Tabs Out | New Batch – Unifactor

New Batch – Unifactor
7.30.18 by Ryan Masteller

No one’s really sure what to expect from experimental tape label Unifactor anymore, or where their base of operations is [ED: It’s Cleveland], or even who runs the label [ED: It’s a guy named Jayson – gosh, Ryan, what’s wrong with you?]. With all this mystery surrounding Unifactor [ED: There’s no mystery], I wouldn’t blame you at all if you greeted each new batch drop as if it were a cryptic box with a huge cutout question mark affixed to it. I mean, this is a label that once released a double cassette of the sounds of a car being destroyed. Why would you do that? [ED: This one’s true.]

So in the spirit of chaos and unpredictability, here are three tapes that are just … inexplicable. That’s a compliment. By “inexplicable,” I mean that they’re so all over the place, so unique in their individual construction that they defy easy explanation. True, you kind of have an idea of what you’re going to get (like, duh, Mukqs has a tape), but honestly, most of what you’re slapping down your hard-earned Bitcoin for is the potential to be surprised, freaked out, jarred into action – maybe even a little comforted? – as you explore these three tapes. And while there’s mad diversity all up in these cassettes, the level of unrelatedness one to another binds them in batch eternity. They’re buddies forever.

Maybe you WILL be surprised by what Mukqs is slinging this time, as he grinds tracks together through his loop station and churns out a slurry of manic sound sausage, all improv’d as usual, all the time. Gross as that sounds, his “Slug Net” is a mental electronic exercise of shifting foundations, constantly vibrating from hazy techno dreamworlds to noisy rampages. His use of rock and metal samples, particularly on “Ramel Cycle” and “An Rockbound Older Silo,” is as exciting and surprising as you’d imagine, and at Mukqs’s command they lose all sense of their source, erupting with frenzied glee at their master’s touch. Mukqs: a master, master, master of his puppet sound sources. Pulling their strings. (I’ll see myself out.) [ED: Please.]

I was subsequently wowed into stupidity by Headlights’s “The Radio Plays,” a massive slab of miscellany presented somehow in the form of a radio variety show. Headlights is Derek Gedalecia (known to you nerds as Headboggle) and Aurora Josephson. “The Radio Plays” has everything you’d ever dream you wanted from a spin through the radio dial, an abstract hodgepodge of samples and drones, poetry and song, filtered through the madness clearly inherent in these two artists. How mad are they? So mad that they include performances by Christian Wolff, Kraftwerk, and the Velvet Underground in the midst of everything. Lou Reed is rolling in his grave! So is Florian Schneider. Oh wait, Schneider’s not dead. Well, he’s probably wearing out his copy of “The Radio Plays” right now if he knows what’s good for him!

“Stacey’s Spacey” is by relative new kid on the block Marcia Custer, not the actual New Kids on the Block, although if NKOTB released something as wildly entertaining as “Stacey’s Spacey,” they might find themselves back on top! Anyway, Custer, a Cleveland-based sound artist, makes her “recording debut” here, and the results are nothing short of showstopping. (Unlike that weak-ass version of “Hanging Tough” at the New Kids’ reunion show the other week, which was more “show-continuing, reluctantly.”) Warbling melodies and samples, noise and pitch-shifted vocals all coexist in the cramped alternate-reality children’s madhouse of Custer’s mind. For example, on “Meet Barb Lacroix,” Custer interviews Lacroix, and the subject merely responds in xylophone melody. On “iiiiiiiii” the title is spoken at different speeds and at different pitches, layered until the track buzzes like an open field filled with insects. I don’t think it’s any wonder, then, that Mike Haley went so far as to admit to me in an email that “Stacey’s Spacey” was “literally [the] first tape my kids liked.”

That’s right, Dave Doyen, Mike returns my emails.

[ED: …]

You might want to hop on over to Unifactor’s Bandcamp page RIGHT NOW because the batch itself is $4 cheaper than buying each of these tapes separately. It’s a bargain, people!

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