Tabs Out | Cloud Tangle – Pocket

Cloud Tangle – Pocket
10.17.17 by Ryan Durfee


Cloud Tangle is the recording project of Amber Ramsay, who released this gorgeous short EP through Valley Heat Records outta Brisbane. It also happens to me my introduction to both these Aussies, and what a pleasant treat both turned out to be!

I’m glad this tape appeared in my mail box when it did, when Seattle is getting cold and gray again for the next ten months. “Pocket” is perfect for sitting by the window while listening to the rain fall with a nice cup of tea. The A side of the tape, which the label lists as the feature of the EP, is absolutely fantastic. The first song, “Always Falling,” starts out with reverb’d out organ until Ramsay’s haunted vocals float in. With the appearance of drums, the song gently morphs into a beautiful post rock tune. This first side of the cassette is highlighted by “The Feeling Of You,” an exquisitely evocative song built off of dreamy guitar chords riding a hypnotic loping beat while Amber’s lyrics about missing someone just sends chills down the spine in the best way possible.

The B side is a collection of instrumentals (including “The Feeling Of You!”), an exclusive to the tape release. Unlike many a instrumental/remix/etc B side affairs, these are definitely not throwaway songs. Each compliment the flip side wonderfully, and I find myself rewinding it constantly to hear the track “The End Of You.” My only qualm with this EP is that, well, it’s an EP! Too dang short, it is! I’m really excited to see what Amber Ramsay does on her next album as Cloud Tangle.

This tape has been stuck in my player for about a week, so you can’t have my copy. But you may cop one of the other 49 copies here.

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Tabs Out | Diamondstein / Sangam – Lullabies for Broken Spirits

Diamondstein / Sangam – Lullabies for Broken Spirits
10.16.17 by Ryan Masteller


[Turns away from the audience, motions toward the director]: This is one of those split tapes right, where the one side is the one artist and the other one’s on the other? Yeah, it sounds great, can barely tell the two sides apart. That’s what they call “flow” I guess, right? So you want me to talk about it? I had a bunch of other stuff queued up. No, no, this one’s good, I’ll pop it in. Next break, can I get a water with some lemon? I know we’re back on in a minute – oh, thanks Cheryl, you had it all ready. Fantastic.

[Turns away from imaginary director, faces imaginary audience, which is essentially the front-facing laptop camera]: Hey gang, have I got a treat for you next, one that’s guaranteed to knock the socks right off your feet, but in a very QUIET, very CONTEMPLATIVE sort of way. Got a good grip on those socks now? (You’re really gonna need it!) We’ve got not one but TWO artists on this recording, each of them sharing the real estate, separated only by the direction of the magnetic tape. OR SO IT WOULD SEEM! Actually, it’s mostly that way, but the entirety of the release is sandwiched between collaborative tracks, the gripping “I Wish I Had More to Offer” and the nocturnal “Evenings Fly By.” But don’t be fooled, as Diamondstein and foil Sangam – or is it the other way around? – are perfectly capable each on their own to wield the mighty responsibility of atmosphere and mood, creating for you, dear audience, the perfect soundtrack to your late-night reveries.

[Turns, faces a different direction like there’s another camera over there, spends rest of time NOT looking at front-facing laptop camera]: But what IS the perfect late-night soundtrack? What does it entail? Surely some of you prefer the mournful, longing synthesizer leavened with field recordings of Sangam’s “Knowing Loss,” a passage not unlike Angelo Badalementi’s incidental synthesizer music on the original run of TWIN PEAKS, a damn fine television show if I should say so. But maybe you’re partial to the noir arpeggios of Diamondstein’s lengthy – at eleven and a half minutes! – and beautiful “The Praise Chorus.” Surely these two standouts are enough to sate your desires!

[Eyes close, breathes deeply, raises hand in a “stop” motion]: But no, the tape continues, and its loving embrace extends for its duration, its oddities and excursions illuminate its darker corners so that it at once presents itself as a unified whole. And this is why you must attend to “Lullabies for Broken Spirits” with the utmost care: the deeper you plumb its depths, the more you’re bound to uncover. And isn’t that the point of the adventure anyway? Your time on this planet is too short to not hold close the most profound mysteries you can uncover. Start here, start with “Lullabies for Broken Spirits,” start LIVING.

[Pauses, dramatic effect.]

[Presses stop, eats Cheeto. Is content.]

[Hovers cursor over Doom Trip Bandcamp site, notices only 12 of 100 copies remain, panics for a second, calls 12 friends, hopes to god they all buy a copy, realizes that the 12 friends don’t exist, considers buying them all anyway. GUYS, HURRY, I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN HOLD HIM OFF…SOLD OUT!]

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Tabs Out | New Batch – \\NULL|ZØNE//

New Batch – \\NULL|ZØNE//
10.11.17 by Ryan Masteller


Athens, Georgia, is still trying to shake the stink of R.E.M. and Elephant 6, and it’s not doing a very good job of it, because we’re how many years past a breakup of the former and a dissolution of the latter? Nobody should care anymore, but here I am, still talking about it. If somebody, maybe a psychiatrist, were to subject me to a word-association test, maybe in a psychiatrist’s office, and they led with “Athens,” I’d break into an immediate sweat and blurt, “R.E.M.! No, no Elephant 6! Why did you say ‘Athens’?!?” Then they’d stamp “Certified” on my case file like I was in a cartoon or something. \\NULL|ZØNE//, god bless ’em, is out to make sure I get a clean bill of mental health and never have to blurt “R.E.M.” again. The experimental label, run by the ineffable Michael Potter, is putting a different kind of Athens on the map, one that’s weird and eclectic and doesn’t sit still for anything. Probably smack in the middle of the U of GA campus (FUCK YOU BULLDOGS), \\NULL|ZØNE// exists to jam a musical middle finger right in the face every single jock-ass undergrad that strolls past Potter and his seething anger. Well, part of that’s true anyway – I’m doing a bit of projecting, you know, with my hatred of Georgia, and the University of Georgia, and the South, and everybody in the South…

Where’d I go there?

(Full disclosure: some Southerners are OK – I live in the South after all. I like R.E.M., too, and Olivia Tremor Control.)



I’m doing this one first because I’m cheating. It’s not really part of the batch that came out September 8, having preceded the other two tapes covered here by two weeks. But I live in a world where all three of these tapes arrived in my mailbox at the same time, and by golly they belong together! Verge Bliss (is that any real-er of a name than Dendera Bloodbath???) has crafted this really unusual noise tape where harsh blasts of distortion rub elbows with field recordings of gospel choirs and … well, that’s about it, actually. “Up Above My Head” is the track I’m talking about, the third one, and the recording melds with the power electronics and becomes the exact kind of incantation that will bring unholy ruin to Athens. I kid! Sort of. Bliss normally plays an autoharp, but “Hungry Ghosts” is a head trip of a different sort, lasering all sorts of frequencies through the headphones before coming out the other side a transformed heap of human life. See, HUNGRY GHOSTS is all about the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and somehow Bliss’s mediations on afterlife guidance are pretty helpful on the living side of existence. Not standoffish in the slightest, these sonics grab you and hug you … weirdly … yeah, weirdly, but still, it feels good to not be alone in death. Am I reading into that right? (Edition of 50.)



Proving that wonderful things truly are coming out of places I hate, Carey is Dan Carey Bailey, a composer and musician from Atlanta who… yuck, Atlanta. Sorry. You’ll be happy to note, then, that “Other People” is a forward-thinking folk/jazz masterpiece that could care the fuck less about Williams Street and that guy who does the Adult Swim music. Carey plays all the instruments on “Other People,” save for some cello (which is a nice addition, I must say), and in the process hits a one-man fusion sweet spot that probably should not exist outside of the confines of improvisation. The folk really shines through on “The Beauty in Failure,” a track the Books totally they wish they could get their mitts on to add samples to, while “On Being” is the solo piano joint that belongs on television and film soundtracks – not one soundtrack, but all of them. The rest plays as a musical approximation of famous film scenes, theatrical in its execution but insular and intimate nonetheless. Bailey’s work probably should be seen to be believed, meaning somebody’s gotta put some visuals to these tracks. Who’s on it? (Edition of 50.)



And then of course there’s this one. Philipp Bückle’s sidelong meditation “The Never Got The Message” is yet another stab at cinematic ambient that manages to sink itself deep into the subconscious, burrow under the skin and overwhelm with its restraint. Tones and chords trace unexpected emotional pathways and manage to assert themselves long after they’ve completed, haunting the listener (little old me) from whatever plane of existence they’re really piping in from. Philipp – I’ve got the message. Then there’s Mr. Potter, whose “Garden Portal Almanac” I just totally freaked out over. “End Of Summer Music” is a good place to start as any, don’t you think? Potter hews totally to the ambient shoegaze spectrum, something that’s a nice Kranky counterpoint to “Garden Portal Almanac” and it’s ecstatic prog. Lonesome guitar never sounded so inviting, no matter how distant or alone it wants to be. Summer’s gone, gang, and Potter’s documenting it for us, plaintively, purposefully, running melancholy scales against the backdrop of chilling temperatures and pumpkining beverages. Am I a terrible person for not thinking that’s a bad thing? (The pumpkining – everybody should be OK with the guitar and the temps.) Get your hands on this one especially – the Jcard art is fabulous. (Edition of 75.)

The \\NULL|ZØNE// Bandcamp is where you wanna be to grab these, which is (thankfully) on the internet and not in… Athens.

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Tabs Out | Charles Barabé / Ratkiller – split

Charles Barabé / Ratkiller – split
10.9.17 by Mike Haley


Alright, alright… If I’m gonna be 101% honest with the four or five people that read my cassette reviews (hi, mom!) then I should start off this cassette review by stating that I 101% knew I would be reviewing this cassette the moment I laid my baby hazels on it. For the lazy-player’s run down on why, here are some quick bullet points…

Charles Barabé is a sound-genius.
Ratkiller is a consistent maniac.
Crash Symbols deliver the goods like one of those late-night munchies services that zoom Doritos and blunts to your door at 2:17 am.

Sooooo, the only way this pup was going to let me down would be if was accidentally dubbed over with dreamy bedroom pop or something. But even then, the artwork, with it’s Maurice Sendak having a bad week vibes, would get me by for days. Sooooo.

Luckily, the original audio was indeed left intact.

Barabé snaps into his side, “Avant​-​Garde Avorton Romantique,” like a rat trap, ironically. Channeling the brooding proclivity of dense soundtrack narratives, Chuck reassigns hunks of classical music and it’s kin into beyond epic sagas. As the timpani crashes with anger, reverberating around fever inducing cleaves of sound, you can almost smell gladiators prepping to do something raw and regrettable. The structure of it all is colossal, but also tangled by wormy synth sputters. A maze for your emotions to navigate. Over the last few years, with releases on labels such as Orange Milk, Tranquility Tapes, A Giant Fern, and many many more, Barabé has become less of a musician and more of a story teller. His techniques are basically copywrote. Stiff text-to-speech lines often reoccur to advance the plot. Perfected on his 2014 recording “Insultes (hommage à John Cage),” they are quickly heard here like HAL 9000 browsing a dating site while on the toilet. A syrupy “Communication is a huge thing for me. After a long day at work I just want to cuddle and watch TV and fall asleep” drains over a lethargic electronic rhythm. Everything stinks of confusion and suspicion and an uneasy joy. These elements under the steady hand of Barabé make it simple to close your eyes and drift into a previously non existent world.

I don’t remember where I initially heard Mihkel Kleis’ project Ratkiller. Maybe it was the “Cellar Dweller” tape on Rotifer? The point is I kept hearing Ratkiller because I knew it was the right thing to do. My instincts were confirmed by “Transrational Suite,” the name given to the five tracks on the flip side here. Kleis occupies the same real estate as Barabé – that is one where a whimsical jigsawing of romantic melodies takes place – but goes with a contrasting layout. On side A, where brick is exposed, Ratkiller hangs flowing tapestries. Where “Avant​-​Garde Avorton Romantique” glows high-watt neon bulbs, “Transrational Suite” relies on natural light to show off it’s slow-curved angles. But even with those soft color palettes and deep shag sounds, Ratkiller keeps peculiarity in mind. The track “An Attempted Dialogue Between Man and Fish” is a perfect example, where the normalcy and niceties of a guitar serenade are slowly leached by gurgling cloudiness.

Go grab a copy or two from Crash Symbols. And I’ll see you at Thanksgiving, mom!

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Endless Chasm – Dweller on the Threshold
10.6.17 by Ryan Masteller

Endless Chasm

You are NOT going to fuck with me, Endless Chasm! You and I both know that I’m obsessed with TWIN PEAKS, and the only reason I’m reviewing this is the connection of “Dweller on the Threshold” to that show. I mean, that’s not totally true I guess – I can dig your harsh ambient vibes coursing through my headphones. It WAS the entry point though, so it’s me and you and a copy of season 3 that I have to rewatch now once it hits home video formats (available December 5!). You guys watch it too? I’m going to have to slap on a big ol’ SPOILER ALERT right here then, because Endless Chasm is forcing me to indulge the worst impulses of my Twin Peaks fandom (once again) even though I know none of you can respond to me and so this is basically an exercise in frustration. Still, let’s roll with it.

Side A is “White Lodge” (there it is!), and no amount of Giants or Firemen or ????????? is going to provide a satisfactory answer to the nature of the supernatural location. And guess what? That’s OK. I’ve evolved as an ingester of pop culture to the point that I don’t need the answers – my philosophy suggests that the questions are what will drive me to be a better and more complete individual. But that still doesn’t mean I can’t speculate. And Endless Chasm explores the sonic architecture surrounding this this place that is situated on a different plane of existence, much like David Lynch has taken great care to build his scenes around audible cues. Anyone who’s witnessed episode 3.8 understands the great importance of the work of the White Lodge, yet its deliberate and elongated actions call for exactly this type of soundtrackery – compositional fortitude that doesn’t get in its own way.

There’s no “White Lodge” without “Black Lodge,” and although Badalamenti’s shuffly jazz is what has propelled scenes set there in the past, it’s much more terrifyingly appropriate with Endless Chasm’s minor-key drone hovering above the chevron floor. The nature of the Black Lodge has been teased, its origin suggested, but the mystery of the place remains, and the mystery of “Black Lodge” deepens the further into the track we get. Feedback and noise overpower the drone, and I’m one “Gotta light?” from flipping my lid and getting the hell out of here. It’s about now that I notice the distorted (forest?) image on the cover of this tape, and now I’m worried about vortices and convenience stores and garmonbozia when I should really be calling it a night and getting a little shuteye. But that ain’t happening. That ain’t happening with “Dweller on the Threshold” still occupying my attention. It looks like your work here is done, Endless Chasm – I’m a seething mess who can’t shake the feeling of “The Return,” and your tape is enabling my unhealthy obsession. Did you know that I’m a serial theory reader? Wanna hear my favorite? Episodes 3.17 and 3.18 are meant to be watched simultaneously! Holy Jesus Zaireeka Christ! It makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE that way.

Whatever the hell, I don’t know, buy this tape from This Ain’t Heaven Recording Concern, because why wouldn’t you at this point?

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Tabs Out | Peter Kris – Cargo Road

Peter Kris – Cargo Road
10.4.17 by Ryan Masteller

cargo road

Now THIS is how my Fourth of July party should have gone. Released on the holiest of holy days, America’s birthday, “Cargo Road” by THAT Peter Kris, the one we’re contractually obligated as writers to always say is a member of German Army, Q///Q, Germ Class, and Final Cop (god we’re boring as ASSSSSSSS), directs our stimulus-starved attention toward the night sky. But these ain’t your Tennessee/Alabama fireworks – even though you ought to be a big kid before handling them. These internal, emotional cherry bombs don’t blow out in big percussive lightshow spectaculars. Nuh-uh – “Cargo Road” is the equivalent to a time-release cigarette fuse, where the greatest show you’re going to get is the slow burn of the tobacco as it makes its way ever closer to ignition. Peter Kris is a master at filling the silence once the fuse is lit, reflecting the detail of the embers as they burn long after you’ve left the scene.

So you’ve wandered off, almost forgetting about the little cracker that’s gonna freak somebody out in like ten minutes or so, and you lay on your back in the grass next to a bonfire, your eyes trained upward into the darkness, the night sky of your vision filled not with Grand Finales but a hundred thousand tiny sparks drifting in random patterns. You’re surrounded by friends, and everything is new and ahead of you. Peter Kris’s music drifts through your mind, the restrained and effected solo guitar and bass wanderings a meditative starting point for imagining the rest of your life. I mean, this IS on Sonic Meditations after all, so none of these words should surprise you. And as ruminative as these passages are, there’s no reason not to be filled with hope and joy. Just look around you! Surrounded by loved ones. Beaches and bonfires, midnight camaraderie, the Peter Kris Inland Empire way via whatever the hell city or town you call home. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about, America! That’s something I can get behind and believe in.

Our friend Justin Wright aka Expo ’70 pressed 65 of these handsome cassette tapes, so go on ahead and complete that GeAr collection you’re secretly curating. I’m woefully behind, but I see you.


Oh shit I forgot about the time-release!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Muzan Editions

New Batch – Muzan Editions
10.3.17 by Mike Haley


If ya blinked any time during the month of September then chances are you missed out on the grand opening of Muzan Editions. The label started it’s life with three tapes, each in bite-sized editions of 25 copies, all of which were quickly claimed (AKA: SOLD OUT!). Of course binary streams are still available by way of Bandcamp, but you’re gonna wanna go the extra mile and track these down in physical form, if at all possible. A first hand witnessing of the care that went into presentation is a must. Heady artwork is darkly bruised onto uncoated kraft stock, the sort of paper that 100 year old invoices for haircuts were hand written on. The Jcard panels and shell stickers are atypical, adding to the fine start from this Japanese-based imprint. And the sounds. Oh, brother… The sounds!

MEDS001 is Florian von Ameln‘s “Interbellum.” The time between wars is referred to as an interbellum, a period of contemplation that humanity seems less and less eager to grant itself. America has been at war literally every day since I was born in 1980, so an interbellum seems more like an abstract concept to me than an actual allotment of time. Being a total stranger, I can only guess how Florian von Ameln processes the idea of interbellum. I know they live in Germany, which has it’s… past… and I have “Interbellum” as a compass, with it’s needle pointing strongly to peaceful grounds. The C20 consists of five tracks titled 1919 – 1923, the five years following the first World War, which arranges the listeners thoughts, giving a broader meaning to the guitar ripples snatching themselves back in a surrounding of field recordings and eerie number station samplings.

Back in the 40’s Peter N. Witt, a Swiss pharmacologist, researched the effect of drugs on spiders. He dosed the arachnids with Benzedrine, marijuana, mescaline, and such (or fed them flies that had been partying) then basically checked out how cool their webs were. For “The Work Of The Spider” Andreas Brandal laid off the animal testing and garnered inspiration from Hungarian film director Béla Tarr with equally provocative results. Maybe he tossed back some bennies too? I don’t know, I’m not a cop. Brandal’s synth webs glisten in the sun with snap and precision. Each track is silky as can be while churning along with force and focus. Maybe he is a spider? Someone get Norway on the phone!

Hegira Moya‘s “閑静な住宅街” (translated to Quiet Residential Area) plays quieter than most residential areas. Even the REALLY quiet ones. The state these sounds are in are more akin to abandoned areas, left vacant after some sort of chemical spill. Synthesized whispers crack like thawing ooze as animals move in to see what that new smell is. Squirrels and various rodents nibble at the bubbles, riffle through remnants, totally unaware that they’ll have a second tail in the morning. The tones are pinks and greens and yellows, vibrant yet tiny, like a Lite-Brite jacked into a practice amp.

Jeez, I really managed to drudge up some of the most bummer tones from these tapes. They are amazing, I swear, and will somehow still make you feel good inside. As I said earlier, they are sold out from the source, but happy hunting! In the meantime, consume the digital goodies and stay focused on Muzan for more super depressing/uplifting releases.

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Tabs Out | J.G. Sparkes – The Infinity Suite I-XII

J.G. Sparkes – The Infinity Suite I-XII
9.29.17 by Ryan Masteller

J.G. Sparkes

Old Thanos really needs to get his hands on those Infinity Stones for some reason, doesn’t he? Look, I’m not a loser, I don’t read comic books like those nerds, I get all my breaking Avengers-related news from the big screen like a normal person. That and through the sweet aural delivery system of cassette tapes. So when I heard that J.G. Sparkes had released an album-length paean to the Infinity Stones, I pretty nearly shat my trousers with gleeful abandon. I didn’t even have to go to my local Cineplex for this information upload, it was delivered straight to my door!

About thirty seconds into “The Infinity Suite I-XII,” I realized that old Thanos and his stones weren’t going to show up at all, and I stormed out of my listening closet with barely a shred of patience or dignity behind my beet-red visage. After I calmed myself with a gallon of milk (kids, drink as much milk as fast as you can always!), I popped my headphones back on, newly open to the actual experiences J.G. Sparkes had in store for me. And what experiences they were! I can’t imagine a more appropriate approximation of the infinite than this tape, as the Stockholm-based sound artist crafts twelve passages to the stages of life and beyond using only his imagination, some instruments, and samples. Just like our forefathers drew up the blueprints in holy scrolls, Sparkes attempts to make sense of life on this planet and its current manifestation in all its imperfect glory (and, uh, all the other not-glory, in fact really horrible, stuff) through textural ambient meditations. He covers birth, self-realization, melancholy, and the end, even utilizing a growling animal on “XI” before ending on the appropriately titled “XII (tomb planet),” one of two tracks to have a title beyond the roman numeral. (The other is “IV [are you happy?],” and the answer, judging from the defeated sigh of the questioner following each sampled query, is no.)

Upon recovering from my trancelike state following the click of the play button as auto shutoff popped it back into its default upright position, I realized that paying attention even one tiny second longer to the exploits of the Avengers was a fool’s errand. Who cares about bickering superlosers when the infinite of existence beckons? That’s where I’m going to direct my focus from now on.

Buy tapes from Do You Dream of Noise?, which is in Swedish, so…. good luck?

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Tabs Out | Nmesh – Pharma

Nmesh – Pharma
9.26.17 by Ryan Masteller


“There’s so much you don’t understand.”

I could start with the sheer size of “Pharma,” a double-cassette release, but that’s a false conversation, because just look at the sheer volume of releases, in particular this one, and you’ll get that this isn’t out of the ordinary. So let’s move right on.

“Pharma” warps reality, spiraling perception skyward like the scattered portals leading to wherever it is the unearthly spirits dwell in Twin Peaks: The Return (just past episode sixteen as I write this, so fair warning for spoilers), like the Woodsmen and Phillip Jeffries. It’s a strain on the equilibrium, a constantly shifting atmospheric disturbance that’s so dense and so fully unknowable that it becomes almost a monolith, an overwhelming presence that holds you there in its attention and only allows you to resume your life after its forty-two tracks come to completion. Yeah I said forty-two. That’s why this is on two cassettes. Weren’t you listening?

Nmesh is a plunderphonic genius, pulling samples from films, television, commercials, radio, I dunno, law enforcement CB channels maybe? This dude, as has become abundantly clear from his work through the years (feels like centuries), is at the pinnacle of the electronic game, a peak formed from many sides coming together to form a mountain of insanity, the (electronic) American Hindu Kush. The idea of “Pharma” is representative of the narcotic substances you’ll need to make it through (OK, maybe not really), as only the hardest vapors or trickiest pills will do the trick, simultaneously enhancing your engagement and protecting you against it. Reality again turns on a dime, further muddying perception until where you started might be the least real point in this whole endeavor. And isn’t that the scary part?

But where I started was “NΞ1✪NΞ1,” and you can watch the video and get an idea of the hallucinatory elements contained herein. Is that some kind of alternate reality pop hit? It only serves as a cautionary tale, as freeing your mind is not a prerequisite for the rest of the album. No, “Pharma” is going to get all up in your brain pan and scrub that sucker clean, imprinting itself upon your personality as KILLER BOB did to Dale Cooper in the season 2 finale. (Something like that.) Following this, Nmesh slings whatever comes into his mind, or whatever he finds in his digital archives, all over the canvas, mixing bangers on LSD with bangers on Sparkle and filtering it all through a half-club/half-psychedelic horror film wringer. He even lets you breathe every once in a while with an ambient passage. But he’ll never give you much of a break when it comes down to it.

I stare at “Pharma” before me and I am daunted. I press play and wait for my life to change. It does.

Oh man, and there’s a track called “White Lodge Simulation” too. It’s like Nmesh is watching me from somewhere. I am currently paranoid. Good thing I have the Bookhouse Boys on speed dial.

This tape will take you places – I’m just not quite sure where yet. And, sadly, it sold out within hours of its release. But I’ve heard through the grapevine, and please do not take my word for it, that a second edition is in the works at Orange Milk HQ. Keep your ear to the grindstone.

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Unifactor

New Batch – Unifactor
9.19.17 by Ryan Masteller


What is it about Cleveland that brings out the weirdest in people? The Mistake on the Lake is home to a variety of micro-micro subscenes and disparate artists, a northeastern link in an Upper Midwestern chain of fertile ground for the cultivation of the most out-there musical experimentation. Something’s gotten into the citizens there. Is it the toxic lakewater, remnant of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, seeping into the populace’s water supply? Is it the proximity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all the madness and garmonbozia that entails? Is it the fact that Chief Wazoo still exists? (And the less we talk about Browns, the better.) Whatever it is, Unifactor Tapes has tapped the city’s psychic disturbances and pumps the harsh vibes through sonic channels, the infrastructure feeding Cleveland in its entirety with a paranormal and paranoid pink sludge not unlike the river of ectoplasm in Ghostbusters 2 running underneath New York. That’s not to say the vibes are all bad or anything – it’s just that SOMETHING’S gotta be responsible for the out-there-ness of it all.



What better way to emphasize the Cleveland-ness of Unifactor with a release by a Baltimorean? I kid, but hey, Max Eilbacher’s already ruined my narrative thread, and I’m only one tape in here. Still, his appearance here is pretty welcome – he rocks the bass geetar and other electronic devices in the “avant-garde rock band” Horse Lords, and if you’re not spinning “Interventions” on regular intervals, you’re not doing it right. He brings that horsey mentality to his solo work, avant-garde-ing his way here through Toshi Ichiyanagi’s “Music for Piano #7,” and boy, is this setup a doozy. Eilbacher basically programmed a computer to play the score, however it wanted to, and in what order. Samples careen against one another, and the result is simply astonishing, unearthly, inhuman. The electronic components of side A are replaced with field recordings on the B-side, and passages are introduced here and there by a female voice: the announcement “Modular synthesis processed by a computer” begins the tape. Perhaps the most interesting passage is on side B where crowd noise (think restaurant crowd, not stadium crowd) is glitched to unrecognizability. Nice trick there, Max – or should I say Max’s computer?



Wyatt Howland’s been around. This guy – I mean, he’s as Cleveland as it gets, the scummy industrial shred emanating from whatever malfunctioning PA he happens to be using at any one of a hundred thousand dank basement noise shows perfectly captures the underground vibe. There’s power, there’s violence in his Skin Graft releases, which is totally not unusual in that he cut his teeth in the powerviolence scene. PERIPHERAL is a back-to-basics tutorial seemingly culled from sacred scrolls archived at Hanson Records’s HQ, and the fact that he’s got a release or two on Hanson is certainly not a surprise. This hateful tome imagines the worst of people, a Cleveland that has fully succumbed to the ungodly ooze. Recordings of scraping metal processed to oblivion at physically painful frequencies never sounded so visceral, or so vital.



Luminous “Diamond Ben” Kudler hovers over his modular synthesizer rig like each new moment will contain myriad fantastic sonic discoveries. How else do you explain THYMME JONES, thirty minutes of experimentation where each tone, each noise takes on an almost archaeological function? It’s like Kudler’s mining the instrument, plumbing the depths of its circuits to find the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant or the Sankara Stone or the Crystal Skull of sound. Side A flits from patch to patch with the same excitement and glee one gets when sliding the Staff of Ra into the correct hole at the right time of day. Side B pulls back on kookiness, allowing the space around the notes to hover like the Breath of God, past which only the penitent man will safely continue, the textures soft and contemplative like the breeze of a spinning blade through cobwebs. Obviously I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about – I’m pretty sure I have to dust off my Indiana Jones DVDs though. Oh, THYMME JONES – that’s why my mind went there. The Jones connection. And really, THYMME JONES is great fun to listen to, you’ll understand as soon as you hit play. (Oh, and Kudler’s also from Baltimore. What the heck, Cleveland?)


Each tape comes in an edition of 100, and I guarantee you’ll drop coin on these puppies for the artwork alone. Talk about judging a tape by its cover! It’s OK to judge these, you’ll be fine. GO!

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Tabs Out | Rinus van Alebeek – The Gracious Depression

Rinus van Alebeek – The Gracious Depression
9.12.17 by Ryan Masteller

gracious depression

Life can’t be contained within the mere confines of a plastic cassette tape, but we sure can try to cram it in there! Berlin’s (or Poland’s now?) Rinus van Alebeek, Renaissance sound artist and curator, abstract poet, man about town, does his best throughout his travels to capture the very essence of human existence as he goes, recording seemingly at will, sometimes seemingly at random. Piecing together the fragments into a whole that resembles an emotional roller coaster more than anything else, van Alebeek seeks to find some hidden truth that wafts through the atmosphere, hoping that his microphone has picked it up along the way. Considering his legendarily prolific output and activity within the Berlin artistic community, I’d say he’s at least on to something even if he hasn’t pinned it down yet. But that’s what it’s all about – the search!

“The Gracious Depression” is the latest piece of manipulated musique concrète in Rinus’s repertoire, a tape made from tapes for tapeheads like us. This stretched-out, deconstructed, scientifically examined, and reconstituted composition is surprisingly musical when compared to decidedly and defiantly nonmusical artists. Notes from songs and performances peek through the veil of magnetic tape, mangled corpses of music enhancing the ambient sounds and spoken scraps of everyday life, rendered flickeringly surreal by Rinus’s technique, not unlike David Lynch’s visual effects surrounding Black Lodge spirits in Twin Peaks: The Return. Let it be said, Rinus is a master cassette editor, splicing together sound object after sound object until the result, while abstract in form, takes on a believable, living, evolving, and human texture. You can feel yourself living inside it, a facsimile of half-remembered conversations and splintered radio broadcasts.

Rinus van Alebeek is on an adventure, and if his activities are any indication, he’s a good guy to get to know within the experimental underground music community in Europe. Till we all make our pilgrimages, we have Das Andere Selbst in Berlin to thank for these lovely tapes. Track one down, they only made fifty – it’s all about the search!

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Tabs Out | Midori Hirano and Kris Limbach – The Last Day On Earth

Midori Hirano and Kris Limbach – The Last Day On Earth
7.7.17 by Ryan Masteller


“The Last Day on Earth” is a literal message in a literal bottle, the plastic recycled, heat-warped, then sliced to fit a cassette tape. Can I get serious with you for a minute here? “The Last Day on Earth” gets serious, Midori Hirano and Kris Limbach get serious, and Staaltape, the adventurous label run by Rinus van Alebeek out of Berlin, is always serious. I’m continuing on that track – there’s not a note on this tape that isn’t completely and fully imbued with emotion. Van Alebeek suggests that Hirano, on her side, completely disappears into the composition, the piano taking over as if it’s observing humankind with its melancholy, desperate fragments, watching the end of the end of our destruction as we wipe each other out, because isn’t that what we’re wired to do? Hirano’s a spirit somewhere but not here, her absence a weight of despondency. Her piece exists to watch the ocean lap the shore on a gray day, no human beings in sight – suggesting a natural makeover whereby the planet is returning to a state before we came along and gunked it all up. “They don’t sleep anymore on the beach,” broadcasted Godspeed You! Black Emperor on “Sleep,” and they sure don’t. No one does. We’ve seen to that. These sparse notes emitting dirgelike from the mouth of Hirano’s piano mourn the passing of those who once did. God, “The Last Day on Earth,” by which I mean the actual day, is so depressing.

Kris Limbach reacts to Midori Hirano’s score of apocalypse in the only way that makes any sense – with field recordings inspired by it. The actual last day on Earth, recorded, preserved as a time capsule – for what, whom? “There is not a single man living on [Earth] / There is no future and no history and there are no bloodthirsty animals that tear each other to pieces.” I’m not sure if these words, inscribed on a photocopied 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper and folded to accompany the sounds, are intended to suggest actual feral animals or the actual feral animals we goddamn humans have become, vicious, toothy beasts who howlingly tear at each other’s throats with the least provocation. Chomping, tearing, scratching, rending, roaring in great bellicose and misplaced anger. I hope that Rinus van Alebeek and his network and community of artists find some solace in each other, in the sounds they wring from their minds and their instruments and their sources. Or maybe they’re all gone too, and I’m just a ghoul willing these keys to type themselves with my mind (or my ectoplasm!) in the hope that someone will read this and seek out this tape before it’s too late, this tape that will then assist them in their passing into the great beyond, whatever comes after Earth. Heed this message in this bottle. Heed all messages in all bottles now, as everything’s an SOS and everything’s a warning. Well, maybe don’t heed messages that point closer to destruction (no funny hyperlinks here – I’m sure you can imagine some examples without a digital aid). I’m hoping, as a reader of this very serious site, that you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Or the wheat from the horseshit, as it were. You’re a good kid, you’ll figure it out.

I marvel at the packaging: 1 (one) warped and melted and chopped water bottle, repurposed; 1 (one) folded piece of 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper, typed upon; 1 (one) carefully wrapped cassette tape in some sort of spray-painted cellophane, which I could not nicely wrap back around the tape properly once removed; 1 (one) spray-painted (or otherwise similarly treated) cassette tape. Clearly a lot of thought and care went into this. Edition of 26 (twenty-six), of which 6 (six) remain. But don’t worry, Rinus is going to make more when they’re all gone.

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Tabs Out | Reece Cox – Broca’s Talking Candle

Reece Cox – Broca’s Talking Candle
9.5.17 by Ryan Masteller


“Broca’s Talking Candle” is a handy artifact in Final Fantasy IX that you can use while searching for lost treasure with your Chocobo… Wait, is that right? That’s not right. Sure, it SOUNDS like something straight out of FFIX, but “Broca’s Talking Candle” is actually a recording made by Reece Cox at an exhibition where he was surrounded by sculptures. And the resulting sounds were released on cassette tape on ARs Media. That’s why you’re reading about it right here! It’s a tape, not a magic candle! I’m such an idiot.

Broca – there’s a lot to unpack here, but Broca’s Area is “responsible for the formulation of verbal communication,” and it is there that Phineas Gage got himself impaled with a railroad spike sometime in the year of our Lord 1848. He didn’t die, but the accident resulted in “Broca’s aphasia,” a condition whereby sufferers “can comprehend incoming verbal communication but cannot formulate verbal language themselves.” Yowza! So basically, if I applied this to myself, it would be like me listening to Reece Cox’s “Broca’s Talking Candle” and not being able to write anything coherent about it, or at all. (Sort of like what’s happening right now.) But wait, there’s more! The sculptures that Reece Cox was surrounded by at the exhibition, held at the MAW Gallery, 56 Henry St. SE, New York, NY, in the summer of sixteen, reflect the disorder. I wasn’t there, you guys – I can’t account for any of it. I’ll buy into it though.

Cox sure captures the feeling of this condition, of sound entering and being understood but without the ability to reciprocate. There’s uncertainty, tension, even dread at not being able to understand Broca’s aphasia or, with understanding, bear it. “The compositions were arranged using midi mapping technology to create sequence structures from the human voice. Each composition uses the same sequence through different routings of a modular synthesiser [sic], mimicking the distortion of information processing that takes place during the cognition of a person suffering Broca’s aphasia.” (I don’t even know why the hell I’m bothering to write something new about this – ARs Media’s done it for me!) So the question is, then, is Reece Cox recording these sounds to tape so that listeners can get an idea of what this condition feels like, in sound form? Or is the intention that only those with Broca’s aphasia can truly grasp “Broca’s Magic Candle?” Only one way to find out – jam a crayon up my nostril as far as it goes and see what happens! (Please do not try this.)

ARs05 comes on gorgeous heavy cardstock, the whole thing like a sepia photograph. Buy it or else!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Aural Canyon

New Batch – Aural Canyon
8.31.17 by Ryan Masteller


Texas-based tape label Aural Canyon began life with the Benefit Compilation for Planned Parenthoodwhich, I mean, c’mon, at this point you either choose to help people or you’re out. Why would you not want everyone to have access to programs and services they need, regardless of what you think? I promise I’m not going to get all soapbox-y, so I’ll stop there, but kudos to Aural Canyon for the initial baby step in the right direction. Turns out that initial step pointed to an initial tape batch that’s also hell-bent on helping people of various configurations, so let’s give our attention to the REAL American heroes sloughing through the emotional muck instead of those abhorrent fatcats running the place.

I can’t say it enough – HELP PEOPLE. Whenever you can.

(Speaking of helping people – as Aural Canyon, and all artists involved in this batch, are Texas-based, we can’t help but consider those in need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Please visit the Red Cross page, or the page of your organization of choice, and lend a hand. They need all the assistance they can get.)

In huge, all-cap letters emblazoned across the label’s Bandcamp description you’ll find the following “mission statement,” I guess you’d call it: “DEEP AMBIENT / DRONE HAZING / SOUND BATHING.” I’d add to that “RECOVERY MUSIC,” and that’s not just because City of Dawn’s tape is called “Recovery II.” From what I gather, each of these tapes serves as a balm for its creator in some way, whether intentionally or not, and the “RECOVERY MUSIC” on each is an outward gift to listeners to use as their own therapeutic tool. So let’s heal ourselves with whatever can be found at the bottom of Aural Canyon, shall we?


Damien Duque of McAllen, Texas, records as City of Dawn, and “Recovery II” is his hymn to the autistic. Duque has autism himself, and over the years he’s used music as a release for the anxiety and depression that accompany the condition. But this, here, is a celebration; so celebrate life with autism, because, in the words of Duque himself, “Autism is not a disability, it’s a different ability! Autism is not a disease, so do not try to cure us. Please try to understand us.” It’s easy grab on to what City of Dawn is working with here, as guitars, synthesizers, and found sound function as a euphonic bed to rest on; you can join Duque in the euphoria and immerse yourself in and become part of this vision. It’s like Sigur Rós lite, if we only had the quiet moments without the occasional bombast. Recovery II is an unexpected treasure.


Minimal techno and IDM is the name of the game for euphoric clickmeister Robert Thompson, aka Visjøner (aka, in other circles, Mojave Triangles, Quartz Safari, and Paa Annandalli, depending on what day of the week it happens to be, probably), and you may find that I use a variation of “euphoria” for all four of these tapes. This one gets slapped with the tag because although it’s techno, and the beats are decidedly of the 4/4 variety (one could certainly crank the bass on this one to make an impression with their subwoofers on their tricked-out ride), the melodies and textures gleam like a galaxy swirling out into the cosmos. It’s the kind of music you can close your eyes to and just get transported, man, to a far-out, faraway place. Visjøner is the captain of your rocketship, and you can forget all your troubles, because your destination will have none of them – you can start over. Yeah, that’s a shiver of enthusiasm that just coursed through your body. Ride the wave.


OK, so – Dark Days documents severe depression, and despite that heady topic, and the artists’ “unhealthy fascination with the macabre,” the tape is surprisingly accessible and welcoming. Melancholy, sure, but who/what isn’t these days? (See spittle-flinging rant above.) Garza and FP (aka Josh Doughty) swirl lovely synthesizers, gentle guitar, and sparse electronic rhythms together into a cloud of shoegaze-y ambient, all textures, all the time, “Better Daze under These Gray Skies” seemingly the centerpiece, the hopeful foretelling of, ahem, better days ahead. Till then the gloom envelops us, but we’re not alone – we are accompanied in our dull ache by the duo, and … is that a porn sample? It is a porn sample, on “Neon Flesh.” Huh. And … not out of place, which is equally weird. I guess sex can be therapeutic too, or at least the idea of an intimate relationship can be applied as a spiritual balm. I think, anyway. I’ve moved on, blissed out by this thing, an experience I’d never expected something called Dark Days to initiate. Euphoric? Damn right.


And here we come to the part of the program where we are fully healed and sent on our way, out into the world to spread the good news and great joy of the warming glow of Aural Canyon’s warming glow. Adam Pacione, dear man, you’ve done it. Thirty gall-dang minutes of the most gorgeous ambient drift this side of the aurora borealis, EUPHORIA IN EXCELCIS DEO. “Midnight Summer” is the exact opposite of an endless bummer, a heavenly presence smack in the middle of a MASH unit, doling out benevolent miracle after benevolent miracle. Derek Rogers, with “Sun and Sky, Mirrored” parts 1 through 3 keeps wheeling in gurneys of the afflicted, and he and Adam keep tossing those gurneys aside as the afflicted emerge fully healed. It’s no wonder – each side of this split is an example of a master at work, total drones washing equally over body and mind: aural convalescence. Keep it coming, you magnificent bastards you.


Phew. Each gorgeous tape comes in an edition of 50. Get on it.

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Tabs Out | Takahiro Mukai / Shoeb Ahmad – split

Takahiro Mukai / Shoeb Ahmad – split
8.30.17 by Mike Haley


Allow me to channel my inner Suess for a moment to describe Tandem Tapes… If you couldn’t tell by their name, or the long list of releases that are exclusively splits, Tandem Tapes is a tape label that exclusively releases splits. That was fun. I promise not to do it again. Anyways, one of the latest splits out of Tandem’s Jakarta HQ pairs up Takahiro Mukai and Shoeb Ahmad in a long distance three-legged race, an ocean separating them (literally and metaphorically).

Takahiro Mukai‘s wormy synths recently discovered a fresh corpse in their garden, at least that is what I’m attributing their avid delight too. Barely shaded from a glistening sun, they chug-a-lug below a thin layer of soil, fluxing in shade. Bobbing their heads – or maybe tails? It’s hard to tell with worms. Do they even have “heads” or “tails??” I’d say no… I fear this is getting sidetracked – as I was saying, bobbing their whatevers, these slimy lil’ suckers pass by shady looking bugs and broken glass on their path to the body.  This particular side of the cassette has three tracks, titled #311, #308, and #312, in that order. Through the entirety of those three tracks is a consistent vibe that is orderly and pleased; These synth worms are thrilled to be alive! They bubble with excitement, never letting it overflow into chaos. Single file lines have been formed and order/fun is being kept. This isn’t some going-out-of-business Best Buy in Florida. This is Takahiro Mukai. He knows how to control his worms, he feeds em right. That’s why they do it. That is where these hypnotic mandalas of blips and blaps come from.

Oh yeah, I Googled “worm anatomy.” Turns out they have gizzards.

From Osaka, Japan to Canberra, Australia. We can jump in a plane or a boat can sail, ya! Sorry, I promised to stop that. Shoeb Ahmad‘s side offers far less optimism than Takahiro Mukai’s saucy worms with their three-day weekend dances. Worms are immediately replaced by “Dragonfly,” an epic jaunt compacted into six minutes in which the elegiac vibrations of an acoustic guitar are drug across unfinished hard wood. A somber trek made awkward (in a good way) by a pesky, twitching loop, all staticy and in desperate need of a Swiffer Dust Cloth.  There is an uneasiness deep in the sounds here. I’d imagine this track is how one would feel walking into the wrong funeral. The weird discomfort you’d feel upon not recognizing a single face in the room, including the corpse. Maybe it’s the same corpse that ended up in Mukai’s worm garden? At 11 minutes “Voigt” is a reflection on what just occurred. Here, the more bummer elements are blanketed by heated tones and desultory snaps, like a medicated recess from reality. It’s nice to get away, even for a moment.

Only 25 copies of this split were made, because Tandem does very small edition sizes. So with a fizzle, a nizzle, a dizzle flamp plamp. Please direct your web browser to a Band that is camp.

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Tabs Out | Ant’lrd – Cherubian

Ant’lrd – Cherubian
8.29.17 by Ryan Masteller


The Ant’lrd way is the way of continental drift, where masses slowly take form before stasis gives way movement, almost imperceptible at such a grand scale. I once likened Colin Blanton’s tunes to hurricane-sized atmospheric disturbances, visible from a great distance, slow-moving, but enormous and overwhelming. And even though “Cherubian” tackles the everyday – love, daydreams, houseplants, marimbas, “Zoned Hugs N’ Harmony” – it still manages to sound way bigger than maybe it is. Perhaps it’s because its sonics penetrate us like molecules to our most basic level, drifting in sunbeams and filling all space. It’s the fullness of this penetration that grants the music its size, as we perceive it as an unending part of everyday life. We should also remember to thank Odd Nosdam for his mastering work on this thing.

But Blanton’s the main attraction, the hero, neck deep in a buttload of releases but emerging to continue blazing his path of unparalleled ambient superiority. “Cherubian” is a fine addition to this collection, a pink masterpiece even (the tape is pink – wanna look at it some more?), loops and synths and samples moving through a vacuum before colliding and bursting into every color of the visible spectrum, maybe even some others. That’s what you want in an Ant’lrd release – an overwhelming multisensory experience – and “Cherubian” delivers as if it’s an entire heavenly host of its titular creatures descending upon humanity and proclaiming “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” like good ol’ biblical doctor Luke. Or Linus! At any rate, it’s like I’m filled with some sort of light when I listen to it, and I’m huge, and I’m about to burst and become one with the universe – all this from a record containing a track called “Water the Houseplants”! Great trick, then, Mr. Blanton, for imbuing the everyday with such magic.

Moss Archive is a phenomenal label, and the hand-stamped edition of 100 is almost all gone!

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Tabs Out | Straight Crimes – Jams, With Microphone. 2017

Straight Crimes – Jams, With Microphone. 2017
8.28.17 by Jill Lloyd Flanagan


I’ve known Erin Allen since my old band toured the West Coast in the early 200o’s and ended up with a CD of his band Child Pornography, which included passport sized photos of all the band members and one of Anne Frank (the original, not the YouTube star). In High Castle, Sisterfucker, Work and countless others, he’s relentlessly played distressed sounding noise rock with a strong garage punk streak. He also is an accomplished painter and makes a lot of zines which feature his irreverent doodles, black humor and phrases clipped at random from pop culture.

Straight Crimes is Allen’s new duo with bassist Chani Hawthorne. The “Jams, With Microphone. 2017″ tape starts out with a kind of bass and guitar slow motion slide up the neck of Allen as Hawthorne plays a descending stoner rock riff. When we have been sufficiently lulled by this, the 1, 2 of a drum machine’s exacting rhythm kicks in. The rhythmic pulsations chop the gnarled guitar feedback into a delirious texture. With the groove set by Hawthorne’s blues-inflected bass, the guitar drone begins to sound poppy. It’s a welcome surprise that this is the perfect vehicle for Allen’s voice. It’s the voice of an angel fallen from grace, while in some of his bands, it was unnaturally high and could have the thinness of a falsetto. But here, he’s found his perfect pitch and sounds like a 70’s rocker sinking into a swamp of feedback.

The guitar and electronics playing of Allen also has gotten to a masterful level of anti-technique. The feedback and electronic squall are painterly but in the way of the post-color-field painters of the 1970’s who applied gobs paint on the end of a 2 by 4 and dragged them across the canvas. A good example would be “Earth Mover” which has a nice interplay of bass and guitar before a wave of hissing static rushes in with a staccato beat as Allen intones “how could u? How could u?”

A great improvisation feels dictated by an outer/inner force. Thanks to the great musical chemistry between Allen and Hawthorne, the playing here has a strong intentionality to it. For me, a flaw in the cassette would have to be that the tracks are not as balanced between them as I would have liked. Here, Straight Crimes caves into the classic rock tradition of keeping the bass barely into audibility. Anyways it’s good to be kept off balance, something Erin Allen takes a sick pleasure in reminding us.

“Jams, With Microphone. 2017″ was released in an edition of 100 copies by Fine Concepts. Grab a copy here.

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Tabs Out | Matt Wellins – Music for the Memphis Group

Matt Wellins – Music for the Memphis Group
8.25.17 by Ryan Masteller


Matt Wellins is making it tough on us. Tough, that is, to separate audio from visual, sound from sight. And while I’m not suggesting it’s a bad thing – if you’ve read any review I’ve ever written, it’s more like I’m critiquing an aurora borealis or a fireworks display than a musical recording – I do want to make it very clear that to enjoy “Music For The Memphis Group” to its fullest, you’re going to have to do it while looking at something. Or, if you’re the type who likes to close their eyes and let their imagination run wild while they listen to records, go ahead, that’ll work too. Point is, what informs Wellins’s masterpiece the best is the data collected by your eyeballs, not your eardrums.

Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention to anything, this tape is a paean to the Memphis Group, a collective of Italian (and other) designers active from 1981 to 1987 who specialized in postmodern, Art Deco, Pop Art, and retrofuturistic furniture and other objects, often using plastic as a central material and utilizing bold (and multiple) colors. To apply the term ”kitsch” to this style is not far-fetched – a lot of it looks pretty crazy in hindsight, but it’s certainly finding itself in the midst of a resurgence, and if artistic expressions like those of Matt Wellins are the result, then this resurgence is welcome indeed. That’s not to say that Wellins’s music is “kitschy” – it’s too tightly controlled and forward-thinking to be saddled with such a mixed modifier – but it certainly evokes the style the Memphis Group was going for.


And there you have it – Wellins is a maestro of the MIDI, blasting through presets and arpeggios and samples and tones and moods that are as colorful, smooth, and engaging as they are angular and academic (the final seven tracks are all numbered “Studies” after all), calling to mind recent releases by artists like Nikmis and even the work of OM mainstay/co-administrator Giant Claw. Sure, the source of these sounds is as plastic as some of the Memphis Group’s pieces, but they’re just as imaginative and no less festive. See, where someone like James Ferraro uses his vast computerized library to tease out the darkness and the nihilism of manufacture and consumerism, Wellins injects his music with sheer joy, embracing the oddity and absurdity of color, shape, and texture and how it functions to jolt one’s senses out of stasis. He embraces the artistry behind it, understanding that things, physical items, can actually produce happiness if enough care goes into them and they hold an aesthetic appeal for a subset of consumers. That’s why it’s important to actually hold his tape in your hand – it has real weight, and the art by Mariano Pascual is the perfect accompaniment to the tunes within.

If postmodernism and retro chic are your thing, then Matt Wellins has the perfect soundtrack for you, and Orange Milk pretty much has all the perfect soundtracks for that in their catalog (among other things, obviously). Not only that, there are actual yodels on “Music For The Memphis Group!” You know you want to hear how that works. They’re on “Alaska.” Trust me, they’re glorious.

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Tabs Out | Cop Funeral – Part-Time Pay / Paid Vacation

Cop Funeral – Part-Time Pay / Paid Vacation
8.24.17 by Ryan Masteller


Josh Tabbia’s reflection on abuse – abusive relationships, abusive power structures, abusive employment statuses – isn’t as harrowing or terrifying as I had supposed it might be, which is a surprise. Think about it – psychological torture is pretty explicit and terrible stuff, and regardless of intention or intensity level, it should be the stuff that fuels nightmares and induces panic attacks. I am fortunate to have relationships with people around me that are normal and human—they are decidedly not abusive. I hope Tabbia has found an exit.

And while it’s not “harrowing” or “terrifying,” it’s certainly unsettling, but Cop Funeral has some sort of grip on general listenability that eludes many noise artists. Now before you get all huffy on me, note that “listenability” is relative, and is actually barely a criterion – your listenability and my listenability and the Tabs Out Podcast nerds’ listenability are all personal characteristics, so leave us all alone. What I mean is, there’s more than just dense, harsh texture – Cop Funeral’s all over the place, lasering tones and layering waveforms so your ears don’t exactly know where to focus from one second to the next. It makes for a gratifying listen from start to finish

Unsettling, yes, and tense. The opening triptych, “Limited Benefits,” “Part-Time Pay,” and “My Boss Vapes in the Bathroom” are variations on the restrictions imposed upon us in our occupational environments, and Tabbia tackles each idea with a similar approach albeit with varying operational touches. Sirens of anxiety wail before they’re roped in by general, pulsing, low-end dread, which evolves to allow the coexistence of higher-register tones so that, while they’re not at peak freakout, they’re on the verge of it at any given moment. It’s good stuff, and if something was eating at me, I certainly wouldn’t want to listen to this. But “7-3-16” is a calming track of water sounds and distant birds, and “Paid Vacation” ends the EP with twelve minutes of minor-key dirge, scribble lines of concern entering in the middle before resolving back to the dirge. It’s like when you’re nearing the end of a holiday and you realize the work’s piled up on your desk for you to dig through on Monday. Fun! Or, not fun at all. This is supposed to be vacation, dammit! “Coping and healing,” according to Tabbia, but still scarred.

“Part-Time Pay / Paid Vacation” is available from 1980 Records, and is currently in stock! Get busy getting busy.

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Tabs Out | Samuel Truitt – Thorns

Samuel Truitt – Thorns
8.23.17 by Ryan Masteller

Samuel Truitt

Wait a minute, I’ve read this book. It’s a tale of internal struggle, one where the protagonist is also the antagonist. Actually, there’s only one character: the protagonist/antagonist. The internal struggle is the entire book. I’ve read this book. In fact, I’m reading this book right now. And you know what? I’ve always been reading this book. This book is about me. This book is me. The internal struggle is mine, a Sisyphean algorithm that never resolves. I must have lent the book to Samuel Truitt. His album “Thorns” reflects it perfectly.

You might wonder about why Truitt bills “Thorns” as “an instrumental book on tape,” a cheeky idea rife with probable symbolism made even cheekier because of the stubborn refusal of “Thorns” to crack a smile otherwise. Once you hear it though, you’ll wonder no longer – it’ll make perfect sense. Truitt splits his tape into “chapters,” “Solitude,” “Thorns,” and “Chant” making up side A, and “Mind Meld” parts 1 and 2 comprising the B-side. And although these ambient tracks surely point toward New Age – specifically West Coast New Age, the probable DIY scene Truitt explicitly belongs to (I imagine it being to San Francisco what Dischord was to DC) – they express a range of emotion that could easily play out over a novel-length character arc. And remember, this is not New Age music that your parents would be into – somebody like Yanni wouldn’t comprehend it at all. That’s why this book is me. I express non-Yanni human emotions, and therefore I get the hell what Samuel Truitt is doing.

Maybe your parents are cool, though, and they’d like this. Can’t hurt to try.

Are you a non-Yanni human being? Do you huff oxygen and expel carbon dioxide? Does the carbon dioxide you expel NOT find its way into the pipes of a pan flute? Have you visited Melters’ Bandcamp page in a while? If not, why not, you sweet, sweet idiot? It’s available for the right price, the right price being $5, or above if you feel the need to donate a bit more to the cause.

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