Tabs Out | Euphoria Echoes of Inotai – self-titled

Euphoria Echoes of Inotai – self-titled

5.23.22 by Matty McPherson

We don’t hear from Baba Vanga (or Warm Winters Ltd) that often out in the Eastern sphere of the European landmass. It’s likely not because they can’t afford to talk, but because they only talk when of utmost importance–when at least in Baba Vanga’s case, things “catch their fancy.” Or maybe they actually do talk a whole lot and me, being a dipshit westerner, just completely ignores their message bottles (ie “cassettes”) until months later.

And what a message bottle they returned with back in November 2021. The self-titled release from Euphoria Echoes of Inotai comes with a surreal yet lucid piece of Bandcamp prose attached on its page. Of all the lines, “Path of no distinction for wind blowing mind, don’t call it music if that word offends you.” is the one that strikes the hardest. Because Euphoria Echoes of Inotai (aka…Meat Loefah?) is really out here on this tape performing an urban wind dance of its own volition.

The tape is entrenched in a weird balance of vague industrial noise. There’s haptic quips invoking minimal bouts of street spirit; classic radiator hums of destinations unknown and unbuilt; low-end near blowouts, evoking that of a sudden floodgate rush. All together deserve of its own subsection of semiotics. Tracks truly function in their own asynchronous shuffle patterns or psychedelic city backends. Transient and stilted, stuttering into each other or off of one micro-experiment pipe to another; once an idea has coalesced or achieved all it can, it sorta just bows out, the tape continuing down another spark of an idea.

It’s a testament that it does make for a gripping kind of listen. The artist title implies Euphoria and while it is not so much found, it is slowly gained by considering the patterns and lucid, almost prophetic, soundscapes that you are lulled into almost understanding. This is all to say that what I deeply love about this tape is the uncanny “radiophonic but also just totally untethered by it all” sound of this batch of a dozen electronic tracks. The rough n’ tumble of side A is a world of its own and approaches a moment of almost-dance with the track “Pump Up the Valium (Poetic Logic Mix)”. It’s a rare moment where enough elements coalesce into a real vibe caught between an arcade room quarter bandit splurge session and ambient synth chill out; so much for the valium.

Side B is more graciously grounded in the knob twiddlies–well, at least in the case of opener Damion Engine. By the followup, Absence Spells, we’re back in rousian haptics and vocal affects, itself brilliantly segueing into the “Ritual of Rhiannon.” In the context of the tape, its unvarnished vocal and “creaky yet cavernous” production create a spell that practically transports you to a village from an era long before. Scooby Doo People reengages with the twiddlng and introduced a “radio teleplay gone awry” filling the air. That side B is also edited into a seamless whole plays to the advantage. Fade outs are rarely utilized, with a clear preference towards the crossfade that makes bouncing and connecting ideas of this caliber salient. Closing once agaIn with “Pump Up the Valium”–this time the (Poise Mix), we’re treated to a complete 180 from where we were before. Harmonious strings promise an out, while gelatinous noise blobs conjure a loop back to the start. It’s no surprise I’ve been clearly been taking to those noise blobs.

Limited Edition Duplicated by Headless Duplicated Tapes in Prague, Czech Republic available at the Baba Vanga Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Heavenworld – Compelling Evidence Of…

Heavenworld – Compelling Evidence Of…

5.20.22 by Matty McPherson

Usually if I nab a tape on mail day and I cannot find any information in a database of inherent value, its a top level emergency. Plop it on hi-fi ASAP! Such was the case with Heavenworld’s Compelling Evidence Of… cassette. It was recently released as the fifth title on the burgeoning Industrial Standards label, which appears to have no presence of any sorts online. Thanks to local, jetski, I got a tip that the release was totally off the grid. Although a lil’ search will reveal that Heavenworld is a name appearing on both Discogs and Bandcamp; each ping only eschews another batch of questions. Just how many 2019 and 2020 releases were they doing? Why is there another Heavenworld based in Nevada while this one appears to be based in the Peoria, IL area? Does this tape reflect that surrounding region or another world entirely? Usual sluethy stuff.

However, Compelling Evidence Of… will not answer these questions! Through its drifting over the course of six tracks, Heavenworld conducts a series of illuminating, irradiating experiments. Sizzly synths, primordial pulses, and resonant frequencies all seem to be functioning as a path towards trance. Gate Inversion opens, brilliantly trapping new age jungle sounds within these electrified bass pulses. The title track seems to find its way out of a volcanic spring, riding a particular droning synth to the surface over its track length. Diagram Spiral lurches with a sense of “artificial intelligence” based listening. Side A itself, continues with two additional tracks that rearrange these two tracks’ ambient playground into further salient knots.

If you head over to the back side, you can rendezvous with Running, an intense “now that’s what I call an Ambient Drone” piece. The low end can be deceptively heavy even as it maintains the tape’s overall sonic…wetness I suppose is the best way to describe it. It all comes to a head with the vaguely dancey, synth droner Near Noxious Glow. It’s here where Heavenworld truly makes a stab towards that compelling evidence, basking in the general trance and meditative qualities that have been underlying throughout this release.

Tabs Out | Track Premiere: Power Strip – Did I Pass?

Track Premiere: Power Strip – Did I Pass?

5.12.22 by Matty McPherson

Drongo’s lo-fi basement hiss is continuing an impressive streak of tapes. Their latest artist, Seattle locals Power Strip, has a contemplative, strikingly restrained EP called no breeze out 5/18. The watery, bubbly ambient soundscapes often are hiding in the crevices of lingering haunted fragments; Power Strip’s own reference and nods towards Neil Gaiman’s work for “the children” do not go without merit. It’s a true sense of melancholy and abstract weirdness in those releases that have stuck with me (before I was a tapehead, I was a participant in the local summer reading program).

no breeze is an excellent tape to potentially put you in a summer reading mood towards contemplating ghost stories and aberrations. The minimal, hushed Did I Pass? is all based around a few droning tones and a Power Strip’s beckoning, longing voice. What it invokes more than anything I’ve heard in recent memory is a real specific sound Bradford Cox was digging at during Kranky era Deerhunter. It sounds like a lullaby, or even a paean for a past long ago, the kind of whispery pained revelations that Microcastle and Let the Blind… so easily stumbled into.

I can attest from the rest of the EP that Power Strip’s penitence for ambient is wistful and illusory. It’s an easy spell to fall into.

Tabs Out | Jakob Heinemann – Resonant Ocean

Jakob Heinemann – Resonant Ocean

5.11.22 by Matty McPherson

Today we turn our attention towards Kashe Editions, the solo imprint of bassist/composer Jakob Heinemann. On Resonant Ocean, the label’s second release, the bassist finds himself in triple threat mode: composer, collage artist, and field recordist. The four compositions are edging for a naturalistic, deep listening and thinking modus. The tape itself, from Jcard cover to tape shell, subtly suggest this without beating around the bush. We have all found ourselves outside a small red lighthouse on the water, considering the passage of time.

Resonant Ocean’s four pieces go back and forth between field recording manipulations and loose classic compositions; a stately presence is never lacking on any of these pieces. Side A is the most scientific, jumping straight in with “Lea Projections.” It is one of Heinemann’s “sine tone, autoharp, and double bass” oriented tracks, that features a low level ominous drone. The three instruments aid and parallel the shifting within his Madison, WI area field recordings. Rickety? Yes, the inclusion of a field recording sounds impart a vague industrious character–like someone is building a Tuff Shed in their yard. Recalcitrant? Not over its 11 and a half minutes! A steely drone drifts between metallic mumbles and cicada scrawls, while Heinemann’s autoharp adds a well needed grace to this music. The field recordings and harmonic sleights are quite the juxtaposition on Lea Projections, its gravity felt in the bouts of silence or sudden stops.

It’s a primer for the reserved characteristics of track two, “Places.” Here, Heinemann leaves a composition for the trio of Oli Harris (cello), Seth Pae (viola), and Billie Howard (violin). The trio is not aided nor abetted by a field recording, yet they move with the composure of natural time. Over its ten minutes, they ebb and flow as a trio, building bouts of suspense, low end drones, or splashes of silence into a splendorous documentation of time itself. What strikes me is how they treat a climatic peak as something not to strike out in the end but rather as encounter that occurs on its own merit. Around the four minute mark, there is a a sudden shock with Howard’s Violin, a sound that is harmonized and considered, yet quickly pulled back with restraint of those cello drone.

Side B opens with “Arbor,” Heinemann’s sine tone composition. For its near nine minutes, small bits of bird sound are interposed within a long, continuous sine drone. Let yourself drift as focus turns from the drone itself to the flickers of bass and suddenly, the piece is as studious as a monk. The title track is a fitting closer, functioning as a summation of Heinemann’s MO across the three tracks into one dozen minute opus. A new quartet, Anna March (viola), Nave Graham (flute), Kyle Quass (Bb trumpet), and Anthony D’Agostino (double bass), takes shape, once again playing off of Heinemann’s MO. As a quartet goes they glide even at their most meticulous; they’re the kind of crew that would render a ship unthinkable. The piece is framed by Quass and D’Agostino quick work to enact a low waving drone that is as smooth as butter, while March and Graham add flourishes that recall Talk Talk’s Myrrhman. Clearly, they are onto something mighty pleasing and endearing, as they practically take the shape of a field recording. Over the twelve minutes, the piece devolves until it might as well be rendered the sound of a lighthouse overlooking a resonant, receptive ocean.

Edition of 50 Available from the Kashe Editions Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Soulstorm – Form Cuts

Soulstorm – Form Cuts

5.10.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Form Cuts, a single-sided C50 released late 2021 by Soulstorm, is the first release by this project of one Neal Samples, the head behind beloved Tollund Men, Universal Violent Action, Material Sequence (I wore out this tape in my truck in Maine), Xakatagawa, Blesse De Guerre, Broken Column, and a bunch of others. This project brings synth starched shoegaze post punk songs with laidback or driving dub rhythms, occluded vocals that seem to want to hide from the listener but must speak into the void. This tape comes complete with lyrics sheet and a Xerox art piece in simple B&W fashion included. Program repeats on both sides.

One of the instrumental songs, “Plague Omens,” reminded me of Dome with tape loops of instruments fading in and out of synchronization, those off kilter 15 second loops that throw you off the scent, as well as the feeling of loneliness and empty streets of lockdown. Is there a worship service going on in the room next to the recording of this song?  

There’s some good simple rhythms on this one that remind me of Human League sketches for Dare but with entirely different tools and intentions. Very strange mixing with big swooshes of loud noise overwhelming keyboard leads and drum machine, then parts where EQ is cut in and out of the mix on multiple channels at once. Sometimes, like on the song “Form Cuts,” the vocals give me the same feeling as Basic Channel demos with processing vocals toasting solidly below in the mix.

The tracks have a sequence that seems like a logical progression from abstract to concrete realities, however dubbed out they may be at moments. “Flower Scream” is almost a return to Tollund Men territories, sounding like a morbid version of a house-era Xymox with lyrics about hating your dead father and killing flowers, up my alley entirely. I wish I had gotten the other release of this project on AUTO-da-FÉ. Worth looking for on Discogs. 

No online samples. Buy it here.

Tabs Out | Episode #178

C. Reider joins us for a round of Tape Label or Weed Strain. Plus tapes!

The Center for Understanding New Trigonometries - Shapes, for Experts (Strategic Tape Reserve)
Problems - This is Working Out (Orange Milk)
Joys Union Group - Boredom Euphoria (Trouble In Mind)
Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson / Andy Heck Boyd - Ideas on Tape (Radical Documents)
the Bran (Another Plight Of Medic's...) Pos - Tape #2 (self released)
C. Reider - Feedback Systems January 2022 (Vuzh Music)
Zekarias Thompson - Goodnight Shiva (Atlantic Rhythms)
Shoeb Ahmad - Breather Loops (Atlantic Rhythms)
C. Reider - Listening After The End (Vuzh Music)

Tabs Out | Rob Collier – Driftwood (and Other Found Objects)

Rob Collier – Driftwood (and Other Found Objects)

5.4.22 by Matty McPherson

(What feels like) An endless array of Casio CZ-1 Phase Distortion Synthesizers greet you when you open the Jcard to Rob Collier’s Driftwood (and Other Found Objects) cassette. Collier has carried this particular batch of ambient synthesizer pieces in his back pocket for over five years. He’s just been patient about issuing it until February of this year for the sly Noumenal Loom label. It does not come without reason. On his last release, Moving Backwards for Geology Records, Collier alluded to being inspired by how the perception of time in nature differs from the human world. The piano tunes for that release practically existed out of that latter world, their stillness evolving drastically yet subtly over their runtimes. Driftwood (and Other Found Objects), holds that same natural harmony, acting as an unexpected time-traveling companion that enshrines his ethos.

To an extent, Collier’s work on the Casio reminds me of Arovane’s Wirkung from Puremagentik Tapes –itself a release that purposely evoked naturalism as an MO for its sonic palette. The comparison would not go much farther than that though, as Collier is deeply locked into how the Casio CZ-1 can convey otherworldly, calming drone fuzz as much as sugary minimalism. Tracks like Driftwood or the Shimmer of the Lamps Above lean into the latter, letting small notes dance and flicker off of synth ambience; there is an underlying baroque quality to these compositions that feels out of a contemporary time or place. If anything, it evokes the deceptive levels of deep listening burrowed within Windham Hill’s pleasant piano melodies.

As such, when Collier goes head-on into ambient, it is enrapturing. “Everything Repeats Itself” and closing tack “The Stairs Lead Upwards” are quite alluring in that regard. Their minimal sound palette may not impress immediately, that is until it practically floods the room (on an ambient sound system of course). It’s at these moments that Collier’s belief in how these sounds he’s wrangled together “feel beyond us” comes into focus. Everything around sounds of an astral opera, wading through assuredly and steadily, completely out of the human conception of time, even beyond the natural order itself.

Edition of 75 Available from the Noumenal Loom Bandcamp.

Tabs Out | Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up

Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up

5.3.22 by Matty McPherson

The cover art of Wednesday’s 2021 LP, Twin Plagues, featured the strongest “how you gonna go big on big?” energy I’ve seen out of an indie “reverb-guitar” based release in a moment. Zen Arcade was being evoked but it was with a blunt stare back towards the listener. Times have changed, contexts have unfurled and been reshaped. The album’s dozen tracks emanating a strange currency between Seam’s majestic & sniffly slowcore hardcore and country style songwriting with hella feedback. Pinning it all down was second to just the natural chemistry. Twin Plagues was a grip. Any shock release was to be of interest.

Thus it is with a light heart that I can attest Wednesday’s Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up is exactly that kind of shock listening material we needed. Perhaps you saw the Aquarium Drunkard Lagniappe Session where three of these were presented. The tape’s got nine covers, ranging from Roger Miller and the Drive By-Truckers to Vic Chestnutt and Medicine cover an intense amount of influences that *insist* yes, these folks are gonna go so big on big they’ll hit you with a diamond sledgehammer.

Side A is the designated country side, and has quickly racked itself up as my new drinking buddy at the county taprooms. Exactly what musters me to expend this level of camaraderie is how the five piece take these country tunes and mangle them through quietLOUDquiet twisted noise bouts to come out with a particular refraction. These bouts of noise are not entirely lo-fi frizzles  or countrified bangers on a primary level anymore per se. Everything about the ace reimaginings–from She’s Actin Single to the duet of I Am the Cosmos–are evocative catharsis. They transcend them to capital-B Bar Rock standards. As such, I found myself in the rare, yet pleasant realization of a band realizing a song as their own which perhaps is enshrined with Women Without Whiskey, a Drive By Truckers cover that really makes you go “FUCK! Another round asap!” Writ large, Mowing the Leaves Side A is that kind of moment to the point the band untethered these standards from their respective time and place into their feeling and sound of this moment. What it old is new again.

No act right now is edging for the bar rock crowd quite as hard, but also no act is looking at the indie playbook and stumping with such curiosity on Side B. It’s a more lowkey, humble side to the shock and awe of the former. Yet, the covers are equally worth savoring. The Had 2 Try cover of Hotline TNT is an act of real “game recognize game,” just unvarnished appreciation for the under-the-radar act’s own homespun shoegaze aesthetic approach. Greg Sage is summoned and reimagined with greater “in-the-red” crunch on “Sacrifice (For Love).” The aforementioned Vic Chestnutt’s Rabbit Box becomes a basement jam emanating the energy of a lowkey winter warmer. Finally, the one-two knockout of Medicine and Smashing Pumpkins revel in reminding the home listener that Wednesday know their noise + pop dynamics. Time Machine II has a playful, almost twee sense imbued in it under the quintet’s lead, while Perfect redeems classic snot nose Billy and weaves it into a communal tumble, as karly and jake lenderman duet over each other.

It’s likely that Wednesday is currently or about to play in a market near you, headlining a bar-stomper of a show or opening for a slightly larger indie guitar pop band. You might as well catch ‘em and see if this is at the merch table, as it’s sold out and no one’s given a fair shake as to if more tapes are coming. Here’s to a hope they do so.

Tabs Out | Night Sky Body – Top Down

Night Sky Body – Top Down

4.27.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Top Down from Frank Baugh’s Night Sky Body project is the second in the Synapse Series for Nailbat Tapes, a label that I didn’t think would release this kind of acerbic, atonal, electro-no-wave-post-punk-guitar-and-synth-driven project. One that was completely unknown to me at this point.

Side A of Top Down has several songs veering into the tape cut up/drone/abstract guitar zone, what could pass for modular sounding stuff in parts, then completely dives into a shoe gazing area with twittering synths awkwardly on top of echoing percussions.

Some of the noise is “in tune” with synths or guitar, sometimes not. The spoken vocals are quite effective with the editing and processing creating what could be pop version(?) of Alvin Lucier playing with This Heat or early Cabaret Voltaire. None of it feels like a hipster hack job to these ears. I’m always game for this sound when it’s done with experimentation and hooks in the same songs. I found there’s passages that extend from a live band feel into some sort of edited music concrete experiment on parts of this tape that really worked for me. 

Side B’s opener, “Top Down,” has a great guitar riff that drives a dirty chord dirge into swirling disaster and irradiances of guitar drone… great shit right here.  We arrive on the other side with “Tap,” a patient and paranoid, Motorik rhythm affair that sort of drifts for a bit of time, and returns like an errant shampoo commercial. The computer spits out random bits of information and that’s what we get while the results of the bipodal morphed quadruped reptilian elections are beaming back from the mother ship. The TV receptor is a bit on the fritz and has fits of static pulsations, which display across all of the screens in the store display at the Wal-Mart. These sounds are what you get at the end of side B rather than the band you hear on the first side.  A winner for the weirdos.