit here all the same.
Originally released on the Seagull label. - TABS OUT PODCAST

credits

released May 17, 2016

Charles LaReau

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