Tabs Out | Concrete Colored Paint – Through a Lens

Concrete Colored Paint – Through a Lens

4.8.20 by Tony Lien

Orb Tapes has been experiencing exponential growth in variety and scope since its founding in 2015. With releases that span from experimental metal to lost recordings of legendary Sun Ra, it’s obvious that with each venture into new sonic territory the label remains true to a deep-rooted appreciation of sound as more than just a creative commodity.

Though not their latest release, “Through a Lens” by Concrete Colored Paint (Peter Kris) is a prime example of a tape that speaks to this sentiment. Before I delve into specifics though, I’ll leave a gentle reminder here to please wear some headphones while you listen to this tape. I know I say this basically every time I write one of these things, but it really can’t ever be stressed enough when it comes to albums like this one.  

According to the Bandcamp page, Concrete Colored Paint is a travel project – and the collected field recordings are used to “form an audio memory”. Built around an eclectic selection of these sounds (most of them originating from Taiwan), “Through a Lens” unfolds like an abstract audio-only documentary – with a near-continuous layer of ambient playfulness that interacts with the natural sounds in such a way that it almost seems like a separate soundtrack itself. 

With eyes closed, the imagination is surely stoked as these audio memories paint worlds within the listener’s skull. While some of the field recordings are more expected (forest sounds, the crunching of boots in dry grass, etc.) when considering the genre as a whole, others are rather mysterious (see “Death Comes Hardest”) and act almost as a sort of Rorschach test for the ears. Everyone will likely imagine something quite different. 

As the album progresses, the tracks take an unexpected turn. “Farther North” was recorded in what seems to be a crowded restaurant, the clanking of cups and drone of strangers having spirited conversations causing a claustrophobic feeling (in context with the rest of the album, at least – maybe I’m just really that anti-social). “Broken Eye Contact” – my favorite track – depicts the performance of street musicians; however, it seems the mic was somehow placed in a cup here and there, or at least obscured by Kris’s continuous change of position while recording. Whatever the truth behind his process may be, the results remind me of why field recording projects can be almost as surprising and intriguing as a real world experience. 

“Through a Lens” is, despite its underlying spirit of adventure, meditative and subtle – a soothing ode to the natural world and the magic of voluntary displacement. It’s a pleasure to immerse oneself in – especially in times of global hysteria and government-sanctioned quarantine. 

That being said, independent labels/artists need more assistance now than ever. A good portion of them rely on fan support not just for the healthy continuation of their projects, but also for their own personal livelihood. Head over to Orb Tapes and purchase this tape (and any of the others still available) if you have the means to.

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Tabs Out | Episode #154

Talked to Z from Doom Trip Records and played some tapes

Sonae - Music for People Who Shave Their Heads (Bit-Phalanx)
Opiate - Objects for an Ideal Home (20th Anniversary Edition) (Bit-Phalanx)
Michael Fakesch - Marion (20th Anniversary Edition) (Bit-Phalanx)
Dog Lady Island - Dolor Aria (Alien Passengers)
Wetbackmanny - Cutest Spic Alive (Deathbomb Arc)
Mukqs - Any % (Doom Trip)
V/A - Doom Trip Vol. III (Doom Trip)

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Tabs Out | RNL – Conquering King Kong

RNL – Conquering King Kong

4.3.20 by Ryan Masteller

Look, I’m not up on my Kong lore (that whole narrative just doesn’t do it for me), but wasn’t King Kong a misunderstood animal that was captured, removed from his home, and transported to New York City for the entertainment of rich white jagbags? That doesn’t really sound like a thing I’d want to “conquer,” but I guess if the gigantic ape functioned more as a metaphor for seemingly insurmountable life obstacles, then it makes a little more sense. Still, I feel really bad for that monkey. He had it so unfair.

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise for me then that the idea of “Conquering King Kong” really does serve as a metaphor here, as RNL, aka Berlin-based Jesse Farber, has dug through archives of material he recorded as far back as 1984 and as recently as 2019. What better way to process the passage of time and the buildup of psychic baggage than by sifting through the past and processing it (sometimes to an insane degree) until it all makes sense to you in the present in some form? That’s what Farber does: he tackles the King Kong of his past and wrestles that great beast to the ground until he can live with it.

You hear that, naysayers? He COMES TO TERMS AND LIVES WITH the monkey. Poor movie monkey, shot down by helicopters and whatnot.

“Conquering King Kong” itself is a fascinating listen, as the tape is split into two lengthy suites with an intermission (“Interregnum”). “Eyeholes” begins with some excellent drone before it builds in intensity and volume, finally dropping out and breaking into warped rhythmic passages, finally ending on spectral ambience. “Chopping Off Every Finger” drops right into the rippling ambience, processed sound sources spiking and receding, then drifting through the ghosts of sonic architecture. Speaking of ghosts, digital squirts appear through a digital mist by the digital end, sounding like Pac-Man’s nemeses on the prowl.

RNL sounds like he’s conquered his past, his “King Kong,” by the end of this tape. Now let’s just hope he doesn’t get marooned on Skull Island for any length of time. 

“Conquering King Kong” is available in an edition of 100 from RNL / VONCONFLON.

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Tabs Out | Primary Mystical Experience – Space Dust

Primary Mystical Experience – Space Dust

3.30.20 by Ryan Masteller

This is almost assuredly what I’ve been waiting my whole life for. This is it: that moment when my entire body breaks down into its constituent atoms, the electrons holding everything together losing their charge, allowing the building blocks of my body to drift apart and expand outward, just like the universe. 

“Each speck of dust is a world within a world within space.” Ain’t that the truth, Primary Mystical Experience. Ain’t that the truth. If you think about it, it’s all about perspective, about the relation of one thing to another. We’re all hurtling through space – as a sentient human being, I perceive size and motion and self and relate that to the rest of the universe, however daunting and overwhelming that is. And it is daunting and overwhelming, so much so that I myself can be considered a speck of space dust, just as the specks of space dust that make up my body are also specks of space dust. Same goes for Mike and Dave and Joe B, maybe Ian. Not Jamie though – Jamie is pure light.

And that’s where Primary Mystical Experience comes in. PME adds sound to the dissipation, to the expansion, to the space in between. Zooming in on miniscule particulate floating through space that would be utterly unperceivable in any circumstance – well, except in this one, in our imagination – PME explores the infinity of space and time through the unlikely encounter. As the glistening synthesizers fill our mind and enhance our senses, we’re able to explore with him the minute details of existence and ponder the secrets of the universe – “secrets” here meaning size, distance, probability … basically anything math-related that plebs like me have no business contemplating. 

Still, we are human, are we not? We contemplate what we want.

“Space Dust” assists in the contemplating. It provides the backdrop for deep meditation and introspection. It wraps us a in a pressurized cocoon so we can travel through the vacuum of space, zero-g, just floating there with nothing but pinpricks of starlight to keep us company. This is it – this is how we get out there too, how we experience it. All while staying safe here on terra firma of course.

Tape available from Aural Canyon.

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Tabs Out | Secret Boyfriend – Memory Care Unit Vol. 2

Secret Boyfriend – Memory Care Unit Vol. 2

3.25.20 by Ryan Masteller

Existential crises – we all have them. They can manifest at any given time and affect us in a variety of ways. Sometimes they make us think that anything we try to do, any plan we make, will be rendered useless in due time, often quickly. At other times, they make us think that everything we’ve done has been for nothing. And at OTHER other times, they just make us feel completely irrelevant in a grand universal manner.

All these things are the same.

Secret Boyfriend dabbles in a little bit of the Gramscian, in that “the old is dying and the new cannot be born. … In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears.” “Memory Care Unit Vol. 2” charts a course through this arrested progress, where tones beget tension the longer they’re allowed to hover in the air. Normally I’d call the whole family into the living room to gather round the hi-fi and enjoy the latest primordial synthesizer masterpiece as it drizzles in from the speakers of the hi-fi, but I think this one might just set everyone on edge a little bit, grind a few sets of teeth. That may be one of the symptoms, though: avoidance. Facing our fears and future head on is probably the healthiest thing we can do, because we can look to each other for help and guidance through the tough times. But fuck that shit – I’m sticking my head in the sand.

“Memory Care Unit Vol. 2” moves from crisis to full-on breakdown as the tape tracks from side A to B. At first the synthesizer follows you around, stalking you from behind and ramping up the creep factor as it overstays its welcome in your consciousness (“Memory Care Unit”-as-physical-creeper, not “Memory Care Unit”-as-musical-artifact – I don’t want THAT thing to stop). The drones get under your skin and in your head. But when the second side hits, we get into a nightmarish tape-manipulation game that begins with a stretched and screwed field recording that contains an unearthly scream. The “Forgotten Choir” reminds us that there’s still thick slabs of synth awaiting us, but as soon as it becomes the “Fossilized Choir” it glitches out again. From there it’s spooky horror soundtracks to the end. Horror soundtracks to our unholy existential crises.

That is until “20th Version” ends the tape like it’s the rapture or something. Well, a rapture straight into a supernova, anyway. We’ll all hold hands around the table and enter into oblivion together, and all the crises and cancerous symptoms will dissipate in a flash of fission. Sweet freedom!

Available from our weird friends at Hot Releases.

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Tabs Out | Cop Funeral – Hot Lonely Singles

Cop Funeral – Hot Lonely Singles

3.23.20 by Tony Lien

It’s always interesting to explore the discographies of label owners’ personal work. This is especially true when it comes to the music of Josh Tabbia – who releases music as Cop Funeral and co-runs the prolific (and ultra-diverse) label Already Dead Tapes. I’ve been a fan of his music for a couple of years now, but I can distinctly remember how surprised I was the first time I realized he was one of the ADT overseers. The label’s catalog represents a staggering array of artists and genres (anything from free jazz to lo-fi bedroom pop) – so I had no way of knowing the specifics (and the depth and intensity) of his audio transmissions. 

“Hot Lonely Singles” is an expansive display of mesmerizing noise poetry – organic and deceivingly complex. The compositions truly add up to be a smorgasbord of emotions and intensities – sometimes so fuzzed-out and/or ethereal that you nearly lose your place in the sonic fog (see “Maybe Don’t Shit On Everyone You Know”), other times incredibly concise and pulverizing in the same vein as industrial soundtrack music fit for a pulse-pounding sci-fi/horror chase scene in the bowels of a derelict space cruiser (see “FYIQ”). 

Though I’m sure it helps that these songs are from many different eras in his life – thus showcasing natural growth in both creative ability and style – I still find myself thinking the same thing when listening to his other non-B-side releases in their entireties. Going back as far as his 2012 release “When the Heart Overflows the Mouth Speaks” and comparing it with 2017’s “Part Time Pay/Paid Vacation” is surely a testament to how Tabbia has – since the conception of his Cop Funeral project – been able to approach noise music from as many perspectives as his impressive musical prowess allows. This level of artistic vigor (and respect) is especially welcome in the realm of noise (I’m using that genre label in the most general sense possible so as not single anyone out) – where laziness and mediocrity can easily corrupt the creative soul. 

“Hot Lonely Singles” was released on Valentine’s Day, but there are still copies available on the ADT Bandcamp site (very reasonably priced at $6). Stick it in your tape deck, see how it feels; I can already tell you it’s a cassette you’ll want to keep within an arm’s reach.

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Tabs Out | Episode #153

Our first quarantine episode. Took some phone calls and played some tapes. Let's see how this goes, eh?

Emeralds & Dilloway - Under Pressure (Hanson)
Andrew Weathers - Littlefield (Full Spectrum)
Sam Gas Can - Plays the OP-1 (HEC)
Euglossine - Psaronius (Orange Milk)
Andrew Kirschner - Severed by the Thought of a Thread (No Rent)
Barker Trio - Avert Your I (Astral Spirits)
Peter Kris - Nunavut (Tymbal Tapes)
Good Willsmith - Aquarium Guru Shares the Secret Tactic (Baked Tapes)

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Tabs Out | Kris and Tavi – Lines in Dirt

Kris and Tavi – Lines in Dirt

3.19.20 by Ryan Masteller

Yet another German Army project on Skrot Up, eh? It almost seems like the Bermuda-based imprint is a vanity label of sorts for GeArheads, featuring not only offshoots like Q///Q, Final Cop, and now Kris and Tavi but also German Army itself, who released their SELF-TITLED TAPE on Skrot Up back in 2013. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it proved to be a secret GeAr headquarters, like a remote island where Bond villains set up shop. But of course German Army are the heroes here, so it’s a good island. Well, once German Army takes over the world, that is.

Peter Kris here joins Tara Tavi for some heavily treated guitar-and-voice-and-sometimes-not-voice meditations, the tracks drenched in reverb like they’re playing in an echo chamber. Think Dirty Beaches without the swagger, or James Hurley’s “Twin Peaks” tune with a little bit of self-awareness and depth. (Shut up I love “Just You” and I don’t care.) If I were going to slap a genre on it, I wouldn’t be able to choose between shoegaze and folk, because neither are right but neither are far off either. Maybe if, instead of the titular heroes in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” Mazzy Star got shrunk by the shrink ray and set up their gear inside a shoebox instead of spent their two hours together running from ants and bees we’d be closer. But without drums. 

Still, it’s hard not to think of Peter Kris wielding an ax with “This Machine Kills Fascists” emblazoned on it. That just seems right. Except this ax is plugged into an effects board. Ol’ Woody’d be so proud.

Hey, only 3 left from the original run of 29! Don’t miss out!

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Tabs Out | Episode #152

Shelter - Attaining the Supreme (Equal Vision)
Larry Wish & His Guys - Musical Insect Digital Insect (Never Anything)
Eszterhas - split w/ Mr.DougDoug (Interesting Tricks)
Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou - Vol 1 Anou Malane (Sahel Sounds)
Patrick R. Pärk - Multiverse Waveforms (Frequency Domain)
Joshua Fit For Battle - demo (self released)
The Hell Hole Store - Three the Hard Way (Already Dead)
Nostrum Grocers - s/t (Ruby Yacht)
German Army - Animals Remember Human (Crash Symbols)
Plant Lab - s/t (Crash Symbols)
Ylang Ylang - Interplay (Crash Symbols)
Pulse Emitter - Calming Winds ( Muzan Editions)
Moon Ra - mUSICA iN dIFFERENT iNUTILI sERVICES Vol.1 (Unifactor)
Merzbow - An Evening of Serious Noise (Statutory Tape/RRR)

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Garden Portal

New Batch – Garden Portal

3.12.20 by Tony Lien

Northern Minnesota is a frozen wasteland six months out of the year, so even the mention of Garden Portal (and the moderate wintertime temperatures of Georgia – where the label is ran from) is enough to slap a wistful smile on my face. Imagine, then, how I feel when I learn of a new set of releases. You could say it’s a moment akin to that part in The Revenant when Leo finally reaches the outpost near the end of the movie, frozen to his weary bones and still covered in blood from when he had to hide inside of his horse’s carcass in order to keep warm the night before. 

Sorry. It really does get cold up here. And I love Garden Portal. 

Anyway, prepare yourself for two sprawling yet intimate tapes – both with a very spooky release date (Friday the 13th): “Ohio” by Matthew J. Rolin and “Beacon” by Gerycz/Powers/Rolin.

Matthew J. Rolin – Ohio

While “Ohio” is a mostly solo endeavor (listen for the superb singing bowl addition to the track “Brooklyn Center” –  courtesy of Cloud Nothing’s Jayson Gerycz), Beacon is a collaborative album featuring the aforementioned Rolin and Gerycz, along with Jen Powers (dulcimer extraordinaire and second half of the Rolin/Powers duo). Despite the fact that both tapes were born of fruitful musical friendships, the albums couldn’t be more different – due to both atmosphere and technical execution.

From its very first moments to the droned-out epilogue of its final track, “Ohio” is a visual album; the image-ridden majesty of its meandering melodies far surpasses that of a warm Midwestern horizon. Add to that a transportive, forward-moving quality that mimics the onward chugging of a freight train and you have a shoddy yet well-intentioned attempt by yours truly to describe the journey that awaits once you dawn a pair of headphones. Yes, Rolin’s expert execution of dynamics and overall timing truly creates a sort of point A to point B feeling – an almost tangible representation of movement/passage of time that seems as real as the pebbles stuck between the ridges of the soles of one’s shoes. No song on the album truly repeats itself; the compositions push forward through the minutes, changing either slightly or drastically – whatever the universe contained within the frequencies permits. 

Gerycz / Powers / Rolin – Beacon

Beacon maintains a similar explorative feel, but nonetheless exists in a totally different era (or really, a completely different age). Whereas Ohio exhibits a sense of wandering and general lightheartedness, Beacon seems quite a bit heavier, a bit more in tune with the seismic forces that shape the earth. Powers and Gerycz both do their part to add their respective colors/designs to the auditory tapestry, augmenting Rolin’s guitar work with a sort of chemical intelligence/urgency that bubbles under the surface of the primordial ooze of joyful improvisation. The end result is a soundtrack to either the prologue of life on earth or the inevitable, post-apocalyptic erosion of all ephemeral human structures. No matter the case, the beauty cannot be denied. 

As is the case with Garden Portal tapes, they tend to sell out quickly. I would suggest scooping these up; we all must appreciate such musical harvests while we can.

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