The fine folks at Tabs Out return with the twenty-first installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore, highlighting some of the summer's hottest tapes.
This article originally appeared in AdHoc Issue 8. Order a copy of the zine here.
Barnett/Ortmann: Seasonal Attrition (Centre)
Recorded during a polar vortex, Andy Ortmann (known greatly for this work as Panicsville) and Alex Barnett have created the perfect soundtrack for walking on creaky floorboards or drinking mystery fluids out of mason jars found in the woods. Seasonal Attrition is a cheerless experience. It offers no hope. No joy. Its sounds are leaked into the atmosphere like gas. Its contamination is a bleak scene. All of this is not done through simple stretches of drone, but instead with highly interesting, engaging, depressing patterns and low level percussion. With the help, of course, of a multitude of synths, all listed in the liner notes. One of the best tapes I've heard this year.
This is an excerpt from AdHoc #6. Purchase this issue or subscribe.
In this nineteenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley, Ian Franklin, Jamie Orlando, and Mike Nigro of Tabs Out brings you some of their favorite cassette releases of the last few months.
Virusse / Zerfallt: Galaxy Choker (self-released)
Short, but sweet as a saccharin eye drop. I normally despise tapes this lacking in length, and by that I mean under 10 minutes, which is exactly what the Galaxy Choker split between Providence, RI's Virusse and Zerfallt is. But that's all it needs. The sonic clarity is serious as a heart attack. Virusse lands her plane in the fog on SALT, a track just shy of five minutes that seems to stretch into a dense infinity. Sounds roam down damp and desolate paths that wind deeper and darker. An oxidation of rusty noise agitation filters through a cold torrent of shivering beats and lo-fi vocal commendations. Zerfallt rips through severe electronics like a glutton. It's a mashing of high-level harshness and astringent drone power for 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Like a dog left out all night in the pouring rain. Fucking killer material. Fucking killer artwork. Such a fucking killer tape.
Braeyden Jae: Turnings (Inner Islands)
On first glance at Braeyden Jae’s Turnings released on Inner Islands recent batch, the pink shell and floating flowers on the cover suggest a warm and inviting exploration of hazy melodics and that’s exactly what Jae delivers. Using washes of strummed and looped electric guitar with “generous reverb” and touches of vinyl crackle and distortion, these 10 tracks shimmer and glisten with the refreshing drench of morning dew. “Watched Rust” meanders slowly through canopies of reverberated echos, a landscape of blending watercolors. Deeper bass notes float under waves of soft fuzz on “Forced Choices” while a guitar melody repeats over top, slowly building layers until it quietly expands and wanders off through the forest. Throughout the album Jae fashions simple strumming patterns into meditations, expounding the simple elements to create a patchwork of extravagance. This is the perfect companion to the awakening spring.
In this eighteenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley, Ian Franklin, Jamie Orlando, and Mike Nigro of Tabs Out brings you some of their favorite cassette releases of the last few months.
HD Sunrise: self-titled (Player Press)
In the future (let's say 24 years from the time you're reading this) everyone will be sent off to space on their 33rd birthday. You'll gather in a large, open screening area, put on one of those hazmat suits they wear on Hoarders when shit is REALLY bad, and be suspended in a jelly-like liquid. You wont be asleep or in some sort of hibernation mode. You'll be awake the entire time, receiving all of your nutrients from the jelly liquid which your body will use every ounce of, producing no waste. Your capsule (did I mention you're in a capsule) will take years to trek to your new home planet, in which you'll spend every second awake looking at the vast emptiness of space through your capsule's bubbled window. You wont spend that time thinking about your loved ones or what you'll do when you arrive on whatever planet you're heading to. You'll only hear HD Sunrise. The luxuriant vapor trail of shimmering vibes bursting and pulsating. A hyper color trail smeared across your brain by it's alluring mesh of fragile arpeggios and tender synth riffs as you glide and glide and glide. You might also die on the way. Most people die on the way.
LXV: Witness/Recall (Monorail Trespassing)
On his latest release for LA noise institution Monorail Trespassing, digital sound wizard LXV offers up 28 minutes of mind-smearing microsample compositions. “Witness” is the Windows 95 “Starfield” screensaver updated to 4K resolution: lush snippets of voices, crunches, and drones fly by at light speed, gone before you can identify them but leaving you with an impression of weightlessness regardless. On the flip, “Recall” soundtracks the events preceding the big bang-- increasingly dark and dense drones collapse into a sonic black hole that finally reaches capacity, buckles under its own weight and flips inside out into a blinding white alien space sauna. No analog worship here-- in the future computers rule all and LXV is their Grand Poobah.
In this seventeenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley, Ian Franklin, and Jamie Orlando of Tabs Out brings you some of their favorite cassette releases of the last month.
Takahiro Mukai: 1409-1 (Phinery)
What starts off as a humble lot of looping, metalic clinks, and subsonic gurgling gently builds into a voltaic composition. Surface scratches morph into conscious rhythms. The condensation trails of concentraded zaps mature into tarps covering larger, focused pieces. Before you know what's happening you're sucked into the bubbling whirpool of 1409-1's carbonated carousing. Takahiro Mukai puts the crumbs, pinches, and dashes of sound under the microscope on 1409-1 and let's them live in fantastic ways. Totally an absurd thrill going down here. The only exception to that rule would be the 5 and a half minute track "#149", which is a darker, blown-out boiler, but still a killer track in it's own right. This is a rad tape and you should get it yesterday.
Aux Field: Imaginable Layers (Umor Rex)
Probing the hidden crevices of the mind’s imagination, Aux Field’s Rezo Glonti delivers a stellar debut of analogue synth landscapes and adventures through the digital expanse. Released on Umor Rex in a batch of 80 housed in %100 recycled and silkscreened cardboard boxes, the cover’s interweaving cross-section of geometrical overlay sets the mood beautifully: peeling away the layers of the seemingly plain brown box reveals a lavender shell waiting underneath like a bud waiting to sprout. Straight from the jump you’re transported through dimensions of frequency waves and over modulated valleys that stretch out endlessly. Combining Vangelis like passages of drone and hazy sequenced rhythms with more densely structured percussion such as on the side B opener “Lineair”, with it’s influence from contemporary broken beat music, shows Glonti’s ability to merge forms with ease. Punctuated with healthy stabs of overdriven analogue bass give this marrying of cross-generational influences a solid and physical presence, adding a refreshing dose of immersion. And that’s just one track. This trip is not to be missed; grip a copy asap.
In this fifteenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley, Ian Franklin, and Jamie Orlando of Tabs Out bring you some of their favorite tapes that slipped through the cracks earlier this year.
Various Artists: Haord's Buncha (Haord)
While the village elders once again proclaimed the death of the underground, the bold and grotesque amongst us tunneled deeper and deeper into the Earth's inner core, spawning brilliant sub-sub-sub-scene sounds. One of the best examples of these Minecraftian adventures can be heard on the hour long Haord's Buncha compilation from Haord Records. 17 artists take a goopy Slip'N Slide thrill ride through an unscrewed, ridiculous, and/or simply fun circus of future pop. This comp is full of wave music that is overly animated and warped, indebted to the '80s (the 2080s). Get this now so you'll know what it will be like in the future when the robots have all the jobs, we eat soylent silver, and a person that hasn't even been born yet lets everyone know that the underground is dead.
Death Kneel: Lilac & Benzine (Aught Void)
Opening with a flurry of distorted industrial-leaning drums, Death Kneel’s Lilac & Benzine C22 released in September on Aught Void flips the needle straight to red. Max Klebanoff’s vocals take the spotlight, staying relatively upfront in the mix, and are delivered with conviction, maintaining a focused intensity throughout. The track “Apollo” stands out with its departure from the bass heavy drums to a drifting and sustained drone bruised with the same piercing vocals, never achieving any real resolution to the track’s bleakness. Packaged with beautiful presentation in envelopes including a lyric/art zine and dried lilac pressing, this is a gorgeously crafted release inside and out. Lilac & Benzine is sold out from the source at the moment but there is a possible repress in the works.
In this fifteenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley and Ian Franklin of Tabs Out brings you some of their favorite cassette releases of the last month.
Tlaotlon/Střed Světa split (Baba Vanga)
You've probably been wanting to get a Slurpee machine in your house for a while now. The ability to pull a handle and dispense oozy frozen goodness in the comfort of your own home would be a life changing experience, but let's face it, the logistics just don't make sense. May I suggest gripping this split and poppin' it in your deck as an alternative? You'll still be able to receive an analogous sludge stream of baffling broth in an array of hyper colors and flavors, but without the cleanup and straws. Tlaotlon and Střed Světa both gnaw and chomp sounds on their shared cassette, recently released on the ever-impressive Baba Vanga label. It's a patchwork of bonker noises that fizz and splat in an acidic vapor bouillon. So strange, so delicious, and HIGHLY recommended.
Head Dress: Warren (Phinery)
Building slowly with large stretches of cavernous synth tones, Warren, the new C28 from Head Dress on Denmark’s Phinery Tapes, beckons you further down it’s circular halls. Utilizing a growing crescendo motif, the tension builds and builds without overplaying it’s hand and losing balance. The mood lays thick on the first track and continues it’s grip in the second track, “300”. Here, Head Dress increases the tension without increasing the instrumentation. The drone is a pulsating manic heart beat in a room full of shadows. Side B kicks it off with a dizzying sway of chromatic syncopation, lining up with a passing octave but for the most part remaining in harmonic tension. The bouncing ball is so finely layered with harmonics that it feels like a three-dimensional object bouncing around an empty chamber. Warren is filled with lush drone, ominous tension, and mesmerizing passages, my only complaint would be that it’s not longer.
In this fourteenth installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley and Ian Franklin of Tabs Out brings you some of his favorite cassette releases of the last month.
Charles Barabé: Dates & Confessions (Tranquility)
Dates & Confessions is probably the strongest effort from Charles Barabé, a dude who seems to up the ante of his sonic experimentation with each release. The ten tracks on this Tranquility tape (4 "dates" and 6 "confessions") are sizable in scope and momentum, a contemplative sculpting of dazzling electronics, gyratory spasms of tones, and intriguing field recordings, found sounds, and/or synthesized voices. All of those elements spiral together, handily bringing the listener in and out of distinct moods. If you give Dates & Confessions a listen in a hyper-focused state-- similar to the one Barabé was most definitely in while creating it-- you'll easily be able to envision the sounds as an anatomical cross section: complex and divergent material working together. Thick & Thin. Wet & Dry. Bone & Meat. Veins & Nerves. Dates & Confessions.
Future Ape Tapes: Pyramirrormid (Hooker Vision)
Opening out into a clearing of loosely tied together slurry of freeform drumming and bass and synth drone improvisation, Future Ape Tapes start off Pyramirrormid, as though they were dropping the listener into a lush geographic zone of melted flora. And out of nowhere we pop into an oasis clearing with stuttery percussive rolling, deep bass movements, and melodic shimmers of light. The journey continues, however, and we jump straight back into the organized chaos of improvisation jungle, brilliant pathways of light dripping through the canopy-- a free form organization of transient and tangible energies. Through the course of the 40 minutes here, Future Ape Tapes (with the help of a few of their friends on added percussive elements) utilize an approach with full effectiveness: shifting effortlessly from free form explorations into structured pieces of psychedelic and melodic blow-out and back again, all while maintaining a sense of purposeful direction and continuity. Throw this tape on and time will literally dissolve around you. I could say a lot more about this tape but you should probably just grab it and take the ride yourself.
Arnvs: Peltre (Vwyrd Wurd)
Vwyrd Wurd always comes through with some splendid surprises. It's a label you don't hear much fuss about, which should change, because they steadily pump out solid tapes from their Bethlehem Pennsylvania headquarters. One such example is Peltre, from their latest batch, by the artist(s) Arnvs. It's dance music, but I suspect you'll be far too paranoid to shake your groove thang to its tense, ambient flow. It's like the Halloween 4 soundtrack with spiders crawling on a drum machine which, turns out, is great.
In this 13th installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore? Mike Haley and Ian Franklin of Tabs Out bring you some of their favorite cassette releases of the past month, and then a couple from before that.
Sleep Museum: The Vitrine Of Blindness (Golden Cloud)
Sleep Museum has the ability to put you into another person's skin. His targeting and execution of audible aesthetics and flavors are so definite and romantic that the you become the perfect listener. The hour spent savoring The Vitrine Of Blindness is like watching a biopic about yourself, with this the soundtrack. Flirtatious synths and drum programming wrap you in a thick, maroon turtle neck sweater. The codeine-soaked torrent of vocal malaise hands you a cigarette (in holder), places sunglasses on your face (in doors), and sets you down nicely in some Danish furniture.
Looks Realistic: VA/A (Beer On The Rug)
VA/A could very well be a live stream of an apprehensive, pansexual orgy going on right now on the International Space Station. There is an erotic oddness wafting through the entire recording with it's foamy stretches of aromatic casualness and floundering, confused droplets of hyper-sensitive pings. They are still working the robotic arms and stuff, but not for the intended use. That much is obvious. I just pray to God that we're getting off more than the Russians.
In this 12th installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore? Mike Haley, John Pyle, and Ian Franklin of Tabs Out bring you some of their favorite cassette releases of the past month.
Czern: Mind In Transit (Castle Bravo)
Your full attention will be required during Mind In Transit, as it's silky synth campaigns and creep-level opaqueness cycle through their myriad of textures and balance. Czern is a name that has never entered my ear holes before. The same goes for Castle Bravo, the label that released this four track diamond, but I think it's safe to say that they are both now on my radar. Heavy concentration is put into play as you are gradually dipped into a buttery ocean of slothy industrial rhythms and cascading oscillations sprees. Darkness is obvious, but not overwhelming, compounded by buoyant and playful layers of analog and digital synth prodding. This one will leave stretch marks on your memory. Super small edition of 25 copies.
Brotman & Short: Distance Unknown (Chondritic Sound)
Analog minimal cold wave synthesis at its finest. Everything here is restrained, focused, and purposeful. Truly subtractive. Even if you have (as I have) felt totally overwhelmed by the number of synth and beat-oriented projects coming out of the experimental music scene, this is worth your time.
Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes Of Sigríður Níelsdóttir (Hornbuckle)
In the 90's there was a West Philadelphia neighborhood staple who went by the name Grandma Dynamite who would hang outside punk shows and grip change from people in Dropdead shirts. I think she once got naked during a Piebald set. Anyway, I always thought Grandma Dynamite was the most intense member the eldery community had to offer. Grandma Lo-Fi provides some fierce competition. It took seventy-some years to get going, but in that advanced age Grandma Lo-Fi began writing and recording intimiate and peculiar outsider melodies. Tiny songs of colossal whimsy with Casio keyboard presets, toy xylophones, and samples of pets getting the job done. This cassette is a modest collection from her enormous catalog of hundres of songs. If interested, and you should be, I wrote a bit more about The Basement Tapes Of Sigríður Níelsdóttir here.
In this eleventh installment of Who Has Tapes Anymore?, Mike Haley and Ian Franklin of Tabs Out brings you some of their favorite cassette releases of the last month.
Ben Varian: Real Domestic Scene (Patient Sounds)
When "normal" people try to make "weird" music it's always a disaster. It sounds bogus at a 99.9% rate. But when "weird" people pursue "normal" music... Shit, kid, somehow it's consistently amazing. Ben Varian's take on pop music leaves my brain throbbing. His ridiculous transitions from funky prom-riffs into zoink behavior, all with tender loving vocals holding your hand and massaging your thighs, possesses an evil brilliance. He brings you into states of unusual comfortableness with some Jerry Paperish tunes as he croons over electronic lounge numbers. Excreting a kooky normalcy-- like listening to Billy Joel in a house that is being fumigated-- as wayward key runs jitter and jive. You would feel at ease letting this music pet-sit your pug for the week even though you saw it fly off in a spaceship just last night.
HRRR: ADWA (self released)
This self-released jammer is limited to 30 copies and still available because the world is crammed with fools and dweebs. HRRR delivers three tracks on ADWA (i don't think either of those are words?). The A-side is a side-long jaunt of mean rythmns encapsulated in menacing flutters and siren sweeps. Two tracks on the B-side; a dirty techno rager with mind drilling beats and a 3 minute ambient drift away sesh. This is a fucking boss ass tape and you should grip it at once!