New Batch – Midnight Circles
3.5.17 by Mike Haley


I’m gonna be up front and admit that I have never heard of Midnight Circles, the self described “Xerox-label” from Germany who have been dealing out slimy sounds for several years now, until this latest batch of three arrived at my door. I could ask myself if I’ve been living in a cave, but that wouldn’t account for the oversight, considering most of their offerings sound like they originated in a cave.

The soggy sounds in this trifecta come from C. ReiderDie Neuen IBM, and a collab between Danny Clay & Greg Gorlan.

C. Reider’s “Chew Cinders” C26 plays like a dusty reel-to-reel found at an estate sale. Ideas of the original content remain intact, but just barely. As bits of strained words warp into swine-like snorts you can only imagine what was initially recorded on the magnetic tape before time and the elements ate away at them. Those antique distortions, with their airy, chalky bias, are met with the occasional synthy snaps, but this tape feels most at home trapped in mold.

Die Neuen IBM is the cassette/synth duo of Chemiefaserwerk and Aaron Yabrov. The series of eight live improvisations on “Berliner Klassik” were recorded in Berlin last year and mingle the very familiar sound of tape hiss and scramble with a music box like delicacy from their Korg MS-20 and Yamaha SY77. The results are a C40 of no coffee / all tea plunges into deep chillness with moderately scratchy interference.

Last in line is “Birch”, a C30 effort from Danny Clay & Greg Gorlan that follows their “Brittle” tape released by Canti Magnetici in 2016 and several other get together’s prior. Gorlan, who has been known to mangle a tape or two (see: Vibrating Garbage, Black Thread, etc) and Clay churn piano melodies into a thick static paste. Notes swirl, rerun, and often go adrift in a sea of hiss. Depending on how you approach it, “Birch” can be a depressant cruise or a momentary escape. It really depends on what elements you focus on. Either way, it is a solid tape.

Each cassette from this batch is rather limited, packaged with fancy silver or gold paper with top notch art, and either nearly or completely sold out from Midnight Circles. Do yourself a favor and try to track em down.