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Tabs Out | Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn – DRZWI DOORS

Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn – DRZWI DOORS

1.21.22 by Matty McPherson

In the Husky Pants Records swing of things, a bootleg Thinking Fellers Union 282 t-shirt is an ancillary to a used CD of Come’s Eleven: Eleven. Also yeah, CDs are perpetually in vogue and more potent than a vinyl, which the cassette is regulated to a merch table exclusive for time travelers from 2008. None of this is exactly shocking, especially considering if you heard the end-of-the-year wrap up podcast with noted-Chicago post-wook gtr plyer Ryley Walker, who personally told us something that amounted to this. However, Mr. Walker’s decision to (almost entirely) forego the cassette has made getting copies of his works in formats that comply with the Tabs Out Ethical Code of Honor an excruciating experience. He’s a son of gun(n) like that.

However, I’d also warrant that this is a respectable MO that purposefully forces a listener like myself to make the commitment to the bizarre times he wants to throw a post on twitter or bandcamp up with an actual tape release. Such was the case when in December he did a no-frills, “by the heads, for the heads” release of a “fried as fuck, practice space drones” tape release entitled DRZWI DOORS; Steve Gunn (who sometimes makes albums for the label that Come and TF282 released stuff on) co-stars as collaborative du jour for this release. Unless you picked up a tape or somehow can badger Mr. Gunn or Mr. Walker to provide you a way to listen to it, then you likely will never hear it. (Or you could just go back to the year-end podcast, where part of it was sampled).

This has one of ‘em blank inserts–Im not sure if its a c30 or c40, who played what, and what the catering situation was like. What sounds we got on both sides though are sizzling, and I continue to hold out for more Walker tape collabs or label samplers. Anyway,  Side A kinda sounds like a botched attempt to recreate the emotions brought forth from that ten-minute Coldplay song from last year. This is by no means bad. Excellent bouts of guitar wailing that begets majestic whale noises that Chris Martin and Co. should’ve thought more about. See how prances and glistens, calmly setting up the listener for when a noisier, hulkier sonic mass appears a third of the way down? And even when it turns semi-loud, the duo are careful never to go full hog wild. Well, until its final third, but its often only in contained, nimble doses. When the guitar stops sounding like a whale it terraforms into a bunch of bleeping seagulls. Eventually it becomes a jangly noiser worthy of a freeform dance or images of tightly wound buildings. When Side A is not still, it is never not casual; two minds in a deep listen and practice with each other testing how far they can upset the balance set forth so nicely in the first third. 

Side B meanwhile is a little more chipper n’ skipper, replicating that first third of the former’s quietness. It’s opening centers on the two players making a twangy, squiggly sound that is the equivalent of chewing around a sack of sunflower seeds in yr mouth. Eventually if you chew long enough, they become little bits of crushed stars: once again the two take towards a more astral twang as the drone spreads out. Brilliantly, the duo brings back those seagull guitar quips in quick bouts, which ultimately don’t impact this softer (and shorter) piece than the A-side. All in all, a solid fish fry I’d contend.

Limited Edition of 100 Sold Out at Source.

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Tabs Out | Jeff Surak – Eris I Dysnomia

Jeff Surak – Eris I Dysnomia

1.22.22 by Matty McPherson

Dysnomia is the only known moon of the dwarf planet Eris and likely the second-largest known moon of a dwarf planet, after Pluto I Charon.

Dysnomia is an aphasia in which the patient forgets words or has difficulty finding words for written or oral expression.

Welcome to the future. We’re here right now, live at the source: DC-based Jeff Surak’s latest tape offering Eris I Dysnomia. Surak’s name is new to me, perhaps new to you, but to the annals of home taping he’s about as decorated and astute as they come. The mail order web page links reviews that reveal “at one point, he was the organiser of the Sonic Circuits Festival” and that he’s still been rweaving a spirally-stricken labyrinth of tapes and digitals out on his own ZEROMOON label. For Eris I Dysnomia, he’s struck up a bountiful piece of ferric for Public Eyesore’s Eh? Imprint that highlights a litany of loquacious droning and sonic detachments. 

Dysnomia is a newfangled big brain word. Naturally it has two distinct definitions (see above) that delineate a location and a feeling that Surak makes a smack-dab layup out of over the C50 here.

Side A is all “Parasite Lost”, a slow burn for a grey day on a black sand beach. Surak is less about piercing,wailing soundscapes than imparting a suggestive, percolative quality to display. Where we start with cyclical motors and whispering winds quickly drones together and mends an image of an omnibus factory just out of reach; by the time we’ve reached it there’s another sound space that we’re circling towards; equally out of reach and yet thrice as piercing. By the time we reach that space, the sounds of  hinterlands seem to push us ahead. Each mome Surak invites listeners on this journey, trusting that each step of the way, each new found low hum or instrument inversion, we’ll stay focused on the present moment, where we are now, not headed.

Side B meanwhile decides to peel back the longform and instead highlight Surak’s own tenacious sound experiments. More concrete abstractions like “Concupiscent Strings” and “Asphalt Muzak” are as present-oriented as “Parasite Lost”. They marvel at their own gristling, precocious sound of the moment. Although for brief flickers, “Asphalt Muzak” hints at a subconscious pop prerogative that “Stuck” actually channels into a vapory, disintegrating two and a half minute detente. It’s a bizarre, but warranted moment on the tape that palette cleanses “16 Hours on Neptune”’s rather blissed out passage to the other side. Needless to say, Surak’s hodgepodge of ideas allude to a career that I can only hope shows further signs in my inbox soon.

Limited Edition Tape Available for Purchase from the Public Eyesore/Eh? web order page!

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Tabs Out | Expedient Self – Body Man/Facist Game Show

Expedient Self – Body Man/Facist Game Show

1.20.22 by Matty McPherson

Honestly, I love a good “proof-of-concept” tape. The kind that is purposely put in cardboard instead of the norelco, left with only a singular “cassingle” level message to bear that belts out across a C15. And Expedient Self has managed that without too much trouble on the Body Man/Facist Game Show quickie we have here today. The Brighton, UK based one-piece is just noodling with guitars, yet seems to have quickly grabbed attention with a keen ear towards a balance of melody and noisy that would fit at the local farmer’s market during the witching hour. Sonically, it’s not too far removed from a twisted Astral Spirits release or Kevin Levine’s glass-shards style playing that brought noir aesthetics to PiL eons ago.

Side A’s Body Man twists and turns with detuned, jazzy guitar slinkery. A motif, what I’ll refer to as a consistent pang, pops like one of ‘em cartoon characters whose eyes just went all AWOOGA on another hot cartoon character. It never leaves the fray, yet Expedient Self is quick to layer it on top of cantankerous noise, warm overdubs, and multi-layered strings that quickly become a murderous cacophony. It’s twisted yet sugary, suggesingt a timeline not too far removed from those early days when you could buy Factory Records out of the back of a car (or so I’m told). Side B’s Facist Game Show continues the finger picking odyssey, but is more content to stretch itself out and just see what happens when feedback is introduced. Throw the chap a fiver, won’t you?

Limited Edition professionally pressed and printed cassette tape, Shrink-wrapped (😢), now available at the Expedient Self Bandcamp page

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Tabs Out | Fumbata – Actuation

Fumbata – Actuation

1.12.22 by Matty McPherson

Eternal Search sprung to life as a tape label in 2020. They’ve quickly found a knack for spotlighting various ongoing electronic sounds through a compilation here and one-off singles there. Although it was in 2021 that we started to see them spread out. Nothing splashy, but a couple of tapes in translucent shells with minimal design are always going to deserve a microscopic look. It’s an honest way of telegraphing that the emphasis is really about the sounds inside the tape. 

Fumbata (Anderson Chimutu) is one of the first acts to pass through the label, with the release Actuation. Chimutu has been using the moniker throughout a series of 2021 releases found through the Bandcamp sphere. Each one is an expansion upon his mastery of DAW-tinged techno and its various lineages and sonic parallels. Chimutu has mentioned desire to project “conga and reggae” influences within these granular techno deconstructione.  In their own ways, the six tracks imagine an admirable middle ground between Congotronics and Ngeye Ngeye Tapes’ expansive electronic compilations. 

Chimutu’s tracks switch between bubbly bouncers and airy freakouts. Rubbery, bouncy techno pulses dominate the first side, especially on the title track. Here, it’s a general base to launch out a litany of arhythmic drum melodies and synth flutters that prevent the piece from staying reserved for too long, sidestepping and stuttering through the space in a technicolor spectacle. Still, that emphasis on a minimalist palette keeps pieces reserved and cohesive, oftentimes transitioning from one track to the next is a breeze. Although never think that one piece’s lucidity won’t turn up ruptured by the end of a track, with enough cryptic melodies really calling the shots. Side B closer Perle operates in this manner, with a litany of multilayered patterns all fighting for the center of a track like a hackathon gone off the fritz. 

Edition of 50 available from the Eternal Search Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | An Interview with Andrew Quitter

An Interview with Andrew Quitter

1.4.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

My introduction to the sound world of Regosphere happened in 2009 in Portland, Oregon at a defunct noise venue known as Pocket Sandwich/Abyssmal Behemoth that I was living at with other noise-loving degenerates. Andrew’s sound and presence was understated and unsettling, an intensity and focus I hadn’t heard before. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of playing shows with Andrew and releasing one of his albums on my label. Andrew is humble, hardworking, and a mainstay of the American underground for the past 20 years. His label, Dumpsterscore Home Recordings, has released 125 albums by artists like Filth, The Vomit Arsonist, Shift, TOMB, Fecalove, Werewolf Jerusalem, Legless, and many others. Regosphere has nearly 50 releases in its catalog.  This interview was conducted in summer 2021 via several emails.  

When did you start Dumpsterscore Home Recordings?

I started the label in the Fall of 2003. I had previously run a tape label called 309 Thrash Militia Tapes that was active from 1997-2002. It released punk/hardcore/metal tapes (mainly my bands) from the Midwest, as well as my first two noise tapes. I came back to Illinois from train hopping to California and spending a summer living in Colorado and decided to start a new label focused only on noise and experimental releases which became Dumpsterscore. I lost interest in playing in bands, and composing and releasing experimental music (in broad terms) had become my main focus and still is.

What’s the story behind the name?

The name came because I literally dumpster-dived about 200 tapes from a church across the street from a friend’s house and taped over the sermons on them to make the first 3-4 releases, as well as using them to feed my 4-track. I was (and still am) very into reusing and repurposing trash to make something new with, and the name really fit the anti-capitalist stance I felt, using literal trash to compose and release my music. Tapes were basically free everywhere you looked at the time, and an amazing way for anyone interested, to start making records. The “home recordings” part came about because I thought it was silly how many labels at the time were using terms like “productions” and “media” to try and cover up what was a home-made record. I like home-made things. The label’s original motto was “eat trash, shit money!,” which sums it up I guess. Of course I’ve moved on to using high-grade tapes and such (sound/dub quality is extremely important to me), but the sentiment stands.

What was your musical journey that led you into extreme music?

Like I mentioned, I got into punk at a very early age. I was involved in the crust and power violence scenes in the Midwest as a teenager in the 90’s. Playing the drums in a ton of bands and going to every show I could. I was constantly trying to find the fastest hardcore and most blown out crust shit, which is probaly how I first heard noise through bands like Gore Beyond Necropsy and MITB who did collaborations and splits with noise artists. I remember clearly that it was GBN that led me to Merzbow after I got their collaboration album. I was also really getting into synth music like Klaus Shulze and Tangerine Dream, the real acid soaked early shit. I have a deep love for bands like Crass and Flux Of Pink Indians. I think those two bands in particular put out some very experimental records, and trying to find out more about that, eventually led me to Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Test Dept, etc. Then it was a short jump to Atrax Morgue, Merzbow, Contagious Orgasm, Whitehouse, Genocide Organ, etc.. This was probably around 1998, because that’s when I made my first noise tape. It was shortly after that I saw acts like Bloodyminded, Whitehouse, and Merzbow play in Chicago, which cemented in my mind electronics could go just as hard if not much harder than any of the bands I was into/playing in.

Flyer from 2009.  My first encounter with Regosphere.  Flyer by the author.

What allowed you to remain constant output with the label, have diverse releases of drone, glitch noise, harsh noise, experimental, etc….?

Well, like many labels, I think at first it was primarily an outlet to release my own music. After you get a few releases out, you start trading and playing some shows. It’s inevitable to start hearing/meeting other people you want to work with. I’m a very open minded person when it comes to music and never thought of having some super strict focus on the label like I see a lot of people doing now. That’s really the anthesis to what draws me to noise/industrial… Rules and regulations aren’t my thing. I like what I like and I tend to be interested in artists who have a very detailed and obsessive approach to what they are doing. People who find their own sound and work hard on mastering it, I suppose. Also people I genuinely like on a personal level and who have similar ideas to what I expressed above. It’s never been my intention to make a living or boost my ego by putting out records. It’s something I do because I want to share things I connect with.

I was always very impressed by the labels of the 80’s and 90’s willingness to release a wide variety of sounds and the mixing of genres that went on under the vague “industrial” or “post-mortem” tags. I love noise, but it was never my intention to have a “noise only” label. Industrial, power electronics, dark ambient/drone, synth-based stuff, tape music, etc. have always been a bigger interest to me. I fucking love harsh noise, but I’m also pretty picky about it. It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve released straight up harsh noise records. I figure there’s other labels that do it better and more enthusiastically, and I want to have a wider focus. It’s something I very much still enjoy, but don’t feel the need to focus my creative efforts on any more. I like to release a wide variety of dark, experimental sounds, whatever that may mean.

Are there a regional scenes that appeal to you?

Obviously the local Pacific Northwest scene I’m involved in (Eugene/Portland/Seattle) gets most of my attention. I feel like we have a really strong scene of dedicated weirdos and I really enjoy how shows feel like family get-togethers with a wide variety of sounds. I was booking quite a lot of shows for a few years down in Eugene and it was a really great experience to have all the PNW people getting together along with touring acts. I’d like to get something like that going again when I get settled into a new place later this Summer. Other places in the US that I feel like have a great shit going on are, the Northeast and the Midwest. It’s been quite a while since I’ve toured outside of the West coast, so it’s hard for me to comment on, other than what I enjoy listening to. I also have always really enjoyed what comes out of Italy, Germany, Japan and the UK  and have been hearing a lot of cool stuff coming out of Russia lately. If I’m honest, I listen to more European/Asian records than anything from the states, but there is a lot I love coming out of the US as well.

How have your politics informed your music?

In pretty much every way. I talked about this a little bit earlier, but the freedom of tapes is a huge thing for me. I think that records made at home with total freedom are so important to exist. I also think the tape trading scene is hugely important to me. Creating something with pure intentions and trading it with someone on the other side of the world who has done the same is a very strong anti-capitalist act. I’m sad that more labels don’t encourage trading these days like they used to. It cuts out the act of consumption and focuses on the acts of creation and the pleasure in listening. It’s something that still brings me a great deal of joy. I wouldn’t have been making records for over 20 years if I only wanted to make money. I consider DSHR a working class label that distributes transgressive art, not a way to pay my bills.

Anarchist/ecological politics have always been a large part of Regosphere. Religion, consumerism, gentrification, ecology, gender roles, etc. and their roles in my own life have been a part of the project (and earlier ones) since the start. It’s never been my intention to provide propaganda or spoon-feed the listener, but I’ve also never shied away from it or tried to be ambiguous like some others. Living a life outside of society’s norms is hard and unforgiving. Dedicating yourself to an honest and fulfilling life by your own rules often comes with a fair dose of punishment and derision by those who don’t. I feel like this area is where a lot of my themes come from. It’s how I live my life, so there’s no way it wouldn’t be reflected in the music.

In general, do you have any rules when working with artists?

No rules. I’ve been lucky to work with people that I have a mutual respect with and I don’t blindly ask people for/accept contributions to the label. If I put it out, I have some kind of personal connection with the person that made it, or already follow what they do and trust in their intentions. I may not agree with them about everything, and there’s always some back and forth, but I’ve learned to stay away from the dilettantes and the tourists over the years. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to work with so many amazing people and that they trust me with what they’re doing. I guess I don’t actively seek out new people to do releases like I used to,  but just have a great group of people I work with and the newcomers come through that organically. I think it’s a sign of maturity for the label.

What releases do you feel have defined the label? 

I wouldn’t say any one release. I have done several loose “series” (3″ cd-r series, C20 series, Garbage Monster comps) that I think flowed really naturally and represent a ton of great shit to listen to in formats that I enjoy. I think the Regosphere/Vomit Arsonist split 7″ was a big milestone, being the 100th release and the 10 year anniversary, as well as the first vinyl. Plus its just a fucking nasty slab of death-industrial filth that rips. If I could afford to just put out nothing but 7″s like that, I would. I think the N. “Life” album really stands out in my mind as well, because it was one of the first times I worked with someone whose stuff I had really admired for a long time (and who treated me with mutual respect), and it felt really good to put that out.

Which do you wish you could re-do? 

None really. Is there one or two (or five…) that I wish I would have done better artwork for? Sure. Is there a few I wouldn’t do because it became clear in the process, I was working with someone that didn’t appreciate the effort I was putting in (or was just an asshole), yes. Other than that though, I feel like everything is a product of its time and collaboration between myself and the artist that we were both happy with at the time. I’m not one to rehash the past and wish for different outcomes. Overall, I feel I’ve been very lucky in the amazing people that I have been able to work with over the years. Many of them have become my close friends and we’ve grown up together by this point. There are some things I would like to reissue, but I’m not sure if that’s a road I want to go down anytime soon. I like to stay focused on new things that I’m excited about for the most part.

Which release was the biggest pain in the ass?

Yours haha! (Sterile Garden – One Year Cycle) Laying out and printing a zine is a huge pain I forgot about after not doing it since I was a teenager. Add to that cutting and gluing the custom o-cards, and some crazy tape loops going around the house delay contraption (that the dogs kept knocking over) I made for the collaboration on the b-side and I spent quite a few months on that release. It was well worth it though and still one I’m very proud of how it came out. 

Is it a focus of your label to release splits of your projects?  Seems like a running theme through a lot of the batches I’ve seen.

No, not at all. It just seems to happen organically.  People ask me to do splits a lot. It’s always been that way. I love doing it, because I love (listening to) splits! If you go through my records or tapes you’ll see that it’s one of my favorite formats. It’s also compounded by the fact that, since 2012 or so, almost every split I’ve done has been a live-in-studio take of my live sets. So I do offer those up as splits a lot when people ask, because I think it’s the best format for them to be released and it’s a way to share my live sound with those that can’t see it in person. I’m very excited that Phage Tapes will be releasing a two disc set later this year of the past 10 years of split tracks. It will feel really good to get out there in a monolithic slab. Putting together that set for Phage has made me realize it’s been since 2010 that I did a full-length, and even since 2018 since I did a proper EP… So I plan to definitely fix that this year.

What punk or noise labels shaped your aesthetic?

I would say more than labels, at least visually,  photographers, artists, books, and to some degree films have had more of an impact. That being said, you can’t help being influenced by what you grew up on and really love. For punk labels, the obvious ones are Crass, Profane Existence, Dischord, Ebullition, Slap-A-Ham, Sound Pollution, MCR Co.,  a lot of the local midwest labels I grew up on like Beer City, Lengua Armada Discos, Havoc, etc., etc. The list could go on for days, but obviously the black and white, cut-n-paste style really influenced me in my younger years. I think maybe more so than experimental labels, punk records use a lot of great photography which I really love.

For noise, Tesco, G.R.O.S.S., Slaughter, Malignant, Broken Flag, SSSM, Industrial Records, Drone Records, Freak Animal and a ton of others definitely have left their mark. The standard stuff for an older guy like myself haha. I always loved the look of Coil records for the most part. Some of the dark ambient labels like Loki Foundation and Cyclic Law have some really understated cool looking records that use color in a way I find pleasing. Lately I’ve really thought labels like Galakthorrö and Raubbau have these really clean/stark but graphically interesting covers, which is something I always strive towards in my own art. They both use typography as a strong part of the art which is something that really interests me lately.

What is a trend in packaging you love and a trend you hate? 

It’s not necessarily packaging, but I do love that most albums come with download codes lately. I don’t support streaming services like Spotify, so it’s nice that I can have a good collection of stuff to play over the stereo at work in the bakery or on the bus or in my car or whatever. It’s something that really goes a long way to keep me sane these days, having good music to listen to in less than ideal situations. I was having to do a lot of long drives last year, and that went a long way to making it bearable.

I’m not the biggest fan of oversized packaging. Just from the perspective of someone that has several thousand tapes/records, I don’t want to find special storage to enjoy a record. I like them in theory, but in practice I think it limits the amount of time listening to something if I have to worry about pulling it out of a box in the closet every time I want to play it. For me that’s counterintuitive, because at the end of the day listening to the album should be the focus. I know people do things for different reasons though, and some see putting something out as more of a full sensory art project, than just a listening experience and I respect that fully. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I buy a lot less crazy packaging than I used to. I guess moving a lot and trying to maintain an uncramped living space has left me more utilitarian in recent years.

Can you talk about the festival that you’ve helped organize in Eugene?

The only festival I have ever organized was DS Fest in 2013. It was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the label and was on my 30th birthday. I had a lot of the bands that have been on the label over the years play and a lot of the local Eugene and Portland bands played. It was a great time and I think it was pretty successful. I’ve helped out a bit with Eugene Noise Fest here and there over the years, but all credit for that goes to Don Haugen. He is a pillar of the scene down there and criminally underrated as an artist. He’s kept shows going there for 20+ years now. I’ll be releasing a new EP by him later this year. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to book monthly shows up here in Seattle like I was down there. There’s just not the DIY spaces to do it. Another DS Fest will definitely happen for the 20th anniversary in 2023 though! I’m hoping to do it on the coast of Oregon or Washington.

What are the positive and negative ways that you’ve seen the noise/industrial underground evolve over the years?  What would you say has changed and what stayed the same?

One big positive I can see lately, has been a lot more diversity in the people that are making sounds. Having a lot of different people from different backgrounds, (non) genders and countries is by nature going to lead to a wider range of influences and subjects explored. I appreciate that very much. I want to hear what someone who grew up being exposed to things totally different than me comes up with. Or what someone with a totally different life experience than me thinks about a subject I’m interested in. It seems like that is happening more now. It’s very cool to hear music coming out of parts of the world that were more inaccessible in the past.

While I think that it’s very invigorating that there’s a wider variety of people taking part, I think that in some ways there’s a real regression in the sounds being made. I feel like people pick a sub-genre before they even see what they are really capable of. Or let certain gear, or aesthetics dictate what they do, rather than really dig inside and see what’s there. I would like to see people really pushing themselves harder to really experiment and find new sounds and really make it personal. I don’t care about your online persona, etc., and I really don’t care if you are just blatantly trying to make money off the scene. I want sounds and ideas pushed to the limits. It’s the pure freedom of experimentalism and strong ties to anti-capitalist ideas that keeps me interested and involved.

Who turned you on to noise?

Like I mentioned, noise artists doing collabs with bands I was into and just digging in record stores, reading zines and going to shows is what led me to noise. There was no one to tell me about noise in the mid 90’s in Illinois haha! I had to find it myself. So really the answer is self investigation. I’m lucky there were some good record stores with thoughtful employees nearby for sure though.

Would you consider yourself a consumer fetishist?  What makes the noise object valuable over the digital presentation?

I was much more of the collector mentality when I was younger. There were no digital versions/previews of things, so you had to find it and bring it home. That was the only way to hear what you wanted to hear. That mentality has never gone away for me, just slowed way down. There’s things I value for sentimental reasons, like the tapes I traded with artists I admire or tapes I got from people I played shows with, but I wouldn’t put that under the label of fetishism necessarily. Having a lot of things you traded with people from around the world feels very different than just buying everything you can… It’s that intimate connection over consumerism that I talked about before. Keeping shit you don’t listen to, just to say you have it, is when I feel you go into the fetish/collector category.

Of course as someone who runs a label, I think there is a lot of value in making a strong presentation that gives another layer to the senses when putting out a record, but I also think that the most important thing is making a record worth listening to. Over the top packing is fine, as long as the sounds back it up. A nice, well designed cover with meaning is all you really need. Since chrome tape is no longer available (sound quality has gone way down), and tape decks are going for crazy money these days, I feel like it’s becoming a hobby for rich kids, and that goes against why I started the label in the first place. It’s not my intention to make collectors items, so that’s something I’ve been doing a lot of contemplation about lately. I don’t support companies like spotify. I think that having hard copies of the music, books, movies, etc. that you love is important because you can’t rely on these mega-corporations to keep anything worthwhile available if it’s not making them money. I know a huge chunk of what I like to listen to isn’t even available, and what is available, makes the artists literally nothing. So for that reason, I will always support physical releases, even if they’re less necessary than in the past. I’ll have plenty of shit to throw in the walkman when the apocalypse happens!

What would you say is the defining aesthetic of Dumpsterscore?

This is a hard one for me to answer. In a lot of ways I don’t like the term aesthetic, or that way that it’s applied to most things in contemporary culture. I think that a lot of people are looking for instant personalities these days, and having a fixed aesthetic is a way that they do that. My good friends described it perfectly with their band name “Lifestyle Pornography”… I don’t think an experimental record label should be kept to the same terminology as a clothing company or “lifestyle” brand. I understand that you are talking more generally, but I guess that I feel the need to explain that I don’t really see things in those terms. I try to be fluid with the way things are presented.

 At the same time, just take a glance at the DS bandcamp page and it’s clear that I have one. Even if I don’t want to admit it haha! I come from a graphic design background, so bold images and strong typography are probably the things I try to achieve the most. Photography is also a huge part of the artwork that I make. It’s something that I really enjoy and has always been a part of the label. I do enjoy making collages as well, but they are mostly done digitally to make them more bold and geometric. Once in a while, I’ll pull out the scissors and glue like the old days. I like to work in black and white and that comes from the xerox days, but I like to do my own take on that influence rather than continuing to work with an actual copy machine. In general terms my influences are experimental/black and white photographers, horror/b-movie art (and the films themselves), revolutionary/anarchist propaganda, punk records/flyers, dada, brutalism, and 80s/90s cassette culture. I think starting with the C20 series I did, is when I really found the formula that appeals to me going forward.

Why did you pick the name Regosphere for your project?  What separates it from your work under your own name?

Regosphere is a play on the word regolith which is a thick layer of dust in an undisturbed area (IE the moon). This idea of dust gathering for millions of years really seemed to fit what I was doing at the time. Bleak, dusty, black hole shit. I changed the word slightly to make it my own. No one can pronounce it…

The music I make under my own name is much more organic and explores a lot of different areas I don’t go into with rego. Drones, acoustic instruments, pure sound design, tape collage, successful experiments, etc.. It’s very personal in ways I don’t go into elsewhere. I’ve always wanted Regosphere to be extremely heavy and straight forward, centered around the vocals and rhythms, really crushing bass. Psychedelic industrial that gives you a panic attack. I see it coming more from my punk/drummer background and an outlet for my darker side. In the past I wouldn’t have made the distinction between the two, but I’m glad I did. I also do any soundtrack work under my own name.

Was synthesis the main focus from the get go with Regosphere? Your project before (Suburbia Melting) was primarily lo-fi harsh noise, yes? 

In a way, I suppose so. I wasn’t thinking that at the time, but it did come from me wanting to do a project based around analog synths and something much more industrial than what I was doing up until then. But field recordings, vocals, and tape loops were always an equal part of things. I’ve always wanted the project to have a very full heavy sound, that fills the sound spectrum and stereo field from top to bottom, left to right. Synths are a huge part of it, but have never been the only one.

Suburbia Melting was my main project from 1998-2011 and it was definitely harsh noise, but I wouldn’t necessarily say lo-fi. I’ve always invested in the best recording equipment I could and put a lot of work into learning how to mix and master my stuff. It was based on tape loops, metal, screaming and amp feedback, so there’s only so much you can do when pushing things that hard. When I started mixing in the metal and feedback elements into Regosphere is when I think I really found my sound for that project and decided to end SM in 2012. I did what I wanted to do with straight up harsh noise and moved on rather than repeat myself. 13 years is a good run.

 Were there life events that inspired the creation of the project?

It was 2007 and I had recently moved to the West coast a few years prior. Like I said I wanted to start something new that dove deeper into death-industrial stuff that I had always been into and was making the transition from using pedal set-ups to being really into synths and finally getting a lot of the sounds I had always been after. Portland can be a pretty bleak place in a lot of ways. The early Regosphere stuff was inspired by a lot of the gnarly street life that goes on there, mixed with a lot of the death and dark times that were going on in my own life, as well as horror and sci-fi influences as metaphors. A lot of my friends and family died in those years and I was processing it through music.

How has the project evolved over the years?  What’s remained the same?

I think in the early days I was obviously inspired by acts like Atrax Morgue and Megaptera, doing just slow slithering synth type stuff with really effect-heavy vocals and crunchy loops. I remember wanting to make the vocals obscured to the point where they were almost subliminal. Where now, they are obviously much more at the forefront. I was unsure how to add the rhythmic elements I wanted to put in without it becoming too much like techno or EBM or something. I let the tape loops add that element and I think it worked well, but wasn’t exactly what I wanted. But over the years I worked really hard on getting it to sound like it does now, where there is the heavy rhythmic part to the music that I always wanted with my background as a drummer. Getting into samplers let me chop up the tapes/gear/metal and field recordings to be able to have something rhythmic, but still very organic and homemade.

I think when I stopped Suburbia Melting that really freed me up to start adding in all the tricks and elements I learned from doing harsh noise for 13 years into Regosphere as well, whereas I was kind of subconsciously keeping them separate before that. So the sound became less stark, adding those elements in. Mainly metal and processed feedback. I’d say the atmosphere, elements and intention have remained pretty consistent, but the approach has become more like experimental song writing rather than just solely focused on creating dark atmospheres.

Any stories about gear being broken/replaced/stolen? What piece of gear people wouldn’t think you use?

Lately nearly every tape recorder I used for field recordings has died, which has been a huge bummer. They are becoming more and more expensive to replace, which irritates me. So it’s digital field recorders only for a while. I used to go through mics like water when I was playing live a lot. I’m hard on them in the studio too honestly. My main set-up has stayed the same for quite a while now, I’m just always looking to fill holes in the sound spectrum, but the shit I really use to be productive has been the same for about a decade. Other stuff comes and goes.

I think unless you have seen me live, you may not know that what might be credited as just “metal” on a record is actually a homemade instrument. Made out of suitcases, chains, guitar strings, springs, sheet metal, etc. I’ve made quite a few since the 90’s. When I get bored with them, I pass them onto friends and then they end up on their records/sets which is always very cool for me! Also, field recordings being a large part of my sound was pretty uncommon in death-industrial/power electronics until more recently. It was always more about movie samples or source tapes. People would actually talk shit to me for using a sampler back in the day! An MPC on the table makes people think of hip hop, but obviously that’s not how I use it.

What are some of your favorite tours you’ve done over the years? 

I’ve had a great time on all of them, and it’s a great way to bond with the people you’re travelling with that really lasts even if you don’t see each other much. The only people I talk to from highschool are my old bandmates for instance. You have to be vulnerable with people to keep things moving and keeping the mood high when shit goes bad. I will say that the first Regosphere tour of the Northeast and deep south with Lavas Magmas sticks out, just for the fact that it was so long and we really got to hone our shit down to perfection in a way you just can’t do in a week or so. The other person that was supposed to go with us cancelled at the last minute as well, so we literally met on the first day of the tour and became like brothers by the end of it.

What are your current and past side projects?

Current ones are Concrete Moon (Punk/Industrial), Granite City (Techno) and the stuff under my own name, which competes with Regosphere for my main attention. The first CM album is about half done, and I’m extremely happy with it. I hope that it will be out early next year, but I’m not rushing it. There is a full-length GC album that has been finished for a few months, that I worked on here and there when inspiration hit since 2016 or so. As well as an EP of newer stuff that came together fast from what I learned making the full-length, that was done during quarantine. I have been meaning to send them out to a few labels, but my top priority has been finishing some extremely cool collaborations and working on the label. I hope they will be out later this year or early the next. There’s also Crooked Columns which was a project with Luis from Lavas Magmas. It’s been quite a while, but I hope someday we’ll make another album, so I won’t say it’s dead just yet.

There’s a lot of old ones, but really most of them are just one-offs to explore an idea or release a successful experiment. There’s some that were also just collaborations with other people that we decided to name for whatever reason. None of them were something I spent a lot of time on, as far as being something I take seriously like the ones mentioned above. I think there is a misconception that I have millions of side projects based on discogs, but really there’s just the odd thing here and there, that adds up after 20 years.

The latest batch from Dumpsterscore Home Recordings includes tapes from Minoy, a collaboration between Regosphere and Contagious Orgasm, and a Regosphere/Ligature Impression split.

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Tabs Out | bvth – Etymology

bvth – Etymology

1.2.22 by Matty McPherson

Last night, my friend stopped by and pitched one of the smartest, most groundbreaking ideas in history to me: every night from 9pm – 11pm all the TVs in America are tuned to Lost. We watch it together as a nation, over any of those late night big wigs and their celebrity rodeos. I must admit, it’s such a startling idea that I was immediately entranced. I also didn’t have the heart to tell my friend that this idea ran parallel to my newfound plot to transmit bvth’s new C42, Etymology, every night at dusk; perhaps both plans could be entangled together, by dubbing over Lost with Etymology?!

I don’t know exactly how bvth, the duo of Harrison Boyd and Benny Kannianen, may take this news without any feelings of elation. Their soundings which include “amplified wood block, amplified metal plate and bowed living tree branches, forest detritus agitation” are an island (harboring a supernatural prowess and series of mystical mysteries) unto itself. Together, the duo summon an ASMR bloodbath, where the sky is rusted and still; kindness doesn’t stretch out anywhere around these parts for the miles you may wander! Hmm..that doesn’t sound like that Lost program in all honesty.

In fact, Etymology has a sense of negative space that not even a smoke monster could fight off. Across the cohesive, sultry stature, the duo tinker with savory noisy drops (“Verschmutzung”) and sudden pings (“Gasp – Thrill”), haunting fragments that might as well evoke ragtime silent film aesthetics (“Loveboat Shanty”) than the six season television program. This it might be a little too constructivist and TCM-core for the LostHeads. Ahh but to hell with those lads! Boyd and Kannianen are too dapper and time is too short! Etymology is still a dusk-tinged soundtrack that toys with my idea of psychedelic noise and 20th century aesthetics, a perfect shortwave radio companion.

Hand-stamped clear C42 cassette with a 4-panel Jcard in Norelco case in an edition of 50, available at the Personal Archives Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | Asymmetrical Head – Unruly Souvenir

Asymmetrical Head – Unruly Souvenir

12.31.21 by Matty McPherson

It’s the middle of November as I type this and yet again I’ve been on a fly killing spree. I wish I could just make a device as potent as a flyswatter that hits with the same force as Asymmetrical Head’s latest here, Unruly Souvenir. The San Diego based electronic wunderkind and Bonding Tapes label boss has been a stalwart dating back to 2k5 — the era of Myspace! He thankfully and recently hopped back in the saddle of the tape game after a few year hiatus with the moniker and label, in the process offering 3 tapes across Bonding Tapes’ 2021 output. 

Unruly Souvenir is the third of this return trilogy, a devious set of snacky booms, claps, and even the occasional stomp — all entangled into rhythmic pulsing that comprises techno music akin to racking up fly swatting kill combos. No, no I’m serious! Listening to a track like Nuova and it’s just full BPM fury that ain’t got nothing to prove but just how much it hates the little critters! I sense that Asymmetrical Head is a big combo raker, with Lyn_C creating pit-patter drumming that begins to devolve and introduce sudden one-two effects, popping with synthetic flourishes and trash-can gongs all the while. 

Of course though, a full-fledged tape of heavy hitters might be a little too much fly overkill here. It’s the tape’s downtempo, spatial cuts that are the meat n’ potatoes here. This is where the real shocks come out, navigating the majesty of making “cool fucking noises that sound like a really powerful flyswatter” with immense finesse. MX Cap XM bops and weaves, using rhythmic pulses and an underlying synth to concoct an image of classic marine layer-tinged bumper-to-bumper traffic. Spatium Loop follows the same process, introducing sudden “clanks” and whiplash “blanks” through a wave of synthesizer pulsing that bobs and weaves like fireflies. Meanwhile, Qasira finds beauty, looping a litany of vocal soul shrieks, amidst all of this turmoil. Even as we move into the b-side of Unruly Souvenir, Asymmetrical Head kinda stops making cool flyswatter sounds–it’s all about those sick ass laser rifles noises on “057,” and the pure ethereal red tide nightswimming of “XIIAM.” Cohesion triumphs!

Yet, Unruly Souvenir still relishes in full force on a knockout trilogy to close up shop. “XWN” is all snickering rhythms and deep-seeded tension, while “Fat Clinic II” features a dark bass and that reverberated rat-a-tat THUMP that would land any fly on its ass; the kind of alternative boom-bap beat deserving of an MC of the highest caliber. “OUTX” naturally reflects and recasts “INTX” with the lessons learned from this tape, a mending of the synthesizer ambience that has bound this tape to all those drum patterns and propulsive fly killing mechanisms — at least that’s what I was feeling.

Limited Edition Cassette in Jcard, Norelco Case and Blue Shells with labels available from the Bonding Tapes Bandcamp Page!

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Tabs Out | Cool Hans Luetke – Dianetic Diabetic!

Cool Hans Luetke – Dianetic Diabetic!

12.28.21 by Matty McPherson

So what’s that I’m hearing?! You want a found sound odyssey of drum n’ bass ditties “but for the arcade room at 3pm, not the chillout room 3am”? Well guess? I think Cool Hans Luetke has your fix. C. Hans Luetke is a newcomer, as far as I can tell, with a couple of transient, atonal electronics having hit the 5CM and Personal Archives Bandcamp pages over summer. Here on “Dianetic Diabetic!” (for Personal Archives), Luetke pilfers a series of ambient, yet glitzy n’ glitched vapory synthscapes alongside the latest in downtempo jazzy drum n’ bass.

Imagine, if you will, the kaleidoscopic menagerie of an arcade: The blurred faces; the half-remembered, possibly half-gouged carbohydrates; racing games that only make you remember you will never wake up in a Bugatti; the anchoring stock of quarters that slowly dwindles and frees your britches. C. Hans Luetke has a tantalizing focus on those types of wild nights, and both the in-the-moment flow state blur and out-of-the-moment melancholy. This C75 (containing 22 quite considerately titled tracks) here is spliced as such, providing a full sensory zone as we engage from one game to the other. It’s continually slinking, allowing it to strike constructivist, disengaged bops that can suddenly hit max velocity when the drumming hits the floor or absolute dejection, drifting in a delirious fatigued state.

Hand-stamped rice paper C75 cassette, 2-sided/3-panel Jcard in Norelco case in an Edition of 50 available at the Personal Archives Bandcamp page.

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Tabs Out | Drongo Tapes Interview and Tape Roundup

Drongo Tapes Interview and Tape Roundup

12.26.21 by Matty McPherson

Seattle, WA based one-person machine Elliott Hansen has been casually pulling out a unique odyssey of tapes. Their releases are communal as they come, esoteric as one would hope to see, and cover a huge swath of noises circulating from anywhere from a basement under the house to astral heavens. If I’m showering praise like that then it means I really like their tapes. And Elliott’s label and curatorial prowess is one to watch. Since starting Drongo in 2018 with the Wow and Flutter compilation, Elliott has beget us with over 30 releases that continue in real time to expand upon their own influences and little world. Most of the label has found itself through friends and personal relationships, and in 2021 Drongo Tapes even had releases that cracked the Tabs Out top 200! 

I caught up with Elliott months ago before meeting them in person at a release show for Eyecandy (who played with Sprain, a band we are rather fond of). This transcript has been edited and modified and includes a handful of reviews at the bottom.

How’d the day been?

It’s been good. I’ve been in the middle of a long series of driving. Currently, I’m in Eugene, OR right now at my partner’s place; although I live and run Drongo out of Seattle. I was planning to go down to Berkeley (they got two baby kittens as a surprise!) Then on top of that, a band I’m working with, Eyecandy, booked a little release show with Sprain in Ventura, CA–and so I’ll be traveling down to the Central Coast for this.

With the amount of travel and regionality presented by Drongo Tapes, I’m wondering how you’ve handled submission or found artists.

It’s mostly just my friends! My partner, who has family in Santa Barbara, has mutual friends who’ve shown me projects I’ve been more than happy to put out on Drongo. Beyond that, it’s very much on a case-by-case basis. Lot’s are my friends! It’s not like the masses are lining up to sign to Drongo, but I’ve found a few email submissions make their way to my inbox.

One of the bands I’ve felt luckiest to work with is “The Big Nest” out of Vermont. They’re the only ones who are definitively “not my friends living down the street”. My bandmate knows Ethan from the Big Nest online. We did a blind collab for one of his other projects called Live Brut–that’s a crazy two and a half hour noise guitar album that’s near and dear to my heart. Me and Cameron hadn’t heard any of it, and we were pretty amazed by what was given to us.

Also, a specific shout out to Kyle from Drowse. We haven’t worked with him directly, but he has connected me with artists like Being Alone from Portland. Kyle also mixed the album of another artist I’m working with, The Exit Bags out of Alberta, Canada. We’re trying to do a co-release of that with Joyless Youth Home Recordings as I exclusively do tapes and Mike wants to put his project into other formats.

Why did you start doing tapes in the first tape? Did it stem from your Skunk Ape project?

I love tapes because… well they are so easy to make! They’re cheap and easy to pick up at random! Even if you lose $5 on a tape, YOU CAN RECORD OVER IT! I discovered when I was 17 I could plug my computer output into an RCA and just record a tape, and it was fucking awesome! I was getting into K records, specifically the well-documented Beat Happening. Now that’s a completely different sound than Drongo, but that idea of “You can just make tapes. You don’t need that budget and you can just buy and make tapes for your friends/give them away for free.”

I messed around with a couple of pronto drongo tapes; it’s just me and my friends dicking around on Voice Memos in High School in a basement. I decided to take it a little more seriously in 2018 when I moved to college and made the first comp tape (“X”–I imagined it would be more tracks, but 9 tracks was impressive)! I like compilation tapes and with that idea I just wanted to make something cheap where if you didn’t like the first band…well, I got other bands on here! It was my way to put my foot in the door and start working with a litany of people and possible avenues to explore. Yeah, no one had heard the label or who I was hyping up. 

How many artists did you continue to work with from that release?

3 originally, although I cut ties with one artist. Thus I work with two artists from that comp–myself and my partner! The rest are friends.

Sonically, Drongo’s been potent enough to host Serpent Season AND Layanah, two diametrical ends of the label’s sound. How do you contemplate the sound?

I didn’t go into Drongo with an idea of a sound. Now, I do have an internalized idea of the Drongo Sound®, but I don’t think about it super actively. I think it kind of creates itself–people who want to release on Drongo do have a consistency. Generally, the tie-in is “hazy, messy, and ambient”. It’s a catch-all, and that’s really a personal tie-in to the music sound I personally find most exciting.

Are there any labels you collect?

Well you put me on the spot! But I do love the Flenser. They’ve always got something interesting going on. Yes, they have more of a sound than Drongo, albeit with a lot of range that the dark atmospheric stuff they put forth allows. Personally, I would love to achieve that with Drongo! 

Joyless Youth Home Recordings (who would go on to co-release the Exit Bags) are making cool releases and I appreciate what David is putting out.

Drongo’s tape runs have often been limited affairs, each stylized differently and uniquely. How do you know how big a tape run will be

I make mistakes with the runs all the time! Sometimes they stick around for years or other times they sell out immediately! I wanted to give these to stores n’ stuff. I originally priced my tapes at $3 just to break even, but I’ve upped it to $5 to pay out Drongo artists at least a little something for their time!

Are you dubbing them yourselves? And what is the process like? 

I do buy blanks from duplication.ca or DeltaMedia, especially the latter for those early releases; DeltaMedia only does multiples of 25 and so I’d pick up 25 tapes and then try to sell ‘em. A handful of people also signed up for the Drongo Street Team subscription program! Now I’m autosending out like 10 tapes to people who autopay me monthly! A couple of them are based in Seattle and I literally just drop ‘em off at their house 🙂 Having those guaranteed ten sales increases the quantity of these runs, for sure. 

I self-dub myself, because I don’t want to pay for pro-dubbing.  When it comes to this process, I tell myself “I’m saving money!” and then go to record or thrift stores and buy like 5 tape decks. They all break on me and then the cycle starts anew–well I’m exaggerating a bit, but I think you get it. Like I did a tape run of 100 for the latest Warble and Fuzz compilation and that STRAINS a tape deck. An acquaintance from Seattle gave me a Pioneer double deck that has a six cassette changer mechanism. I could use that for dubbing and swap between six tapes quite efficiently. I used that for five runs at the start of the year until it started to have some high end frequency issues. The deck that I used for that run basically pooped out as I was looking to dub Ground Hums. 

What is your highest hope for cassette culture (in general) as we push forward through time?

More people buy tapes! I’d like physical media culture to be more about having the music and not “the commodity fetishism”. Physical media is in a weird place in 2021 and digital media is always weird (streaming is bullshit); digital media lends itself to file libraries. That isn’t an invalid way of listening, it just feels radically different from physical media. When an album arrives in the mail it imparts a good feeling. I just don’t want to spend $20 on a vinyl consistently, when I can hold it in the palm of my hand for $5. I want tapes to be accessible, and not locked behind discogs markups.

SOME GREAT TAPES / FUTURE CULT CLASSICS DRONGO HAS SENT FORTH!

Skunk Ape – Ground Hums

Utilizing a myriad of tools, pedals, friends, and locales, Elliott’s own Skunk Ape project hit a dreamy, yet frigid sphere with Ground Hums  A soundtrack for destitute locales, from snow-drenched fields of barren waste to misbegotten motels where the TV is all static; it’s a most apt title that even the liner notes’ minimal design parallels quite well. Elliott’s nine compositions hold a low-flying level of feedback and dronery, functioning lullabies for decepid machines like motel radiators or rusting water heaters.

The noise-damaged ambient does not evoke pure rage though; it often feels curious, scanning for a sign of life. Side A may carry no words, but it evokes one holding out on a voice on a shortwave shortwave radio in the midst of a destitute snowstorm. The glacial qualities allow folksy guitar to pass through and distill a warming, thoughtful bend that just happens to tie this release towards slowcore. At its most harmonious, Ground Hums becomes a reminder to those that they are not alone, which becomes elaborated through the tape’s back half. Here we find greater guitar play, alongside crescendo style drones that swirl and melt. The frigid qualities of Side A begin to dissipate, and what unfurls is a sparkly, crystality that takes hold slowly, but surely over this side. 

Eniks Cave – The Holy Holy Noisemakers

The one known as Eniks Cave has been a longstanding, upstanding fixture at Drongo HQ! Naturally, many of Cave’s projects have slinked through the label’s catalog; with a trusty synthesizer baseline and a knack for ambient droney zones. Nevertheless, Cave is always shifting focus, ever changing and pulling out more ends to explore–2020’s The Mirror Phase saw shoegaze being woven into the fold for example. Cave’s latest release for the label, the Holy Holy Noisemakers, is a euphoric reset. Opening with a burst of noisy sax and guitar, “Zohar” proudly declares Cave’s latest exploration is towards the most transcendent corners of free jazz, a welcome exploration and further dive for Drongo into territories unknown.

The synths are more angelic, the guitar work more freaky-deaky, and the saxophone is in full punchdrunk mood. It’s a recipe that Cave doesn’t wear out over the C30. In fact, he finds ample space to craft atmospheres reminiscent of mid-90s post-rock odysseys. There’s Tortoise style-lounge dub on “Supernal Meters”, alongside the O.Rang tinted spaced out drones and dub drumming of “Devekut”. Meanwhile, Side B’s explorations find ample space between the ethereality of early Dif Juz, alongside Bitchin Bajas and even Landon Caldwell. The piece “Subliminity” stretches and lashes and yearns, immaculately.

It’s an impeccable piece of bedroom recording.

From Elliott: 

My friend/housemate Zac! He just records a super crazy amount of music that begets projects from indie rock to black metal. I met him at the University of Washington on the bus after a noise show. Both of us realized “wait you go to my college and listen to noise/tape music? And you’re from the bay area too?” All of his pals listened to indie rock and at that point, he had an album, Looking Through Shattered Glass, done and was looking to put it out. I was super lucky, as this was two months after the first compilation. 

For the Holy Holy Noisemakers, Zac was practically recording two albums at once; one noisy and then these ambient saxophone compositions that became the album. I was daily pressing him to finish recording it because it sounded so good! But maybe the next Eniks Cave will be a black metal album. We’ll have to flip a coin to find out.

Archival Image – Exo

The figure known as Archival Image is shrouded in anonymity. Although that does not mean hermitude and isolation necessarily birthed these recordings. Recorded across september 2019 to june 2021, from finland and eugene, OR to territories elsewhere, Exo reunites a litany of Drongo collaborators (Elliot contributes guitars and post-production, while arius ziaee brings out guitars n’ synths) and practitioners towards exciting advancements in “bug pop”–tapes do come with an insect inside afterall! Exo’s miniature “bug pop” compositions mumble and bubble, inviting you to stay low to the ground, as if to hear something coming from a crevice right below the dirt. Tracks like Drone, Depth, and Cynipid play with minimal, skeletal structures, crafting melodic hums that invoke plant grass as much as molecular anatomy. Side B offers the dark underbelly of this bug pop, opening with the lumbering industrial fight epic, “Sequence”. Even when the synthesizer is turned towards a louder, more industrial-damaged frequencies, Exo can’t not radiate a degree of warmth; a fascinating solace.

From Elliott: Archival Image is my partner (Ari of Lanayah) and they’re a huge bug nerd–lyrics are about bugs and taxonomy, but it’s so delayed and reverb’d you can’t hear the lyrics! I don’t think I’ll be doing runs of 25 anymore unless its something special like the Archival Image; we put bugs in those tapes and it was a (good) pain in the ass! They all had to be glued. We’d been talking about that idea for a while, and it was a great bug season when we did it in June. We kinda borrowed that idea from an Amulets tape tbh.

Serpent Season – Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The baklava shrouded Randall Leong was an early Drongo stalwart, coming out of the gate with this piece of doomy neo-folk that helped to further strengthen the quality control and possibilities of what a Drongo Tape could, would, and should be. Teetering between the blasted transmissions that dominated the Kranky era of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Patrick Shiroishi continuing acoustic dirges, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki” is a ghostly wandering through an abyss. Over the three tracks (each one taking its name from one of the three words of the title), Leong tests just exactly what a droney aberration could reflect, wading through reverby guitar, rural-tinged folk melodies, while integrating small quips of seafaring insects and birds, as well as spoken word.

From Elliott: He was the first person I got a submission in my email box with! Randal reached out through a mutual friend of Layanah!

Lanayah-Forever in May

Is this a cult black metal classic by now?! I can remember pre-COVID catching these fellows hit an absolutely gnarly droney riff that quickly dominated my winter. Layanah may humbly denote themselves as “”fairly unclassifiable blackened screamo” worthy of three (“???”) question marks. Yet, Forever in May is a lucid summation of their 2016-2018 halcyon era. The crux of their polyglot sound on this album is revealed through gorgeous longforms expeditions. Sure, there are quick outbursts like “Three Javelins”, yet its on “Soft, Vanishing”, “Wind Chimes”, and “Soft Transition” where Lanayah teeter between the kind of post-hardcore that paralleled mid-2010s post-rock and sudden scramo outbursts from the 00s that hit like a walloping smackdown! Meanwhile, tracks like “Pine Sun Orange” the ten-minute  “Alone Year”, invoke cathartic, amber-tinged drone metal.

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Tabs Out | Puremagnetik Tapes Overview

Puremagnetik Tapes Overview

12.23.21 by Matty McPherson

I had to blink twice when I saw Puremagnetik Tapes’ logo; the one with a rather Suite 309 style. Micah Frank is the intaker of Puremagnetik, the Brooklyn-based institution responsible for the digital instruments and Ableton sound plugins (in a subscription-based service model) dating back to 2006. Frank’s been steadily curating music/concert releases and this tape label for the past couple of years now, with over a dozen under the label’s belt. 

Puremagnetik Tapes’ releases are ballasted, singular pieces that afford a listener a distinct time and place with each listen — as well as a free audio plug-in with purchase of one of their handy dandy clamshell tapes or a digital download. The sounds here invoke minimalism, free-drone, amongst others worthy of spatial analysis and meditative testing, so I went ahead and picked five.

Micah Frank – Noontide

For as much as Frank has been a huge proponent for field recording and percussive experimentation provoked by the likes of John Cage, his own Noontide is less the result of digital manipulation and more the result of early lockdown’s uncertainty. The resulting nine compositions dabble with electronic soundscapes that can start by sounding of deserted plazas and misbegotten brutalist architecture (“Gevi”), surveying and considering the unsteady uneasy peace. Frank’s pieces don’t stay dejected, in fact they often seem to realize that to sulk in the nothingness is contemptuous. Instead, they give way to glissading synth patches and anthemic bouts of ethereal ambience (“Noontide”) that can be quite bubbly (“In Orbit Unfolds”) or curiously soothing (“Turrets”) to traverse.

An Moku – Less

The beauty of a Puremagnetik Tapes release often comes down to the subtlety that the digital manipulation invokes within its roster. For Less, Dominik Grezler (An Moku) enacted a set of sonic limitations–bass, pedals on two pedalboards, some dusty vinyl crackles, and field recordings–and set forth. It’s a small, visceral set of limitations that finds Grezler’s hardware turning his bass into a low orbiting alien synthesizer as much as a transistor radio or a droning orchestra, while it takes the vinyl crackle and warps it into the taps of a leather pair of shoes.  For most of Less, Grezler’s Zola modular synthesizer and the way it can manipulate his bass guitar is the paramount focus, leading listeners from jangly chord patterns into fizzly, bright zones or jarring, just out-of-focus ruminations, all without ever sacrificing the low end that glides and centers this set of eight pieces. In fact, the low end is practically radiating and hissing with primal, electronic urges. It might as well be calling on a listener to stay close and keep their ears to the floor.

arovane – Wirkung

Just how much warmth can one exactly extract from a Puremagnetik release? A whole Wirkung’s worth is my personal measure. arovane’s pieces, built of off “succinct improvisation multi-tracked with a harpsichord patch and a Neupert clavichord lute instrument” that define Wirkung, came from a dive into romantic composers and their defining ethos: the emotive and dramatic characteristics of a great composition. The 17 tracks here are not ones to be pilfered with or taken out of their immediate context. Carefully filed and organized, arovane decidedly distills a vivid, sensual array of euphoric moodiness throughout Wirkung. Many of the pieces quickly invoke images that strike of soaring jubilance: a vivid sunrise, fog burning and steaming away, crisp autumn air mended with creek water. It’s an environmentally minded tape that’s all done with the kinds of synthesizer sounds that border on an acid-tinged sound bath. It’s a sonic concoction that arovane is studious towards, assuredly having tracks last for just a couple, if not a few minutes at most for maximum effect. They make the brain POP, gently guiding one towards the next part of a dream, before bowing out into their gaseous state, leaving you head over heels. At the center of it all is “niin”, a seven minute soundspace that unfurls like dewdrops coming off of leaves. Small textures fly apart like cicadas, while a synthesizer note is held near and dear, droning off into the abyss. Things quietly pass through this system and each listen unveils a new appreciation for the natural gusts of wind that saunter through.

Boris Salchow – Stars

Yes, even Puremagnetik Tapes have something of a secret weapon on the roster: noted video game composer/v-neck beefsteak Boris Salchow. And with Salchow’s ear comes a penchant for tingly, interactive compositions. Mixing west coast field recordings into the digital fray of these 14 piano compositions, Stars’ soundscapes are inviting as they can be sparse. The piano chords that Salchow finds a motif within are a somber lot, pining for a clear Sunday morning, like the one that “Desert Beach” unhurriedly invokes in its sub-two minute run time. Yet, they can shift their emotive characters based on the tonal garnishes that suddenly jolt to life. At times on tracks like “A Flower” or “Fading Memories”,  there’s a characteristic similar to the tape loops of an old Radiohead composition (yes, I know), that flicker with a thrill of noticing all those details around your desk. Meanwhile pieces like “We and Us” or “Still Movement” uses manipulation to instill depth, stretching the ways digital manipulation can produce percussive distillations that give the tape an almost post-industrial veneer.

Jacob Sacks – Montreal

Okay I know what you’re thinking after all these digital ambient zones–is there a Puremagnetik release that’s…unplugged? One preferably that’s just a piano performance designed for an audience of one and doesn’t come with a free audio plug-in for that matter?

For that, I slide your way Jacob Sacks’ Montreal, a selection of most serendipitous, SYNCHRONOUS piano improvisations performed in Montreal in 2019. The twenty miniatures that compose Montreal function as a real-time documentation of Sacks tinkering and elaborating on atonal, bluesy piano compositions; imagine if you will that you are watching a TMC Silent Sunday and Sacks just happens to be this week’s performer and you’ve got yourself a handy sense of the majesty that awaits. With no editing done,the session’s spoils are preserved for immediate digestion! It’s a rich, dense tapestry of tributes Sacks explores, bordering on mischievous as much as dead-eyed serious; deconstructions that might just suddenly pull out into a full-fledged track that has you back at that high-end ballroom in ‘58. All without forgoing the warmth that Puremagnetik’s releases have come to find out on the hi-fi.

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