Tabs Out | Matthew Crowe / Marsha Fisher – split

Matthew Crowe / Marsha Fisher – split

9.24.21 by Matty McPherson

Orb Tapes have a sixth sense when it comes to articulating the importance of the split cassette. To sum it up: they pair the right artists together. I witnessed this first hand with OT 141, a split between midwestern noise oddballs Matthew Crowe and Marsha Fisher. Crowe’s resume includes noise with Sex Funeral and video game digital zonery as Heavenly Drugs. His 20-minute side could best be abstracted as a cover letter for both those fields of knowledge. As such, the seamless presentation covers any and all ground between meditative motions that feature flute droning, alongside space computer babble, while anthropological dives into Appalachian folk wields chopped n’ screwed midi madness. It’s a pop culture samplepedia that keeps a roller coaster of ideas coming without ever dragging out the high highs!

Marsha Fisher has been continually on a tear when anything related to modular synthesizers comes in their direction. Now though, their 2021 has been quite the effort in unearthing the moments of piercingly blissful beauty in the scraps of new age monotony and degraded debris (as seen on  New Ruins). Their sonic research and curiosity with tape manipulation has even been reflected and taken to its most further ends with the tape loop Collage Works 2021. On the split, “Lungs of the Earth” is (if I’m to believe) a new modular synth work that continues the ethos of their 2021 projects. For much of the piece, the longform emphasizes the low-end–it jitters without mercy. The gelatinous drone Fisher whips up is tantalizingly electric; it is as if all the electricity of our devices and inner senses were being pulled towards this frequency to extract the soul of an ancient creature. Fisher does sidestep the noise, offering an inverse interlude in the form of shimmering New Age ripples before returning for a last half full on nihilist assault. When I originally listened to it on the Fourth of July, its summation and blood-curling overdrive far outclassed any old grandstand band. Fisher’s control is piercing and varied enough to even know when to bring out the bird sounds! Ain’t no 4th of July band bringing out bird sounds now, are they?!

Edition of 50 available from Orb Tapes

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Tabs Out | Unifactor – Batch #15 Second Pressing

Unifactor – Batch #15 Second Pressing

9.17.21 by Matty McPherson

In a move that sent ripples across several dozens of people’s email inboxes, Unifactor announced a repressing of Batch 15. This is, of course, quite an act of generosity. Unifactor Batch #15 scratches a pretty strange kind of itch that I wasn’t expecting.  Earlier this year, Beyond Beyond is Beyond announced they were closing up shop. While they were never a huge tape label, a good check in on what tapes they did champion reveals a deft idea of psychedelic guitar ditties whose reverberations will be missed throughout the American underground. Unifactor’s Batch #15 could seem like a stealth tribute to the label; these three releases moonlights as ambient, drifting guitar psychedelia that’s fit for the hinterlands or meditative zones BBIB entangled themselves within.

Pasquarosa / Gerycz – II

For years, Jason Gerycz-heads across the nation have been debating which of his many bands — Baldi/Gercyz duo, Powers/Rolins/Gercyz trio, the punk act signed to Carpark — would be the first to land that sweet Unifactor tape release. But could anyone have anticipated “string instrument illuminator Anthony Pasquarosa” and Gercyz (on percussives, of course!) once again teaming up on a loose tape of free-wheeling interplay would be the result? The 2019 session between the two is a euphoric delight. Enclosed inside swirling labyrinths of fuzzy guitar jam riffs alongside backwoods barnyard banjo bashes (with bows & bowls). Warbly without any of the nausea of a turl-a-whurl, It flows with the power of a fall wind storm. In the process one could say it practically uncurls its own folk traditions in the process. Although really, it’s just joyous to hear two pals go crazy-go-nuts finding tones that crack open serotonin rushes in my brain.

Rosali – Chokeweed

Rosali’s time between Spinster and Scissor Tail Records have imparted us with fantastic range of guitar pop (not even counting her contributions to “barfuzz” guitar stylings of Long Hots’ 2019 single and 2018 Monday Night Raw collectors tape). Now though, Chokeweed is much more a sketch tape akin to the meanderings and ambient guitar pedal power of those aforementioned labels. Recorded after No Medium, Chokeweed parallels to David Nance’s most expansive licks and Prana Crafter’s deep headspaces. It’s a simple set-up, as Rosali’s self-recorded tracks see the interplay between two guitars looping and that lo-fi reverb sizzle. The results radiate a “back-of-the-dive-bar” warmth in the dead of a fall cold spurt at their most anthemic. Yet, the ease and wandering in and out of these tracks on the tape, track a ghostly, timeless beauty to the tracks’ most hermitudious.

Jon Collin – The Fiddle Now Steps To The Road

You may have caught Jon Collin back in the early days of Garden Portal or when he was running Winebox Press. Either way, the guitarist has never slowed his output nor has the melodies and vastness ever been more suited to a time like summer into fall.  The Fiddler Now Steps to the Road is a C30 tape comprised of “Sketches for ‘The Song of Stockholm’”. It drifts patiently, building a tantalizing, high-flying drone out of the aching tones that make up the opening of Parts A and B. It’s in the back half of each side’s track that Collin weaves a gracious harmony that floats far above you, not with judgement or admonishment but ambivalence. Like the other tapes in this batch, its listening setting of choice is made for a lake walk or park garden excursion at sunset.

All Three Currently Available at Unifactor Tapes’ Bandcamp Page!

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Tabs Out | The Concept Horse – Fills Vols. 1 – 4

The Concept Horse – Fills Vols. 1 – 4

9.10.21 by Matty McPherson

There wasn’t a memo attached to the cardboard sleeves, just a foreign pattern I couldn’t untangle and the stamp of one eë editions — a label that took me two months to track down to a Big Cartel page and a Soundcloud stream. I still don’t know the what and why, just that eë editions is a new Bandcampless label in the game, working through experimental distros to get work out internationally. Currently, they’re relocating to Vienna while prepping for their second release in early 2022. Their inaugural release belongs to one DB Friedman, aka the “Concept Horse” who has been spotted around Ithaca, NY playing DIY shows with Sarah Heinnes while still keeping rather quiet. That I filed the 2xCass that comprises Fills Vols. 1-4 as a mere curio, was a bit egregious. I should have been treating it as a legitimate cold case worth pouring over.

Nevertheless, Fills Vols. 1-4 sits at the intersection of record collection admiration and jazz drum looping to create a nervy yet minimal, fast-flowing amnesiac’s kind of library music. It seems that the Concept Horse plundered and warped multiple jazz records aiming to chase down ontological patterns and textures with a kind of elasticity. Listening through the four sides over several months, I was riveted to find myself locked into perfect loops where I couldn’t quite tell what light effects or manipulation was hanging over the entire set of affairs. What you do realize sitting around inside one of these loops long enough, is how the focus from one major beat dips towards those subtle tones or abstractions at the edges of these loops; two paths getting lost in their own directions. As this process slowly works itself through each cut, time after time the Horse Concept deconstructs jazz towards ample scatterbrained poptones, percussive plights, or outright haywire abstractions. Nevertheless, there’s a deep-rooted rhythm and step to the madness. I’m still aghast at the possibility of how easy it might be to slip this on a snooty French restaurant’s reel-to-reel system during a Saturday night rush.

It’ll be hard to pull off such a sleight of hand; all the copies of Fills Vol. 1-4 have been somewhat sold out! Yet, if you scope that hyperlink above, there might be a copy lying around on a Big Cartel internationally. Or you can listen below on the Soundcloud.

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Tabs Out | Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore – Neutral Love

Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore – Neutral Love

9.8.21 by McPherson

I love Astral Editions, this has been established on the Tabs Out blog page before. Nate Cross has etched down a vision that I find quite endearing, and the 2021 Astral Editions catalog is curating its own specific niche around Astral Spirits’ ever omnibus universe. Hauntology? Covered at the door. Space Jazz? Sure.  Netherlands post-rock post-jazz? Of course. Vocal rumblings and droning guitar tumblings? Well, Neu — oh hold on the captain has something to say.

“We’ve actually got to perform some emergency maintenance; we’re gonna be heading back to the gate”

Okay I’ll level with you: It’s 6AM on a red eye out of chicago. I love morning travel. I expect a clean, concise flight, but we’ve just been punk’d. Today might be pushing my patience though, as I really haven’t gotten the sleep I needed and the 100mg THC shot w/50mg of caffeine just made me feel real conspiratorial as I walked past the COVID [citations needed] sniffin’ dogs, as much as it made me wonder “Did southwest imagine that in fifty years it’d just own a bunch of computer kiosks? Christ, how depressing.”

Anyways, the whole team is there on this red eye: A 3 year old child asking her father “when will the flight take off?” every thirty seconds, a couple speaking 5 dBs too loudly behind me, sporadic updates that border on parody as people get pissy and talk back. Oh, yeah, and uh… That Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore “Neutral Love” tape from Astral Editions. It’s not BENADRYL® or more weed, but it’s the best medication when I’m drifting towards a hypnagogic nap on my table tray; one of ancient pasts towards a mysterious future.

Kidambi and Liberatore’s soundscapes are of an artifact that evades easy carbon dating, creating an effect to travel inward rather than take in every meaningless detail in the cabin of a 737. For thirty minutes, I did so, traveling with the two down a cavernous body of water in a little canoe. Liberatore was sailing, but hadn’t brought a paddle; instead opting to let his guitar and its restrained timbres navigate. On “Bells”, every small note or slight droning stretches, providing just enough levity for the bell to expand out and structure the piece’s movement. Meanwhile, Kidambi guided us — without a candle, just her radiating voice. Like her counterpart, Kidambi is patient with her instrument. Where her vocal inflections may start by bordering on pagan ritual, they can slowly move towards the extremes and create entirely new inflections closer to a steam kettle (“Mancanza”) or death by a thousand cuts (“Submission”) that practically command attention front and center. When the two of them cast off each other, it’s an operatic effect.

Each of the tape’s four pieces feel boundless, ebbing and flowing. That’s to say that when you are traversing your subconscious, this tape feels illustrious; one excerpt moves to another without so much of a stopgap to indicate. As suggested above, there are moments of spectacular sleight and abundant siege that the tape imparts, but the silence and patience are all the more rewarding here. By the time of side B closer, “Repose,” the two of them had guided me towards a deep-seated cocoon state. I truly would have stayed with the lights off for another eternity, but alas the pilot just told me we’re to take off. 

First pressing of 200 cassettes on RED TINT shells available at the Astral Editions Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | MJ Guider – Temporary Requiem

MJ Guider – Temporary Requiem

9.7.21 by Matty McPherson

We don’t talk about the anime, the Big O, enough on Tabs Out. Let me go ahead and rectify that. One of my favorite moments of the Japanese robot anime (about people living in a post-apocalypse simulation of NYC (or something)), is when the show briefly touches on the remnants of religion. No one knows why, but every Sunday a congregation of amnesiacs descend towards a crumbled church, where they sing songs of a foreign tongue that no one remembers; an urge beyond their comprehension drives them. It’s a story that has been on my mind as I’ve been giving Kranky-gazer MJ Guider’s (aka Melissa Guion’s) new tape Temporary Requiem a magnitude of spins. You see, Temporary Requiem is a six part music score for an experimental mass performed in 2018 and 2019. It came out of a collaborative effort with choreographer Ann Glaviano, seeking to “build and break down a lost church over the span of the performance.” 

The New Orleans-based artist had a definitive level up on last year’s Sour Cherry Bell, using her signature ambient reverb as a groundwork for propulsive, introverted headphases. Guider has mentioned the effect of New Orleans on her work — how it imparts a subconscious, romantic quality to those tracks; one equally made to drown under and much as garner a featherweight strength in its shadows. Sour Cherry Bell also made a noticeable double down on movement — whether that be a chiaroscuro step or an industrial hopscotch — that could shift on a dime. It effectively put the album in a Kranky lineage dating back to Bowery Electric’s Beat, as much as it left a new ripe ground to dig into.

When I briefly chatted with Guion about dance and working with Glaviano, I was struck at how open-minded the boundaries of dance the two were working with. Movement could be subtle as much as discrete, a larger mental modus operandi than afforded credit. And yes, Guion’s sound of “bass, drum, loops, laptop, vocals” is indeed ripe for dance. This expanded emphasis on movement came through on Guider’s two 2021 releases on her new imprint, modemain: the “matanzas/vinales” 7” and the aforementioned “Temporary Requiem” cassette. Both were worked on during the same span of time as SCB and are described as constituting a trinity of this era of MJ Guider. “Temporary Requiem” also happens to be Guider’s first tape in 7 years (since debuting on Constellation Tatsu). In that time, the purples and whites of her palette have opened up towards a faded red. Although it took me a moment to realize the white wolf I thought I saw on the cover was actually a close-up of feet in the middle of a “mass for dance.”

The six tracks presented here are experiments structured by this unique commission. Yet, Guion’s return to mass, years post-Roman Catholic high school and touring with noted metalheads Thou, have recontextualized her wheelhouse of tricks: Opener “Kyrie: The Stained Glass Windows in Their Original Order” stretches her sound to a nearly ten-minute sacramental shuffle; echoing hi-hats running like clockwork kick up quite the trance.  Dissected and altered Latin requiem passages, turned into aching chorus pieces expanding her aching voice into one of many on “Credo: Here and Gone” and “Agnus Dei…” The improv “Benedictus: Tribute to Leviathan, Her Ancestors, and Her Progeny,” summons an omnibus drone equally as glacial as Amulets. A wholly unexpected, rapturous display of fury. It’s a space I did not anticipate to find Guion, yet…

For an artist whose music has often struck me as true “heads down, blinders on” headphone listen, there is something mighty grand seeing all these elements laid down on a soundsystem. The codifiers or genre-signifiers that knee-cap the prowess of reverb, are evaded. Guion’s sound is eerier and far more inquisitive. She’s moved beyond anything that could be regulated to that sphere, as she weaves her own architecture outright. On “Temporary Requiem,” MJ Guider reached for the sublime and arrived on the other side with 2021’s strongest left-field act of spiritualism, and really that’s about all I can think about before I put it back on in a minute here.

Clear tape dubbed by Cryptic Carousel with a hand-stamped risograph insert printed by Constance edition of 100 SOLD OUT at the source; check your Chicago record store or Discogs, they’ll have copies.

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Tabs Out | Meadow Argus – Meadow Argus II

Meadow Argus – Meadow Argus II

9.2.21 by Matty McPherson

“Warmth and woozies,” that’s what Meadow Argus is made of! Tynan Krakoff of Columbus, OH recently revived that ol’ solo moniker for a followup to his tape from over five years ago. And yeah, there’s already a Meadow Argus III on the way! But today, we’re looking at the Meadow Argus II self-release from back in April. It’s a simple C35 kind of affair; one that is legitimately keeping me on edge as I type this up. 

You see, I recently swapped boomboxes and while this older Sony model plays immaculate, the Meadow Argus tape stutters and drones before swallowing itself whole. Over and over! Perhaps it is a result of the dying polyphonic air/reed organ that ties the tape together? Well, Krakoff has also stuffed this with a litany of field recordings, pianos, and alien DNA equally as demented and destitute. Either way, it’s a listening tactic that keeps the tape’s two sides from ever letting things fall into a lull, while opening up an expansive journey through recorded warbly artifacts.

Headphones are understandably recommended and noteworthy for how well they untangle these sounds and the tape’s six tracks. Afterall, Krakoff isn’t just doing “noise for the sake of noise” here. Take Side B’s nocturnal suite. It seamlessly moves from the quicksand rupture of “amber” until a foghorn signals that it’s time for a twilight lift from a “northbound train,” a junker scaling through soot, scruff, and scowls. By the time it’s finally made landing at “shingle beach,” the previous 14-odd minutes of previous tape loops and manipulation are all elements pushing to the horizon line; things are clearing up, with a layer of what could only seem to be ham radio static and frail, busted keys guiding this cruise down to a terminal plane.

Pro-dubbed cassette tape on clear shells with imprinting, with double-sided full color artwork by Pearl Morgan. Edition of 100.

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Tabs Out | Xah – Approaching the Absolute Periphery

Xah – Approaching the Absolute Periphery

8.31.21 by Jacob DeRaadt

Scrap metal noise has a long-standing place in experimental music circles.  From the anti-music aktions of New Blockaders and the Haters to modern masters like K2, Knurl, and Macronympha, artists have assimilated the discarded waste of industrial society into the fabric of their sound. From absolute processed and edited symphonies of prickly precision to stark documents of material abuse.

Xah is an unfamiliar name to this reviewer, but after a couple listens, I’ll be keeping an eye on this project. No discernible effects are used in these very raw and energetic recordings; a barrage of different techniques and structures are worn into entropic bliss. Xah alternately coaxes low-end gurgling and high-end screeching out of their set up.  This short tape is a great introduction to a killer project that I can’t wait to hear more from.

“A C30 Cassette dubbed in real time housed in a silver norelco with professionally printed j cards and labels.” Available from Cruel Symphonies.

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Tabs Out | Takahiro Kawaguchi – Recorded Xenoglossy

Takahiro Kawaguchi – Recorded Xenoglossy

8.30.21 by Matty McPherson

I’m a sucker for a good rule, limit, or promise. Perhaps the Pilgrim Talk label is as well. The California based enterprise is a bit of a hideout for noisers, microtoners, and sustained voiders (the label claims “the void is real”). Nick Hoffman is the local intaker of the label, over twelve years on the job. He’s recently moved down to LA with a lute in hand to strike out whatever fortunes are still arising outside of a line at The Smell or what have you. Also, Hoffman is a bit of an occasional interviewer, sometimes offering an interview alongside a tape release coming out on Pilgrim Talk. He did such a thing with Takahiro Kawaguchi’s Recorded Xenology. I give a genuine recommendation for the interview as Hoffman and Kawaguchi cover ample room discussing the construction of Kawaguchi’s live and studio body of work; the experiments and set-ups that have been his bread and butter dating back to 2k4. It’s helpful context towards the constructivist sounds of Recorded Xenology, which is a tape release truly bound by simple rules, self-made instruments (a la Bad Jazz), and sound repetitions.

Rule* 1 is of course my favorite: HORN. And no, that’s not a free pass to honk or crank or wail. Kawaguchi is not trying to summon Mr. B Natural with THIS decked out “air compressor and ten car horns” super instrument (an instrument that has been modified, partially confiscated, and still revealing itself over the course of several years). Instead, he’s well tuning up the horn, exploring the compositional sounds that come about. And while it could have been a demolition derby or destructive catalyst, the sound is actually quite jubilant. There’s ample bounce to this horn that lets the instrument’s tonality begin to hit foreign, isolated planes. Removed from the context of a car and the horn takes on semi-regal as much as semi-gauche sounds; it’s an uncanny, yet welcome feeling to say the least. When he reintroduces the instrument for Rule* 3, HORNS, Kawaguchi is letting it move about semi-automatically, almost like a rudimentary Keith Fullerton Whitman Playthroughs session. It’s a sound that as it sustains over the twenty and a half minutes, cannot help but transmute or reconfigure. Yet, a greater magnitude of sonic intensity, including a warming drone, comes through that piece that is displaced in “HORN.”

In between these two Rules* is Rule* 2 “NO HORN,” which substitutes the horn for fingers and paper cone recordings that were converted into sound. It’s much more of an ASMR type of event that gave me thoughts of can openers (amongst other crank type objects) and pennies on a dead mime. Although, the tape’s cover (art by Mr. Hoffman) itself may stand as a more enduring drawing of what exactly is happening on “NO HORN.” 

*Rule = Track when indicated

Cassette currently available at the Pilgrim Talk Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | Episode #171

? Band - Museum Quality Works (Radical Documents)
Hey String - split w/ Anna Homler and Elizabeth Falconer (Blue Tapes)
Tremorkikimor - Yarugi (Dub Cthonic)
Gort - Your Time Will Come (SDM)
Melissa - s/t (Flesh Prison)
Straight Panic - The Blood of Ancient Gods Vol 1 comp (Humanhood Recordings)
Filthy Huns - Cursed At Birth (Not Not Fun)
Baingan Bharta - Bëblex α (Rubber City Noise)
Bob Bucko Jr - You Deserve A Name (Personal Archives)
Sour Spirit - Aluminum Rainbow (Unknown Tapes)
Terrie Ex & Jaap Blonk - OZO BONN (Public Eyesore)

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Tabs Out | Jordan Reyes – What is a Ghost? Is it Really Me?

Jordan Reyes – What is a Ghost? Is it Really Me?

8.26.21 by Matty McPherson

Mr. Reyes, I hope you are doing well at the moment. I know you can be quite busy, running American Dreams and (American) Decline labels in between whatever is on your plate. I just thought you should know that I recently took in your latest tape, “What is a Ghost? Is it Really Me?”, in between days of grilling and reflecting on John Hassell. The title struck me as a beautiful question in light of all things happening. It left me in a most inquisitive modus operandus.

I’d seen in the past that you’ve expressed quite the interest in modular synthesizers, but that for this Unifactor batch, you opted for “synth drones with dead-eyed woodwinds or the occasional wall of layered guitar clusters.” It took me a week to work towards the proper headspace with these zones, although once they worked their magic, I found myself sympathizing with these tones.

When times were lighter, I used to walk on the beach; a welcome reprieve from my own anxiety. There was a moment at the start of the pandemic that I walked into a sheer wind blast. Your scorched synth tones on the opener brought me back there, real time navigating where I was going. There’s even a bit of a conspiratorial sense to the instrumentation. The shadows the woodwinds impart on “What Spectre Reflects in Glass?” seemed to tower over me, murmuring their dismay. There’s peace to be found though through those tumults.

The back half is a patient, brighter stride. The open-eyed bass rumble and synthetic pulses of the title track; the flickery jitters of The Void is Boundless, Boundless is the Void that circle around the same sugar-coated acidity of Suicide ‘77. Yes, I can see them serving as ways to reacquaint oneself in a space — foreign or familiar — and work from there.

I do appreciate best though, how you are able to bust out those aforementioned guitar clusters. On “Foregone Breaths a Presence Makes,” the guitar rolls through like a warm breeze, stretching where the synth drones grimace. When the instrument returns on “Lead Me To The Cliff – Away We Laugh,” there’s a newfound serenity that I find myself lulled to. A cosmic lullaby for those starless nights. I guess I’m trying to say, the tape made me feel a little less alone, and I thank you for sharing these zones of solace.

Limited Edition Cassette Available from the ever reliable Unifactor Tapes

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