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Tabs Out | NGC 4414/Thomas Wingate – Five Songs, Cloud Dweller – Apocryphal

NGC 4414/Thomas Wingate – Five Songs,
Cloud Dweller – Apocryphal

10.14.19 by Ryan Masteller

Now why wasn’t anybody doing this in Allentown when I lived there? Granted this was a while ago. We don’t need to go into the details, but I haven’t lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Endangered Species Tapes is headquartered, since I was still in some form of grade school. John Terlesky was a god to us. Still kind of is.

But we didn’t have these tape labels, these incredible purveyors of experimentation, these vendors of vast sound artifacts. We had a void in our lives, and that void can now be filled with … more void? Well, we leap into it anyway, with the soundtracks to that expanse of whatever flowing through our tape decks, our headphones, our PAs, our hold musics. We have Endangered Species Tapes to thank for that, an unusual beacon among the sagging and creaking populace of eastern PA. 

To quote someone much smarter than me: too weird to live, too rare to die. It is there, and it is something to behold.


NGC 4414 / THOMAS WINGATE – FIVE SONGS

So fun fact, my family (not me) moved from Allentown to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which is where “Five Songs” was recorded in April 2019 (although the j-card says April 2009, so – temporal anomaly?). Might be a temporal anomaly. Here me out. Matthew Plunkett plays keyboard, and Thomas Wingate plays guitar and bass, and together they swirl galaxies with their celestial playing, and what’s at the center of a galaxy? Black hole. Boom: temporal anomaly. Seriously, though, Plunkett and Wingate make music that make you feel very, very small in relation to the unfathomable size and distance of the entire universe. Do we know if the universe has expanded enough that there’s also a ton out there we can’t even see, like light is too far away for it to even reach us anymore? I’m going to have to look that up, but “Five Songs” – a mere five songs! – has me dropping all pretense of what “number” even means and letting my body and mind exist in some space in some fragment of existence while matter churns around me for light years in all directions. “Five Songs” or infinite songs? Put it on repeat and find out.


CLOUD DWELLER – Apocryphal

Hey, why does it have to be “cultural divisiveness” all the time, huh? Cloud Dweller asks the same question, as ice melts and peepers peep. I’m pretty tired of it. I like the idea of a “peaceful New England winter” myself, thanks for bringing it to my attention. There’s nothing quite like the utter solitude of rural Massachusetts in the dead of winter – sure, it’s cold and dry and desolate, but it’s also invigorating, and it’s something that everyone can agree on that they’re all in together. Cloud Dweller merges field recordings and synthesizers in a mournful wail toward the frigid north, harnessing the sharp spikes of low temperatures and longing for common understanding. By the time “Solace” rolls around to end the tape, you’re there, you feel it, whether it’s the vacancy its left now that it no longer exists within you or the final moments of toil and turmoil that turn into the genuine article. Regardless, the peace is deep – let’s hope it’s not fleeting.


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Tabs Out | Shanyio – Unseen Realm

Shanyio – Unseen Realm

10.9.19 by Ryan Masteller

Anybody can be a fan of Alexandru Hegyesi, aka Shaniyo, because there are just so many points of entry, so many points of reference on a given release that there’s really just no excuse. Nominally a folk archivist, Shanyio combines his own material with field recordings and ambience and noise to translate a language (musical, but Romanian) into something completely new and compelling, a lexicon that’s easy to slip into once you’ve got the hang of it. And it’s not hard to get the hang of – I didn’t even need my Rosetta Stone tapes (a long discussion for another time) to work out the Shanyio worldview, which is good because that would’ve probably taken a couple weeks before I could even listen to “Unseen Realm” anyway. See how useless those tapes are? Wait’ll my boss hears about my latest Ukrainian “mishap.”

“Unseen Realm” can be treated like a real unseen realm, one where fairy tales and folklore exist among a population steeped in tradition. It’s like a village tucked away in the mountains in old Europe, where the ghosts still flit among the local tombstones and ancient hexes continue to ward off evil. It’s a deep dive into all that, and Shanyio is our guide, piping in local ensembles among his scrabbling and sculpting, his séance-ing and soothsaying, and those might even be the same thing. Here he’s curated an anthropological smorgasbord, delicate and fragile like ancient scrolls from some mountain library, yet robust and vibrant like the spells cast when the words are read on ancient scrolls from some mountain library. There’s just too much to delight in, too much unearthing of the mysterious and the bygone, too much here to educate you into the next version of yourself, which is probably even better than the version that’s stumbling around Starbucks and murmuring discontentedly about “wrong order” and “name’s not Bike Staley.”

Anyway, you’ll thank me for steering you toward “Unseen Realm” so you don’t have to shell out for a plane ticket and Airbnb somewhere in the heart of rural Eastern Europe. Unless you want to! Actually, I might look into it.

EDITION OF 50 FROM ORB TAPES.

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Tabs Out | Van Jack – Summer Electrohits Zero

Van Jack – Summer Electrohits Zero

10.7.19 by Ryan Masteller

Did you know that summertime in Brazil is in December? Me neither! Give me those good old American seasons in the right months so we can take our vacations properly. Can you imagine the Fourth of July fireworks celebration happening at the same time as New Year’s? It would throw everything off, and that’d even be before you consider the market hit with Big Fireworks having to consolidate all its budgeting to Q4. Too big to fail!

But this isn’t about my stock portfolio or the untold millions I’d lose if somehow we’d start catering to the Global South. This is about the party, the “Summer Electrohits,” as the Som Livre compilations were known as. Fortunately, we’ve got an intrepid sound scientist in Van Jack, who traveled from future Brazil throughout his country’s 2000s summer shindigs collecting the unmitigated truth of freedom of body, mind, and soul. I’m talking about the dancefloor, and I’m talking about not entering it sober or inhibited or square or stupid in any way. I’m talking about letting it go, letting it loose, and letting the groove overtake you to the point where you’re one with the eternal season, where youth and life infiltrate your bloodstream and pulse along with the drum machines and synthesizers. 

Van Jack does all this. Van Jack harnesses the power of the club and runs it through some thick zones, pounding an unflinching humid party vibe through your temples till it impacts your frontal lobe. Then you’re powerless to resist the good time, the camaraderie. Yeah, it may sound like an alien sound source slowly melting into a nuclear morass at points, but that’s just the texture. It’s all good, always.

Summer in December … who’da thunk it.

Tape on Houndini Mansions, edition of only freaking 25 – awoooOOOOOOoooo with me at the moon!

… Not Houndini, but Houdini? … No – that’s not funny, I don’t get it.

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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: Reel Genius

A PhD student picks our brains about this crazy cassette community.

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Tabs Out | Jordan Reyes – A Night with My Aunt’s Dolls

Jordan Reyes – A Night with My Aunt’s Dolls

10.4.19 by Ryan Masteller

Pass. 

Oh, sorry, not on the tape – I didn’t mean that. This is a Jordan Reyes gripper-and-ripper all the way through. I meant the dolls … the dolls. I don’t know your relationship to any kind of dolls or whatever, but when I think of them, I think of the old ones, the ones that open and close their somewhat-realistic eyes on their somewhat-realistic faces. The ones that seem to be looking at you – THROUGH you – as they stand there on the shelf or behind the glass case or upon the demonic altar in whatever living room/study/rec room/museum you have set up at your house to display them. Did I say demonic altar? I meant bedside table. Don’t know how that slipped out.

Fortunately, “A Night with My Aunt’s Dolls” isn’t quite the horror story I may have just conjured in my mind. Instead, it’s a rumination, an exploration about familial bonds and their transference to objects that come to represent them. Reyes spent an evening in his late aunt’s room with a modular synthesizer, sitting among the objects that came, in some way, to define his aunt, and chief among them were the dolls – the dolls captured his attention. I don’t know what kind of dolls they were. But the three tracks that make up this tape – “Call to Worship,” “Fallen Soldier,” and “Friend of a Friend” – suggest that Reyes’s imagination was firing on all cylinders, whipping up stories and personalities, perhaps with an eye toward how his aunt saw these objects, and adding a vivid soundtrack to the world. There’s no judgment here, just fragmented tones and bubbling, fractured melodies, obviously breathing life into the titular objects as the creator of their personalities allow them to take their first tentative steps.

It almost makes me feel bad about my initial jitters – the ideas here are so sincere and well intentioned.

But, but … dolls! They’re so spooky.

Out on Heavy Days. “CS 20 (single sided) + inserts housed in a plastic sleeve. Edition of 50.”

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Tabs Out | Pink and Yellow – Bare Bones

Pink and Yellow – Bare Bones

10.3.19 by Ryan Masteller

I just finished the first season of “True Detective” (took me long enough), and I’ve sort of got an unpleasant taste in my mouth for Louisiana at the moment. I mean, I get it – that was a fictional television show in which terrible things happened, but Louisiana is still a real place, and I’m allowed to get a little heebly-jeebly about it, especially when the first thing that pops into my mind is antler-y cult stuff.

Again, not pinning Louisiana as the Ritual Murder State or anything, just got a feeling right now.

So I’m pretty pleased that Pink and Yellow’s come up out of the bayou (or, uh, New Orleans) and plastered this technicolor delight all over the side of the police precinct, its fluorescent neon vibe a complete counter to the murky mud pit outlook I can’t seem to shake. But shake it I will, and I’ll do it with gratitude to Alex Cino, the mastermind behind Pink and Yellow. How can you not smile when accosted by squelchy 8-bit melodies that dance around for nickels like Handsome Pete? What are you, some dark-hearted, pessimistic noise musician or something? Lighten up.

Pink and Yellow exists to “lighten up,” blasting their version of “noisy glitch pop” and “vapor experiments” over the intercom at the grocery store until the manager breaks the office door’s lock and confiscates the offending cassette player. But hey, we’re already long gone, zipping down a pink lemonade waterslide on the other side of our minds in a frictionless attempt to commune with hundreds of multicolored blinking lights. We’ll leave the lights up to Pink and Yellow (Alex Cino needs to keep an eye on which buttons to press) and jolt instead from one sugar rush to the next. Did I say we’re having fun on “Bare Bones”? We’re having a helluva a lot of fun!

So much fun, I’ve completely forgotten my Louisiana aversion.

Oh wait, there it is again.

“Brand new super ferric tape in blue tint shell”! Get one of 100 from Mystic Timbre.

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Tabs Out | The Tuesday Night Machines – WÆVER

The Tuesday Night Machines – WÆVER

10.2.19 by Ryan Masteller

The Tuesday Night Machines are playing a dangerous game. This “WÆVER” tape, so self-released that they drew on the tape itself with a Sharpie, wants to drag you under the surface of the ocean. Imagine that! Under the surface of the ocean, where you can’t breathe and the pressure will crush you if you go down too far. I won’t even get into encounters with giant squid, sea serpents, krakens, and “Abyss” aliens. It might scare you away from “WÆVER” for good.

It shouldn’t. The Köln-based artist (that’s Cologne in English, by the way) doesn’t want to hold your head under – this whole trip’s only available if you want to go on it. But if you can imagine the intensity of the sound of whatever in your ears as you hover submerged hundreds of feet down, you’ll already have prepared yourself for the full impact of “WÆVER.” “A continuous ambient drone and noise music release,” “WÆVER” was created “entirely on an AE Modular Synthesizer,” and if you know anything about synthesizers, they can pretty much synthesize anything. (Except a sandwich. Oh god, how I’ve tried, though!) 

And while “WÆVER” is fully impacting your senses, it’s also got some “multi-dimensional disorientation” going for it, messing completely with your equilibrium. I swear, the first time I came up from this TNM experience, my inner ear was all out of whack for weeks. But it was fine because it had also given me a kind of natural high, a pleasant warm sloshing that also stuck around for weeks. Imagine the boardroom hijinks that ensued at Apple.com with me in that state! Oh, if only I had taken some photos.

Anyway, look, if you want to do any of this, there were only 25 of these made to begin with, and only 7 remain on the Bandcamp page. What are you going to do?

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Tabs Out | Natalie Rose LeBrecht – Mandarava Rose

Natalie Rose LeBrecht – Mandarava Rose

10.1.19 by Ryan Masteller

This is only a guess, but was our universe hummed into existence? Hear me out: only by some initiating force could all the pieces have fallen into place to kickstart a process that has resulted in sentient life on a planet billions of years later. Right? And we can be glad that everything turned out as it did – who knows what kind of hideous lizard people we would have become otherwise. (Yes, I am talking about us, humans.)

On another hunch: Natalie Rose LeBrecht has channeled that galactic hum on “Mandarava Rose.” How else can you explain the deep mysticism and cosmic connection on her new tape? LeBrecht, like a pagan medium, inhales the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything and exhales her interpretation of it (and no, it’s not “42”). Proving that we’re meant to evolve through introspection and self-betterment, LeBrecht weaves om-like trance-inducing passages, generating unwavering sonic fields that grow in power the more they’re allowed to sound. Not only that, but they’re beautifully intricately crafted – you gotta do a deep dive on this one to tease out all the nuance.

Like Nico and Clannad jamming in slow motion at Liz Harris’s place but with Inner Islands’ New Age tchotchkes available to totally mess around with, Natalie Rose LeBrecht, along with collaborator (and Galtta dude) David Lackner, go as far as they can to continue moving us away from a future lizard existence. Now THAT’S the kind of numinous spellcasting I can get behind! Where’s my twenty-sided die?

Delight your mind and heart and set adrift on a universal path with “Mandarava Rose,” available from Galtta Media in an edition of 110 “Hi-Fi cassette tapes”!

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Tabs Out | Aurora Nealand / Steve Marquette / Anton Hatwich / Paul Thibodeaux – Kobra Quartet

Aurora Nealand / Steve Marquette / Anton Hatwich / Paul Thibodeaux – Kobra Quartet

9.27.19 by Ryan Masteller

What came first, the cobra or the mongoose? This chicken-and-egg story has a weird ending, one that isn’t really an ending per se, but more like a continuous continuation along the continuum of an undulating reptilian pattern that hypnotizes throughout eternity. The hypnosis has come first from the depths of space and time and birthed the cobra. The mongoose was the afterthought.

I’m going to have to write everybody’s name here, aren’t I? OK, here goes: Aurora Nealand performs on accordion, alto saxophone, voice, objects; Steve Marquette plays electric and acoustic guitar; Anton Hatwich is our ever-steady bassist; and Paul Thibodeaux beats the skins, relentlessly. Together they make up the “Kobra Quartet,” and yes, they are the hypnotizing entity roiling through your mind’s eye as their dramatic interplay breathes like reptile skin. Do reptiles breathe through their skin? Surely some do.

“New Omens Pt. I” finds the quartet exploring the ambient space at first, the instruments setting a mood as everyone glances around and decides what the target of their spellcasting will be. They’ve settled on me. Fine. That’s what I’m here for. Then they dart in and out, like the forked tongue of some creature – badger, maybe? – contemplating a strike right at my brain. Then “New Omens Pt. II” gets heavy on the guitar and voice, but it still creeps around as if it’s slithering through the underbrush, finding a groove of a different stripe that still enthralls the vict … er, listener. “Telly Attire,” while half the length of the “New Omens,” finds a blues riff that Sir Hiss from Disney’s “Robin Hood” would surely employ to mesmerize the tyrannical and infantile Prince John. Or me. Or whoever.

Point is, the cobra, or the kobra, is king here on “Kobra Quartet,” a cold-blooded monarch with mischief on its mind. And that’s OK when you’re the object of the “Kobra’s” pursuit, its prey. What’ll it do to you when it catches you, when it decides that the time is right to strike? Probably just hit a dissonant chord on a downbeat before moving on to the next thing on its mind.

Edition of 175 from Astral Spirits! Preorder now.

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Tabs Out | Machine Listener – Colubrid

Machine Listener – Colubrid

9.25.19 by Ryan Masteller

Matthew Gallagher is the Horse Whisperer of synthesizers, the understanderer of connections and knobs, the mind-melder of patches and loops. He is the Machine Listener, the one who gets close, inclines his ear, and heeds the mutterings of the physical components of his musical gear. Only then can he begin to feel his recordings as they take shape in his brain, to conceptualize the far-out spaceship console compositions he will be creating while utilizing his, ahem, machines. Does he see the blinking lights and the moving levers and gears? Of course he does.

On “Colubrid” he may as well be the Snake Whisperer, because Colubridae contains “51 percent of all known living snake species” (thanks Wikipedia!). That’s a snake on the cover too, another digi-pixel masterpiece from Hausu house artist (is that redundant?) Maxwell Allison. It winds through the ruins of a city or something, doing its snake-thing through blown-out apartment windows and heaps of rubble. At times, Machine Listener seems to soundtrack this exact movement, as on the IMPROPERLY TITLED “Dirigible,” which should either instead be the title track or “Snake Moving Snakily through Future Wasteland That Has Returned to the Snakes” or something. Otherwise he keeps to his future-techno/computerworld lane, revving BPMs when necessary, slowing it down to the relevant plinks and plonks when called for, and generally widening our perspective on snake activity in the VR realm.

As I mentioned if you were paying attention, “Colubrid” is set to become part of the Hausu Mountain family, receiving a September 27 release date. You can order it now if you want. And you want!

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