Gel Stations Past brings together tracks from three shadowy self-released cassettes by Russian Tsarlag: Decrepit Gas Station, Living in the Past, and Dipped in Gel. Dubbed in minimal quantities and cloistered for private worship, much of Russian Tsarlag’s recent output remains hard to find. Each of these albums dispersed instantly among friends and fanatics and receded into legend.
This record consolidates the great pieces of crooner dejection that typify Tsarlag’s recent music. These are his saddest and slowest-burning songs, drawn in dour guitar, sweeping keyboard, and sedated vocals that teeter well below mid-tempo. Many share a somber two-chord schema that slips in perfect doses of dissonance and distortion. The results are at once refined and totally ragged, seductive, woozy, and smeared in Tsarlag’s shapely four-track atmospherics.