Tabs Out | Stuart Chalmers and Taming Power – Blue Thirty-Two

Stuart Chalmers and Taming Power – Blue Thirty-Two

4.21.20 by Ryan Masteller

If we ever find ourselves cloistered in a monastery atop a mountain where our only activities would revolve around self-betterment through meditation and repetitious and mundane daily tasks, then we have found the perfect aural counterpart here in Stuart Chalmers and Taming Power (aka Astrid Haugland)’s release on Blue Tapes, “Blue Thirty-Two.” Utilizing electric guitar, tape fx, and an Indian instrument called a “swarmandal” (essentially a zither), Chalmers and Haugland play and loop their way into our hearts and minds with magnificent ragas that billow in reverence and approval to our routine. They become part of the meditative existence, a subject of it, and an accompaniment slightly removed, all at once. Some might call that a neat trick; I call it the ability to get on the same level with and commune among the existential searchers.

That’s how we begin, anyway: a lonely guitar is joined presently by the swarmandal, the effect like church bells chiming across the hills and valleys. This type of playing bookends the tape, and we breathe it like the players do. The swarmandal is bowed on the final track, which only serves to heighten its ethereality, although both instruments are effected and looped until they become visible rays of the rising sun over the tops of distant mountains. The part of the tape sandwiched by these two compositions is called “Tape Recorders and FX” on the Bandcamp page (no tracklist – or artist, release, or label info – appears on the tape or artwork itself), and is a series of transmissions warped and bleeped and picked up as radio signals by broken receivers. Consider, then, that the monastery’s a front for a Bond-villain-esque world-domination scheme and the center of “Blue Thirty-Two” is a glimpse under the ground into a secret lair. Could happen, why not? Monks are notoriously tight-lipped.

So whether you’re meditating the traditional way or relaxing while parsing the signal to snow ratio of a hidden FM band, you’ll have willing partners in Stuart Chalmers and Astrid Haugland. They can show you the ropes, too, if you need some pointers.

The artifact itself is gorgeous too – full cassette shell printing housed in a printed O-card. Just look at it up there!

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