Tabs Out | New Batch – Unifactor

New Batch – Unifactor
9.19.17 by Ryan Masteller


What is it about Cleveland that brings out the weirdest in people? The Mistake on the Lake is home to a variety of micro-micro subscenes and disparate artists, a northeastern link in an Upper Midwestern chain of fertile ground for the cultivation of the most out-there musical experimentation. Something’s gotten into the citizens there. Is it the toxic lakewater, remnant of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, seeping into the populace’s water supply? Is it the proximity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all the madness and garmonbozia that entails? Is it the fact that Chief Wazoo still exists? (And the less we talk about Browns, the better.) Whatever it is, Unifactor Tapes has tapped the city’s psychic disturbances and pumps the harsh vibes through sonic channels, the infrastructure feeding Cleveland in its entirety with a paranormal and paranoid pink sludge not unlike the river of ectoplasm in Ghostbusters 2 running underneath New York. That’s not to say the vibes are all bad or anything – it’s just that SOMETHING’S gotta be responsible for the out-there-ness of it all.



What better way to emphasize the Cleveland-ness of Unifactor with a release by a Baltimorean? I kid, but hey, Max Eilbacher’s already ruined my narrative thread, and I’m only one tape in here. Still, his appearance here is pretty welcome – he rocks the bass geetar and other electronic devices in the “avant-garde rock band” Horse Lords, and if you’re not spinning “Interventions” on regular intervals, you’re not doing it right. He brings that horsey mentality to his solo work, avant-garde-ing his way here through Toshi Ichiyanagi’s “Music for Piano #7,” and boy, is this setup a doozy. Eilbacher basically programmed a computer to play the score, however it wanted to, and in what order. Samples careen against one another, and the result is simply astonishing, unearthly, inhuman. The electronic components of side A are replaced with field recordings on the B-side, and passages are introduced here and there by a female voice: the announcement “Modular synthesis processed by a computer” begins the tape. Perhaps the most interesting passage is on side B where crowd noise (think restaurant crowd, not stadium crowd) is glitched to unrecognizability. Nice trick there, Max – or should I say Max’s computer?



Wyatt Howland’s been around. This guy – I mean, he’s as Cleveland as it gets, the scummy industrial shred emanating from whatever malfunctioning PA he happens to be using at any one of a hundred thousand dank basement noise shows perfectly captures the underground vibe. There’s power, there’s violence in his Skin Graft releases, which is totally not unusual in that he cut his teeth in the powerviolence scene. PERIPHERAL is a back-to-basics tutorial seemingly culled from sacred scrolls archived at Hanson Records’s HQ, and the fact that he’s got a release or two on Hanson is certainly not a surprise. This hateful tome imagines the worst of people, a Cleveland that has fully succumbed to the ungodly ooze. Recordings of scraping metal processed to oblivion at physically painful frequencies never sounded so visceral, or so vital.



Luminous “Diamond Ben” Kudler hovers over his modular synthesizer rig like each new moment will contain myriad fantastic sonic discoveries. How else do you explain THYMME JONES, thirty minutes of experimentation where each tone, each noise takes on an almost archaeological function? It’s like Kudler’s mining the instrument, plumbing the depths of its circuits to find the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant or the Sankara Stone or the Crystal Skull of sound. Side A flits from patch to patch with the same excitement and glee one gets when sliding the Staff of Ra into the correct hole at the right time of day. Side B pulls back on kookiness, allowing the space around the notes to hover like the Breath of God, past which only the penitent man will safely continue, the textures soft and contemplative like the breeze of a spinning blade through cobwebs. Obviously I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about – I’m pretty sure I have to dust off my Indiana Jones DVDs though. Oh, THYMME JONES – that’s why my mind went there. The Jones connection. And really, THYMME JONES is great fun to listen to, you’ll understand as soon as you hit play. (Oh, and Kudler’s also from Baltimore. What the heck, Cleveland?)


Each tape comes in an edition of 100, and I guarantee you’ll drop coin on these puppies for the artwork alone. Talk about judging a tape by its cover! It’s OK to judge these, you’ll be fine. GO!

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