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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: Ready? Cassette. Go! 3

Returning champ Jamie Orlando defends his title against Ian Franklin in what the podcast world is calling "the most exciting game ever played."

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Tabs Out | Laura Luna Castillo / Lensk – split

Laura Luna Castillo / Lensk – split

1.24.19 by Ryan Masteller

It’s cold out there folks! It’s cold in here too, on this split tape, the one divided between Laura Luna Castillo (probably a real name) and Lensk (probably not one). The latest in the Display split series sees these two artists try to out-scope each other, try to one-up the other by crafting sound in grand scale, a “cinematic” scale if the descriptive copy is to be believed. (It is.) Both seem to be vying for the chilliest composer title. Both seem to view glaciers as musical inspiration. This is good for us.

On “Things Have Started to Float,” Castillo slowly pieces together atoms until she has constructed a monolith of hovering material, the massive structure barely resolving from its stasis. Electronic tones flit through it like shockwaves, but it’s a menacingly solid, unbelievably frigid construction. It’s like she’s attempting to take over the world through freezing it, like this person, or this one, or this one. Is that what they all do? I can’t be bothered to check.

Lensk gets obvious with “Light (As It Shone Through Cracking Ice),” maybe the most appropriate titling of a track to reflect its inspiration as there ever was. Fractal tones interact with crystalline structures; universes open up in the geometry. Like Castillo, Lensk is going for the full freeze effect on world domination (or the full domination effect on world freezing – if there’s even a difference), synths boring into the ice like drills. Maybe Lensk is like this person, or this one, or this one.

Either side, you can’t lose. Grab a warm blanket, because you’ll need one by the end of this split. The deets: Clear C30 / Ink Imprint / Printed O-Card / Clear Norelco case / Labeled Black Bag / Sticker Included / Edition of 40.

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Tabs Out | Long Distance Poison – Technical Mentality

Long Distance Poison – Technical Mentality

1.22.20 by Ryan Masteller

Long Distance Poison, the synth duo of Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury, have been at it for a minute. This here’s their third release on Hausu Mountain, after all, and if there’s such a thing as a mind-meld – beyond the Vulcan one of course – they have achieved it here on “Technical Mentality.” The gist of this thing is the exploration of “early computing technology,” an archaeological expedition through circuits and motherboards to determine how all that connected on a sociological and anthropological level within culture at the time and how it continues to have an impact now. Sure, we all imagined the pixilated worlds of Commodore 64 code and MS Paint and what have you, but did we ever consider an alternate reality where those worlds came to pass, where future earth and future humanity somehow merged into a theoretical existence? 

Long Distance Poison considers it.

“Technical Mentality” is therefore simultaneously an ice-cold digital wasteland and impossibly alive sun-dappled environment. It can easily shift back and forth without warning, the tone and mood flipping like a switch, although one with a dimmer because, well, there’s nothing really TOO abrupt here. The key, though, is imagination – where does your mind lead you while it’s under the influence of “Technical Mentality”? I’m almost always beamed to the worlds depicted in the retro book covers of sci-fi novels. It’s easy to get lost in those, to project yourself into the surroundings and embark on unknown adventures. There’s mystery and intrigue, danger and delight, but the entire experience is always incredibly new and satisfying. Upon these voyages humanity and technology must coexist, must work together to achieve a goal or merely survive. And the trip is always just as immersive as the destination – this very well may be the actual definition of the Hausu Mountain “zone” put into practice. 

Orange C40 out January 31. This is also the first tape to feature the new Hausmo spine logo, designed by Eliot Bech (Chubby Pumpers). Excerpt of “Giving Up on Me” below to wet your whistle!

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Tabs Out | Robedoor – Negative Legacy

Robedoor – Negative Legacy

1.17.20 by Ryan Masteller

Four is not a funny number, but it’s a RESPECTABLE number, especially if you’re considering it in relation to Tabs Out’s Top 200 Tapes of 2019 list. That’s where you’ll find “Negative Legacy,” a grisly swamp of butt psych from Robedoor, LA’s finest purveyors of “dungeon-crawling” sleaze. What was above #4 on the list, you ask? Just an excellent Strategic Tape Reserve comp and a Fire-Toolz album, not to mention that “101 Notes on Jazz” thingy. Robedoor’s in great company.

Long a mainstay of the Not Not Fun community (Britt Brown is a Robedoor-ian after all), Robedoor has dropped “Negative Legacy” on Deathbomb Arc, another collection of California experimental-music lifers hell-bent on subverting everything you’ve ever known about genre … or anything, really. (Give it a try – toss them a subject, they’ll change your mind about it.) So Robedoor fits right in with these weirdos, given that they’re weirdos anyway, a bunch of CHUDs infecting the city’s water supply with their lysergic smear jams and redirecting their contaminated sewer lines into the reservoirs like evil-twin ninja turtles. And though the teenage years may have long passed them by, they’re certainly glowing, irradiated mutants as do their nefarious work.

So that’s what they mean by “Negative Legacy”: Robedoor has left a trail of chemical damage and misfortune in their wake, and we’re left with the heavy burden of tidying up after them. Fortunately, as we’re cleaning all this mess up, we can listen to “Negative Legacy” on our Walkmen, take in the damaged synths and reverbed percussion and sinister wails, utilizing the rhythm to guide our work. Little do we know, we’re just creating the same damage over and over, so we toil in circles for eternity, our Sisyphean task forever haunted by the “Negative Legacy” in our ears. 

I guess we could just press stop at some point.

Edition of 100 regular tapes (or edition of 3 AUTOGRAPHED ones) available from Deathbomb Arc. Quite an appropriate #4, I must say.

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Tabs Out | The Gate – House of Snuzz

The Gate – House of Snuzz

1.16.20 by Ryan Masteller

I had a friend in college who played the tuba, and it made me question everything: my life, my choices, my direction. See, had I known how cool the tuba ACTUALLY was, instead of thinking that it was just for fat kids in marching band, I may have tried to pick that thing up instead of – BORING – guitar or piano. Now, I have no idea how popular Dan Peck, tuba extraordinaire in The Gate, was in high school or college (or is now), but he’s reminding me with this here tape “House of Snuzz” that tuba is, indeed, a wickedly cool instrument. Now, who’s picking up a bassoon?

The Gate, a trio also featuring Tom Blancarte on upright electric bass and Brian Osborne on drums, has two tracks, “Dark Echoes” and “Psychedelic Rays,” and both are pitch-black rainbows of delusion-inducing free-skronk. Obviously, with tuba and bass, The Gate registers on the murky low end of the timbral spectrum, but you may be surprised to learn that you don’t wallow in a swampy morass with this crew. Rather, the rumble and churn is deliberately agile, anchored by Osborne, and tuba/bass interplay hits enough mid-range frequencies to keep you focused. In fact, Peck often distorts his tuba, so it doesn’t even sound like a brass instrument. It sounds like an additional frazzled bass, really – one that’s often used for hideously atmospheric effect. 

OK, maybe it does get a little morassy sometimes, but that’s all part of the fun!

“House of Snuzz” is a din of black magic boiling in some sort of cauldron hung over some sort of infernal flame at some sort of sadistic ritual. It toys with you, batting you around like a cat with a stuffed mouse or a terrified beetle. It’s at once sinister and playful. How have we not all discovered the secret joys of the tuba before now? 

Well, I guess if we had, stuff like “House of Snuzz” wouldn’t be so enthralling. It would be “just another tuba record.” No one wants that.

This “high-bias yellow tint sonic cassette with direct shell imprint” is available in an edition of 100 from Tubapede Records. (Awesome label name, you guys!)

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Tabs Out | Prayer Generator – Eleutheromania

Prayer Generator – Eleutheromania

1.15.20 by Ryan Masteller

I feel like we’ve been eulogizing Patient Sounds for a while now, but it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and “Eleutheromania” feels like a nice appendix to the whole operation (even though three other tapes came out after this one before the label ceased operations). And it’s maybe even doubly appropriate that something called “Prayer Generator” was enlisted to at the beginning (or middle, or middle-end, or one-third of the way through) the end, as the human beings who make up this duo – Libi Rose and D. Brigman, of Denver – are nothing if not reverent in their sound-making. Maybe their supplications can be heard by a higher power who will then grant us humans the miracle of more Patient Sounds cassette tapes. #Bless

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The opposite could also hold in this situation: “eleutheromania” means “a mania or a frantic zeal for freedom,” and such endings could possibly have only occurred following a buildup of intense stress and pressure until the strain became too much. Hopefully this is not what happened to Patient Sounds, but Prayer Generator’s here to help just in case. The melancholy ambient echoes of the duo’s interaction smooth that passage into oblivion, the electricity generated acting as a conduit for physical transformation. Or maybe it’s mental. You definitely need a good new mindset when you’re transitioning from one state of being to the next. At times placid, at others hostile (Jesus, those static eruptions in the middle of “Ochlesis” scared the crap out of me!), “Eleutheromania” is both the sandblaster and the sandblasted, prepping the individual through various stages of upheaval and mental cleansing before allowing the new entity on the other end of all that to awake, arise, and ambulate toward the next destination.

At any rate, Prayer Generator holds the key to their new mechanism of self-discovery, and they’ll crank that sucker in a mad fit of eleutheromania till the lock gives and the doors bust wide open, allowing access to that new sense of freedom you never knew was building up inside until we called attention to that pressure RIGHT NOW and gave you the tools to do something about it. Those tools were the tracks of “Eleutheromania.” That pressure was LIFE. That freedom was a NEW CAR.* Drive off into the sunset.

*This tape is brought to you by Toyota.**

**Just kidding.

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Tabs Out | QOHELETH – Mark It Well, All Roads End in Death

QOHELETH – Mark It Well, All Roads End in Death

1.13.20 by Ryan Masteller

This “meditation on life and death” (duh, look at the title) came together “by accident,” and sometimes that’s the best way things come together, especially meditations on life and death. Case in point: I’m sitting right here, drinking a beer, typing on my computer about music, and I happen to grab QOHELETH’s “Mark It Well, All Roads End in Death.” While playing it, I’m prompted to meditate on life and death, just like I’m supposed to. Accident? You betcha!

QOHELETH is nominally a noise rock outfit, but here, perhaps in thrall to the meditation, they are in experimental mode, finding their way around their instruments as if scrabbling for sustenance like woodland creatures on the forest floor, trying to stay out of claw-, beak-, or mawshot of predators. What does that mean? The instruments of “These Exquisitely Dressed Trees” don’t allow us easy purchase, and as such we’re left to fend for ourselves to perceive and attain the beauty hinted at by organic process. Compost and such; fertilizer. Giving of our bodies to sustain another. Sounds noble, but in actuality it’s just a philosophically garbed poop joke. We’re just scrabbling and eating and crapping until something meaningful happens in our lives. It is an existential crisis! 

It’s here that I gave up the ghost and crossed over to the other plane. Well, OK, not really, but the melancholy uplift of the solitary piano and ambient haze of the room (Liz Harris eat your heart out) of “The Clearing at the End Is the Path,” over almost ten full minutes, surely felt like it. (Not to mention it’s a nod to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, in which the crossing into death is referred to the exact same way.) It’s the perfect counterpoint to “These Exquisitely Dressed Trees,” a metaphysical response that elevates life beyond the baseness of our animalistic tendencies. The transcendental drift of “The Clearing” encapsulates perfectly the duality of the life/death divide. 

Also, here’s a spooky thought: these two pieces were recorded over a decade apart! How on earth did they find each other?

Accident.* Of course.

“Cassette with original art by Caiden Withey. Includes mini print with liner notes. Hand-drawn art and text on the tape itself. Limited to 20 copies.” On Philip K. Discs!

*Eh, not really.

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Tabs Out | Episode #150

Headboggle - Polyphonic Live: LA/SD (Red Tape)
Kevin Drumm & Adam Golebiewski - The Last Minute Or Later (UZNAM)
Kortiko - Decomposition (Space Lounge)
The Tuesday Night Machines - Roof Tent Rhythms (Strategic Tape Reserve)
43 Odes - s/t (Eiderdown)
Claire Rousay - Friends (Never Anything)
Atlantis Morrissey - split w/ Millions (Oxtail Recordings)
Alien Trap Lords - 3L3M3NT 115 (Hand'Solo)
Vyto B + Mazes - Gridlock (Sanzmat International)
Post Moves - No Dignity In Haste (Obsolete Staircases)
The High Sheriffs - s/t (Garden Portal)
Boy Sets Fire - 4 song demo (self released)

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Park 70

New Batch – Park 70

1.10.20 by Ryan Masteller

We’ve trod this Park 70 path before – don’t you remember it? How come? Did you not read what I had to say about them? Were you not interested maybe? Did you have a bad experience on the Tabs Out website? Do you not like the podcast? Do you not like my writing? Do you not like … ME?!? That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t like me!

My self-esteem can’t take that kind of a hit. Not now. Not in the new year.

You just forgot, probably, that’s it. I’ll let it slide this time, because I’m a forgiving kind of person. But that does mean that I have to go over it again, take up some more of my precious time … unless you just want to click on that link in “before” up there – that’ll do ya. But since you’re proving to be unpleasant to be writing at, I’ll give you the gist so you can be on your way. Park 70, Knoxville, awesome aesthetic, nice letterpressed O-cards, heavy card stock insert … you know the drill. If you have a few more minutes, you can check out what I have to say about this NEW batch … but only if you want to.


BRUNO DUPLANT – FEU DANSE

The first thing you should remember about Park 70 releases is that they’re going to require your undivided attention to tease out every last detail, and Bruno Duplant’s “Feu Danse” is as good a place to start doing this as any. Actually, it may be a better place than most, because there are really excellent details just lurking throughout this tape that you really don’t want to miss. In fact, this may be THE BEST place to start, because “Feu Danse” has that kind of Lynchian atmosphere, the kind where there’s comfort but also unease, both coexisting and working together and probably plotting against you or at least your well-being. … No! This this a positive place, dammit, a positive environment built to nurture the weary cosmic traveler adrift upon the transcendental plane. Still, “Feu Danse” translates to “Fire Dance,” something probably every denizen of the Black Lodge has participated in at one time or another. And yet the epigraph comes from Bill Callahan and involves the bottom of a river … a place that Duplant stirs up so that the sediment clouds the senses, teasing us with the subaquatic gold, inviting us to hover there until we run out of breath – or until we grasp the ring lying there, like Sméagol! Or Bill Callahan. This doesn’t sound like Bill Callahan. This sounds like beautiful processed ambience, like you’re bound to find on Park 70.


MODELBLAU – TRAVELERS

Frans de Waard (aka Modelblau) catches us in the rain here on “Travelers.” Just … hang on a second.

Listen to it.

The rain.

When de Waard tires of the rain – and he does – he turns to other sound sources suggesting travel, maybe in the night. Often these things sound like trains, sometimes like energy beams, mostly like inexplicable forces propelling us forward beyond the limits of our known worlds. Like if I’m in Pennsylvania and a de Waard energy beam whisks me off to, say, Alpha Centauri, that’s pretty far out from the comfort of my backyard. But still the rush is there, and any time I can hurtle along with it, I will. Maybe I’m just pacing down a path just before dark, and I have to figure out where to pitch my tent. Maybe my tent (and me, and the path) are somewhere in the proximity of Alpha Centauri, and I still have to figure out where to pitch it. Look, I’m not here to tell you where you are or where I am or define reality or whatever. I’m here to listen to music and chew bubblegum, and this tape just fucking ended, so where’s the Big League Chew?


SEQUENCES – GATHERING COLOURS

Niels Geybels is back as Sequences, and let’s face it, he never really left – he’s been dropping a trail of disparate releases, one every few months, and this time he’s found his way to Park 70, which just makes total sense. Sequences is the perfect Park 70 project, and “Gathering Colours” is a rainbow of smeared ambient … just don’t expect any of it to make its way to that O-card (aesthetics, remember!). And honestly, this gritty gray release befits the tactile b/w art, its granulated electronics just asking to be visualized in some way and then examined under a microscope, where heretofore unimagined worlds pass beneath the blind eye of those who can’t perceive them. Meaning us! But Geybels is helping us out here, at least letting us HEAR what goes on in miniature at surface level. Microbes and bacteria grind away, and we’re none the wiser. Apparently they’re looking for something other than that gray and that grit, something a bit more vibrant – color maybe? Yeah, color. Geybels doesn’t give it to them. Keeps them wanting more.

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Tabs Out | Lärmschutz – splits with Black Faun, Eugene Chadbourne

Lärmschutz – splits with Black Faun, Eugene Chadbourne

1.9.20 by Ryan Masteller

I love the consistency that Faux Amis has displayed with this series. To recap, in 2019, which is essentially over (smell ya later, 2019!), the label, based in Utrecht, Netherlands, unleashed a tape a month from fellow Utrecht-based freeform noiseniks Lärmschutz, with Lärmschutz occupying one side of the tape and one of Lärmschutz’s best buds – or at least contemporaries, maybe even worst enemies? – residing on the other side. I’ve written about them for Tabs Out before (and even other sites, OMG!), and I’m about to write about them again, because they’re worth writing about. We’re on to volumes 7 and 8, featuring Black Faun and Eugene Chadbourne, respectively.


FAUX AMIS VOL. 7: BLACK FAUN / LÄRMSCHUTZ

Black Faun isn’t an easy listen, folks. Power electronics meets hellish drone, the bludgeoning industrial atmosphere of side A’s “Helhesten” is a suffocating morass of metal on metal, hordes of machinery lined up for miles and simply performing their primary functions. Robot overseers make sure everything’s running in tip-top shape. They’re hovering robots, like the ones from “Tron” or “The Black Hole.” It’s a pretty constant onslaught on all senses, and why wouldn’t it be? The planet is uninhabitable (no atmosphere, gravity barely works, second Trump term), and the robots are already equipped to communicate via some sort of bleepy short-wave system, so what do they need us for? “Hi!” says Lärmschutz, who join the party late, a half hour and a whole side into the tape, and take over for Black Faun, who are just as disillusioned at this point as you may imagine. “Valravn” is their contribution, and it starts on such a piercing frequency that my wife yelled down the hall for me to turn it down (but it WASN’T that loud to begin with … Babadook?). As usual, Utrecht’s rowdiest experimenters attempt to one-up their splitmates, this time with a scathing guitar/synthesizer/noise flash flood that erodes any patience you may have left. It’s a toxic churn, and it’s in your head and in your blood, and you can’t help but fling open the door of your house and run out into the street and attempt to pull your mailbox out of the ground with nothing but your own brute strength – and you can’t do it! It’s cemented in there. But so what? Lärmschutz gives you the Popeye strength to at least pull every muscle in your back trying to get that thing out. Maybe you need a robot to help you.


FAUX AMIS VOL. 8: EUGENE CHADBOURNE / LÄRMSCHUTZ

On the complete and absolute opposite end of the spectrum is Eugene Chadbourne’s contributions to the series. You may be wondering, as I did, if Lärmschutz contains the requisite forbearance to match Chadbourne’s restraint. See, Chadbourne not only picks at the guitar strings in such a minimal fashion, he does it, apparently, at least on “Crammed Into One,” in the middle of a bird sanctuary, the avian hordes threatening to overwhelm the sound of the guitar at every moment. Kinda peaceful, actually, if you ask me. The birds disappear on “Ruined Castle,” but that only helps you hear better what sounds like a guitar playing while its slowly being sawed apart. Lärmschutz, I’m sad to report, can’t rein it in like Chadbourne can. But who cares! They still spin off two tunes in kindred tone to Chadbourne’s, they just can’t help it that they’re more than one person and more easily and actively play off each other, goading each other just a little further into the spectrum of wildness. The result is an abstract freeform festival of tension, where every muscle is taut because the music can’t spiral too far out of control, but still it kind of shakes itself in your face like a twerking bagpipe glitched out like it was in the Matrix. And then somebody slumps over at the end because they’ve finally made it, and the relief is palpable. Whatever instrument they dropped probably needs to be tuned though.

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