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 | Leechwife – Nebulae And Debris

Leechwife – Nebulae And Debris

6.19.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Leechwife is the project of one Lilith Grace of Columbus, Ohio. There’s a rapid combination of Amphetamine Reptile style noise rock a la Hammerhead or Cows with distorted organ, or chunks of the doom metal band Pentagram, into weird proggy breakdowns with a more-punk-than-metal attitude towards the vocals on some songs. A really singular idiosyncratic universe of a solo project that sounds like a full band on most songs. There’s some tracks that feel more like studio jams than others, like the wandering tone of the interlude “Gelatin Planets, Glass Moons.”

Maybe it’s all the Chrome I’ve been listening to at work this week, but the record feels very acid influenced at certain moments. In a real way. I’ve only done acid once but this reminds me of it; loops of Stooges and Chrome floating through raga string tones while art objects become pathways to dark dimensions. Weird fusions of doom and raga melodic structures actually grab my attention for once in a long time. 

Then there’s the video game music meets meets King Crimson stylings of “Fractal Castles” to end it.  

What a truly strange tape.

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 | Stenorette – (INV) 2

Stenorette – (INV) 2

6.15.22 by Matty McPherson

“Stenorette is a recording project of Ben Worth and Ben Dyson – two UK immigrants who met in their adopted home city of Toronto, Canada. Their sounds are created using various tapes, vinyl, found sound, and heavily processed guitar. All work is 100% improvised and every session is recorded live to cassette.”

It’s a simple bio worth reposting here to contextualize their projects. Last year, Worth and Dyson revisited their the Stenorette archives and came out with a trilogy of reflective drone. (INV) 2, as its Stumptown printed cover suggests, is abstract yet clearly part of a larger sum. Still, the C23’s two longforms for each side have that miraculous effect of existing out of a proper time cycle altogether. Actual Business Letters’ ethereal drone conjures up images of dilapidated subway stations and fickle trains. The air is frigid on this half.

An Uncorrected Proof, further entangles itself down frigid, barren paths. It holds court with a sullen sound of its accord. The low hums of a drone suggest a monolithic presence, while gaseous feedback itself provides a chilling baseline for this side’s state of affairs. In the piece’s most gracious moments, faint chorus or ringing harmonies make way to the forefront. It almost sound of an imagined cathedral, a dream-realm of utilitarian purpose. I have a deep affinity for these type of textures, the kinds of sounds that play so well on those still mornings where June grey reigns supreme in an isolated manor. And as such, (INV) 2 is itself such a treat.

Limited cassette edition of 15, packaged in hand-stamped, 100% recycled chipboard packaging, available now.

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.