Tab Out | New Batch – f:rmat

New Batch – f:rmat
8.1.17 by Ryan Masteller

f_rmat batch

As the Big Bang initiated the capital-U Universe as we know it (followed by SIX LITERAL DAYS of intelligent design, or so I’m told), so too do hundreds of tinier, less violent Big Bangs beget cassette tape labels. It seems like every week an apple-cheeked upstart with home-dubbing tech (or pockets full of doubloons to pay for pro duplication) emerges from the woodwork or between the cracks in the masonry, or simply converges from the leftover starstuff that happens to coalesce at a singular point. This time we get one from Glasgow, that mysterious city in Scotland, where your cheeks really get apple-y in the winter time, especially when the wind blows. (I should know, I’ve experienced the frigid January gales in that wonderful country.) This new label, the niftily spelled f:rmat, has brought into being, virtually out of nothing, two excellent tapes, both of which should be listened to with ears wide open to the possibilities of mythological truths. Or, on the other hand, you can just listen to them and get on with your life – either way.

Gäel Segalen’s MEMOIR OF MY MANOR is an improvised juggernaut of sound, recorded in Paris, manipulated and mixed over a period of two years and unleashed in my earholes this morning. Thus, a prophecy, somewhere, is fulfilled. Throughout its seven distinct and fully individualized tracks you’ll perceive secrets revealed through circuits – bent and twisted and skewered and vaporized electronics speak their tongues in full and glorious display while seemingly conjured spontaneously. Is Gäel Segalen some sort of mage, some sort of mystic to channel such heartstopping moments at random? The bubbles, the blasts, the arpeggios, the melodies, all of these seem to know just a little bit more than we know, and the codes to their deciphering are just out of our reach. But as Gäel walks the titular manor in her mind, she grounds the cosmic and combines it with the terrestrial, resulting in a thrill ride through halls packed with memories and the ghostly spirits that tend them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, where ritual movement and stillness take the place of psychic connection, Hammer of Hathor, the duo from Olympia, Washington, tackle as a concept “butoh,” a form of dance originating in post–World War II Japan that, if I’m reading my Wikipedia entry correctly, [adjusts glasses] “is known to resist fixity” and is “difficult to define.” It is performed in slow, deliberate movements and is meant often as an approximation of the absurd, tackling “taboo topics” and featuring “grotesque imagery” and “extreme or absurd environments.” But before I go any further and anger any good editor who realizes that Wikipedia is a terrible primary source, I have to remind you that all this is to simply whet your whistle for what our Hammerin’ musician pals have to offer. Whacking at various instruments, including detuned pianos and guitars, saxophones, and percussive instruments, HOH does their best to represent in sound a visualization of butoh in all of its mad glory, manipulating their odd array of sounds in fidgety slow-mo in a sort of (but intentional) call-and-response technique. The endgame? Madness. Or the beauty in decomposition as exemplified by low fidelity. Or, um, whatever it is that you’re about to say right now.

Both records have been released in an edition of 30 and come on black Chrome Type II cassettes. Grab one of each before they make like galaxies and expand beyond perception. Or do it quicker than that – I guess I just insinuated they’d be around for a few billion more years, and that ain’t true at all…

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