Tabs Out | Shoeb Ahmad – Breather Loops

Shoeb Ahmad – Breather Loops

7.28.22 by Matty McPherson

About a month ago I headed up to Pasadena for a Floating showcase. I’ve deeply enjoyed these events–although you must understand that I can rarely afford to go up in this economy due to gas/lack of transportation. Each one is a luxury to revel in.

Anyways, one of the preludes was a breathing exercise. And as someone that has tried desperately to find the proper q-zone for flawless breathing (and who claims to have “entered a sober trance state listening to the KLF’s Chill Out”), this was revelatory. Deep, thoughtful listening is intrinsically tied to deep, thoughtful breathing; it’s not a practice to be taken lightly and when performed perfectly it elicits compounding second-level effects. Take a breath from your stomach and let in more air through your diaphragm and out; repeat ad infinitely.

If you’re in the market for a listening companion to better instill this in you, then Atlantic Rhythms has you covered. The DC stalwart’s omnibus sounds have been known to teeter between the ambient (Dura) and the post-hardcore (the EXCEPTIONAL reissue of blacks myths is still available!). It’s always a good time, but now with Shoeb Ahmad’s Breather Loops, we’re taking things to the trance-level.

Shoeb Ahmad has been crafting sounds for over fifteen years. She’s got a knack for drone and misty soundscapes, but a punk ethos and quality is intrinsic to her work. Breather Loops is her music at its most didactic. Ahmad had developed these loops out of a lockdown necessity; meditative sleights that offered an open hand to anyone that’d listen. When Ahmad was given a grant, she started taking from her surroundings, crafting simple-10 second videos that could function as infinite loops. 

It’s why I’ve likely looped these cuts repeatedly in various contexts; it’s an aggressively varied set of sounds that encompasses a range of sounds between fringe jazz, neo-classical slowcore, and illbient; an inadvertent soundtrack for the lulls and downtime one finds between a frothy pint or a bowl of hash and just need to zip out of existence. The zones Ahmad surmounts are not innately focused on movement; she was aiming for the “ambient as wallpaper” aesthetic. Things often move on the periphery, like within the zitters and zippers of opener 2.7 or the fourth-world music building of 2.3. At most, maybe 2.9 (or 2.1) can soundtrack a giant golden sun rising in the east. Big deep breath ditties here, aching over the hi-fi.

Though, Side B often features loops that operate as almost-ambient pop. 2.6’s synth and drum edge the energy of a run through a bombed New Mombasa in Halo 3: ODST, as a simple mantra is repeates. 2.5’s down deep with a sine tone and synth harmonies, just bellowing for a deep listen as it loops an impeccable tone around and around. 2.4 is practically the intro to Pearl Jam’s Ten, just spaced out. Closer 2.10’s loop brings out guitar and dubbed out drums, for a somber, sobering close to complete our breathing exercise, leaving us equipped for the task at hand.

Limited edition cassette available at the Atlantic Rhythms bandcamp page

Tabs Out | Territorial Gobbing – Hot Singles in Your Area

Territorial Gobbing – Hot Singles in Your Area

7.26.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

New loops that are strange attempts at noise pop songs that were slowed down via reel to reel and fed into the dub zone, even though this is not a dub record. Fuck that’s a stupid sentence of nothingness, isn’t it? A tape that wouldn’t find itself out of place in the Chocolate Monk or Mang Disc catalogs is presented by FTAM Productions, a process of sound that is abrupt, raw, comic industrial cut up record loops that keeps delivering grooves one could hear on a Violent Onsen Geisha album. Even with all these name checks I made to give you an idea of where this album is coming from sonically, it’s not another supermarket level sonic irritant. Hot Singles in Your Area is the real good shit you get in an alleyway in the dark.  

Second side has some toasting vocals over records skipping for a song or two. Another song has deteriorated mechanical rustiness at the forefront of the sound. The pause button gets used to full effect on another song as balloon rubbing sounds interact with tape scratching off awkward time signatures. This one made my dog turn her head several times and that’s a good sign, folks. Styrofoam and glass shards making a stinging salad of tense pull and push anti music. Some sounds recorded from the next room over, jumping around different acoustic spaces from one phrase to another. A repeat listener for me. One of the best things I’ve heard this year.  Grip it, ya goons.

Tabs Out | Summer Covid Quickies

Summer Covid Quickies

7.21.22 by Matty McPherson

It’d been six months since the booster rooster bit me on my cute little butt, and next thing I knew I had a tickle in my throat and couldn’t sleep. Then came the hot sweats, the chills, and the fatigue. Look, I’m young and this whole virus is kept at bay via one(1) Gatorade a day (I like the cucumber melon green flavor best but sometimes you gotta settle for blue; blue never fails). Nevertheless, it’s a small and welcome bout from clerk work that offers enough time to offset the neverending backlog of great batshit music from around the globe. Some of these tapes have been sitting out for half a year. Some of these are practically old friends I listen to on my government mandated work breaks. Some are new challengers. I thought you should have a quick glimpse into what I’ve been listening to.

Alex Cunningham – Two for Olivia

OH ALEX! The midwestern violin maestro of unending tension and unnerved unease, always reliable for cassette releases under the 30 minute marker. He respects our time in this economy. Two for Olivia has a strong “straight to tape no fuck up” approach that differs from his previous two releases back in 2021. Here, two pieces for the one known as Olivia, “the resident dog of Bird Cloud Recording, who has slept through the recording of almost every album [Cunningham has] ever made” saunter and waggle. Side A’s piece (Olivia) is tenacious. It features rollicking syncopation–made out of either actual violin chords or Cunningham’s masterclass chopped and screwed approach to the violin. It casually subverts the violin solo with blistering gusto. Side B’s performance (Amps for Olivia) starts with classic “Cunningham Concrete”–low quippy noises that practically bleep and bloop better than any glitch recording. Although, its not without its sudden shockwave noise blasts that hijack the stately affairs for a noise solo that quickly becomes the whole enchilada of this side of the tape. It’s a technicolor delight, bopping and weaving out tidal storm wave level blasts of freakazoid noise. You WANT to do backflips and parkour moves to this. You’ll be so moved you will call up Harmonix and tell them “GET THIS IN THE NEW ROCK BAND NOW!” because this solo makes Wolf Eyes look too wimpy.

Woof indeed.

Cyanide Tooth – Tentative Identity

Erick Bradshaw, aka Creamo Coyl of Spin Age Blasters on WFMU, has been in my pile of tapes for a while. I refuse to classify or file away his Cyanide Tooth project, the kind of weirdo music that seeks to continually shift and expand its horizons. Tentative Identity is big brain hours for Bradshaw. Caught between mis-jangled drum loops bops (Slow Dance the Abyss’ pulsing frenzy is one for the ages and clubs), library synthesizers from hell (Banishment Park), and free-flowing debris (Are We Here Yet?), every track here is a chance to revel. Bradshaw’s biggest strength to match and dial in these disparate ideas is via the edits. Many of these cuts are accentuated by brief interludes that help to push one idea to the next. It’s club ready, which I haven’t been able to say about other Cyanide Tooth or Maximum Ernst releases before.

Jeff Zeigler & Dash Lewis – Eraserhood

I miss bike riding. Naturally, I understood how necessary it can be as a mode of transportation for urbanites of all stripes. So, when the opportunity arose to help Dash Lewis with repairs in exchange for tapes I was quite ecstatic at the chance to visit different incantations of his work as Gardener. There’s an impassioned, ever-shifting energy to his works, with his Trouble in Mind explorers series tape hitting a specific batch of bliss.

However, perhaps the most exciting tape to dive into was Eraserhood, a collaboration between him and Jeff Zeigler, released at the end of 2020 for Atlantic Rhythms. Zeigler and Lewis recorded the tape as one of the last projects at the old incarnation of Zeigler’s Uniform Recording studio, itself in the Callowhill (or “Eraserhood”) neighborhood of Philadelphia, where gentrification has eroded the post-industrial aura that became a framework for Eraserhead. The tape is split into 4 mongo longforms (it’s the heaviest tape in terms of weight Im talking shop on here) evoking deep listening practices. They also draw out their crescendos. Quite a value!

Truly though, the tape really just boils down to motorik rhythms and synthesizer noise–the two are besties that go hand in hand when it comes to invoking trance states and longform listening. On Side A, I give the edge to Popcorn Ceiling. Minimal drum machine and wailing synthesizer alarm noise glisten around the edge. Yet, the guitar tuning, what I can only describe as dreamy yet longing, practically defines it as a lost Cocteau Twins piece. It would’ve been an excellent bridge between Victorialand and the Moon and the Melodies had it arrived on 4AD in January ‘86. When it pops the fuck off on the final third, it pushes the reverb and drum machine stomp to full blown trance mode, while bringing in delicate synthetic strings. Was this made for deep listening or the chill out lounge?

For Side B, it’s a genuine bloodbath to choose the designated favorite. Observatories has strong “late 00s Kranky” energy that fits between an Atlas Sound demo that never got off the blogspot (with EXTRA lazer guided drum melodies) and a Cloudland Canyon bliss journey. It’s an urban beat that swells and swells its way to a triumphant transcendence (never quite hitting the red but definitely crushing). To say it is begging for a TikTok dance would be an understatement. It needs a whole festival and ceremony. Rumored Jazz may be too out there for Astral Spirits, but Zeigler and Lewis follow a synthesizer drone thoughtline to its conclusion. Along the way, they traverse a wilderness that grows more foreign and calming, without ever becoming hushed. There’s always a sense of movement within these accomplished pieces.

Late Night Cardigan – Life is Bleak and It’s My Cheat Day

I have talked to Zach about music and beer a lot. He is a “talented drummer” in Gonerfest certified Big Clown, and an unwieldy good archivist when it comes to Memphis punk. He made me an excellent mixtape of Memphis Punk and sent me Late Night Cardigan, a quartet he drums in. Their 2022 self-released debut, Life is Bleak…is one of the best slabs of timelessly great sounding indie pop I’ve heard in a hot second. The kind of release you’d find trolling the Captured Tracks discography in 2012 and say “damn this shit is effortless.” Because well damn, the 10 tracks on the cassette are damn near effortless.  

The instrumentation is sugar sweet, with Stephen Turner (also of Big Clown) conjuring up a cuddly twang, Jesse Mansfield goes groove mode on bass, and Zach well uh…Zach does cymbal rushes and tempo touchdowns (these are made up phrases to counteract me not knowing how to say anything more than “drums real good”). Seriously you hear this instrumentation and find yourself wondering why this isn’t on Sirius XMU.

They’re also a precise buffer for Kacee Russell’s punchdrunk gobsmacked vocal delivery. She holds no bars and takes no prisoners. SIde A and de-facto album closers–B-Movie and Slow Motion, respectively–are the definitive highlights of the output here. The former’s tenderness is a trojan horse to whip smart lyrics of self-doubt of being perceived as a super villain (“Can you imagine a girl 5 foot 2 dealing PAPERcuts?!”). The latter’s slow balladry is a wistful admission of once living life like it’s a movie; suddenly though, a turn-on-the-dime tempo change that kick-starts a cathartic capper to the album. 

Oh yeah and there’s a riveting cover of Pixies’ Gigantic exclusive to the tape.

Peter Kris – No Vision

Eventually, we will as a society realize just how giving the German Army/Peter Kris/Germ Class releases truly were. I’m a latecomer to the whole spectrum of releases, only knowing an occasional nugget here or whiff there. Yet, just a whiff of the mile wide catalog brings new depth to the ambivalence brought upon by late stage life as well as what it means when I say you’re “being industrious”. Because the German Army will not stop recording and we should be so thankful they do not. Peter Kris’ No Vision tape for Never Anything (the 4th Peter Kris release for the label!) continues a Durruti Column by way of Labradfordian jangled-out hunt for any signs of life in snake oil desert towns and derelict gallows. At times it is a sublime masterstroke, just the kind of aching beauty you WANT out of shimmering jangle guitar work. Side B does subvert the outright jangle though, letting unfathomable noise and jangle inversions blur out the radiance of Side A. Yet more or less, this is a steady slab of bliss.

Seth Kasselman – Analogous Fools

It’s been a joy to watch Seth continue to shift over the past two tapes (themselves encompassing the end of the 2010s right up to the pandemic); lowkey favorites of mine from the past two years. Well, the Kasselman is back, with his most “this is what I’ve been up to” set of recordings to date! Analogous Fools (recorded late 2020-2021) finds himself building off of the aquatic synths and musique concrete approaches that comprised his previous efforts. The recordings here are tighter, less on the longform side. They’re employ a newfound brevity and inquisitiveness that were not always apparent in his previous works. Ambient soundscapes evoke the eerie but never quite mend with the weird; these are zones that you wander through via your own routinized living conditions. The liminal spaces where unwinding is often a double edged sword.

Analogous Fools is Kasselman’s most single/track driven recording to date. It’s a cohesive longform listen, but I feel as if for the first time I have single cuts I WANT to return to. The Governors’ bubbled out pulses take the ambient synth piece to a new zone that calls into question how time and space function. How Did You Get Into This Line of Work? goes “gamer mode”, with each blip and haptic “bap” platforming its way through secret collect, as pastoral synths illustrate blue skies. Breaking in Real Time’s invocation of domesticity (via a life recording) is taken to a blissful extreme, as slightly nerved synths scatter about like polka dots–until a sudden intruder present themselves and turns this into a horror film. Ambition Can Bleed Your Soul is a chilling finale, worthy of a desert dust storm. Josh Kasselman provides a blistering harmonica as Seth wanders the ambient wastes, with just a bell chiming and a lurching drone. A career highlight in my eyes.

White Suns – Dead Time

I’ve been out of the Orange Milk loop for a bit–it’s more a me thing than a Seth/Keith thing. The curation is popping and the fashion is high-class. I just haven’t found a release in my q-zone recently. Thankfully though, they put out White Suns’ Dead TIme EP. It’s not everyday that Orange Milk HQ is going to bat for a noise-damaged synthpunk release like this, but White Suns are clearly worthy of the patronage. The trio’s 13 odd releases straddle that fine line of unclassifiable and “oh I know this way too well”. What you realize listening to the 4 tracks making up this C-20 is that the lads can’t stop “being industrious”. Dead Time has been in rotation besides Cabaret Voltaire’s Live at the Lyceum and TG’s Mission of Dead Souls–two essential live documents of genre forefathers who could weaponize noise into any shape necessary.

This is exactly why Dead Time fucking rules and is a welcome introduction to White Suns. All 4 tracks present are en media res zones that each allude to a different strength or territory this act can occupy. “xenobiotics” really puts the “now” in “no wave” by amping up the guitar feedback and synth blips into a carousel of clown pain and bad-acid detritus until being swallowed whole by the noise. “palermo catacombs” gave me a whiff of early Pop. 1280, but its stripped any of that act’s libido. Cavernous drums (rewarding good speakers) are the star of this track, until they take a backseat to the slow, steady build atop their noise-coaster. Is there a drop? You’ll have to find out for yourself! “night pours in” is the closest to a rocker we find ourselves with on the tape, as the trio find themselves in lock-step summoning a 747 jet engine for the ages. Finally, we end with “melnais balzams”, the gothic atmospheric track that relays a dream state worthy of Ministry’s own dream song. Bells toll, pistons wheeze, and guitars slash themselves into a fury. Needless to say, I’m all in hook, line, and sinkler for the White Suns.

Tabs Out | Zach Rowden – Like a Mirror Does

Zach Rowden – Like a Mirror Does

7.20.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Four track loops utilizing acoustic fragments and deft tape manipulation from one half of Tongue Depressor.

Stereo fields are utilized to their utmost potential.

Bells ringing down the hallways of memory, tape clicking adding it’s own time signature in call and response form.

Elements slowly swirl around the mix, congealing on different themes of tiny significance, these short terse loops revolving around one another.

Side A slowly builds itself up into a homespun mess of interrupted, tension-buildin’ chimes and overtone harmonies while the tape machine’s take up reel spins out in real time in non-treated fashion. I’m especially drawn to the sounds of the tape machine itself that Zach is working with here. An ambient hissing dysfunction that adds to the mix of four track fuckery that Rowden excels at in leaps and bounds on this. Taking minimal amounts of source material and mining out interactions of incorrect tape responses, slowly fading into silently shuddering loops of degradations to the source material resembling a grey oxide stew with flecks of warbling tape phrases popping up at odd intervals. Rewind function enters the mix eventually, erasing the older information slowly with each repeating cycle of the combined loop phrasing. This is patient, inhuman music deeply tied to the material at hand and a singular vision for building moods that sustain themselves across both sides of this tape. 

Tabs Out | Prayer Rope – Synodus Horrenda

Prayer Rope – Synodus Horrenda

7.14.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Synodus Horrenda on No Rent Records is my first exposure to this project by Lexi C.M.K Turner. A sound that I heard a lot from tape trading friends in the ’00s is on display here: amplifiers mic’d up and feeding back in unruly tormented fashion. Sustained intensity approaching a meeting of Mathausen Orchestra and mid-period Ramleh guitar feedback, although I don’t feel here a guitar sound as much as a harsh noise rotten tone. Some tapes just get you from the beginning and this one did it for me. Bear witness to a real monolithic crushing sound that builds patiently and never relents in intensity for sustained periods of time, fuzz baths for days of filthy feedbacking, bludgeoning tones. 

Harsh harsh harsh noise, in every sense of the term. Play loud on headphones while drunk late at night. Almost starts to drone for a second before relapsing back into shrieking fuzz swells that are intoxicating in rich texture. Side B’s beginning is a bass tone buried beneath stereo fucking ugly crashing demented filth that wouldn’t be out of place on a David Gilden tape. In your face and intense shit that doesn’t let you have any breathing room. It fills up all the space without becoming a constant wall, rather things are always shifting under the surface in dimensional relationship in the muck. This tape has won me back over to a style of harsh noise I thought I’d grown tired of. If you like brash ugly burly harsh noise that’s unrelenting this will be right up your alley. Sold out already. Wah!!!!