Inaugural Batch – Traced Objects

10.30.19 by Ryan Masteller

One of my favorite U.S. cities is NOT located in Delaware, if you can believe it, but instead in cold northeastern reaches of the country in the majestic state of Maine. Portland is a coastal delight, a perfect combination of old New England charm and contemporary city life, featuring a bevy of social amenities both modern and rustic. It’s temperate in the summertime and appropriately cold in the winter, perfect for anyone intent on experiencing the four seasons. I myself tend to skew toward cold weather (look at me, living in Florida), so Portland has always been a draw for me, and welcoming as hell whenever I ventured into it.

Look at me – it’s like I’m writing a promo piece for the Portland chamber of commerce or something.

What the townies may not realize they have in their midst is a brand new tape label called Traced Objects. I was never much of a visual artist, so anytime I ever had to draw anything when I was a kid, it looked like crap unless I traced it. I don’t think that piece of information has any bearing really on the label, and their awesome minimal collage aesthetic for their j-cards beats any art project I’ve ever done. Not to mention that their inaugural tape batch comes with an “Unknown Artist” print zine, wherein you can bask in even MORE aesthetic! Every picture tells a story, amiright? Well, so do my words. Here are the stories of the first two tapes EVER released by Traced Objects.

type/token – Still.

Matt Nelson’s type/token debut is a stunner. I don’t know if he spends a lot of time on the Prom watching ships or if he gets out of town to find some sort of wilderness to trek around in, but he sure has the centering-of-the-self thing pretty down. That’s what “Still.” suggests after all, a motionless state of voluntary contemplation where you allow the world and the universe to penetrate your mind in some way. A state of trying to commune with something, with nature, the infinite, whatever. The “four tracks of deep sounds composed from digital synthesis and live sampling” may seem like longform ambient drones until you get reeeeal close and peer beneath the surface. There you’ll find bubbling rhythms and warbling sine waves, melodies as playful as living organisms observed under a microscope. There’s a real and palpable joy here, delight in the minutiae of sound and vision, of light and life. I close my eyes while listening and I’m out there with Nelson, overwhelmed by the afternoon and the glare of the sun as its life-giving rays glow upon me. “Still.” is constantly searching for deeper meaning, and the generations’ worth of hard work before and after us weigh on each and every fragile note. Nice start here, Matt.

Dinky Mirage – 005

Morgan Tindall is Dinky Mirage, and if the statement on the cassette shell itself is any indication, we’re in for a heckuva ride – certainly one of a different ilk type/token’s: “I want this to be awesome and not just a bunch of random sketches, even though I also love just a bunch of random sketches.” You and I are kindred spirits here, Morgan, as I can think of nothing better than a grand, composed statement, except perhaps for a, ahem, bunch of random sketches. Point is, doesn’t matter in the end – if it’s good, it’s good, and you should just enjoy it for what it is. And “005” (although catalog number TO 002, just to be confusing) is indeed a HECKuva ride, flitting ever so deftly from quirky computer pop to plunderphonics to vapory synth work to delectable ambient, drone, and noise, all in the space of single-side compositions. That’s right, each side is a single 19-minute track, and each packs a baffling amount of source material into its runtime. It’s like Dere Moans and Mukqs got together and recorded a tape for Never Anything. I’m not kidding, everything is all over the place, and it’s completely perfect. Not to mention a perfect alien counterpart to type/token’s wonderfully terrestrial humanity. Dinky Mirage, by contrast, is like the “Mac and Me” alien on Ecto Cooler. Pretty much an unstoppable kinetic force.