Tabs Out | Emergency Group – Inspection of Cruelty

Emergency Group – Inspection of Cruelty

11.16.2023 by Ryan Masteller

I honestly came into this one blind – I had no idea what I was getting into with “Emergency Group” or “Inspection of Cruelty,” no sense of where the Play button could possibly take me. Were they a moonlighting band of EMT professionals? Were they gumshoes on the lookout for human rights violations? Were they masked vigilantes? None of these questions would be answered for me, but Inspection of Cruelty, on the New York label Island House (whose enviable catalog also includes releases from Joseph Allred, Seawind of Battery, and rootless, meaning I have to pay attention to another tape imprint now), answered probably the most important one: Is this thing going to be awesome or what?

Most certainly.

Two sides, two halves of a forty-five minute composition called “Inspection of Cruelty,” and the first thing outta my brain as I immediately jammed out was, “Oh my gosh, this sounds like it’s coming right out of Miles Davis’s fusion period.” There’s definitely a Corea/McLaughlin vibe all over the place, and while there’s not horn to be found on this thing (does that mean it’s even jazz??), the guitar, keys, and bass melodically interlock and play off each other in such profound ways that it doesn’t matter. So I got hooked immediately, drawn in – gotta do some research now, or else I’m going to be woefully underprepared if end up writing about it. (We’ll see if this actually posts.) Good news on that front: the Bandcamp (RIP) description pretty much says, “Miles Davis fusion period,” “Chick Corea,” “no horns.” I’m either psychic, incredibly intuitive, or good at spoiling myself.

Don’t be an idiot when choosing which one of those to believe.

One thing I did learn is that the band’s name is a riff on the Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency! album, which featured Davis players Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, and Larry Young, so really the circle is fully complete. The Emergency Group allows this amazing history to seep into their playing, while perfecting their own brand of psychedelic jazz-rock. The quartet – Robert Boston on keys, Andreas Brade on drums, Jonathan Byerley on guitar, and Dave Mandl on bass – reaches out telepathically to connect on far-out vibrations, somehow warping in and out of nebulae in one moment and hooking into cryo-stasis tubes in others, always in perfect sync, always up for exploration, always of one mind. But the playing is also intensely grounded – it’s one thing to drift off into space metaphors and quite another to appreciate the astounding musicianship on display. It’s almost like we don’t expect this anymore, as if it’s of a time long past, a movement no longer worth getting angry about.

But you’d be dead wrong about that. The time is always now.

Inspection of Cruelty blazes new paths in your mind, leaving fiery trails in its wake. It’s a massive live-take dopamine rush that is endlessly relistenable – that’s why it’s on tape, so it can auto-flip and play constantly to soundtrack your entire day. Sadly the edition of 75 tapes is sold out from the source, but you can still set digital files on repeat, right? Also, and I don’t think this is hyperbole, but I have an inkling this thing’s going to place high on the Tabs Out Top 200 Tapes list, the most important year-end list you can peruse. Check back in December.

Tabs Out | Navel – Im Norden

Navel – Im Norden

11.13.2023 by Ryan Masteller

Astral ambient folk duo Navel has been around longer than you probably realize, dropping a self-released CDr called Neill back in 1998, when most of you were still wearing short pants and stumbling over your stumpy toddler legs. (I was in college.) Of course, all that time’s just allowed them to marinate and perfect their imaginative stargazey meditations, and in 2023 we’re lucky to have a new tape, Im Norden, out on the massively excellent Stuttgart label Cosmic Winnetou, run by one of my favorite ambient artists going, Günter Schlienz. And while “Gage” and “Floyd” are the driving forces behind Navel’s guitar/piano/synth krautrock experiments, decidedly on the mellow tip, those aren’t their real names. Without spoiling the secret, I’ll give you a hint about one of them: Im Norden is out on Cosmic Winnetou. The rest is up to you.

Navel itself had taken a little break, with its last releases Ambient 2 (2019) and Gnome’s Pond (2018) predating the pandemic. The time, then, for Navel is NOW. And it couldn’t have come at a better moment for me, personally, as I needed the great reminder that I could throw on a pair of headphones and get lost in something whose motto is “there’s more space in northern nights, you can even see it in the flaring lights.” I don’t know what that means, but I love it! The keywords, surely optimized for search engines – “space,” “north,” “night,” “light” – strike all the right epic post-band chords, predicting the cavernous sounds and extended notes Navel traffic in. Take “Tune Into the Nautical Dawn,” for instance, a fully ambient-ized atmospheric creation with wooden creaks and staticky spoken samples interrupting hazy tonal drift prior to light breaking in the predawn east.

I sank most completely into side B, whose “Point Sirius Observatory at Mornings” – seriously, the language of the track titles! – pairs energizing synth billows with strummed acoustic guitar to fully encapsulate the exact aural accompaniment to anything called “Point Sirius Observatory at Mornings.” And observe I did, my own mind and aura, as “The Lighthouse Fair” and “Tenebris Lux” (darkness light) expanded upon these feelings and transcended me to somewhere I could only float, touch nothing, and expand from within. It had me thinking to myself stuff like, “Ah, of course, breathing is easy!” as if I’d never put that concept together before in my life. I don’t even think about breathing normally!

Chalk it up then as another win for Navel, as another slam dunk for Cosmic Winnetou, as another grand slam for my soul. Ferro tape, home-dubbed in real time, edition of 50.

Tabs Out | Episode 193

Episode 193


Larry Wish stops by to clown around. Plus tapes!

Dania – V/A “High Bias: Music from the Book” (self released)
Wicked Piss – Colon Sorcery (Gay Hippie Vampire)
Jim Rats – Perfuser (No Rent)
Living Room – Intellectual Shit (Bizzaro Warrior)
Larry Wish – Capricorn Sun (Orange Milk)
Wolf Dad – Wolf Dad Must Die! (Ephem Aural)
The Gate – Scum (Tubapede)
Organized Cream – s/t (Swaylor)
Justice League of America – My Uncle Geno’s Band (Strange Mono)
John Swana – ABOHM (GALTTA)

Tabs Out | Drążek Fuscaldo / Thymme Jones – Wings Dipped in Fire

Drążek Fuscaldo / Thymme Jones – Wings Dipped in Fire

11.09.23 by Matty McPherson

They say that first love can be sweet, the kind with “craft” tacos and cassettes on the go. It’s where I met with Feeding Tube records, the crate digging record shop with ties to one of those Forced Exposure zine writers who never stopped writing about tapes (Bryon Coley of course, is always a joy to skim and take note of within the Wire). Anyways, Feeding Tube had been out over summer porting a 2022, polish release of a 66 edition vinyl of jazz happenings from Chicago. One featuring their old pals from Mako Sica. Meanwhile I was into dipping fish tacos (with strawberries) into borrego broth. We wouldn’t be equals anywhere else but under the low hanging ceiling and halloween decorations. What was this desert serenade? One lost in its own dream?

Mako Sica–a trio, now recording as a duo–Przemysław Krys Drążek & Brent Fuscaldo have been long standing practicioners in the free noise wold. Astral Spirits-co release LPs, Galactic Tape Archive pressings, amongst a smattering of long standing psychedelic jazz type works. Including the delectable Ronda with Hamid Drake! There’s less of a running theme to these endeavors as much as a long standing mindset. A true passion to letting one note chord progressions and drones document vast hinterlands; the kinds of High Aura’d or Serpent Season in years past, sprawling along the time limitation of a vinyl, adeptly adapting to cassette.

Wings Dipped in Fire is a deft, patient introduction to their world of jazzy outsider ambience of what Drążek & Fuscaldo (fka Mako Sica) are capable of. Recorded at Chicago Electrical Audio, the duo team up with Thymme Jones. Credited with walkie talkie, melodica, trumpet, drum set, & organ, Jones brings about beguiling, layered details to these tracks. Their minimal, often based around a “one-note better than two notes at all” approach that capturing the sly shifts that can come when one element steps out and another steps in. With Jones as a third, the perchance for groove and depth perk up. On Side A’s Inner and Outer Demons, Fuscaldo’s bass dominates the groove, but it is Jones’ melodica that provides a buoyant force to deepen it. It helps that the instrument functions as a disarming dissonance from Fuscaldo’s lyricism and tales. It reappears after Drążek’s nocturnal trumpet solo against his own organ drones and Fuscaldo hypnotic bass, itself drone to the tenth degree, as if to summon a bridge to the astral, gothic energy that dominates the terminal third.

A peaceful desolation marks Side B’s Veil is Thinning. The kind of territory that Ben Chasny’s Six Organs seems to fall into during flashes of the hexadic era in particular. A lulling classic guitar motif that practically collapses in on itself; foggy kind of melody. One that Fuscaldo happens to chop through. Drążek’s horn elongates and practically loosens to the stars as if to call for Cosey Fanny Tutti, while Jones tinkers with walkie talkies calcifying the distance to this desert dimension. It’s a dimension that contains drums as much as the minimalist dread of Seventeen Seconds in its downright dancable terminal third. When they let as loose as this, the tape itself feels as revelrous as a wedding. Considering Drążek Fuscaldo’s (& Jones’) approach to sound, it’s hard not to see it as such.

Edition of 200 Tapes Available at the Feeding Tube Webstore! Digital on Bandcamp below!

Tabs Out | Computer – Koy Pond

Computer – Koy Pond

11.08.2023 by Ryan Masteller

You might assume that the artist behind a solo guitar endeavor would be the kind of person to regularly hop atop their Marshall amp and flash the devil horns before ripping off solo after righteously technical solo as pyrotechnics erupt around the circular stage they’re clearly performing on in front of thousands of admiring fans. But no number of metal faces flashed or tongues wagged in defiance of the rules will matter if the music is all flash, no substance. It’s easy to judge a guitar hero based on the surface characteristics, but what happens when you get beneath the façade? What happens when you expose the gaping void at the center of their being, when you hold a mirror up to their true self to show them how empty their gestures are? That double middle finger to the establishment is reflected right back at them, and it can be rude awakening.

I know. I’ve lived it.

But there’s a flip side to this, where the guitar hero looks not to accumulate outward accolades but to search inward to find their true self at the center of their being. This is more along the lines of what Zona Zanjeros has done here with Koy Pond, an experimental guitar mediation gone nuclear, its blast radius extending far beyond Zanjeros physical presence and out into the wider Brooklyn neighborhood in which this was recorded in a single session, likely leveling a few blocks in the process. (Sorry, everyone!) Yes, this is just Zanjeros and a guitar (and Ableton). Yes, this is released under the moniker “Computer,” suggesting deep technical programming and orderly execution. And yes, I imagine myself peacefully looking at fish at first. But then it gets weird, and wild, and finally, I think Zanjeros ends up on top of a Marshall amplifier, flipping two birds at whoever’s closest.

Because who’s to say this is really a guitar at all? It’s amazingly varied, with Zanjeros virtually following every whim available clouding the instrument in effects, recording it at all kinds of levels, sending the notes/sounds/patterns careening in all sorts of directions, sometimes off cliffs. Where “Computer” becomes a proper moniker is in the processing, as it’s clearly fussed with, much to the delight of all zoner freaks who want nothing more than their minds melted or crispily fried like shorting-out effects pedals. Wait a minute – Zona, zoners? Not coincidental. As these passages stretch past reasonable runtimes and into contemplative headspace, we’re left to ponder the internal, the meeting of technology and human interaction with it, blanketing ourselves in silver sheens of static and ducking from phased pings of freaky fretwork. Getting to the heart of ourselves. Peering into the heart of Computer.

You are a mere six dollars away from this trip yourself – and only three copies of the original run of sixty-five are available from Drongo Tapes! You know what to do.