We've done "Essential Vinyl" before. We've never had an "Essential Tape," but this might be it. I've been sitting on Soft Cat for a while after a chance encounter with the track "Sincerity" which can be found on Lost No Labor, their second album out now on Human Kindness Overflowing.
There's, undoubtedly, a Horse Feathers feel to the sound as layers upon layers of instrumentation weave the songs together. The group describes themselves as "baroque" which is as good of a label as any given that the the excessive ornamentation of each track does seem to tilt toward that post-Renaissance art form which stressed opulence and asymmetry over restraint. Ironically, perhaps the most notable place you'll find such excess on display is in the extended outro for "Sincerity" which seems to take eight different turns before finally winding up at the end.
Soft Cat is the work of Neil Sanzgiri and based in Baltimore, MD. Their first record, Wildspace, was released (you can get it on cassette as well) via Friends Records in 2010. While that record seemed to grow like weeds between the sidewalks, even the the cover art evoked a Murmur-ish quality of music overtaking like nature, Lost No Labor features a more sharply-edited sensibility. Listen for the impeccably placed background vocals on "When It Breaks." Such perfect placement is not possible in nature, though its delicate position in the song is a testament to how steady and patient Neil's songwriting is. And then, note the banjo and horn in "All I Can See."
From an interview at Impose Magazine:
I think Soft Cat is somewhat detached from some of the music being made in Baltimore, which can be very difficult. I was taught a very specific way of critical thinking in my sculpture classes which led to a lot of desires to integrate my philosophical background into my music. I think I've been successful in the sense that I hope that I get people thinking about a certain amount of content and don't blindly listen and digest the sounds they are hearing. It's been hard sometimes grappling with the fact that I make such warm and soothing music in a world filled with so many doubts. With all of that said, I think Soft Cat serves as that release from the complications and struggles of the day and if people are able to just take that with them, I think I'm doing all right.
All proceeds from Lost No Labor will go to Whitelock Community Farms in Baltimore which supports the Baltimore community through sustainable fresh food sources farmed on an abandoned lot in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood.
Limited Edition of 150 Cassettes