Tabs Out | Nicholas Langley – Nicholas Langley Plays the Vitamin B12

Nicholas Langley – Nicholas Langley Plays the Vitamin B12

9.20.19 by Ryan Masteller

Maybe it’s weird at first glance that our Third Kind Records pal Nicholas Langley is taking on Brighton-based free improv group the Vitamin B12, but you only need to do a second or maybe a third glance before the weirdness dissipates and this delightful new release on Strategic Tape Reserve settles in to “heavy rotation” in your exhaustively archived and organized and notated listening documentation. The second glance returns the fact that Langley was once a performing member of Alasdair Willis’s group. A third glance returns the fact that Langley is also Brighton based and continues to perform live with Hassni Malik, also a B12-er. Fourth, fifth, sixth, etc., glances not needed.

So then “Plays the Vitamin B12” is more a reimagining/remixing project taken on by Langley, which makes a lot of sense given the nature of Third Kind’s (and Strategic Tape Reserve’s) output. Langley applies a major krautrock approach here, letting passages repeat and stretch and evolve while remaining head-noddingly propulsive at almost all times. He’s certainly got an inside track on the building blocks of these songs, and he’s able to combine them into massively entertaining structures. It’s almost as if Langley is doing the B12 a favor by improving upon the originals!

I’m totally kidding there, it’s not a contest. But Langley succeeds throughout in making the Vitamin B12’s tracks sound like his own. He’s comfortable playing in this sandbox, and it shows, the jammage effortless whether it’s in perpetual motion or hanging back and taking on different watercolor tones. The result is a complete project, one both in homage to a revered group and an expansion on that group’s sound by a rogue operative. A fun rogue operative though. A fun rogue operative who is having obvious fun turning fun music into equally fun music. The funnest.

Grip it and rip it from your buds at Strategic Tape Reserve. Edition of 30. (Only 30?!?)

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | Nicholas Langley – Nicholas Langley Plays the Vitamin B12

Tabs Out | New Batch – Inner Islands

New Batch – Inner Islands

9.18.19 by Ryan Masteller

Not only do we have two new tapes out on Inner Islands, the illustrious New Age label out of Oakland, but one of them is by head honcho Sean Conrad himself! The other is by non-head-honcho Steve Targo (Inner Travels), but we won’t hold that against him. Still – the stakes are pretty high when you’re leading the way with your own work. Let’s hope that confidence is warranted!


Haha, of course it is. You think I’d even be writing this if it wasn’t? Ashan follows up last year’s “Far Drift Afield” with “Transfigurations,” “another set of unguided excursions to proposed realms of being.” Right on, Sean: listening to Ashan is like drifting down a river in a tropical rainforest, but without fear that everything around you in your environment is going to kill you (snakes, insects, plants, piranhas). In fact, you could drift right on down and out of the river’s mouth and into the great beyond, the river actually being a metaphorical one and the destination a transformation of your spirit into something stronger and better and more whole, and the destination not even being a destination but just a marker on a map that keeps extending toward infinity. That’s what “Transfigurations” is all about: continuously rejecting the outward stimuli that cause harm (pain, discomfort, sadness, anger) and metamorphosing the feelings those things cause into an inner strength, an inner fortress for your, ahem, inner island. Or something like that! Still, Conrad’s work as Ashan has always made me feel light and warm and free, and “Transfigurations” is no different in that regard.


Talk about “drifting down a river in a tropical rainforest,” as “Babble,” the first of three extended tracks on “Nature Spirit,” opens with Steve Targo’s nature recordings, placing the listener directly in the same space as the source material. I’m out there, out in it, in nature, in “Nature Spirit,” allowing my surroundings to overwhelm me with their intense life. That’s where Targo gets his inspiration from for this release, and boy does it come through perfectly. The rain falls upon my head and the lights of my mind twinkle behind my eyelids as I breathe deeply the rich air. “Nature Spirit” is a continuously growing presence, a palpable entity governing the wind and the rain and the wildlife. It delivers us into a state of being similar to that of Ashan’s “Transfigurations,” a state of communion with the world around us and within ourselves. Doesn’t that just sound like a perfect Inner Islands release? And not just because “Inner Islands” and “Inner Travels” are so close in construction. Everybody’s a vet of the scene here, an all-star-caliber New Age/ambient hero.

Buy together in the Summer Cassettes bundle from Inner Islands if you wish! You’ll save a couple bones, and you know how we’re always telling you tape consumers to be thrifty with your purchases.

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | New Batch – Inner Islands

Tabs Out | Peter Kris – Mandan / Moroni

Peter Kris – Mandan / Moroni

9.17.19 by Ryan Masteller

Peter Kris’s “Mandan / Moroni” is the latest ambient guitar double-cassette masterpiece from the German Army maestro …

I have to stop.

There’s only so much I can handle, only so many hits I can take before it all becomes a burden not worth shouldering. So do I make the effort to get to the middle of “Mandan / Moroni,” or do I retreat to the safety of several feet away from this double-cassette artifact? I do feel I’m in some sort of danger.

Let me back up before you slam down your laptop in fury at my inability to properly form thought (laptops are expensive because of Bill Jobs!). “Mandan / Moroni,” on the ever-Portuguese OTA label, is a double cassette “wrapped in sandpaper” – like, a strip of sandpaper was glued around two Norelco cases and folded nicely. So not only did I probably get some kind of skin injury on my fingers when I first picked it up (lawsuit!), it scratched all my tapes and CDs and records in proximity to it. (This is only because I couldn’t decide how to file it at first.)

But here’s the thing: there’s no way I can stay mad at Peter Kris (or OTA for that matter). First of all, they’re both awesome, I hope that goes without saying (even though I said it). Second, you pop on a Peter Kris tape, you’re immediately in the midst of a sea of tranquility (though hopefully not in the midst of the literal Sea of Tranquility – at least not without a spacesuit). Peter’s guitar tones literally billow like an encroaching fog bank, enveloping you when it arrives, getting into your body and your bones, into your lungs and your mind. How can one man and one instrument (with accoutrement, obvs), wrench such distinct emotional responses from a few notes and an imaginary landscape? A better question, maybe: how does he do it so freakin’ often?

And OF COURSE he named a track after postcolonial scholar Edward Said. That just goes without saying.

Rediscover the feelings of your own human heart with the latest epic from the maestro. Just be careful with the artifact itself, or use it after listening to sand away all the rough and jagged edges of your psyche that are bound to be unearthed over the course of the adventure. Or don’t – those edges and jags are what make us us, right?

“Pro dubbed; C56 / C58; Double cassette wrapped in sandpaper 180 black. important to be careful handling.”

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | Peter Kris – Mandan / Moroni

Tabs Out | Episode #146

Dot Pony - split w/ Richard Phillip Smith (Ranch)
Brin - Hug Sway (Patient Sounds)
Bastian Void - Acreage (Muzan Editions)
Cool Person - Weird Person (Permanent Nostalgia)
Peter Kris - Mandan/Moroni (OTA)
Starbirthed - Chakra One (Flower Room)
Machine That Flashes - Echo / Sullen (self released)
Aloes - I (self released)
Kitaro - Oasis (Gramavision)
Mdou Moctar ‎– Ilana: The Creator (Sahel Sounds)
Ki Oni - You Made It Out Of The FOrest Alive (Atlantic Rhythms)
Cop Jokes - Human Drama split/collab w/ Law Years (KiloHURTz)
Fischerle - Groove 7 (Outlines)

| Comments Off on Tabs Out | Episode #146

Tabs Out | The Corrupting Sea – Ghosts

The Corrupting Sea – Ghosts

9.13.19 by Ryan Masteller

G-g-ghosts? Are we really going this spooky route today? The Corrupting Sea’s Jason Lamoreaux’s got a séance going up in here, where he’s conjuring specters and ghouls and not really worrying about all the havoc he’s wreaking. I think it’s time we put a stop to this. Let me call the Harlem Globetrotters. I have Curly Neal’s number in my phone. Spiderman’s too.

Oh – my bad, seems this “Ghosts” tape is more the ghost of memory, the hints of the past, wisps of nostalgia that haunt us and creep up on us at inopportune moments when we don’t want to cry out of regret or wistfulness, like when we’re in the middle of a job interview. But hopefully your interviewer won’t be spinning The Corrupting Sea – that’s for when you get home, to celebrate getting that job with terrifically introspective music. Lamoreaux is a master of his ambient synthesizer world, and here he immerses us in six lengthy pieces as washes of recollection and celebration, regret and remorse fight against each other but end up intertwining in a bittersweet fog of personal history, a mating ritual designed to confuse and distract the listener from whatever it is they happen to be doing. Like being interviewed for a job.

Which is why, in the end, you really have to PAY ATTENTION. Let “Ghosts” envelope you – but not literal ghosts and not literal envelopment, or you’ll come out the other side covered in ectoplasm. This is real choice synth work, and that should be celebrated. [*Chef’s kiss*] The Corrupting Sea continues to lap at the shores of nostalgia and enhance whatever mood it happens to be around. This is a strength of Lamoreaux’s, as detailed throughout his deep discography.

But this one’s over at Aural Canyon. Pick one up!

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | The Corrupting Sea – Ghosts

Tabs Out | V I C I M – Ademptus Demere

V I C I M – Ademptus Demere

9.11.19 by Ryan Masteller

The darkest of ambients. V I C I M crosses knives, crosses hearts, hopes to die. Shadowy promises from Arlöv, Sweden. From the depths of Linus Schrab’s innermost being.

It’s easy to read “V I C I M” as “victim,” which connotes a sense of damage to the listener or the creator here, but there’s an even-keeled-ness that belies that, takes us in a different direction. The static and tone lapping against the rocks of the digital fjord suggests time slowly, inevitably, and eternally eroding away any sort of emotional response or connection, instead exposing the bare, unfeeling bedrock of “Ademptus Demere’s” elemental base. I’m not sure if this is a metaphor for my chest cavity or my brainpan, or if it’s an epitaph that will long outlast me. Silly shruggy emoji!

What I do know is that V I C I M rolls through landscape like a glacier, slowly, permanently altering it with his heavy vibes, his heavy moods, grinding the surface of the earth beneath it to silt and sediment. But the passage is natural – everything about it feels unhurried and authentic, not put on, no theatrics. V I C I M has an instinctive touch when it comes to his work, and maybe that’s due to the Scandinavianness of this project, of the landscape around him. Regardless, “Ademptus Demere” is as engaging as it is pulverizing, as nuanced and layered as it is dense. 

Pro-dubbed “piano tape” (one side of shell black, the other white) in an edition of 50 available from Tape Lamour.

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | V I C I M – Ademptus Demere

Tabs Out | Various Artists – Crash Klang Bang Thang

Various Artists – Crash Klang Bang Thang

9.6.19 by Ryan Masteller

When I say you can get Jollies up in here, I don’t mean it in a gross or crude way. I think it’s pretty unfortunate that certain idioms take hold within the public lexicon, getting away from themselves while taking on meanings not necessarily intended for them in the first place. It’s not fair to the word or saying, it’s not fair to the English language. It’s not fair that some jagbag in 1950s Lackawanna turned it into a thing when he was rough-talking with his buddies down at the tavern across from the machine shop. They closed that thing down anyway. Unions were powerless. Moved the whole operation to Kentucky before they shut THAT plant down too.

No, when I say “you can get Jollies up in here,” I mean cassette tapes! Jollies is a label straight outta Brooklyn, neck deep in outsider electronic music. Don’t believe me? Check this out: Jollies calls “Crash Klang Bang Thang” “an exuberant ride through a full spectrum of color and mend bending theatrics,” all produced by “an international roster of accomplished artists exploring themes of an urban psychedelic landscape.” Sounds like a, ahem, JOLLY good time if you ask me. And you SHOULD ask me! Know how I know this is a super outsider collection? I’ve only heard of Heejin Jang and Ale Hop, and they’re buried on the tracklist! That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have heard of Outsiderwater (super outsider with “Outsider” in the name) or Consulate or the one in Cyrillic, but let’s face it: I’m only one man.

Careful with this tape though – with great power comes great responsibility, as they say, and you’re responsible for the discovery and dissemination of each and every artist you run across for the first time. You don’t want to let that glitchy IDM banger slip through your fingers, or that dank percussive nocturne, or the bleating synth jammer. When Jollies says they’re slinging “mind bending theatrics” about the “urban psychedelic landscape,” you believe them, and you let your imagination run wild with what that means. Because, seriously, you won’t even get close with that imagination. You may as well get back to smelting iron, or whatever they did to make money sixty years ago.

So get your Jollies up in here – your “Crash Bang Klang Thang” tapes from Jollies!

| Tagged Comments Off on Tabs Out | Various Artists – Crash Klang Bang Thang

Tabs Out | Lero – Folkdrone

Lero – Folkdrone

9.3.19 by Ryan Masteller

Hey, Lero, I didn’t ASK you to do my work for me. Don’t you know that it’s the job of us writers, us journalists, to assign easily digestible categories that can summarize your whole output in a word or two? See, for me, “Folkdrone” is the exact kind of thing I would’ve come up with to describe your music if you hadn’t already stepped all over my toes about it. I’m not sure I feel comfortable anymore about any of this.

I’m only half joking! My ego may be bruised, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this rich folkdrone music. Because that’s what it is – psychedelic acoustic guitar recordings run through various programs and processors, coming off like fireside versions of whatever the computer and synthesizer nerds are cooking up in their various basement nerd laboratories (looking at you, Wether). Lero plays like a shaman, conjuring spirits and allowing the friction of the instrument and player and recording devices as much space as the instrument itself. The result is a mystical trip through time and space, through the body, through the mind. Are you on LSD? Wait … am I?


So, taking my job quite seriously as I do, I must recommend you fine people to rustle up a copy of Lero’s “Folkdrone” from the good folks over at Lighten Up Sounds. Each ten-minute side is an absolute journey to the outer limits of your imagination, a raga-like meditation on the human spirit. Or maybe just a meditation on all the cool sounds you can make with an acoustic guitar and tape loops and mics and stuff. Edition of 50.

| Comments Off on Tabs Out | Lero – Folkdrone

Tabs Out | The Last Ambient Hero – Messier 87

The Last Ambient Hero – Messier 87

8.29.19 by Ryan Masteller

Some people were terrified when they saw the image of M87, the first visible image of a supermassive black hole (that’s it on the cover above). Some people were awestruck, unsure of what confirmation of something so disproportionate to any characteristic of life as we know it would mean in a philosophical context. I mean, we figured black holes were out there. But now that we could see one? Sheee-it. The moment has finally arrived to confront the brainbusting implications of just how tiny and insignificant we are and face the fact that essentially everything – literally everything – in the universe outside of Earth could kill us.

The people who were terrified of it had watched “Event Horizon” too many times, which is a weird coincidence because the image was captured using the Event Horizon Telescope.

But here’s the thing: we are once again saved from having to face the internal and the eternal, from having to batter our minds against the rocks of the infinite, by Our Hero, the Last Ambient Hero, the only one who knows us better than ourselves and can process into sound the deepest contemplations of human capacity and the secrets of the tiniest fractions of the universe that we can even observe. It’s like the LAH took one look at the image of M87, closed their eyes, and teleported straight there, to a location where the black hole could be observed from a safe distance. Also not too close that time didn’t get effed up for the LAH in a big way – I’ve seen “Interstellar,” I know the risks. The Last Ambient Hero teleports there, to a safe distance from the black hole, observes it, and meditates on it.

Then the Last Ambient Hero creates a sonic reverie of the experience with synthesizers.

Look, it’s not easy. It’s not a cakewalk being endowed with the power of celestial sight as the LAH obviously is. But if someone had to go to some far-off reach of outer space and report back in a perfect sonic encapsulation of what they’d seen there, it would just have to be the Last Ambient Hero, wouldn’t it?

Maybe Eno.

Get on down with this crazy space music. “White Type I C79 tape with full colour J-insert in a clear case, dubbed in realtime. Handmade with love. Includes bonus cassette only track ‘Sagittarius A’ … edition of 20.”

| Comments Off on Tabs Out | The Last Ambient Hero – Messier 87

Tabs Out | Ruined Spirit – Black Metal’s Redemptive Arc

Ruined Spirit – Black Metal’s Redemptive Arc

8.27.19 by Ryan Masteller

I think these guys are all wet. Black metal doesn’t have a redemptive arc! It’s all about death and mayhem. Right? Those guys with corpse paint. They’re up to no good. Plus, they’re quite growly, and I’m not sure they end up in the right at the end of the story.

Still, it’s hard not to wonder, and Ruined Spirit, aka the duo of cellist Jess Whelligan and guitar and electronics maestro Andrew Hillock, does their dangedest to imagine the world where black metal was good for you. Over two fifteen-minute pieces (Display won’t even CONSIDER your tape unless it’s at least fifteen minutes long), Ruined Spirit plays to the pensive ambient fan in all of us, the one that prefers post rock but can totally get behind the atmospheric buildups as much as the heart-pounding crescendos. And who’s to say the buildups aren’t equally emotional and harrowing? Not this dude. 

So Ruined Spirit uses their powers to tip the scales of evil to the side of good, inviting us on an unknowable gray journey into the future where sense is senseless and nothing is clear. We cling to the sides of our pensiveness like survivors of a shipwreck clinging to life preservers. We have no idea where we’re headed, but we’re sure it’s probably not good. But there’s a redemptive arc, so somebody probably sacrifices him- or herself to save somebody else in a sad climax. But that’s the point!

And to be clear, I’m pretty much trolling all of you about the black metal stuff – I like it as much as the next weirdo.

Grab one of these 40 copies from Display before they’re all out! Specs:

– Clear Cassette
– Printed Sticker Label
– Printed J-Card
– Clear Case
– Labeled Black Bag
– Sticker Included

| Comments Off on Tabs Out | Ruined Spirit – Black Metal’s Redemptive Arc