Tabs Out | Night Sky Body – Pain/Air

Night Sky Body – Pain/Air

6.27.22 by Matty McPherson

Sound as Language has been slowly hashing out its aesthetic and general ethos for the last two years. Ki Oni (arguably the A-list bad boy of ambient), brin (the A-list bad boy graphic designer of ambient), euglossine (the library music enthusiast of ambient), and Matthew Ryals (the bad boy modular synth enthusiast) are on one end, exploring eye-wnking ambient zones where not all is as it seems. Flight Mode and Tar Of are on the other, obliterating everything in sight with fiery fury and noise pop explosions. Truly, we haven’t seen an “ambient label that rlly likes emo” like this in the history of tape labels. Also, their tapes have o-card outer sleeves. It’s quite nice.

The label also is anything but regionally focused. Will might be steering the ship somewhere out of LA, but his knack for curating a roster filled with the crevices of the continental United States is worthy of commendation. Recently, I’ve been chilling with the work of Murfreesboro, TN’s Night Sky Body (fka Sparkling Wide Pressure, AKA Frank Baugh). Baugh’s got a hefty CV with works extending from Hooker Vision to Lillerne and Never Anything. His new EP for Sound as Language, pain/air, is a continued meditation of his songwriting practice; ” Dream imagery, automatic writing, and psychological landscapes” are the guiding MO for pain/air’s six tracks.

For a C30, it’s considerately fluid and dense. This approach to songwriting is a mend of electronics (including sampling) with shimmering guitars and somber piano, sort of just seeing what might come of it. Sometimes it is real dream music. Other times, it’s gothic nightmares. Neither are handled without an acknowledgement of the other though, giving the tape a situated balance and the aura of a journey. In the tapes most wide-eyed moments, like opener Clouds Form, the sounds come in with a crystal clarity, automatically endearing and gracious. Side A’s other two tracks, Lawrence and Undo Fragments, let the automatic mumble writing seep in, casually becoming a meditation to one’s self; an exercise in the subconscious. Yet, Undo Fragments’ sampling of heavier bass textures doesn’t quite function in the constructivist manner it seems to be edging for.

Side B though, is able to better mend these textures together into a cohesive suite. Braugh’s automatic writing is more sinister on Picture a Garden There, itself benefitting from the brooding synths and shaken strings/percussive textures. Together, there’s a real sense of uncertainty and desperation; like you’ve just fallen into a gothic rabbit hole. Between’s unshaken piano and low end practically keep that journey on its toes. You’re not sure where you’ll end up but fortunately, it’ll be at Relief. Just like Clouds Form, Relief is a bright track on the tape. Morphing between precious piano and wicked feedback, it lands comfortably on an astral plane, slowly whisking away.

Edition of 100 carmine red ink on frosted ice cassette with Ocard outer sleeve, available at the Sound as Language Bandcamp.

Tabs Out | Uli Federwisch & Chip Perkins – Visiting Places (Learning by Listening Vol. 5)

Uli Federwisch & Chip Perkins – Visiting Places (Learning by Listening Vol. 5)

6.24.22 by Matty McPherson

They (aka PUBLIC LIBRARIES) like to advertise that you can go to a library and “jumpstart your future” by watching a bunch of Great Courses about pirates, facists, and uhhh… integrated calculus. I mean I guess that’s good enough to like get a GED or a diploma from Crazy Go Nuts University, but I just don’t feel like that truly does justice for what today’s feeble-eyed audiences are in need of. They should be learning with their ears, LISTENING to important lessons and concepts! Some people might just say “isn’t that a podcast?” But not Strategic Tape Reserve! Even if libraries think cassettes are outdated (or too scary to file under the Dewey Decimal System), the STR has been innovating in learning arenas where results had been practically stagnate. “Learning by Listening is an educational, instructive cassette series designed to bring the information of the world into your home, and your brain,”. It’s a simple approach that has led to DOZENS of degrees (these tape runs are few, because the value of these degrees are akin to liquid gold), tens of armchair critical thoughts/forum posts, and at least 8 tape releases to date.

Now, I’ve been out the STR loop for a while (Eamon, you really outdid yourself with Bellectronic!). Yet, as a clerk with Dewey Decimal number knowledge, I felt that I could help analyze Vol. 5 Visiting Places and provide insights for future knowledge enthusiasts. A Dewey Decimal Classification of 910, for “geography and travel” is a sufficient starting place for this tape release. It’s the work of Uli Federwisch, the Secretary-General of the Prüm-Eupen Partnership For Success and has visited many places both inside of Germany and abroad.” Hmm, maybe its a 914.3 situation–ya know for the German/Belgium area? Wait a sec–it says here “Chip Perkins has submitted demo reels to several well-respected voice talent agencies and expects to hear back from them soon”. Last time I checked we were filing voice talent demo reals somewhere in the 790s. Goodness! Is this even catalogable?! Okay maybe we should focus on the listening at hand–Federwisch really likes to play with the synthesizer. And when I got those Autechre cds from the library, they were filed under 786.74 for “synthesizers, electronic music.” Technically, Visiting Places fits that description, but you and I both saw that bench on the cover, we know this is an experience of real human travels.

Visitng Places’ is the designated length of a super-sized Rick Steves Europe episode. Now, I watch a lot of Rick Steves on weekends. It used to be Bob Ross, but my folks saw the documentary on his life and are appalled by the cottage industry based on his likeness. Rick Steves is a pretty good compromise because it fulfills their dreams of going to Europe and my fascination with his “blunt as fuck” (bro loves his doobies!) nicecore aesthetic. A sizeable chunk of Perkins’ informative monologues struck me as warped inversions of Rick Steves’ charming historical tidbits of European history and culture. In the hands of Perkins, they become brilliant distillations of STR’s lore and fever-dream Europe that us Americans so rarely have any real understanding of. Also they are paired with Federwisch’s uncanny knack for pulling out synth textures and bonkers sounds that emphatically parallel the journey Perkins pulls us down. It can be funky or ethereal; blissful or deranged. It’s really all about how you learn by listening.

Visiting Places is undeniably an execution of the “weird and eerie” aesthetic, outside of our perceptions. Our journey will start at a bench on the Belgium/German border, playing a flute. No, we don’t know how we got here. We just must traverse and figure what is real and imagined. We’ll encounter adult-sized tricycles, with decorative cladding and displaying scenes from popular movies. To describe its limitations and otherworldly-ness (it sits on a track between the two countries’ borders) would fail you, dear reader. We’ll visit a model train museum where budget cuts have truly put things on the fritz. We’ll move like a tightrope walker. We’ll lay down and count back from 8 and come to a wind park, truly considering how wind turbines could become giant fans! We’ll ponder the results of referendums that destroyed all maps of the local village. The village residents though, they speak in a language that is “profoundly beautiful”. All the while, Federwisch will continue to take every quip or turn of phrase and turn it into an apt sound.

As I read of future civil wars and think of fractured borders, this tape produces its own solace. Federwisch & Perkins achieve a radiant energy that begets questions to answers that aren’t even acknowledged within this tape, allowing a listener to truly ponder the places they visit. But let’s not dwell on that. Just merely tap in for five minutes, and before you’ll realize it you’ve been been on a journey of your own for the past 40.

Professionally dubbed C40 audio cassette. Edition of fifty something from Strategic Tape Reserve’s Bandcamp Page.

Tabs Out | Concrete Colored Paint – This Valley of Segmentation

Concrete Colored Paint – This Valley of Segmentation

6.20.22 by Matty McPherson

I regret that when I was in Knoxville, TN back in March for Big Ears, I did NOT stop at Park 70 HQ. Well maybe it was for the better, as I imagine I’d be showing up to someone’s house uninvited and without bearing any gifts. A couple years back, I did talk to Park 70, one of the first tape labels I was paying attention to and deeply jiving with (Park 70 if you are reading this, get in touch I still have that zine for you). Prazision-era Labradford held an iron grip in my mind and pitch black strolls just before COVID reflected those early Park 70 industrial dream ambient tapes.

Even as the label’s finally surmounted 25 releases, nothing much has changed in the grand scheme of evocative packaging, uniform quality, and spatial discombobulation. Although, dreams of spring poppies and gracious summer mornings are beginning to thaw out on the label’s more recent releases–natural landscapes are finally in! Case in point with Concrete Colored Paint’s This Valley of Segmentation, a 14 track tape recorded in Azusa Canyons before the September 2020 Bobcat fire; “currently all locations are now closed for restoration” the tape card tells me. It’s a situated dispatch, one of the only of its kind that allow us travel to the Canyons in this fraught moment. Take a gander at those track titles; there’s an undercurrent of boundary lines, fault lines, and general lines of spatial disconnect. It’s our only way there, quite frankly.

The Valley of Segmentation is a noticeable lucid C45, itself concocting a clarity reminiscent of vast desert rock formation and clear, boundless skies. The bulk of this tape is based around succinct synth pieces. They’ll go one of two ways, either unfurling over their few minutes (Border Spaces) or creating their own stasis (Gone Today, the title track) for a listener to meditate within. At its quietest, like on the title track, the feeling of a subterranean “is this the sound of my heart beating?” is wildly strong and alluring. Isolation of this kind has been trickling out on a the occasional German Army/Peter Kris releases here and there, but its Concrete Colored Paint’s nailing of this sublime vagueness that kept me on the edge of my seat during Side A.

Side B is more shrouded and barren, before giving way to an ominous presence over the course of the listen. Opening piece, Regulated Landscapes, mend wind recordings and sounds of “waves” into that of an abandoned desert oasis. You can’t quite tell if this is friendly, neutral, or sinister–at least not until South of the Freeway and Growth of the Fault Lines begin to introduce piano and more astral synthesizer loops. Ghostly, but in a friendly way, I’d denote. Enough so that a breathing exercise is welcome and in order. By the time of Transfiguration in Form & Visualize Formations, the tape has moved beyond the desert formations and jumped straight into the sky.

Edition of 50 in letterpressed sleeve with heavy card stock insert sold out at the Park 70 Bandcamp page!

Tabs Out | Tatu Metsätähti & Olli Hänninen – Repullinen Skittejä

Tatu Metsätähti & Olli Hänninen – Repullinen Skittejä

6.17.22 by Matty McPherson

Okay let’s start at the end — well really side B of this tape. Okay, okay fine. First we can at least acknowledge these syllabic names. Tatu Metsätähti (Mesak) is a Finish producer that sometimes runs the “skweee” inflected Harmönia sub label — no, they don’t update their MySpace or Facebook anymore and both are down for good it seems. Metsätähti also (over the past twenty odd years) occasionally has pushed releases of all sorts of sizes out on Huge Bass, the parent label. And yes, they do have a functioning Bandcamp page. Through all of this, Olli Hänninen has been a reliable contributor within Metsätähti’s orbit. Hänninen himself has been in a variety of Finnish anachro-crust outfits–Church of Nihil, Confirmed Kill, Hate Unit. If like me, your answer to this news is “who are three bands that have never been in my kitchen,” well you’d probably be correct. They’re old school 90s and early 00s stuff; Hänninen’s more likely to be found making skweee or oddball electronics under the Claws Costeau moniker. Rare is the release under his actual name.

Look, you already made me drop an expository paragraph, I’d really like to talk about that side B! Oh yeah, the tape did get imported through Cudighi Records, the Los Angeles label that keeps sending us tapes and keeps making me go “damn! these guys are REALLY good at importing sounds that wouldn’t make it to America otherwise.” And because they don’t really play to one sound, just a conscious “anyone could be making noise anywhere” approach, we end up with a roster that tickles between easy listening and Repullinen Skittejä — the latter being top shelf Eastern-European black portal noise magic.

If you’d just let me talk about that side B, I can enlighten you abo-oh yeah they DID list all their gear — instruments, effects, customs, ephemera — on both the tape and Bandcamp. I was personally flabbergasted, because side A… well that’s more the R&D side of the tape. Realm brief vocal snippets, buggy lo-fi hip hop, vague ambient, and uhh that OPE track that sorta has a German Army thing going on; minimal synth funk always welcomed.  Side A is for the grinders, the people who love deciphering gear lists, listening to a proof of concept, and trying to piece it all together in their brains. Mikä Sapiens…*, the side closer, may only be 2:18, but it does feel like a culmination of the side. It shifts on a dime towards austere zones without people after its skweee inflections drop halfway through. It’s a set-up for side B.

SPEAKING OF, Side B is totally consumed by the near-23 minutes of Deep Finlandia. And coming after Side A, THIS has the feeling of white hot UFOs and bombed out metro tunnels. For the duo, it’s a deeper plane of listening, often riding out the crevices of one bass-driven drone and ethereal feedback. It could be steamy or claustrophobic all based on the volume knob’s tuning. Around the fifteen minute mark, the digital feedback discombobulates, becoming crunchier and further untethered. Its unsettling patterns and feedback loops could be the soundscape for a free-jazz ensemble, but the duo are not privy to that bound. The atmosphere here is vacuum sealed. Anti-dance? Sorta. Smidgens of piston-esque percussion gnarls and lashes in the mix. Wicked fun? Enticingly so. It’s a journey worth going down with this duo and their endless array of gear. Seriously, look at these guys and their gear! I wanna have a demolition derby with ‘em or something.

Limited Edition Pro-dubbed cassette with 4-panel J-card available at the Cudighi Records and Huge Bass Bandcamps.

Tabs Out | Stephan Moore – Stage

Stephan Moore – Stage

6.9.22 by Matty McPherson

Stephan Moore is a name we last checked in with in 2020, when he cooked up a batch of “solo voice music” for the “Chicago Sound Show” exhibition at the University of Chicago. Those tracks ended up making the bulk of Dreamwalk with Solo Voice, his fall 2020 release for Dead Definition. Well, Moore had more than just that on his plate at the time, wrapping up an older commission from 2017 for cassette home recording. “STAGE was composed as the score for the middle piece in a trilogy of works by choreographer Yanira Castro and realized by her company, a canary torsi.” I’ve practically undervalued this release even as it sat in a special pile for longer than I can remember. What exactly scared me about this release enough to not directly file it away? I truly could not tell you, as when I recently culled it back from the depths and gave it the hi-fi treatment, I found myself quite engulfed by the timbres found within this plane of existence.

Stage is split into eight tracks. Its slow build to a roaring climax and then bowing out back towards an austere finale do welcome it to these track breaks, yet is much more attuned to being side A/side B longform situation. As the Bandcamp bio reports, the crux of this performance is held by the musicians’ performance on “the Wall of Metals, a homemade instrument comprised of a 10-foot long sheet of steel, used as a resonator, with multiple cymbals, prayer bowls, and brass rods attached to it.” It’s a fascinating wall of sound, filling the space flush with all sorts of textures that feel regionally diverse. Pre-industrial music? Perhaps of its own accord. As the opening movements of side a lurk away from murky zones that best reflect decrepit New England lighthouses and balmy beaches, the Wall of Metals is introduced. It gasps and gushes, an endless gurgling crescendo lighting a path forward. An abstract dream of percussives.

It’s on “Sustained Explosion” that we finally experience the full force of this approach to scoring. Moore’s Wall of Sound collides, its fury enacting a fantastical array of sounds that go beyond a singular locale or zone. It may as well be a dispatch from the gates of Persephone, greatly clamoring and clanking with an intensity that ignites a divine spirit. For as reverent as it is, it is also bright; the melody is its own zippy kind of noise that carries such a bewildering, psychedelic spirit.

However, it is not an energy that can sustain an entire tape, just its climax. The back half of the tape’s B-side (split between “Trio,” “Bath,” and “Transfiguration”) is an eerie, atmospheric comedown. The clanks are minimal, softer and with a little more of a tickle to their sound. Medicine bowls and other deep listening instruments sustain the piece as it slowly comes down. The denouement, Transfiguration, practically sharpens the Wall of Metals into its razor-stricken form. Its vaporous free-jazz, a tumultuous revolt that lashes until it can no more.

Limited edition hand-dubbed rubine cassette, edition of 30, available from the Dead Definition Bandcamp page.

Tabs Out | Tim Thornton (4) – Teenage Tiger: Four Track Recordings 1997-2000

Tim Thornton (4) – Teenage Tiger: Four Track Recordings 1997-2000

5.31.22 by Matty McPherson

I feel as if I’ve been on a weird time travel odyssey the last while here. I can’t quite explain it, but just know the music seems to be a sort of variable at play here. I think this happens to us as a species more often than we know to articulate.

Anyways, we turn our attention to Mr. Tim Thornton (4), the local at the vinyl plant as well as the caretaker of Suite 309. When I’m on the local street corner or online formus slinging tapes, I’m always YAPPIN to people that they “have to get 101 Notes on Jazz; it’s so good!” Truth is, Thornton’s Suite 309 is an institution. In between Tim’s own releases (Tiger Village, TItanic II, various samplepedias) is offering one helluva platform for “electronic that goes hard” in various formats. In 2021 we got Silver Soul and Headache Bait, two releases with which words genuinely escape me in expressing the MAGNITUDE of what these pros are doing. To Sophiaaaahjkl;890 and hyphyskazerbox, your tapes are personal triumphs; I deeply love those undersung releases.

Today’s focus though is not on a return to 2021, but a return to the end of the millennium. Teenage Tiger: Four Track Recordings 1997-2000 is quite the welcoming and heartwarming release from Thornton; a genesis that lays out everything on the table. Tapes don’t just come with that Jcard presenting a fat stack of 4-track tapes and whatnot; we got a fatstack of liner notes and personal observations from Tim himself! And if there’s one thing that can be expected about those notes, it is that they are damn precise. You will likely learn: where and how Tim acquired a Fostex XR-5, what year he heard Aphex Twin, how he went to Florida, and what DVDs he liked in the year 2000. This is all important stuff for the Tabs Out 2027 Trivia Showdown, so PAY ATTENTION!

I have a huge heart for these kinds of rudimentary experiments–there’s an energy and ethos of exploration that works its way through Tim’s recordings even to the present day. By 1999 he was mostly using a “fostex xr-5 four track, boss ddr-660 drum machine, dod dfx91 delay/sampler, digitech rp3 pedalboard, toy keyboards, and rock instruments” to just fuck around with and make his own odysseys. By 2000, it was a strategy that was procuring Meen Man, a piece of samplepedia crossed with hogwashy drum n’ bass and (basically) 4-bit 240p action sounds. The sound of an MTV summer crossed with a potent amount of Code Red. Of course, most of Tim’s material here doesn’t reflect 2000. The endearingly haphazard Tires (1998) skirts and tumbles without a proper dance attached to it. It is one of many tracks perpetually on the fritz. 

In a way, I’m reminded of Bellectronic, the fascinating Techno footnote STR unearthed last year, mostly because both tapes are the products of one person engaging with a facet of mass culture in their own private way. With Tim’s recordings though, you sense someone who keeps finding NEW things as a teenager to fuck around with; songs are journals and timecapsules. He buys a matrix DVD and starts playing with his favorite quotes. He needs to submit something for the band teacher and basically puts a couple of ideas in a blender just to fuck with the fella (Audition Tape (1997)). He takes apart Elevators and basically makes a piece of illbient, DJ Braille (2000), that could’ve accidentally been slotted next to Techno Animal. It doesn’t matter that any of this is beginner’s luck. I’m just genuinely moved by the fact that with a nascent internet, Tim was just honing in on his own processes and modes in a way that felt more regional, landlocked, and curious. If there was a generational ancillary to Tim Thornton, it might have been one of those youtube MLG poopsters from the early to mid-2010s. Sometimes Four Track Recordings radiates THAT kind of magic energy I miss so dearly.

What is undeniably lingering over a lot of this release in some way is Richard D. James. One day, Tim is greeted by The Aphex Twin on the TV and hears a stereophonic drum sound he wants to troll with, affording him a track that’s basically just PS1 boss music, W (1998). From here on out you can basically run a calculation to figure out how much Aphex he could afford to buy or acquire sans import prices and what he really wanted to ape or gouge from. I seriously had thought part of Siol (1999) was egging Isopropanol’s Roland synthesizers, until Tim revealed his usage of the Rebirth RB-338 Roland emulator. God, what an open and welcoming trickster.

Edition of 60 home-dubbed tapes with silver shells and silver backed norelco cases available at the Suite 309 Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Euphoria Echoes of Inotai – self-titled

Euphoria Echoes of Inotai – self-titled

5.23.22 by Matty McPherson

We don’t hear from Baba Vanga (or Warm Winters Ltd) that often out in the Eastern sphere of the European landmass. It’s likely not because they can’t afford to talk, but because they only talk when of utmost importance–when at least in Baba Vanga’s case, things “catch their fancy.” Or maybe they actually do talk a whole lot and me, being a dipshit westerner, just completely ignores their message bottles (ie “cassettes”) until months later.

And what a message bottle they returned with back in November 2021. The self-titled release from Euphoria Echoes of Inotai comes with a surreal yet lucid piece of Bandcamp prose attached on its page. Of all the lines, “Path of no distinction for wind blowing mind, don’t call it music if that word offends you.” is the one that strikes the hardest. Because Euphoria Echoes of Inotai (aka…Meat Loefah?) is really out here on this tape performing an urban wind dance of its own volition.

The tape is entrenched in a weird balance of vague industrial noise. There’s haptic quips invoking minimal bouts of street spirit; classic radiator hums of destinations unknown and unbuilt; low-end near blowouts, evoking that of a sudden floodgate rush. All together deserve of its own subsection of semiotics. Tracks truly function in their own asynchronous shuffle patterns or psychedelic city backends. Transient and stilted, stuttering into each other or off of one micro-experiment pipe to another; once an idea has coalesced or achieved all it can, it sorta just bows out, the tape continuing down another spark of an idea.

It’s a testament that it does make for a gripping kind of listen. The artist title implies Euphoria and while it is not so much found, it is slowly gained by considering the patterns and lucid, almost prophetic, soundscapes that you are lulled into almost understanding. This is all to say that what I deeply love about this tape is the uncanny “radiophonic but also just totally untethered by it all” sound of this batch of a dozen electronic tracks. The rough n’ tumble of side A is a world of its own and approaches a moment of almost-dance with the track “Pump Up the Valium (Poetic Logic Mix)”. It’s a rare moment where enough elements coalesce into a real vibe caught between an arcade room quarter bandit splurge session and ambient synth chill out; so much for the valium.

Side B is more graciously grounded in the knob twiddlies–well, at least in the case of opener Damion Engine. By the followup, Absence Spells, we’re back in rousian haptics and vocal affects, itself brilliantly segueing into the “Ritual of Rhiannon.” In the context of the tape, its unvarnished vocal and “creaky yet cavernous” production create a spell that practically transports you to a village from an era long before. Scooby Doo People reengages with the twiddlng and introduced a “radio teleplay gone awry” filling the air. That side B is also edited into a seamless whole plays to the advantage. Fade outs are rarely utilized, with a clear preference towards the crossfade that makes bouncing and connecting ideas of this caliber salient. Closing once agaIn with “Pump Up the Valium”–this time the (Poise Mix), we’re treated to a complete 180 from where we were before. Harmonious strings promise an out, while gelatinous noise blobs conjure a loop back to the start. It’s no surprise I’ve been clearly been taking to those noise blobs.

Limited Edition Duplicated by Headless Duplicated Tapes in Prague, Czech Republic available at the Baba Vanga Bandcamp

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.