Tabs Out | African Ghost Valley – Iberville

African Ghost Valley – Iberville

1.5.21 by Ryan Masteller

I know we’re a bunch of lily-livered cowards around here, shrinking from anything perceived to be too “dangerous,” or “spooky,” or “full of effort,” but I think in order for us to evolve, as Tabs Out contributors and fans and as human beings in general, we have to face our fears and conquer them. Case in point: we have a new tape here from African Ghost Valley, and if you looked at this thing and thought, “Ghosts? Nope, I’m out,” you’d be doing yourself a complete disservice, not to mention pigeonholing yourself as a “Shaggy” on the spine-o-meter. Because even though this tape does have some creepy vibes to it, there’s no reason that you should buy in to any mass hysteria whipped up certain cassette tape podcasts.

So while “Iberville” from African Ghost Valley is a little spooky, it doesn’t do the whole jump-scare thing at all to make you rethink your involvement. No, African Ghost Valley is instead all about mood, winking samples and synths at us as mystery builds, secrets churn and strive to get out in the open, and mists fall as evening descends. Walking through the woods on the cover illustration is a lone figure, and the seclusion of it all recalls pre-industrial Europe or America, whose untamed wilds were imprinted with the stories the imaginations of those in civilized areas and towns came up with, usually under a trance of religious fervor. What the heck is out there, and why is it constantly stealing our kids?

There I go, freaking you all out again with this thing. Truth is, no matter what’s out there is still out there, and if anybody claims to have authority about it better back it up with some actual evidence. Like, let’s go out wandering in the woods and find out for ourselves, shall we? If African Ghost Valley is a soundtrack to anything, it’s a soundtrack to that, and maybe “Iberville” is simply a jumping-off point. I can’t wait to let the slow-burn sonics of this EP sear into my ear canals as they imply danger and adventure in equal measure. I guess I, unlike many of my colleagues here (and you), have a little bit of backbone about this whole thing after all.

Oh, wait, nope – there is what looks like a witch on the inside of the j-card, and that’s probably the front-cover walker. That’s gonna mess me up for weeks.

“Iberville” out now on Jollies!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Unifactor

New Batch – Unifactor

1.4.21 by Matty McPherson

In between going through some 2020 tapes, I guess it was time to ring 2021 in with something.. NEW!

Unifactor Tapes, the wildly successful barnburning Bandcamp label, has announced yet another trio of delicious tapes (with art by Nathan Bowers-who may have also done the art for a Christmas Emeralds tape…) slated for later this month. Though I guess Jason Gercyz didn’t get the memo about numbering his batches. As far as I know, it goes 11, 12, 14 – NOT 11, 12, [REDACTED, number Too Scary]*.

This trio is stacked with those BPMs and at least two players connected to Unifactor already:

Machine Listener is Matthew Gallagher (whose art you may recall from Unifactor’s Batch #11) and their Machine Listener Project is about to go further into 90’s Warp IDM with Headfooter (available at 90% off non-Warp 90’s tape prices!). If you’ve loved Machine Listener’s HausMo zones, then the self-titled single already plays like a demented game of capture the flag from the Jet Set Radio Future sequel that never was.

Spednar is Kevin Bednar (the mastering person for {arsonist}’s Batch #11 release as well) and his Coniunctio promises a “union between amelodic percussion experiments and time-averse harmonic landscapes”. Leading single “eh o el” approaches a drum n’ bass deconstruction for those who like to chill at the rave. 

Finally, local Cleveland, OH legend, Noah Anthony, joins the Unifactor Tapes team with his Deuce Avenue moniker for Perennial Fire and Life. Could his “synth disintegration” and “bass rushes” might be the tape that wins a new fandom from 100% Silk? Regardless, “Jealously” is a delicious slice of light dancery.

In fact, I’m realizing this is maybe Unifactor Tape’s danciest batch in ages! I guess in between bringing free jazz to the Carpark roster, Jason Gercyz wants to dance. Just don’t number it after a bad number next time Jason, okay?!

Pick from yr faves or pre-order in a batch! Either way, do it soon before they make one of those gosh darned lists and sell out!

*batch numbering 11, 12, 12a, 14 are also accepted

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Tabs Out | Michael Potter – Rain Song & Trance Music

Michael Potter – Rain Song & Trance Music

12.31.20 by Matty McPherson

Michael Potter’s Athens, GA based Garden Portal label might have less than a baker’s dozen tapes under its belt, but it should not distract from its distinctly naturalistic blend of psychedelia. There’s been a fascinating continuation of the “new weird south”, yet Potter’s work deserves greater emphasis than provided by the blanket term. “Cosmic Americana” better convey where his curatorial instincts have carried the Garden Portal label, while “Ambient Primitive” convey the sonic endeavors Potter and his ever shifting roster have been chasing going back to 2007 (if not longer!). On Rain Song and Trance Music (released under Michael Potter and The Electric Nature), Potter tapped into the power of this trance, spinning campfire songs towards astral trajectories.

Last year’s sold out Rain Song (on Already Dead) was akin to the long stretching John Fahey odysseys. Over 21 minutes, Potter dabbles in Louisville twang with a backing band (Web Hughes on bass and Steven Ledbetter on Drums), taking this twang on a moonlight journey down river, approaching hints of a “Sun Drugs” type ethereality. As pieces of sweeping cosmia go, there is not an element out of place-Hughes bass sounds like river creatures and fauna and Ledbetter’s drums point to the stars. It is literally music that swoons, demanding a dance (or pagan sacrifice of your choosing) for a cloud goddess. And it even gives a lil’ rain effect at the end to let you know it worked! The hissy live nuggets on side B further explore and embrace this kind of jam, akin to a back swamp dive bar beamed straight from the floorboards under your feet.

Now, at this point I would be inclined to state that Potter is a wizard, but after July’s Trance Music, he is a bonafide alchemist. It was here where “Cosmic Americana” seemed to achieve a transcendent peak. Rain Song is a necessary framework, as the former’s acoustic framework becomes warped by the latter’s “early Minimalist, Theatre of Eternal Music-style never-ending ur-drone, the New Zealand tradition of prolonged sturm und drang perfected by The Dead C, and modern ambient electronic synthesis and processing”. Taken as a referential flowchart across the 75 minutes of asynchronous, live recorded acoustics, the results are cosmic benders. Potter’s ingenuity is that he can start with these simple melodies that turn into echoed chasms that pull you deeper and deeper towards the abyss (Trance I). Or, he can repeat a melody until it turns into its own idiosyncratic, stuttering rain dance (Trance III). Deep listening rewards the keen ear, but just listening out on the porch over the morning coffee enacts its own blend of deep jitters (Trance IV’s usage of electronic processing is particularly mind shifting).

What more is there to say? There’s still a handful of copies left of this juicy blend of “Ambient Primitive”, even bundled alongside For a Better Tomorrow. Turn your Saturday morning into a 75 minute worship service!

A mixed edition of 75 white shell and 30 clear shell cassettes with professionally printed, natural cardstock j-cards. Available here and here.

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Tabs Out | Contagious Yawns – Dream of Consciousness

Contagious Yawns – Dream of Consciousness

12.31.20 by Ryan Masteller

When is a yawn TOO contagious? That’s a great question – I guess you can really only answer it if there have been instances of people yawning themselves to death. Too much oxygen in the lungs maybe? Too violent an exhale? Mouth opens so far the top of your head snaps backward? Any of these sound like bad news, some more than others. For the artist actually KNOWN as Contagious Yawns, they better hope none of these things are actually possible, or else we might have to take them in for questioning.

On “Dream of Consciousness,” I dare you to yawn even ONCE. You won’t. Because “Dream of Consciousness,” despite being titled after something you do while asleep, will hold your attention quite intensely throughout the whole tape. See, Contagious Yawns is a sampling master, a plunderphonic upper-pantheon saint or something who can coax the wooziest of the woozy downtempo jams out of a stack of wax or tower of tapes or, uh, mound of MP3 files. Who’s to say! But somebody’s spiked the punch, because all of this is experienced from behind a watery veil of perception, and everything warps as it emanates from your speaker. Even your speaker warps!

“I just love every minute of it” is the sample that really captures the vibe of this tape for me. It comes from “Keep Yourself Together” and is followed by the same voice intoning “the beats of the heart.” The track slowly builds from the sample and evolves into a crescendo worthy of an actual rock band while reverberating at the resting pace of my own heart. I’m further reminded that the whole thing has hypnotized me into a weird state of wonder, so when stuff like this happens, I’m incredibly suggestible. This sounds nothing like a rock band, but next to everything else, I’m like, “whoa!”

Totally for chilling, this “Dream of Consciousness,” not for yawning. Even coming from the entity Contagious Yawns itself. Tapey tape from Specious Arts in an edition of 50.

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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: 2020 Year Ender

New Project

Claire Rousay, Keith Rankin & Seth Graham (Orange Milk Records), Max Allison (Hausu Mountain), PK (German Army), and a few more buds stop by Tabs Out virtual HQ to talk about their favorite tapes of 2020 and wrap this ghoul of a year up.

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Tabs Out | Episode #163

Mount Maxwell - Only Children (Hotham Sound Recordings)
Redeemer - Total Rapture (Resistance Soundscapes)
Mini Vietnam - Desert Storms (CD's Tapes?)
Malaikat dan Zoon - s/t (Noise Bombing)
Void Rot - Descending Pillars (Sentient Ruin)
Phlegms - Smile (Tape Dad)
A Magic Whistle - Vision Magic Voyage (Weird Ear)
Drainolith - Electric Hearse (Freedom From)
Ahmed Ag Kaedy - Akaline Kidal (Sahel Sounds)
Cattle Decapitation - Human Jerky (Three.One.G)
Psychic Graveyard - A Bluebird Vacation (Deathbomb Arc)
Ciel Nordique - II (Les Productions Hérétiques)
McGruff's Smart Kids Album bootleg (CHUD Buddies Network)

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Tabs Out | Tar Of – Instant Light

Tar Of – Instant Light

12.17.20 by Ryan Masteller

“Instant Light” means several things to Tar Of, the duo composed of the Googoosh Dolls guys: “an attempt to capture the present tense, a blinding disorientation, a sudden clarity.” For me, “Instant Light” is a kaleidoscopic head trip, a skewed pop labyrinth where pieces and parts appear and disappear at will, sometimes seemingly at random, until you’re dizzy from being spun around and whiplashed from being spun around and vomiting PROFUSELY from being spun around and around and around and around … you get the picture. Here, though, the vomiting is metaphorical – you just get spun around a lot and disoriented in a fun, music-appreciation kind of way. The way you normally do when you listen to something I suggest that you should listen to.

The doubled harmony vocals immediately call to mind those of Edwin and Andy of Tonstartssbandht, and honestly, that’s a great place to start making comparisons. Although Tar Of stays mostly on the lighter side (think the Eola and Andy Boay solo stuff), there are still blasts of psychedelic guitar and drums periodically. But mostly the vocal melodies chant and repeat, swirling around their accompaniment, which consists of much less psychedelically blasted instrumentation, and also samples and things. Because you can’t get into the “lighter side” of “psychedelics” without collaged samples. Take it from me – they’re a wonderful addition to any magical mystery tour.

So “Instant Light” is just that – short flashes of “clarity,” sometimes “blinding” in their “disorientation,” stitched together in a patchwork and representing the at-times uncertain-and-incoherent framework of the “present.” I can only imagine what that is like for two Brooklyn-based dudes from Iran. But I do know one thing – they align the chaos to make it sound like it was meant to be all along. That’s a pretty dreamy thing to do.

Tape is out on Glass Orchard Records.

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Tabs Out | galen tipton – Ungoliant

galen tipton – Ungoliant

12.9.20 by Ryan Masteller

OK gang, grab your twenty-sided dice and pack a pipe with Old Toby, because you’re gonna need all the fantasy elements at your disposal when you come face to face with “Ungoliant.” “Whoa!” you’re probably thinking to yourself, “We’re going up against Gloomweaver herself?” To which I say, “Very well done with your references, your deep cuts, but no. ‘Ungoliant’ is the new album by galen tipton, whose ‘Fake Meat’ made all those year-end lists in 2019 [I think]. Would’ve made Tiny Mix Tapes’s list too if we hadn’t done a decade list instead and then closed up shop. No, ‘Fake Meat’ didn’t make the decade list. There was some stiff competition.”

But good call on the Tolkien lore – Ungoliant was an evil spirit who took the form of a gigantic spider, and if that sounds familiar, Ungoliant was old Shelob’s mother! I’m shuddering at the thought of an egg sac the size of my dishwasher filled with fist-size baby spiders that will grow as big as Shelob … OK, I won’t unsee that mental image. Ungoliant herself is a powerful entity – actual balrogs needed to be called in to stop her, whatever she was doing! But look, all this is in “The Silmarillion,” so if you want to dig any deeper, there’s a whole book waiting for you. I recommend re-reading “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” first, though, because there’s never a bad time to do that. Note that I’m assuming “re-reading” here – surely all you nerds have read all those books a few times each.

In galen tipton’s Middle Earth – or “World,” or whatever it is they’re considering the setting of their existence – “Ungoliant” is the greater beast inhabiting the darkness, an entity painstakingly assembled from various pieces and with various collaborators. “Ungoliant” is bent on amassing power and wreaking destruction, and tipton and “fellowship” are on a mission to oppose it – and maybe learn a little something about themselves along the way. The action unfolds through an incredible abstract story-driven model, with electronic and sampled sounds interacting with each other in a narrative arc, with each “song” becoming instead a “chapter” in what turns out to be an epic saga. The songs fluctuate and fracture as if taking collateral damage in a magic battle. Snippets of dialogue and appear here and there and only serve to further spiral the whole thing out of the “realm of men” and into an adjacent reality. I’m not sure where we are or where we’re going!

But “Ungoliant” knows, and “Ungoliant” spins webs of disaster from her banished perch, attempting at every turn to thwart heroic efforts to undo her machinations and bring an end to her foul reign. Each second of the album is a struggle between good and evil, an attempt to heal a great rift between worlds or widen that rift to allow fell enemies through it to cause havoc. How will it end? Who will triumph over the great ancient spirit, the great spider? Or will “Ungoliant” find a way to persevere and maintain a grip on her vile power? Only one way to find out – buy a tape from Orange Milk Records!

Wait, that looks like a dragon on the cover, not a spider …

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Tabs Out | Planning for Burial – Below the House [PHASE III]

Planning for Burial – Below the House [PHASE III]

12.4.20 by Matty McPherson

Is Planning for Burial going Caretaker on our ass? No, but those tik-tok teens inadvertently discovering the Caretaker and turning it into a six hour challenge is a huge achievement in the “year of internal music discovery 2k20”. But also, Caretaker doesn’t do tapes, so why does Tabs Out care?! Meanwhile, this entire time since 2k17, Thom Wasluck’s long running blackened slowcore project within the Flenser Label Universe (FLU) has been toying with tape denigration of his last album, Below the House, to degrees that would face melt the average tik-tok teen.

Below the House is the kind of slowcore album that took roots from both death metal and blackgaze, while still retaining an innate instinct of Codeine’s slow n’ steady self-immolation. It balances melody with brutal stompage and unrelenting isolation. It was made to rot and turn itself inside out into a degraded memory. And Walsluck had done that, casting Below the House into a terminal, long form analysis of noise degradation with each passing reissue.

Where in Phase I, Wasluck was just simply planning his tape for a winter hibernation burial and letting it melt in summer, Phase II expanded on this, taking a Phase I copy with a brutal beating and shock surgery before suffering the worst fate, “played over and over in a cheap tape deck”. Phase III has emphasized warping the tape by playing it at different speeds for months. It also is the first time that Wasluck opted to add additional instrumentation, doing so across a period of 10 months. 

But don’t expect that the album has suddenly found a new clarity. We’re only further in the storm that Phase I originally crashed into. Tracks are now akin to faceless ambient dirges that sound like a CIA helicopter hovering over your house or a misbegotten memory from that last underground basement show. This tape is gloriously fucked and will randomly slip out at times; it is caught in a perpetual brain fog from a hangover. Yet, there still radiates a crevice of clarity. The new instrumentation occasionally acts as a roadmarker and completely prevents the tape from going into full headass degradation. Sometimes, you feel like you are floating high above, hitting a serene spot beyond cohesion.

In fact, the tape is fantastically listenable and packaged to perfection. So, saddle up next to a roaring fire, knock yourself out with that special liquor you’ve saved, and savor a long night of solace with Below the House.

Sold Out at Planning for Burial’s Site although a few more may become available soon + Phase IV is in planning stages-whatever is to come of it, whenever. So, add it to your calendar to watch for!

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Tabs Out | Brin – Microdose Skyline

Brin – Microdose Skyline

10.12.20 by Matty McPherson

I wish more artists would utilize the EP format for just two simple reasons. Firstly, it allows for an idea to be suggested and tempered with, without ever being dulled or nulled by it staying around. Secondly (and more selfishly), it is immensely easier for me to review because I can listen to one side and then hear the exact same thing on the other side. What a concept! 

Brin’s (aka Colin Blanton) Microdose Skyline is a big objective win for my two points. The Los Angeles-based bedroom sample alchemist (and percussionist) has been seen cooking up reliable singles, sets, and tapes/tape art over at Leaving Records. With a full-length debut, Homescreen Glow, to be released later this year on Leaving, it felt like a worthy opportunity to check back in with the Microdose Skyline tape dropped on Brin’s personal Bandcamp page back in March. At four tracks clocking in around fifteen minutes, the tape never harbors a dull moment, breezing through a delirious take on New Age, just glitchier and more internet indebted than its counterparts.

Fidelity ain’t the emphasis of the tape. Brin gleefully refers to the tracks as “nofi visions” and the second you plop the tape into the Walkman and hear the dazzling 8-bit party freakout of “Reach”, you know you’ve hit the ground running. Just barely cracking the two-minute range, “Reach”’s  ever-shifting pulses and a plethora of samples enable more left-turn surprises than anticipated. Yet, guided by a drum beat with the impact of an underwater missile, Brin is on an impulsive groove. 

Can this groove be chilled? It’s terminally chill. “Majestic Cranes Fly Higher” pulls out the chills from a post-midnight subway ride directly into the speaker, “Know” utilizes chopped vocal blips with trancey synths for its own late-night public access subterranean. Both feature drum machines that keep their own fleet-footed manner, while bubbling with an undercurrent of digital anxiety. They are the tracks I would expect to be left on at the minecraft rave that’s been overrun by some sort of block monster. That anxiety all washes away on the final track, the dreamweaving “Microdose Skyline”. The simplest track on the album, its pedal loops are a cleansing breeze you can ride to the end of time, or until the crystal store closes at least. It’s the one track on the album that takes a full deep breath and ends the tape on a stable note, outside of this time loop.

Edition of 100 directly from the Brin Man himself

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