1.1.23 by Tabs Out
Top 200 Tapes of 2022
Oh good fucking lord there were some tapes this year. I mean, there always is every year, but we’re at this weird point where the tape labels are garnering more attention than ever. Where the ferric oxide is being treated almost as legitimate as other formats and as someone younger and removed from the optics of a decade-old conversation about “the format being back”, I’m sensing a different kind of spectacle. As labels and artists are either outright pivoting to tape because they cannot have their vinyl pressed, as much as technical advancements are enacting a new viability, it also leaves the sometimes posting, sometimes inactive, but keen eared Tabs Out gang busy as all hell. And all the while, we’re shuffling through a never ending parade of comes to our doorstep, as much as what fancies our interests in our perpetual wishlists.
So then, is there a theme to the this year’s list? I couldn’t say to be honest. A many old faces, amongst new stalwarts make appearance; new faces from Cole Pulice and CC Corensen logged on with new tantalizing visions of jazz outside of both genre and gender, as Patrick Shiroishi established himself as a MegaMaverick. claire rousay and mari maurice continue to provide breadcrumbs into an expanding thesis and range of wherever emo-ambient music is intersecting. The german army quietly continued a documentation of real time decay and beauty. Amongst the top 50 though is the closest to a love letter to 2022 I think we could muster. Laugh in bafflement or bemusement, but I felt a greater sense of label curation and growth happening across the board.
Hell I’ll shout out a handful of labels I had to tip my hat towards. Over on the west coast in Portland, OR, Moon Glyph found themselves not just bolstered by maverick-class achievements in new jazz from Cole Pulice and Lynn Avery, but a swath of wicked groovy psychedelia that teetered between subliminal prankery and stone-butch electronica. Back in Chicago, Thrill Jockey, decades removed from a Polish cassette licensing deal and recent flirtatious forays into tape, suddenly emerged in 2022 with a litany of quiet triumphs for the cream of their long running roster often on limited tape; hopefully their endeavor into the format does not remain a fluke. The Trouble in Mind Explorers Series shockingly overtook the label’s main roster without forgoing its spirited dn in the process provides a wildly entertaining avenue Municipal K7, a Brazilian artists’ collective quickly grabbed my attention as the perennial label to watch in 2023, bolstered by two tremendous works from artists outside any orbit or context I knew of; in blind bag listens, Fantasma do Cerrado & Fordmastiff mapped out raw personal stories that mapped their worlds without ever being subsumed by the glutton of releases. Radio Khiyaban likewise found themselves mapping out a dedicated mission and vision. Last year, Nat Baldwin’s Tripticks Tapes had come out of 2021 with a bolt of fiery energy. And this year it truly found its footing with a series of improvisations that furthered Astral Spirits’ own mission of new free noise. Even if their online presence was at times embarrassing, it would be unfair to forget the fact that Leaving Records‘ curation beget us a handful of total bangers and arguably released the finest works from Maral, more eaze, and Time Wharp to date, summations of their styles synthesizing in new directions. Los Angeles’ Cudighi Records only needed a singular compilation to make a broad n’ lucid argument for their positioning as LA’s premiere all (psychedelia) genre music. T4TLUVNRG returned to mixtapes with uplifting house and raving AMEN! breaks that kept my head high and spirits in the clouds. HookerVision once again appeared out of thin air without missing a beat. And this is really only a microcosm of a world that we see fragmented stories of or from.
Needless to say, if you just heard 10-20 tapes on this list, you’d already be well on your way to becoming a scholar on just how dizzyingly exciting tape music still is at the moment. And from here, I can only hope you all take a chance on something new or find a familiar face to catch up with. I mean hell, I know I am. For the first time, we’ve given the top 100 Bandcamp (or Soundcloud) links and several titles across the list some semblance of a blurb. You deserve it, at least I think so!
1 Moth Cock – Whipped Stream and Other Earthly Delights (Hausu Mountain)
What else did you think was going to go here? I asked for a cassette release of Autechre’s NTS Sessions and was told “we have it at home”. And needless to say, mom was right; what’s at home is now going to sit above the fireplace mantel until the end of time.
2 La Roche – Liye Liye (Nyege Nyege Tapes)
It only took 3 weeks into the year for it to be exceptionally obvious that the bar for what 2022 tapes could/should/would offer would be impossible to beat. And La Roche’s liturgical come-to-god moment, crossed with the utter insanity of an n64 any% playthrough from hell never left the top 3 in any capacity.
3 Fantasma do Cerrado – Mapeamento de terras a noroeste de sao paulo de piratininga (Municipal K7)
When I talk about “situated dispatches” this will now be the benchmark tape I point to. Municipal K7’s sudden jump out of the shadows and into the list was no fluke, the Brazilian tape label/artist collective is spinning something mighty psychedelic and delicate into a sonic travelogue of field recordings, acoustic folks, and voices; all imparting an empathetic mapping of a region that often goes under recognized and
considered. And also? It’s one of the most pleasant listens of the year writ large.
4 Sunik Kim – Raid on the White Tiger Regiment (Notice Recordings)
Sunik Kim’s writing and vision for music has always been amongst the most deft and cunning of the Tone Glow pack. The ballsiness of refuting Horse Lords and Fievel is Glaque in back to back issues was already whiplash inducing enough. But it made sense if you spent time with their release for Notice Recordings, Raid on the White Tiger Regiment. An interview at Foxy Digitalis presents a variety of readings (some more apt than others) and a delicate explanation for the MAX MSP technicals that brought this revolutionary opera to life. There is a method to the madness of this work, a kind that doesn’t just impart a revolutionary aspect, but a bonafide hyperrealist display of sonic mastery that’s been sorely missing in tape music writ large.
5 Patrick Shiroishi – Inoue (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)
The concept “Patrick Shiroishi returns to his brutal prog roots” has been long overdue on a cassette release, and in a year where Patrick continues to clench the brass ring with veracity across innumerable collaborations, this slab of 60 whiplash and knockout inducing spurts of energy never felt so savory. Relentless efficiency sculpts beauty.
6 V/A – Water Levels (Cudighi Records)
Cudighi Records comes out of left-field with a warp zone-induced smattering of various artists’ attempts at cracking the code for a water level of their own accord. Amongst a smattering of newcomers from around the globe, with no allegiance except to their own sounds and notions of the water level, the end result is a compilation that jam-packs a wooz-doozy plundering of aquatic sounds from fritzy synthpunk to beloved aquatic jazz.
7 Lucas Abela – Making Corner / Full Body Promise (No Rent)
Surprising bright tape manipulation gets out of control bouncy with raw sound jumping out at odd points in the stereo field. At some extremely choppy moments I find myself thinking of some sounds that remind me of my favorite parts of Skozey Fetisch. Hyperdelic shifting music concrète/synth squelch stretches in-and-out of tape manipulation techniques that are constantly shifting. (Read On)
8 Bardo Todol – La Siembra Eterna (Never Anything Records)
Pablo Picco is an Argentine musician living outside of major metropolitan centres who works under the name Bardo Todol (a project that has sometimes included Nico Picco). He’s amassed a pretty staggering catalog across labels like Full Spectrum and presses précaires within the past five years, with more anticipated and quietly finding their way to a bandcamp stream near you. La Siembra Eterna is split between discordant, queasy free folk and subliminal free sounds. Taken in tandem, there’s a quiet storm, as much as a surrealist architectural bent, to the underlying world that drips and flickers out of the ferric.
9 Strategy – Unexplained Sky Burners (Peak Oil)
Strategy’s (Paul Dickow) triumphant return to the cassette for the 10th Anniversary of Peak Oil sees the gentleman returning to a series of recordings that date back years piror. Finalizing them into fleet-footed, late night ravers and after-party come-down epiphanies that seem to span an amalgamation of four on the floor atmospheres, Dickow’s keen ear for texture remains magnanimous and amongst one of the strongest unheralded dance tapes of the year writ large.
10 Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’Em Up (Orindal)
Writ large, Wednesday’s Mowing the Leaves is that kind of moment to the point the band untethered these Bar Rock covers (or standards) from their respective time and place into their feeling and sound of this moment. What it old is new again. No act right now is edging for the bar rock crowd (an omnibus creation of my mind that spans all over) quite as hard, but also no act is looking at the indie playbook and stumping with such curiosity. On Side A and Side B, the band dig deep into their influences and came out reflect a roadmap for where indie sounds are headed writ large. (Read On)
11 Sexual Jeremy – The Real Sexual Jeremy (Decoherence Records)
On “The Real Sexual Jeremy,” the band’s most accomplished release to date (not to mention my favorite album of the year), Sexual Jeremy draws directly from the playbook that made Long Hair in Three Stages so quintessentially US Maple but filters it through a modern lens. Long stretches of meandering guitar noodles and tight drum explosions sit alongside heavy, angular riffs in time signatures that only God can calculate and underneath deeply odd lyrics that are sometimes spat directly into your face and sometimes growled at you like a dog and sometimes recited in a tone that can only be compared to a teenager being forced to recite the declaration of independence in their least favorite class. (Read On)
12 Ted Reichman – Dread Sea (Tripticks Tapes)
Anyone familiar with a long journey, whether by canoe, train, or automotive, will latch onto the Dread Sea. Reichman’s electroacoustic voyage unfurls the way geographic omnibuses reveal themselves over time; steady, sulky, and chilling. Yet, the manipulations of a singular mbira and tiny accordion that the piece is built around, often take roads not traversed, with patterns and sleights concocting an eerie journey where road maps might as well be leading into deep into an ancient land.
13 The Soft Pink Truth – Was it Ever Real? (Thrill Jockey)
Daniel’s work (including Matmos) has always given queer identity–such as music n’ idols–a dimensionality; flippant playfulness, opulent tomfoolery, communal revelry, and even cloying ASMR sinisterness all convey more than tragedy. And at once, a cover of Coil’s wickedly righteous pop bop becomes all those things; a vivid document of club hedonism. No tape, not even the actual LP, had that this year. (Read On)
14 Steve Long – Code Talker II (Astral Spirits)
Code Talker II is 56 minute and 30 seconds, with two samples available online. It features Steve Long on Pipe Organ and Henry Fraser on Double Bass. If you added a minimal drum beat to this, you’d be a Kompakt techno piece from 2k2. If you added a moody synthesizer, you could probably accidentally fake yourself into thinking you were listening to an Ohio komische tape circa 2k9. If you added a litany of bird sounds or field recordings, well then you probably actually are listening to a Pauline Oliveros composition from the 1980s. Long and Fraser’s lockstep constitutes an honest to god immaculate template for a drone, faintly rising in volume over the near-hour, scratching out a hypnotic sine-wave. Not quite brooding, not quite fully reverent (until that final stretch where all cards are on the table), but damn near precocious and fleet! (Read On)
15 Sunflower – Plain Sight (Third Kind)
Plain Sight eschews a dogged-street wisdom with a cunning sardonic wit. It’s no jam-con, nor a pre-emptive strike. Yet, Sunflower’s resilience and begging of this question feels less of an armchair argument. More a blunt attempt to expose fatal error (and reignite the shock of it!) found within a broken system. If a beat tape can be a soul search, then this is akin to a mirror exposing a cultural soul gone jive if not outright blank. (Read On)
16 The Center for Understanding New Trigonometries – Shapes, for Experts (Strategic Tape Reserve)
Learning by Listening tapes are godsends; novel exemplifications of the “weird and eerie” without being pompous or asinine, and with ample quirks. TCFUNT provides an exemplary education into the radical geometry of SHAPES(!) the same way a group of brave souls once asked “what does your tongs look like?” nearly two decades prior. I am now prepared to fight the hand of god and I will be forever grateful to this tape for that.
17 Lynn Avery & Cole Pulice – To Live & Die in Space & Time (Moon Glyph)
Advancements in the nebulous world of “ambient jazz” have never quite felt this homespun or existentially pleasant. But for Lynn Avery (Iceblink) and Cole Pulice, their C27 of synthesizer and saxophone music is an invitation to ponder and savor a present moment that most duos would gush to weave so majestically.
18 Octo Octa – Love Hypnosis Vol. 2 (T4TLUVNRG)
T4TLUVNRG’s return to tapes, in particular hour long club mixes, is a revelrous decadent display of dance club glory. Following up her 2020 Love Hypnosis Vol. 1, Octo Octa takes to two wicked sides of mixing: longform punchdrunk blends that capture the flirtatious downtime in between house bangers & radio ready euphoric love vibrations of ecstasy.
19 Jason Crumer – Thin Ice (No Rent Records)
If mice could be electroacoustic neoclassical composers, I think it’d turn out something like this!
20 Elementals’ Orrery – s/t (Pacific City Sound Visions)
Have you been looking for a tape comprised of chopped n’ screwed alien flesh and anti-hp generating potions fit for a regal feast? Well, Spencer Clark and Nicholas Carcavilla(Embassador Dulgoon of Chile) arrive with the most imperial and fantastical of ornate court music that seems to evaporate and shimmer between your hands!
21 Puce Mary – You Must Have Been Dreaming (Hypersomnia)
4 years of general radio silence from the PAN alum and European synthesizer veteran was met with two sudden tape releases in the spring. you must have been dreaming is a whiplash inducing, airtight summation of Puce Mary’s styles at her finest. Deep listening strings and synthesizer pieces often carry an undercurrent of unease worthy of a ten thousand yard stare. While it’s not often they hit the fritz, she meticulously can reveal the multifaceted with wicked, catatonic shocks of noise bubbling under the beauty of her pieces with finesse and concision.
22 YAI – Flowers From Home (Not Not Fun)
ambient laptop jazz” nugget from John Thayer and David Lackner, joining forces as the YAI duo. Reverberated and twinkling, the duo’s penitence for shivery textures and blown out ballroom echoes yearn for a glimmer of uplift and otherworldly serenity.
23 bloodz boi, claire rousay, more eaze – A Crying Poem (Orange Milk)
It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees in the subtly of the this release. claire and mari’s soundscapes feel decisively more ethereal than usual; a mist that sort of cocoons and surrounds Bloozd Boi. When this approach to instrumentation & Bloodz Boi’z delivery hit their peak, the result is a cut like 打火机 – The Lighter, the pinnacle of the tape. Incredible smooth synth blasts practically reimagine Blue Nile’s “Lets Go Out Tonight”; the former’s stoicism rendered obsolete as woozy synths and delicate guitar strums turn it into a 2 AM fucked up anthem. (Read On)
24 Jonas Reinhardt – A Ragged Ghost (Trouble In Mind)
Reimhardt’s CV has seen him move from kranky to Not Not Fun to Constellation Tatsu; expanding to a four piece and shedding back to a singular entity over the course of a decade. On his first major work in 4 years, Reinhardt is spiffy and acts with brevity, laying down a series of nuggets that teeter between an existential death dance and paean for life. Backed with the occasional saxophone or the most harmonic of a synthesizer, Reinhardt aims for spaces from chill-out rooms to lost nitrate film prints.
25 Scarcity – Aveilut (The Flenser)
Scarcity’s symptomatic black metal snarls and electrifies in equal measure across a five suite sensory onslaught. A sublime metastasis as much as an argument for transcendence in grim proportions.
26 Death is Not the End – Pause for the Cause: London Rave Adverts 1991-1996, Vols. 1/2 (Death is Not the Answer)
JUNGLE MAGIC! Long forgotten magazines! NYE Parties! Death is Not the Answer’s work as a present day Smithsonian Folkways for curating regional and global 20th century musical artifacts has beget a sharp sense of ghosts hiding within the crevices of the sound system and in the analog hardware. When it comes to the ghosts of radio, their work collecting the brightest beams of London Rave at its peak might just be their opus; an essential and most welcomed companion to V/Vm’s Death of the Rave.
27 Maral – Ground Groove (Leaving Records)
On Maral’s latest splash, the LA-based DJ fine tunes her amalgamation of Iranian music with subterranean dub and grungey 90s guitar distortion, with echoes of faceless blurs presiding over the state of affairs. A sickening, silky mixture of illbient that quivers to the pacing of LA’s haphazard subways at 2am cross faded and floating ensues.
28 more eaze – Strawberry Season (Leaving Records)
strawberry season connects a polyglot of threads, from somber haptics/room tones and acoustic folk, amongst glistening auto-tune croons and melodic almost-pop, that have been teased and tested across mari maurice’s bustling CV. The result is a springy epiphany unfolding in real time.
29 Jeff Tobias – Just What I Feel (Strategy of Tension)
Tobias is no “sax offender” (a title that belongs to Christopher Brett Bailey). Yet his 20 noise-excursions on the sopranino do present a moment of raw ingenuity with the vessel. Each track title/phrase more or less describes a scenario or imagines a face or body, that with which Tobias uses the sopranino to render in industrial sludge or free-jazz detail; Tobias seriously handles the sopranino as Einstürzende Neubauten handles a power drill, finding a strangely comforting texture to hold down an idea for around 50-odd seconds on average. As such, the tape’s pacing and general fleet action always keeps the listener guessing “what’s behind the corner”–whether that be a garden stroll drone, a garbage truck trying to move in reverse, or a prick’s smirk documented in grotesque sonic detail. The black humor of this all leaves behind a strange curio of late-pandemic era New York City. (Read On)
30 Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart – Zenith/Nadir (Tripticks Tapes)
Zenith/Nadir has been simmering and stewing since an August 2020 meeting between two at Pioneer Works. “A time where despair and possibility were inextricable,” the Bandcamp summary contextualizes. For the two esteemed improvisers, show-bookers, and ontological new music scribes, it’s a chance to take their complementary approaches in search of blistering territories unknown. Their seven seances are harrowing, improvisations on the brink of being swallowed by the earth whole or thrown to the stratosphere. Both sides favor aversive, yet not opposing or diametric approaches. (Read On)
31 Andy Loebs – Flexuous Vertex (Orange Milk)
Andy Loebsheads have been clamoring for a bonafide tape release from the Philadelphia maverick for over four years. That’s how long it has been since we learned just a crevice about Loebs on Terry Tapes’ “About Me”. Loebs overflowing bounty of available music could be abstracted to two oversimplified words, “cute midi”. Keith Rankin would insist on classifying Flexuous Vertex in three hype-sticker-worthy words, “quintessential OM style”. (Read On)
32 Phoned Nil Trio – 11th Anniversary (FTAM)
33 Nick Stevens – Catching Falling Knives (GALTTA)
34 MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs (Dear Life)
Hangover, not flu nor food poison, did Jordan in. Friends who buy boats and are suddenly assholes. TLC Cage Matches that are really metaphors for relationships in crisis. Jackass being funny like the world is round. I could ramble off the breadcrumbs into a barely-coherent argument for Lenderman’s capacity for world building and matter-of-fact storytelling; the kind that approaches poetry as Berman’s did. On Boat Songs, MJ Lenderman did something almost unachievable, entering a pantheon of great “indie americana”, next to Girls, Smith Westerns, the Men, and (early) Whitney; capturing the bittersweet pleasure of shotgunning a Miller High Life.
35 Cabo Boing – Real Gems for Little Jewels (Haord)
36 Bitchin Bajas – Bajascillators (Drag City)
37 Gee Tee – Gonerfest Tour Tape
Gee Tee goes deep in the red, plays about ten cuts that all sound borderline identical, but also totally raw-dog masterful. It’s cathartic stuff that “lo-fi garage” doesn’t quite surmise. Brute force shit that carries an absolutely unvarnished punchdrunk-pop quality that was made for smooching deep within the chaos of a mosh pit. They repeatedly make their synth sound like mythical “lottery noises” (not the alvvays song, the sound effect), especially on Within the Walls and 40K, special kinds of jukebox wonder. And good god that’s all I wanted at the end of the day when searching for the best punk I could hear all year. (Read On)
38 Charles Barabé – Journal (Never Anything Records)
39 Warren Enström – Electrics (FTAM)
40 Muave – Imaginary (Already Dead)
Nandele Maguni’s been developing beats dating back to 2013. He’s worked in and around the coastal capitol of Moçambique, Maputo’s scene of electronic music, with a speciality pushed towards tactical refinements of trap. He’s denoted trap as a “warrior sound”. the pulse of the Africa. It’s a dedicated, craft for Maguni that he brings a swift and consistent process to. His undersung tape for Already Dead back in 2020 revealed his capacity for ambience and transitory affairs. Working in the Muave trio they actively twerk with that vision, adding in an extra laptop and a whiff of ambient keys that can create delirious, multifaceted soundscapes.
41 Anonymous Skull – Cavernous Day & Cavernous Night (Moonworshipper Records)
42 Naujawanan Baidar – Khedemt Be Qhalq (Radio Khiyaban)
43 Five Bubble Criteria – VI (Superpolar Taïps)
The bleed Air side project takes on a Labradfordian-mindset of tape splicing and spoken word cacophonies; transient noise bursts & out of body hilarity ensues.
44 Suncarcass- Flower Crown (Lurker Bias)
Dr. Peter J. Woods, head of FTAM Productions, RAVES that this is the best harsh noise tape of the year. And do you really wanna argue with the doctor? I sure as hell wouldn’t!
45 Coral Club – Lost Cities (Moon Glyph)
Sirenko’s sound for Coral Club is gaseous. For as much as it evokes early Conspiracy International Chris & Cosey, its also a damn-nice pairing with M. Geddes Gengras’ latest. The emphasis on synth drones and percussive clatters immediately denotes it with qualities as transportive as trance-oriented music. Especially as the clatter turns into simple, booming patterns that aren’t quite dance-centered, but indeed anthemic and attention grabbing. (Read On)
46 White Suns – Dead Times (Orange Milk)
It’s not everyday that Orange Milk HQ is going to bat for a noise-damaged synthpunk release like this, but White Suns are clearly worthy of the patronage. The trio’s 13 odd releases straddle that fine line of unclassifiable and “oh I know this way too well”. What you realize listening to the 4 tracks making up this C-20 is that the lads can’t stop “being industrious”. This is exactly why Dead Time fucking rules and is a welcome introduction to White Suns. All 4 tracks present are en media res zones that each allude to a different strength or territory this act can occupy. (Read On)
47 Irarrázabal / Baldwin – Grips (Tripticks Tapes)
Baldwin and Irarrázabal sashay and mosey through a variety of acrobatic sleights. With only 27 minutes, their plucky style of jazz stays precocious. Their joust is unnerved in its quips and stretches, even as it steadies and stills itself, it can’t help but jolt or twitch. All the while, they still find ways to bring in percussive elements of the bass akin to a coinstar pump n’ dump or boozy triple; drone worthy of the low level listening experience tang of a sour. (Read On)
48 C.C. Sorensen – Twin Mirror (Full Spectrum)
Twin Mirror operates seamlessly, in spaces that teeter between bewildering ambient and lackadaisical jazz. The 8 zones here (built collaboratively with a hodgepodge of cool cats) all work like puzzle pieces. Sorensen summons a litany of esoteric sonic points–field recordings (“Toad Vision”), orchestrated minimalism, first-wave (read that as “good”) post-rock (“Disappearing Spirals”), hell even Mutual Benefit-style folktronica–for these singular zones that kinda just want to chill with you. (Read On)
49 Catarrh Nisin vs. 6v9id / Swordman Kitala – split (Blue Tapes)
50 Shells – Outside (Astral Editions)
51 Beige – AMEN! Vol. 1 (T4T LUV NRG)
52 Lia Kohl – Too Small to Be a Plain (Shinkoyo / Artist Pool)
53 Cole Pulice – Scry (Moon Glyph)
Scry’s near-three year development, articulated into the C28’s 8 cuts, willfully invokes 20th century electroacoustic mavericks. Hassell, Behrman, Oliveros, Budd, Brown, & Payne are all alluded to as points of interest. Pulice’s fascination with the mending of hardware and software found in these maverick’s projects inspired themself to create their own pedal board set-up where they are able to control the signal processing in-real time. Even still, Pulice’s approach is deeply playful and jubilant, not merely attuned to just perfoming a tribute as a stock classicist would. Within this approach Pulice parallels the nativity and utilitarian awe of those electroacoustic pioneers, capturing lightning in a bottle experiments and balladry that eclipses kankyō ongaku. (Read On)
54 Grundik Kasyansky & Alexey Sysoev – Selene Variation (Dinzu Artefacts)
The general dealio here is that Kasyansky is taking Sysoev’s Selene piano piece (released in 2015) and manipulating it with an unspecified “feedback synthesizer.” What was classical piano now feels like the shards of a funhouse mirror, while the minimal electronics offering a microhouse means to escape into. These four pieces are resultantly precocious compositions that evoke ghostly aberrations and ominous fog, even when there’s a chilled, libidioless BPM running through things. (Read On)
55 Sam Prekop & John McEntire – Sons Of (Thrill Jockey)
Prekop’s synth work has been fascinating to watch in the past two years; perhaps most extensively when I caught him in Chicago opening for Luggage and spent half an hour, deep in the process not looking at the audience. My friends, who miraculously came through in spite of having no idea of Sam Prekop, were incredulous, and I was texted “when’s he going on?” just as his set finished and Prekop left the stage to smoke an American Spirit outside the Empty Bottle. Sam continues to tease out and meticulously move the melody, entrusting the process as John tinkers with drum machines in search of the proper beat to carry the sound forward. It’s not rave nor chill-out though; it’s just exceptional Sunday morning cleaning music. (Read On)
56 Pulse Emitter – Dusk (Hausu Mountain)
57 Matthew Ryals – Impromptus In Isolation (Sound As Language)
I suppose I was craving Eurorack. Everyone on the posting website loves to contemplate, tease, quantify, qualify, etc the rack. What is it about this machine that scars all of you? Honestly, I imagine that in an alternate timeline, there’s a Spongebob episode where Squidward teaches him how to use a Eurorack instead of making a marble statue. However, if that existed then we likely wouldn’t have Ryals’ games of musical pinpoint hopscotch double jumps
58 Novatron – Novatron (Kitchen Leg Records)
Novatron is the duo of Tatsumi Ryusui (gtr) and Itta Nakmura (drums). The duo take a garage-fidelity approach to creating massive valleys and peaks of crashing undistilled noise rock goodness. The promise of this tape’s ability to travel “to the infinite and back to your seat” is indeed with merit. (Read On)
59 Dania – Voz (Geographic North)
Yes, the masses will proclaim that GN is being “pro-mogul” with yet another label runner (M. Sage, Brian Foote, Felicia Atkinson, even Jefre-Cantu Ledesma) joining for an esteemed cut. Rather though, I implore that we should cherish each release and newcomer as another crevice into their evolving tapestry; the sense of place and memory in GN releases has become a recurring label focus. Their latest, Dania’s Voz is an ode to that spirit. Over its 23 minutes Shihab unspools a nimble execution of ambient loops, vocal exploration, and “process trusting” modular synthesis, whose brevity marks inspired moments of radiance and hermitage. (Read On)
60 Felicity Mangan – Wet on Wet (Warm Winters Ltd)
61 John O’Neill – Cine/Hollywood Tow (Hot Releases)
John O’Neil is one such fella with a finger on the pulse of proper set time curation. The LA-based artist has remained uncollected for quite a while, that is until Hot Releases finally made a cold call and capitulated to a perfect “no fat or lean” C28 back in January. “Cine / Hollywood Tow” is 3 whip-smart variations on a theme: “meditative yet solitarily vibing” more or less: stateless, “open-zone” ambient & abrasive droning textures and sine wave low frequency oscillation. (Read On)
62 Tarotplane – Aeonium (Constellation Tatsu)
63 Alex Homan – Covid Jams 2022 (self released)
64 Freak Genes – Tour Tape (Power Plant/Hologram) (Feel It Records)
Hologram is the work of Andrew “Hipshakes” Anderson and Charlie Murphy at its core (the aforementioned bassist and equally nutty guitarist). With new contributions (bolstering the band to a five piece live), the resulting vision is a dozen wired pulp-punk frictions and spasms. It’s practically a jukebox. One spitting deep-oven fried Suburban Lawns and A Certain Ratio 7″s into antimatter discotheque dance punk of all mutant fusions. The shit-fi’s crunch n’ charm radiates stronger, even as the sound is cleaner than before.
65 Schmitz & Niebuhr – The Greatest Hits (superpolar Taïps)
Mongo gushing sophistipop nuggets for the hi-fi. An unexpected delight from the geniuses of superpolar Taïps.
66 Burning Plastic Blues Band – Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time (Unifactor)
Even if a noisenik like Noah Dephew may not be a household name, the passion is tenacious and is a radical act of serious leisure. He just happens to fulfill a rather particular realm of deep listening ambience that has been missing in the tape underground this year; the kind not of lost futures, but of possible synthesizer musics. (Read On)
67 Earthlogoff – Tritium (Kitchen Leg Records)
68 Late Night Cardigan – Life is Bleak And It’s My Cheat Day (self released)
The quartet’s 2022 self-released debut, Life is Bleak…is one of the best slabs of timelessly great sounding indie pop I’ve heard in a hot second. The kind of release you’d find trolling the Captured Tracks discography in 2012 and say “damn this shit is effortless.” Kacee Russell’s punchdrunk gobsmacked vocal deliver holds no bars and takes no prisoners while also being deeply punchdrunk. (Read On)
69 Longmont Potion Castle 19 (DU Records)
What has become increasingly apparent over LPC’s 30+ years dedicated to calling people just to see what’s up, is a real sense of what the refinement of the decline sounds like. In an era where public trust in institutions has eroded, we’ve failed to truly combat covid and fascism, and we have no prospect of a real communal future (just dipshit survival of the fittest), LPC 19 is basically a tenuous survey of how close we are on the brink. No, LPC calls have never been outright political. Yet, even with the usual roster of peeving or phone mayhem, something about this compilation’s squabbles is more unhinged than usual.
Could it be pinpointed to various moments of the LPC 19 Medley 1/2? Dedicated pleas to help with a garage lever (“I got your number from a friend at the DMV”) hit the fritz faster than a bat outta hell. Later, earnest pleas coaxing neighbors to provide a swab, just to confirm they didn’t steal anything from LPC, unleashes some of the pettiest “go fuck yourself” behavior documented on a phone line. “Machete Lottery,” a stately attempt to make a general store garner $200, unleashes new levels of customer service hell, as if being a valued customer over generations doesn’t mean a thing. Meanwhile, no one wants to pay ASCAP the hundreds of dollars owed for Taco Comavilla. People just aren’t willing to let their data be destroyed and restored, and let interstate commerce crimes be bygones in the process. Even the cryptozoologist isn’t interested in building a coalition, only furthering his knowledge. Truly, all signs of a society that wants the other fella on the line to fuck off and die. (Read On)
70 Jake Acosta – Rehearsal Park (Husky Pants)
Forgive us, December cassette releases, our kryptonite when it comes to list curation. But if any tape warrants “tape head approval”, it’s Jake Acosta maverick mowdown, Rehearsal Park. “Deep guitar zones guided by synth, time, and the miscellaneous of your dreams.” is what Ryley Walker’s one line of description reads on the page, and those two humongous ass zones are exactly the kind of open range good-good yum yum that I’ll gobble up 24/7. Fit for any occasion from dinner party to swamp fever rave time. Even as Husky Pants remains firmly #cdgang, these sudden and surprise tape releases/editions shouldn’t go unnoticed.
71 Alex Cunningham – The Heavens May Cease to Be (Orb Tapes)
The St. Louis violin practitioner is a ruthless recorder and improvisor, and his early summer release for Orb Tapes is amongst his finest moments; a real clusterfuck of omnibus noise that promises to swallow the listener whole and leave them deposited outside the derelict train tracks. Turn it up loud on the hi-fi, won’t you?
72 Slit Throats – Joshi Noise Worship: The Blood Quest of Risa Sera (self released)
73 Torrello – Out of Office (House of Silk/100% Silk)
74 Nadja – Labyrinthine (Katuktu Collective)
75 Inkarose – A Love Letter to Water (Constellation Tatsu)
76 Cartoon Forest – Cartoon Forest II (Crash Symbols)
77 X.Y.R. – Vision Quest (Good Morning Tapes)
78 Aaron DIlloway – Blue Studies (For Tom Smith) (Hanson)
79 Matt Evans – Soft Silence (Moon Glyph)
80 Glenrock – Glenrock (Drongo)
Elliott (aka Skunk Ape) continues to expand the sounds, roster, and notion of just what a Drongo tape can be. In the process, they’re documenting an increasingly brilliant spread of West Coast, continental, and even international ruminatings and noise. Amongst the best of the lot was the work of the Glenrock freak folk duo in California,
81 Weatherglow – Weatherglow (Longinus Records)
82 M. Geddes Gengras – Expressed, I Noticed Silence (Hausu Mountain)
The Brothers Gengras are in lockstep here. For both brothers, there’s a sense of playfulness within this approach (and not just because the track titles are rather funny). It’s easy to imagine both the brothers in a canoe: Ged navigating us downstream, through a thick fog, with his Moog Sub-Phatty and Waldorf Microwave XT acting as radar and sonar, as Cyrus strums a cocooned chord, reverb’d out and keeping the pace gentle, paddling through a sound reminiscent of 2k3 era ambientgazing. (Read On)
83 Uli Federwisch & Chip Perkins – Visiting Places (Strategic Tape Reserve)
Visitng Places’ is the designated length of a super-sized Rick Steves Europe episode. A sizeable chunk of Perkins’ informative monologues struck me as warped inversions of Rick Steves’ charming historical tidbits of European history and culture. In the hands of Perkins, they become brilliant distillations of STR’s lore and fever-dream Europe that us Americans so rarely have any real understanding of. (Read On)
84 Yes Selma – Dulce En Rune (2020 Records and Tapes)
Chad Beattie’s Yes Selma project is self-described as “the musical vehicle of expression”. Recorded near the start of the year, the multi-instrumentalist creates his own, jubilant one-man orchestras. It’s a joyous ruckus that layers and loops these swap meet sorts of worlds; beautiful treasures hidden amongst the junkers. It’s music that feels as out of time as Dead Can Dance or the folk traditions Power/Rollins and other collaborators nestle into. (Read On)
85 Crime of Passing – Crime of Passing (Future Shock)
Cincinatti, OH’s current punk scene is a microcosm of people and affiliated projects all connecting back to the Serfs, spearheaded by the hottest trio of young bloods in existence. One such project, Crime of Passion, finally debuted with a sickening spin on libido-laden gothic lo-fi fit for bat caves and beer soaked dive bars.
86 Time Wharp – Spiro World (Leaving Records)
87 MAW – A Maneuver Within (Atlantic Rhythms)
88 Bats – Blue Cabinet (Citrus City)
89 Tomomi Kubo & Camila Nebbia – Polycephaly (Tripticks Tapes)
“Polycephaly” is a condition of having two heads supported by a single torso, and this metaphor here is applied to the mind-meld undergone by Kubo and Nebbia during the recording process in 2021. The dynamic they create between two disparate instruments oddly coalesces into gleeful squiggles and joyful melodic conversations, a delight that can clearly only be accomplished when one person shares two heads (and also hands to help play the instruments). (Read On)
90 claire rousay – It Wouldn’t Have to Hurt (Mended Dreams)
91 Doom Mix Vol. 6 (Doom Trip)
92 Obsidian Shard – The Marble Admiral (Histamine Tapes)
This isn’t a huge departure from the other tape I’ve heard by this project: lots of quick dynamic edits, unique crackling and popping textures in some parts, generally a fractured take on ambient textures mixed with music concrete editing takes this into some very good zones. Most of the songs on this tape are under four minutes, which means a couple blinks and you missed 50 different sound objects. (Read On)
93 Chihei Hatakeyama – Live at Commend (Commend/White Paddy)
94 Johnny Coley – Landscape Man (Astral Editions)
95 Andreas Brandal – Not A Triangle (Flophouse)
96 Jeremiah Cymerman & John McCowen – Bitter Desert (Dinzu Artefacts)
97 Fordmastiff – Counterfeit (Municipal K7)
98 Germ Class – Felt Up (Already Dead)
99 MANAS (with N.R. Safi) – Alone We Are Alone As Far Down As the Sediment (Radio Khiyaban)
C29 of a 2019 performance from Asheville, North Carolina. Tashi Dorshi and drummer Thom Nguyen’s vision of free-jazz is that kind of raw catharsis that has a clearer lineage in between Bill Nace and Lightning Bolt than jazz, but also that’s why when they come together it has a blasting concept. Heavy in-the-red with crunch, the duo and R.F. Safi strike like lightning. An endless barrage of noise–the kind delivered like its a m60 being fired until it goes click. (Read On)
100 Matt Lajole – Mother Hum (Distant Bloom)
Ol’ Matty La-J’s tapped into something on this one though – boy has he. “Mother Hum” is the reverberating waveforms of the natural auras of this planet, the implied “Nature” following “Mother” as obvious as the truths beamed into and captured by your third eye. The “Hum,” of course, is the essential vibration given off by Nature, the resounding frequency a penetrating and restorative force manifest in sound. All Matt has to do is hook up a bunch of effects pedals, plug his guitar into the heart of existence, and zone out to the cosmos. The effect is akin to observing a supernova in slo-mo from a distance of light-years. (Read On)
*note: even though Sword of Hailstone is a 2021 release, Joe B. believes in its heart it belongs here, alongside Kingdomfall