Tabs Out | Rene J Nunez – Poems E on Magnetic Tape

Rene J Nunez – Poems E on Magnetic Tape

5.19.20 by Tony Lien

No Rent Records is possibly the most prolific label I can think of. By the time I received this tape in my “to-review” box, they had already released eight other albums. At the time of finally writing this piece, they are up to thirteen. There’s always a bit of lag in coverage – since the world’s most capable scientists have yet to devise a feasible way to teleport anything besides singular particles – but still. Damn. 

Existing as a sort of subconscious companion to his Horoscope project, “Poems E on Magnetic Tape” by Rene J Nunez is a lo-fi, abstract offering that harkens back to the early days of the cassette revival. I’m slightly reminded of Ricky Eat Acid’s first couple of albums (when it comes to recording style and how the songs are weaved together in a seamless stream-of-consciousness fashion) – except whereas R.E.A.’s music was born out of a rural atmosphere, Nunez’s compositions are more urban in texture and aesthetic; the lazy jazz element leaves me slumped in a corner booth in some dark, long-forgotten speak-easy in the bowels of Brooklyn. 

Going off of that image, each track is pensive and eerie – especially when comparing song titles to their respective sounds (see “Love Is a Word I’ve Never Used In A Song” – a janky loop that pans back and forth in your headphones and mirrors the uneasy notion suggested by the track name). Beneath this, moments of artful dissonance (see “Kendall Jenner in Print Part 2” or “Let’s Compare Ex’s Suite”) work to conjure sub-layers of beauty that make this tape seem more like a full-fledged silent film rather than a mere collection of songs. 

To me, it’s background music that’s meant to be appreciated in whatever segment of your attention span’s spectrum that feels the most comfortable at any given time. Nuances aplenty, there are countless audio details to sift through – but by no means is it ever too dense or busy; the warm, static-enveloped world Nunez has created is simply there for you when you choose to acknowledge it. 

Miraculously, there are still copies available on the No Rent Bandcamp site. Being that they sell out of their tapes pretty quickly, I would make sure to order this one once they get back to their normal shipping routine.

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Tabs Out | Modal Zork – Klog Borp

Modal Zork – Klog Borp

5.6.20 by Tony Lien

Modal Zork is the sole moniker of Jojo Nanez – weirdo synth extraordinaire. His work, if you are so far unfamiliar, is highly-defined and concept driven – his various releases documenting alien worlds and their colorful denizens through the expert utilization of hardware synths and effect-drenched vocals. And I don’t just mean that in a metaphorical sense; the punchy, aggressive stabs that Nanez teases out of his keyboards often enough sound more like unnameable, otherworldly instruments altogether (something I think synth designers/manufacturers wish more of their customers would attempt to accomplish) – while his nearly indiscernible vocals emulate zany, extra-terrestrial lifeforms hell-bent on spreading the stories of their people via hyperactive rhythms/sound waves. 

“Klug Borp” is Nanez’s latest interstellar excursion – available on tape via Texas label Pecan Crazy. Compared to his previous releases, the composition is next-level (I wrote this particular sentence when I was listening to the song “Zweep”). The track lengths range from thirty seconds to three minutes as per usual, but the overall production work/presentation is fully realized – artful layering, thoughtful dynamics, wide ranges of emotion (see “Plasmx_XRF”) abound. The album even wraps up with a Muppets cover (digital only) – a conclusion that no one would ever expect yet one that acts as a perfect representation of where Nanez comes from aesthetically and nostalgically (his music, to me, is an innocently-twisted ode to childhood sprinkled with a seasoned, fine-tuned sense of what makes left-field experimentation accessible to the limited masses who are willing to take the plunge). 

When are The Residents going to reach out and ask him to fake his own death and join the squad? Who knows. Regardless, I’d say he’s well on his way to earning his place in the higher echelons of the outsider canon – where only the most passionate and persistent thrive both by releasing music prolifically and wearing their wheel bearings out multiple times a year due to excessive travel. 

Yes, for a good while now he has been on what seems to be an endless tour (he cares deeply for live performance – check out his rad stage setup/getup here). When all of this quarantine business went down, he ended up in San Marcos, Texas – where he will remain until the coast is clear enough to move on. You can support him during these strange times by purchasing his work on his personal Bandcamp if you feel so inclined.

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Tabs Out | Concrete Colored Paint – Through a Lens

Concrete Colored Paint – Through a Lens

4.8.20 by Tony Lien

Orb Tapes has been experiencing exponential growth in variety and scope since its founding in 2015. With releases that span from experimental metal to lost recordings of legendary Sun Ra, it’s obvious that with each venture into new sonic territory the label remains true to a deep-rooted appreciation of sound as more than just a creative commodity.

Though not their latest release, “Through a Lens” by Concrete Colored Paint (Peter Kris) is a prime example of a tape that speaks to this sentiment. Before I delve into specifics though, I’ll leave a gentle reminder here to please wear some headphones while you listen to this tape. I know I say this basically every time I write one of these things, but it really can’t ever be stressed enough when it comes to albums like this one.  

According to the Bandcamp page, Concrete Colored Paint is a travel project – and the collected field recordings are used to “form an audio memory”. Built around an eclectic selection of these sounds (most of them originating from Taiwan), “Through a Lens” unfolds like an abstract audio-only documentary – with a near-continuous layer of ambient playfulness that interacts with the natural sounds in such a way that it almost seems like a separate soundtrack itself. 

With eyes closed, the imagination is surely stoked as these audio memories paint worlds within the listener’s skull. While some of the field recordings are more expected (forest sounds, the crunching of boots in dry grass, etc.) when considering the genre as a whole, others are rather mysterious (see “Death Comes Hardest”) and act almost as a sort of Rorschach test for the ears. Everyone will likely imagine something quite different. 

As the album progresses, the tracks take an unexpected turn. “Farther North” was recorded in what seems to be a crowded restaurant, the clanking of cups and drone of strangers having spirited conversations causing a claustrophobic feeling (in context with the rest of the album, at least – maybe I’m just really that anti-social). “Broken Eye Contact” – my favorite track – depicts the performance of street musicians; however, it seems the mic was somehow placed in a cup here and there, or at least obscured by Kris’s continuous change of position while recording. Whatever the truth behind his process may be, the results remind me of why field recording projects can be almost as surprising and intriguing as a real world experience. 

“Through a Lens” is, despite its underlying spirit of adventure, meditative and subtle – a soothing ode to the natural world and the magic of voluntary displacement. It’s a pleasure to immerse oneself in – especially in times of global hysteria and government-sanctioned quarantine. 

That being said, independent labels/artists need more assistance now than ever. A good portion of them rely on fan support not just for the healthy continuation of their projects, but also for their own personal livelihood. Head over to Orb Tapes and purchase this tape (and any of the others still available) if you have the means to.

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Tabs Out | Cop Funeral – Hot Lonely Singles

Cop Funeral – Hot Lonely Singles

3.23.20 by Tony Lien

It’s always interesting to explore the discographies of label owners’ personal work. This is especially true when it comes to the music of Josh Tabbia – who releases music as Cop Funeral and co-runs the prolific (and ultra-diverse) label Already Dead Tapes. I’ve been a fan of his music for a couple of years now, but I can distinctly remember how surprised I was the first time I realized he was one of the ADT overseers. The label’s catalog represents a staggering array of artists and genres (anything from free jazz to lo-fi bedroom pop) – so I had no way of knowing the specifics (and the depth and intensity) of his audio transmissions. 

“Hot Lonely Singles” is an expansive display of mesmerizing noise poetry – organic and deceivingly complex. The compositions truly add up to be a smorgasbord of emotions and intensities – sometimes so fuzzed-out and/or ethereal that you nearly lose your place in the sonic fog (see “Maybe Don’t Shit On Everyone You Know”), other times incredibly concise and pulverizing in the same vein as industrial soundtrack music fit for a pulse-pounding sci-fi/horror chase scene in the bowels of a derelict space cruiser (see “FYIQ”). 

Though I’m sure it helps that these songs are from many different eras in his life – thus showcasing natural growth in both creative ability and style – I still find myself thinking the same thing when listening to his other non-B-side releases in their entireties. Going back as far as his 2012 release “When the Heart Overflows the Mouth Speaks” and comparing it with 2017’s “Part Time Pay/Paid Vacation” is surely a testament to how Tabbia has – since the conception of his Cop Funeral project – been able to approach noise music from as many perspectives as his impressive musical prowess allows. This level of artistic vigor (and respect) is especially welcome in the realm of noise (I’m using that genre label in the most general sense possible so as not single anyone out) – where laziness and mediocrity can easily corrupt the creative soul. 

“Hot Lonely Singles” was released on Valentine’s Day, but there are still copies available on the ADT Bandcamp site (very reasonably priced at $6). Stick it in your tape deck, see how it feels; I can already tell you it’s a cassette you’ll want to keep within an arm’s reach.

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Tabs Out | New Batch – Garden Portal

New Batch – Garden Portal

3.12.20 by Tony Lien

Northern Minnesota is a frozen wasteland six months out of the year, so even the mention of Garden Portal (and the moderate wintertime temperatures of Georgia – where the label is ran from) is enough to slap a wistful smile on my face. Imagine, then, how I feel when I learn of a new set of releases. You could say it’s a moment akin to that part in The Revenant when Leo finally reaches the outpost near the end of the movie, frozen to his weary bones and still covered in blood from when he had to hide inside of his horse’s carcass in order to keep warm the night before. 

Sorry. It really does get cold up here. And I love Garden Portal. 

Anyway, prepare yourself for two sprawling yet intimate tapes – both with a very spooky release date (Friday the 13th): “Ohio” by Matthew J. Rolin and “Beacon” by Gerycz/Powers/Rolin.

Matthew J. Rolin – Ohio

While “Ohio” is a mostly solo endeavor (listen for the superb singing bowl addition to the track “Brooklyn Center” –  courtesy of Cloud Nothing’s Jayson Gerycz), Beacon is a collaborative album featuring the aforementioned Rolin and Gerycz, along with Jen Powers (dulcimer extraordinaire and second half of the Rolin/Powers duo). Despite the fact that both tapes were born of fruitful musical friendships, the albums couldn’t be more different – due to both atmosphere and technical execution.

From its very first moments to the droned-out epilogue of its final track, “Ohio” is a visual album; the image-ridden majesty of its meandering melodies far surpasses that of a warm Midwestern horizon. Add to that a transportive, forward-moving quality that mimics the onward chugging of a freight train and you have a shoddy yet well-intentioned attempt by yours truly to describe the journey that awaits once you dawn a pair of headphones. Yes, Rolin’s expert execution of dynamics and overall timing truly creates a sort of point A to point B feeling – an almost tangible representation of movement/passage of time that seems as real as the pebbles stuck between the ridges of the soles of one’s shoes. No song on the album truly repeats itself; the compositions push forward through the minutes, changing either slightly or drastically – whatever the universe contained within the frequencies permits. 

Gerycz / Powers / Rolin – Beacon

Beacon maintains a similar explorative feel, but nonetheless exists in a totally different era (or really, a completely different age). Whereas Ohio exhibits a sense of wandering and general lightheartedness, Beacon seems quite a bit heavier, a bit more in tune with the seismic forces that shape the earth. Powers and Gerycz both do their part to add their respective colors/designs to the auditory tapestry, augmenting Rolin’s guitar work with a sort of chemical intelligence/urgency that bubbles under the surface of the primordial ooze of joyful improvisation. The end result is a soundtrack to either the prologue of life on earth or the inevitable, post-apocalyptic erosion of all ephemeral human structures. No matter the case, the beauty cannot be denied. 

As is the case with Garden Portal tapes, they tend to sell out quickly. I would suggest scooping these up; we all must appreciate such musical harvests while we can.

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Tabs Out | Tape Label Wizard, Michael Potter, Opens Additional Rift In The Fabric of Time With New Label Garden Portal

Tape Label Wizard, Michael Potter, Opens Additional Rift In The Fabric of Time With New Label Garden Portal

4.3.19 by Tony Lien

Michael Potter founded multi-genre experimental tape label Null Zone in 2015. Since then, the label has earned its reputation as one of the mainstays of the cassette scene — thanks to Potter’s ability to surprise fans with each release as well as his willingness to tour and promote the strange music he curates. Due to this openness and hard work, I posit that Null Zone will weather the onslaught of the impending decades and be remembered fondly by our avant-garde obsessed, half-mutated, nutrient-deprived descendants as they drive faithfully towards the gates of Valhalla — shiny and chrome.

And, though it may very well be too early to tell, I also posit that Potter’s new label Garden Portal will be celebrated by future warboys just the same — if not more so.

Yes, Michael Potter has taken it upon himself to start a second label.

The first two releases (both albums courtesy of the same artist, Joseph Allred) were released on March 22, 2019. Read on and you will find out a little about what to expect when listening to Allred’s work, as well as some context regarding the genesis of Garden Portal in the form of an interview with Potter himself.

“Aspirant” revolves around minimalist sound experimentation — laden with field recordings, drones and occasional melodic passages that give the album a ghost town soundtrack sort of vibe. Throughout its run time, I can’t help but imagine a lone spirit wandering from place to place in some abandoned township, tinkering with rusted porch chimes (see the aptly named “Chimes and Basement Mass”) or sitting in a room amongst sofas and chairs covered in dusty plastic playing a forlorn tune on a harmonium (see “The Coyotes, The Sun). There are even moments that lean towards the creepy side (if you go along with the ghost town thing) — such as in “Good Order” when unintelligible whispers swirl around in the air amidst an ominous drone.

When considering all of this, perhaps “Aspirant” is a meditation on how it feels to be alone and lost in a quixotically empty place saturated in memories — and yet still feel an insurmountable desire to somehow make something beautiful out of it.

“Nightsongs” is a logical companion to “Aspirant” in that it possesses similar lonesome qualities — each track being comprised of thoughtful ditties played with subdued passion on six and twelve string guitars in an empty room. Due to this choice of instrumentation, the songs are more grounded and intimate. However, though the album is less “experimental” in this particular way, it nonetheless scribes its own chapter in the shared narrative.

All of that being said, what I love most about both albums is that each of them simultaneously compliments the other while standing firmly on its own. They are deep and rich with complicated nuances, like two beautiful humans who would have been just fine on their own — but nonetheless had the good fortune of becoming lifelong friends. And, because of this union, we are all richer ourselves. Bravo, Mr. Allred.

Null Zone is already an incredibly diverse label (in terms of genre) — so how and why start Garden Portal?  

With Garden Portal, I want to focus on a more organic kind of sound. Null Zone is pretty all over the place, but more and more it’s focused on electric and electronic musics. I love all that stuff, but I also have a deep love for acoustic based music too, especially guitar music. So a lot of what Garden Portal releases is going to be guitar oriented, but certainly not all. There will be some like drone and more atmospheric type stuff here too, it will just be of a more organic or earthy nature.  

How did you come to work with Joseph Allred? Tell us about why you chose ‘Aspirant’ and ‘Nightsongs’ to carry the burden of establishing first impressions of Garden Portal.  

I met Joey at the Three Lobed Records sweet sixteen show in Raleigh in 2016. I was introduced through my friend Shannon Perry of the band Wet Garden who I was at the show with. We talked a bit there and then some more on the internet. Met again at the Thousand Incarnations of the Rose American Primitive guitar festival in April of last year where he played a beautiful set of acoustic guitar pieces. Garden Portal had already been on my mind for a minute, and when I saw him play I knew I wanted to work with him. So a few discussions later and he sends me these 2 albums. It was kind of a no-brainer for me, really. These two tapes sort of give a roundabout sense of everything Garden Portal aims to be about – some nice acoustic guitar music mixed with very organic sounding field recordings and soundscapes.

How will you handle unsolicited submissions? Will your process be different than that of Null Zone?  

Well, same with Null Zone, anyone is welcome to send a submission over but who knows if I will have time to listen or not. I’ve got the next 3 Garden Portal tapes slated for the next few months. I tend to plan things out at least a few months in advance and I already have a bunch of folks I’ve asked if they want to do something, and a list of others that will eventually be asked. If someone sends something my way that I really connect with, then I’ll try to make something happen if it’s possible.

Going off of the previous question, what is your ideal release schedule look like?

I’m finally kind of figuring it that all out now. Last year I released 22 tapes on Null Zone, doing all the physical production and shipping myself (in between working a full time job), and that was too much for me. That really wore me out and kind of put me in a bad mood sometimes lol. So I think this year I want to slow things down just a little and then slow them down a whole lot for 2020. I’ve got 12 tapes and 1 vinyl LP slated for Null Zone, and 6 tapes slated for Garden Portal for the entire year, the releases alternating between labels every month. Null Zone tapes come in batches of 2, Garden Portal will come out one at a time (from now on). Maybe next year slow that down to just doing one tape a month alternating between labels.

What’s it like running experimental cassette labels in Athens, Georgia? How does location play a part in your creative choices – if at all?  

Athens is a great place to live if you just like to kinda keep your head down and do your own thing. There definitely is a cool scene of weirdos making all shades of experimental music, but it’s more like a community thing rather than a music/recording/nightlife kind of thing. A few folks in town will get some tapes from me, and sometimes the record shops will put a few up on the shelves, but not that many folks seem very interested in it. And that’s fine, I realize this music isn’t for everyone, especially not in a place as over-saturated with music as Athens is. I try to work with as many local experimenters as I can, while also working with folks from around the country and globe. So it’s cool to have this thing where those two scenes kind of meet and overlap. Also, just being in Athens, it’s kind of nice to retain a small bit of anonymity and to just be left alone to do what I want.

What is your highest hope for cassette culture (in general) as we push forward through time?

Oh dang, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that before, nor is that something I would just think of lol. I like cassettes – like listening to them, like making them, like holding them and looking at them… but you know, everything goes away after a time. The world is in a pretty disastrous place right now and I wonder about how adversely I am affecting things by constantly putting out these little hunks of plastic that will eventually become garbage… Otherwise I think it’s great that we have this little music subculture surrounding this “outdated” form of media that is cheap and easy to produce and release, and that so many folks are on board with keeping it going.

Tabs Out | New Batch – Bumpy

New Batch – Bumpy

3.29.19 by Tony Lien

It’s my supreme pleasure to relate to you my thoughts on Minneapolis-based Bumpy Records’ two newest releases (set to drop on March 29) — “Durn Fool” by Oyster World and “Frisbee” by The Miami Dolphins.

Oyster World’s “Durn Fool” is an experience — and I don’t mean that in the usual vague sense employed by those who can’t find the right word to describe an album or a movie or an actual real life…experience. What I’m saying is that this album truly is an excursion, a spastic tour across numerous genre-bending soundscapes. Think paradoxically noisy/melodic progressive punk rock infused with creative nods to the likes of Bikini Kill or the B-52s or even contemporary peers Guerilla Toss.

Stephanie Jo Murck’s quirky and far-reaching (in terms of both pitch range and creativity) vocal prowess is mostly responsible for these comparisons. Much – but not all, of course – of the personality of Oyster World emanates from Murck’s musings regarding things from the mundane (such as food) to the most oft-debated sociological issues of the modern age (such as gender identity).

Guitarist Matthew “Gravy” Graves’ riffs work tirelessly to provide expansive context for Murck’s vocal efforts. Expert pedal utilization and a seemingly insatiable melodic vision often propels “Durn Fool” far past telescopic range. Some of the sounds he is able to achieve are borderline extraterrestrial. Couple this with his mangled time signatures and abrupt yet effective starts and stops, and it’s definitely fair to say Graves exists in the top tier of contemporary prog guitar purveyors.

Bassist Theo Pupillo is able to simultaneously compliment Graves’ guitar work while existing freely in their own sonic playground. I find it to be a very easy and pleasurable experience taking turns focusing on each players’ interwoven passages — where the bass will seamlessly assume lead melody duties or at the very least lay noticeable and catchy groundwork.

Willem Vander Ark is my new favorite contemporary percussionist. I have always appreciated drummers who know when to go nuts and when to refrain. He very obviously possesses a strong compositional sense and subsequent control that breeds dynamic and continuously surprising music. Anyone who’s been in a band knows that percussionists of this caliber are not exactly common.

Altogether, “Durn Fool” is abundant in jarring yet fluid musical breaks that constantly remind you that you’re listening to an unbelievably tight band — one that I imagine is amazing to see play live. The coherency that exists between the members’ individual styles almost seems too good to be true.

Releasing alongside Oyster World is the short but memorable “Frisbee” by The Miami Dolphins — also denizens of the Twin Cities.

The songs that comprise “Frisbee” are vast and far-encompassing despite the fact that the longest song clocks in at 4 minutes and 35 seconds. It’s almost like dream time — where a subconscious sequence that seemingly lasts for hours in one’s mind really only spans a few minutes or so in reality.

Genre-wise, these songs are hearty, lo-fi post-punk/no-wave concoctions that in some ways harken back to Sonic Youth’s fledging noise days (back when they were unheard of and sorely unappreciated in the NYC scene). What sets The Miami Dolphins apart, though, is the active chemistry between the members of the band. There’s an occasional back and forth between vocalist Beth Bambery and guitarist Patrick Larkin that lends a sort of dramatic quality to the music — these moments reminding me of zany scenes acted out by two actors in a late night improv class. However, despite the surface-level stream-of-consciousness execution of this banter, it’s apparent that it’s all well-rehearsed and imperative to the overall sound of “Frisbee”.

The opening title track is the standout track to me (if I had to pick one) — being that it’s the most sprawling and synecdochical of the bunch. It contains the aforementioned bizarre vocal exchanges, time signature shifts, guitar work that ranges from cheery to hyper to dissonant, and a queasy sense of structure. And what I mean by that is that control is most definitely present in all of these songs, but it’s fleeting. Each track dangles from a string over a bottomless pit of uncertainty and (in some cases) madness. I mean this in the most positive sense possible. “Frisbee” is unapologetically weird and intriguing.

Tabs Out | Temporal Movement – 118

Temporal Movement – 118

3.18.19 by Tony Lien

According to the Reserve Matinee (a Chicago label established in 2018 that boasts a shockingly wide variety of releases to date), the man behind Temporal Movement (David Wesley Sutton) has been releasing experimental noise music since 2004.

It pains me to think of the absolute shit I was listening to back then during my freshman year of high school. But don’t worry — we’re not going to pry open that barrel of partially decayed noxious waste right now. Instead, we’re going to discuss Sutton’s brief yet engaging album “118”.

The entirety of the tape contains a Steve Reich sort of devotion to ever-evolving minimalist repetition. In this, the tracks are almost automotive in the way they are pushed forward through auditory space. In the opening title track, major stabs (which I perceive to be effected field recordings) soaked in reverb drive the ten minute composition through a misty haze of oscillating ambience to an eerie, jumbled crescendo — the journey taken as a whole reminding me of a car ride that starts in the middle of nowhere and ends up in the heart of an unfamiliar city. The final track “Mound” contains a similar notion of movement, but is augmented by bouncy violin passages that harken back to some of Moondog’s more contemplative compositions.

That being said, there’s a modern-classical element to Sutton’s noise — which is not something you hear on a regular basis. This is not so much due to instrumentation or the overall sound of the album, but rather by the apparent underlying mastery of arrangement techniques employed by Sutton throughout the tape’s duration.

As of writing this, there are 4 copies of “Temporal Movement” remaining on Reserve Matinee‘s Bandcamp. I’d pick one up while you can. This is one of those albums where, like a good Charlie Kaufman movie, you will notice something new hidden in its layers every time you sit down to experience it.

Tabs Out | Life Education – New Earth Assembly

Life Education – New Earth Assembly

3.8.19 by Tony Lien

The cover art for Life Education’s “New Earth Assembly” boasts a Bob Ross-style pastoral landscape which is further accented by what seems to be THE biggest, happiest tree reaching up into the stratosphere in the far-off distance. Could this be meant to represent a larger-than-life dream of a beautiful (and possibly human-less) world in the not-so-far-off future? Maybe I’m looking into it too much. All I know is that these days — especially after getting lost in the Twitter feed or network news reports — I tend towards rooting for nature and its eventual retaking of the Earth.

I don’t necessarily get that particular vibe when listening to “New Earth Assembly” though. Instead, I’m exposed to a plethora of emotions that stand in strangely harmonic juxtaposition to each other. Peaceful yet melancholic. Safe in the present moment but aware of an impending storm in the visible distance. An otherworldly vastness that feels all too familiar in our own society’s ecological/sociological climate. Overall there’s a mysterious and inquisitive quality to the compositions that invite both forward thinking and thoughtful retrospection.

Genre-wise, “New Earth Assembly” exists in numerous realms. Mainly, the subdued nature of its percussive elements place it somewhat in the ambient downtempo IDM camp — while the hovering, ever-shifting crispness of its digital synth passages hint at the hyperreal nu-world sound exploited by the likes of those such as HCMJ or [D A T A B U R S T]. This blending of similar yet respectively distinctive sub-genres creates a lush environment for these compositions to thrive and grow.

The standout track — to me — is the official album closer (not counting the bonus tracks, of course — which include an outtake version of this same track) “Pale Heart”. Throughout its nine minute tenure, Life Education manages to incorporate shimmering acoustic guitar with mesmerizing, fluctuating synth work in such a way that the composition itself feels alive — like a network of vines slowly overtaking an ornate stone structure that sits alone in a valley in some nameless countryside expanse.

This tape is one of three equally rad albums available in bundle form on the Katuktu Collective Bandcamp page. As of writing this, there are only two bundles left — so if I were you I’d make like a tree and grab one of them a-SAP.

Man, sorry about that. Instant apology.

Tabs Out | Hypnagogue – Adrift

Hypnagogue – Adrift

2.28.19 by Tony Lien

I’m always happy when one word song titles and/or album titles actually turn out to augment the music they are attached to — as opposed to denoting laziness or the depletion of imagination. All those nü-metal bros back in the early 2000s were the undisputed kings of the latter. Remember? I do.

“Adrift” by Hypnagogue (known in the real world as James Rosato) represents the former camp. And, it’s about as far from nü-metal as you can get — a brief, peaceful breeze of minimal electro-acoustic ambience.

To be clear, I’m not just suggesting that the album and the songs that comprise it are aptly named. No, what I’m really suggesting is that three simple words — each one a song title — manage to convey a story (in conjunction with the album name).

The first track “Submerged” introduces a nameless human being swallowed up whole by an ocean of circumstances — and even more so the moment the human realizes that, beyond oneself, one has little control of anyone or anything. The genesis of the onslaught of adulthood, in other words.

The second track “Inward” tells of the choices one makes after being submerged, and the shaping of a complex and imperfect soul. Facing and accepting oneself despite shortcomings and disappointments.

The final track “Fractured Light” represents the jagged, beautiful, kaleidoscopic nature of memories and reflection, and how that light flickers and breaks apart over time. Getting older every day.

Altogether, “Adrift” is simultaneously a heavy and free-floating album; its sounds are lighter than dust particles in stagnant air, but the images projected by them could fill the sky and stretch past the horizon.