Tabs Out | Ashan – Air & Ether

Ashan – Air & Ether
8.17.17 by Ryan Masteller

Ashan - Air & Ether

Speaking of Sean Conrad, it’s never unhard to not be in the mood for one of his releases (I’ll let you sift through those negatives – it comes out positive, trust me), and that’s equally true for “Air & Ether,” his latest release as Ashan on Elestial Sound (Gainesville, represent!). First impression – whoa, beats! Sean usually traffics in the totally ethereal (see his and others’ work on his inimitable Inner Islands label), and while he’s no stranger to more propulsive work, “Calling” opens up the tape with hypnotic beats straight off my 1996 MTV AMP compilation. (Well, like half of it anyway.) That’s a bright, welcome direction for the Ashan identity, and the mood carries throughout the entirety of the tape. It’s so easy to listen to, in fact, that electronica heads and ambient fiends alike will find some common ground here, and I know that’s a difficult thing to do in the wake of severe genre compartmentalizing (thanks a lot, mainstream media!).

While he’s wiggling his keister with reckless abandon, Sean’s still never very far from the outer regions of the galaxy (that’s the “elestial” talking here, but with a “c”). The trance is the key, and the repetitive structures and glistening effects are totally otherworldly – or INNERworldly, depending on your perspective. “Calling,” “Wind,” “Temple,” and “Fragrance” are track titles certainly befitting a terrestrial attitude, but why start there if you can’t shoot off into the stratosphere and beyond? Sean does, cutting through Air, cutting through Ether, frictionless in his composition, effortless in his execution, operating as if he were in the vacuum of space and quasars were his only source of metronomic precision and sonic inspiration. But it all comes back to the Self – “Air & Ether” just FEELS good, doesn’t it? It’s like your blood pumping through veins unimpeded by psychic junk – and maybe even better because you can hear it.

That’s “Air & Ether” in a nutshell. Love ya, Sean – don’t not never change.

But, uh, feel free to change when it suits you. We can handle it.

Guys – I don’t know how many of these tapes were made. It’s a “Limited Edition,” but your guess is as good as mine as to the run. Still available though, still worth dropping hard cash on.

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The Tabs Out Subscription Series is now CLOSED.  Tapes will be made to fulfill current subscriptions, then the series will end. No new donations are being accepted. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

Grab digital versions on our Bandcamp.

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jump-ropeTabs Out #18:
M. Sage / Mukqs split C60

Edition of 75. Artwork by Tiny Little Hammers. Welcome to the thunder zone.

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jump-ropeTabs Out #17:
Andy Ortmann “Cave Wave” C40

Edition of 75. Silk screened tin Jcards. Be careful.

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Tabs Out | Former Selves – The Heart Wants

Former Selves – The Heart Wants
8.14.17 by Ryan Masteller

former selves - the heart wants

The heart wants what it wants, and I am not a man to argue with the whims of the heart. I am simple in that regard, a one-dimensional heart-bearer who looks to the blood-pumping organ in my chest for guidance on only the most rudimentary matters. My feelings drift across the surface of my personality, easily perceivable by those who happen to observe me in my natural habitat. And I, like other human beings before me and those who will surely follow (not to mention my contemporaries), regard the whims of the heart, directing a level of attention to them, depending on their importance, and responding in just measure. The heart wants what it wants, and I will provide.

The heart wants a sandwich.

Former Selves out of Oakland knows what the heart wants. Over two stretched-out, glistening sides of ambient synthesizer melancholia, FS explores the deepest desires of humanity, far beyond the base grotesqueries of instant gratification. And really, it’s time, isn’t it – time to dig waaaay beyond the gross, glittering product sold to appease the masses and distract from the real issues everybody has. And Former Selves knows it – that’s why “The Heart Wants” and “What the Heart Wants” exist, two tracks that begin deep within the artist, wrestling themselves through tone and mood, and emerging for us to connect with, even if it’s just for the brief time they’re audible before they disappear again back into the soul. And hey, compared to the eternity of static and nonsense otherwise picked up by human ears, you may want to consider that The Heart Wants is forty minutes of complete and utter respite, a perfect escape to the internal. Is it surprising, then, that this tape was mastered by Sean “Inner Islands” Conrad? It is not. Not even remotely.

Wait! I was wrong – the heart wants to be loved. The stomach wants a sandwich. I get those two confused constantly.

Geology Records is proud to present this lovely artifact, edition of 100, in a Norelco enclosed in a heavy cardstock slipcase so cool, so professional, and so delightful that you’ll just have to say “Damn!” and buy the thing already. Unusually top-notch curation.

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Tabs Out | Nakatani​/​Nanna​/​Schoofs​/​Woods – s/t

Nakatani​/​Nanna​/​Schoofs​/​Woods – s/t
8.11.17 by Mike Haley


The ad-lib ensemble of Tatsuya Nakatani, Peter Woods, Jason Nanna, and Amanda Schoofs approach free music on their self-titled cassette as if they were just pulled over by a small town cop while on mushrooms. Eyes wide, toes clenched into anxious feet-fists, Woods barely moves a muscle, showing restraint rarely seen on his FTAM label. Fearing that he and his bass will both end up in some podunk cell, munching on bologna and wet white bread sandwiches for weeks, he wisely stays away from playing any bass face inducing tunes. The occasional pluck/scratch/bump of his instrument could best be chalked up to nerves. Who can blame him? The bass player always gets the short end of the stick in these situations. Meanwhile, Shoofs is too far gone into her zone to be bothered with maintaining even a facade of normalcy. From shotgun her pupils gawk through the window at the knock off Rosco P. Coltrane on the other side – not just the other side of the window, but the other side of a reality – as she spits out poetry in dead languages, at times operatic, but always concerning and with a beautiful range. There is a strong possibility that Tatsuya Nakatani, the Japanese based percussionist with a seemingly endless catalog of sound, was originally in the now vacant driver seat of the car, but pursued solace in the trunk, shuffling an oil pan, tire iron, and loose lug nuts to make space. Rosco can hear the metal-on-metal scuffle plain as day, but there are more pressing issues at hand. For instance, Mr. Nanna. Like a toddler Nanna can’t keep his hands to himself, fiddling with the fuse box, stereo dials, and any knob, switch, or slider he can get his sugary hands on. His electronics, along with those provided by Amanda, fizzle, gelling together the unfettered ambient malaise as he thinks to himself “You’re doing great. Just keep fucking with these turn signals. You’re not about to melt. This cop doesn’t think you are going to melt.” None of that is the case though. Nanna is melting, cooking the dashboard into a goo with him. Good news: they kill the cop with brainwaves and continue their 9 mph commute down whatever random road they are on.

In reality the quartet’s drive was a spontaneous jam session in Milwaukee. Culled from that unscripted meeting are 16 bite-sized chunks of abstract, free jazzish beauty averaging about two minutes a shot. And it was all CAUGHT ON TAPE and released in an edition of 75 by the always impressive Full Spectrum. You can find one here.

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Tabs Out | Forced Into Femininity – Heterochromea

Forced Into Femininity – Heterochromea
8.7.17 by Ryan Masteller


Harsh noise or the harshest noise? Forced Into Femininity is neither, but Jill Lloyd Flanagan wants us to believe both. A splatter fetishist’s rereading of punk or industrial or post punk or whatever, “Heterochromea” is a gut-punch of synthetic rhythm sickeningly warbling out of control, like me after half an hour on the Tilt-a-Whirl at that pop-up carnival in Central Pennsylvania a million years ago (or so it seems with so much time passing through the rear-view). The belted vocals from atop a soapbox emblazoned with “[redacted]” mesmerize passersby into the seedy club Jill has created out of cardboard and duct tape and magic marker on her front lawn. Do you dare enter the dilapidated structure to discern the source of this music? It’s a sunny day, Jill seems nice enough – why not.

Like Atari Teenage Riot at half speed smeared with the pastel snot of Punks on Mars’ first record, “Heterochromea” is both belligerent and silly, in your face but with a smiley camaraderie that contains the understanding that you and Jill are both going to puke any second from motion sickness. The primitive rhythms barely stay together, especially on “Vengeance,” while on “Held” they take on a sinister Gary Glitter vibe (although isn’t Gary Glitter fairly sinister anyway? In real life he sure is). Everything Jill does shifts almost all the time, adding to the sense of imbalance – what were songs become snippets of radio-dial flippage, coherence be damned. And that’s the best part of “Heterochromea” – you never know where it’s going to end up, and it’s only fourteen minutes long! To pack that much surprise and breakneck inventiveness into such a short amount of time is pretty impressive. And I’m not easily impressed.

Buy “Heterochromea” and other fine products from the good folks at Hausu Mountain. The pro-dubbed chrome plus red cassette looks nifty on my shelf.

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Tabs Out | Many Others – Aggression Of Paradox

Many Others – Aggression Of Paradox
8.3.17 by Jill Lloyd Flanagan

many others

It seems that the Italian tape label Archivio Diafònico has a great aesthetic worthy of imitation. This is definitely harsh noise but it seems to mostly come from amplified acoustic sources which are blurred by distortion to inscrutability. But for me, it’s all an alien ear candy, it’s roughness giving a pleasing texture to it all.

After doing some research online, for there was almost no information in the cassette, I found that Many Others is a duo of Francesco Gregoretti and Olivier Di Placido playing apparently a prepared guitar and drums. It didn’t say on the website I found who was doing what… It’s a bit jazzier than some of the other releases on Archivio Diafònico’s Soundcloud but shares the same feeling of familiar acoustic sounds twisted and distorted enough to be wholly unrecognizable.

There’s a wonderful sense of dynamics in the improvisations between Gregoretti and Di Placido. This separates the tape from a lot of harsh noise which stays monotonously unpleasant and loud and can become like an unpleasant smell in a room rather than a living entity of sound. Here, the sudden shifts in sound and timber keep one unbalanced enough to remain disconcerted and keeps the music from settling into the background. Rather than a slight unpleasant smell, this tape becomes more like the sudden onset of nausea which subsides forgotten and then arises again stronger and unignorable. I hope someone is jamming this in a boombox in some sort of terrifying squalid Italian squat.

Go ahead and grab a copy.

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Tab Out | New Batch – f:rmat

New Batch – f:rmat
8.1.17 by Ryan Masteller

f_rmat batch

As the Big Bang initiated the capital-U Universe as we know it (followed by SIX LITERAL DAYS of intelligent design, or so I’m told), so too do hundreds of tinier, less violent Big Bangs beget cassette tape labels. It seems like every week an apple-cheeked upstart with home-dubbing tech (or pockets full of doubloons to pay for pro duplication) emerges from the woodwork or between the cracks in the masonry, or simply converges from the leftover starstuff that happens to coalesce at a singular point. This time we get one from Glasgow, that mysterious city in Scotland, where your cheeks really get apple-y in the winter time, especially when the wind blows. (I should know, I’ve experienced the frigid January gales in that wonderful country.) This new label, the niftily spelled f:rmat, has brought into being, virtually out of nothing, two excellent tapes, both of which should be listened to with ears wide open to the possibilities of mythological truths. Or, on the other hand, you can just listen to them and get on with your life – either way.

Gäel Segalen’s MEMOIR OF MY MANOR is an improvised juggernaut of sound, recorded in Paris, manipulated and mixed over a period of two years and unleashed in my earholes this morning. Thus, a prophecy, somewhere, is fulfilled. Throughout its seven distinct and fully individualized tracks you’ll perceive secrets revealed through circuits – bent and twisted and skewered and vaporized electronics speak their tongues in full and glorious display while seemingly conjured spontaneously. Is Gäel Segalen some sort of mage, some sort of mystic to channel such heartstopping moments at random? The bubbles, the blasts, the arpeggios, the melodies, all of these seem to know just a little bit more than we know, and the codes to their deciphering are just out of our reach. But as Gäel walks the titular manor in her mind, she grounds the cosmic and combines it with the terrestrial, resulting in a thrill ride through halls packed with memories and the ghostly spirits that tend them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, where ritual movement and stillness take the place of psychic connection, Hammer of Hathor, the duo from Olympia, Washington, tackle as a concept “butoh,” a form of dance originating in post–World War II Japan that, if I’m reading my Wikipedia entry correctly, [adjusts glasses] “is known to resist fixity” and is “difficult to define.” It is performed in slow, deliberate movements and is meant often as an approximation of the absurd, tackling “taboo topics” and featuring “grotesque imagery” and “extreme or absurd environments.” But before I go any further and anger any good editor who realizes that Wikipedia is a terrible primary source, I have to remind you that all this is to simply whet your whistle for what our Hammerin’ musician pals have to offer. Whacking at various instruments, including detuned pianos and guitars, saxophones, and percussive instruments, HOH does their best to represent in sound a visualization of butoh in all of its mad glory, manipulating their odd array of sounds in fidgety slow-mo in a sort of (but intentional) call-and-response technique. The endgame? Madness. Or the beauty in decomposition as exemplified by low fidelity. Or, um, whatever it is that you’re about to say right now.

Both records have been released in an edition of 30 and come on black Chrome Type II cassettes. Grab one of each before they make like galaxies and expand beyond perception. Or do it quicker than that – I guess I just insinuated they’d be around for a few billion more years, and that ain’t true at all…

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Tabs Out | Human d’Scent – Between Two Elk

Human d’Scent – Between Two Elk
7.27.17 by Jill Lloyd Flanagan


My hope is that this music came from some sort of camping trip gone horribly awry. In the misty tent filled with mosquito and roly-polies, Human d’Scent’s Mia Freedman sings to herself as she fades in and out of consciousness. Months later, the tapes are discovered by the kind folks at Friendship Tapes who edit her sonic journey together as best they can. Mia, of course, is never found.

This is a very pleasant and strange tape. Friedman’s voice (overlaid on top of itself) is the only sounds captured on it. Her voices harmonize like a mad contemporary music ensemble whose repertory ranges from madrigals to vocal jazz and at other times like twittering bird songs or insect noises. The improvised nature of the material works well partially because of Friedman’s vocal talent and the wide stylistic contrasts from track to track guarantee that the limited sonic range doesn’t grow too repetitive. And the nonsensical lyrics and barren anti-style of the packaging keeps any pretense from forming around the music. The tape is short and leaves a pleasant afterthought in the listener of Mia entering an alternate and joyous new reality.

44 copies of this C20 were made, and available from Friendship Tapes.

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Tabs Out | roger mpr – Unproductive Muzak

roger mpr – Unproductive Muzak
7.25.17 by Ryan Masteller

roger mpr

I lived in London for a time a few years ago, and I always found the City – the financial center of London – to be a weird, fascinating place, not merely because it was a ghost town on the weekends (it was) but also because of the so-called Gherkin. The Big Pickle (that’s what I called it, because I’m stupid) towered (sort of) above/among its surroundings, its architecture always a point of interest to uninformed passersby. I mean, honestly, what was the engineer on who decided that a pickle-shaped building was a good idea? Was it … weed? It was weed. Because why else would anyone decide that a pickle-shaped building is a good idea?

Still, there it stands, a ridiculous monument to corporate hubris smack in the middle of the London skyline. It begs the imagination to fill in the blanks, to conjure monumental and monumentally ridiculous (or simply terrifying) decisions being made in buildings like that, decisions that affect all of us, not just Londoners or Brits. And as you’re contemplating what goes on at the highest levels of business (honestly, just let your mind wander as far as it wants), you also have to contemplate what music is playing in the various lobbies and reception areas that dot the structure. Because this is a music review. You HAVE to consider the music. And fortunately, there’s this guy, roger mpr (with no capital letters – does that make him “anti-capital[ist]” [har har!]?!), who got his hands on a bunch of Muzak CDs and likely asked himself a question similar to this one: “What would it sound like if I turned the idea of corporate soundtracking for narcotization on its head and instead made something terrifying out of it?”

The result is not vaporwave (though no shame on you for thinking that’s probably what you’d get). The result is much weirder, as the Muzak is deconstructed into tones and processed into the aural equivalent of night terrors. It’s like roger took the CDs and ran them through a paper shredder (don’t worry, mine handles CDs), taped them randomly together so that they once again resembled a CD, and ripped them to his desktop. I know, I know, the reconstituted CDs would be unplayable, but if you COULD play them, you’d probably get something that sounds like “unproductive muzak.” Ominous samples? Check. Ghostly glitches? Check. Static, otherworldly intrusions? Check. Basinski-esque disintegration? Check. A soundtrack fit for Lucky 7 Insurance and all its attendant malevolence and barely veiled spiritual interaction? Double, triple, quadruple check. Music made by corporations, for corporations, turned inside out is as weird and unsettling as the source material. Let’s do a reversal, then, and play roger mpr in office settings! See how productive everybody is then. (Hint: The answer is “not productive.”)

I feel like I’ve talked about Hylé Tapes before. So Hylé Tapes, Hylé Tapes, Hylé Tapes, Hylé Tapes, Hylé Tapes. Only an edition of 30 for “unproductive muzak” – and <5 remaining!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Czaszka

New Batch – Czaszka
7.19.17 by Ryan Masteller

Czaszka batch

Czaszka. What does it mean? Where’s it from? How do you even pronounce it? You guys – you’re totally in luck, because I have answers to all those questions, maybe even a few more if you read far enough! The Edinburgh-based label is run by Polish expat Michał Fundowicz, and “Czaszka” means “skull” in Polish. Look at me putting two and two together, as if the internet didn’t help me write this whole thing anyway! That’s two questions answered. Here’s the third: ˈt͡ʂaʂka. Now you know. And now you should also know that Czaszka, “raw ideas since MMXVI” (and that’s 2016 to the rest of you, because didn’t they take away Roman numerals in our schools? Or was that cursive writing? Doesn’t matter – all our kids will be illiterate in a generation or two), is at the forefront, the cutting edge of experimental music. Or at least the label fits itself in just super nicely with the other niche performers across multiple genres. They’ve got a nice cross-section of releases spanning electronic, ambient, drone, field recording, etc., and you should do yourself a favor and check them out. In fact, read about a couple I wrote about already. You’ll probably like them. Now where was I? Oh yeah, summer batch!

Raw ideas – it doesn’t get more raw than Giovanni Lami’s field-recorded compositions. Scratchy tapes play found sounds, manipulated through mics and magnetized back onto tapes, an ouroboros of sonic friction carefully composed by a dude who knows his way around recording equipment. Look, I’m not going to pretend to know what Lami’s doing, I’m not a gearhead – I’ll let you go read it for yourself. Suffice to say that it’s pretty cool. Oh, and did I mention? (I didn’t, I reviewed what I wrote just now.) “‘Hysteresis II’ has been recorded on the volcanic site of Solfatara, Pozzuoli (Naples).” On a volcano?!? Take THAT you amateur musique concrètists! You think your ambient reflections of abandoned factories or forest-at-night sound collages are any match for a freaking volcano? They’re not. (They’re still cool though – Giovanni Lami’s just got you beat.) “Hysteresis II” is two sides of this, each literally titled “10:00,” the length of each track. There’s even weird muffled yelling at the end of side B, as if the volcano suddenly erupted and everyone was about to become engulfed in lava. Or maybe they just saw something worth exclaiming about, who’s to say. The words are slowed down and muffled. Everybody’s probably OK. In fact, I know they are – there’s video to prove it!

We continue our (admittedly now-volcanoless) journey through these three tapes with lopness, annoyingly lowercase just to mess with me in case I want to begin a sentence with “lopness.” Let’s see how I do. (And if you’re thinking “I wonder if there’s a lopness monster,” you’re REALLY not the only one.) This collabo between Bruno Silva (Ondness) and Pedro Lopes (Deadact) was fully improvised during a recording session in Berlin. It sounds … weird? But good weird, fun weird, weird like there’s a lot of backmasking and other manipulation and it’s hard to find footing among the weirdness, and since Lopes plays “turntables like they’re full-fledged instruments,” pretty much anything goes. (Silva does “sound processing,” like that’s a “thing” or something. Actually, whatever he’s doing is pretty damn cool too.) “Cena Holding” is certainly a tape that keeps moving, keeps flickering, keeps shifting, tones and moods quickly emerge and just as quickly submerge, and the result is a surprise of unsteadiness whose movements are the main attraction. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving (…you vertigo)! In a manner destined to have you hitting the rewind button, that is.

Like Lami, I’m not a stranger to Új Bàla either, having covered Gabor Kovacs’s “Butcher’s Tears Dry Slower than the Average One’s” (grammatical errors like nails on a chalkboard still) as part of a cop-out “Lightning Round” in November 2016. And I want to quote myself here, because I’m allowed to, and also because I think this is still a pretty apt description for an Új Bàla release: “Squirrelly, gutter-dwelling sonics spew through the monitor of my computer, drenching the virtual ‘desktop’ (as it were) with foul seepage.” Ooh, it’s like a super gross party, and now my keyboard doesn’t work! Kovacs continues to hurl heavy-beat-ed electro clusterbombs in our general direction, hoping that the sonic shrapnel embeds itself in our ear canals and causes us to shake what our mothers gave us. Yeah, “Breatharian High Society” totally succeeds in getting itself stuck in your head – as the relative “party starter” of this batch (and it’s barely relative – Lami and lopness are for bookworms, essentially, but make no mistake, in a good way), it’s an excellent entry point into what Czaszka’s got going for it. Don’t worry, it still squiggles and lurches enough that those turned off by “accessible” will still have something to latch on to. So come for the corrosive dancefloor catnip, stay for the mind-altering experimentalism.

Each professionally duplicated cassette comes with “trippy cover printed on super nice paper” and a “special blue case.” You’ll really want to … LOOK AT THESE TAPES! (Maybe.) Purchase here (Definitely)!

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Tabs Out | Look At These Tapes #13

Look At These Tapes #13
7.18.17 by Tabs Out Crew

look at these tapes

Look At These Tapes is a monthly roundup of our favorites in recent cassette artwork and packaging, along with short, stream-of-thought blurbs. Whatever pops into our heads when we look at/hold them. Selections by Jesse DeRosa, Mike Haley, and Scott Scholz.


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Tabs Out | MonoLogue – Spazio

MonoLogue – Spazio
7.12.17 by Ryan Masteller


Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in spazio! That’s Italian for “space,” for all of you whose main interaction with the language comes from perusing restaurant menus (and let’s be fair, that’s pretty much the only Italian I come across on a regular basis, I’m not gonna lie). But for Florence-based musician Marie Rose, aka MonoLogue (also MOON RA), Italian is the language she encounters every day, so we all better get used to it. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy – there aren’t too many languages that reverberate as sonorously as MonoLogue’s native tongue. English sure doesn’t – English sounds like a runaway garbage truck down the side of an erupting volcano in comparison. Chunky. Weird.

(Relevant story: I was in Venice several years ago, and the concierge at our hotel, a wonderfully nice man, had to print some documentation for us, but he was having trouble with the computer. He kept saying “Annulla, annulla,” as he was “canceling” what he was doing. It was the most beautiful sound – I could have listened to him repeat that word all day.)

Anyway, let’s join MonoLogue in spazio, shall we? The “Nomade” (nomadic) space traveler drifts through glistening synthesizer excursions on the eleven-minute opener, fractals and prisms sparkling like quasar pulses through the faceplate of a spacesuit. Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in “Spazio, I repeat, because it’s true, and “Ossessione” (obsession) even goes as far as sounding like the low-key interludey passages of the Spiritualized classic. It’s interesting to hear MonoLogue use traditional instrumentation, and maybe I’m conditioned from all the MOON RA I’ve ingested, particularly the miasmic sound fractures of her half of “Mutus Liber” (with Giulio Aldinucci), but I almost didn’t expect such a relaxed atmosphere. Not to worry in the end – the distance is breathtaking, the space – literal and outer – is managed expertly within the compositions.

I love how the tape doesn’t sit still, either, as it progresses, as “Silenzio” (hush) pretends it wants you to be quiet and listen to the ambience of your surroundings, but instead injects your surroundings with its own soundtrack, the ambience erased into active participation. Speaking of active, “Riva” (shore) approaches, dare I say, synth pop territory with its immediately earwormy hook. Ladies and gentlemen, we have washed upon the riva. Um, what planet is this again?

Hylé Tapes is one of my favorite active experimental tape labels, so you should grip whatever you can from the French imprint, damn the shipping cost! And “Spazio” only comes in an edition of 30 – you better act fast if you want one.

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Tabs Out | Scant – At Fault

Scant – At Fault
7.11.17 by Mike Haley


The listening tastes of a newborn are so dang primal. They’re probably the only true noise fans, all smooth and stupid, pre-loaded with all the knowledge of a slightly damp dish towel. They don’t know about time zones, or droughts, or cheese flavors. But they do know primal. Their vision may be on par with that same slightly damp dish towel, but for months they’ve been surrounded by an unevolved womb-sound sloshing about in the only area they know exists like, well, a slightly damp dish towel. It’s a soundtrack that has been on repeat since forever. Rock and roll, jazz, cheesecake – None of these genres have the staying power of noise. Once given the opportunity to join the rest of us, oh with our fancy time zones, and droughts, and various cheeses, tiny almost-people only give a shit about three things: Sleeping. Eating. Noise. I used to play random RRR Recycled tapes to chill my kid out. It was like she just ripped a bong and was going to ask if I was into Merzbow. Honestly a blow dryer would have worked fine, because it’s all about primal. A long, long time ago, I’m talking before we had any cheese flavors at all, it was super important to live near water. At night the water was like side A track 2 on the cassette of all existence. That’s old news though, because in 2017 you can live in literally any time zone and order whatever you want in any cheese flavor. Drones make it all out of salt and immediately bring it to you, basically causing droughts. We aren’t supposed to listen to noise anymore either. Eventually the closest you’re supposed to come is techno I think.

Matt Boetke has always lived comparatively close to water — The Schuylkill in Philadelphia. The East River in New York. The Atlantic Ocean in general. He does the project Scant, which means a small amount of something. Maybe not enough to get through the night. Very primal. Don’t listen to “At Fault” just yet…  I want you to try something, and really try this. It sounds like it might be yoga, but don’t worry. It’s not yoga. Go somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Imagine you are a baby, all alone, swaddled in some animal’s skin. Imagine you’re on the beach, at night. Imagine what you hear, but try to filter out everything you know. Time zones, droughts, cheese flavors… Get rid of all of that and listen to existence through your damp dish towel brain.

Now compare that sensation to “At Fault.” At 20 minutes it’s all lethargic and starved. Like a shadow with no body, it’s chronic loneliness simply hovers in the form of gargled, selfish oscillations. A pure bummer? If you seek the comfort of techno to fulfill a fringe voyeuristic itch, sure. (You ever notice how much “techno” sounds like “Costco?” Techno. Costco. Techno. Costco.) But remember, Matt Boetke never really moved away from the water, and something tells me his urges are primal. These clouds of sound formed above moon-lit, speculative beaches are a relief. A reverse cyanide. But most of all, a damp dish towel begging you to join the hive mind.

No more than 100 copies of “At Fault” are available from No Rent Records.

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Tabs Out | Adam Gnade And Planet B – Life Is The Meatgrinder That Sucks In All Things

Adam Gnade And Planet B – Life Is The Meatgrinder That Sucks In All Things
7.10.17 by Ryan Durfee


“Life Is A Meatgrinder That Sucks In All Things,” a collaboration between prolific author Adam Gnade and Planet B, which consists of Justin Pearson (Struggle, Swing Kids, Crimson Curse, Locust, …) / Gabe Serbian (Cattle Decapitation, Holy Molar, …) / Luke Henshaw (producer extraordinaire), is a prequel to Gnade’s last book, Locust House. It documents a time and place which folks in my age range look back on very fondly; a golden era, pre 9/11, pre internet boom, when life seemed simpler, more primal, more dangerous. Being fed by oil stained hands into the maws of the military industrial complex fueled by late stage capitalism. Adam’s writing exudes a wholesomeness, a lightness of being, a way of cutting through the external bullshit to shed light on who people really are at the core of things.

This tape, in an edition of 100 copies, focuses on Joey from Gnade’s excellent Caveworld book and San Diego at the turn of the century. A time when one could catch The Plot To Blowup The Eiffel Tower playing with Terror at Che Cafe, people watch at Pokez, and go to a house party at the mythic Golden Hill House. He recites the story in a post-apocalyptic tone, reminding me of the best of the beats, while the music backing Adam is skronky, minimal synth jazz, like Delia Derbyshire jamming with Pharoah Sanders. The B side of the tape are songs that Adam recorded on his own with a homemade four string guitar at the Hard Fifty Farm, a small Kansas farm of rescue animals he works along with others at Pioneers Press.

I can’t say enough good things about this tape, how life affirming Adam’s stories are, how they buoy you up during dark times like that 45 you played over and over again during your first major heartbreak. Buy this tape and then go buy everything that Adam Gnade has released. You’ll be thankful that you did.

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Tabs Out | Indiegogo For Subotnick Film Offers “Silver Apples” Cassette Reissue

Indiegogo For Subotnick Film Offers “Silver Apples” Cassette Reissue
7.7.17 by Scott Scholz


If you’re a regular reader/listener of Tabs Out, chances are excellent that you’re down with the sublime electronic compositions of Morton Subotnick. One of the true pioneers in modular synthesizers, Subotnick’s music has hardly aged a day over the decades. “Silver Apples of the Moon,” for example, would sound perfectly at home among a new batch of tapes released tomorrow, an incredible feat for a composition released 50 years ago. And we owe a debt of gratitude to Subotnick for more than just his music: he was there at the beginning of modular synth design, providing advisement and funding for the first Buchla machines. His insights helped to put musical sound-tailoring options at the fingertips of composers, and also transcended the limitations of the keyboard as an input device.

Subotnick started his musical career generating those odd-harmonic square waves the old-fashioned way (with a clarinet), and he’s been an active participant in all kinds of evolving sound technology up to the present day. Frankly, every detail along the timeline of his work is fascinating if you’re into electronic music, but we don’t need to dig deep into his biography here. That’s because there is an Indigogo campaign running right now to produce a feature-length film about his life and work. “Subotnick: Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer” is being produced by Waveshaper Media, the same folks who brought us “I Dream of Wires” a few years ago, so you know it’s going to be good. Featuring extensive interviews with Subotnick as well as collaborators throughout his career, this film is likely to be a great contribution to our collective understanding of his work. Personally, I’ve always found Subotnick to be a particularly interesting figure in music history as a bridge between the early academic trappings of electronic music and various popular scenes, from krautrock to techno to modern modular mayhem. As this film follows Morton around the globe, putting on regular performances and making new music in his eighth decade, we’re sure to see how his work continues to inspire folks across many musical disciplines.

The fundraising campaign for this film offers some great rewards, too, including reissues of Subotnick’s essential recordings in multiple formats. Remember when I said that “Silver Apples” would, and I quote, “sound perfectly at home among a new batch of tapes released tomorrow?” Well, that is basically happening… For only $15 plus shipping you can snag yourself an autographed copy of “Silver Apples of the Moon” on cassette, a format the piece hasn’t been found on commercially since its original release in 1967. You know you want it, and you know your dad lost the original under the passenger seat three cars before you were born. If you’re feeling more vinyl-inclined, there are several color variations of the LP version up for grabs as well. I’d also recommend taking a hard look at the CD 4-pack, as it includes some of Subotnick’s later works, which are not as well-known but certainly should be. And no matter your format of preference, you’ll be supporting the final stages in making this important film. As of this writing, you have a couple of weeks left to get on board, and they still need your help at 95 percent funding. Head on over to the Indiegogo page and pitch in!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Astral Spirits

New Batch – Astral Spirits
7.4.17 by Ryan Masteller

Astral Spirits batch

Astral Spirits exists to transcend the mundane. The physical is nothing for the Austin-based label – that’s right, these cats are interested in commuting your mind beyond the realm of the tangible to a place simply BEYOND. You wanna wrap your head around something, get a good grasp on a concept? No! Let it wander … let it be. They take a page from the Sun Ra handbook of far-out jazz as transportation mechanism, a way to – and this trope is overused, SO WHAT – lasso a comet and ride it through the galaxy, discovering new and unfathomable truths along the way. Astral Spirits exists to press the human mind and human physical capabilities forward, far beyond their current abilities. Astral Spirits is the future. And hey, look! A new tape batch!

Michael Foster and Ben Bennett play sax and drums, respectively, and they set to redefine the idea of “uncomfortable intimacy” within the jazz duo idiom. It’s not really uncomfortable, I guess, but it sure sounds intimate, like Foster is constantly leaning over Bennett and bleating into his face while Bennett, face dripping with sweat, is gripping his sticks so tightly and blasting through patterns so intricate and taut that he has redefined the physical properties of rigidity and elasticity as his body tenses and releases. Foster, for his part, is insanely inventive with his horn-blowin’, and I don’t use “insanely” lightly here. He sounds as if he should probably be locked up, he’s so dang expressive. I can imagine Bennett, with Foster all up in his grill, laughing uncontrollably at points while the saxman’s face contorts and, indeed, rearranges itself mere inches from the drummer. Maybe that’s not how it went down, but it sure is funny to think about. And the track titles: “a griffin, dip my phone in it”; “a pantleg, dip my ghosties in it”; “a crappy, dip my nest in it”; “a cartwheel, dip my slab-car in it”; and so forth!

W-2 – what is this, tax season? I’ve already given the government my hard-earned cash. No more, I say! Oh, right, this is not a form I have to fill out but a tape I have to listen to, and my ears can complete the questionnaire upon completion. (There’s no questionnaire.) Well, good thing that W-2 traffic in two of my favorite things: sax and synth! The duo, composed of tenor saxophonist Sam Weinberg and circuit melter/synthesizer-ist Chris Welcome (of Flying Luttenbachers fame, dear, sweet Luttenbachers!), don’t so much make music together as blast the outcome of their sound sources at one another until it superheats into literal molten lava, consuming every practice space, live stage, and studio they perform or record in. They’re often not invited back for a second performance. (I’m lying!) The great part is that it’s unusual to tell where Weinberg ends and Welcome begins, such is their potent combination of viscous sonics. Weinberg even suggests as much when discussing the whole point of the project: “[W]e’ve tried to develop a language that makes the two instruments indistinguishable from one another.” It’s working, Sam, it’s working. I don’t even want to be rescued from this miasma.

Did somebody say TETRAD? You may think that this is a description of something in four parts, but it’s not – read it as “tet-RAD” and you get the picture. Because it’s rad! (I’ve lost the thread.) Actually, it’s probably the most “astral” release in this batch, as the HMS quartet – Joe Houpert, Nathan McLaughlin, Erich Steiger, and Steve Perucci – approach improv with a less abrasive, more ambient slant, using the studio space and moments between notes to build their compositions. It’s gorgeous stuff, sound, ahem, clustering like clouds of gaseous matter in deep space (“Quasit,” “Herzou”), then, injected with energy, forming new galaxies of sonic experimentation (“Retriever,” “Balor”). It’s clear the players have a history together – they’ve released music since 2011 – and this new endeavor, this “tet-RAD” as I now call it because that’s the only thing I see anymore when I look at the word, is an evolutionary leap in the right direction.

Andrew Smiley’s a little bit … different, I guess, compared to the other artists in this batch. I mean, I’m sitting here reading about improvisation and vocals – that’s one of the differences, Smiley uses vocals as an instrument – and even My Bloody Valentine, and then he drops this bombshell on us: “During the years in which I was developing this music, I spent a lot of time thinking about wolves, and feeling empathy for their struggle to live alongside humans. I would like this release to bring awareness to the intelligence of wolves, and their right to exist within ecosystems.” I was right all along! Or, I, uh, sort of guessed what he was going for? No – no, I didn’t think that at all until he mentioned it. But that’s OK! “Dispersal” is a single composition split over two sides, guitar providing the texture and foundation, sometimes scratchy, sometimes ringing clear notes, while Smiley’s vocals hover over, appearing, disappearing, a reminder of consciousness, neither human nor inhuman (read: wolf). “Dispersal” is placid at times, and at others it’s truly vicious (see for a great example the lengthy strummed passage on side B), but it’s almost always at a point of communicating deep into the night

Each of these beauts comes in an edition of 150, so make like a tree and go online and buy one of each already!

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Tabs Out | JESSOP&CO. – Cream

JESSOP&CO. – Cream
6.26.17 by Ryan Masteller


JESSOP&CO., our mates – MATES – from Calcutta, bring the noise once again with “Cream,” a two-track, one-track-per-side flabbergast of densely layered drone and field-recorded freak samples on SØVN. Yeah I used “flabbergast” as a noun, so what? That’s what JESSOP&CO. do to me, make me throw all the rules I’ve ever known about the English language out the window. I wigged out over “Manly Man,” and at some point there will be a link to the equally nastified “A Perfect Example Of Disloding” (it’ll post, honest), but CREAM is another beast altogether. Sure, SØVN refers to Eraserhead, Lynch’s debut film and paean to anxiety, and the label’s not talking out of one of its pneumatic tubes connecting to the mailroom. “Dead Hair” is so creepy and so tactile that it’s almost touchable, but you mustn’t touch, because it will damage any soft tissue it comes in contact with. Consider that my warning to you. Consider also that you can’t literally touch sound, so you’re probably perfectly safe around it. But it’s still a wacky trip, man!

Imagine going from Eraserhead to something much more pleasant, like “Flower Hung,” a beautiful droning vision that meanders in and out of various hypnotic states, bordering on dream logic and vivid hypnogogia. It’s like the Lady in the Radiator melted in slow motion and turned into all the pastel colors of a sunset before dispersing her molecules over wide swaths of the earth. If that don’t get you going, try this: “Flower Hung” makes David Lynch look like an IDIOT for even TRYING to do anything remotely interesting with sound design in ERASERHEAD! … Haha, OK, not really, but it really is a wondrous cloud of sentient pollen infiltrating the cilia of our lungs in an attempt to make us feel a little better about ourselves after “Dead Hair.” Maybe it’s the close proximity of the two disparate experiments that acutely sets into relief their finer points. That’s probably it.

“Cream” is limited to 40 copies, and comes in a plastic bag with a sticker and a slip of paper that looks sort of like a packing slip, sort of like a prescription. But a prescription for what? What am I, a doctor? YOU read the instructions. YOU figure it out.

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Tabs Out | RM Francis – Hyperplastic Other

RM Francis – Hyperplastic Other
6.25.17 by Mike Haley


I’m horrified of automation. All of us should be! At best I give it 69 months before machines handle every function in society and decide to melt us hu-mans down for fuel. In the meantime I still use the self check out at the grocery store, so sure, I’m a hypocrite. But maybe I don’t want to be judged for buying a Party Sized bag of habanero-pickle flavored chips. Well, it turns out the good ol’ self check out isn’t even a safe space for gluttonous purchases anymore, because now even the machines are judging us. At least that’s what it sounds like is happening on this RM Francis cassette.

“Hyperplastic Other” is a series of binary barbs, converted into MIDI blips and snips that sound like attempts at putting the toothpaste back into the tube, tumbling through the internet of things. This is apparently the best way for your Nest thermostat to talk shit on you with the neighbors SmartFridge™. We bags of organic mess hear “zip.. ziiiiip. zipblipblap bloop. ting. vyoooom” but those super gossipy appliances are actually making fun of me needing to run the AC at the slightest sign of humidity – My hair gets puffy, give me a break! RM Francis goes into detail about the creation process of these rolling sounds in the liner notes on the Jcard: “Hyperplastic Other was composed largely using a two dimensional array of 17,040 computer-generated values between 0 and 1, which was divided into 71 parametric paths. The array values were scaled and converted to MIDI messages; the paths were arbitrarily assigned to individual parameters of……” but all I hear when I read that is “zip.. ziiiiip. zipblipblap bloop. ting. vyoooom.” And that’s okay. I don’t think RM Francis will be the least bit concerned if you decide to approach these recordings appreciating the science behind the glitch or simply for the glitch itself. Hell, there was a chocolate cassette version of this! INDULGE! You’re vacuum is going to look down on you either way.

Grab one of the 100 non-chocolate copies of “Hyperplastic Other” from Nada’s Bandcamp, which is probably sentient at this point and already knows you want one.

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