Paralycyst / Sun Rad – split
2.23.17 by Bobby Power
Property Materials is a Boston-based label that releases split tapes by Sun Rad, which is also manned by a co-founder of the label itself. Since debuting November 2015, the imprint has released four splits, each featuring Sun Rad to foil both local and long-distance counterparts (from Salem, MA to Oakland, CA). But Sun Rad’s take on enthusiastic and neon yet experimental dance music proves to be more dynamic than one might expect.
The label’s album description suggests that the tape is: “dance music for those who stayed up late and partied in the basement.” Luckily, both sides bring a genuine sense of makeshift but efficient DIY show at any house, gallery, or backroom.
Paralycyst doesn’t appear to have much of a public presence. Researching the project only shows that it’s run by “a musician from Oakland, CA.” Here, the four Paralycyst tracks would strike a deep chord with any fan of Container, Cube, or any other modern techno-industrialist. But rather than just another in the crowded techno(ise), the sounds maintain their own sense of frayed rigidity. “Altercation” starts off a rote and unassuming drum beat clicking its way through some blown out speaker. Soon enough, waves tighten and loosen in bizarre patterns. The mechanized beat slurs in and out of focus while utilitarian melodies play themselves out. “No Rave” is a blast of 8-bit precision and acid-like pulses. “Peripheral” and “Filth” to the opening track’s bleak, pummeling monotony, cycling through an endless loop of noise. It’s a shame to see Paralycyst hasn’t released anything since this tape last summer.
Where Paralycyst goes deep into the darkest corners of a basement noise show, Sun Rad brings the modest crowd in together to close the night out moving around a bit. “Endless Midnight” makes no bones about it, launching into a jarring and hypnotic run of stabbing 90s acid. It’s similar to LFO but modernized in the vein of Kanding Ray or Andy Stott. “Heaven Knows” plays a bit more with negative space, following a bare beat in oddly vacant space. As the track builds up, a fluorescent shape appears and takes over. “Content Mirage” is the happy medium between the two, mixing unabashed hallmarks of dance music (synthetic hand claps, percussion, and sighs) and perfectly closing things out.
Sadly, the tape edition of 50 copies is sold out at the source, but you can grab a digital copy via Bandcamp.
New Batch – Spring Break Tapes!
2.22.17 by Scott Scholz
Spring Break Tapes! proprietor Joe McKay had a busy 2016 that included the launch of the incredible Dinzu Artefacts label, an experimental/sound-art focused imprint with a thoughtful, unified art/layout design scheme. But fear not, Spring Break fans: SBT shows no signs of slowing down, either, with a recent pair of jams that may be the best yet on the label.
Hainbach – The Evening Hopefuls
Berlin-based composer Stefan Paul Goetsch’s electronics side project Hainbach takes a fascinating turn with “Evening Hopefuls.” Previous Hainbach jams have mostly incorporated beats, though 2015’s “Ashes” heads into more ambient pastures. While these pieces still ebb and flow between layers of loops, the source material is generated from rehearsal recordings of Goetsch’s debut orchestral composition, a long piece intended to be performed in sync with a showing of Wiene’s silent film classic, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” Many composers record ongoing orchestral rehearsals if possible, as they’re invaluable for helping to improve scores during the rehearsal process, but Goetsch took his rehearsal tapes to a whole new level, using his downtime between rehearsals to create Hainbach-styled arrangements of the material.
The result is an incomparable ambient album, with mesmerizing, gentle layers of sound. While very small fragments of sound are deployed to create these soundscapes, the timbral richness of its orchestral origins comes through with a variety of sounds one doesn’t hear in albums made of modular sounds and field recordings. Worlds collide, and charmingly so.
Bus Gas – Live On Leave Us
Nebraska ensemble Bus Gas returns for their second tape on Spring Break, and fourth overall. Past recordings have found these gentlemen processing their drone-oriented improvisations into complex tapestries that sound highly composed, but this outing finds them tackling a pair of composed pieces instead. Recorded live at O’Leavers Pub in Omaha, Nebraska, richly orchestrated layers of sound turn this trio lineup into a massive force of drone, and for guitar tone aficionados, you’ll find some of the most satisfying tube-fueled melodic lines of the Obama-era outlining the mysterious architecture of these pieces.
2014’s “Snake Hymns” highlighted shorter pieces that often took on a more Faust-ian sound-collage delirium, but the alternating delicacy and weight of these new jams takes a classical kind of solemnity, like Sclesi’s harmonic-based minimalism hefted into Ligeti-esque sound masses. There is a deep current of melancholy woven into this music, but to make sure you don’t turn into a ball of ennui sobbing in a corner, Bus Gas helpfully provides a little brevity in the form of the album title itself, a play on “Live at O’Leavers.” This performance marked a sort of geographical split-up of the project, but considering how each of their tapes has reached new heights of beauty and darkness, let’s hope they find a way to continue working together regardless of distance.
It should be mentioned that Spring Break has really stepped up their already killer j-card game on this new batch as well: both tapes feature intricate zillion-panel artwork, printed on both sides, that provide a lot of visual interest while listening. The metallic inks on the Hainbach tape really pop, and the enigmatic artwork for Bus Gas fits perfectly with the music. With only 100 copies of each in the wild, you’d best step up to Spring Break Tapes in a jiffy.
MichealCushion – Life Escaper Trial Edition
2.21.17 by Mike Haley
Ever wonder what the hell is going on? I’m not talking about a deep, late into the night conversation about life and it’s meanings or lack of, but more along the lines of a situation where you discover cheese in the battery holder of your TV’s remote control. A shake-your-head/shrug-your-shoulders flash of befuddlement. “Life Escaper Trial Edition” is a series of those sort of circumstances. It would appear that MichealCushion removed your triple A’s and put that cheese in your remote. Maybe they read on a body building message board that gouda could power electronics better than Duracells? Perhaps it was just a bozo goof with some left over mascarpone? You’ll have to get in touch with MichealCushion on your own time and find out. I’m past the point of curiosity, content with swimming in the whiz of this killer tape.
Nothing here makes much sense. It’s awkward, nomadic, and ambiguous of it’s intent. In calm moments “Life Escaper Trial Edition” flirts with moody, inner-directed dexterity, but is quickly pummeled with charged up distractions and false starts that rupture into squelch. Recycled sounds and puddle-minded shake ups are gnarled into a dopey coitus of audio blllleeeaaaauurgh, with volume levels and motivations whirling rapidly out of control. Basically a Supermarket Sweep of noise, dashing from isle to isle throwing everything into the cart without any meals in mind. I bet plenty of time was spent in the cheese section though. Those remotes aren’t gonna fill themselves.
Only 20 copies of “Life Escaper Trial Edition” were made, all with white shells and equally fanatic artwork. Go buy one from Melty Tapes now, okay!?
New Batch – Constellation Tatsu
2.15.17 by Bobby Power
Oakland imprint Constellation Tatsu has been a reliable source of drifting experimentation sourced from all over the globe. Often dropping in batches of three, each set of new sounds uncovers a dizzying array of epiphanies. The label’s latest batch doesn’t mess with the tried and true formula, bringing new sounds from Forest Walker, Ana & Ina, and SODA lite.
First up, Forest Christenson is perhaps best known as one half of Seabat, a duo with composer/synthesist John Also Bennet (Forma). But Christenson has also been involved with a number of sporadic experimental projects, such as Harsh Yoga and Arid Hunter, among others. Now, Christenson steps into his own solo light as Forest Walker with UV Sea, which also turns out to be one of the more confounding and promising debuts out there.
Throughout the tape’s four tracks–two short, two long– the LA-based producer effortlessly culls serene washes of sound that speak not only to Constellation Tatsu’s aesthetic but also Walker’s unique sense of ambient music. With photography and design by John Also Bennett, the final physical product is an elegant blur of imagery and sound.
Opener “Desert Lighthouse” opens with a vaguely Steve Reich-ian cycle of pulsing sounds, perfectly setting the stage for the ensuing aural bliss. Over time, the track shifts in and out of focus, dialing in a beautifully distant piano melody and sifting sheets of static and texture. It almost resembles Tim Hecker without the flurry of frayed noise and overpowering tones. “Amendment of Fundamental Axioms” retreats into negative space, examining modest suggestions of chordal color and intermittent feedback. “Saved Video of a Postcard” veers deeper into more symphonic realms, establishing the low-key dread and peripheral grace of Johann Johannson. Closer “Realtime Lapse” offers the most patient and truly immersive piece here. The 12+ minutes of slowed and slurred drones are pure emotional melancholy, meditating on a theme of sullen hopefulness.
On Dockweiler Beach marks the return of Ana & Ina, the obscured ambient project helmed by writer Ashley Hoffman and visual artist Ian James. Here again, as with the duo’s fantastic Analogue cassette on Complicated Dance Steps from 2011, Hoffman is credited with “thoughts” while James provided “emotions.” The unassuming mystique and loosely explained process leaves quite a bit up to interpretation, making repeat listens all the more addicting.
The A-side “Come In” is a half-hour drift of inviting electronics that slowly morph into various smooth shapes of sound. There’s no narrative whatsoever, leaving all reference points, timestamps, or cues obsolete and amping up the riveting display. B-side “Come Around” floats in a celestial murk of weightless tones and shimmering textures, similar to Pulse Emitter or Windy & Carl. The track’s second half evolves into a disembodied careen of meandering glee.
Finally, Alex Last returns after SODA lite’s exquisite Liquid Earth tape on Illuminated Paths with In Eco, an imagined travelogue to pseudo-sythetic lands. Field recordings seemingly captured from dreams or other fabricated sources intersect with naturalistic backdrops to create seven humid scenes of vaguely picturesque and wholly captivating allure. On tracks “Habitat,” “In Eco,” and “Galatea Point,” reality becomes subjective, perfectly cleansing the palette for the ambiguous ambiance of “Senses,” “Aurai,” and “Lagoon.” The brief but potent closer “Oceania” wraps things up in an air of stranded ambivalence. You might be marooned, but you wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world.
Look At These Tapes #8
2.8.17 by Tabs Out Crew
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.
WHEREAS – CMMZOZMM – Electronic Quartet
2.3.17 by Mike Haley
Cameron MacNair, Mike Meanstreetz, Omar Zubair, and Maneesh Madahar decided to burn all maps, pack a lunch (and some rando “instruments”), and just go explore their surroundings. For forty minutes they wandered about, stopping here and there, eventually returning with this stupid good tape on Tingo Tongo.
The cassette is one long track split up into two equal parts. While there’s totally a ton of room carved out for sticky, meditative improv, WHEREAS‘ no-edit circus “CMMZOZMM // Electronic Quartet” is highlighted by it’s wonderful micro agitations. Rogue chunks of detached, frustrated, and otherwise deviated sounds that band together to form freaked out, and rather unpredictable networks. It starts off with a low key vibration; a cool tremor that plods up your leg every so chill like. Then the itsy bitsies begin to skitter out. A miscellanea of buttoned down electronics, slightly out of place samples, and grisly guitar echo flashbomb the avocado-like rumble that is still working things out in the background. Created is a sonic jittering that can be unnerving, even when the quartet dips into their more casual jam territories. Don’t be surprised if your hand is shaking like you consumed one too many cups of coffee, even when virtually nothing is happening. That is the hectic residue of WHEREAS’ slimey patchwork still in your system. They serve it up thick, and aren’t afraid to bust out a run of pitched vocals over metallic clamor or some other weird mishmash.
An edition of 100 copies is available here. Go get one.
Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie – Essential Anatomies
1.27.17 by Mike Haley
Call me a old fashioned, but I think the use of full names should be reserved for people who have assassinated a public figure (or at least attempted to), shot up a shopping mall, or some other batty shit like that. But I’m willing to give Colin Andrew Sheffield & James Eck Rippie a pass. After listening to “Essential Anatomies” I think we will all agree that they deserve it. Not because they create frantic, unhinged environments. They do just the opposite. And they do it very, very well.
Colin and James are far from strangers when it comes to collaboration. The two have been working together for over a decade, with output that includes a tape with the same title as this 48-minute gem, also released on Elevator Bath in back in 2016. This edition, recorded in Austin, Texas last year, appears to be sides 3 and 4 of what may be an ongoing series? I guess we will have to sit back and see how far they go. Processing digital and analog samples the duo lurches forward, crystallizing lucid impressions with distended, vexing ambiance. Like running your fingers through the shag carpet in Grandma’s bedroom, James Eck Rippie’s turntable sampling is chalky and thick. As snippets of sound pass, they leave behind dust and tiny strands of hair under your nails. You can almost smell the mothballs. The digital samples, which both members provide, are a fierce juxtaposition. An analogue for the digital would be more like the original appliances Grandma still has in her kitchen; Brightly colored, all orange and yellow, with indiscriminate hiss and clicks scattered about. The 1950’s GE fridge runs loud, but sometimes slams off without notice, leaving a void that you didn’t even notice was being filled until it passes. The second hand on the oven’s clock still rotates, but it’s warped metal rubs as it rounds the 12, flinging free into a vibrating, cosmic spring-out. All of this agitation melts together into an awesome sci-noir scene.
Colin Andrew Sheffield, who runs the Elevator Bath label (what exactly is an “elevator bath” by the way??) knows James Eck Rippie well. And James Eck Rippie knows Colin Andrew Sheffield well. And it shows. They play off each other’s gnarly sample-contortions perfectly on volume 2 of “Essential Anatomies.” My advice: Take one of those pastel mints out of Grandma’s candy dish, place it on your tongue, push the button that reclines the old person chair, and enjoy the ride. Both sides stretch on for just under 25 minutes with no red lights or closed roads.
Pal+ – Pictorial
1.24.17 by Kat Harding
Released in September 2016 on Os Tres Amigos (“The Three Friends”) label out of Portugal, Pal+’s “Pictorial” tape features melodic beats and vivid synth sounds for an upbeat and energizing listen. The cover art is a smattering of paint and crayon in vibrant blue, purple, pink, yellow, and black over the familiar blue lines of notebook paper, enclosing an off-white tape full of Fernando Silva’s recordings made between 2012 and 2016.
The hypnotizing “Aural Canvas” opens side A, a bright humming track that clocks in at just over two minutes. “Africa Eyes” picks up after a beat of silence with buoyant drum beats and simple, repetitive chanting over circuitous synth work. I really like “Morpheus,” which sounds like it could be found in a tiny club with strobe lights and everyone dancing and drinking colorful cocktails. Mysterious airy tones add lightness to the gripping track, which fades to a peaceful end. The industrial clanking and sinister synth at the start of “The Ice Palace” create an unsettling world building to a swell and ending with a heavy crash that reverberates through your skull. The silence ends and “Grand Canyon” begins, a Middle Eastern-esque track with soft wailing over a constant shaker and fast-moving percussion.
The first track on side B, “Mantra,” starts off with frantic, breathy sounds building over beats reminiscent of the opening of Netflix’s Stranger Things, evoking a sense of uneasiness that nearly tips over into full-blown fear. The longest song on the side, and the whole tape, the track often slows, pulling the tones down to a much deeper register before speeding back up again. “Motor City” is much less threatening than “Mantra,” and feels like a light relief after the panic of the former track. “The Emerald Hill” closes the tape, a roaming animated tune with alien synth sounds and a beat to move to.
Get your own copy of the tape on the OTA Bandcamp.
German Army – Mountain City
1.17.17 by Paul Banks
Shockingly, there are still a few copies of “Mountain City” left on Phinery’s Bandcamp page. I say this in part because German Army’s name seems to lead to countless “Sold Out” red stamps on the site, and partly because I sat on this album for so many months. The truth was, I checked out this album out of curiosity more than anything. I walked the fine line between being fairly accused of pretending to like the mysterious group, and admiring what they do without getting much out of it.
The issue with German Army is they do many things quite well. Unlike much of tape culture’s obsessive branding (same person, different project, different name is the normal procedure), German Army tapes don’t indicate any length or genre. You might have a guess as to what you’ll get based on the label, and I took a shot at finding my entry point into their work through this tape, an association with the beloved Phinery. Phinery churns out so much good music, it’s easy to take it for granted, and yet my expectations were that whatever German Army I found here, it would be good. That bet paid off.
“Mountain City,” in my first passive listen, was somewhat conventional for the label. There weren’t DIY-Autechre squeals, noise, electroacoustics, or progressive electronics. Instead, surprisingly, what unfurled was songs. I don’t think I was ready to reach a conceptual common ground with this album at first. However, as the months passed, this record became infectious. Think of this album as existing thematically on similar turf as a Sublime Frequencies collection, but in a very different geographic setting. Here we have work songs, blues, that fine line between a collection of traditional songs, and a conceptual shell of field recordings capturing these works. It could be the work song, hillbilly version of Ekkehard Ehlers’ “A Life Without Fear,” or recent work by the Caretaker, its scratchy voices as distant as any reclaimed jazz.
Indeed, I think time gave this album even more importance. Throughout the election, we heard pleas to remake these forgotten towns, perhaps the source material for some of what’s here. And yet, because of prices, because of aging, because of a changing world, those towns will never come back. Their echoes have found their way into this tape; perhaps this will one day be a cherished relic in some collector’s home, the last resting place of these voices of toil.
And, to the music specifically, perhaps you can imagine what you’ll find, though the impact only really occurs with regular, late night listening. Traditional instruments, ever so slightly pitch shifted now and then, sometimes seemingly looped, scratchy and distant with a healthy dose of echo and reverb. The source material itself seems familiar, but German Army have worked to alienate things – this touch of distance allows enough dissociation to hear this music as native American (not Native American).
This is a reverent, masterful set, one that transports you to different times and places, places that perhaps don’t quite exist in the ways we’re remembering them, places that might not be fully content in their absence. Hurry over and grab a copy.
Mary Lattimore – Returned To Earth
1.12.17 by Kat Harding
Harpist Mary Lattimore has teamed up with Soap Library to release her latest cassette, “Returned To Earth.” The New York-based holistic tape label is offering Mary’s tape with hand-embossed artwork and a packet of heirloom orange zinnia seeds, ensuring the beauty of the outside matches the inside of the latest tracks.
Side A, “For Scott Kelly, Returned to Earth,” is Mary’s welcome home message to American astronaut Scott Kelly after his year spent in the International Space Station. After a fall left Mary with a broken jaw, wired shut and unable to speak, she channeled her feelings of isolation and loneliness into song. Scott’s frequent updating of his social media feeds, including the progress of his “space flower,” an orange zinnia and the first zinnia to be grown in space, kept him connected to Earth and served as inspiration to Mary. His beautiful posts of Earth’s wonder from afar was a small reward for his solitude, and Mary’s incorporated all of these feelings into a six-minute track, full of wandering chords. Picked strings seem to dance over gentle strumming, calling to mind Scott’s view of swirling clouds over our lonely planet and his whirlwind of a journey home. The trailer for the cassette, hand-drawn by John Andrews of indie band Quilt, features hyper-color crayon drawings, inspired by Scott’s time in space.
Side B, also just over six minutes long, is an improvisation from Mary and musician and artist Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, who met in the wonderland of Marfa, Texas, and recorded in New York City. Named after a tiny town in California, “Borrego Springs” features piano, guitar, and harp coming together to form peaceful melodies one might listen to while staring up at the stars in Borrego Springs, a town 55 miles away from any bright city lights, where astronomers flourish. The song quietly starts off, nearing a minute by the time the harp and piano have begun to fill the space of the silence. Gentle echoes and reverberation of guitar and piano alternate around the harp. It is not long enough, and the whole tape should immediately be played again.
Get a copy of the beautifully packaged cassette, or pick up the digital files, on her Bandcamp page. Every dollar of proceeds from Bandcamp will go to support the Sierra Club.
Starkey – Charting Stardust (Original Soundtrack)
1.11.17 by Mike Haley
I’ll start off by admitting what initially, however juvenile, attracted me to this tape. The title. I don’t know if we are all pretending that the word “charting” doesn’t immediately make us think of “sharting”, but come on… Yeah, it does. And if we are continuing this facade of sophistication, as if nobody knows what I’m talking about, I’ll just lay it out: A shart, as defined by PoopingProblems.com, is “an involuntary defecation which occurs when one try’s to pass gas.” So the title “Charting Stardust” instantly made me think about pooping glitter. There, it’s been said. But, after a looksie at the simple but lavish design work of the Jcard, and noticing the tried-and-true Sacred Phrases logo slapped on the back, it was obvious that Starkey’s “Charting Stardust (Original Soundtrack)” was going to be more than just another flashy flatulent.
And I was right. It is WAY more. In line with classic outsider pioneers, Starkey creates fantasies, and is extremely generous when it comes to details. He sends feelers out into the far reaches, returning with a cache of polished sonic runs and ambient arrays that are eager to vibe out. Ideas are heavily layered and whirlpooled together, as if they are being finger-painted on an endless canvas. A magical swirl of hypnotism spills for days, but with individual parts that still fit together like puzzle pieces. As the pieces connect, a full image is formed. Like a magic eye painting coming into focus, you start to hear these micro worlds of side-scrolling future music. Tone follicles burrow into your skin as epic sound monuments erect and crumble. It’s all a very huge event. Tracks like Ecliptic stir senses with a more intrusive focus, relying on the repetition of throaty thuds to distract while gigantic schemes expand in the distance, eventually landing right on your face. Opposing views like Ticks and Seas, both second-to-last tracks on their side of the cassette, opt for a cerebral approach to life.
So it turns out that “charting” stardust (like mapping it out) is way more accurate than “sharting” stardust (like shitting your pants while trying to fart) when it comes to the zone of this here mind melter. That’s probably for the best. Pick it up from Sacred Phrases!
Wires Crossed – OTA vs OJC
1.6.17 by Mike Haley
There is a legion of labels and weirdo jammers releasing cassette, with new names popping up every single day. With those staggering numbers it can be easy to mix em up, get confused, or form loose associations. Wires Crossed will take those Corey Haim/Corey Feldman and Oprah/Uma situations and figure out just how similar they are.
Without checking, what do you think OJC / OTA stands for?
OTA: OJC must stand for Orphan Joy Company.
OJC: Odd Tony’s Animals.
What do your label’s initials stand for?
OTA: Os Três Amigos – The Three Friends.
OJC: On the record, nothing. Off the record, something dumb.
Where were you born and where do you live now?
OTA: We were both born in Santarém, Portugal, in the same hospital. Pedro still lives in Lagos, Portugal. Miguel lives in Helsinki.
OJC: There are two of us. We both live in LA, Augie was born here and Luke grew up in New York.
What tape labels, if any, inspire your label?
OTA: (Miguel) I was more inspired by a blog called Mutant Sounds which collected all kinds of tapes and underground releases mostly from the 80s. It made me take notice of the sheer amount of creativity that is out there once you let yourself explore less obvious sources. OTA tries to take part of a similar energy. (Pedro) It’s the whole swarm that is inspiring! There’s this absurd resilience from people doing their best in the vacant lands of sounds and crafts. I empathize particularly with all the small nonprofit efforts going on, documenting stuff no one else would bother with.
OJC: Labels like Night People whose releases span a lot of different styles, and labels that have a home done, thrown together kinda feel like Fag Tapes.
When did you start your label?
OTA: We are newborns, babbling and fooling around since the 1st of April, 2016.
OJC: Late 2013 / early 2014.
OJC has released tapes by the artists No Data. OTA has released a tape by the artist Tape000. Both names imply a very minimalistic feeling. How does minimalism fit into your releases?
OTA: Tape000 is a fascinating, well traveled guy that I met when teaching Portuguese to his girlfriend. He was an instant perfect fit. Funnily enough, we actually have a OTA000 release. More than being truly minimalistic, we don’t reject simplicity, smallness, or even bluntness just for the sake of it. Saying this, we appreciate maximalistic jugglery as well. For the cassettes, we want the collaborators to feel free to shape the object as far as possible. We just make sure the logo is in the leaf and cassette and that’s it. Every release until now has had a passionate history of failures and imperfections. It is okay though, you just have to keep it real.
OJC: We like things simple and sloppy usually, we’ll say that. That’s minimalistic in some kinda way, right?
If your label was a Ghostbuster, which one would it be and why?
OTA: (M) Egon, because he knows how to calculate stuff like psycho-kinetic substances and he made the ectoplasm gun. (P) Ray, because he summoned the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
OJC: Kirsten Wig.
What was the last tape you bought?
OTA: (M) Richard Wagner, Also Sprach Zarathustra + Don Juan, by The Scottish National Orchestra (1987). (P) F_nt_sm_ – u_u_u – If You Feel Like Going To Scuba In A Tar Pool. It’s from Urubu Tapes, a small label from Portugal also born recently.
OJC: Augie got Jahari – Situations, from Peoples Potential Unlimited and Luke got Warthog – Discography, from Voices from Inside.
What is the worst song you like?
OTA: (M) La Bamba Triste by Pierre Billon. (P) The 69 song in Tabs Out. I enjoy it sometimes, I confess!
OJC: Do Yo Shit by Pretty Taking All Fades.
What color socks are you wearing?
OTA: (M) Dark blue, light blue, beige line down the middle. (P) White socks from my neighbor.
If you could release a cassette tape by any cartoon character, who would it be and why?
OTA: Ren and Stimpy. And the log song wasn’t bad. It’s funny that the Ren and Stimpy’s Portuguese version had these incredibly expressive dubbed voices in portuguese. It was a disappointment when we stumbled over the original versions, later on. But yeah, this show was gory wicked. And it was for us, kids! It had a sinister pace, paranoid zooms and a great sound design. And just the most benign relationship between misfits.
OJC: Great question Mike, we’re a bit torn on this one. Augie says it would be that kid from Home Movies who loves to rock, because he has that Franz Kafka Song. Luke stands by Skeletor, in the hopes he would be into black metal. Either way it would be rocking.
How do you store your cassettes?
OTA: We try to keep them on the shelves but shoeboxes are useful.
OJC: OJC tapes? They live in dirty old boxes that get tucked out of the way.
Do you have any cassette pet peeves?
OTA: How easy it is to break cassette cases.
OJC: Short tapes and O cards. Cassingles are the worst.
Explain your logo.
OTA: Our logo writes our initials with the least amount of lines possible. Once it was done, we realized it also looked like a take on the anarchy logo, but with cuddly intentions!
OJC: Our pal Aarum’s friend drew it on a piece of college grade ruled paper one time. It’s really good, thanks Tania.
Do you home or pro dub your releases?
OTA: We have done both. It depends on how much time we have available for home dubbing.
OJC: Home dubbing, all the way.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
OTA: Star Wars!
OJC: Star Wars.
What is the closest tape to you at this very second?
OTA: (M) Borra-Botas. (P) An old mix tape recorded from a Portuguese radio – Ferro Extra I.
OJC: Son of Salami – Bacon Street.
What is your average edition size?
OTA: Between 20 and 50.
The Ropal Jagnu/Rigel Magellin split on OJC has a television on the cover. The Joe & Man tape on OTA has a kid’s cassette player on the cover. Which do you own more of? TVs or tape players?
OTA: Tape players.
OJC: Tape players. Just can’t resist buying decks when we see em at Goodwill or wherever.
Finish this sentence: I’ll never buy a cassette tape that _______________.
OTA: I own.
OJC: costs more than 8 dollars, you know, unless it’s really good.
Sonic or Mario?
OTA: (M) Sonic. (P) Mario.
First thing that comes to mind when you hear the following
Hiss: (M) Snake (P) Sound
Bandcamp: (M) Paypal (P) Digital
Comp: (M) Elation (P) All
OCard: (M) Is that for a spherical tape? (P) Undies
What was your favorite tape of 2016?
OTA: German Army – Mountain City.
OJC: There’s been so many good releases this year, but off the top our head it’d have to be “Router Space/Smashed Hits 100” by Hip Replacement on Unread and “Sorta Upset!” By Jake Tobin on Haord.
What do you have coming out in 2017?
OTA: We have a very exciting batch for the start of January. Most of the stuff brings good amounts of freshness from newcomers, but we will be blessed with a legend of old as well. We will try to have a new batch in April to celebrate OTA’s first birthday – some cassettes on the way for it too.
OJC: We have got a release from this project called Lärmschutz from the Netherlands. Real interesting stuff, kinda different from the typical OJC release. We make a Galaxie Deluxe tape once a year and put it out around March, so that’s comin up. We just recorded some stuff with Zach from Tingo Tongo Tapes, that’ll probably be coming out through us soon. Other than that we got some new Rigel Magellan stuff ready to roll, a new Shrink Ray tape, a new Ropal Jagnu tape, and lots of other stuff.
Pick a number between 0 and 100.
OTA: (M): Cause it’s you asking it has to be 69! But, true story, my shirt numbers for my volleyball and futsal teams are 96, only because I thought it would at least read 69 in the mirror. Turns out it doesn’t. Another true story… A few years ago there was a Christmas market in Helsinki, and there was only one church stand selling all kinds of paraphernalia, and guess which number stall they had. (P) 3.
If you could only use one color cassette shell for every release what would it be?
Describe the kind of sounds you release with a book title.
OTA: (M) The engineer of lost time. (P) The Three Friends.
OJC: Peaches a Plenty by Bobby S. Martin
Hantasi – SQUID
1.4.17 by Ryan Durfee
This was my first time listening to Hantasi. Much like bearded beat dudes, there are A LOT of vapo[u]r people out there, and it can be exhausting trying to keep up with every microniche that is happening on Twitter. While listening to this I’m reminded that the colossal squid is the largest invertebrate in the world, and it’s only only predator is the sperm whale [fun fact]. I’m pretty certain that the song SEA ♫࿏ CARNIVAL is about a big fin squid (which surprisingly have ten arms while all the others only have eight) [fun fact #2] robotriping it’s way through an underwater ball in the beautiful briny lagoon. A ball where a band of fish play to dapper chappies in bowler hats who dance upon the sun dappled sea floor, which turns into a nightmare when King Leonidas drags all of them out with a trawling net so he can sell some fishsticks to Iowa. The track ્ POISON ્ ્ WATER PARASOL sounds like swimming through a cloud of Heteroteuthis dispar’s cloud of inky light before being torn asunder by it’s beak, while ☭♣ CLUB HOUSE ☭♣ reminds me of listening to a skipping CD of Cameo blasting from my downstairs neighbors, who always play the same three things over & over again.
“SQUID” came out in a few different editions, all of which are sold out, but you can pick one up on Discogs
Rags – Cipher Of The Infinite Moment
1.3.17 by Kat Harding
The 37th release from San Mateo, California’s ((Cave)) Recordings, Rags’ “Cipher of the Infinite Moment”, is James Seevers’ experimental journey through time and space. With each side-long, 16-minute track, it’s easy to put this on and get enveloped in the otherworldly echoes and reverberation.
Aptly titled “A Long Corridor,” the track is a long journey to the deep unknown and back to the surface. The track hums open with a buzzing guitar and underwater sounds swishing around, then moves to feature what sounds like the voice of the devil himself. Slow, low, and barely decipherable, it’s joined by a chorus of cave dwellers in an unsettling concert. Rattling bells follow, with clacking drumsticks and rolling thunder building to a swell. Around 5:30 in, simple guitar-picking echoes to near-silence while clacking and clanging continue. A pleasant electric guitar tune picks up midway through the song, with the disembodied and distorted voice coming in to strike fear in the lone listener. One can faintly make out “what are you doing?” or at least that is what I personally heard while keeping a panic attack at bay. With six minutes left of the song, Rags relapses underwater and comes up for air again. Bursting forth at almost 12 minutes in, bright reverberation screams forward, ebbing and flowing over the silence. Hurried, frantic guitar strumming comes in and suddenly Rags has the listener in a punk song. A beat of silence gives way to a clear, melancholy tune that plays the song out, ending abruptly in peace.
Where side A featured the devil, side B, “A Flickering Light,” opens with a chorus of angels, a litany of light voices finding a harmony together, soon petering out to the ramblings of a madman about movement, connection and energy, a frantic TedTalk from underground. With a buzzing behind it, the one-sided conversation continues, mentioning cosmic waves, motion, and information. By three minutes in, the track reaches sci-fi synths that then dissolve into a flamenco-inspired guitar stream. Faint voices weave in and out of the music, with reverb competing with the mysterious lecturer, this time going on about imagination and black holes. With about five minutes to go, the song is a melodic and thoughtful guitar track, with the faint choir joining in one more time. The preacher joins again, urging belief, but in what? A deep cello sound eventually ends the song, leaving the listener buzzing with existential questions.
Pick up a copy of the cassette on ((Cave)) Recordings’ Bandcamp.
Look At These Tapes #7
1.1.16 by Tabs Out Crew
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.
Instead of a normal installment, this is a look back at tapes from 2016. We made an open call for labels to send photos of all their releases from the year. Here is what we got, presented without comment.
Ben Lawless – Other Motions
12.18.16 by Ryan Durfee
“Other Motions” by Atlanta, Georgia’s Ben Lawless is a 55 minute long paean to all things beautiful about rock and roll. It reminds me of the jam band I lived with in my old house that would get together every Wednesday and fuck around for a couple of hours. I joined in a few times, playing organ, but there was never a real direction. Ideas would float in and out, then start to take shape in a haze. We’d reach heights of heavy psych rock or post rock vibes that would then devolve into dark and menacing blues. Basically whatever felt right at the moment.
This tape sounds like some of our best cuts. All the songs I wish I had recorded while still living in the house. Especially it’s second track, Stick & Move, with it’s lazy blues riffing and shambling drums. It sounds like an epic jam we had going on one summer on one particularly hot and humid Seattle night. Listening to it, all I can think of is sitting on a porch, drinking brews, and sharing cigarettes with buddies. Smiling ear to ear and basking in the afterglow of a solid jam.
Ben (who I am 73% sure played in Prefuse 73’s backing band, but can’t confirm it) recorded every single sound you’ll hear on “Other Motions” himself, which is amazing to think about when venturing on a deep listen to the album. At times it reminds me of The Advantage or The Curtains, with heavier threads of burnt out, desert psych funk blazing through sun-blasted blues runs. Take the song Sick As A Dog for example. It sounds as if it was lifted from some late 70’s Jean Rollin movie where bikers, riding off into the steamy French sunset, encounter a coven of vampires and have to fight for their lives. To no avail of course. Ben also dips into charming, sugary melodies that peek out of the warm tape hiss like the three and a half minute Purse Snatcher; A tune that channels Contra and your kid brother’s manic garage rock band.
Top 200 Tapes Of 2016
12.12.16 by Tabs Out Crew
Let’s not kid ourselves – 2016 was a fucking disaster. The entire year was like a waiter clearing a table, stacking up far too many plates and glasses in a Jenga-like tower, and the second they step away from the table the restaurant explodes. But tapes? Tapes did just fine in 2016. Actually, I take that back. Tapes had a blast in 2016, with familiar and fresh names both permeating profound vibes on the fringes of weirdo tape culture. Over the last twelve months around 1,000 little spooled suckers made their way over to Tabs Out headquarters, and we listened to every one of them. Some not all the way through of course . Let’s be real, A LOT of them were garbage, but most were fantastic and provided a glimmer of hope during this jerk of a year.
So here they are: Our 200 favorite tapes from the year – IN PERFECT ORDER!!! Please do not tell us what you think should or shouldn’t be on the list. We are literally the smartest people we know and got this very VERY right. Just like previous years [‘13, ‘14, ‘15] we only included tapes that we had a physical copy of.
|#1: Jake Tobin “Sorta Upset!” (Haord)
It’s rare but incredibly exhilarating to hear an album that sounds kind of like the weirdness perpetually bouncing around in my own head, and Jake Tobin’s latest opus, “Sorta Upset!,” stokes every synapse in my skull and fires up a few more. While this tape barely clears 15 minutes of running time, it’s a concentrated quarter-hour with a career’s worth of phenomenal ideas. And for as complex and layered as it can get, it’s somehow catchy as hell, too. You will totally find yourself humming along with this music, and humming more acrobatically than ever before. [read more]
|#2: Belarisk “Greys, Escaped” (Moss Archive)
Only seconds into “Greys, Escaped” I had a very vivid image in my head. As the tape went on that image naturally expanded into a scenario which was reinforced with each blop, zap, surge, scratch, whist, and tickle Belarisk dispatched. Aspects of the artwork gave credence to this micro story my brain had fashioned. Everything was lining up. My imagination was being a good little boy and deserved a treat in the form of repeat listens. Those repeat listens put even more fat on on the bone of my now rather formulated story. It got deep. Deep to the point of being embarrassing, quite frankly. [read more]
|#3: TALsounds “Lifter + Lighter” (Hausu Mountain)|
|#4: Khaki Blazer “Gelatinous Ground” (Unifactor)
“Gelatinous Ground” raids the sugar packet and unlabeled medication caches, nervously blending cocktails and idiosyncrasies. Velvety vocal manipulations mush into eccentric weirdouts. Bubbles pop and thick gels spill. When rapid haphazardness isn’t tugging at your amygdala, Pat cleaves hip hop chunks and kneads em like he’s trying to activate their gluten. At times you almost feel concerned. Is he okay? Why is he doing that with his mouth? Then synthesizer magic swoops in with grace and charm, and you feel even more concerned. Extremely crisp, collected, fist clenching coldness stretches from seconds to minutes. [read more]
|#5: Charles Barabé “Les Dernières Confessions” (Orange Milk)|
|#6: Ben Bennett “Trap”(Astral Spirits)|
|#7: 75 Dollar Bill “Wood/Metal/Plastic Pattern/Rhythm/Rock” (Thin Wrist)|
|#8: Hippies Wearing Muzzles “Animist Pools” (Human Pitch)|
|#9: Brett Naucke “Executable Dreamtime” (Umor Rex)|
|#10: Sam Goldberg “Kiss Me While I Excuse The Sky”(Unifactor)|
|#11: The Spiritual Switchboard “Post-Age Variations” (Baked)|
|#12: Fletcher Pratt “Dub Sessions Vol.3” (Crash Symbols)
Pratt, a Canadian we allow to live within our borders until Trump kicks him out, started his sweltering dub journey in 2011 on Dub Ditch Picnic. Five years later the third chapter of his “Dub Sessions”, released by Crash Symbols in an edition of 100 copies, continues the heat and humidity of it all. The music has a spooky mechanical nature, but is still sweltering. Sizzling. Sultry. One wonders if Fletcher Pratt relaxed pool side while Dubbot-5Px maintained the phantom flow of swank and style. “Dub Sessions Vol. 3″ being flush, teeth to toes, with such. [read more]
|#13: Joseph Bastardo “deCordova” (Phinery)|
|#14: P.H.O.R.K. “Time Is The Instrument” (Pastel Voids)|
|#15: German Army “Yanomami” (Sacred Phrases)|
|#16: Maharadja Sweets “The Caprice Of Young Gods” (Oxtail)|
|#17: Various Artists “Compilation Two” (Noumenal Loom)|
|#18: 21st Century Wolf “Ideographic Space” (Sacred Phrases)|
|#19: M. Geddes Gengras “Two Variations” (Umor Rex)|
|#20: Max Eilbacher, Alex Moskos, Duncan Moore “SEF III” (Ehse)
The structural layering is so DEEP across the whole release, like one of those yummy 7 Layer Dips that they just bring out in the casserole dish it was made in cause there’s no possible way to transfer it without it falling apart. And you can make out the top couple layers for sure, maybe even a middle layer or two, but you’re gonna want to reach that WHOLE chip in there and scoop up every little piece. Soliloquies on spontaneous clown generation, slowly transitioning into a mechanic relay stream of consciousness. Peppered blasts of frequency modulated nodes. Slippery lilts trigger the resonator squelch. Claustrophobic foot step rhythms. Real tasty stuff. [read more]
|#21: Mukqs / DJWWWW split (Phinery)|
|#22: Energy Star s/t (Perfect Wave)|
|#23: Bastian Void “Nippon” (Moss Archive)|
|#24: Doberman “Alley Walkers” (Castle Bravo)|
|#25: Emerging Industries of Wuppertal “Transformation Cues” (Strategic Tape Reserve)|
|#26: Shingles “Untitled Jazz Tape” (self released)|
|#27: Jake Tobin “Accidently On Purpose” (OSR)|
|#28: M.Sage “Rife W/ Typo” (Orange Milk)|
|#29: MrDougDoug “SOS Forks AI REM” (Hausu Mountain)|
|#30: IMF “Harlem Electronics” (Pilgrim Talk)
IMF is all about discombobulated shots of relentless noise. Noise created by, or not created by, Ian M Fraser. I say not created by because the liner notes state that “this program performs with no human interaction whatsoever”, IMF opting for algorithmic, computer rendered compositions. Human interaction or not, this tape gashes into existence with unsettling, wavy coarseness and grating randomization. [read more]
|#31: Yves Malone “Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life” (Field Hymns)|
|#32: TALsounds “Natal Host” (Twin Spring)|
|#33: Tether “Mirror Finish” (Refulgent Sepulcher)|
|#34: Trogpite “Wife And Kid” (No Rent)|
|#35: Bary Center “No Stars” (MJMJ)|
|#36: LRN GRN “Easy Spirits/Grape Perfume” (Keeled Scales)|
|#37: Sparkling Wide Pressure “Answerer” (Patient Sounds)
“Answerer” conjures up a sonic realm inhabited by acoustic and electric stringed instruments, synthesizers, organs, and looped up, talking background vocals. The A side, with its shorter, lighter tracks acts as the entrance way into this world Sparkling Wide Pressure have created for us. The opener “Deb’s Song,” with its loose, acoustic picking and muted electronics slowly guiding you in. [read more]
|#38: Kyle Landstra/Ross Fish split (Oxtail)|
|#39: AAA “Fruit” (Elestial Sound)|
|#40: Network Glass “100 Busy” (No Rent)|
|#41: Euglossine “Canopy Stories” (Orange Milk)|
|#42: Charles Barabé “Cicatrices” (Never Anything)|
|#43: Alexandra Atnif “Fatt Grabbers: 015” (Fatt Grabbers)|
|#44: Sea Of Dogs “Through The Fog And The Driftwood” (Bedlam)|
|#45: Mukqs “Walkthrough” (Hausu Mountain)|
|#46: Semănat “Duobė” (III Arms)At just under eight minutes, Duobė I coats the A side like a lacquer. Bleached-white guitar riffs exist in a panic-free void, uncoiling in an immutable, reliable attack. Hovering in arms reach above a fog of drones, thumps, and injured vocals. It’s with absolute reverence to grey scale scenery and poorly manicure historical battle sites that Semănat pours this poison.|
|#47: Peter Kris “Labrador” (Never Anything)|
|#48: Final Machine “Lohaden” (Entertainment Systems)|
|#49: Hatchers “The Riverside Suite” (Heat Retention)|
|#50: Plains Druid / Lost Trail / Leaaves / Linden Pomeroy “Outdoor Games” (Third Kind)|
|#51: William Cody Watson “Patriot” (Lime Lodge)
“Patriot” is like a fairy tale. One of the classic cuts. The dark as fuck German shit where parents are constantly dying. Nothing sugar coated or CGI’d. “Patriot” is actually worse than the Brothers Grimms’ yarns, because “Patriot” starts off with everyone dead. Well, not EVERYONE. The listener is functioning. And maybe a few talking snakes and grey scale mushrooms. Other than that, no life [read more]
|#52: Various Artists “Half A Decade Of Chrome” (Field Hymns)|
|#53: Max Eisenberg / Max Eilbacher split (Ultraviolet Light)|
|#54: Stellfox / Low Flung split (Tandem)|
|#55: Various Artists “Stray Dog Volume 2” (Oxen)|
|#56: Andy Ortmann “Buchla On Tape” (Nihilist)|
|#57: Howard Stelzer “Normal Bias” (Ballast)|
|#58: Sodalite “Liquid Earth” (Illuminated Paths)|
|#59: Yves Malone “Death House 4″ (Field Hymns)|
|#60: Panos Alexiadis “Promnesia” (Thalamos)|
|#61: Ink Jet “Cold Shoulder” (Gohan)Forget everything you know about hanging in fancy hotel lobbies, watching montages of very specific teams preparing for a heist, and Blaxploitation fonts. Wait, that’s not right. Remember those things. Remember all of those things at once. Force them into your thoughts until they crash together like matter and antimatter and create pure energy in your skull. Dapper energy with an unhesitating swagger. [read more]|
|#62: M.Sage “Needleworks” (Patient Sounds)|
|#63: Tralphaz “Vortex” (Ratskin)|
|#64: German Army “General Survey On Growing Concerns” (Metaphysical Circuits)|
|#65: Rene Kia / Synaplop split (Lal Lal Lal)|
|#66: Body Morph “Keep Still And Be Devoured” (Soundholes)|
|#67: Nigro / Glass Frog split (Crescent)|
|#68: Talibam! And Alan Wilkinson “It Is Dangerous To Lean Out” (Astral Spirits)|
|#69: MrDougDoug “These Magical Numbers” (self released)
MrDougDoug continues his trek into absurd zones. On “These Magical Numbers”, Doug Kaplan crams a stupid amount of sound into a tiny space. The earlier mention of 69 National Anthem renditions was not a joke. On the track “69 Starspangled 420″ there is literally audio from 69 different videos of the The Star-Spangled Banner ground into a fine paste over the course of a half hour. A thick mush of nationalism and anxiety that feels like walking on a soaking wet red, white, and blue shag carpet. You don’t have to be strapped to a chair with the pause button just out of reach to give this a proper listen, but you fucking should be. And it gets darker. MUCH darker. [read more]
|#70: Andreas Brandal “Flames and Ether” (Oxtail)|
|#71: Curved Light “Prismatic / Loomstate” (Gentle Reminder)|
|#72: Howard Stelzer “Dawn Songs” (No Rent)|
|#73: Endurance “City Of Signals” (Illuminated Paths)|
|#74: Kösmonaut “Master Generator” (A Giant Fern)|
|#75: Mukqs / Constellation Botsu split (Suite 309)|
|#76: Photography “Letter Phone” (Playing Records)|
|#77: R. Stevie Moore “Nobody Pays Me Much Mind Until I’m Gone” (Doom Trip)|
|#78: Black Sand Desert & Unsustainable Social Condition (Oxen)|
|#79: Gelba / My Cat Is An Alien split (Old Bicycle)|
|#80: Bang! Bros “Food For Thoth” (Hausu Mountain)|
|#81: Mot “Rebecca’s Spit” (self released)
This tape has the personality of a clogged sink, but isn’t exactly trying to be the most popular kid at the party anyways. It’s not even sure why it’s at the party. With the agenda to drink cough syrup, explore the basement, and burn family photos, it should have just stayed home. [read more]
|#82: rawmean / S/H/A/R/R/P/S & Ragged Lines split (Metaphysical Circuits)|
|#83: MUFF “Gunk” (FTAM)|
|#84: Gloga “Material Hangover” (Plush Oragnics)|
|#85: Rode Grey “Fiasco” (Nostorca)|
|#86: Christina Schneider “Violence Etcetera” (OSR)
The sound and method might be pure C86, but the complex, unblinking lyrics, full of visceral imagery, feel very timely. Another piece of evidence that OSR has an ear for sounds which might be able to transcend the moment of their creation. [read more]
|#87: Nickolas Mohanna “Mantis” (Preservation)|
|#88: Mike Nigro “Vertical Music” (Oxtail)|
|#89: Shingles “Guantanamo Patchbay Vol. 4: Drift Studies “ (self released)|
|#90: Bitchin Bajas & Bonnie Prince Billy “Live – Cafe Oto Residency” (self released)|
|#91: German Army “Diego Garcia” (Wounded Knife)|
|#92: Synthetic Juice s/t (self released)|
|#93: Mudd Corp “Loserlord” (Third Kind)|
|#94: Gerritt Wittmer “Unknowns” (No Rent)
Near nothingness. A stretch of vacancy occurs. Then, in a Kramer-like jolt, the machines start up. Functioning correctly or not, gears chug along. Stray bolts drops to the floor and roll underneath the onerous mountains of metal and belts and wire. Maybe the machines grind up bones for old, rich people snort and look younger? Maybe they manufacture those tiny plastic taco and sushi toys for kids? It starts up. [read more]
|#95: Chefkirk / S27E152 split (Bicephalic)|
|#96: Ama Divers “An Echo In The Sound” (No Rent)|
|#97: -otron “Doze On” (self released)|
|#98: Glass Frog “Hakuna Montuno” (Oxtail)|
|#99: Max Eilbacher “Schizophrenia As Architecture” (NNA)|
|#100: UFO Över Lappland s/t (Fluere)|
|#101: Marshall Art “Gallery” (self released)|
|#102: Constrain “The Boundary” (Oxen)|
|#103: Giulio Aldinucci / Moon Ra split (No Problema)|
|#104: R Magellin “Sleepy TV” (OJC)|
|#105: Yorishiro “I” (Constellation Tatsu)|
|#106: ROM “Possible Mountain” (Hausu Mountain)|
|#107: Die Reihe “Housed” (NNA)|
|#108: Obligate Surrogate s/t (The Order Of The End Result)|
|#109: Glou Glou “Fey Flight Founders” (Full Spectrum)Gretchen Jude and Arjun Mendiratta. Those are the humans behind this magnetizing Bay Area two-piece. An open air recording gives their already temperate sounds an even deeper organic glaze on this hour long, single session cassette. Lustering violin and vocal drones shiver, balloon out, and maneuver through wayward zones of knob swiveling. Brief patterns emerge, but the Glou Glou modus operandi is a random and chill one. [read more]|
|#110: Knives of Spain “Telluric” (Hairy Spider Legs)|
|#111: Kiran Arora “The Good Times Are Over For Good” (Oxen)|
|#112: Fenkoff “Slweep Diwrms” (Tingo Tongo)|
|#113: Ottaven “Sequenze Per Raffigurazioni Mentali #1” (Sincope)|
|#114: Softest “Six Wishes” (Inner Islands)A kinder gentler iteration of Braeyden Jae, softest gives us six “wishes” over two sides. That’s twice as many wishes as the average genie, folks. And what gorgeous wishes they are—where Channelers often feels oceanic, softest evokes those ozone-heavy moments right after a good spring downpour. These pieces progress carefully, initially feeling a little static but gently evolving as they dry off in the sun. [read more]|
|#115: Rambutan “Universal Impulses” (These Are Not Records)|
|#116: Ethereal And The Queer Show “Fairy Super Crystal Blue” (Noumenal Loom)|
|#117: Dang Olsten Dream Tape “Zonk” (Constellation Tatsu)|
|#118: Jimmie Packard “Singing Your Requests” (OSR)|
|#119: Spliff Jacksun “Memory Display” (Haju)|
|#120: Tata Duende s/t (self released)|
|#121: Jeweled Snakes “Flesh Lab” (Midori)|
|#122: Lunaria “All Is Dream” (Sounds Of The Dawn)|
|#123: Ovis Aurum “Nocturnal Pools” (Fort Evil Fruit)|
|#124: C. Reider “Sophist I & II” (self released)His tinkering with sound can be magnetic and calming, but risk is right behind the curtain. In the most casual ways, C. Reider knots sequences of inescapable coils. He creates filmy, and sometimes almost muted atmospheres, then proceeds to nudge them into shared spaces with corrupted noise to the point of vertigo. 9-volt beats, voices rising through distortion, asterisks of glimmering hope all helix into web-like patterns. [read more]|
|#125: Astrokade “Memoryfoam” (Kitchen Dweller)|
|#126: Ela Orleans “Circles of Upper Hell” (Oma333)|
|#127: Avery Gabbiano “Oracles & Chambers” (Spring Break)|
|#128: ARU Meets Black Saturn “Saturated” (Personal Archives)|
|#129: Giovanni Lami “Opale” (Dinzu Artefacts)|
|#130: Hillboggle “Up The Country With Hillboggle” (Crash Symbols)|
|#131: Seabuckthorn “I Could See the Smoke” (Lost Tribe Sound)|
|#132: Various Artists “Eclectic Sessions Volume 2″ (Ramp Local)|
|#133: Fame Circle “Fail Circle” (Social Harmony)|
|#134: Bridges of Konigsberg “The Lawrence Tapes” (Phage)|
|#135: Cob Raw s/t (Gleauxing)|
|#136: Jay Glass Dubs “New Teeth For An Old Country” (Bokeh Versions)|
|#137: Various Artists “Death On The Hour” (Geographic North)“Death On The Hour: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North” is fueled by spectral atmospheres. Focus is averted from the trick-or-treat and pumpkin carving conditions of the holiday and fixated more on the idea of spending the night in the vacant house that Old Man Wallmaker hung himself in on Halloween night 6 years ago. I’m talking classic horror movie patterns, reconstructed as an experimental cassette comp. [read more]|
|#138: Stress Orphan “Cadaver Politik” (Denver State)|
|#139: Shapes / Melfi split (Umor Rex)|
|#140: Max Kuiper & Thorsten Soltau “Animi Sub Volpe Latentes” (Chondritic Sound)|
|#141: Kösmonaut “Songs For Healing” (These Are Not Records)|
|#142: Wild Anima “Blue Twenty-Two” (Blue Tapes)Featuring an eclectic group of instruments including violins, Korean flutes, and more, Wild Anima’s Blue Twenty-Two tape is an atmospheric and at times, supernatural, experience. Alex Alexopoulos is at the helm of Wild Anima, with help from friends. [read more]|
|#143: Miguel A. García / August Traeger split (Bicephalic)|
|#144: $3.33 “Just A Dip, No Why” (Dzang)|
|#145: Data Rainbow “Rave Death” (Crippled Sounds)|
|#146: Maar “Absolute Delay” (Umor Rex)|
|#147: DJWWWW “Arigato” (Orange Milk)|
|#148: Sister / Body “Spells” (Baba Vanga)The Prague duo’s ruby red tape features beautiful and mysterious artwork, like a hand holding a fuzzed out crystal ball, with a person’s hand holding what appears to be lotion on the inside, adding to the mystical, about-to-cast-a-spell feel. They open the tape with “Black Jacket Angel,” a fascinating track clocking in at more than seven minutes that puts equal importance on the sound in the song as the silence. [read more]|
|#149: Rat Killer “Odor Orienting” (Crash Symbols)|
|#150: A Bleaker Teen Lip “Downgraded Saved Arrow” (FTAM)|
|#151: V N C F “P L E A S U R E D I S T R I C T” (Bonding)|
|#152: Christian Mirande “Foxbat” (No Rent)|
|#153: qualchan. “Smoke Break” (Magical Garage Taste)|
|#154: Comfort Food “Waffle Frolic” (Already Dead)Chicago’s Comfort Food has been laying down their heavy jazz/rock/tribal/math jams for a few years now, but their latest tape for Already Dead, “Waffle Frolic,” is a whole new party power-up for your ears. Their previous tape, “Dr. Faizan’s Feel-Good Brain Pills,” displayed an admirable kind of gutbucket rock/jazz blend with some serious swagger in tunes like “Dem Grapes,” but look: ain’t no Frolic like a Waffle Frolic, ‘cause a Waffle Frolic don’t stop. [read more]|
|#155: Reef Frequent “Emperor” (Bedlam)|
|#156: Tim Gray “Sandstone” (Ethernet)|
|#157: East Of The Valley Blue s/t (self released)|
|#158: Kane Pour “Vision Crayon” (Field Hymns)|
|#159: Map Collection s/t (Midori)|
|#160: Apple ][プラス ”Applesoft” (Poor Little Music)|
|#161: Sun Hammer “Mahamudra” (Full Spectrum)|
|#162: Braeyden Jae / Amulets split (Horror Fiction)|
|#163: Pay The Rent “Soft On Glass” (White Reeves Productions)Pay The Rent’s “Soft On Glass” is a liquefied bliss. A candied concoction of striking synths, lush as h*ck guitar, and drones. Drones that cascade down the pews of a very large, showy church. They move reservedly, like fog. Guitars bellow from the ornate rafters in outstretched waves, their origins cloaked. The stone queue of creepy, blood stained statues that line the walls sorta sway and throb along with the crystal clear keys. [read more]|
|#164: Bean Snack “Crispy Duct” (Personal Archives)|
|#165: Flux Bikes / Sueñolas split (Lake Paradise)|
|#166: The Kendal Mintcake “All-Star Erotic Hypnosis” (Big Sleep)|
|#167: Beast Nest “Taste Of India” (Ratskin)|
|#168: Tape000 “Dream” (OTA)|
|#169: Bilhazia / Soy Fan Del Dark split (CountryM)|
|#170: Anime Love Hotel “Mami” (Oxen)|
|#171: Ozark “Boombox” (Haju)|
|#172: Poop Dood / Igor Amokian split (Tingo Tongo)|
|#173: Hard Bodies s/t (III Arms)|
|#174: Moon Lagoon “How Do I Get Out Of Here” (5nakefork)The enticement game begins right out of the gate with Moon Lagoon throwing charms into your eyes via a handsomely designed silk screened Jcard, textured stickers on the shell, and the shell itself glitterfied in a way once reserved for homophobic presidential candidates. Thankfully, the audio end of “How Do I Get Out Of Here”, A C50 released on the in-n-out of hibernation imprint 5nakefork, hovers in an equally majestic zone. [read more]|
|#175: Dino Felipe “PRŌJEKT!” (Other Electricities)|
|#176: Pal+ “Pictorial” (OTA)|
|#177: Cop Funeral “2Stressed 2B Blessed” (Already Dead)|
|#178: Myttys “Sloggilukio” (Oma333)|
|#179: Sir Baar “Never Woke Up” (self released)|
|#180: SCY1E “Canard” (Speaker Footage)|
|#181: Used Condo “American Birthstone” (Suite 309)I popped “American Birthstone” by Used Condo, a Larry Wish joint, into the trusty deck knowing nothing about it. Not knowing whether Used Condo was short for used condominium or slang for used condom, I wasn’t even totally sure on the name. Still not I suppose. It was, however, clear by three or four minutes in that this was going to be a frustrating listen. [read more]|
|#182: Jake Meginsky “Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes” (NNA)|
|#183: Lady Shame s/t (Hairy Spider Legs)|
|#184: Dwayne Rifle s/t (White Reeves Productions)|
|#185: Church Shuttle “Zone6 Chiller” (Irrational Tentent)|
|#186: Endless Chasm “Harm Health” (Lurker Bias)|
|#187: Bastard Noise “Dedicated To Koji Tano” (Kitty Play)|
|#188: Noel Meek “The Lothian Tapes”(Bunkland)|
|#189: Future Ape Tapes “1093” (Fall Break)This collection of mostly instrumental, heavily improvised compositions flows together as an organic, psychedelic whole, with occasional, abstract vocals lending to the atmosphere. much of the music is built from drum loops, synth drones and shimmering, echoing guitars, that when combined sound like dub music for a new age LSD spa. [read more]|
|#190: Jeffry Astin + J.P. Wright “Fragrant Bush” (Housecraft)|
|#191: Sapphogeist s/t (No Rent)|
|#192: Shalt “Acheron” (Astral Plane)|
|#193: Chimess “Growth” (Cave)Listening to “Growth” by Chimess reminds me of sitting on bleachers watching eight, slow roasting innings, unshaded by the heavy embrace of a midsummer’s day heat. Gossamer tones lay a harmonious foundation for low rumblings, faint clicking, analog popping, bubbling, and other echoing, ethereal garnishes. “Growth” is bathed in a series of momentary contemplations, not unlike the somewhat paralyzed feeling of languidly drowning in a fire. [read more]|
|#194: Chemiefaserwerk “Trajet” (Blue Tapes)|
|#195: Kate Carr “It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors” (The Helen Scarsdale Agency)|
|#196: BBJR “Pareidolia” (Already Dead)|
|#197: William Ryan Fritch “Ill Tides” (Lost Tribe Sound)|
|#198: Inner Travels “Clear Seeing” (Inner Islands)|
|#199: Chik White “Malform” (self released)|
|#200: Critterbone s/t (self released)
Wild Anima – Blue Twenty-Two
12.6.16 by Kat Harding
The word “anima” can be translated from Spanish to mean “soul or spirit” and from French to mean “the feminine part of a male personality,” also referring to Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of analytical psychology. Put “wild” with it and the band is a perfect fit for UK label Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records, who describe themselves as “secular drones and spiritual pop.” Featuring an eclectic group of instruments including violins, Korean flutes, and more, Wild Anima’s Blue Twenty-Two tape is an atmospheric and at times, supernatural, experience. Alex Alexopoulos is at the helm of Wild Anima, with help from friends.
Described as “Songs from Above,” side A was inspired by a trip to India and her observations of Tibetan culture. Compassion and forgiveness swirl through the tracks, broken up digitally into 5 smaller listings, but considered as one on the tape. Recorded in one take on a farm in southeast England’s Devon in January 2013, these tracks came about before Wild Anima even settled on a name. The side gently opens with echoing vocals and minimal instrumentation, and continues down an aerial path of swirling reverb and soft tones. The velvety sound can easily fill a room, engulfing you in celestial tones that never feel too dark or unsettling. The middle of the side, “Forget and Forgive,” is my favorite, with misty sounds reminiscent of floating peacefully the bottom of the pool.
Side B is billed digitally and on the tape as one long, beautiful song called “Selene,” produced by French Ambient Dub producer Tom Morant, also known as Natse. He was driven to make this ambient track after having listened to “Songs from Above.” Using some of Wild Anima’s violinists and Alex’s vocals, as well as Inuit shamans’ voices, he pieced together a celestial and haunting song. Side B feels more full than side A, with more apparent instruments and the shamans’ chants, weaving together to soundtrack a dream sequence where you can imagine the flashing lights and seemingly endless tunnel of that Willy Wonka psychedelic boat ride scene, only less scary. Where side A is shadowy, side B has a glittering brightness to it.
Pick up a copy from Blue Tape’s Bandcamp, where you can just grab the tape, or you can get a subscription to all Blue Tape’s releases.
New Batch – Cabin Floor Esoterica
12.5.16 by Zachary Lauterbach
There are few better reasons for excitement in the tape (or music) world than when Cabin Floor Esoterica announces a new tape batch. That said, I thought it would be awfully tough for them to outdo their stellar spring batch from April of this year. While they may not have done that, what they have done with this most recent batch is nothing short of amazing. CFE#60-62 are all duo tapes of musicians who, although are not strangers to recording in duos, have, to my knowledge, never recorded together before.
CFE#60: Shane Parish & Frank Rosaly – Labrys
“Labrys” is comprised of nine duets for nylon string acoustic guitar and percussion. Parish’s playing is on point, as per usual, and Rosaly gives his semi-classical guitar flourishes an appropriate percussive background that only adds to the skillful guitar playing as opposed to drowning it out or taking attention away from it. I was expecting more traditional drumming for this tape, but to my surprise the percussive clatter is a perfect offset for Parish’s smooth nylon string compositions. Overall, an excellent effort that stands up with best of today’s guitar/drum duos, even if it is the quietest.
CFE#61: Ilia Belorukov & Taneli Viitahuhta – Sax Worker’s Rights
Dual saxophone workouts from Russia and Finland, respectively. Oddly enough, it is the two artists of this batch that I am least familiar with that have me most intrigued and going back for more listens. I had literally never heard of either of these names, let alone their music, before this tape. Sax Worker’s Rights is made up of four fairly longer pieces wherein squeals, shouts, and snorts are evened out with calm, breathy passages. Sax Worker’s Rights is never too busy, yet never too sparse either. Although it may seem rough on the ears upon first listen, its underlying beauty reveals itself in droves upon subsequent listens.
CFE#62:Nathan McLaughlin & Jeremy Purser – Levain
Using a mixture of acoustic and electric instruments/sounds, McLaughlin & Purser work together to create an ambient sound that plays well off of each other’s contributions. Two side long pieces wind soft, acoustic guitar playing over various quiet background noises. The inserts do not list what is played, but one can assume synthesizer/keyboards, field recordings, and analogue tapes in addition to the acoustic guitar. Quiet, stretched out, and beautiful; this is relaxation (or meditation) music at its best without ever being boring.
All three tapes offer up different but equally enthralling sounds and come packaged in Cabin Floor Esoterica’s usual artistic flair. You cangrip them individually, or as a batch along with some excellent zines that were published by their paper imprint Painted Door Press, here.
Radere – Sloth Period
12.2.16 by J Moss
“Sloth Period,” by Denver, Colorado based artist Radere (AKA Carl Ritger), is one of a duo of new releases of his on the Full Spectrum label. It’s partner, “I Can’t Sleep, I Can’t Wake Up”, was released as an LP. “Sloth Period” consists of two long form ambient drones, one on each side, composed using modular synths and guitar.
The music is amorphous. Unlike many drones, which seem to have a directional build up in intensity, volume, and sonic pressure, the variations in “Sloth Period” and the B-side composition “Tend the Engine” are periodical, undulating like the back of a lake dwelling cryptid. Tones and musical ideas come and go out of the spotlight on a bare, spacious stage of fuzzy synth drone and atmospheric swirl. Modular clicks and grinds, shimmering bursts, bell-like tones and faint echoing guitars like the most long forgotten dub sample in the universe make themselves heard and then descend once again into the general milieu. The sounds alternate between spectral distance and, more rarely, an otherworldly vitality. This is definitely one of the mistiest, most meditative drone/noise tapes I’ve had the pleasure of sampling. If you could see this music, it would be rounded, soft, and kind of shiny. The surreal, Salvador Dali-esque artwork on this tape, depicting a silvery ball bearing moon rising over a handful of green sludge in muted soft focus shades, captures the mood and feel of the music visually, as does the silver tape shell decorated with bubbles that recall the reverb-dulled edges of the tones. When played back to back with “I Can’t Sleep I Can’t Wake Up”, which is comparatively busier, sharper at the corners, and imbued with more tension, the pair makes for a compelling listen with vast emotional range. The experience can be altered by switching up the order of the listen, allowing “Sloth Period” to function as either a prelude or a comedown. Recommended for patient lovers of pure ambient music.
Grab it from Full Spectrum.