Tabs Out | Introducing Tymbal Tapes

Introducing Tymbal Tapes
3.25.15 by Mike Haley

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Scott Scholz likes tapes. I know this because I have the internet, and you can find out ANYTHING about a person if you have the internet. If you require further proof, go ahead and read some of his reviews, or listen to his podcast, over at Words On Sound. Scott gives much love to the format, so it was pretty much inevitable that he would start releasing tapes himself. And so we have Tymbal Tapes. The first batch is due out next week, but you can (and should) preorder them now. Need further proof for that as well? I chatted a bit with Mr. Scholz about the label…

 

You do the Words on Sound podcast, correct?

I do. I started doing that last fall. I’d been doing this really fun radio show called Other Music on KZUM here in Lincoln, NE about five years ago, and it was great, but it’s live-stream only as well as over the air locally. And we had so many people comment that they wished they could listen at other times. So the asynchronous aspect of the podcast format just made more sense. A really cool lady took over the radio show and it’s still going, too, so win-win.

Just looking for a “yes” or “no”, Scott. Jeez. Haha.

I have to demonstrate my fluid typing skills. I have marketable skills, yo!

Noted! You don’t exclusively play cassettes on the podcast, but they are a pretty hefty chunk of it, right?

Right. The proportions of tapes on the radio show grew and grew, and on the podcast, it’s usually more than half these days.

And I’ve seen you talking about tapes on the web, so your love for the format runs pretty deep, wouldn’t ya say?

It has deepened tremendously in the last few years, for sure. I was making tapes back in the mid-90s and kind of forgot about the format for a while. Then I was doing some review writing for Killed In Cars around four years ago, and I took over their tape submissions briefly. I was just totally blown away by the music. At that time, it was some of the early Orange Milk and Field Hymns jams, and some of that music was totally paradigm-shifting for me. And y’know, you review a few tapes and the next thing you know, your house is full of them, and you can’t leave the house without a Walkman, etc.

So naturally you start a label. It would almost be suspect if you didn’t at this point.

Absolutely. It feels so cliche to say “it’s a community,” but y’know, fundamentally it is. I was hosting house shows for a little while, too, and it’s totally the mailorder extension of that vibe. So you have to pitch in, I think. And not that it’s a chore. I think it’s going to be awesome.

I really dig the vibe you have going with the artwork for the first three tapes. Who did the art for them, and will that look go on for a bit or is it just for this batch?

The art was the toughest part of getting this started. I really am a “words and sounds” kind of person, and I’m totally helpless with design and art. Tiny Little Hammers did all of the design/layout work, and I think it’s lined up to stay fairly consistent going forward. The printing is going to look a little subtler than the online black/white images: I just got the proofs back today for going with a sort of stainless steel or pewter ink on white linen,and it’s totally nailing the feel I was hoping for.

That sounds incredible. I like how Tiny Hammers, who have a pretty awesome and identifiable look, created something brand new for Tymbal. Looks great.

Yeah, amazing work.

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When are the first three going to be gripable?

They’ll be out on 4/1/15. April Fools Day, but no fooling.

Pro dubbed or you doing them at home?

I’m doing them at home, at least for the first few batches. I have some decent gear, and part of my dayjob life for the last decade has been working with millions of tapes, so I’m super comfortable with it.

Let’s go through the batch one by one, cool?

Absolutely.

First one is a C35 called “Nunavut” by Peter Kris. That’s a German Army member, right?

Yes. That’s a German Army person. I’ve been totally obsessed with GeAr for the last few years, and corresponded a bit with them–they’re anonymous, but very friendly. And this new “Peter Kris” solo project is a very melodic, approachable guitar-dominant set of music.

Do you know who “Peter Kris” really is? Be honest.

I have thought so several times, but there are layers upon layers of names. It’s really wild. Ignotum per ignotius. What I do know is the person or persons behind that music care very deeply about the world, both in terms of global culture and local culture. The Peter Kris tunes are focused on local culture, poverty near the wealth of LA. It’s a different focus than the dead/dying cultures/languages that GeAr addresses, but similarly universal, I think.

Aside from the jams, is that what got you interested in German Army, and the related projects?

You mean like the literary and geographical allusions in their album and song titles? I definitely perked up to that stuff right away, totally. The sort of “mystery” around the project, combined with pointing in some really important long-term directions. Musically they remind me a lot of early Cabaret Voltaire, a beautiful thing. I like everything about them, really. And that they’re playing a long game themselves–so many releases, subtle relationships between all of them, etc. With the Peter Kris music, there are even more influences coming in–there are moments that approach drone, Frippertronics, all kinds of things you might not expect.

How many of those are you dubbing?

50 each for this first round. I kind of want to get a feel for the demand and get my own workflow going to do a good job with everything. The whole “limited edition” scene isn’t my thing, though. I hope people really listen to music, listen hard, listen until it hurts. So I’d be game for dubbing more in the future if people want and need them.

Number two is by The Dept. of Harmonic Integrity. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that name before. Tell me about em.

That’s another anonymous project. Not sure how I always end up around those, ha. But whoever it is, they’re tied up around the Adderall Canyonly scene. They’d sent the recording to me several years ago, and I reviewed it. I really HATE listening to downloads, but the music was so good. I always thought that one should come out in a physical format, so with Tymbal, it made sense to return to that recording. AdCan did a bit of remastering, so it sounds even punchier. It’s some pretty wild synth-based music that moves along a line between crazy synth-zoneout music and more academic electroacoustic disciplines. And I just love layered, composed music like that. Anything that can be contemplative and fun at the same time is worth a listen or fifty in my book.

If I had to guess, I’d say you’re pretty inspired by Field Hymns. Which is definitely a good thing.

Right. That’s probably still my overall favorite tape label. Tymbal will probably tend toward more “difficult listening” over time, though.

Shit, and it just dawned on me that you are probably in German Army! It just makes sense… Did I crack the code?

Ha, no, sadly. I wish I had their travel budget!

And what is rounding out the batch?

David Moscovich – Gandhi/Gaddafi, C20. And there are more wild sounds happening in that 20 minutes than most days can contain. Moscovich is an author in the NYC area–he wrote this great book called “You Are Make Very Important Bathtime” that came out on Journal of Experimental Fiction last year. But he does this crazy text cut-up/modular synth live thing that makes me disoriented and overwhelmed in all of the best ways. He considers it a kind of extension of the singer-songwriter tradition: like people with acoustic guitars. But instead it’s people with modulars and delay pedals, I guess.

So is he a jammer who writes or a writer who jams?

I think he started out working roughly equally on both fronts, but his focus is more on writing these days. He had a CD of some earlier music called “Ass Lunch” on Public Eyesore years ago, though. But hopefully people like this tape and encourage him to do more of this work, because I think it’s absolutely next-level. And THAT’S kind of my vision for the label, really.

I’m thinking this next one can go one of two ways…

Okay.

Either ALL the shell colors are going to be black OR they’ll all be different colors. Did I get it?

Actually, I think they’re all going to stay white. I was riffing on the kinds of labels that churches put on sermon tapes for shut-ins and that sort of thing. But if you close your eyes…

I never close my eyes. Too scary. Anything planned for after these?

Quite a few things in the works, actually. It’s taken quite a while to launch this, so a good portion of the year is in various forms of completion already.

Anything you wanna mention, or ya keeping it hush hush for now?

I should probably keep ’em hush for the moment, as only one is 100 percent done, but I’m having these interesting conversations with people. I’ve known so many musicians between hosting shows, bands crashing w/me, playing shows together, radio stuff, review stuff, that I thought it might be something different to reach out to people with specific ideas. So I’ve asked a few people to try some specific musical approaches–not like writing pieces for them by any means, but suggesting certain aspects of their work that I think they could dig into in a new way. Long-ish term, I want to focus on composition with the label–not necessarily “written on paper” composition, though music that started through that process would be welcome, but music that’s composed as part of the recording process, thoroughly worked out, etc. And also I want to find those people who have been playing with really dense, complicated music at home, adding and subtracting layers and building enormous mutant musical monstrosities just for the sake of doing it. Maybe their friends or family don’t even know they do it, but if it ever came out, it would be like Mr. Holland’s Opus except that the music would sound more like Conlon Nancarrow and Daevid Allen wrestling with robotic riding lawnmowers or something. If you hear about those people, send them my way.

I want to end this with a question I’m going to ask every person who runs a label I interview, starting now. Right off the top of your head, name a project you’ve never done a release for that everyone should check out.

I’m going to go with Zeek Sheck. That album that came out on Resipiscent last year was criminally ignored, but that has to be one of the best recordings of the last decade.

Scott, thanks for talking, man.

Absolutely! Thanks so much for having me!

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