Tabs Out | Fuck Lungs – 2TH

Fuck Lungs – 2TH

8.22.19 by Ryan Masteller

The Fuck Lungs guys – Curt Oren and Joe Hess – are tricky. If you don’t keep your eye on them, they’re bound to come up with something so outlandish you’ll wish you’d have kept that wandering eye firmly on the duo instead of letting your gaze drift to the bird that’s hilariously picking at the remnants of a hoagie underneath a picnic table. And while we all love a good hilarious bird to divert our attention from the horrifying shitshow that is Modern Life, we can’t get caught in the trap of distraction, we can’t lose ourselves in nothingness when there’s so much more somethingness going on around us.

Speaking of distraction, where was I? Oh right – “2TH” is pronounced “tooth” and is about a particularly nasty visit to a rogue dentist.

No it’s not.

If you HAD kept your eye on Oren and Hess, you’d have noticed that every single track on “2TH” is a cool two minutes. That’s in keeping with Fuck Lungs’ exploration of “twos, duos, and pairs” on this thing, which they recorded with a timer on the wall counting down exactly two minutes. So what do they do with their bunch of two minuteses? Whatever they want, homie! Noise rock, experimental jazz, “Judgment Free Jazz,” noise, no wave, all (well, mostly) delivered with deafening intensity. It’s only when they pull back to engage in some intricate noodlery that they don’t pound you in the face with whatever’s going on in the current two minutes. 

These guys are all over the place. They will help you expand your horizons. 

Oh! Fuck Lungs ITSELF is a duo! Gosh, that really blows my mind…

This edition of 125 is almost sold out at Already Dead, so hop to it!

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Tabs Out | Catching up with FTAM Productions

Catching up with FTAM Productions

8.14.19 by Ryan Masteller

FTAM Productions out of Milwaukee releases some noisy noise stuff on cassette tape (also other media, but do you really need to know about that here?). Let’s see what they’ve been up to, shall we?

Some joker at the Milwaukee Maker Faire decided it would be a good idea to let FTAM curate a noise show. Was it a good idea? Who knows! But surely there were many a “Great set!” handed out to the performers at the event. “We Made Some Sounds” is all the documentation you’ll ever need, though, to decide for yourself. Four artists are represented here: The Smudge, Bachelorette Party, Dan of Earth, and Lucky Bone. The Smudge marries hellish samples and ear-splitting feedback. Bachelorette Party does similar things but subtler, as if you can call waves of piercing sonics subtle. Still, the loud/quiet/loud dynamics is excellent, and if you listen hard enough, you’ll even parse some melody! Dan of Earth is all HNW knob-twiddling, which would have been ultra-intense to an audience member. And Lucky Bone warps ten minutes of what sounds like guitar noodling with what probably is an industrial magnet. The cassette-only bonus track is found sounds from the Faire. Was it fun? Probably! Exhausting? You bet!

Speaking of HNW releases, Taskmaster is a blistering madperson. Heavy processed harsh walls of noise (which is what HNW sort of stands for, except rearrange the words a little bit) empty from speakers like a lava flow into your bedroom, consuming everything it touches and making a hole in the floor and then into the foundation and finally into the Earth’s crust itself. It LITERALLY sounds like that, so much so that maybe Taskmaster just does field recordings of active volcanoes. But regardless, letting the new Taskmaster tape engulf you is just the start of the fun. Once inside (you or it in it or you, depending on your perspective), subtleties emerge, and gradual shifts become more apparent. But to point to subtlety while ignoring the sheer power of this release is folly: you will come away from Taskmaster’s output seismically changed, your core tectonics all goofed up inside you. But isn’t that the point?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a mind eraser, and it sounds horrible: Kahlua, lemon-lime soda, and vodka, layered over ice. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a mixed-drink enthusiast. In fact, I don’t drink them at all, really. But I have to wonder if Kyle Flanagan’s “Mind Eraser” is an ode to the drink, your mental state after knocking a few mind erasers back, or your mental state after partaking in “Mind Eraser” itself. Maybe all three, perhaps more. Over ten minutes, Flanagan layers piercing static and … horse noises? It’s wicked stuff, treble skimmed from the bass and treated and chemically reattached like daemons and kids at secret Magisterium labs. It’s also like a cement mixer rolling around one part cement, one part nitroglycerin, and three parts metal shards. Or like the drink cement mixer, another horrid concoction.

The cover fruit is chomped, loudly, obnoxiously, its rinds discarded. Woods manufactures tension with sounds and silence, weaving in elements and allowing them to disappear as quickly as they emerged in the first place. The dichotomy between space and structure becomes starker until it disappears completely in a haze of overwhelming sensory overload. This is just “Comedy, Pt. 2,” the opening track to “Shorter Flagpoles,” and it’s sixteen minutes of awe, wonder, and “Oops, I stayed too long, gotta go, it’s dangerous now!” The tape continues with the short, bombastic title track, then shifts back into subtle paranoia with the exquisitely titled “To Fall backward and Blindfolded into the Lap of a Goddess,” whose restraint and creeping intensity drift into whispered spoken text and shrill feedback. The fruitmeat is long gone; the rinds are covered in flies.

Milwaukee emo makes you think of what, Cap’n Jazz and The Promise Ring? What about Milwaukee screamo? Math rock? Murder in the Red Barn and Guns Blazing were two outfits at the forefront of the scene, and FTAM got its hands on an unreleased album by each. Why put them together? Easy: guitarist/vocalist Joshua Backes was in both bands, as was drummer James David. Murder in the Red Barn comes off as a sort of Drive Like Jehu/June of ’44 hybrid, with strangled guitars and time signature shifts. Guns Blazing is leaner, quicker, knottier – and still comes off as a sort of Drive Like Jehu / June of ’44 hybrid. I mean, this is perfect nostalgia stuff for me. That’s what I listened to in college. So this double tape is a perfect throwback to that time. Just know that it’s not a NOISE release, like all the other tapes on this list. I don’t want you to have unreasonable expectations.

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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: Cool Me Down

2019 is gonna be the hottest year ever recorded. The Bonus Brigade has one mission: Use tapes to cool Mike down.

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Tabs Out | Thee Reps – Minimal Surface

Thee Reps – Minimal Surface

8.13.19 by Ryan Masteller

New York pranksters Thee Reps start with weird little noodles and expand upon them, using the repetition of certain passages as building blocks to create intricate structures of sound.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Rep” is slang for “reputation,” as in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air song “You’re only sixteen, you don’t have a rep yet!” But here it’s slang for “repetition,” meaning repeated passages. (This has been mentioned.) “Thee” is biblical for “The,” and so there may or may not be religious connotations in the music. However, since the music is instrumental, I’m going to go with “No,” although there’s a song called “Qumran” which is really close to “Qur’an.” So there’s that.

The quintet of Dave Ruder, Karen Waltuch, Jeff Tobias, Sam Morrison, and Max Jaffe fall somewhere on the spectrum between Pattern Is Movement (remember them?) and Cave, which is to say, neo-Neu! jammage run through a time signature ringer. Mathy yet delicate, krauty yet complex, “Minimal Surface” allows the band to expand while staying completely crouched and compact wherever they happen to be placed in time and space. It’s easy to picture them this way as there isn’t much in the way of explosive release, but the configurations exude a comfort you can sense in both composition and execution. You can play spot the influence all day too – I just heard some Tortoise and some Rachel’s in there. Good company.

So head over to Gold Bolus and grab a copy. You can check out a stream of the album from Cassauna below.

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Tabs Out | Ron Thomas and John Swana – Serenity

Ron Thomas and John Swana – Serenity

8.12.19 by Ryan Masteller

This Galtta stuff, am I right? You just never know what they’re going to release, but you can be almost 100% certain that it’s gonna get under your skin in the most pleasant and affective ways possible. Sometimes it’ll be the most amazing soft rock this side of Seals and Crofts. Other times it’ll be something like “Serenity,” which takes cues from Tangerine Dream and Cluster and Eno but also has kindred-spirit Galtta releases in Energy ☆ and Purelle. That’s what Ron Thomas (not Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20) and John Swana are slingin’.

As much as you’re like me and want to shout “Serenity now!” at the top of your lungs or start watching the “Firefly” episodes over again, this kind of “Serenity” is this kind of serenity, a little relaxation music with a psychedelic edge. In fact, whatever that thing is on the cover of the tape looks a little like a serpent-y version of the alien life forms encountered far under the sea in “The Abyss” – but a little more weird and wild and maaaaybe less willing to help. In fact, listening to “Serenity” will give you the vibe of being in some kind of extraterrestrial terrarium, a sealed environment in which you’re interacting with a controlled ecosystem, but one that you’ve never encountered before.

But safe! It’s all very above-the-board, and there’s no way you can really get hurt here. In fact, you’re left to observe life as it happens as Thomas and Swana fill the atmosphere with bubbling pockets of energy, swirls of ambience so appropriate that you’ll swear you’re breathing them rather than listening to them. And that’s probably intentional – actual living DNA seems to be encoded in the DNA of these tracks, lending them an incredibly tactile quality despite their ethereality. The full effect is one of equal comfort and disorientation, like you’re tripping balls or something with your best friends in somebody’s parents’ swimming pool in the middle of the night.

Or so I assume that’s what it would feel like. Gulp!

Anyway, hey – this is a hot one. Grab it from Galtta while you can! Edition of 125.

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Tabs Out | Sun Ra and His Arkestra – Sun Ra with Pharaoh Sanders and Black Harold

Sun Ra and His Arkestra – Sun Ra with Pharaoh Sanders and Black Harold

8.9.19 by Ryan Masteller

Let’s get this straight: Sun Ra claims to be from Saturn. This is not a joke, and you can’t disprove it, even though his earthly body has succumbed to its own breaking down. He’s just left that body behind and returned from whence he came. Can you imagine someone like Bjorn Copeland claiming something like that? Chick Corea? Merzbow? Couldn’t pull it off if they tried. Sun Ra was the real deal because he was the REAL DEAL. He brought us through the present and into the future. Now we just have to somehow get out of this timeline and back to the one Sun Ra had started us down, the correct one, and we’ll be just peachy…

Fortunately, he left us a whole mess of jazz to sift through. I know some of you are scared of jazz, but that’s just foolish and reckless horsecrap. You should embrace it because it makes you a better person. It will allow you to appreciate things you normally wouldn’t appreciate. Unappreciable things. Jazz could even make you appreciate a man who said he was some Saturn, who then dropped like a million tons of jazz on the world. You should check out the Sun Ra archive on Bandcamp. It’s quite extensive.

So this document of Sun Ra’s appearance on December 31, 1964, at Judson Hall in New York has never before seen the light of day. I’ll let you read the notes on the album page so I don’t have to rehash them here, but tracks 6 through 11 ONLY appeared on the 1976 LP “Featuring Pharaoh Sanders and Black Harold,” which of course is twelve years after the session. (Sun Ra was a notoriously poor archivist of his own material.) Somehow (dark magic? Grift? Mind control? Blackmail? Nuclear threats?) Pennsylvania’s Orb Tapes got their hands on the cassette rights for this thing, and now, in 2019, FIFTY-FIVE YEARS after the original session, all tracks – not just 6 through 11 but ONE through 11 – appear on an actual physical tape. It’s like Sun Ra himself has reached all the way through time and space and made it happen.

So take it from me: buy it. Listen to it. Embrace it. Embrace jazz. It’s the Arkestra, man. What do you want me to tell you? 

Edition of 200 comes in “green shells with pro pad printing, white/clear cases, pro-dubbed in realtime.” Get hopping, fools!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Never Anything Records

New Batch – Never Anything Records

8.1.19 by Ryan Masteller

When is a batch not a batch? When the tapes you’re listening to were not released together, and you jump from catalog number 47 to 49, then hit 50. It seems random, but it’s not – these were the Never Anything tapes that came in the review box.

But then again, when does a batch actually matter beyond its initial release? It doesn’t. So I don’t know why I even brought it up.


Ross Birdwise likes electricity. He’s practically addicted to it, its features, its sounds, its taste even (probably). On “Crisis Ordinary,” he worships it, as every moment of the tape has a palpable electronic patois to it – you can almost smell the ozone from soldered circuits wafting in the air. Imagine, then, Birdwise getting really close to his gear, right on top of it, right up in it, and utilizing the tiniest fragments of it to compose the most micro electronic tunes, those that fidget on the edges of vision and vibrate with current. Imagine Birdwise is using a microscope. Imagine he’s having a dialogue with whatever it is he’s tinkering with. “Crisis Ordinary” finds the fractures in the building blocks, the corrupted source files in need of digital repair. Ross Birdwise is the technician we need for the problem we don’t know we have. So what if he’s more interested in exploring than fixing? We can just call somebody else then, I guess.


For Benjamin Finger, Mia Zabelka, and John Hegre, collaboration was a no-brainer. Actually, I have nothing to back that statement up other than this documentation of their performance “Live at Rewire 2018,” which, if I’m reading the back of the j-card with my GOOD glasses, was “made for Concertzender Netherlands on April 6, 2018, during Rewire festival in the Hague.” (It also credits Amout Leene for recording this sucker.) But the result suggests the no-brainer aspect of the whole thing, because Finger, Zabelka, and Hegre work terrifyingly well together. Blending various synthetic and electronic instruments together and stretching them to unending lengths, the trio sculpts massive yellow-orange sound designs out of thick mists, with the soft results returning to mist after a few moments to be resculpted into something else. The mysteries of inspiration abound, but they swirl continuously like an alien sea made up of something other than liquid. “Live at Rewire 2018” finds a shared headspace among its performers, and the stunning output is clearly formed at a molecular level.


Data’s worth nothing if it’s not organized. DC stalwart Nate Scheible has provided us the key, the indices, or rather “Indices,” to absorb and reflect properly upon that data. The ambient maestro’s latest finds him exploring vast corridors of card-catalogued data, corridors you can totally spend the rest of your life in, referencing, reorganizing, researching. Sometimes you may be surprised at what you find. At others, you may find yourself zoning out until you shake yourself out of it hours later. But no matter where you are along “Indices’” timeline, you’re beset on all sides by absolute frickin’ magic. You can feel it in the air. Ancient knowledge and secrets are just at your fingertips, and all you have to do is open up a drawer and take a look. Scheible knows what sort of powers he’s wielding, and he lets his work stretch open, ever outward. Even when it feels insular, “Indices” works upon the internal in inconceivably grand ways. Quiet ways, sure, but still awfully grand. 

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Tabs Out | Sex Funeral – All Teeth

Sex Funeral – All Teeth

7.31.19 by Ryan Masteller

Maybe we can finally and actually, once and for all, have this funeral for “sex” that everyone’s been talking about. Nobody wants it, right? So let’s put it in the ground. Sex Funeral itself wants a sex funeral, if their new tape, “All Teeth” on Gay Hippie Vampire, is to be believed. And why wouldn’t you believe it? Sex Funeral wrote it. They’re the experts here, not us.

Crushingly inventive even at their most laid back, the duo of Bob Bucko Jr. and Matthew Crowe are at their most laid back on “All Teeth.” Normally a progressive free improv/blistering noise maelstrom of drums and sax, Sex Funeral this time are master tinkerers, fiddling with synthesizer knobs and percussive elements beyond drums, all while retaining some of that sweet signature saxophone for emphatic use. To call “All Teeth” creepy would be to sell it short. It’s tense and unusual, coiled like a wild animal, probably ready to strike if the need arises. 

But the need does not arise.

Bucko and Crowe refuse to take the bait and shred – their patience is enormous and complete and warranted, and the result is nothing short of a fascinating head trip at every moment. It’s the freshest they’ve sounded in years – which is a weird way of suggesting that it’s only because they likely didn’t work up much of a sweat on all these tunes. Their sound is always fresh, but they also usually sound like they’re really sweaty. Which is fine, if that’s the mood you’re in.

Only seven left of the original run from Gay Hippie Vampire. GHV says, “Thoughtful[y] dubbed over a found tape with a Sony 950ES (it sounds great, trust me).” Why wouldn’t you?

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Tabs Out | Hylopath – Driverless-Human

Hylopath – Driverless-Human

7.30.19 by Ryan Masteller

My cousin got a new Tesla, and it’s pretty sweet. It’s certainly much better than your car or my car, and not just because you really do feel the Gs when you stomp the gas pedal (it’s like a roller coaster!). It can also drive itself, meaning you can text and drive all you want, or eat a sandwich, or read a book. Actually, now that I think about it, why the heck aren’t all cars self-driving at this point? Or fully electric? Or can get updates via a cell connection like your phone?

Before I snap in rage, let’s talk about Hylopath, whose “Driverless-Human” is a revelation. Not sure how a driverless human is like a driverless car, but stay with me, maybe we’ll figure something out. (At any rate, it’s a nifty idea!) London-based electronic artist Rupert Cole has basically put together the perfect human/AI relationship album, a baroque future-pop delight populated by personalities that range from almost human to sort-of human. The spoken text-to-speech voices that inhabit Cole’s world speak their stories and strive to emote, which makes the endeavor itself even more tragic. As in, poor AI! Trying to act human! So, so sad.

But it’s way more complicated than that, which is what makes this work so compelling. The stories’ backing tracks being intensely catchy certainly doesn’t hurt. But it’s the way that the AIs’ fractured viewpoints and corroding circuitry mirror humanity that hits hardest, as if we’re in a distant future place, and humanity’s gone, and even the machines couldn’t learn how to properly avoid extinction (or at least drama). How on earth could they not compile enough data points to evolve beyond emotional response? It’s heartbreaking to see it come to this, to a place not too far beyond where Ferraro’s “Human Story 3” or something along those lines ended up.

And still: fascinating.
While we’re all waiting for our new Teslas to arrive and figuring out what a “Driverless-Human” is, let’s spend some time on the internet purchasing this Hylopath tape from Adaadat. Stream in full there too.

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Tabs Out | Somnambulists – From the Field to the Factory

Somnambulists – From the Field to the Factory

7.25.19 by Ryan Masteller

A somnambulist is one who sleepwalks, and I used to be a pretty good sleepwalker back in the day. My mom told me one time in junior high or thereabouts that I had stood on my bed and stared banging my fists on the wall, yelling, “Mom! Let me out of the garage!,” etc. I remembered none of it. I’d like to think this story ended with my mom and me laughing about it, but I can’t be sure. She may have been scowling at me, or looking at me in a sidelong way, like I was a burgeoning supervillain or something.

Warren Ng is multiple Somnambulists, and the passages that he creates on his guitar are drenched with reverb and delay. Being far more interested in the tonal qualities he can extricate from his instrument, Ng embarks on lengthy excursions along the fretboards, letting the results of his experiments guide him. If “From the Field to the Factory” was going to soundtrack something, it would soundtrack a vigorous sleepwalking jaunt, such is the trancelike quality of its drawn-out tracks.

And of course you can’t get heady with your languid post-blues riffs without punching up the content with a little social commentary. See the title track, for example, for a reverie on the worker. “The Streets Were Paved with the Blood of Saints” conjures some vicious anti-religion protest. “Poem of Struggle” sounds like it’s from the pen of a tragic Dostoevsky hero. And if “We Are Children of the Ahistorical,” what then have we inherited? Nothing but the dead flag blues, if you ask me.

Even if you do it unconsciously, head on over to Zum Audio and grab a copy of this one. Edition of 100.

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