This record is a gem for more than a few reasons. Firstly and undeniably Gel Stations Past is a meticulously curated and much-needed entry point into the infinite, heady world of Russian Tsarlag. Carlos Gonzales has been churning out tapes for ten years and this record is a compilation of three previously self-released cassettes (Decrepit Gas Station, Living in the Past, and Dipped in Gel). And to its great success it feels like very personal project, a long time coming. Zero filler on this odyssey through Tsarlag’s decade-long career of brooding, suburban isolation (or "crooner dejection", as House Rules put it). It’s a heavier and more depressive proposition than say, Secret Boyfriend (his sometime collaborator and closest comparable auteur), but there are moments of humour and melody - enough, just about, to keep the sagging weight from crushing you. Tunes like ‘Spray My Face’ and ‘Northern Lights’ for example are in the darkly comic mode of Pink Reason’s smash hits on Cleaning the Mirror.
Crucial to the context of Gel Stations Past is that it's also Goaty Tapes’ first move into the world of vinyl and broken dreams via it’s new (sub?) label, House Rules. Pretty damn clear that the same vision and care has gone into this LP’s art direction as with every lux cassette Goaty puts out. We’re bookmarking House Rules and expect there’ll be some revelatory future releases given the spotlight Goaty Tapes shone on its own niche little group of freaks. Couldn’t think of a better label/artist project to kickstart this operation.