Tabs Out | Episode #176

Bulbils - A Smashing Adventure (Heimat Der Katastrophe)
YAI - Flowers From Home (Not Not Fun)
Budokan Boys - So Broken Up About You Dying (self released)
Jason Crumer - Thin Ice (No Rent Records)
Kobold - The Legend of the Wicked Pirates (Heimat Der Katastrophe)
Andrea Pensado - split w/ Jacob Winans (Refulgent Sepulchre)
Peter Compo - Films (Tower To The Sea)
Grimdor - The Shadow of the Past (Out of Season)
Lexagon - Feminine Care (Ratskin)
Marc Merza - split w/ T. Gowdy (TBD Tapes)

Tabs Out | Various Artists – Undercurrents

Various Artists – Undercurrents

3.22.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Okay, let’s make one thing clear: I love field recordings coupled with synthesis, whether they contrast or compliment one another. So it was no surprise that I found most of the tracks on this tape (a benefit for ending violence/incarceration against Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people) to be right up my alley. One of the cliched criticisms leveled at this genre is that “it’s just background music,” to which I’d reply that I use harsh noise and death metal as background music for cooking or working out, so stuff it.

This is one of the best compilations I’ve heard of modern ambient. Come to think of it, it doesn’t seem like compilations are much of a thing in ambient music. While there might not be much new ground being broken here, where tracks by OVRSCN resemble something from a dramatic scene in Stranger Things (I know, lame reference), there are no filler tracks on this one. MP Hawkins’ track, “Shells,” is my favorites on here. A diary entry of melancholic depth resembling a more nuanced version of Alleypisser. And there’s enough sonic variety for my taste. There’s processed instruments and voice on many tracks (raven’s use of cello on “another naive playthrough”) as well as the synth pads that you’d expect. It’s a bit strange how short most of the tracks are, for a genre where most tracks are longer than ten minutes, and some of the tracks feel like excerpts rather than full pieces, but that’s a pithy complaint. Better to be left wanting more, I suppose.

Tabs Out | Viimeinen – s/t

Viimeinen – s/t

3.17.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Viimeinen loosely translates to ‘rough’ or ‘final’ in Finnish. On this self-titled tape’s A side track, “Dissolved Metal Salts Cloak Your Lips with a Bitter Film,” we’re treated to shifting episodes of static sheets of radio waves swimming around the stereo field. This is a slow descent into a droning sea of TV static punctuated by obscured fog horns. Sudden shifts into slurping tape loops keep things dynamic and asymmetric. 

On the B side “Deformed Faces Agape at You From a Tangle of Limbs” opens with some haunting bowed reverberations and organic tape mulch textures that dissolve into hypnotic loops, like industrial machine belts seizing up in odd time signatures. There’s a nice usage of crescendos at various points in this release, as well as a few jump edits and slow track fades. Straddling the territories of harsher textures and manipulated field recordings, this tape hits all my sweet spots.  Recommended!

Tabs Out | Nancy Bigfoot – Polyester Honey & Moth Bucket / Women of the Pore – split

Nancy Bigfoot – Polyester Honey & Moth Bucket / Women of the Pore – split

3.6.22 by Matty McPherson

James Searfoss is everywhere, all over the floor of your local noise labels; in the liner notes, under a gaggle of names, almost always hoarding the electronics in search of whatever adventure it might bring. The sounds and loops are versatile enough to bounce from Orb Tapes to FTAM and Already Dead, pushing listeners down a breadcrumb trail of various genre spots in search of cosmic gumbo. I didn’t anticipate that I’d ordered such a slab of cosmic gumbo and would soon be into Searfoss’ orbit until I happened to connect the dots with Nancy Bigfoot’s Polyester Honey (ADT364) and a split with Women Under the Pore under Searfoss’ Moth Bucket alias.

The Polyester Honey C36 finds the Nancy Bigfoot seven-piece free jazz ensemble trying to pass between electronic-aided-jazz longforms and scrupulous interludes. The action can turn psychotic or unfathomably chill depending on the side and minute you are attuned to, thus begetting a full listen. Side A’s Mustelid Jabberjaw is a hulking mass much psychotic, actively breaking and tossing everything down in sight, yet twiddling and quivering in brief spurts. It crackles! It tackles! It it-well yeah it electroshocks. Searfoss’ contribution involving tape loops and electronics is a welcomely visceral low end to tango to.

Meanwhile, Searfoss’ Moth Bucket split alongside Women of the Pore (for the FTAM label) is decisively less free-jazz and more “sick set” free noise. Tape splicing and looping techniques abound through the course of Searfoss’ 15 minute side, radiating a misbegotten Radiophonic / Children’s Electric Company aura. Sometimes it crackles like cicadas or murks like bog water, while other times the feature of a disjointed xylophone keeps a perky, upbeat counter. Of course, as the track continues, it devolves further into noise splices that are less privy to bright melodies and more towards twitchy drumming. It’s a well-warranted complimentary piece to Women of the Pore, the New Brunswick “bunker jazz” project that also has been popping up since 2019 from around Orb Tapes and its ilk. FTAM notes the generally noise piece’s strange sonic qualities akin to Ann Arbor noise musics circa 2003; I was five years old and have never stepped foot in the state. You’d be best to trust Mr. FTAM though, he’s quite the hoot and this tape from summer was a well warranted return to Type I tape.

Polyester Honey is sold out at the source! Moth Bucket / Women of the Pore’s split is currently available at FTAM Production’s Bandcamp.

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Tabs Out | Carlos Giustini – Il Rituale é Abitudine

Carlos Giustini – Il Rituale é Abitudine

3.10.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

The liner notes for this release state: “These tracks are intended as contemporary meditation tools. The frequency of these tunes and the sounds used foster inner exploration for the modern spiritual seeker.”   Definitely relaxing, open-ended soundscapes throughout these six tracks from this prolific Italian artist. 

Warm, airy notes drift through the listeners consciousness on Polveriere, where it feels one is hearing notes floating across a large body of water. Kind of an ironic title, as nothing about this track feels explosive whatsoever. The same holds true for Segnali Distorti, which extends the mood of the precious track. Very little distortion is heard here. This is a trivial complaint. There’s always a gap in between the viewpoint of artist and outside observer.  

The tracks that I don’t get into as much involve arpeggios framed by pitch bent notes, like the title track and Analogico Spleen. That’s just a matter of taste in synth voices, I suppose. Decide for yourself. Color Speranza blends muted textures with hesitant arpeggios in a more successful fashion, evoking the wonder of a cloudless nighttime sky. 

While I’m no aficionado of ambient/new age musics, I found this album to be very soothing and great background music for nighttime reading or meditation.

Edition of 50 available from Orb Tapes.

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Tabs Out | Luxury Elite – Blue Eyeshadow

Luxury Elite – Blue Eyeshadow

3.4.22 by Matty McPherson

God bless the postal workers that have to put up with the label boss who shows up with an arm, leg, and nut’s worth of Luxury Elite cassettes for shipping. Any time the producer decides to log on and team up with a label for a new surprise, shit basically prints cash–as well as hundreds of postal labels (protip: use pirate ship). Naturally, if you blink you will miss the release; she’s been doing this for a decade and clearly has mastered what audience to court. This kind of MO is still running in vaporous circles as far as I know, and that Luxury Elite happens to have a quality control on the hype and her releases find themselves ending up on Crash Symbols (or in this case, Doom Trip), has tantalized me for a bit. It’s a sign of appreciation and trust, as well as a quality label/ethos endorsement. So naturally when blue eyeshadow popped on the feed only a dozen minutes after coming out I knew I’d be making a blind buy on my first luxury elite release.

Blue Eyeshadow finds us a decade into the project laying down mid-80s period synths, drum machines, and brass instruments looped into poptones with a kind of certainty parallel to what was afforded to Green Gartside. This took me out of my initial going-in projections; I had expected a more…glitched and vaped out vibe. Underneath the lushness there are moments as such scratching through the crevices, but it is first and foremost a piece of new golden instrumental dreams. It’s with that sonic language alone that the tape is able to succeed as a lovely pastiche–albeit one meta enough to practically become a perennial 80s pop tape that enacts its own Mandela effect; you know these songs by heart even if you have never heard them. 

Yet, what more is being conveyed underneath these tracks that lyrics cannot warrant?  Big sloppy dopamine rushing instrumentals can seem so one sided, but luxury elite swaggers in ways that perhaps suggests we’re bonded to these sounds and that they can articulate nuances that words might just really detract from. Abstracted and left to the listener, blue eyeshadow can at times be a touching treatise on romance in an abstracted, yet picturesque, aspiringly universal experience.  From the blushing “psychic bond” and sensual “afternoon swim” to the jaded late-day haze of “commercial break” and the crystalline meandering of “empty lobby”; there’s a canvas of images to navigate your own memories within. A well warranted excursion giving me much to think about.

Edition of 200 SOLD OUT at Doom Trip Records (maybe more will show up later? Who knows!)

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Tabs Out | Episode #175

Marsha Fisher (Gay Hippie Vampire / Activated Skeleton) drops by.

Dear Laika - Pluperfect Mind (Memorials of Distinction)
Stress Orphan - Raid (No Rent Records)
Forbes Graham - Solo Horn (Soundholes)
Caveman Coming - The Sparkle Cave (Ephem Aural)
Jackson VanHorn - A Silent Understanding (Already Dead)
Imaginary Softwoods - So Extra Bronze Lamp (Mineral Disk)
Modern Lamps - Lucid Cartography (Hooker Vision)
Longmont Potion Castle - 19 (D.U. Records)
Gay Hippie Vampire / Activated Skeleton
Avant-Bird - split w/ Avant-Bard (Gay Hippie Vampire)
2 Dads 2 Sons Emoji - Gayest (Gay Hippie Vampire)
Kaorinite - Romance Under the Moon (Gay Hippie Vampire)
Marsha Fisher - split w/ Nodolby (Activated Skeleton)

Tabs Out | Ordeal by Roses – Red Death

Ordeal by Roses – Red Death

3.1.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

A power electronics record about contagion seems fitting for these times of isolation and mental instability. Whether Red Death refers to the Edgar Allen Poe story or not (Audrey Beardsley cover art has me thinking yes), it sets the tone for the world that envelops the listener.

“Blood Was It’s Avatar, and It’s Seal” has ice cold droning synth, echoing scrap metal, and drawn out, wraithlike vocals that one might expect from a black metal album. The second track, “Grave Cerements and Corpse-Like Mask,” is 11 minutes of ear splitting high frequencies. The kind of auditory S&M treatment that pairs well with self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.  Excellent pain! Submit yourself! The brief fourth track has a melodic synth line weaving through the sheets of static and vocals.  

I would’ve enjoyed a lyric sheet with this release, but otherwise it’s a great album that I’ll come back to. There’s enough filth and structure in the textures and vocal approach to satisfy me. I’ll have to check out more from this Welsh power electronics project. Definitely my favorite release out of the recent Black Ring Rituals output.

Tabs Out | Matthew Ryals – Voltage Scores

Matthew Ryals – Voltage Scores

2.28.22 by Matty McPherson

It’s been alluded to consistently that both HQs of Tabs Out are asynchronous, lethargic monoliths. Really only the asynchronous aspect is of any inherent value or truth. May god forgive us for being akin to a message floating freely in a sealed, alcohol free Heineken bottle at the pace tapes are acknowledged. Often as a result of that though, the asynchronicity can spill over into an inkling of the lethargic quality when you see a post like this: one that confirms some soul (me, it’s me!) finally listened to a sold out tape from last year.

I’m bringing this up because it’s that month of the year where a bunch of eager beavers trade lists of around two dozen albums they’ve never heard and do 280 character reviews of each one per day. Am I suggesting this is a bad thing? Well I genuinely can’t fault people for wanting to explore music they don’t know. I suppose I feel that the potency of an exercise like this is mishandled when every list I have seen seems EXTREMELY not interested in looking through music coming out on private press tape labels. Should they be attuned to that in a time when people still cannot fathom music existing off of Spoofy? [sic: this is an intentional misspelling] Really, I suppose I’m just a little cranky by that lack of bonkers digging that has practically been a privilege for me. In all honesty, if you have the privilege to listen to a lot of music each day, as long as it’s not a chore, you should do it. Plus, you’re writing and if you do that for yourself another net gain.

As of the time I’m typing this, I’m still fresh in a late 2021 mail bag that is quickly providing a new sense of emotion and internal knowledge that I didn’t have a year back. Emotion in the sense that some shit just makes my blood boil and I have to eject;  you think I have government mandated break time for this? Internal knowledge in the sense that I have a greater sense of what I want when I’m hearing a tape and if it’s connecting. When both aspects combine, the result is likely along the lines of Matthew Ryals’ Voltage Scores.

I suppose I was craving Eurorack. Everyone on the posting website loves to contemplate, tease, quantify, qualify, etc the rack. What is it about this machine that scars all of you? Honestly, I imagine that in an alternate timeline, there’s a Spongebob episode where Squidward teaches him how to use a Eurorack instead of making a marble statue. However, if that existed then we likely wouldn’t have Ryals’ games of musical pinpoint hopscotch double jumps. Voltage Scores is full-blown cybernetic synth shocks and mirrors, unabashedly confident in the pleeping and plonking that it swaggers through. Supposedly, Ryals had been in a free jazz mindset crafting patches that were meant to be captured and improvised in real time. Voltage Scores alludes to this in the form of casually letting listeners in on what take Ryals has captured; most were within less than half a dozen times (and only Lost Connections appears to have been realized on the spot). 

Ryals’ conception of free jazz ethos on a Eurorack does not invoke sudden brass fantasies, just that sound can be as colorful and freewheeling as that era. Both sides brilliantly bounce between small splashes of downtempo clattering downtime that go toe to toe with jittery, bright dopamine-tinged synth bops.  A bonafide standout emphasizing the latter types of tracks is “anthem for socialism (take 9)”. Not only quippy in its title, Ryals’ locates a strangely airhorn-esque, puffy synthesizer that builds and builds and…eventually does become the music of its own self-sustaining utopia, even glitching out into the fray. The cohesion that both sides warrant as well deserves it’s praise, seamlessly hiding those edits where a track may have no longer been realized and keeping the energy up at all times. Tickling my need for bonkers sound and deft pop structure, Voltage Scores didn’t just emotionally grasp me where I like these things to meet. It  practically turned me into a cat with a laser pointer, which is what I suppose a viable Eurorack modus operandus could afford 🙂

C46 // Edition of 50 pro-dubbed tapes. Art & design by Gabriela Del Valle. Sold Out at Source

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Tabs Out | Patrick Shiroishi and Jeff Tobias – s/t

Patrick Shiroishi and Jeff Tobias – s/t

2.24.22 by Matty McPherson

“I always happen to be like the inaugural or almost-inaugural release on these tape labels! I don’t know how it keeps happening.” I’m paraphrasing a snippet of a conversation from last time I had a chat with Patrick. It was in regards to the fact that a LOT of tapes that feature Patrick’s dabbling in free jazz have comically low catalog numbers (seriously, do the numbers). It’s a streak that’s more funny and coincidental than anything else, yet it continues with CAT 008 on Topo Press. The latest “low catalog number Patrick Shiroishi free jazz tape” is sometimes hot and swinging, always devious, and perhaps (most importantly,) a real exploration of the duality and tenacity of the sopranino saxophone.

A dueling sopranino saxophone tape isn’t the newest idea under the sun; of course, everyone knows that it’s about WHOEVER is on the bill. And Shiroishi being joined by Jeff Tobias is naturally a bloodbath massacre for the ages. Both are officially seasoned Astral Spirits veterans as much as poly-instrumentalists and their Los Angeles recording session is a premiere time for the two to just cut down to the current state of things and start landing JABS! Hell, the Shiroishi/Tobias sopranino effort doesn’t even open with a stretch break, warmup or round 1 bell. And that’s not a bug nor a feature, just a straightforward blessing! Straight layers of saxophone into sweltering noise not far removed from a cosmic modular synth place us en media res. The first track captures a tad of Shiroishi’s intensity from Oort Smog while Tobias, too, plays on offense. It’s a massive change of pace from Tobias summer effort on AS, no longer playing catchup, but actively countering Shiroishi or actually layering with him to lay down bona fide power combos. The second track is more spread for both players, less offensive and more towards the defense with each other in a friendly sparring manner, actually letting off small doses of playful notes.

So naturally, it all comes down to round 3, but by this point, Shiroishi and Tobias aren’t out for blood. They’ve swapped recording rooms and in the smallest of spaces, they’ve gone nimble with the ambient and textured sounds they can wield on their sopraninos. Pushing for a reserved form of cooperation, it’s an abstracted account of shadowboxing if you will. Quixotic quips of vapors foreground the piece while the occasional, melodic gaggle finds its way to the surface. It doesn’t dance but for a mere few bars and yet the patience is measured, blipping and chipping as the two improvisers find a shared communique to relay. 

If you’ve continued to be in search of a more varied and loose “this is what we’re feeling RIGHT NOW” tape of two A-level saxophonists, yeah this’ll tickle your fancy. Just don’t expect any winner to be crowned out of this dueling feature–twas was never the point! Although rumor has it “the pair intend to record a follow-up sometime in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two…”

Edition of 50 available at the Topo Press Webstore Page; Streaming on Bandcamp

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