MIDI Janitor – Buk Order & Fumerolles – Nuit jaune
1.10.23 by Matty McPherson
About four and a half years ago, local Tabs Out legend Ryan Masteller took a mosey on down to Hotham Sounds, the Vancouver BC based label dedicated to Pacific Northwest “experimental” electronic transmissions in limited private press tape releases. Hotham Sounds is still continuing their own refinement and curation, creating dedicated batches and zoned out bliss of their own volition. Anyways, they decided four days into the 2023 to go ahead and plop down THREE tapes that seemed to just burst forth from the volcanic grounds. And good lord do these tapes pass inspection, even going as far as to break label law and sign from a providence outside BC & release an 84 minute set of synth JAMS
MIDI Janitor – Bulk Order
Jonathan Orr of Vancouver found a MIDI controller in an East Van dumpster, more at 11. Oh it’s 11 right now? Well he took said controller, patched in 90s sample packs and cheap beats and made a scrapping junkers’ delight of a tape release. Bulk Order purposely isn’t trying to hide its spend-thrift, economical nature in the amalgamation of not-quite bass-damaged beats and “casper the friendly ghost” type synth aberrations. Together, the two sounds from this approach make for a particular strain of electronic listening music. The kind that you likely have encountered in special interest vhs tapes and old gluttonous industrial arts films.
But seriously, Orr’s work as MIDI Janitor is homely and subliminally quixotic; even the cover is a brilliant evocation of private press industrial records but tuned to the current era’s fascination with synth magic. The dozen cuts on Bulk Order are small triumphs, private press “electro” nuggets that excel at melody and texture without ever completely forgoing stable repetition and a frame of reference. “Born From a Voice” bubbles and peaks with a giggly twitch and crack, before then taking its small crescendoes and bows out, moving back into the earth it came from. Whereas “Keep Still” indeed, distills these synths to their most lovingly rudderless and stilled. Even “Vapor King” swaggers on its budget, as “Athos A.M.” drones with that 5am red eye energy that makes a lot of this tape a blast. That they retain a strange familiarity (to artists I’m refusing to name bc you sorta will know IMMEDIATELY what he’s edging towards) while also offering a real genuine acknowledgement of this MIDI’s limits and STILL oozing with rudimentary flair make the tape an easy one to ponder and gush over.
Fumerolles – Nuit jaune
So forgive us if this tape comes late, perhaps over 4 years late even. Nuit jane has existed in digital format since 2018. Although, Hotham has taken a liking to the recording and provided a reissue of the brevity-laden EP. Fumerolles (aka librarian Frédérique Duval) crafted this during a hot spell (one of many that has plagued Montreal in the past 4+ years), working on utilitarian synthesizer music built from effect boxes and homemade modules. At six tracks all flirting with but never breaking the 4-minute mark, it is a sweet treat to see in the Bandcamp email pop up.
I did listen to this EP while on lunch away from helping patrons with library cards and shelving holds. It will always, without fail, move me to hear librarian music–not library music, librarian music. And I’m working on defining this genre tbh, because I don’t hear a lot of music from librarians often. While that does not mean that the copyright-free banger genre known as Library Music is shied away from (although Cyclique could easily have been slotted onto Mexican Summer’s Unusual Sounds), what I garnered a sense from Fumerolles was a deep capacity for harmony and layering that is deceptively simple; her music fits like a glove and becomes an instant sugar rush. The strings and trickles of Sismographe are bolstered by crashing waves of percussive tangs. Pulmo bubbles and fizzles like a UFO attempting to jettison into orbit, but always falling short. The buzzing synthesizer loop of Ptero takes a moment to reveal itself, hidden behind keyboard fantasies and other cresting percussive smatterings, but it feels like a thought line to a future. Un charme, the shortest cut of the EP, is especially thoughtful in how it throws itself from lazer haptics and ambient synth-lines into a whole buzzing cacophony that sucks you in.