Tabs Out | New Batch – \\NULL|ZØNE//

New Batch – \\NULL|ZØNE//
10.11.17 by Ryan Masteller


Athens, Georgia, is still trying to shake the stink of R.E.M. and Elephant 6, and it’s not doing a very good job of it, because we’re how many years past a breakup of the former and a dissolution of the latter? Nobody should care anymore, but here I am, still talking about it. If somebody, maybe a psychiatrist, were to subject me to a word-association test, maybe in a psychiatrist’s office, and they led with “Athens,” I’d break into an immediate sweat and blurt, “R.E.M.! No, no Elephant 6! Why did you say ‘Athens’?!?” Then they’d stamp “Certified” on my case file like I was in a cartoon or something. \\NULL|ZØNE//, god bless ’em, is out to make sure I get a clean bill of mental health and never have to blurt “R.E.M.” again. The experimental label, run by the ineffable Michael Potter, is putting a different kind of Athens on the map, one that’s weird and eclectic and doesn’t sit still for anything. Probably smack in the middle of the U of GA campus (FUCK YOU BULLDOGS), \\NULL|ZØNE// exists to jam a musical middle finger right in the face every single jock-ass undergrad that strolls past Potter and his seething anger. Well, part of that’s true anyway – I’m doing a bit of projecting, you know, with my hatred of Georgia, and the University of Georgia, and the South, and everybody in the South…

Where’d I go there?

(Full disclosure: some Southerners are OK – I live in the South after all. I like R.E.M., too, and Olivia Tremor Control.)



I’m doing this one first because I’m cheating. It’s not really part of the batch that came out September 8, having preceded the other two tapes covered here by two weeks. But I live in a world where all three of these tapes arrived in my mailbox at the same time, and by golly they belong together! Verge Bliss (is that any real-er of a name than Dendera Bloodbath???) has crafted this really unusual noise tape where harsh blasts of distortion rub elbows with field recordings of gospel choirs and … well, that’s about it, actually. “Up Above My Head” is the track I’m talking about, the third one, and the recording melds with the power electronics and becomes the exact kind of incantation that will bring unholy ruin to Athens. I kid! Sort of. Bliss normally plays an autoharp, but “Hungry Ghosts” is a head trip of a different sort, lasering all sorts of frequencies through the headphones before coming out the other side a transformed heap of human life. See, HUNGRY GHOSTS is all about the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and somehow Bliss’s mediations on afterlife guidance are pretty helpful on the living side of existence. Not standoffish in the slightest, these sonics grab you and hug you … weirdly … yeah, weirdly, but still, it feels good to not be alone in death. Am I reading into that right? (Edition of 50.)



Proving that wonderful things truly are coming out of places I hate, Carey is Dan Carey Bailey, a composer and musician from Atlanta who… yuck, Atlanta. Sorry. You’ll be happy to note, then, that “Other People” is a forward-thinking folk/jazz masterpiece that could care the fuck less about Williams Street and that guy who does the Adult Swim music. Carey plays all the instruments on “Other People,” save for some cello (which is a nice addition, I must say), and in the process hits a one-man fusion sweet spot that probably should not exist outside of the confines of improvisation. The folk really shines through on “The Beauty in Failure,” a track the Books totally they wish they could get their mitts on to add samples to, while “On Being” is the solo piano joint that belongs on television and film soundtracks – not one soundtrack, but all of them. The rest plays as a musical approximation of famous film scenes, theatrical in its execution but insular and intimate nonetheless. Bailey’s work probably should be seen to be believed, meaning somebody’s gotta put some visuals to these tracks. Who’s on it? (Edition of 50.)



And then of course there’s this one. Philipp Bückle’s sidelong meditation “The Never Got The Message” is yet another stab at cinematic ambient that manages to sink itself deep into the subconscious, burrow under the skin and overwhelm with its restraint. Tones and chords trace unexpected emotional pathways and manage to assert themselves long after they’ve completed, haunting the listener (little old me) from whatever plane of existence they’re really piping in from. Philipp – I’ve got the message. Then there’s Mr. Potter, whose “Garden Portal Almanac” I just totally freaked out over. “End Of Summer Music” is a good place to start as any, don’t you think? Potter hews totally to the ambient shoegaze spectrum, something that’s a nice Kranky counterpoint to “Garden Portal Almanac” and it’s ecstatic prog. Lonesome guitar never sounded so inviting, no matter how distant or alone it wants to be. Summer’s gone, gang, and Potter’s documenting it for us, plaintively, purposefully, running melancholy scales against the backdrop of chilling temperatures and pumpkining beverages. Am I a terrible person for not thinking that’s a bad thing? (The pumpkining – everybody should be OK with the guitar and the temps.) Get your hands on this one especially – the Jcard art is fabulous. (Edition of 75.)

The \\NULL|ZØNE// Bandcamp is where you wanna be to grab these, which is (thankfully) on the internet and not in… Athens.

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