Tabs Out | Held – 8.20

Held – 8.20

3.5.19 by Ryan Masteller

Kid Smpl – um, a pseudonym for a pseudonym – is Held, and also runs Display out of Seattle, and it seems as though he was going for a Masonic number here but didn’t quite get how that whole thing works. That’s OK – we here at Tabs Out are here to help with some handy tips: First, subtract 4 from 8.20. Second, enjoy your Masonic number.

But what do I know, maybe “8.20” is for something else, a different sort of pagan code entirely. Who knows what those Display artists get up to in the Pacific Northwest, what with their twin peaks and their owl caves and their log ladies. But whatever it is they’re channeling, we the listeners are the beneficiaries, as the sounds trickle down across the country to Delaware and Florida, to Philadelphia and … that’s it. Actually, it’s a broader area than that I’m sure. I just can’t prove anything.

Held’s laser focused on something, though, something dreary and overcast and laden heavily with fog and meaning. Spanning four long-form tracks, none lasting less than ten minutes and no more than 12:32 ON THE NOSE, “8.20” hangs in the air, ambient, soft, lush, synthesizers quietly and gradually joining more atmospheric sounds. By track three, “The Hatch,” though, a decidedly delicate melody emerges, repeating itself through the haze like it’s a lone shoegaze sample caught in a steady downpour, before retreating to strict clinical electroacoustic noise. This aesthetic runs through the end of the tape, taking on weirdly sinister vibes as it progresses. Pagan indeed! What do they DO in those woods?

Kid Simpl as Held leads us down paths to obscure sound-worlds with “8.20,” each of its “quadrants” illuminating some strange and unusual behavior. It’s easy to get lost down these paths, but don’t get too lost! It’s dangerous out there in the real world – you never know what’s going to happen next.

Edition of 50; the shebang includes the following: orange C30, ink imprint, printed j-card, black Norelco case, labeled black bag, and sticker.

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Tabs Out | Death Treat Records – Greatest Shits

Death Treat Records – Greatest Shits

3.4.19 by Ryan Masteller

What do you get when a bunch of patch cable tanglers and knob twiddlers decide to play in the death metal sandbox? Death Treat’s “Greatest Shits” compilation, of course! This unholy roster was cobbled together from the remains of a midnight Black Mass, its assorted lineup featuring luminaries like Black Fungus, Venereal Equinox, and Krummholz … which are actually pseudonyms (duh) of a bunch of Field Hymns–adjacent nerds. So basically not born of a Black Mass, but maybe a D&D session gone horribly awry.

How do I know this? Yves Malone told everybody. I mean, uh, CARNIWHORE told everybody. I’m just reporting here.

The result is chaotic fun – chaotic because the metal genre, for those of you in your “safe zone” of harsh noise, tends to stampede without control, or at least with the appearance of not being in control while being so completely in control that it’s terrifying and mesmerizing all at once. Fun because there’s synthesizers in here, adding delightful texture to the high-BPM onslaught. You can’t fool me, you Death Treaters, I can hear ’em! These cats play the game well, never for a second suggesting that they’re play-acting here – everybody honestly loves their metal, and they can make it with the best of them. Whether it’s the overwhelming black blast of Otum Rectepulent’s “Mind Lice Waddle Towards Their Christian Host” (which also wins the award for best song title of the year) or the thick smear of Xenoxoth’s “FUCK BURZUM” (like, for real), “Greatest Shits” propulses until it hyperventilates and caves in upon itself, probably at the point Carniwhore takes up ten minutes of your time with the most demonic samplefest (I’m assuming – Yves surely cannot play drums that fast for that long), the unfortunately titled “The Corporations Have Honed Your Mouth Anus” (“unfortunately” because of the proximity of the terms “Mouth” and “Anus”).

Nothing matters except that everybody on this comp is having the time of their lives. Clearly. I would be too if I didn’t have this balky shoulder following that rotator cuff cleanout.

“Greatest Shits” comes in a “combo pack” housed in a ziplock baggie (like the ones you get your drugs in), with a “vinyl sticker, download code, and 10-page zine/catalog.”

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Tabs Out | The Breakfast Bunch

Time to make the donuts. The Tabs Out Bonus Brigade wakes and bakes an early morning Breakfast cassette tape special.

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Tabs Out | Whettman Chelmets – Giant Eyes & Infant Steps

Whettman Chelmets – Giant Eyes & Infant Steps

3.1.19 by Ryan Masteller

I’m a dad – my kid’s seven, an incredible athlete (like me), and reads at a fourth-grade level (in second grade, also like me). No big deal. Whettman Chelmets is also a dad, but he’s got a little one – I mean a REALLY wee babe at the moment, a daughter born in 2018. So, unlike me, who’s coaching soccer and trying to curtail his boy’s runaway Super Mario habit, Whettman’s stumbling around in the dark in the middle of the night, fumbling for nightlights and pacifiers and bottle warmers, praying to whatever deity is up there that he’s swaddled that darling girl just right so he can sleep uninterrupted for the next two hours before she wakes up again.

Oh… that sounds awful. No more kids for me. No thanks.

“Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” though – as much as I want to relive parts of those days, this tape’s sort of a warning. Delivered with love, surely – don’t get me wrong about that. Whettman’s nothing if not the devoted father. But he’s clearly letting off some steam here, and it’s really working in his favor. Backing away from some of his post-rock tendencies, he delivers drones with gritted teeth and bloodshot eyes, sleep-deprived and on edge, but with an insanely big heart for this little life that’s so much a part of his world. Readers, seriously, I apologize if you don’t get the appeal of being a parent (and I was one fairly late, comparatively), but these intensely competing outlooks on parenting (zombified waking hours vs. shaping an entire worldview of someone that you helped make) form the dichotomy that defines the life of a parent and, perversely, invigorates them.

Whettman Chelmets just happens to be able to coherently intertwine these things into an artistic statement.

“Interruptus” is easily the theme, but “TFW It’s 4:00 a.m. and You’ve Already Been Up 3 Times” and “MRW I Drop the Passie in the Dark” illustrate the gallows humor necessary to navigate the dreaded “nighttime” with a child. But it’s all offset – how could it not be? – with the shimmeringly manic “Dada,” the bewildering and wonderful sentiments of the title track, and, of course, the hallucinatory wonder of “She Says Dada,” that magical moment in a barely functioning parent’s life when their child finally addresses them through a haze of exhaustion. It’s worth it more than you could possibly know.

“Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” is out now via PDX’s Girly Girl Musik – get one now!

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Tabs Out | Hypnagogue – Adrift

Hypnagogue – Adrift

2.28.19 by Tony Lien

I’m always happy when one word song titles and/or album titles actually turn out to augment the music they are attached to — as opposed to denoting laziness or the depletion of imagination. All those nü-metal bros back in the early 2000s were the undisputed kings of the latter. Remember? I do.

“Adrift” by Hypnagogue (known in the real world as James Rosato) represents the former camp. And, it’s about as far from nü-metal as you can get — a brief, peaceful breeze of minimal electro-acoustic ambience.

To be clear, I’m not just suggesting that the album and the songs that comprise it are aptly named. No, what I’m really suggesting is that three simple words — each one a song title — manage to convey a story (in conjunction with the album name).

The first track “Submerged” introduces a nameless human being swallowed up whole by an ocean of circumstances — and even more so the moment the human realizes that, beyond oneself, one has little control of anyone or anything. The genesis of the onslaught of adulthood, in other words.

The second track “Inward” tells of the choices one makes after being submerged, and the shaping of a complex and imperfect soul. Facing and accepting oneself despite shortcomings and disappointments.

The final track “Fractured Light” represents the jagged, beautiful, kaleidoscopic nature of memories and reflection, and how that light flickers and breaks apart over time. Getting older every day.

Altogether, “Adrift” is simultaneously a heavy and free-floating album; its sounds are lighter than dust particles in stagnant air, but the images projected by them could fill the sky and stretch past the horizon.

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Astral Spirits

New Batch – Astral Spirits

2.26.19 by Ryan Masteller

It’s not just jazz. It can be, but it’s not just. We’ve come to expect a lot from Astral Spirits over the decades, that paragon of experiment, that bastion of hope in the abstract. Wait, did I say “decades”? Well shoot, it only seems that way, and it doesn’t help my sense of linear time passing or my valuation of “experience” to see that “batch 20” stamped ever so digitally on the website. I see that “20” and I think “anniversary,” “years passing,” “lives lived,” “Mike Schmidt’s jersey number.” Well, not that last one, really, unless we’re talking about Astral Spirits hitting home runs, which they do a lot of with their releases. I guess when they get to catalog number 548 we can talk. (That’s how many home runs Mike Schmidt hit in his career, all with the Philadelphia Phillies.)

Anyway, “20” is still a lot of batches. Astral Spirits is good at what they do.


Wick (trumpet) and Sudderberg (drums) provide the two components in “Combinatory Pleasures,” and, like the fable of the chocolate truck smashing into the peanut butter truck at a dangerous speed, thereby creating the idea for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups out of the delusional suffering of the two severely hurt drivers, a new and specific treat is formed, but for our ears, not our tongues. Still, to linger on the clichéd metaphor, Wick and Sudderberg roll their concoctions around in their mouths for a while, allowing the palette to fully reveal the secrets of the ingredients till they bloom in outrageous flavor. The duo does not dive directly in to their partnership, skirting the edges of each other’s playing, feeling out the other’s skills; then, when they’re fully satisfied, they swirl together in rhythmic symbiosis, each allowing the other to break out at points to shower their audience with virtuosic performance. Drums and trumpets! Who would’ve thought.


Spires That in the Sunset Rise, the duo composed of Ka Baird and Taralie Peterson, has been around since 2001, which is crazy, because that was eighteen years ago now, and also 9/11 happened then (#NeverForget). Somebody compared them to Sun City Girls once, and who am I to judge. (Oh right, music critic. Still, carry on.) Now, on their first release for Astral Spirits, the duo get “ecstatic,” that is, “House Ecstatic,” the name of this tape, which has a subtitle, “(Cover Your Blood),” that I guess helps us line up our expectations a little bit. See, each track is titled “X stat [number],” like each one is a hit to the bloodstream, and each piano trill and sax blurt and clarinet run and flute … jab (?) spikes through your heartbeat like adrenalized lightning. There’s the blood! Ecstasy in the blood. There are weird chant-y voices on here too, which sort of heighten the playfulness of this partnership at points, like when they meet the shaker percussion on “X stat twentyfive,” for example. In the end, the pairing of Spires and Astral Spirits is perfect, and why hasn’t it happened sooner, I wonder? Seriously, somebody tell me.


What is this, the batch of long partnerships? Proving that the number 20 may in fact be a big Masonic number after all, Pierce Warnecke and Louis Laurain have ALSO been working together “for almost two decades.” As such, they can conceive layered concepts with ease and “lay it on us,” such as they do with “Phonotypic Plasticity.” A play on “phenotypic,” which is a relation of how organisms react with their environments, Warnecke and Laurain get tactile on us and allow their compositions to interact with the environment, molding and shaping them (plasticity!) till they take true physical form within our imaginations. Utilizing electronics, coronet, and “objects,” the duo, sometimes in tense stasis, at others in screamingly harsh shifts, builds incredible, vibrant monoliths that feel both organic and clinical. Whether droning or spiking the EQ meter, Warnecke and Laurain push ever farther into harrowing scientific territory. Maybe their work will result in some kind of breakthrough in advanced physics? You never know.


When they made the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” they blew it when they didn’t hire Nicolas Caloia, Yves Charuest, and Karl Fousek to consult on the soundtrack. Their intricate compositions as a trio would be perfect for any close-up scenes of insects running around the lawn, those entities roaming undetected right beneath the surface and out of our immediate vision. Or maybe they’d be more at home with a nature documentary – I don’t know, I’m not the idea man! “Maps to Hands” builds off their 2018 Mondoj tape “Residual Time” by breaking the ideas down into more bite-sized chunks rather than a live sidelong excursion. Caloia’s double bass and Charuest’s alto sax vibrate against each other, each one flitting lightly against the other while Fousek provides a foundation of electronic sonic experimentation. Or is that the other way around, and Fousek’s flitting lightly over the acoustic instruments? It’s all interplay in the end, so we should probably not worry about it too much. Microscopic chaos resolves into cellular beauty over seven tracks.

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Tabs Out | The Lincolnshire Poacher – Frequency Disruptor Volume I

The Lincolnshire Poacher – Frequency Disruptor Volume I

2.25.19 by Ryan Masteller

The Lincolnshire Poacher done named itself after an English folk tune, the unofficial county anthem of Lincolnshire, a song that celebrates – wait for it – the “joys of poaching” (presumably) royal game. Well, that seems like nice little factoid to end on – I’ll catch the rest of you later. [Whistles around the corner]

[Peeks head back around the corner, looks furtively back and forth]

They gone yet? They are? Excellent! Now you and I can speak freely. See, the Lincolnshire Poacher was actually a shortwave numbers station based on the island of Cyprus that was presumably operated by the British Secret Intelligence Service until 2008. I’ll let you click on that Wikipedia link to learn more, but we’re talking about spy stuff here, real-life “Mission: Impossible Fallout” stuff, the kind of intrigue that would make someone like Alex Jones cock his head thoughtfully as he looked off into the distance to contemplate its importance. (Emphasis on “Alex Jones is a cock.”)

Anyway, this THIRD Lincolnshire Poacher, the one with the swell new tape on Prague’s Baba Vanga, is sort of a human numbers station, except instead of reading out numbers, this LP fucks with frequencies until you don’t know what’s up or down, right or left, ally or commie. That’s right, with “Frequency Disruptor Volume I” you’re thrust right back into the Cold War, pockets filled with codebreaking devices depending on which handler contacts you. Voices break through the surface of the electronic wastelands, full of meaning if the message reaches the right ears. Even if you don’t have the proper security clearance, you’re bound to find some nuggets of importance, even if these sometimes sound like the aural equivalent of redacted documents. Plus, anything with a track titled “Scanning for Scanners” knows to watch its back – that’s how you can tell this “music thing” on this “cassette tape” is being handled by a professional. Remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you, or haven’t already hacked your mainframe or broken into your apartment building or planted that car bomb. Keep your ear to the ground. The Lincolnshire Poacher is.

Oh, ahem, I didn’t see you there, Mr. President!

[Whispers to YOU]

We never spoke!

Edition of 70. Scare yourself back to the 1950s with one of these!

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Tabs Out | V/A – Doom Mix Vol. III

V/A – Doom Mix Vol. III

2.22.19 by Ryan Masteller

Look, I don’t get hyped for mixtapes, which is weird because I also write for a different site with “Mix Tapes” in the name, and I won’t get into the size of those “Mix Tapes” right now (not very big), but that’s not the point. The point is, although I don’t get hyped for mixtapes, I get hyped for the annual Doom Trip compilation, even though it’s less a label retrospective than a “tape that one might make for a friend,” which takes us into pure paradoxville if you ask me (and you did), because even with this information at your disposal, you still don’t know where the heck I’m coming from.

“Doom Mix Vol. III.” That’s where I’m coming from.

Not without reason, my hype meter whanged all the way to 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “Barely Conscious,” 10 being “Mega Hype – Grab Handrails”) when I first perused this thing, the needle breaking free of its moorings and flying at dangerous speed toward the other end of the lab, while ejected springs and sprockets ensured I’d be spending the rest of the afternoon trying to put everything back together before listening to another cassette and measuring its hype. This was before I even hit Play on “disco” Eartheater, a track recorded SPECIFICALLY for this release. Alexandra Drewchin is INSANELY generous.

But if you’re like, “Whoa, Eartheater!,” my response is, “Yeah, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – wait’ll the rest of that iceberg rips into the side of your ‘Titanic’ taste in music and sinks the hell out of everything you thought you knew about anything,” which is kind of a jackass thing to reply, but it sounded OK in my head. But still, Swan Meat’s gonna gouge a hole in somebody’s hull, right? Nmesh is gonna blast through metal, yeah? And how about Mukqs? Electro-psychedelia like a wrecking ball to the front of a seagoing ocean liner. Couldn’t pin that dude down if you tried.

And what about HOTT MT? Vinyl Williams? Pale Spring? R23X? Swinging the pendulum of the somehow now-metaphorically-prevalent wrecking ball into that sweet melodic zone and smashing through your personal barriers, the walls that keep your feelings hidden from everyone. Not harsh smashing but cathartic smashing, falling in love smashing, dystopian dreamworld smashing, smashing reality in favor of make believe.

Gosh, “Doom Mix Vol. III” has everything. [*Checks tracklist. Panics*] I’m only halfway done!

The flipside features a bunch of Doom Trip alums (most of ’em are a bunch of weirdos too): Diamondstein & Sangam, Niku No Sekai, Heejin Jang, and Skyjelly (that fuzztone!) make appearances, as does TALsounds (last seen around these parts on “Doom Mix Vol. I”), which sort of makes this a Good Willsmith/Hausu Mountain party too, I guess? Heck, invite ’em all! But some of the best entries are from the Doom Trip n00bs, with Tim Thorton as CDX bouncing his own samplemania around your speakers, Equip slinging some psycho vapor madness, and Paige Emery dreamweaving clouds of cotton candy.

Pant, pant, pant … whew.

To say this is the best “Doom Mix” shortchanges the other “Doom Mixes,” so here’s my advice: combine all three into a gigantic whole. You’ll never get tired of it, and it’ll probably never end. See? I’m also good for public service. You’re welcome.

You can stream a few of these tracks already, but you have to wait till April freaking 9th for the whole thing to drop on your head like Santa’s bag of presents eight months early or that wrecking ball of gentleness or whatever I was talking about up there. Go with Christmas. Christmas in April.

Preorder or else.

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Tabs Out | 3 Cherries – s/t

3 Cherries – s/t

2.20.19 by Ryan Masteller

I’m a two-cherry 🍒 man myself, what with all the Pac-Man, so imagine my surprise when 3 Cherries burst upon the scene with their self-titled cassette tape on Asheville, North Carolina’s Terry Tapes just a week ago (depending on when you read this)! The trio (duh) features TT stalwarts Andy Loebs, Cole Kilgo of Gabor Bonzo, and Devin Lecroy, so basically you’re just going to just have a serious blast with this six-song EP as you load up your cassette deck for your latest Friday-night danceathon. No word as to whether Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde are going to show up.

Doesn’t matter. If you’ve checked out Andy Loebs’s “About Me” or Gabor Bonzo’s “Wad,” you’ll know just what to expect with 3 Cherries. More 1980s throwback synth prog, perfect for the Pac-Man or sci-fi/fantasy movie enthusiast in your life (like me), “3 Cherries” finds the gang slingling pads and patches, with an assist from Loebs on drums. And there’s more than just cherries on this menu! There’s also tot-chos (“Tot-Cho Cup”) and ice cream (“Mr. Ice Cream”), which combined make for a balanced diet, so says the current USDA food pyramid, brought to you by Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and Halliburton. Regardless of your dietary predilections or restrictions, you should have no issue dousing yourself in maraschino syrup and doing the mashed potato while this sweet thing plays in the background.

Cassette available from Terry Tapes in an edition of 50. Do you like fun? You do? Then you should get one of these, otherwise your fun intake may be deficient (again, USDA statistics).

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Tabs Out | J. Hamilton Isaacs – Tolerance Clock

J. Hamilton Isaacs – Tolerance Clock

2.19.19 by Tony Lien

Modular compositions built with complex melody in mind are increasingly rare in the experimental electronic world — being that not only is it tempting to just let lawless noise rule the day, but it’s often incredibly difficult to create patches that cooperate on a melodic level. I do not own a modular system myself, so I’m purely basing this off of what I’ve read and what I’ve been told by modular enthusiasts.

Regardless of whether or not you believe this sentiment to be true, the modular music of J. Hamilton Isaacs’ “Tolerance Clock” (available on cassette via Iowa experimental label Warm Gospel) is something to be admired.

Honestly, I think this may be my favorite modular album to date.

The songs build upon themselves from nothing, layer upon layer of arpeggiated bleeps and bloops fitting together in a Tetris-like fashion that almost seems visible if you close your eyes when listening. Interestingly, chopped-up vocal samples occasionally replace more typical modular sounds and lead the compositions into that very particular ‘post-Internet’ territory often championed by Orange Milk Records (see track 3 — especially the last couple of minutes).

Not only do the songs work together to form an almost audiobook-worthy narrative of sorts, but the transitions from section to section within each track create a story-like experience that very much demands the listener’s complete and undivided attention. Such albums that make a person consciously aware of the full effect being lost or disrespected due to a half-hearted listen are pure audio gold — in my humble opinion.

That being said, the amount of work that likely went into these compositions is both dizzying and inspiring — especially considering that these tracks were (I believe) all recorded live. Someday, I plan on venturing into the world of modular. I can only hope to produce something half as hypnotizing and, simply put, cool.

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