Top 200 Tapes Of 2016
12.12.16 by Tabs Out Crew


Let’s not kid ourselves – 2016 was a fucking disaster. The entire year was like a waiter clearing a table, stacking up far too many plates and glasses in a Jenga-like tower, and the second they step away from the table the restaurant explodes. But tapes? Tapes did just fine in 2016. Actually, I take that back. Tapes had a blast in 2016, with familiar and fresh names both permeating profound vibes on the fringes of weirdo tape culture. Over the last twelve months around 1,000 little spooled suckers made their way over to Tabs Out headquarters, and we listened to every one of them. Some not all the way through of course . Let’s be real, A LOT of them were garbage, but most were fantastic and provided a glimmer of hope during this jerk of a year.

So here they are: Our 200 favorite tapes from the year – IN PERFECT ORDER!!! Please do not tell us what you think should or shouldn’t be on the list. We are literally the smartest people we know and got this very VERY right. Just like previous years [‘13, ‘14, ‘15] we only included tapes that we had a physical copy of.



#1: Jake Tobin “Sorta Upset!” (Haord)
It’s rare but incredibly exhilarating to hear an album that sounds kind of like the weirdness perpetually bouncing around in my own head, and Jake Tobin’s latest opus, “Sorta Upset!,” stokes every synapse in my skull and fires up a few more. While this tape barely clears 15 minutes of running time, it’s a concentrated quarter-hour with a career’s worth of phenomenal ideas. And for as complex and layered as it can get, it’s somehow catchy as hell, too. You will totally find yourself humming along with this music, and humming more acrobatically than ever before. [read more]
#2: Belarisk “Greys, Escaped” (Moss Archive)
Only seconds into “Greys, Escaped” I had a very vivid image in my head. As the tape went on that image naturally expanded into a scenario which was reinforced with each blop, zap, surge, scratch, whist, and tickle Belarisk dispatched. Aspects of the artwork gave credence to this micro story my brain had fashioned. Everything was lining up. My imagination was being a good little boy and deserved a treat in the form of repeat listens. Those repeat listens put even more fat on on the bone of my now rather formulated story. It got deep. Deep to the point of being embarrassing, quite frankly. [read more]
#3: TALsounds “Lifter + Lighter” (Hausu Mountain)
#4: Khaki Blazer “Gelatinous Ground” (Unifactor)
“Gelatinous Ground” raids the sugar packet and unlabeled medication caches, nervously blending cocktails and idiosyncrasies. Velvety vocal manipulations mush into eccentric weirdouts. Bubbles pop and thick gels spill. When rapid haphazardness isn’t tugging at your amygdala, Pat cleaves hip hop chunks and kneads em like he’s trying to activate their gluten. At times you almost feel concerned. Is he okay? Why is he doing that with his mouth? Then synthesizer magic swoops in with grace and charm, and you feel even more concerned. Extremely crisp, collected, fist clenching coldness stretches from seconds to minutes. [read more]
#5: Charles Barabé “Les Dernières Confessions” (Orange Milk)
#6: Ben Bennett “Trap”(Astral Spirits)
#7: 75 Dollar Bill “Wood/Metal/Plastic Pattern/Rhythm/Rock” (Thin Wrist)
#8: Hippies Wearing Muzzles “Animist Pools” (Human Pitch)
#9: Brett Naucke “Executable Dreamtime” (Umor Rex)
#10: Sam Goldberg “Kiss Me While I Excuse The Sky”(Unifactor)
#11: The Spiritual Switchboard “Post-Age Variations” (Baked)
#12: Fletcher Pratt “Dub Sessions Vol.3” (Crash Symbols)
Pratt, a Canadian we allow to live within our borders until Trump kicks him out, started his sweltering dub journey in 2011 on Dub Ditch Picnic. Five years later the third chapter of his “Dub Sessions”, released by Crash Symbols in an edition of 100 copies, continues the heat and humidity of it all. The music has a spooky mechanical nature, but is still sweltering. Sizzling. Sultry. One wonders if Fletcher Pratt relaxed pool side while Dubbot-5Px maintained the phantom flow of swank and style. “Dub Sessions Vol. 3″ being flush, teeth to toes, with such. [read more]
#13: Joseph Bastardo “deCordova” (Phinery)
#14: P.H.O.R.K. “Time Is The Instrument” (Pastel Voids)
#15: German Army “Yanomami” (Sacred Phrases)
#16: Maharadja Sweets “The Caprice Of Young Gods” (Oxtail)
#17: Various Artists “Compilation Two” (Noumenal Loom)
#18: 21st Century Wolf “Ideographic Space” (Sacred Phrases)
#19: M. Geddes Gengras “Two Variations” (Umor Rex)
#20: Max Eilbacher, Alex Moskos, Duncan Moore “SEF III” (Ehse)
The structural layering is so DEEP across the whole release, like one of those yummy 7 Layer Dips that they just bring out in the casserole dish it was made in cause there’s no possible way to transfer it without it falling apart. And you can make out the top couple layers for sure, maybe even a middle layer or two, but you’re gonna want to reach that WHOLE chip in there and scoop up every little piece. Soliloquies on spontaneous clown generation, slowly transitioning into a mechanic relay stream of consciousness. Peppered blasts of frequency modulated nodes. Slippery lilts trigger the resonator squelch. Claustrophobic foot step rhythms. Real tasty stuff. [read more]
#21: Mukqs / DJWWWW split (Phinery)
#22: Energy Star s/t (Perfect Wave)
#23: Bastian Void “Nippon” (Moss Archive)
#24: Doberman “Alley Walkers” (Castle Bravo)
#25: Emerging Industries of Wuppertal “Transformation Cues” (Strategic Tape Reserve)
#26: Shingles “Untitled Jazz Tape” (self released)
#27: Jake Tobin “Accidently On Purpose” (OSR)
#28: M.Sage “Rife W/ Typo” (Orange Milk)
#29: MrDougDoug “SOS Forks AI REM” (Hausu Mountain)
#30: IMF “Harlem Electronics” (Pilgrim Talk)
IMF is all about discombobulated shots of relentless noise. Noise created by, or not created by, Ian M Fraser. I say not created by because the liner notes state that “this program performs with no human interaction whatsoever”, IMF opting for algorithmic, computer rendered compositions. Human interaction or not, this tape gashes into existence with unsettling, wavy coarseness and grating randomization. [read more]
#31: Yves Malone “Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life” (Field Hymns)
#32: TALsounds “Natal Host” (Twin Spring)
#33: Tether “Mirror Finish” (Refulgent Sepulcher)
#34: Trogpite “Wife And Kid” (No Rent)
#35: Bary Center “No Stars” (MJMJ)
#36: LRN GRN “Easy Spirits/Grape Perfume” (Keeled Scales)
#37: Sparkling Wide Pressure “Answerer” (Patient Sounds)
“Answerer” conjures up a sonic realm inhabited by acoustic and electric stringed instruments, synthesizers, organs, and looped up, talking background vocals. The A side, with its shorter, lighter tracks acts as the entrance way into this world Sparkling Wide Pressure have created for us. The opener “Deb’s Song,” with its loose, acoustic picking and muted electronics slowly guiding you in. [read more]
#38: Kyle Landstra/Ross Fish split (Oxtail)
#39: AAA “Fruit” (Elestial Sound)
#40: Network Glass “100 Busy” (No Rent)
#41: Euglossine “Canopy Stories” (Orange Milk)
#42: Charles Barabé “Cicatrices” (Never Anything)
#43: Alexandra Atnif “Fatt Grabbers: 015” (Fatt Grabbers)
#44: Sea Of Dogs “Through The Fog And The Driftwood” (Bedlam)
#45: Mukqs “Walkthrough” (Hausu Mountain)
#46: Semănat “Duobė” (III Arms)At just under eight minutes, Duobė I coats the A side like a lacquer. Bleached-white guitar riffs exist in a panic-free void, uncoiling in an immutable, reliable attack. Hovering in arms reach above a fog of drones, thumps, and injured vocals. It’s with absolute reverence to grey scale scenery and poorly manicure historical battle sites that Semănat pours this poison.
#47: Peter Kris “Labrador” (Never Anything)
#48: Final Machine “Lohaden” (Entertainment Systems)
#49: Hatchers “The Riverside Suite” (Heat Retention)
#50: Plains Druid / Lost Trail / Leaaves / Linden Pomeroy “Outdoor Games” (Third Kind)
#51: William Cody Watson “Patriot” (Lime Lodge)
“Patriot” is like a fairy tale. One of the classic cuts. The dark as fuck German shit where parents are constantly dying. Nothing sugar coated or CGI’d. “Patriot” is actually worse than the Brothers Grimms’ yarns, because “Patriot” starts off with everyone dead. Well, not EVERYONE. The listener is functioning. And maybe a few talking snakes and grey scale mushrooms. Other than that, no life [read more]
#52: Various Artists “Half A Decade Of Chrome” (Field Hymns)
#53: Max Eisenberg / Max Eilbacher split (Ultraviolet Light)
#54: Stellfox / Low Flung split (Tandem)
#55: Various Artists “Stray Dog Volume 2” (Oxen)
#56: Andy Ortmann “Buchla On Tape” (Nihilist)
#57: Howard Stelzer “Normal Bias” (Ballast)
#58: Sodalite “Liquid Earth” (Illuminated Paths)
#59: Yves Malone “Death House 4” (Field Hymns)
#60: Panos Alexiadis “Promnesia” (Thalamos)
#61: Ink Jet “Cold Shoulder” (Gohan)Forget everything you know about hanging in fancy hotel lobbies, watching montages of very specific teams preparing for a heist, and Blaxploitation fonts. Wait, that’s not right. Remember those things. Remember all of those things at once. Force them into your thoughts until they crash together like matter and antimatter and create pure energy in your skull. Dapper energy with an unhesitating swagger. [read more]
#62: M.Sage “Needleworks” (Patient Sounds)
#63: Tralphaz “Vortex” (Ratskin)
#64: German Army “General Survey On Growing Concerns” (Metaphysical Circuits)
#65: Rene Kia / Synaplop split (Lal Lal Lal)
#66: Body Morph “Keep Still And Be Devoured” (Soundholes)
#67: Nigro / Glass Frog split (Crescent)
#68: Talibam! And Alan Wilkinson “It Is Dangerous To Lean Out” (Astral Spirits)
#69: MrDougDoug “These Magical Numbers”  (self released)
MrDougDoug continues his trek into absurd zones. On “These Magical Numbers”, Doug Kaplan crams a stupid amount of sound into a tiny space. The earlier mention of 69 National Anthem renditions was not a joke. On the track “69 Starspangled 420″ there is literally audio from 69 different videos of the The Star-Spangled Banner ground into a fine paste over the course of a half hour. A thick mush of nationalism and anxiety that feels like walking on a soaking wet red, white, and blue shag carpet. You don’t have to be strapped to a chair with the pause button just out of reach to give this a proper listen, but you fucking should be. And it gets darker. MUCH darker. [read more]
#70: Andreas Brandal “Flames and Ether” (Oxtail)
#71: Curved Light “Prismatic / Loomstate” (Gentle Reminder)
#72: Howard Stelzer “Dawn Songs” (No Rent)
#73: Endurance “City Of Signals” (Illuminated Paths)
#74: Kösmonaut “Master Generator” (A Giant Fern)
#75: Mukqs / Constellation Botsu split (Suite 309)
#76: Photography “Letter Phone” (Playing Records)
#77: R. Stevie Moore “Nobody Pays Me Much Mind Until I’m Gone” (Doom Trip)
#78: Black Sand Desert & Unsustainable Social Condition (Oxen)
#79: Gelba / My Cat Is An Alien split (Old Bicycle)
#80: Bang! Bros “Food For Thoth” (Hausu Mountain)
#81: Mot “Rebecca’s Spit” (self released)
This tape has the personality of a clogged sink, but isn’t exactly trying to be the most popular kid at the party anyways. It’s not even sure why it’s at the party. With the agenda to drink cough syrup, explore the basement, and burn family photos, it should have just stayed home. [read more]
#82: rawmean / S/H/A/R/R/P/S & Ragged Lines split (Metaphysical Circuits)
#83: MUFF “Gunk” (FTAM)
#84: Gloga “Material Hangover” (Plush Oragnics)
#85: Rode Grey “Fiasco” (Nostorca)
#86: Christina Schneider “Violence Etcetera” (OSR)
The sound and method might be pure C86, but the complex, unblinking lyrics, full of visceral imagery, feel very timely. Another piece of evidence that OSR has an ear for sounds which might be able to transcend the moment of their creation. [read more]
#87: Nickolas Mohanna “Mantis” (Preservation)
#88: Mike Nigro “Vertical Music” (Oxtail)
#89: Shingles “Guantanamo Patchbay Vol. 4: Drift Studies “ (self released)
#90: Bitchin Bajas & Bonnie Prince Billy “Live – Cafe Oto Residency” (self released)
#91: German Army “Diego Garcia” (Wounded Knife)
#92: Synthetic Juice s/t (self released)
#93: Mudd Corp “Loserlord” (Third Kind)
#94: Gerritt Wittmer “Unknowns” (No Rent)
Near nothingness. A stretch of vacancy occurs. Then, in a Kramer-like jolt, the machines start up. Functioning correctly or not, gears chug along. Stray bolts drops to the floor and roll underneath the onerous mountains of metal and belts and wire. Maybe the machines grind up bones for old, rich people snort and look younger? Maybe they manufacture those tiny plastic taco and sushi toys for kids? It starts up. [read more]
#95: Chefkirk / S27E152 split (Bicephalic)
#96: Ama Divers “An Echo In The Sound” (No Rent)
#97: -otron “Doze On” (self released)
#98: Glass Frog “Hakuna Montuno” (Oxtail)
#99: Max Eilbacher “Schizophrenia As Architecture” (NNA)
#100: UFO Över Lappland s/t (Fluere)
#101: Marshall Art “Gallery” (self released)
#102: Constrain “The Boundary” (Oxen)
#103: Giulio Aldinucci / Moon Ra split (No Problema)
#104: R Magellin “Sleepy TV” (OJC)
#105: Yorishiro “I” (Constellation Tatsu)
#106: ROM “Possible Mountain” (Hausu Mountain)
#107: Die Reihe “Housed” (NNA)
#108: Obligate Surrogate s/t (The Order Of The End Result)
#109: Glou Glou “Fey Flight Founders” (Full Spectrum)Gretchen Jude and Arjun Mendiratta. Those are the humans behind this magnetizing Bay Area two-piece. An open air recording gives their already temperate sounds an even deeper organic glaze on this hour long, single session cassette. Lustering violin and vocal drones shiver, balloon out, and maneuver through wayward zones of knob swiveling. Brief patterns emerge, but the Glou Glou modus operandi is a random and chill one. [read more]
#110: Knives of Spain “Telluric” (Hairy Spider Legs)
#111: Kiran Arora “The Good Times Are Over For Good” (Oxen)
#112: Fenkoff “Slweep Diwrms” (Tingo Tongo)
#113: Ottaven “Sequenze Per Raffigurazioni Mentali #1” (Sincope)
#114: Softest “Six Wishes” (Inner Islands)A kinder gentler iteration of Braeyden Jae, softest gives us six “wishes” over two sides. That’s twice as many wishes as the average genie, folks. And what gorgeous wishes they are—where Channelers often feels oceanic, softest evokes those ozone-heavy moments right after a good spring downpour. These pieces progress carefully, initially feeling a little static but gently evolving as they dry off in the sun. [read more]
#115: Rambutan “Universal Impulses” (These Are Not Records)
#116: Ethereal And The Queer Show “Fairy Super Crystal Blue” (Noumenal Loom)
#117: Dang Olsten Dream Tape “Zonk” (Constellation Tatsu)
#118: Jimmie Packard “Singing Your Requests” (OSR)
#119: Spliff Jacksun “Memory Display” (Haju)
#120: Tata Duende s/t (self released)
#121: Jeweled Snakes “Flesh Lab” (Midori)
#122: Lunaria “All Is Dream” (Sounds Of The Dawn)
#123: Ovis Aurum “Nocturnal Pools” (Fort Evil Fruit)
#124: C. Reider “Sophist I & II” (self released)His tinkering with sound can be magnetic and calming, but risk is right behind the curtain. In the most casual ways, C. Reider knots sequences of inescapable coils. He creates filmy, and sometimes almost muted atmospheres, then proceeds to nudge them into shared spaces with corrupted noise to the point of vertigo. 9-volt beats, voices rising through distortion, asterisks of glimmering hope all helix into web-like patterns. [read more]
#125: Astrokade “Memoryfoam” (Kitchen Dweller)
#126: Ela Orleans “Circles of Upper Hell” (Oma333)
#127: Avery Gabbiano “Oracles & Chambers” (Spring Break)
#128: ARU Meets Black Saturn “Saturated” (Personal Archives)
#129: Giovanni Lami “Opale” (Dinzu Artefacts)
#130: Hillboggle “Up The Country With Hillboggle” (Crash Symbols)
#131: Seabuckthorn “I Could See the Smoke” (Lost Tribe Sound)
#132: Various Artists “Eclectic Sessions Volume 2” (Ramp Local)
#133: Fame Circle “Fail Circle” (Social Harmony)
#134: Bridges of Konigsberg “The Lawrence Tapes” (Phage)
#135: Cob Raw s/t (Gleauxing)
#136: Jay Glass Dubs “New Teeth For An Old Country” (Bokeh Versions)
#137: Various Artists “Death On The Hour” (Geographic North)“Death On The Hour: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North” is fueled by spectral atmospheres. Focus is averted from the trick-or-treat and pumpkin carving conditions of the holiday and fixated more on the idea of spending the night in the vacant house that Old Man Wallmaker hung himself in on Halloween night 6 years ago. I’m talking classic horror movie patterns, reconstructed as an experimental cassette comp. [read more]
#138: Stress Orphan “Cadaver Politik” (Denver State)
#139: Shapes / Melfi split (Umor Rex)
#140: Max Kuiper & Thorsten Soltau “Animi Sub Volpe Latentes” (Chondritic Sound)
#141: Kösmonaut “Songs For Healing” (These Are Not Records)
#142: Wild Anima “Blue Twenty-Two” (Blue Tapes)Featuring an eclectic group of instruments including violins, Korean flutes, and more, Wild Anima’s Blue Twenty-Two tape is an atmospheric and at times, supernatural, experience. Alex Alexopoulos is at the helm of Wild Anima, with help from friends. [read more]
#143: Miguel A. García / August Traeger split (Bicephalic)
#144: $3.33 “Just A Dip, No Why” (Dzang)
#145: Data Rainbow “Rave Death” (Crippled Sounds)
#146: Maar “Absolute Delay” (Umor Rex)
#147: DJWWWW “Arigato” (Orange Milk)
#148: Sister / Body “Spells” (Baba Vanga)The Prague duo’s ruby red tape features beautiful and mysterious artwork, like a hand holding a fuzzed out crystal ball, with a person’s hand holding what appears to be lotion on the inside, adding to the mystical, about-to-cast-a-spell feel. They open the tape with “Black Jacket Angel,” a fascinating track clocking in at more than seven minutes that puts equal importance on the sound in the song as the silence. [read more]
#149: Rat Killer “Odor Orienting” (Crash Symbols)
#150: A Bleaker Teen Lip “Downgraded Saved Arrow” (FTAM)
#151: V N C F “P L E A S U R E D I S T R I C T” (Bonding)
#152: Christian Mirande “Foxbat” (No Rent)
#153: qualchan. “Smoke Break” (Magical Garage Taste)
#154: Comfort Food “Waffle Frolic” (Already Dead)Chicago’s Comfort Food has been laying down their heavy jazz/rock/tribal/math jams for a few years now, but their latest tape for Already Dead, “Waffle Frolic,” is a whole new party power-up for your ears. Their previous tape, “Dr. Faizan’s Feel-Good Brain Pills,” displayed an admirable kind of gutbucket rock/jazz blend with some serious swagger in tunes like “Dem Grapes,” but look: ain’t no Frolic like a Waffle Frolic, ‘cause a Waffle Frolic don’t stop. [read more]
#155: Reef Frequent “Emperor” (Bedlam)
#156: Tim Gray “Sandstone” (Ethernet)
#157: East Of The Valley Blue s/t (self released)
#158: Kane Pour “Vision Crayon” (Field Hymns)
#159: Map Collection s/t (Midori)
#160: Apple ][プラス ‎”Applesoft” (Poor Little Music)
#161: Sun Hammer “Mahamudra” (Full Spectrum)
#162: Braeyden Jae / Amulets split (Horror Fiction)
#163: Pay The Rent “Soft On Glass” (White Reeves Productions)Pay The Rent’s “Soft On Glass” is a liquefied bliss. A candied concoction of striking synths, lush as h*ck guitar, and drones. Drones that cascade down the pews of a very large, showy church. They move reservedly, like fog. Guitars bellow from the ornate rafters in outstretched waves, their origins cloaked. The stone queue of creepy, blood stained statues that line the walls sorta sway and throb along with the crystal clear keys. [read more]
#164: Bean Snack “Crispy Duct” (Personal Archives)
#165: Flux Bikes / Sueñolas split (Lake Paradise)
#166: The Kendal Mintcake “All​-​Star Erotic Hypnosis” (Big Sleep)
#167: Beast Nest “Taste Of India” (Ratskin)
#168: Tape000 “Dream” (OTA)
#169: Bilhazia / Soy Fan Del Dark split (CountryM)
#170: Anime Love Hotel “Mami” (Oxen)
#171: Ozark “Boombox” (Haju)
#172: Poop Dood / Igor Amokian split (Tingo Tongo)
#173: Hard Bodies s/t (III Arms)
#174: Moon Lagoon “How Do I Get Out Of Here” (5nakefork)The enticement game begins right out of the gate with Moon Lagoon throwing charms into your eyes via a handsomely designed silk screened Jcard, textured stickers on the shell, and the shell itself glitterfied in a way once reserved for homophobic presidential candidates. Thankfully, the audio end of “How Do I Get Out Of Here”, A C50 released on the in-n-out of hibernation imprint 5nakefork, hovers in an equally majestic zone. [read more]
#175: Dino Felipe “PRŌJEKT​!​” (Other Electricities)
#176: Pal+ “Pictorial” (OTA)
#177: Cop Funeral “2Stressed 2B Blessed” (Already Dead)
#178: Myttys “Sloggilukio” (Oma333)
#179: Sir Baar “Never Woke Up” (self released)
#180: SCY1E “Canard” (Speaker Footage)
#181: Used Condo “American Birthstone” (Suite 309)I popped “American Birthstone” by Used Condo, a Larry Wish joint, into the trusty deck knowing nothing about it. Not knowing whether Used Condo was short for used condominium or slang for used condom, I wasn’t even totally sure on the name. Still not I suppose. It was, however, clear by three or four minutes in that this was going to be a frustrating listen. [read more]
#182: Jake Meginsky “Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes” (NNA)
#183: Lady Shame s/t (Hairy Spider Legs)
#184: Dwayne Rifle s/t (White Reeves Productions)
#185: Church Shuttle “Zone6 Chiller” (Irrational Tentent)
#186: Endless Chasm “Harm Health” (Lurker Bias)
#187: Bastard Noise “Dedicated To Koji Tano” (Kitty Play)
#188: Noel Meek “The Lothian Tapes”(Bunkland)
#189: Future Ape Tapes “1093” (Fall Break)This collection of mostly instrumental, heavily improvised compositions flows together as an organic, psychedelic whole, with occasional, abstract vocals lending to the atmosphere. much of the music is built from drum loops, synth drones and shimmering, echoing guitars, that when combined sound like dub music for a new age LSD spa. [read more]
#190: Jeffry Astin + J.P. Wright “Fragrant Bush” (Housecraft)
#191: Sapphogeist s/t (No Rent)
#192: Shalt “Acheron” (Astral Plane)
#193: Chimess “Growth” (Cave)Listening to “Growth” by Chimess reminds me of sitting on bleachers watching eight, slow roasting innings, unshaded by the heavy embrace of a midsummer’s day heat. Gossamer tones lay a harmonious foundation for low rumblings, faint clicking, analog popping, bubbling, and other echoing, ethereal garnishes. “Growth” is bathed in a series of momentary contemplations, not unlike the somewhat paralyzed feeling of languidly drowning in a fire. [read more]
#194: Chemiefaserwerk “Trajet” (Blue Tapes)
#195: Kate Carr “It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors” (The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
#196: BBJR “Pareidolia” (Already Dead)
#197: William Ryan Fritch “Ill Tides” (Lost Tribe Sound)
#198: Inner Travels “Clear Seeing” (Inner Islands)
#199: Chik White “Malform” (self released)
#200: Critterbone s/t (self released)