Children’s TV, computer software, and more get pushed to the limit on tape covers that you should totally look at. [Check It Out]
Look At These Tapes #10
4.14.17 by Tabs Out Crew
Look At These Tapes is a monthly roundup of our favorites in recent cassette artwork and packaging, along with short, stream-of-thought blurbs. Whatever pops into our heads when we look at/hold them. Selections by Jesse DeRosa, Mike Haley, and Scott Scholz.
Supervolcano – The Vault
4.13.17 by Paul Banks
Supervolcano’s “The Vault” is a fascinating, mysterious album. It occurred to me that the point of emphasis here is distance and spacing. The distance here comes into play in a few ways. The final product here, the recording, is quite removed from its original sound source. A meme, of all things, came to mind while listening: in the exploding mind meme, the most “enlightened” approach was a musician creating a tape “by holding a Walkman up to the computer speakers.” While I’m sure that’s not the approach here, the joke raises a question: do we take the recording at face value, or do we simultaneously, subsequently, whatever, consider what methods were used to create the recording, how it sounded before the final treatment?
This is important on “The Vault.” Because, behind the distance between the mics and what was recorded (or the artificially produced distance), under the Gaussian blur, there are instruments. There are rooms. And none of these things sound quite like they sound on this tape. Much like the recent output from the equally mysterious Korea Undok Group, we have what can be appreciated as, when removing context, as what one might imagine a time capsule recording to sound like. It’s decayed, the loops are organic in a way the might indicate degradation and technical failure. Indeed, as the tape progresses, these qualities become increasingly prominent.
If not for the fact that the digital version sounds practically identical to the tape one, it would be possible to consider it possible that the approach in the above meme produced this tape. But these were intentional choices. The aesthetic, rife with obfuscation, patient, and pregnant with hallways and spaces, collapses in upon itself – we were meant to listen because it was released, and yet the alienation is certainly purposeful, if not overwhelming. Outside of the Korea Undok Group output, I can’t think of an album that I immediately reconsidered if I had even paid attention to it (as that’s how fleeting and ephemeral is tries to be), and yet was haunted by it well after its completion.
Copies of this C30 are available from White Reeves Productions.
Flusnoix – s/t
4.12.17 by Kat Harding
Flusnoix, a Montevallo, Alabama-based group of musicians, was founded by Jess Marie Walker and her need to connect drawing and making music. The group’s improvisations were recorded in March 2016 at the Kewahatchee Lounge in Birmingham. Using flusdrawxing and flusvoxing in other performances and art installations lead to the creation of Flusnoix.
It’s hard to tell what’s on the scratchy black and white photo of the cover; we might be in a cave, we might be in a field, and if you stare hard enough, you can make out the shape of a woman in a flowing skirt standing rigidly in the space. The tape opens in the same mysterious way, with sparse tones weaving through space. Gentle plucks and chirps over tones reminiscent of cars driving past an open window fill the air. The next track, “it ran” ramps up the energy, and we do feel we’re on the run, bobbing through quirky needling sounds, like a guitar being played underwater. Put on “into” while getting ready for your next date; it’s a sexy and relaxing track that’ll give you confidence and calmness.
To see these musicians perform together must be quite an experience, as their pieces fit together in the most natural way, as though they’ve been playing together since the dawn of time. To know they’re an improvisational group is to understand the level of talent they have. The more-than-nine-minute track “the garden” is an incredible work, with soft guitar chords picked over sounds straight from outer space. Soft clanking keeps the track out of the anxiety-inducing realm of deep space and firmly grounded. With alien blips and a deep bassline, “harborin” takes us on a wild ride through time. The tape closes with “mur mur in,” a sweet, almost tropical sounding tune that closes on a high note.
The whole tape is perfect, relaxing music. With mysterious tones and easy-to-listen to experimentation, this should be your choice of sunny day listening. Get a copy of yours from the Sweet Wreath Bandcamp.
Phern – Cool Coma
4.11.17 by Ryan Durfee
I was really excited to check out this tape by Montreal’s Phern after finding out a member of Each Other was involved. I absolutely loved their “Being Elastic” album from 2k14. The story goes that an unemployed Hélène Barbier (who also plays in the excellent Moss Lime) invited Ben Lalonde over one afternoon to see what they could jam out. They invited a veritable who’s who of Montreal weirdo rock to round out the arsenal and created a supergroup greater than it’s individual bands.
“Cool Coma” is a wonderfully off kilter pop record full of angular DC hooks and slack art rock quirkiness. You’ll hear influences of Deerhoof, Rapider Than Horsepower, Ulysses Hellier, or any of the lineup’s daytime bands. Phern recorded the album over the course of a year, and the songs appear in the order in which they were written. Opening with the insanely catchy Excavator, “Cool Coma” immediately makes it’s agenda known with Curtians-esque guitar lines lazily chiming, allowing ample room for Hélène’s surrealist poetry to run rampant. The track Moving Boxes pulls in Elephant 6 sensibilities, refracted through Dischord-iscisms. One of my favorite songs on here is Crosswalk Talk, exuding 5rc cool with it’s fractured poly-rhythms & nods to the dancefloor. The whole album is a fantastically fun record and gets me really excited about what these cats will put out in the future.
Cop this from Fixture Records.
Korean Jade – Exotics
4.10.17 by Mike Haley
Cloaked in low-res black & white conceptual imagery, with perhaps a small visual nod to “Pulse Demon” by Merzbow, comes “Exotics.” This seven cut C30ish by Korean Jade acts like a medicated liniment. It’s flexible drones and swerving patterns rub on like a lotion, but with enough coarseness to cause friction and heat when applied. I don’t know who is behind the Korean Jade name, but whether they were going for beauty trapped in crud, or crud trapped in beauty, they got there. Like the artwork, the sounds on “Exotics” also have a low resolution, lending a satisfying matte finish to the overall production. The occasional scaly tail of mutant techno will take a swipe at ya here and there, but it’s bread and butter is synths bending and blinking in a thick fog. Don’t fear! It’s reassuring fog. Not a too scary fog like from that movie The Children I watched when I was far too young.
A white shell with a single black smudge of black paint rounds out the colorless presence of “Exotics,” a more than decent offering of crisp ambiance awash in graininess. Grip one of the 30 copies dubbed from Plush Organics.