Tabs Out | Episode 191

Episode 191


Sean Stellfox, who made the Cassette Culture in Central Java documentary, sits in for Joe B. Michael Potter (Null Zone, Garden Portal, …) stops by to talk about the job his mayor is doing. Plus a few tapes!

Id M Theft Able – A Fish Jumping (self released)
Ivan Cunningham’s Freedom Pie – One Eye Closed/One Leg Lifted (Bumpy)
Lorenz / Reis – Horizontal Hold (Bizzaro Warrior)
Averse Reaction – split with Stickboy (self released)
Angels – Voices from Heaven (Ongaku)
Traysh – Shady Favorites (Husky Pants)
Lucas Abela, Rully Shabara, Ramberto Agozalie – Gagu Improvisations 2010 (dualpLOVER)
Smokedog – Drinking Under The Table ( \\NULL|ZØNE//)
Michael Potter – Garden Portal Almanac (Already Dead)
WUUUN – Live 20190112 (self released)

Tabs Out | Dustin Wong – Perpetual Morphosis

Dustin Wong – Perpetual Morphosis

8.4.23 by Matty McPherson

It must have been 1974 when my dad made the mobile. A series of aluminum rods, bent and dictated into 5 perfectly balanced three dimensional…squares? wheat thins? DNA modules? I’ve never known, but it’s the kind of object that looms over the family and reminds me of an underlying rigidity and focus that must’ve been instilled in me by ways of family history. But right now (in the recent past), it’s early June. Dustin Wong is showing me and my buddy, Thomas, the mobile that bestows the cover of his latest, Perpetual Morphosis. In case you haven’t heard, today is August 4th, 2023, and Dustin Wong has returned to Hausu Mountain with his latest, Perpetual Morphosis. Dustin resettled in LA a handful of years back and has slowly woven himself back into the LA Floating event scene here post-COVID. He’s just now coming off of a spring residency put on by Floating that’s blossomed into a collaborative release with Brin for Leaving Records rather shortly.

Anyways, Dustin is showing us that mobile (it is about the size of a small medal). And no, it’s not AI generated, but a legitimate object that exists on Dustin’s desk the same way my dad’s exists above the hi-fi where most releases are reviewed. His just happens to be made from paperclips, brightly colored and a potent reminder of the day & age. At the same time, Dustin is waxing poetic about the recording of the album, discussing the unique set-up of his LA apartment and the otherworldly intersection he finds himself at. The kind of intersection that sees a jumble of noises colliding with astronomical consistency, like his mobile. It all reveals it to be an effort much more based around a sense of place than anticipated, more than anything that can be artificially generated.

Our conversation with Dustin will remind me of a couple crucial things. Firstly, that Dustin is perhaps the most undersung individual to come out of Baltimore 00s scene, itself one of the more psychedelic American regional scenes. He’ll recount warehouse parties and playing with Dan Deacon, as much as the days in the undersung Ponytail (no word on a reunion…yet!); all of which should remind you that his music has a hazy jank that many attempt but few can ascertain like Dustin. Secondly, that Dustin’s methodology of creating music came with the advent of computers. He learned to loop a chord the LONG, PANIFUL way before playing guitar proper. As such, he’s concocted a particular flavor for texture, tension, calamity, and drone bliss that’s become only part of his bag of tricks. Thus, Dustin became something of a journeyman for those who sought out particular digital trickery that could detach and deconstruct the guitar into a loop-finding electronic production.

Perpetual Morphosis is his first proper in the 2020s, subtracting a handful of appearance or his Deathbomb Arc loosie from a couple years back. Dustin’s always evolving though and tests the limits of his electronic production to bring a new element into focus . What Perpetual Morphosis proves is that Dustin was able to internalize the shifting tectonics of LA against his recording and mixing set up into a situated sonic roadmap of the region; neighborhoods that sprawl out, intersections that ram into each other, the noise of a vaguely functioning, but underutilized metro. I’ve vaguely to this with Andy Loebs’ last two cassette releases, both of which gave samplepedic overload noise rigidity and motion need to define “goo core” open zones; the kinds that had nods to the real world but were of their own accord somewhere outside here. And Dustin Wong, arguably the loop-oriented “goo age” guru has been tackling that for quite a while across the 2010s. Still, Perpetual Morphosis does feel like the first time since Norman W. Long’s 2021 Hausu Mountain effort that a roster artist has been actively engaging in sonic roadmapping. And Dustin’s happens to be a dense, brightly layered variant that deftly reveals just how much we’ve missed music from him.

Note the quivers to the loops of Pegasi. The small quippy voices that pop under the Audhumla Thaw’s dub-damaged bubbles. The way Elegant Stumbler’s Atelier well…stumbles like you collapsed down Angel’s Flight on the way to whatever $20 sandwich is at the LA Public Market. There’s similarity and sequential consistency to Wong’s compositions. But each one pervades and spreads out on its own accord! Dustin’s palette often coming to bring a hi-hat or bright “pop” & structure that maps the ways a loop can spiral into that mobile on the cover, or an LA neighborhood can tangle itself into a ball. It should be noted that Dustin’s low-end on several tracks is majestic and thoughtfully expansive; especially on centerpiece “Memory River – Future Composite”. Those massive “CRASH!” keys that cause a 1000 ft drop echo the same way a car in an empty parking structure or a fireworks beckons off into the night. Dustin revels in these compositions, and it’s amongst the most joyous work of his career, let alone an LA artist in recent memory.

Limited Edition Cassette Now Available at the Hausu Mountain Bandcamp Page!

Tabs Out | TRAYSH – Shady Favorites

TRAYSH – Shady Favorites

8.3.23 by Matty McPherson

So just what is it about Husky Pants and cassette tapes? This is no longer a flirtation but a fixation, if not olive branch, towards the format fulfilling a strange curatorial impulse that’s caught in a lineage between a small bounty of jam-oriented, free-sprawling musics. That’s partially why when Ryley Walker releases a free jazz trio, it not only makes sense, but warrants as much attention as an Astral Spirits vintage. And for good reason! Have you seen the name of the Traysh trio? Daniel Van Duerm, Andrew Scott Young and Ben Billington. These aren’t just ten dollar (triple) names that warrant major billing on the tape releases and any fairgrounds where the ringling brothers once set up, but names rooted deep in Chicago musics. From Billington’s Quicksails to Young’s long collaborations with Walker, amongst Van Duerm’s time in AAVD Trio (who’s 2020 Orb Tapes remains one of the label’s strongest off-center noise curations); Traysh might as well be moonlighting as the Chicago Underground Trio for this era Chicago tape watchers.

And like good ECM warpers and second hand shop sound snatchers, Traysh’s debut Shady Favorites is a twisted left-field ode to the crate digging and scene watching. This is the kind of rollicking musician muscle for the jazz fan with both one hand on the 70s Miles jamming and another on Lounge Lizards/Saccharine Trust’s idea of a jazz for the punk basement. If Emergency Group hadn’t the rigid restraint and adherence to the motorik impulse on their February effort, it’s possible we would have seen territory akin to where Traysh goes. For there is a familiarity in the warming tones Van Duerm hits at with his ever reliant electric piano melodies and grooved out organ solos; as is Scott Young’s bass lines or guitar licks that reinforce the groove and let it sprawl or keep steadfast hustle. Yet Billington has a capacity to keep a normal time, or invert with sporadic frills and sudden solo sleights to upend the tiro’s almost-lockstep; or even with a synthesizer of his own to force everyone down their own crooked paths. Sick With Experience, their pinnacle jam, might buoy others with its true commitment to each member hashing out their own crooked sonic shapes. It comes together in harmonious deposits near its first third and finale that toy with silken noir theatrics, but a tumultuous middle section reinforces an underlying punk dissonance.

Their side B pushes up the hazy psychedelia. Van Duerm’s electronics adding snippets of otherworldly eerie aura, while Billington’s drum strike up claustrophobic, centripetal space. Meanwhile, Young’s guitar on Paint Sink is closer to the wooze of a pedal steel, while his bass plucking is akin to a marijuana cigarette wrapped in an American Spirits slowly spinning out. It’s our only buoy before the absolute technocolor storm that is the free jazz breakdown. Sutra Baths (“a great place to visit” – me) saunters and swells amongst that finger picking and synthesizer wail, natural crescendoes before coming back down to a Billington break that’s got the sweat of paranoia thick on it. Ever Over, the most pulped out cut, pushes the synth drone that’s sort of been suggested in the previous 4 cuts to the foreground, bellying into a massive hurricane with the organ before sputtering to a fine dandy conclusion.

Limited “spooly” Tape now available from the Husky Pants Bandcamp Page. The tape stops at Ever Over, but the gang were kind enough to include a digital bonus that surmises the veracity of this session.

Tabs Out | tondiue – Harvest

tondiue – Harvest

8.1.23 by Matty McPherson

There are several blue rooms that we encounter in our lives from time to time. Take for instane, the AT&T Blue Room, a streaming application that you could watch coachella through with 2k9 state of the art internet! Or how about The Orb – Blue Room, the 40 minute maxi single with Jah Wobble on bass and a Top of the Pops appearance in which a friendly game of chess was played. I’ve returned to the later a lot during spring and summer, partially because I find Blue Room’s sequencing to have an expansive, composer-oriented idea of what it was to accomplish: a water walk for ravers, basically. Such things are quite giving.

It’s Tuesday morning and I woke up to 2 notifications, one of which from a gentleman in Europe imploring me to look at the cassette(!) Resident Advisor just reviewed. And immediately based on the “Side A Continuous” & “Side B Continuous” mixes of tondiue’s Harvest, it seemed like a given that a lot of early 90s Orb energy was being summoned into this 60-minute tour-de-force; one as giving as that water walk perhaps. tondiue’s Harvest is a particular creative beast comprised of 2 ~30 minute longforms that terraform their way through their 3 parts. Cameron Kelley, a Pacific Northwest soundsmith and clubber based up in Seattle, is the producer and composer of these gargantuan pieces. They were both of which were written and performed for the 2022 Ground Hum & Active/Passive festivals in the Pacific Northwest, which might be a bit of a key giveaway to the general pacing of these pieces and their regionality. However, I genuinely do not see eye to eye with the resident advisor’s review of this piece’s influences, especially because so much of what Harvest represents is early 90s Mr. Modo catalog.

It’s a credit to Kelley that Lilypad purposely wants you to spread out and sprawl through the reef of its first dozen or so minutes. There’s more in common with Pacific Northwest stalwarts PJS’ sense of stilted atmospherics and vibes than outright rave noise or an endless spiraling crescendo found here. There’s walloping arpeggio and flexuous vibratos that give the sense of a close encounter with a galactic entity, but it’s only a few hazy reverberations away from full on rural psychedelia. By the piece’s second progression, watery percussive, akin to well…lilypads, and slight alien noise begins to give a form and retracts the ambient sprawl into a forward momentum. Suddenly, we’re in that final third, slinking and shimmering our way to the finish. It’s here where Kelley really hits on the pulp quirks that makes early Orb still such a delight to turn to. Bleeps, ray gun sounds, random voices wailing or sprawling out…it’s a giggly kind of psychedelic dance that beckons to you to come in without ever devolving to insular headphone music. All neatly tied to a bow as in its final moment it recalls the piece’s opening vibratos into a kickin’ breakbeat that quickly evaporates into liquid komische.

Koye almost preserves that liquid komische state at the start, just now as a radiating drone; massive EQ’d frequencies rising and falling as synthetic bass chews the sides of the scene. It’s effervescent, lucid dreamscaping for that first dozen or so minutes, only slowly introducing a beat that sounds akin to synthetic bowls being manipulated. Eventually by its middle mark, tondiue has revealed a drum pattern & ambience akin to the work of Bill Laswell’s Material of the early 90s or the Towers of Dub themselves; if you know Material’s Mantra (the praying mantis mix done by the Orb), then a lot of the piece’s tribal techno/”is this O.Rang?” codifiers and energy snap into focus. Seriously, by Koye’s second half, tondiue is full-blown in an Astralwerks Excursions in Ambience revival mode straight gunning to get on a theoretical volume 5. It’s to its credit that he doesn’t reach for the overbearing psychedelic overload, but stays grounded to the floor with the synth noise and that ever-shifting dubtronic beat. By the track’s close we’re borderline sampling the organ of Ride’s Leave Them All Behind and turning it on its side into a legitimate mantra before reducing itself to an electro state and bowing out. Although you could just put it on repeat and get lost for hours.

Limited Tape Available at the Sym Sym (Mor Elian & Rhyw’s Fever AM sister Label) page!

Tabs Out | mioriii – Nature’s Way

mioriii – Nature’s Way

7.31.23 by Matty McPherson

Linger around bandcamp pages long enough and you’ll come to repeatedly see a peculiar supporter with an avatar akin to the Husker Dü logo. Except it has a fourth line intersecting & has been rotated 90 degrees to represent two Hs–for Hush Hush. KEXP DJ Alex Ruder has kept Hush Hush as a reserved tape outpost over the past several years, often times engaging with music far outside the continental scene and as such, importing in high quality foreign artists and sonics for domestic enjoyment. The kinds of releases that quickly appear and then disappear by the time the word’s run amok.

There’s a lovely new continuation of the ever-stable PJS aesthetic currently available from the label right now, but today’s attention is squarely around mioriii’s ambient downtempo pop EP debut, Nature’s Way, which literally came out 2 days ago and took up a sizable amount of Sunday and this morning. It a five songer, the kind that runs as a ~C36 with each 18 minute side repeating the tape in full. That’s a summer walk listen or porch coffee drinker if I ever knew one. I also should mention that it is not exactly mioriii’s debut per se–the Japanese musician’s 2018 Ms. Indie Pop EPs are hiding amongst the crevices of the internet (and yes, mioriii is a voracious pop obsessive). Although you can be certain that Nature’s Way is an assured introductory statement.

It would be easy to simply listen to the 18 minutes and pick up on a series of loosely connected sonic threads. Nature’s Way is not mixed to transition from track to track, and when an idea suffices it bows out. However, it was sequenced with a clear direction in mind; both the opening title track and Echoes feature faint vocals and restraint akin to Lucy Liyou’s most precious moments at the piano, and they recall the way Nyokabi Kariuki layered and mapped her tracks discussing long covid on Resonant Body. The affect is arguably purposeful, as Bandcamp liner notes do indicate mioriii recorded this music on the cusp of a surgery/recovery from a strange fatiguing ailment that she has been working through over the past few years. Multiple listens, routinized and thought over, reward Nature’s Way’s slight palette that digs deep into what it wants to convey.

Specifically the middle 3 cuts where mioriii starts to twist up shapes of typical synth ambience, hitting the ear favorably. Her bookend cuts feature more “piano key” textures and vocal poems that provide a window to her world, but in the middle we find the dreams and desires. Those middle cuts are grounded by their fleet, effervescent flourishing textures, and they reach for actual pop heights as soon as they take a brief deviation from that path. “Annual Rings” incorporates slinky noises and minimal pulsing beats; the kinds that keep looking forward admits the synth noise’s catatonic wailing. “Mossy” starts from 1000 yards staring above the ground in the skies, with expansive synth patches akin to Drowse at his most uplifting or the urban twilight night-watching found on Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist’s Floating Tone; it then adds a cello and rain sounds, immediately finding an introspective somberness that with a minimal beat can saunter the hours away, the clear highlight of these 18 minutes. Finally, “Under the Sun”, the most outright ambient pop cut, limits its movement and twists simply to enjoy a moment in the Sun. As I’m uploading this, it’s a strangely grey, almost thickly humid morning to cap off July. But maybe this will bring out the sun for the park by late afternoon.

Limited Edition Cassette EP now available at Hush Hush Records’ Bandcamp!