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Tabs Out | Sum Say – Another View

Sum Say – Another View

12.11.19 by Ryan Masteller

I’m right in the middle of going through the Top 200 tapes of 2019 with Mike, but he must have stepped away from the computer because he’s not responding to me in the chat window. That’s cool, I’ll just take this time to do even more work for him – like write another one of these tape reviews. I mean, let’s face it – somebody’s gotta do it, and it sure ain’t gonna be Dave Doyen. It’s gonna be me.

Already Dead has had a pretty fantastic 2019 if you ask me, and Sum Say’s “Another View” is like a cherry on top of that calendar cake. But in this instance, the cake is also quite moody, as if it were rained on while being hauled from the car to the table, and the whipped frosting has started wilting, and when you cut into it you realize it’s mostly still batter anyway because the oven burnt out halfway through and ISN’T THAT JUST LIKE LIFE, well I bought you this cake, you better eat it. And even if I didn’t just zone out there in a fit of regret and remorse, “Another View” would still be just as moody and you’d still have to get through it.

Because it’s still intensely enjoyable.

Sum Say is gloomy instrumental hip hop, the kind that DJ Shadow does (used to do?), the kind that shows up on Planet Mu, the kind where the static of the samples sounds like a steady rainstorm outside your window. A dank, dreary energy permeates the tape, its languid pace picking up its own steam and making a steady go of it. This is not music for sunny days. This is music you can curl up and drink some tea to. And if you’re like me, that sounds like maybe one of the best things ever, something you’ve waited the whole year for (because it’s perfect for autumn), something you just can’t wait to get yourself in the middle of. I’m exactly like that. Doesn’t matter if the tea cake’s wet or not.

Also, the j-card image is the exact opposite of the mood contained within. A sly prank?

Edition of 100 available from Already Dead

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Tabs Out | Sugar Pills Bone – Lumb

Sugar Pills Bone – Lumb

12.10.19 by Ryan Masteller

Much like Jerry Lee Lewis’s (and later Tyler Perry’s) “The Nutty Professor,” the duo of Boney Dog Davis and Sleepy Sugar Thompkins make their own version of plunderphonic flubber they like to call “Lumb.” “Lumb” is a sort of viscous material, but there’s enough old computer parts and diodes and fuses and motherboards mixed in so that if you touched it, you’d probably cut your hand on something metal, and then you’d get an infection, and you may be facing the doctor and his amputating blade before you know it. Old radio and television broadcasts are mixed in there too. In the “Lumb.”

“Warning: Contains an irresponsible amount of nostalgerol. Prolonged exposure may cause gravy-ear and other sautéed ailments. Consult your plumber immediately if Lumb lasts longer than 4 hours.”

Thus we’ve been warned by Sugar Pills Bone themselves, and with that warning we dive in, then we stand up because we realize we’re only knee deep in this sludge, and we’re already feeling the effects of the multiple infections we’re certain to have contracted. “The Bone” brings the sleaze, packing grotesque, mostly brief concoctions with samples and noise, instruments and loops, and all kinds of ephemera guaranteed to curdle your stomach. In fact, the duo has defined exactly what it is they’re doing on the j-card itself, making up genres (and even words!) as they go along: “Academic highbrut Slurpwave in schizophrenic Sty-Fi Buttersound.” Folks, things don’t get more apt descriptions than that. Feel lucky.

“5-year butter warranty available on all pre-damaged merchandise. Offer excludes but is not delimited to practitioners of the following methodologies: hypno-pediatrics, subliminalism, ridiculophagy, and sadofuturistics.”

I see what you’re doing! You’re trying to confuse me with baffling double-talk and whispered small print! But I’ve got news for you – I don’t need a warranty, I’m ready for Sugar Pills Bone. I’m ready to be confused and sickened and infected and amputated, ready for the deathwave of sonic slurp that’s been pouring out of my speakers for the last four hours or so. In fact, I’ve got my head screwed on so straight, I bet I can wade through this minefield of sticky detritus and make it to the other side without even a scratch …

Ow.

Anybody know how to apply a tourniquet? Make that several tourniquets.

Grab one of the 50 copies available from Orb Tapes

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Tabs Out | Adderall Canyonly – Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Adderall Canyonly – Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

12.5.19 by Ryan Masteller

It’s not just because “Flow My Tears” is one of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels, nor is it because Adderall Canyonly makes some of the most intense and excellent kosmische synthesizer music out there. It’s because, somehow, the two concepts became entwined via Bibliotapes, that crazy UK label specializing in releasing library editions of imagined soundtracks to stupendous novels. This artifact is breathtaking. It’s a work of art, marrying two artists and two media that I hold in remarkably high regard. I give “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” my highest seal of approval. And the tape’s pretty good too!

Popular megapersonality Jason Taverner lives in somewhat of a police state in the near future where universities have ceased being universities and house students in underground organizations in opposition to the state. Taverner finds himself in a version of the present where he is no longer recognized – he is in fact no one! Now what? How does he make it through the various checkpoints and bureaucratic red tape and function as he normally does? And does this sound like it’s something that could possibly happen in the near future anyway, like FOR REAL for real? I shudder to think!

Adderall makes it go down easy (er, Adderall Canyonly, I mean), and he’s the perfect foil to PKD’s dystopian futurisms. Like Vangelis did for “Blade Runner” or Wendy Carlos did for “Tron,” Adderall Canyonly’s soundtrack to the novel feels like it was meant for the big screen, and maybe one of these days we’ll get Taverner et al. in a Hollywood (or pick-your-streaming-service) version of “Flow My Tears.” AC captures the encroaching sense of dread at finding yourself transported out of your daily life and into the midst of an impossible situation, all while hope frays until there’s barely any left and confusion intensifies until you have no choice but to simply give into it and hope you haven’t hit bottom. It’s a creeping tension that slowly suggests terror or madness. Adderall Canyonly smears the canvas with the perfect sonic accoutrements.

Is this even available from Bibliotapes? No idea! Sold out from the AC man himself, though. Check Discogs?

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Tabs Out | qualchan. – the end of all seasons.

qualchan. – the end of all seasons.

12.4.19 by Ryan Masteller

Are we living through the woooooziest times of all? I know we’ve had an Ice Age and a Bronze Age, but how about a Wooze Age? I get it – it’s hard to really compare the level of wooziness to times past, where the concept of “wooze” was only for the privileged. Now that we’re all privileged, thanks to the internet and smartphones and blinders toward the rest of the world, a certain sense of languid, eerie calm has descended upon our way of life. It feels sort of … yeah, woozy.

To be clear, I don’t think this is OK, and I doubt qualchan. does either. But that doesn’t mean qualchan. can’t properly comment on it within his preferred idiom … which happens to be quite WOOZY beat-tape extravaganzas. On “the end of all seasons.,” there is indeed a sense of melancholy and contemplation, of reflection (both self- and general) upon personal and social history. Indeed, the opening track is called “everyone has a low.,” which totally points to an overall malaise. And qualchan.’s music itself is of the 3:00 a.m. variety (see “calling the cab at 3am.” if you don’t believe me), all minor-key drift and vapor. Life is a lonely walk in the dark when you can’t sleep for worry!

But at least the tape is awesome – I personally love those short fragments that are all woven together in dream logic, and qualchan. is really good at that. This is easy on the ears, and should you find yourself in a state where it seems like “the end of all seasons.” is wrapping you in a cocoon of gauze, don’t worry about it – just remember that when the tape ends you have some work to do in your neighborhood and community. Also, the secret to this tape should now totally be called “the end of all seasons 2.: the secret of the wooze.” Right? Get it?

Tape is sold out already from Strategic Tape Reserve (why did you wait so long?), but maybe you’ll get lucky on Discogs.

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Tabs Out | Lena Tsibizova – 3rd Track

Lena Tsibizova – 3rd Track

12.2.19 by Ryan Masteller

Daydreams, conversations, interaction, imagination. That’s what “3rd Track” has going for it, a fluid and expressive concoction from Moscow, built upon a “collaboration between Lena [Tsibizova] and her friend Sasha, during her visits to Saint Petersburg.” I wish I had the wherewithal to travel to Moscow or Saint Petersburg and spend some time there to get the sense of everyday life and to immerse myself in the culture there, but it would probably look funny, what with our big, moist president and Russia’s president all buddy-buddy, etc. I’d be under pretty intense scrutiny in the press, I’d imagine. (No Collusion!)

All is not lost, however. Tsibizova infuses “3rd Track” with so much detail that you get a real vibrant sense of place regardless of whether or not you’re actually there or have been there or have dreamed about being there or will be there in some capacity in the future. Wherever she is, there you are, whether it’s subterranean microgrooves or drifting ambient or crushing electronic slo-mo mayhem. Why not throw some napalm-burnt trip hop in there? Might as well – everything else is happening all at once. 

Whatever the style that’s thrown at you, “3rd Track” finds its own identity that weaves itself throughout the pieces. It’s at once melancholy and playful, chilled and revved, breathless and at rest. Tsibizova definitely has a flair for the dramatic, and she couches her work in mystery, restraining the secrets of her craft while amping up the tension of every moment. Like a wolf in the wilderness, as fittingly depicted on the cover, Tsibizova thrusts herself into rugged conditions and survives, coming back with a document of gripping artistry.

Edition of 70 “duplicated by Headless Duplicated Tapes in Prague, Czech Republic.” On Baba Vanga!

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Ingrown Records

New Batch – Ingrown Records

11.26.19 by Ryan Masteller

I don’t wanna be the bearer of bad news, but it seems like Ingrown Records might not be around for much longer. In fact, next year’s going to be their last in operation, unless of course they feel the tug of nostalgia to open up their doors again somewhere down the line – let’s set the over/under to 10.5 years. Was this news officially announced somewhere? Who knows. Maybe I’m telling tales out of school, and I apologize if I’ve hurt your feelings, but all good things must end. Entropy and so on. Death. Decay. 

Sigh.

But let’s do like they do at funerals and celebrate a life, OK? Let’s celebrate the life of Ingrown, which has released countless (you can probably count them) tapes and records, etc., by a wide variety of crazy experimental artists, all pushing the limits of composition and utility, all meeting at some central point where awe meets delight. If it weren’t for Ingrown, I wouldn’t have discovered Meme Vivaldi, Plake 64 and the Hexagrams, Corsica Annex, or Marc Aubele, not to mention the four artists releasing tapes this fine autumn of 2019. Thanks to Ingrown, we’re allowed to have this special treat. In fact, I offered my son the choice between this new Magic from Space tape and some of his Halloween candy that’s still somehow sitting around. He chose the candy. But still!


MAGIC FROM SPACE – 🎶 4 HSP ć ASMR vol. 2

It is made clear at the outset that the tracklist for Magic from Space’s “🎶 4 HSP ć ASMR vol. 2” is NOT in alphabetical order like vol. 1 was (not to mention those old Pixies live sets!). Doesn’t matter – we wouldn’t get it anyway. When I waxed rhapsodic about that previous tape I mentioned Chevy Malibus and Everlasting Gobstoppers and Chuck E Cheese ball pits (aka disease factories) and extraterrestrial intelligence, but all cloaked in the guise of “magic” from “space” because understanding anything that we can’t stumble against or fumble with or drop things on is just too much for us modern humans. Enter MAGIC FROM SPACE (all-caps added by me), the grooviest MIDI popster(s) this side of an Andy Loebs release, ready to wow us all with glowing, fluorescent, beeping funk bombs that we can’t possibly turn our attention from. We like shiny glowing things, we drooling humans, our intellect and capacity for understanding the abstract a massive disappointment to not only whatever Magic from Space really is but also to us ourselves, because, again, we can’t be bothered to understand tricky phenomena without plastering it with terms like “magic” or “fantasy,” or “demonic.” What we CAN do is move in spastic activity, our arms, legs, and heads jostling to rhythms as they pulse through the floor we’re slouching on, the involuntariness of it all an actual frightening phenomenon as treble notes arrange themselves like candy to our earholes. Magic from Space has us right where they want us: in a dazed thrall so they can conquer us. And we deserve it!


OARIANA – A Pear on the Wind

A pear on the wind goes “splat” at some point, once it hits an immovable object or loses its energy as it resistance takes its toll. “A Pear on the Wind,” on the other hand, soars continuously, like the musical equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, and somewhere Newton turns over in his grave and also does a little jig to the sauce that Oariana’s slinglin’. Perpetual motion machine! We will NOT be suggesting that the hallowed laws of thermodynamics are threatened here, but gang, Devin LeCroy is a friggin’ madman. This fractured one-person synth-prog opus is a study in a baroque synthesizer mastery, one where Bach made his way back through Bill and Ted’s phone booth and got locked in the Moog lab at Cornell. Wouldn’t that have been something! Or maybe he just cruised San Dimas with Socrates and Napoleon and the rest of them, and went bowling and ate ice cream and found a piano store. At any rate, “A Pear on the Wind” is a melodic treat, a light and airy confection that belies the density of its composition. It sounds like its j-card cover: colorful, full of shapes, going in crazy directions, not really from this planet. In other words, a perfect Ingrown release.


GUT FAUNA – Magicicada

If there’s any fauna in my gut, it’s of the hamburger variety, am I right? High five! Seriously though, Gut Fauna’s a somber affair. It starts out like that “samurai movie where the samurai kills a guy and then figures out he has a cat and falls in love with it and is holding the cat while he fights guys all the time. It’s a very fun movie with a name I forget. I’m also playing the new Star Wars video game.” So says my friend John, who was discussing the first episode of “The Mandalorian” with me via text. But it was all happening simultaneously, while I was listening to “Alexa Daydream” open up this sucker, this “Magicicada,” which, I hope, is NOT in my gut, because who wants a magicicada buzzing around down there when you’re interviewing for that dream job at Capitol Records? Not me. I don’t even want it down there while I’m sitting here on the couch with a computer on my lap. But the eastern vibe of “Alexa Daydream” spreads out to encompass much more, like the afrobeat-meets-Space Needle vibe of “Original Sin Forgiver” and the surprise acoustic folk number “Hesitation Blues” (the traditional tune). The freak folk flags continue to fly through static and synths and samples, but all grounded in an earthiness and that acoustic guitar. Gut Fauna’s got toes and thumbs and heads shoved all up and in so many various genres and inspirations that it’s virtually impossible to pin them down. Fortunately, there’s no need to when the music’s as vibrant and interesting at a constant clip – you just ride along with it and don’t care about that categorization stuff after a while. Now, when’s episode 3 of “The Mandalorian” out again?


J HAMILTON ISAACS – Circumzenithal Arc

Oh thank god! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks about light when they’re listening to (or contemplating or composing) music, wondering how it interacts with each note as if the music itself was a physical construct that could, indeed, actually interact with light. J Hamilton Isaacs “became fixated on an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as Sun Dogs. You’ll see them when there are ice crystals in the upper atmosphere and light from the sun is reflected and bent to form a halo at 22º. At the top sometimes an arc of light that looks like an upside down rainbow is visible. This is called the circumzenithal arc.” Sometimes you just gotta calls em like you sees em, and J-Ham does a mighty find job calling it for all of us. The synthesizer blazes an arpeggiated path for twelve minutes, leaving you hanging on the edge of your seat as everything around you converts into energy and energy converts into matter and vice/vice versa, all up until the point where the narrative completely changes. Which it does. The second half of the tape consists of “musical interpretations to 5 large outdoor sculptures selected from [the Denver Botanical Gardens’] Spring 2019 exhibit entitled Human Nature.” Equally compelling, these short passages are self-contained sonic structures interpreting every nuance of the physical construction they’re meant to represent. As such you can almost see the electricity of the music flit around in 3D space and suggest geometric forms as you listen. Do those forms look like the outdoor sculptures? Who knows, but somebody better get cooking on making whatever it is I’m seeing in my head right now – it’s glorious!

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Tabs Out | Episode #148

Wobbly - Monitress (Hausu Mountain)
Moth Cock - If Beggars Were Horses Wishes Would Ride (Hausu Mountain)
Dinky Mirage - 005 (Traced Objects)
Deathwish Jazz Octet (Jazz Hole Limited)
Eternal Showers - s/t (Moss Archive)
Magic From Space - 4 HSP ć ASMR vol. 2 (Ingrown)
Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla - Terrouzi (Sahel Sounds)
C. Lavender - Alone in the Dark compilation (Hot Releases)
Moon B - Live @ Modern Funk Fest 2019 (Hoop Sound)
Robedoor - Negative Legacy (Deathbomb Arc)
Maitre'd - Green (77 Rise Recordings)
Oariana - A Pear on the Wind (Ingrown)
Mu Vonz - Trouble Land (Already Dead)
Charles Bronson - Youth Attack! (No Label Records)

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Tabs Out | Brigitte Bardon’t – Radio Songs

Brigitte Bardon’t – Radio Songs

11.21.19 by Ryan Masteller

Hey, are you even allowed to do this? I’m not sure if there isn’t a squad car on the way to my house right now just because I’m listening to Brigitte Bardon’t’s “Radio Songs,” and it’s not because the real Brigitte Bardot suddenly awoke from a nap in St. Tropez and sicc’d the fuzz on me. Although that would be quite interesting, and the chase even may take on some sort of international espionage or action film overtones where I’m the debonair rogue in possession of illicit goods on the run from multiple factions. I mean, beyond what’s going on in my normal everyday life, of course. Gotta dodge them international spies and whatnot!

No, what I’m talking about here is the deliberate manipulation of songs on the radio. Brigitte Bardon’t – which I’m now under the impression is a pseudonym – flitted about to a bunch of different cities (in the United States, Canada, Italy, … Canada) and recorded the radio, manipulating the recordings into this glob of a mixtape where static and tunes and collide like they’re in a gladiator arena and fighting to the death. Static always wins by the way – there’s some sort of scientific property that governs sound and its eventual decay. I wanna say entropy? Let’s go with that.

“Radio Songs” is a fascinating collage that documents specific moments in time, and regardless of whether or not you’re actually familiar with any of the broadcasts – there’s a lot of banter and processing into incomprehensibility, and I’m honestly not hip to a lot of these tunes – the result still feels like its own weird thing. That’s the magic of Brigitte Bardon’t. That’s why I’m tossing this tape on the passenger seat of my Aston Martin and pulling on my driving gloves and getting ready to peel the heck out from the parking lot of this remote hotel as sirens sound in the distance. It’s because I believe in it, its realness, its standalone identity.

Do what I tell you. This exists in an edition of 100 from Already Dead. Check it out, man.

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Tabs Out | SqrtSigil – Materia

SqrtSigil – Materia

11.18.19 by Ryan Masteller

It’s been a long time since I’ve played “Final Fantasy VII,” but I’ll never forget the endless hunt for materia and the boundless joy of figuring out how to properly equip it to deal damage to monsters prone to the opposite effect or to absorb damage from monsters attacking me with the same effect. I was really good at “Final Fantasy VII,” but so was anyone, probably, who had their trusty strategy guide on hand. I found all the good stuff, in order, and I was able to prepare myself properly for Sephiroth and his infernal accomplices. Although Emerald Weapon always gave me trouble. I don’t think I ever beat Emerald Weapon.

SqrtSigil is like a mana spring you stumble across in some remote place early enough in the game when you can’t just fly your ship or whatever to restorative locations. Maciek Jaciuk, one of the founders of the Plaża Zachodnia label, weaves field recordings into his bubbling ambient textures, emerging with melodic textures that wouldn’t be out of place at some sort of remote monastery hospital, where benevolent monks and other clergy administer healing balms after you’ve faced some sort of tragic fantasy trial and come out with your life. Hey, sort of like a mana spring in “Final Fantasy,” or Lothlórien. 

“Materia,” then, is health magic equipped to your traveling armor, where at every step a micro amount of health or strength returns (and there are in fact items you can equip in the games that can help you do just that). The tiny fragments of sound are woven together and progress through their iterations until a full picture emerges, like when you get real close to an impressionistic painting, where the paint is all muddled and weird and you can’t make anything out, and slowly back up until the painting itself becomes clear. I swear to god those Monets look bizarre when your nose is touching them, but you won’t be able to dwell on it too long before museum security ushers you back out into the rainy alley you snuck in through. 

Where was I? Oh right – “Materia” is a perfect soundtrack for those miniature moments in games like “Final Fantasy” when you find yourself in a secret, safe place. Edition of 25 from Sweden’s Purlieu Recordings (only 9 left!).

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Tabs Out | Valance Drakes – An Angel in Alliance with Falsehood

Valance Drakes – An Angel in Alliance with Falsehood

11.15.19 by Ryan Masteller

“If you’re not familiar with outsider Bulgarian electronic label Amek Collective, rectify that immediately! (And yes, I realize how pompous that sounds.)” 

This is what I added to my post on Present Listening, the Facebo… internet social media website group that fosters conversation about what the heckity heck you’re listening to RIGHT NOW. I was listening to Valance Drakes, “An Angel in Alliance with Falsehood,” which I had received in the mail one day earlier. When I get excited about something, I don’t wait long to dig into it. I was not disappointed in the slightest.

I also realize that the alleged pomposity of that initial statement comes off as genuine and respectful within the Tabs Out community. I honestly assume that the discerning audience here possesses a bit of familiarity with most of the stuff I write about, so I lock in to that wavelength instead of serving as a guidepost to suggestion. In fact, I expect you to be more “in the know” than I’ll ever be.

So you should all have your copies of “An Angel in Alliance with Falsehood,” and as such we can all press play together and listen to it as a group. The first thing we should all realize is that this is a Serious Endeavor, with caps. Before the first sound squirts from the speaker we’re privy to treatises as track titles, philosophical musings that will only serve to underpin the sonics that ensue. “Roses Are Not Armour.” “Expression of the Soul’s Desire to Escape.” “Looking at Heaven Puzzled and Defeated.” And there are seven more where that came from! It’s like Valance Drakes spent an entire four-year college experience listening to post-rock and majoring in creative writing. There’s probably a literal degree in that somewhere. (It’s either Harvard or Trump University, two great learning institutions on the cutting edge of literature.)

But the work here fully underscores the literary weightiness infusing these tracks. Valance Drakes peddles a darkish ambient, a minor-key synth world where a hardscrabble existence perpetuates itself in the shadows, poking its head out into the daylight only periodically before re-submerging itself in its desperate business. Scuttling glitches punctuate “An Angel,” which juxtapose themselves with the more tranquil ambience in what seems to be the central theme of flawlessness or characteristics above reproach being lowered or debased – entropy in action. As usual, it takes an enlightened gearhead to weave together a wordless narrative of perpetual decay before we even take notice that we’re headed down an irreversible path with our corroding humanity, passengers in the proverbial handbasket on its way to hell. Great tunes piping over the system though!

Rectify, rectify, rectify your unfamiliarity with Amek that I know doesn’t even exist because you’re so with it! “An Angel” limited to 111 copies. Divisor of the beast!

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