Tabs Out | Induced Geometry – self-titled

Induced Geometry – self-titled

10.30.2023 by Ryan Masteller

Sometimes you need an outlet. A way to blow off steam. An activity where you can let your guard down, be a little more vulnerable, do something a little different. When you’re Daniel Provenzano, bass slinger extraordinaire for Philly wild things Writhing Squares, whose main gig lets him blow off plenty of steam through an unending stream of psychedelic skronk alongside partner-in-craziness Kevin Nickles, and whose records are unending blasts of fist-pumping agitation aimed directly at the heart of convention, that outlet is less a feral pouring out of adrenaline and more an inward grasp toward solitude, a scrabbling at the door to the outer world to slam it shut in the face of constant stimulation. And when you call Philly home (and trust me, I know Philly), sometimes that self-imposed peace and quiet can be a life preserver.

Whether or not Dan truly needed to escape, he certainly receded in his work as Induced Geometry. On his self-titled tape for Trouble in Mind, Dan “began this project trying to make static, featureless music that was the same in all directions – isotropic, geometric, devoid of feeling.” Channeling “the minimalist composers” (while also apologizing to them, which he didn’t need to do at all but was a nice gesture nonetheless, just in case), Dan creates synthesizer patterns that repeat and fold, skimming and shivering soundwaves that conjure up primitive 3D computer graphics, or at least early attempts at MS Paint design. Hanging on tones and motifs until they merge with imagination and become decorative scaffolding on which more tones can be hung if they need to, Dan twiddles knobs and presses buttons and adjusts plugins and applies filters, all in the service of making sense of the inner workings of his private, non–Writing Squares existence.

But Dan is a total and complete failure. See, his initial attempts at “featureless” and “devoid of feeling” electronic experiments quickly became something else, and while there’s a bit of antisociality to the results, Dan himself has done a complete 180 on these tracks, calling them “some of the most personal [pieces of] music I’ve ever recorded.” They’re certainly labored over and well considered, and it’s easy to imagine the interiority of the process of crafting these works. Dan clearly turned inward and excavated a part of himself that he fashioned into the music, giving it a poignancy that perhaps he didn’t intend at first. But, fortunately for all of us, we’re left with a lot more than just “minimalist electronic synth music” for which its creator felt the need to (again, needlessly) apologize. Instead we have one person’s account of rejecting spazz and embracing personal calm, to our total selfish benefit as an audience. We should be so lucky to find such tranquility within ourselves.

This tape is Trouble in Mind’s Explorers Series vol. 31, and it comes housed in a lovely thick cardstock O-card that looks foil stamped – but isn’t! Great presentation.

Tabs Out | Scott Solter & Rohner Segnitz – The Murals

Scott Solter & Rohner Segnitz – The Murals

10.25.2023 by Ryan Masteller

Scott Solter and I go way back. Well, maybe not in a traditional sense, meaning, I don’t know Scott Solter – I certainly don’t want to come off as creepy or anything. But I’ve been familiar with Scott’s material ever since he reworked a bunch of tunes by Pattern Is Movement, the delightfully wispy math-rock duo from Philadelphia. Staining their proclivities with studio trickery and mulching their stems to a wonderfully unrecognizable pulp, Solter repurposed the early PIM tracks until they barely resembled the originals, cementing himself as an inventive producer par excellence. This was 2006, closer to twenty years ago than I’d like.

Rohner Segnitz and I do not go as way far back, but that’s only because I didn’t engage his band Division Day – who released four records throughout the early aughts, if you didn’t know – in a meaningful way. (Nor did I really encounter Scott Solter’s bands Boxharp or The Balustrade Ensemble.) How can you blame me? The first decade of the 2000s was the blog decade, when music fans like me were inundated with basically anything we wanted to hear at the click of a download, and bands appeared and released music with an immediacy and ungodly speed that often proved to be their undoing. Not that Rohner Segnitz suffered this fate, mind you – I place all the blame for my ignorance squarely on myself. What else can I do?

Turns out there is something I can do, and that’s to rectify the decade plus in the desert of not listening to these artists, which is easily accomplished because of Solter and Segnitz’s April 2023 cassette release on Bathysphere Records, The Murals. And while we’re not getting anything here that I would have expected from either of these artists, I’m also delighted that what is here hits the old pleasure centers of my brain in just the right ways that I’ve come to hope for whenever I pop a new tape in the deck. (I almost always hit eject pretty quickly on any guitar-based indie band these days, which wasn’t the case in my formative years, but I think we’ve established that those formative years were pretty long ago.) Solter and Segnitz instead build their compositions from a “simple figure/gesture that grabs our interest” and work that figure/gesture into a “maximal” state, one that grips attention and twists and tweaks it until you’re left with a psychic red-armed “snakebite.”

The result in The Murals is eleven vibrant pieces that shift and redraw themselves as they unfold, routinely breaking from a haze of static or ambient gauze to puncture any boundary imposed upon them in the interest of mutation. This is what the duo means in their intent to go “maximal” from a minimal base – they establish the atmosphere through “instrument, tape, wire, module, filter, sample,” then, using the same methods, they disturb what could simply be an ambient groundwork with melody, noise, or more and more intense ambience, ratcheting up the tension of the tracks until they break back into silence, rarely resolving into an expected state.

The Murals could be mentioned in the same breath as the more abstract works of Derek Piotr, whose recordings, especially Tempatempat, from which “Horror Vacui” utilizes “Slow March,” are invariably thrilling. Erik Friedlander, the cellist whose credits include collaborations with John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, and the Bar Kokhba Sextet, also lends a hand to “The Sea Breaks Over a Derelict,” and in doing so offers a wide-angle perspective on The Murals as a whole: if you cock your head to one side, at the correct angle, the song cycle in total resembles a Cubist interpretation of an actual cello, its entirety – body, strings, conception – an object of hyper-revision and composition. But maybe that’s just me – I see cellos everywhere for some reason. Whatever you get here, Solter and Regnitz are clearly painting outside the lines and making up their own rules, and it’s because of that that The Murals resoundingly succeeds.

Tabs Out | Coach Campa & Aaron Arguello – Weekend Satanists

Coach Campa & Aaron Arguello – Weekend Satanists

10.22.23 by Matty McPherson

“Texas is a landlocked state” once mused an individual who was so wrong, that they now have 21 million Spotify listeners and social media run by “management”. But as the days go on, you do have to wonder if yes, on some metaphysical level, the state of Texas is indeed landlocked in its own woes and rough and rowdy ways. But that does not stop the entire state, itself a giant interconnected series of tubes and dive bars and stray stages, from concocting its own vicious brand of noise that with which the tape underground can find stray whimsy from.

Thus we turn out attention today towards San Antonio-based Ethan “Coach” Campa. Coach Campa is a frequent San Antonio drummer turned collaborator, that seems hellbent on finding peace of mind in a middle zone between Astral Spirits free noise, early 00s NYC noisenik shenanigans, and 70s Electronic Deutschland Musiks. Partnering with tactical synthesizer warfare guru Aaron Arguello, and their Weekend Satanists cassette on Already Dead Records (a return for Campa and introduction for Arguello) happens to present a complete psychedelic kaleidoscopic vision of jazzy speculative fiction for the hi-fi. It’s a rainbow blast of punk as much as a throwback to early Astral Spirits when free noise reigned supreme and felt akin to a backyard all ages show, not a jazz club.

A majority of the tracks aren’t in a template per se, but do have a sense of jamming and parallel tracks of thought: Campa finds a furious drum frill, or a cymbal rush that’s gotta be shaken LOOSE; Arguello hunts for 70s synthesizer horror shlock keys or knob twiddling cryptid themes that JUST HAPPEN to repeatedly collide with the spectacle of a demolition derby, but none of the fussy mess. Campa’s drumming is buzzing, close in spirit to the buzz of a fly who found itself saved from a spider web. It shines through and beckons to the noise freak while Arguello can often pursue a reserved mode of droning or quick bleep sensations. In the tape’s finest moments, like Santana Shoes Stay On, you can end up with the punkier, krautrock indebted sibling to Nala Sinephro’s Space 6.

Yet, it is side B’s A. Enter Sandman Pt. 2/B. Nothing Else Matters that truly captures the Campa x Arguello spirit. For both, it feels as if they’ve swapped roles. with Arguello making a most insect-esque drone buzz akin to a chainsaw as Campa’s cymbal rushes feel akin to flow state bleep sensations, finessed and bristling with radiance, not pummeling or rushing. When it finally bows out for that back half, it’s terraforms into blistering frills searching for a way out amongst a blackened drone morphing into arcade noises coming to swallow it whole. Within the 8 tracks across the tape, it’s the welcome longform that doesn’t overstay its welcome, engrossing adventure and trial for the two that suggests that they themselves may have a real match in heaven.

Edition of 100 Tapes Now Available at the Already Dead Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Modern Lamps – Ruby Throated Wind

Modern Lamps – Ruby Throated Wind

10.19.2023 by Ryan Masteller

I was on the Tabs Out Cassette Podcast a couple of weeks ago as a guest (I have to work on preparing material ahead of time it seems) during the Marc Masters interview segment about his book, High Bias: The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape. I received this honor because Marc used some quotes of mine in his book (thank you, thank you, self-plug). But the tragedy of the event was that a good chunk of the interview, and any content that I contributed, was lost forever in a recording snafu – i.e., the Zoom call drifted into the ether instead of encoding itself in an audio file. So we tried a do over, but it just wasn’t the same. The energy was different. Plus I had to leave right when everything got sorted.

Imagine, then, an experimental duo, in this instance Rachel and Grant Evans, proprietors of the tape label Hooker Vision, playing a show for the first time since 2009 in April 2023 and not recording it, despite it being a triumphant success and a total vibe masterpiece surely inspiring the audience to go out and jam likewise. And while I wasn’t there to confirm, it’s hard not to imagine the truth of the show’s success because the Lamps decided they wanted to hit the studio, months later, and record what they did for posterity. I mean, isn’t that crazy? Wouldn’t distance and time have totally altered the feel of the pieces and rendered them completely unrecognizable from the original venture? Was this even a good idea – would it even sound OK? Would somebody have the wherewithal, the grit, the tenacity to hit the record button?

The answer to all those questions, surprisingly, is yes. First of all, we should probably not doubt the Hooker Vision folks in any way – Rachel and Grant have been letting the label cook for a long time, but they did go on hiatus for a bit, from November 2014 to October 2021, when they dropped a Modern Lamps / Motion Sickness of Time Travel (Rachel’s excellent solo gig) release, igniting the fuse on their triumphant return. (In fact, Twitter/X user Gremlins 2 Official responded to a “present listening” pic I took of Ruby Throated Wind with “great to see hooker vision in 2023,” typing out loud what we were all thinking.)

Second, somebody did hit record, though it likely wasn’t Tabs Out’s own Jamie Orlando. (Sorry, Jamie.)

And third – who cares if they did the exact same performance that they cranked out live? “Everything has changed but that’s OK!” they declare, as they blow into their clay flutes and whistles, the same ones (probably) they used for their performance. Rachel does her thing on bass, electric piano, and synthesizers. Grant zones a daunting clarinet, adding to the atmosphere with percussion and electronics. You feel like you’re in the room with them throughout Ruby Throated Wind.

And while that room is in Athens, Georgia, likely a humid one, sweltering in the summertime, Modern Lamps kick up a bit of a dust storm with side A, a cosmic pastiche of nighttime desert ambiance as sands shift and stars fall, the playing reverent to the universe as time and space zoom closer to the point of physical contact. Then the bass kicks in and the shamanic undulations ensue, a ritualistic otherworldly hoe-down whose rhythm, while abrupt at first, melts into the night and forms a spiritual core.

The Evanses contemplate the stars on side B, drifting in and out of meditation. The clarinet and piano flit seamlessly about each other, accentuating the most incredible moments with delightful interplay. The track fades out on an odd sing-songy choral sample – not sure of the source, but it’s weathered and (sounds) pitched, but it’s deceptively stirring. The whole thing probably serves to render that original performance moot. Well, probably not, especially for those who were there, but my imagination of what I’ve never heard pales in comparison to Ruby Throated Wind. This one’s a keeper.

The tape comes in an edition of 40 and is still available!

Tabs Out | Truculent – A Worker’s Guide To Transfiguration

Truculent – A Worker’s Guide To Transfiguration

10.17.23 by Matty McPherson

“Workers assuage their resentment of laboring for our “corporations” with the belief that we (the worker) are “good” and rise above “evil” (the corporation) spiritually. Economic stoicism loses all importance when you eliminate the temptation of an “afterlife”. Corporations never die, they just rebrand…”

That’s an excerpt from the thick j-card liner notes of Truculent’s latest, A Worker’s Guide to Transfiguration; not a tweet or excerpt of a thread left in the wake of the (likely full) gutting of Bandcamp Daily from yesterday’s news. It called to me through the evening as one tweet or discord ping after another signaled a new breaking point for this centralized network of left-of-center, curiosity-oriented music writing being taken away. Platforming under that banner and the legitimacy of the Daily blogging machine meant something to the long tail niche audience that I’d be damn surprised if it didn’t include anyone currently reading this. People want this stuff and it’s the only way to document an omnibus of sounds that never will cease to come.

Dan Timlin’s dense j-card package struck a nerve with me while on the hi-fi yesterday. Itself a small (socialist-leaning) manifesto, a personal treatise based around “the four imprints” (Eagle, Lion, Bull, Angel). Itself seeking to codify 4 species to correspond to hostile or friendly anger and strength, and present a theory on “living insiding them, while simultaneously being centrally detached from them” towards healing, mindful human interaction. It’s denser than your typical call to action in a cassette.

Yet, within one based around American Primitivism guitar pieces that feature a strong roots-oriented calling card to their swaggering sound, the treatise matches to the music. It’s a sound that itself embodies living within anger and strength on hostile or friendly terms. Cut names reference the animals as much as images of either blight or boon, religion and mythology, amongst the dallies of increasingly absurd life. Many tracks prioritize brevity, snapshots of these 4 co-existing in a mindful balance, where this MO could theoretically play out. As much as recalling spaces of communion, from railyards and backroom bars to the streets of South Philly’s Point Breeze. Amongst caterwauling finger picking and devious dirges, there is a white hot intensity even in Tomlin’s restrain over these 16 tracks.

Strange Mono, a benefit record label, founded in 2021, out of Philadelphia, has been prioritizing these kinds of “bespoke” limited run cassettes and unlimited digitals. There is still work to be done on a mastering level for the format, with Timlin’s delicate finger at an ever-steady presence in the red, it’s tempo slightly run up from the digital’s more clarity-oriented master, lending a jank and zippy character; all courtesy of a Sony CCP-2300 being utilized and pushed to its limit. Yet, there’s a warming quality that comes from such accidents, giving Timlin’s cassette release an unkempt level of quality akin to unpolished Smithsonian Folkaways materials. It’s the kind of crate digging that still calls to me and reminds me that at heart, the blogging never dies, the sounds never die, we just pack up and begin the begin once more. And if there’s any time for a Transfiguration, well Dan Timlin’s tape is right on the money.

Edition of 50 C40s. Clear Shells, Extended J-Card With Liner Notes, Dubbed on a Sony CCP-2300. Now Sold Out at Source