Tabs Out | Channelers / Ki Oni – Realm of the Twilight

Channelers / Ki Oni – Realm of the Twilight

11.26.20 by Matty McPherson

While LA has often been viewed as the car capital of the world (®), it seems that the 20s are poised to be the decade it finally casts that moniker aside and embraces new age clarity. Or, at least the tape labels are. Case in point: Never Content Records. Noah Klein’s Los Angeles based tape label has united several facets of LA and Oakland’s diy scenes, from Sonoda’s zen dream pop to Patrick Shirioishi’s audio journals and field recordings through the first month of lockdown. Taken as a whole, the label’s steady adherence to soothing, contemplative music felt like its own talisman to the monotony of society. Music as solace, indeed. 

Never Content also features the most meaningful and meticulous cassette packaging I’ve come across, with each release featuring their own unique design and additional objects provided, providing a whole experience that really ties the sounds together, worthy of a devotional. Right now, I’m gazingly intently at the raw amethyst crystal that came along with the label’s latest, Realm of the Twilight. It is a split between Channelers and Ki Oni that sees both parties carving out their own inner sanctuaries.

Side A belongs to Channelers, the Oakland based spiritist known as Sean Conrad (who also designed the tape art)! Conrad’s pieces are free-flowing, with the characteristic of a flowery petal gently moving down the stream. Elven flutes, vaporous synths, and deep keys all give depth to the natural/digital synthesis of “tenth moon”. A throbbing drum pulse on “mind may wander” gives the track a fleet-footed characteristic. With every syncopation, the sound takes bigger and bigger leaps, moving into greater realms of exploration and care. When it finally zooms out at the end of its eight minute run time, I feel like I have been deposited into the stars. Talk about sanctuary!

Ki Oni (Chuck Soo-Hoo of Dublab) has been on a tear recently, with features in Freedom to Spend and Geographioc North’s latest tape compilations. Yet, neither of those feature any trace of his ambient club bangers found on Side B. “mapping the netherrealm”’s gauzy reverb and snares n’ hi-hats are shoegazetronica fit for the pedantic typer. Meanwhile, “dimension for two” sees traces of crystallized wind chimes and windy guitar lines that glide over the mental fog. I admit, bangers may not be the right word to describe Ki Oni’s work, but the tracks are playful and mindful, like a dance party for one happy camper.

Edition of 50 at Never Content’s Bandcamp…with an amethyst crystal in the first 20 orders!

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