Ten years after his debut CD, “Stone Blind” (Intransitive, 1997), Howard Stelzer presents Bond Inlets, his first widely available solo cassette-tape composition. Stelzer, a Boston-based composer and sound artist, was never happy with his previous album and threw away most of the pressing as soon as it returned from the factory. He took the occasion of his label’s tenth anniversary to dissect the source sounds of that work and filter it through the lens of the interceding decade in order to build a piece that more accurately reflects what his intentions were then, and what his aesthetic is today.
“Bond Inlets” is a subtly emotional work of foreground drone that beats its head against the plastic walls of cassette-tape technology, laying bare the physicality of the process of its creation. The dying motors of ancient cassette players, tape-saturated percussion, and blown-out condenser-mic wail are mixed with elements of live tape improvisations and surreptitious field recordings taken in Stelzer’s neighborhood to create deep chasms of no-fidelity murk and evocative hiss. There is an implacable melancholy to Bond Inlets, with fragments of distant melodies that surface briefly only to be subsumed again into the grime.