Tabs Out | The All Golden – Blue Forty-One
The All Golden – Blue Forty-One
3.24.23 by Matty McPherson
Back in December at Christmas, I found myself inhaling the flawed, but welcomed kranky label history, “You’re With Stupid.” I also found myself immediately making the fawed, but welcome decision to drop dozens of dollars on single digit Kranky catalog titles. You can guess which ones. Actually, you don’t really need to guess which ones: they were Roy Montgomery stuff. I’ve been sort of meaning to finally acquire Dadamah for awhile and spend time with Temple IV, both years removed from cursory radio show plays and an acknowledgement of merit. These releases are haunting and due to their enigmatic fidelity set-ups, practically caught in amber. They are “timeless” recordings that evade easy carbon dating and lucid logic; melodies and nosies that buzz around your head and enact an ancient set of pleasure receptors.
I felt this again recently when I finally turned over to a couple Blue Tapes releases that have been taking up rack space and haven’t been spun in the hi-fi. Blue Tapes is currently up to blue forty-six, but I’m always about half a dozen or so behind, and for good reason: their releases are pretty much timeless and absolute aesthetic gems. If there’s a strength to Blue Tapes’ design rigidity and lack of side delineations, its that the tunes genuinely seem to be reaching out of a linear understanding of music and diving back under the floorboards for transmissions caught in amber just like Montgomery’s guitar work.
Of course, not all of them are going to be guitar or drone. Although, The All Golden’s blue forty-one cassette is! And such a tape is one of the tastiest treats the label has quietly snuck out into the world. Having arrived at the start of December 2021, it was meant to lay dormant and now only be considered now, unfrozen in this moment. And for good reason: this tape is a compilation of tunes 1992-2021.
But what kind of tunes? The work of Pete Gofton of the All Golden, his demos that have been circling various private 4-tracks over the course of those 3ish decades; perhaps originally etched with the name Johhny X. These are the kinds of demos that sound like Dadamah, but with a greater rhythmic pulse instead of a stoned drone, amongst a beckoning lurching omnibus sound of melancholy; when they’re not that they have a rocking stomp n’ swagger to their tone, but still awash in wah-wahs and echoes of voice, not vocals. Bristol psychedelia might be nodded towards, but never outright worshipped. These instrumentals were meant to be filed away and only found now to be overdubbed and finally given the final touches that decades away from time seem to provide.
That is to say, blue forty-one is a genuinely moving set of somber instrumentals that seem to exist in a temporally unstuck sphere; one foot in a bedroom on a 4-track in the 90s and one foot in another room in the 2020s (perhaps on a DAW or the another 4-track?). A momentary lapse of time to color the recordings more completely. It is time well spent away from the project. These 8 recordings are brevity-laden affairs, recorded all those moons ago and finally given the dub-overs and final touches that only seem to reveal themselves eons later. The fidelity of these recordings do feel novel, seamlessly integrating a lifetime of advancements into soundscapes that only existed as sketches; what you hear underneath are those years talking to each other and coming into a sound that catches somewhere between anything Projekt was putting out in the mid 90s and the stray private press CDs of today’s landscape.
“Suzie Sees a Butterfly” is one of the clearest examples of this, a hypnotic guitar chord looping as a droning reverberation underneath stretches out into a near-3 minute rush. It’s one of the longer cuts on the release, with only two stretching above the three minute mark. And that makes the slightness of these songs all the more entrancing. Gofton’s ability to mend such esoteric sketches that could have withered into these ghostly aberrations is deeply touching. When he takes to the microphone on Side B’s Thabks, it feels like a private admission meant to stay put, as his voice fights against a low feedback drone as the washed out jangle makes me think of a sudden downpour waiting to come through the clouds.
Pro-dubbed cassette with all-over onbody printing in maltese-cross packaging available at the Blue Tapes Bandcamp
Tabs Out | Episode 187
Virgin Flower – Absence of Essence (Popnihil)
Eniks Cave – Seven Heavenly Palaces (Drongo)
Tim Gick – Body Without Organs (No Rent)
Morgan Garrett – Extreme Fantasy (Orange Milk)
The Electric Nature – Old World Die Must (Null Zone/Feeding Tube)
Davide Cedolin – Ligurian Pastoral (Island House)
Heejin Jang – Me and the Glassbirds (Doom Trip)
Sensational x The Dirty Sample – The Spot Rocker (Hand’Solo Records)
Chikiss – Something Natural (Crash Symbols)
Swamp Horse – Melted Gem (905 Tapes)
Dan of Earth – FTAM-100 comp (FTAM Productions)
Tabs Out | Lia Kohl – The Ceiling Reposes
Lia Kohl – The Ceiling Reposes
3.17.23 by Matty McPherson
Last year, Jordan Reyes, the American Dreamer now in Paris, was offering contact and information to talk shop with Lia Kohl. You may know Kohl as the noted cello maestro, the one that appears across a galaxy of recordings that span from string tracks across Circuit des Yeux and claire rousay to kinetic, intrinsic improvisations with Macie Stewart (just to name a few). It was all but hinted that Kohl was to have a release on American Dreams, albeit one that would reveal itself a year down the line. In that time, I did have a chance to co-interview Lia Kohl and she left both me and my co-host an exceptional parting gift: a remote-performance that metaphorically took us back to the thick of 2020. We hadn’t expected such a thing in all honesty, but it was a colossal leap and new aesthetic MO for the Chicago polyglot. In the performance, strings were ancillary to the trawling of the megahertz; her dedication towards the integration of radio sounds across cello drone and feedback loops was invoking a most tantalizing, alloy-tinged sound bath. Her toolkit that included midi processing of the cello created broken, jagged translations of the instrument that recontextualized the radio and the cello as fuzzy transmissions.
Needless to say, while not reviewed for the site, I did take a keen liking to Too Small to Be a Plain. The tape released last year is though a mere stopgap; a selection of six tracks of midi processing and solo loops, on top of found recordings, that create nocturnal ambience and small scale rumbles. All six pieces suggested something larger, something akin to that shock remote performance. Finally, we have successor to these small scale endeavors! The Ceiling Repose has arrived in March of 2023 on American Dreams, a label that has oft maneuvered vinyl delays and a move one continent to the east. Reyes has emphasized that because of these delays, American Dreams releases represent a vision from fall 2021 to spring 2022; there is a set cue for what’s to come, and that might be all that is set. Reyes has hinted at a a recontextualization what this label means for the artist and network he’s built over the past few years. Although the truth is that the American Dreams vision has been joyously out-of-time. The Ceiling Repose arrives now, as out of time as it was if it arrived in 2021 or in 2024. And perhaps because the times have called for it (or because American Dreams knows I will buy it), there is a tape for a single $20 (+ nominal fees).
The Ceiling Repose is the most complete collection and structure to Lia Kohl’s keen integration and emphasis on “radio sounds.” If you’re looking for a larger lineage that this fits into, well you could point to the Books aleatoric collages as your grand starting line for this style of 21st century composition. Although I’d prefer to keep things small scale, and it so happens that Kohl slides nicely between a small group of frequencies traverses–your Bridgette Bardon’ts, Hali Palombos, and Rrill Bells. All of these artists have in the past few years worked in using radio as a vessel to convey broken connections, rejuvenate sudden archived memories, and present sudden bright blips that are caught in the ether before they disappear. All of these soundsmiths are careful not to romanticize the radio and their trawled recordings and enshrine the shebang with a talismanic quality; they seek to use it as a roadmap to reinforce their own truths. The same way one may take a jar of fortune cookie titles and convert them to lyrics. Kohl’s usage of the radio is additive in nature; constructing a new, exponential effect and character to the chamber music when it appears within her own cello soundscapes. If classical music struggles to find an audience outside of aficionados, then it’s probably because the radio rarely fails to transmit releases like this, the kinds that are human and impart a meta-characteristic to the state of affairs.
The Ceiling Reposes is delicate, modern classical music; the kind that can lumber with a tight-wire balance or drone in C as if it walks on water; the kind that should be championed from the broadcast peaks of a radio transmitter. Kohl’s concocted a particularly meditative chi within her cello (while also using synths, vocal loops, the kazoo, a wind machine, piano keys, and of course percussive flickers) that shimmers and stretches, using the radio to soothe and create deeper grooves, melodies, or counters to the chamber piece itself. There’s an inkling of a komische zones across opener “in a specific room,” a space that welcomes in Bobby Vinton to both point to the a cultural memory, an idea of a peaceful past, that matches the cut to another voice that ensures we don’t know how much time we have left. “sit on the floor and wait for storms” buzzes like bees and fridge hum, taking the cello towards a contemplative, ruminative slow(core’d) and reverberarted direction as the radio cautions of a snow storm approaching. “when glass is there, and water” is the highlight of the A-side, a piece that takes the finger-picking abstraction of Kohl’s cello playing and marries it to a reverent chorus that continues to ebb and flow with the pacing of waves upon the lake, until all that is left are layers of metallic strings and their peaceful glide. The kind that invokes birdsong and spring splendor. All of these pieces see Kohl furthering ambience and chamber music into a tangible recollections one can place themselves in. It’s open, utilitarian music that recalls Chicago’s post-rock rumblings at the turn of the century.
And I feel comfortable saying that because “or things maybe dropping” invokes late 90s Gastr del Sol during their chamber period. The piece meshes well with their old Christmas standard. Yet, the composition unlocks a kinetic, flow-state quality as an off-kilter drum beat, stoned sax, and wistful synths/wind create an almost-pop ambience; one that unfurls into piano chamber music that comes from another room over. It walks and moves akin to a human jumping between Sunday routines. “the moment a zipper” is the closet Kohl has come to straight electroacoustic David Behrman compositions, with a synthesizer bleeping and responding to the cello akin to Kim-1; the tone’s immaculate splendor imparting a bittersweet nostalgia. The piece becomes essential to the tinkles and sizzles of the B-Side, a side sequenced towards a freer sense of sound that reaches for trance or crescendoes; the kinds that have become entangled in Rachika Nayar’s work as of late. “became daily today” strongly alludes to the pop potential of this sound. Crystalline keys loop and the crackle and frizzle of the radio rushes towards a connection, an emotional peak for the album. The brief denouement, “like time (pretending it had a human body),” flashes and bleeps it’s way out akin to Moon Glyph’s psychedelic acid test ambience. And as the tape ends, you’re left a little lighter and fleeter on your feet, having ruminated on Kohl’s deft union of chamber music to the megahertz and the friendly aberrations it brings forth.
Limited Edition Cassette (with Balloon) Available at the American Dreams Bandcamp Page
Tabs Out | Tee Vee Repairmann – What’s On TV
Tee Vee Repairmann – What’s On TV
3.14.23 by Zach Mitchell
Been hearing a lot about new benchmarks in power pop lately, mostly from bands that seemingly don’t understand that there are two end points on the power pop spectrum: sticky sweet hooks and guitar riffs that make me want to jump off my couch while windmilling. Sometimes a band just gets it. TV Repairmann has figured out that “what if all those 90s bands that claimed to be influenced by Big Star were fronted by a snotty punk guy” is the ultimate formula for power pop success. What’s On TV? is Exploding Hearts for a generation of bedroom Tascam punks and it’s also the tape I’ve ended up playing the most this year so far. Perfect for cooking chicken thighs, making salads, and sending mindless e-mails.
While Repairmann’s (real name: Ishka Edmeades, but isn’t it funnier to call him Mr. Repairmann?) other bands like Gee Tee, Research Reactor Corp., and Satanic Togas aim to wallop the listener over the head with brash punk or steamroll them flat with sheer speed, What’s On TV? actually cares to take its time and be a little sweeter. What’s On TV? provides the best ratio of hooks to dollars spent that any tape has ever provided me, starting with the pining “Out of Order” and not letting up until “No Life on This Street”’s glammy gutter punk. “Get Outta Here” feels like a blown out lost radio classic, all AM radio hooks crunchy guitars. It’s a summation of what Repairmann does best on his solo work: ultimate sunny day anthems with just a hint of melancholy, filtered through tape hiss and cranked up loud.
The vocals, guitars, and songwriting hit the bullseye in the Venn diagram of “simple” and “effective.” Fans of Gee Tee will feel absolutely at home here amidst monophonic synths and whip crack drum rolls, but where other homespun punk projects like that tend to make themselves small, TV Repairmann goes big. This is music for sensitive punks who aren’t afraid to rock. That seems like it could be a backhanded compliment, but it’s the mode I’ve found myself the most in this year.
“Backwards” is the single best song I’ve ever heard from a lo-fi punk band in a while. Every single aspect of the song, including the opening chiming guitars, is a hook leading to another hook leading to me grinning ear to ear and nodding my head along. I feel like I’m going to wear out my copy because I keep rewinding it over and over again to relive the ascending and descending lead guitar mimicking the “falling down” lyrical motif. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is. What’s On TV? is another huge win for Edmeades and Total Punk Records – a match made in punk heaven.
Cassette Sold Out at the Total Punk Bandcamp! Still Available (in imported quantities) from Mr. Repairmann’s Bandcamp!
Tabs Out | Tongue Depressor & Weston Olencki – Don’t Tell No Tales Upon Us
Tongue Depressor & Weston Olencki – Don’t Tell No Tales Upon Us
3.13.23 by Matty McPherson
Dinzu Artefacts continues batch processing and curating of the highest magnitude. New titles in the month of February have been making their way to the hi-fi. In between bouts of anime and Bandcamp tape filing (have you ever tried to catalog DIY tapes? It’s sort of impossible! And you can’t make entries on the mobile app! Flop-ass software!), I have been giving late night samples. The three this month are deep longforms. Two are pushing near or past the hour mark. If there’s anything I’ve noted about a Dinzu Artefacts bundle, it’s that the variety with time often means either the LONGEST or the SHORTEST tape of the month is highlight; a most unusual circumstance akin to picking sticks. This time, I find myself most enamored with the latest from the Tongue Depressor duo & their collaboration with Weston Olencki; a brevity-laden affair of drone harmonics. The kind that glistens at the witching hour and ignite a strange set of surrealist mantras and images to go inward, before returning outward with force.
Henry Birdesy and Zach Rowden are longtime conspirators, with ties down the New England coast and with Crazy Doberman, amongst a longstanding career of dronery as Tongue Depressor. Birdsey’s career across a magnitude of labels, monikers, and instrumentation has seen him develop a rather strange beckoning towards a kind of land-art induced gospel for masses between 1 to a few dozen folks. For the two piece, Birdsey turns to Bagpipes & Rowden takes up Bass. Meanwhile, the South Carolina born, Berlin-based Olencki brings out Trombone. Try to make sense of this formation, it’s not supposed to be a crystal clear harmony in ultraviolet you may tell.
The trio both enforce and reject the roles of their respective instruments. Side A’s Tapping Season is perhaps TD and Olencki’s standard MO. Tongue Depressor create a blackened tar of a drone, with a viscosity thick as imperial stout. The bagpipes harmonize with a thrilling electricity to their harmonics, an all out assault bolstered by the bass! Olencki takes to the wall of sound and attempts to find a place to scowl and grovel with the trombone, creating a cracks across the surface of the piece. You can opt to follow the noise or lay awash in the drone and strike a pre-conscious image from there.
If Death Be Printed On His Face opens the palette outward instead of the intense inward focus of Side A. There’s droning cassette loops that are plague-stricken and gloomed amongst a flicker of water. Coils and sawblades, even creaky gates(!) rummage amongst the wastes of this soundscape, rustling and looming omnipotently. It recalls the bad-acid psychedelic beaches that have come to define Bill Nace’s 2020s works, or gloomscapes of Arvo Zylo and German Army. A banjo is summoned, but so taken out of its immediate sonic properties it only adds to the apocalypse of the b-side; it sounds closer to pedal steel wobbling and budging through a stomachache. When you do zoom out of the piece, considering the slow lumbers of it’s movement instead of the moment-by-moment blows that make it a hat trick of a sprawling piece, it’s clear to see that the trio was creating an inverse to the drone of their first half; especially when it strips itself halfway through to open those stringed drones. There’s an aching beauty to that back half I’ve found. The kind that document the emotions of a cowboy who’s “too old for this shit” and wants to ride off into the sunset, but also knows that with the heat-death of the sun approaching sooner and sooner, it’s just more convenient to soak in the moment. Nothing cruel about it, just ruthless pragmatism.
And that’s what perhaps makes the trio’s release so damn rewarding and the highlight of the the Dinzu Artefacts batch. It cuts to the heart of the label’s strange tightrope walk between “free jazz” and “free field recordings”; the grey area/no man’s land where soundscapes exist as small zones to contemplate feelings that aren’t exactly compressible nor can be abstracted. They’re just experienced like old tales from times long ago.
Limited Edition of 200 Available Now at the Dinzu Artefacts Bandcamp!