Tabs Out | Brian Case – Practice Tape

Brian Case – Practice Tape

8.25.21 by Matty McPherson

A lot of what could be contributed to the success of Trouble in Mind could be best surmised by the fact that every band on the label there seems to like the Raincoats’ Odyshape. However, only Brian Case (to my knowledge) can lay claim to having once shared a roster with guitar powerhouse Roy Montgomery. Now, was Roy Montgomery or Odyshape being summoned when Case threw down a “Practice Tape” on Trouble in Mind’s rather neato Exploration Series? Well, when I opened my tape cover I didn’t expect to find Cybil Shepherd staring back at me — could I consider this a sort of reference to Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album? Well there’s no Madonna karaoke number to be found here…

So then, where does Practice Tape fit in the Brian Case Sonic Universe in 2021? Carefully, one would surmise. Case’s guitar prowess on this year’s FACS album hit a sublime plane with Noah Legert and Alianna Kalaba’s grooves. Yet, this tape is all about electronics and obsession. The former surplants typical guitar reverb I’ve found in Case’s work before, imparting the sounds of dust, echoes, and machines from the Labradfordian dimension. 

Each side is split into 16:29 chunks that feel infinite. They meticulously lurk, crash, and tumble; listening to the tape had that feeling of being on hold with a call coming a dimension over. Perhaps a bit of that could be attributed to Cybil Shepherd, an inspiration to Case and these instrumentals’ own abstracted dirges into “fame and notoriety.” What I know after an hour is that to listen to this tape with your eyes shut ain’t gonna answer any questions there. Start strolling around… head down, blinders on… and stray figments of those themes start to string through with every neon marquee that matches those syncopations. You’ll thank me later.

Limited cassette version, with photocopied J-card, and white cassette shell with black imprint; available from the Trouble in Mind Explorers Series

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Tabs Out | Jack Cooper & Jeff Tobias – Tributaries

Jack Cooper & Jeff Tobias – Tributaries

8.17.21 by Matty McPherson

I suppose Astral Spirits has entered into its “Avengers” era, where it consistently pulls the unexpected collaborative efforts out of a hat like its no problem. Case in point with this latest tape.

Jeff Tobias once called me when I was high, before shit hit the fan. I have great admiration for his band Sunwatchers and was interested in whatever act of liberation they were plotting if and when they made it to the west coast. Plus, Tobias is responsible for laying down a tasty little diatribe on Modern Nature’s introduction to the world (aka “Nature”). Anyways, this call happened as Mr. Modern Nature’s (aka Jack Cooper) ol’ solo release from Trouble in Mind a few years back sat on a locked groove at the end of Side A. So, it feels more than cosmic that the two firebrands have united for some sort of “Tributaries” thingamajig on AS. 

Two tracks, loaded over a C30 may sound like one of the more straightforward Astral Spirit adventures in recent memory. Although, Cooper and Tobias adamantly treat this as a “one note right than two notes at all” kind of affair. Perhaps “Isotope 217 sans the pro tools glitcherie” might be a more applicable laymans’ term. By that, I mean to say this is a delicate, capacious kind of tape, where both players look for a place to spread out each note played to the maximum. There’s a quality reminiscent of overhearing a conversation between rooms; following the strings from one crevice into another where Cooper and Tobias briefly collide, only for Tobias’ sax to recede or Cooper’s guitar to swap patterns. 

From the Bandcamp page, information reveals that Cooper’s guitar patterns were “created from systems or tone-rows,” meant to be played off of Tobias’ saxophone across the two tracks (“Wicken” and “Debden”). There’s a level of meticulous spaciousness as a result, as Cooper’s guitar often leave a melody left untouched. Open to but not overtly suggestive about what approach Tobias is prone to taking, which saunters beautifully in the spaces where they do come together. Still, this emphasis on silence and the in-between keeps the tape in constant Rififi mode, tip-toeing and feeling out every nook of their instruments. It’s as if one wrong move could sound an alarm! 

Neither Tobias nor Cooper have made music this slow nor evocative in recent memory. In fact it rewards itself in the darkness, where the moments where they come together impart a particular kind of melancholy mood invoking the spaces of obliqueness between street lights. A whole other album could’ve been weaved out of, and it left me with a sensation hard to decipher. Yet, it felt spiritually similar to the first time Remy the rat must’ve felt when eating a piece of cheese with a strawberry. Two flavors synthesized into a combo that was in plain sight the whole time. Simply put, I find this a boon of an endeavor to wrap yourself up in for half an hour, and truly what more could you want?

Edition of 250 available from Astral Spirits.

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Tabs Out | An Interview with Longinus Records

An Interview with Longinus Records

8.13.21 by Matty McPherson

Back in Winter, an album out of South Korea quickly spread like wildfire around RYM, Bandcamp, and various other outlets. Anyone who was lucky enough to pick up a cassette of Parannoul’s To See the Next Part of the Dream may have noticed that it was the inaugural release (LR-001) of a new midwest upstart, Longinus Recordings. For the past few months, Matthew Cruz has turned what was a serendipitous act of good faith into a functioning label with three tape releases under its belt, a couple of digitals, and a sudden global cult following. His documentation via Instagram has been a worthwhile microblog to follow, even when it implied a hiatus was coming. Although there’s not going to be a sudden hiatus.

When Thomas of TBD Presents and I hopped on Zoom in late May to discuss Longinus, it was obvious that Matthew Cruz had infinite futures in mind, as well as an endless barrage of love for the artists he’d been working with. So, here’s the story of Longinus Records as it stands in Summer 2021 — how he found Parannoul, turned a one-off project into a real deal, and where the label is headed next — amongst a litany of other psychedelic curios and musings.

This interview was assembled through an open dialogue/conversation and we thank Mr. Cruz for being a cool fella!

Are there any labels that influenced Longinus when you started?

Now as far as record labels go, I don’t think there’s anything terribly differentiating between labels big or small; it’s the concept they produce. Labels rarely put mission statements and such on their releases.

Now if I had to choose one that I love, Factory Records and the Madchester scene. I loved that Tony Wilson gave his artists free reign to do whatever the hell they wanted. At that time in history, artists were subservient to the label, not the other way around. And yet, how Factory was operated became a catalyst for Madchester! Wilson’s unique DIY ethos being able to break that hold on how music was being produced and distributed really resonated with me.

Obviously, I don’t want to say my whole label is completely inspired by Factory Records because they collapsed after Happy Mondays’ garbage album “Yes Please!” and we’re not trying to do that with Longinus.

Can you tell us about your job and what you are currently doing?

So, I work at a college radio station and just started a summer internship with a large corporate fast food entity. In the past, I’ve been writing longforms about music. I remember in one of our team meetings, this one person was talking about how some people we’re [writing these longforms] to flex their music taste. To a degree, something I’d agree with. That’s not necessarily the point though; it’s about sharing the music you like. Coming from someone who has had a musical journey for 7 to 8 years. Some people are getting into music for longer or just recently. The longer you go, the more obscure you write. So part of what I do is be a fake tastemaker/journalist.

The stuff I write isn’t obscure. I’ve written about Gas’ Pop. That ambient techno that emulates LSD is my shit. I adore it to the point I have a test cassette of Pop! It sounds like a fake urban legend. I even dm’d Wolfgang Voight and a week later he got back and said if it looks like this, it is real! I can’t help but be thrilled I own that.

So, Psychedelia is kind of overarching how you listen to music and what you like? More so than shoegaze?

Honestly, I’d jokngly describe myself as a “fake as fuck” shoegaze fan. Yes, I love “the big three” a lot for their textures and emphasis on psychedelia. I’m someone who enjoys exploring psychedelia. I would consider Wolfgang Voight’s Gas as the zenith of Psychedelia, simply in terms of the way it replicates the effects of psychedelic drugs; it may not be stylistically psychedelic music but I’ve always been intrigued by “wall of sound” style music with grand production that gives off kaleidoscopic sounds that are vibrant and thick.

Although, I don’t explore shoegaze as an offshoot of psychedelia, I explore psychedelia as a concept and how they replicate the textures of it. As far as Shoegaze goes, I love a lot of Galaxie 500 and slowcore, fishmans… I don’t listen to a derivative of Loveless and think it’s garbage or M83’s Dead Cities and try to discover every underground shoegaze gem.

Like earlier this year, I got into a thing where I was only listening to Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, and Leisure by Blur (which isn’t even that great of a record!) because I thought there were engrossing takes on Psychedelia.

What was the plotting out of Longinus Recordings, especially for the inaugural release (Parannoul’s To See the Next Part of the Dream)?

I was on RYM one day, sorting by new tunes to see if there was something I could flex on my co-workers and friends. And I found this album by this South Korean individual going by the name of Parannoul—it had 100 ratings or so at the time which is a decent amount for a DIY record, but in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much. Before I was just listening to the Stone Roses or something and I decided to throw it on after. It was a definite “a-ha!” moment, like listening to Twin Fantasy for the first time and realizing “this is gonna be a visionary piece of music that will be influential.” It’s kind of surreal having listened to To See the Next Part of the Dream and it was as good as it is while NOBODY knew about it! I was in that moment when I realized “Holy shit! I wanna do something with this!”

So I emailed Parannoul at like two in the morning. I think I verbatim told Parannoul that it was “visionary” or some other high praise and asked if I could press cassettes of it. I’m not a musician nor a professional tape label; I had never had experience with this, but I was just so enthralled and impressed by his album, that I was more than willing to front the costs and make these tapes. Then I got an email a day later with a confirmation, and then it kicked in that I own a tape label now…

Yup, so I started designing the Jcard. The first one I did, was really really shitty, because I wanted to lock down this proof-of-concept so that people could see it was real! I literally modeled it off of Twin Fantasy, making a basic Jcard that would work for all intents and purposes.

I had thought, “okay, I can go on Amazon and purchase 30 cassettes and dub them with my Nakamichi BX-150, a $5 goodwill purchase! I had envisioned that this album was likely to fade into obscurity and that I could say “Hey, I made a cassette once!” and that I would have made a legitimate physical copy of Parannoul’s music and we would part ways. We really did think we would only sell 30 tapes if we were lucky. 

I kind of realized that I was getting in over my head when the initial test batch of 30 tapes sold out in two hours. At this time, Parannoul had doubled on RYM to over 200 ratings where it was consistently at the top for the early “Top 40 of 2021” list. With not a lot of major album competition at this time, it was finding an audience. So, the release and success was truly serendipitous. I could not make the time to efficiently produce another run in house, so I turned things over to professional duplication. I had sold 100 of them…and then the Pitchfork review came out, which really put it in scope how special this type of music had come out was for a lot of people.

Yeah, you can even see this with Home is Where and Hey ILY, these burgeoning emo acts that threw their releases out on tape and have kind of blown up thanks in part to that network of critics.

Yeah! With Parannoul, Ian Cohen literally posted on Twitter something like “Hey this album with a blue smokestack is getting a lot of buzz on music forms…” and I realized we were likely gonna get a review. I love Ian Cohen, and in every sense of the word that guy is a tastemaker. As someone who participated in the vibrant DIY scene in Michigan, it was really awesome to him to champion bands like Dogleg that didn’t seem like they would otherwise get attention. Their BNM sorta smashed the stigma of “good midwest emo/DIY records that are capped at mid 7.0s”.

For the record, I used to follow the DIY scene rumbling across the Midwest more often. I attended those last two years of Bloodfest, which was basically the emo scene’s Lollapalooza. It was so fun, with a lot of bands of all kinds getting together to play at a Michigan High School! It was too perfect and I can’t believe they allowed that to happen.

Have you found or listened to artists like Asian Glow through critics, other extremely online artists, or on Bandcamp? 

I had not listened to these albums or artists before. Total blind listens! While I had seen Home is Where’s “fifth wave emo” image going around, all of my artists I have found through Bandcamp or RYM. When I did find the album, I did start digging into Asian Glow on Bandcamp and saw a web of connections. Most notably that both were in Seoul, South Korea. People were not tuned into this at the time, but if you started checking the trending for Seoul, it was picking up.

It was another “eureka” moment with Cull Ficle. I was hearing a bunch of reference points from those shoegaze tinges to the Microphones; passionately written songs with math rock melodies. Of course I wanted to press it on tape! And its fifty tape run took three days to sell out, with orders being placed all over the world! We got orders from the UK, Sweden, and a lot from South Korea!

Your Instagram has been a nice microblog of the label’s status. Although is it going on Hiatus for the summer?

Oh no, I fucking lied through my teeth! I figured it might slow down, and yet while I was talking with sonhos tomam conta, the brazilian blackgaze artist (and third release on Longinus), I kinda realized just how big the label is getting. Not many tape labels ever have that advantage of having their first release be a huge album that blows up. Thus, I am going to consolidate Longinus Recordings into a formal operation. 

That means I gotta manage it like a real business! Shipping Parannoul tapes (60% were bought US, 40% were bought international) for three days means a lot of customs forms! I need to hire someone to glow up my logo and not make it look like it was a photoshop job (I used the sphere of Longinus from Neon Genesis Evangelion as a temporary but I guess it’s my logo now). Also, there will be an actual Bandcamp page without a stock graphic of Shinji or a still from Akira. It kinda looks like a college kid’s finsta at the moment. I will be upping the dubbing quality of tapes!

I’ve been so consumed by all this work and other stuff I haven’t even given a lot of 2021 tapes any listens! Speaking of, I’ve almost thought about distributing some of these tapes to the local record shops, but I have no idea what that conversation entails.

Will there be repressing of the tape?

Absolutely! Every day there are DMs asking about repressing Parannoul. I plan to do one as well for Cull Ficle after its 2xLP vinyl pressing and a few more titles come down the line.

The reselling of the Parannoul tape on discogs has been insane. I don’t like the way that these markets (especially vinyl) are turning resale. Limited colors or whatnot that sell in ten minutes and are on ebay the next day. It pains me that artists intentionally do that to “throttle the stocks” and maintain this kind of demand for the record. 

That it has even turned personal with tapes is even more bizarre. On the discogs page for Parannoul, someone was trading a $100 record for a copy (that I haven’t even shipped) of the Cull Ficle tape. The translucent blue tape of Parannoul was listed and just sold for $210. I literally posted a comment on my discogs begging people not to buy from a scalper because that tape is not of hi-fi quality. You have to be crazy! I might be biased because there are shoegaze tapes I’d splurge on (*laughs*), but maybe I don’t understand tapes. Just get the files, a deck or box, and make it yourself; these are white blank tapes.

Do you think that Longinus is going to be focused on rumblings in the global DIY sounds?

It’s whatever I want to do! Now, I’m not trying to sound self-righteous because I don’t think I’m doing shit! It is these artists and their music that is what sells; I’m just the tape distributor and A&R guy and when I hear an album that makes me go “this shit hits,” I just know I want to press it! There’s a lot of music that is being undiscovered from other college kids the same age as me. I would like to keep one hand in the shoegaze realm. It’s still a sound that I’m partial to.

Right now, I just let my artists vibe. I’m not trying to breathe down their neck (we had verbal contracts and email agreements), they go at their own pace and complete it to their own vision. They got free reign over their music and there is nothing I can do besides just try to help support them and distribute physicals. 

Now, there are a few Longinus releases I know that are coming down the pipe.  I’m prepping Dating’s next album as a forthcoming release on Longinus. They were actually shouted out by Parannoul in a Sonemic interview; they did shoegaze akin to Parannoul back in 2012, way ahead of the curve! sonhos tomam conta’s second record arrived on 8/8 Bandcamp Friday and I have to figure out their release schedule and situation with physicals! I made twenty tapes of their debut and while I had wanted to make more, a lot of her fans are in Brazil. The Brazilian Real is not very strong to the dollar, and cassette culture is not as huge there unfortunately.

Finally, we have something of a “mogul move” right now. sonhos tomam conta, Asian Glow, and Parannoul are currently teasing a collaborative split at the moment that just straight up excites the hell out of me. Think about these three very different aspects of DIY — the Microphones-style lo-fi, textured rhythms of blackgaze, and pure melodic shoegaze — metastasizing into cutting edge sound. It’s a trifecta of what DIY can do right now. Honestly, I’m thrilled that they are all open and wanting to work together; they took the agency to do that! So, the day that split comes out I will be the HAPPIEST man alive 🙂

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Tabs Out | Alex Cunningham – pas de deux & Armor

Alex Cunningham – pas de deux & Armor

8.5.21 by Matty McPherson

Doctors from around the world have cited St. Louis, Mo based violinist Alex Cunningham as a leading practitioner in the arts of dispossession. The last time I checked up with Cunningham, I was learning about “social capital where I [he] grew up,” and by that I mean I was knee deep in a liturgy of string semantics propelling a most excellent sonic exorcism. It cleared me of my back aches! Cunningham approaches the violin in all its clandestine glory. He can keep his violin strings at bay, pacing and feeling out the acoustics, or he can lay down a sudden jolt of sonic horror with a most haywire solo; it’s concrete and unrelenting. Cunningham’s sound transmutates appropriately in art form, where his collages separate and render bodies down to their mouths or arms, packing them into an omnibus that seeks to overtake your senses. 

These details are important to the tapes Cunningham has been crushing here in 2021, where his ideas still teeter in a liminal space of unclassifiability. The C20 “pas de deux” tape (released through Richmond, VA based label Working Man Lay Down), finds that beyond the violin Cunningham is emphasizing “objects and electronics.” On paper, this may not really surprise you or me. I mean, I use objects to wind my tapes up and electronics to talk about tapes. Yet, the second the ferric hits that tape head with “tensile strength,” it becomes rather apparent that Cunningham has discovered a new source of energy. The violin’s vicious string patterns are chopped up and warped until they reflect the sound of an Amtrak locomotive running on pneumatics. The percussive blasts give a sense that we are traveling at 300MPH. As the piece progresses, the loops become more sensory depraved, moving further into blank spaces. It’s as if suddenly the train was meticulously zipped into a body bag to be sunk at the bottom of the ocean. “bones turned coral” is a welcome companion, a slow-burn working through a litany of found sounds in its first half, before seeking out and finishing with classic Cunningham violin dronery. 

Meanwhile, the second release on Storm Cellar, Cunningham’s shiny new imprint, is “Armor.” Armor is a bit longer than “pas de duex,” yet still centers on two main pieces for each side. And without masquerading a Cunningham violin solo under layers of industrial debris, he’s simply bookended with devious intros and outros that emphasize found object textures. The main piece of Side A, “I Saw My Devil,” opens like the sweltering sun on June asphalt, encompassing everywhere and aching all over; sublime kind of dissonant heat therapy. As Cunningham continues down his improv, midway through he hints at a breadcrumb of a softer song, but quickly refracts, savoring in moments of string drone and meticulous, frantic silence. Side B’s Armor is simply a furious whirlwind of a solo. One that starts practically en media res, without any hindrance towards becoming enraptured in the jittering peaks and cantankerous crescendos that Cunningham chases down. Fit for weddings of all occasions/occults, ages 6+

Small press edition for “pas de deux,” with collage zine j-card insert available at Working Man Lay Down’s Bandcamp page. Edition of 100 for “Armor” available (in shrinkwrap!) from Alex Cunningham’s personal Bandcamp.

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Tabs Out | Bonus Episode: Solving Mysteries with Peter J Woods

Peter J Woods (FTAM Productions) stops by to help identify mystery tapes and play Garfield soundclips

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Never Anything

New Batch – Never Anything

8.4.21 by Matty McPherson

The Seattle, WA based Never Anything Records always loves to surprise with the occasional threefer batch of hand-dubbed tapes. It’s a welcome display, as their sound curation carries with it a level of rorsarchian therapeutics; these are sounds that mingle quite well with the abstracted covers, deserving to be chewed over in your mind not as definitive answers, but towards infinite possibilities! Every time I find myself with a new release I’m learning a new language, sometimes even taking a trip to Berlin or Australia in the process. So why don’t I share a bit of my recent trips?

Terbijn – Eco

The artist(s) known as Terbijn is a bit of an anomaly at the moment, and trying to deduce any part of that identity feels a bit trite. What I do know is that the tape was recorded between London and Berlin and is brimming with digital processing, downtempo lounge-type synths, low end bass throbs, and field recordings. Eco’s soundscapes are often built off of these remote, isolated tones that a synth or bass can provide. It makes tracks quite open-ended, practically blank canvases to dabble on. Tracks like Eco, Care and Mistletoe quickly dash off into their own paths between alien folktronica and downtempo ambient lounge as soon as Terbijn starts crossing layers of these elements into the compositions. The resulting pieces are all akin to alien camaraderie, with an icy patience glistening through the entire 35 minute affair.

Philip Sulidae – Apãto

The Hobart, Tasmania based Phillip Sulidae has recorded for Tsss Tapes and Park 70 in the past year, delineating between grainy, crackly textures and stretches of natural, sweltering regional ambience. Apãto is able to weave these moments together into a mapping of regional tension, even without ever breaking too deep into the red on the tape deck. It’s sounds, whether its machines buzzing and quick breaths on “Genkan Troubles,” birds flying across a flute on “Alley with Suntory Finials,” or (what sounds likes) the bleeps and banging of a stick against a metal fencepost on “Evening Tairu Collection” there’s a paranoid, conspiratorial sense to this tape; it’s what makes this tapes sudden appearance of drums or its seamless dips into the local fauna, amongst a whole litany of lab sounds as engaging as a pulpy page turner.

Abby Lee Tee – Hausberg IV-V

The final tape in the trilogy is also the slightest of the three. Between tape, cd, vinyl, and digital Austrian Abby Lee Tee has been continually shifting focus and practice throughout the last decade, mending field recordings with the effortless traces of acoustic guitar and electronics for a kind of progressive porch-drinking music, in my view. Hausberg IV-V, his sixth tape and first for Never Anything, is a welcome C16 of constructivist mending of two guitar/field recordings. 

Hausberg IV is a fantastical kind of lullaby. For its 8 minutes, Lee attempts a guitar ritual not too far removed from the ancient work of Dead Can Dance, just sans the vocal melodies in lieu of tonal harmonies. His guitars gallop off of each other, delicately weaving together its own cosmic web, further controlled by the spatial effects that the low end of his field recordings give off. Hausberg V features a slithering water effect that dominates the soundscape, practically trying to sink you whole, while an acoustic guitar meanders about, slinking every few moments until it disappears entirely. By this point, the track further scurries itself into the weird and eerie, building a playful journey towards whatever lies at the base of a “house mountain” (not to be confused w/ Hausu Mountain). And it’s here that we find ourselves with quick-witted finger picking and a most angry cat (I ain’t kidding).

Each available in editions of 50 at the Never Anything bandcamp page!

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Tabs Out | Wiggly – If I give you a cherry, the least you could do is spit the pit back into my bowl so’s I can suck on it later, and you don’t have to poke me in the eye with the stem

Wiggly – If I give you a cherry, the least you could do is spit the pit back into my bowl so’s I can suck on it later, and you don’t have to poke me in the eye with the stem

8.3.21 by Matty McPherson

The New Jersey based Cavern Brew Records holds an open demo policy that has rewarded itself with a blind bag of lo-fi in all its pop, field recording, and unclassifiable forms! Of most recent note is their release of the Kansas City lo-fi chameleon Wiggly with an album title THAT long and cover filled with THAT much negative space. It all screams “Joy Void 2k15,” and indeed the hissy murmured vocals of everyday imagery would almost make it so! For Wiggly is a one-man machine making songs the color of dusk and dawn, somewhere between basement pop and open sky folk. 

Wiggly’s one-man process to put these songs to tape involved a smattering of instruments and adverbage usage ( “electric guitared, bass guitared, harmonicad, floor tomed, tambourined, synthesizered, keyboarded, kalimbad, and bongo cajoned”). In the process, he’s presented soundscapes that sound like the last 35ish years of 4AD, mending the cavernous folk of Heidi Berry or a Victorialand instrumental (“Over”) with Deerhunter’s astral gaze (“Everlasting Light” and “Keeper’s Sign”) and even a smidgen of Amps’ basement fuzz. Perhaps it strikes you as a mouthful of references. Yet, with every listen, I find another earworm to hold onto or another curveball freakout, like the “Strangeface Rant,” to dissect and untangle, and with the skies so gosh darn blue right now, it’s quite a treat to savor.

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Tabs Out | Seth Kasselman – UV Catamaran

Seth Kasselman – UV Catamaran

7.29.21 by Matty McPherson

I had a large grin on my face when I discovered we were in for another surprise from Seth K so soon! Kasselman’s previous release, Anteroom in Birch, was his formal return to the world of tapes, trafficking in bubbly yet eerie musique concrète. It’s a sonic framework that UV Catamaran retraces back from one state to another, literally. These four pieces (all running around 9-10 minutes) were recorded between a 2014 move out of LA and finished in 2018 at Phoenix; the decision to unstick them from time and drop them now has (in the words of Kasselman) revealed an “unintended canonic feeling” that further dive into aquatic longform zones, exploring the indeterminate paradoxes that come from within those spaces. 

I guess what I’m saying is that onf UV Catamaran, Kasselman finds expansive space to convey a feeling of being mentally immobilized or hindered without ever sounding completely stuck. Side A opens with the title track, where you can find Kasselman meticulously applying an inquisitive electronic hum while window gazing for the perfect echoey drum pattern. Squeamishly re-terraforming itself, the pattern turns towards the most watery and tingly it can, becoming a necessary buffer as an ominous and grand drone breaks towards the surface, trapping everything in its path. On “Long Time Machines,” Kasselman plays up the ominous drone patterns as if it’s a ghost sauntering through his house; clashing with his field recordings of breath or clarinet noise, it sparks piercing moments of horror and sublime bliss. 

Side B, with “Comet Tricks” and “Are Overhead,” continue the steady mapping of brain fog. The former balances the babble of a voice under an interrogative wave of synth droning, scanning for the most quixotive of sound cacophonies to tease out and let glisten, if only for a second. After about nine and a half minutes of exploring every nook and cranny there, Kasselman comes down for the latter. “Are Overhead,” featuring Jared Cox on guitar, pieces together the past three tracks into its own. A sputtering and elastic jam until it decides to rip it up and start back from scratch. Halfway through the piece turns its focus on a formless percussive until Cox comes like an angel from the heavens! Gracing Kasselman with a searing, astral solo, Kasselm helps brings UV Catamaran to a plane of jubilant solace.


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Tabs Out | Stefan Christensen – Loimaa

Stefan Christensen – Loimaa

7.28.21 by Matty McPherson

The long awaited return of Garden Portal back in March arrived with four new gateways into cosmic Americana, loving self-dubbed and mastered in house. Stefan Christensen’s Loimaa is perhaps the most protected and elliptical of the four releases I’ve found. The former vocalist for the Trouble in Mind four-piece Estrogen Highs (and current guitarist for Headroom) has quietly been building a knack for lively, ramshackle acoustic guitar that sounds like a tavern on the edge of a coastal port; all the while, he runs the C/Site label that has been crucial in documenting what’s been going down on New Haven, CT. Anyways, I say all of that because Loimaa’s eight parts come with scant information, just that they are asynchronously ordered (in what I can assume is an act of generosity or good will).

Thus, Loimaa has a rather open-template feeling to its guitar sound, the real center of this bad boy! On blind listens, I was taken aback by Christensen’s emphasis on light drone chords, psych noise, and the warmth produced from recurring strumming patterns. These sounds emphasize a grounded patience — much like the one felt when looking at the cracks in tiles or the brushstrokes of a watercolor, that give the tape a peaceful feeling in its instrumental passages. Meanwhile, tracks like Loimaa VIII (third on the album) and Loimaa III (eighth on the album) present Christensen’s vocal delivery center, careening and pushing forward. His vocal presence is a welcome vessel, and in Loimaa VIII, he practically builds itself up as a sing-along chant, as Christensen exclaims, “It’s all the same!” Nevertheless, once more back into the deck!

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Tabs Out | Vital Cause – Zero Sum Game

Vital Cause – Zero Sum Game

7.27.21 by Jacob DeRaadt

“Zero Sum Game” is the first offering from the trio of Eddie Giles (Final Solution), Jay Howard (Circuit Wound), and John Grimaldi (Submersive Productions). The three have done some work together under the name Run for Omniphobia, though I’m not familiar with that output.

Side A has some toxic radio waves bubbling out from darkened drain pipes in a nightmarish realm of suffocating filth. There are some moments where electronics start evoking an acoustic industrial sounds like engines idling, washing machines in slow motion, cars on a bridge, puddles splashing in muddled rhythm… The title track, “Zero Sum Game,”  is an exercise in anti-musical drone, leaving me feeling trapped in a large concrete room full of malfunctioning vacuums unravelling dusty rugs through some searing fuzz effects. It’s machinery without a human presence. I like how there’s different tracks on here and not just one long jam session, concise editing of what I’m assuming was a mail collaboration.

Side B dives further into a mechanical, grinding world of unknown machinery. Hints of synthesizer churning out withered pulses provide the backdrop for some reverb’d feedback accents, almost post-mortem in feel. This is not high energy harsh noise. It is thoroughly corroded ear filth. I love the nasty hum that comes in and out of the mix halfway through the side. It reminds me of “Hole in the Heart” by Ramleh. Truly ominous without being overtly cinematic or rhythm oriented.Out of this maelstrom, we’re dropped into the center of a finely tuned wind tunnel where the fans oscillate at different pitches and speeds, simultaneously moments of tonal harmony and dissonance fused into a rising mass.  


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