Adam Richards, the mastermind behind both Chapels and the Buffalo-based label House of Alchemy, has long cultivated an audio/visual aesthetic that is both antiquated and, shall we say, creepy. Whether it is the strangely archaic pictures that adorn many of his label’s releases or the weird collision of disquieting tape-warped sounds found on his Chapels recordings, one would not be totally out of line to wonder if Mr. Richards was perhaps a rather odd fellow from decades past.
And while both of these assumptions prove to be a complete misconception when one listens to the rather pleasant interview that Mr. Richards conducted on air with Upstate Soundscape host Needles Numark back in September, his 2011 mini-CD-R release I Have Tried only seems to re-affirm this guy’s antediluvian weirdness.
In fact, to offer a visual comparison to I Have Tried–and much of Chapels’ work—one could look to the Japanese horror film Ringu or even David Cronenberg’s classic scifi-mindfuck Videodrome, whereby old analog sources like VHS tapes seem to serve as conduits to sinister supernatural realms. Likewise, this 3-track mini-disc could easily convince the unsuspecting listener that it—format aside—was created decades ago and contains within it latent paranormal possibilities. The purring voice that emerges among the bell-like clattering on “Part 1” or the warbled background discussion that underlies “Part 2” both infuse I Have Tried with a haunted aura that threatens to reach out and grab the listener by the you-know-whats.
The fact that I Have Tried was released on mini-disc–a format that many are no longer able to utilize—and in a super limited run only adds to this release’s well-crafted mystique.
Review by Taylor Waite