Tabs Out | Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev – Selene Variation

Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev – Selene Variation

4.22.22 by Matty McPherson

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

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

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

Edition of 100 available at the Dinzu Artefacts Bandcamp page.

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Tabs Out | Jason Hovatter – FIELD Spring​/​Summer 2021 Mixtape

Jason Hovatter – FIELD Spring​/​Summer 2021 Mixtape

4.14.22 by Jacob DeRaadt

Jason Hovatter has been in projects such as Waldteufel and Gulag, as well as his ongoing project A Minority Of One. While being a departure from his precious projects, this 60 minute release has moments that conjure up the animalistic tribal sampling and looping of AMO1, but with all natural cadences and overlays. Sounds breathing in a beautiful rotting world.

Sometimes there is a sharp contrast in the overlay of field recordings between seemingly unnatural and natural sounds of birds and insects, wind being blown through tree branches, etc… Machines and  insects and water rhythms come together in almost surrealist manner. The listener is treated to a hi-fidelity voyage of the aural senses. All natural world sounds being displayed in full. Some of the insect sounds are just insane on the second side of this. It makes me feel like my head is in that cloud of buzzing insects until the birds bust in and disperse out the gathering intensity of the precious sounds. Displays of call and respond techniques of the birds really had my dogs and my attention held. I’ve never gotten this many head tilts from my dog in so many listening experiences as this tape. Great fidelity puts you in the middle of the action. 

There’s parts where the layering of recordings works really well with delicate natural chance interplay between takes. Rather than being a simple field recording album and also not a cut-up digital effects muddled remix of excellent live raw natural sounds, we are treated to considered pairings of field recording sessions.

The bird sounds on the opening of the second side have this contrasting mechanical drone sound that I can’t get my head around. Total head scratcher moments wondering where you are on earth hearing these sounds and immense curiosity towards the creatures emitting them. The interplay with the frog sounds is palpable tension of daylight frivolity and guttural utterance of the nocturnal amphibian. One isn’t sure if layering is employed on some parts in a collage manner, but tense moods nonetheless. 

Water is also another big theme on this one. One can almost hear rain falling onto the earth as the wind howls across the meadow. Again there’s incredible detail in the sounds here that I rarely hear on tape that makes this feel like a Hands To or Yeast Culture album at some moments of the storm recording.  

I write all this before looking at the extensive liner notes and seeing how wrong I was about the sounds on this tape. HA! Sort of a tribute to the transcendent nature of sound over recording and playback devices as being the thing we long for. This is discussed at length in the liner notes as well.

Cassettes and FIELD notes available.

Tabs Out | Episode #177

Jen Powers and Matthew Rolin stop by to talk about taking over Astral Editions.

Bataille Solaire - Documentaries (Constellation Tatsu)
Shredded Nerve - Performer Death I (Dead Gods)
Blind Date - Internegative (Dead Gods)
bleed Air - Time, Ferocious (superpolar Taïps)
Bang! Bros - Hard Rocks Vol.13: 3rd Degree Birthday (No Basement Is Deep Enough)
Ohyung - Imagine Naked (NNA Tapes)
Carol Genetti & claire rousay - Live at Elastic Arts (Astral Editions)
J.R. Bohannon - Compulsions (Astral Editions)
Montgomery and Turner - Sounds Passing Through Circumstances (Astral Editions)

Tabs Out | Brnjsmin – Skin

Brnjsmin – Skin

4.13.22 by Matty McPherson

The underlying ethos of Big Ears involves reveling in the practice of deep listening, its inherent serendipity and what springs forth. Thus, it was welcoming to return back home to find Brnjsmin’s Skin from Katuktu Collective waiting at home, itself the kind of release that would have fit in well between the ambient laptop sound bath and attica quartet. The four compositions found on this release are the work of Giovanni Raabe, a Munich-based soundscaper. The four pieces have a disarming naturalism, with strings, guitar, or drum machinery that move between the ornate to the embryonic. It’s a quick release of many sonic shades that are as concise as a haiku or a brevity as a rave. It always finds a unique way to shock.

At times we’re left with bird song or drifting electronics, quietly setting forth a soundscape. Yet, Raabe has a keen ear for his digital ephemera. Whether bird song or loops are a lucid sound bath lulling you in or an instrument manipulation can instill a novel change of its own accord. For the guitar on Mensch, it is the latter. Trotting along in a somber manner without much force, Raabe enacts it to muster on solely due to the manipulation, dazzling in this pre-ordained structure. It bows out softly, as Estrella slowly bubbles to life. The track is more in line with Raabe’s previous electronic experiments, yet the loops are a nifty introduction into the violin and viola that enters the frame. By halfway through the track, they’re guiding the piece full stop and I find myself right in the back of a church hearing these piercing strings. Airy and with a sense of itself displaced from time.

Side B opens in the drift of an octatrack, haptics and a deep bass invoking Skin’s lush trek through a strangely isolated place. There’s a tension though, between the processed birds sounds and isolated beats that quickly builds into a trancey almost-dance track; eventually a bonafide bass drop is in order and we’re a complete 180 from anywhere else but a 4:15 AM rave. As it fades off, Raabe yet again leaves us at a quiet low, away from the sounds of anything but pet sounds. Slowly, a guitar will enter and be almost swallowed by a sudden bass eating effect that will also, naturally conclude our state of affairs here.

Edition of 100 available at the Katuktu Collective Bandcamp; European copies available at the personal Bandcamp

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Tabs Out | Ambient Grab Bag

Ambient Grab Bag

4.20.22 by Matty McPherson

Over the last year an enormous amount of ambient ditties have pilfered through Tabs Out West Coast HQ. In that time I also had begun to run tapes in my garage through a four speaker sound system that far scaled my wildest dreams. The debate over whether this was music for headphone downtime between beers or gazing off in the garage while waiting for laundry to wrap up never seemed to matter to me; often it was just that this music was widely hard to say anything more about than “I thought it sounds nice maybe you would too.” This post is an attempt to rectify that and give a platform to some rather nifty releases. I’ve gone through several unedited notes and briefs that I jotted down in my scribble journal.

Somnifera – s/t

Instead of writing this post, I could spend all day pondering why a dryer must make such a racket. I suppose I was when Somnifera played in the background. When the tape came fresh from the cassette stork, it arrived with an index of the past, present, and future, as well as their respective hZ frequencies; not merely for recording, but for talismanic properties. Few People do that, but for Stephanie Juris and Tanner Noykoa, it was an element of utmost importance. Somnifera’s simple patterns reward distinct listens–headphones truly do let you separate and ponder the subliminal textures/healing that each ear receives. It also equally compells on a two-channel ambient sound system set-up that Eno had theorized and placed in old copies of the Ambient series. Casually brilliant.

Stomachache – Good Machine

Back as I got COVID I found myself at a taproom, using my old Walkman, and trying to figure out a quandary in my head. It was at this time that I was considering the merits of the phrase “Rare Environments” (which later showed up in the btry pwr review) and how those tapes could sell for $35. It’s just field recordings that border on new age occult shenanigans; somehow, I though Stomachache’s Good Machine C32 operated as a 180 inversions of those records. It’s not field recordings at all, they were just clearly of a time, place, and space that forewent the naturalism in lieu of occult industries and oblique, gray situations.

Good Machine opens in the middle of a metallic firestorm (Baby Bok Choy), and from there it entails more jolly from where that came from. Tracks like Unbirthday and Lifelike keep low level industrial drones at the forefront. The strange thing? It all has a damn keen rhythm that Stomachache follows through on. Even with its 8 tracks often snipping at a potential longform here, the tape’s dense noise mantras and strange, peaceful isolation make it a potent environment of its own accord. Mind boggling, catatonic music that acted as a fringe narcotic when I needed it.

The Square Community – Words Are No Constellation

During that COVID window, I was fascinated in loops and stillness. Square Community’s 2021 release was a match made in heaven, having been built entirely of the sort: Pianos, synths, guitars, harmonicas, amongst a heavy layer of hiss soaring through the sound system. Synthesized together, Words Are No Constellation is a series of quick, tidy naturalistic apparitions; various nature walk portals to jump into. Dawn Patrol weaves together a haunted auditorium feeling, as All the Apparatus conjures semi-frozen pond gazing. Even with a sleepy title like Hit the Sheets, the track imagines a mighty valley at dawn as the fog lifts. I could go on, or you go just listen to the tape and find your own natural zones.

Bulbils – Blue Tapes 40

When in mid-November I caught the Delta “no taste/no smell/no fatigue/no bullshit” COVID variant. It was a burst of sudden, catatonic shock that begets its own reflective purgatory (in between the lost wages, oh god the lost wages!). In that time, I quickly filed reviews on tapes I never, never would have seen myself digging, in a catatonic state of just needing to fill time. In between this all, I pulled out my old sony boombox and took care of a trimming excursion and sat back, tenderly taking in the greenery. Blue 40–a release by Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington filled the atmosphere several times. I was quite excited because while everyone seemed to be clamoring about yet another new Richard Dawson, here I had the Hard Mode improvisational variant: the Bulbils C-69.

Dawson’s project with Pilkington during early lockdown in the UK may have produced over 63 albums worth of tunes–perhaps variations on this particular one, Journey of the Canada Goose. It’s an exceptional piece of stately, utilitarian music that quickly locks into a chipper motorik–complete with bass and organ–which then proceeds to look straight ahead for 37 minutes. There really was not much more to this piece; if you like motorik rhythms, then this is a terrific execution that is worth pleasantly falling into a routine over. My boombox has this comical issue regarding its efficiency–the pinchers make a rhythmic (sometimes arhythmic) rattling noise. Magically, under Journey of the Canada Goose, it lined up in a near-perfect sync, forwarding the percussive track and rewarding a further industrial spirit. It kept me focused on the task at hand in that present moment, over anything else. Two friends, in a symbiosis with each other.

The back side may not be as long, with a mere 25 minute longform and a 7 minute runt. Easter Bunny is sparser, laying out a reverent early morning breakfast tea kind of mantra. Itself, also an exceptional track to find yourself lost in–even if the lack of drumming means your boombox’s arhythmic percussion is more a bug than feature. Holy Smoke meanwhile, continues to pull towards reverent deep listening, just an organ and what appears to be a gong, casually in an ethereal step. Indeed, a Holy Smoke if there was ever one such.

Jordan Perry – Beautiful Swimmers

Strum with tender grace

Near plumegrass sanctuary

Clapper Rails Hold Strong

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Tabs Out | Nick Zanca – Cacerolazo

Nick Zanca – Cacerolazo

4.11.22 by Matty McPherson

Of all the tapes I spent the most time listening to on an MP3 CD in my car from last year (with extra heavy bass and drum control), Nick Zanca’s Cacerolazo happened to rank up there probably at number one or two. I was curious about Zanca’s work on Wendy Eisenberg’s exceptional Auto and had absolutely no fucking idea who/what a “Mister Lies” is/was. When I talked to Zanca about what I thought the tape had sounded like weeks before it came out, I noted how moments of the Cacerolazo composition (split in three parts) inadvertently struck me as post-Feels Animal Collective mixed with the 2012 GYBE composition Mladic (a piece which ends with a most empathetic field recording not far removed from the time of Zanca’s). This struck Zanca as pretty fucking baffling and part of the reason I never filed any review until now is because that’s not quite what the tape sounds like.

However, the music concept of that A-side is fucking airtight. The logic behind Cacerolazo I and II are inductive, cutting through various voices, drums, and bizarre detuned guitar patterns (nick, it’s those guitars in Cacerolazo I that sounds like Bees or some shit from 2005 era AnCo) trying to arrive at SOMETHING. As I was almost always driving at 75-90 mph past 9pm when I heard this, I was invigorated by that sense of direction and scale. Elements of Zanca’s DAW sound design border on a Dolby Digital Atmos test demo, which is 100% my shit (and a sound space that Asemix explores slyly and with finesse). It may sound “mid” to you, but you truly cannot anticipate how the drops or sudden whiplash will tumble and leave you quivering with ecstatic shock–at least they did for me consistently with Cacerolazo II’s synthetic strings and uncanny sound collages. That it all is laying a groundwork for Cacerolazo III ties it neatly with a bow. In that part, what Zanca is trying to inductively arrive at he does, brilliantly segueing from a boundless cymbal rush crescendo straight into a public sphere; the cacerolazo. How Zanca arrives at it (in a manner similar to the bridge from Eisenberg’s Futures) unearths a moment of lucidity, a suddenness that reveals the tape is above all a situated sense of place and humanity. 

After a window of silence that seems to be an accidental reference to vinyl pressings of Laughing Stock, we move over to Side B’s longform “Boy Abroad”. It could have been subtitled “meeting people is easy” (there’s some rather True Love Waits ‘96 bleeps n’ bloops hiding throughout the recording) for all that matters, functioning as Zanca’s recording diary and utilizing a litany of the same DAW techniques of Side A. The main difference is that it meanders in this era, considering the impact and meaning of the Cacerolazo to those around Zanca. When I talked with Zanca in August of last year, he did not remember a whole lucid ton of that 2013 tour–outside of the Cacerolazo and listening to Laughing Stock. That’s not a bug nor a feature, it’s just life! It takes time, even when you’re recording or experiencing life, to reflect and reinterpret what occurred. As a result, Zanca’s return to this timeframe across its nineteen and a half minutes, tracing back the radiance and sketching more focused snippets of memories, is a terrific realization. This piece of reflective, personal audio is able to exist in two time frames–one tied to the snippets of dialogue and banter from 2013 and one tied to that present moment of an individual tracing themselves to the now, wondering just how they got here and the feelings left behind from that moment. Due to the nature of the recording in this time and place, Zanca emphasized this was a political statement. Truly, it functions and should be emphasized as a situated one, of a single individual coming to a greater consciousness. I feel that it achieves that more so than anything else, especially in its final few minutes. Here, a swirl of voices give way to a synthesizer crescendo that suddenly drops us to frigid winds and a coastal bell, a snippet of sanctuary and clarity. The two Zancas seem to meet there for a moment before it cuts to black, here in the present. 

Cacerolazo is available from the Full Spectrum and Nick Zanca Bandcamps. It comes with a nice Full Spectrum Sticker.

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Tabs Out | Anthony Amelang – Traumland

Anthony Amelang – Traumland

4.8.22 by Peter Woods

There must have been something in the Midwest’s water in the late 2000s, a weird little critter of some sort that pushed the noise scene into making and listening to a geographically specific brand of dark synth drone. And while some of the folks making this dense industrial sludge had been honing this kind of music for years, it seemed to coalesce into a moment of visibility and interest right around 2008 or 2009. The pristine (and degrading) landscapes of Ryan Opperman’s Klinikal Skum, the low-end oscillations of Hive Mind, and the slowly evolving terror of (the aptly named) supergroup Nightmares exemplified a uniquely midwest approach to synth-based soundscapes that drew equally from early industrial, contemporary power electronics (a field all of the artists listed dabbled in as well), and the compositional techniques of drone. Put succinctly, this music may have sounded like power electronics but it felt like drone.

A decade on, Minneapolis’ Anthony Amelang must be drinking from the same water source because “Traumland,” a recent tape released on No Coast/No Hope, would fit right in to that moment. Amelang fills every single space and crevice on this C40 with dense and textured layers of pristine synth worship, creating a dark atmosphere that simultaneously feels otherworldly and manifested from within the depths of one’s memory. But what separates Traumland from other midwest industrial drone is the subtle yet direct framing of the album within power electronics. While others may have buried their PE influences deep inside synth textures, Amelang centers the genre and allows the drone to follow.

This tension between wanting to drift into a synth-laden soundscape and go full on PE by yelling shit through a flanger provides the narrative arc of the album. The opening track, “Sublimation,” sets the stage for this dilemma with a quick fade into a throbbing industrial lull that provides the foundation for the deteriorating high end textures that drive the track forward. Amelang then suddenly shifts gears by launching into a blast of white noise on “Jake’s Video” and builds the rest of the piece around a (heavily flanged) spoken text before burying a more aggressive vocal approach on “Each Body Alone” in a bed of low end oscillations. This back and forth between lulling drones and confrontational howls continues throughout the rest of the tape, shifting various influences from the forefront to the background and back again before landing on the straight ahead PE assault of “Uniform Touch.” Amelang then concludes the tape with “Bizarre Parallel Movement,” a perfect mirror of the opening synth dirge.

Taken as a whole, the work on Traumland feels right at home alongside other Midwestern dark synth classics while adding something unique to that legacy. The signature sound of this niche musical community, one that trades in a dedication to saturated drones and pristine production, is here in full force but grows in its full-on embrace of its power electronics influence. And while I’ll fully admit to being drawn into the album through the blast of nostalgia it provided, it’s the evolution beyond those memories that keeps bringing me back.

Tabs Out | Drawl – Swingsets

Drawl – Swingsets

4.7.22 by Matty McPherson

The piano is a ghostly, lonely instrument; one that demonstrates itself as such an apparition in those moments of lonely housesitting. its how Drawl’s Swingsets found me a couple weekends back. The eight recordings are not entirely piano focused, although the opening track sets quite a definitive, darkly brooding tone for this state of affairs. Often though, you’ll find Drawl playing with a minimal bass (like on the bloodshot clamors of “Possessed Object”) or a swinging kick drum (on the aptly titled “What A Lot I Will Buy From You”). Sounds feel found, dislocated, and unruly. It’s a palette that’s oft the inverse of your grandfather’s 78 rpms, brilliantly swerving in its own crooked step, especially as its side A culminates in unnerved thrashing noise bout (“Who Among Us Is Not”).

Now Elliot home-dubs the tapes at Drongo HQ, so a fair amount of silence is to be expected at the end of side A. This is inherently fantastic, as you may need a moment to reset yourself for side B’s bag of ghostly tricks n’ treats. Long For the World reintroduces us to piercing harmonics–this time of stringed variety. From Sight, a nearly 10 minute endeavor, recalls early Serpent Season, lingering with guitar chords in the midst of great blown-out debris before feedback promises to swallow it whole. Provision of Service follows next, blowing out trip hop acoustics for massive industrial scuzz n’ fuzz, before we finally come down to a new normal with Lapsed. Swingsets has been a steady Drongo team player, but this latest release feels more precise and uncanny; yeah it may start ghostly, but it quickly peckers up into a monolithic tower of raw sonic power.

Edition of 50 Available from Drongo Tapes on Bandcamp

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Tabs Out | Matt Jencik – Matt and Lyra

Matt Jencik – Matt and Lyra

4.6.22 by Matty McPherson

The facility I work in doesn’t have a functional AC. It just pushes the outside air inside. Thus, on cold days, it’s fecking cold. On “Now to be Expected February Santa Ana Days,” it nearly boils. Yet, the thing to know about a “Santa Ana” is that if you’re in the right patch of shade on a lunch break, it can be pleasurable to feel those wind gusts. Moments like that practically beg for a melting, gelatinous drone tape.

It’s been rather hard to confirm if Matt Jencik had Santa Ana winds on his mind while in Chicago recording “Matt and Lyra.” The noted basshead (he did a very good job on Don Cab 2) and alum of Kranky (he was an Imploder) just seems to genuinely enjoy exploring hardware. The Lyra of the titular release is a Russian Lyra-8 synthesizer that Jencik was more inclined to utilize for personal usage; he’s a huge proponent of those “fuzzy frequencies.” Yet, he quickly changed course and ended with a collection of five pieces for sharing. They teeter between open-armed sound baths and oozy drone metal. Fortunately, none of this is scary stuff, as all the pieces have titles that are very funny and will make you spill milk out of your nose.

If you’ve been following Park 70’s Labradfordian experiments and low-ground hums, then it is rather likely Jencik’s tonal displays will be heady grippers. The five pieces are often less about the buildup, either quickly dropping you en media res to the middle of a storm or quickly bringing in to the picture a windy gust. On “Yes Pussyfooting” (funny title), it’s the former, actively maintaining ominous, monolithic chills that combat Santa Ana winds. Black & White Striped Tights is the latter, quickly fading into a dreamy “all time stops here right now” metallic slab. Of course though, Side A’s quick sketches are no match for a mighty Side B longform. Clandestine Half Pipe evokes strong womb to tomb energy. Beginning with a most lovely jangle (shoegaze ‘95 vintage stuff!), it quickly stills itself into a stone that lets in a fuzzy low end to glide down stream. As that low end synth takes over the composition, my mind started to load up the credits of The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth… and the Santa Ana winds suddenly seemed to dissipate.

Limited Cassette  housed in custom JCard art designed by illustrator Paul Clark & includes the Explorers Series slip cover available at the Trouble in Mind Bandcamp Page

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Tabs Out | Some Recent Astral Editions

Some Recent Astral Editions

3.30.22 by Matty McPherson

About this time last year, I had seemed to mentally surmise a genuine notion of what Astral Editions was likely to be. However, Nate Cross has the audacity to subvert that expectation with gusto; he literally just announced two more labels in the AS univers for fecks sake! Over 2021, AE developed into a free-for-all of music that rules of its own merits yet needs a freeform space to exist outside of the Spirits jazz canon. As a result though, Astral Editions has often erred towards the vinyl (silly idea! Tapes or nothing!) freewheels its visual component (outside of the spine, which is really a nice gesture <3), and actually has albums that border closer to a warped vision of Windham Hill than anything else I can recall. In fact, right now at the start of 2022, I feel quite confident stating that Astral Editions is the closest ancillary to a Windham Hill style label manufacturing tapes (go to Cached Media for CDs) at the moment. It’s no small feat, and it’s not something that even dawned on me until I dove back into three tapes from the present moment the past back half of the year.

Blogger’s note: It should be noted though, that when I wrote this, I did not know Nate Cross had handed curation over to burgeoning Columbus, Ohio rockstar legends Jen Powers and Matthew Rolin. They may not have picked these tapes for the imprint, yet they clearly are of the same genius flock and insipid spirit. I truly, sincerely cannot wait to see what tapestry they spring forth with and carry the imprint towards. I hear tapes from Shells(!) and Sunburned Hand of the Man(!!), amongst others, are on the way, which is always a good thing.

Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido – traantjes

Open up the booklet for traantjes and you’re presented with nearly two dozen names and instruments–most notable might be pedal steel and drums. Look a little further down and you realize that the initial rhythm section was pieced together *just* before it all hit the fritz in mid-March of 2020. Look a little further up and you’ll see that  all compositions are a product of the sick twisted mind of Jeroen Kinnman. There’s scant information that matters outside of all that in all honesty.

Across the 12 tracks Kinnman has assembled, traantjes holds no bars back from what it wants to achieve. Can we get arhythmic math rock jam-packed with like five instruments fighting for the title of sole survivor? Absolutely. How about space age bachelor pad lounge grooves going off the fritz and reassembling into music for a speedrun? Of course, that’s often the main course. Could Kinnman perhaps do a vocder trick or add a litany of zany samples? That one’s on the house, dummy! traantjes noodles through these styles without becoming completely trapped or wasting the immensity of this excursion; it’s density and unexpected left turns become an act of sheer strength, providing that you are game for the unexpected. 

While it’d be easy to peg the veracity of sounds as bordering on Orange Milk or even Crash Symbols’ more electronic heavy fusions, there is a clear groundwork for this sound. Central to the whole affair are the drums and pedal steel that beget this entire world to exist in the first place. For the pedal steel, it comes from the emotional versatility that the instrument can offer and even subvert; it doesn’t just yearn here exactly, but often tickles. For the drums, it’s the fact that it offers a propulsive punch necessary to act as a rhythmic bar for five instruments to fight over. As a result, one track may actually be a slowdown reprieve before nose diving towards a sputtering BPM fest. 

Bevel – Angler Senses

When I talk about Astral Editions going “free-for-all” on freeform, Bevel’s Angler Senses is another prime example. The five people (+ Bill MacKay featured on a couple tracks) are lead by Via Nuon, who might as well be crafting a new fangled oral tradition of his own accord. Their nineteen tracks have a chamber folk sound bordering on a reimagined Appalachian psychedelia. The thing about those tracks? They like to gallop in and out around ninety seconds.. It’s surprisingly competent in the adherence to this “we played our song until we ran out of ideas” principle, that keeps ideas beguilingly fresh and concise, yet also lucid enough to run a cohesive mirage together. enacting lyrical vignettes of dilapidated enclaves and arid waterways. In fact, hiding within the release is itself a piece of lost wisdom, “Ancient Air”, (“a piece sung by an old lutenist at an inn in Nankin in 1198 A.D. discovered & notated by Chiang K’uei”) that still feels of today,

J.R. Bohannon – Compulsions

Bohannon’s Compulsions is the current Astral Editions release on deck and (in spite of the rather Orange Milk-esque cover) perhaps the most straightforward release to come out of the label so far. If you told me I was listening to a 1985 Windham Hill album, I would believe you full heartedly and say something like “FUCK! This label really doesn’t miss, does it?” because Bohannon’s 2020/2021 era recordings really feel timeless and patient. Bohannon’s repertoire involves acoustic guitar, bouts of pedal steel, and even light synthesizer into his solo material. Compulsions presents the acoustic guitar in all its textured manners, occasionally throwing in those other pieces for good measure. Often, Bohannon strikes up a series of chords and plays a small motif or riff before pausing; that brevity allows it to glide for a second where you can’t quite feel what comes next, yet instinctively anticipate the next part of the dream. However, Bohannon is savvy enough not to limit this to just the guitar, and when a pedal steel overdub or droning synthesizer fade out is brought in, it shocks the system and feels like you just discovered a secret zone.  For a subtle, short tape, that’s all I need.