Jordan Glenn – Flustered
8.11.22 by Matty McPherson
Jordan Glenn’s solo work has been scant. Although it’s likely you have come across a crevice of his work over the past 20 years. The Mills College alum is a big collaborator first and foremost, with credits attached to various flash in the pan projects, amongst big dogs like the Fred Frith Trio. Solo work is scarce, opportunities themselves not present until lockdown. Thus Glenn emerged with Flustered, a fleet series of one-man drum solo delights. It’s maverick goodness that sounds expressingly realized in its moment.
Glenn’s improvisatory soundscapes are riddled with an adventurous imperative. There’s not a singular approach to the drum kit taken. Tracks can start in various directions: grooved-out deep listening holes (Kick Ups, Parasol Work), spiffy cymbal rushes (Floor Roles, Forced Bounce), amongst near-musique concrete cohesions (Passing Mixed Objects) amongst other admissives. His ear for percussive patter and sound blasts is playful and tenacious; a soundtracking that matches wobbly 4D platformers and sumo wrestling semi-finals alike. Even though many of the tracks are running around three minutes, Glenn’s careful pacing often allows one track to segway into another without much of a jarring abrasiveness. A succinct flow unspools itself across the tape.
It’s a welcome quality, as the tape’s freewheeling sound is not always tethered to a one-size approach to percussion. Yes, free-jazz and free-noise are avenues of exploration, but Glenn’s also wielding a knack for custom designed instruments. Blistering, unvarnished folksy qualities seem to muster through on tracks like “Applause Point” and “The Carousel,” bringing in different traditions and improvisational approaches to Flustered’s more pounding first half. The qualities of both sides will (in classic Glenn fashion), mend and collaborate over the near-eight minutes of Stuffed Behind the Back. As finales go, it’s madcapper madness. Blow-by-blow tumbles that parallel the bluesy swagger of “Ascension Day” in their pacing. As Glenn continues to add new textures and chimes, suddenly the drum solo drops out–all attention is on those chimes and folkish impulses. A wistful, reserved détente to a thrilling tape.
Edition of 100 Cassettes Available at the Full Spectrum Bandcamp Page
Rrill Bell – False Flag Rapture
8.10.22 by Matty McPherson
Tabs Out Rule 34 states that you always have to keep your ears open for a James Plotkin cassette mastering job. The guy is like novelist James Patterson–in that both can’t not stop their respective jobs (perhaps at risk of plummeting the world into peril with their demises). Anyways, it’s a good rule that always keep me from filing just any tape away, such as Rrill Bell’s False Flag Rapture. That’s the work of American expatriate/German-based musician Jim Campbell. Campbell had sorta spent a period of six year (2015-2021) trawling the mental-hertz of witnessing a sudden dormant memory spurning to life. False Flag Rapture is an interrogation of this memory–his Slovenian grandmother singing a hymn in Slovak dialect impromptly after 50+ years.
Tabs Out Rule 35 states that “if it’s electro-acoustic its probably for big dweebs.” Fortunately, False Flag Rapture is anti-dweeb electro-acoustic. In fact, it’s more musique-concrete/dream art type shenanigans, restless without tepidness. Campbell’s MO to traverse this memory, and itself the nature of his own collective family memories, is personalized into this C42; a longform split into two sides. It’s a warranted approach, because Campbell’s music is endearingly inscrutable. He refuses to distinctly spell out the memory or his own memories from within the family tree. The tape and extrapolation of this memory is the product of studying and applying various 20th century approaches to sounds into hybrid forms. The textures of his drones and sounds strike images of analog, oral-driven pasts. Places barely connected by technology and almost moving backwards in time. Less rust belt, more “rusted and dusted” belt.
It hardly comes as a surprise that this music then often slinks or twirl like a dust devil. It opens like an analogue bubblebath, complete with morse-code bleeps and quivering haptics. It sounds of an omnibus presence seeking a shape it cannot quite shake out. As it furthers through its cycle, Campbell is able to start to tease out different elements in the mix, bringing to life a situated, personalized journey to this memory. By the ten minute mark, the piece has shifted towards a low drone, emanating textures that recall radio cabinets and dust bowl power-lines. It sounds powerless though, as it moves through radiator hum textures and blisteringly empty streets, ending as a belltower strikes back and forth. If we’re to understand this memory, we must be keen to these elements and that world they occupy.
When Part 2 enters, it’s almost Pram-ian in the way looping wind chimes create a near-nautical state of hyperawareness; they sound of the majesty one finds when in perfect range of 3 tornado sirens going off at once. To follow, Campbell does provide the a recording of the lead-up to the recording of his grandmother many odd years back. It is as if all the traversing of this music concrete was to lead to this memory. Yet, he backs it out to let Alex Morsey’s tuba and Felix Fritsche’s wind instruments block the memory, with a sense of somberness. The recording does finally emerge, plain and understated, unmanipulated for maximum impact. It quickly returns to the pre-conscious dream state that has defined so much of this long form. That stretch of the final ten minutes really might just be my favorite though. A colossal low end drone, the product of various manipulations to a tuba, mends up chiming bells, and haptics that sounds of vaporous fireflies; it flows in lockstep, safeguarding the memory for another go around on the hi-fi.
Edition of 100 42-minute lime green cassettes (with full-color six-panel Jcard in clear Norelco case, plus full-color outer Ocard featuring collage art) available at the Rrill Bell/Elevator Bath Bandcamp page.
Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart – Zenith/Nadir
8.5.22 by Matty McPherson
Just what incubates such tenacious sounds? Is it amps and pedals amongst other equipment? Location that brings such disparate voices togetheres? Our pained times that incites it all? I’ve recently had a recurring daydream of Drone festivals. One as a liturgical mending that extrapolate feelings outside the present moments, as much as they document the situation they find themselves in. Amirtha Kidambi and Luke Stewart would both be there together in that daydream. Both have strenuous, muscular range in their approaches to sound conduction. Kidambi’s voice and electronic effects grant it an elasticity; a painted echo of the past or a panopticonic prelude to the future. Stewart’s bass and amplifier feedback prowess has often led to states of post-zen bliss and punk’d noise experiments. They’re both industrious thinkers. Although I can’t comprehend a time I’ve heard either of them as hellacious and studious as on Zenith/Nadir, their open-book drone improvisation for Tripticks Tapes.
Zenith/Nadir has been simmering and stewing since an August 2020 meeting between two at Pioneer Works. “A time where despair and possibility were inextricable,” the Bandcamp summary contextualizes. For the two esteemed improvisers, show-bookers, and ontological new music scribes, it’s a chance to take their complementary approaches in search of blistering territories unknown. Their seven seances are harrowing, improvisations on the brink of being swallowed by the earth whole or thrown to the stratosphere. Both sides favor aversive, yet not opposing or diametric approaches.
The transient opener “Circulation” is practically degrading en media res as Kidambi applies ample effects to her voice. One layer of her voice stands as a mantra-esque drone, while another is jolted and modulated into an epigraph of tumultuous walkie-talkie noise. Meanwhile, Stewart’s engineering and approach to feedback steadies the two dissonant sounds; through cracky tonal static until it finally reaches a low hanging orbit of clarity. “Premonition” is toying with similar effects, although with Stewart’s bass more noticeably beefing out the low-end. “Postmonition” concludes this trio, seeing Kidambi’s voice so beyond-process that it has shapeshifted into a horn instrument crescendoing and bellowing into a bonafide WAIL of a thousand suns. Side A’s closer, the eleven minute “Exaltation,” scales down the noise for more emphasis on the two’s distinct instruments. Kidambi is able to lull us into the industrial lullaby. Even still, the duo continually shift the dimensions of the recording with just a few quivers of Kidambi’s voice or the occasional strum of an upright bass. You can’t quite tell whether this was recorded at Pioneer Works, in a destitute cavern, or at some Port Authority blacksite.
Side B relays the focus into thousand-yard stare acoustic duets, amounting newfangled folk nadirs from the two’s traditions. “Relics,” “Medium,” and “Telepathy” are closer in kinship to ka baird’s Voice Games than an Orb Tapes release. Yet, for Kidambi and Stewart, there is nothing inquisitively gamey about this (even as these tracks are wildly fun). In all three of them, the duo try to keep pace with each other’s freewheeling sleights. I love about a third of the way through “Medium” how Kidambi mends her voice into a machination so suddenly that Stewart is having to drop restraint and move with whimsy, in lieu of brevity. Instead of relying on feedback or suddenness, the closer “Telepathy” sees the duo opt to slow their manner of operation. They draw out notes within their respective instruments. The sonic space is smaller, as if to let the acoustics of this space breathe. There’s a somber aura of near-silence to the piece. It stretches and contortions, a reflection on the zeniths it found itself tangled within just half an hour before.
Edition of 100 tapes in clear transparent shell with white hubs, pro dubbed and printed available at the Tripticks Tapes Bandcamp
Secret Boyfriend – Glissement
8.3.22 by Jacob DeRaadt
This one starts out with organ driven shoe gazing pop that has me feeling a slowed down. Downer ballads. Minutes in the mood completely changes. It dissolves into the morning haze optimism of “Open Up,” which evokes a common mood with Tim Hecker’s Piano Drops album. And some strange hand drum rhythms that get into unparalleled grooves of near Krautrock variety. The feeling of being in a loop is not unbroken for most of some songs. There’s a feeling of complete vulnerability and openness I feel with this material. Sputtering prefacing insults at the original source material are eventually spat out into the ether. Some melodramatic moments on this that fade into a hypnotic cycle that draws us into fields of unaided ecstasy. I’ve played with Ryan twice and never seen him do the same set . So many moods that I can describe. Faded bold shot tones that recede into the ether. Ryan crafts albums with equally ambient noisy and pop rhythms that drive the materials into different directions. We have parts that stretch out broke distortions into melodic waves that drench us in a hovering bath of looser electrons. We find sun nor shade completely in moving tones of anxious waiting. I find myself lost within these endless phrases of monochrome luster.
Other parts shriek with noise paranoia, glistening nocturnal textures that shimmer with repetitious delight. We are delighted by shimmering tones glistening in the background, beckoning to deeper meanings, consuming the senses. We listen on, fixated on the spacious paranoia evoked on these oxide reels. Glissements finds us hovering shivering above an unknown planet, awaiting the next transformation. The hallways flooded with false blood vessels pulsating in excitement, awaiting the next transformation of the body in stasis. Listen at peril of your mortal mind. More strange beat experiments mixed with cut up tape sounds propel things forward. This album uses live takes for the majority of the songs on this release to its benefit. Each session feels distinct from the last. “Sun Dub” and “Walk to the West” do it for me in this category.
Orange Milk August 2022 Batch
8.2.22 by Matty McPherson
Orange Milk has reengaged with the idea of releasing three tapes at once in a month. Just not quite as a bundle. A summer trilogy? Or, three short stories microtargeting the three types of Orange Milk Music Enthusiasts (lappy 486 users, lint lickers, and sour beer drinkers)? I needed to confirm for myself to see where they all landed. So, I spent summer session (a couple of the west coast-adjacent variants of Oberon) with the latest in Orange Milk sonic advancements. To say I pondered what’s going on out in the midwest would be a bit of a fib; these releases grab and tug the heartstrings.
goo age – Open Zone
At the start of the year, Keith Rankin casually dropped a new genre term “GOO CORE.” It was intended to describe an outpouring of noise music that was bubbly/playful like pop, but “without the structure.” Naturally Mr. P of TMT immediately started replying with Orange Milk artists and friends abound; it is literally a string of music TMT championed for a decade. Even Keith did as well. It all sorta felt like the classic “spiderman pointing at spiderman” image come to life. Take this blog post as a 7 month late reply to the tweet, as I’m sitting with goo age’s GOO CORE opus Open Zone–perhaps the release that kicked that conversation off to begin with.
Adrian Wright’s (aka goo age) honed in on these zones between 2019 and 2021, after a smattering of Bandcamp self-releases. goo age performed in basements and houses of Tabs Out certified favorites like Marsha Fisher. In the blurb for Open Zone, Keith recommended having a hi-fi stereo or big brain headphone for the 12 tracks on the tape. Indeed, they are variably open ended ambient adventures that emphasize precise synthetic textures. As singular tracks go, they’re often amalgamations of elements that intend to incite shocks as much as soothe. ASMR-indebted quips n’ chirps, percussive conundrums, “sine-wave bass” and synths, amongst occasional wind instruments; all operate in a humongous space where any moment of silence is less a moment of clarity and more foreshadowing sudden shifts in pace. When you hear a track in real time, the effect of tracking the elements is akin to constructivism. Two elements that should not match clearly creating an exponential sum of part, no matter how subtle. Sometimes it is almost-ambient pop (qnpLUB) or dance (froglside (refraction))–tracks that have an inscrutable movement slipping from your fingers. Other times it is just capturing the hyperrealism of our modern era (how far we’ve scrolled), letting texture that the wheel over structure.
The result is that goo age’s Open Zone abstractions become uniquely immaculate mood music. Yet, it ain’t anything like wallpaper even if it functions as its own insular world. There is an earnest sense of deep engagement being asked of the listener; a track like “shakuhatchling” lets its synths evaporate to seep in various textures. The further you let goo age take over, the more you’ll come away with the same sense some bro would’ve given their ECM or Windham Hill cassettes in the 80s. In fact, this really is just another absolute bonkers inversion of those labels. Don’t enclose this zone. Keep it open.
Andy Loebs – Flexuous Vertex
Andy Loebsheads have been clamoring for a bonafide tape release from the Philadelphia maverick for over four years. That’s how long it has been since we learned just a crevice about Loebs on Terry Tapes’ About Me. Loebs overflowing bounty of available music could be abstracted to two oversimplified words, “cute midi.” Keith Rankin would insist on classifying Flexuous Vertex in three hype-sticker-worthy words, “quintessential OM style.” Neither label is mutually exclusive. Flexuous Vertex‘s C34 is practically a cocktail of Orange Milk magic–Loebs’d out and re-Leobs’ed. It’s a wickedly ecstatic release built on nailing seamless genre pivots into a quirked out white boy funk. It makes the whole listen akin to super sized bouncy castle. Please just take your shoes off before stepping in.
So as such, expect Flexuous Vertex to discombobulate and reshape on command whenever it so pleases. Second track, “In Praise of Unlearning,” isn’t just on the nose–it’s a MO to the entire direction of this cassette. Within four minutes, Loebs casts off a litany of IDEAS; big midi band jazz, “progressive” goo core, commando-lunged out footwork, and hell, quirked drum n’ bass. And nothing about it feels heavy handed or a miscalculated set of casio samples. The ideas just simply flow succinctly, enough that you can quickly forget that you’ve warped 3 tracks down the line. “Touch Configuration” takes all the elements of Castlevania Symphony of the Night map and squishes it into one omnibus room, complete with nu-metal guitar thrashing and lashing!
It can seem dizzying. Still, Loebs’ tracks are meticulously mapped out. “Humidity Vertex”‘s sense of movement, guided by a rollicking drum n’ bass rhythm and ambient synth pulses, seamlessly conveying the plotting needed to succeeded at a dexterous rail shooter. “Living Under a Rock”‘s blithely midi-pop briefly stumbles into an ambient secret zone before a giving way to a “wub-wub” boss battle complete with a Weather Report style jazz beat ’em up. Quite frankly, Loebs; Flexuous Vertex is flush with sounds that make you gush. Zones that cease to repeat the same effect more than once, arriving with novel sonic design.
Bloodz Boi, claire rousay, More Eaze – a crying poem
The recent round of Mari and claire’s releases have been exercises in concision as much as world building. Both are pop omnivores looking for the precise sound to leverage their consistent shifts and expeditions. This time around it comes in the form of a voice from halfway across the world. a crying poem, a collaborative engagement with Bloodz Boi (featured on their last Orange Milk tape), honestly carries 0% fat. The lean C15 of 6 cuts finds the three in a bittersweet lockstep; acoustic and ambient pop for the dusk smoke break, the late night slepless woe era, and even the back of open-air markets in all their compounded loneliness.
For claire and Mari, their instrumentation continues to develop their signature room tone ambience with a greater emphasis on post-slowcore acoustics (and measured amounts of autotune). Lethargic guitar strumming paired with ambient synths/strings feel like a sister unit to the rooms of rousay’s tape with Patrick Shiroishi from last year. It is the kind of space where Bloodz Boi’z poems can amply chews the scenery. His endearing delivery is enough to quickly find yourself mumbling in sync to and swelling up in heartbreak with (even if you don’t know the lyrics). It marks BB the perfect lead vocal across the EP–this is really a release that emphasizes his vocal delivery above Claire and Mari’s. It’s openly telegraphed on opener, 忧伤的贡多拉 – Sad Gondola, where BB takes center stage as claire’s spazzy bright autotune and Mari’s reserved dronetune function as a greek chorus. They’re more there to counter and deftly expand the harmonic range of the track for Bloodz Boi to throw down poetry.
It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees in the subtly of the this release. claire and mari’s soundscapes feel decisively more ethereal than usual; a mist that sort of cocoons and surrounds Bloozd Boi. When this approach to instrumentation & Bloodz Boi’z delivery hit their peak, the result is a cut like 打火机 – The Lighter, the pinnacle of the tape. Incredible smooth synth blasts practically reimagine Blue Nile’s “Lets Go Out Tonight”; the former’s stoicism rendered obsolete as woozy synths and delicate guitar strums turn it into a 2 AM fucked up anthem. 阴天 – Overcast, the only track to cross the three minute mark, brings in strings that can practically swell a grinch’s heart. Another fascinating development this month in emo-ambient.
Needless to say, all three cassettes are available at their respective album pages under the Orange Milk Bandcamp.