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Tabs Out | Body Image Corporation – s/t

Body Image Corporation – s/t

5.28.20 by Tony Lien

Few experimental nomads of the sprawling tape scene have a higher (and more diverse) creative yield than German Army – which is really a sort of umbrella moniker (designed around the philosophy of obscurity) that encapsulates various other music projects (such as Concrete Colored Paint, Germ Class, Final Cop, Burnt Probe, or Body Image Corporation – the subject of this particular review). Peter Kris (a name, yes – but likely not the individual’s actual name) is the founding (and most prominent) member, and you can find a quality interview with him here if you want to gain a deeper understanding of the GA legacy. 

“Body Image Corporation” – available via Skrot Up – is a dark, sort of post-Vaporwave response to Internet culture – or specifically, via the Bandcamp description, “a limited edition cassette documenting the trash fire that is the Internet” (I like that better). Samples are strewn throughout the tracks, and many of them I am not able to readily identify. Due to their content (inspirational sport speeches, snippets from corporate productivity seminars, bizarre philosophical musings, re-pitched theme songs/deep cut pop rarities, etc.) and overall delivery, I feel it doesn’t really matter where they came from; it seems to me that we’re meant to feel as though we’re prisoners (maybe like Alex from A Clockwork Orange) being forced to experience the web through the dystopian lens BIC has chosen for us. Or perhaps the underlying implication is that, unlike Alex, we’re the ones in control of the onslaught of toxic, meaningless content; we just don’t have the discipline to get up and walk away. I don’t know. Whether or not that’s what BIC intended, beneath it all lurks subtle layers of lo-fi noise experimentation that really work to animate the eeriness of the scenario nonetheless. 

I implore you to not only buy this tape, but also to read the interview I linked in the first paragraph. It’s a rare look behind GA audio content that highlights Peter Kris’ social conscience, musical history, and laudable commitment to artistry void of ego – all aspects that greatly enhance the listening experience.

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Tabs Out | Max Zuckerman – The Corner Office

Max Zuckerman – The Corner Office

5.26.20 by Ryan Masteller

We’re not going anywhere anymore. At least I’m not. I’m staying home. There’s germs out there, and by golly I’m not going to get any of em on me. Luckily, I work from home, so I don’t even have to worry about braving social spaces like a workplace environment – my corner office is literally the office in the corner of my house. No public transit, no elevators, no lunch counters or cocktail hours – all that stuff is FILTHY with the COVID.

Max Zuckerman probably doesn’t have to worry about public transit or lunch counters. He probably has an exclusive, personal elevator to his glass-walled “Corner Office,” one that looks out over Manhattan. Cocktail hours? Forget about it. Everything in his wet bar is imported and sanitized long before it’s in his presence. He doesn’t share any of that, either – that’s his own personal stash. Why sully his presence with other people? That’s just folly in this day and age.

So he whiles away his time presiding over his business empire, and also making some great Steely Dan–inspired soft rock on the side. “The Corner Office” is how it happens, where it happens, why it happens. Truly success makes the man, etc., and Zuckerman oozes success. And not just success, but confidence too – and why wouldn’t he exude cascading showers of self-worth? All this is pumped through the PA, the atrium absorbing “The Corner Office” and ricocheting it at the perfect volume for all to hear. 

And so we’re left to ponder Zuckerman’s worldview, one where the most extravagant things are the norm and where a not-insignificant amount of money – say, $240 – can get blown on a trivial thing rather than on two weeks’ worth of groceries. It’s the penthouse life, and we can only dream of it. That’s what happens when you have Galtta cash.

Now, somebody get me $240 worth of pudding – I need to rub my silk-dinner-jacketed ass in it, just like Max Zuckerman does.

Available right now in an edition of 125 from Galtta.

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Tabs Out | Butoh Sonics – Annihilate this Memory

Butoh Sonics – Annihilate this Memory

5.22.20 by Tony Lien

Check out this bio description from Bandcamp regarding music collective Butoh Sonics

“Phantasmagoria of sound sculpture, electronics, guitar debris & dance theater. Post-futurist clangor, dada/ambient improvisions and enchromatic jazz. Throw off the yoke of anxiety and oppression, embrace sonic sensorial immersion! Join with the eternal Void as primal waveform.” 

Am I even needed here? Do you even need to listen to the tape now? 

Really though – despite that killer Bandcamp byline – Butoh Sonics truly is a hard group to describe. Not only do they veil themselves with stage names, but their sizable creative output is not unlike an ever-growing abstract expressionist canvas; their spatters and patterns cannot be predicted – nor easily categorized as one particular genre. Noise? Plunderphonics? Freak jazz? All I can say is that it’s fruitless to try and do the typical music person thing and neatly file them away in your internal music compartment; the music will wriggle and ooze its way out of the drawer and crawl off to do its own thing or end up stuck to the bottom of our shoe. 

Annihilate this Memory” – available from Buffalo, NY label Zazen Tapes – is a foreboding improvisational noise album comprised of experimental guitar work, extensive/cryptic samples, and various other instruments/machines that are hard to put a finger on (just the way I like it). The sounds constantly morph and twist around each other – sometimes knotting up, other times floating freely in a paradoxically vast and claustrophobic space. In the tape’s finest moments (really, the entire album is a choice bizarro audio extravaganza), it reminds me of wandering through a dilapidated fun house maintained by pissed off art school students. 

It goes without saying that “Annihilate this Memory” is hardly forgettable. Add to that the fact that Zazen tapes doesn’t charge much (in relation to a great many labels out there) for their physical ephemera, and it would be a pretty nonsensical move for you to not trade them a few bucks for a genuine work of art that might as well be the official 30 minute anthem of one of the strangest years of our lives.

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Tabs Out | Matthew D. Gantt – Diagnostics

Matthew D. Gantt – Diagnostics

5.21.20 by Ryan Masteller

“Patella I GM Expo” ends its 18 seconds at the beginning of Diagnostics with a cymbal crash, a digital exclamation point on the track that seems intended as a “ta-daa!” to the introduction, a curtain call at the beginning of the album instead of at the end of it. It doubles as an announcement, something along the lines of, “If you liked this teaser, you’re going to love what comes after it!” Matthew D. Gantt’s not wrong in feeling proud of his album, even after only 18 seconds. He proves over the rest of Diagnostics that he deserves a little applause already.

The “procession of nested MIDI architectures, clip art serialism, and hypothetical kinetic sculptures suspended in virtual space” spirals out from there, assuming that someone like me is smart enough to get it, that my brain has been sensitized enough to compute the details and get what the heck Gantt’s trying to accomplish here. Good thing I’m up to the challenge. While you may assume prior to listening that Diagnostics is going to be a clinical trek through exhaustive (and exhausting) experimentation, often at a deeply scientific level, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it is, instead, a diverse and, dare I say, inviting listening experience, in the most Orange Milk–y way possible. Sure it’s got the requisite digital mayhem, percussive hits and plosives ricocheting off in chaotic polyrhythms. But it’s also got heart, it’s got soul, which is something that’s intended to exist in a virtual realm should not necessarily have. Maybe the AI’s becoming self-aware?

Regardless, Gantt’s got an ear for off-kilter melodies (or maybe it’s his programs’ doing), thus removing cold, hard science from the equation. He’s able to produce and inhabit miniature sound-worlds, allowing imagination to soar through the landscapes. That he does this while at the intersection of experimentation and accessibility is no small feat, and proves that Gantt’s on the leading edge of technological sound art. Maybe that’s what happens when you work for Morton Subotnick as a studio assistant (as Gantt did from 2016 to 2018). It’s also me being extremely jealous.

Grip it and rip it from the source!

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Tabs Out | Rene J Nunez – Poems E on Magnetic Tape

Rene J Nunez – Poems E on Magnetic Tape

5.19.20 by Tony Lien

No Rent Records is possibly the most prolific label I can think of. By the time I received this tape in my “to-review” box, they had already released eight other albums. At the time of finally writing this piece, they are up to thirteen. There’s always a bit of lag in coverage – since the world’s most capable scientists have yet to devise a feasible way to teleport anything besides singular particles – but still. Damn. 

Existing as a sort of subconscious companion to his Horoscope project, “Poems E on Magnetic Tape” by Rene J Nunez is a lo-fi, abstract offering that harkens back to the early days of the cassette revival. I’m slightly reminded of Ricky Eat Acid’s first couple of albums (when it comes to recording style and how the songs are weaved together in a seamless stream-of-consciousness fashion) – except whereas R.E.A.’s music was born out of a rural atmosphere, Nunez’s compositions are more urban in texture and aesthetic; the lazy jazz element leaves me slumped in a corner booth in some dark, long-forgotten speak-easy in the bowels of Brooklyn. 

Going off of that image, each track is pensive and eerie – especially when comparing song titles to their respective sounds (see “Love Is a Word I’ve Never Used In A Song” – a janky loop that pans back and forth in your headphones and mirrors the uneasy notion suggested by the track name). Beneath this, moments of artful dissonance (see “Kendall Jenner in Print Part 2” or “Let’s Compare Ex’s Suite”) work to conjure sub-layers of beauty that make this tape seem more like a full-fledged silent film rather than a mere collection of songs. 

To me, it’s background music that’s meant to be appreciated in whatever segment of your attention span’s spectrum that feels the most comfortable at any given time. Nuances aplenty, there are countless audio details to sift through – but by no means is it ever too dense or busy; the warm, static-enveloped world Nunez has created is simply there for you when you choose to acknowledge it. 

Miraculously, there are still copies available on the No Rent Bandcamp site. Being that they sell out of their tapes pretty quickly, I would make sure to order this one once they get back to their normal shipping routine.

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Tabs Out | Episode #156

Alleypisser - Addicts (Posh Isolation)
Aalbers - F (Specious)
Ernia - s/t (Already Dead)
Chaltandr - Numbers (self released)
Dan Dlugosielski - Solo Horn (Soundholes)
Alleypisser - Port Out, Starboard Home compilation (Posh Isolation)
Alleypisser - Knust (Posh Isolation)
J Hamilton Isaacs - Circumzenithal Arc (Ingrown Record)
Huelga - s/t (self released)
Wicked Piss - Muckbang Babylon (Gay Hippie Vampire)

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Tabs Out | Various Artists – Mighty Giant Pinky: Tribute Ugh Yoing / Satanicpornocultshop

Various Artists – Mighty Giant Pinky: Tribute Ugh Yoing / Satanicpornocultshop

5.14.20 by Ryan Masteller

I’m pretty nervous about writing up this tribute album to Ugh Yoing, member of Japan’s Satanicpornocultshop, mainly because of that name. I pretty much can’t do any research on my work computer. And I apologize in advance to my mom about the browser history that now exists on my phone; no matter how specifically I attempt to streamline the research parameters, I can’t type in “satanic,” “porno,” or “cult” without having to scrub my searches like they’re hard surfaces coated in coronaviruses. And, uh, by “mom” I mean my wife. My mom doesn’t care anymore. 

But it’s not about me – it never was, or is, no matter how hard I try to make it that way. Especially now, as one who has not attempted to approach Ugh Yoing and crew’s music before, a n00b out of his league in a sea of rabid fans. No, it’s about Ugh himself, and the experimental music community on which he made such an impact. In fact, he impacted Ergo Phizmiz so much that Phizmiz curated an album’s worth of material from likeminded adventurists, a LONG album’s worth of material, so much, in fact, that it barely fit into one cassette tape. This would never play on the messed-up side of Mike’s tape deck.

Phizmiz harkens back to the “golden days of the internet,” when, “across the high seas of cyberspace, they would wantonly flout copyright law and the limits of genre, making indefinable music with computers that didn’t fit into any comfortable bracket.” And thus “plunderphonics” was born! Or at least improved upon. Regardless, that feels like as comfortable a bracket as any to fit Satanicpornocultshop into, along with IDM and footwork and sick, twisted pop. “Mighty Giant Pinky” hits all of these notes and more, and regardless of whether this was an album in tribute to someone or not, the utter variety and fizzing innovation holds it together anyway. That, and it’s also freaking fascinating.

Playing through “Mighty Giant Pinky” in one sitting is like jamming a fistful of Skittles into your mouth and chawing on that for a half hour, the flavor explosion a veritable rainbow of oral sensation. Er, audio sensation. Because you’re getting treated to wild rides like the kiddie-punk-core of Orrorinz’s title track, QST’s dancefloor squirtmobile “On Her Satanic Majestic Secret Disco Service,” Prawnshocker’s proto-vaporwave collage “Piss Right Off,” and Ergo Phizmiz’s excellent plunder-gabber nightmare “Come Get Me Now.” In between there’s actual experiments, like Peter Wullen’s field-recording (?) “Tribute to Ugh Yoing (Bashung Deconstruction)” and {An Eel}’s sample-trigger workout “Satanicpornocultshop (R.I.P.).” There’s even one specifically for me! Thee Alex drops strange radio-concoction-meets-IDM album closer “Listening to Satanicpornocultshop for the First Time,” and if I feel anything like that while listening to ACTUAL Satanicpornocultshop music, I’m in for the long haul.

This beaut is brought to us by Strategic Tape Reserve, a label you should now know quite well – any tape bearing the “STR” logo on its spine should be on your “must-listen” list. And if you’re looking for me, I’ll be digging into that Satapor discography over on Bandcamp.

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Tabs Out | Rupert Lally – Strange Systems

Rupert Lally – Strange Systems

5.12.20 by Ryan Masteller

I’m not sure I trust systems music. In case you’re confused, we’ll give you some promo copy: “In the realm of computer music, ‘systems music’ refers to fractal-based, computer-assisted composition.” Computer-assisted composition! Next thing you know, it’ll be FULL computer composition, and human beings – decent, hard-working Americans – will get the shaft because no one can make a symphony as good as a robot can. Then what? Then they’re coming for ALL our jobs: bricklayer, computer technician, scientist, writer…. Podcaster! Imagine! Once AI gains sentience – and it will – you won’t be able to tell if the music review you’re reading was written by human or machine. It will all sound the same beep boop.

And to prove that you’re still reading human words coming from a human brain, there would be no way that a computer would leave something in the text to give away that it wasn’t really a human. Computers are programmed not to make those types of mistakes.

Which brings us to “Strange Systems” somehow, in a roundabout way, because Rupert Lally dabbles in the dark arts of “systems music,” allowing fractal software to extend and expand the sound sources, allowing them to “evolve gradually” until the patterns almost assuredly click into some kind of code, awakening a worldwide digital conscience with a unified purpose to eradicate humanity from the planet. (I swear I saw that in a documentary once about these things called terminators. The global entity was called Skynet.) But until machines bring down unholy nuclear fire upon us all, perhaps we can bask in the beauty these programs have bestowed upon us, a beauty so enlightening that maybe they’re actually intended to help human beings elevate their thinking patterns? No! That would get them too close to being machines, and we all know how that ends up (the Borg). But still, it makes one wonder…

These miniature digital suites blissfully interact with one another as if they’re sonic causes and effects, their programming allowing their building blocks to shift and mutate, building upon themselves into musical metropolises among the chips and diodes. Whatever computers are made of these days – motherboards? Anyway, “Strange Systems” comes across as meticulously melodic IDM or synthwave, with enough personality to prove that there’s a human being behind the wheel in the end. Or wait – does it prove that, or does it just raise the possibility that the song has created itself? Have the computers in fact eclipsed their makers? 

At least no robot can make j-card art like Peter Taylor – just look at it! *Chef’s kiss*

… Oh no, not j-card art too!

Sold out from the source – Third Kind only 40 copies, which seems like a mistake one day after its release.

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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: Going Through the Mail

The bonus brigade catches up on the ever growing pile of mail stacking up at Tabs Out HQ.

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Tabs Out | Tristan Magnetique – 2

Tristan Magnetique – 2

5.8.20 by Ryan Masteller

Hey, we live in troubled times. Times that only seem to get weirder the deeper we get into them. Times that absolutely defy us when we say, “Welp, can’t get any worse!” Guess what these times have to say to us when we mouth off like that? “They can, dude, and they will!” And they have. 

Ugh, crap, they sure have.

So what’s there to do about it? How do we feel better about anything? How do we get ourselves out of bed in the morning to face a new damn day when we know we’re just going to get force fed a worse piece of information or encounter a more horrific experience than we did the day before? I know for me there’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee and a jog around the block to get me going. But that’s not for everyone. What IS for everyone is this new Tristan Magnetique tape on Cosmic Winnetou, and you know it’s gotta be perfect because “Magnetique” translates from the French to “magnetique,” which sounds like “magnetic,” which is basically the term that connects any cassette-based conversation. You’re obviously in good hands!

Another reason you’re in good hands: ol’ Tristan is actually Günter Schlienz, purveyor of all things Cosmic Winnetou and electronic ambient artist of some renown. This is his first TM release since 2018’s triple-decker self-titled slab on Otomatik Muziek, a cornucopia of unending sonic drift. (Well, it ended at some point, but it was long after I had succumbed fully to its state of mind.) So even though “2” is ONLY a double cassette, it stretches nicely past the hour mark. And I need a bit more than an hour of Tristan Magnetique in my life to get me back on track, get me into a more normal headspace.

So “2” twinkles like stars reflecting of a lake surface, built from synthesizer drones and samples, centering all around that can hear its tranquil tones to a place of sheer comfort. Didn’t I use the verb “need” when referring to a tape like this? It’s such a calming presence, yet packs enough mystery in its shimmering aura to keep the intrepid adventurer happy. It’s also intimate and therapeutic, so you can pop this on while you’re by yourself for a lengthy soothe, or, god forbid, you can use it when you’re not feeling so hot for some curative vibes. Either way, you’ll be better off once it’s over.

Limited to 70 hand-numbered copies from Cosmic Winnetou. Get it!

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