Tabs Out | yara asmar – synth waltzes and accordion laments

yara asmar – synth waltzes and accordion laments

12.22.23 by Matty McPherson

Over a shepherd’s pie dinner yesterday evening, my uncle lamented the state of the southern Virginia shopping malls. Many are talking about this, mind you; it’s an American tragedy! Every giant closed space (except Virginia Beach’s!) seems to have died sometime around 2005 and remained in a decaying, decrepit undead state. It is only here where the remaining organs American mall seems to find its own bizarre afterlife, not as a horror level or YouTube video you stumble into 2 double cognacs deep, but as yet an almost-bazaar. More a collection of functional dollar table of junk and records, rented out by suburban dead stuff collectors. “Eclectic” nor “hectic” describes the waltz one makes inside these near-squats; records and memorabilia of a local populace, not farmers nor urbanites, are the echoes on display here. It was only here, did my uncle seem to find himself looking at himself 30 odd years prior; a photo of a blue honda taken from a track meet. He could not verify it, but even if he could, why would I call out the man’s gumption?

The puppeteer, yara asmar, had a more reverent variant of this experience earlier this year, relayed in the liner notes her latest brilliant release, synth waltzes and accordion laments. In March, the Beirut based artist found herself at an artist’s residency in Black Forest, Germany with her grandmother’s green accordion. Originally, it belonged to her grandmother’s brother, but he was not one to play it much; thus the instrument took to her grandmother, before then the attic of the family house. Only in the past decade had asmar taken to the accordion, amassing a library of elliptical “Home Recordings”. Frugal recordings interweaving synths, decommissioned music boxes and toy pianos, amidst life recordings. After being informed the accordion was only made minutes away, in the town of Trossingen, asmar soon found herself staring directly at an old ledger revealing a date of manufacturing and shipment in October of 1955; two green accordions, one headed to ‘Libanon’. A score for unexpected genealogy.

As much as a remarkable antecedent. One that tugs at roots and the sense of place that can bring you to staring at an image of yourself decades prior, if not jittered out of jet lag in the middle seat of purgatory. Her attention to the instrument, to this point, has imbued it with a level of love as she moved (due to intrusive rent costs) around Beirut finishing the recording of her second cassette release. Much of the result is dedicated to Beirut, as much as her family surrounding her and their own enclaves and objects. A brilliant ode to family as much as a deft presentation of beauty.

asmar has not modified her overarching musical orientation: Pauline Oliveros inspired deep listening accordion zones, augmented via a fair licking of pedals and synths. She is a tinkerer first and foremost though, focused on extracting a synth sound, slotting a life recording, or discombobulating a toy music box to affect her own accordion drones, if not create their own isolated worlds. Disconnected from this immediate plane and suggestive of a premonition beyond. That notion of place, especially from the story relayed above, is culled into a crucial sixth sense to this release. asmar’s zones start to evolve over into their own dazzling, patient enclaves.

Track titles convey that, sketching out a stream of conscious logic; a private journal ruminating over itself briefly considering what led it here and whom to thank. Often her accordion drone is one of precocious warmth, only augmented through few elements like voice or bells that point to directions or apparitions outside the space. It’s those fusions the drone is just transcendent and a synth (or music box) burrows underneath, as asmar’s utter simplicity and ear for detail takes over, we find her embellishing her own form of SAW II’s bliss zones–her’s are the kinds that ECM’s New Series regrettably shy away from but feel intrinsically compatible with classic Windham Hill Cosmic Pastoralism. The reverent “from gardens in the city we keep alive”, the highlight is magnitude of different feelings at a magnitude of different volumes, times, and places through chimes, a whistle, and the way a pedal can just make any sound wave into a sunset.

To great measure, this is achieved without ruminating or fussing over the placement of these tracks. Her intuition, or the low stakes of home recording, on the curation gives the tape a real sense of immediacy and familiarity, shifting like the body. It’s a pondering kind of warmth; one that nudges you to consider just why you haven’t watered those poinsettias during a frigid sunrise. Or finds you staring back at yourself decades prior in a mall. The waltz and lament of life finds one naturally, if not eternally, as this tape would argue. And at 5:00 PM with nothing to do, it calls to you as well.

Tape Sold Out at Bandcamp! But Boomkat might still have copies…

Tabs Out | Creatian Heap – Domains

Creatian Heap – Domains

12.7.2023 by Ryan Masteller

Wipe that crud from your lips a second, cyborg mercenary! Take a moment from ingesting that chemically enhanced dietary packet and listen here, because what you’ve heard of Creatian Heap is truly not a myth, I hereby tell you. The duo of Philip (one “l”) T. Walker and JJ Creatian are indeed spinning the tales of your existence, writing your history and your future simultaneously as you struggle in the postapocalyptic landscape in which you find yourself. I get that maybe you’ve been experimented on and cobbled together by the evil corporations who used to run this planet before the great wars, but perhaps they were not the ones you should have been going after and upon whom you should have enacted your vengeance. Seems like a couple of puppet masters are behind the actual curtain, the veil of reality, and you should put aside your petty local squabbles and go after them instead.

Can’t you hear it on the desolate wind?

That’s right, Walker and Creatian have really blown everything out around you, placed you right in the middle of “Planet Dangerous,” which just so happens to be the title of side A, or “Domain 1,” of Domains, their most recent recording for Bummer Punk Records. But let’s not dwell on those details too much lest we’re yanked from the narrative: “Planet Dangerous” was Earth all along! Or something like that. At any rate, the near future finds cybernetically enhanced humans occupying a postindustrial wasteland decimated by disaster. The sound of this wasteland isn’t unusual – it begins with the existential dread and synth pulse not uncommon in a Wolf Eyes track, plodding toward its inevitable tragedy. It blooms a bit, but only in that Tangerine Dream-y way that suggests acid rain – the burny kind – blanketing this neo-futuristic nightmare in sinister arpeggios. And “Debris Field,” aka “Domain 2,” doesn’t even have the courtesy to suggest a way out of this – the grimy downpour is forever, and always!

And that’s what we’re left with – a sad aftermath, with nothing for nourishment except tasteless dietary packets, enhanced by life-maintaining chemicals, with no future.


These red-shelled beauties were dubbed in house and released in an edition of 50. Buy all 50!

Tabs Out | Video Premiere (!) Fantasma do Cerrado – Anhangaretá

Video Premiere (!) Fantasma do Cerrado – Anhangaretá

12.05.23 by Matty McPherson

“Holiday Time” is an official designation that you can sort of prescribe to what’s going on right now in America. Cars with blood red noses and fuzzy faux reindeer horns, fake plastic trees, post-cyber monday deals, and (this year) a suspicious lack of snow and Mariah Carey music. Perhaps because the local Mall’s Nordstrom closed leaving Target the last real player in the game? Leaving the ghosts to have taken over the other outlets?

If there’s anything to take note of from my ramble, it’s that the Tabs Out gang is still slowly chipping away at our giant list. I’m crossed between a stack of digitals and a pile of 2023 tapes that continue to push me to my own outer limits. All the while, I’ve been taking Fantasma do Cerrado’s Mapeamento de Terras a Noroeste de S​ã​o Paulo de Piratininga for spins once more. A silky smooth blurring of the lines between field recordings, travelogue, and psychedelic folk showed another side to “barely known villages of the São Paulo State inlands”. It too, has ghosts that’d make the average American mall’s poof up.

Well, in a stroke of wonderful timing when Rafael Stan Molina, the artist behind the project + the Municipal K7 collective, hit our line with this novel gloaming of a video/field recording into to the world of Mapaeamento de Terras! You won’t find Anhangaretá on the cassette, but its presence feels natural and like a spectre to the entire tape. A welcome epilogue, or asynchronous extension from Rafael that only furthers the power the No. 3 best tape of 2022 had last year. I was more than overjoyed to have a chance to bring this out to the Tabs Out audience as an invitation to ‘Termas de Ibirá’, a district of the city of Ibirá, northwest of the São Paulo State.

Front of the abandoned hotel on the cover of the first album at an eternal 3am during recording session, Rafael nails the elliptical uncertainty of dread. The kind that flowed like water from the best experiments of early 2010s Marble Hornets in the SE United States. If you appreciate the crunch of that era of youtube walking videos, there’s a real ominous dread that Rafael captures here. Filmmaker Natália Reis ( helped realize the final edition featured here.

From Rafael about the title: The name ‘Anhangaretá’ roughly means ‘Many Ghosts’ in Tupi language (the language of the branch of natives that inhabited the region). To be perfectly honest I couldn’t be sure if the term is precise, but looks like. I’m sure that ‘Anhangá’ is accepted for ‘ghosts’ (even though the use of the natives look like for some specific ghost, there are different versions about which ghost) and ‘etá’ is ‘many’, and the construction of the word feels right.

Indeed Rafael. And with that, a gentle reminder to pick up one of the last 9 copies on the Municipal K7 bandcamp

Tabs Out | Ronnie Martin – Holiday Fable

Ronnie Martin – Holiday Fable

12.05.2023 by Ryan Masteller

It’s easy to get cynical around this time of year. Your Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone, and you’re back to poking at wilting salads and nibbling uninspired sandwiches as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. The family gatherings have dispersed, and you’re on your own again, aimless, listless. Don’t even talk to me about work – how can you possibly even bring yourself to get out of bed when the sun doesn’t even break through the cloud cover until noon (if it ever even does)?

But guess what: I’m here to tell you a secret that will surely spark an ember in your heart, one that may just fan to a blaze and get the old internal furnace of hope pumping again. It’s almost Christmastime!

But we’re not there yet – we still have a couple of weeks to go, so we have to figure out a way to get there without going absolutely crazy. I’ve personally got a bit of a nostalgia streak that runs through me, so there are some traditional milestones we hit along the way, spurred not insignificantly by my wife and twelve-year-old son who, dare I say, are even more in tune with the holiday spirit (to say nothing of my youngest brother who keeps a Christmas tree trimmed year-round in a spare room). And when we perform the traditional tasks, it’s also tradition that we kick on a highly curated holiday playlist. It’s a very good one at this point.

I’m here to add another album to that playlist – but this time in cassette tape form!

Speaking of nostalgia and tradition, Ronnie Martin, he of Joy Electric fame (also of all the other ones: DanceHouse Children, Morella’s Forest [the original one], The Brothers Martin, Rainbow Rider, etc.), dropped his second holiday album in as many years last week, Holiday Fable on Velvet Blue Music, following last year’s Bells Merrily. And to fully inject my past into this whole thing, I actually saw Joy Electric in concert once when I was in college, and there wasn’t a mixtape I made for an object of affection around that time that didn’t have “Sugar Rush” on it back then (yes, yes, I know who the song is for).

So it’s great news to have a Ronnie Martin synthpop Christmas on deck. And while that may sound crazy (it’s not – look at the history of 1980s Christmas songs), the songcraft truly evokes all the best parts of the season – the magic is there! Snow twinkles and glistens, firesides radiate warmth as they crackle, bells ring out (merrily, I might add), and we’re all dressed in soft, warm sweaters, drinking hot chocolate spiked with a naughty bit of whiskey (don’t tell Santa!). It’s a reminder that the Human League or the Pet Shop Boys also probably bundled up and wore some cool scarves and hats as they trucked their rigs door-to-door for a little caroling. Or at least that’s the revisionist history Ronnie Martin is hoping to convey.

The compositions are all originals – somebody’s making their own new traditions! It’s really a baroque-meets-Breakfast Club vibe throughout, blanketed in white, a refreshing new experience. And really, for the heads, all you’d need to do to make this a Larry Wish/Macula Dog/Cop City | Chill Pillars holiday album is tweak the vocals a little bit, pitch em down, make em weird. “The Alpine Lodge” is that close! But for most of us, trying to shake that downer vibe before we get to see our distant brothers and sisters and parents and cousins and aunts and uncles again – or hop on Zoom with Jamie, Joe B, Matty, and, sure, Mike for our annual Tabs Out holiday party ritual – look no further than this crisp ray of sunshine brightening up the boughs of holly in the interim.

Tabs Out | Manoir Molle – intéressant

Tabs Out | Manoir Molle – intéressant

11.29.23 by Jamie Orlando

[note: We let Jamie write this review because Jaime has not paid his dues to Tabs Out or Mike Haley, the Nicest Guy in Experimental Music. If you have any complaints, please direct them directly to Jaime so he understands how he can contribute more studiously.]

When I received a copy of the latest Manoir Molle tape, titled “intéressant”, I could just tell from the packaging that this was going to be something that was right up my alley.  My eye was immediately caught by the gorgeous post-modern surrealist artwork by Acacio Ortas. After a quick examination of the spine, I spotted a familiar logo. Cudighi Records! Game over. Cudighi Records, for those who don’t know, is a Los Angeles-based label that prides themselves on unearthing rare international psychedelia.

As I delved into the tape, the abstract, surreal, and zany qualities hinted at by the artwork came to life. The album opens up with a track called “Avenue” which features electronic clarinets and a MIDI snare drum. That’s the vibe you’re in for. At times very minimal and repetitive, yet with subtly changing undertones. It gives me warm and fuzzy feelings a bit reminiscent of luminaries such as Charles Barabé, Nikmis, or Larry Wish, albeit with a touch of restraint.

The album unfolds with “Histoire”, boasting cheesy electronic pan flutes and a fake sounding plucked guitar, while “Boigne” is a harpsichord-driven track with microtonal orchestration of french horns and flutes. “Autoroute” changes gears with pitch-shifting synths topped with sparse interjections of random harp notes. The album closes with “Nuit”, a suspenseful and synthy composition that leaves the listener in an intriguingly unresolved state.The almost 30 minutes of synthy orchestration by French artist Marion Molle brings me immense joy, and I wholeheartedly recommend treating yourself to a copy while supplies last.

Limited Edition Pro-Dubbed Cassette Now Available at Cudighi Records’ Bandcamp!