Tabs Out | Jakob Heinemann – Resonant Ocean

Jakob Heinemann – Resonant Ocean

5.11.22 by Matty McPherson

Today we turn our attention towards Kashe Editions, the solo imprint of bassist/composer Jakob Heinemann. On Resonant Ocean, the label’s second release, the bassist finds himself in triple threat mode: composer, collage artist, and field recordist. The four compositions are edging for a naturalistic, deep listening and thinking modus. The tape itself, from Jcard cover to tape shell, subtly suggest this without beating around the bush. We have all found ourselves outside a small red lighthouse on the water, considering the passage of time.

Resonant Ocean’s four pieces go back and forth between field recording manipulations and loose classic compositions; a stately presence is never lacking on any of these pieces. Side A is the most scientific, jumping straight in with “Lea Projections.” It is one of Heinemann’s “sine tone, autoharp, and double bass” oriented tracks, that features a low level ominous drone. The three instruments aid and parallel the shifting within his Madison, WI area field recordings. Rickety? Yes, the inclusion of a field recording sounds impart a vague industrious character–like someone is building a Tuff Shed in their yard. Recalcitrant? Not over its 11 and a half minutes! A steely drone drifts between metallic mumbles and cicada scrawls, while Heinemann’s autoharp adds a well needed grace to this music. The field recordings and harmonic sleights are quite the juxtaposition on Lea Projections, its gravity felt in the bouts of silence or sudden stops.

It’s a primer for the reserved characteristics of track two, “Places.” Here, Heinemann leaves a composition for the trio of Oli Harris (cello), Seth Pae (viola), and Billie Howard (violin). The trio is not aided nor abetted by a field recording, yet they move with the composure of natural time. Over its ten minutes, they ebb and flow as a trio, building bouts of suspense, low end drones, or splashes of silence into a splendorous documentation of time itself. What strikes me is how they treat a climatic peak as something not to strike out in the end but rather as encounter that occurs on its own merit. Around the four minute mark, there is a a sudden shock with Howard’s Violin, a sound that is harmonized and considered, yet quickly pulled back with restraint of those cello drone.

Side B opens with “Arbor,” Heinemann’s sine tone composition. For its near nine minutes, small bits of bird sound are interposed within a long, continuous sine drone. Let yourself drift as focus turns from the drone itself to the flickers of bass and suddenly, the piece is as studious as a monk. The title track is a fitting closer, functioning as a summation of Heinemann’s MO across the three tracks into one dozen minute opus. A new quartet, Anna March (viola), Nave Graham (flute), Kyle Quass (Bb trumpet), and Anthony D’Agostino (double bass), takes shape, once again playing off of Heinemann’s MO. As a quartet goes they glide even at their most meticulous; they’re the kind of crew that would render a ship unthinkable. The piece is framed by Quass and D’Agostino quick work to enact a low waving drone that is as smooth as butter, while March and Graham add flourishes that recall Talk Talk’s Myrrhman. Clearly, they are onto something mighty pleasing and endearing, as they practically take the shape of a field recording. Over the twelve minutes, the piece devolves until it might as well be rendered the sound of a lighthouse overlooking a resonant, receptive ocean.

Edition of 50 Available from the Kashe Editions Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Rob Collier – Driftwood (and Other Found Objects)

Rob Collier – Driftwood (and Other Found Objects)

5.4.22 by Matty McPherson

(What feels like) An endless array of Casio CZ-1 Phase Distortion Synthesizers greet you when you open the Jcard to Rob Collier’s Driftwood (and Other Found Objects) cassette. Collier has carried this particular batch of ambient synthesizer pieces in his back pocket for over five years. He’s just been patient about issuing it until February of this year for the sly Noumenal Loom label. It does not come without reason. On his last release, Moving Backwards for Geology Records, Collier alluded to being inspired by how the perception of time in nature differs from the human world. The piano tunes for that release practically existed out of that latter world, their stillness evolving drastically yet subtly over their runtimes. Driftwood (and Other Found Objects), holds that same natural harmony, acting as an unexpected time-traveling companion that enshrines his ethos.

To an extent, Collier’s work on the Casio reminds me of Arovane’s Wirkung from Puremagentik Tapes –itself a release that purposely evoked naturalism as an MO for its sonic palette. The comparison would not go much farther than that though, as Collier is deeply locked into how the Casio CZ-1 can convey otherworldly, calming drone fuzz as much as sugary minimalism. Tracks like Driftwood or the Shimmer of the Lamps Above lean into the latter, letting small notes dance and flicker off of synth ambience; there is an underlying baroque quality to these compositions that feels out of a contemporary time or place. If anything, it evokes the deceptive levels of deep listening burrowed within Windham Hill’s pleasant piano melodies.

As such, when Collier goes head-on into ambient, it is enrapturing. “Everything Repeats Itself” and closing tack “The Stairs Lead Upwards” are quite alluring in that regard. Their minimal sound palette may not impress immediately, that is until it practically floods the room (on an ambient sound system of course). It’s at these moments that Collier’s belief in how these sounds he’s wrangled together “feel beyond us” comes into focus. Everything around sounds of an astral opera, wading through assuredly and steadily, completely out of the human conception of time, even beyond the natural order itself.

Edition of 75 Available from the Noumenal Loom Bandcamp.

Tabs Out | Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up

Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up

5.3.22 by Matty McPherson

The cover art of Wednesday’s 2021 LP, Twin Plagues, featured the strongest “how you gonna go big on big?” energy I’ve seen out of an indie “reverb-guitar” based release in a moment. Zen Arcade was being evoked but it was with a blunt stare back towards the listener. Times have changed, contexts have unfurled and been reshaped. The album’s dozen tracks emanating a strange currency between Seam’s majestic & sniffly slowcore hardcore and country style songwriting with hella feedback. Pinning it all down was second to just the natural chemistry. Twin Plagues was a grip. Any shock release was to be of interest.

Thus it is with a light heart that I can attest Wednesday’s Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up is exactly that kind of shock listening material we needed. Perhaps you saw the Aquarium Drunkard Lagniappe Session where three of these were presented. The tape’s got nine covers, ranging from Roger Miller and the Drive By-Truckers to Vic Chestnutt and Medicine cover an intense amount of influences that *insist* yes, these folks are gonna go so big on big they’ll hit you with a diamond sledgehammer.

Side A is the designated country side, and has quickly racked itself up as my new drinking buddy at the county taprooms. Exactly what musters me to expend this level of camaraderie is how the five piece take these country tunes and mangle them through quietLOUDquiet twisted noise bouts to come out with a particular refraction. These bouts of noise are not entirely lo-fi frizzles  or countrified bangers on a primary level anymore per se. Everything about the ace reimaginings–from She’s Actin Single to the duet of I Am the Cosmos–are evocative catharsis. They transcend them to capital-B Bar Rock standards. As such, I found myself in the rare, yet pleasant realization of a band realizing a song as their own which perhaps is enshrined with Women Without Whiskey, a Drive By Truckers cover that really makes you go “FUCK! Another round asap!” Writ large, Mowing the Leaves Side A is that kind of moment to the point the band untethered these standards from their respective time and place into their feeling and sound of this moment. What it old is new again.

No act right now is edging for the bar rock crowd quite as hard, but also no act is looking at the indie playbook and stumping with such curiosity on Side B. It’s a more lowkey, humble side to the shock and awe of the former. Yet, the covers are equally worth savoring. The Had 2 Try cover of Hotline TNT is an act of real “game recognize game,” just unvarnished appreciation for the under-the-radar act’s own homespun shoegaze aesthetic approach. Greg Sage is summoned and reimagined with greater “in-the-red” crunch on “Sacrifice (For Love).” The aforementioned Vic Chestnutt’s Rabbit Box becomes a basement jam emanating the energy of a lowkey winter warmer. Finally, the one-two knockout of Medicine and Smashing Pumpkins revel in reminding the home listener that Wednesday know their noise + pop dynamics. Time Machine II has a playful, almost twee sense imbued in it under the quintet’s lead, while Perfect redeems classic snot nose Billy and weaves it into a communal tumble, as karly and jake lenderman duet over each other.

It’s likely that Wednesday is currently or about to play in a market near you, headlining a bar-stomper of a show or opening for a slightly larger indie guitar pop band. You might as well catch ‘em and see if this is at the merch table, as it’s sold out and no one’s given a fair shake as to if more tapes are coming. Here’s to a hope they do so.

Tabs Out | Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev – Selene Variation

Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev – Selene Variation

4.22.22 by Matty McPherson

Let’s talk about the crackly pops – not Budzo or Pop Rocks or New Coke, I mean that tacit sound that appears within your friend’s collection of worn vinyl. A few bleepsters or crate diggers like to play with the crackles and make for an atmospheric, “temporally unfrozen” type of listen. An addictively bloody sound I’ve always found to be; perhaps a reminder of my own psychology, which has been much too heightened this past month with sciatica. I cannot be 100% certain that Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev were thinking exactly in that manner with their Selene Variation cassette for Dinzu Artefacts. What I do know though, is that those crackles are practically the foreground of their four tracks and that they are quite enticing soundscapes, giving off a vague, icy pulses.

The general dealio here is that Kasyansky is taking Sysoev’s Selene piano piece (released in 2015) and manipulating it with an unspecified “feedback synthesizer.” What was classical piano now feels like the shards of a funhouse mirror, while the minimal electronics offering a microhouse means to escape into. These four pieces are resultantly precocious compositions that evoke ghostly aberrations and ominous fog, even when there’s a chilled, libidioless BPM running through things. Variation I bobs and weaves, as the pulsing crackles contend for this music to be placed in the most austere, haunted chill out room. Meanwhile, Variation II slowly fizzles the piano to the edges of the mix, leaving that pulse and the quips of Kasyanskys electronics at the forefront. It’s a patient, deep listen that seems to be less of an experiment than a laying out of parts.

A theory which is confirmed with side B’s single longform, Variation IV. Syosecv’s snippets of the piano piece are placed for great, threatening (not frightening) effect. They jump and quiver against the jitters of Kasyansky’s electronics. Themselves on this track, there’s a real sense of direction, from the bizarre dub-pulse hiding at a tertiary level near the start, to the computer-machine sentience of the piece’s midpoint. When the two begin to meet for their final third, it’s a cyber-esque banshee beat. Yet it’s all wiggled out and white-eyed, peering dead ahead with a thousand yard stare. Ah cripes, I didn’t mean to make this one sounds so scary, but dammit! The duo really did make a nail bitter of a closer. Dinzu Artefacts ya did it again!

Edition of 100 available at the Dinzu Artefacts Bandcamp page.

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Tabs Out | Alex Homan – Dawn of the Jawns Volumes 1 & 2

Alex Homan – Dawn of the Jawns Volumes 1 & 2

2.23.22 by Matty McPherson

Mail days here at Tabs Out West Coast HQ are always a strange affair. On top of the usual suspects (select tapes from select labels) arriving in suspect packaging, there’s always a litany of freeform free-for-alls. And on the downtime of an elongated pseudo-winter vacation, there is an opportunity to employ radical heuristics and find which of those latter tapes tickles my fancy the most. Blind bag days are a vicious treat when you know you’re on a hot streak. Although I  somehow always end up back in the primordial womb of indie rock; maybe that’s just unavoidable to return to my safest roots.

Anyways, Dawn of the Jawns (Vols. 1 & 2) arrived in crude plastic cases with even cruder, more rudimentary Jcard and liner notes (naturally printed on printer paper). Yet, forgoing the aesthetic presentation I took a leap of faith. Homan’s recordings are retrospective, with both volumes covering his “antisocial experiments” circa 2007-2009 in Philadelphia. He writes candidly and reflectively of these recordings aimless, pained attempts at straddling a line between noise and music. Most of the college recorded tunes lean towards a certain Baltimore four-piece in their halcyon era. And while I imagine Homan did “collect all the animals” at some point or another, there’s a bonafide level of trance emanating. More often than not, Homan’s raw musicality (lo-fi recordings of guitar with reverb and effects) entices and acts as a damn sturdy window to a time that feels unarchived and lost to layers of code. Spectacularly, it radiates and glows.

The first tape is genuinely an indie rock tape at heart. Underneath the acoustics and limitations, Homan’s trusty guitar and gaggle of effects are a jukebox of myspace melodies, reflecting song structures that you may have half memorized and will likely fit like a glove. It’s eminently warm and freeing, which Volume 2 often uproots. Slabs of Homan making attempts at beguiling noise a la Danse Manatee are found in and around the tape (alongside the occasional spoken word excerpt or campfire melody). Yet, Homan’s recollections and curation do find a pathway to a semblance of where his projects will err towards. All I know is that there’s no way this tape had to be as listenable and fascinating as it looked, yet here I am, clearly in a sort of trance over the whole state of affairs. Keep it like a secret.

Edition of 6 available at the Alex Homan bandcamp page

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Tabs Out | Bitchin Bajas – Switched On Ra

Bitchin Bajas – Switched On Ra

1.24.22 by Matty McPherson

There may be no other trio that quite embellishes the synthesizer like the Bitchin Bajas (seriously, take a look at that list – posted below for posterity). Cooper, Rob, and Daniel haven’t exactly been MIA since Bajas Fresh, their 2017 release that studiously tinkered and refined the sound until it unfurled into the crispest of loops. They make solo albums on Astral Spirits, go fill in for Tirzah at p4kfest, and sometimes get to hang out and craft pop ditties with Haley Fohr or handle production (scary stuff) for Bill Nace. They still love a good tape release, whether that’s through the research & development of a CUTS self-release or returning to Drag City with this here Switched On Ra.

Whether or not Switched On Ra is a stealth response aimed at rectifying Barack Obama’s failure to put Sunwatchers’ own Sun Ra tribute (Ptah, The El Daoud) on his 2019 playlist may be too hard to call. In fact, it might just be more a continuation of Bajas Fresh’s own Sun Ra tribute, Angels and Demons at Play, which reimagined the fickle, jazz piece as a steamy jungle odyssey; an arrangement true to the spirit of its source as much as the Bajas own lineage. Plus, you have the reference to Wendy Carlos’ own analog synthesizer wondries, so there’s a lot we need to consider here. Also, it was all recorded on “8-track ½” [tape] @ 15 IPS across June of 2021,” in case you are a nerd and love to know just how the lads do it.

Yet, with all of this as a possible MO in mind, Switched On Ra still has that immediacy of an old pal. It’s at once warm, jubilant Bajas, just with a level of macroscopic tingly majesty dedicated to these Sun Ra compositions; it’s specially electroshocked at times! As a result, expect less classic Bajas looping, with more an emphasis on odyssey-oriented listening imbued. Where this sound is going is maybe still towards giant vast cosmos–or potentially a land of interlocking, gravity-ambivalent spiral staircases that function like a jungle gym. The anomalous sounds that each Sun Ra tribute provides here is its own zonal bazaar and good golly. I just want to be there harmonizing in a vocoder with ‘em. In fact, as I clank this out, I suppose I’m kinda entranced watching the left and right levels on the hi-fi trying to force myself there. You should try that too.

Tapes available at the Bitchin Bajas Bandcamp Page. A portion of the proceeds for Switched On Ra will be donated to The Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project.

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Tabs Out | Fumbata – Actuation

Fumbata – Actuation

1.12.22 by Matty McPherson

Eternal Search sprung to life as a tape label in 2020. They’ve quickly found a knack for spotlighting various ongoing electronic sounds through a compilation here and one-off singles there. Although it was in 2021 that we started to see them spread out. Nothing splashy, but a couple of tapes in translucent shells with minimal design are always going to deserve a microscopic look. It’s an honest way of telegraphing that the emphasis is really about the sounds inside the tape. 

Fumbata (Anderson Chimutu) is one of the first acts to pass through the label, with the release Actuation. Chimutu has been using the moniker throughout a series of 2021 releases found through the Bandcamp sphere. Each one is an expansion upon his mastery of DAW-tinged techno and its various lineages and sonic parallels. Chimutu has mentioned desire to project “conga and reggae” influences within these granular techno deconstructione.  In their own ways, the six tracks imagine an admirable middle ground between Congotronics and Ngeye Ngeye Tapes’ expansive electronic compilations. 

Chimutu’s tracks switch between bubbly bouncers and airy freakouts. Rubbery, bouncy techno pulses dominate the first side, especially on the title track. Here, it’s a general base to launch out a litany of arhythmic drum melodies and synth flutters that prevent the piece from staying reserved for too long, sidestepping and stuttering through the space in a technicolor spectacle. Still, that emphasis on a minimalist palette keeps pieces reserved and cohesive, oftentimes transitioning from one track to the next is a breeze. Although never think that one piece’s lucidity won’t turn up ruptured by the end of a track, with enough cryptic melodies really calling the shots. Side B closer Perle operates in this manner, with a litany of multilayered patterns all fighting for the center of a track like a hackathon gone off the fritz. 

Edition of 50 available from the Eternal Search Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | bvth – Etymology

bvth – Etymology

1.2.22 by Matty McPherson

Last night, my friend stopped by and pitched one of the smartest, most groundbreaking ideas in history to me: every night from 9pm – 11pm all the TVs in America are tuned to Lost. We watch it together as a nation, over any of those late night big wigs and their celebrity rodeos. I must admit, it’s such a startling idea that I was immediately entranced. I also didn’t have the heart to tell my friend that this idea ran parallel to my newfound plot to transmit bvth’s new C42, Etymology, every night at dusk; perhaps both plans could be entangled together, by dubbing over Lost with Etymology?!

I don’t know exactly how bvth, the duo of Harrison Boyd and Benny Kannianen, may take this news without any feelings of elation. Their soundings which include “amplified wood block, amplified metal plate and bowed living tree branches, forest detritus agitation” are an island (harboring a supernatural prowess and series of mystical mysteries) unto itself. Together, the duo summon an ASMR bloodbath, where the sky is rusted and still; kindness doesn’t stretch out anywhere around these parts for the miles you may wander! Hmm..that doesn’t sound like that Lost program in all honesty.

In fact, Etymology has a sense of negative space that not even a smoke monster could fight off. Across the cohesive, sultry stature, the duo tinker with savory noisy drops (“Verschmutzung”) and sudden pings (“Gasp – Thrill”), haunting fragments that might as well evoke ragtime silent film aesthetics (“Loveboat Shanty”) than the six season television program. This it might be a little too constructivist and TCM-core for the LostHeads. Ahh but to hell with those lads! Boyd and Kannianen are too dapper and time is too short! Etymology is still a dusk-tinged soundtrack that toys with my idea of psychedelic noise and 20th century aesthetics, a perfect shortwave radio companion.

Hand-stamped clear C42 cassette with a 4-panel Jcard in Norelco case in an edition of 50, available at the Personal Archives Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | Asymmetrical Head – Unruly Souvenir

Asymmetrical Head – Unruly Souvenir

12.31.21 by Matty McPherson

It’s the middle of November as I type this and yet again I’ve been on a fly killing spree. I wish I could just make a device as potent as a flyswatter that hits with the same force as Asymmetrical Head’s latest here, Unruly Souvenir. The San Diego based electronic wunderkind and Bonding Tapes label boss has been a stalwart dating back to 2k5 — the era of Myspace! He thankfully and recently hopped back in the saddle of the tape game after a few year hiatus with the moniker and label, in the process offering 3 tapes across Bonding Tapes’ 2021 output. 

Unruly Souvenir is the third of this return trilogy, a devious set of snacky booms, claps, and even the occasional stomp — all entangled into rhythmic pulsing that comprises techno music akin to racking up fly swatting kill combos. No, no I’m serious! Listening to a track like Nuova and it’s just full BPM fury that ain’t got nothing to prove but just how much it hates the little critters! I sense that Asymmetrical Head is a big combo raker, with Lyn_C creating pit-patter drumming that begins to devolve and introduce sudden one-two effects, popping with synthetic flourishes and trash-can gongs all the while. 

Of course though, a full-fledged tape of heavy hitters might be a little too much fly overkill here. It’s the tape’s downtempo, spatial cuts that are the meat n’ potatoes here. This is where the real shocks come out, navigating the majesty of making “cool fucking noises that sound like a really powerful flyswatter” with immense finesse. MX Cap XM bops and weaves, using rhythmic pulses and an underlying synth to concoct an image of classic marine layer-tinged bumper-to-bumper traffic. Spatium Loop follows the same process, introducing sudden “clanks” and whiplash “blanks” through a wave of synthesizer pulsing that bobs and weaves like fireflies. Meanwhile, Qasira finds beauty, looping a litany of vocal soul shrieks, amidst all of this turmoil. Even as we move into the b-side of Unruly Souvenir, Asymmetrical Head kinda stops making cool flyswatter sounds–it’s all about those sick ass laser rifles noises on “057,” and the pure ethereal red tide nightswimming of “XIIAM.” Cohesion triumphs!

Yet, Unruly Souvenir still relishes in full force on a knockout trilogy to close up shop. “XWN” is all snickering rhythms and deep-seeded tension, while “Fat Clinic II” features a dark bass and that reverberated rat-a-tat THUMP that would land any fly on its ass; the kind of alternative boom-bap beat deserving of an MC of the highest caliber. “OUTX” naturally reflects and recasts “INTX” with the lessons learned from this tape, a mending of the synthesizer ambience that has bound this tape to all those drum patterns and propulsive fly killing mechanisms — at least that’s what I was feeling.

Limited Edition Cassette in Jcard, Norelco Case and Blue Shells with labels available from the Bonding Tapes Bandcamp Page!

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Tabs Out | Sir Tad – Sir Tad Goes Deeper & Deeper EP

Sir Tad – Sir Tad Goes Deeper & Deeper EP

12.23.21 by Matty McPherson

Okay now listen up folks! I know you were all clamoring for Tad, but they broke up years ago. Also, you didn’t really specify which Tad you wanted so I went ahead and booked us Sir Tad of Columbus, OH (aka Meadow Argus (AKA Tynan Krakoff)) for this here shindig. He’s got a cool thing going, lo-fi keys and dubby bass, plus those misbegotten vocals that make it all feel like a washed out Simpson hallmark greeting card you got for your birthday back in 2009 (also, if you still have any money on the circuit city gift card from that…would you let me know?). 

Anyways, Sir Tad is gonna SLAY at the party. I know it’s only a fifteen minute set he’s pulling here, but it should be enough time for like 5 games of musical chairs. Plus, Sir Tad is a bonafide MC now! Haven’t you heard Deeper and Deeper, the opening track on this EP here? He’s practically guiding you through the sheer drop of a comedown, with jubilant keys and meditative vocals that’ll have you all whizzed out for the carnivalesque music box majesty of a “Yucatan Sunshine”. That one stutters in and out so NO CHEATING during that musical chairs game, Jeremy! Afterwards, we’ll “Tie Cord to Racing Car” and try to figure out what day it is, before letting the goofball hit us with the “county fair public domain type beat” of a Great Generic Park. Oh you want an encore? Sir Tad is there to serenade once more with “Deeper and Deeper Pt. 2”, a last meditative breath. I sure hope he comes back with another set for longer soon!

Pro-dubbed C15 cassette with full color double-sided art by Pearl Morgan. Hand-numbered edition of 50. Available at the Sir Tad Bandcamp page.