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Tabs Out | Introducing … superpolar Taïps

Introducing … superpolar Taïps

11.17.20 by Ryan Masteller

And then there were two. And by two I mean two far-out tape labels in Cologne (Köln), Germany (Deutschland), the first, of course, being Tabs Out favorite Strategic Tape Reserve, although I feel that it’s disingenuous to simply call it a “Tabs Out favorite” because it’s more than that. It’s everybody’s favorite. It keeps you and your loved ones safe, warm and nourished. But upon STR’s recommendation, I’m here to chuck superpolar Taïps’s hat into the ring, the upstart label blasting through the murk and gloom of 2020 with some truly uplifting and uncynical stuff. I probably need that right now, like a whole lot. You probably do too. 


Ball Geographie – Live at Budokan

Isn’t the whole “At Budokan” thing a code for unutterable bloat? You think of Cheap Trick, Dream Theater … consider the “Foghat principle” if their fourth album (the “double live” one) had been at Budokan. But Ball Geographie’s putting one over on us, I think. Imagine a midtempo electronic artist on stage at the famous Nippon Budokan, hunched over a synthesizer or two, a laptop, some effects pedals maybe. Not the same kind of vibe. And you know what? That works for me. I don’t want Ball Geographie to have to try to fill the joint up with chill vibes. (They can fill the “joint” up with some other “chill vibes,” if you get my meaning!) At once swaggeringly confident and nerdily proficient, Ball Geographie makes the perfect theme music for you, no matter what kind of situation you’re in. Gotta look tough in front of your minions? Ball Geographie has you covered. Got an insane deadline on art project? Ball Geographie’s on it. Gotta hit the mall, look fly, and rock out? Yessiree, let Ball Geographie do his thing. Well, you can’t go to a mall right now because of COVID, but you know what I mean. Point is, I have a million things to do, and Ball Geographie’s gonna soundtrack every one of em.


bleed Air – “bleed Air”

Purportedly a mixtape of sorts, but how can a mixtape such as this exist? Pretend like Umberto and qualchan. did something together for the latest Aaron Moorhead/Justin Benson sci-fi thriller, and you might be onto something, but instead of dying all the time (and over and over), there’s a way out of the confines of this screenplay for your central character. Because the central character here in this techno-noir is you! From weird city to weird country, machines and otherworldly entities speak through bleed Air’s Omnichord OM-27, neither imposing their will on the storyline nor imposing their will upon it – they’re just all happy to be there, watching you as you race time to the edge of civilization to find the one and only thing that can still save you from the self that you’re becoming. Love? No, you’re not finding love out here. You’re finding a duck pond. You’re finding peace. Peace in the face of oblivion or annihilation or apocalypse – something bad. But bleed Air is there to take the edge off, to allow you to inherit the stylized repose you’ve worked so hard to attain. And by golly, on “bleed Air,” attain it you have. 


More (not too much more, these are part of a C5 cassette single series, each limited to a scant 10 copies) from Tiger Village, The Master Musicians of Dyffryn Moor, and Harald Sack Ziegler awaits you on superpolar’s Bandcamp.

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Tabs Out | Cursot – Dopplered Gaze

Cursot – Dopplered Gaze

11.13.20 by Ryan Masteller

Let’s get the presentation of this thing out of the way, shall we? Speaking of shells, this thing is a tactile nightmare, some sort of confetti-paint-sprayed monstrosity that’s rough and feels like it’ll chip under my fingernails if I touch it accidentally. The artist name “Cursot” is hand-stenciled nicely over the paint though, and the whole thing is only slightly opaque, giving the impression that the surface was dipped in a vat prior to the tape being recorded upon. At least I hope so, otherwise it’s not going to play. Oh, and the Norelco is equally splatter-painted. I’m not gonna lie, it looks cool. It feels weird.

I only know this is called “Dopplered Gaze” from the Flophouse Bandcamp page, because that title is nowhere to be found on the tape itself. For those of you unfamiliar with the Doppler effect, you should look it up – it has to do with how waves reach an observer from a source when both observer and source are in motion. I am not in motion – I am sitting on my couch. The source of “Dopplered Gaze” is not in motion – it’s the tape being played in the same room that I’m in. But the WAVES – oh the waves. Those things are so in motion that they’re impossible to ignore (not that I’m trying to ignore them – I’m listening to Cursot for the very purpose of not ignoring them). These waves oscillate all up in here, repeating and reverberating and forming fascinating patterns that I as the observer (listener) of the source (tape) receive and decode and ultimately enjoy. Are these waves coming from a synthesizer? From a bunch of effects? From loops? Who knows! I just know they keep getting pumped out at me.

You could do worse on a rainy day like today than being stuck inside with Cursot’s “Dopplered Gaze” blasting from your speakers, as it’s a great way to spend some time in the gloom. (I almost typed “gloop,” then I realized that’s actually an appropriate word relating to the process of painting both tape and case.) Whether it’s droning thick zones or percolating with viscous liquidity, “Dopplered Gaze” emanates from its source like constant radiation. Now, somebody just figure out what this Cursot’s all about, and we can wrap up this review right nicely. Email’s in the comments.

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Tabs Out | Phaeton – Biome

Phaeton – Biome

11.12.20 by Ryan Masteller

Mike Nigro was once cold-called by the Tabs Out crew during one of their podcast sessions, and it was pretty funny – Mike runs Oxtail out of Australia now, by crikey, so he was at work while Mike, Dave, and Joe B were carrying on into the wee hours of the early evening. The boys peppered Mike with stupid questions, and Mike was game. Come to think of it, it wasn’t all that funny. But this is about Oxtail, tangentially about Mike, so there you go.

Phaeton is an Oxtail product, and you might have heard of the duo that comprises Phaeton: Matthew Gallagher (Machine Listener) and his bro from the same mo Luke Gallagher (Moondrops). Together they are an ambient/kosmische monolith, two halves of a titanic cosmic experience. On “Biome” the brothers contemplate life forms, both mammal (sliverback gorilla, grizzly bear, wolf) and manta (manta), as well as human species, ol’ homo sapiens itself. Utilizing the art of “synthwork,” the Gallaghers trace commonalities among the different types of animal, allowing us as listeners to get into the head or behind the mask or into the pajamas of whatever it is the subject happens to be. The commonalities are striking, like we’re all part of and inhabit this thing called Earth. Imagine!

So all is sunrays, all is survival in the elements, all is natural behavior. It happens right in front of you all the time, but how many of us actually notice it? I’m guilty. I saw a big turtle in the pond behind my house the other day, and my neighbor says he’s been living there forever. If I could only learn to appreciate my surroundings instead of worrying about all this modern human stuff, maybe I’d be less stressed out. Hey, maybe we all would! And maybe Mike, Dave, and Joe B would leave our Australia-based friends alone, content as they’d be in simply listening to good tapes without feeling the need to be funny over them. What a world that would be!

Like I said, this is out from your pals at Oxtail Recordings.

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Tabs Out | Cyanide Tooth – Midnight Climax Operation & Maximum Ernst – Time Safe Delay

Cyanide Tooth – Midnight Climax Operation & Maximum Ernst – Time Safe Delay

11.11.20 by Ryan Masteller

Ever/Never is a New York label “specializing in music for adults,” meaning that it’s not really intended for people like you or people like me, the good folks who hang around the Tabs Out website or Twitter feed. We tend to gravitate toward a more juvenile humor, where poop jokes collide with funny numbers like 4:20 and 69, where the sound of toilets flushing and farts bleating is music to our ears, and where a tape consisting of literally nothing but fake jazz-radio-station banter comes in at #1 on a year-end best-of list. No, Tabs Out is for big stupid baby children, butt poop pee fart cake wang Super Mario wiener butthole constipated turd. Ever/Never is not for us.

Or is it?


Cyanide Tooth starts “Midnight Climax Operation” with “Heartburn,” a spoken PSA about heartburn that warps periodically before sinking into a morass of processed loops or whatever. It’s a good trick, a good joke, and it might be something we can work with. Hip-hop beats stutter out of it before more heartburn talk, then jackhammer rhythm. It’s the kind of pieced-together madness that fits perfectly on the podcast, actually, a microcosm of speech and noise that so many of you (us) slurp up like catnip. It’s not out of the realm of madness to position Cyanide Tooth as descendants of early tape manipulation and noise experimenters like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Nurse with Wound, especially since the promo copy so kindly suggested them for me. Thus “Midnight Climax Operation” shreds itself like a distorted Halloween sound effect tape feeding back on itself while a black cat walks across a synthesizer. OK, that’s one “for” us, I guess.


“Time Safe Delay” starts off like that “Billions” bit, but way better – a voice says “space” a lot over a stuttering rhythm, and other samples start finding their way into the thing. I’m in. This first track, “Signal Thru Flames” takes up the entirety of side A at almost nineteen minutes, and as voices continue to make themselves heard and frequencies continue to spiral out like solar flares, it’s hard not to get caught up in/inundated with/overwhelmed by the sprawl of sonic deconstruction. The chaos is barely controlled, the only undercurrent a relentless shuffling rhythm over which Maximum Ernst can do whatever they want. “Orb-Like” and “Glass Enclosure” take up side B, the former a psychedelic sampled whirl, the latter a shimmery prismatic vapor. And all I can do is marvel at how perfectly Mike would work this into a monologue or something.


So either Ever/Never’s age appropriateness stretches beyond and before that of just mere “adult” or else we’re all growing up a little, maturing. I’ll go with the former, because poopy butt stinky butt.

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Tabs Out | Stephan Moore – Dreamwalk with Solo Voice

Stephan Moore – Dreamwalk with Solo Voice

11.10.20 by Ryan Masteller

I was really nervous about this one – I honestly thought this might just be field recordings of the HVAC system at the Snell-Hitchcock Quad at the University of Chicago. That would have been a killer for me, because I probably would have had to have been on some sneaky drugs to get any enjoyment out of something like that, but I don’t do any drugs, sneaky or otherwise, so I was ready to be lulled right to sleep. Ever try not to sleep to AC hum? It’s virtually impossible.

Fortunately, Stephan MOORE did a little MORE to make this a MORE enjoyable experience. He outfitted a few benches in the quad with speakers, and then played music through them that fit the timbre and rhythms of the Searle Chemistry Lab’s ventilation system that could be heard in Snell-Hitchcock. People could sit on the benches and experience immersive audio ambience in real time. This whole thing was part of the “Chicago Sound Show” exhibition.

I wasn’t there, but I can imagine spending some time on one of Moore’s benches was a remarkable experience, each bench clued into its own sonic environment. And on “Dreamwalk with Solo Voice,” Moore shows us how he adds to the experience with a far-out array of ambient synth washes and otherworldly chords. Even on the closing “Anatomy of a Voice,” a harsh blast of “the singing apparatus up close,” Moore sticks to the script of immersive experience. Also, the cassette shells themselves are fun and sparkly!

Check this out on Dead Definition.

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Tabs Out | Ruin Garden – s/t

Ruin Garden – s/t

11.9.20 by Ryan Masteller

I know what I was doing in spring 2020: sulking. Sulking, and a lot of nothing. There was nothing happening. Nothing to look forward to. Nobody to chatter with. No incompetents to holler at. (Well, in my vicinity, anyway.)

What was Ruin Garden doing in spring 2020? A lot more than me, I can tell you, if this self-titled cassette tape is any indication. The recording project of the elusive “JKA” of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ruin Garden may have been planning “Ruin Garden” all along, but the timing couldn’t have been better. A treat for all senses – yes, even smell – the tape slowly unfurls an impressive “collection of static loops and drones from archival tapes, found sounds, and electronics,” each one a completely different vibe and result. Sometimes it feels like you’re underwater, perhaps in a deep-sea trench, or maybe you’ve just stuck your head in a fishbowl. At other times it feels like you’re in slow-motion hyperspace, if that even makes any sense, separated from the vacuum only by a thin membrane surrounding your body. At still others, you might be standing next to a wood chipper as somebody continually chucks cases of pint glasses into it.

Regardless of what the heck “Ruin Garden” is doing, it’s clear that that JKA has kept themselves busy throughout a life of isolation. JKA’s work is quite industrious too – the tapes themselves are recycled TDK D90s, and there’s just a hint of artwork on the shell to suggest that this isn’t a blank (although I wouldn’t store the tape far away from the case – you’ll never figure out what it is otherwise). Fifty of these were made. Only two remain. I’ll let you get yourself in gear while I sit back and listen to the alien probe from Star Trek IV pretend to make whale noises.

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Tabs Out | Lucas Brode – Vague Sense of Virtue and Other Dreams of Mundane Profundity

Lucas Brode – Vague Sense of Virtue and Other Dreams of Mundane Profundity

10.27.20 by Ryan Masteller

Chuck your stupid synthesizers and electronics gear into the river, you experimental goofuses! Here’s where the real forward thinking is: guitars and drums. Now I know what you’re going to say – actually I don’t, because I think you’re an open-minded bunch in general, and your embrace of traditional instruments is fairly wide. But here’s the point: I don’t think you’re going to hear any synthesizers or computer music on “‘Vague Sense of Virtue’ and Other Dreams of Mundane Profundity” by Lucas Brode, unless of course I’m being really thrown off by a “guitar” or “percussion” setting on somebody’s Casio keyboard and I’m leading you into a trap. But I’m pretty sure I’m right about everything I’m saying here.

Lucas Brode watched a LOT of David Lynch and listened to a LOT of Paul Motian as he came up with the framework of “Vague Sense of Virtue,” and the result might be as you’d suspect: moody, cinematic jazz pieces with percussive flourishes (courtesy of drummer Kevin Shea). Surely these pieces wouldn’t feel out of place in “Fire Walk with Me” or “Mulholland Dr.,” and you can almost envision Michael Anderson’s diminutive “The Arm” backwardly rubbing his hands together in glee as if we were about to feast on some creamed corn garmonbozia as something like “You will be remembered simply as an idea” plays over the scene. Or “How many layers further into flow?” Take your pick, honestly – there are seven good options here.

Utilizing Pauline Oliveros’s concept of “deep listening,” Brode and Shea took stock of their environment and played directly to it, injecting a little “ambient” into this whole thing. They play the room, letting the sound interact with the walls and themselves, letting it alight on their bodies like those floaty sentient seed pods (or whatever) from “Avatar.” And while David Lynch is no James Cameron, he definitely knows how the (literal) tone or timbre of a scene works as an immersive experience. Lucas Brode has now proven that he also knows how to do that. WithOUT a synthesizer.

Cacophonous Recordings pressed a cool tenth-grand (that’s 100) of these, with a nice 8-panel glossy cardstock j-card.

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Tabs Out | Episode #161

Sunwatchers - HausuLive 1: Sunwatchers at Cafe Mustache 4/13/2019 (Hausu Mountain)
Nuvolascura - s/t (No Funeral)
Form A Log - Bird Time (Refulgant Sepulchre)
Oathbreaker - Rheia (Deathwish Inc)
Andrew Weathers Ensemble - The Thousand Birds in the Earth... (Full Spectrum)
Steve Horelick - Buchla Now compilation (Ultra Violet Light)
Looks Realistic - Field Footage (Baked Tapes)
Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze - Offerings of Flesh and Gold (Tridoid)
The Mild - Left to Starve (Dullest)
Sangam - Soul Generator (Display)
Thoughts on Air - split w/ Background Character (Low Orbit)

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Tabs Out | M. Geddes Gengras – Time Makes Nothing Happen

M. Geddes Gengras – Time Makes Nothing Happen

10.21.20 by Ryan Masteller

Alright Gedheads, get hip: M. Geddes Gengras has another slab of Hausu mayhem all ready to cram into your ear canals. Just sit still, right there – we’ve got the industrial-strength crammer (comes with every tape) (not really), and the sooner we get to work on this, the sooner the unpleasant cramming part is over and you can sit back and relax and listen to “Time Makes Nothing Happen” as if it were meant to be a part of your body, as it now is. 

Wait a sec – you haven’t fashioned a cassette-playing niche between your ears by which you can have the sound encoded to spools of formulated ferric oxide pipe directly into your prefrontal lobe? 

Yeah, me neither, I was just checking to make sure.

Still, the sounds from this Ged burner FEEL like they’re going straight to my brain, like a pint glass of champagne that you chug through a straw in your nose. The master of synthesizers flits over a bunch of crazy patches, melding rhythm, and melody in a free-for-all of juiced fantasy, a pixilated cartoon memoryscape in the color palette of a bag of assorted Starburst. Listening to it is like witnessing false-color animated gifs of nonexistent animals. My brain sort of feels like it’s been run over by a dump truck made out of Pop Rocks.

Yeah, I hear you, I know exactly what you’re saying! What is the dude who made the absolutely majestic but oh so ambiently taffienated “I Am the Last of That Green and Warm-Hued World” (also on Hausu Mountain), not to mention “Icon Give Thank” with Cam Stallones and the Congos and various other outer-space zoners (my introduction to Ged’s work was the first Voder Deth Squad tape on Stunned), doing in such a sugary place? I can give you a hint – who cares! Turns out M. Geddes Gengras is a bit more than a one-trick … er, thirty-trick pony, isn’t he? He’s got room for a thirty-first trick. “Time Makes Nothing Happen” is the thirty-first.

Still, there are some very Duppy Gun–ish dub workouts in here. That’ll probably always be an inspiration for the solo material.

“Time Makes Nothing Happen” drops on Hausu on November 13, so depending on when you’re reading this you’ll either be preordering or regular ordering. 

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Tabs Out | Ley Lines – This Rock in My Kitchen Used to Have a Purpose

Ley Lines – This Rock in My Kitchen Used to Have a Purpose

10.19.20 by Ryan Masteller

When guitarist Noah Depew and drummer Jayson Gerycz got together as Ley Lines (with Doug Gent on occasional sax), they did so without having to wear masks or wipe down door handles or groceries. This was 2019, people, the very last year where we didn’t have to worry about which germs were going to kill us first! So they could enter the same confined studio (or practice, or whatever) space together, and hover as close to each other as they wanted to (well, Depew could – drummers can’t really hover). They could spend hours in that confined space. They could crank out a massive amount of tunes.

I don’t know how much content Depew and Gerycz (and Gent) actually generated, but what ended up on “This Rock in My Kitchen Used to Have a Purpose” sticks us right in the middle of their recording process. Like, almost literally – if by literally I mean not really at all but only seeming like it. I feel like I’m also hovering there in the room over the kit, as Depew ventures closer, scratching and clawing at his guitar strings while Gerycz smacks at the different parts of his kit, trying to wrangle as many disparate percussive sounds as he can before everybody falls over in exhaustion and all the screws come out of the instruments. There are elements of Bill Orcutt meeting Claire Rousay, but then it doesn’t sound like that at all, just bubbles of whatever that amazing weirdness would sound like. (And it sounds like Ley Lines sometimes.)

So what purpose could that kitchen rock even have had? I guess you can cook things on really hot rocks, but I’m not really sure that’s the ticket (although “This Rock” does, indeed, “cook”). Paperweight? Knife sharpener? Who knows. Maybe the kitchen is actually the wreckage of a kitchen, and the rock smashed it all up. That’s actually what I’m going to go with, especially with the way “Peer-to-Peer Performance” ends the tape on an indoor-tornado-like note. Everybody’s arms spinning out everywhere, guitar necks bending like they’re made of gelatin. Wild stuff.

Edition of 100 available from Sonnedecker

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